News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

March 14, 2007

Paisley & Adams Meeting Blair

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 03/13/07 Paisley And Adams Meeting Blair
BT 03/14/07 New Hopes For Power-Sharing
BN 03/13/07 Ahern Says Progress Being Made On US Immigrant Reforms
BT 03/14/07 Priest Appeals For Calm Amid Fear Of Reprisals
BB 03/13/07 Irish Language Plans Are Unveiled
SF 03/13/07 Martin McGuinness To Travel To US On Wednesday
SF 03/13/07 St Patricks Day - Remember The Vulnerable
BT 03/14/07 Opin: Barriers Crumble Between SF And PSNI
BT 03/14/07 Opin: Tony Blair And The Rocky Road To Peace
BT 03/14/07 Opin: Why It's Going To Take Two To Tango
IT 03/04/07 Irish Top Binge Drinkers In EU - Survey
BT 03/04/07 Paisley And Blair Are Book Buddies
BT 03/14/07 SF Procession That Had The DUP Calling For Re-Routing
BT 03/14/07 Obama Discovers Luck Of The Irish


Paisley And Adams Meeting Blair

DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams are to
have separate talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London

The meetings will follow Northern Ireland questions and prime
minister's question time in the Commons.

The two men's parties have until March 26 to agree to share power
- or the London and Dublin governments will dissolve the Stormont
Assembly. Mr Paisley has said progress is being made in his talks
with the government.

He said the abolition of water charges was achievable.

The DUP leader also said he hoped to have a private conversation
with Chancellor Gordon Brown about the likely shape of a peace
dividend while he is in London.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Peter Hain warned the
parties that the 26 March deadline for restoration of the
assembly must be met - or else Stormont would be dissolved.

The newly elected Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first
time on Tuesday at Stormont.

The 108 members were asked to sign the register and select a
voting designation, either unionist, nationalist or other.

The parties have until 26 March to agree a power-sharing
executive or the British and Irish governments say they will shut
the assembly and stop the pay of its members.

If a power-sharing executive is formed it will have four DUP
ministers, three Sinn Féin, two UUP and one SDLP.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October
2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont. A
subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place
since that date.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/14 01:43:30 GMT


New Hopes For Power-Sharing

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 10:04]
By Chris Thornton

DUP leader Ian Paisley dropped hints about the drive for a return
to Stormont yesterday - saying he can "afford now to go a bit
further" because the voters have backed him.

Mr Paisley indicated that his party's increased vote has
strengthened him against internal critics - and he signalled
"progress" in talks about entering an Executive by the
Government's March 26 deadline.

But he repeated that ultimately a settlement will "rest with the
IRA delivering", a reference to his party's requirement for a
greater commitment on policing from republicans.

And he signalled that a power-sharing administration would have
collapsed this week over Sinn Féin's comments about the arrest
and attempted murder charge against dissident republican Gerry

Mr Paisley met Secretary of State Peter Hain yesterday for talks
about the restoration of Stormont and expects to meet Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown today to discuss
a financial package.

After yesterday's meeting he said the DUP's increased support -
gaining three seats and adding 4% on the vote - had "strengthened
my hand".

"I can afford now to go a bit further with things because I am
confident the people are with me," he said.

He noted that he had been "severely criticised by various

"Some of them are my personal friends but they don't agree with
what I've done. The electorate fortunately has agreed," he said.

Mr Paisley's most public criticism has come from fellow Free
Presbyterian Minister Ivan Foster, who said before the election
that Mr Paisley was " wrong entirely" to contemplate "a coalition
with the murderers of Sinn Féin".

But he is also believed to have come under pressure from within
the DUP, reportedly clashing with MEP Jim Allister at a party
meeting after the St Andrew's Agreement.

And Mr Paisley admitted to a "squabble" within party ranks after
12 senior members signed a statement saying he had not been
nominated as First Minister last November, when the Government
insisted he had.

After yesterday's meeting, Mr Paisley said: "I think we are
making progress, I hope we will succeed in what we are seeking to
do. It will rest with the IRA delivering, but I think we are
seeing progress and I am encouraged this morning."

However, asked whether devolution would occur by the March 26
deadline, he said: "I can't really answer that.

"We are making progress. I have done all I can do and I have gone
more than a second way."

Mr Paisley welcomed Sinn Féin's insistence that anyone with
information about two murders in Belfast on Monday should give it
to the police.

"It is not enough but it is part of the way," he said, making
clear he expected Sinn Féin to do more to satisfy him that it is
fully committed to backing policing structures.

Mr Paisley indicated that if he had been First Minister last week
he would have stepped down over Sinn Féin's criticism of the
police for Mr McGeough's arrest.

Sinn Féin accused the police of "political policing" when they
detained the candidate during counting at Omagh.

"I could not have sat in one part of the coalition with the other
part attacking the police for making an arrest," he said.

Mr Paisley said achieving a financial package from the Government
before the restoration of devolution was all-important.

"We must have a settlement. We have made promises to the
electorate and we must seek to fulfil those promises."

He said problems were not insurmountable and predicted that
stopping the introduction of water charges next month would be
top of his list and was possible.

Meanwhile, the seven-seat Alliance Party Assembly group has
formed a " coherent opposition group" with the province's first
Green Party MLA Brian Wilson and hospitals campaigner Kieran

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said he had written to Mr Hain
confirming he was ready to serve as Deputy First Minister
alongside Mr Paisley as First Minister, and said the public
expectation was that there would be a power-sharing government in
place by the deadline.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he saw signs of early
progress in putting together the economic package which would
ease a new Assembly on its way.

Assembly members met in the chamber for just 51 minutes, with
only one item on the agenda - registering of members and re-
starting their salaries.

c Belfast Telegraph


Ahern Says Progress Being Made On US Immigrant Reforms

14/03/2007 - 07:18:34

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said he believes good progress
is being made on US moves to regularise the status of illegal
immigrants, including tens of thousands of Irish citizens.

Mr Ahern was speaking in New York at the start of his annual St
Patrick's Day visit to the US.

He said he had been assured by American politicians like Senator
Ted Kennedy that more progress is expected be made in the coming

Today, the Taoiseach is due to meet Irish emigrant groups who
have been lobbying for reforms to grant residency rights to the
estimated 50,000 Irish people living illegally in the US.


Priest Appeals For Calm Amid Fear Of Reprisals

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 11:23]
By Deborah McAleese

Fears of reprisals following the brutal murders of two Belfast
men sparked appeals for calm today after the killings were linked
to feuding dissident republicans.

As police examined guns and ammunition found close to the spot
where the badly beaten body of murder victim Joe Jones was found,
his family released a statement saying they were "shocked",
"traumatised" and "distressed" and wanted people to know he was a
"good father, a good husband and a good brother".

The 38-year-old father-of-three from Poleglass was beaten to
death and his body found in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast on
Monday morning. Several hours earlier the body of Edward Burns
(36), from north Belfast, was discovered near a secluded car park
off the Falls Road. The father-of-five had been shot in the head.

Detectives investigating the double murder and attempted murder
of a third man, who was shot in the upper body close to where Mr
Burns was killed, have confirmed that the murders had come
against a back-drop of tensions within dissident republicanism in

There has been major unrest in north Belfast over the past few
weeks with gunshots fired at a number of homes.

A group claiming to be made up of disaffected members of both the
continuity IRA and INLA said last week it had made threats
against people and threatened to step up its campaign of

Parish Priest Fr Aidan Troy today said people in the area were
feeling nervous that the murders could lead to further attacks.

"There has been a high level of tension in the area over the past
few weeks with shots being fired at homes and now these murders.
This type of thing terrorises a whole community. People are
feeling very vulnerable at the minute as not all of us know who
is doing this," he said.

Fr Troy added: "I would appeal for calm so there are no
reprisals. If anyone should decide they need to hit back then the
future is very bleak.

"If you can stand your ground and go through the proper
challenges - whether that is going to the police or community
representatives - that is the only way forward."

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said there is a high level of anxiety in
the area.

"People now need to step back. There is no doubt emotions are
high but those responsible need to consider what the community
wants. The last thing they want is for anything further to
happen," he added.

Last night the area remained calm after North Belfast DCU
Commander Chief Superintendent Gary White appealed for people
with influence in the community to continue their work with
police to ensure there are no further incidents.

c Belfast Telegraph


Irish Language Plans Are Unveiled

Proposals for Irish language legislation in Northern Ireland have
been unveiled by the government.

The plans include the appointment of an Irish language
commissioner and the establishment of Irish language schemes for
public bodies.

Also mooted are the use of Irish in court proceedings and
official documents printed in Irish.

Culture Minister Maria Eagle said the plans would go out to
public consultation.

Another part of the proposals are schemes where public bodies
would have to show how someone could use their services through

The legislation has been criticised by the DUP.

'Window dressing'

The party's MEP, Jim Allister, said the fact the proposed
legislation was unveiled just seven days after public
consultation on the issue stopped showed the consultation was
"mere window dressing".

"All the time the department of culture and learning was working
on the legislation, which it promised to Sinn Féin at St Andrews
as a sop to republicanism, while going through the mere motions
of consultation," Mr Allister said.

Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey said the legislation could have
huge implications for public services and Northern Ireland's
courts system and tribunals.

"The financial implications of this legislation, and consequent
impact on community relations, are potentially enormous," Mr
McGimpsey said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams welcomed the proposals but said that
the legislation they result in must be "the strongest possible".

"This is an important historic step forward as it will be the
first piece of positive legislation on the Irish language ever
introduced by a British government in Ireland," he said.

The SDLP's Dominic Bradley said there was no need for more
consultation on the issue and the legislation should be enacted
straight away.

"The British government is pandering to the tiny percentage of
respondents who oppose Irish-language legislation of any kind at
any time," he said.

Pobal, the umbrella organisation for Irish speakers in Northern
Ireland, also welcomed the plans.

"The Irish speaking community has been crystal clear about its
needs and views in respect of the legislation," the
organisation's Janet Muller said.

"We believe that this draft legislation must have the scope and
depth of approach to create a broad range of rights and assure
service delivery to Irish speakers on the basis of equality with
English speakers."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/13 15:52:07 GMT



Martin McGuinness To Travel To US On Wednesday

Published: 13 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness will travel to the
US on Wednesday 14th for a series of engagements with Irish
American organizations and senior US Congress members including
Representative Richard Neal and Senators Kennedy and Clinton.
Mr. McGuinness will update them on progress in the work to secure
the return of the power sharing institutions by March 26th.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

4:00pm Meeting with U.S. Congress members - Hosted by
Representative Richard Neal

7:00pm American Ireland Fund Dinner

Thursday, March 15

8:00 - 10:00am FOSF St. Patrick's Breakfast, Capital Hilton
Hotel, 16th & K Streets, NW Washington, DC

10:30am Meeting at State Department

12:00pm Speakers Lunch

2:45pm Meeting with Senator Kennedy

3:30pm Meeting with Senator Clinton

Friday, March 16

10am White House St. Patrick's Reception

Saturday, March 17

7:00am FOSF Breakfast, O'Neill's, 729 3rd Avenue, New York,
New York 10017



St Patricks Day - Remember The Vulnerable

Published: 13 March, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called for people locally to
think of the disenfranchised and vulnerable Irish diaspora on St
Patrick's Day.

Ms Anderson said:

"As Irish people all over the world will be looking forward to
the St Patrick's Day celebrations, and for many it is a very
joyous occasion, I would ask everyone to think of the much
forgotten Irish who left these shores particularly between 1950 -
60 in search of work and a new future.

"Many of these people ended up doing hard work for little pay in
places as far away as the USA and Australia, but the vast
majority settled in the major cities in England.

"Now in 2007 many of our fellow country men and women find
themselves living in appalling conditions, suffering from severe
ill health, with no family back up or support, in a fast moving
world far detached from the Ireland they left behind.

"This is a generation who deserve respect for what they have done
for Ireland, more than œ3.5 billion was sent home to this country
by emigrants working in the factories, the hospitals and on the
building sites in England.

"Its ironic that today another new generation of Irish emigrants
face an uncertain future in the USA which could have far reaching
effects for up to 50,000 Irish people who have been living there
for anything up to ten , fifteen years and have made a new life
for themselves .This must be causing them and their families
allot of anxiety but hopefully the US administration will see
sense and let these people settle in America.

"I would ask the people of Derry and Donegal to support the many
charities out there doing tireless work for the Irish abroad and
keep the vital link with their homeland alive.

"I would also call for people to embrace the growing immigrant
population in Ireland into the St Patrick's Days celebration and
allow them to feel what is a special day for the Irish." ENDS


Opin: Barriers Crumble Between SF And PSNI

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 11:09]

Only a short time ago, the murder of two men in nationalist parts
of Belfast would have triggered fears of a prolonged feud, but
nowadays even republican spokesmen call for co-operation with the
police. That is the measure of how far Northern Ireland has
travelled, even if getting the politicians to finalise a deal by
March 26 may be beyond them.

Two families are shocked and grieving, whatever their brutal
killers accused them of, and whole communities have been reminded
of the worst days of the troubles, when bodies were dumped at
roadsides after conviction by kangaroo courts. Tension has
mounted, along interfaces, and sectarian rioting has broken out
which needed the best efforts of community leaders on either side
to contain.

The difference this time is that, although there were reports
that the killings had links with republican dissidents, Gerry
Adams asked anyone with information to take it to the police.
They should co-operate, he said, "to bring the perpetrators to

Anywhere else, such an appeal from a politician would be
unremarkable, but here it is seen as a breakthrough, proving that
Sinn Féin's decision to support the PSNI is taking effect. The
days when republicans would suggest that priests or solicitors
could be used as go-betweens, have gone. And no distinction was
drawn, in this case, between "civic" and so-called "political"

During the election campaign, Sinn Féin attempted to win over
their dissidents by differentiating between one category of crime
- like rape and joy-riding - which was reportable, and another,
like terrorist activity, which apparently was not. Unionists made
much of the refusal of Michelle Gildernew, MP, to consent to
informing the police, in a hypothetical situation where dissident
arms had been found.

Now that as senior a figure as Gerry Adams has urged people to
co-operate with police in specific murder inquiries, the barriers
that were erected between republicans and the police, over 80
years, are crumbling. Every community needs policing, especially
those with a long history of alienation, and the sooner Sinn Féin
takes the next steps - of participating in the Policing Board and
advising supporters to join the PSNI - the better. A new era is
about to dawn, in which republicans, nationalists and unionists
will feel free to take their problems to the police, either at
local or central level. Crimes of the past cannot be forgotten or
written off, as many would like, but the focus must be on
creating a respect for law and order that leads to happier
communities. Taking ownership of the police service, through a
devolved administration, is easily the best way forward.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Tony Blair And The Rocky Road To Peace

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 08:13]
David McKittrick

Tony Blair, according to a new accusation, was guilty of
"conceding and capitulating" to republicans in order to keep the
Irish peace process going, behaving in an "unreasonable and
irresponsible" fashion.

The former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Mandelson, to whom
the remarks were attributed, has quickly said the report
"amplifies something I said out of all proportion to its

Nonetheless it raises legitimate questions about Blair's handling
of the peace process, how much credit he deserves for the
improvement of life in Northern Ireland, and whether he too
readily made concessions to republicans. He certainly afforded
extraordinary personal access to Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness. At a guess he has met them more than 100 times - a
record that clearly indicates he regarded them as for real.

McGuinness once reminisced about one of his many visits to
Chequers: "I remember it very clearly, mostly because we spent
most of the time sitting outside on garden chairs, very close to
the rose garden at the back of the building. It was a very
relaxed atmosphere." This cosy scene is all the more remarkable
in that it took place just a few years after republicans had
bombarded 10 Downing Street with mortars, sending John Major
scrambling hastily under a table.

Perhaps the Downing Street attack could be put down as history,
but the fact is that IRA violence continued as the Prime Minister
proceeded with the peace process. There was political progress,
sometimes in spurts and sometimes at glacial pace. Meanwhile
attacks on soldiers and police stopped and the death rate dropped
dramatically. But every so often the corpses of republican
dissidents or alleged drug dealers would turn up, while
"punishment attacks" would put young men into hospital, sometimes
minus a limb.

There were also robberies and other criminality, all denied by
republicans with a blandness which almost amounted to insolence
since everybody knew it was them. With Blair's intelligence
people briefing him that his genial Chequers guests knew a fair
bit about all this, the Prime Minister must have asked himself
scores of times whether he was simply being taken for a ride.

But despite the violent provocation he held fast to his early
judgement, reached when he took office in 1997, that Adams and
McGuinness were genuine. They told him their movement was in
transition from the traditional republican use of the gun to pure

The fact that his friend in Dublin, Bertie Ahern, also accepted
this both strengthened Blair's resolve and provided a firm Anglo-
Irish platform to chart the course of the next decade of peace
process. The two prime ministers in effect promised to help Sinn
Féin into proper politics.

This was the key trade-off. It is one that could be presented as
a murky business of supping with the devil, or as a laudable
effort to assist democracy to prevail. At the same time what was
unequivocally not on offer was any sense that London and Dublin
would betray the cause of the unionists by engineering a united
Ireland, as demanded by the republicans.

A criticism is that Blair was openly negotiating with an active
terrorist movement. One rejoinder is that you only get peace at
the end of a peace process, not during its development.

Although most unionists have by now come to terms with the peace
process, most of their politicians were for years adamantly
opposed to it and wanted it closed down.

Partly because of this, the process was painfully slow, with
years of frustrating and apparently futile wrangling over whether
Sinn Féin was acceptable in government while the IRA still had
its weapons. The decommissioning issue became the ghost in the
machine, symbolising a lack of trust and slowing everything down.

In the end Blair's faith in Sinn Féin bona fides was such that he
pushed former unionist leader David Trimble into a powersharing
government at a time when the IRA was still armed and involved in
violence, criminality and political espionage.

This is where Peter Mandelson comes in for, during his year and a
bit as the third of Blair's five Northern Ireland secretaries, he
deviated from the No 10 line of regarding the republican movement
as the key element in the equation. He was what could be called
off-message. Instead, he was regarded as leaning towards David
Trimble and was identified with propping him up against hardline
opponents. "He was one of the Save Dave brigade," a nationalist
veteran commented yesterday.

While Mandelson was not in Belfast long enough to leave a lasting
imprint on the peace process, he made nationalist enemies. The
complaint of the relaxed Chequers visitor Martin McGuinness was:
"In Peter Mandelson we have a peace wrecker rather than a peace
maker - in short he is a disaster."

But there has always been an extra dimension to the Blair
approach to the peace process, one which is rarely if ever
publicly articulated. Of course he, like the rest of the world,
in a generalised way wants peace for Ireland. But he also has a
duty to British national security. In the year and a quarter
before he took office the IRA attacked two prestige targets. It
blew up a building in London's Docklands and then it penetrated
the Army's Northern Ireland headquarters with two car bombs.

After decades of the best efforts of the police, the military and
the intelligence agencies the position was clear: the IRA might
not be winning but it wasn't being beaten either, and it
possessed weapons of considerable destruction. It maintained a
continuing threat to the British state with an apparently
interminable campaign which had already claimed almost 2,000

Fast forward to today and survey the scene: the IRA has
decommissioned its weapons and has gone. The state and its
citizens are now far more secure. Republicans now support the
police. Most people believe that Sinn Féin's transition into
politics is complete, and believe Adams when he says that the war
is over. Most also think they and Ian Paisley will, before the
summer, go into government together in an arrangement which is
bound to be bad-tempered and stormy but stands some chance of
being durable.

None of this is to say that Blair, still less Adams and
McGuinness, are now due the Nobel Peace Prize. It has taken 10
full years to reach this point; it has often been murky; ideally
it should all have been more rapid and with less violence. But
IRA disarmament has taken place and any advances now being made
by republicans are now due to ingenuity not in bomb-making but in
electoral skills.

All that is down to Blair sizing up Adams and McGuinness 10 years
ago and concluding that, whatever their pasts, these people were
ready to do business with him, and that he should try to do
business with them.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Why It's Going To Take Two To Tango

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 11:05]

Following their election successes, the Big Two - the DUP and
Sinn Féin - will be able to dole out the goodies, says Dr Pete
Shirlow of the School of Law, Queen's University, Belfast. But,
he adds, both parties should remember that more than 80% of the
electorate did not give either party their first preference vote
- and that their responsibilities stretch way beyond those who
did vote for them

Sinn Féin and the DUP are intertwined in ways that aids them
both. Neither will lose votes if devolution is not delivered, as
each can simply blame the other for the failure to progress.

If devolution is delivered, the British state will provide a
significant financial package which means that the Big Two,
through control of most of the ministries, will be able to dole
out the goodies.

The Big Two they are, but they should be reminded that 81.3% and
83.8% of the electorate did not give first preference votes for
either the DUP or Sinn Féin respectively. It is true that many of
these were non-voters, but the point being made is that political
power has to be about responsibilities that stretch beyond those
who vote for you.

The British and Irish governments have also intertwined Sinn Féin
and the DUP by placing them firmly on the front page of their own
deliberations. For both states there is no need to concern
themselves with the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP, because they
will both share power with Sinn Féin without encouragement.


Sinn Féin and the DUP are not political parties, but political
movements that seek to develop broad electorates around popular
and uncomplicated ideas.

The SDLP's flirtation with post-nationalism and the Ulster
Unionists' promotion of multi-ethnic Britishness was admirable,
but too complicated, in a society emerging from conflict.
Ditching more vociferous notions of identity politics meant that
they undoubtedly did the lifting work needed to get us to the
political place that we are now in.

But taking political risks early was not appreciated by the
electorate, or more accurately, those who vote. Both should now
reject ministerial posts and stand in opposition. This will
provide a more normal government and possibly ensure that
somewhere down the line we will have politics that is about
governance, as opposed to the sterility of electoral tribalism.

Neither can we, as most commentators do, explain the rise of Sinn
Féin and the DUP by simply studying their effective vote
management, as it obviously helps if you have a vote to manage in
the first place.

More important is the reality that the Big Two have shown that
there is no effective opposition to them from those trapped in
less fashionable ideas of democratic unionism or Irish

Independent republicans, UK Unionists, and other angry former
friends who stood against them, came nowhere close to denting
their combined electoral good fortune.


The Big Two are also cuckoos that have inhabited the nest of
those who once predominated in unionism and nationalism. The
Ulster Unionists and SDLP were favoured by the electorate during
the worst of the conflict, but now lose votes in the most stable
Northern Ireland in a generation.

This is one of the most ironic features of the peace process, but
it also tells us that something dramatic has changed within each
respective electoral camp.

Sinn Féin has accepted policies and ideas that were once anathema
to it.

Republican critics deride Sinn Féin for accepting the principle
of consent, encouraging decommissioning, providing a
corroboration of policing, bringing in a new generation of less
traditional candidates and sitting in a 'partitionist' assembly.

This has all been achieved through broadening out the social
class base from which it draws its votes.

There are now many more Sinn Féin voters who are second home
owners, have professional jobs, send their children to grammar
schools and live in leafy suburbs.

Many people are becoming Sinn Féin voters because that party
operates via the ballot box without an armalite in sight.

Sinn Féin is purposefully working upon the positive path of its
own transition, based upon a balancing act between the old and
the new, but with the emphasis increasingly upon the new.

The unionist electorate is less confident about its future. We
can only construe that last week's vote for the DUP has been
based upon supporting a brand of unionism that remains fixated
upon Sinn Féin's actions, deeds and words.

If those who voted for the DUP did so because they believe that
the DUP will make Sinn Féin 'toe the line' then that means that
the majority of the unionist voters must believe that Sinn Féin
is toeing unionism


In trying to 'control' Sinn Féin the unionist electorate has put
Sinn Féin in a premier position concerning Unionist support for
devolution. If Sinn Féin does not whistle to the DUP's required
tune, and devolution is not restored, then we are in a position
in which Sinn Féin can simply state that unionists do not wish to
share power.

The DUP, on the other hand, will state that Sinn Féin is not a
true democratic party, and its electorate will be happy enough
with that. If, on the other hand, it enters power with Sinn Féin,
it will present itself as having put manners on Sinn Féin and its
electorate will be happy enough with that.

The truth of the matter is that the truth does not matter, and
that suspicion and mistrust remain as politics in Northern

Can such politics ever be more important than better social
services, not paying for our water twice, challenging the growth
in drug use, challenging failing schools, working against social
exclusion, stopping a private housing market that is stretching
beyond first time buyers, helping the elderly who have to sell
their homes to pay for care and repairing a society dislocated by
a violent past?

We know that the British state is unlikely to enforce deadlines
as it seeks a local solution to what it sees as a parochial
problem. An Assembly dominated by Sinn Féin and the DUP is the
only way that devolution can be restored.

Ultimately, they are intertwined until the end, whatever that end
may be.

c Belfast Telegraph


Irish Top Binge Drinkers In EU - Survey

Elaine Edwards
Wed, Mar 14, 2007

Irish people are the European Union's top binge drinkers, with
more than a third of people admitting in a survey that they drink
five or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting.

A Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission today
shows 34 per cent of Irish respondents say they "usually binge

This compares to about one in four respondents from Finland (27
per cent), the UK (24 per cent) and Denmark (23 per cent).

Just 2 per cent of respondents in Italy and Greece and 4 per cent
in Portugal usually binge drink, the survey said.

Binge drinking is defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks
in one session.

Overall across the EU, binge drinking is highest among the 15 to
24 age group (overall 19 per cent) though with "sharp national
differences", according to the survey.

It also reveals that almost eight out of ten Europeans (77 per
cent) agree with putting warnings on alcohol bottles and adverts
in order to warn pregnant women and drivers of the dangers of
drinking alcohol.

Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (73 per cent) across the
EU would agree to a lower blood alcohol limit for young and
learner drivers of 0.2 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood.

Most Europeans (68 per cent) believe that higher prices for
alcohol would not discourage young people and heavy drinkers from
consuming alcohol.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "It is clear from
this survey that EU citizens support measures to protect specific
groups in society, such as pregnant women, drivers and young
people from the harmful effects of alcohol abuse and misuse. I am
deeply concerned about the data showing that one in five young
Europeans regularly binge drink."

The Commission estimates that alcohol abuse and misuse kills
195,000 people a year in the EU. It said harmful alcohol
consumption is responsible for one in four deaths among young men
aged 15-29.

Last October, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy to
support member states in reducing alcohol related harm.

Its priorities are to protect young people and children; reduce
injuries and deaths from alcohol-related road accidents; prevent
harm among adults and reduce the negative impact on the economy;
raise awareness of the impact on health of harmful alcohol
consumption; and help gather reliable statistics.

The Commission said it has also proposed an Alcohol and Health
Forum to examine how industry can make a contribution to the
debate, notably in the area of responsible advertising and

c 2007


Paisley And Blair Are Book Buddies

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 11:29]
By Noel McAdam

DUP leader Ian Paisley has shared theological books with Prime
Minister Tony Blair and the two men have discussed their faiths,
it was reported today.

As Mr Paisley prepared to meet Mr Blair in London this afternoon,
the Guardian reported they have "forged a special bond" by
discussing their common interest and commitment to Christianity.

In the second day of a three-day probe into Northern Ireland's
peace process, the newspaper said Mr Blair's aim had been to win
the confidence of the North Antrim MP.

Mr Paisley is quoted as saying: "We shared books that I thought
would be good for him to read and I'm sure he read them. He
always takes books away with him."

Mr Blair was also due to hold separate talks with Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams early this afternoon as detailed behind-
the-scenes negotiations continued to achieve a devolution
breakthrough by March 26.

Mr Paisley was further expected to have a conversation with
Chancellor Gordon Brown ahead of talks involving all the
political parties on the economic 'peace dividend' next week.

The DUP leader's positive assessment yesterday that progress was
being made stopped well short of any commitment that he will
agree to share the office of First and deputy First Minister with
Martin McGuinness by next Monday week.

Mr McGuinness himself was today headed for the United States for
the annual St Patrick's' week events where he is due to be joined
by Secretary of State Peter Hain. Mr Paisley is not joining them.

Sinn Féin said Mr McGuinness will be involved in a series of
engagements with Irish American organizations and meet senior US
Congress members including Richard Neal and Senators Edward
Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

Expectations last month that the Washington whirl of celebrations
could play an important role in finalising a devolution package
appear to have faded, however.

Mr McGuinness, meanwhile, has written to Mr Hain confirming he is
ready to take up the co-equal office of Deputy First Minister.

"When we get those institutions up and running we are going to
stay in them. We are not walking out for any reason," the Mid-
Ulster MP said.

c Belfast Telegraph


A Sinn Féin Procession That Had The DUP Calling For Re-Routing

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 10:07]
By Noel McAdam

Forget all that stuff about coming out and being ye separate. All
of a sudden yesterday Gerry Adams found himself among them: the
DUP that is.

It didn't look as if he meant to. Not a naturally divisive
character is Gerry. Nevertheless, as he strode towards
registering for the latest Assembly, Mr Adams was walking between
the DUP benches.

Just in time, Caitriona Ruane touched the Sinn Féin president on
the arm and led him back towards the proper path of democracy.
Stormont style, anyway. But not before some among the DUP hordes
had shouted at him to " re-route, re-route".

They obviously felt it all right to address their political
nemesis, albeit in banter, their leader having already done so
when he advised Mr Adams to read the evangelical theologian

It was the first day back at school at the Assembly and so
everyone was on their best behaviour and dressed in their best
bib and tucker.

Besides, headmistress Bell had returned unexpectedly to keep
everyone in check.

It took a total of 51 minutes for all the parties and
independents to sign the book and nominate themselves as
unionist, nationalist or other.

Not that they needed any inducement, but it was also the only way
of re-starting their salaries and allowances.

The air around the Assembly chamber was of expectancy and
anticipation. They all have a big examination coming up...

c Belfast Telegraph


Obama Discovers Luck Of The Irish

[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 11:38]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Just in time for St Patrick's Day, it has emerged that US
presidential candidate Barrack Obama has an Irish great, great,
great grandfather.

Obama, or as he may now be known, 'O'Bama', is a descendant of
one Falmouth Kearney, who left famine-ravaged Ireland in 1850 and
took a boat from Liverpool to New York.

The revelation was uncovered by the subscription genealogy site,

The site includes a boarding document showing that Kearney
arrived from Liverpool in New York and another document showing
that he and his family later settled in Ohio.

According to the site, 19-year-old Falmouth Kearney landed in New
York harbour on March 20, 1850, on board the SS Marmion.

The site does not say what country Falmouth was from, or if that
is even his real first name, but his surname is commonly
associated with county Mayo.

There is no further official documentation of his life until an
1860 US Federal Census, which shows that he was living in Ohio
and working as a farm hand.

He lived among Irish relatives and then married, had eight
children and moved to India.

Three of his daughters married three brothers with the surname

Barrack Obama's mother is a direct descendant from one of her
couples and she carried Durham as a maiden name.

Like President Reagan, Clinton, Nixon and many others,
discovering a previously unknown Irish ancestor should help
Obama's chances of becoming president.

It could also help win over white voters reluctant to vote for a
black candidate, an issue which polls show is a continuing factor
in US politics.

c Belfast Telegraph

To Subscribe to Irish Aires Google News List, click Here.
To Unsub from Irish Aires Google News List, click Here
For options visit:

Or get full news from Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

To March Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
To Searches & Sources of Other Irish News
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?