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March 05, 2007

Ahern: Election Is Point of Reckoning

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 03/05/07 Election Is A 'Point Of Reckoning', Ahern Says
IT 03/05/07 Ex-RUC Chief Demands Durkan Apology
EX 03/05/07 Govt Faces McCabe Killer Crisis On Eve Of Election
BB 03/05/07 Hain Visits Orange Order Offices
IT 03/06/07 DUP And Sinn Fein To Make Further Gains
IT 03/06/07 Constituency Profile: West Tyrone
AN 03/05/07 Bumpy Road To Restoring Self-Rule In N. Ireland
AN 03/05/07 Factbox - What Will Northern Ireland's Election Mean?
IT 03/05/07 Glasnevin Cemetery To Be Revamped
DN 03/05/07 Dallas May Get New Bishop
HC 03/05/07 Technology Creates Extreme Genealogists
IT 03/06/07 Archaeology Of Burren In Danger From Scrub Growth


Election Is A 'Point Of Reckoning', Ahern Says

Paul Anderson
Mon, Mar 05, 2007

The Stormont Assembly elections this Wednesday represent a "point
of reckoning" for Northern Ireland, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said

Speaking to the British-Irish Inter Parliamentary Body in Dublin,
Mr Ahern insisted there will be no extension of the March 26
thdeadline for the restoration of the Northern Executive.

But he also held out the possibility of an improved economic
outlook for the six counties if the St Andrew's Agreement were

The DUP have yet to commit to forming an administration with Sinn
Fein despite repeated warnings from the Irish and British
governments that a "Plan B" will be implemented over the heads of
local politicians if the deadline for restoring devolution is not

Mr Ahern noted that the deadlock over Sinn Fein support for
policing in the North had now been overcome and said the people
of the North wanted their political representatives to govern

The Taoiseach said: "An Executive must be formed on March 26.
This is the end of the line.

"It would be unconscionable and deeply regrettable if this agreed
deadline was missed and if the opportunity to govern was not
taken. Patience has already been stretched and I do not believe
that the people would take kindly to further delay.

"The war is over. The key issues are sorted. All must take
responsibility in government for building and consolidating the

"We are now at a point of reckoning in the political process."

Failure to form an Executive as envisaged in the St Andrews
Agreement would be a missed opportunity of historic proportions.
Such a failure would see the newly-elected Assembly dissolved

Mr Ahern said the Government was committed to investing in the
North "without a hidden agenda" and outlined some details of the
cross-border package which is being finalised over the coming

Senior Irish and British officials are due to meet later this
week to continue work on co-ordinating the funding.

The British have committed stgœ50 billion in funding with the
Republic adding a further ?1bn for infrastructure and all-island
co-operation in areas such as social inclusion, tourism and
education and research.

"This year, for the first time, the new National Development Plan
proposes significant Irish Government investment in projects and
initiatives of mutual benefit North and South. "We want to see
road links to Derry and Letterkenny that are second to none on
the island. We want to build up the capacity of higher education
institutions, through strategic alliances.

"The Northwest is a key example of where this is crucial to
prosperity. In the Northeast, we want to see better links between
counties Louth and Down to maximise the enormous tourist
potential of the region."

The British-Irish Parliamentary Body consists of members from the
D il, the House of Commons, the Northern Assembly, the Scottish
Parliament the Welsh Assembly and the Isle of Man Parliament.

c 2007


Ex-RUC Chief Demands Durkan Apology

Mon, Mar 05, 2007

A second ex-senior police officer in Northern Ireland has
demanded SDLP leader Mark Durkan publicly clears his name over
any allegations of collusion with loyalist terrorists.

Chris Albiston, a former assistant chief constable and head of
Special Branch, has written to Mr Durkan seeking a declaration
that will protect his reputation.

The SDLP leader is already being sued by Alan McQuillan, the head
of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) in Belfast, over a newspaper
advertisement that provoked a police appointment row.

Mr McQuillan, also an Assistant Chief Constable before quitting
the force, took legal action after the nationalist party claimed
it ensured no one with a Royal Ulster Constabulary background was
chosen as chief constable from a shortlist nearly five years ago.

Both Mr Albiston and Mr McQuillan served in the RUC but were
beaten to the top post in May 2002 by Sir Hugh Orde, then a
Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner.

With the force's reputation seriously damaged by Police Ombudsman
revelations that some Special Branch officers shielded agents in
an Ulster Volunteer Force unit responsible for up to 16 murders,
the SDLP advert took credit for putting an outsider in charge of

The claim infuriated Sir Hugh and prompted Mr McQuillan to
consult his lawyers.

Mr Durkan later assured the ARA chief he was not linked to
collusion in any way, but he is now being urged to offer further

In his letter to the SDLP leader Mr Albiston says the advert
could be interpreted as inferring a connection between collusion
and the SDLP's actions at the time of the new chief constable's

"You did not refer to me in your public statement disassociating
Mr McQuillan from allegations of collusion," he added. "I am not
aware of any public statement made by you in the intervening four
weeks which could be construed as disassociating me from
allegations of collusion.

"I now call upon you to make a public statement unequivocally
disassociating me from any allegations of collusion."

Mr Albiston's demand comes after the SDLP leader used
parliamentary privilege to name him and two other former heads of
Special Branch who he alleged failed to co-operate with the
Ombudsman's report.

No immediate comment was available from the SDLP.

c 2007


Government Faces McCabe Killer Crisis On Eve Of Election

By Paul O'Brien, Political Reporter

THE Government is facing the nightmare scenario of seeing one of
the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe's released on the eve
of the General Election.

The Irish Examiner understands Michael O'Neill will be freed from
Castlerea Prison on May 17, having served just eight years of his
11-year sentence.

Although Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has yet to set a date for the
election, several political analysts have predicted Friday, May
18, as the most likely day.

O'Neill's early release is sure to generate a barrage of
criticism as voters prepare to go to the polls, forcing the
Government to explain why he was legally entitled to early
release and counter inevitable accusations that some kind of a
deal was done.

O'Neill was one of four IRA members jailed in February 1999 for
the manslaughter of Det Gda McCabe and the malicious wounding of
his colleague, Det Gda Ben O'Sullivan, during a botched robbery
in Adare, Co Limerick, three years previously. The others were
Pearse McCauley, Kevin Walsh and Jeremiah Sheehy.

McCauley and Walsh received 14-year sentences, while Sheehy was
jailed for 12. O'Neill was given 11 years, but has qualified for
remission on the grounds of good behaviour.

Prisoners in Ireland have a legal right to remission of one-
quarter of their sentence, dependant on their behaviour while in

In O'Neill's case, it means he must serve only eight years of his
11-year sentence, and provided he does not come to the prison
authorities' attention in the coming weeks, will be released on
May 17.

O'Neill is not the first person convicted in relation to the
robbery to be released. A fifth man, John Quinn, received a six-
year sentence for conspiring with others to commit robbery, and
was released with remission in 2003.

However, O'Neill will be the first of the four killers to be

Sinn Fein has consistently argued the 'Castlerea Four', as they
are referred to, qualify for early release under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement.

The Government continues to reject that argument, although the
Taoiseach and T naiste on separate occasions indicated their
early release might be necessary as part of a final deal in the
North's peace process.

As for the election, the Taoiseach is not obliged to hold it in
May. It can be held anytime up to the first week in July.

However, it has long been expected that Mr Ahern will go to the
country in mid to late May.


Hain Visits Orange Order Offices

Peter Hain has visited the headquarters of the Orange Order in
Belfast and met senior unionist politicians.

The Northern Ireland secretary said he hoped the visit heralded a
new beginning in relations between the government and the Order.

He met DUP leader Ian Paisley and Tom Elliott - who is an
assembly member and grand master of the Order in Fermanagh.

Mr Hain denied he had broken the convention of ministers
remaining impartial during election campaigns.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/03/05 18:10:33 GMT



DUP And Sinn Fein To Make Further Gains

Tue, Mar 06, 2007

Assembly election predictions: Polling day tomorrow, so it's that
time of the campaign when a journalist must make new-found
political enemies by forecasting how it will look when all the
votes are counted - about lunchtime on Friday, we hope.

In broad terms the result should turn out something like this:
DUP winning between 34 and 38; Ulster Unionist Party between 20
and 23; Sinn Fein between 25 and 28; SDLP between 16 and 21;
Alliance between two and seven; PUP and Robert McCartney's UK
Unionist Party between none and one; and Independents between
none and two. The result of the Assembly elections in 2003 were:
DUP, 30; UUP, 27; Sinn Fein, 24; SDLP, 18; Alliance, six; UKUP,
one; PUP, one; Independent, one.

When the Transitional Assembly was dissolved at the end of
January this year the figures - with UUP defections to the DUP
and Paul Berry resigning from the DUP - were: DUP, 32; UUP, 24;
Sinn Fein, 24; SDLP, 18; Alliance, six; UKUP, one; PUP, one;
Independents, two.

By close of play on Friday I think it will look like this: DUP,
36; UUP, 23; Sinn Fein, 25; SDLP, 19; Alliance, three; UKUP, one;
and Independents (Dr Kieran Deeny), one.

Constituency by constituency this is how I figure it:

West Belfast

Gerry Adams's constituency, where Sinn Fein is aiming for five
seats, whether at the expense of DUP or SDLP. But to achieve that
its vote management must be beyond superb. While there are DUP
concerns about unionist turnout, one imagines that Shankill
unionists would be sufficiently energised to puncture Mr Adams's
local ambitions. Should also be enough SDLP votes to ensure
return of Alex Attwood.

Prediction: Sinn Fein, four; SDLP, one; DUP, one. As was.

North Belfast

Likelihood is the status quo although Nigel Dodds hopes his vote-
pulling power can gain third and extra seat for DUP at expense of
UUP's lone voice, Fred Cobain. The UUP man, however, is battle-
hardened and should survive, with Sinn Fein still ahead of SDLP.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, one; Sinn Fein, two; SDLP, one. As

South Belfast

DUP has good chance of winning seat here from UUP. Intriguing
here also whether Alliance's Anna Lo can take a seat at expense
of one of SDLP's two outgoing MLAs, Alasdair McDonnell and Carmel
Hanna, or Alex Maskey for SF. Not sure that Ms Lo will gain
political surge to pitch her into Stormont.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, one; SDLP, two; Sinn Fein, one. DUP

East Belfast

DUP here attempting what it could never do before, manage Peter
Robinson's huge vote so that its three quotas win three seats.
Target is PUP's Dawn Purvis, who has fought a valiant, well-
supported campaign. She can't be written off but odds seem with

Prediction: DUP, three; UUP, two; Alliance, one. DUP gain.

North Down

Probably the most difficult constituency to call. DUP and UUP
seem okay for two each, and Alliance even without Transitional
Assembly speaker Eileen Bell, should be there at the last. But
has Robert McCartney spread himself too wide with all this
electoral multilocation? Brian Wilson is in with a chance of
making a historic breakthrough for the Greens and former BBC
journalist Brian Rowan could also make impact. DUP would love
McCartney's scalp, but his base hasn't abandoned him so far and
he should have enough fuel in the electoral tank. But anything
could happen with final seats and transfers.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, two; Alliance, one; UKUP, one. As was.

Lagan Valley

Also a killer to figure. DUP hoping for four seats on back of
Jeffrey Donaldson's four quotas in Westminster poll two years
ago, which may be an ambition too far. SF's Paul Butler in with
good opportunity to take SDLP seat, now that Patricia Lewsley has
stood down. But he must improve on first preferences and get
crucial transfers. Alliance without Seamus Close and outside
chance UUP fielding strong candidates could sneak a second. Major
scrap for final seats.

Prediction: DUP, three; UUP, two; Sinn Fein, one. Sinn Fein and
UUP gain.

East Antrim

Don't dismiss SDLP's Danny O'Connor, but all the planets must be
in alignment for him. Sammy Wilson should be OK for two
colleagues with him, but poaching an additional one from UUP
seems unlikely. Alliance's Se n Neeson appears safe.

Prediction: DUP, 3; UUP, 2; Alliance 1. As was.


Iris Robinson's evangelical political zeal just might gain that
extra seat for the DUP at the expense of UUP, now that Lord
Kilclooney (John Taylor) has bowed out. Die in a ditch battle
between outgoing Alliance MLA, Kieran McCarthy and SDLP would-be
usurper Joe Boyle. SDLP man might crack it this time.

Prediction: DUP, four; UUP, one; SDLP, one. DUP and SDLP gain.

North Antrim

Ian Paisley has had big internal problems here and anti-deal
unionists will cause more than a ripple of disaffection. In terms
of whether DUP can hold its three seats unionists here must
decide do they hate Martin McGuinness more than they revere Dr
Paisley. Ballymena would never abandon Paisley, would it?

Prediction: DUP, three; UUP, one; Sinn Fein, one; SDLP, one. As

South Antrim

Another hard call. Will this mark the end of Alliance leader
David Ford's career or do irreparable damage to Sinn Fein's
Mitchel McLaughlin, parachuted in from Derry? Ford is vulnerable
but unionist transfers could assist, and DUP and UUP asking their
people to do their utmost to keep McLaughlin out. The spotlight
on Sinn Fein and Alliance here could also undermine security of
SDLP seat, but SDLP transfers just might shade it for McLaughlin.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, two; SDLP, one; Sinn Fein, one. Sinn
Fein gain.

South Down

SDLP in Eddie McGrady's three-quota Westminster seat has great
ambitions for a third here, and party continues to hold advantage
over Sinn Fein. But Sinn Fein will be hard to uproot. UUP's
Dermot Nesbitt not standing and party would need to beef up its
vote to prevent Jim Wells causing upset and bringing in a second.

Prediction: SDLP, two; Sinn Fein, two; DUP, one; UUP, one. As

Upper Bann

DUP encroaching into UUP vote all the time, but would need big
surge to steal a seat from Ulster Unionists. The same goes with
Sinn Fein's aspirations to wipe out SDLP here.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, two; Sinn Fein, one; SDLP, one.

Newry and Armagh

Whether Paul Berry can hold this seat will be a test of the
tolerance of unionist voters. Berry was forced to resign from DUP
because of tabloid allegations about his private life. SDLP
outgoing MLA Dominic Bradley and press officer Sharon Haughey
hope to make headlines by taking a Sinn Fein seat. With two new
candidates running with Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy and lingering
rows over deselection of Davy Hyland, running as an Independent,
SDLP has real chance.

Prediction: Sinn Fein, two; SDLP, two; DUP, one; UUP, one. SDLP

Mid Ulster

Prospective deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein
seem safe for three seats, with one each for other three main

Prediction: Sinn Fein, three; SDLP, one; DUP, one; UUP, one. As

East Derry

Gregory Campbell is good at managing his vote and almost won
three seats the last time. He has a real chance this time
although presence of UKUP is a potentially damaging irritant. UUP
under pressure and could be hard-pressed to hold its two, but
just might see off DUP challenge, with Sinn Fein and SDLP sharing

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, two; Sinn Fein, one; SDLP, one.


This should be the election where Mark Durkan consolidates his
leadership and anchors his party. Hunger striker Patsy O'Hara's
74-year-old mother Molly will annoy Sinn Fein without inflicting

Prediction: SDLP, three; Sinn Fein, two; DUP, one. As was.

West Tyrone

Independent hospitals candidate Kieran Deeny caused the upset of
the election last time around by topping poll and taking the
seat. But is the Tyrone hospitals issue now a busted flush, and
could the failure to get top grading for Omagh hospital damage
his chances? He would need to drop dramatically to lose, which if
he did probably would be to Sinn Fein's advantage.

Prediction: Sinn Fein, two; SDLP, one; DUP, one; UUP, one.
Independent, one. As was.

Fermanagh South-Tyrone

In 2003 it was two UUP seats to the DUP's one, but Arlene
Foster's defection reversed that figure. Should be the same again
this time, with Sinn Fein also holding the advantage over SDLP.

Prediction: DUP, two; UUP, one; Sinn Fein, two; SDLP, one. As

c 2007 The Irish Times


Constituency Profile: West Tyrone

One of the most unpredictable constituencies

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor, in Omagh
Tue, Mar 06, 2007

"We're trying to free Ireland, will you help us?" says Barry
McElduff on the doorsteps.

This is what Sinn Fein believes to be "natural republican
territory" and as such, returned Sinn Fein members since the

Publicly the party says it is confident of two seats here.
Privately there is a big hope that a third can be added. Indeed,
it should be defending three seats here already.

That it didn't was down to one of the biggest shocks in recent
elections when Independent hospitals campaigner Dr Kieran Deeny
not only took a seat but topped the poll.

He since followed that up with a convincing performance in the
2005 Westminster election.

It was an impressive performance for a Co Down man, probably with
inbred inclinations towards the SDLP and who had the backing of
the Alliance Party. His big personal vote was built on the cross-
community anger that local acute hospital services were (and
still are) to be situated near Enniskillen and not in Omagh.

Can such a campaign be sustained to give Deeny a return pass to
Stormont? He says yes - but his opponents are privately doubtful.

Sinn Fein meanwhile is hoping that a good constituency record and
the sense of an incoming tide will help it towards a coveted
third seat. It is said republicans were "gutted" after 2003 when
they lost out to the unforeseen Deeny factor.

Local MP Pat Doherty has scored noted triumphs over the SDLP
here, particularly in 2001 when the highest of high-profile
campaigns by Br¡d Rodgers earned the party only third place.

Mark Durkan's party started this campaign with two nominees, both
from the Omagh end of the constituency and with the incumbent
Strabane member, Eugene McMenamin, off the ticket.

That was put right by party headquarters, but this left the party
seeking to retain its single quota with a total of three

Local politics in this campaign are not muddied (if that's the
appropriate term) by the involvement of too many Independents or
smaller parties.

The Alliance party has formally backed Dr Deeny - allowing others
to question his independence - and there are no Greens or Tories.

And there is a republican Independent and Bob McCartney to
contend with.

In normal times this constituency ought to read simply as a four
seats to two on a nationalist/unionist split, with Sinn Fein and
the SDLP slogging it out and the main unionist groups opting to
share the spoils.

In reality, it is among the most unpredictable in the North, not
in the fight for a final seat, but right at the top of the first
preference table.

Can Deeny keep up the momentum for his campaign which many
increasingly see as being lost? Or will he suffer the same fate
that has been inflicted on so many, but not all, Independent and
single-issue candidates throughout Ireland?


(% of first preferences; quota = 15%)

Kieran Deeney (Ind) 6,158 (14.8%)
*Pat Doherty (SF) 6019 (14.4%)
*Barry McElduff (SF) 5,642 (13.5%)
Thomas Buchanan (DUP) 4,739 (11.4%)
*Derek Hussey (UUP) 3,733 (8.9%)
*Eugene McMenamin (SDLP) 3,465 (8.3%)

*Denotes those also elected in 1998

UNIONIST BATTLEGROUND: Unionists in this predominantly nationalist
area have opted for canny tactics in recent elections. It seems
they prefer to maintain unionist quotas rather than opt for
Independent candidates no matter how pressing the issues raised
by such candidates. In 2003 they stayed with the DUP and Ulster
Unionists before considering the appeal of Dr Deeny's hospital
campaign. There seems little reason to doubt the same will not
recur and that the two unionist seats will be shared between the
DUP and UUP.

NATIONALIST BATTLEGROUND: This relatively new constituency has
seen contrasting fortunes for Sinn Fein and the SDLP since its
creation. The Westminster seat was once sensationally won by
Ulster Unionist Willie Thompson who pipped the SDLP's Joe Byrne
who in turn pipped Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty. How things change.
This is now among the most solid Sinn Fein territory outside West
Belfast and the SDLP ought not to be complacent about retaining
their sole Assembly seat here.

WILDCARD: Quite possibly the wildest of wildcards, West Tyrone
produced the great shock of the 2003 Assembly election with Dr
Deeny topping the poll. Who knows what will happen this time? Dr
Deeny did well in the 2005 Westminster election, with more than
27 per cent of the vote. This would indicate that his showing in
2003 was no flash in the pan.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Time Line - Bumpy Road To Restoring Self-Rule In N. Ireland

05 Mar 2007 15:44:32 GMT
Source: Reuters

March 5 (Reuters) - Voters in Northern Ireland go to the polls
on Wednesday to elect members of a moth-balled assembly where the
British and Irish governments hope opposing parties will agree to
share power.

Following are key events since the April 1998 "Good Friday"
agreement largely ended 30 years of political and sectarian
conflict in Northern Ireland:


June - Elections to a new Protestant-Catholic power-sharing
assembly. Protestant Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader David
Trimble is elected First Minister-designate.

Aug - Car bomb in the market town of Omagh, west of Belfast,
kills 29 people in the worst single attack of the conflict. The
Real IRA splinter group claims responsibility.


Dec - Northern Ireland gets its own government in which
Protestants and Catholics share power after 27 years of direct
rule from London.


Feb - Britain suspends assembly amid anger by Protestants, who
support ties to Britain, over the failure of the Irish Republican
Army (IRA) guerrillas to disarm.

May - IRA says it will put its weapons into storage and allow
inspections. Britain restores power to Belfast assembly.


June - IRA political ally Sinn Fein overtakes its more moderate
rival, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), as Northern
Ireland's biggest nationalist party in British parliamentary

July - Trimble resigns over IRA's failure to disarm.

Oct - IRA says it has put some weapons "beyond use".


Oct - Sinn Fein offices at the Stormont parliament are raided by
police investigating an alleged IRA spy ring. Britain suspends
the assembly and resumes direct rule from London.


November - Election takes place with Ian Paisley's hardline
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which opposed the Good Friday
Agreement due to Sinn Fein involvement, overtaking the UUP as the
province's biggest pro-British party.


June - British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish counterpart
Bertie Ahern set September deadline to end an impasse between
long-time foes Sinn Fein and the DUP, but talks grind to a halt
before the end of the year.


April - Sinn Fein calls on the IRA to end its armed campaign
after a series of high-profile crimes linked to the group
including a massive bank raid in December 2004 and the killing of
Belfast man Robert McCartney, spark international outrage.

July - The IRA says it has ordered its guerrillas to dump all
arms and pursue their goals through purely peaceful means.


Oct - Northern Ireland's ceasefire watchdog, the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC), says it believes the IRA is no
longer engaged in terrorism.

-- Blair and Ahern launch three days of talks with Northern
Ireland's parties in Scotland and put forward a plan for reviving
self rule by a March 26 deadline.


Jan - Sinn Fein's mostly Catholic membership votes overwhelmingly
to back the Protestant-dominated Police Service of Northern
Ireland after decades of opposition and mistrust, fulfilling a
key condition for the revival of the assembly.


Factbox - What Will Northern Ireland's Election Mean?

05 Mar 2007 15:45:32 Gmt
Source: Reuters

March 5 (Reuters) - Below are answers to some questions about
the Northern Ireland Assembly election on Wednesday.


Electing a new Northern Ireland Assembly could allow for a local
power-sharing government to be set up in Northern Ireland between
Protestant unionists, who want to keep the province's union with
Britain and Catholic Republicans, who want a united Ireland.

Three decades of conflict that killed 3,600 people largely ended
with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but the province remains
divided along sectarian lines and a lasting political settlement
has proved elusive.

The last attempt to share power collapsed five years ago, leaving
Northern Ireland under direct rule from London. Britain and
Ireland are keen to end political stalemate, but precedent does
not give much reason for optimism -- the assembly elected in 2003
never sat for a whole day.


Positions are not expected to change dramatically from the last

The largest party is expected to be the pro-British Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) of fundamentalist Protestant preacher Ian

Second place is likely to go to Sinn Fein, political wing of the
Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrilla group, which fought against
British rule for 30 years.

Both parties face traditional challengers from the middle ground
within their communities, but more important could be the
opposition they face from those opposed to any agreement.

Paisley, who rejected a 1998 peace deal because of Sinn Fein's
involvement, would need a strong mandate from the election if he
were to justify sharing power with Sinn Fein to his supporters.

But hardliners are unconvinced by IRA disarmament in 2005 and
accuse Paisley of betrayal by leaving the door open to going into
power with Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein faces opposition from some former supporters who object
to its recent vote to support the Protestant-dominated police and
courts in Northern Ireland.


The main parties could start discussion on forming the power-
sharing government.

Britain and Ireland are threatening to dissolve the assembly
permanently if there is no agreement by March 26, although it is
not impossible that time limit could be extended if it looked as
though a deal might be reached eventually.

The alternative proposed by London and Dublin of indefinite
direct rule under a "partnership government" might not please
either side.

While nationalists such as Sinn Fein want to see an end to all
British involvement in the province, unionists oppose the idea
that Dublin would have a greater say in its running.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair would like to be able to leave
agreement on Northern Ireland as part of his legacy when he steps
down later this year. It would also suit Irish premier Bertie
Ahern who plans a general election in May or June.


There is little doubt it would lead to much more sound and fury.

But the involvement of the biggest parties, which were once on
the political extremes, might give it a better chance than a
government made up of moderates who had always sought to get

The parties have also shown growing signs of pandering to
concerns that go beyond the sectarian divide, such as
strengthening the economy and improving local services.


Glasnevin Cemetery To Be Revamped

Elaine Edwards
Mon, Mar 05, 2007

Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is to be given a major refurbishment
in time for the centenary of the 1916 Rising, it has been

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the 10-year development plan, in
conjunction with the Office of Public Works, would make the
cemetery "one of the nation's greatest visitor attractions" on a
par with the likes of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington
in the United States and PŠre Lachaise in Paris.

Funding of ?2.5million a year will be provided from the National
Development Plan for the duration of the project.

The cemetery is the burial place of such historic figures as
Daniel O'Connell, Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon
de Valera, Countess Markiewicz, Maud Gonne McBride and Brendan

The works will involve the restoration of the 120-acre cemetery's
protected structures, including the O'Connell Tower and the
mortuary chapel, as well as the many graves of significant
architectural importance.

Hand-written records dating back to Michael Carey of Dublin's
Francis Street, the first person buried there in 1832, will be
computerised as part of the project.

The Victorian landscaping will also be restored, and maintenance
work will be carried out on the cemetery's infrastructure,
including its drainage and eight-and-a-half kilometres of

A heritage centre will be built on the grounds to help attract
visitors and to provide information on those buried at Glasnevin.

The cemetery is also the burial ground for victims of the Great
Famine, the cholera outbreaks and the Air India crash.

c 2007


Dallas May Get New Bishop

06:34 PM CST on Monday, March 5, 2007
By Jeffrey Weiss / The Dallas Morning News

Dallas Catholics may finally get a new bishop Tuesday. At least
that's the buzz from a well-known blog and several prominent
local Catholics.

And while the diocese did not respond to repeated calls Monday,
all sources were reporting the same possibility.

Bishop Charles Grahmann has been due for replacement since he
turned 75 last July. That's the mandatory retirement age for
Catholic bishops, though the pope can let a bishop serve longer.
The name being mentioned as Bishop Grahmann's replacement is
Kevin J. Farrell, currently the auxiliary bishop of Washington,

His name was reported Monday by Whispers in the Loggia, a blog
written by a Philadelphian named Rocco Palmo. Mr. Palmo, an
independent blogger, writes about Catholic activities all over
the world. He frequently speculates about Vatican appointments.

Mr. Palmo's accuracy, while not perfect, is good enough that he's
closely watched by Catholic insiders.

William McCormick, partner in the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski,
was one of the leaders of an unsuccessful 2004 petition drive to
get Bishop Grahmann to step down over his handling of the child-
abuse scandal. He said Monday that he had heard Bishop Farrell
was coming to Dallas from a source "close to the current bishop."

Wick Allison, publisher of D Magazine, has also been a prominent
Catholic critic of the current bishop. He posted Monday on the D
Magazine blog, Frontburner, that he'd heard last week about the
possibility of Bishop Farrell's arrival.

Several Dallas priests who did not want to be identified also
said Monday that they had heard that Bishop Farrell was on his

So is it true? The only people who know for sure are Bishop
Grahmann, Bishop Farrell, their top staffs and a few top Vatican
officials in Rome and Washington. Neither the Dallas nor
Washington diocese released any information Monday.

The Vatican releases official appointments Tuesday at noon in
Rome. And that means Dallas will know if it has a new bishop at 5
a.m., local time.

If the announcement is made, the new bishop and the man he
replaces will hold a news conference Tuesday where some details
of the transition may be released.

If the reports are true, Bishop Farrell will take over a diocese
that has gone through considerable changes and controversy in
recent years.

The diocese claims more than a million members, more than five
times larger than when Bishop Grahmann took over in 1990. Most of
the new arrivals are Hispanic, and Bishop Grahmann has made a
special effort to reach out to the new arrivals.

But even before disclosures of child abuse by Catholic priests
rocked the U.S. church elsewhere, the Dallas diocese became
infamous in 1997, with the civil trial of Rudolph Kos, who
molested altar boys in three Dallas parishes.

In 1999, the Vatican named Joseph Galante, a Philadelphia native
then serving as bishop of Beaumont, Texas, as coadjutor bishop in
Dallas. He was to govern alongside Bishop Grahmann and,
presumably, succeed him.

Such transitions usually take less than a year, and some local
Catholics hoped that would be the case here. But Bishop Grahmann
refused to step aside early. In 2004, the Vatican sent Bishop
Galante to lead the diocese of Camden, N.J.

According to the Washington archdiocese Web site, Bishop Farrell
was born in Dublin, Ireland, in September 1947. He's served in
Rome and Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish and Italian. Since
March 2001, he has been vicar general and moderator of the curia
for the Archdiocese of Washington. He was ordained an auxiliary
bishop in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 2002.


Technology Creates Extreme Genealogists

By Matt Crenson AP National Writer
c 2007 The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Lee Drew had a chat with some cousins the other day.

He was sitting in his home office in Orem, Utah. Four of the
cousins were in England. One was in Australia, another in South
Africa. A few more joined in from other parts of North America.

Drew is one of a new breed of genealogists who are doing things
that would have been impossible in the not-so-distant era of
dusty archives and whirring microfilm readers. He has found so
many of his relatives that he needs a computer database to keep
track of them all _ all 1.7 million of them.

Just as modern equipment has made it possible for any reasonably
motivated person to climb Mount Everest or dive to the Andrea
Doria, new technologies have made it possible to achieve
incredible genealogical feats with relatively modest effort.

Now, it takes nothing more than casual curiosity and a few hours
of research to discover that civil rights activist Al Sharpton is
descended from slaves who were owned by ancestors of the late
South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, a staunch opponent of

That feat was accomplished by the commercial genealogy Web site, which boasts of having the largest online family
history database in the world, with more than 4 billion records.
Among the company's 725,000 subscribers there are people who have
discovered they descend from royalty, or Mayflower passengers, or
that Butch Cassidy is their seventh cousin.

"It's a great time to be alive," Drew said.

It isn't just the databases. Drew also uses the Internet to
communicate with relatives around the globe, sharing information
and research tips. And services like Google Books give him free
access to formidable university library collections.

At 57 he remembers the old days, when doing genealogy meant
driving up to the Mormon church's Family History Library in Salt
Lake City or spending his vacations strolling through English
churchyards looking at headstones. Now it can mean nothing more
than strolling into his home office and booting up his computer.

Internet genealogy can be extremely productive, agreed Dick
Eastman, who writes an online genealogy newsletter. But it
depends greatly on where your ancestors came from.

The Internet is great for the United States, especially New
England. And it's pretty good for Britain and Ireland. But if
your ancestors came from Southern Europe, Africa, Asia or even
Canada in some cases, the Internet can be pretty useless.

"If I want to go look up my French-Canadian ancestors there's
almost nothing to help me more than two or three generations
back," Eastman said. "It's not going to be as rosy an experience
as some of the online services would like you to think."

Herbert Huebscher, a retired electrical engineer from Franklin
Square, N.Y., found himself in that kind of situation when he
went looking for his ancestors. The most distant ones he could
identify were Ukrainian Jews who were living in small village
near the Romanian border around 1830.

"In general, Jewish paper trail genealogy tends to hit a brick
wall around 1800, give or take 50 years," Huebscher said.

To push farther into the past, he turned to DNA.

DNA testing has made it possible for people to make connections
when the paper trail fades into tatters. The technology was used
several years ago to show that Thomas Jefferson _ or one of his
male relatives _ fathered a child by his slave Sally Hemings. It
has also shown that a significant proportion of men in modern
Ireland can trace a direct male descent from Niall of the Nine
Hostages, a legendary 5th-century king.

Customers of Relative Genetics, a company based in Salt Lake
City, have traced their roots to Scotland, Africa and other
distant countries with DNA testing.

Huebscher had his own genetic profile tested by a Houston-based
company called Family Tree DNA. He found that he matched one
other individual in the company's database, a South African-born
Londoner named Saul Isseroff.

It turned out the two had some very distinctive anomalies in
their DNA profiles, which allowed them to identify other matches
as new Family Tree DNA customers joined the company's database.
They have now found more than 40 closely matched families. Nearly
all of the families were Jewish, and nearly all of them trace
their heritage back to Eastern Europe _ though oddly enough, one
family traces its roots to Puerto Rico.

A statistical analysis of the genetic data showed that whether
they were named Huebscher or Isseroff, Wolinsky or Rosa, all of
the families must have shared a single common ancestor who
probably lived four or five centuries ago, long before most Jews
even had surnames, much less written vital records.

Though his research is not yet conclusive, Huebscher believes the
common genetic ancestor may have been descended from Sephardic
Jews who lived in Spain before the Inquisition.

Just a little patience may be enough to solve the mystery, said
Peggy Hayes of Relative Genetics.

"The databases are growing very rapidly," she said. "As the
genetic genealogy databases grow, the success rate is going to
grow as well."

For some lucky people, the techniques of extreme genealogy make
it possible to trace their origins back not just centuries, but a
millennium or more. All they have to do is link themselves to a
royal line, Drew explained, and ride it back as far as it goes.

"We're all related to royalty," Drew said.

The trick is to prove it. But thanks to the power of extreme
genealogy, it can be a lot easier than you might think.

Every French monarch since the 10th century was a descendant of
Charlemagne. So was William the Conqueror, which means every
British monarch since 1066 also descends from the King of the

And that means at least 18 U.S. presidents, 14 first ladies, Walt
Disney, Colin Powell, Brooke Shields _ a good number of the
people whose family history has ever been seriously researched by
genealogists _ can trace their ancestry to Charlemagne.


Archaeology Of Burren In Danger From Scrub Growth - Report

Sean Mac Connell, Agriculture Correspondent

Tue, Mar 06, 2007

Changing farm practices in the Burren, Co Clare, are endangering
the archaeology there as hazel and blackthorn scrub are
increasing at an estimated annual rate of 4.4 per cent.

This has been one of the findings of the major new Heritage
Council-funded study into the impact of scrub on the archaeology
of the Burren which has just been published. The detailed study
noted that during fieldwork, 77 per cent of recorded sites in the
study area were being threatened by hazel and blackthorn scrub

Scrub was found to be damaging sites at a structural and sub-
surface level and occluding sites, thereby putting them at
increased risk of future loss or damage through inadvertent scrub

The summary of the report found that the landscape and
archaeology of the Burren had been shaped and managed by the long
tradition of farming which included grazing livestock on the
limestone pavements during the winter.

It said recent changes in farming practices had led to changes to
the Burren which has the highest concentration and perhaps the
highest diversity of archaeological remains in Ireland. The
changes, the report added, had implications for the future
landscape resources throughout the country, including

In its conclusions, the study called for a proper landscape-level
management plan for the archaeology of the Burren as a matter of

It also recommended that a full archaeological survey at an
estimated cost of ?1.25 million should be carried out, however
this could take up to five years to accomplish.

The Heritage Council-funded study also called for annual
monitoring and mapping of hazel growth using satellite or other
suitable imagery. "As part of this a system of monitoring and
maintenance of archaeological monuments affected by scrub should
be devised," it said.

"A programme of remedial work should be devised for a number of
monuments which are already under threat from scrub."

The report said that landowners should be notified of the
protected monuments and areas on their lands. This would allow
for the implementation of legislation.

The report also said there should be more effective and improved
consultation with Burren landowners.

c 2007 The Irish Times

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