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April 13, 2007

DUP & SF Joint Move On Parades

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/13/07 DUP And Sinn Fein Joint Move On Parades
BT 04/13/07 Bets On For Garvaghy Road Parade
BT 04/13/07 Five Years On & Barney's Killer Is Still On Street
IT 04/13/07 'Critical Time' For Undocumented Irish
IT 04/13/07 Irish-Illegals Group To Get $50,000
BT 04/13/07 Opin: Ties That Bind Us ... Through Sadness And Joy
BT 04/13/07 Opin: Nothing To Celebrate In The Easter Rising


DUP And Sinn Fein Joint Move On Parades

[Published: Friday 13, April 2007 - 11:01]
By Noel McAdam

The DUP and Sinn Fein are considering working closer together to
help deal with flashpoint marches and the overall parades issue,
it can be revealed today.

The Belfast Telegraph understands a proposal for a joint working
group involving the two parties has been floated, but no
agreement has yet been reached.

Rather than focus on particular trouble-spots, the suggestion is
the two parties adopt a more "holistic, comprehensive" approach,
senior sources have revealed.

But a joint team could also possibly contribute to specific
problem demonstrations, including the on-going Drumcree protest.

The initiative, still in its early stages, is primarily aimed at
providing the new power-sharing Executive with the backdrop of a
peaceful summer on the streets.

And it is being viewed as an important confidence-building
measure, particularly for the unionist community, during the
crucial period when the new Executive will be attempting to bed

Sources in both parties stressed, however, they remain doubtful
whether a formal joint group could be set up, at least in the
short term.

The proposal was mentioned at the historic first meeting of the
two parties which ended with the televised statements of Ian
Paisley and Gerry Adams at Stormont on Monday, March 26.

DUP Assembly member William Hay raised parading towards the end
of the meeting, there were some remarks from Mr Paisley and a
response from Sinn Fein senior negotiator Martin McGuinness.

Since then there have been no official meetings but it is
believed there have been some contacts on the parades issue.

Mr Hay said he could make no comment on the idea of any joint
working party but he had been "encouraged" by the response of
Sinn Fein.

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein said: "We are willing to talk to any
political party about anything but our position remains that
parades are matters which can only be sorted out locally between
residents and the marching organisations."

Mr Hay said: "Parades remains an issue which needs to be
seriously looked at and addressed.

"What I have voiced concern about is that we could have an
Assembly and Executive all trying to work for a better future
while there are people out on the streets opposing expressions of
Protestant and unionist culture - or vice versa.

"This is going to be a very testing year for everyone in Northern
Ireland and you could have dissident republicans, for example,
attempting to flex their muscles and derail the process."

Mr Hay, who declined to reveal details of the historic first
meeting between the parties, added: "I think we can get a
resolution but perhaps not in a matter of weeks or months."

A Sinn Fein source said: "It is very difficult to say if this
will develop into a group meeting on the single issue of parades
but there will be on-going contact across a broader range of

The suggestion of a working group comes only days after the DUP
made clear it regards the Drumcree/Garvaghy Road parade in
Portadown as a priority.

c Belfast Telegraph


Bets On For Garvaghy Road Parade

[Published: Friday 13, April 2007 - 09:17]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

Irish bookies were taking bets last night on whether Orangemen
will be allowed to march on the Garvaghy Road this year.

Online gambling giant Paddy Power is offering odds of 1/2 that
the Portadown flashpoint will be opened for the Drumcree parade
on July 8.

Odds that the controversial march will be re-routed have been set
at 6/4.

The bets were opened just two days after Sinn Fein official
Breandan MacCionnaith dramatically resigned from the party on

Mr MacCionnaith, who is said to remain leader of the Garvaghy
Road Residents' Group, stood down as a Sinn Fein senior advisor.

Since his resignation there has been widespread speculation that
a deal has been struck which could allow Orangemen to parade as
part of their cultural expression.

And on Tuesday the Orange Order denied claims that the latest
attempts to resolve the Garvaghy Road parade had ended in

Sharon McHugh, spokeswoman for Paddy Power said: "Opening all or
part of the Garvaghy road to marchers at this year's Orange
parade might be viewed as a peaceful compromise between two sides
of a new government and a way forward for peace in Northern

A Sinn Fein spokesman said the party was not prepared to comment
on the betting.

David Jones, a spokesman for Portadown LOL No.1 also refused to
comment on the issue.

c Belfast Telegraph


Five Years On And Barney's Killer Is Still On The Street

[Published: Friday 13, April 2007 - 09:06]
By Victoria O'Hara

The family of a Catholic taxi driver who was gunned down have
spoken of their five-year battle for justice and appealed for
anyone with information about his murder to "clear their

Brian Henry McDonald (51), known as Barney, was shot in the head
as he pulled up outside a snooker club in Annaghbeg Park,
Donaghmore, on April 17, 2002.

The father-of-eight had been called out to collect a passenger.

As he stopped outside the club, two miles from Dungannon, gunmen
fired four shotgun blasts into his taxi, killing him instantly.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the murder.

In the first three years of the investigation 216 statements were
taken, 209 items seized for examination and two premises

In addition, two men were arrested and questioned about the
murder and were later released without charge.

However, his family say Barney was "lured to his death by
faceless cowards".

And five years on they believe it must have been someone he knew
who ordered the taxi, or he would not have gone to pick up the

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, his sister Margaret O'Donnell
said there are people out there who have vital information about
who murdered her brother.

"We are appealing to anyone with information, no matter how
insignificant they might think it may be, to let someone they
trust know about it," she said.

Making a direct appeal to the public Mrs O'Donnell added: "Maybe
there are some of you out there who are in this very situation
who know something about someone who was involved in the murder
of Brian, who would like to clear their conscience, or find it in
their heart to tell what they know so these ruthless cowards can
be put where they belong.

"Barney was a real gentleman. He had just lost his wife Mary to
an asthma attack six months before he was murdered.

"It was a terrible shock for his children to lose both parents
within such a short period of time.

"But we will never give up trying to find out who killed Barney.

"We are absolutely determined to get to the truth."

c Belfast Telegraph


'Critical Time' For Undocumented Irish

Iveren Yongo
Fri, Apr 13, 2007

These are "critical times" for the undocumented Irish living in
the United States, a lobbying group for Irish immigrants has said

Speaking to this afternoon, the chairman of the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), Niall O'Dowd said that
current US immigration laws were making it difficult for
undocumented Irish people to come home without running the risk
of being prohibited from returning to the US.

The White House has floated proposals which will see fines as
high as $10,000 (?7,500) being imposed on undocumented Irish
people living in the States. They may also face deportation
before being eligible for legal status in the States.

Families of the undocumented Irish in the US will speak out at an
ILIR public meeting tomorrow in Dublin. "We have had repeated
requests from parents and families to get involved so now we will
certainly try and do so," said Mr O'Dowd who will also adress the

Earlier today the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern
announced an additional $50,000 (?37,000) contribution to the
ILIR, bringing the overall contribution since December 2005 to
$133,000 (?99,000).

Mr O'Dowd said he was very happy with the funding and said the
contribution was "much appreciated as is the support of the Irish

There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish people living in
the US.

c 2007


Irish-Illegals Group To Get $50,000

Fri, Apr 13, 2007

The Government has announced an extra $50,000 in funding to an
organisation campaiging for the undocumented Irish in the United

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, confirmed this
morning that the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) was
being awarded the funds ahead of a public meeting being held in
Dublin tomorrow.

Overall, the ILIR has received $133,000 in Government funding
since its establishment in December 2005.

Mr Ahern said today: "As a nation we can't turn our backs on the
undocumented Irish living in a twilight world in the United
States. Many of these people have set up home and have deep roots
in the US, raising children and contributing to their community."

Mr Ahern said that the Government had awarded almost $1.3 million
in funding last year to organisations in the United States thatr
assist vulnerable Irish immigrants.

c 2007


Opin: Ties That Bind Us ... Through Sadness And Joy

[Published: Friday 13, April 2007 - 11:19]
By Dean Pittman

Sixty-three years ago this very week, a US Air Force B-26 bomber
crashed into a misty cliff-face on Chimney Rock Mountain in the

The five crewmen who tragically perished were among the many
thousands of American Air Force personnel who found themselves
based in places like Toome, Greencastle, and Langford Lodge
during the Second World War.

Northern Ireland's unpredictable weather and varied terrain
offered an ideal environment for inexperienced airmen to gain
vital skills for later missions throughout Europe.

The scale of aerial activity in the region meant that fatal
crashes were not a rare occurrence. During the war, the large
military cemetery at Lisnabreeny on the Castlereagh hills was
solemn proof of that. One of my most poignant experiences as
Consul General was attending a memorial event on the slopes of
Cave Hill last June.

Exactly 62 years had passed since an American B-17 lost its
bearings in heavy fog and crashed on that hillside, killing all
10 of its crew. Among the local dignitaries in attendance was
Alfred Montgomery, who, many decades after the crash, discovered
a wedding ring that belonged to one of the airmen. Alfred then
went to great lengths to ensure the ring was safely returned to
the man's widow.

Before I came to Northern Ireland, I was not aware of that
tragedy with its bitter-sweet ending. But thanks to the movie
Richard Attenborough filmed in part in Belfast last year, Closing
the Ring, millions around the world will learn of this touching
story and the good heart of this Belfast man. As a lone piper
sounded the Last Post on Cave Hill that day, my thoughts focused
on those aboard aircraft number 42-97862 - young men from Kansas,
New York, Ohio and Tennessee who never had the joy of returning
home to their loved ones. But I also found myself thinking about
the kindness of spirit that is genuinely evident in so many local
people like Mr Montgomery.

It is the same quality demonstrated by the thousands of Northern
Irelanders who, with good nature and warm hospitality, welcomed
the more than 300,000 American troops arriving here during the
Second World War. Private Milburn Henke was the first American GI
to officially set foot in Europe when he stepped onto the jetty
of Belfast port in January 1942. His arrival marked the first
phase of Operation Magnet when it was agreed that US troops
should take over the defence of Northern Ireland. Soon, places
like Londonderry, Lough Erne and Bangor would be absolutely
critical to Allied efforts in the war in Europe and across the
North Atlantic.

Henke's home state of Minnesota must have seemed a long way off
for him, but he and others were instantly accepted as if they
were family.

On a return visit to Belfast, he talked fondly about the
"unbelievable friendliness of the people".

It would have been virtually impossible for 300,000 US soldiers,
sailors, and airmen not to make a profound impact on everyday
life in Northern Ireland. The US tried to make sure the boys were
well-behaved and issued them all a pamphlet with tips on how to
get along and respect local traditions. Sagely, among its first
instructions were "not to argue religion" and "not to argue
politics" with local people.

In most cases the instructions worked; many people I meet have
vivid and pleasant memories of parties organised by American GIs
- events which gave children their first glimpse of Father
Christmas or an opportunity to sample cola, candy and chewing gum
for the very first time.

Another notable example occurred in November 1942 when the
citizens of Belfast were treated to a showcase of American
football at Ravenhill rugby ground.

The following day, a local headline read: '8,000 Irish fans
puzzled by US football game!'

Most servicemen had a relatively short period in Northern Ireland
which many later recalled as something of a 'honeymoon' period
before they met the brutal realities of war in Europe and North

At the mouth of Belfast Lough, Operation Overlord prompted the
rapid departure of an armada of ships sailing to the beaches of
Normandy for the D-Day landings. General Dwight D Eisenhower,
later to become President, stood on the pier at Bangor to see the
troops off.

After the war, General Eisenhower addressed Belfast City Council
and proclaimed: "The sojourn of our forces in Northern Ireland
will remain a cherished memory in the hearts of many Americans.
You received us into your community and into your homes with a
generosity that was evident and sincere. For all this, we are
deeply appreciative." In 2005 I was proud to join President
Eisenhower's granddaughter at a moving ceremony to rename the
pier at Bangor after him.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Americans after the Allied
victory. During the war, romance blossomed and around 1,800 women
from Northern Ireland married American servicemen. Quincy
Roberts, US Consul General at the time, had the unenviable job of
negotiating with irate 'GI brides', anxious to be re-united with
their husbands after the war. Happily, in all my time here I have
not had anywhere near so tough a task to carry out. On January
24, 1946, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 100 women who had
"besieged" his Consulate to demand transportation to the US.

By March, the American government had finally sent a troop ship
to Belfast for the first consignment of 455 brides. Our records
go on to say that Mr Roberts married a local citizen himself.
Perhaps he was uniquely sympathetic to their cause!

During those years America and Northern Ireland shared the joys
and the successes, as well as the pain and grief, of war. Through
good times and bad, the ties bonding the United States and
Northern Ireland were immeasurably strengthened during this dark
period of both our histories.

That is why we should be grateful to the Second World War
generation; to those who wish to preserve its legacy; and above
all, to those like the crews of the B-26 and B-17 who so
tragically paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and

This week on the anniversary of one of the many sacrifices that
so many brave men and women ultimately made, we salute them all.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: There Is Nothing To Celebrate In The Easter Rising

Kevin Myers
[Published: Friday 13, April 2007 - 10:19]

I forbore to write about the commemorations for the 1916 Rising,
not least because you probably know what I'm going to say anyway.

But then I saw how even Irish editions of British tabloids
referred to the insurgents as "heroes", and how many newspapers
referred to last Sunday's ceremonies as "celebrations": so
wearily lifting my spade, I return to the much-dug field of clay
yet again.

What is there to celebrate about the cold-blooded slaughter of
innocent people in the streets of Dublin?

And who gave the insurgents the right to kill their unarmed
fellow Irishmen and women? I have asked these questions many
times over the years, and I never get an answer to them, only to
other questions which I haven't asked. These questions - such as
'Who gave the British the right to make their empire by force of
arms?' or 'Who gave the Ulster Volunteers the right to import
weapons?' - are perfectly valid, but they are not answers to my

These remain. I ask them again. I ask them particularly of the
Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, the foremost Episcopal
apologist for the murderers of 1916.

Who gave John Connolly of the Irish Citizens' Army the right to
murder the unarmed police constable James O'Brien outside Dublin
Castle at noon on Easter Monday in 1916?

Who gave Constance Markievitz the right to shoot dead Constable
Michael Lahiffe in St Stephen's Green a few minutes later? Who
gave some unknown gunman the right to shoot Royal Dublin Fusilier
John Humphreys in the back of the head at around the same time,
fatally injuring him?

Who gave another gunman the right to shoot dead an unnamed woman
outside Jacob's factory, at point-blank range? Who gave Volunteer
Garry Holohan the right to very deliberately and fatally shoot a
teenage boy named Playfair during a raid at the Phoenix Park

These people had risen from their beds that morning, with no
notion about the republic or a rising or anything other than
getting through the day. Well, that's what they didn't do: but
far from referring to the victims when he was speaking about the
rising, the Bishop of Meath said last year: " Those who led the
rebellion believed in conscience that their planned action was
the only way to evoke a hearing. Subsequent developments confirm
the validity of this view."

Good. Excellent. So the Irish dead of noon on Easter Monday were
made to forfeit their lives simply to enable the organisers of
the rebellion " to evoke a hearing". Just where does it say in
Canon Law that human life is sacrosanct, unless Irish republicans
want to have a hearing, and then it's really up to individual
republicans to decide whom they kill? Never mind that without
conscription here, there was more freedom in Ireland than in
Britain. Never mind that the electoral laws were the same in both
countries. Never mind that, James Connolly aside, not one of the
signatories had ever tried to get democratically elected for
anything, and he had been roundly defeated in local government
elections when he contested the Wood Quay ward.

Of course, those who "celebrate" the rising usually do so around
a sanitised narrative, best exemplified in Tim Pat Coogan's
dreadful book '1916', which makes no mention of the many early
killings by the insurgents, and by name refers just to the
shooting of young Playfair - history doesn't allocate him a first
name. Coogan doesn't even call it murder - just as one of the
"saddest" fatalities. The justification he gives for this evil
deed was that the boy was about to raise the "alarm" about the
raid. Raise the alarm?

But this was a public insurrection, not a secret one. What
"alarm" could he possibly raise, when all over the city armed men
were very conspicuously taking over buildings and shooting
people? Needless to say, having almost ignored this wave of
murders at the start of the rising, Coogan dedicates page after
page to the murders by British soldiers of civilians in the North
King Street area at the rising's end.

Yet these final, dreadful killings alone should tell us that
there is nothing to celebrate in the rising. Nothing, absolutely

It was the start of six lunatic years of civil war: for when
Irishmen had finished killing Irishmen and then Britons, it was
back to Irishmen killing Irishmen again, before a partitioned,
independent Ireland marched into a 40-year-long cul-de-sac of
isolation and poverty.

It was only when we undid the isolationist consequences of the
rising that we began to create a country which could give its
children jobs at home rather than one-way tickets on the mailboat
to the very land against which the rising had been fought.

And the Celtic Tiger - an open economy, with free movement of
capital, and with the immigration of hundreds of thousands of
foreigners - is the very antithesis of what Pearse and Connolly
had wanted.

One sought a totalitarian Marxist state, the other a protected
Gaelic paradise, in a united Irish republic.

So here is the imbecilic equation of Irish republicanism, like a
diseased Irish joke of yesteryear: Murder + Failure =

c Belfast Telegraph

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