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May 04, 2007

McGuinness Applauds 'Courageous' Paisley

News about Ireland & the Irish

DJ 05/03/07 McGuinness Applauds 'Courageous' Paisley
DJ 05/03/07 McGuinness: It's A Massive Job, But We Can Do It'
DJ 05/02/07 Adams: Not Fazed Re: Handshake Martin & Ian
BB 05/04/07 Paramilitary Past No Bar To Work
BT 05/04/07 DUP Gay Grant Row Escalates
BB 05/04/07 Teachers Lose Religion Bias Claim
BT 05/04/07 Sectarian Divisions Are 'Costing Ulster Billions'
IV 05/04/07 Irish Raise $500,000 For Hillary
BT 05/04/07 Blair Came To Ulster More Often Than He Visited Wales
BT 05/04/07 Hollywood Legend Newman Helps Out Integrated School
BN 05/04/07 Hollywood Star Pays Tribute To Connolly


McGuinness Applauds 'Courageous' Paisley

WITH JUST days to go before the North's new powersharing
government meets at Stormont, Deputy First Minister designate,
Martin McGuinness, has paid tribute to the "political courage" of
Dr. Ian Paisley, hailing the "momentous, historic and
progressive" moves made by the DUP leader in recent times.

Mr. McGuinness was speaking to the 'Journal' just hours after
returning from Edinburgh where he and incoming First Minister Dr.
Paisley - on their first joint trip outside Northern Ireland -
held talks with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown
on the shape of any future peace dividend.

The Sinn Fein MP said that while his relationship with Dr.
Paisley was "a totally new experience", it was something both men
would soon get used to.

However, the Derry republican also acknowledged that, given their
respectives histories, he and Dr. Paisley could be viewed as a
bit of an "odd couple".

"Given the history of the North of Ireland, and obviously coming
from totally different backgrounds, we would naturally have
formed different opinions," he said.

"His allegiance is to what he refers to as the United Kingdom and
my allegiance is to Ireland. Therefore, it is understandable that
we have opinions about each other; but, that said, I give credit
to Ian Paisley for the momentous, historic and progressive steps
he has taken in recent times.

"While we can never forget the past, our job must be to look to
the future. That, in itself, has the potential to change much
more than opinions.

"We don't have to be a mutual admiration society in order to be
pragmatic about getting the job done."

Mr. McGuinness, who will officially be sworn in as Deputy First
Minister at Tuesday morning's historic meeting, said it remained
to be seen if the new powersharing arrangements would work,
adding: "I am increasingly confident it can work and I am
determined to do my utmost to ensure it does."

The Sinn Fein MP also insisted he was under no illusion as to the
task ahead: "I have been charged with massive responsibilities
which I must carry out to the best of my ability. I also know
that I have the overwhelming support and goodwill of the people
of Ireland for what I have to do.

"I believe that we are now in a position where we can start to
build a future for everyone on this island that will greatly
benefit future generations. I believe that we can banish
injustice, inequality and conflict for good."


It's A Massive Job, But We Can Do It' - McGuinness

DJ: Are you still convinced that power sharing between Sinn Fein
and the DUP won't be a "battle a day"?

MMcG: Ian Paisley and myself have been involved in ongoing
dialogue and discussions as First and Deputy First Ministers
Designate. We have been taking decisions jointly and preparing
for the restoration of the political institutions. Thus far, all
of this has been conducted in a positive, constructive and
civilised fashion. Up to now, it has not been a battle a day.
Sinn Fein is determined to deliver for all of the people and I
believe that the DUP also realise they can only deliver by
working together.

DJ: What's it like sitting down with Ian Paisley making decisions
about the future?

MMcG: A totally new experience and something I believe we will
get used to.

DJ: Do you ever stop and ask yourself: is this really happening?

MMcG: I am not surprised by any of this as I have known since the
autumn of 2004 that we would be in government with the DUP. It
was always a matter of when and not if. The Sinn Fein leadership
and negotiating team have invested much time and energy in all of
this and it is gratifying to see it all come together.

DJ: Do we now stand on the threshold of something special?

MMcG: I believe that we do. I believe that we are now in a
position where we can start to build a future for everyone on
this island that will greatly benefit future generations. I
believe that we can banish injustice, inequality and conflict for

DJ: I suppose Ian Paisley and yourself still have opinions about
each other that won't change.

MMcG: Given the history of the North of Ireland, and obviously
coming from totally different backgrounds, we would naturally
have formed different opinions. His allegiance is to what he
refers to as the United Kingdom and my allegiance is to Ireland.
Therefore, it is understandable that we have opinions about each
other but, that said, I give credit to Ian Paisley for the
momentous, historic and progressive steps he has taken in recent
times. While we can never forget the past, our job must be to
look into the future. That, in itself, has the potential to
change much more than opinions.

DJ: Will personal opinions hamper your jobs?

MMcG: No, we don' have to be a mutual admiration society in order
to be pragmatic about getting the job done.

DJ: What are your earliest memories of Ian Paisley?

MMcG: As an 18 year old Bogsider hearing about Him holding a
counter-demonstration to a Civil Rights protest in Derry's
Guildhall Square.

DJ: Do you admire him - he is, after all, a man of principle?

MMcG: I admire the political courage that he has shown in his
recent decisions.

There are many things in his past that I don't admire, as I am
sure there are things in my past that he doesn't particularly

DJ: People - some of them your former comrades - have, in recent
times, questioned your republican credentials: what do you say to

MMcG: Anyone questioning my republican credentials would need to
examine the recent election results which saw a resounding
endorsement of the Sinn Fein leadership. But, in saying that, the
tiny minority who disagreed have a perfect right to their

DJ: Do these dissident/'micro' groups who insist armed struggle
is still legitimate have any future?

MMcG: The people of Ireland have spoken and they overwhelmingly
gave their support to the peace process. I have always believed
that the vast majority of the people of Ireland are republicans
with a strong desire to see a united Ireland. That majority
believes, as I do, that, given the transformation that the peace
process has brought, the only way now to a united Ireland is
through the deployment of purely peaceful and democratic means.
Those who are prepared to argue that further conflict is a
legitimate tactic capable of achieving Irish unity are seriously
deluding themselves. It is a fact of history that all conflict
ends up at the negotiating table. I believe that we have created
the political conditions in which we can pursue our primary
political objectives of Irish unity and sovereignty through
peaceful and democratic means. And I hope that those who remain
to be convinced will come to the same realisation sooner rather
than later.

DJ: You remain determined to achieve a united Ireland?

MMcG: All my life I have been determined to achieve a united
Ireland. The countdown has begun. It is inevitable.

DJ: Is this new administration going to work?

MMcG: That remains to be seen but I am increasingly confident
that it can work and I am determined to do my utmost to ensure
that it does.

DJ: What are your priorities as you prepare to enter government?

MMcG: The priority is to ensure that the power sharing and all-
Ireland institutions deliver for all of the people who live on
this island. There are huge issues to be resolved. The need to
develop an all-Ireland economy, to ensure increasing peace and
prosperity for the people, the need for inward investment and
decent well paid jobs for our young people, the development of
our infrastructure which as we all know is critical to attracting
investment. The health and education of our people will also be
key priorities. There are huge challenges to the environment and
we, too, must make our contribution.

Of critical importance also is the support and further
development of rural communities and equality and human rights
for all are among many priorities facing the new institutions.

DJ: What thoughts will be going through your mind on Tuesday

MMcG: That I have been charged with massive responsibilities
which I must carry out to the best of my ability and that I have
the overwhelming support and goodwill of the people of Ireland
for what I have to do.

DJ: Is too much being made of whether or not you and Paisley
shake hands?

MMcG: Yes, it is a media thing.

DJ: You're going to be deputy first minister, MP for Mid-Ulster -
but, surely, you're not going to forget about Derry?

MMcG: No Derry man worth his salt ever forgets Derry or its
people. I just hope they don't forget me.


'Not Fazed' About Handshake Martin And Ian 'Co-Equals' In
Executive - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said he isn't bothered by Ian
Paisley's refusal to shake hands with Martin McGuinness when they
assume their posts as First and Deputy First Ministers.

Speaking to 'FN' during a visit to Buncrana yesterday, Mr. Adams
was keen to point out that such symbolism was not important in
the new power-sharing Executive to be sworn in next week.

"I would not be at all fazed that there'll be no handshake, the
important thing is that he's going into the Executive as an equal
with Martin McGuinness."

"Martin and Ian will be sharing the office of First and Deputy
First Minister as co-equals and that's the important thing."

He suggested that whether or not there was a handshake between
the new leaders of Stormont was insignificant in light of recent
progress in the peace process.

"Let's be diplomatic about all these matters, it's one day at a
time and we have achieved a huge amount so I wouldn't worry about

It was revealed yesterday that the DUP leader said that such
formality would not be needed when he and Sinn Fein's Chief
Negotiator take up their new roles on May 8.

"It's not handshaking we want, it's decision-making we want. It's
not acting like two actors to impress people, the people are
looking for results.

"We could shake hands 24 hours a day, but if we don't get this
province of ours into a ship-shape economic condition what good's
the handshaking?"

Meanwhile, Mr Adams spent around an hour in Buncrana yesterday
morning as part of his whistlestop tour of Donegal to support the
General Election campaigns of Donegal County Councillors Padraig
MacLochlainn and Pearse Doherty.

He told this newspaper that electing the first Sinn Fein TD in
the county's history was a strong possibility due to the demand
for change in Donegal. However, he admitted that returning both
candidates would be no simple task.

"It's a big ask, they are three seaters. We need to mobilise
every single vote and no one should be lethargic about this
election. If they want Padraig MacLochlainn elected or Pearse
Doherty then every single vote has to come out on the 24th.

"I know the people here in Donegal, both in this constituency and
in the west have suffered. Unemployment is four times the average
level; the health services are a big problem everywhere but
particularly in this area where we don't even have cancer care or
radiotherapy units. There is a lack of infrastructure and
investment in the region while the natural hinterland is divided
by partition.

"If people want change, and my sense is that people here do want
change, then they need to come out and vote."


Paramilitary Past No Bar To Work

Paramilitary convictions should not be a hindrance when it comes
to getting a job in NI, according to new guidelines.

The government gave a commitment to work with businesses, trade
unions and ex-prisoner groups during the St Andrews talks in
October 2006.

Almost 30,000 people have spent time in prison as a result of the

The move is supported by trade unions and the business community,
however, unionists criticised the move as an "attempt to
whitewash the past".

The government wants employers in both the public and private
sectors to adopt the voluntary guidelines.

These state that any offence committed before the signing of the
Good Friday Agreement in 1998 should not be taken into account
unless it's materially relevant to the employment being sought.

DUP assembly member Jim Wells said he was sickened by the move.

He accused the government of "slipping them out" ahead of the
return of devolution on Tuesday.

While we must all embrace a peaceful future, the solution cannot
be to simply pretend that the heinous acts carried out by many
terrorists are null and void.

David Burnside

Ulster Unionist

"Giving a clean record as far as employment is concerned to
people who have committed dastardly deeds... it's an Alice in
Wonderland situation and I'm totally against it," he said.

UUP assembly member David Burnside also criticised the guidelines
as a "cynical government attempt to whitewash the past".

"While we must all embrace a peaceful future, the solution cannot
be to simply pretend that the heinous acts carried out by many
terrorists are null and void. It is insulting to victims and is a
crass move.

"Government know that this move would not command a majority of
support in the Assembly and have decided to rush it through ahead
of the devolution deadline."

Voluntary measure

However, a republican ex-prisoners group has welcomed the move.

Raymond McCartney, the chairman of Coiste nIarchimi, said it was
a positive step.

"We are in a process of resolving the conflict. Those that were
part of the conflict want to be part of the new political
dispensation," he said.

"They want to contribute to the communities in which they live
and they don't want needless barriers to employment, travel,
adoption or insurance to impede their lives."

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister said
the guidance would be reviewed in 18 months.

The guidance is the product of extensive work between government
departments, representatives of the Confederation of British
Industry in Northern Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trades Unions
and ex-prisoner groups.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/04 17:16:53 GMT


DUP Gay Grant Row Escalates

[Published: Friday 4, May 2007 - 10:31]
By David Gordon and Lesley-Anne Henry

The DUP gay grant aid controversy escalated today, as details
emerged of a major funding package from Ian Paisley's new
department for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that the Office of the First
Minister and Deputy First Minister is committed to allocating
œ180,000 over a 12-month period to promote equality for the gay

The Stormont department will be headed from next week by Mr
Paisley, who once led a 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' campaign in a
bid to keep gay sex illegal in the province.

It was revealed this week that another DUP ministry, Culture,
Arts and Leisure, is funding an increased grant for this year's
Belfast Gay Pride Festival.

In a further sign today of unrest within the party's religious
heartland, a fiercely-worded attack on gay funding has been
issued by Free Presbyterian minister the Rev Ivan Foster.

Writing for his website, the controversial clergyman challenged
fellow church member Edwin Poots to "resign as minister-elect and
so refuse to be part of any betrayal of the gospel of Christ".

Mr Foster, a diehard opponent of the DUP-Sinn Fein power-sharing
deal, said the use of public funds to "promote and celebrate" an
" abomination before God" was "shameful".

He also stated: "Mr Poots cannot serve God and the world. He
cannot please God and the iniquitous sodomite lobby or, indeed,
his Sinn Fein/IRA partners.

"If he acquiesces to this demand, then he is throwing his lot in
with the enemies of God and will be contravening the standards of
God's Word for a Christian."

Mr Poots indicated this week that he would not be intervening on
the Gay Pride funding.

He also pointed out that he will be obliged to comply with
equality legislation as Minister.

On Mr Foster's latest attack, he said: "I haven't taken up the
position so I haven't awarded anything. That decision has already
been taken and it's not the minister who makes it anyway, but
nonetheless I have no comment to make at this point."

Mr Foster's outspoken website article was posted last night,
before news of the grant support from the Office of the First
Minister and Deputy First Minister.

The œ180,000 funding involves the department working with gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups in the province.

A spokesman for OFMDFM said: "The funding is to enable the
Coalition on Sexual Orientation to build the capacity and
infrastructure of the sector to promote equality, improve
community relations and the social inclusion of
lesbian/gay/bisexual people."

Andi Clarke, Gay Pride organiser and publisher of Ulster's only
gay magazine 'Icon', said no one should be surprised that LGBT
groups receive funding.

"We have received œ250,000 from departments which will be under
DUP control from next Tuesday," he said.

He also invited Mr Foster to attend a talk to hear how the money
will be spent.

c Belfast Telegraph


Teachers Lose Religion Bias Claim

The Appeal Court has rejected a claim of religious discrimination
made by two teachers at a Lisburn school.

The women had both applied to be modern languages head at
Laurelhill Community College, but the post was given as job-share
to two non-Catholics.

To retain faith schools, religious bias laws do not apply to
teaching jobs.

Lawyers for the women argued European law let them claim
discrimination as the job was an internal promotion. The Court of
Appeal rejected this.

The judges said that as it was a new and different teaching post,
it could be described as "recruitment" and therefore was exempt
from discrimination law.

However, it is understood the law will still protect people who
fail to get extra salary points or who are harassed in work
because of their religious of political beliefs.

The Equality Commission paid for the legal case, as it wants to
see the exemption for schools scrapped altogether.

The teachers, Caroline Flynn and Beatrice Debast, say they will
bring an industrial tribunal action, claiming discrimination on
the grounds of trade union membership.

However, neither their union nor the Equality Commission is
backing this case.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/05/04 16:33:44 GMT


Sectarian Divisions Are 'Costing Ulster Billions'

[Published: Friday 4, May 2007 - 11:46]
By Ben Lowry

Tribal division and violence in Northern Ireland is costing the
province countless billions, reconciliation groups have claimed.

Public spending alone is œ1.5 billion more per year in the
Province than in Wales because of the additional problems caused
by sectarian conflict, such as duplication of services.

"You have to have a leisure centre in every area, a library in
every area," said Duncan Morrow, chief executive of the Community
Relations Council, addressing people from the business and
community sectors at a lunchtime event in Belfast.

"We have embedded division in education and housing which is
quite unbelievable.

"As late as 2004, the Housing Executive spent œ45m relocating
people who were intimidated."

One riot on the Whiterock Road in Belfast in 2005 cost œ3m in
policing costs alone, and an unquantified amount as people stayed
off work through fear of more trouble, he said.

Numerous overseas students who had been set to commence courses
in Northern Ireland dropped out after the trouble, forcing
Queen's University to abandon an announcement that they had a
record number of overseas students.

The event yesterday, which formed part of Community Relations
Week, was also addressed by the chairman of Invest NI, Stephen
Kingon, and former senior civil servant Tony McCusker, who is now
director of a community relations initiative called One Small

Tourism in Northern Ireland was only 10% of that in the Republic,
Dr Morrow said, yet "the weather, the climate and the landscape
isn't that different".

Dr Morrow said that he recently read that Iraq and Lebanon had
lost 20% of their best people as a result of the recent strife,
and he believed that similarly Northern Ireland had lost an
"unquantifiable" number of people over the last 35 years.

Dr Morrow said that the transformation of Northern Ireland to a
shared society offered considerable economic rewards.

Some 75% of directors who were considering locating in Northern
Ireland cited political stability as the key consideration before
investing, Dr Morrow claimed, citing a CBI survey.

Dr Morrow cited a "disastrous" bomb scare during a major November
2005 retail conference at the Waterfront Hall, which acted as a
"huge disincentive to investment".

He concluded: "Ongoing political advancement, our increasingly
stable society and the ability of our citizens to work together
free from the threat of sectarianism or racism will be absolutely
key to the creation of a truly modern, dynamic, world-class

Community Relations Week runs until Sunday and will have featured
some 150 events.

c Belfast Telegraph


Irish Raise $500,000 For Hillary

By Debbie McGoldrick

DEMOCRATIC presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton boosted
her campaign coffers by $500,000 after two hugely successful
Irish American fundraising events held in New York and San
Francisco last week.

The events, under the auspices of a new fundraising group called
Irish Americans for Hillary, were organized by Declan Kelly, the
Co. Tipperary-born president and CEO of FD, one of the world's
leading financial public relations firms.

The New York party was held last Thursday at the Brooklyn
brownstone owned by actor Gabriel Byrne and was attended by 75
guests who paid up to $4,600 apiece for the change to mingle with
former President Bill Clinton, who acted as his wife's stand-in
as she participated in the first Democratic presidential debate
that evening in South Carolina.

The San Franc-isco event took place at the suburban home of John
Hartnett, an Irish-born senior executive at Palm, Inc. More than
100 guests were on hand, including the guest of honor herself,
Senator Clinton, who traveled north from an earlier campaign stop
in San Diego.

The gathering at Byrne's house was attended by a number of Irish
American community leaders, including John Fitzpatrick, CEO of
the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group; Stella O'Leary, president of the
Washington, D.C.-based Irish American Democrats; Loretta Brennan
Glucksman, chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund; and former
Congress-man Bruce Morrison, a Yale Law School colleague of both

Leading Irish businessmen on hand included Danny Moloney, founder
and president of Liffey Van Lines, Larry Sullivan, president of
Conserve Electric, Gerry Flynn, president of New York Flooring,
and Andy Breslin, president of Atlantic Scaffold-ing.

Byrne set the tone for the buoyant mood at his home by saying
"there's a sense in America that great change is on the way," and
that Senator Clinton is poised to deliver, should she win the
2008 election.

Referring to Ireland, Byrne praised President Clinton for all of
his administration's efforts to secure peace in the North. "In my
lifetime I never thought there would be peace in Northern
Ireland," he said.

"To be at this time in my life saying that peace has come to our
troubled island is something I never thought I'd see. It's an
honor to have a man of history standing in my living room.

"And," Byrne added, "to paraphrase John Lenn-on, if you can,
imagine a future president of the United States as a woman. It's
easy if you try!"

Nodding approvingly, President Clinton then accepted a framed
poster of himself on a 1996 cover of Irish America magazine from
publisher Niall O'Dowd "thank you of this reminder of how young I
used to be!" he joked and spoke about his enduring fondness for
the Irish.

"You know, I was thinking today that it took 13 years from the
time I gave Gerry Adams a visa, and nine years from the signing
of the Good Friday Agreement, to get to where we are now,"
Clinton said, referring to next Tuesday's historic first meeting
of the new devolved government in Northern Ireland headed by
Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin

"The people I most believe are responsible for May 8 are the
Irish public. They have enjoyed the benefits of peace, and it
became impossible to go back . . . the public is in a place where
they will no longer tolerate anything else."

Though he clearly enjoyed reminiscing about his time spent on the
Irish peace process, Clinton spent most of the evening building
up his wife's presidential credentials. "I think we need somebody
who offers positive leadership around the world. We have to get
America's standing around the world back," said Clinton.

"Hillary visited 82 countries when I was in the White House. She
was the face of America in Africa and India and so many other

"Nobody we could elect in the party could do so much to restore
America's prestige so quickly. And I believe she will win if we
all stick with her."

Clinton took three questions from the audience, outlining Senator
Clinton's views on issues such as global warming, the war in Iraq
and domestic concerns including health care.

One of the questioners was Malachy McAllister, the New Jersey-
based former Irish political prisoner who has been fighting
deportation from the U.S. He asked if Senator Clinton would be
supportive of his years-long quest to receive political asylum
now that peace has come to Northern Ireland, and the former
president said that since the conflict is over, McAllister's case
should be re-evaluated in that light.

Clinton stayed at Byrne's house to pose for photos, sign
autographs and catch up with long-time supporters from his days
in the White House. "You know, in New York I think I'm no good to
Hillary except at Irish parties and the state fair," he laughed.

As for the new contender in the Clinton family, she expressed a
trace of envy at her husband's new schedule. "Hillary said for
all these years she wondered what it would be like to run for
president. And now she knows. She said to me, 'I'm going off to a
debate, and you get to go to Gabriel Byrne's house!" said the
former president.

Speaking to the Irish Voice on Sunday evening after the two
fundraisers, Senator Clinton stated that she was "delighted and
so encouraged by the support of the Irish American community."

"It is so exciting what is happening in Northern Ireland on May
8," she added, "and I am so proud that the work that Bill and I
put in has helped the Irish achieve peace, in even a small way."

If elected to the White House Senator Clinton pledged to keep
Ireland on the front burner.

"Ireland is always in my heart, as it is in the president's," she
said. "We have such great friends there and in the Irish American


Blair Came To Ulster More Often Than He Visited Wales

[Published: Friday 4, May 2007 - 11:28]
By Bryan Gray

Prime Minister Tony Blair has visited Northern Ireland almost 40
times since he came into power 10 years ago.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that
Mr Blair has visited Ulster almost twice as often as he has
commuted to Wales throughout his 10 years at Downing Street,
calling with his Welsh neighbours only on 20 occasions.

Mr Blair is set to make his 38th and final official visit to
Northern Ireland - equalling his Scottish visits - when he
attends the historic opening of the new power-sharing Executive
at Stormont next week.

The Prime Minister, who views the Northern Ireland peace process
as one of his success stories while in power, is widely expected
to formally announce his departure within hours of witnessing the
planned resumption of devolution at Parliament Buildings.

DUP leader and First Minister designate, Ian Paisley, invited Mr
Blair to Stormont during recent Prime Minister's Questions in

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former US President, Bill Clinton, are
also expected to be in attendance on Tuesday.

Mr Blair's first visit to Ulster was May 16, 1997, just over a
fortnight after becoming Premier.

He visited Ulster 12 times in 1998, as he helped to seal the Good
Friday Agreement. Five of these visits required an overnight
stay, highlighting their importance.

The figure does not take into account the Prime Minister's
involvement in 'summit' talks outside Northern Ireland over the
10-year period. These included Weston Park (2001), Leeds Castle
(2004) and more recently St Andrews (2006) in Scotland as well as
numerous meetings with Ulster's political parties at Downing

c Belfast Telegraph


Hollywood Legend Newman Helps Out Integrated School

[Published: Friday 4, May 2007 - 11:02]
By Sean O'Driscoll

Hollywood star Paul Newman and President Mary McAleese helped
raise millions of dollars for an Ulster school last night in what
was the largest ever US fundraiser for Irish causes.

The American Ireland Fund dinner in Manhattan raised $$4.15m
(œ2.7m) in total for both Rowallane Integrated College in Co Down
and the Barretstown Gang Camp for seriously ill children in Co

Guests heard how the Rowallane school, which was turned down
twice for Government funding, was in a "woefully inadequate"

Newman thanked the American Ireland Fund for a $$1m cheque for
his Hole In The Wall Gang charity, which he is donating to the
Barretstown camp, its first non-US site.

The black-tie event attracted more than 1,500 people, many of
them wealthy Irish Americans and their clients.

Newman, who was wearing a simple suit and tie joked that he
didn't know it was a black tie event and said he burnt his tuxedo
on the driveway of this house on his 70th birthday.

"It was one of the crowning achievements of my life," he added.

He told the crowd that his son lived for his chance to volunteer
for the Barrestown campers.

"It's even more impressive when a camper comes up and says: 'This
is what I live for,'" Newman said.

The Hollywood legend applauded as President McAleese announced
that the UVF had declared an end to its campaign.

President McAleese recalled the words of Northern Ireland poet,
John Hewitt: "We build to fill the centuries' arrears" and said
that not all the guns were gone but the news from the UVF was

She said that people south of the Border had a "deep wish" to be
friends with loyalists and that Martin McGuiness and Ian
Paisley's real work would begin when the euphoria of the new
government settled down and they had to run an economy and create

She was introduced by American Ireland Fund chairwoman, Loretta
Brennan Glucksman, who said that the President was from the
Ardoyne, the " ground zero in war-torn Belfast".

Earlier, American Ireland Fund president, Kieran McLouglin, said
that the Rowallane Integrated College was on a "woefully
inadequate" location and showed the audience an overhead display
of one of the science classrooms "without a Bunsen burner in

He said that was changing because of generous grant from the
American Ireland Fund.

c Belfast Telegraph


Hollywood Star Pays Tribute To Connolly

04/05/2007 - 18:40:48

A Hollywood actor is to pay tribute to one of Ireland's trade
union legends at a rally in Belfast this weekend because of a
personal family connection.

Patrick Bergin, who stared in the movies Patriot Games and
Sleeping With The Enemy, arrived in the city to take part in the
Irish Congress of Trade Unions' May festival marking the 100th
anniversary of James Larkin's involvement in the 1907 dockers and
carters strike in the city.

The strike saw more than 5,000 dockers down their tools for four
months in a fight for better pay and conditions, uniting Catholic
and Protestant workers.

When Royal Irish Constabulary police refused to escort 'scab
workers' to the docks, soldiers were called in to end industrial

The 1907 strike in Belfast is seen as having been a template for
the famous Dublin lockout six years later in which Larkin was a
major figure.

Mr Bergin, who has been lined up to play James Larkin in a biopic
of the republican and socialist icon James Connolly, revealed his
family connection to the trade unionist.

"My connections kind of go back through my work with the actor
Adrian Dunbar who is directing the film," he revealed.

"However I also have a connection with Jim Larkin through my

"My father worked with him and had communication with him. My
father was an organiser for the labour movement in Carlow during
the 1940s. I think Jim Larkin came down and visited him once but
there was certainly written communication.

"My dad was also a campaign organiser for the National Labour
Party in Ireland and came up here to get a man called Jack
Beattie elected in west Belfast around 1948.

"So that's the atmosphere that I was brought up in and when I got
the chance to play Jim Larkin, Big Jim himself, it was a real

Mr Bergin will appear at a May Day rally in Belfast tomorrow
organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The actor will read poetry in honour of the trade unionist.

"I'm really here in a personal capacity," he said.

"I am really not here as Patrick Bergin the actor but really as
Paddy Bergin Senior.

"There are a couple of poems my dad wrote and he told wonderful
stories about his time here in west Belfast organising Jack
Beattie's election.

"They resonate quite deeply. We had a thing at home which I have
been struggling to find and I hope we haven't lost it.

"My brother Pierce said he had it in his wallet - a flyer from
election time of Jack Beattie.

"The evening before the election this flyer came back from the
person whose letter box it was pushed through with the most
incredible piece of poetry in the back with an abusive message
and an explanation why the voter would not be voting for Jack

Mr Bergin said the movie which is currently in pre-production
would focus on the personal life of James Connolly.

Jim Larkin had a small but significant role in the script.

"Reading the books about Jim Larkin is one thing," he said.

"Listening to what my dad said about him, he was on the edge of
being a bit of a bully - a big man who encouraged people to stand
up for themselves, a big man who instilled that sensibility in

"He could keep a lot of things going a once and a number of
ideas. His office was one that was constantly busy.

"One of the most resonant things about him that would linger with
me is his insistence on not being paid in the pub. There was the
element of the puritan about him but for practical reasons.

"Obviously we also talk about the courage of him not only coming
to Belfast to organise workers but also America. So you are
talking about a man who was obviously on the world stage."

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