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April 15, 2007

McGuiness Demands UVP & PUP Statements on Threats

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 04/15/07 McGuinness Demands Statement From UVF&PUP re: Threats
SL 04/15/07 MI5: Getting Away With Murder
SL 04/15/07 UN Urged To Probe O'Hagan Murder Inquiry
SL 04/15/07 Special Branch Files: MP Could Have Been Saved
IT 04/16/07 Sinn Féin Is 'Ready To Share Power In South'
EX 04/16/07 FF Support Slips Below ‘Critical’ 39% Level
DT 04/13/07 O'Loan To Report On Death Of Paul Whitters
RT 04/15/07 Man Arrested Over Co Clare Car Bomb Find
IT 04/16/07 Families Win Backing For Irish 'Illegals' In US
GU 04/16/07 Boost For Maze Sports Stadium Plan
SL 04/16/07 Opin: Straight Talking: March Of Progress
BT 04/16/07 Opin: Risk Of A Policy Of Lowest Common Denominator
ZW 04/15/07 Obit: Blanche A. (Butala) Young
SL 04/15/07 Roma Downey: California Dream
IT 04/16/07 Sonia Enjoys Moment In Sun With Thousands In Her Wake


McGuinness Demands Statement From UVF And PUP Over Threats

Published: 15 April, 2007

Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness has called on the
PUP and the UVF to make statements clarifying whether or not
people are under threat from them. Mr McGuinness' call comes
after a weekend when people in Derry City, South Derry and North
Antrim have been visited by the PSNI and told that their details
were on a list connected to the UVF.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Since Friday evening when the PSNI began visiting the homes of
republicans and nationalists in Derry City, South Derry and North
Antrim and throughout the weekend I have been approached by
people fearful of their personal safety. I have to say that many
of these people have no connection whatever to Sinn Fein.

"It is completely unacceptable that people's personal details
have turned up in UVF hands and that numerous people are now
frightened and disturbed by these revelations.

"Given the fact that the UVF is the unionist paramilitary gang
linked to these threats then it is now over to that organisation
and the PUP to make urgent statements explaining this turn of
events and making it clear what threats exist or don't exist."


Getting Away With Murder

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 08:58]
By Greg Harkin

It was reported last week that MI5 officers and Ministry of
Defence officials had started destroying documents relating to
past crimes in Northern Ireland - particularly cases where
collusion had been alleged.

This is assuming they have any files left to destroy. In June
2003, I reported how thousands of documents on some of the most
controversial killings of the Troubles had already been destroyed
- even before former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord
Stevens had asked for them.

Documents can provide a paper trail, leading to embarrassing
secrets being uncovered.

Many files relating to the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane

One case that does not require documents of any sort because it
is so clear is that of agent and self-confessed killer Martin

McGartland was recruited as an informer by RUC Special Branch in
the late 1980s before claiming that he made a dramatic escape
from the IRA's so-called 'nutting squad'.

On June 19, 1991, soldier Tony Carlos Harrison was shot dead by
two IRA men who burst into his girlfriend's home at Nevis Avenue
in east Belfast. McGartland drove the gunmen to and from the
murder scene. Harrison had been on leave to discuss his future
wedding plans with his fianc‚e. His murder was witnessed by her,
her mother and a terrified 10-year-old girl.

McGartland continued to work for Special Branch after the murder
in spite of his role being in clear breach of guidelines - not to
say, obviously, the law.

In 1997, in a letter to a London newspaper, McGartland admitted
his role in the killing, but said he did not have time to tell
his handlers.

"I deeply regret what happened, but I accept responsibility for
my role in the events of that day," he said.

He claimed he had spent a month trying to help the security
forces to identify who a target in that area of east Belfast
could be.

"We were outraged that McGartland was asking for money and
desperately hoped his claim (for compensation) would fail," said
Harrison's father, Steve Seaman, a retired school caretaker from
Bow, east London.

"It was sickening that some MPs could support a man who was an
accomplice to our son's murderers.

"Tony would be married now with children. But he is dead and that
will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

"He had been a soldier for six years and we knew that there was a
risk he might die in action.

"But to be shot in the back while watching television with his
girlfriend is so worthless, so cowardly.

"He had talked to his mother only an hour or so before, asking
how to cook pasta. And then he died, just like that."

McGartland claims he gave his RUC contacts the names of the two
IRA men involved.

The case caused a furore inside the office of the Police
Ombudsman in August 2002. Investigators decided - incredibly -
not to investigate the murder of Pte Harrison.

They also decided not to question McGartland about the murder -
in spite of the family's anger and frustration.

However, not everyone inside the Belfast office agreed with the

A former investigator told Sunday Life: "I personally wanted
McGartland held responsible for murder, but that idea was
overruled, and, to this day, I don't know why.

"It was an open and shut case - man is murdered, man admits
murder. I thought it was as simple as that, but it wasn't.

"Informers and touts have participation status, allowed to commit
a crime to prevent a greater one - but the greatest crime was
committed in this case. Yet nothing happened.

"It was like deciding not to look at 'Stakeknife' when we had the
chance more than five years ago. We should have investigated."

Nuala O'Loan and her investigators have - belatedly - started to
look at the role of agents in the Troubles.

Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci is just one of them.

Three others who have never been identified and are still working
within the republican movement are also being looked at.

Some agents who believed they had made it to the end of the
Troubles without getting caught out will be very worried indeed.

The irony is that it is now republican policy to tell the police
everything . . .

c Belfast Telegraph


UN Urged To Probe O'Hagan Murder Inquiry

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 08:50]
By Ciaran McGuigan

Government over the failure to charge anyone for the murder of
journalist Martin O'Hagan.

Human rights campaigners last month presented a file on the
murder - believed to have been carried out by an LVF gang which
included police informants - to the UN's Special Rapporteur for
the protection of the right to freedom of expression, Adam

And they have urged him to quiz British officials on the failures
of the police investigation into the murder of the investigative
reporter in September 2001.

British Irish Rights Watch compiled the report on the
circumstances surrounding the murder following Mr O'Hagan's
inquest last year.

It's understood the report includes information relating to the
murder that was only brought to light following the inquest,
described by BIRW director Jane Winter as a "sham".

After the coroner's court hearing failed to shed any more light
on the case, people with fresh information on the murder
approached the London-based human rights group.

It's understood the same people have also agreed to co-operate
with an ongoing Police Ombudsman probe into the original

BIRW director Ms Winter hopes the UN Special Rapporteur - who,
along with his predecessor, has shown a personal interest in the
case -will ask the Government to explain why no-one has been
brought to book over the murder.

"If questions are being asked by the UN then people will sit up
and take notice.

"What we have tried to do is give is give a picture of all the
circumstances (surrounding the murder) so there can be a

proper investigation," she said.

Mr O'Hagan (inset) was gunned down as he returned home from a
night out with his wife Marie in September 2001. A number of
people have been arrested and questioned in relation to the
murder, but none were charged.

c Belfast Telegraph


Special Branch Files: MP Could Have Been Saved

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 09:02]

In the third part of our explosive series The Special Branch
Files, journalist Greg Harkin reveals how a botched undercover
operation led to the murder of the Rev Robert Bradford

Shortly before 11.30am on Saturday, November 14, 1981, three
armed IRA members carrying ladders and dressed in painters'
boilersuits arrived at the community centre at Benmore Drive in

At first their arrival did not arouse suspicion; there was
ongoing work at the centre.

One of the gang members, carrying a sub-machine-gun, took up
position at the front door.

One of his accomplices shouted "freeze" before opening fire on
the caretaker, 29-year-old Kenneth Campbell, who was returning to
the centre after a break at his nearby home.

While one of the IRA men pinned an RUC bodyguard to the ground at
gunpoint, another gunman quickly turned to the Reverend Robert
Bradford, Ulster Unionist MP for South Belfast.

He opened fire, shooting him in the eye, chest, neck and ear.

The 40-year-old father-of-one died instantly.

As the IRA's active service unit (ASU) fled, the RUC officer
fired three shots after their getaway car.

It was another horrific day in a blood-spattered year in which
117 people lost their lives in the Troubles - 1981, the year of
the hunger strikes.

Today, however, 26 years later, Sunday Life can reveal that
neither Rev Bradford nor Mr Campbell should have died in the IRA
attack - RUC Special Branch and Army Intelligence had prior
knowledge of the incident an incredible THREE DAYS beforehand.

They told neither the Rev Bradford, nor his police protection

Three years ago, a former officer with the shadowy Army
intelligence-gathering outfit the Force Research Unit (FRU)
contacted me with information on several murders which took place
during the Troubles.

He knew of - but did not know - 'Martin Ingram', another former
FRU officer.

He hinted at a cover-up in the murder of the Ulster Unionist MP
in 1981.

Now, for the first time, he has decided to tell the whole story.

I have since been able to verify these claims with two other
sources not known to each other.

"The Rev Bradford was a sitting duck. The IRA had checked out the
(community) centre before as a possible venue for a hit," said
the source.

"He had certainly been warned that he had to be extra careful
when he was there, but the information before the shooting was
100pc certain that an attack would take place that Saturday,
November 14.

"This was not a general warning. We had someone in the IRA giving
us information on the planned attack.

"I know for a fact that Special Branch also had someone inside
giving them the same information."

The ex-officer claims he had spent that weekend expecting to hear
about the arrests or shootings of IRA members.

"I couldn't believe it when the MP was taken out along with
another civilian," he recalled.

"I made a point of finding out what went wrong. Our lot had put a
great deal into this intelligence operation and I know Special
Branch did, too.

"All the information was passed up (the chain of command), but
nothing happened. I know that teams were prepared by the RUC to
intercept the IRA team, but they were still on their way (to
Finaghy) when the murders took place. They were too late. It was

"But they shouldn't have been too late. They (the RUC) knew for
three f*****g days what was going to happen, but there was no
operation put in place around the IRA team as they set off from
Andersonstown, there was no operation put in place around Mr
Bradford or his home on the Malone Road, and the operation for
the community centre was still leaving the station when the
murders took place.

"It defies belief that this could have happened, but it did. Army
Intelligence would have had people on the ground the night
before, for God's sake."

But how could such a monumental mistake take place?

Branch sources say officers at the time were also furious that
the Rev Bradford had not been saved, but put the incident down to
poor planning and incompetence rather than any more sinister

The former soldier however said he believed that now was the time
for information on the murder to be investigated - believing
there could have been other reasons.

"I believe the hit went ahead to save agents' lives," he claimed.

He admitted that he had "no evidence whatsoever" to substantiate
this claim, but insisted: "I find it hard to believe any other

"This is not just about Mr Bradford, either. There was also Mr
Campbell who died and at least three Catholics were killed by
loyalists in retaliation in the days after the killing."

Just hours after the Bradford murder, Stephen Murphy (19) was
shot by a UVF gunman as he answered his door in the Oldpark area
of north Belfast. He died from his injuries 10 days later.

Thomas McNulty (18) was murdered by the UVF as he walked home in
the Short Strand area of east Belfast the day after the Bradford

Two days later, Billy Wright, then UVF leader in Mid-Ulster, shot
dead 20-year-old Catholic Peader Fegan in Lurgan.

When the MP and Mr Campbell were shot, children at a kids' disco
witnessed the horrific murders.

A 15-year-old DJ described how he threw a chair at one of the
killers while shouting at other children to dive for cover.

"The gunmen pushed the children out of the way as they made their
way out of the building," he added.

An 11-year-old told reporters afterwards: "They shot the Rev
Bradford about six times. We were quite close by. The shots were
very loud."

The murders were widely condemned.

TDs in Dail Eireann stood for a minute's silence, but in Northern
Ireland there were fears of an all-out civil war.

The SDLP leader, John Hume, said the murder was a deliberate
attempt by the IRA to provoke the community into civil conflict.

Unionists reacted with anger. UUP leader James Molyneaux
threatened a 'Third Force' if the Secretary of State, Jim Prior,
did not announce a 'crackdown' on the paramilitaries.

At the Rev Bradford's funeral, Mr Prior was jostled by dozens of
mourners. He recalled afterwards: "I had to make a run for the
church door with my detectives shielding me. I just about managed
to get through in one piece. "


He was later heckled inside the church and as he left afterwards
he was jostled again by crowds shouting: "Kill him! Kill him!"

Earlier, mourners cheered and applauded when the minister
conducting the funeral service called for the reintroduction of
capital punishment.

The IRA admitted responsibility for the murders just hours after
the killings.

The Provisionals' statement read: "Belfast Brigade IRA claims
responsibility for the execution of Robert Bradford MP, one of
the key people responsible for winding up the loyalist
paramilitary sectarian machine in the North.

"Let Mr Tyrie (UDA leader) and the UDA know well the cost of
killing innocent nationalist people."

The Rev Bradford had become a Methodist minister when he was 22,
turning his back on a career as a professional footballer with
Sheffield Wednesday.

He joined the UUP when he served as a minister in the loyalist
enclave of Suffolk in west Belfast and was elected MP for south
Belfast in 1974.

He became an outspoken critic of the IRA and had demanded the
reintroduction of hanging for terrorist killers.

The Rev Bradford's widow, Norah, was 33 at the time of the
killing. They had one daughter, Claire.

Speaking after the murder, she told reporters: "They have tried
several times at the advice centre. They came at least two times
before and they were caught out watching the advice centre, but
he would not give it up just for them.

"He knew it would be the most likely place for them to get him.

"He never feared he would be attacked. He felt it was a
possibility. He did not fear it."

It is clear from other interviews at the time that the Rev
Bradford knew he was a target for the Provisionals.

He also knew the centre in Finaghy where he attended clinics at
least once a month was a place where an attack could take place.

What makes the claims from a former Army officer more serious is
the fact that the security forces knew an attempted murder was
going to take place on the morning of November 14, 1981 and
appeared to do very little to prevent it.

They know who was in the gang, who was providing support and
various other details.

What is clear is that the gang would not stop at these murders.
The gun used to kill the Rev Bradford was also used to shoot
Judge William Doyle and Mary Travers several years later.

"Northern Ireland has to move on, but I don't think that is
possible until we have dealt with the past," said the ex-FRU

"I believe there has to be a lawyer-free truth and reconciliation
tribunal where everyone makes statements about the past.

"Police officers, for example, are allowed under the law to waive
the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act when they talk to
the Police Ombudsman. "A tribunal could offer an amnesty to all
participants - security forces and paramilitaries - and a way
forward that doesn't involved expensive investigation and legal

Today's revelations will certainly lead to calls for inquiries.

Mrs Bradford said of her husband's killers at the time: "The Lord
will deal with them in his own good time. It is not for me to
speak of that."

c Belfast Telegraph


Sinn Fein Is 'Ready To Share Power In South'

Miriam Donohoe, Political Staff
Mon, Apr 16, 2007

Sinn Fein has said it is ready to be part of a coalition
government after the forthcoming general election.

At an ardchomhairle meeting in Dublin at the weekend the party
agreed the key priorities for its election manifesto, and said it
will set out its plans to build "Irish unity".

It announced that 42 candidates will stand in 41 constituencies.
A quarter of the candidates are women. Pat Doherty, the Sinn Fein
MP for West Tyrone who is head of the party's election
department, said on Saturday that their priority in government
would be to end the crisis in the health service, build social
and affordable housing, advance the peace process and build a
strong, all-Ireland economy that delivers for all.

The party is promising to put a strong republican platform before
the electorate and said it expected to substantially increase its
representation in constituencies right across the country.

Sinn Fein increased its representation in the D il from one seat
to five seats in the 2002 general election.

Mr Doherty said the forthcoming election was "huge" for the

"In the North our five government ministers are already working
with the DUP and the other parties for the return to government
on May 8th, and we are just as ready for government in the
south," Mr Doherty said.

c 2007 The Irish Times


FF Support Slips Below 'Critical' 39% Level

By Harry McGee, Political Editor
16 April 2007

FIANNA Fail's support has fallen 5.5% since 2002 across the seven
constituencies where regional opinion polls have been conducted
in the past two months.

The fall in heartland and rural constituencies is to below the
critical 39% many commentators say will be the minimum it needs
to retain power.

The polls, carried out by Red C for Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH)
regional newspaper titles, also show Fine Gael's support has
risen 6.7% - though this was to be expected following its
disastrous election in 2002.

The polls have been carried out in Louth, Wexford, Mayo, Carlow-
Kilkenny, Kildare South, Sligo-North Leitrim, and Waterford since
February and show Fianna Fail support at 38.1% across the
constituencies. This compares to an average in 2002 of 43%.

In contrast, Fine Gael's support has risen in every constituency
with the exception of Kildare South, where it has slipped one
point since 2002. However, there are specific circumstances which
take some of the gloss of the 7% swing in support towards the

In Wexford, Fine Gael health spokesman Liam Twomey stood as an
independent in 2002 so a 5% rise in its support there is not
remarkable. Likewise, the party's stronger showing in Sligo-North
Leitrim may be partly explained by the fact South Leitrim (where
there was a strong FF vote) has migrated to Roscommon.

Elsewhere, the second alternative government party, Labour, will
welcome a 2% increase in support. However, a large part of that
is due to veteran TD Jack Wall's strong showing in Kildare.

As expected, the Greens have make significant advances. In the
four constituencies where it has declared candidates, its support
is up from 4.75% in 2002 to 8% now, with Mary White in Carlow-
Kilkenny moving from 8% to 12%.

Sinn Fein's rise has been more moderate in these constituencies,
from 7.5% in 2002 to 8% now. However, the one significant mover
in that mix is its Sligo-North Leitrim candidate Sean McManus,
who has moved from 10% to 14%. He has benefited from the absence
of Marian Harkin.

The one group whose support levels seem to have tumbled are the
independents. They averaged 9% across all constituencies in 2002
when three TDs (Jerry Cowley, Marian Harkin and Liam Twomey) were
returned. Now, however, Mayo is the only one of the seven
constituencies that may return an independent (and that could be
Beverly Flynn rather than Mr Cowley).

The Progress Democrats average 2% in the two constituencies where
they had declared candidates, Wexford and Carlow Kilkenny. The
poll in Kildare South was conducted before Jane Mullins was
declared as a candidate.

Support levels

Fianna Fail:
2002: 43.6%
2007: 38.1%
Change: -5.5%

Fine Gael:
2002: 24.6%
2007: 31.3%
Change: +6.7%

2002: 10%
2007: 12%
Change: +2%

Sinn Fein:
2002: 7.5%
2007: 8%
Change: +0.5%

2002: 4.75%
2007: 8%
Change: +3.25%


O'Loan To Report On Death Of Paul Whitters

The Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is due in Derry early next week
to release details of an investigation into the circumstances
surrounding the death of a local teenager who died after being
hit by a plastic bullet in 1981.

15 year-old Paul Whitters was struck in the back of the head by a
plastic bullet fired by the RUC during disturbances in Great
James Street on 15th April 1981. He died in hospital ten days

A source close to the Ombudsman's investigation said it centred
on how the police had investigated the killing.

"This has been a detailed and at times a difficult enquiry and
Nuala O'Loan has taken a personal interest in it," the source

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre - who worked with the
Whitters family during their campaign - welcomed the announcement
of the report's publication and said that he hoped that it would
bring some "peace of mind" to the Whitters family.

"It's been a long and hard three years for the family. This
investigation was the first time that individuals who witnessed
the shooting had proper statements taken. We welcome this
investigation by the Ombudsman and we are hopeful that this will
bring the case to some kind of conclusion.

"The report will not change the fact that Paul was killed.
However we believe that this may provide some kind of peace of
mind to the Whitters family. The Whitters family have not
commented on the matter as yet but will be making a full
statement early next week," he said.

Paul Whitters was among a group of teenagers who had been
throwing stones at an RUC patrol at the time of the shooting.
Shortly after the stoning, which was described as being of a
minor nature, the RUC left the street and took up positions
inside a bakery.

Eyewitnesses to the shooting said that when the fatal shot was
fired the stoning had stopped. The teenager was looking through a
gate at the side of the bakery when it opened and an RUC officer
fired at him from close range. Eyewitnesses also said that after
the shooting the 15 year-old was dragged along the ground by the

At the inquest into the death held in December 1982, the RUC
inspector who carried out the investigation admitted during
questioning he did not make any door-to-door inquiries in the
street. In a statement read out at the inquest, the RUC officer
who fired the fatal shot claimed that he was 20 to 25 yards from
the teenager but this was disputed by eyewitnesses, who said that
he may have been as close as five yards from the boy.

The coroner, addressing the jury, said there was great conflict
in the evidence and that it was hard to reconcile the different
accounts of what happened.

Next week also marks the 25th anniversary of the death of 11
year-old Stephen McConomy from Dove Gardens, who was hit by a
plastic bullet fired by a member of the British Army's Royal
Anglian Regiment. He later died in hospital.

13 April 2007


Man Arrested Over Co Clare Car Bomb Find

Sunday, 15 April 2007 22:35

A man in his thirties has been arrested in connection to an
explosive device that was found underneath a car in Co Clare.

He is being held in Tallaght Garda Station in Dublin.

A bomb planted underneath the car in Co Clare was defused by army
experts this afternoon.

The bomb disposal team were called to a house in
Doonbeg this afternoon. They took an hour and a half to make the
device safe.

The device was underneath the car of a man who had recently moved
to the area from Dublin.

He received a telephone warning that there was a bomb underneath
this car and contacted Garda¡ when he saw a suspicious device.

The Army bomb disposal team arrived at the scene at 1pm and
sealed off the area.

They said it was a viable device containing 150 grammes of


Euro 600,000 for Irish emigrant groups in America

15/04/2007 - 11:37:08

The Minister for Foreign Affairs is to give Euro 600,000 in funding
to Irish community groups working in the United States and

Dermot Ahern said the grants will help to strengthen links with
Irish people living abroad.

The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres is to receive more
than ?75,000 for its information service in the States.

?300,000 in funding is to go the Ireland Park Foundation in
Toronto in funding, while the Emigrant Advice service - which
provides support for vulnerable people considering emigration -
is receiving a grant of ?150,000.


Families Win Backing For Irish 'Illegals' In US

Carl O'Brien
Mon, Apr 16, 2007

More than 1,500 families and friends of undocumented Irish
workers in the US met in Dublin at the weekend to voice their
support for a campaign to allow illegal immigrants to remain in
the US and work legally.

Politicians, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern,
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Sinn Fein's deputy leader Martin
McGuinness, told the meeting they will continue to lobby US

The meeting, held by the US-based Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform, estimates there may be 50,000 Irish people living
illegally in the US.

The group, which now has 34,000 members in the US, said the
prospects were growing for a new bill which would allow
undocumented immigrants a path to legal residency.

The US Senate passed a similar bill last year but it faced
significant opposition in the House of Representatives when
Republicans controlled Congress.

The new Democratic majority has given hope to immigration reform
campaigners. President Bush has promised to work with Congress to
introduce comprehensive reform.

Many families at the meeting said its scale showed the depth of
support in Ireland for emigrants living illegally in the US.
Sheila Murphy, whose two children are undocumented and have been
living in Boston for the past 15 years, said it was the first
time she had felt Irish people cared about their plight.

"It's been so tough the past few years because it was almost as
if Ireland had turned its back on our own.

"I hated telling people that my son and daughter were in America
because of some people's attitude. Today has been magnificent. I
feel much less alone," she said.

The hall was dominated by a picture of two American children,
Lily and Daniel, whose parents are unable to bring them back to

The children's aunt was in the audience and said it was
heartbreaking to see the pictures of the two children. "They're
so close, and yet so far," she said.

Dave Meade, the Dublin-based father of an undocumented daughter,
said he was frustrated with critics who believed the undocumented
Irish should just return home.

"They don't understand what our children are going through.
America is their home now, so how can they just pack up and
leave?" he said. "My daughter would happily pay fines to try and
change her status. She's already paying taxes. All she wants is a
way to come out of the shadows and live a normal life."

c 2007 The Irish Times


Opin: Straight Talking: March Of Progress

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 08:30]
By Lynda Gilby

I'm trying to keep up to speed, but I'm a bit breathless.

So, it would seem, is hardliner Breandan MacCionnaith, spokesman
of the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition who resigned from Sinn
Fein last week.

Speculation has it that Mr MacCionnaith may be a tad disgruntled
at hints of compromise on the issue of Drumcree.

It seems that Paisley and Adams began talking turkey weeks ago
and a solution to Drumcree may be halfway to a done deal already.
That's about as cheering as it gets, don't you think?

So, while our formerly intransigent politicos get used to
thinking outside the box, let me make a suggestion. Incentives
work wonders and Paisley, we are told, is in serious discussion
with the loyal orders.

So, with all this talk of reconciliation in the air, why don't
the Orangemen and the DUP club together to make Drumcree Day a
cause for celebration by the Garvaghy Road Residents?

For all those locals who don't much fancy the idea of Orangemen
tramping through their patch, lay on a fleet of coaches to whisk
them all off to the countryside for a free carnival?

A funfair for the kids, free candyfloss, burgers and chips. A
disco marquee for the teens, line-dancing for the parents, a tea-
dance tent for the OAPs and a beer tent for the dads. Meanwhile,
the cops should be able to cope easily with the few diehards who
choose to remain behind.

Teenage rampage no big deal

It has to be dealt with, of course, but I don't take desperately
seriously the teenage rioting in west Belfast. We are told that
both factions notify the time and location for a 'rumble' by

It sounds recreational to me rather than deeply sectarian, and,
hopefully, they'll get bored with it before the summer really
sets in. Let's just hope no one gets badly hurt.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: The Risk Of Arriving At A Policy Of The 'Lowest Common

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 08:28]

As Sinn Fein's Catriona Ruane prepares to take over the education
portfolio, former NI Civil Service chief Sir Kenneth Bloomfield
examines how the restoration of devolution will impact on the
fight to stop Northern Ireland's successful grammar schools being
converted into "neighbour comprehensives"

As the take-over of power by devolved government approaches, it
is important to appreciate the parameters for its operation
established by the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.

In the first of these, provision was made for the requirement of
cross-community consensus on contentious legislation, if
triggered by a sufficient number of Assembly members.

No such requirement existed in the case of executive decisions.

In spite of a Ministerial Code, it was clearly the case that
individual ministers could, and in at least one important case
did, announce a new policy without any clearance from ministerial
colleagues collectively or any assurance that such policy could
be passed into law while meeting the cross-community test.

I refer here to Martin McGuinness' decision, in the face of
clearly expressed majority public opinion, to ban academic
selection for post-primary education.

When that Executive collapsed, direct rule ministers, regardless
of Tony Blair's reluctance to confront remaining grammar schools
in England, brought before Parliament an Order in Council
specifically banning in perpetuity any consideration of academic

With many others I protested vigorously about this provision
through political lobbying and other means.

Realising the importance attached to this issue by people inside
and outside politics, Peter Hain used the question of academic
selection as a hybrid inducement and threat to promote movement
towards devolution.

Many who wished for that end, not excluding people opposed to
academic selection, felt this to be a pretty cynical manoeuvre.

As the Order was enacted, it was provided that the statutory ban
on academic selection would not come into effect if devolution

The "eleven plus" would be abolished, but future decisions about
post-primary selection, including whether or not academic
selection would be allowed, would be left to our local Assembly
and Executive.

We now know that the education portfolio will once more be in
Sinn Fein hands. As a counterweight, the departmental scrutiny
committee chairmanship will be in the hands of the DUP.

Previous experience, though, showed that a minister could thank
such a committee for its views and thereafter ignore them.

So is the battle for academic selection lost? Are our successful
grammar schools to be converted into neighbourhood
comprehensives? Is money to replace merit as the ticket of entry
to good schools?

Here the answer must be sought in the new provision of a
requirement for cross-community consensus in executive as well as
legislative acts.

Under the rubric of the St Andrews Agreement, no single minister
should be able to develop a contentious and divisive policy
without challenge from colleagues.

Yet in this area the search for consensus, now required by the
modified system of government, will be conducted between one
faction totally opposed to academic selection and another wholly
supportive of it.

There could be a risk on this and other questions of arriving at
a policy of "the lowest common denominator".

Be that as it may, those of us who strongly believe in the merits
of academic selection are eager and ready to represent our
arguments and proposals to the Minister, the Department and
Departmental Committee.

The Governing Bodies Association has published a document
embodying a preferred solution, while the Association for Quality
Education - which I chair and which brings together a number of
governors, head teachers, associations of former pupils and
concerned parents - has tabled a range of possible alternatives
to the "eleven plus".

In England, those areas determined to retain their grammar
schools have been allowed to do so.

If elements of our post primary system wish to adopt criteria
excluding academic selection, they should be free to do so.

But those of us who cherish the best in what we have will
continue to fight to save it in our new democratic arena.

? Sir Kenneth Bloomfield is chair of the Association for Quality
Education which campaigns for the retention of academic selection
for post-primary school education in Northern Ireland.

c Belfast Telegraph


Boost For Maze Sports Stadium Plan

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday April 15, 2007
The Observer

Controversial plans to build a huge sports stadium on the site of
the Maze prison will take a step forward tomorrow when one of the
project's biggest champions becomes Northern Ireland's sports

Edwin Poots has been one of the most vocal advocates for the
construction of a 40,000 all-seater national stadium at the site
outside Lisburn. 'Edwin's appointment is a powerful message in
favour of the Maze as the new national stadium,' a senior DUP
source told The Observer

'The Northern Ireland Executive will have a clear majority in
favour of the Maze project.'

The project is scheduled to be the home of Gaelic sports as well
as soccer and rugby. According to the Northern Ireland Select
Committee at Westminster, the British government will have to
spend œ400m on the scheme to convert the former top-security jail
into a stadium.

But there is strong opposition to the plan based on political and
logistical grounds. Many opponents regard the Maze as too
politically sensitive. There are also arguments that the prison
site is in the middle of nowhere, with no rail link and close to
a gridlocked motorway.

Opponents of the Maze project predicted Poots's appointment would
produce splits within the DUP. Belfast's current Lord Mayor, Pat
McCarthy, called on all MLAs who represent the city at Stormont,
including DUP members, to rebel against moves to convert the

'The MLAs for Belfast of all parties must demand a debate on the
stadium once the Executive is formed next month,' McCarthy said.
'Even the British government's own report recommended siting the
stadium in a city, and that, of course, means Belfast. If [the
DUP] go ahead with the Maze as Mr Poots wants them to, then it's
another example of the dirty deals being down between Paisley's
party and Sinn Fein,' he said.

Ian Paisley's DUP is entitled to control four ministries
following the results of March's Assembly elections. DUP deputy
leader Peter Robinson is expected to take over the Department of
Finance; his fellow MP, Nigel Dodds, would become enterprise
minister and Arlene Foster, the environment minister.

The three Sinn Fein ministers are also likely to vote in favour
of the Maze project. If the project were to go ahead Sinn Fein
will be given a memorial on the grounds in memory of Bobby Sands
and the other nine hunger strikers who died at the Maze.


Blanche A. (Butala) Young


Memorial Mass for Blanche A. (Butala) Young, 57, of Orwell, will
be 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. John Vianney Church, 7575 Bellflower
Road, Mentor. (Please meet at the church.)

Mrs. Young died April 8, 2007, at her residence.
Born April 10, 1949, in Cleveland, she had lived in Parkman
before moving Orwell three and a half years ago.

She was a member of St. Mary's Church in Orwell, Irish American
Club East Side Inc., in Euclid and Irish Northern Aid. She
enjoyed hiking and was an editor, working on scholarly journals
and newsletters for Irish Northern Aid.

Survivors are her beloved husband, James M. Young; loving
children, Christopher M. Young of Orwell and Kathleen M. Young of
Ft. Myers, Fla.; grandchildren, Riley and Sofia Young; and
brother, William Butala.

Her parents, Frank and Beatrice (Boyle) Butala, are deceased.
Bishop A. Edward Pevec will officiate the service.

The family suggests contributions in her name be made to Irish
Northern Aid, 4222 Memphis, Ave., Cleveland, OH 44109.

Arrangements are being handled by McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio
Funeral Homes in Willoughby and Mentor.

cThe News-Herald 2007


Man dies after Tramore cliff fall

15/04/2007 - 13:09:02

A man has died after falling from a cliff at Tramore, Co
Waterford in the early hours of this morning.

The man, who was in his 20s, was discovered by members of Tramore
Cliff Rescue at about 3am.

He was found unconscious and removed to Waterford Regional
Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9am.

The local man is believed to have fallen from an area of the
cliff which overlooks the sea near the cove.


Roma Downey: California Dream

[Published: Sunday 15, April 2007 - 11:54]
By Patricia Danaher

Derry-born actress Roma Downey became a household name in America
when she starred in the popular TV drama Touched By An Angel. But
despite fame and fortune, she has never forgotten her Ulster

It's been a long and winding road from Shipquay Street in Derry
to the glittering lights of Hollywood - and Roma Downey is the
first to acknowledge it.

For the 47-year-old, home is an exquisite mansion in Malibu where
Barbra Streisand is her next door neighbour and Pierce Brosnan
lives just up the road.

She's about to get married - for the third time - to the man she
calls " the love of my life," television mogul Mark Burnett, the
father of reality TV in the US.

A former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland as well
as the Falklands, he has drawn on his experiences for his
successful television career as the founder and producer of shows
like Survivor and Eco-Challenge.

The couple met in a hair salon in Malibu four years ago after
eyeing each other in opposite mirrors, and the owner played Cupid
by giving Mark Roma's phone number.

"When we went out we discovered we had a shared background in so
many ways, as we came from the same corner of the world," she

"We both came to America looking for the American dream, found it
and ended up on the same stretch of beach in Malibu.

"We both drove Range Rovers, were divorced and had children of
the same age.

"We moved in together very quickly and had enough experience to
know how to appreciate something good when you find it, and not
to take it for granted."

Talk of Mark's time as a soldier in Ulster during the Troubles
did not emerge for a while, and was an understandably thorny
issue when it did.

"I certainly didn't know about it when I went into the
relationship until he shared it with me, and then we really
learned from each other," says Roma.

"He had no idea about Irish politics and was only 17 or 18 when
he enlisted, a young boy entering the Army for excitement and
adventure and looking for a way out of his working-class
background, then he ends up in our country with no idea why he
was there. But, you know, it's not something we talk about much
now, although it inevitably comes up with journalists.

"Initially when we got together there was some very mixed Press
back home, which was hurtful and confusing. You'd have thought
the way some of these stories were written that Mark was
patrolling the streets of Derry and I was throwing stones at him!
There were a lot of Romeo and Juliet clich‚s written about us."

The couple will marry in a private ceremony some time soon -
they're keeping tight-lipped about the exact date and there'll be
no exclusive magazine deals.

Roma is highly protective of the privacy of the family she calls
her 'Brady bunch' and is concerned at media interest in the

"They're already snooping around and I have no desire to let this
wedding become a three-ring circus."

Roma is in a really good place in her life right now and is keen
to instil a sense of gratitude in her children.

She has a nine-year-old daughter, Reilly, from her second
marriage and Mark has two sons.

"'To those whom much is given, much is expected' is the
philosophy by which I try to live my life," she says.

"Mark and I can stand outside our multi-million dollar Malibu
home, looking out at the Pacific, and we know what it took to get

"We know the sacrifices, the hard work and the integrity, the
dreams that brought us to this place and we're filled with

"But we've three young children who've been born into it and who
don't know that.

"I'm trying to teach them to be respectful and giving, and to
understand that just because they've more than others it doesn't
make them better."

During its successful 10-year run, Touched By An Angel had a
weekly audience of 30 million in the US.

People magazine named Roma one of the 50 most beautiful people in
the world in 1997, and another national magazine named her one of
the most fascinating.

Despite fame she doesn't allow yourself to be defined by

"It really begs the question of who you are when you're not in
the public eye," she says.

"I've seen it and we've all read about people falling apart when
they lose the limelight, because they basically have no sense of

Roma believes she was fortunate to have found fame while she was
in her late 20s and is grateful for her no-nonsense Derry

Her relationship with her late father was a huge influence on
her, growing up as she did during the worst of the Troubles.

"I couldn't wait to leave and he always encouraged me to study,
saying education would be my passport in life. He practically
kicked me out to college - with great love - and always
reinforced the value of learning."

After leaving school she went to art college in Belfast before
moving to Brighton Art College.

She was living in Brighton in 1984 when the IRA bombed the Grand
Hotel, nearly killing Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet.

"It was a very complicated time to be Northern Irish in England
and I experienced an awful lot of racism and animosity," she

But she remained in the UK and was accepted into the London Drama
School at Ealing, where she was described as "the most promising
student" of her year when she graduated.

She acted briefly with the Abbey players, touring the US with The
Playboy Of The Western World.

"When I first came to America I thought I'd died and gone to
heaven, because the very things that people seemed to have been
angry at me for in England - my accent, my humour, my love of
literature and poetry - these were things Americans really
appreciated," says Roma.

"Suddenly being Irish felt exotic and appreciated. By comparison
with my English experience, it was like night and day - that
combined with the fact everyone had such good teeth! I was in

She is heavily involved in the charity Operation Smile, which
raises money to perform operations on children born with cleft
lips. Her voluntary work takes her to Vietnam, Cambodia, Honduras
and Venezuela.

She has also designed a range of jewellery and home accessories,
and says she would now like to turn her hand to novels. For Roma,
the American dream just keeps on getting sweeter.

c Belfast Telegraph


Sonia Enjoys Moment In Sun With Thousands In Her Wake

Paul Cullen
Mon, Apr 16, 2007

Some public figures are so well known we refer to them only by
their first name.

They appear to have been around for ages and have seeped
permanently into our consciousness. By some quirk of genetics,
they seem as energetic now as they were in the distant days of
their prime.

But enough about Bertie, he was only starting the race. Yesterday
was Sonia's day, the first leg of the last lap of a stellar
career. More than 9,000 runners of all shapes and sizes came out
in the sunshine for the Bupa Ireland Run to bid the country's
greatest woman athlete a fond farewell.

A few of those gathered in the Phoenix Park might even have
entertained thoughts of nipping at the heels of the now 37-year-
old mother of two. If so, they could think again, because Sonia
still belongs to the elite of world running. There she was at the
start line of the 10km event, side-by-side with an Olympic
champion and a handful of rising stars half a generation younger
than her and reaping their respect in a round of applause by all

Will she miss these moments in retirement? The stomach-churning
nervousness before the race begins, the wary sidelong glances to
check out the opposition, the weight of public expectation, so
cruelly disappointed at key points along her otherwise stunningly
successful career?

Who knows? It was hard to see beyond the familiar toothy smile
and the autograph-hunting hordes. They came from all parts of the
country, patiently queuing to ask the Cobh athlete to sign
notebooks, scraps of paper, the backs of children's jerseys.

The aristocracy of Irish running was there, too, to salute one of
their own - Eamonn Coghlan, a spry Ronnie Delany, plus another
visiting hero, the great English distance runner, Brendan Foster.

Bertie Ahern, who was once a bit of a runner himself, started the
race with a dull klaxon rather than a starting-pistol, much to
the disappointment of photographers hoping to catch the Taoiseach
in gunslinger pose.

The race itself showed that the elite runners had expended all
their generosity before the start.

Sonia struggled to keep up with the frontrunners and eventually
had to settle for 11th place behind her 25-year-old training
partner in Australia, Victoria Mitchell.

Afterwards, she was stoic. "I thought I would have ran a lot
better, but on the day you only get what you deserve.

"But it was a great day for me with a fantastic atmosphere and
plenty of support from fans all around the course. Really, I
couldn't have asked for more in the way of a farewell."

c 2007 The Irish Times

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