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March 04, 2007

Hain Warns That Assembly Could Be Closed Down

News about Ireland & the Irish

BN 03/04/07 Hain Warns That North's Assembly Could Be Closed Down
IN 03/04/07 Francis Hughes:‘Vote Sinn Fein To Ensure Unity’
HT 03/04/07 An Oddly Quiet Election For Northern Ireland
IT 03/04/07 Adams Rules Out Government With PDs
SL 03/04/07 RUC Man-Turned-Shinner Cops It
SL 03/04/07 'Sensitive' Bank Raid Documents Withheld
SL 03/04/07 Analysis: Monolith's Move Of Biblica Proportions
PJ 02/28/07 Opin: Peace Can Only Be Secure Through Reconciliation
BB 03/04/07 Shot Priest Is 'Out Of The Woods'
BN 03/04/07 Jet Quarantined In Dublin Airport Over Ill Passengers
DN 03/04/07 Ireland: Many A Castle Does Double Duty As A Hotel


Hain Warns That North's Assembly Could Be Closed Down

04/03/2007 - 12:41:00

The Northern Secretary Peter Hain has warned the North's
politicians that they have a stark choice to make, either to
participate in a power-sharing executive, or have the Assembly
closed down.

If the executive is not set up by March 26, Mr Hain said he would
have no choice but to abolish the Stormont institution.

Speaking to Sky News, he described Wednesday's elections as a
'tremendous' opportunity to move forward.

The Northern Secretary believes there's 'every prospect' of a
functioning executive being established by the deadline, with DUP
leader Ian Paisley as First Minister and Sinn F‚in's Martin
McGuinness as his deputy.


'Vote Sinn Fein To Ensure Unity'

Assembly Election
By Staff Reporter

The family of IRA hunger striker Francis Hughes have called for
increased support for Sinn Fein in next week's assembly

Former Sinn Fein councillor Oliver Hughes said: "While
recognising the concerns of some republicans, regarding the
recent decision taken at the extraordinary ard fheis, to be
genuinely held, we believe it has been the continued efforts of
Sinn Fein that has exposed unionist intransigence.

"An increased mandate for Sinn Fein will help quicken the pace of
change and ensure Irish unity and independence."

Meanwhile, Ulster Union-ist South Belfast candidate Michael
McGimpsey has warned that the proposed Irish Language Act could
be "profoundly harmful to community relations".

Alliance South Belfast candidate Anna Lo claimed voter apathy is
hurting Northern Ireland because it is "boosting tribalism".

SDLP South Belfast candidate Alasdair McDonnell said devolution
was "urgen-tly needed" to help achieve an all-Ireland economy.

Ulster Unionist Ferman-agh and South Tyrone candidate Kenny
Donaldson called for a "sustainable" childcare strategy to help
women living in rural areas.


An Oddly Quiet Election For Northern Ireland

By Kevin Cullen
The Boston Globe
Sunday, March 4, 2007

NEWRY, Northern Ireland: William Bennett, a 20-something
engineering student, was rushing to get home after an afternoon
of shopping when he was asked who he thought would win.

"Arsenal," he said, unequivocally.

Bennett could be forgiven for confusing a visitor's question
about the looming elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly
with a prognostication about the Carling Cup soccer final that he
and his friends had arranged to watch in a pub later.

Because, whether in this border market town or up in Belfast, or
even the normally politics-mad northwest corner of Derry, no one
can remember an election in Northern Ireland in their lifetime
that was so quiet.

While much of the outside world views the election Wednesday for
the 108-seat assembly, which has been suspended for four years,
as a make-or- break moment in the peace process, many of those
who will cast ballots seem to be approaching it with a matter-of-
fact attitude, like keeping a dentist's appointment.

There is a sense that the hard work was done in January, when
Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, voted
to endorse a police force that has changed but is still hated by
many Irish republicans. Still, the balloting is essential in
persuading the Reverend Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionist
Party that they have the backing of most Protestants to form a
power-sharing government.

Paisley, the 80-year-old fundamentalist preacher, has made clear
his distaste for serving as a first minister in the assembly's
executive in which his second-in-command would be Martin
McGuinness of Sinn Fein, the IRA's former chief of staff. But it
is the consensus of the governments in Dublin and London - not to
mention ordinary people the length and breadth of Northern
Ireland - that this will happen.

The governments have set a March 26 deadline for the parties to
form a power-sharing executive. As Peter Hain, the British
secretary of state for Northern Ireland, put it, it is devolution
or dissolution. The prospect of something that sounds like, but
is not quite really, joint sovereignty between Dublin and London
is meant to pressure Paisley to make a deal. But, while elections
take place on appointed dates in Northern Ireland, such deadlines
have a history of being ignored.

Sinn Fein has brought the biggest split in the republican
movement since 1998, when its willingness to accept the principle
that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom
until a majority in the country vote otherwise sent many hard-
liners packing.

Dozens of former IRA prisoners have helped independent republican
candidates to oppose Sinn Fein, Among these candidates is Peggy
O'Hara, whose son, Patsy, was one of 10 prisoners who starved
themselves to death in 1981. Gerry McGeough, an IRA gunrunner who
was imprisoned in the United States, has challenged Michelle
Gildernew, one of Sinn Fein's rising stars.

But most political observers believe that McGuinness and the Sinn
Fein president, Gerry Adams, have done their arithmetic
studiously and have navigated through the latest straits with
their political base intact.

Paisley's apparent willingness to share power, meanwhile, has
spurred defections, but also rejuvenated the hard-line unionist
base, which sees anything that legitimizes Sinn Fein as a
Faustian deal that will eventually see Northern Ireland subsumed
by Ireland.

Unionists, who are predominately Protestant, want Northern
Ireland to remain part of Britain.

Still, the parties have found some common ground, opposing water
rates and uniting in a desire to lower corporate taxes that would
make Northern Ireland more competitive with the Irish Republic's
economy, the most vibrant in Europe. Some wags have noted that
after spending a lifetime denouncing interfering southerners,
Paisley wants to be taxed like one.

On Thursday, Paisley gave his strongest indication yet that he
was prepared to share power. He said his party would seek the
finance minister's portfolio if, as expected, the Democratic
Unionist Party tops the ticket.

For the once-dominant parties that have fallen behind Sinn Fein
and the Democratic Unionists - the Social Democratic and Labor
Party on the Catholic side, and the Ulster Unionists on the
Protestant side - trying to position themselves as more
reasonable alternatives is a challenge when so many people seem
to feel this election will cement a power-sharing deal struck at
St. Andrews, Scotland, in November.

Mark Durkan, the Social Democratic leader, said only his party
can end the "stop and go" politics he accused the bigger parties
of engaging in for self-interest. Durkan sought to burnish his
party's nationalist credentials, saying the party would seek a
referendum on a united Ireland as soon as the power- sharing
government was seen to be "operating stably."

The Irish government and southern opposition parties are openly
supporting the SDLP, seeing the traditionally moderate party as a
counterbalance to Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein, meanwhile, is poised to
become a power broker in the Irish Republic election, expected in

There was something of a titter last week when a poll by The
Belfast Telegraph found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed
said they did not expect Paisley and McGuinness to work well
together. But the real news was that a majority expect them to
work together at all.


Adams Rules Out Government With PDs

Sun, Mar 04, 2007

The Sinn F‚in leader Gerry Adams today ruled out entering into
any coalition government with the Progressive Democrats.

Mr Adams said his party does not have a preference between
forming a government with Fianna F il or a coalition of other
parties, except for the PDs.

The Sinn F‚in leader accused the PDs of being "ultra-
conservative" and "arrogant" in their approach because they are a
"niche" party.

Speaking on RT radio this afternoon Mr Adams said: "What Sinn
F‚in want to do is to try and use the bargaining power we have
after the election to try and get a programme for government.

"Then whoever, can contribute to that or can subscribe to that
will form the next government".

"We want to go forward on the basis of the peace process, a
united Ireland strategy, a radical policy which is about equity
and equality and which is about building decent hospital
service," he added.

c 2007


RUC Man-Turned-Shinner Cops It

[Published: Sunday 4, March 2007 - 11:11]
By Ciaran McGuigan

Ex-cop turned Sinn Fein politician Billy Leonard may have been
the first Shinner to have his collar felt since the party's
historical backing of the police.

For it's believed the Assembly candidate was pulled in by his
former police colleagues after being clocked at almost 80mph
driving through his East Londonderry constituency.

Mr Leonard was travelling along the main Coleraine-to-Garvagh
road two weeks ago when cops are believed to have stopped him and
issued a œ60 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points.

It's understood the Sinn Fein man - in keeping with his party's
new policy of co-operating with the police - accepted the penalty
notice rather than contest the matter in court.

However, when we contacted the Coleraine councillor about his
speeding ticket Mr Leonard refused to discuss it.

"I have no comment to make," he said.

He repeated his line several times when Sunday Life put it to him
that he had campaigned on road safety issues in the past and
asked if 78mph was a speed at which he would advise his
constituents to drive at.

A police spokesman said: "We do not discuss individual cases."

Mr Leonard is one of two Sinn Fein candidates running in East
Londonderry this week. Two years ago, when he was the party's
candidate in the Westminster poll, road safety was one of his
campaigning issues.

Before that, the former RUC Reservist represented the SDLP on
Coleraine Borough Council and on the District Policing
Partnership, but jumped ship to Sinn Fein in 2004.

c Belfast Telegraph


'Sensitive' Bank Raid Documents Withheld

[Published: Sunday 4, March 2007 - 10:44]
By Alan Murray

The Northern Ireland Office has refused to release more than 60
sensitive documents relating to the Government's assessment of
the IRA's involvement in the Northern Bank robbery in December

Scores of documents relating the IRA's massive robbery remain
secret - possibly to protect a high ranking republican spy -
following a Freedom of Information request by Sunday Life.

Some of the held documents are covered by national security
considerations while others relate to material supplied by the
Irish Government and by senior Government legal advisers.

The Information Commissioner agreed with the NIO's assessment
that to release some of the sensitive material would "prejudice
national security" which will add weight to suggestions that MI5
has at least one top level mole secreted within the highest
levels of the IRA or Sinn Fein, or both.

The Commissioner said that while there were public interest
factors in relation to the Northern Bank robbery, which "had such
a major impact on the Northern Ireland peace process", there were
"compelling reasons" why information should not be disclosed.

But in the landmark judgment the Information Commissioner ruled
NIO officials were wrong to impose a blanket ban on the release
of any material held at Stormont Castle about the robbery to the
Sunday Life.

A small number of the documents are top secret provided by the
Intelligence Services and the PSNI's Special Branch to the then
Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

Others were provided by the Irish Government and some were
provided by individuals on the basis that their identities should
remain concealed. Some of these are believed to be figures within
the republican community.

In her 19 page judgment, the Assistant Information Commissioner
for Northern Ireland, Marie Anderson, said the NIO failed to
provide adequate advice and assistance to Sunday Life in order to
clarify its request in accordance with Section 16 of the Act.

c Belfast Telegraph


Analysis: Monolith's Move Will Be Of Biblica Proportions

[Published: Sunday 4, March 2007 - 11:52]
By Alan Murray

It's the election Ian Paisley demanded - but will the results
force him to repent at leisure?

No party faces such a crucial test in the Assembly elections as
the DUP.

Sure, Sinn Fein faces a potential erosion of its vote, but it's
not as if the most ardent republicans couldn't work out that
eventually sharing power in government would mean sharing support
for the police service.

Those who left the 'movement' in 1986 worked that out two decades
ago, so it's only the very slow learners who today are
fulminating about treachery and the abandoning of the ideals
embedded in the 1916 Proclamation.

The British national anthem was performed without a boo to be
heard at last week's pulsating rugby international at Croke Park
in Dublin, and only a handful of dissidents felt it worthwhile to
protest outside.

Republicans aren't turning back, but the big question after this
week will be: Is Ian Paisley about to turn his back on four
decades of assailing the 'establishment' to become a pillar of it
with Martin and Gerry?

His once-monolithic party is facing a river crossing like no

Suspicion abounds that the Rev Paisley has privately indicated to
Tony Blair that he will conclude a deal that will see him share
power at Stormont with Sinn Fein.

When Bob McCartney hailed him with cries of betrayal in Lisburn,
the Doc refused to rise to the bait and offered that silent
chuckle expression that makes you think he has something up his
sleeve. But what?

Within the party, there is distrust as its headquarters strives
to keep a lid on the likes of Jim Allister and the '12 apostles'
who signed the maverick Assembly statement last November.

Privately and publicly - most recently from the Rev William
McCrea and David Tweed - great doubt has been placed on the
likelihood of a devolved administration being up and running here
by March 26.

Off the record, prominent elected DUP figures will express even
greater doubts and deride those who favour making more swift
progress as "the power-hungry pragmatists".

Whether Ian Paisley can, before the summer, push the button for
power-sharing against strong internal opposition which
unswervingly demands the decommissioning of the IRA's Army
Council structure, remains to be seen.

Figures on the unionist fringe - like Willie Frazer - say that,
whatever the outcome, after the election there will be a split
and a Mk II DUP created.

Ironically, it could be Bob McCartney who spares the Rev Paisley
the party-splitting act of pleasing Tony Blair and forming an
Executive with Sinn Fein if the North Down Assemblyman succeeds
in more than one constituency through his multiple candidacy.

Bob with more than one seat could derail the D'Hondt procedure
for electing ministers because there is currently no legal
mechanism to force him to abdicate any additional seat he may
acquire and he ain't of a mind to do that voluntarily.

The loophole that allowed 'Rainbow George' and others to stand in
many constituencies last time round wasn't plugged by the NIO
mandarins, leaving McCartney free to wind up the DUP.

Dismissed as "no threat" even by those within the DUP who reject
the March 26 deadline for government, McCartney presents the Doc
with the task of appeasing not just the 'apostles', but a
troublesome Jeremiah.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Fragile Peace Can Only Be Secure Through Reconciliation

Northern Ireland Deals with its Past - Slowly

Peter Teffer

For hundreds of years Northern Ireland has known periods of peace
interrupted by outbursts of violence. Some say if the pain and
grief that this has caused is not dealt with properly, violence
might erupt again. The key is reconciliation.

When walking in the shopping streets of Belfast, north of
Donegall Square, it is hard to believe this is a divided
community. Here in the bustling commercial centre of Belfast you
can't tell Protestant from Catholic and there doesn't seem to be
any tension. Leave, however, the centre of the city to go to
areas such as Shankill or Falls Road, and you'll find very
homogenous neighbourhoods.

Although sectarian violence has increasingly become rare since
the ceasefires of 1994 and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement,
segregation in Northern Ireland is higher it was ten years ago.
In recent elections, the votes went to the more extreme parties,
the Catholic Sinn F‚in and the Protestant Democratic Unionist
Party (DUP), a telling sign of the persistent segregation in
Northern Ireland. And areas are even easier to classify as
"Protestant" or "Catholic" as the percentage of single-community
areas rises.

However, a movement of community organizations has emerged in an
effort to turn this trend around. With the latest statement from
the Irish Republican Army (IRA), declaring an end to their armed
campaign, the circumstances have improved for many community
organizations who work to bring the two split communities, the
Protestants and Catholics, back together.

"In the history of Northern Ireland there's a cycle. For the last
500 years, violence has erupted after quiet times. We need to
finish it now," says Anne Anderson Porter, the director of
operations of Co-operation Ireland, a charity devoted to peace in
Northern Ireland by bringing people from different religions

Geraldine Smyth from the Irish School of Ecumenics agrees with
her. "When the root causes aren't dealt with, it can happen
again," she says referring to sectarian violence.

"This sectarian way of living is radically unhealthy," says Ben
Walker, research coordinator for the Centre for Contemporary
Christianity in Ireland. "It fixes arrogance, an exaggerated
sense of self-importance and prejudices against all other
communities," adds Walker.

Northern Ireland, which in recent years has seen an influx of
immigrants, now has to deal with ethnic minorities as well as
with the classical religious tension. An increased level of
racism is noticeable says Walker.

What is then the key to reconciliation? There is not a simple
answer. No handbook to reconciliation exists. Certain things can
be learned from other regions that had to deal with a violent
past (for example, Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide)
but every divided community is unique. "There are no miracle
solutions. There isn't one technique that can deliver
reconciliation," says David Stevens, leader of the Corrymeela

Creating Dialogue

The basis for reconciliation is creating dialogue. "A lot of
Protestants don't even know any Catholics, and vice versa", says
Walker. Denis Anderson, lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics
acknowledges creating dialogue is the first step in the difficult
process of reconciliation. "One of the problems in Northern
Ireland is that people have a lot of misconceptions or wrong
ideas about each other," says Anderson.

Many peace and reconciliation organizations try to introduce
Catholics and Protestants to each other by organizing activity
weekends. Co-operation Ireland is one of these organizations,
which organizes programs for young people. Participants of the
program usually come in contact through a network of volunteers
called YouthNet. "We don't recruit people," says Bronahj Cappa,
youth worker at Co-operation Ireland. "If you go to youngsters
and promise them a certificate or something, they will laugh in
your face. They have to come to us. The reason they do, is always
to make new friends."

"You can't make people reconcile," says David Stevens of

One of the methods of reconciliation is by pressing religious
figures. In Northern Ireland, the church is still highly
influential in everyday life. "In my street alone there are nine
churches. Especially the working class is much more likely to
listen to a local community leader like a priest than to a
politician," says Ben Walker of The Centre for Contemporary
Christianity in Ireland, which challenges church leaders to
engage their audience in contacting people "from the other side."

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency,
in 2001 nearly 80 percent of the population was a member of a
church. Church attendance in Northern Ireland is high by Western
European standards. A 2004 report says 41 percent of the Northern
Irish attend church at least once a week, and an additional 16
percent goes at least once a month. A comparison: only 15 percent
of people in the rest of the UK attend church regularly.

While the conflict in Northern Ireland is a political one -- the
unionists/loyalists want Northern Ireland to remain a part of the
United Kingdom and the nationalists/republicans want it to be
part of a united Ireland -- this reflects a religious division
which was itself the product of British colonial rule.

The unionists, mostly descendants of the English and Scottish who
moved to the region during the 16th and 17th centuries, are
mostly Protestant. The nationalists, or republicans, are mostly
Roman Catholic, as are most citizens of the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland knew many violent revolts before they finally managed to
gain nationhood after the War of Independence of 1919-1921. It
took until 1949 for Ireland to become a republic and leave the
Commonwealth. However, six of nine counties in the northern
province of Ulster, the most wealthy at the time, were to remain
part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland.

From the end of the sixties, paramilitary groups from both sides
increased their campaigns during a period of intense sectarian
conflict, by the British government euphemistically called The
Troubles. Over 3,500 people died, and at least 40,000 people got
injured. "Everybody knows somebody who has suffered," says Denis
Anderson, lecturer at the Irish School of Ecumenics. His
colleague at the School, Geraldine Smyth, for example is one of
them. "One of my relatives has been killed and another who was
wounded still walks around with three bullets," says Smyth.

Therefore it is said that the entire Northern Irish community of
1.5 million is scarred, not just the ones who suffered
personally. In their book Northern Ireland after the Good Friday
Agreement: Victims, Grievance and Blame, Mike Morrissey and Marie
Smyth wrote : "Many people who have lived through Northern
Ireland's Troubles would describe themselves as having been
harmed by the events of the last 30 years. There are many who
nurse a festering anger at various politicians or public
institutions. Many others are fearful of a return to violence and
find it hard to trust the possibility of a peaceful future."

As a means to come to a community-wide reconciliation, there have
been calls for a "South African style" reconciliation commission.
Until 1994 South Africa was ruled by a white minority which
considered itself superior and installed a regime of apartheid. A
"Truth and Reconciliation Commission" was set up in 1996 under
chairmanship of archbishop Desmond Tutu. After two years the
Commission deemed apartheid a crime against humanity and
condemned the South African government, but also held the
liberation movement of the ANC accountable for violations of
human rights.

Of course, there are differences between the situation in
Northern Ireland now and the situation in South Africa in 1996.
"The South Africa truth commission was post-conflict. I would be
very careful to use the phrase post-conflict here," says Pauline
Kersten, Community Projects Officer at the Community Foundation,
a peace organization that doesn't "do reconciliation," but tries
to create the conditions in which reconciliation is possible.

No Regime Change

The South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up
after there was the regime change in 1994, when the white
minority negotiated itself out of power. In Northern Ireland
there has been no regime change as such. The Northern Ireland
parliament at Stormont has been suspended and the region is being
ruled from London. "A lot of nationalists are sceptical against
such a commission run by the British government, because it is a
party. They don't trust the British government will give
openness," says Pauline Kersten.

From the loyalist side, there also is a lack of trust. "I don't
think you'd get the truth," says Robin Newton, city councillor
for the Democratic Unionist Party in Belfast. "You would never
get the truth from Sinn F‚in. In the end, nobody will be happy."

Despite sceptical sounds about the form, most community groups do
agree that there should be a forum for people to grief. So does
the Corrymeela Community, founded in 1965. Corrymeela is a
Christian organization committed to healing the social, religious
and political divisions in Northern Ireland. "The most important
aspect for reconciliation is to have a safe space and a place for
telling stories," says David Stevens, its leader.

At government level this is also acknowledged. This February, the
secretary of state for Northern Ireland at the time, Paul Murphy,
told the House of Commons the government is considering a
victims' commissioner.

Equal Opportunity Challenge

A challenge would be to give equal opportunity to all victims.
There have been losses on both sides of the sectarian divide,
Catholic and Protestants, but it's difficult for some to
acknowledge that people "on the other side" also suffered.
According to David Stevens of Corrymeela, there is a "our victims
are better than your victims" mentality among some victims
groups. "But nobody has the monopoly of pain," says Geraldine

Smyth stressed that sectarianism doesn't necessarily relate to
violence. "You don't have to be aggressive to be sectarian.
Everybody does it, but always points to somebody else. I think we
are all sectarian, me too," says Smyth. It takes very little for
sectarianism to be kept in place, she explains. "By ignoring it,
by never meeting others from the other community, by making
sectarian jokes."

Therefore, you can have as much organizations as you want, but
the people are the ones that have to change. A positive indicator
of change for Northern Ireland is the rise to 14 percent in mixed
marriages. With the absence of violence, people can afford to be
pragmatic. If the quality of a mixed school is better than of a
sectarian school, increasingly more parents decide to be
opportunistic and choose the mixed school. Perhaps what Northern
Ireland needs isn't altruism or idealism, but simple pragmatism
to filter out sectarianism.

Mr.Teffer is a European journalist.

Our cover image, the Derry Peace Mural, is part of a city-wide
outdoor history project by the Bogside Artists . Other murals in
the series show scenes from the Civil Rights Movement and Bloody
Sunday, culminating in this hopeful, and universal, image of

The dove is entwined with an oak leaf, two symbols of the city of
Derry (its patron saint, St. Columba, is represented by a dove,
while the city's Gaelic name, "doire," means "oak grove").
Photograph by Martin Melagh (c) CAIN

From Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2006, p.24. Author=Peter Teffer;
Title=Northern Ireland Deals with its Past - Slowly;


Shot Priest Is 'Out Of The Woods'

A Belfast missionary priest seriously injured in a shooting in
South Africa is "out of the woods", his family has said.

Father Kieran Creagh was shot twice by robbers at the hospice he
founded to help Aids sufferers in Johannesburg.

Surgeons removed a bullet from his lung on Friday and his brother
Liam said he had now been taken off his ventilator.

"My brother Paul says that he is in brilliant form he sounds and
looks like himself again," he said.

"So the whole family can breathe a sigh of relief... he's going
to be OK and that's official."

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence his brother had been
shot in the arm and chest.

His father and brother Paul are at his hospital bedside and have
told the family in Belfast of his progress.

"He's talking to them. He doesn't remember very much about the
last few days except that he says he remembers people talking
about him dying and being very afraid," Liam said.


"But he doesn't really remember too much about the robbery

He said that his brother loved South Africa and its people, but
that he was aware of the dangers in the country.

"There are those who just have the attitude that life is very,
very cheap that they can kill you to take a camera, mobile phone
or money off you," he said.

He said that there had been massive support for his brother, and
that the South African president Thabo Mbeki had sent a message
of support.

"We have had calls from right across the religious divide -
unbelievable calls of prayer and support."

Police told the Associated Press the robbers, who have not been
caught, escaped with money from the hospice safe and Father
Creagh's mobile phone.

The priest, who was the first person in Africa to be injected
with a trial HIV vaccine, was made Irish International
Personality of the Year in 2004.

He received the award after volunteering to try out the vaccine,
despite being free from the virus himself.

He has worked with Aids patients in the country for a decade and
opened the Leratong hospice in 2004.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/04 09:53:44 GMT


Jet Quarantined In Dublin Airport Over Ill Passengers

04/03/2007 - 11:20:38

A Continental Airlines aeroplane has been quarantined at Dublin
Airport after a number of passengers became ill with a suspected
case of food poisoning.

According to a spokesperson for Dublin Airport Authority, the
scheduled flight from Newark landed in Dublin at around 8am.

25 passengers, who had all eaten in the same restaurant the night
before, complained of being ill.

Twelve of them were suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea.


Ireland: Many A Castle Does Double Duty As A Hotel

By Sheila Flynn
For The Associated Press

DUBLIN, Ireland - The image of majestic stone castles
rising from rolling green fields is a romantic one, a fantasy
held by many travelers who dream of Ireland.

Ho, Associated PressDromoland Castle in County Clare has hosted
many high-profile events. It's considered a top-notch hotel with
first-rate service and luxury rooms. A European Union-U.S. summit
was held there in 2004. Dromoland is only eight miles from an
airport. But that image is a reality all over the island
nation - where castles offer such differing charms and features
that visitors can tailor castle stays to their own whims and
preferences. Luxury accommodation, resident ghosts, medieval
banquets and horseback riding -all of these can be found amid the
smattering of Irish castles. And regardless of each castle's
location, striking views and sightseeing opportunities are never
far away.

"There is pretty much everything that you could want -
literally everything from a tiny love nest to a huge stately
pile; everything from the point of view of price, from the point
of view of location," said John Colclough, one of the luxury
travel specialists at Adams & Butler in Dublin, which books
castle stays. "You can have them on the seaside, you can have
them in the middle of the mountains."

For top-tier service and extravagant lodging, Ashford
Castle in County Mayo and Dromoland Castle in County Clare rank
among the finest hotels in the country. Both have played host to
myriad high-profile events, including James Bond actor Pierce
Brosnan's wedding at Ashford and the 2004 European Union-U.S.
summit at Dromoland. Each five-star property sits in the
picturesque West of Ireland, and Dromoland's 400-acre estate is
only eight miles from Shannon Airport - allowing guests to enjoy
pampering, golf and woodland wanders less than half an hour after

Ashford Castle is a longer drive at two hours, but the
route leads visitors on a winding tour of the breathtaking West
before concluding in Cong, Mayo- a lush rural bastion of rolling
hills and lakes where "The Quiet Man" was filmed.

Befitting five-star establishments, the castles offer all
that visitors would expect from luxury hotels - fine dining,
gorgeously appointed rooms, expansive golf courses and a range of
specialty pursuits like falconry.

Ho, Associated Press Equestrians begin a ride at Ashford Castle,
which offers luxurious accommodations in County Mayo and was the
setting for actor Pierce Brosnan's wedding. But you can also
find castle stays at more economical prices. Belleek Castle, in
County Mayo, offers single rooms from just $118 a night and
double rooms from $183. Nestled at the end of an extraordinary
tree-lined drive, the 15th century structure boasts rooms that
are stately yet not decadent. Belleek's grounds cover 1,000
forested, river-cut acres dotted with trails and bridges;
visitors can tire themselves out strolling the grounds before
returning to the castle's enormous heavy doors, walking past the
massive front hall fireplace and sitting down to a hearty meal in
the elegant wood-decorated dining room. Guests can also make
private appointments to view the castle museum, which displays
everything from fossils to 16th century armor in its vaults.

Renting out an entire castle is also more affordable than
you might expect. Colclough pointed out that certain small
castles, encompassing only about three bedrooms, can be rented
for $1,575 a week. Knappogue Castle, a five-bedroom medieval
structure, can be rented in County Clare for $6,825 a week. The
castle is a short drive from Shannon Airport and close to
attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher. It stages a nightly
medieval banquet, open to the public, with storytelling and
medieval music, during the high season of April through October.

There are, of course, other castles that can be rented at
exorbitant rates. Humewood Castle in County Wicklow, for example,
boasts 16 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms - at a price that reaches
$99,000 per week. The gray spires and buttresses of Humewood rise
from among the Wicklow Mountains just over an hour outside of
Dublin, and the rental includes staff to take care of breakfast
and daily cleaning.

Some castles claim to be haunted. Castle Leslie, in County
Monaghan, has been in the Leslie family for generations - and
deceased members of the clan have allegedly turned up on more
than one occasion. Leap Castle, in County Offaly, bills itself as
the most haunted castle in Ireland.

Martin Cleaver, Associated PressIrish government officials arrive
at Dromoland Castle in Ennis, western Ireland, ranked among the
finest hotels in the country. Sean Ryan, who lives at Leap
Castle with two family members, says they hear footsteps, doors
creaking and the like, and that one of the other-worldly entities
likes to poke people. But he says they've "never felt threatened
by any of it at all. It's all quite friendly." The Ryans offer
tours to visitors.

Bunratty Castle, in County Clare, features a folk park
recreating 19th century Victorian Ireland and a banquet like that
at Knappogue. Visitors must have a stomach for medieval kitsch,
but the feast at Bunratty is amusing, tasty and easily chalked up
to a vacationing guilty pleasure.

And if visitors are determined to hit Ireland's top tourist
attractions, Blarney Castle is a must-see. Here lies the
legendary Blarney Stone, famed for its ability to bestow the gift
of eloquence. Travelers should prepare for long lines at the
County Cork landmark, as well as a precipitous, sharp-angled lean
to reach the stone - which can only be kissed by bending over
backward on the top of the castle, held up by Blarney staff. Yet
regardless of the risk and cringe factor, most tourists -
especially Americans - wouldn't dream of visiting Ireland without
a pilgrimage to the gift-of-the-gab attraction.

But whether you choose a luxury castle or go for the
kitschy stuff, all of them offer Ireland's beautiful scenery and
a warm welcome.

"The actual experience of somebody coming to stay in an
Irish castle is not just the bed and the view and everything
else," said Colclough. "It's the local people, and that really is
what makes the holiday memorable."

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