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August 16, 2007

Sinn Fein Councillor Receives Death Threats

News about Ireland & the Irish

EE 08/16/07 Death Threats For Sinn Féin Councillor
SF 08/16/07 Threat Caller Traumatises Council Official
AP 08/16/07 Paisley Position On Irish Language Slammed
IV 08/16/07 UDA Money On The Brink
BN 08/16/07 Academics To Discuss Easter Rising Legacy
BB 08/16/07 PSNI Officers 'Lack Forensic Basics'
BT 08/16/07 Irish-Speaking School Closure Is Backed By Ruane
IT 08/16/07 RTÉ Confirms Beverley Flynn Payment
BT 08/16/07 Trimble Has 'No Regrets' Over Assembly Absence
BB 08/16/07 NI 'Now More Popular Destination'
BN 08/16/07 Viking Ship To Be Hoisted Out Of Liffey
IT 08/16/07 Sea Eagle Reintroduced After 100 Years

Three of the eagles released today. Picture courtesy of the Green Party.

Death Threats For Sinn Fein Councillor

16/08/2007 - 10:48:58 AM

A Sinn Fein councillor in the North has received death threats.

Billy Leonard, from Coleraine, Co Antrim, said he and his family
had taken threatening phone calls claiming a bomb had been left
under his car.

"He has said that I would be dead in 24 hours, when other members
of my family answered the phone he has said the Councillor Billy
Leonard would be dead," he said.

The politician has not linked the calls to any organised
paramilitary group but he is the second nationalist public
representative to be targeted in recent days.

SDLP MLA John Dallat was warned of the danger from loyalists last


Threat Caller Traumatises Council Official

Published: 16 August, 2007

A caller who has regularly threatened the life of Sinn Fein
councillor Billy Leonard has now traumatised a member of staff at
Coleraine Borough Council.

The lady received a call from the man describing how he was
holding a gun to Leonard's head and that his claim had to be
taken seriously. The staff member immediately alerted the
Council's acting Chief Executive Desi Wreath who in turn
contacted the PSNI. Councillor Leonard said:

"I really regret that this member of staff had to suffer the
shock of such a call.

"This person has now tried to make or imply threats against me
four times in recent days

As well as this call to the Council Office he has phoned my home
phone number twice and my mobile once in a five day period and
has been at this for many months.

"I and my family take this person as a matter of course. But
under no circumstances should he be taking his pathetic campaign
to the Council offices and alarming a member of staff as she does
her normal work.

"I have met with the lady and assured her of my full support and
I hope that she can put this disturbing incident behind her."


Paisley Position On Irish Language Slammed

The Democratic Unionist Party is seeking to block any bid to have
an Irish Language Act passed in the Six County Assembly,
according to a letter signed by party leader and Six County First
Minister Ian Paisley.

In the two-page letter, written to mark the first 100 days of the
Stormont executive, Paisley assures party members that the DUP
will oppose any legislation that would enshrine the rights of
Irish language speakers.

A language act is a key demand from Irish language advocates who
point out that it deserves the protection granted to other
minority languages across Europe.

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe called on the British
government to develop a comprehensive Irish language policy,
including measures to meet the increasing demand for Irish-medium
education "as a matter of priority".

The Strasbourg-based Committee of Ministers backed the findings
of an 86-page report from a Council of Europe watchdog monitoring
the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which
came into force in Britain in July 2001.

The Charter commits the British Government to safeguard and
promote Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster-Scots,
Cornish and Manx Gaelic.

In the North, where demands for an Irish Language Act similar to
the 26 County Official Languages Act, the DUP has branded the
proposal for a language act as divisive and discriminatory and
"sponsored by Sinn Fein".

North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Caral N¡ Chuilin has criticised
Paisley's views on Irish language legislation as being at odds
with the new political arena.

"The revival of the Irish language has been a cultural success
story. More and more people are using Irish. Young children in
particular are being educated in increasing numbers through the
medium of Irish and it is their future and their rights that must
be secured through legislation", N¡ Chuilin said.

"Ian Paisley, as First Minister should recognise the obligation
to make provisions for those Irish speaking children and all
Irish speakers in general. I urge my colleagues in the Assembly
to act without delay to copper fasten and implement the agreement
made at St Andrews.

"It is essential that Irish speakers are granted the following
basic demands

:: That rights are at the heart of the legislation

:: That adequate resources be provided to implement the Act

:: That the proposed commissioner shall have the power, staff and
resources to oversee the Act.

"The Irish language is not the property of one section of our
people. It belongs to everyone. It threatens no one. It provides
Sinn Fein and the DUP with a unique opportunity to move forward.
It provides Ian Paisley with a unique opportunity to move
forward. There is an opportunity now with the Irish language to
give ownership to all our people.

"Sinn Fein has met with Minister Poots recently to discuss Irish
Language legislation and for Ian Paisley to claim the campaign is
divisive and discriminatory is wrong.

Articles may not be reproduced without the consent of An
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UDA Money On The Brink

August 16, 2007
By Barry McCaffrey

The Ulster Defense Association (UDA) has been warned that it will
lose $2.5 million in government funding unless it begins to
decommission its weapons within 60 days.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, whose government
department funds the UDA-linked Conflict Transformation
Initiative (CTI) project, warned she would stop the finances in
October unless there were clear signs that the UDA had ended all
criminal activity and begun decommissioning.

Ritchie's ultimatum came after the UDA was blamed for
orchestrating recent loyalist violence, including gun attacks on
the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde had said that he would not even
give 50 pence to the UDA following the attacks on his officers.

Issuing her ultimatum to the UDA, Ritchie said, "The funding will
end 60 days from now unless there is clear and demonstrable
evidence that the UDA has engaged meaningfully with the IICD
(Independent Inter-national Commission for Decommissioning) and
has started to decommission its weapons.

She warned the UDA and its UPRG political wing, that they were
now at the "last chance saloon."

"It is time that the UPRG (Ulster Political Research Group) and
the UDA's actions matched the rhetoric," she said.

"It is not on to say that decommissioning is not on the agenda.

"Decommissioning weapons, ending criminality and stopping
extortion are the agenda."

However, UPRG spokesman Frankie Gallagher claimed his party had
assured Ms Ritchie that it wanted to move the UDA away from
paramilitarism during a meeting between the two sides hours
before the announcement.

"Conflict transformation was never achieved by ultimatums,
nothing ever was," he said.

"We all want the same thing. I want what Margaret Ritchie wants.
The paramilitaries who are talking to me want paramilitarism

"They want to move into a new dispensation where they can reap
the benefits, the same as everybody else. Irish Republicans have
done it, they have done it very well, but their community still
needs a lot more.

"I want to do that, the UDA is saying they want to do that, we
all want to do it."

However, within hours of the threat to withdraw UDA funding
Ritchie's party colleague John Dallat was warned by the PSNI that
Loyalists were planning to kill him.

Dallat said he believes the threat was directly connected to his
support for the withdrawal of UDA funding.

"I don't think it is a coincidence this latest threat has came
just as my party colleague announced her decision to withdraw
funding," he said.

"I have of course received threats in the past and on each and
every occasion they came from the UDA."

Dallat said he would not be intimidated into altering his stance.


Academics To Discuss Easter Rising Legacy

16/08/2007 - 06:53:02

The legacy of the 1916 Easter Rising will be discussed today at
the Parnell Summer School in Co Wicklow.

The annual five-day event continues until tomorrow in Avondale
House - the ancestral home of Charles Stewart Parnell.

The topic 'Commemorating 1916 - Remembering and Forgetting' will
be discussed today by a panel of academics from both sides of the

The Summer School is focusing this year's theme on changes in
Irish culture, society and politics.

Speakers have included Labour deputy leader and local TD Liz
McManus and Oxford University history professor Roy Foster.

Irish Parliamentary Party leader Parnell, who was dubbed the
'Uncrowned King of Ireland' died in 1891 and is buried in
Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery.

His supporters began hosting the summer school in 1991 to mark
the centenary of his death.


Officers 'Lack Forensic Basics'

Many frontline police officers in Northern Ireland lack basic
forensic skills, a new report has found.

Student officers entering the PSNI also regularly need retraining
in the vital area of police work.

The shortcomings were highlighted in a report from Criminal
Justice Inspection Northern Ireland and Her Majesty's
Inspectorate of Constabulary.

It was a follow-up to an earlier examination of scientific
support services within the PSNI.

The latest report, which focused on whether a total of 25
forensics-related recommendations had been put into practice,
said: "Many frontline officers still lacked forensic awareness,
and the training delivered so far to these members of staff had
not resulted in significant improvements."

However, it went on to highlight that a five-day scientific
evidence model was now included as part of the initial training
programme at the PSNI College.


The report continued that despite this development, "supervising
officers stated that many new student officers required re-
training in the basics on reaching their District Command Unit".

In response, Superintendent Ken Henning said he believed the
current training programme was sufficient.

"I don't accept that police officers don't know what to do at a
crime scene," he said.

"As a police commander in the not too distant past, I can assure
people that when a crime takes place, one of the first things
that happens when the initial police officer who arrives at the
scene is that that scene is sealed.

"The integrity of that scene is kept until the professional crime
scene investigators come along and take charge."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/08/16 05:48:00 GMT


Irish-Speaking School Closure Is Backed By Language Fan Ruane

[Published: Thursday 16, August 2007 - 08:03]
By Lisa Smyth

The Education Minister has denied a lack of demand was behind her
decision to close an Irish-medium unit in a Co Tyrone school.

Sinn Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane, a long term supporter of the
development of the Irish language in schools across the province,
announced yesterday that she has agreed to a proposal to close
the Irish-medium unit at St Patrick's Primary School, a co-
educational, maintained primary school in Gortin.

However, she said that while she was forced to close the unit at
St Patrick's Primary School due to the small number of pupil
enrolments there, she believed that a growing number of parents
in the area want their children to attend Irish-medium schools.

Ms Ruane said pupil numbers at the unit at St Patrick's Primary
School have decreased following the opening of an Irish-medium
school, Gaelscoil Na gCrann, in nearby Omagh in September last
year, which now has 38 pupils enrolled.

"The demand for Irish-medium education continues to grow, even
though the overall number of young people in our schools is
falling," she said.

"Despite this fact, we need to plan more strategically for the
provision of Irish-medium education and it is for this reason
that a review is currently under way - a review that I hope will
bring forward bold proposals on how to support this growing

"My hope is that the review of Irish-medium education will
provide for a sector with long-term stability that meets the
needs and wishes of those who choose an Irish-medium education
for their children."

The development proposal to close the Irish-medium unit was
submitted to the Minister by the Western Education and Library
Board at the request of the Council for Catholic Maintained
Schools and trustee.

A spokesman said that as a result of a decline in pupil
applications leading to a falling enrolment, CCMS and the trustee
had been forced to make this difficult decision.

He also acknowledged the impact the closure will have on staff,
pupils, parents and the local community and in light of this, he
explained that representatives from CCMS will engage in a period
of discussion with parents in relation to the educational
provision available for their children.

He added: "The proposal to close any language unit at a Catholic
Maintained School is never taken lightly and occurs only after a
period of thorough consideration about what is best for the
pupils. Unfortunately the Irish Medium Unit at St Patrick's
Primary School has been affected by a falling enrolment."

c Belfast Telegraph


RTE Confirms Beverley Flynn Payment

Piaras Murphy

RTE has confirmed that Mayo TD Beverley Flynn is in the process
of paying the ?1.25 million she owes the broadcaster after her
failed libel action against it.

In a statement, RTE said it could confirm "that solicitors for
Beverley Flynn have been in communication with RTE's solicitors
and payment is in the process of being made electronically".

In July the controversial TD offered to pay RTE ?1.225 million to
settle the ?2.848 million she owed after her unsuccessful 2001
High Court libel action against the station over its reports that
she encouraged people to evade tax while working for National
Irish Bank.

In 2004, she failed in her appeal to the Supreme Court against
that decision. Both courts awarded costs against Ms Flynn which
were certified in September 2005 by the High Court Taxing Master.

Ms Flynn made the settlement with RTE when the broadcaster
initiated bankruptcy proceedings against her after she had failed
to pay any of the total bill of ?2,848,088.

Tomorrow was the deadline for the payment of the monies owed to
RTE. It is expected that the bankruptcy proceedings initiated by
the broadcaster will be struck out at a court hearing on October
8th, paving the way for her return to the Fianna Fail party.

Under the Electoral Act 1992 Ms Flynn would have been prevented
from being a member of the D il if she was declared bankrupt.

In June Ms Flynn began a constitutional challenge against the
Act. The challenge was aborted when she agreed the settlement
with RTE.

Following her failed libel action she was expelled from Fianna
Fail, however, there is speculation that she will be welcomed
back into the party and may be even given a junior ministry in
the future now that she has settled her debt with RTE.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has strongly signalled that Ms Flynn will
hold at least a junior ministry in the current Government.

Ms Flynn, a daughter of the former Fianna Fail TD and EU
Commissioner Padraig Flynn, has also said she believes Fianna
Fail to be her natural political home.


Trimble Has 'No Regrets' Over Assembly Absence

[Published: Thursday 16, August 2007 - 08:11]

Former First Minister Lord Trimble insists he has "no regrets" at
not being involved in the newly devolved Assembly.

The ex-UUP leader sounded relaxed as the Belfast Telegraph caught
up with him on a canal holiday with wife Daphne in the English

Speaking from their newly-acquired narrowboat, he said: "Ah, the
new Assembly - has it really reached the 100 days stage?

"I haven't really been keeping up to speed, but I'm delighted to
see it all going so smoothly, and that Ian Paisley and his pal
Martin McGuinness seem to be getting along so swimmingly.

"One wonders why the DUP took so long to come to terms with the
realities of Northern Ireland, and I can only come to the
conclusion that the St Andrews Agreement is, in fact, the Good
Friday Agreement for slow learners.

"Still, one must be magnanimous and wish them all well. They're
now facing the difficulties of running the country and keeping
within budget."

The peer, who is now part of David Cameron's Tory team in the
House of Lords, added: "I can look back with satisfaction at the
ground work I did in setting up the Good Friday Agreement, which
was superseded by its identical twin - the St Andrews Deal.

"I have no regrets that I'm not part of it now. It was time to
move on, and I'm delighted that Northern Ireland has its own
Assembly. But it could and should have been set up years earlier,
without the pain and the procrastination."

c Belfast Telegraph


NI 'Now More Popular Destination'

Northern Ireland is becoming a more popular holiday destination
for people from the rest of the UK, a new study suggests.

The results were compiled by search engine which
examined which UK towns were most popular with those searching
for a holiday on their site.

Belfast was the fifth most popular place for a getaway for people
from London and fourth for Edinburgh people.

Overall, Northern Ireland ranked 19th in the top 50 UK holiday

It finished ahead of such well known destinations as Devon and
Cornwall. analysed holiday-related searches on their site for a
year up to this summer as part of their study.

"Our site data clearly shows that Northern Ireland is a popular
holiday choice for people in the UK," the company's Alicia
Andrews said.

Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau figures show that in 2006
Belfast played host to 6.8 million visitors. In the same year,
66% of visitors to Northern Ireland as a whole were from Britain.

Jonathan Smyth, destination marketing manager with the Northern
Ireland Tourist Board, said: "Visitor numbers to Northern Ireland
continue to rise and tourists are spending more while they are

"'s data is further evidence of Northern Ireland's ever
increasing popularity as a 'must-see' destination."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/08/16 05:52:25 GMT


Viking Ship To Be Hoisted Out Of Liffey

16/08/2007 - 06:51:44

Final preparations are underway today for the lifting of a
replica Viking ship from Dublin's River Liffey.

The Sea Stallion of Glendalough, the biggest reconstruction of a
Viking long ship in the world, sailed into Dublin yesterday after
a six-week voyage from Denmark.

More than 60 oarsmen rowed the longship 1,000 nautical miles from
the Danish port of Roskilde, via Norway, the Orkneys and Northern

The vessel is a reconstruction of the Skuldelev 2, built in
Dublin in 1042, which is believed to have sunk in the Roskilde
Fjord 30 years later.

The wood used in the original ship was traced to trees felled in
Glendalough, Co Wicklow.

At 11pm tonight the 30m-long Sea Stallion will be lifted by crane
from the quayside to Croppies Acres and over the Luas line in to
Collins Barracks at the National Museum of Ireland.

Tomorrow, the longship will be put in place in Clark Square,
where it will remain on show to the public as part of a special
Viking-themed exhibition until June next year.


Sea Eagle Reintroduced After 100 Years

Paul Anderson

The white-tailed eagle was reintroduced to the Irish countryside
today by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

The bird, which can have a wing span of over 8ft and weigh up
16lbs, became extinct in Ireland around 100 years ago. It is one
of the world's largest birds of prey.

Mr Gormley said the release of the eaglets in Killarney National
Park was another step for the Government's plan to reintroduce
native birds and comply with obligations under the UN Convention
on Biological Diversity.

"These eagles had pride of place in the cultural and natural
heritage of Ireland for hundreds of years but due to trapping and
shooting in the 19th and early 20th centuries they became
extinct," Mr Gormley said.

The Minister reintroduced the red kite in Co Wicklow last month
after an absence of 200 years. The Golden Eagle was reintroduced
in Co Donegal in 2001 and has already bred successfully.

The 11 white-tailed or sea eagles released today are expected to
disperse to the coastline after a few months where they will be
monitored. Four more will be released in the coming days.

"I know that in Scotland white-tailed eagles attract thousands of
visitors annually, and hopefully in time, these eagles will
attract similar visitor numbers and will prove another attraction
in promoting the wild and unspoilt landscape of the south west
region," Mr Gormley said.

The eagle chicks, which came from Norway, were met with protests
when the arrived at Kerry Airport in Farranfore last June. More
than 100 farmers demonstrated over the threat the eagle could
pose to lambs, in particular.

But Eamon Meskell of Killarney National Park said: "Research we
put in place showed wasn't any need for that concern. But we're
in ongoing consultation regarding this and other concerns."

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