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March 29, 2007

History Made As Adams, Paisley Deal

News about Ireland & the Irish

IV 03/29/07 History Made As Adams, Paisley Deal
SF 03/29/07 SF Ard Chomhairle One Day Meeting In Dublin On Friday
BB 03/29/07 Bail Given To Arrested Candidate
SF 03/29/07 Hunger Strike Monument Vandalised Again
IV 03/29/07 Immigration Hearing Set For Ellis Island
IT 03/30/07 Opin: The Changing Face Of Ireland
BN 03/29/07 31 Pubs Prosecuted For Smoking Ban Breaches
CS 03/29/07 'Pirate Queen' Dons Irish Dancing Shoes
IT 03/29/07 Growth Is Predicted To Fall To Lowest Rate Since 1993


History Made As Adams, Paisley Deal

By Barry McCaffrey

IT was a day and an image, captured by a single pool
photographer, that few people thought they would ever see in
their lifetime.

The image of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley
and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams sitting side-by-side is being
seen as one of the most remarkable breakthroughs in a political
process that has taken more than 20 years to come to fruition.

For 35 years Paisley had refused to even speak to Adams or Martin
Mc-Guinness, let alone issuing joint statements with the leader
of modern day Irish republicanism, who openly wore a Lily
commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising on his lapel throughout the
unprecedented event.

Details of what was to unfold at the historic meeting in the
dining room at Stormont buildings had been kept a closely guarded
secret from all but senior members of the DUP and Sinn Fein
before 11 a.m. on Monday.

While there were no handshakes between the two physical
embodiments of Ulster loyalism and Irish republicanism, the image
of them telling the world that they are now prepared to share
power has resurrected hopes of a lasting political agreement.

Committing his party to working in government with Republicans,
Paisley said, "We have agreed with Sinn Fein that this date will
be Tuesday, 8 May, 2007. As the largest party in Northern Ireland
we are committed to playing a full part in all the institutions
and delivering the best future for the people of Northern

"In the period before devolution we will participate fully with
the other parties to the Executive in making full preparations
for the restoration of devolution."

Admitting that the meeting with Adams and the Sinn Fein
leadership represented an "important step," Paisley said he was
now prepared to work hand-in-hand with Irish Republicans, after
more than 35 years of vehement opposition to everything they

"After a long and difficult time in the province I believe that
enormous opportunities lie ahead for Northern Ireland. Devol-
ution has never been an end in itself but is about making a
positive difference to people's lives," he said.

"I want to make it clear that I am committed to delivering not
only for those who voted for the DUP but for all the people of
Northern Ireland. We must not allow our justified loathing of the
horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating
a better and more stable future.

"In looking to that future we must never forget those who have
suffered during the dark period from which we are, please God,
emerging. We owe it to them to craft and build the best future
possible and ensure there is genuine support for those who are
still suffering."

As Paisley looked on, Adams predicted that the historic agreement
marked "the beginning of a new era of politics on this island."

"The discussions and agreement between our two parties shows the
potential of what can now be achieved," he said.

"The relationships between the people of this island have been
marred by centuries of discord, conflict, hurt and tragedy. In
particular this has been the sad history of orange and green.

"Ach ta tus nua ann anois le cuidiu De ( But there is now a new
beginning, with the help of God). Sinn Fein is about building a
new relationship between orange and green and all the other
colors, where every citizen can share and have equality of
ownership of a peaceful, prosperous and just future."

Cautioning that there were still serious challenges and
difficulties to be faced in the future, he said, "We have all
come a very long way in the process of peace making and national
reconciliation. We are very conscious of the many people who have

"We owe it to them to build the best future possible. It is a
time for generosity, a time to be mindful of the common good and
of the future of all our people.

"I am pleased to say that collectively we have created the
potential to build a new, harmonious and equitable relationship
between Nationalists and Republicans and Unionists, as well as
the rest of the people of the island of Ireland."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the political
breakthrough as an "important day" for the entire populations of
Ireland and Britain.

"In a sense, everything we have done over the last 10 years has
been a preparation for this moment, because the people of
Northern Ireland have spoken through the election," he said.

"They have said we want peace and power sharing and the political
leadership has then come in behind that and said we will deliver
what people want," he said.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern described the agreement
as "unprecedented" and "positive."

"We move forward (from today) in an entirely new spirit and with
every expectation of success," he said. "This has the potential
to transform the future of this island."

Secretary of State Peter Hain described the meeting as "deeply

"Today the clouds have lifted and the people can see the future,"
he said. "Those pictures of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams will
resonate around the world."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan gave a guarded welcome to the agreement
between Sinn Fein and the DUP, but criticized the six week delay
in restoring the Stormont executive.

"If we have to spend another 40 days and 40 nights in direct
rule, let's make the most of it," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey gave an equally guarded welcome
to the agreement.

"(Ian Paisley) gave Gerry Adams a huge propaganda coup (today)
and he has given Sinn Fein very significant bargaining power with
the government," he said. "I am sure they will, and have,
extracted further concessions out of the government as a

In a joint statement, Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop
Sean Brady, Presbyterian Moderator David Clarke, Church of
Ireland Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper and
Methodist President Ivan McElhinney said they hoped the political
agreement would contribute towards a "stable future for Northern

"We would encourage all to continue to pray for our whole
community and our future together," they said.

Former SDLP leader John Hume, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for
his efforts to promote peace, welcomed the meeting between
Paisley and Adams, but said he regretted it had not taken place
30 years before.

Hume had been a minister in the Sunningdale power sharing
executive in 1974 brought down by Loyalist protests led by

He expressed regret that much of the "terrible pain" of the
Troubles could have been avoided if Paisley and Adams had agreed
to share power 30 years ago.

"It is about time that these two parties did so," he said.

"What I am really saying is if they had shown the commitment to
Sunningdale that they are now showing to the Good Friday
Agreement, we would have made enormous progress by now and, of
course, we would have avoided the terrible pain of the last 30

Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Good Friday
Agreement negotiations in 1998, welcomed the political
breakthrough, but warned that huge work remained to be undertaken
to build confidence between Loyalist and Nationalist communities.

"It's a deeply divided society, it continues that way,'' he said.
"While one can agree on political and security measures, it takes
a very long time, generations perhaps, to change people's hearts
and minds.

"So while this is a very important step, no one should think that
trust and love is going to be breaking out tomorrow between the
two communities in Northern Ireland. That will take a long time,
but this is a tremendous step forward."


Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle To Hold A Special One Day Meeting In
Dublin On Friday

Published: 29 March, 2007

The Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle will meet in Dublin tomorrow, Friday
30th, for a special one day meeting to discuss final preparations
for the upcoming General Elections in the 26 Counties and ongoing
work in relation to the re-establishment of the power-sharing
institutions in the north.


Bail Given To Arrested Candidate

An assembly election candidate arrested as he left a counting
centre has been released on bail in the High Court.

Gerry McGeough, 48, from Carrick Castle Road, Dungannon, is
charged with attempting to murder a part-time UDR soldier in

He is also charged with possessing firearms with intent to
endanger life. A co-accused was also bailed last week.

Bail was set at œ500, with a surety of œ2,500, and Mr McGeough
was ordered to report to police three times a week.

A Crown lawyer alleged that Mr McGeough was a dissident
republican opposed to the peace process and aligned to the
Continuity IRA.

But a defence lawyer said he had no interest in violence to bring
about change.

He said Mr McGeough had been living in the Dungannon area with
his wife and family since last September, yet the police only
arrested him as he emerged from the election count in Omagh in
the full glare of the media.

Mr Justice McLaughlin said he was saying nothing about the timing
of the arrest as he was trying to keep the court as neutral as

But he said there was evidence that McGeough had been living
openly in Northern Ireland and had sufficient roots to reduce the
risk of absconding.

His solicitor said later that the Police Ombudsman has agreed to
investigate the circumstances surrounding McGeough's arrest.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/29 16:51:25 GMT


Respect All Monuments Call By MP After Hunger Strike Monument
Vandalised Again

Published: 29 March, 2007

Sinn Fein Newry Armagh MP Conor Murphy speaking after another
attack on a monument dedicated to Hunger Striker Raymond McCreesh
and his comrades has appealed to all communities to show respect
to all monuments and places of reflection and remembrance.

The granite monument, which is sited beside the village of
Camloch home place of Raymond McCreesh was erected by the local
community sixteen years ago years ago, and which was badly
damaged in an attack last year, was in this latest attack daubed
with paint. Loyalist slogans were painted on walls in the
locality of the village.

Mr Murphy said:

"Those who desecrated this monument have an agenda of causing
division, hurt and provocation.

"There is only one proper reaction to this attack and that is to
state clearly to those engaged in this type of activity that they
are wrong and they will not achieve their objective of fuelling
bitterness and division."

The Sinn Fein MP called on politicians and community leaders from
all perspectives to state very clearly that they supported such a
sentiment. He said:

"There is a need for representatives to exercise community
responsibility in the face of such incidents as those behind
these attacks are engaging in mindless, destructive behaviour and
have nothing to offer our communities."

Chairperson of the Camloch Heritage Society Tommy Lynch also
expressed his disappointment at the recent attack.

Mr Lynch added:

"Only last month we as a group and a community celebrated the
rededication of this monument after the last attack. I share the
disappointment of all at this latest incident and I would appeal
to community and civic leaders from all traditions to do all they
can to ensure that these attacks cease."


Immigration Hearing Set For Ellis Island

By Debbie McGoldrick

IN a meeting bound to be rife with symbolism, the House
Immigration Subcommittee chaired by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of
California will begin discussions on the issue of immigration
reform on Friday morning, March 30 at Ellis Island, first port of
call for hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the U.S. from
around the world during the last century.

"This is going to be a fact finding hearing," Lofgren's press
secretary Pedro Ribeiro told the Irish Voice. "They are going to
look at the issue in a historical and demographic context."

Ribeiro said that most of the 16 members of the subcommittee are
expected to attend the meeting. Congressman John Conyers,
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is also a possible

The meeting will not specifically discuss the immigration
legislation introduced in the House last week by Democratic
Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Republican Jeff Flake
of Arizona known as the STRIVE Act.

The bill provides a path to legalization for the undocumented in
the U.S. on or before June 1, 2006. As the bill currently stands,
those who would qualify for legal status would have to show
evidence of employment, complete all security background checks
and pay a $500 fine.

Provided all requirements are met, the applicant would receive a
temporary six-year visa that could eventually be converted to a
green card. Applicants for such status would have to go to the
back of the existing line for legalization, pay a further $1,500
fine, pay taxes, clear security checks and meet a legal re-entry
requirement during the preceding six years in temporary status -
i.e., leave the country and re-enter through any port of entry,
the so-called "touchback" mechanism.

The bill also contains a new guest worker program with the
establishment of an H-2C visa, with an annual allocation of
400,000, and an array of border security enhancements. As the
bill is written, the guest worker program or the legalization
provisions for the undocumented would not be permitted to go into
effect until the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
certifies that "improvements in border surveillance technology
are bring implemented."

Praise for the STRIVE Act came from several quarters last week,
including Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who has
encountered difficulty in re-introducing an immigration measure
in the Senate.

"I'm hopeful that the House introduction today will help spur the
necessary negotiations in the Senate to help forge the right kind
of compromise. Last year, we beat the odds in the Senate by
passing bipartisan immigration bill - and I'm confident we'll do
so again in the coming weeks," Kennedy said.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs also welcomed the new bill.
"Although the legislative situation is fluid and the final
outcome uncertain, the introduction of the bipartisan bill in the
House marks a significant advance in the debate," he said.

"In the critical period ahead, I will continue to attach the
highest priority to our efforts on behalf of the undocumented
Irish. I know that my efforts on their behalf will be strongly
complemented by the very effective work of the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform."

Congressman Joe Crowley, a co-sponsor of the STRIVE Act, said,
"This bipartisan legislation enforces accountability and strong
border controls, while offering an earned path to citizenship to
those who have contributed to our society through hard work. I
call on leaders of both parties, and the president, to work
together for a solution to the longstanding issue of

Crowley's planned meeting on immigration with Gutierrez which was
tentatively set for this Thursday in Queens has been temporarily


Opin: The Changing Face Of Ireland

Fri, Mar 30, 2007

A little over half a century ago, a serious book called The
Vanishing Irish highlighted "how imminent is the danger of
extinction" of the Irish nation, whose people could soon "be
found like the vanished Mayans only in mausoleums". Yesterday,
the census data published by the Central Statistics Office showed
that, at 4.2 million, the population is well on the way to being
twice as large as it was in the 1950s.

The figures also show that the society we now inhabit is not just
bigger but more complex, more diverse, and, in some respects,
more fragmented. They raise the stark question of whether the
capacity of our collective institutions has grown at anything
like the rate needed to keep pace with our changing demographics.

The increased complexity of Irish society is evident at every
level. One person in 10 living here was not born in Ireland. (The
number of Polish residents, for example, increased 30-fold
between 2002 and 2006.) There is more religious diversity, with
big increases in the numbers of people of the Islamic and
Orthodox faiths and people of no religion constituting the second
largest group. We even live in more places. The figures reflect
the burgeoning of a commuter society, with the cities of Cork and
Limerick actually losing population, while regional towns are
growing rapidly.

The one million families living here now come in a wider range of
shapes and sizes, with big increases in the numbers of one-parent
families, of divorced and separated people, of childless couples,
of same-sex couples and of cohabiting couples. The number of
children living with cohabiting parents has more than trebled in
10 years. The era of the standard nuclear family is over.

It is not at all obvious, however, that our political system has
caught up with this changing society. The census figures may
indicate a growing, dynamic society, but they also highlight the
challenges of change. Facilities that are crucial to the
integration of our foreign-born population remain woefully
inadequate. We are still fortunate to have a relatively young
population, with almost three million people of working age, but
ours is still an ageing society and we are ill-equipped to cater
for the needs of the almost half a million people over 65.

The implications of increased religious diversity for our
overwhelmingly denominational education system have scarcely been
considered. The rise in the number of cohabiting couples has not
been reflected in legislation for civil partnerships. The vacancy
rate of 15 per cent of houses and apartments raises questions
about housing policy. It might be good news that the share of the
population living in the greater Dublin area has declined
slightly, but the regional balance is still poor.

The census tells us that ours is a vigorous enough society to
keep its own people at home and attract others from abroad. It
also tells us that we are in a demographic boom time with a huge
bulge in the working, tax-paying population. We must use this
opportunity to meet the challenges of a changing Ireland.

c 2007 The Irish Times


31 Pubs Prosecuted For Smoking Ban Breaches

29/03/2007 - 16:51:17

Thirty-one pubs, three cabbies and one bus driver were prosecuted
for breaking the smoking ban last year, it emerged today.

The Office of Tobacco Control's annual report, launched on the
third anniversary of the law, showed 95% compliance in the

A total of 32,012 inspections were carried out by Environmental
Health Officers and 35 cases were prosecuted under the Public
Health (Tobacco) Acts.

Three cases were taken against members of the public and four
were taken in relation to outdoor smoking shelters.

A total of 922 calls were received by the lo-call smoke-free
compliance line.

Minister of State, Sean Power said the whole island will become
smoke-free when Northern Ireland introduces the law at the end of

"The smoke-free workplace legislation is now well embedded and
those of us involved in tobacco control have been turning our
attention to tackling the issue of children and smoking.

"Data shows that 16% of children aged between 12 to 17 years
smoke and 78% of smokers say they began the habit before they
reached 18 years of age."

The junior minister said the Government announced a 50 cent
increase in the price of 20 cigarettes in the December Budget to
curb teenagers lighting up.

The sale of ten-packs will also be banned in the Republic on May

OTC chief executive Eamonn Rossi said the removal of illegal
point-of-sale tobacco advertising in shops will remain a

OTC chairman Dr Michael Boland warned that approximately 6,000
people die each year in Ireland from a smoking-related disease.

"This does not adequately reflect the full extent of the misery
and pain caused by the tobacco epidemic in Irish society.

Smokers have two to three times the risk of heart attack compared
to non-smokers. We need to continue to work with our partners to
build on significant progress made during 2006 and continue with
the delivery of the next phase of creating a tobacco free
society," he added.


'Pirate Queen' Dons Irish Dancing Shoes

A new musical from the 'Riverdance' team makes a bid for a reign
over Broadway.

By Iris Fanger
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK - A woman stands center stage at the wheel of a sailing
ship, built with two-story rigging, masts, and white sheets
billowing in the wind. Within moments she leaps onto a rope
ladder, swings down on the deck, and brandishes her sword to help
the ship's crew fight off a dreaded enemy. But this isn't a
Broadway version of "Pirates of the Caribbean." The character,
Grace O'Malley, is based on the 16th-century Irish chieftain who
defied the Navy of England's Queen Elizabeth I. Fittingly, the 42
performers in "The Pirate Queen," a new musical opening next week
at the Hilton Theatre on 42nd Street, infuse their dance moves
with Irish steps, to melodies that pulse with the strains of
lilting Irish folk music.

If the musical seems like a first cousin of "Riverdance," well,
it is. The show's producers, Moya Doherty and John McColgan,
launched that Irish music and dance spectacle 12 years ago. Now,
the duo is making a bold, not to mention expensive, bid to
translate the aura of "Riverdance" into musical drama by telling
the story of O'Malley's fight against the English subjugation of

"After 'Riverdance' opened, the promoters asked us to do another
one. We have a worldwide structure in place, but we asked
ourselves, 'What could we do that's creatively challenging and
satisfying?' " says Mr. McColgan, prior to a recent preview
performance at the Hilton theater. "We are never driven by money;
a Broadway musical was what we wanted to do," continues Ms.
Doherty, who is married to McColgan.

The pair, veterans of Dublin television and theater, set about
looking for an appropriate subject, "Something that would be from
our history," recalls Doherty. "O'Malley was a strong woman -
ahead of her time." The Irish leader, portrayed by Stephanie J.
Block, inherited the leadership of her clan following her
father's death and continued his legacy of menacing the British
navy. When she was captured, the chieftan wrote to Queen
Elizabeth (Linda Balgord) to request a meeting. After their
encounter - which is portrayed in silhouette behind a screen -
O'Malley was granted her freedom, her lands, and her ships "for
the duration of her life-time."

Creating a musical with elements of Irish step dancing has proved
to be as ambitious an endeavor as "Riverdance," which has
attracted audiences of 18 million people around the globe and has
four troupes still on the road. "The thing most challenging for
us was to integrate the dance into the story," admits McColgan.
One solution was to incorporate dancing into scenes such as a
funeral ritual, a wedding, and a christening. The dancing corps
is led by eight champion Irish step dancers who also have
"Riverdance" credits. The other American cast members had to be
taught the Gaelic stiff-postured patterns. "The modern dancers
were so excited when they put on the hard shoes," says McColgan.

Also in the cast: Aine U¡ Cheallaigh, an award-winning
traditional Irish singer. The score was written by Alain Boublil
and Claude-Michel Sch”nberg, the writer-composer team of "Miss
Saigon" and "Les Mis‚rables." "I sent them dozens of albums of
old-style Irish singing," McGolgan says. The writers were hooked
by the Celtic sounds and wrote the musical for Irish instruments.

After last fall's uneven try-out in Chicago, the show was
retooled for Broadway. The question for the producers is whether
the half-million hits to the production's website,, will translate into ticket sales. Doherty
and McColgan, however, are satisfied with the musical's take on
this significant chapter of Irish history.

"We tried to stay true to her story within the confines of a 2-
1/2-hour musical," says McColgan.


Growth Is Predicted To Fall To Lowest Rate Since 1993

Marc Coleman, Economics Editor
Fri, Mar 30, 2007

Economic growth next year will fall to its lowest rate since
1993, according to two forecasts published yesterday.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said growth
would remain above 5 per cent this year before falling below 4
per cent in 2008 as housing investment levels off.

In 1993, the year that the Celtic Tiger emerged, growth was 2.3
per cent.

In its Spring Quarterly Economic Commentary, the ESRI also warns
the Government to tackle the economy's falling competitiveness by
taking action to cool rising inflation and borrowing.

In a separate forecast, Davy Stockbrokers cut forecasts for
growth this year from 5 per cent to 4.5 per cent. This follows
Wednesday's release of data showing that house building fell in
the last quarter of 2006 for the first time since 1997.

Davy forecasts that new house building will fall by a further
5,000 units in 2008, and says this will hit growth next year.

"We expect a further deceleration in the rate of growth of the
economy in 2008. Housing output is forecast to drop to 75,000 new
units and the pace of growth in consumer spending should slow to
2.5 per cent as the SSIA impact is reversed," says Davy economist
Rossa White.

Wednesday's data, which was published by the Central Statistics
Office (CSO), also showed a sharp annual decline in exports
during the final quarter of 2006. Davy forecasts growth will slow
to 3 per cent in 2008.

A study by Euroframe, a network of 10 forecasting and research
institutes across Europe, including the ESRI, says the dollar is
likely to weaken further this year and next, placing more
pressure on exports.

The study, included in the commentary, says the dollar will fall
to $1.35 against the euro this year and $1.40 in 2008. Currently,
the euro trades around $1.32.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the level of annual output of goods
and services in the economy, will grow by 5.4 per cent this year
but by 3.9 per cent in 2008, the Quarterly Economic Commentary

"This slowdown in growth is driven by a slowdown in housing
investment, while investment in other building and construction
should continue to grow strongly, driven in part by investment
under the latest National Development Plan," ESRI economist Dr
Ide Kearney said yesterday.

The commentary contains an assessment of the sustainability of
recent economic trends, in which the ESRI warns that the economy
is increasingly vulnerable to housing market changes and high

"A decline in real house prices could lead to a much larger
reduction in the scale of house building. The economy has been
losing competitivenesss since 2002. We argue that it is now
imperative to halt this trend."

The ESRI expects falling competitiveness will cause export growth
to slow from 5.6 per cent in 2007 to 5.2 per cent in 2008, lower
than the respective rates of import growth of 7.0 and 5.7 per
cent. "As a result, Ireland will lose market share."

However, it also forecasts inflation will slow significantly from
a predicted rate of 4.6 per cent this year, to 2.6 per cent in

A study of Ireland's adjustment to EMU, contained in the ESRI
commentary, says the performance of Ireland's economy has been
successful "up to now", but warns that its resilience will be
"fully tested" should a downturn occur.

According to the study, Macroeconomic Adjustment in Ireland under
EMU, public sector wage restraint is needed to lower spending
growth and inflation.

It warns that Ireland has the largest share of exports outside
the euro zone of any other euro zone economy, making it
exceptionally vulnerable to both a downturn in the US economy and
a depreciation in the US dollar. It also recommends reducing the
economy's dependence on the property market, and calls for the
introduction of a tax on second dwellings and the abolition of
mortgage interest relief.

c 2007 The Irish Times

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