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April 11, 2007

MI5 Shredded Collusion Files: Now They Want More

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/11/07 MI5 Shredded Collusion Files: Now They Want More
SL 04/08/07 Special Branch Files - Gibraltar: The Truth
BT 04/11/07 New Doubts Over Brown's Peace Dividend
WT 04/11/07 De Brún Appeals Cross Party Support For United IRL
UT 04/11/07 Town Votes Against Paisley Proposal
BT 04/11/07 Ulster Dad's Anguish At Son's Knife Suicide Bid
RT 04/11/07 Peaceful Start To NI Marching Season
BT 04/11/07 Four Arrested After Trouble At Junior Orangemen March
BT 04/11/07 United In The Agony Of Loss
BT 04/11/07 Bookies Back Peace Process For First Mention At Mass
BT 04/11/07 The Second Coming Of Roy Keane
IT 04/11/07 Pirate Queen Will Endure Despite Critics


MI5 Shredded Returned Collusion Probe Files: Now They Want More

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 08:58]
By Chris Thornton

New secrecy concerns hit Northern Ireland's first collusion
inquiry last night after police sources confirmed MI5 and the
Army shredded files returned by the Stevens Inquiry.

The two agencies - which ran informers in the IRA and loyalist
groups - are demanding the return of more documents, sources

They are reportedly heaping pressure on the inquiry to hand back
more secret files before the inquiry into the murder of loyalist
Billy Wright begins next month.

Material related to those hearings has already gone missing -
with the Prison Service admitting that hundreds of key documents
relating to the LVF leader's murder have been lost or destroyed.

Sources in the Stevens Inquiry have said that the agencies are
demanding the return of files compiled during the three
investigations Lord Stevens has undertaken into collusion.

If a stand-off develops, MI5 and the MoD could turn to Secretary
of State Peter Hain to invoke secrecy clauses under the Inquiries

Mr Hain has the power to restrict evidence from being made public
by the inquiry.

Lord Stevens' detectives - who at one stage included PSNI Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde - uncovered some of the most significant
evidence of collusion between members of the security forces and

Their work uncovered the involvement of agents like Brian Nelson
and IRA informer Stakeknife.

The Stevens' teams live investigations have been handed to the
PSNI and the Historical Enquiries Team, but a Metropolitan Police
unit continues to hold thousands of documents and other evidence
seized by the team.

That team is processing material for the forthcoming collusion

Although the most significant material in the Stevens' evidence
relates to the proposed inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane,
some reportedly touches on the Wright case.

The row comes at a key time for MI5. The agency is due to take
over responsibility for anti-terrorist operations in Northern
Ireland later this year.

c Belfast Telegraph


Special Branch File - Gibraltar: The Truth

[Published: Sunday 8, April 2007 - 10:24]

In the second part of our explosive new series, The Special
Branch Files, Greg Harkin - the journalist who exposed Freddie
'Stakeknife' Scappaticci - reveals how a UFF murder-bid drove an
ex-IRA man back into the arms of the Provisionals... and how a
chance remark in a Belfast street led to the deaths of three
terrorists in Gibraltar...

Every July the republican newspaper An Phoblacht carries
anniversary memorial notices from friends and comrades of IRA
leader Brendan 'Ruby' Davison.

There are poems and prayers in Irish in tribute to a 'volunteer'
murdered by loyalists in 1988, tributes repeated every Easter
Sunday as republicans commemorate their dead.

One recent tribute to Davison even quoted the 1916 rebellion
leader James Connolly: "When the freedom of our country and class
has been won, let us guard it well, remembering it was paid for
in the blood of those now dead. "

But what many of his comrades have never been told is that
Davison was the man behind one of the biggest betrayals in Irish
republican history - the deaths of three IRA members at the hands
of the SAS in Gibraltar more than four months earlier.

As politicians in Northern Ireland work towards a lasting peace,
there are those who cannot, and will not, forget the past.

And there are those who are now willing to open up the book on
our bloody history and reveal its secrets.

In March 1987, two armed UFF men raided the home of Danny McCann,
guided there by Brian Nelson, the UDA intelligence officer who
was an agent of shadowy Army outfit, the Force Research Unit

One gunman questioned McCann's mother at gunpoint while another
searched the house.

Sheila McCann recalled later: "God was good to me. If there had
been any man in the house, I think they would have shot him.

"I am only surprised that they did not shoot me."

As the UFF gang left the scene, at Cavendish Street in west
Belfast, they fired a shot into the air.

According to FRU documents given to Nelson, McCann was a valued
member of the Provisional IRA.

But those documents were out of date. Special Branch officers and
republican sources confirm - for the first time - that McCann had
left the republican organisation at the time of the incident.

Tired of the 'war', he had sought, and had been given, permission
to stand down.

Six months previously he had taken over the family butcher's
shop, though he claimed he suffered regular harassment at the
hands of the security forces.

On one occasion, he claimed soldiers left a wooden cross outside
his shop. It bore his name and the letters 'RIP'.

That UFF gun attack, however, was to change everything.

One former RUC officer who was serving at the time told us:
"McCann was no longer a player.

"Those of us running agents in Belfast at the time knew that -
though to squaddies on the street, he would have been looked upon

"He wasn't even on our radar anymore and we were glad of it
because he had been one of the IRA's best operators.

"Once his details got into the hands of Brian Nelson, however,
that would change everything. The Army spooks passed his details
to Nelson even though they, too, would have known that he was no
longer active.

"With the attempt on his life and the harassment by squaddies,
McCann would have believed he was being directly targeted, and
after the UDA went to his house McCann rejoined the IRA."

McCann, however, would be dead within the year - betrayed by one
of his most trusted associates in the Provisional IRA - shot down
with two other members of the IRA, Sean Savage and Mairead
Farrell, in Gibraltar.

McCann had every reason to trust 'Ruby' Davison.

They had been charged - along with Sean Savage and four others -
with the murder in September 1981 of RUC Constable Alexander

He died in an IRA rocket attack on his Land Rover as it drove
through the Suffolk area of west Belfast.

They were later cleared of involvement in the killing, but
Davison was someone McCann believed he could trust.

In early February 1988, the two met in Belfast's Markets area
where Davison was the local IRA commander.

A chance remark by McCann when leaving would lead the security
forces directly to events in Gibraltar four weeks later.


"Davison had said 'cheerio' and said he'd be in touch with
McCann, and McCann had replied that he was off to Spain for a
while," a former Branch officer told Sunday Life.

"Davison asked how long McCann would be away on holiday and
McCann replied that 'this is no holiday - I'm going on a recce

Within hours Davison had reported this conversation with McCann
to his handler in RUC Special Branch.

Alarm bells rang at MI5 HQ inside the Northern Ireland Office's
political development unit.

A task force involving Special Branch, MI5 and Army Intelligence
met within days and McCann was placed under 24-hour surveillance.

The IRA had been active in attacks across Europe, hitting British
targets in Holland and Germany.

The security services knew that a trip to Spain by someone as
senior as McCann could mean only one thing - an attack on
security force personnel in Gibraltar.

McCann, Savage, Farrell and a fourth IRA member flew to Malaga on
Friday, March 4, checked into a hotel using false names and hired
a Renault 5 from Avis Car Rentals.

Just after 3.30pm on Sunday, March 6, the IRA members left the
car near to where members of the Royal Anglian Regiment band were
due to play 48 hours later.

Within minutes, all three IRA members were shot dead.

A dozen-strong SAS team had been awaiting their arrival on the
Rock since February 19.

All three IRA members were unarmed. One witness claimed they were
shot as they were trying to surrender, and their deaths have
caused controversy ever since.

In a statement read to the inquests, one of the SAS soldiers said
McCann had looked towards him in a split second before the
shooting began.

He added: "I was just about the shout a warning to stop and at
the same time I was drawing my pistol and the effect overtook the

"He looked straight at me. We literally had eye-to-eye contact
and the smile went off his face.

"It's hard to describe. It's as though McCann had a realisation
of who I was, as though I was a threat to him."

The SAS officer claimed he opened fire believing McCann was going
to detonate a device in the Renault.


That car, however, was empty. Spanish police in Marbella later
recovered more than 100lb of Semtex explosive from a Ford Fiesta
rented by Farrell in the name of Catherine Smith.

The deaths in Gibraltar were to lead to more bloodshed on the
streets of Northern Ireland.

IRA man Kevin McCracken was shot dead by soldiers near the wake
house of Sean Savage in Turf Lodge on March 14.

Crazed loyalist Michael Stone murdered three people as they
attended the funerals for the Gibraltar 3 two days later. Sixty
other people were injured.

One of the dead was IRA man Caoimhin MacBradaigh. At his funeral,
on March 19, two plainclothes soldiers - corporals Derek Wood and
David Howes - were attacked by mourners believing another Stone-
style attack was imminent.

They were dragged from their car, taken to waste ground, beaten,
stripped and shot dead.

Another former RUC officer told us: "I don't personally believe
Gibraltar would ever have happened if Danny McCann had stayed out
of the IRA.

"That UFF attack changed everything."

A colleague added: "When McCann decided to go back to war, he did
it on his terms.

"He went to the IRA and told them that he would clear all
operations with them, but that he would hand-pick his own team.

"For almost a year they were untouchable. We couldn't get near
McCann, Savage, Farrell and the others.

"It was a constant source of discussion within Special Branch
about how we could get McCann off the streets."

This officer says McCann's active service unit was responsible
for the deaths of Special Branch colleagues Ernest Carson and
Michael Malone - shot dead in the Liverpool Bar in Belfast in
August 1987.

"McCann was ruthless, there's no doubt about that in my mind.

"But who knows what would have happened on Gibraltar if it wasn't
for Davison.

"We wouldn't have known about the operation at all - I'm
convinced of that - and a bomb would have gone off at some stage,
killing many, many people."

The IRA launched an inquiry into the events surrounding

Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci - related by marriage to Davison
- repeatedly warned his Army handlers that the Provisionals had
become suspicious of Davison and were planning to murder him.
Scappaticci - then No.2 in the Provisionals' so-called 'nutting
squad' - had also repeatedly delayed IRA investigations in order
to save Davison's life.

However, unknown to him, another agent working for the same Army
Force Research Unit - the loyalist Brian Nelson - was busy
plotting Davison's demise.

He passed documents and other information to the UVF and, on July
25, 1988, Brendan Davison (33) was shot dead at his home in
Friendly Way in the Markets area of south Belfast.

The UVF gang were wearing RUC uniforms stolen from the
Mountpottinger base less than a mile away.

c Belfast Telegraph


New Doubts Over Brown's Peace Dividend

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 10:31]
By Noel McAdam

Fresh doubts over Chancellor Gordon Brown's economic 'peace
dividend' package for Northern Ireland surfaced today ahead of
renewed negotiations in the run-up to devolution.

The Government has admitted there is an emerging financial gap,
called 'unfunded liabilities', but has not yet quantified how
much it might amount to.

The issue could, however, put immediate pressure on existing
spending plans even before the new power-sharing ministers are
due to 'hit the ground running'.

Direct Rule Minister David Hanson has revealed he is already
talking to the Treasury about the possibility of using past
departmental 'underspends' to tackle the shortfall.

Former Trade Minister, Sir Reg Empey, said DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP
and Ulster Unionist representatives were told there were no
'unfunded liabilities' by officials at the March 22 meeting.

"But the fact is that it has now been made clear that there are,"
Sir Reg said, "and there is now a big question mark over the
Chancellor's proposals.

"These are in effect unpaid bills which put a dent into the
package the Chancellor is offering. There may not be a black
hole, but they should be able to give us some general
information, or at least some sort of steer about what kind of
liability is involved.

"Until we can get this sorted out we will not know what the net
gain, if any, is from the Chancellor's package. It is essential
this is sorted out. "

Mr Hanson said he was aware of some emerging pressures linked to
the reform programme including the review of public
administration, rates and water charges for which no allocations
have been made.

"This approach is not unusual as firm quantification of the
pressures was not possible when spending plans were set," he

And also, as in the past, the 'end year flexibility' mechanism
drawing on unspent resources from previous years which have not
been returned to Government coffers could address such pressures.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance and Personnel - of
which DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson is expected to become
minister - confirmed some financial pressures have emerged.

c Belfast Telegraph


Bairbre De Br£n Appeals For Cross Party Support For A United

Over 300 People Attended The West Waterford Easter Commemoration
in Knockboy Churchyard, Ballinamult on Easter Sunday afternoon.
Bairbre de Br£n, Sinn F‚in MEP for the North of Ireland, gave the
oration. She spoke of the sacrifices made by the men and women of
1916, and since, including Sean Morrissey, the young local man by
whose grave the gathering took place.

Ms de Br£n said that recent developments in the north have
offered us a golden opportunity to achieve Irish unity, and
called on the Dublin government to bring forward a Green Paper on
Irish Unity to advance the preparation for unity.

Turning to collusion, Ms de Br£n called on the Irish government
to address the issue, "The Irish Government must now follow
through with their commitment to have a full debate on collusion
in the D il. This debate must be full and open and on the whole
issue of collusion." She continued, " Sinn F‚in calls on the
Irish Government to demand an inter-governmental conference with
the British Government specifically dealing with the issue of
collusion and truth recovery and calls for the establishment of
full, public, independent, judicial inquiries into murders in
this state where collusion is reasonably suspected.

This is all the more important following this week's long awaited
publication of the McEntee report, and the disappointment of so
many of the families who lost loved ones."


Town Votes Against Paisley Proposal

A small Irish town has voted against a proposal to name a street
after firebrand unionist Ian Paisley for his historic deal with
Sinn Fein.

The plan to immortalise the controversial preacher inside the
ancient walled settlement of Trim, County Meath, had sparked huge

The town`s councillors unwittingly opened a can of worms when
they asked residents to suggest names for the first street to be
built inside the ramparts since the 12th century.

The call drew an unforeseen campaign spearheaded by local
historian Noel French and his weekly publication to call the
street after the Democratic Unionist Party leader.

The gesture, intended to mark the historic meeting between Mr
Paisley and his one-time arch foe Sinn Fein president Gerry
Adams, created a stir in the normally sedate market town - used
as the setting for Mel Gibson`s Braveheart.

But Trim Town Council moved swiftly and unanimously to put the
controversy to bed by naming the street after a fondly remembered
local character, Jimmy Finnegan, who died a decade ago.

One councillor from the ruling Fianna Fail party said the
contention surrounding the idea had snow-balled out of control in
recent days.

"The chairman [Danny O`Brien] moved deliberately quickly tonight
to kill the whole thing. We have a lovely town and we don`t want
this to be political," said Jimmy Peppard.

"I literally couldn`t walk down the street this last week without
everybody asking about it. I didn`t realise it would get so out
of hand," he said.

The former Sinn Fein councillor claimed many people in the town
were furious at the proposal put before the council.

"Back in 1985 Mr Paisley said there were 101 terrorists in Trim,
referring to the first preference votes for Sinn Fein," he said.

"Two weeks later there was a bomb left in a dustbin outside the
young Catholic men`s club in the town and then another one in
Market Street.

"People can still remember that."

But Mr French said his idea was intended to recognise all who had
contributed to the seismic political shifts in Northern Ireland
which will see a power-sharing executive set up next month.

"It`s not something I would be completely comfortable with - it
was an inspiration," he said.

"It was meant as an over-generous gesture made to someone of the
opposite political persuasion. It was meant to create debate but
unfortunately it has limited debate."

The proposal before the town`s nine councillors would have seen
Paisley Parade cross Emmet Street - named after Irish nationalist
rebel leader Robert Emmet.

The junction would have been overlooked by a huge pillar erected
by the British, when they were in control of the state, to the
Duke of Wellington, reputed to have been born nearby.

"We`ll not even go down that road," remarked Mr Peppard.

"There`s been a few other suggestions too. Elvis Street,
Graceland Place, Bono Street. Ian Paisley wasn`t the weirdest by
any measure," he said.

Mr French hinted his idea may have been more tongue-in-cheek than
he was given credit for by some of his neighbours.

"It was a modest proposal," he said, in a reference to the
satirical pamphlet of the same name written by former Trim native
and Irish writer Dean Jonathan Swift.


Ulster Dad's Anguish At Son's Knife Suicide Bid

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 10:32]
By Deborah McAleese

An Ulster dad spoke of his anguish today after his son slashed
himself open in a suicide attempt following a sustained campaign
of intimidation by republicans.

The 23-year-old was rushed to hospital after being found
unconscious in a pool of blood with serious wounds to his arms,
head and torso.

He had butchered himself with a kitchen knife in a desperate bid
to take his own life after being attacked by a crowd of
republicans in north Belfast, in what he claimed was the latest
incident of intimidation.

Ciaran Bennett's distraught father, Michael Snr - whose son
Charles was murdered by the IRA in 1999 and whose other son
Michael committed suicide on New Year's Day in 2003 - today made
an emotional plea for the intimidation to stop and for more
government help to tackle the rising number of suicides in the

"This is bringing back an awful lot of bad memories," Mr Bennett
told the Belfast Telegraph.

"My wife died of cancer in 1999, Charles was taken away and held
in a flat for a week before being shot dead in the same year and
Michael, who was going through depression, hung himself on New
Year's Day, 2003. I am now watching it all happen again with
another son.

"He would have bled to death if he had not been found in time. He
felt that he had no other option but to take his own life. This
has to stop.

"We really need help to prevent more suicides as well.

"Wave Trauma (a community support group) has been very good, but
their funds have been cut. We need funds to try and get more
counsellors to help people."

Mr Bennett's son Ciaran was walking to a friend's house in the
New Lodge area when he got into an altercation with a number of
republicans, including a former IRA prisoner.

He said they were making comments about his murdered brother and
the next thing he knew he was lying on the ground with a crowd of
people kicking him.

"After that I just went crazy, I didn't know what else to do and
I ended up in hospital," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"This has been going on for a long time, for the past couple of
years, they keep intimidating me. I just felt there was nothing
else I could do. I wanted it all to end. They keep doing my head
in. You can't stop them. They think they own the place. I am not
feeling good at all."

The young man has suffered from depression for several years
following the systematic intimidation by a group of republicans
in north Belfast.

His brother, Charles, was 22 when he was abducted as he left his
girlfriend's north Belfast flat on July 24, 1999. His body was
found on waste ground near St Gall's GAA club on the Falls Road
in the early hours of July 30, 1999 - just weeks after his mother
had died from cancer.

His hands had been tied behind his back and a blindfold had been
tied over his eyes. He had been shot in the back of the head amid
allegations he was a police informer. The IRA has been blamed for
his murder.

His grief-stricken brother, Michael, struggled with depression
for several years following the deaths of Charles and his mother.
He hanged himself on New Year's Day, 2003.

c Belfast Telegraph


Peaceful Start To NI Marching Season

Monday, 9 April 2007

This year's marching season in Northern Ireland has begun

Three small parades by members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry
passed off without incident this morning near flashpoint areas in

The mood on the streets was very calm in contrast to previous

AdvertisementThe police operation at three previous flashpoint
areas, Ardoyne, the Ormeau Bridge, and Short Strand was low-key,
compared to times when the British Army would have been required
to help with security.

In north Belfast, around 20 members of the Ligoniel Walker Club
of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and one band walked past the shop
fronts at Ardoyne.

The band played a single drum beat, in accordance with a Parades
Commission determination.

A planned protest by nationalist residents was cancelled.

There were no protestors either in south Belfast where around two
dozen apprentice boys and one band paraded up to the Ormeau
Bridge and boarded a bus to take them to the main parade in


Four Arrested After Trouble At Junior Orangemen March

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 09:04]
By Lisa Smyth

Trouble has marred a parade by junior Orangemen in Bangor.

Four people were arrested yesterday by police in protective gear
responding to reports of a disturbance involving a large crowd in
the Castle Park area of the town at about 5pm - shortly after
several thousand junior Orangemen took part in their annual
Easter parade.

The youngsters were joined by representatives from England,
Scotland and as far afield as Canada, as hundreds of people lined
the streets to watch the celebrations.

A junior lodge from Glasgow, Whiteinch District 7, also took part
in the parade and marched in traditional costume.

Traffic in the seaside town was diverted for much of the day as
the 20 bands made their way from Belfast Road to Valentine
Playing Fields and back.

The marchers had earlier taken part in feeder parades in Belfast
before travelling to Bangor for the main parade.

Speaking before the trouble erupted, Belfast County Master Harry
Whiteside said: "It was an enjoyable day for everyone.

"There was a large crowd of people in Bangor which was also good
for the town as so many people turned out to watch the parade.
The annual parade has been going on for such a long time now and
it really was a good day."

c Belfast Telegraph


United In The Agony Of Loss

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 08:45]

A greif-stricken community yesterday laid to rest the two
teenagers who drowned in a canoeing accident in Co Down at the

The small town of Castlewellan was brought to a virtual
standstill as up to 1,000 mourners turned out for the funerals of
cousins Clare Steele and Rory McAlinden.

There were emotional scenes throughout the Requiem Mass and joint
funeral of Clare (16) and 18-year-old Rory, who died when their
canoe capsized at Castlewellan Forest Park early on Saturday

Shops and restaurants in the village were closed as a mark of
respect as the coffins, bearing identical floral wreaths, were
carried side by side from a packed St Malachy's Church.

Members of local sports teams lined the streets and friends of
the cousins formed a guard of honour outside the church, which
was unable to accommodate all the mourners.

Scores more gathered outside in the courtyard to hear the Mass
relayed through loudspeakers.

Inside, Fr Sean Cahill paid tribute to the teenage victims who
died in each other's arms after Rory had attempted to save Clare,
a non-swimmer.

Describing Clare, a former altar girl at the church, as a fun-
loving young lady, Fr Cahill added that she was a "delight and
joy to all".

People would remember Rory, he said, "with a lot of fun and a lot
of humour" and the priest remarked on the young man's hurling and
football achievements.

Addressing the congregation, Fr Cahill described the tragedy as
an adventure that had gone horribly wrong.

"Clare and Rory were part of the group that decided to socialise
in the park at the lake," he said.

"The socialisation led to adventure, and adventure to tragedy."

He added that, for decades, generations in the town have been
socialising at the lakeside, just as Rory and Clare were on the
night of Good Friday.

"Parents, mothers and fathers say with good reason: 'It could
have been us a generation ago' and 'It could have been one of our

"Their hearts go out to the Steeles and the McAlindens because it
was their Clare and their Rory who were the victims," he said.

The priest appealed to young people to be especially careful with
their lives and asked them to learn a lesson from the tragic

"The best guard of honour is to love and respect your own
precious life, and to vow never to cause your parents and family
the grief we have in this parish and in these two families
today," he said.

"You are required by your Christian faith to honour your own life
and to honour your parents who gave you, within God's plan, your

"I want you to take that message from this funeral mass. I want
it to be Rory and Clare's message to you."

Floral displays bearing messages of support and comfort filled
the hearse and, during Mass, the priest paid tribute to the
emergency services - some of whom attended the service -
including those who led what turned out to be a 10-hour search.

Representatives from Castlewellan's Presbyterian Church were also
present and Fr Cahill revealed that Clare's parents, Francie and
Mary Clare, and Rory's parents, Veronica and Rory, were grateful
for their support.

Hundreds of people, young and old, followed the cortege along
Main Street after the 90-minute service and on to the cemetery
where a burial service was held at the family plot in

Rory was an apprentice joiner with a local building firm, while
Clare was in fifth year at St Malachy's High School in

Both were keen gaelic footballers and played for St Malachy's.

Tearful team-mates and school friends, some of whom helped carry
the coffins yesterday, found it impossible to contain their grief
at the loss of their friends.

c Belfast Telegraph


Bookies Back Peace Process For First Mention At Mass

[Published: Friday 6, April 2007 - 13:41]
By Matthew McCreary

The recent moves towards peace in Northern Ireland may be
starting to bear fruit for local politicians. And it could become
even more profitable for those looking for a quick flutter this

Irish bookmakers Paddy Power will be offering punters the chance
to bet on the duration of the homily at this year's Easter Sunday
Mass, which is being broadcast live on RTE television.

And the Northern Ireland Peace Process is one of the top bets at
4/1 for what will be mentioned first by the priest. Other topics
include world peace, the war in Iraq and Father Ted.

Bets are also being taken on how many people will tune in to the

The company say the bets are a direct result of requests from

St. Muredach's Cathedral in Ballina, Co Mayo, has been selected
to host the live Easter celebration. Local parish priest Father
Hoban will be presiding over affairs and, according to Paddy
Power, a 'brisk oration' is expected.

"We anticipate a record audience tuning into this year's Easter
broadcast at 11.30am on Sunday," said Paddy Power.

"We've already laid numerous bets, all of which are under 10
minutes, so given the allocated one hour time slot by RTE I think
punters have probably called it right."

However, well-known Passionist priest Father Aidan Troy, from the
Holy Cross parish in north Belfast, said the stunt could be seen
as offensive by many in the Catholic church.

"I wouldn't be offended, but I would think that people should
have better things to do with their money than bet on something
that is very sacred to a huge number of people," he said.

"It would take a lot to offend me, because I'm a great believer
that if that's what people want to do then let them do it.

"I would understand if people found it offensive because it is
the high point of the church's year.

"It's not as if I'm against betting or sport, but I do think
that's pushing it a little bit too far. I don't think it's

Paddy Power Easter Sunday Mass betting

What will the priest mention first in his homily?

1/20 Jesus
4/1 The Northern Ireland Peace Process
6/1 World Peace
8/1 Middle East
8/1 War in Iraq
14/1 Easter Egg
14/1 Mary and Joseph
20/1 General Election
20/1 Crisis in Iran
40/1 Weapons of Mass Destruction
66/1 Father Ted
500/1 Paddy Power
1,000/1 They tried to make me go to rehab

c Belfast Telegraph


The Second Coming Of Roy Keane

[Published: Wednesday 11, April 2007 - 09:17]

Feared by friend and foe alike as a player, the Irishman has
surprised many with his managerial style since taking over at
Sunderland. With his team now top of the League it appears to be
working. Simon Turnbull reports

Now that Roy Keane has dragged Sunderland from the depths of the
Coca Cola Championship to the top position in the race for
promotion to the Premiership, do not let it be said that the
retired midfield warrior is bucking the traditional trend of
great players struggling to achieve greatness in management. Not
within his earshot, at any rate.

The received football wisdom was put to Keane on his first day as
a manager. "Well, that's fine, because I was never a great
player," Keane answered. When the questioner begged to differ,
Keane responded: "Well, what do you class as a great player? What
did you class Pele as?" "A great player," came the reply. "And
you'd put me in the same bracket as that?" Keane demanded.
"Well... not far off," the questioner replied. "Nah, nah," Keane
said, shaking his head and smiling knowingly. "You see? Nah, nah.
I don't fall for that."

Right from that opening day, which Keane spent subtly knocking
down many of the preconceived notions about him, it was clear
that Sunderland were getting the antithesis of the bluff,
blustering Ron Manager. In the seven and a half months that have
followed, the 35-year-old novice has been the consummate Ronseal
Manager. The arch pragmatist has been doing what it says on his

In the process of transforming Sunderland from serial losers
(beaten in 28 of the 34 league games prior to his arrival) into
serial winners (victorious in 23 of the 37 Championship matches
they have played under him) and in reaching the summit of the
second flight with a 2-1 win at Southampton on Monday night,
Keane has duly stripped away his one-dimensional, cardboard cut-
out image.

Keane has revealed himself as a character far removed from the
beast who would strap on his Red Devilish mad-eyed mask whenever
he pulled up for work as a player at Old Trafford. There have
been occasional glimpses of the cutting Keane glare from
pitchside when passes have gone astray. But not very often.

Behind the scenes at the Academy of Light, Sunderland's state-of-
the-art training complex, and at the Stadium of Light, their
rapidly refilling ground, Keane has been the epitome of quietly-
stated charm. In his dealings with the media, he has been frank,
disarmingly self-effacing and laconically witty. It is clear,
too, that he has been blessed with a keen intelligence.

He also appears to be happy, eager even, to put the past behind
him, including past grudges (and as a player he had a reputation
as one who nursed grudges rather than sought to defuse them).
Even Mick McCarthy, the Irish manager with whom he fell out so
spectacularly at the 2002 World Cup, has been forgiven.

Last Saturday at the Stadium of Light, when the final whistle
confirmed a 2-1 victory for Keane's Sunderland against McCarthy's
Wolves, Keane stepped from the shadow of the home dug-out to
offer a handshake and a consoling pat on the arm to the one-time
magnet of his ire. More than that, he offered the warmest of
welcomes to McCarthy in his programme notes. "I think Mick did a
very good job at Sunderland," Keane wrote. "Obviously it didn't
work out at the end but it shouldn't be forgotten that he got
Sunderland promoted with lots of goals and I think Sunderland
fans will give him a very good welcome, which is what he will
deserve. He is doing a very good job at Wolves."

Then again Niall Quinn, the Irish player who sided with McCarthy
in Saipan, was the Sunderland chairman who brought Keane to the
club in the first place. As a manager, Keane was always going to
take a scrupulously professional approach to the preparation of
his players. He was also always going to expect, let alone
demand, the kind of commitment that he showed in maximising his
own talent on the field as the three players who failed to turn
up on time for the trip to Barnsley last month - Anthony Stokes,
Tobias Hysen and Marton Fulop - were quick to discover.

"Three players were late for the bus so we left them behind,"
Keane explained. "I was disappointed with them. You've got to
respect your team-mates and be on time. If you can't be on time,
you're not going to play. If it was in any other line of work,
you would have to turn up on time. If it was in a factory you
would be docked some pay or even fired." As Keane observed with
some satisfaction, they were "in with the milk" for training the
following week.

It has attracted less attention but is probably just as
significant that the three players involved in a "bedroom romp"
that hit the tabloid headlines earlier in the season - Ben
Alnwick, Liam Lawrence and Chris Brown - have all since been

"I think most of the players are aware of what's required from
me," Keane says. "That's for the players to be disciplined, to
train well, to give 100 per cent for the team. The one or two
lads who I think haven't been prepared to do that, I've got rid
of them. I want players here who will run through brick walls for
each other."

If Keane's response to those who have upset him might have been
expected, the praise he has heaped on the others has been
something of a surprise. Notoriously demanding of himself and
others as a player, he has mellowed in the manager's chair.

"Since Christmas they've been fantastic," he said recently.
"They've given me their all. I feel very lucky to be working with
them. They're taking on board what myself and the staff are
trying to do - that is to get a winning football team. We don't
want to be doing things half-measured. We want to get that
winning mentality in the players and they've plugged into
everything we hoped they would do."

More predictable has been Keane's commitment to the job. As might
have been expected it has not taken him long to become wedded to
his new profession - something his wife discovered when they went
out for a meal shortly before the game against Barnsley last
autumn. "All I was thinking about was Nyron Nosworthy, Stan
Varga, Clive Clark and Danny Collins," Keane revealed afterwards.

In addition to the Keane mentality, the Keane class has become
increasingly evident in Sunderland's rise. For much of the game
at Southampton on Monday their control and passing was of the
highest order - as were the goals struck by Carlos Edwards and
Grant Leadbitter.

Keane, it would seem, has fashioned a side of some substance. He
has made a fine blend of some shrewd signings (such as Dwight
Yorke, David Connolly, Stern John and Edwards), two outstanding
loanees (Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson of Manchester United) and
- with the help of coaches Tony Loughlan and Neil Bailey - some
significantly improved inherited players, not least of them

Formerly a right-back of questionable distinction, Nosworthy has
been a revelation since Keane switched him to the centre of
defence. Keane's rationale for the move was typically simple.
"Now that Nos has switched to centre-back, he's got much less
time on the ball. Which is best for all concerned." McCarthy, who
signed him, was impressed. "Nyron never fancied playing centre-
half for me," he said. "Obviously Roy's ability to coerce
somebody to play out of position is better than mine."

Not that Keane will be milking such compliments. He might be
showing some signs of similarity to Brian Clough, his first
manager - not least a propensity for galvanising a hard-working,
well-organised team - but unlike Clough he has no discernable
trace of an ego. Note the absence of a Manager of the Month
presentation on the pitch last Saturday. Or after the final
whistle, for that matter.

The studious, sharp-suited figure who stands calmly in front of
the home dug-out at the Stadium of Light has the air of a manager
who is going places. Old Trafford next season is likely to be one
of them.

Roy's revolution: 23 wins in 37 games but never the same starting

Seven and a half months in, Roy's Revolution continues to be a
transformation by degrees. After 37 league games (23 wins, 7
draws, 7 defeats), Roy Keane has yet to name an unchanged
starting XI.

There has been a constant rotation of resources (and, more often
than not, an astute one). Significantly, there has been a
consistency of late at the back.

The platform of Sunderland's unbeaten run in the league this year
(now up to 16 matches) has been built from a back four that has
been unchanged for 11 games now: Danny Simpson at right back,
Jonny Evans and Nyron Nosworthy in the centre and Danny Collins
at left back. Darren Ward, in goal for eight successive games
now, has added further stability.

Of the team that Keane watched beat West Bromwich at the Stadium
of Light on 28 August (selected by Niall Quinn) the day before
his unveiling as manager, only two started at Southampton on
Monday: Tobias Hysen and Stephen Elliott.

Of the team Keane picked for his first match in charge against
Derby on 9 September, only two started against Southampton: Liam
Miller and David Connolly, two of the 10 signings (plus two loan
players) with which he has created his winning makeover.

Ins and outs: Keane's buying and selling



Dwight Yorke, Sydney FC, œ200,000 Aug 06, 25 (4)
Stanislav Varga, Celtic, Undisclosed, Aug 06, 20
Ross Wallace, Celtic, Undisclosed, Aug 06, 19 (10)
Graham Kavanagh, Wigan, œ500,000, Aug 06, 10 (4)
Liam Miller, Man United, Free, Aug 06, 23 (6)
David Connolly, Wigan, œ1.4m, Aug 06, 27 (5)
Marton Fulop, Tottenham, œ500,000, Jan 07, 3
Carlos Edwards, Luton Town, œ1.4m, Jan 07, 11
Anthony Stokes, Arsenal, œ2m, Jan 07, 5 (5)
Stern John, Coventry, Undisclosed, Jan 07, 9 (2)



Christian Bassila, released, September 06
Rory Delap, released, January 07
Robbie Elliott, Leeds United, Free, January 07
Liam Lawrence, Stoke City, œ500,000, January 07
Ben Alnwick, Tottenham, œ900,000, January 07
Neill Collins, Wolves, œ150,000, January 07
Kevin Smith, Dundee, Undisclosed, January 07
Jon Stead, Sheffield United, œ750,000, January 07
Chris Brown, Norwich City, œ325,000, January 07
Stephen Caldwell, Burnley, œ200,000, January 07

c Belfast Telegraph


'Pirate Queen' Will Endure Despite Hostility Of The New York

Tue, Apr 10, 2007

The Pirate Queenis sensationally costumed and choreographed,
thrilling and pacy, writes Mike Murphy

If you were to ask an Irish person to identify the most
spontaneous standing ovation they can recall, the vast majority
are likely to mention that Eurovision interval performance of
Riverdancein 1994.

Now 13 years later - and thousands of standing ovations worldwide
from Boston to Beijing - the team who created Riverdance, John
McColgan and Moya Doherty, have audiences rising to their feet
nightly on Broadway in a wave of appreciation for a brand new
show, The Pirate Queen.

At the Hilton Theatre last Thursday, those of us who have
attended countless opening nights could attest to the genuine
enthusiasm of the audience as they rose and cheered and clapped.
The audience, mainly American, just loved the show.

But next morning the critics waded in.

Having read the first batch of reviews I was struck as much by
the vitriolic tone as I was by the overall negativity.

Had we attended the same show in the same theatre on the same
night? Were those who lauded what they had witnessed
indiscriminating and na‹ve? Are there reasons for this
critic/audience dichotomy?

When Riverdancearrived on Broadway a decade ago it was already an
international phenomenon . . . a magical music magnet for
audiences of all ages and cultures. The manner of its emergence
had, in effect, bypassed the critics. Audiences had voted with
ticket purchases; the critics and their reviews were largely
irrelevant. They carried little, if any, influence.

Prior to Riverdance, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg
had likewise paraded on to Broadway with Les Mis‚rablesand Miss
Saigon, both already major hits on London's West End and both
eagerly awaited by theatre-goers in America. Again the critics
were marginalised.

Then last week we saw the combination of eminently successful
composers (Boublil and Schonberg) and producers (McColgan and
Doherty) arriving in town - this time, ostensibly, needing a
positive critical reaction.

Was the temptation too inviting for the "wielders of the lethal

It would be both foolish and churlish to suggest anything
remotely resembling a conspiracy. Or would it? The peccadilloes
of human nature? Hubris?

So is there an alternative view of The Pirate Queento that
delivered by the critics?

Yes, there is. The show is thrilling, pacy, sensationally
costumed and choreographed and, in the main, brilliantly
performed by the principals, especially Stephanie J Block as
Grace O'Malley and Linda Belgord as Queen Elizabeth.

Let's remember we are looking at a crowd-pleaser here - a huge,
swaggering, fast-moving, visually splendid Broadway musical.

Is the day of such musicals over? Did it all end in the 1980s? I
don't think so. The Lion Kingis still attracting huge audiences
and yet not many of us can hum any of its songs.

Certainly the current trend on Broadway is towards the juke-box
musical. For example, The Jersey Boys,which tells the story of
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and is linked by their many
hits, continues to be a resounding box-office success. And so too
Mamma Mia, the Abba tribute.

However, it would be a rash judgment to declare that audience
numbers are diminishing for the big spectacular Broadway musical.

Can The Pirate Queendefy the critics and survive to become a
long-running success? I believe so, for several reasons. This
show has possibly three songs that have hit potential. In
addition, The Pirate Queenshowcases stunning sets and costumes
and moves at a rollicking pace. There isn't a boring moment in
the show.

While some critics may not like what they saw, the audiences are
piling in and loving it. Other critics have been high in their
praise, including Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star("Bravura
performance and thespian fireworks. It may be the most beautiful
musical I have ever seen") while WCBS-TV in New York described it
as "a spectacular show".

Ironically, the highest ticket sales were achieved on the day of
the harshest reviews.

Schmaltzy as it may sound, I was proud to be Irish in the Hilton
Theatre last week and I don't believe I was on my own. Here was
an Irish-originated musical competing on Broadway at the highest
level. For decades Broadway has staged musicals from all around
the world, but not Ireland.

In recent days I have been thinking back on the life and times of
Grace O'Malley . . . her feisty nature, an unquenchable spirit in
the face of the greatest adversity, gutsy to the last, even when
confronted by the Queen of England. Makes one wonder how she
would have dealt with the critics.

Mike Murphy is a former presenter of the Arts Show on RTE Radio
1 and is a founding director of Harcourt Developments Ltd

c 2007 The Irish Times

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