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March 31, 2007

US Congressmen on Fact Finding Trip

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 03/31/07 US Congressmen On Fact Finding Trip
IT 03/31/07 How The Deal Was Won
UT 03/30/07 Michael Stone Charged With Attempted Murder
WP 30/31/07 Colombian Supreme Court Upholds IRA Convictions
AN 03/30/07 Unionists Laughed At Cllr's Collusion Motion
BB 03/31/07 Last Soldiers Leaving Crossmaglen
BT 03/31/07 'Cross' Not Suffering Any Bad Withdrawal Symptoms
IM 03/31/07 More Speak Irish In The North Than Speak Chinese
BT 03/31/07 Opin: Army Council's Meetings Key To Securing Deal
IM 03/31/07 Opin: Lissadell And Closed Roads
SB 04/01/07 Opin: Long, Weary Journey Is Over
IT 03/31/07 Taoiseach On Lissadell House Visit
SB 04/01/07 Folk Singer Paddy Reilly Nets €32m From Sale Of Land
SB 04/01/07 Irish Islands Go On Show


US Congressmen On Fact Finding Trip

Sat, Mar 31, 2007

A delegation of US Congressmen arrives in Ireland today to get an
insight into Irish politics.

The nine-man group, led by newly appointed chairman of the
Friends of Ireland, Congressman Richard E Neal, will discuss a
number of topical issues including Northern Ireland, emigration
and international politics and economics.

Invited by the Ceann Comhairle Dr Rory O'Hanlon and the Irish
Parliamentary Association, the delegation will visit County Kerry
where they will see the Blasket Centre, the Kerry Group in
Tralee, and meet the Mayor of Kerry, Ted Fitzgerald.

Back in Dublin on Tuesday, they will meet a cross-party group of
Oireachtas members at Leinster House, where they will hold inter-
parliamentary talks on a range of key subjects.

On Wednesday, Congressman Neal will address a conference entitled
Ireland's Attitude To The Diaspora at Dublin Castle, before
attending sittings of the Dail and Seanad Eireann, and meeting
President Mary McAleese, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign
Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern.

"Their visit highlights the degree of interest on both sides in
strengthening the closest ties between our legislatures," said Mr
O'Hanlon, expressing his delight at welcoming the members back.

c 2007


How The Deal Was Won

Sat, Mar 31, 2007

The stage was set, the lines well-rehearsed, and when the DUP and
Sinn Fein finally met this week, they gave a powerful
performance. But what went on behind the scenes? Frank Millar,
London Editor, reports

People across these islands and throughout the world gasped in
amazement last Monday when Northern Ireland's tribal chieftains,
the Rev Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, finally sat down to make

A prescient editorial in The Irish Times had alerted readers that
a historic day lay ahead, if not quite that originally planned by
the British and Irish governments. Forty-eight hours before we
reported that, the DUP leader Dr Paisley and his deputy Peter
Robinson were engaged in the most spectacular gamble of their
political lives.

Against the odds they had resolved to bust the March 26th
"deadline" set in law and apparent stone by Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain. At the same time they thought to claim
"ownership" of the political process by setting their own date
for the commencement of power-sharing government with Sinn Fein.

The wait between expectation and realisation might have been
counted in a small number of hours. Yet, in what proved a huge
gap, nothing could have prepared us for the imagery that would be
beamed across the globe promising something even more potent than
the tearful celebration which greeted the Belfast Agreement on
Good Friday in 1998.

Not only did these veterans - many would say architects,
perpetrators and perpetuators - of conflict meet. They performed
with panache and evident confidence, their statements bearing the
telling evidence of the peacemakers' craft - each displaying due
appreciation of the other's needs and sensitivities. Moreover,
both leaders managed to invoke God, without offence being either
given or taken, in promising a better future for all the children
of the Troubles. It was, as Adams observed later, something quite

Disbelief had mixed with confusion in early morning media reports
suggesting that the unprecedented Adams-Paisley encounter would
determine whether Secretary of State Peter Hain might still be
forced to dissolve the newly elected Northern Ireland Assembly.
This was to miss the point that the fact of the meeting between
the two leaders confirmed an already-done deal.

While giving nothing away at the time, senior British sources
subsequently confirmed they knew - courtesy of Adams's first
cautious response to the DUP adventure - that it was "game-on" on
Saturday morning.

In Berlin for the EU birthday celebrations, however, British
prime minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were
monitoring developments and taking nothing for granted. For
Blair, in particular, believing only came with seeing the draft
of Dr Paisley's proposed statement on his return to Downing
Street at about 10pm on Sunday.

IF BLAIR SLEPT better as a result, the same would not have been
true for all the members of the DUP executive who had on Saturday
afternoon approved the resolution containing the firm commitment
to form a power-sharing administration on May 8th. True, the
leadership carried the day with 90 per cent backing. Delegates
asking the question were told emphatically that there would be no
return for another vote. This was decision-time. And leading
doubters such as MPs William McCrea and David Simpson - who party
sources confirmed had joined fellow MPs Nigel Dodds and Gregory
Campbell in backing the new strategy - would certainly have known
what must follow. Yet some delegates would undoubtedly have
returned home anticipating another six-week period of "testing"
Sinn Fein's bona-fides in respect of support for policing, the
courts and the rule of law.

They were in for a rude awakening, for events moved, as they had
to, with speed. And we would subsequently discover that the now-
famous DUP-Sinn Fein agreement was effectively concluded in the
first direct negotiations between the two parties stretching from
6pm last Saturday until the midnight hour. Key party officials
are said to have carried on the exchanges for the most part on
Sunday. However, there were more face-to-face meetings between
some of the principals on Sunday evening as the agenda was set
for the Paisley-Adams bilateral and joint public appearance the
following morning.

In addition, the two sides had to engage in a protracted
discussion about the size and shape of the table - or tables - at
which Adams and Paisley would meet, who would sit where, and when
the cameras would be admitted. These were absolutely crucial
issues because, as everyone instinctively grasped, the imagery of
Monday would be as important - and possibly more so - than any
words spoken.

It was not, of course, the first time the two parties had met
across a table. Each side had grilled the other in the so-called
"Preparation for Government Committee" of the previous
"transitional" Assembly at Stormont. But this was something else
- the DUP and Sinn Fein sitting down on their own, with no
government ministers or officials in attendance, to hammer out an
agreed way forward.

Robinson led the DUP delegation in the negotiations, which took
place over the weekend at Hain's Stormont Castle residence. He
was accompanied by Dodds, Assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr, and
key officials Timothy Johnston and Richard Bullick. Sitting
opposite them around the table were Sinn Fein deputy first
minister-designate Martin McGuinness, MPs Gerry Kelly and Conor
Murphy, and top aides Aidan McAteer and Leo Green.

There were no handshakes. A number of the participants contacted
later declined to be drawn on their personal feelings, invariably
describing the atmosphere as "businesslike". Yet we know the
chemistry was vital to this enterprise, and, given the end
result, that it must have been considerably better than many
might have imagined.

One small indication of that came when illness forced Dodds to
leave before the rest of his colleagues on Saturday night. This
was not a diplomatic illness; the MP and his wife, Diane, both
endured a nasty dose of food poisoning throughout the weekend.
However, just in case there was any misunderstanding, Dodds went
to the Sinn Fein room to assure them that "he was not walking

We also know something about the necessary chemistry, given one
key aspect of the meeting that has been little commented upon -
namely, the DUP's task in persuading Sinn Fein that it was for
real about the alternative devolution date.

Yes, Adams had given a green light in his earlier contacts with
the British government. It was indeed "deal-on". But it could
still have crashed, taking the process with it to the Assembly
"dissolution" Hain always maintained would follow failure to meet
the original deadline for the appointment of an executive.

THAT POWER OF DECISION had been effectively handed to Adams by
Blair back on the Friday, after a final meeting of the week with
the DUP leadership at which the prime minister accepted that Dr
Paisley would not, after all, be meeting the March 26th deadline.

In fairness to Dr Paisley and Robinson, Blair's counter-strategy
hardly took them by surprise. On the contrary, this was part of
their gamble. For by that stage they had had to accept that, if
they weren't going to comply with the March 26th deadline, then
the prime minister was not going to grant the emergency
legislation necessary to extend it into May.

Blair had told Robinson this in blunt terms during their first
encounter of the week on the previous Wednesday, March 21st in
the prime minister's Commons office. This was the moment at which
Downing Street and the Northern Ireland Office finally accepted
that Peter Robinson was deadly serious in his view that pushing
ahead to meet the Monday deadline risked a damaging DUP split.
Under no pressure from the British, Robinson volunteered that he
had been by Dr Paisley's side for the best part of 40 years. And
the long-serving deputy made clear that if Dr Paisley wanted to
meet the Monday deadline he would have his support. However,
Robinson warned Blair equally bluntly that this would only be
done "at a cost" to the party.

Until that point, Number 10 and the Northern Ireland Office had
been entirely satisfied that "the Big Man" wanted and intended to
take office and nominate ministers on the Monday. This assessment
was shared across all sections of the DUP. The disagreement came
in the analysis of the party's disposition, and the weight Dr
Paisley would ultimately attach to it.

The British were so confident of Dr Paisley that they were
briefing fairly openly at one point against Dodds and Robinson.
In one of a number of "role reversals", Dodds had become "the
Jeffrey Donaldson of the peace process" - with the North Belfast
MP playing Donaldson's original dissident to "Dr Paisley's" David
Trimble. And all sides recognised the particular irony in the
developing frustration with Robinson.

Back in 2003-4, before the blossoming of the Blair-Paisley
relationship that would prove so important, the British and Irish
had entertained fond hopes that Robinson the "moderniser" might
deliver Dr Paisley to an agreement. Now here he was restraining
his leader, despite the overwhelming evidence of the election -
and the Northern Ireland Office's leaked exit poll - that Dr
Paisley had correctly read the mood of the people and won their
trust in the election.

In no-nonsense mood, the British faced into the final week of the
negotiations expectant that the octogenarian leader would assert
his authority; that Robinson would in the end prioritise "the
interests of the people of Northern Ireland over concerns about
party management"; and that Dodds would "stay loyal" and probably
accept a ministry in the new executive.

However, they saw things very differently in the doubting wing of
the DUP (and it was always more "doubting" than "dissident"). No
one at any point denied that the leader had the authority and
capacity to deliver a clear majority in favour of going into
government by the deadline. Nor did any deny that the Paisley
imprimatur was still the one necessary to make an agreement that
would stick. By the same token, as one senior source put it, time
had marched on "and DUP politics is no longer just about Dr
Paisley". The doubters also calculated that - unlike Blair - when
it came down to it, the DUP leader would not forget the essential

This, as Robinson would later remind them, had seen successive
British governments "push" unionist leaders too far ahead of
their people and parties. Robinson had long ago concluded that
Adams considered the "process" indestructible - and that he was
right. It was in that certain knowledge that Sinn Fein had defied
the St Andrews timetable and deferred the required decision
backing the PSNI by two months. So, Robinson argued upfront, the
DUP likewise should be allowed to manage their party and ensure
the ducks were "in a line" before committing.

Some Northern Ireland Office sources fancied that Dr Paisley was
"somewhat crestfallen" at the realisation that things would not
proceed as planned on March 26th. The contrary evidence, however,
is that the leader weighed the internal debate and also concluded
that delay was necessary.

Hence that Paisley-Robinson strategy based on one other key
conclusion: that delay would maximise DUP unity, so ensuring a
much more stable and secure start to the new devolved
administration come May.

At their final meeting in Downing Street on the Friday, Blair
made no attempt to argue with that, telling the DUP that he
didn't care either way about the commencement date.

Hain, by contrast, was in a black mood, and clung to the Monday
deadline. The developing Iranian crisis caused Blair to leave the
room on two occasions.

And on each occasion the Secretary of State reminded the DUP of
the political cost to them if the deadline was not met - in terms
of water charges, the abolition of education by selection, and
"accountability" reforms of the Belfast Agreement. Indeed,
according to one DUP account, Hain maintained his position even
on Saturday, telling the DUP they risked putting Sinn Fein in
"the driving seat".

THE DUP, OF course, weren't listening, intent as they were on
forging their own reality. And it would be disingenuous for
anyone in the Northern Ireland Office to claim that Hain and
Blair have always sung from the same hymn sheet. However, there
is acceptance at the highest levels in Whitehall that Hain's
conduct of the policy debate - coupled with what one source
describes as "his impatience with the impasse" - served an
important function in a process that had grown "too indulgent".
And, in terms of the end result, was there any significant
difference between Hain's stance and Blair's more emollient
message to the DUP on the need to directly engage with, and
persuade, Sinn Fein?

At the last, in any event, Hain was able to laugh with everyone
else. The Ulster Unionist Party's sole MP Lady Sylvia Hermon
plainly didn't see the funny side, as she badly misjudged the
mood in the Commons on Tuesday, protesting when Hain presented
the emergency legislation, overriding the deadline he had always
said was immutable.

But there were prizes for everyone here (including, presumably,
Lady Sylvia's leader, Sir Reg Empey). And there were bouquets for
Hain too, from the Conservative as well as the Labour benches.
Yes, DUP members could congratulate themselves on busting the
deadline. However, many outsiders could also see that - in
Blair's famous "big picture" terms - the deadline had also worked
with the Paisley-Robinson strategy to finally end the DUP's
conditionality about power-sharing.

Coupled with Monday's powerful imagery, and the serious
preparations for government now under way, the outcome was
arguably better than anything that would have resulted from a
decision to force Monday's deadline in face of significant
internal DUP opposition and reluctance. Dr Paisley's hand - like
that of Robinson - has been immeasurably strengthened.

So too, therefore, have the chances that this deal will actually

First signs of first minister

The Fairmont St Andrews Hotel, Scotland:Friday, October 13th,

When we were finally admitted for British prime minister Tony
Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's press conference at the end of
the three-day negotiation that set the scene for last Monday's
agreement, I noted that the front row of seats had been reserved.

Dermot Ahern and the rest of the Irish ministerial team occupied
the first four. They were promptly followed by Peter Hain and his
two colleagues, leaving just two seats at the end. These were in
turn taken by Dr Paisley and his wife Eileen, Baroness Paisley.

I thought this odd. A quick scan showed the other party leaders
standing around the back, and Gerry Adams not yet in the room at

Later that evening I asked a British government spokesman about
this seating arrangement, and was told Dr Paisley needed to be
close to the platform because he was rushing to the airport
immediately after making his own statement about the talks. And
it was true Dr Paisley and his wife were heading back to a family
party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Even so. A seat in the second row would hardly have made any
difference. And the impression lingered, that the Big Man looked
not merely comfortable but as if his presence alongside the
British and Irish ministers was a statement in itself.

This week, and with the deal done, a senior British source was
more forthcoming as we revisited the St Andrews scene.

"There is no doubt in my mind that that was the moment he [
Paisley] crossed over to being first minister designate," he told
me. Frank Millar

c 2007 The Irish Times


Michael Stone Charged With Attempted Murder

Loyalist killer Michael Stone has again been remanded in custody
after appearing in court charged with storming the Northern
Ireland Assembly.

The 51-year-old from east Belfast has been in custody since being
arrested at Stormont last November when he was seized at the main
doors of the Parliament Building by two security guards.

He has been charged with attempting to murder Sinn Fein leaders
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the two security guards and an
unnamed fifth person.

Stone appeared today at Belfast Magistrates` Court by video-link
from Maghaberry Prison and was remanded to reappear in similar
fashion on April 20.

The killer, who describes himself as "the artist Michael Stone",
told an earlier court hearing his escapade at Stormont was
"performance art".

Stone achieved notoriety when he killed three people in a gun and
grenade attack at the funeral in west Belfast of the three IRA
members shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988.

He was released early under the terms of the Good Friday
Agreement but had his licence revoked in November when he was
also charged with possessing home-made explosives, an imitation
firearm and articles for terrorist purposes.


Colombian Supreme Court Upholds IRA Convictions

By Jerry Seper Published Yesterday Latin America , Peace and
Conflict Unrated

Ex-IRA members convicted for supporting FARC
By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court in Colombia has upheld the
convictions in that country of three former Irish Republican Army
(IRA) members convicted and later sentenced to prison for
providing explosives training to Colombia's leftist rebels.

The high court's ruling affirmed convictions in 2004 by an
appeals court of Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin
McCauley, who in 2003 had been found not guilty by a trial judge
of training rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) to build bigger and better bombs.

Connolly, Monaghan and McCauley, known as the "Colombian Three,"
fled to Ireland while prosecutors in Colombia appealed the trial
judge's verdict.

Trial Judge Jaime Acosta in Bogota had acquitted the men in
August 2003 of teaching FARC fighters how to make bombs, although
he convicted them on lesser charges of passport fraud. He
sentenced them to terms ranging from 26 months to 44 months.
Because of the time they had already served since their arrests
on Aug. 11, 2001, he ordered them freed once they paid fines of
$6,500 each.

In April 2004, the attorney general's office in Colombia appealed
the verdict to the Court of Appeals and in December 2004, the
appeals court overturned the not-guilty verdict, finding the men
guilty of training the FARC rebels and ordering them to 17-year
prison sentences.

Monaghan, Connolly and McCauley had been arrested at Bogota
International Airport for traveling on false passports and were
found to have spent five weeks traveling through a demilitarized
southern zone of Colombia, then under the control of the FARC.

Monaghan and McCauley had arrived in Colombia on June 30, 2001,
on a flight from Belfast via Paris. Connolly had flown from
Dublin via Madrid, spending a day in Caracas before making a
rendezvous in Bogota. They denied the charges, describing
themselves as ecotourists and saying they visited FARC-controlled
areas to study peace negotiations.

Colombia's leftist rebels trained by IRA

In April 2002, Gen. Fernando Tapias, then-chairman of Colombia's
joint chiefs of staff, told the U.S. House International
Relations Committee that FARC rebels were trained by the IRA to
build bombs and upgrade their terrorist operations.

He said "an onslaught of terrorist acts" included the bombing of
320 electrical towers, 30 bridges and 46 vehicles -- attacks that
killed 400 police and military officers and caused $500 million
in damages.

Monaghan, 61, was identified by British authorities as the
designer of the Mark 1B long-range mortar known as the "barracks
buster." Convicted in 1971 of possession of explosives, he served
three years in prison. He also is a former member of the Sinn
Fein Executive Council.

McCauley, 44, served two years in prison for his 1985 conviction
for illegal possession of weapons. Commander of the IRA's
engineering department, he is an expert in using and producing
weapons and mortars.

Connolly, 42, also is a weapons expert and is thought to have
first made contact with the FARC five years ago through a Basque
terrorist group that specializes in bombings and assassinations
of Spanish government officials.


Unionists Laughed At Cllr's Collusion Motion

Andersonstown News
By Roisin McManus

A local Sinn Fein councillor has hit out after some unionist
councillors laughed out loud as a motion on the Police
Ombudsman's report into Special Branch collusion was being read
at a meeting of Lisburn City Council.

Cllr Jennifer McCann put the following notice of motion forward:
That this Council expresses deep concern at the relevations
contained in the report published by Police Ombudsman Nuala
O'Loan into the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr highlighting
collusiion between Special Branch and loyalist paramilitaries and
further calls on the British government to acknowledge its role
in employing this policy during its "Dirty War" in Ireland."

In January the Police Ombudman's report said there was collusion
between police officers and members of the UVF in North Belfast
who carried out up to 16 murders while working as informers. Her
investigation was sparked by Raymond McCord Senior whose son,
Raymond Junior, was murdered in November 1997.

Following a vote it was decided by 24 votes to four to take the
motion to the next meeting of the Corporate Services Committee
for discussion.

Speaking at Council, Cllr McCann said: "I am very, very
disappointed at the way people have reacted. This report has
serious implications, people have been murdered and yet there is
laughter and silliness... I would like to think that this would
be dealt with more seriously."

And, speaking to the Andersonstown News last night she added:
"Families who have been directly affected by the policy of
collusion are entitled to the truth about why a state agency that
is supposed to protect citizens was instrumental in their murder.

"Given the fact that four of the victims mentioned in Nuala O'
Loan's report were from the unionist/loyalist community their
families must feel very let down by their political
representatives who voted against debating the motion," she

Raymond McCord Senior said he would like to attend the meeting of
the Corporate Services Committee when the motion is discussed.

Speaking about the reaction of some unionists to the motion, he
said" "This attitude is disgraceful. Are they saying that the
report is wrong, do they want to brush it under the carpet? I
would like to go along and listen to the debate, I am quite
willing to attend the next meeting," he added.


Last Soldiers Leaving Crossmaglen

British soldiers are pulling out of Crossmaglen on Saturday - the
border village at the heart of republican south Armagh.

When troops of the Black Watch leave the village it will end a
posting all soldiers dreaded.

The area was considered so dangerous that troops and police
officers could not travel by road, and had to be flown in and out
by helicopter.

The move is one of the most significant steps in the
normalisation process.

It was previously considered impossible for the police to carry
out their duties in Crossmaglen without military support.

For more than 30 years, soldiers and police officers based in the
village were tasked with confronting some of the IRA's most
deadly units in the heart of south Armagh.

The area was referred to by many as "Bandit Country" because of
its history of lawlessness.

More than 20 police officers and soldiers were murdered in the
Crossmaglen area during the Troubles.

Demolition has already been completed on the look-out tower and
the Army and police base which loomed over Tomas O Fiaich Square
in the village.

The Army installations, troops on patrol and helicopter flights
were a source of anger for locals in the village for decades.

"For over 30 years the community here in south Armagh has had to
endure British military occupation," MP for the area, Sinn Fein's

Conor Murphy, said.

"It is now important that lands previously occupied by the
British are returned to their owners and that larger sites
vacated by the crown forces are utilised for the benefit of the
communities which have had to endure so much repression from the
British army throughout their unwelcome stay in south Armagh."

An Army spokesman said: "As published in the normalisation plan
of 28 March 2006, the military will be leaving Crossmaglen by the
end of this month."

The withdrawal of the Army from the base is part of the
government's normalisation programme in response to the IRA's
declared end to its activities.

Operation Banner, the name the Army gave to its support role for
the police, will end in August after more than 30 years - the
longest running operation in British army history.

By the summer there will be no more than 5,000 British soldiers
in Northern Ireland, based in 11 locations.

At the height of the Troubles there were almost 30,000, based in
more than 100 locations.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/31 08:19:52 GMT


'Cross' Not Suffering Any Bad Withdrawal Symptoms

[Published: Saturday 31, March 2007 - 08:20]
By Ben Lowry

As the Army pulled out of Crossmaglen yesterday, a regular
English visitor to the south Armagh town was reminded of a chance
encounter with a squaddie in the 1980s. He had been curious about
James McCusker's accent.

"I told him I was from Old Trafford in Manchester, and he said,
'so am I'," said James.

Later, when James was playing football back in Manchester, the
same squaddie recognised him. The pair became friends.

It was a dramatic example of a life spent among two traditions
for James, whose dad was born in republican Crossmaglen.

The family would sing "rebel songs", despite living in England at
a time when the IRA were attacking its cities.

"I have always thought that killing people is wrong but you have
to look at the bigger picture and ask why they do it," said
James, in Crossmaglen yesterday for a wedding. "If you look at
the history of the British Empire, or any occupying country such
as the Spanish and French, they have all had to be forced out."

He was delighted to see the Army leave. He said it was a welcome
return to normality after the "superb" deal between Gerry Adams
and Ian Paisley.

"(The Army presence) puts a taint on the place," said James, as
he stood in the town square.

Looking across to the Hotel On The Cross the McCuskers reflected
on how different now-bustling Crossmaglen had been little more
than a decade ago.

"There were no cars in the square," said his sister Geraldine. "
It was like a ghost town."

Also pleased to see the Army go was passer-by Tom McKay (71), who
said he knew the McCuskers' dad Jim.

Mr McKay, who lives near the base, said some soldiers had been
"very nasty, others were polite".

He said: "Every movement was scrutinised, they could look into
your bedroom, they could be lying in your garden at night."

In the hotel, a Lithuanian waitress, Anjelica, had no
recollection of a militarised 'Cross'. She had a different

It was quiet, she said, before talking excitedly at the prospect
of one day moving to Belfast.

c Belfast Telegraph


More Speak Irish In The North Than Speak Chinese

National Miscellaneous Other Press
D‚ Sathairn M rta 31, 2007 17:42
by Ciar n Barnes - ATN

Andersonstown News

More speak Irish in the North than speak Chinese

By Ciar n Barnes

The unionist myth that more people in the North of Ireland speak
Chinese than Irish has been shattered in the House of Lords.

Statistics released at Westminster last week clearly show that
the North's Irish speaking population is eight times that of the
Chinese speaking population.

Responding to a parliamentary question by Ulster Unionist peer
John Taylor, Labour peer John Rooker revealed there are just
8,000 Chinese speakers in the North.

This compares to the 75,000 people who, in the 2001 census, said
they "speak, read, write and understand Irish", and the 167,000
people who said they "had some knowledge of Irish".

Janet Muller, Chief Executive of the Irish language umbrella
group Pobal, said the statistics are another reason why Irish
language legislation should be passed through Westminster.

"All languages deserve respect, and all language communities
should have access to services," she said.

"The circumstances of the Irish language are unique however
because it is an indigenous language with a large community of
speakers, a 2000 year history and a body of literature."

Confirmation of the Irish/Chinese speaking ratios come at a key
time for the future of the Irish language in the North.

If the Assembly reconvenes on May 8 one of its first big
decisions will be whether to implement an Irish Language Act.

Under proposals by the Department of Culture the language would
be given a recognised status.

The Department has proposed the appointment of an Irish language
Commissioner and the establishment of language schemes for public

It is also being suggested that Irish could be used in court
proceedings and official documents could be printed in the

Nationalists have long campaigned for the legislation along with
Irish speakers.

However, unionists have vowed to oppose it in any form.

The DUP's Nelson McCausland has questioned the wisdom of spending
more cash on implementing an Irish Language Act when the British
government already spends œ18 million annually on Irish.

He also described proposals contained in the act as "heavy


Opin: Army Council's Secret Meetings Key To Securing Devolution

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 14:16]

The meeting that everybody knew about was the one that took place
in Dublin on Sunday, January 28 - the Sinn Fein ard fheis that
gave republicans a path into policing.

And it did more than that. The conference decision also created
part of the road to the new political era of Paisley and
McGuinness, and, in all that was happening, the IRA erected no

Before the Sinn Fein ard fheis there was an IRA Army Convention
stretching from Friday, January 26, into Saturday, January 27.

So what is an Army Convention?

It is an occasion when the IRA talks to itself - right across the

These meetings are secret, and they don't happen very often.

They are reserved for the biggest of decisions.

And when Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams walked into their
party's Dublin conference on that Sunday in January, they knew
exactly the mind and the vote of the IRA organisation.

Indeed they knew they had the IRA with them, and that decision
and the Sinn Fein vote on the Sunday are what opened up a road to
the new politics of this place.

These things made possible that historic meeting on Monday
between Ian Paisley's DUP and Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein.

Army Conventions are the business of the IRA leadership -
business for the Army Council and the Army Executive.

And, yes, Jim Allister is right, there is still an Army Council
out there.

The DUP MEP won't agree with this point, but there has to be.

The IRA is styled as an Army. It takes its lead from the top, and
it is being ordered and directed out of war and towards peace.

That has been the trend since the first ceasefire of 1994.

If there was no Army Council, who would have ordered that
complete cessation of military operations and the second that
followed in 1997?

Who would have ordered the end of the armed campaign in 2005 and
the decommissioning that quickly followed?

Who gave the orders for military structures to be disbanded?

And who would have brought the IRA together in that recent Army
Convention that discussed the question of policing?

Inside republicanism - inside a changed and changing IRA - the
Army Council is making the once unthinkable happen.

And if you read closely into the words and the writings of the
Independent Monitoring Commission that is the trend you will see.

That commission will deliver another report to the British and
Irish governments at the end of April for publication just before
May 8 - the new date for devolution.

"This is not so much an Army Council - whatever it is called -
it's now a change management group," a source told this

"Their role and responsibility now is not to conduct a military
campaign, but to manage the transition from a terrorist campaign
into the democratic process.

"Whatever titles people may have, their roles are now completely
different," the source continued.

That source talked about us still being "in a period of
transition" and not yet being "at the end of it", but, he
believes, we are " at a late stage".

Inside the IRA, the Army Council may well still have the
authority to " declare war", but that is not the republican
direction of 2007.

The leadership at the top of that organisation is moving closer
to some final peace, and it is taking the bulk of the men and
women of the IRA with it.

We don't see the Army Council meeting, but if we care to look, we
can see the change in its thinking and its doing.

All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds.

The conflict is over, and the IRA is being ordered away by those
it will listen to - those who led it in war and then into a
developing peace.

The IRA is listening to its Army Council.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Lissadell And Closed Roads

Sligo Rights And Freedoms
Opinion/Analysis D‚ Sathairn M rta 31, 2007 16:45
By B Scanlon - Right Of Way/Sligo

Disgrace To Her Name

The house that Countess Markievicz was born in now has exhibition
in her honour. This woman born into wealth gave her live to
Ireland and its poor.

Bertie Ahern kicked the show off on Friday for his friend the
owner Eddie Walsh, the very man who had closed of rights of way
on the estate to the people of the area.

The new landlord of Lissadell House had closed of rights of way
that was used for generations.

To have a exhibition to Countess Markievicz live ond work in the
place of her birth where Irish people are been blocked by a Irish
landlord is a disgrace to her memory and everything she believe
in. To have the Taoiseach there to open it is two fingers to
everyone in the area and their right to walk on Irish roads


Opin: Long, Weary Journey Is Over

01 April 2007

It has been an emotional week, during which the winds of Irish
history have blown together the warring factions in the North,
writes Tom McGurk.

It has been an emotional week, during which the winds of Irish
history have blown together the warring factions in the North,
writes Tom McGurk.

They were on the roads early.

As the country turned over in their beds enjoying a spring
Saturday with the promise of more sunshine to come, the DUP and
the Sinn Fein party machines were already headed for Castlereagh
in East Belfast and Parnell Square in Dublin.

The contrast in destinations could hardly be further apart on the
Irish historical spectrum, could hardly be more symbolic of the
still then-unbridgeable gap. Castlereagh has long been 'Republic
of Peter Robinson-land' or should I say empire?

Its red-bricked sumptuous council offices has long been
Robinson's castle; no sooner had he dumped the UUP out of its
safest and most symbolic seat, than he built his fortifications

Parnell Square has always been known as 'Revolutionary Square'.
Tom Clarke's tobacco shop out of which 1916 was hatched was here;
around the corner was Barry's Hotel, from where Michael Collins
ran his squad and the Rotunda hosted numerous defining moments
from the first Irish Volunteer meetings to the first Sinn Fein
and Fianna Fail gatherings.

As the DUP pulled up at Castlereagh and the Sinn Feiners parked
around Parnell Square, everyone was aware that by tea-time at the
latest the die would be cast. Monday was the Westminster deadline
for power sharing and devolution and, since Ian Paisley only did
religion on Sundays, it was today or never.

At the same time as the Dublin and Castlereagh meetings were
beginning, Martin McGuiness was pulling in to the Sinn Fein
offices in Sebastopol Street in Belfast.

(Castlereagh, Parnell, Sebastopol, can the appellations of
history on Irish street corners never leave us alone?) McGuiness
was being excused from the Ard Chomhairle meeting in Dublin to be
on stand-by for whatever might emerge out of Castlereagh. He
switched on his mobile, as did senior civil servants in Dublin,
Belfast and London. They had been instructed to monitor events
from home - after all, it would not be the first time that DUP
meetings had stonewalled.

From early in the week, the governments and Sinn Fein had been
aware of the DUP's internal divisions. There were three visible
groupings in the party, taking three different positions, with a
large number of MLA's and MP's keeping their opinions to

The Paisleys - senior and junior - and Peter Robinson wanted to
'do it now', while Nigel Dodds, Jim Wells and Gregory Campbell
were on the 'not just yet' wing. Total opposition to doing it 'in
the foreseeable future' was being led by MEPJim Allister and Rev
Willy McCrea.

Outsiders were also aware that where the DUP went was also
intrinsically bound up with the leadership succession. As it
stands, Peter Robinson is the anointed successor, but both Nigel
Dodds and MEPJim Allister were known to be interested. Gregory
Campbell and Willy McCrea are both known to be in the Dodds camp.

As the DUP meeting began, in Dublin the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle
was ploughing through routine business, though everyone was aware
that the main action was elsewhere. Back at Stormont Castle, a
senior civil servant in Peter Hain's office had been appointed to
act as a link between events at Castlereagh and all the other
interested parties.

It is enormously difficult to obtain inside information about DUP
meetings but, from sources, it seems that Peter Robinson led off
with an argument that the DUP's increased mandate from an
electorate struggling with the prospect of increased rates and
water rating charges were liable to think very poorly of
political failure.

He was ably supported by Ian Paisley Junior, who had increasingly
become an advocate for the deal, and Jeffrey Donaldson. Since
Paisley, father and son, are so close politically, it was a
seminal moment for the party listening.

The opposition was led by Jim Allister and Nigel Dodds, but they
were increasingly confronted with the question by the proposers:
''what is your alternative?"

Neither Jim Allister nor Willy McCrea was able to come up with a
more realistic alternative, other than long-fingering the
decision once again. As the debate continued across the morning,
Ian Paisley Senior saw that a strategy that would unite the 'do
it now' with the 'not just yet' groupings would unite more than
95 per cent of those present. Furthermore, it would allow both
Dodds and Campbell to come on board, as both were not only MP's
but former experienced assembly ministers. Just after mid-day at
Castlereagh, the decision was made to go for more time - and for
May. The civil servant in Hain's office was immediately informed.

But two more important decisions had also been taken by the DUP.
One was to start a new meeting immediately, of the DUP Officer
Board (their smaller central policy grouping), and also to agree
to begin urgent negotiations with Sinn Fein.

The Stormont civil servant informed London and Dublin and Martin
McGuiness of the decision. McGuiness spoke to Adams in Dublin and
told him that the DUP was on board - perhaps - but that its
members needed more time and were unable to meet Monday's Peter
Hain deadline.

Both recognised that the DUP's need for time perhaps represented
a unique opportunity for negotiation. A small window of
opportunity was opening. The DUP needed time both for internal
party difficulties and as a mechanism that would create the
public perception that they were moving on their own volition,
especially after all their huffing and puffing about the
deadline. This was now about face-saving as much as power-

McGuiness and Adams decided that they would negotiate, but it had
to be - for the first time ever - a proper face-to-face meeting
between the two parties in all the long years of this process.
Such was the urgency, with the hours running down to Monday, that
intermediates or next-room negotiators were out of the question.
To give it its due, the DUP saw the sense of that too.

The DUP quickly agreed and nominated Peter Robinson to lead the
negotiation. As the Stormont civil servant rushed to find a venue
there for the unexpected meeting, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, on his
way to the Ireland versus Wales soccer match at Croke Park, was

By 3.30pm, the first ever face-to-face meeting between Sinn Fein
and the DUP on the Peace Process was secretly underway at
Stormont. Robinson was leading for the DUP and McGuiness for Sinn
Fein. Sinn Fein wanted three things from the meeting: a DUP
commitment to enter all the institutions, a definite date for
devolution and a public event on the following Monday that would
convince an increasingly sceptical general public that, at last,
the whole process was for real.

The first item - the DUP's commitment to work all the
institutions, including the cross-border bodies - provided the
most protracted argument. There could be no a la carte menu, no
working some parts and not others. If that was painful for them,
then policing was painful for Sinn Fein. But in so far as
commitments could be agreed this far in advance of as yet unknown
scenarios, they were given.

That agreed, the timing proved to be not too difficult. Sinn Fein
wanted early May, while the DUP wanted late May. They agreed on

According to sources, the meeting was amiable and business-like
from the outset. It broke off at 12.30am that night, with an
agreement to continue the following day. Still no hand-shakes but
a lot of business done. McGuiness got to bed in Derry at 3am,
after briefly meeting Adams in Belfast.

Sunday March 25

Peter Hain is on breakfast television and the public line at
least has changed. It's no longer ''devolution or dissolution''
but ''well, if the two parties can present me with their
agreement . . ."

11.00am at Stormont and the secret meeting reconvenes. The
immediate task at hand was to agree the choreography for 'the
event' on Monday morning. That would require an agenda for
discussion, a statement that both sides would make publicly and a
method whereby it could be televised without it turning into a
bear-garden for the press.

The agenda is principally a future government to-do list, with
mutual ambitions topping the list. Things like the social issues
of poverty, suicide, youth alcohol abuse (always a DUP
favourite), as well as water charges, rates and rural planning.
There's an emphasis on selecting the non-controversial, the
consensual areas.

By mid-afternoon they have moved on to how the event will happen
- where it would be, how many would be there, who would sit
where, what shape the top table would be and how it would be
publicised. Never has a shotgun wedding reception been subject to
such detailed scrutiny. They agreed the Stormont members' dining
room (it's neutral) and the diamond-shaped table allowing for
discreet distances where necessary.

They agree one film camera and two stills cameras. But there will
be no press, no questions and only the party leader statements
will be recorded as the meeting is concluded. Peter Robinson is
to be media manager.

The most difficult part comes with the party leaders' statements.
There can be no triumphalism, no polemics and yet they have to
appear realistic.

Hours of drafting follow. Each statement has to be agreed by both
sides. By late afternoon most of the agreements are in place,
except the leaders' statements.

Ian Paisley doesn't do politics on the Lord's Day, so final
agreement has to wait until early Monday morning.

Monday March 26

From8amthe television outside broadcasting vans are ringing

The international press makes a familiar yet weary journey across
the lawns. But there's enough speculation in the papers to
suggest that it may not just be another ground-hog day.

At 10am the Sinn Fein members assemble in their room to hear the
news. The rumour-mill has kept the mobiles buzzing late into the
night. Adams tells them that they are about to meet with the DUP
face to face. (Only during their meeting, with 45minutes to go to
'the event' does the final go-ahead on the leaders' television
statements come back from the DUP.)

Catriona Ruane has brought up a party of sixth-form politics
students from Our Lady's Grammar School in Newry to visit
Stormont. She has to ask them to excuse her as she has to go to a
meeting which has suddenly been called. With a huge press
presence around the lobby she dare not say any more.

Little do the girls know they're about to be unknowing
bridesmaids to political history, as they watch the Sinn Fein
delegation suddenly walk across the central lobby and ascend the
staircase to the member's dining-room.

Ruane later recalls that, as she climbed the stairs, she actually
wondered would they find the room empty. They march in to find
the DUP already in position. As they sit down they all open up
the carefully agreed agenda.

Adams quickly breaks the ice by suggesting to Ian Paisley that,
as the majority party, would he like to open the meeting. Paisley
begins from the carefully prepared briefs. Despite all the
rehearsal the meeting is not tense and is remarkably business-
like, given the circumstances.

The agenda is worked through and then its time to call in the
press. The two stills photographers click away as the camera man
sets-up his tripod and camera. On a signal, Paisley reads his
statement, followed by Adams. As Adams finishes, Peter Robinson
signals for the filming to end and the Sinn Fein delegation

Downstairs for once, the press, still filling up central lobby,
are open-mouthed as word of 'the event' spreads. Paisley can't
resist coming to the balcony above them and exchanging some good-
tempered teasing with them.

They rush off to the press room to await the broadcast.

When the tape is finally broadcast a few minutes later, they
watch it, seemingly mesmerised.

So too does most of the country, with an Easter-lilied Adams
performing partly in Irish to a chorus-line of stoney-faced DUP.

However endless and weary this journey across the desert of
Northern politics has been, we actually need to pinch ourselves
that we have not come across a mirage.

Tuesday March 27

I am in cappuccino-land in a fair-trade establishment on the
banks of the canal in Newry.

Beside me, Catriona Ruane is doing an interview in fluent Spanish
on her mobilephone to a Spanish radio station.

Beyond the windows, the economic miracle that is Newry is all
around. The shopping malls, the new apartment blocks, the
cinemas, Newry, whose property prices have risen 500 per cent in
ten years.

Newry, that once bombed-out hulk when you descended the hill and
the army road-block, a place that only twenty years ago you
couldn't have given away for nothing.

That place of blasted shop-fronts, concrete barriers and acres of
desolation alley. Behold now the City of Newry.

Wednesday March 28

Barry McElduff, the West Tyrone MLA, recalls an earlier Sinn
Fein/DUP meeting.

Less salubrious perhaps than the recent one, it was on the
landing of the Crumlin Road prison in the 1980s. IRA prisoner
McElduff was on remand and Ian Paisley MP was on prison
inspection duties.

''We asked him in and he came into the cells to talk to us'' says
McElduff. ''He was actually very nice, very concerned about the
conditions of prisoners. The warders were gob-smacked, come to
think of it. Of course he was a prisoner here himself back in the

The elaborate gold leaf inscription over the door spans the full
width of ornate mahogany portico. It reads 'The Office of the
deputy First Minister'.

The deputy first minister designate himself, Martin McGuiness,
opens the door and leads me in. We walk through an outer-office,
an ante room and then into the vast office. In one corner the
huge desk and bank of telephones, in another, a table and set of
leather chairs and, in another, a small circle of black leather
couches. The walls are still bare; he has just inherited it that
morning. I am the first visitor.

The desk is cleared, ready for business.

We stand and look out the window down at the vast spread of the
Stormont lawns, spring green in the sunshine, the vast entrance
framed by limes and beeches and still on the skyline, Carson's
raised right hand still clawing at the heavens.

For a moment there is no denying the emotion tugging at both of
us. This too takes a little getting used to. I first met him over
thirty years ago, mounting a free-Derry check-point. The straw-
curly hair, the combat jacket, the lean purposeful no-nonsense
Bogside terrier. Behind him, the local unit framed in doorways.

Nor is there any denying the winds of Irish history blowing
across the moment. The ghosts of Collins, Mulcahy, de Valera,
McEntee, Lemass, Aitken, McBride, the same circuitous route and
the same inevitable journey's ending. Their's took a decade; this
one more than a generation.

Later in the day, I read the historian Eamon Phoenix writing in
the Irish News that Monday March 26 (the day the troubles finally
ended) is the anniversary to the very day of the Flight of the
Earls down Lough Swilly.

The O'Neill and the O'Donnell and all their retinue, all of 400
years ago. Now who or what added that to 'the event'?


Taoiseach On Lissadell House Visit

Marese McDonagh
Sat, Mar 31, 2007

During the Famine it doubled as a soup kitchen but when Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern dropped into the restored coach house at Lissadell
House in Co Sligo yesterday, oysters and smoked salmon were on
the menu.

Given the Government's decision nearly four years ago not to
purchase the ancestral home of Countess Markievicz, there were
those who thought that a large serving of humble pie might be in
order, but instead Mr Ahern left with spring cabbage, rhubarb,
spinach and daffodils, all grown on the estate.

He was in Lissadell House to open the Countess Markievicz
exhibition at the invitation of Eddie Walsh and Constance Cassidy
who purchased the estate and some of the furnishings in 2003 for
?4.55 million when the Government baulked at what they estimated
as the ?30 million renovation and maintenance costs.

Mr Ahern was gracious in his admiration yesterday as he surveyed
the work done on the house and estate and joked about how much
could be achieved with the right amount of commitment, drive "and
a good bank manager".

The exhibition features sketches, and paintings by Countess
Markievicz, who was born in Lissadell in 1868, as well as many
hand-written notes detailing plans for the 1916 Rising and
several photographs and documents recording her role as a founder
member of Fianna F il.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Folk Singer Paddy Reilly Set To Net ?32m From Sale Of Land

01 April 2007 By Richard Curran

Folk singer Paddy Reilly is in final negotiations to sell 11
acres of land near his home in Saggart, west Dublin, to Jim
Mansfield's Citywest Group, for a sum believed to be around ?32

Folk singer Paddy Reilly is in final negotiations to sell 11
acres of land near his home in Saggart, west Dublin, to Jim
Mansfield's Citywest Group, for a sum believed to be around ?32

The singer, who immortalised the ballad The Fields Of Athenry,
grew up in the Saggart area, but bought the 11 acres in 1989 for
about œ120,000 (?157,000).

It is not clear whether the deal includes Reilly's home, or
merely the land adjacent to it.

Mansfield, who could not be contacted for comment, is likely to
develop the 11-acre site and build houses or apartments. Speaking
from his home, O'Reilly told The Sunday Business Post that
negotiations were ongoing but the sale was not yet complete.

Reilly has been one of the country's most successful balladeers
for many years, and has been a massive draw on the international
folk scene.

His biggest hit, The Fields Of Athenry, is regarded as Ireland's
most popular song. Penned by Pete St John, it topped the Irish
charts for 18 weeks.

In recent years, Reilly has toured with the Dubliners, after
Ronnie Drew retired from the band in 1995. In 2005, he moved to
America, but has since returned home.

Mansfield owns several hundred acres around the Citywest estate
and the hotel, golf and conferencing business.

His business made a profit last year of ?28.8 million on a
turnover of ?108 million.


Irish Islands Go On Show

01 April 2007 By Elizabeth McGuane

The beauty and harshness of life on Ireland's islands will be
explored in a new exhibition of photographs on display at the
National Photographic Archive in Dublin.

The beauty and harshness of life on Ireland's islands will be
explored in a new exhibition of photographs on display at the
National Photographic Archive in Dublin.

Island Life - The Islands of Ireland will have its official
launch tomorrow, but is already open for public viewing at the
archive's gallery in Temple Bar.

The photographs, taken between 1930 and 1960, feature images of
people and landscapes from many islands around the coast, as well
as those on inland lakes, such as Lough Derg's Station Island.

However, the exhibition concentrates on Achill Island, the Aran
Islands, Valentia and the Blasket Islands.

Several of the images relate to the Aranmore and Achill Beg

The exhibition has more than 71 photographs from seven
collections, as well as four albums.

It includes selected images from the recently acquired
collections of Tomas O'Muircheartaigh and Colman Doyle.

O'Muircheartaigh was an amateur photographer and former president
of Conradh na Gaeilge, and this exhibition will mark the 50th
anniversary of his death. His work was acquired by the National
Library in 2005.

Colman Doyle is considered to be one of the most important Irish
photographers of the last century. The National Library acquired
his collected photographs last year.

RTE's marine correspondent Tom MacSweeney will launch the
exhibition, which runs until June 11, at the archive tomorrow at

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March 30, 2007

British Leave Crossmaglen Tomorrow

Brian Crockard and Irene McAuley and the photograph
of them together on the Crumlin Road in 1969

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 03/30/07 British Leave Crossmaglen Tomorrow
BB 03/30/07 Reveal Police Links To Informer: McCord
IN 03/30/07 Jail Terms Too Lenient: SDLP
BB 03/30/07 DUP Founding Member Quits Party
BT 03/30/07 Donaldson Surprise At Simpson's Statement
BN 03/30/07 Rail Disruption As 4 Dissident Republicans Quizzed
IN 03/30/07 Police Ombudsman To Probe Arrest Of Candidate
BT 03/30/07 Kids From Iconic Troubles Photo Reunite In Peace
BT 03/30/07 Opin: Times?... They Are A-Changin'
BT 03/30/07 Opin: Give Army Council Marching Orders
IN 03/30/07 Opin: Irish History Never Quite Happens As It Should
BT 03/30/07 Opin: Sigh Of Relief As Ceasefire Called On Warfare
BT 03/30/07 Bono Says Of Paisley & Adams: U2 Inspired Me
IN 03/30/07 Belfast Actor Rea Gets In New Irish Film
IN 03/30/07 Galway Water Crisis Drives Down Tourism
JN 03/30/07 Movie Review: Ken Loach's "Barley" Set In Ireland

(Poster’s Note: See video of Paisley & Adams press conference Jay)


British Leave Crossmaglen Tomorrow

Fri, Mar 30, 2007

British troops are to leave Crossmaglen, south Armagh, tomorrow.

There will be no official farewell after more than 30 years in
what was once the IRA's most feared battleground, and locals said
they will be glad to see the back of them.

Philip O'Reilly (34), a barman, said: "We never wanted them here
in the first place, and we're delighted they're finally going."

Demolition is already completed on the lookout tower and the
British army and police base that loomed over Tomas O Fiaich

Earlier this month a British army helicopter crashed in a village
field earlier this month, injuring six people inside. As police
guarded the site, youths bombarded them with petrol bombs, stones
and bottles.

c 2007


Reveal Police Links To Informer: McCord

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 12:44]
By Chris Thornton

Campaigning father Raymond McCord said today that a landmark
legal judgment should force the PSNI to publicly reveal police
links to the UVF informer behind the murder of his son.

After former police officers claimed there is not enough evidence
to show collusion in the 1997 murder of Raymond McCord Jnr, Mr
McCord said the new ruling should force out much of the evidence
seen by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

"We want those documents and we're entitled to them," Mr McCord

Law Lords ruled earlier this week that the PSNI is required to
give coroners any information they hold relevant to a death being
investigated by an inquest - unless it is subject to a
ministerial gagging order.

The PSNI insisted they already comply with ruling - although a
number of legal sources pointed to a series of controversial
inquests which have been on hold because police withheld witness

Almost ten years after the murder, no inquest has yet been held
into the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr, who was battered to death
by UVF members in November 1997.

In January, Mrs O'Loan reported that a UVF police agent known as
Informant One - and named in the Dail as Mount Vernon loyalist
Mark Haddock - was involved in the murder and at least nine other

Earlier this month, the Retired Police Officers' Association
issued their own report, disputing Mrs O'Loan's finding and
demanding a public apology. They said the Ombudsman had not
produced evidence acceptable to the Prosecution Service.

Mr McCord said the new ruling on the release of evidence should
mean " full disclosure" of police material on the role of Haddock
and other loyalists in the murder.

"In particular, we want the documents that show when police
became aware of Informant One's role," he said.

"Mrs O'Loan's report says that in the hours and days after
Raymond's murder they received information, both CID and Special
Branch, about Informant One's involvement.

"But Haddock was not questioned until February 25, three-and-a-
half months later.

"Who made the decision not to question him for that length of
time? I think that should be disclosed.

"When this material is released, I think it will counteract what
the Retired Police Officers' Association was saying."

In this week's ruling, the Law Lords said police should give the
Coroner all the information they have about the killing of IRA
member Martin McCaughey by SAS soldiers.

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, writing the majority opinion, said it
would " plainly frustrate the public interest in a full and
effective investigation if the police were legally entitled ...
to withhold relevant and perhaps crucial information".

He said evidence could only be withheld where legal privilege or
immunity is involved - a reference to ministerial orders known as
Public Interest Immunity Certificates.

The PSNI insisted they already comply with the ruling.

"The judgment (at paragraph 44) affirms the position adopted by
the Police Service whereby police accept and observe their
continuing obligation to supply relevant information to the
coroner and states that 'the police were right to do so'," a PSNI
spokeswoman said.

However, in 2003, the PSNI and MoD defied a ruling by the East
Tyrone Coroner requiring them to hand over full witness
statements for four inquests - two UVF attacks and two SAS
ambushes of IRA gunmen.

c Belfast Telegraph


Jail Terms Too Lenient: SDLP

By Claire Simpson

LOYALISTS involved in up to 20 criminal cases were able to escape
prison on charges that should have resulted in custodial
sentences, the SDLP has claimed.

The party has written to the Criminal Justice Inspector to
complain about the "lenient sentencing" of loyalist
paramilitaries, claiming some sentences "do not fit the crime".

Among the cases they list are those of three loyalists from
Portglenone - Stephen Maternaghan, John McDonald and Gary
McDonald - who received suspended sentences despite mounting an
armed road block and pointing a deactivated AK47 at two motorists
and three police officers.

The Irish News highlighted the case in a front-page story in
October 2005, reflecting outrage among nationalists over the
courts' attitude to loyalist gun crime.

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, later criticised the
sentences as "too lenient" and referred the case to the Court of

The sentences were overturned and the three men imprisoned for
two years.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness claimed in some cases
loyalists had received shorter sentences than republicans
convicted of similar charges.

The SDLP alleged that lenient sentencing had "damaged the
confidence of both nationalists and unionists".

Another case highlighted by the party centred on three loyalist
paramilitary 'footsoldiers' who claimed to control the ice cream
trade in south Antrim - Carrickfergus men John Steven Millar,
Robert Glen Murray and Thomas McCrea. In August 2005 they were
given suspended sentences despite pleading guilty to assaulting
an undercover policeman while a fourth Carrickfergus man, Mark
Gourley, who also pleaded guilty, received only 18 months'

The SDLP insists the men should each have been given a prison

Mr Maginness said the problem often did not lie with the
judiciary and complained police and the prosecution "minimised
the seriousness of the offences committed by loyalists and
protect the offenders".

"We cannot accept that those guilty of serious paramilitary
offences should be able to avoid prison," he said.

The party called on the Attorney General to monitor loyalist
sentences and to intervene where lenient.

It also asked the police and prosecution service to review their
handling of loyalist paramilitary cases to ensure "all
paramilitary cases are treated equally seriously".


DUP Founding Member Quits Party

A founding member of the DUP has quit the party in protest at its
plans to share power with Sinn Fein.

Roy Gillespie, a member for more than 40 years, is the third
Ballymena DUP councillor to resign in recent weeks.

Mr Gillespie said of Monday's historic meeting between Ian
Paisley and Gerry Adams: "I'm still in a state of shock and
mourning - I am devastated."

He said he had quit with a "heavy heart", but "the DUP have
joined hands with an unrepentant terrorist party".

"My conscience and principles will not allow me to stay in a
party which, I believe, has stepped away from all the principles
it once held," he said.

Mr Gillespie said he would remain as a Protestant Unionist

DUP Ballymena councillor Maurice Mills said people had to move in
the direction decided by the electorate.

He expressed regret at Mr Gillespie's departure and said he had
served the party well.

On Tuesday, MEP Jim Allister resigned from the DUP a day after Mr
Paisley's meeting with the Sinn Fein president.

A number of DUP assembly members have spoken of their concerns
about power-sharing with Sinn Fein on 8 May, but none has

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/30 11:11:11 GMT


Donaldson Surprise At Simpson's Statement

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 12:13]
By Noel McAdam

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson has voiced surprise at his MP
colleague David Simpson's description of the party's decision to
go into government with Sinn Fein as "premature".

And it was not clear today whether the statement by Mr Simpson
and his Upper Bann Assembly colleague Stephen Moutray had been
authorised by the party.

Party sources confirmed, however, that both voted in favour of
the party's Executive's resolution last Saturday saying the party
would share power with republicans in May.

Their statement came as two more councillors, Roy Gillespie and
Audrey Patterson, resigned from the party.

c Belfast Telegraph


Rail Disruption As Four 'Dissident Republicans' Are Quizzed

30/03/2007 - 10:40:33

Detectives were questioning four dissident republican suspects
today as part of an intelligence operation in the North.

And with police searches near a railway line in Co Armagh, the
Belfast to Dublin train route faced major disruption.

The men were arrested after being stopped in a car on the Antrim
Road, Lurgan, last night.

They were taken for interview at the Police Service of Northern
Ireland's serious crime suite in Antrim.

As the operation continued, officers sealed off the railway line
between Moira and Lurgan.

St Michael's Grammar School in the town was also closed during
the searches.

Cross-border train passengers were bussed between Belfast and
Newry, Co Down.


Police Ombudsman To Probe Arrest Of Candidate

By Staff Reporter

The police ombudsman is to investigate the arrest of an assembly
election candidate as he left a count centre in Omagh.

Independent republican candidate Gerry McGeough was freed on bail
in Belfast's High Court yesterday.

The 48-year-old, from Carrick Castle Road in Dungannon, has been
charged with attempting to murder a part-time UDR soldier in 1981
and possessing firearms with intent to endanger life.

Mr Justice McLaughlin said there was evidence that McGeough had
been living openly in the north since last September and that he
had sufficient roots to reduce the risk of him absconding.

He added that even if he was convicted it was unlikely he would
serve any more than two years in prison under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement.

Crown lawyer Charles McKay had earlier alleged that McGeough was
a dissident republican aligned to Continuity IRA.

He said the wounded UDR man, Samuel Brush - now a DUP councillor
- shot one of his attackers in the attack near Ballygawley.

He alleged McGeough was one of the attackers and was later
treated for a gunshot wound in Monaghan County Hospital.

Mr McKay said McGeough escaped from police custody in the
Republic and went to America where he allegedly tried to buy
stinger missiles for republicans before the plot was uncovered by
the FBI and he fled.

He said he turned up in Germany and was carrying fire-arms when
he was arrested, with the guns having been used in the murder of
a soldier in the Netherlands.

Mr McKay said McGeough was extradited to America and was jailed
for attempting to send arms to Ireland and on his return lived in

A co-accused, Vincent McAnespie (44) from Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone,
was granted bail last week after the court heard two witnesses
had withdrawn statements but Mr McKay said that had been due to a
"fundamental error" on the part of the Public Prosecution Service
and the bail might be revoked.

Defence counsel Joe Brolly said McGeough had no interest in using
violence to bring about change and since being deported from the
US had lived openly in Ireland.

When asked why police arrested McGeough as he left the election
count, Mr McKay said: "It was the first time police were aware he
was in Northern Ireland."

The judge replied: "Then the police intelligence is not very good
because I am told this man has been over the border many times
and has been effectively living here since last September."

Releasing McGeough, the judge set personal bail at œ500 pounds
with a surety of œ2,500 and ordered him to report to police three
times a week.


Kids From Iconic Troubles Photo Reunite In Peace

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 08:39]
By Eddie McIlwaine

Labourer Brian Crockard (44) has good reason to remember the day
in August 1969 that cameraman Stanley Matchett snapped a famous
picture of him and his pal Irene McCarroll on the Crumlin Road in

Nearly 38 years on, the pair have been reunited thanks to the
Belfast Telegraph.

Brian, who lives in Taughmonagh, made contact after seeing the
picture in this newspaper and he and Irene, now a 47-year-old
grandmother, met for a chat and another picture together.

"Reviving that old photograph now couldn't be at a better time
with what is happening around us in politics," Brian said.

At the time the photo was taken, the Troubles were erupting all
around them and Brian's mother, Martha, was fighting for her life
in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"Mum was shot in the back by a gunman in a passing car in Percy
Street while she was out looking for my brother Harry during
trouble in the area," said Brian, who was only seven at the time.

"When she saw our picture in a morning newspaper, she was worried
about what we were getting up to while she was lying in her sick

Mrs Crockard recovered from the shooting and was soon back home
in Sydney Street West looking after the family.

"But she was never the same again," says Brian. "She died 10
years ago at 70."

Seeing the Matchett picture again in the Belfast Telegraph and
later at the Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association
exhibition Out of the Darkness - which ends at the Ormeau Road
Baths Gallery tomorrow (10am to 5.30pm) - brought back memories
of his mother and father, an asbestos victim, who is also now

Brian was seven and Irene was just 10 when the picture, which
captured the essence of dark times in the city, was taken on the
pavement between Disraeli Street and Hooker Street - long since
demolished - with a soldier on guard behind.

Stanley Matchett, a former Belfast Telegraph and Daily Mirror
photographer, is presenting Irene and Brian with framed copies of
his famous print.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Times?... They Are A-Changin'

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 12:13]
By Dean Pittman

In the Sixties, my fellow countryman Bob Dylan wrote a song that
typified the political divisions and social upheaval facing the
United States at the time.

The Times They Are a-Changin' remains one of Dylan's best known
songs, and the album of the same name makes many references to
the troubles endured in my home state of Mississippi.

Dylan's evocative lyrics resonated with me on Monday. The
compelling sight of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams side-by-side was
a clear signal that Northern Ireland had, indeed, stepped into a
new era.

I was heartened to see seasoned commentators, much more
experienced with the twists and turns of the peace process,
equally as moved as I was following Monday's dramatic events. It
is a clich‚ that a picture says a thousand words, but that's only
a modest estimation of the coverage that newspapers in America
gave to these developments.

The Washington Post reported extensively about the "once-
unthinkable" meeting of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams. A Boston
Globe editorial described how Northern Ireland's political
conflict did "not yield itself to easy resolution" but that it
hoped, "familiarity would breed consensus, not contempt". The New
York Post said the two leaders acted as " accountable democrats"
in delivering the promise of peace that their constituents cared
deeply for.

Events at Stormont were watched closely by senior representatives
of my government. Northern Ireland's Special Envoy, Under
Secretary Paula Dobriansky, offered the United States'
congratulations to everyone involved, saying that their
leadership throughout the process was critical to bringing a
successful conclusion.

Similar praise also came from prominent Americans like Senator
Kennedy and, of course, Senator Mitchell who spent so much time
in Northern Ireland working for just such an outcome.

Once again, the eyes of the world are on this corner of Europe.

Thankfully, it's not because of bombs, conflict, or even
deadlock. It's about the unprecedented political progress and the
very real spirit of optimism that is on the horizon.

The headlines across the world reinforce the message I continue
to send back home: Northern Ireland is moving forward and has
become a terrific place to visit and to invest.

That's also the message I took to Washington during the hugely
productive St Patrick's celebrations in the Capitol. On my return
to Northern Ireland last week, I was greeted by further good news
that a number of locally-based businesses had gained lucrative
deals in the US.

These companies were participating in an exciting exhibition in
Washington DC that offered them access to US government
representatives looking to purchase technology solutions.

One success story was the Newry-based CoreWorkflow, established
only two years ago. Following their visit to the US, they are now
aiming to double their workforce after securing a multi-million
dollar deal. In fact, I was told that the majority of the 18
participating companies made successful connections across the

Invest Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Chamber of
Commerce do a great job in facilitating these trade missions. But
in the end, it's the companies who have to sell themselves and
I've found Northern Ireland's entrepreneurs can compete with the
best of them.

Now, with the prospects of real peace and political stability,
those companies will be able to reach out more confidently to
large markets like the United States without the political
baggage of the past.

Here's an interesting statistic: in the decade following the Good
Friday Agreement, US investment in Northern Ireland created
20,000 jobs. Northern Ireland tourism has increased four-fold
since the height of the Troubles.

I have no doubt these increases were directly related to the
prospects for a peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland. I
suspect that Monday's events and a successful march to May 8 will
increase those investment and tourism numbers exponentially.

As business opportunities increase, so do cultural opportunities.
The Consulate is proud to support efforts that show off Northern
Ireland's diverse and rich culture and also to bring American
artists to Northern Ireland.

One such event was the highly successful Belfast/Nashville
Songwriters' Festival held in February.

Now in its third year, I doubt that this Festival could ever have
reached its full potential during the dark days of the Troubles.

Colin Magee, its organiser, recently forwarded me some feedback
written by the American performers. The comments would do any
city proud: "I have never been anywhere where I felt so at home"¨
"You all could not have been more hospitable"¨. "The people I met
are the warmest I've ever known".

Having experienced this hospitality myself, I know the writers
are not just being polite.

And, on the other side of the Atlantic just last week, my fellow
Americans enjoyed the wonderful music of Barry Douglas and
Camerata Ireland, and the sensational sounds of Northern
Ireland's own Snow Patrol, both events part of the fantastic
Rediscover Northern Ireland Programme now under way in the United

It's an exciting time to be a diplomat in Northern Ireland. There
is so much good and positive news to tell. While we realise there
are still many challenges ahead, I am optimistic the future
course is bright.

I am also thrilled the Northern Ireland that American tourists
and investors are now 'rediscovering' is one that has firmly
committed itself to a peaceful future.

The youthful Bob Dylan used his famous anthem to urge "Senators,
Congressmen" to "please heed the call". Courageously, the
overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland's politicians have now
heeded the call. America wishes them every success in their
continued and collective endeavours.

c Belfast Telegraph


Viewpoint: Give Army Council Marching Orders

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 11:03]

Even though Gerry Adams has attempted to play down the
significance of the issue, he is no doubt fully aware of the
damage that the continuing existence of the IRA Army Council is
doing to the building of confidence within the unionist

What the people of Northern Ireland voted for earlier this month
was a province free of any paramilitary threat - republican or
loyalist. But at present the focus is on the IRA Army Council
primarily because Sinn Fein is within six weeks of becoming a
partner in a Stormont executive.

Indeed, the continued existence of the IRA's command structure
was one of the chief reasons cited by Jim Allister for his
decision to resign. His remarks have clearly struck a raw
republican nerve but the point he makes is valid.

As more worrying rumblings emerge from within the DUP, Mr
Allister is not " yesterday's news", as Mr Adams suggests. The
reality is that neither the peace process nor the DUP can afford
to lose a politician of his calibre.

Thanks to Mr Adams' leadership, the republican movement has come
a long way in recent years, and deserves credit for that. But
now, with the IRA ceasefire having been followed by
decommissioning and a declaration that the war is over, what role
is there left for the Army Council?

Sinn Fein has clearly committed itself to the democratic process,
as Monday's historic events demonstrated. But until the Army
Council is disbanded, and replaced by something like an old
comrades' association, the shadow of the gunman will continue to
hang over Sinn Fein.

Not only does this undermine Sinn Fein's credentials, but it also
adds to the difficulties facing its prospective partners in the
executive, the DUP, and increases the risk of the deal

Mr Adams has predicted that the issues of concern will be
addressed "to the satisfaction even of a Jim Allister", but there
is no time to waste. The Sinn Fein leadership must use the
occasion of its forthcoming Easter Rising commemorations to
condition its supporters for life without an IRA Army Council.

Republicans should have the confidence to complete the final leg
of the journey upon which they have embarked, and May 8 provides
a most appropriate deadline for dismantling the Army Council.
From a strategic point of view, the Sinn Fein leadership must be
aware that if prompt action is not taken, this issue will return
to haunt the party in the fast approaching Irish elections.

The standing down of the IRA Army Council is both a logical move
and one which would intensify the pressure on the disparate
loyalist groupings to disarm and disband. There never was any
justification for loyalist violence but if there is no IRA, what
is the rationale for the UDA, UVF, LVF or any of their offshoots
remaining in being?

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Irish History Never Quite Happens The Way It Should

By Patrick Murphy

Tony Blair had expected to deliver the definitive answer
yesterday to what his government has historically called the
Irish question. But instead of a fully functioning assembly, we
are now faced with some new Irish questions, along with many of
the old ones.

That's the problem with Irish history - it never quite happens
the way the English would like it to. So when events turned out
in the way which Peter Hain had promised on 56 occasions would
not happen (the DUP were apparently counting), he created a new
set of questions. Not all of them are political and some of them
are not exclusively Irish.

The political questions are obvious. They centre on whether
power-sharing will work in a democratically accountable manner in
the hands of extreme parties. Most people would hold Ian Paisley
responsible for the failure to establish an assembly at Stormont

But in the overall historical context of the past 20 years, the
problem can ultimately be traced to honest, well-meaning and
genuine political thinkers such as Albert Reynolds and John Hume.
These men - and other significant political figures inspired by
them - set out to replace violence with political structures and
systems which would bring the Provisional IRA in from the cold.

Supposedly a struggle for Irish liberation, the PIRA campaign was
- in much of its content and all of its consequence - a sectarian
war. In seeking to end that conflict, Hume and Reynolds had a
choice - create the conditions whereby sectarianism could be
accommodated, or develop systems and structures to sideline it.

With the best will in the world they went for what appears to
have been the wrong option - they set out to accommodate it. Even
if we assume that they made the right choice, their decision
failed to recognise that, because power-sharing is based totally
on trust, it will work best when managed by moderates.

But the arrival of the DUP and Sinn F‚in at the conference table
brought a cynicism to the process which its architects had not
planned for. It was a cynicism which delivered those parties to
power but how fairly and openly they will use that power remains
the biggest question to arise from yesterday's events.

More significant than the political questions are those which
relate to the type of public administration which the political
process here in recent years may have encouraged. Have our
politicians created a culture in which honesty, decency, respect
and trust are regarded as weaknesses? If we have - and Peter
Hain's 56 broken pledges are pretty good evidence of it - how can
we expect the rest of the public sector to behave differently?

Why should any junior civil servant ever again be held to a
deadline if his/her superiors have broken every deadline they
promised to abide by, on issues from decommissioning to forming
an assembly?

How can any teacher, bus-driver or road-sweeper be disciplined
for dishonesty when it is endemic in political life?

Will members of Sinn F‚in and the DUP sit in unblushing judgement
on public servants and criticise them for waste, inefficiency or
poor judgement?

But the most important questions relate to the nature of our
wider society.

How can our children be taught to respect authority when those
who wield it are seen to abuse it for party political purposes?

Who will tell our children that their education system was not
planned for their learning and development but for the political
gratification of Ian Paisley?

Who could teach them now that it is wrong to hold out until you
get your way?

How will we explain to them that taxes, such as water charges,
are nothing to do with water or taxation and all to do with
secret political deals between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams?

Paisley and Blair claim a common interest in religion and Gerry
Adams feels it important to preach in Clonard Monastery.

Has it occurred to them that the style and content of their
leadership might have implications for the moral and ethical
behaviour of those whom they wish to lead?

Tony Blair's spokesman once said that Downing Street did not do
God. Most religions would presumably teach it as God's view that
Downing Street and Stormont should not do dishonesty.

Many with no religion would probably share that belief.

History was not made at Stormont yesterday, it was manufactured.

The problem with manufactured history is that it tends to raise
new questions.

For the first time, the Irish question is not just about


Opin: Big Sigh Of Relief As Ceasefire Called On Ulster Tribal

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 11:17]

By Bob McCullough, Deaf Talkabout

The warm-hearted deaf population of Northern Ireland will breath
a sigh of relief at the decision of the DUP and Sinn Fein to
share power from May 5.

The tribal warfare, that has formed the basis of most of our
province's troubled history, is alien to the great majority of
deaf people, and neither politics nor religion has troubled our
friendship during the trauma of the past 30 years.

But it is nevertheless true that the atmosphere of fear and
antagonism has diverted attention from the many things that need
to be done to improve the quality of life among the large number
of deaf and hard of hearing folk in Northern Ireland and I hope
we have seen the end of those ministers who have promised us the
earth and then left their grandiose proposals to gather dust on
the shelf.

The Government's plans to completely ban academic selection is
one issue to be settled now we are getting our own ministers and
there is an urgent need to get some certainty back into the

Billions of pounds have been promised towards the regeneration of
our province and I see three areas affecting deaf people, which
would benefit from a generous injection of funds.

When Tony Blair was installed as premier he told us his first
priority would be education, education and education. We are all
agreed on the importance of good teaching, but for many years the
education of deaf children has been bedevilled by the never-
ending quarrel on the best way to achieve this. The deaf
community is no different from the hearing in the variety of
intelligence and commitment we possess and funds need to be
provided for the different levels of communication and support


Several years ago, along with a small party of deaf leaders, I
took part in a wide-ranging discussion on these matters in
Rathgael House, Bangor, with key education officials from around
the province and a decision was agreed on setting up what were to
be known as 'deaf friendly schools' around the province.

The idea was that instead of spending large sums of money on
sending our brightest young deaf to second level colleges in
England we would arrange for them to benefit from high-level
education in their home towns. But only after the schools
selected had undergone courses of deaf awareness training to make
the deaf scholars feel at home.

It is true that some kinds of deaf schoolchildren benefit from
the added incentive and impetus of competing with their hearing
peers, but on the debit side they might feel lonely and isolated
and I pointed this out to the educationalists.

The idea was magnanimous and was to include not only the teachers
but all staff down to the cleaning ladies in the deaf awareness
training. But the proposal was quietly dropped and we've heard
nothing more about it. Was it too costly? And will the new
Assembly accept such innovative and high-minded suggestions?


Funding will also be needed for the expansion of interpreter
training in the province. We have 10 at the moment and need many
more. Interpreters are vital for all areas of life but have to be
booked months ahead.

Money will also be required for lip-reading classes and a more
rapid turnover in the supply of digital hearing aids. Technical
discoveries to improve the lot of those who aim for a solution to
their hearing loss has voice recognition as the Holy Grail.

Can the money be found?

All our deaf centres are in high-density areas with little room
to park. Most of us now own cars and travel is no problem so a
new building in the suburbs big enough to hold all our myriad
organisations is a priority. Is it only a dream?

c Belfast Telegraph

Rock Knight Bono Says Of Paisley And Adams: U2 Inspired Me

[Published: Friday 30, March 2007 - 08:43]
By Brian Hutton

Irish rock star Bono accepted an honorary knighthood from the
Queen yesterday - and said this week's groundbreaking meeting
between DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein president Gerry
Adams had inspired him.

The U2 frontman was awarded the honour during a brief ceremony at
British ambassador David Reddaway's official residence in Dublin.

Band members Edge and Adam Clayton joined Bono's wife Ali and
their children - Jordan, Eve, Eli and John - for the reception.

Afterwards, Bono - who famously stood on stage with John Hume and
David Trimble to raise support for the original Good Friday
Agreement in Belfast's Waterfront Hall - revealed he had been
planning a much quieter affair to mark the recognition of his
music and campaigning.

But the latest historic developments in Northern Ireland changed
his mind.

"I wasn't even going to have a bit of a do, I was going to slip
it in, keep it very, very quiet," he said.

"But when I saw Big Ian sitting down there with Gerry Adams I
just thought this is the end of an era, but the beginning of a
much better one."

Like Bob Geldof, Bono is technically not entitled to be called
"Sir" as he is not a British citizen.

"By the way, you can call me pretty much anything you want,
except sir," he remarked.

He then suggested suitable alternatives.

"You can call me lord of lords or a demi-god," he said.

A letter to Bono from Prime Minister Tony Blair described the
Dubliner (46) as an inspiration in the fight against global

He said he was delighted that he had accepted the award in
recognition of his outstanding contribution to music and
remarkable humanitarian work.

Accepting the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Bono
said: " It has been a great year for this award to happen in and
it does feel like this country and Great Britain are closer than
they have ever been," he said.

Mr Reddaway opened the informal ceremony around midday, joking
that Bono's family and friends might be disappointed that there
was no swords or kneeling involved.

The rock star put his hand on the ambassador's shoulder and
remarked: " Please, I wasn't expecting you to kneel."

Bono said he was accepting the award on behalf of his wife,
children, the other members of U2 and his closest friends.

He said: "May the circle never be broken."

c Belfast Telegraph


Belfast-Born Actor Rea Gets In Festive Spirit For New Irish Film

By Staff Reporter

Oscar-nominated Irish actor Stephen Rea is appearing in a new
Christmas film being shot around Dublin.

Kisses, which tells the tale of two young children who run away
from home, will bring a festive flavour to parts of O'Connell

The film is written and directed by Lance Daly who also made The
Halo Effect and Last Days in Dublin.

The film features two young Dubliners 10-year-old Kelly O'Neill,
and 11-year-old Shane Curry, in the lead roles.

They were chosen from thousands of young hopefuls in auditions
which took place before Christmas.

The film stars Belfast-born Rea as well as Paul Roe (Adam & Paul)
and Neili Conroy (Intermission).

Rea, who appeared in Breakfast on Pluto, was nominated for an
Oscar for best actor for his 1992 role in The Crying Game, which
was written and directed by Neil Jordan.

Kisses is filming in Dublin city centre, Tallaght, Ballyfermot
and Ringsend.

Scenes include the children making their escape and hitching a
ride on a boat, which is filmed along the canal from Ballyfermot
to Ringsend, and Christmas Day scenes on O'Connell Street.

Many senior production staff are Irish. Production designer
Waldemar Kalinowski, whose previous credits include The Fast and
the Furious and Leaving Las Vegas is also working on the set.

Kisses is produced by Fastnet Films with funding from Bord
Scannan na hEireann/the Irish Film Board, Zentropa, Film I Vast,
TV3, BCI and Section 481.


Galway Water Crisis Drives Down Tourism

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

Galway's tourism industry is feeling the effects of the
cryptosporidium crisis that has caused dozens of people to fall
ill from contaminated water.

Up to 90,000 households and businesses have been warned they will
have to boil their water for several more weeks.

More than 120 people have been treated for stomach upsets as a
result of swallowing the cryptosporidiosis parasite in tap water
and it is suspected there may be other victims who have not
sought treatment.

For the past fortnight residents in the city and adjoining areas
have been boiling all water used for drinking, washing food and
brushing teeth.

Tests this week showed that the affected water supply contained
traces of human and animal waste.

The Republic's environment minister Dick Roche said yesterday he
would travel to Galway to discuss the problems with councillors.

He said it was unacceptable that so many households do not have
safe drinking water, adding that e21.5 million of funding had
been made available to improve the region's water supply since
2002 but remains unspent.

The minister was responding to a five-point plan issued by Galway
Mayor Niall O Brolchain.

Mr O Brolchain said Lough Corrib had been classified as in the
highest pollution risk category by the Western River Basin
District Project since 2005.

He urged the government to provide free clean drinking water for
the areas affected by the outbreak and to intensify efforts to
locate the sources of the bug.

The Green Party councillor also called for local authorities to
be assisted in putting in place modern water treatment plants.

Galway's vintners have expressed frustration with the situation,
warning that they would be seeking a rebate on water charges.

Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned that its members
were beginning to feel the effect of the crisis, suffering a
downturn in tourism of up to 20 per cent.

They have expressed fears that Galway's annual race meeting,
which brings the city up to e100 million, could be badly hit if
the problems continue until July.


Movie Review: Ken Loach's "Barley" Set In Ireland

By Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
(Original Publication: March 30, 2007)

Review The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Now playing at the Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville.
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham,Gerard
Kearney, William Ruane.
Director: Ken Loach.
Studio: ICF First Take.
Web site:
Rated: Not rated.
Running time: 127 minutes.
Bottomline: A-

The dean of British independent filmmakers, Ken Loach has the
gift of finding the intensely moving private emotions in broad,
societal dilemmas.

He does that with his fine new film, "The Wind That Shakes the
Barley," and he does a few new things as well.

"Barley" is the only one of Loach's works to use a recognizable
international star: Cillian Murphy, memorable as the evil
Scarecrow in "Batman Begins."

Named after a poem that favored Irish independence from Britain,
"Barley" takes place in Ireland in the early 1920s, a time that
remains so controversial that some British newspapers savagely
attacked Loach's film, even going so far as comparing the
director to Third Reich glorifier Leni Riefenstahl.

For a film so controversial, "Barley" starts quietly, with an
afternoon game of hurling on land near Cork belonging to Sinead
(Orla Fitzgerald) and her family. Among the players are Damien
(Murphy), set to begin a medical residency in London in a few
days, and his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney).

Suddenly, the afternoon explodes with the appearance of a platoon
of gun-toting Black and Tans, thuggish British troops determined
to humiliate and demean the Irish for daring to gather for any
purpose at all.

Things violently spiral out of control, as they do again when
Damien attempts to take his train to London, and as a result the
young man decides to stay and join the clandestine Irish
Republican Army in its dedication to gaining Irish independence
by any means necessary.

It is these sequences, as well as a brief but intense scene of
British torture, that has led to the criticisms of "Barley."
Though Loach makes no apologies for either, the fact that stories
of colonizers acting badly are not exactly new is something the
film has to overcome.

But "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" turns out to be a more
complicated, more dramatically potent story. It's concerned at
its core not with how bad the British were, but with what the
cost of dealing with them was for the Irish - even when

Murphy is especially good at playing the zealotry as well as the
soul-searching and the regret, at showing us a man who is eaten
up alive because he's forced to act in ways that are contrary to
his background and his training.

When he says, at one particularly potent junction, "I hope this
Ireland we're fighting for is worth it," it's an especially
moving moment of doubt.

This is especially true after the truce of 1922, when the rebels
face an agonizing choice: Do they accept partial independence as
a British dominion along with the loss of Northern Ireland or do
they continue to fight, likely hopelessly, for a complete
independence that would lead to a more egalitarian society?

As written by Loach's frequent collaborator Paul Laverty, the
discussions are compelling, the air in the rooms electric. Both
sides have strongly thought-out points of view, the film tips its
hand neither one way nor the other, and, given that the
consequences of the actions taken have lasted until today, it's
all a rather thrilling situation.

"If a group is united against oppression, when the oppressor
goes, all the splits and divisions emerge," Loach explained at
Cannes. "If you were alive at that time it must have been an
agonizing choice. There were no good people or bad people, all
responses to the situation have a logic - that's the terrible
dilemma." And the source of wonderful drama as well.

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