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April 02, 2007

Maze Prison Walls Come Tumbling Down

The outer walls of the former jail are being torn down

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 04/02/07 Maze Prison Walls Come Tumbling Down
BT 04/02/07 Assembly Has Final Say On Future Of Maze
BT 04/02/07 Prison Became One Of The Most Notorious In The World
BB 04/02/07 New Assembly Cabinet Takes Shape
BB 04/02/07 Sinn Fein Presents Assembly Team
BT 04/02/07 The Ice Melts
BT 04/02/07 Taoiseach To Meet With Paisley On Wednesday
BB 04/02/07 Two More Councillors Leaving DUP
BT 04/02/07 Republicanism 'Is Being Strengthened By DUP Quitters'
BB 04/02/07 New Appeal In Donaldson Murder Case
BT 04/02/07 Was Donaldson's Murder A Botched Kidnap Bid?
BB 04/02/07 Fresh Searches For 'Disappeared'
IN 04/02/07 Opin: Paisley’s Changing Mood A Sign Of The Times
IN 04/02/07 Opin: Police Baiters Lost In Intrigue & Backbiting
IT 04/02/07 Opin: Reporting Suicide
IT 04/02/07 Opin: Should Media Report Cases Of Suicide In Detail?
IT 04/03/07 Exiled: Joyce Online But Only In US
IT 04/03/07 Ahern Stresses Important Role Of Irish Emigrants
RT 04/03/07 Clinton Raises Record $26m In Three Months
HC 04/03/07 Lieutenant Of Inishmore, Doubt Highlight Alley Season


Prison Walls Come Tumbling Down

Thousands of paramilitaries were caged behind its walls, but on
Monday the outer walls of the Maze prison were torn down.

A national stadium is planned for the site of the former high
security jail.

Northern Ireland Office minister David Hanson said recent
developments gave the event added symbolism.

"Last Monday a political wall came down, bringing a new start to
life in Northern Ireland with a new assembly and power-sharing
executive," he said.

"Today we are taking down a physical wall that will open the way
to an iconic development that will also be shared by all the
people here.

"This site has a long association with conflict. Clearing the
site will transform it into a symbol of economic and social
regeneration, renewal and growth and is a physical demonstration
of the movement from conflict to peace."

The demolition is part of the Maze Masterplan announced by Mr
Hanson in May 2006.

Mr Hanson said the final decisions about the future of the site
will be taken by the new executive.

The Maze/Long Kesh Monitoring Group welcomed the further
clearance on the site.

The chair of the group, Edwin Poots, said the demolition
demonstrated the momentum the proposals have gathered.

"Today marks the first stage in the removal of the prison wall,
which so many of us have seen for decades as we pass along the
M1," he said.

"I look forward to a new skyline as we work to complete the task
to transform this place. The retention of the listed buildings
whilst significant will be used sensitively in accordance with
the Maze Report. They will be neutral, inclusive and

The vice-chair, Paul Butler, said the proposed projects for the
site were of "huge significance"

"The demolition of the cages, and now the prison wall, is an
important step in the delivery of the Masterplan vision of
economic and social regeneration agreed by the main political
parties," he said.

"The proposed future use of the massive land area now being
exposed - up to 360 acres - is an exciting prospect.

"The proposed projects for the new multi-sports stadium and
international centre for conflict transformation are of huge
significance. "

The remaining demolition of the entire site will take more than a

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 15:05:52 GMT


New Assembly Will Have Final Say On Future Of The Former Jail

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 15:17]
By Noel McAdam

Final decisions on the future of the Maze prison site will rest
with the new power-sharing Executive, the Government confirmed

As work which could take more than a year began on the perimeter
wall of the former Long Kesh, Direct Rule Minister David Hanson
compared today to last Monday when Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley
met and spoke for the first time together.

"Last Monday a political wall came down, bringing with it a new
start to life in Northern Ireland with a new Assembly and power
sharing Executive," he said.

"Today we are taking down a physical wall that will open the way
to an iconic development that will also be shared by all the
people here."

The proposals for the vast site, where the huge H-Blocks have
still to be torn down, represent a huge opportunity to show the
world that Northern Ireland has changed, he said.

"This site has a long association with conflict. Clearing the
site will transform it into a symbol of economic and social
regeneration, renewal and growth and is a physical demonstration
of the movement from conflict to peace," Mr Hanson said.

"The proposals for the Maze/Long Kesh site represent a unique
opportunity to demonstrate to the world all that is best in
Northern Ireland in terms of regeneration, sharing the future and
conflict transformation."

And he added: "But the final decisions about the future of the
Maze/Long Kesh site will be taken by the new Executive and that
is how it must and should be."

The Maze/Long Kesh Monitoring Group welcomed the further
clearance move. Chair, DUP MLA Edwin Poots, said: "The demolition
represents a major stage in the preparation for development of
the site, which will benefit growth in the region.

Today marks the first stage in the removal of the prison wall,
which so many of us have seen for decades as we pass along the
M1. I look forward to a new skyline as we work to complete the
task to transform this place.

Vice chair, Sinn Fein MLA Paul Butler, said: "The demolition of
the cages, and now the prison wall, is an important step in the
delivery of the Masterplan vision of economic and social
regeneration agreed by the main political parties."

c Belfast Telegraph


Ulster Prison That Became One Of The Most Notorious In The World

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 15:18]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

Built in 1976 to replace Long Kesh internment camp huts, the Maze
Prison was home to some of Ulster's most hardened paramilitaries.

In its 24-year history a catalogue of landmark events occurred to
make the Maze and infamous 'H' blocks one of the most notorious
prisons in the world.

The prison hit the headlines shortly after it opened when Labour
Secretary of State Merlyn Rees refused to grant special category
status to prisoners. The result was the first official protest,
known as the 'Blanket Protest', were inmates wore bed linen
instead of their prison uniform. By 1978 there were 300 men 'on
the blanket'.

The period between 1978 and 1981 is considered the Maze's most
turbulent. Prisoners made international news after embarking on a
'Dirty Protest'. They refused to wash and smeared their own
excrement on the walls in a bid to get the Government to grant
political status.

By 1979 the Conservatives were in power with Margaret Thatcher at
the helm. She took an increasingly hardline against the dirty
protesters. And on October 27, 1980, six republican prisoners
refused food and demanded political status, but the strike was
called off just before Christmas when the republicans wrongly
assumed they had won.

However on March 1 of the following year, Bobby Sands, the 27-
year-old leader of the Provisional IRA inside the Maze restarted
the hunger strike. In a publicity coup he stood for and
dramatically won the Fermanagh-South Tyrone Westminster by-
election after a massive show of pan-nationalist support. But
after 66 days without food Sands died. Up to 70,000 people
attended his funeral and his death proved to be a turning point
for the IRA.

By August 1981 a further nine hunger strikers had died and under
pressure from their families the six who were still refusing food
ended the strike in October.

In 1983 the prison suffered the largest ever breakout. A total of
38 IRA inmates, including current Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA
Gerry Kelly, hijacked a prison meals lorry and smashed their way
free after quickly overpowering prison officers. Most were caught
within 19 days but some are still on the run.

The most notorious Maze killing happened in December 1997 when
three members of the INLA assassinated LVF leader Billy Wright
with smuggled guns. Wright had been linked to many sectarian
killings of Catholics.

Thirteen days later, Secretary of State Mo Mowlam entered the
prison to talk to loyalist prisoners about the peace process.

As part of the Good Friday Agreement paramilitary prisoners
belonging to groups on ceasefire became eligible for early
release on licence. In the two years following the agreement, 428
prisoners were released, leaving just 16 inside to be released
later or transferred to other units.

c Belfast Telegraph


New Assembly Cabinet Takes Shape

The leaders of the four main Northern Ireland parties have
announced how the ministerial portfolios will be shared in the
new power-sharing executive.

When it meets on 8 May, Sinn Fein will assume the education
ministry - for the second time - along with regional development
and agriculture.

The DUP are taking finance, economy, environment and culture.

The Ulster Unionists take health and employment and learning,
while the SDLP take social development.

Secretary of State Peter Hain described the dealings at Stomont
as further evidence of the very positive approach that the
parties are taking to the restoration of devolved government.

Ulster Unionist party leader Sir Reg Empey said taking on the
health portfolio was a huge challenge.

"It is - if you like - something that's vital and important to
everybody in the community," he said.

"There was a lot of criticism the last time that people had run
away from the issue, and the way the selections were made it
would be difficult to not come to that conclusion.

"The Ulster Unionist Party is not going to tun away from a
challenge and we realise this is going to be difficult."

Earlier on Monday, Sinn Fein announced its ministerial team for
the new assembly: Martin McGuinness, Conor Murphy, Michelle
Gildernew, Caitriona Ruane and Gerry Kelly.

Mr Murphy said that it would be some time before his party
revealed which person would be in which ministry.

"Today was simply a matter of getting the departmental choices.
What we'll do now is match people to that," he said.

Mr McGuinness had refused to commit his party to the education
department in a news conference before the departments were
picked, although he said they were very interested in the issue.

"The whole issue of education is obviously a huge challenge for
whoever takes the position there is a lot of unfinished business
to be dealt with," he said.

There are two main thorny issues facing a new minister - the
future of selection for post primary schools and the prospect of
naming hundreds of schools for closure because of a shortage of

Sammy Wilson of the DUP said there are many battles ahead for
Sinn Fein in education, but he said his party had ensured
safeguards were in place to prevent "any rogue education
minister" implementing policies that the DUP does not support.

DUP leader Ian Paisley had the first pick of the departments
under the d'Hondt formula, which uses assembly seats won by
parties to calculate ministerial entitlement.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had second choice.

December 1999 was the last time the party leaders agreed to
select their departments.

Secretary of State Peter Hain has promised to give ministers-in-
waiting access to their departments.

At the weekend he also agreed to a request from Mr Paisley and Mr
McGuinness to hand over offices at Stormont Castle.

Last week, in a ground-breaking meeting at Stormont, Ian Paisley
and Gerry Adams agreed to share power in a restored NI Assembly
on 8 May.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 17:17:13 GMT


Sinn Fein Presents Assembly Team

Sinn Fein has announced its ministerial team for the new Northern
Ireland power-sharing assembly on 8 May.

It comes hours before a meeting of party leaders in which
responsibility for 10 government departments is expected to be

Sinn Fein's team is Martin McGuinness, Conor Murphy, Michelle
Gildernew, Caitriona Ruane and Gerry Kelly.

The designation of specific cabinet positions in a restored
Assembly is expected to be announced later.

John O'Dowd will be leader of the Sinn Fein group at Stormont.

Alex Maskey will take over from Gerry Kelly as party spokesman on
policing and justice.

DUP leader Ian Paisley gets the first choice under the d'Hondt
formula, which uses assembly seats won by parties to calculate
ministerial entitlement.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams gets second choice.

Mr Paisley has four departments to choose, Gerry Adams has three,
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey has two, while SDLP leader Mark Durkan
has just one.

Sinn Fein held a news conference at Stormont on Monday, amid
speculation party leaders will meet to select departments for a
power-sharing executive.

Martin McGuinness told the conference that his first meeting with
Mr Paisley "went very well".

"I have to say that my meeting with Ian Paisley was first-class
and his attitude, his approach, during the course of the meeting,
as it was during the course of the meeting last Monday, could not
have been better," Mr McGuinness said.

He said they even appeared to share a joke when they both signed
a letter asking Secretary of State Peter Hain to leave his
Stormont office.

"I asked him (Mr Paisley) was this the beginning of a new 'Brits
out' strategy on behalf of the DUP, and he smiled," he said.

December 1999 was the last time the party leaders agreed to
select their departments.

This time around, the leaders of the four main parties are
expected to meet behind closed doors and take turns selecting
departments, under the d'Hondt formula.

Mr Paisley is expected to select finance as his first choice,
while Mr Adams has not yet indicated what his choice will be.

Secretary of State Peter Hain has promised to give ministers-in-
waiting access to their departments.

At the weekend he also agreed to a request from Mr Paisley and Mr
McGuinness to hand over offices at Stormont Castle.

Last week, in a ground-breaking meeting at Stormont, Ian Paisley
and Gerry Adams agreed to share power in a restored NI Assembly
on 8 May.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 12:52:49 GMT


The Ice Melts

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 08:40]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

The DUP and Sinn Fein have been locked in talks all weekend
picking which ministries they want, the Belfast Telegraph can

A well-placed source said senior party contacts were involved in
the negotiations, which were said to be designed to start an
indicative running of the D'Hondt system ahead of the May 8
devolution deadline.

It is understood that ministers did not take part in the talks.
However, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was
expected to hold a press conference on the issue this morning.

No-one from the DUP would be drawn on the matter but on Saturday
deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "If we are going to have the
preparatory work done - the indicative ministers being properly
briefed within the departments, the indicative ministers working
up a programme for government so that we hit the ground running -
then you do need to have an indicative running of D'Hondt."

The news comes after old foes Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
sent a joint letter to the Secretary of State asking him to
vacate his Stormont Castle headquarters - to make room for them.

In an unprecedented move, the lifelong enemies drafted and signed
a letter requesting that Peter Hain relocate from his Stormont
Castle headquarters so they can take over the offices before May.

The letter is thought to be first ever signed by the DUP leader
and Sinn Fein chief negotiator who are due to sit together as
First and Deputy First Minister in just over four weeks' time.

Mr Hain has hailed the letter as the first sign of serious intent
towards power-sharing.

Last night he said: "I am pleased that the party leaderships are
getting down to the business of preparing for government and to
that end I have instructed my officials to make themselves
available to assist with advice on policy and analysis so that
the Executive is in the best position to operate effectively from
day one, May 8.

"It is important that the transition from direct rule to locally
elected and accountable ministers is seamless.

"As part of this I, together with David Hanson and Paul Goggins,
am more than happy to vacate Stormont Castle and relocate to
Castle Buildings so that the First and Deputy First Ministers can
be in position to take power.

"The fact that they are keen to occupy the seat of government at
Stormont Castle as soon as possible is a very positive signal of
their serious intent."

The offices had been used by the heads of Northern Ireland's last
Executive before it collapsed in October amid allegations of IRA

Last night Gregory Campbell, one of DUP's leading sceptics, said
he had been unaware that the letter had been sent and refused to
comment until he had seen a copy.

He said: "I wasn't aware of the letter until there was some
publicity about it. My comment would be reserved until I see the
letter. I would like to see it, to see exactly see what it said."

And while he didn't want to comment on the letter specifically,
Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said that the two parties had been
working together over the past week.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "Sinn Fein are looking to see
progress on the preparation for government so we can hit the
ground running on May 8."

The parties are expected to meet again this week to finalise
which departments they want to take on.

They will have to select from enterprise, trade and investment;
health; education; employment and learning; environment; regional
development; social development; agriculture and rural
development; and culture, arts and leisure.

The meetings to take place at Stormont will include all elected
representatives and have been lined up to allow departments an
opportunity to brief their new heads.

It is thought they will also include a gentleman's agreement not
to 'gazump' the other when it comes to devolution.

Peter Robinson is expected to take charge of the Department of
Finance in an attempt to deal with water charges and will be
among a delegation meeting Chancellor Gordon Brown later in the

Sinn Fein is likely to choose from education, the department once
held by Martin McGuinness, health or trade.

c Belfast Telegraph


Taoiseach To Meet With Paisley On Wednesday

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 19:21]

The Taoiseach is to meet the future First Minister of Northern
Ireland, Dr. Ian Paisley at Farmleigh in Dublin on Wednesday, it
emerged today.

Bertie Ahern is expected to take the opportunity to congratulate
Ian Paisley in person on his decision to re-establish power
sharing Executive with Sinn Fein on the 8th of May

The Taoiseach said the meeting would allow for an informal
exchange of views since their last meeting in Scotland late last

"It will be an opportunity for us to go through all of the work,
and really since St. Andrew's we haven't met in over six months,"
the Taoiseach said.

"Now as the departments are agreed and as the structures are
agreed and the progress of last week to set out a programme
between now and the 8th of May and more importantly from the 8th
of May on."

c Belfast Telegraph


Two More Councillors Leaving DUP

Two more Ballymena DUP councillors have resigned from the party
over its decision to share power with Sinn Fein.

The town's mayor James Alexander and Councillor Robin Stirling
announced their decisions during a meeting of the council on
Monday night.

They will stay on the council as independents. Three other
Ballymena councillors have already quit the DUP.

The resignations mean the DUP loses overall control on the
council, but is still its biggest party.

Last year, Mr Stirling proposed a motion granting party leader
Ian Paisley the freedom of the town.

The other councillors who resigned are Davy Tweed, Sam Gaston and
founding member of the party, Roy Gillespie.

Ballymoney councillor Audrey Patterson has also left the party.

Last week, MEP Jim Allister resigned from the DUP a day after Mr
Paisley's meeting with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

A number of DUP assembly members have spoken of their concerns
about power-sharing with Sinn Fein on 8 May, but none have

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 19:53:29 GMT


Republicanism 'Is Being Strengthened By DUP Quitters'

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 11:17]
By Noel McAdam

DUP leader Ian Paisley has accused party members who have
resigned over the power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein of
strengthening republicanism.

Amid speculation that further resignations could come this week,
Mr Paisley also argued Sinn Fein's decision on policing
represented acceptance of the legitimacy of Northern Ireland.

And in a thinly-veiled reference to the charge by MEP Jim
Allister that the party's judgement has become clouded by the
"lure of office", Mr Paisley denied he was motivated by personal

"At nearly 81 years, I do not need the spoils of office to
satisfy me," he told the Bannside DUP annual dinner at Carnlea
Orange Hall, Ballymena, at the weekend.

But he insisted: "Those who attack my leadership and the
determination of this party, and those who break rank in weakness
or cowardice, ought to recognise that by breaking us
republicanism will win."

Arguing the ard fheis verdict in January to support policing
marked an acceptance by republicans of the legitimacy of a state
they had once fought to destroy, Mr Paisley said Sinn Fein had
been forced to "bow the knee" .

He said: "They may not admit it, but it is a fact that today they
have had to bow the knee to the Northern Ireland that they sought
to destroy and accept that if they want a political role in it
they must also accept the parameters of Ulster's place in the

"We must face up to the reality that many of the nationalist and
republican community, despite what the IRA has done to the people
of Northern Ireland, supported a party that was part and parcel
of the horrors of the past.

"Yes, it is distasteful that such representatives are their
voice, but what are we to do - bury our heads in the sand and
hope they go away? Do we wait for another generation to emerge
while our country goes down the drain?"

Mr Paisley claimed his party would veto any attempt to introduce
new Irish language legislation and said there had been
significant progress on a " default mechanism" which could allow
ministers to be excluded without collapsing the Executive.

c Belfast Telegraph


New Appeal In Agent Murder Case

Irish police have renewed their appeal for information about the
murder of a former British agent.

Ex-Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, 56, was found shot dead in
a remote cottage near Glenties in County Donegal on 4 April 2006.

He had been expelled from the party in 2005 after admitting he
was a paid British agent.

Garda said that one year on detectives are still "actively
investigating" the murder.

They appealed for anyone with information about "any aspect" of
the case to contact them.

Mr Donaldson had been Sinn Fein's head of administration at
Stormont before his 2002 arrest over alleged spying led to its

He and two others were acquitted of charges in December 2005 "in
the public interest".

One week later he admitted being recruited in the 1980s as a paid
British agent.

He said there had not been a republican spy ring at Stormont.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 15:53:53 GMT


Was Donaldson's Murder A Botched Kidnap Bid?

[Published: Monday 2, April 2007 - 08:53]
By Lesley-Anne Henry

Garda officials last night refused to comment on claims that
senior Sinn Fein member and British spy Denis Donaldson was
murdered after an abduction attempt went wrong.

Gardai are understood to be working on the theory that the former
MI5 and RUC agent was accidentally shot dead during a scuffle
with an IRA gang sent to kidnap him.

However, last night a Garda Siochana spokesman said: "We cannot
comment on individual investigations. All I can say is that the
matter is still under investigation."

Gardai are said to be looking into claims the gunmen, thought to
be from Londonderry, were sent to interrogate Donaldson about his
work for the British - but were warned not to kill him.

It has been suggested that the gang lost control of the situation
and fired four shots, hitting Donaldson in the chest and face and
killing him on April 4 last year.

Two of the shots were thought to be fired from a shotgun situated
near the door frame as Donaldson attempted to barricade himself
into his cottage.

When they entered the abode, the killers appear to have chased
him, then fired two more cartridges, hitting his chest and face
and severing his right hand.

The gang then fled from the scene, leaving two spent cartridges

Donaldson's death sent shock waves through the peace process and
left Sinn Fein reeling. Some members called into question Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams' judgment after he promoted Donaldson to
a senior position within the party.

c Belfast Telegraph


Fresh Searches For 'Disappeared'

Fresh searches will begin soon to try to locate the bodies of the
Disappeared - nine people who were killed and buried in unmarked

A team of experts has been assembled by the independent
commission set up to recover the bodies of those murdered and
secretly buried, mainly by the IRA.

The team, including forensic scientists and archeologists, has
met victims' relatives and IRA members.

They have visited sites were it is believed some of the bodies
are buried.

Earlier this year, the commission, set up in 1999, to locate the
bodies placed ads in newspapers asking for help.

Investigators say the response has provided important new

Geoff Knupfer, who is leading the team, said he believed this was
the best chance of finding the bodies.

"We are collecting information from all over the place,
particularly site records, forestry records etc," he said.

"We are fairly confident that we are going to have a good shot at


Seamus Wright, 25, from west Belfast, abducted in 1972
Kevin McKee, 25, abducted with Seamus Wright
Columba McVeigh, 17, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, abducted in 1975
Robert Nairac, 29, British soldier abducted in south Armagh, 1977
Brendan Megraw, 22, abducted from west Belfast in 1978
Gerard Evans, 24, went missing from Crossmaglen in 1979
Charlie Armstrong, 57, went missing from Crossmaglen in 1981
Danny McIlhone abducted from west Belfast in 1981
Seamus Ruddy, 35, disappeared in Paris in 1985

"We have had enormous support from the commission, from the
governments and from the organisations involved. Really, this is
the best shot that I think we are going to get at this."

Mr Knupfer led the search for the bodies of the victims of the
Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

In 1999, the IRA offered to help locate the bodies of the

Eight of the victims were murdered by the IRA and one by the

Three victims were found in 1999, while one was uncovered in

Attempts to find the others have proved unsuccessful.

Investigators say the expertise they have brought together in
this team means this is the best hope yet of recovering the

Realistically, if they do not succeed, it may also be the last

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/02 13:24:00 GMT


Opin: Paisley's Changing Mood A Sign Of The Times

By Roy Garland

The picture of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting peaceably
together freaked out some Paisley supporters. The Rev Ivan Foster
said it was a day Ulster will live to regret because Mr Paisley
was engaged in all the things he had opposed for 30 years. He had
even abandoned the Biblical position on murderers in government
although Foster took the sting out of this by suggesting Paisley
had only abandoned his political rather than theological stance.

The Rev William McCrea found the prospect of Sinn Fein in
government so obnoxious he felt sick in his stomach. Upper Bann
MP David Simpson saw the development as premature while Jim Wells
was on the verge of resignation after what seemed a bad dream.
Roy Gillespie, a Ballymena DUP councillor, found himself in a
state of shock and mourning. His conscience would not permit him
to remain in the party, while Jim Allister thought the lure of
office had clouded their judgment.

Even Mr Paisley donned a fig leaf by emphasising their justified
loathing of the horrors of the troubles but, as one critic
observed, he had carefully avoided identifying those responsible
for the horrors. Mr Paisley's wife Eileen didn't like it either
but said it was for the betterment of everyone. She added that
her husband was not fully happy either but by adding the word
'fully' Mrs Paisley suggested it was not as sickening for her
husband as it had been for William McCrea.

Echoing UUP spokespersons at the time of the Good Friday
Agreement, Mrs Paisley said people had failed to come up with
alternatives. She said that they had previously been on the brink
of progress but their hopes were dashed. Now things were
different. Mr Paisley had swallowed his pride for the greater
good and would refuse to be put off by difficulties. He did not
do this lightly and had faced a difficult struggle but in the end
had committed the matter to God.

Mrs Paisley said it was impossible to bring back the dead. What
had been done could not be undone and we could not continue
living in the past. Even the victims wanted an end to it. Even so
his decision was probably his most stressful ever. Having taken
the step, her husband would not look back or be easily shaken
from his chosen path. Doubters would just have to wait and see
and indeed they have not had long to wait for Mr Paisley and his
prospective deputy first minister Martin McGuinness have already
jointly asked Peter Hain to vacate his offices at Stormont.

Baroness Paisley even appeared to reject the DUP policy of
treating Sinn Fein people with contempt by refusing to speak with
them. I was once made to feel very uncomfortable while a leading
member of Sinn Fein tried to make a senior DUP politician at ease
while the said politician seemed to look right through him and
refused to even to acknowledge his presence. Shortly after this
however, the said politician confided that he had found the
episode very difficult. He even had to stifle his natural
reaction, which was to engage, because of what is an obnoxious
party policy disrespectful to fellow human beings. Last Monday Mr
Paisley may not have looked directly at Mr Adams but no semblance
of discourtesy was on display.

Mrs Paisley wants something better for her children and
grandchildren just as even 35 years ago certain loyalists told me
they wanted a better world for their children. Mrs Paisley's
better future was notably for everyone including republicans, for
it was, "irrespective of who they are or what they've done in the
past". She wanted a clean break and a fresh start and she was
confident it would be accomplished, by God's grace.

Stories have also emerged suggesting that Mr Paisley has had a
near death experience. While I tend to be sceptical, I accept
that change is always possible in any human life. Facing death
can enable people to see more clearly and to make radical changes
in their lives. Mrs Paisley said Ian had "swallowed his pride" -
a likely consequence of such an experience. From the perspective
gained through the apparent imminent approach of death the world
must look very different. In those circumstances priorities are
likely to be radically revised. It is perhaps too early to fully
assess but it is my hunch that we may all be confounded by Mr
Paisley's encouraging words and actions in coming days.


Opin: Police Baiters Are Lost In Intrigue And Backbiting

By Tom Kelly

Many people will be delighted by the decision of the Policing
Board to offer the chief constable a new contract. Hugh Orde has
been a breath of fresh air in the stale world of policing
traditions and his departure to pastures new would have been much
too early. Since coming to office he has tackled many of the
'elephants' still all too evident in the policing room. Thanks to
Sir Hugh and his team of senior officers the policing debate is
starting to centre on the substantive matter of performance and
public confidence, rather than the bogus side show of 'political'
policing - whatever that is supposed to mean.

It's hard to believe the time, effort and energies that were
employed by some politicians who should have known better and who
knew that full-scale acceptance of the police was not only
inevitable but very much a prerequisite for political progress.

The police baiters are lost in machinations of political intrigue
and backbiting. They ignored the serious issues affecting a
fearful public who faced the immediate impact of rising crime.
The concentration and efforts that are directed at unravelling
the past activities of some Special Branch officers and their
rogue behaviour is misdirected without the context and
possibility of an all-encompassing truth and reconciliation
process. Impossibly, if not implausibly, we cannot hold the
police to account for the past and the present. We will soon have
to choose.

Of course matters are not helped by the threats made by some
former police officers to 'out' informers and their government
paymasters unless they are given immunity from prosecution or by
the Police Federation, which at times seems confused about
whether it is representing the interests of former officers or
serving officers and which appears to think the architecture of
policing reform is an optional extra that should not apply to it.
Ironically the policing issue is sandwiched by some politicians
and some past and serving police officers who are wittingly or
unwittingly colluding in the erosion of public confidence in the
current standards of policing through their fixation with the

It is clear; there are those both inside and outside the policing
family who seem less than happy with Sir Hugh as chief constable.
Thankfully, they don't like his style for all the wrong reasons
such as the fact that he does not run the service as a private
members' club and he wants to concentrate the attentions of the
service on the delivery of good policing, which is representative
of those it seeks to serve. But this is Northern Ireland, and
until last Monday's photo of Messrs Paisley and Adams, who would
have believed that any two people here could agree on anything?

Claims by some that the ranks of the PSNI were and are stocked by
human rights abusers is laughable given the dispensation that
law-abiding people in general but unionists in particular are
expected to accept other former human rights abusers who were
once members of paramilitary organisations. Nevertheless it is
time for everyone to move on and in the words of David Trimble,
just because someone has a past, does not mean they cannot have a
future. If last Monday was about anything it should be about
everyone in Northern Ireland, irrespective of their past, having
a right to a future.

Thankfully, the Assets Recovery Agency albeit in new form is also
to have a future. Just before the election it was declared that
it was being wound up - just as it was establishing itself as a
credible force against the increasingly threatening rise of
organised crime in Northern Ireland.

It looked as if the former RUC/PSNI officer, Alan McQuillan, who
was deputy head of the ARA, was about to be phased out too.
Thankfully, that whiff of Whitehall meddling has not finished off
the career of a man who has been a fearless hunter of
paramilitary gangsterism and organised crime, as he too has been
granted a future as the new 'supremo' against organised
criminality throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. There was a
palpable but thankfully premature sigh of relief among the
remnants of paramilitary gangsters when they thought Alan might
get pensioned off as a form of political appeasement.

In the context of our new dispensation, Alan McQuillan and Hugh
Orde have much unfinished business. While it's not quite Dixon of
Dock Green, the future does seem a little brighter because of the
Blue Lamp.


Opin: Reporting Suicide

Mon, Apr 02, 2007

Few issues are more difficult for journalists to report on than
suicide. Yet it is, sadly, a topic that has to be reported and
reflected on with terrible frequency. A report by John Cullen for
the National Office of Suicide Prevention (NOSP) found, in one
twelve-month period alone, 1,596 items on suicide in the Irish
print media, an average of 133 a month.

Suicide itself is not a new phenomenon, but this level of
coverage certainly is. It is driven in part by the evidence that
suicide rates rose exponentially in Ireland from the 1970s until
the late 1990s and have since remained at a high level,
especially among young men. But the coverage is also driven by a
realisation that the old tendency to cover up suicide, with both
coroners and newspapers under-reporting its incidence, probably
contributed to the problem.

As both Derek Chambers of the NOSP and Tony Bates of the youth
mental health centre, Headstrong, agree in today's Head 2 Head
discussion on the opinion page, striking the right balance
between sensitivity and openness is not easy. It is conspicuous,
indeed, that their approaches to the issue differ more in nuance
than in fundamentals. Both are acutely aware that thoughtless
coverage can have disastrous effects but that silence is not an

Irish Timespolicy on the reporting of suicide attempts to respect
these nuances while facing up to a crucial issue for our society.

We do not identify those who have died, unless a compelling
public interest - such as the death of a well-known person, a
public suicide, a debate over voluntary euthanasia or a mass
suicide - demands otherwise. We try to avoid graphic details that
would sensationalise suicide and information on the methods used
that might encourage copycat incidents. We neither use terms such
as "commit suicide" which are redolent of an era when suicide was
regarded as a crime, nor language which would glamorise what must
always be seen as a negative, destructive act. We do not, for
example, use terms such "a successful (or unsuccessful) suicide
attempt". Suicide never represents success.

Like the rest of Irish society, however, we are acutely aware
that we are all engaged in a continuing attempt to understand,
and therefore to represent accurately, one of the most painful
aspects of contemporary Ireland. We will continue to listen to
those with experience of, and expertise on, the problem, in the
hope of bringing a little closer the day when we do not have to
report on suicide so often.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: Should The Media Report Cases Of Suicide In Detail?

Mon, Apr 02, 2007


YES Tony Bates says we cannot build the mental health
of our society by avoiding the topic of suicide and self-harm.

NO Derek Chambers says there are ways to highlight the problem
without risking imitation or intrusion.

Suicide threatens each of us as much as it distresses us.
Particularly when it takes the life of someone close to us, or of
someone who has been a role model. Their choice to die can feel
like an affront to all that makes life meaningful. Their death
calls into question what helps me to live each day and believe
that my life makes sense.

The media are no less frightened by suicide than the rest of us.
Their wariness of the topic has been reinforced by research
findings that demonstrate how media reporting can and does lead
to copycat suicidal behaviours, especially among young people.

The World Health Organisation and many local organisations have
cautioned the media and provided guidelines to direct them to
report suicide in a sensitive "non-sensational" manner: to bear
in mind the feelings of relatives, to keep it off the front page,
to omit details regarding the means of death and provide
information on how to access help for anyone who may be feeling
similarly inclined. Above all, to avoid reporting on suicide as
something that achieves positive results, eg that it gained
sympathy or praise for someone who died in this way. These
guidelines are already being adopted (as they should be) but we
need to be careful that they aren't used to rationalise avoidance
of this important public health issue.

There are examples of media coverage in the wake of suicide that
did not lead to increased suicidal behaviour. Following the
adoption by the media of guidelines published by the Austrian
Association for Suicide Prevention in 1987, the number of
suicides on the Viennese subway system actually decreased
significantly. A similar example followed the death of the
American singer Kurt Cobain. There was no increase in suicide
following his death by suicide in his home town Seattle. This was
believed to be due to the courage of his partner, Courtney Love,
who spoke very openly in the media about his death in a way that
differentiated between his brilliance as an artist and her anger
at the wastefulness of his death. The Seattle experience was in
sharp contrast to the experience of other countries where
Cobain's death was reported in a more sensational way.

While responsible reporting is a start to acknowledging the
extent of pain that is "out there", we need to move beyond
suicide as a mere news item and ask ourselves what it says about
the culture we are creating: Why is it that some people can feel
so alone, disconnected and trapped that death seems like the only
solution?; Why is it that some young people feel they are
expected to act in this dramatic way to communicate the depth of
their pain and despair? This is a conversation that concerns
everyone and above all should include survivors and young people
who have made it through really tough times.

Media can play a powerful role in opening up our thinking about
the broader issue of mental health. A striking fact about suicide
is that it remains a relatively rare phenomenon. Humans have
amazing fortitude and resilience in the face of adversity. Media
can play a vital role in suicide prevention by modelling in
fictional and real-life dramas the positive coping skills that
people bring to painful dilemmas in their lives. And for those
individuals at high risk for suicidal behaviour, media can be a
powerful tool in stimulating our collective political will to
make available to them the expertise they need, in a way that is
accessible and acceptable to them.

Perhaps the greatest fear of engaging with suicide as a topic is
that by talking about it, we will make it more acceptable and
therefore more likely to happen. This reticence can even permeate
clinical and counselling interviews with vulnerable individuals.
What I experienced over the course of my own clinical career is
that avoidance of the topic never serves the interest of the
client. An exclusive focus on building up a person's sense of
well-being is no antidote to hopelessness. Better to listen to
and validate the client's most intense feelings of despair no
matter how uneasy that may make one feel. Hope is restored when
people feel their experience has been acknowledged and
understood. When they feel connected to another human being who
accepts them, but who can bring their experience into a larger
frame of meaning, which reveals potential solutions they had not

Similarly, I do not believe we can build the mental health of our
society by avoiding the topic of suicide and self-harm. There is
a powerful role for the media to engage us all more deeply in
appreciating how we can build a mentally healthy society, where
there is less stigma about the wide range of emotions we all
experience, and a greater appreciation of how we support one
another in finding a sense of place and purpose in life.

Dr Tony Bates is a clinical psychologist and chief executive of
Headstrong - The National Centre for Youth Mental

Some time back, I spoke to a newspaper journalist following a
widely reported tragedy involving suicide in a young family which
had left the local community devastated. A couple of days later
the same journalist called me up again to discuss the article she
had written and the circumstances of what had happened. She was
obviously upset and in search of her own answers. It reminded me
that we're all in this together, trying to make sense of suicide
in this apparently happy, wealthy country of ours. I didn't have
all the answers; I couldn't tell her what to do or how to report
the events that had unfolded.

Suicide is never easy to explain, whether trying to come to some
understanding of the terrible loss of someone close, or
struggling to analyse the suicide rate of postmodern Ireland.
Suicide has always been here but before we could collectively
turn a blind eye, leaving the bereaved to their lonely, private,
complicated grief.

In the recent past our traditional institutions conspired to
maintain an awful silence around suicide, ensuring that we were
the last country in Europe where suicide remained a crime (up
until 1993). Despite the fact that we have a largely supportive
and compassionate clergy, suicide is still considered a sin in a
strict doctrinal sense. That we can now have honest and open
discussion around suicide is a positive testimony to how much
we've matured in a relatively short space of time. The Irish
media should take some credit for this.

However, there remains, at times, a certain nervousness as to
what might appear in our morning papers when suicide is reported.
There are a number of reasons, such as the occasional inclusion
of an unnecessarily graphic photograph, or the omission of
information on support services. Primarily though, it is because
coverage of suicide in Ireland is usually in response to the
circumstances of an individual death, and each death by suicide
is unique.

After a suicide death, the hurt felt by the bereaved can be
compounded by the reaction of others, the not knowing what to
say, the awkwardness. If the most intimate grief of the bereaved
is played out in the news, those left behind can become
increasingly vulnerable. That is not to say that the media should
leave the issue alone, should turn a blind eye, but when a death
by suicide occurs we all have a responsibility to react in the
most sensitive and caring way we possibly can. This requires us
to give time and to take care.

Another reason for caution and care in reporting on suicide,
beyond the need for sensitivity to those bereaved, is the risk of
so-called copycat suicide. The vast majority of us will not be
influenced in any significant way by the reporting. However,
someone going through a personal crisis could potentially be at
risk, particularly if they identify with the person who has died,
are of the same gender and similar age and could think "that's

Published studies into copycat suicide strongly support the
possibility of over-detailed reporting leading to imitation among
people who are already vulnerable. This is especially so when
coverage is prominent, when the method is described, when the
death is portrayed as romantic or in some way glorified, and when
the causes are simplified.

There are ways to bring this problem into the open without
further intruding on the grief of bereaved families, friends and
communities or risking imitation. We can do this by examining the
social context of suicide, the possible reasons why people might
become so despairing at a time when Ireland has apparently never
had it so good. In turn, we can encourage people to talk about
problems before they escalate, and encourage people to listen to
and look out for others. In short, we can help to tackle the
stigma around mental health and getting help. We all have mental
health, for better or worse.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention is promoting such a
broad-based approach as part of the implementation of Reach Out,
the national strategy for suicide prevention. In doing so, the
suicide prevention office wants to work with the media as an
ally, as an agency for positive change.

At present, coverage of suicide tends to be incidental, in
response to an untimely individual death. Treatment of suicide in
the wider context, as a social and public health problem, is less
common - but perhaps it can be further encouraged in the future.
After all, the doubling of our suicide rate since the 1980s,
during a time of largely positive economic and social change, is
surely worthy of analysis and debate. If we stop to ask questions
about postmodern Ireland and all of its symptoms - the suicide
rate, the car crashes, the economic growth, the collective pride
and the private struggles, we can achieve a greater understanding
of the negative symptoms and begin to address them in a coherent
and clear way.

Derek Chambers is the research & resource officer of the National
Office for Suicide Prevention.

Join the debate @ Last week we asked:
"Was the Treaty of Rome meant to found an economic, and not a
political, union?" Here is an edited selection of some of your

The Treaty of Rome was meant to foster both economic and
political co-operation, including the principle of "ever greater
union". Although, over the years some governments (including the
govt of Margaret Thatcher in the UK between 1988 and 1990) have
sought to weaken the EU to purely economic objectives, it retains
political structures such as the European Parliament. However, I
personally would not favour the introduction of a fully fledged
"United States of Europe" and would contend that issues such as a
European Constitution should require unanimity in order to be
passed and not just a dual majority of voters and member states.
- Conor, Ireland

All the major advances of the EU have been economical in nature.
The free movement of people, goods and services, the introduction
of the Euro etc. Although there are questions of the power of the
EU over nation states, in reality these powers have more to do
with economic factors. The question could be asked is the EU
living up to promises in the Lisbon treaty of social reform and
responsibility? - Stephen O'Dowd Ireland

All economic decisions by governments are political by nature.
Whether the policy involves domestic or foreign policy matters
there is ultimately politics involved. The originators of The
Treaty of Rome could not speak definitively about a poltical
union 50 years ago because the raw wound of nationalism was still
dominant in Europe. With time nations have come to see that a
joint political structure does not undermine their sense of being
a separate political unit . . .

What will exist 50 years from now is unseen to us; yet we cannot
say there can be no further integration. Reality has a way of
changing dogma. After the American Revolution each of the 13
former colonies viewed themselves as a separate society - not as
a local element of a nation . . . The signers of the treaty had
expectations of where the document would lead Europe. It is
doubtful they intended it to stop at sorting out commercial
arrangements among a few nations. - Dan, Ireland

Wasn't it originally called the EEC or European Economic
Community? It has never been a secret that the union was
established to push forward the economies of its member states. I
think a great deal has been achieved both politically and
economically, but I don't think we should kid ourselves as to
what motivates not just the politicians, but the majority of us
as well. - Siobhan Ireland

The writings of early administrators and leaders of the proto-EU
make it very clear that the purpose of the process was to engage
the EU powers in continuous and detailed negotiation over
economic matters in order to make it impossible for the political
discord of the previous era to reoccur. So, economic integration
was fostered in order to promote political integration. Judging
by the vote, it seems people understand both the history and
continuing purpose, which is just as well, for the question asked
can really only be considered a test of people's understanding of
this reality. The alternate view is simply incorrect,
irrespective of how the voter feels about it, or thinks the EU
should have developed or should develop in the future. - Stephen,

c 2007 The Irish Times


Exiled: Joyce Online But Only In US

Sean O'Driscoll In New York
Tue, Apr 03, 2007

Irish literary buffs have been blocked from viewing dozens of
previously unpublished excerpts from James Joyce's notebook
writings and family correspondence, which went online at the
weekend, the Joyce estate has confirmed.

The estate insisted that all non-US computers be blocked from
accessing the material online, following a settlement of a bitter
legal dispute between the Joyce estate and a Californian English

Lawyers working for Joyce's grandson Stephen and his family have
also blocked the use of the material in the international edition
of an updated biography on Joyce's daughter, Lucia.

The estate wrote the clause into the settlement agreement as a
way of protecting its claims under international copyright law.

The material, which was accessible to US internet users this
weekend, included excerpts from Joyce's notes on Finnegans Wake,
a manuscript written by Lucia and correspondence between Joyce
and his family.

Carol Loeb Shloss, a professor at Stanford University in
California, described the battle to win the material as a "living
hell" and said she was glad that she could finally share it with
the American public.

Prof Shloss said the material included "pages and pages" of
analysis written by Joyce as he prepared Finnegans Wake, adding
that readers would be able to see the special symbol he used to
represent his troubled daughter, Lucia.

Prof Shloss spent 16 years requesting material from the Joyce
estate for use in her book, Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, a
2003 work which explored the alleged creative exchange between
Joyce and Lucia, who was a dancer in Paris before her life became
consumed by mental illness.

Stanford University's case against the Joyce estate was settled
at a federal district court in California two weeks ago and
allowed Prof Shloss to publish the requested material online at as a supplement to her book.

Her lawyer, Robert Spoo, said the case highlighted the
restrictive nature of copyright laws in Ireland, Britain and
other countries where the material cannot be published.
"Undoubtedly the 'fair use' exception to US copyright law is a
lot more expansive and generous than it is in Europe and I think
this case shows the need for change," he said.

Mr Spoo noted that women once had to smuggle banned copies of
Ulysses in their underwear to get it into the US and said he
hoped their descendants would not have to resort to the same
measures to get Prof Shloss's book from the US into Europe.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Ahern Stresses Important Role Of Irish Emigrants

Deagl n de Br‚ad£n, Political Correspondent
Tue, Apr 03, 2007

Irish emigrants and their descendants continued to play a "very
important role" in the world on Ireland's behalf, according to
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern.

Mr Ahern was announcing yesterday the programme for a one-day
conference called Ireland's Attitude to the Diaspora, to be held
in Dublin Castle tomorrow.

The conference is intended to launch a national debate. Speakers
include the newly appointed chairman of the Friends of Ireland in
the US Congress, Richard Neal, who is currently leading a nine-
member congressional delegation on a visit to Ireland.

Mr Ahern will deliver the opening address; other speakers include
former chairman of the Task Force on Policy regarding Emigrants,
Paddy O'Hanlon; GAA president Nicky Brennan; Prof Terri Scott;
former Belfast lord mayor Dr Ian Adamson; and journalist and
author Tim Pat Coogan.

"I believe the time is right for a major review of how Ireland
relates with its diaspora," Mr Ahern said yesterday. "We need to
focus on building a new strategy for the years ahead."

The Minister added: "While we may be separated by water and
thousand of miles from our kinsmen and women, they still continue
to play a very important role for Ireland on the world stage and
can have a very positive and beneficial impact on everyone living
on this island."

c 2007 The Irish Times


Clinton Raises Record $26m In Three Months

Monday, 2 April 2007 09:30

Senator Hillary Clinton has raised a record $26m in the first
three months of her campaign to win the Democratic nomination for
next year's US presidential race.

It is three times more than the previous record for this stage of
the race.

The figures released last night by the Hillary Clinton campaign
set a new record for political fundraising in the US.

While, officially, returns do not have to be
reported to the Federal Election Commission for another two
weeks, the decision by the Clinton campaign to publish its
figures now is an indication of how far ahead the former First
Lady is compared to her rivals.

Senator Barack Obama's campaign did not disclose its figures,
while former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign
revealed it had raised $14m dollars.

No Republican candidates announced their figures.

Senator Clinton's $26m does not include $10m left over from her
successful Senate race last November.

Her campaign has also formed an Irish-Americans for Hillary
Group, which will target an estimated 40,000 Americans living in

It will also raise funds through a series of events, including an
exclusive party at Irish actor Gabriel Byrne's house in New York
at the end of this month.


The Lieutenant Of Inishmore, Doubt Highlight Alley Season

By Everett Evans
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

John Patrick Shanley's Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama
Doubt and Martin McDonagh's Tony-nominated black comedy The
Lieutenant of Inishmore will make their Houston debuts as part of
the Alley Theatre's 2007-08 season.

Apart from area premieres of those two notables, the Alley lineup
looks surprisingly short of substance and freshness. The much-
touted world-premiere musical, The Gershwins' An American in
Paris, comes with a built-in sense of d‚j… vu. It's yet another
"new" musical recycling old (however great) songs. And book
writer Ken Ludwig (in his fourth Alley project in as many
seasons) will be following the same formula he used in his 1992
Broadway hit Crazy for You, which also gathered its score from
the Gershwin songbook.

While no one's going to argue with the inclusion of Shakespeare's
Othello, questionable choices include the moth-eaten warhorse
Arsenic and Old Lace, the flimsy solo play Underneath the Lintel
(both produced here recently) and the off-Broadway rock show
Love, Janis, arguably better suited to a commercial pop music
venue than the city's premiere dramatic playhouse.

The schedule.

Doubt, Sept. 5-23. Set in a Catholic school in Brooklyn, N.Y., in
1964, the play centers on a nun who suspects a priest of
molesting a boy in his class. As the priest denies any
wrongdoing, the nun struggles to decide what action to take.

An off-Broadway hit that transferred to Broadway, Doubt won the
2005 Tony as best play and the Pulitzer for drama, and ran 525
performances. Shanley's other plays include Danny and the Deep
Blue Sea, Pyschopathia Sexualis, Dirty Story and Defiance. He won
an Oscar for his screenplay for Moonstruck.

Arsenic and Old Lace, Oct. 10-Nov. 4. Joseph Kesselring's
chestnut depicts two sweet maiden aunts who (as their distraught
nephew discovers) have taken to poisoning lonely old men. The
1941 Broadway hit ran for 1,444 performances, spawned Frank
Capra's film version and has been a staple of community theaters
ever since. Such cozy, creaky fare makes a surprisingly
unambitious choice to occupy one of just five Hubbard (Large)
Stage slots in the Alley's season - especially since the Alley
staged it in 2001 in its "Summer Chills" series (where such
popcorn fare is a shade more justifiable.)

Love, Janis, Jan. 16-Feb. 10, 2008. "Essentially a rock concert
with dialogue" was one critic's description of the 2001 off-
Broadway show about the Port Arthur-born rock singer who died of
a drug overdose at age 27 in 1970. The show presents two Joplins:
a singer performs her songs, interspersed with an actress'
reading of her letters.

Commercial producers are doing more than enough to crowd theaters
with these thinly-disguised pop/rock oldies concerts. Should a
non-profit dramatic playhouse like the Alley be jumping on that
bandwagon when there are so many great plays that haven't been
produced here?

The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Jan. 30-Feb. 24. McDonagh constructs
the goriest of comedies around Mad Padraic, who leads a radical
Irish Republican Army splinter group and loves nothing in the
world so much as his cat Wee Thomas. When Wee Thomas is
assassinated, the crime sets off a grisly chain of reprisals and

Winner of London's Olivier Award, Lieutenant made its New York
debut with a sold-out run off-Broadway, then transferred to
Broadway, where it was a 2006 Tony nominee as best play. McDonagh
won a 2006 Oscar for his short film Six Shooter. The Alley also
has staged McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane in 1999 and The
Pillowman in 2005.

Othello, March 12-30. One of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies
centers on the titular "Moor of Venice," a heroic warrior misled
by the villainous Iago into believing that his wife, Desdemona,
has been unfaithful. The last major staging here was at the
Houston Shakespeare Festival in 2005.

Underneath the Lintel, March 26-April 20. Greg Berger's solo play
takes the form of an 80-minute lecture by the "Librarian,"
recounting his efforts to discover who turned in a library book
113 years overdue. It's a "shaggy dog story" disguised as a play.
As Main Street Theater gave the slight piece's local premiere in
2004, one wonders what it's doing on the Alley season.

The Gershwins' An American in Paris, opening in April 2008, dates
to be announced.

Disclaimer: This is not a stage version of the Oscar-winning 1951
MGM movie musical, which used an original script by Alan Jay
Lerner to frame a slew of Gershwin standards. Ludwig will write
an original script about behind-the-scenes turmoil during the
making of a fictitious movie musical, framing a different lineup
of Gershwin standards. Alley artistic director Gregory Boyd will

Ludwig is best-known for his Broadway comedies Lend Me a Tenor
and Moon Over Buffalo and his Tony-nominated book for Crazy for
You. The Alley premiered his Leading Ladies (2004) and Be My Baby
(2005), forgettable frolics made palatable by personable casts.
The Alley next produces his new adaptation of Treasure Island,
opening in May.

An American in Paris becomes the third stage musical of recent
years to feature a score compiled from the Gershwin songbook,
after the Broadway hits My One and Only (1983) and Crazy for You

If the goal is a world-premiere musical, one wonders why the
Alley couldn't commission one of the theater's best young
composers (Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa or Jeannine
Tesori) to write a truly new one, with new music.

All these productions will play on the Alley's Hubbard Stage,
with the exception of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Underneath
the Lintel, both on the Neuhaus Stage. One more Neuhaus
production, for fall 2007, is TBA.

The Alley also will reprise its annual A Christmas Carol, Nov.
24-Dec. 29 on the Hubbard Stage, as a non-subscription offering.

Season subscription information is available at 713-220-5700 or
online at

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