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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
May 05, 2007
Bobby Sands' Anniversary
News about Ireland & the Irish
SF 05/05/07 Republicans Commemorate Bobby Sands Anniversary
BN 05/05/07 Kennedy To Attend Re-Convening Of Northern Assembly
BB 05/05/07 Paisley Warning Over Peace Cash
BT 05/05/07 Delicate Balancing Act For Co-Equal Ministers
BT 05/05/07 Criminal Records Guidelines: Nothing To Declare
BT 05/05/07 Lord's Fury At BBC's Invite
BT 05/05/07 Death Certificates To Be Issued For The Disappeared
BT 05/05/07 Why Scots Turn To The SNP; The Implications
BN 05/05/07 OJ Simpson Lawyer To Deliver Talk In Dublin
BN 05/05/07 Paisley Dismisses Biopic Claims
BT 05/05/07 Actor Bergin Joins In Celebrations Of Strike Leader
Dublin Republicans Commemorate Bobby Sands Anniversary
Published: 5 May, 2007
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams addressed a commemoration at the
Garden of Remembrance in Dublin this morning to mark the 26th
anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands. Mr. Adams said:
"Today 26 years ago Bobby Sands died on Hunger Strike and it is
clear that the hunger strikers continue to hold a special place
in the hearts of many people. The enduring legacy of the hunger
strikers is to be found all around us. Like the Easter Rising 66
years earlier it marked a watershed in modern Irish history. The
political growth of Sinn Fein and of Irish republicanism is in no
small measure a result of their courage.
"But more importantly, their legacy is to be found in the peace
process and the positive transformation it has brought about in
Irish society in recent years. That process of change continues.
"Despite the brutal conditions Bobby never lost his faith in
people or his determination to look to the future. Twenty-six
years after his death Irish republicans face that future with
Kennedy To Attend Re-Convening Of Northern Assembly
05/05/2007 - 09:09:14
It has been confirmed that Ted Kennedy will attend the re-
convening of the Northern Assembly next Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Senator will comprise part of a US presidential
delegation travelling to the ceremony.
He is just one of several high-profile American politicians to
have received an invitation to the event.
Former president Bill Clinton is also expected to attend.
Paisley Warning Over Peace Cash
Gordon Brown is not treating the NI parties' demand for a peace
dividend seriously enough, Ian Paisley has said.
The DUP leader is due to take a pledge of office as Stormont's
first minister on 8 May. Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness will be
deputy first minister.
Earlier this week, the two met Mr Brown to discuss the financial
However, Mr Paisley said he was disappointed with the
negotiations and that Mr Brown should not take the local parties
"We shouldn't have been put into this position," he said.
"All we have to say.. is have your little pantomime on Tuesday,
but we'll not be there.
"I want them to get that message. I want them to get the message
that this is so serious that we can't possibly do justice to our
country if we don't get this."
He said further talks were planned with the chancellor.
Devolution is due to return to Northern Ireland next Tuesday,
following an agreement by the DUP and Sinn Fein to share power.
Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will be present to
witness the restoration of the executive.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/05 08:31:29 GMT
c BBC MMVII
Delicate Balancing Act For Co-Equal Ministers
[Published: Friday 4, May 2007 - 14:29]
When Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness get up to answer questions
in the Assembly, you can be sure a bargeload of civil servants
will have sweated over every word.
Such is the nature of the unique joint office where consensus is
essential between politicians who have been bitter enemies for
Yet there is no shortage of 'things to do' for the co-equal
Ministers. If they intend to 'hit the ground running' from next
Tuesday, it will be because they have to.
Work will begin soon on a programme for government, including
budget and investment strategy, because it must be completed by
They will also be preparing for the first meeting of the
Executive and the North South Ministerial Council as well as
engagement with MLAs and the scrutinising Committee of the
The Office of First and Deputy First Minister has around 420
staff - famously, more than Downing Street - with the majority of
them based in Castle Buildings at Stormont. Absenteeism has been
less of a problem than elsewhere.
It is a fully functioning department, headed up by Northern
Ireland civil service chief Nigel Hamilton assisted by a
Departmental Board which includes Mary Bunting, Frank Cushnahan
and George Gray and continued to meet monthly during the long
years of suspension.
"Strategic objectives" involve supporting Ministers, community
relations and targeting social need but arguably it is as much
about co-ordination as command. A recent meeting, for example,
identified the priority of extensive training programmes for
staff including leadership and management development.
When either FM or DFM rises at Question Time (and in the old-
fashioned way they intend to take it turn about) each will be
speaking for both. Such is the joint nature of the office.
Dozens of drafts may have been swapped and counter-swapped
between their offices. In the past, too-tricky questions have
"The officials will go to enormous lengths to make sure one
doesn't set any traps for the other, or that members are allowed
to ask questions which are too difficult," a senior source said.
"The civil servants do exert a lot of power but given the
personalities of the two men, and the control freakery of both of
their parties, it will be interesting to see who ends up in
Symbolically their office conveys leadership but it has somewhat
less responsibility than most Departments and, in relative terms,
only a modest budget. Yet during its first incarnation OFMDFM
became a by-word for delay. Several major bills, including
housing, remained stymied and the pivotal Shared Future policy
was only released after the Executive and Assembly was suspended.
"There was almost always gridlock," a former staffer said. Then
there were charges of over-staffing, evidence of duplication and
observers are waiting to see whether the new incumbents will
bring in further advisers.
Much will depend on the personalities of the DUP leader and
senior Sinn Fein negotiator: can they get on together? So far the
signs are positive: Ian jocularly refers to Martin as "Deputy"
while Martin calls him Ian.
"It can't be much worse than it was," says one former senior
official. "It is no secret that Trimble and Mallon, and later
(Mark) Durkan didn't get on, though at times they could rub
"The problems could come where one decides, for whatever reason,
to dig in, say, over academic selection. Despite intentions, it
could unravel at the point where party politics kicks in."
Junior Ministers Ian Paisley jnr and Gerry Kelly will also make
an important contribution to the working atmosphere with the
tightrope hung between a battle a day and a fudge a day. Now with
statutory status, the scrutiny committee, chaired by Ulster
Unionist Danny Kennedy, should develop more 'teeth'.
c Belfast Telegraph
Nothing To Declare
[Published: Saturday 5, May 2007 - 09:56]
By Emily Moulton
There was fury last night over controversial new guidelines which
will effectively wipe away criminal records for ex-
The voluntary guidelines - which are being introduced in the
province ahead of the return of devolution next week - are aimed
at ensuring that a paramilitary conviction should not be held
against a candidate for a job.
The Government wants both public and private employers to ignore
convictions dating back to before April 1998 when the Good Friday
Agreement was struck.
It says that no matter what the crime - the slate should be wiped
clean as far as employment is concerned.
But victims' groups and some unionists are outraged by the plans
labelling it as an "insult" to victims.
DUP Assemblyman Jim Wells said he was disgusted by the moves and
branded the guidelines "unjust and unfair".
"How can someone like one of those Shankill Butchers have their
records wiped clean when someone who has done 40 miles per hour
in a 30 zone cannot?" he asked.
"It just seems so bizarre. The people who did these terrible
deeds deserve to live with the consequences for the rest of their
lives not have them wiped away when they are going for a job.
This is unjust and unfair."
But Peter Bunting from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which
worked with government departments, representatives of the
Confederation of British Industry in Northern Ireland and ex-
prisoner groups to draw up the guidelines, defended the plan,
saying they were devised to give ex-prisoners an "equal footing"
when applying for jobs.
More than 30,000 people in Northern Ireland have spent time in
jail for offences directly linked to the Troubles.
He also dismissed suggestions that mass murderers could have
their records wiped clean even though the guidelines - which are
voluntary - say a declaration does not have to be made if it is
not relevant for the job.
"Many ex-prisoners at the moment can not get a licence to drive
long haul lorries, or mortgages for a home," Mr Bunting said.
"The whole thrust of this is about inclusion."
Willie Fraser, from Families Against Intimidation and Terror,
said he was bitterly disappointed by the moves and that it was an
insult to victims. He was also scathing of the DUP.
"There is no point in the DUP coming out now and saying they are
against this when they are the people who are in power now," he
said. " They promised us this would never happen under their
watch but they are the ones in government.
"People keep saying that this is part of moving on, but moving on
for who? The only people who get to move on with this are the
terrorists, not the victims."
Prisoners' welfare group Coiste na n-Iarchimi welcomed the
guidelines but would have preferred them to have been enshrined
in legislation. Director Mike Ritchie said: "This still remains a
meaningful initiative to change the current atmosphere in
relation to employment of former political prisoners."
c Belfast Telegraph
Lord's Fury At BBC's Invite
[Published: Saturday 5, May 2007 - 11:05]
By Sam Lister
Lord Tebbit has refused to take part in a radio show with the
'Brighton Bomber', branding it "sickening" that people were being
encouraged to accept him as a "respectable human being".
The former trade and industry secretary said it was distasteful
that Patrick Magee had built a "celebrity career" on the strength
of his " murderous inclinations".
Twenty-three years on from the attack that left his wife
paralysed, he said Magee's refusal to give evidence against the
"godfathers" of the IRA meant he could not forgive him.
Lord Tebbit's anger was sparked by an invitation from the BBC to
take part in a radio programme with Magee. He refused.
Magee bombed the Grand Hotel in 1984 during the Conservative
party conference in an attempt to murder Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher and her cabinet colleagues.
Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet escaped, but five others died and 34
c Belfast Telegraph
Death Certificates To Be Issued To The Families Of The
[Published: Saturday 5, May 2007 - 11:11]
By Sam Lister
New laws are being brought in to help ease the decades of misery
suffered by the families of the Disappeared.
Northern Secretary Peter Hain yesterday pledged to introduce
legislation allowing death certificates to be issued in cases
where bodies of suspected IRA victims have never been found.
Nine victims, all believed to have been abducted, murdered and
secretly buried, have never been discovered.
Mr Hain said: "For the families of those whose remains cannot be
located, the fact remains that without a body being found it is
not possible, under the law as it stands for the deaths to be
registered and a certificate issued.
"The families have expressed the view to NIO ministers that
having a death certificate would bring great comfort to them.
"While I am pleased that the efforts to locate the bodies of the
Disappeared are encouraging and continuing, I am of the view that
something should be done to help the families obtain some measure
"The Government has produced proposals for new legislation which
would allow the deaths, not only of the Disappeared but other
people who have been missing for as long as seven years, to be
registered and death certificates issued."
The IRA apologised to the families of the Disappeared in 2003
after the remains of Belfast woman Jean McConville were
discovered on a beach in the Republic.
She had been murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the
Since May 1999 the remains of five of the 14 have been recovered.
DUP leader Ian Paisley intervened on behalf of the McVeigh family
to demand that their missing son Columba's body was returned.
He said: "This is a welcome step forward in helping to resolve
some of the practical matters impacting on the relatives of these
victims. I have taken a deep personal interest in the plight of
the Disappeared. This cannot however be considered an end point
"I will not allow Government or others to have these families
considered out of sight and out of mind.
"There can be no let up in our determination to bring resolution
on this matter.
"I have raised this issue at talks with Government, the Irish
government and with Sinn Fein and will continue to press for the
needs of the families of the Disappeared to be met.
"I have not yet been convinced that Government and their
counterparts in the Irish Republic have done every last thing
they can to bring the maximum pressure to bear on those who may
have knowledge of the whereabouts of these victims.
"As the new administration is established at Stormont, the needs
of innocent victims of terrorism must remain a key priority for
all of us."
The measures will be taken forward by the incoming Assembly and
Executive, which will set the timescale for their introduction.
Mr Hain revealed DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson - who will
become the new finance and personnel minister on Tuesday when
devolution returns - had agreed that work on the proposals would
proceed under his direction and that the legislation would be
taken forward by the incoming Assembly and power-sharing
He added: "The new Minister of Finance & Personnel has agreed
that work on these proposals will proceed under his direction,
with the restored Executive taking forward the necessary
legislation in its programme for the coming year."
The new law is expected to be modelled on the Presumption Of
Death (Scotland) Act 1977, which allows families to apply to a
court for a declaration that the missing person may be presumed
to be dead after seven years.
c Belfast Telegraph
Why Are Scots Turning To The SNP, And What Are The Implications?
[Published: Thursday 26, April 2007 - 16:33]
Which issues are driving the SNP's poll lead? Would the SNP try
to break up Britain? Ben Russell asks the Big Question
Why are we asking the question now?
Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday next week, with the SNP in
its strongest position since the 1970s. A consistent series of
polls suggests that Alex Salmond's party will oust Labour and
emerge as the largest force in the Scottish Parliament. Such a
move would represent a political earthquake north of the border
and have profound implications for politics across the whole of
the Unite Kingdom.
It would cast a pall over Gordon Brown's expected move to 10
Downing Street and bring questions about the break-up of Britain
back to the top of the political agenda.
What are the polls saying?
Polls in Scotland cover constituency votes and the regional seats
allocated by proportional representation.
The latest poll of polls conducted by John Curtice, professor of
politics at Strathclyde University, gives the SNP a six-point
lead over Labour in the constituency and the regional votes, with
the Liberal Democrats in third place. Crucially, with just over a
week to go before polling day, the SNP vote is unchanged, despite
Labour claims that support for the nationalists will crumble.
At present, Labour dominates the ScottishParliament, with 50
seats to the SNP's 25, and has governed in coalition with the
Liberal Democrats' 17 MSPs. Conservatives currently have 17
seats, the Greens seven, and others 13.
Professor Curtice estimates the current poll of polls would
dramatically change the situation, making the SNP the largest
party in the Scottish Parliament with 46 seats compared with 40
for Labour, 19 for the Liberal Democrats, 16 for the
Conservatives, four Greens and three others.
Which issues are driving the SNP's poll lead?
The timing of the Holyrood elections sets them up as a natural
midterm verdict on the party in power at Westminster. With Labour
languishing in its third term and Tony Blair an unpopular and
outgoing Prime Minister, the SNP is the natural home for voters
dissatisfied with Labour. Alex Salmond has capitalised on the
mood with a charismatic personal campaign that has outgunned
Labour's Jack McConnell.
The SNP has also managed to raise the issue of independence up
the agenda and won plaudits for its proposal to set up a
Norwegian-style trust fund with Scottish oil revenue.
The issue of local taxation has also loomed large, alongside
bread-and-butter issues such as health and education.
Labour, clearly worried, has poured resources into the Scottish
campaign, bitterly attacking the prospect of an SNP victory,
warning of cuts and higher taxes. Tony Blair has made repeated
visits north of the border to emphasise Labour's record. But the
Labour campaign has focused heavily on the Union and fears about
the economic dangers of independence, with posters declaring:
"Break up Britain, end up broke."
What is likely to happen after 3 May?
A Scottish nationalist victory in next week's elections would not
necessarily bring about a change in government at the Holyrood
Parliament. With its combination of single-member constituencies
and proportional representation based on regional party lists,
the voting system for the Scottish Parliament is virtually
guaranteed to deny any party an overall majority.
The mathematics of the Scottish Parliament is complex. But
analysis of the latest polls by Professor Curtice suggests that
on current showing the SNP could form a coalition - just - with
the Liberal Democrats and take power. Labour and the Liberal
Democrats combined would still be six seats short of a majority.
Mr Salmond has already acknowledged that he is unlikely to be
able to form an administration without support from a minority
party in the 129-seat Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats' strong opposition to SNP plans for a
referendum on independence is a huge barrier to a coalition with
the SNP's most likely partner. The Liberal Democrats could form a
minority administration with Labour to keep the Nationalists out.
Mr Salmond has appeared to suggest a compromise "multi-choice"
referendum to try to bring the Liberal Democrats on board.
Would the SNP try to break up Britain?
If the SNP can form a government and put Alex Salmond in the
First Minister's chair, it is likely to provoke an unprecedented
constitutional clash with Westminster and put independence on the
agenda as never before.
The SNP is committed to holding a referendum on independence by
2010, before the next Holyrood elections but after the next
general election for Westminster. Potential coalition partners
such as the Liberal Democrats are implacably opposed to such a
move and polls do not show majority support for breaking the
However, pledges about a White Paper on a referendum appear to
have slipped, and there is speculation about a watered-down
referendum including the option of a beefed-up, devolved Scottish
Parliament in order to bring coalition partners on board.
A Scottish Parliament would of course only be able to hold a
consultative referendum on independence although Nationalists
insist that a "Yes" vote would make the break-up of Britain
What are the implications for Labour and Gordon Brown?
If the polls are right and the SNP becomes the largest party at
Holyrood, it will have scored a massive win at the expense of
Labour north of the border. Such a victory will be a devastating
blow to Labour in its traditional heartlands right at the moment
of transition to a new Prime Minister.
Gordon Brown may be able to use Tony Blair as a lightning rod,
blaming him for the party's midterm unpopularity, but the SNP,
even if kept out of power, will be a constant reminder of a huge
defeat on Mr Brown's home turf. The elections have already
prompted gloom in Labour circles.
More worryingly for the Chancellor, a rival SNP administration in
Edinburgh will reopen the West Lothian question. It will open a
powerful line of attack on a Scottish Prime Minister, probably
with a large number of Scottish cabinet colleagues, making policy
over the English health and education systems, when they have no
influence over the decisions affecting their own constituents.
A constitutional clash between Edinburgh and London could leave a
Brown government bogged down in constitutional reform, while
conflicts between the two Parliaments on bread-and-butter issues
could create still more friction.
Would an SNP victory in the Scottish elections worry Gordon
The SNP would propel Scottish independence to the top of the
It would reopen arguments over English nationalism and the
position of a Scottish prime minister legislating for English
Overturning Labour's dominance of Scottish politics would be a
hugely symbolic defeat just at the start of the Brown era
Even if the SNP becomes the largest party at Holyrood, it may not
form an administration
Constitutional change could not be forced through without
legislation at Westminster
An SNP victory is unlikely to translate into a majority for
independence. An SNP government would have to work with
c Belfast Telegraph
OJ Simpson Lawyer To Deliver Talk In Dublin
05/05/2007 - 12:17:18
Barry Scheck, the lawyer who defended OJ Simpson, will speak at
Trinity College's Philosophical Society this Wednesday, May 9.
Barry Scheck defended the American actor when he was charged with
the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend,
Ronald Goldman, in 1994. He also defended Louise Woodward, the
British nanny, in her 1997 murder trial.
Scheck co-founded the Innocence Project, which is dedicated to
using DNA evidence as a means to exculpate individuals of crimes
for which they were wrongfully convicted. More than 180 such
inmates have been freed from prison thanks to the project.
Ruth Faller, President of the University Philosophical Society,
said "Barry Scheck is sure to be an interesting and controversial
guest. He has done a huge amount of work to free those who have
been wrongfully convicted and is one of the privileged few to
know all the details of the OJ Simpson murder case."
Paisley Dismisses Biopic Claims
05/05/2007 - 10:20:54
The Rev Ian Paisley has not approved any movie which is being
planned about his life, he insisted today.
The North's First Minister-Designate said he was not flattered by
reports that rival film-makers were battling to tell his story on
the big screen.
There have been reports that Mr Paisley's son, the North Antrim
Assembly member Ian Junior, has teamed up with acclaimed Belfast
playwright Gary Mitchell on one project.
Another celebrated playwright from the North, Graham Reid, is
involved in writing a screenplay for a rival film project.
The Democratic Unionist leader said that claims that his family
had approved one of the projects were utter nonsense.
"I am sure the people who want to make these movies are trying to
catch the public eye," the 81-year-old North Antrim MP said as he
prepared to become Stormont First Minister next Tuesday.
"I have survived worse than that in my day. But no, we are not
making any movie. I do hope, though, we will have the material
for a good movie after we have been in office for some time."
The Northern Ireland Film Commission and the Irish Film Board
have approved the Reid project. Mr Reid wrote the BBC's Billy
Plays which helped catapult Belfast-born Kenneth Branagh to
Mitchell, who is writing the other script, has received rave
reviews in Dublin and London for a number of acclaimed hard-
hitting plays about loyalism, including As The Beast Sleeps.
He was forced out of his home in Rathcoole, north Belfast, by
loyalist paramilitaries angered by his work.
Mr Paisley was not impressed to be the focus of movie industry
"I'm not flattered by this at all," he said. "I don't think a man
in public life, if he behaves himself, needs to worry. It never
has done me a button of harm and no man has had worse publicity
than I have had."
Liam Neeson, who played Michael Collins in a film directed by
Neil Jordan, has said in interviews that he would love to play
the DUP leader.
One Hollywood-based actor who was ruling himself out of
contention was Patrick Bergin, who was in Belfast today to
celebrate the life of trade union legend Jim Larkin.
The Dubliner, who starred in Patriot Games and Sleeping With The
Enemy, played another unionist, Edward Carson, in a play with
Adrian Dunbar, based on the trial of Oscar Wilde.
Asked if he would be tempted by the role of the DUP leader,
Bergin quipped: "No. I think I am too good-looking."
Actor Bergin Joins In Belfast Celebrations Of Strike Leader
[Published: Saturday 5, May 2007 - 11:01]
By Brendan McDaid
A hollywood actor who is to play a famous Irish strike leader in
a new movie is in Belfast this weekend.
Patrick Bergin, star of major Hollywood movies such as Robin Hood
and Sleeping With The Enemy, was in the city yesterday and
participated in the centenary celebrations of the 1907 Belfast
Dockers and Carters' Strike.
As this Irish Congress of Trade Unions May Festival has the 1907
strike as its theme, Bergin is especally appropriate as he is
scheduled to play strike leader Jim Larkin in the forthcoming
biopic of the life of James Connolly, to be directed by Adrian
Last night, Bergin was a special guest at an event for trade
union supporters who were visitng Belfast to join in the weekend
And today, he'll perform at the short rally organised by the ICTU
before the traditional May parade, which attracts thousands of
workers and their families each year. Bergin will also read
poetry in honour of Jim Larkin.
c Belfast Telegraph
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