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April 27, 2007

Poll Indicates Ahern Election Disaster

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 04/27/07 Polls Indicate Ahern Election Disaster
BT 04/27/07 B Clinton Side Steps McAllister’s Deportation Fight
BT 04/27/07 McCain Praises Sinn Fein On Policing Move
BT 04/27/07 McCord’s Victim Commission Rejection Letter Revealed
BB 04/27/07 DUP Ministers May Quit Councils
BB 04/27/07 PUP 'Dissident Talks' With PSNI
BT 04/27/07 Incoming Edu Minister Backs Irish Language Schools
BB 04/27/07 SF: Decisions 'Should Be Put On Hold'
IN 04/27/07 McGuinness Brother-In-Law Denies Abduction
IN 04/27/07 Naming Of Band After UVF Bomber Defended
BT 04/27/07 Ulster Student: How I Survived Virginia Massacre
BN 04/27/07 Average House Prices Down €2,000
IT 04/27/07 Towns And Villages Are Fastest Growing Centres
IT 04/27/07 Revival Of 'Dead' Man Not Unique
IT 04/27/07 Baby Son For Michael Flatley And Wife
TP 04/27/07 Irish President To Visit US Next Week


Polls Indicate Ahern Election Disaster

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 11:15]
By Ben Lowry

The Republic is on course for a change of government with the
ruling Fianna Fail party heading for a general election disaster
as its vote continues to plummet, a new poll has suggested.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's party will now be bracing itself for the
loss of up to 25 seats as its vote has fallen to 34%.

That is down 3% on the February figure. This is the third
national opinion poll in a week in which the Fianna Fail vote has
gone down, but the party remains the largest.

The support for Sinn Fein has edged up by 1% to a solid 10% of
the overall vote.

Support for the largest opposition party, Fine Gael, has
continued on the up.

It has soared to 31%, or a rise of 5% in just over two months.

Fine Gael now hovers just 3% behind Fianna Fail and will harbour
realistic hopes not only of heading the next government, but also
of pushing further ahead and becoming the largest party.

If repeated on polling day, the figures mean that not only would
Fine Gael regain the 23 seats it lost in its calamitous 2002
performance, but it would also gain several more seats.

The poll is a huge body-blow to Fianna Fail as Mr Ahern continues
to mull over the date of the general election. Carried out by TNS
MRBI for the Irish Times, it shows that while Labour's vote is
down 1% to 10%, the Fine Gael-Labour axis could form a government
without the support of the Greens.

Together, Fine Gael and Labour have 41%, four points ahead of
Fianna Fail and their current coalition partners, the Progressive
Democrats who have a combined 37%.

If the Greens are added in with Fine Gael and Labour to form a
Rainbow, the three would have a 10% lead over the present
government combination.

The poll shows Fianna Fail on 34% (down 3% on February), Fine
Gael, 31% (up 5), Labour 10% (down one), Sinn Fein, 10% (up one),
Greens, 6% (down two); PDs, 3% (up two), Independents and others,
6% (down two).

c Belfast Telegraph


Clinton Refuses To Back Ex-INLA Man's Fight Against Deportation

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 11:04]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Former US President Bill Clinton has declined to back a campaign
for former Republican paramilitaries after being questioned by an
ex-INLA prisoner.

President Clinton was speaking at a $4,500-a-head fund-raiser for
his wife's presidential campaign at the New York home of actor
Gabriel Byrne.

After inviting questions from the crowd, one member of the
audience introduced himself as Malachy McAllister, who was jailed
in the early 1980s for the attempted murder of an RUC officer.

McAllister, who has been fighting for years to stop his
deportation back to Northern Ireland, asked what another Clinton
presidency could do for his campaign.

However, President Clinton side-stepped the question, talking off
the need to overcome sectarian divides and speaking at length
about the current situation in Rwanda.

"Is there anyone here from Rwanda?" he asked, to laughter from
the almost exclusively Irish-American audience.

However, President Clinton suggested that Mr McAllister take his
case to Senator Clinton's office.

Asked by a younger member of the audience what his wife's
presidency could do for young people, President Clinton said that
America's first female president would make the fight against
global warming a priority, which would affect young people around
the world more than anyone else.

Senator Hillary Clinton was not at the event as she had to fly to
South Carolina for the first debate among the eight Democratic
presidential candidates.

Byrne welcomed President Clinton to his four-storey Brownstone
home in an affluent area of Brooklyn.

The event was expected to earn over $$200,000 for Senator
Clinton's presidential campaign.

President Clinton reminisced about his time in Northern Ireland
while meeting the 200 guests.

c Belfast Telegraph


Senator Praises Sinn Fein On Policing Move

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 11:03]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Republicans cannot use policing as an excuse for violence in
their communities now that Sinn Fein has appointed members to the
policing board, Senator John McCain has said just hours before he
is due to officially announce his candidacy for the US

Speaking at the annual Cooperation Ireland dinner in New York
this week, Senator McCain was reacting to Sinn Fein's
announcement that it is to appoint three people, including an ex-
IRA bomber, to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Mr McCain gave his "hearty congratulations" to Sinn Fein and the
DUP on the new Northern Ireland Government - and especially
welcomed Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness' joint letter of
congratulations to the Ireland cricket team as one of their first
official acts together.

Senator McCain noted that Sinn Fein has now made its first
appointments to the policing board.

"In the past, the character of the police was used as an excuse
by some who wished to engage in extra-judicial activities,
actions that rent the fabric of society. That excuse is gone," he
said to applause from the audience.

"Violence, crimes and threats have no place in the Northern
Ireland of today or tomorrow," he added.

Senator McCain made his comments two years after lambasting the
Sinn Fein and IRA leadership in front of Gerry Adams at a similar
black tie event in Washington.

c Belfast Telegraph


You wanted written proof, Mr Paisley? Well then, here it is ...

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 09:38]
By Chris Thornton

Incoming Stormont Minister Ian Paisley jnr wanted to see written
evidence that Raymond McCord had been rejected as Victims'
Commissioner because he didn't know enough about the Troubles -
and here's the proof he asked for.

A letter sent by officials to Mr McCord last month said the
Belfast campaigner - whose son was murdered by the UVF and was
himself severely assaulted by the UDA - had not shown "an
awareness of the consequences of the conflict" in his

Earlier this week Ian Paisley jnr told the BBC's Nolan programme
that he would be very interested in "seeing if that was actually

He added: "I mean, if he has that in writing I will be certainly
interested in that."

Told about the letter yesterday, Mr Paisley - who could have a
role in the final appointment of the new Commissioner next month
- said the rejection had been "very badly and stupidly handled".

The DUP MLA, who will be the junior minister in the First
Minister's office which sent out the letter, said: "It's a
pathetic way to treat a victim.

"People have to get in touch with the community if they're going
to deal with the needs of victims."

The letter could be a key part of potential court action over the

Mr McCord, who was in Strasbourg this week telling MEPs about his
son's murder, is currently taking legal advice.

The campaigner decided to apply for the post in January, after
years of work about his son's murder led to the Police
Ombudsman's devastating report on UVF collusion.

But he was turned down without an interview.

In the letter, an official in the Office of the First Minister
and Deputy First Minister said Mr McCord had been rejected for
"failing to provide enough evidence" in relation to four criteria
for the œ65,000-a-year post.

The letter indicated that the first hurdle he fell at was in
being able to demonstrate "an awareness of the consequences of
the conflict in Northern Ireland or similar situations

He was also rejected because he did not show "a high standard of
oral, written and presentation skills", an "ability to work
effectively with the media" and experience of office management.

A public relations professional has described Mr McCord's media
skills as " excellent".

The assessment panel, which included one independent member,
decided Mr McCord had come up to standard in three areas -
commitment to promoting the interests of victims, an ability to
work with victims from different sections of the community, and
an ability to empathise with victims.

Mr McCord said: "I'm not saying I'm the best person for the job,
but I thought the reasons they gave were ludicrous.

"My son was murdered by the UVF, I've been threatened by that
organisation for daring to ask questions about the murder, and
I've been left for dead by the UDA - but I'm not aware of the

The First Minister's Office said it could not comment on
individual applications.

A total of 46 people applied for the Victims' Commissioner job
when it was advertised in January.

Thirteen people have been interviewed, but no appointment has
been announced. First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First
Minister Martin McGuinness will have to agree the appointment
after they are confirmed in their jobs on May 8.

c Belfast Telegraph


DUP Ministers May Quit Councils

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson may soon be giving up his
council seat in Castlereagh.

The party is currently reviewing potential conflicts of interest
between senior members of the assembly who are also councillors.

A DUP spokesman said about half a dozen members are affected.

They include Mr Robinson, the new finance minister, and the new
environment minister, Arlene Foster, who also sits on Fermanagh

Party leader Ian Paisley will be sworn in as first minister of a
new Northern Ireland power-sharing assembly on 8 May, with Sinn
Fein's Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister.

In the previous assembly both Mark Durkan, the SDLP finance
minister, and the UUP environment minister, Sam Foster, resigned
their council posts.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/27 10:24:38 GMT


PUP 'Dissident Talks' With PSNI

The Progressive Unionist Party are to hold talks with the police
service in relation to dissident republican activity.

Party leader Dawn Purvis will lead a delegation to meet PSNI
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde in Belfast.

It comes after Sir Hugh told the BBC he believed a forthcoming
statement from the Ulster Volunteer Force on its intentions would
not go far enough.

The Progressive Unionist Party is aligned with the paramilitary

Speaking ahead of Friday's meeting, Ms Purvis said: "The purpose
of this discussion is to get an assessment from the chief
constable and his top team on dissident republican activity.

"It is important that our new assembly is given the best possible
start and that nothing is allowed to destabilise that, therefore
it will be helpful to hear from the chief constable his plans to
deal effectively with dissident republicans."

On Wednesday, the PUP leader met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks
in Dublin.

Earlier, an Independent Monitoring Commission report found that
UDA and UVF members were still involved in crime.

The paramilitary watchdog said it was time for the UVF leadership
to show courage to point it in a new direction.

The commission said the UVF was not involved in terrorist
activity and had tried to address the problem of racial crime
during the period under review.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/27 06:20:22 GMT


Incoming Education Minister Backs Irish Language Schools

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 09:46]
By Kathryn Torney

The incoming Sinn Fein Education Minister has pledged her support
for the continued growth of Irish language schools and integrated
education - despite the Assembly facing the prospect of mass
school closures.

Caitriona Ruane has spoken out in advance of attending a
fundraising event at an Irish-medium nursery school in
Downpatrick tonight.

The Minister will have to juggle her aim along with multiple
school closures and amalgamations due to be implemented as a
result of a dramatic decline in the school aged population.

It is also likely to lead her onto a collision course with the
Education Committee chairman Sammy Wilson - who has been strongly
critical of expansion of the two growing minority school sectors
at a time when pupil numbers are falling.

Ms Ruane told the Belfast Telegraph: "One of the challenges
facing me as future Minister for Education will be to take
forward the idea of sharing within and between schools. Irish-
medium schools offer a valuable educational environment.

"I want to support parental choice and to continue to develop
both the Irish-medium and integrated sectors.

"As with other sectors it is also important that the Irish-medium
sector challenges itself by listening to others and discussing
possible future opportunities."

Among the items under the hammer at tonight's event are single
malt whiskey - one a limited edition to commemorate John Hume's
receipt of the Nobel Prize, and another similar bottle to
commemorate Mary McAleese's election as President of Ireland.
There will also be a football and a Down jersey, both signed by
all the Down All-Ireland winning captains, which will be
presented to the buyer by Down Gaelic football legend Paddy

Other lots are a Bobby Sands biography signed by the surviving
hunger strikers, a copy of the Belfast Agreement with John Hume's
signature, a flight from Newtownards airport over Downpatrick and
Lecale, two nights' bed and breakfast and dinner for two in the
Slieve Russell Hotel and a Manchester United shirt signed by
Diego Forlan and Ruud van Nistlerooy.

The gala dinner and auction event at Russell Gaelic Union
Clubrooms in Downpatrick will raise funds for Na¡scoil Dh£n
P draig - the Downpatrick Irish-medium Nursery School.

The school is a recognised charity and the money raised in the
auction will be used to sustain and develop Irish-medium pre-
school education in the Downpatrick district.

The night begins at 7.30pm and the auction starts at 9.30pm. The
cost is œ25 for dinner (including wine), the auction and
entertainment. Or just œ5 to attend the auction and entertainment
only. Anyone interested in attending the event can telephone
P draig Mac Thiarn in on (028) 44613709 or mobile 07712 667518.

c Belfast Telegraph


Decisions 'Should Be Put On Hold'

A moratorium should be placed on key financial decisions
affecting NI until devolution is imposed on 8 May, Sinn Fein's
Mitchel McLaughlin has said.

Mr McLaughlin, chair of the assembly's finance committee, said
important decisions were being taken by the NIO.

He said appointments had been made and a shortlist for a œ500m
contract known as Workplace 2010 had been drawn up.

A NIO statement said the main decision on the scope and content
of the contract would be up to the assembly.

"Workplace 2010 is in the middle of a commercial process and that
process is continuing. However, the main decision on the scope
and content of the contracts will be for the new Stormont
administration to make," it said.

However, Mr McLaughlin said he could not understand why such
important decisions were being taken by direct rule ministers.

"It has been reported that direct rule minister David Hanson has
taken a decision to shortlist two of the four parties bidding for
the huge œ500m Workplace 2010 contract two weeks prior to the
establishment of the executive and political institutions," he

"I cannot understand why direct rule ministers are currently
announcing decisions that will impact on the discharge of local
ministers' responsibilities when a local administration is about
to be restored in less than two weeks."

The Workplace 2010 contract involves the sale and lease of
publicly owned assets.

It would tie the Department of Finance and Personnel into a 20-
year commercial relationship with a private sector company.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/04/27 06:05:40 GMT


McGuinness Brother-In-Law Denies Abduction

By Seamus McKinney

A BROTHER-in-law of Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
appeared before Derry Magistrates Court yesterday charged in
connection with an abduction and assault.

Marvin Canning (45) faces seven charges in connection with the
abduction in Mullingar and assault in Derry of Co Down man
Brendan Cranston and his partner, Dublin woman Linda Docherty.

Mr Canning is a brother of the incoming deputy first minister's
wife Bernie.

After the hearing, Mr Mc-Guinness confirmed that Mr Canning was
his brother-in-law and condemned the alleged attack.

"Whoever carried out this attack, I absolutely and unequivocally
condemn it," he said.

"Those responsible must be made accountable through the courts."

Mr Cranston and Ms Docherty were abducted at their home in
Mullingar in Co Westmeath and driven to Derry where Mr Cranston
was shot in both ankles and Ms Docherty assaulted.

A small crowd of Mr Canning's supporters jostled photographers
and camera crews as the accused was brought into the courthouse
in a police van.

As he was led in he turned to his supporters and gave a clenched-
fist salute.

There were also a number of disruptions as supporters entered
court for the brief hearing.

When a mobile phone sounded, resident magistrate Barney McElholm
ordered that the owner be fined œ50.

Mr Canning was led into the dock handcuffed to a prison guard.

Dressed in a checked open-neck shirt, he remained silent
throughout the hearing, nodding his head to confirm that he
understood the charges against him.

A detective constable told the court he charged the accused the
previous night.

Detective Constable Derek McLaughlin said Mr Canning maintained
his innocence through seven different interviews.

Questioned by defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott, Mr Mc-Laughlin
also admitted that the evidence against Mr Canning was of an
"identification nature".

The accused faces charges of the false imprisonment, kidnapping
and assault of Mr Cranston and causing him grievous bodily harm.

He is also charged with possessing a firearm with intent to
endanger life.

Mr Canning also faces charges of the false imprisonment, assault
and causing grievous bodily harm to Ms Docherty.

The accused was remanded in custody to appear back in court on
May 24 by video link.

A second man arrested in connection with the incident on Tuesday
has been released without charge while another man arrested on
Wednesday afternoon was released last night.


Naming Of Band After UVF Bomber Defended

By David Wilson

A DUP assembly member has defended a band named in honour of a
UVF man killed by his own bomb by comparing them to GAA clubs
named after republicans.

Adrian McQuillan was responding to claims by SDLP assembly member
John Dallat who said a parade to be held in Coleraine tonight -
led by the Freeman Memorial Band - would "desecrate" the town

Robert Freeman one of four UVF men killed priming a bomb bound
for a Catholic owned restaurant in 1975.

More than 1,500 marchers and 68 bands are expected to attend the
three-hour parade.

Mr Dallat said the timing of the march - only weeks after the
PSNI informed more than 100 people that their names were on a
loyalist list and days after the IMC said loyalist paramilitaries
were still involved in criminality - was inappropriate.

But Mr McQuillan said the parade should not be seen as

"It has been going for more than 20 years and the Parades
Commission has not voiced any concerns," he said.

"It is very funny to hear concerns over the name of the band when
there are any number of GAA clubs in the area named after


Ulster Student: How I Survived Virginia Massacre

[Published: Friday 27, April 2007 - 09:37]
By Judith Cole and Ben Lowry

An Ulster student has described how she survived the horror of
the Virginia Tech massacre - by a split second.

Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, 23-year-old Karen
Scott from Coleraine revealed that, at the time of the killings,
she called into her office to pick up a book rather than visit
ill-fated Norris Hall where most of the students and staff were
gunned down last Monday.

The PhD engineering student, who graduated from Queen's
University Belfast last year with a masters degree in
aeronautical engineering, waited out the ordeal in her office,
just metres away from Norris Hall.

Karen recalled how she phoned her mother in Northern Ireland
after gunman Cho Seung-Hui carried out the first two killings,
two hours before he stepped up his crazed attack.

Karen said: "While we were talking on the phone everything turned
upside down. Sirens wailed and police sped past my office towards

"Within minutes, town, county and state police were situated
right outside, closely followed by SWAT teams and K-9 units.

"We were then informed that a gunman was loose on campus and that
we must remain inside."

Karen said things happened so quickly that she did not have time
to get frightened and her sense of security was enhanced by the
teams of SWAT police outside.

"Had there not been a presence outside my door, I might have been
a little more fearful," said Karen.

And she added: "I have, of course, seen armed police from when I
lived in Northern Ireland but I have never seen anything like the
arrival of the SWAT team - there were so many of them and they
were heavily armed."

When Karen was eventually evacuated, she saw people coming out of
Norris Hall with their hands held in the air.

This was because the police did not know that the gunman was
dead, and had to remain suspicious of everyone, she said.

c Belfast Telegraph


Average House Prices Down ?2,000

27/04/2007 - 10:37:03

The average price paid for a house in Ireland in March was ?2,007
below the February figure, according to the latest edition of the
permanent tsb / ESRI House Price Index.

The fall reflects a decline in national prices of 0.6% in March -
the first reduction in national house prices since January 2002,
when prices declined by 0.9%.

The average price paid for a house nationally in March 2007 was
?309,071, compared with ?310,632 in December 2006.

Over the first quarter of the year (January to March inclusive)
prices nationally decreased by 0.5%, compared to growth of 3.5%
in the same period last year.

However, the average price paid for a house in March this year
was still 7.4% higher than the average price paid in March last
year. This was a lower increase than the 9.5% difference in
national prices which occurred between February 2006 and February

Head of marketing with permanent tsb Niall O'Grady said: "The
reduction in average national house prices in March has been
reflected in all market sectors with the exception of Dublin and
houses bought by first-time buyers.

"Clearly stamp duty uncertainty (and) recent ECB rate rises are
both impacting on demand for houses."


Towns And Villages Are Fastest Growing Centres

Paul Cullen
Fri, Apr 27, 2007

Towns, both large and small, and villages are the fastest growing
centres of population in Ireland. Proportionately, fewer people
are living in cities, according to census data published by the
Central Statistics Office.

Galway is the State's fastest growing city, while the numbers
living in Limerick and Cork are actually declining.

The five major cities, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and
Waterford are losing population share; they grew at only half the
rate of the entire country between 2002 and 2006.

Galway, with a population growth of almost 10 per cent, is the
only city growing faster than the national average of 8.2 per

Overall, the population share of the five cities fell from 35.5
per cent to 34.2 per cent, and less than one-fifth of overall
population growth took place there.

By contrast, the number of large towns (those with a population
of 10,000 or over) increased from 28 per cent to 34 per cent
since the 2002 census. Arklow, Ballina, Midleton, Cobh, Wicklow
and Mallow are now classified as large towns.

Swords in north Co Dublin showed the highest growth with 6,823
moving into the area, while Balbriggan grew by more than 50 per
cent, the highest percentage growth.

Dublin has the highest population density, while Co Leitrim still
has the most open space with the fewest people per square

Smaller towns, with a population of 1,500 to 9,999, grew in size
by one-fifth, as did villages.

The Irish Planning Institute (IPI) said the figures showed that
many small villages were at risk either from depopulation or

"It seems that small settlements are either losing population to
such an extent that their future is at risk or are overwhelmed by
population growth, resulting in the risk of becoming commuter
towns," said IPI president Henk van der Kamp.

"Either scenario is undesirable, and better planning policies
must be put in place to avoid these problems and to ensure
balanced development of settlements in both rural and urban

Meanwhile, the population of the Gaeltacht fell to 92,777 in the
period, the CSO figures also show.

Most of the fall is accounted for by a decrease of over 2,000 in
the most populous Gaeltacht area, Galway city and county. Only
the Mayo breac-Gaeltacht recorded a marginal increase of fewer
than 100, to a population of 10,947.

The population of most offshore islands is also in decline.

While the numbers living on the most populous island, Achill,
remained static at 2,620, there were falls in population on Bere,
Clear and Sherkin islands off Co Cork, Arranmore and Tory islands
off Co Donegal, the three Aran islands off Co Galway, and
Inishbiggle and Inishturk off Co Mayo.

However, Inishbofin off Co Galway and Clare Island off Co Mayo
bucked the trend with small increases in population.

Seven offshore islands have a recorded population of one person

c 2007 The Irish Times


Revival Of 'Dead' Man Not Unique

Fiona Gartland
Fri, Apr 27, 2007

The case of the man who was wrongly declared dead in the Mater
hospital in Dublin earlier this month is rare but not unique, a
city undertaker has said.

Yesterday's Irish Timesreported that the Mater was carrying out
an investigation into how a man in his 30s, who was declared dead
by staff, was subsequently found to be alive when mortuary
personnel came to collect his body on Easter Sunday.

Keith Massey, of Rom Massey & Sons Ltd, said his father, Rom,
experienced a similar case in the 1960s. When he went to collect
the body of a man from a Dublin hospital, he could not find it,
he said.

It emerged that when the man was being moved to another hospital
for post-mortem, he revived. Death notices had appeared in the
newspapers for him, but he went on to live for another 10 years.

Mr Massey said if a person was buried alive, the chances are they
would die of asphyxia before they realised what had happened.
"Human nature being what it is, it is bound to happen now and
again," he said. "Looking at the trade journals, there are
occasional reports of people waking up."

He said he heard of a case in Yorkshire in the 1990s when a
woman, who suffered from a rare form of epilepsy, ended up in a
mortuary on two occasions. The condition resulted in her body
appearing to shut down. She went stone cold and had only a very
faint pulse, which went undetected.

"She was lucky she wasn't put in a fridge in either of the
mortuaries or she would have died of hypothermia," he said.

Undertakers are obliged to carry out a series of basic tests once
they receive a body, including putting a hand over the person's
mouth to check for breathing, putting a mirror to a person's
mouth, searching for a pulse and checking for chest sounds.

"Sometimes we get asked to put a mobile phone in a coffin so that
the person can call if they wake up," Mr Massey said. "We
recommend embalming. This plasticises the body and once you're
embalmed you're gone. To embalm, we cut open an artery - there
should be a trickle of blood, but if it pumped out we would stop
everything. We embalm in four out of five cases."

He added that the mistake made in the Mater hospital might
reflect the amount of pressure doctors are under," he said. "It
is not like forgetting to deliver a piano. In this business, one
error has a huge impact."

c 2007 The Irish Times


Baby Son For Michael Flatley And Wife

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent
Fri, Apr 27, 2007

Multi-millionaire dancer Michael Flatley and his wife Niamh are
celebrating the birth of their first child, a boy, at Cork
University Maternity Hospital.

The baby weighed 8 lb 1 oz when born by Caesarean section after
Niamh was brought to the new hospital late on Wednesday night
from the family home at Castlehyde, near Fermoy in north Cork.

At the hospital yesterday afternoon, Flatley was clearly thrilled
with the new arrival but was remaining tight-lipped about a name.
He said he would be happy with whatever his wife chose.

"Somebody just asked me if this is the best feeling I've had - I
don't remember any other feelings right now except this one. It's
remarkable and the first time I held my child, I don't think I'll
ever forget that as long as I live.

"We are overjoyed, both mum and baby are doing well. I cannot
wait to get Niamh and our baby son home to Castlehyde. We would
like to thank Prof John Higgins and all the wonderful staff at
the hospital".

Michael (48) who is from Chicago and Niamh (32), from Kilbride,
Co Meath, were married last October at St Patrick's Church in
Fermoy with some 250 guests later celebrating the wedding at

In November, Flatley was struck down by a serious but non-
threatening viral infection that forced him to cancel all dates
of his Celtic Tiger European tour and he spent a week in a London

Flatley first came to prominence in Riverdance at Eurovision in
1994 but has since gone on to stage a series of highly successful
dance shows such as Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames.

Flatley is worth an estimated ?500 million plus and has homes in
Barbados, Chicago, France and London as well as Castlehyde, which
he bought in 1999 and on which he spent several million euro for

c 2007 The Irish Times


Irish President To Visit US Next Week

Web posted at: 4/27/2007 9:35:25
Source ::: AFP

DUBLIN President Mary McAleese is to make a five-day visit to
the United States next week to strengthen links with the Irish
community and to promote trade and cultural links, her office
said yesterday.

Her programme will begin on Monday in Atlanta, Georgia, where she
will meet state Governor Sonny Perdue and the Irish-American
community before departing for Syracuse, New York. The president
will call on New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg before
returning to Dublin on May 5.

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