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March 16, 2007

DUP/SF Deal Backed by 82% of Voters

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/16/07 DUP/SF Deal 'Backed By 82% Of Voters'
BT 03/16/07 Bush Urges Parties To Reach A Deal
IO 03/16/07 Bush Tells Ahern: I'm Ready To Help
RT 30/16/07 White House Reception Disrupted By Intruder
UT 03/15/07 UDA Appeals To DUP To Enter Government With Sinn Fein
IT 03/16/07 Hain's Deadline Threat Nonsense, Says Dodds
BT 03/16/07 Hillary Clinton 'Is Pandering To SF'
BT 03/16/07 It May Pay For DUP To Strike While Iron's Hot
BN 03/15/07 Ahern In Warning Over Undocumented Irish Campaign
IT 03/15/07 Call For British To Develop Irish Language Policy
BT 03/16/07 Michael Stone Remanded In Custody On Stormont Charges
RT 03/16/07 Call For Inquiry Into 1970s Atrocities
BT 03/16/07 Opin: St Patrick's A Red Letter Day For White House
IT 03/15/07 Public Advised To Boil Water In Parts Of Galway
BM 03/16/07 Thousands On Move For St Patrick's Day
IT 03/16/07 Ireland Gears Up For Patrick's Day Party


DUP/SF Deal 'Backed By 82% Of Voters'

Friday, March 16, 2007
By Chris Thornton

Support for a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein is stronger than
the backing for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, according to
the leaked results of an NIO survey.

An official source said the exit poll of voters in last week's
election showed 82% in favour of a settlement by the Government's
March 26th deadline - including three-quarters of unionist

In the 1998 referendum, 71.1% of people voted in favour of the
Agreement, with 28.9% against.

The private poll also showed that water charges and health are
the key issues voters want tackled by any new administration,
according to the source.

The survey, in common with most NIO polls, has not been

Some details of the poll's results were leaked to the Belfast
Telegraph as the Government marshals its arguments for a return
to devolution by the end of the month.

The Prime Minister was aware of the poll findings last week when
he said: " From everything I have heard about what was said on
the doorsteps - and elected politicians will know this best -
people want the elected politicians in Northern Ireland to
deliver on the issues which matter to the people of Northern

"The issues were amazingly, in a sense hearteningly enough, water
rates, health, education and the economy and so on. I think that
is very clear."

Water rates, health and education were listed in that order as
key issues by the voters leaving polling stations.

Mr Blair's official spokesman may also have had the results in
mind on Wednesday, when he said politicians "know what the
message from the doorstep was."

According to a high-level source, 82% of voters said their first
choice party should enter power-sharing with all other parties by
March 26th. A total of 9% said no.

Among unionists, 75% said yes, 14% said no, and 11% were
undecided. The source would not reveal what the figures were for
DUP and UUP first preference voters.

Those results show greater support than in the 1998 referendum. A
key difference is that the DUP is now in favour of power-sharing
in the right conditions.

Voters were also asked if Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
should work together as First and Deputy First Ministers.
Overall, 80% said yes, including 71% of unionists.

Asked about the key issues that a Stormont Executive should
tackle first, 74% said water rates, 65% said health and 45% said

Domestic rates concerned more than a third of voters, along with
ordinary crime.

The source said the poll accurately predicted the outcome of the
election, which is seen as verification of the other results.

Pollsters are said to have questioned more than 1,000 people at
72 polling stations around Ulster.


Bush Urges Parties To Reach A Deal

[Published: Friday 16, March 2007 - 08:42]
By Sean O'Driscoll

President Bush urged Sinn Fein and the DUP to reach a deal by the
March 26 deadline set out in the St Andrews Agreement.

Sounding an upbeat message before Northern Ireland political and
civil leaders in Washington yesterday, President Bush
congratulated all parties for their work to restore the Assembly
and said that the US would provide all the support needed to get
the Northern Ireland executive running by March 26.

Today, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was due to hold talks with Mr Bush
after presenting him with the traditional bowl of shamrock.
Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton vowed to return to Belfast if
she is elected American's first ever woman president.

"I want to go back ? along with my husband," she said, pointedly
referring to the reversal in gender roles if she is elected

Both she and President Bush were attending the annual speakers
luncheon at the US Congress, where President Bush addressed an
audience that included Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness,
PSNI chief Hugh Orde, Police Ombudswoman Nuala O'Loan and the
temporary Assembly speaker, Eileen Bell.

This was the lowest ever party leader attendance in Washington,
as many political leaders stayed at home to register for the
Assembly and organise the programme for government

Mr Ahern also heard President Bush speak at the luncheon, along
with a group of Irish American congressmen and senator.

Several congressmen got up during the luncheon to vote on an Iraq
appropriations bill and Senator Hillary Clinton arrived late for
the event.

During his speech, delivered before the press was allowed into
the room, President Bush also paid tribute to the contribution of
Irish immigrants to the US.

He said that many had faced grave discrimination while trying to
create a new life.

Mrs O'Loan sat beside Mr McGuinness during the luncheon, while
Sir Hugh sat at the next table. President Bush moved tables to
speak with some US senators during the luncheon, but moved back
to the top table to be with Mr Ahern and the Irish ambassador.
Secretary of State Peter Hain and a number relatives of Troubles
victims, including Raymond McCord and Geraldine Finucane were due
to attend the White House today.

c Belfast Telegraph


Bush Tells Ahern: I'm Ready To Help

March 16 2007 at 06:53PM

Washington - President George Bush told Ireland's prime minister
on Friday that he supported efforts to bring stability to
Northern Ireland.

"I stand ready to help," Bush said, Irish Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern at his side.

Top Irish officials were at the White House to celebrate an
annual St Patrick's Day ritual as talks between rival Catholics
and Protestants in Northern Ireland for a power-sharing agreement
neared a March 26 deadline.

Ahern thanked Bush for his support. "Nothing should allow the
process to falter at this final moment," he said. He also
presented Bush with a bowl of shamrocks, a yearly tradition.

Ahern was to return to Ireland before St Patrick's Day on
Saturday to help oversee a round of meetings leading up to the
deadline he set with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Sinn Fein's deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, who was also to
attend the White House event, told an audience of Irish-Americans
in Washington on Thursday that he was confident that leaders in
Northern Ireland will strike a historic compromise for power-
sharing before the deadline.

Protestant leader Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists and Catholic
Sinn Fein were the twin victors of last week's assembly election.
The Democratic Unionists won 36 seats in the 108-member
legislature; Sinn Fein won 28.

The British and Irish governments say Paisley must share power
with Sinn Fein. Paisley has refused to commit to the March 26
deadline to strike an arrangement.

Ahern said at the White House event on Friday that the elections
showed that "the time has come for Northern Ireland to move on."

Ahern also said he hopes the US Congress will embrace Bush's
immigration proposal that would affect illegal Irish immigrants
in the United States.

"The resolution of this issue would mean enormous amounts to so
many Irish men and women," Ahern said of the 50 000 to 70 000
illegal Irish immigrants in the United States.

Bush also nudged Congress to pass his guest worker program for

"Irish Americans remind us of our heritage as a nation of
immigrants and our duty to remain a welcoming society," Bush
said. - Sapa-AP


White House Reception Disrupted By Intruder

Friday, 16 March 2007 17:48

The annual shamrock reception at the White House was disrupted
this afternoon when an intruder tried to gain entry to the

The man, who was subsequently arrested, was apparently unarmed.
Nevertheless, the White House was put on a security lockdown.

All media at the White House, including several Irish
journalists, were moved to the adjacent executive office

Afterwards, at a hastily convened press conference
in the adjacent building, Bertie Ahern said US President George W
Bush told him he was determined to push through immigration
reform and that he intended to bring the Republican Party with

During the ceremony the Taosieach told Mr Bush that we are closer
than at any time in our past in Northern Ireland to a final
resolution to one of the oldest conflicts in history.

Mr Ahern was referring to the outcome of last week's Northern
Assembly election.

He said the people of Northern Ireland had given a strong and
clear message, after so many years of delays and disappointments,
that they want their political respresentatives to take
responsibility together in government in bulding and
consolidating peace.

Among those attending the ceremony were Northern Ireland
Secretary, Peter Hain, and Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin

The annual visit to Washington by senior northern politicians has
been more low-key than usual this year, as talks continue at home
ahead of the 26 March deadline to form a power-sharing

Yesterday the Taoiseach held talks with senior US politicians
including Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Edward Kennedy
and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Earlier in the week he met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in
New York and laid a wreath at the Twin Towers Memorial Centre.


UDA In Appeal To DUP To Enter Government With Sinn Fein

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) have urged the Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP) to go into government with Sinn Fein.

But their leader Jackie McDonald has told UTV that UDA
decommissioning is not on the radar at the moment.

UDA leader Jackie McDonald and a former head of the paramilitary
organisation Andy Tyrie, were both at a breakfast celebrating
Saint Patrick today, and one of the guest speakers was the Rev
Ian Paisley.

The venue was La Mon House Hotel in east Belfast, a name forever
linked with tragedy because it was there just over 29 years ago
that 12 people were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA)

But today Jackie McDonald was talking peace and how the UDA were
urging Ian Paisley to go into government with Sinn Fein.

Mr McDonald said loyalists shared Sinn Fein`s concerns about the
police service but he said the UDA were not ready to decommission
at the moment.

Despite recent expulsions and splits, the UDA still have not
shaken off their image of gangsterism and criminality.

Mr McDonald said the concerns of loyalists in Derry and North
Antrim about their feelings of isolation had to be addressed by
the government but he said he was more optimistic than ever
before about the prospects for peace.

Ian Paisley was also more upbeat today.


Hain's Deadline Threat Nonsense, Says Dodds

Frank Millar, London Editor
Fri, Mar 16, 2007

DUP MP Nigel Dodds has flatly contradicted Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain's interpretation of what will happen if the
March 26th deadline for restoring powersharing government to
Stormont is not met.

In the clearest signal of a tough and ongoing internal party
debate, Mr Dodds last night told The Irish Times that "the DUP is
in no way fazed or intimidated" by what he called the "spin"
emanating from the Northern Ireland Office.

Specifically, Mr Dodds rejected Mr Hain's assertion that the
choice on March 26th lies between "devolution" or "dissolution",
and that failure then and any subsequent attempt to restore
devolved government could take years and would require fresh

Questioning the legal basis for Mr Hain's position, Mr Dodds
insisted that a new Act of Parliament could simply re-instate the
Northern Ireland Assembly on the basis of last week's election -
even if it was dissolved following a failure to appoint an
executive on Monday week.

His comments came as the Belfast Telegraph published the results
of a straw poll of DUP Assembly members suggesting that, while
prepared to share power, most think it unlikely to be achieved by
the set deadline.

In a newspaper article at the weekend, Mr Hain said: "Anyone
trying to push devolution beyond March 26th, or trying to stop
devolution altogether, will find that they will be left behind,
perhaps for years, because who knows when there might be another
opportunity to get the institutions up and running again?"

The Secretary of State went on to warn: "In any event, it will
require a fresh election. But if, as I believe, there is success,
then Northern Ireland, for the first time, can decide the future
on solid foundations. It's the moment to decide. The parties have
just two weeks to do so."

Dismissing this as "nonsense" and "classic hardball", however, Mr
Dodds cited the precedent set by Mr Hain himself in creating the
"transitional Assembly" that paved the way for last week's
election. "The DUP is in no way fazed or intimidated by the NIO
line and this talk of a new election," he asserted. "We know it's
nonsense, they [the British government] know it's nonsense, and
they should just get on with delivery."

Mr Dodds' assessment could be influential when the DUP executive
meets, probably next Friday, to decide whether to comply with the
March 26th deadline stipulated by the British and Irish
governments. There is agreement now across all sections of the
DUP that party leader the Rev Ian Paisley is eager to become co-
equal First Minister in a new executive with Sinn Féin's deputy
first minister-designate Martin McGuinness, and that he would
like to take office on Monday week.

As reported in yesterday's Irish Times, some DUP MPs pressing for
a longer period in which to "test" Sinn Féin's bona fides also
suspect Dr Paisley might be prepared to force the issue to a
positive outcome at the party's executive meeting.

However, one said last night he did not believe "it would come to
that", suggesting Dr Paisley would rather judge the mood of the
party before committing himself. A second well-placed source also
said that deputy leader Peter Robinson would be important in
assessing the implications for long-term party unity of meeting
the deadline, rather than seeking delay possibly until May.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Hillary Clinton 'Is Pandering To SF'

[Published: Friday 16, March 2007 - 11:00]
By Sean O'Driscoll

DUP Assemblyman Ian Paisley Jnr has accused Hillary Clinton of
being anti-unionist after she met various Irish political leaders
in Washington yesterday.

Mr Paisley said that Senator Clinton is continuing to play to
Irish-Americans to advance her own political career.

He also hit out at previous comments she made to the Belfast
Telegraph in which she said that the IRA had called Ian Paisley
Snr's bluff by decommissioning its weapons.

"I am never surprised when Hillary Clinton gets it wrong and she
has consistently been getting it wrong. The IRA's bluff and Sinn
Féin's bluff has been called. The one party that has had to move
is Sinn Féin, they have had to move to our agenda and support the
police," he said.

He said that Sinn Féin would not get into government until it
could show full support for the police, even if Mrs Clinton
continued to "pander" to the party.

"Unless and until they measure up to our standards, they won't be
in the government. So I think Hillary Clinton shouldn't play a
game she doesn't understand," he said.

He accused the presidential candidate of being against unionists.

"She obviously wants to play to an Irish-American audience and
she therefore plays to an very narrow audience. I think she is
the bigot in all of this. That's a point she has to address in
her own mind," he said.

Mr Paisley, in Washington as a member of the Policing Board, was
speaking at a reception in the Irish ambassador's residence.

"Hillary Clinton will have no compunction to use Northern Ireland
to advance her own cause," he said.

c Belfast Telegraph


It May Pay For DUP To Strike While Iron's Hot

[Published: Friday 16, March 2007 - 09:39]

The DUP swallowed most of the unionist seats in last week's
election. But Political Correspondent Chris Thornton explores why
the results should also show them the future's not quite so

Ian Paisley hasn't spoken to him, since he still makes a point of
not talking to his potential partners in Sinn Féin. But the
oldest Assembly member can't have helped noticing the youngest,
25-year- old Daithi McKay, when the votes were totted up last
week. After all, they were both elected on the first count.

Since then, the DUP leader's thoughts have obviously moved to the
big picture results.

His party's victory was impressive - the election gained them
three seats, secured a unionist majority in the Executive and, in
Mr Paisley's own words, "strengthened my hand".

But Mr McKay's win was a signal that the outcome of the 2007
election doesn't just signal DUP dominance. There's a demography
lesson there as well: the DUP gained, but unionism as a whole

The number of unionist seats in the Assembly has fallen and the
overall unionist vote went below 50%.

Probably starting with the 2001 South Antrim by-election, the DUP
has impressively consolidated the unionist vote.

Over several elections, it has effectively hoovered up a
disparate unionist electorate that once voted for the likes of
the UK Unionists, Northern Ireland Unionist Party and the United
Unionist Assembly Coalition.

And there is room for further growth.

Better vote management secured their new seats, but some notable
breakdowns in vote management cost another two or three seats.
Merely by holding their vote in the next election, the DUP could
get much closer to 40 seats.

In addition, its vote went up by 30,000 between 2003 and 2007,
but 20,000 of that can be attributed to UUP defectors Jeffrey
Donaldson and Arlene Foster.

More disaffected Ulster Unionists are there to be won over,
especially if the party suffers further defections. Alliance's
gains can be attributed in part to UUP supporters who abandoned
the party but do not yet feel comfortable voting for the DUP.

But, in future elections, the DUP will have to consider that it
will not just be fighting unionists for seats.

In 1998, 58 Assembly seats went to unionists. That went up to 59
in 2003, thanks to Diane Dodds' victory in West Belfast. This
time the total fell to 55.

Two of the unionist seats were lost to Alliance and the Greens.
But two also went to Sinn Féin, in circumstances where they are
unlikely to be won back.

A falling unionist population in West Belfast will probably put
that seat beyond reach, while an expanding nationalist population
in South Antrim - all that new building around Crumlin and
Glenavy - should secure the two nationalist seats in that

And it's not nationalism making the expansion: it's Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin won seats for the first time in two unionist
heartlands, Lagan Valley and South Antrim, where Mitchel
McLaughlin topped the poll.

The overall unionist vote dropped below 50% for the first time in
an Assembly election (it happened previously in a European
contest), although the unionist share is partly masked by
Alliance's gains.

What's more, the nationalist vote increased against a unionist
fall. In 2003, 362,000 people voted for unionist parties. That
was down to 336,000 last week. The two nationalist parties got
280,000 votes in 2003. It went up to 292,000 this time.

The nationalist increase is in large part due to new voters -
between 2003 and 2007, 54,475 Catholics attained voting age,
compared to 48,609 Protestants.

It's a fairly safe bet to say the gap will close again by the
time of the next Assembly election. Nationalists should make a
net gain of 4,000 new voters, even without considering unionists
are more likely to die off.

Unionists remain the larger voting bloc and will for some time to

But the strength of their majority is in older voters. And the
greater number of voters under the age of 30 are Catholic.

That's an important consideration for the DUP in deciding on
whether to enter an Executive now or later. It may want to use
the strength of its voting advantage while it can.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ahern In Warning Over Undocumented Irish Campaign

15/03/2007 - 19:08:18

Bertie Ahern today urged groups lobbying for the thousands of
undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States to drop calls
for full US citizenship.

The Taoiseach said making work and travel possible were the
priority, warning that if the campaign demanded too much it could
end up getting nothing.

Up to 50,000 Irish people working illegally in the US are unable
to return home because they will not be allowed to re-enter the

Speaking after a meeting with Presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton as part of his annual St Patrick's Day trip to
Washington, Mr Ahern said he would like to see a bill passed in
the US this year.

But he added: "It's fairly clear to the lobby groups and everyone
I speak to that we do have to look at what we can get, what's
available, and certainly the two issues highlighted by the lobby
groups are work and travel.

"That's where the Irish community are hurting most. The broader
immigration issues take in a whole complex issue and a range of
countries and difficulties that may make it very difficult to see
Senate and Congress being able to pass legislation in 2007 on

"I want to highlight what's important to us. Obviously we move as
far as we can, we have to be reasonable in our debate.

"If we try to go to the top of hill and demand everything we'll
end up with nothing."

He added: "We have to listen to our friends here."

Mrs Clinton echoed his comments.

"We will be searching for a way to bring the parties together and
both houses of Congress," she told reporters on Capitol Hill.

"I heard that Nancy Pelosi made it very clear last night
comprehensive immigration reform is certainly at the top of her

"There's a great deal of energy and momentum but we have to look
for the right way of putting together the legislation in order to
pass it."


Call For British To Develop Irish Language Policy

Thu, Mar 15, 2007

The Council of Europe has called on the British government to
develop a comprehensive Irish language policy, including measures
to meet the increasing demand for Irish-medium education "as a
matter of priority".

The Strasbourg-based Committee of Ministers backed the findings
of an 86-page report from a Council of Europe watchdog monitoring
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which
came into force in the UK in July 2001.

The Charter commits the British government to safeguard and
promote Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster-Scots,
Cornish and Manx Gaelic. Today's report, drawn up by a committee
of independent experts, recommends that British government:

:: develops a comprehensive Irish language policy;

:: gives more support for the printed media in Irish and Scottish

:: improves services in Welsh in health and social care facilities;

:: makes efforts to improve the position of Scots and Ulster Scots.

The report is based on monitoring of the minority language
situation in the UK between December 2005 and February last year.
It says the main responsibility for the practical implementation
of the Charter's goals of recognising and respecting the value of
minority languages rests with devolved authorities.

However, central government has the final responsibility to see
the Charter is applied. The monitoring exercise had revealed wide
differences in the treatment of minority languages around the
country, it said.

In the North, where there have been demands for an Irish Language
Act similar to the south's Official Languages Act,
representatives of Irish speakers have reported problems
promoting Irish because of demands for equal treatment for the
lesser-used Ulster Scots.

As parity for Ulster Scots is not practically possible, no action
has been taken at all in some cases following request for
measures "appropriate to the Irish language".

The Democratic Unionist Party has branded the proposal for an
Irish language Act for Northern Ireland as iniquitous, divisive
and discriminatory and "sponsored by Sinn Féin".

c 2007


Michael Stone Remanded In Custody On Stormont Charges

[Published: Friday 16, March 2007 - 13:53]

Loyalist killer Michael Stone was remanded in custody today after
appearing at a Belfast court charged with storming the Northern

He was told he must wait in prison while forensic experts work on
his case.

Stone tried to get into the main hall at Stormont last November
before a woman security guard disarmed and overpowered him.

He was charged with attempting to murder Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams,
Martin McGuinness and two Stormont officials as well as
possessing home made explosive, an imitation firearm and other
article for purposes of terrorism.

He has previously described his attack at Stormont as
"performance art"

Before his release under the Good Friday Agreement, Stone had
killed six people, three people at the funeral of three IRA
members in a Belfast cemetery in 1988.

c Belfast Telegraph


Call For Inquiry Into 1970s Atrocities

Friday, 16 March 2007 15:17

A group representing families of victims of the Troubles has said
the Government must put in place a Commission of Inquiry into
several atrocities in the 1970s.

Justice for the Forgotten made the call to coincide with the
unveiling of a memorial to two teenagers killed in a UVF bomb in
Co Cavan.

Teenagers Geraldine O'Reilly and Paddy Stanley were killed
instantly in the blast on Belturbet's Main Street on 28 December
1972. The families of the two victims have supported the call.

Justice for the Forgotten has said serious questions
remain unanswered about the investigation into the car bombing.

Spokeswoman Margaret Urwin said the Government must establish a
commission to look at the garda investigation into the blast, and
a number of other bombings in the 1970s.

The Commission of Investigation has been recommended by a joint
Oireachtas committee.

Today in Belturbet the father of Paddy Stanley, Joe, appealed to
the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, to set up an inquiry
aimed at identifying the bombers who killed his son.

No-one was ever charged, despite the fact that many names of
known loyalist terrorists were provided to garda¡.


Opin: St Patrick's A Red Letter Day For The White House

[Published: Friday 16, March 2007 - 10:07]
By Dean Pittman, Wise Consul

Good Morning from Washington, DC! Today, I'm in my own capital
city as President Bush welcomes Northern Ireland's civic,
business and governent leaders to the White House to celebrate St
Patrick's Day.

You may have heard that Americans go 'over the top' celebrating
the occasion - drinking green beer and even dyeing rivers
emerald. Well, let me assure you that today's White House event
will be a very dignified occasion.

In fact, the White House St Patrick's Day party is one of the
most important dates on the Consulate's calendar. We have been
working for months, careful to ensure that we set just the right
tone and reflect just the right image to highlight Northern
Ireland's progress.

That's important, because many Americans, including very
influential business and political leaders, may only pay close
attention to what's happening in Ireland once a year - and that
is why the annual pilgrimage to Washington is so essential.

The Northern Ireland focus at the White House is a relatively
recent event. For decades, the President has welcomed the
Taoiseach to town for the annual Shamrock Ceremony, which
includes influential Irish-Americans from Congress, business,
education, and the arts.

President Clinton added the Northern Ireland reception back in
the mid-90s, inviting representatives from the north's main
political parties to draw attention to the unprecedented
political progress that was happening at the time.

Those invitations helped spotlight the fact that Northern Ireland
was turning a page on its troubled past. Americans knew something
important was happening here ? they knew that the political
parties were working toward a lasting peace.

In the intervening years, they learned that much more progress
was on the way. Slowly but surely, the tragic headlines of the
province's past are being replaced by positive images about its
future. The recent elections are just one more step forward
toward what we all hope will be a lasting political settlement.

But the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington are not just
about politics. As I have said before, I think one of the main
jobs of my Consulate is to shine a spotlight on Northern
Ireland's many successes ? be they political, economic, social,
cultural, or even sporting.

St Patrick's week gives us a great platform to do that. That's
why the President has invited to the White House guests who draw
attention to the good work and progress in all segments of
Northern Ireland's society.

This year, the President will have the opportunity to meet those
involved with policing, integrated education, and those working
on pushing the economic agenda in Northern Ireland - three key
areas the Consulate supports.

He'll also get a chance to talk with those working to deal with
Northern Ireland's troubled past.

First, on policing, the Chief Constable, the Ombudsman, the
Policing Board and several PSNI recruits are here to tell about
policing in Northern Ireland, and how much progress has been
made. Coming on the heels of Sinn Féin's historic decision to
support policing, these men and women have much good news to

Last time, I wrote of my own experience of integrated education -
I went to a racially segregated school until I was 15 and I can
tell you first-hand how much can be achieved by educating
children together. The President was utterly delighted when he
met two wonderful young ladies from Ulidia Integrated College in
2005 and heard their stories. I was standing close enough to tell
you that these girls, with their easy smiles and uncontained
excitement, charmed the President.

This year, it's the boys' turn and two young fellows from
Rowallane Integrated Primary School will get to talk about their
experiences with integrated education.

Likewise, for many years, the White House has invited business
and community leaders to showcase the enormous progress Northern
Ireland's civic society has made toward normality.

In 2003, the president honored 12 dedicated representatives from
community organizations who convinced him that the everyday
people of the province want peace and reconciliation, as well as
political and economic progress as much their politicians do.

Every year since, the guest list has included community workers
and clergymen so he can gauge the feeling in towns and
neighborhoods. This year, we'll have community leaders who work
every day to build bridges between Northern Ireland's communities
as well as some of the Ireland's top business leaders.

Both groups will be talking about Northern Ireland's progress in
building a shared future and growing the economy. I firmly
believe the two go hand in hand. I hope, too, the President will
get to hear a bit about the fledgling All-Ireland Entrepreneur
Network, I wrote about in my previous column.

I am also very excited we'll be able to kick off the Rediscover
Northern Ireland programme that will culminate this summer on the
Washington mall as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes
Northern Ireland.

Few others regions of the world get the opportunity to show
themselves off to such great effect. It's a great opportunity,
and Northern Ireland's business, cultural and culinary leaders
have stepped up to the plate to make this celebration an
unforgettable occasion. The Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington
is going all out to take full advantage of this unprecedented

Last Tuesday night, I joined a packed house at the National Press
Club to launch a wonderful photographic exhibit by the press
Photographers' Association that chronicles the good times and the
bad times of Northern Ireland. Most importantly, it demonstrates
graphically how far Northern Ireland has come over the last
several decades.

It is an inspiring show and, if you can't make it to Washington,
you can see a bit of it at the Ormeau Baths Galleries in Belfast.
One of the organizers, John Harrison, told me that 2,000 people
in Belfast had already visited the gallery to take a look.

So, though I'm in the United States today, it feels a bit like
Northern Ireland because so many of you are here with me helping
show America what the new Northern Ireland is beginning to look

It's been a great week for Northern Ireland!

c Belfast Telegraph


Public Advised To Boil Water In Parts Of Galway

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent, and Eithne Donnellan
Fri, Mar 16, 2007

People living in several parts of Galway city and county have
been advised to boil their water before use following an increase
in the number of people in the area becoming ill with diarrhoea.

Their illness, it is believed, is caused by ingesting a
microscopic parasite called cryptosporidium.

And while drinking water is one of the possible routes of
transmission of the illness, testing of the water conducted to
date has failed to detect the presence of the parasite.

A joint statement issued last evening by the Health Service
Executive (HSE) in the west, Galway County Council and Galway
City Council, advised the public to boil water used for human
consumption until further notice.

It said: "In the last month the public health department, HSE
West, has been notified that there has been an increase in the
number of people in the Galway area becoming ill with a
diarrhoeal illness. The particular type of illness is caused by
ingesting a parasite called cryptosporidium.

"Drinking water is one of the possible transmission routes,
although testing conducted to date has failed to detect the
presence of the parasite cryptosporidium.

"As a precautionary measure, HSE West has advised Galway County
Council and Galway City Council to introduce a boiled water
notice to all water users" in a number of areas.

"This measure is advised in an attempt to reduce new infections,"
it said.

The areas to which the notice applies include Galway city, Barna,
Carnmore, Athenry, Claregalway, Corofin, Headford, Lackagh,
Oranmore, Tuam and Turloughmore.

Those supplied by public water schemes in these areas and 80
group water schemes are advised to heed the notice.

The statement said water used for drinking, preparation of salads
and similar foods which are not cooked prior to eating, brushing
teeth and making ice should be boiled.

Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink.

It says when preparing baby feeds, bottled mineral water is no
substitute as most brands contain concentrations of minerals that
are too high for babies.

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include diarrhoea, stomach cramps,
upset stomach and a mild fever, and can last for two weeks.
However, the parasite may continue to be in a person's system for
up to two months.

The HSE West advises infected people to drink plenty of fluids to
prevent dehydration. It also says anyone suffering from diarrhoea
for more than two days should contact their GP and provide a
stool sample for testing.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Thousands On Move For St Patrick's Day

16/03/2007 - 13:47:33

The traditional bank holiday exodus is underway in earnest today,
with thousands travelling by rail, plane and road for the St
Patrick's weekend.

Motorists are being urged to allow extra time for their journeys
due to increased traffic on the road.

They are also being warned not to drink and drive as garda¡ will
be out in force this weekend to catch any wrong-doers.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 people are expected to use rail
services across the country this weekend, with passengers being
urged to book online to ensure they have a seat.

The airports are also expecting a huge surge in passengers for St
Patrick's Day celebrations, as well as an exodus of rugby fans
heading to tomorrow's Six Nations clash in Rome.


Ireland Gears Up For Patrick's Day Party

Fri, Mar 16, 2007

Towns and cities across Ireland will today be putting final
preparations in place for festivals to mark St Patrick's Day

In Dublin, five days and nights of colourful celebrations are
already under way. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to
descend on Dublin.

The highlight of the weekend will be the St Patrick's Day Parade
tomorrow afternoon and a firework display at Docklands on Sunday

On the northside of the city, in the heart of the IFSC in
Docklands, people can take a colourful journey into Amozozo, a
luminous inflatable maze filled with tunnels, slopes and 60

The city centre will be transformed into a party atmosphere, with
more than 4,000 performers taking part in an array of free
activities, including music, street theatre, family carnivals,
comedy, street performances, dance, a treasure hunt and night

c 2007

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