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)

April 29, 2007

Ahern Sets General Election Date

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 04/29/07 Ahern Sets General Election Date
SF 04/29/07 Adams - SF Is Ready For Govnt, North & South
IT 04/29/07 Election 'Set To Be Most Expensive Ever'
SL 04/29/07 UVF Statement On Its Future Due This Week
SL 04/29/07 McCord Hits Out After Allister Meeting
SL 04/29/07 McCausland’s Family Lose Hope For Justice
SL 04/29/07 UDA Terror Boss Suffers Seizure
SL 04/29/07 Just The Job For Convicted Terrorists
SL 04/29/07 MP Bugged By Hain's Stonewall
SL 04/29/07 Police Chief Expenses Probe Put To Board
BB 04/29/07 Firefighter Hurt In Pellet Attack
SF 04/29/07 Sunday World Story Complete & Absolute Rubbish
SL 04/29/07 Fangs Did Not Happen Way It Was Reported
SL 04/29/07 Ousted UDA Man Sends Message To Leadership
MN 04/29/07 Irish Party Time For Sen. Clinton In Los Gatos
BN 04/29/07 President Leaves For US Visit Today
SL 04/29/07 At Fag End Of An Era
SL 04/29/07 Alan McBride: Raise A Glass To Our Smoking Ban


Ahern Sets General Election Date

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has confirmed the Irish Republic
will hold a general election on 24 May.

Mr Ahern had kept his own Fianna Fail and opposition
parties guessing, but went to seek the formal dissolution
of the Dail from President Mary McAleese.

Recent opinion polls have suggested a very tight outcome,
with no clear lead for any party or coalition group.

The election could be held no later than June, and
unofficial campaigning has been in full swing in recent

Mr Ahern visited President McAleese's official residence
Aras an Uachtarain at 0800 BST, hours before she was due to
leave for a five-day visit to the US.

"President McAleese has dissolved the 29th Dail
(parliament) this morning," her office said in a statement.

In power since 1997, Mr Ahern is seeking a third term in

Opinion polls have suggested a close race between Mr
Ahern's Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrats coalition
partnership and an alternative partnership of Fine Gael and
Labour with possible Green participation.

Sinn Fein is also among the parties hoping to increase its
presence in parliament.

The Irish Republic uses the Proportional Representation -
Single Transferable Vote system, by which voters in multi-
seat constituencies (electing three, four or five deputies
each) are asked to rank their candidate preferences on a
ballot paper.

If no one party secures enough seats to form a single party
government, a coalition between parties is needed.

The Dail is made up of 166 members representing 41

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/29 09:44:49 GMT

Mr Ahern is fighting to be re-elected for a third term
which would make him the most successful Taoiseach since
Eamon de Valera.

"In the weeks ahead I pledge to give the Irish people the
campaign they deserve: a campaign of issues and policies,
not insults and attacks," he said.

"I am more interested in attacking problems than attacking

The Fianna F il leader took the country by surprise this
morning with most politicians and observers believing he
would call the election during the week.

But an official trip to the United States by President
McAleese, leaving Dublin this morning, meant he would have
to wait another week if the 29th D il was not dissolved
over the weekend.

"This election is about Ireland's future, protecting the
progress we have made over the last ten years and building
on it," Mr Ahern said.

The only party combination at this stage which appears to
have been ruled out by all the main parties is one
involving Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein party, which polls suggest
could take about 10 per cent of the vote. But commentators
say in highlighting the outgoing government's achievements
in Northern Ireland, Mr Ahern is in danger of giving a leg
up to Sinn Fein too, at a time when Fianna Fail is
competing with Sinn Fein in several urban constituencies
for the republican, working class vote.


Adams - Sinn Fein Is Ready For Government, North And South

Published: 29 April, 2007

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking in Belfast this
morning said "Sinn Fein is going into this election
campaign in a stronger position than every before. Over
the next four weeks we will be campaigning the length and
breadth of the country seeking a mandate for real change
and equality. Our objective is to be in government, north
and south and to deliver strong public services and to
advance the peace process and preparations for Irish

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Fein is going into this election campaign in a
stronger position than every before. We are standing in 41
constituencies and our objective is to be in government,
north and south.

"We believe in the right to universal access to decent
healthcare, education and childcare, we believe in the
constitutional right to a home, we believe in building the
economy and using the wealth created for the public good.
We believe in Irish re-unification and are advancing
preparations to bring this about as soon as possible. These
are our priorities for government.

"Over the past decade, republicans have proven our ability
not just to negotiate successfully to advance the peace
process but also to show leadership by taking major and
sometimes difficult decisions in the national interest.
Dramatic progress has been made. Sinn Fein and the DUP are
going to head the power-sharing government in the north and
Sinn Fein's five Government Ministers will work hard in the
interests of everyone on this island. We are about
delivering for Ireland's future.

"Sinn Fein is ready for government, north and south. Over
the next four weeks we will be campaigning the length and
breadth of the country seeking a mandate for real change
and equality. "ENDS


Election 'Set To Be Most Expensive Ever'

A massive ?20 million euro spend by political parties and
independent candidates will make it the most expensive ever
general election battle in the country.

As the Taoiseach fired the starter pistol, teams of party
workers were already erecting posters along the highways
and byways of the state's constituencies.

Fianna Fail has fielded the most Dail hopefuls and is
expected to allocate a war chest of to ?10 million for its
campaign followed by Fine Gael on ?4.3 million.

The Labour Party will spread its ?1.5 million fund among 50
candidates aiming to get elected to the Dail.

The Progressive Democrats have not disclosed how much the
party will spend but it raised tens of thousands of euro in
recent fundraisers and it invested the most money per
candidate in 2002.

The Greens and Sinn Fein are likely to limit their official
spending to around the ?750,000 mark.

The 14 outgoing independent TDs and some other single-issue
candidates could also spend up to ?30,000 each on their
individual campaigns.

Under new rules, candidates are individually allowed to
spend ?30,150 euro in a three-seat constituency, ?37,650 in
a four-seater and ?45,200 euro in a five-seater.

Unsuccessful TDs are also entitled to be reimbursed 6,000
euro if they reach a quarter of the constituency quota in
the election.

Professor Michael March of Trinity College said it will be
shoe leather and not euro notes that will win the election.

The politics expert explained: "All parties would like to
spend more money than they have to spend. However the
candidate that spends the most is not necessarily
guaranteed to get elected.

"Look at what happened to Royston Brady of Fianna Fail in
the European elections in 2004."

He added: At the end of the day, there is nothing more
effective than face-to-face contact with would-be voters on
doorsteps - and that costs nothing, only time."

Prof Gallagher is currently researching a definitive study
on the behaviour of Irish voters in general elections.

The money raised by political parties and Independents will
go into running election bases and placing TV, radio and
newspaper advertisements as well as printing and
distributing posters and flyers.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are also known to have financed
extensive private polling in constituencies and hired the
assistance of US and UK public affairs consultants.

All parties receive limited state funding and must raise
the remainder from golf classics as well as lunches,
dinners and raffles.



UVF Statement On Its Future Due This Week

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:11]
By Brian Rowan

A LEADERSHIP statement from the UVF and Red Hand Commando
will be issued this week, soon after Tuesday's talks
involving the PUP and Peter Hain.

It's expected that the announcement on the future of the
terror group will be made on Wednesday or Thursday as part
of the build-up to the May 8 devolution date. Final
preparations - including discussions on wording - are
continuing at the level of the loyalist leadership.

There is no prospect of early decommissioning, although
that does not rule out the possibility of some discussions
with the IMC.

The UVF had planned to tell the IMC of its decision on the
weapons issue, but some wider dialogue is now possible.

In its statement, the paramilitary leadership plans to
convey the message that its weapons have been put away,
never to be used again.

But Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde is insisting that the
issue is dealt with through "proper channels", which means
de Chastelain.

"We genuinely don't know how the last lot (IRA
decommissioning) was done," a senior security source said.

But he stressed the importance of de Chastelain's role: "If
it's not done that way, we (the police) will still be going
after it, and if we find it, they (the UVF) have a

On Friday Orde, his deputy Paul Leighton and Assistant
Chief Constable Peter Sheridan met a PUP delegation,
including party leader Dawn Purvis.

Yesterday, she met the former president of the Methodist
Church, Harold Good, one of two witnesses to IRA
decommissioning in 2005.

The PUP has also spoken to the former Presbyterian
moderator, Ken Newell.

On the planned loyalist statement, he told Sunday Life:
"The intention is sincere, the determination is strong, but
the challenge to deliver is immense.

"It will take time, but cannot be given too much more

While the focus is on the weapons question, this planned
statement from the UVF and Red Hand leaderships will be set
in a much wider context.

It will declare the future of those organisations and state
positions on a range of activities.

And, within days, the worth of this loyalist initiative
will have been judged in the political, security and public

ANALYSIS - By Brian Rowan

ON BIG statements like this, you'll usually find the
signature of Captain William Johnston, the UVF's equivalent
to the IRA's 'P O'Neill'.

It's the paramilitary way of doing things - of putting the
leadership's stamp of authority on the orders that have
just been given.

The instructions the UVF and Red Hand leaderships will give
in the coming week will be the most important since the
original ceasefire of 1994 - the ceasefire that was
declared in the name of the Combined Loyalist Military

So, in that context, this statement will be of considerable

Yes, there will be a flaw in it, the decision or mistake
not to decommission. But those who know about these things
will tell you it couldn't be delivered; that it's not on
the radar screen and it won't be on the radar screen.

That suggests that any talking with de Chastelain - at
least in the here and now - will be going through the

And, so, there is a responsibility on the part of the
loyalist leadership to be absolutely clear about its

How will it- how can it? - guarantee that these weapons,
with all the killing and all the blood that is attached to
them, will never be used again?

And what if any of those weapons are discovered by the
police and a UVF label put on them? Where then does that
leave this loyalist initiative?

The weapons issue is the big question that will emerge from
whatever is said this week. But that question can only be
one part of the debate.

If the UVF and Red Hand leaderships genuinely intend to
march their war threat off the stage, then that is an order
of some significance.

This must be said and demonstrated in a manner that is

There has been much that has been dark, and, now, there is
a need for new light - for bright words and meanings that
are about making a genuine contribution to the new politics
of this place. The weapons issue will be the unfinished
business when this statement emerges in a few days time.

But let's look to see if the other words are directing a
march away from war and towards the new peace. Can the UVF
and Red Hand convince us?

c Belfast Telegraph


McCord Hits Out After Allister Meeting

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:56]

VICTIMS campaigner Raymond McCord last night hit out at
what he claimed was MEP Jim Allister's "head in the sand
attitude" towards collusion between police and loyalist

McCord met the former DUP man in Strasbourg last week
during a trip to the European Parliament to win support for
his campaign to expose his son Raymond jnr's killers and
the cops who allowed them to get away with murder.

But following the meeting, Mr Allister claimed that Mr
McCord's trip to the European Parliament was being used by
Sinn Fein to "peddle their vindictive vendetta against the

Said Mr McCord: "Sinn Fein are not using me or manipulating
me and at the Press conference the words concerning my
son's murder and Nuala O'Loan's report came from me.

"They have given me a platform, but it's a platform for
Raymond McCord to talk about the Police Ombudsman's report
and my son's murder."

When he returns to Ulster he has arranged to meet with Mr
Allister's former DUP colleagues, justice spokesman Ian
Paisley jnr and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, in whose
constituency most of the murders carried out by the UVF
gang that killed Raymond McCord jnr took place.

c Belfast Telegraph


Feud Victim's Family Lose Hope For Justice

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:54]
By Stephen Breen

THE devastated family of innocent loyalist feud victim
Craig McCausland now believe his killers will never be
brought to justice.

Speaking ahead of the UVF's expected announcement on the
terror group's future, Nicola McIlvenny told how victims'
families were being left behind.

Although the 21-year-old murder victim's cousin had
remained hopeful of justice since his killing on July 11,
2005, she fears the godfather who ordered the killing and
the gunmen will never be brought before the courts.

She also told how she had created a profile of Craig on the
popular Bebo website in a bid to keep his memory alive.

Said Ms McIlvenny: "We are no further on to be honest and
it just seems as if nobody wants to listen.

"The police know who the gunmen were, but they have not
been able to do anything about it. We were hopeful at the
beginning, but as each day goes by we are becoming more and
more isolated.

"We know the UVF leader in Woodvale ordered the killing and
he is still working in the area as if nothing happened. We
will never know why they targeted Craig because he was a
totally innocent victim."

Craig's partner, Kathy Gibson, also told how his son Dean
was still traumatised by the shooting of his dad.

"Craig's murder totally destroyed us and my children are
still traumatised by what happened that night," she said.
"Every time I close my eyes I am taken back to that night
when these gunmen smashed their way into my home and shot
Craig five times.

"We will never get over this and I just have to be here to
support my children and to remind Craig's son, Dean, what
his father was like."

c Belfast Telegraph


UDA Terror Boss Suffers Seizure

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:51]
By Ciaran McGuigan

CONVICTED UDA blackmailer Eddie Sayers first lost his shirt
- now he has lost his house.

For a bank has seized the former terror boss's home in
Larne over a five-year debt.

Earlier this month the Ulster Bank was granted a possession
order for the house at Forest Lodge in the Co Antrim town.

It had won a High Court order against Sayer's defaulting on
the mortgage for the property as far back as October 2002.

It's the latest blow for the loyalist crook after he was
declared bankrupt last November following a petition by HM
Revenue and Customs over an unpaid tax bill.

And his financial woes relating to his properties do not
end there.

According to High Court records, at least one other lender
has an outstanding legal action against Sayers and his wife
Gladys over the same property.

The AIB lodged papers with the High Court in October 2004,
in a case that is still active. And yet another mortgage
lender has an ongoing legal action against Mrs Sayers for
defaulting on a mortgage on a property in north Belfast.

And another lender has an action against her in relation to
the mortgage on a property in Omagh.

Papers held at the Enforcement of Judgements Office and the
High Court link the couple to no fewer than seven

Sayers was jailed for 10 years in the 1980s after being
exposed as a UDA extortionist by undercover journalists.

While he was banged up in the Maze, Sayers studied to be a
legal clerk.

When he was released from prison he secured work with a
legal firm that subsequently went bust.

Taylor & Co, which had former UFF godfather Johnny
Adair among its clients, was shut by the Law Society after
complaints that clients' money had gone missing.

c Belfast Telegraph


Just The Job For Convicted Terrorists

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 11:21]
By Alan Murray

CONVICTED terrorists are set to have their criminal records
wiped when it comes to job applications.

NIO minister David Hanson is expected to announce
employment legislation changes on Wednesday which will
prevent employers from lawfully refusing to consider
convicted paramilitaries for jobs on security grounds.

It is expected the changes will apply to the public and
private sectors - but not be the security sector.

Hanson's move is designed to assist loyalist paramilitaries
in particular, part of a package of sweeteners from the
Government to get terrorists to abandon criminality.

Hanson's announcement will come just days before the UVF is
expected to announce its intention to cease all
paramilitary activities.

But the terrorists group will not indicate when it will
engage in a weapons decommissioning process.

In recent days PUP leader Dawn Purvis has briefed parties
here on the intentions of the UVF and answered questions
about the organisation's future role.

It's understood she confirmed that the UVF move would not
be dependent upon other developments, although there was no
indication from her when the decommissioning of the
organisation's weapons might occur.

c Belfast Telegraph


MP Bugged By Hain's Stonewall

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:31]

PETER Hain has refused to confirm or deny the existence of
MI5 spy tapes at the Maze during the period leading to
Billy Wright's 1997 jail murder.

The Secretary of State referred to ministerial convention
on security matters as he stonewalled a written question by
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson concerning claims that LVF and
INLA inmates conversations were bugged at the jail.

Mr Donaldson MP wrote to Mr Hain asking whether he could
make available to the Billy Wright Inquiry surveillance
tapes held by the security and intelligence services of
conversations that took place in H Block 6 during the
period leading up to the LVF chief's murder by INLA

It follows claims by ex-intelligence services soldiers that
MI5 had bugging devices operating inside H Block 6 during

The soldiers also claimed transcripts of all surveillance
tapes were given to RUC Special Branch on a regular basis.

In his written response to Mr Donaldson, the Secretary of
State said that by convention he could neither confirm nor
deny the existence of the material.

Mr Donaldson said he was deeply disappointed with the
Secretary of State's response.

The Lagan Valley MP added that Mr Hain had failed to co-
operate in any way in providing any of the material that
had been requested.

Mr Donaldson said the Secretary of Sate had also refused to
explain why the Northern Ireland Prison Service had
destroyed certain files relevant to Judge Peter Cory's
investigation into Billy Wright's murder without first
informing the judge of their destruction.

The Billy Wright Inquiry is due to begin full public
hearings at Banbridge Courthouse in May.

c Belfast Telegraph


Police Chief Expenses Probe Put To Board

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 11:17]
By Stephen Gordon

THE Policing Board will this week consider a demand for an
independent investigat- ion into Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde's expenses.

Sunday Life revealed last week that DUP Assemblyman Jimmy
Spratt had written to the Board's Chief Executive Trevor
Reaney calling for an inquiry to be carried out by a
"totally independent person".

Mr Spratt, a former leader of the Police Federation,
revealed on Friday that he had received a reply from Mr
Reaney saying his call for an investigation into Sir Hugh's
expenses would be put before the Board at its next meeting.

That takes place on Wednesday at the Waterside Tower,

Mr Spratt told Sunday Life: "I hope the Board will accept
my call for an inquiry into Sir Hugh's expenses which I
believe are excessive compared to other chief constables.

"I hope the Board will appoint someone who is truly
independent and don't just roll over and accept someone
from within the policing system."

The South Belfast MLA added that he had consented for a
second demand in his letter - for a "total breakdown" of
all Sir Hugh's claimed expenses over the last five years -
to be dealt with by the PSNI.

Mr Spratt's call for an inquiry followed disclosures
earlier this year that Sir Hugh has a mistress and child in
the south of England, and has taken part in numerous
marathons and fun runs with his lover.

Even before Mr Spratt's demand, Sir Hugh Orde had taken
steps to have his expenses scrutinised, the PSNI stating:
"The Chief Constable has asked an individual to look at all
of his travel and accommodation over the last three years."

c Belfast Telegraph


Firefighter Hurt In Pellet Attack

A firefighter has sustained a facial injury during a pellet
gun attack on a crew in north Belfast.

It happened in Alliance Avenue after the Fire and Rescue
Service was called to put out a fire in a bin just after
2100 BST on Saturday.

The officers were attacked by a group of teenagers, one of
whom fired a pellet gun. The injured officer was not
seriously hurt.

A senior officer said the potential for serious injury was

The area commander for Belfast said: "It is sad that
firefighters who experience so much danger in their normal
duties are subjected to such a serious attack.

"However, I am reassured by help and assistance given to us
by elected representatives from the area, to ensure such
attacks do not occur in the future."

Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan condemned the
attack. "Attacks on the Fire and Rescue Service are
completely and utterly wrong," she said. "This isn't a
matter of fun. It's a matter of life and death."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/29 08:55:58 GMT


Sunday World Story Complete And Absolute Rubbish

Published: 29 April, 2007

Sinn Fein Councillor Christy Burke has described the attack
on Sinn Fein in today's Sunday World as complete and
absolute unsubstantiated rubbish.

Councillor Burke said:

"For more than 20 years myself and Sinn Fein members right
across this city have stood with local communities in the
fight against drug dealers, and criminals such as Christy
Griffin. I find it deeply offensive that week after week
unsubstantiated rubbish is printed in the Sunday World and
then repeated as if it is fact. Sinn Fein does not and has
never sought or taken one cent from Christy Griffin or any
other criminal. Their despicable activities are destroying
the very communities that we are working in.

"People in working class areas across Dublin know our
record and know the truth."ENDS


Fangs Did Not Happen Way It Was Reported

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:44]
By Stephen Breen

A CO Down businessman has hit out at vicious rumours that
he carried out a HANNIBAL LECTER-style attack on the son of
a top Sinn Fein man.

Outspoken Bartley Murphy from Downpatrick protested his
innocence about rumours he sank his teeth into the nose of
a son of Eamonn Mac Con Midhe.

The pub owner admitted there was a disturbance on a street
at the rear of his bar, Hogans, two weeks ago, but said he
was outraged at rumours that he attacked the Sinn Fein
man's son and a number of other young people.

Cops are now probing the incident and have taken a number
of statements from witnesses.

Mr Murphy offered to meet the councillor to put the record
straight. He said: "I was just responding to a telephone
call that a window had been smashed in my bar. I then went
to the back of the bar and that's when my vehicle was
attacked. I didn't bite anyone. This is just a vicious

"I didn't touch Eamonn's son and I have nothing against the
man or his family. It's great to see him going to the
police - it's a pity he couldn't have done this 10 years

"I have the footage to prove I was just defending my
property. I am sick to death of people violating my
property and I am confident I will be vindicated in this
case. I have given the footage to the police, and it
clearly shows the offenders in this matter.

"People should get their own house in order before they
criticise or accuse me of attacking people."

Mr Mac Con Midhe urged the publican to produce CCTV footage
to show what exactly happened outside the bar.

Added the Sinn Fein man: "It is a fact my son was attacked
outside this man's bar and a number of other young people
were assaulted.

"Bartley Murphy should produce the footage so we can
establish who did attack my son.

"In this new era of peace this matter is now in the hands
of the police, with various people making statements."

Mr Murphy spoke to us last October after he was branded a
"redneck" following his decision to appear on a BBC
Spotlight programme highlighting racism and immigration.

The businessman denied being a racist and also said his
comments on the programme were "taken out of context".

c Belfast Telegraph


Ousted UDA Man Sends Message To Leadership

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:01]
By Alan Murray

A crowd of around 1,000 has heard one of two men who the
UDA's Inner Council said it had expelled from the
organisation send a defiant message to his former comrades.

Newtownabbey councillor Tommy Kirkham told a crowd at
Queen's Park in Glengormley on Friday night that he would
not be coerced by the British and Irish Governments to
become Irish overnight.

"South East Antrim stands alone, but by standing alone we
can decide our own destiny and our own way forward," he

At the loyalist event to mark the 13th anniversary of the
INLA killing of UDA man Gerry Evans, Kirkham said he was
being reviled by his former comrades because he couldn't be

"What is it that I have that they all fear? Is it the fact
that I cannot be bought, is it the fact that I still have a
love for my country and the organisation I represent. Or
are we just a piece of everyone else's conscience."

Kirkham said that for nine months he had been vilified and
told that he and others in the area had no support.

He said attempts had been made using the media to stain the
characters of many loyalists in South East Antrim by
labelling them as gangsters, extortionists and drug dealers
who controlled property portfolios and ran brothels.

"There is criminality within all communities, but in South
East Antrim there is no place for loyalist criminals, only
loyalists. The criminals must be dealt with by the PSNI.

"We said in the past to Sir Hugh Orde, if you pursue
loyalists for being loyalists then we will protest at the
very highest level, but if you pursue loyalists for
criminality then you have our full support," he said.

Kirkham said that Protestant areas across Northern Ireland
had been neglected by the Government.

But senior UPRG representative, Frankie Gallagher, hit out
at his former colleague's claims.

Added Mr Gallagher: "If these people think they can sit in
splendid isolation and ignore or fail to show leadership in
dealing with criminality by merely passing the
responsibility on to the police, they are out of touch with

"An example of this is when the Shoukris had nowhere to go.
It was Tommy Kirkham who gave them sanctuary and now the
same gang around these people are robbing Larne. Our
reports on Tommy Kirkham's oration, which was supposed to
be a memorial service for a fallen comrade, was that it was
politicised and disgraceful.

"A call has gone out to the good members of south east
Antrim from the UDA. Kirkham or anyone else will not
threaten these men.

"The view of the organisation of which this man is no
longer a member is that we cannot allow paramilitary
structures to be left for the use of gangsters and

Kirkham reveals death threat

KIRKHAM received a death threat just 24 hours after Sunday
Life revealed he led a delegation linked to a breakaway UDA
group to meet the IMC paramilitary watchdog group.

He revealed how police warned him of the threat, which he
believes is linked to the mainstream UDA.

The South East Antrim politician said: "The police wouldn't
say how they knew or where the threat came from, but just
warned me to be careful because they had information that a
paramilitary organisation wanted to harm me. "

Kirkham added he suspects the intelligence information came
from within the UDA's Inner Council faction.

Kirkham was one of two men the Inner Council said it had
"expelled" from the UDA last month, but the councillor says
he was not a member of an illegal organisation.

Last week he led a delegation of representatives from eight
areas in South East Antrim who told the IMC's full panel
that they wanted help to bring about an end to all
paramilitary activities in their area.

The group, which supports the Beyond Conflict initiative to
dismantle paramilitary structures, said it understood the
UDA in South East Antrim was prepared to consider meeting
General John de Chastelain to discuss the possible
decommissioning of weapons.

It is believed the group's approach to the IMC angered the
UDA's Inner Council, which is led by South Belfast
Brigadier Jackie McDonald, and which wants to be the sole
representative of the entire UDA structure. It successfully
removed the previous leadership of the UDA's North Belfast
Brigade, once controlled by Andre Shoukri, and planned to
remove the leadership of the organisation in South East
Antrim and install a new figurehead.

But so far this has been resisted in the area and the UDA
remains under the control of the leaders who approved the
meeting with the IMC.

The move means that when the next IMC Report is written,
there will be a separate chapter created to refer to the
UDA in South East Antrim as a separate entity, a
development likely to further enrage the Inner Council

The IMC's latest report published on Wednesday confirmed
reports that UDA members had continued to be involved in
acts of violence "at an increased rate" from the beginning
of the year.

"The UDA was responsible for a number of shooting incidents
and for the bulk of the loyalist assaults to which we
refer," the report said.

"We believe these incidents were largely as a result of
friction within the organisation or as a result of
perceived anti-social behaviour".

While the report said there had been some improvement in
UDA activity, it concluded that "the pace of movement had
been too slow".

c Belfast Telegraph


Irish Party Time For Sen. Clinton In Los Gatos

By Mary Anne Ostrom
Mercury News
Article Launched: 04/29/2007 01:32:12 AM PDT

Irish connection: After leaving San Diego, Hillary Rodham
Clinton winged her way to a Saturday evening fundraiser at
the Los Gatos home of Palm senior executive John Hartnett
and his wife, Helen. It's part of a series of fundraisers
hosted by Irish-born Clinton enthusiasts, said Hartnett,
himself a native. About 70 guests were expected, both Bay
Area Irish-Americans and tech leaders.

Hartnett, who has lived in the United States for nine
years, however cannot vote for Clinton, just yet. He is
working on getting his citizenship in time for next year's
election, he said. Long an admirer of the Clintons,
Hartnett said hosting the fundraiser "is payback" for the
efforts of Bill and Hillary to bring peace to Northern

To show his appreciation, Hartnett ordered special
chocolate from Dublin and, he promised, "There will be
Guinness in the house."

Peace state: Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a vocal opponent
of the war in Iraq and presidential candidate, was asked
how his message is playing in the Golden State. "You know,
anyone who has ever spent time at the beach, why do you go
to the beach? It is peaceful. It is calm. Californians
resonate with that principle of peace."

Cameras, action: Two Santa Clara County legislators
announced their endorsement of Clinton at Saturday's
convention. Assemblyman Jim Beall of San Jose and
Assemblywoman Sally Lieber of Mountain View signed on in
time to be part of a group of 14 legislators

who stood behind Clinton during what had to be the most
heavily covered state convention news conference in
history. More than 250 reporters, camera operators,
videographers and bloggers crammed into the room. "Oh, my
goodness," a surprised Clinton said as she got her first
glimpse of the gargantuan pack.

According to convention planners, some 400 members of the
media were issued credentials for the weekend affair. The
ratio of media members to convention delegates: 1-to-4.


President Leaves For US Visit Today

29/04/2007 - 10:22:39

The President leaves Ireland today for a visit to the
United States.

Mary McAleese will spend five days in Georgia and New York.

The visit is aimed at strengthening links with the Irish
community in the US.

During her trip, the President will receive the American
Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award for her work helping
communities in the North.

She will also meet Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.


At Fag End Of An Era

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 11:15]

Gentle Pier pressure to wean 'em off weed


AN award-winning Ulster pub is bringing an extra breath of
fresh air into the lives of ciggie-craving customers as the
no smoking ban kicks in.

Reigning Pub of the Year Pier 36 in Donaghadee is set to
'dispense' advice to smokers hoping to stub out the habit
with the help of Gordons Chemists.

Pier 36 - perched on the village's picturesque harbour -
has teamed up with Gordons in a novel initiative.

The Waterworth family, which owns Pier 36, is swapping its
ashtrays for 'how to quit' leaflets, ditching cigarette-
vending machines for advice stands and is even planning
special counselling sessions for its customers.

Said Jody Waterworth: "We see the smoking ban as a very
positive move for everyone involved in our industry.

"But we also saw the need to support our customers who want
to stop smoking with a dedicated, advice-driven campaign
with the support of Gordons, who were delighted to get

Added Jody: "We are also planning to introduce a number of
counselling clinics where we will introduce trained
professionals to support our smokers, should they wish to
quit, within our own pub environment, complete with tea or
coffee and scones"

Said Gordons' partner and co-founder Neil Gordon: "It is
vital that smokers realise they don't have to quit on their
own and that there is support and help readily available at
their local pharmacy.

"This initiative with Pier 36 is, we believe, the first
campaign of its kind in the UK where a publican and a
pharmacy will be working together to improve people's

Publican Paul Ahead Of The Game, And There's An Air Of

WHEN pubs across Ulster become smoke-free zones tomorrow,
it will be business as usual for Co Down bar owner Paul

For Paul - who runs the Quoile Tavern in Downpatrick - has
been operating a no smoking policy at the popular pub for
the last year.

And the businessman (left) has told his colleagues in the
bar trade not to worry about losing regulars when the
smoking ban comes into force.

Although Paul admitted it was a gamble for him to introduce
the no-smoking policy a year ahead of schedule, he knows it
was the right choice.

Said Paul: "I obviously knew about the no smoking policy
being implemented in 2007, but I decided to implement it a
year earlier.

"The general consensus among the staff and the regulars was
to go for it. I just thought I would try it and I haven't
looked back."

He added: "When I implemented the policy, I got the place
dry-cleaned and it took about six months for the smell of
the smoke to lift.

"Everyone has been very supportive and it has made a real
difference. Smokers can have a cigarette just outside the
bar so they have also been kept happy.

"I won't take much notice when the smoking ban comes into
force, but it will be interesting to see how other bars
adopt to it. They shouldn't worry because it's a great
thing for everyone.

"We are upgrading the bar at the minute and the best thing
we ever did was introduce the smoking ban last year."

The bar owner's decision to introduce the smoking ban ahead
of schedule has been praised by the Ulster Cancer

Said a spokeswoman: "Introducing smoke-free policies in
public places is one of the most effective things that can
be done to encourage smokers to kick the habit. Paul
deserves credit for taking the initiative a year ahead of

It's Gone Swimmingly For The Mermaid Inn

PUB owner Vincent McKenna has every reason to raise a glass
today - because his new 'extension' measures up to all

For it will allow his customers to light up over a pint
despite next week's smoking ban.

And tobacco addicts relaxing in the impressive courtyard
conversion will even be able to watch racing on the telly
as they enjoy their fix.

The ban, which is due to come into force across the
province in just nine days time, prohibits smoking in all
enclosed public places, including bars, restaurants,
offices and even bus shelters.

But the outdoor extension to the Mermaid Inn at Wilsons
Court in Belfast has passed all planning hurdles with
flying colours.

"It was with the planners for almost 18 months so they
certainly had time to consider it," said Vincent.

The popular pub has benefited from a major interior
makeover that also included the removal of the entire front
wall and its replacement with sliding glass doors.

A canopy covers chairs and tables in the beer garden while
the pub's sliding doors open onto a widescreen TV.

"I'd say that a good 80 to 90pc of my customers are
smokers," said Vincent.

"So the ban could have hit me hard and, indeed, there are
fears in the trade that quite a few pubs could go belly-up.

"A lot of my regulars are also gee-gee men, so I've put a
speaker outside which means they can both see and hear the
racing while enjoying a drink.

"Even if it gets a bit nippy, we have a couple of patio
heaters that can be quickly utilised."

And there could also be light at the end of the smoke-free
tunnel for pubs that have no space to erect awnings,
extensions or canopies.

For ventilated 'smoking booths' - the size of a telephone
kiosk - have been given the green light in some parts of
Scotland and publicans are looking into introducing them in
licensed premises here.

The hi-tech booths are transparent to let the smoker
continue to enjoy the atmosphere of a pub or club. They
have a choice of music to listen to - and a two-way speaker
system allows puffers to have a conversation with friends
outside or at least experience the hubbub of other

Fumes are sucked up by a ventilations system that carries
smoke directly from the cigarette through a series of
filters before returning the cleaned air to the room.

As well as one-person cabins, larger booths for communal
smoking are also available.

No More Puffing Outside Hospital Entrances


SMOKERS will no longer be permitted to light up at hospital
entrances in Belfast, it has been revealed.

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust boss Dr Tony Stevens
says smokers standing at doorways at the Royal, Mater and
City hospitals will be moved on by security staff from

The trust's medical director said all hospital buildings
will be smoke-free from tomorrow.

However, a complete ban on all hospital sites was

Said Dr Stevens: "We will be asking smokers at entrances to
move on.

"But there will still be areas on the grounds where they
can smoke.

"It can be very distressing for patients and visitors
having crowds of people standing at entrances and we
understand that.

"We would very much like people not to smoke on our
premises at all, but that wouldn't be practical or humane.

"As a care organisation, we want to promote the message
that smoking is bad for your health, but we can't stop
people smoking."

Dr Stevens' long-term goal is to make Northern Ireland's
busiest hospital sites completely smoke-free with the
exception of patients.

"We want to see how people react to the ban and if people
are more amenable to the no smoking message," he added.

"We have to respect patients and can't have a draconian
regime, but we can encourage them not to smoke.

"Another element to this is that, if patients leave their
ward to have a smoke and they become ill while outside, we
can't ensure their well-being and can't be as responsive.

"What I'd really like to do is introduce a ban on visitors
and staff smoking on the hospital sites that would make
them a lot cleaner.

"I hope Monday's smoking ban will change attitudes and then
everyone's health will be improved."

c Belfast Telegraph


Alan McBride: Raise A Glass To Our Smoking Ban

[Published: Sunday 29, April 2007 - 10:55]

THEY said it would never work, yet it has been proven to
work in New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and in the south of

I refer to the smoking ban, which, from midnight, comes in
to force across Northern Ireland in all public places.

It may be that I'm becoming a grumpy old man, but I seem to
get more and more irritated on evenings out, with my eyes,
lungs and throat having to endure other people's smoke.

Many of these people are my mates and I enjoy their
company, but not their smoke, thank you very much!

I like to wake up in the morning and remember the good time
that was had the night before - not to still sense the
smell of stale smoke on my clothes and in my hair.

If the smell is so pervasive as to make its presence felt
in my bedroom the next morning, what does that mean its
doing to my lungs?

Taking into consideration the fact that we have one of the
highest rates of cardiovascular and respiratory disease in
the EU, you'd think the ban would have been introduced
sooner - but better late than never, I say.

There are some 'dimwits' who would try to convince us that
'passive smoking' is not so bad. I'm sure you've heard the
argument: "When I was a kid, people smoked around me all
the time and it never did me a button of harm, bla de bla."

Just because it's true for them (they think) doesn't make
it true for the rest of us.

I recall some very uncomfortable journeys on the way up to
Portrush with my five brothers and sisters squeezed into
the back of my Da's Morris Minor (they were also the days
before rear seatbelts had to be worn), gasping for air as
both parents smoked away, totally oblivious to the effect
their smoke was having on us wee'uns.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 toxins, more than
40 of which are known to cause cancer.

According to the British Medical Association, tobacco
contains arsenic, ammonia, butane, DDT, radon, sulphuric
acid, and . . . wait for it . . . hydrogen cyanide - used
as a method of execution in the US. Now, that's some

So, while one might think that 'passive smoking' is OK, the
reality is that it may also be a 'ticking bomb' waiting to
go off at any moment.

The latest statistics suggest that smoking-related
illnesses are killing about 3,000 people every year in
Northern Ireland. That is nearly as many as died in the

My brother-in-law was among them. A man in his mid-40s who
died last summer having been diagnosed with lung cancer
only four weeks previously, he had no idea what he was
carrying around inside him - an extremely preventable
disease with potentially fatal consequences, and not just
for the individual smoker himself but also for those around

Northern Ireland is about to become a 'cold house' for
smokers and I for one am very glad. Who knows, had it been
introduced some years ago, how many of our loved-ones who
died as a result of smoking would still be here?

While we can't turn the clock back, we can play our part to
ensure that the ban is a success.

There are those diehards (mostly publicans and those who
enjoy nothing better than a pint and a fag) who will raise
all sorts of opposition to the ban coming in. Well,
evidence from other places would suggest that the ban has
limited or no impact on the business life of bars and

There will be some who will no longer want to go out unless
they can smoke in the pub, but so what?

No doubt there are many more who, at the moment, choose to
stay in but would dearly love to have a drink or a meal in
smoke-free environment.

Recently, I had the good fortune to visit Hong Kong and
Australia, both which are renowned for having a high
proportion of smokers.

There the ban had already been in place for some months,
yet I noticed no detrimental effect on the quality of their

The same can be said of Dublin and countless other places,
but even if the opposite were true, at the end of the day,
the health benefits to the nation would always outstrip any
negative impact on the entertainment sector.

For that reason the ban is here to stay, with other areas
of the UK and across Europe to follow suit.

Tomorrow night I plan to go out for a few beers and not
have to put my clothes straight into the laundry bin.

Why don't you join me in raising a toast to a smoke-free
environment in which to unwind after a hard day's work?

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 join our Irish Aires Yahoo Group, Click here

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

To April 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?