**visit this link to hear a live audio clip of Rory's music

"Here was a man who managed to combine the gift of being an authentic
creative genius with the even rarer gift of being a genuinely decent,
honourable human being."

So began the series of tributes paid to Rory Gallagher - the outstanding pioneer of Irish rock - published by the Irish music newspaper Hotpres in July 1995. Rory Gallagher was an Irish blues and rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. Born in Ballyshannon, Co.Donegal, on 2 March, 1948, he grew up in the city of Cork. Based in London during most of his 30 year career, he toured extensively, sold 30 million records, and had a worldwide following of loyal fans. He died in London at the age of 47, on 14 June 1995, from complications following a liver transplant. Although he had suffered health problems for some time, he toured until falling seriously ill late in 1994. THE TIMES obituary (June 1995) described him as "an uncompromisingly serious musician", "a courageously honest performer ,who wrote his own material, and who considered the blues to be the most personal form of musical expression".

Consistently eschewing commercialization, musical and stage gimmickry, and
the trappings of rock stardom, he took simplicity as the key in his total
commitment to making authentic, high quality music. Frequently described as a shy, friendly, modest man, Rory Gallagher was the antithesis of the blazing persona that he projected as a live performer. His grit and integrity earned him the respect and affectionate admiration of many.

Performing at his best on stage in front of a live audience, he was widely
acknowledged as one of the finest blues musicians treading the boards. "The first Irish rock'n'roller and a unique blues guitar voice rolled into one.

Missed by everyone" (The Guitar Magazine, August 1995)

Belfast Telegraph


As the ninth anniversary of Rory Gallagher's death approaches, Neil Johnston pays tribute to the Irish guitar genius who sold over 30m albums ... and remains revered among blues fans today

By Neil Johnston
11 June 2004

The enduring memory of a much loved Irish rock musician drew hundreds of his faithful fans to a town in Co Donegal last weekend.

They travelled like pilgrims from all over Europe to Ballyshannon to pay tribute to the blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, the late great Rory Gallagher.

For it was there, on March 2, 1948, in the appropriately named Rock Hospital, that Gallagher was born.

And although his family moved to Cork when he was two, Ballyshannon has always been proud of its most famous musical son.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled at his birthplace some years ago, and there is a second monument to him in East Port Road near the site of his parents' original home.

And last weekend, many musicians who had either worked with or were influenced by him, gathered in the town to honour his memory at the second annual international Gallagher tribute festival.

It was held to coincide with the 9th anniversary of the guitarist's death.

He died in London on June 14, 1995, at the sadly early age of 47, from complications which followed a liver transplant.

To his local followers, who remember in particular his pulsating concerts in Belfast's Ulster Hall, it will scarcely seem like nine years since that potent and much battered Stratocaster guitar was silenced forever.

And it is a measure of the lasting appeal of Gallagher's musicianship that many of his admirers today are too young ever to have heard him play live in concert - and that includes most of the organisers of the festival in Ballyshannon last weekend.

They just have his records to enjoy and marvel at - he sold over 30 million of them in a 30 year career.

A more fortunate generation of ageing rockers (including this writer) can treasure both the albums and the memories of the gifted kid in the trademark jeans and checked plaid shirt on the stage, blasting out the blues which were his passionate and life long personal statement to the world.

Among the musicians who gathered in Ballyshannon last weekend were the Band Of Friends, a bunch of Gallagher veterans who prefer to be known "not as a tribute band but as a celebration of Rory's music".

They include Gallagher's long serving sideman, the Belfast bassist Gerry McAvoy, who toured with him for nearly 20 years and is now with Nine Below Zero, who also performed at last week's festival.

He recalled how he and local drummer Wilgar Campbell joined Gallagher in 1971 after the guitarist's original band, Taste, split up.

Gallagher, with whom he had jammed informally, asked him "if he fancied coming over to London and doing a couple of gigs". Their association was to last somewhat longer than that, and they had chart success in 1972 with the release of what was to be the band's biggest selling album, Live In Europe.

McAvoy vividly remembers Christmas 1971 because that was when he made his first trip home to Belfast as a member of the Gallagher band.

"It was unbelievable." he said. "Because of the Troubles, nobody was playing Belfast at that time, and I remember the night we played, a couple of bombs went off around the city. It made the front page of Melody Maker.

"We did the Christmas gig in Belfast for quite a few years, always starting in the Ulster Hall and ending up in Cork for the New Year."

"My favourite gig? I admit I'm biased towards Belfast because its my home town, but I think it was probably my last Ulster Hall concert with him in the 80s.

"I remember going onstage and he got a standing ovation which lasted for about five minutes. It was an amazing reaction, and it's one that sticks out in my mind.

"We toured America about 28 times, and on one occasion, in South Carolina, our support band was ZZ Top! They were massive in Texas, but in certain other places, Rory was bigger than they were.

"Looking back on it, I was lucky, as a 19-year-old kid, to have learned my craft from someone as skilled as Rory - how to play, how to control an audience, stage culture. It has stood by me all these years.

"The sad thing is that he left us so early. I'd still love to ring him up and meet him for a pint of Guinness."

But nine years on, as last weekend's gathering in Ballyshannon showed, Gallagher lives timelessly on through his music.

In fact, a quote from an old Doc Watson country blues song (which Rory probably knew well) fits the bill perfectly:

When I'm gone, don't you hang crepe on my door,

For I won't be dead, I just won't be here no more.

• The annual Rory Gallagher commemorative gig will be held at the Empire Music Hall in Belfast on Saturday, June 19. Tickets & 0870 243 4455. Next week's Starter Kit in Twentyfourseven will feature Neil McKay's selection of the four greatest albums recorded by Rory Gallagher.



10/06/2004 17:50:25

An Irish activist began a two week hunger strike today in protest of an
Irish company's role in the construction of a wall separating Israel and

Caoimhe Butterly is camping outside Cement Roadstone Holdings Dublin
headquarters in an attempt to draw attention to its complicity with what she
claims is a violation of international law.

She said cement from the company was being used in the construction of the
so-called Apartheid Wall, currently being built by Israel in the West Bank.

"It is shameful that an Irish company should profit from anything that is as
immoral, unjust and destructive as the construction of this wall," she said.

Campaigners have repeatedly condemned the wall, which is eight metres high
in some places, as a land-grab, isolating Palestinians, separating families
and cutting them off from places of work, worship and schools.

Israeli authorities maintain it is a security measure to prevent terrorist

Ms Butterly, who spent a year working with a solidarity group in Palestine,
is calling on CRH to clarify its position in relation to the building of the

"The Irish government should be endorsing the call for the suspension of all
such trade agreements," she said.

"I am determined to provoke a response from CRH and remind people in Ireland
that we have a direct complicity in something that has been deemed a war
crime and which has received widespread international criticism including
from our own government."

CRH owns a 25% stake in the Mashav Group, an Israeli holding company for
Nesher Cement, the sole provider of cement in Israel.

Amnesty International recently stated: "CRH, through its subsidiaries Mashav
and Nesher is likely to be providing the raw material of the fence/wall...
if so, it would contravene the UN norms on the responsibilities of
Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with regard to
Human Rights (2003)."

CRH, which is based in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, could not be contacted
for comment tonight.

By: Press Association



Radio Eclectica is exactly what its name suggests, a broadcast of an
eclectic range of music. No two shows will ever be alike. Exploring
different styles and themes is the show's guiding principle. If this
appeals to you, we hope you will listen. Our plan is to make a new
show available monthly.

Radio Eclectica existed in its original incarnation from March 2001
to May 2002, with two additional shows produced in October 2003 and
March 2004. The only difference in its resurrected form is the
technology used to deliver it to you.

A few of our most popular shows from the original incarnation
(including our three St. Patrick's Day shows) are also available

All you need to listen is a browser with Macromedia Flash installed
and an internet connection. Two streams are available, a high
bandwidth one for broadband users and a low bandwidth one for dialup
users. If you have a 56k modem and an excellent connection, you may
also be able to listen to the broadband feed.

Our latest show, "Eclectica Reborn," and an archive of past shows are
now available at: http://www.morrigan.net/eclectica


Judge rules on Finucane documents

Legal issues will delay an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane

A judge has ruled that the government must hand over documents on the killing of Pat Finucane to the murdered solicitor's family.
In a reserved judgement in the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Gillen made a disclosure order relating to documents sent to the government by the team of investigators headed by Sir John Stevens.

Mr Finucane was shot by members of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association at his north Belfast home in 1989.

His widow Geraldine had taken the case, claiming that the government was deliberately trying to prevent a public inquiry into the murder.

The judge said an issue relevant to this was a minute of a meeting between the Stevens team and supporters of Mrs Finucane.

In the meeting, it was suggested that the Stevens inquiry was being encouraged to say there was a whole string of prosecutions in the pipeline and they were being used to try to block an inquiry.

Mr Justice Gillen said: "I consider that there is a clear risk of injustice not to say denial of the requirements of logic and fairness if these communications were not produced in the hope of establishing the true facts one way or another.


"I make this order not simply because the applicant (Mrs Finucane) would justifiably otherwise entertain a smouldering sense of injustice, but because it is necessary for the fair disposal of this case and justice requires that it be done."

Separate inquiries are be held into the murders of Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright, following the recommendations of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory who examined alllegations of security force collusion.

The government insists a fourth inquiry into the killing of Mr Finucane will be delayed because a man is due to stand trial in September, charged with the murder.

Following the reserved judgement, counsel for the secretary of state was given until Tuesday to decide on an appeal.


**Yesterday Seán sent round the story from the Guardian when Patrick Magee was convicted of the Brighton bombing. I thought it very interesting--that one and another, and wanted to re-post them.


Gareth Parry
June 11, 1986
The Guardian

Patrick Magee, a 35-year-old IRA man from Belfast, was yesterday
found guilty of the Brighton bombing, an attempt to assassinate the
Prime Minister and her Cabinet. An Old Bailey jury convicted him of
planting a bomb at the Grand Hotel, and causing the explosion during
the Conservative Party Conference on October 12, 1984.
He was also found guilty of murdering the five people who died in the
blast which, the court heard, was 'one of the worst acts of terrorism
in this country, and came within an inch of being the Provisional
IRA's most devastating explosion. '

The jury of six men and six women took five hours 15 minutes to reach
their verdict on the 24th day of the trial of Magee, who the Crown
prosecutor, Mr Roy Amlot, QC, said, had planted a time bomb in Room
629 of the Grand Hotel, about 24 days before the explosion. Magee did
not give evidence or call witnesses at the trial.

The jury still has to reach verdicts on Magee and four other people
accused of conspiring to carry out a bomb blitz of London and 12
seaside towns last summer. Mr Justice Boreham sent them to an hotel
where they will be guarded overnight. They will continue their
deliberations today.

Five prominent members of the Conservative party died in the
explosion, which happened at 2.54 am on the final day of the

They were Mr Eric Taylor, aged 54, chairman of the party's north west
area, Sir Anthony Berry, aged 59, MP for Enfield, Southgate, Mrs Anne
Wakeham, aged 45, wife of the government chief whip, Mrs Jeanne
Shattock, aged 52, wife of the chairman of the party's western area,
and Mrs Muriel McLean, aged 54, wife of the Chairman of the Scottish

Mrs Thatcher and members of the Cabinet were staying on the first
floor of the hotel where Magee had booked into Room 629 and concealed
a bomb of between 20 and 30 pounds of gelignite behind the panels of
a bath.

He used the name Roy Walsh, of Braxfield Road, London, but three
months after the explosion, Scotland Yard fingerprint experts
confirmed that a palm print on the hotel's registration card matched
police records of the Irishman, who was brought up in Norwich, and
whose parents live in Ashford, Kent.

Magee's counsel, Mr Richard Ferguson, QC, claimed the police planted
Magee's print on the registration card in an effort to frame him and
restore their credibility after the explosion.

The hotel had been guarded for the conference week by plainclothes
and uniformed Sussex police officers, members of the Metropolitan
Police Close Protection Unit, and 24-hour security cameras.

A police operations room in the hotel monitored the building during
the conference week.

But Magee had circumvented all those security measures by planting
the bomb on September 17, 1984, setting its 'deadly accurate' timing
mechanism for a time 24 days, six hours and 35 minutes later.

Crown counsel said he had committed a blunder to shame any second
rate burglar by leaving his fingerprints on the registration card.

All the receptionist could recall of Magee - or 'Roy Walsh' - was
that he had paid pounds 180 in cash in advance for a three-night
stay. Miss Trudy Groves allocated him Room 629 'because it was a nice
room facing the sea. '

On the final day of his stay, a waiter had delivered tea and turkey
sandwiches. The door was opened by a taller man than Magee but the
waiter recalled there appeared to be someone else in the bathroom.

The bomb was activated that evening when the occupants of the room
ordered a bottle of vodka and three cokes. On September 19, 'Mr
Walsh' and his companion, who has never been traced, left the hotel
with the bomb ticking away as unsuspecting guests came and went.

Three couples - from the United States, London and Hertfordshire -
and a businessman from Bombay were subsequently traced and eliminated
from the police hunt.

Sir Donald McLean and his wife Muriel, booked in to Room 629 on
October 9, at the start of the conference week. Mr Gordon Shattock,
and his wife, Jeanne, took Room 628.

Sir Donald told the jury that he and his wife had entertained guests
until 1.45 am on October 12. The Shattocks retired just before
midnight, but Mr Shattock was woken by noisy guests at 2.30 am, and
was only dozing when the bomb went off at 2.54 am.

Mrs McLean died from her injuries on November 13 after what counsel
called a 'remarkable fight. '

Mr Shattock, who was later knighted, had a miraculous escape. He fell
from the sixth floor to the basement with huge chunks of debris
tumbling with him. He managed to crawl out of the rubble in the
basement with Mrs Taylor, who had also fallen from the sixth floor.

Mrs Shattock was blown out of her room, across a corridor, and into
Room 638. She died instantly from the blast which sent small
fragments of bathroom tile in to her body 'like bullets. '

But her injuries indicated the direction of the blast and also the
seat of the explosion. It led experts to place the bomb between the
baths of Rooms 628 and 629. The nature of Mrs Shattock's injuries,
the pieces of ceramic tiles and the burns from the fireball narrowed
the seat of the explosion to Room 629.

This led the police to trace everyone who had stayed in the room.
Each occupant was seen, and eliminated from inquiries, until
detectives tried to trace 'Roy Walsh. '

The registration card he signed was examined by Scotland Yard experts
using chemical and laser tests. Magee's right palm and left little
finger prints were exposed.

These were compared with the police fingerprints record taken from
Magee when he was convicted of three offences as a juvenile.

The 'Roy Walsh' signature and address were examined by handwriting
experts who concluded that they were Magee's handwriting.

There were two outstanding characteristics - the figure '2' had a
long base, and capital 'E 'was written with the pen not leaving the
paper when the upper horizontal strokes were made.

Magee has pleaded not guilty with four others to a conspiracy to
cause 16 explosions - four in London and 12 in seaside towns - which
were due to go off on consecutive days, excepting Sunday in July and
August last year.

The other defendants are Gerard McDonnel, aged 34, Peter Sherry, aged
30, Martina Anderson, aged 23, Ella O'Dwyer, aged 26.

As Magee left the dock with the other defendants last night, he
said 'Good luck' to friends sitting in the public gallery above him.

After the court rose, Mr Justice Boreham issued a Contempt of Court
Order prohibiting the publication of any material relating to the
trial, except the verdicts given yesterday and evidence during the
trial in the presence of the jury.



Patrick Magee: The IRA Brighton bomber

Tuesday, June 22, 1999

The bomb blasted a hole in the Grand Hotel, Brighton

Patrick Magee plotted to kill former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet.

By planting the Brighton bomb at the Grand Hotel during the Tory party conference in 1984, he nearly succeeded.

Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet escaped the blast, but it left five people dead and 34 injured.

'Cruel and inhumane' (**poster's note: like THATCHER)

At Magee's trial, the judge Mr Justice Boreham recommended that he serve a minimum of 35 years.

He branded Magee "a man of exceptional cruelty and inhumanity" who enjoyed terrorist activities.

Magee: Murder plans

If Magee served the judge's recommended minimum sentence, he would be 70 before he tasted freedom.

In September 1986, Magee, who was then 35, received eight life sentences at the Old Bailey. Seven of them were for offences relating to the Brighton bombing on 12 October 1984.

He was sentenced for planting the bomb, exploding it, and five counts of murder.

The eighth life sentence was for a separate conspiracy to bomb 16 targets in London and resorts around Britain.

Four members of an IRA "active service unit" who worked with him on that project were also jailed.

Judge's satisfaction

When he sentenced Magee, Mr Justice Boreham voiced his satisfaction at the length of time Magee would serve.

He said: "You intended to wipe out a large part of the government and you nearly did.

"I must be grateful that in recent years legislators have raised the maximum sentence from a mere 20 years to life imprisonment for explosive offences."

Margaret Thatcher: Bomb target

Three-and-a-half weeks before the bombing, Magee had checked into the hotel under the fictitious name Roy Walsh.

He stayed there from 14 to 17 September. In his room, he primed a 20-30lb bomb which he hid in a bathroom wall with a timing device set for 24 days ahead.

He had allegedly honed his skills at Libyan terrorist training camps.

At 2.54am on 12 October, the bomb blasted a gaping hole through the hotel's facade.

Mrs Thatcher was in the hotel working on her conference speech at the time of the explosion.

Five killed

The five people killed in the bombing were Sir Anthony Berry, 59, the MP for Enfield Southgate; Roberta Wakeham, 45, wife of the then Tory Chief Whip Lord Wakeham; The Tories' North West Area Chairman Eric Taylor, 54; Muriel Maclean, 54, wife of Scottish Chairman Sir Donald Maclean; and Jeanne Shattock, 52, wife of the Western Area Chairman.

One of the best-remembered images of the night was that of the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Norman Tebbit, who had to be rescued from the rubble. His wife was paralysed in the blast.

Norman Tebbit was rescued from the rubble

Sussex police traced and eliminated 800 people from 50 countries who had stayed at the hotel in the month before the attack.

Only Roy Walsh could not be accounted for, but his true identity was finally revealed when a palm print on a hotel registration card matched a print taken from Magee years earlier when he was first arrested as a juvenile in Norwich, where he grew up.

Detectives did not want to issue a public alert, so they waited, hoping that Magee would eventually reappear on the mainland.

Police trailing another IRA suspect Peter Sherry arrested Magee in June 1995 at an IRA safe house in Glasgow, as he planned the attacks on British resorts.

When he was finally jailed, he gave a clenched fist salute as he was led off to start his sentence.

Magee was born in Belfast but moved with his family to Norwich when he was two. He returned to Belfast at the age of 18 in 1969, and joined the Provisional IRA soon afterwards.

Magee has made the headlines since his imprisonment. In September 1994, former Prime Minister John Major ordered an inquiry when four republican prisoners, including Magee, were transferred from English jails to prisons in Ulster only hours after the first IRA ceasefire.

He has used his time in prison to study for a PhD in "Troubles" fiction. In August 1997 he got married for a second time to novelist Barbara Byer after the couple struck up a relationship via correspondence.



Irish Echo Online


Observers say Irish church lacks leadership, focus for new times

By Peter McDermott

DUBLIN -- The news vendor waited on a recent Sunday morning outside Mass. Election candidates looked down from posters pinned to lampposts.

The worshipers emerged then into the sunlight to complete the familiar Irish church-gate scene.

But things have changed over the last three decades. There are more newspapers on sale than in the past. More parties vie for preference votes, while election literature is brasher and personalized.

And the parishioners are disproportionately middle-aged and elderly. The once-powerful, monolithic Catholic church is no more.

The Rev. Tom Stack said that about 50 percent of Catholic parishioners here in Milltown, a South Dublin middle-class suburb, attend Mass every Sunday.

"It's leaner, but those who do go, go with because they have some sort of conviction," said the pastor, who was ordained more than 40 years ago.

"There was a strong social coercive element to it," he said of Mass attendance in the past. "You were considered odd if you didn't go."

He added that contrary to some reports, the churches are not empty.

Indeed, 65 percent of Catholics in the Republic tell pollsters that they attend Mass regularly.

"It's holding up despite everything. I can't see it dropping to the floor," said Simon Rowe, editor of the conservative Irish Catholic. "Those young people who are involved are much more zealous, have a more intellectually engaged faith."

Breda O'Brien, a practicing Catholic who comments on religious issues for the Irish Times, has a more pessimistic view. "There's a crisis of morale and there's a crisis of faith," she said of the church in Ireland.

A married woman with four young children, O'Brien said her generation, those from their early 40s down to 30 are "strikingly absent" from the pews.

"They've just given up and gone," she said. "Some are hanging in there by their fingertips."

She questions the depth of commitment of those who do go to Mass "when push comes to shove."

Catholic commentators may disagree on the extent of the crisis facing the church, and about the prescriptions for some sort of recovery, but all agree that secularizing trends long predate the Celtic Tiger boom and the clerical sexual abuse scandals.

"There was a self-secularizing of the intelligentsia in the 1970s," said the Rev. Fergus O'Donoghue, who edits the Jesuit journal Studies. He said that today no Irish writer of note is a practicing Catholic.

What has happened in the Republic of Ireland was seen in other religions and other countries earlier, he said. The Church of Ireland, for example, lost the active allegiance of the Protestant working class in Northern Ireland a generation before the working class stopped going to Catholic churches in the South. He also pointed to the collapse of French Canadian Catholicism in the 1960s.

O'Donoghue argued that the Irish Catholic hierarchy failed to involve the laity in change after the Second Vatican Council.

"And our bishops for a long time encouraged devotion and not reflection," he said.

More radical critics add that the strict sexual code with which the church was identified for so long has become a millstone.

"On issues like contraception, the church does not do justice to the reality of people's lives," said the Rev. Michael O'Sullivan, a Jesuit who teaches at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy.

"There's a lot of alienation on the part of women," he said. "People have felt let down by the church, think it's too rigid, that it hasn't accompanied them satisfactorily in their lives."

O'Sullivan said the church has to have certain standards, but the approach of its hierarchy, including the current pontiff, has excluded certain groups.

"Jesus was a very encompassing kind of person, but people see a judging kind of church," he said.

O'Sullivan, a proponent of Liberation Theology, went to Chile in 1982, a time when there was increasing agitation against the Pinochet dictatorship that took power on Sept. 11, 1973. He survived kidnapping and assassination attempts before being eventually forced from the country in 1984.

He spent other spells since then working with the poor in Latin America, but back in Ireland he became increasingly involved on the issue of women's rights.

He found the church more oppressive in Ireland than in Latin America, where there were fewer priests and more scope for initiative.

"Here, you feel you are being constantly monitored," O'Sullivan said. "There's a sense of being under the microscope."

The new Dublin archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, has said that he's surprised at the amount of mail he's been receiving. A good deal of it, O'Sullivan suggested, is from conservatives complaining about church liberals and progressives like himself.

Moral absolutes

Newspaper editor Rowe is a critic of what he calls "priestly dissent," arguing the church should expect its paid officials to advocate its teachings.

"There are very few organizations that tolerate such ongoing dissent as the Catholic church," he said.

Rowe said that individual priests argued for a married clergy not because it would be a boon to the church, but because they themselves were unhappy.

"People don't like moral absolutes. They don't like 'yes' or 'no' or 'thou shalt not' anymore," Rowe said. "But a value system says: thus far and no further. The church has a line and says no further.

"The church has stayed true to what its view of what human sexuality is. Its views cannot change, but for most people they say they cannot accept that and it's a 'thou shalt not' that they cannot live with."

On issues such as contraception, Rowe said there's "a knowledge gap, a catechetical gap that has to be bridged." For the church, it's a question of "communicating the message, not the what of it, but the why of it."

Stack said that all young people are welcome at his church. Cohabitation or the use of contraceptives, for example, are not excommunicable offenses.

"I think the church has to be open and that sort of openness is gradually getting through," he said.

The heavy-handed clerical approach is a thing of the past, Stack added.

"People should get the feel of real worship -- rather than working from some archaic image or fantasy that they have," he said.

"I tell couples getting married that going to Mass on Sunday is not the be-all and end-all of being a Christian, but there's a very strong community dimension to being a Christian. You've got to put yourself with the community."

But observers agree that the breakdown of traditional notions of community is one of the greatest problems facing the church. Political scientists and others have pointed to the steep decline in volunteerism and the growth of individualism and consumerism in Western societies.

"It's affected political parties. People when asked to put up posters say: 'How much am I being paid for this?' " Stack said.

"It's been said that many French Canadian villages and small towns no longer support a church but all of them support a sex shop," O'Donoghue said.

In a time-pressured world, people are much less involved in civic organizations. And the trend is most marked among young adults.

O'Donoghue recalled that a couple of years ago when the dynamic young Spanish bishop who heads the young Catholic workers movement complained about how few members he had, his Socialist counterpart told him: "Hold onto them, I've none."

Immigrant revival

But these Catholic commentators also pointed to what they saw as positive signs.

"There's an increasing number of lay people studying theology," O'Sullivan said. "There's a genuine desire for God and a meaningful Christianity. There's a greater interest in spirituality, not as an alternative to Christianity but as part of a search for a Christian God."

Stack said that people will always be interested in the spiritual dimension. Some will find it in reflexology, others in meditation, or in prayer groups. Others still will discover it in a more traditional way -- at their parish church

"There's more to life than eating, drinking, sleeping and copulating," Stack said.

Another positive development has been the church's outreach work among immigrant communities, which O'Donoghue said has been "impressive." He cited the example of the Spirasi Center for refugees run by the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Rowe argued that the movement of Catholic immigrants into Ireland is helping to fuel a revival.

And O'Donoghue said that the Protestant churches, notably the Methodists, have gotten new leases of life too from immigrants.

"If Irish Protestantism were to die in the South, it would be extremely unhealthy, apart from being the loss of a great tradition," he said.

Some argued also that the media is taking the church more seriously. David Quinn, a respected conservative commentator, was recently appointed religious affairs correspondent of the Irish Independent.

The other four interviewed for this article all expressed admiration for Irish Times columnist O'Brien, who is a conservative on Catholic social teaching but veers to the left on economic issues.

Despite her traditionalism. O'Brien is a forthright critic of "clericalism," echoing a theme raised recently by a Mayo priest, the Rev. Brendan Hoban, who said that clerical control was "strangling" the church. In a new book, "Change or Decay," Hoban writes that "a feudal church is incapable of conversing with today's world and unless we embrace change the Irish Catholic Church will turn over and die."

"People have been bored away," O'Brien said. "There is nothing stimulating, there's nothing alive to say 'this is good for your children, this is full of hope, is positive, is challenging.'

"There's nothing in the liturgy for small children, nothing for teenagers," said O'Brien who teaches the equivalent of ninth grade. "Nothing to support me and my husband struggling to keep the flame going.

"They [the clergy] talk about family, but they display very little understanding about what a normal family is like, and the demands of family life.

"There's a terrible deadness about the Irish church and Irish worship," she added.

Safe bishops

The once-powerful church, the critics have argued, is failing to adapt to its new role.

"The church in France is a minority, but it's a lively minority," O'Donoghue said. "There are many movements in it, from far right to far left. They all contribute."

Most place the blame at the top.

"The priests in the parish are very demoralized [due to the abuse scandals]," said O'Brien. "They see the bishops as middle management."

Said O'Sullivan: "There's a lack of confidence of ordinary people in the church leadership."

"Very often the leadership is not good," Stack said. "Very often they [the Vatican] appoint very safe, dull people. And people know that."

He said that was no "authentic consultation" for the recent appointment of Martin.

"He could be the greatest guy in the world," said Stack of the new archbishop, but the process that selected him was in marked contrast to that which produced William Walsh in 1885, who was archbishop until 1921. (He was elected by the senior priests, a decision endorsed by Rome.)

The electronic age has only served to strengthen the Vatican, Stack said.

"Tip O'Neill said all politics is local. The same with the church," he said. "The Roman center is a sign of unity. It shouldn't be controlling the minutiae of Milltown. Rome does not accord the autonomy and the reverence for the local church that it should."

Said O'Donoghue: "Many of our bishops are very good administrators, but a country in the midst of such rapid change needs prophets."

This story appeared in the issue of June 9-15, 2004



Judge Peter Cory, who investigated the controversial murder of
Pat Finucane, has revealed that documents relating to the
conspiracy to kill the Belfast defense lawyer were seen by the
British government cabinet.

The Canadian judge told a British television documentary about
the documents, which he accessed during his investigation on the
1989 murder.

Britain's most senior police officer, John Stevens, has already
confirmed that elements of the RUC Special Branch police colluded
with the unionist paramilitary UDA in the killing. But there is
widespread belief that the collusion went to the highest level of
the British establishment.

Former UDA man Ken Barrett, the alleged gunman who shot Mr
Finucane, is facing trial this year in a case which the British
goverment has used to delay a decision on an inquiry.

The Judge has strongly criticised the British government's
continuing efforts to avoid holding a public inquiry into the
Finucane killing, reneging on a commitment made in negotiations
at Weston Park in England almost three years ago.

Last night Mr Finuane's son Michael repeated his family's
concerns: "The people who pulled the trigger are not the most
important, it's the people who pulled the strings."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP said it was "now beyond any
doubt" that the British government colluded in the murder of

"We have raised this issue at every meeting we have had with the
British government. There can be no more excuses. The British
government should immediately initiate a public inquiry into the
killing of Pat Finucane.

"Judge Cory's revelations that he has seen documents prepared for
the British cabinet provide compelling evidence of the need for a
public inquiry."

An Phoblacht


by Fern Lane
10 June 2004

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was told on Monday that not one of the soldiers or their commanding officers had told the truth when they gave evidence about the events of January 1972.

The accusation came from Arthur Harvey QC, lawyer for some of the families, as the tribunal began two weeks of hearings in Derry in advance of the final oral submissions by all parties in October. The current hearings are to enable Lord Saville and his colleagues to question lawyers in detail about their written submissions and to hear evidence from one further witness.

Before answering questions on his submission, Harvey told the inquiry that, decade by decade, the army's account of what had happened had changed.

Initially, the army's case had been that it was not responsible for the killing and wounding of 27 people. It claimed that the IRA was responsible.

Then, as that case became untenable, it was changed to suggest that "those who were shot and injured fully merited what occurred, that they, either directly or indirectly, were involved in acts of terror against members of the Parachute Regiment".

Now, with that argument having been effectively disproved, the army had changed tack once again. Now, explained Harvey, the army was claiming that "not only did they shoot the 27 persons, they probably shot considerably more... but there is a conspiracy within this city to conceal the deaths of individuals who had families, who were known within the community and that the community therefore has conspired to assist this.

"The case is now, not that the defendants were not innocent, but the soldiers are innocent. They are both equally innocent, because it was the activities, not of those who were actually shot and known to be shot, but the acts of others who must have been shot, who are unidentified and have remained unidentified for an excess of 30 years, which are to blame."

This argument, he said, was "threadbare" and had been demonstrated as such "because those who were posed the questions failed the very first hurdle in any inquiry of whatever nature: they simply did not choose to tell the truth.

"It is a choice that each of these soldiers were offered, and a choice that none of them took."

Families want answers

In contrast to the changing nature of the army's account, the position of the families has always been "based upon certainties: the certainty that those who were shot and injured were innocent of any wrongdoing; the certainty that there was no justification for shooting them; the fact that there was never any objective justification for their being shot because of the actions at or close to them; and the certainty that they were not shot by mistake, that they were shot deliberately".

Nevertheless, said Harvey, these certainties did not provide answers. All the families could do was pose questions. "Those questions can only be answered by those who shot them, by those who were responsible for commanding those who shot them, and those who were responsible for designing the plan and implementing it, during the course of which they were shot... those questions, to paraphrase the language of General Jackson, required individual soldiers and their officers to look inside themselves for the courage to tell the truth. Regrettably, that has not occurred."

Lack of accountability

Further, he added, the answers to the questions posed "require that which is absent at almost every level of responsibility: clarity, attributability, accountability. That did not begin with the soldiers who fired the shots. Undoubtedly, it is substantially in their interests for there to be a lack of clarity, a lack of accountability, a lack of attributability. It did not begin with them. It began with the government at Westminster.

"The lack of clarity suits all purposes for this Inquiry except the search for the truth" he said. "Governments come and go. It is easy for a government 20 years later to apologise. It does not relieve the grief or the anguish, nor does it provide explanations as to why things should have happened. Throughout, there has been deliberate manipulation of communication at all levels to ensure a self-serving obfuscation of the clear lines of responsibility."

For all the attempts by the British Government and the army to frustrate the inquiry, and despite the sustained attempts by each layer of command, from the British government right down to the soldiers themselves, to deny their own part in Bloody Sunday, the lines of responsibility can be clearly mapped. Firstly, said Harvey, the British Government was responsible for what occurred under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence had political responsibility for the Army. "The senior officers in the Army should not have been abandoned to absorb the attitudes of the Stormont government in the manner that they had by General Ford" he said.

Officers saw nothing

"General Ford was responsible because he deliberately selected the march in Derry as an opportunity to impose a regimented security solution on a political problem. He was responsible in that he went to Derry as an observer and yet, if the evidence that he gave is to be seen as credible, he was the observer who observed nothing. In fact, as soon as it became clear that soldiers were firing, he absented himself from the field. The explanation is that he was going to get an overview, which he did not quite achieve. His failure, therefore, is simply a failure of bad luck, bad timing, bad location. His failure, in fact, was that the plan that he had devised was horrendously incompetent.

"Responsibility lies with 8th Brigade, because [they] ought, when 1 Para were imposed upon them, to have taken command and control... to have insisted upon a proper arrest plan being introduced; to have insisted upon scrutiny of the arrest plan; and to have insisted on communications which at all times kept them appraised of what was happening on the ground.

"Colonel Wilford is responsible because he, more than any other, had immediate control of the company which actually carried out most of the shooting. He also, it would appear, established himself in a position which gave him a substantial overview of what occurred. Yet he did not see or hear or have reported to him the shooting by Machine-Gun Platoon before he went in. He abandoned the position of command and control.

"Major Loden is directly responsible because, although he had the grandstand view on William Street, all that he surveyed, he saw nothing, controlled nothing, contributed nothing. The other officers on the ground almost universally saw and heard nothing in relation to the shootings that led to the death of the individuals. It is hardly surprising that individual soldiers and non-commissioned officers should take their lead from what they saw from above. That responsibility came down to them from government, from their own Ministry of Defence, through Headquarters Northern Ireland, through 8th Brigade, to the individual soldier who had to stand up and justify his shots. Of course, had he have done so, he would have been immediately exposed.

That fear of exposure, said Harvey, was the reason behind the lack of clarity. But, he added, it had been to no avail. "Ultimately, they have been held to account for their actions in this Tribunal, and the fact that their answers have been wanting is simply a reflection of the fact that the case is fundamentally wanting."


Irish American Information Service


Sinn Féin has accused British security forces in
the North of harrassing voters and photographing them at
polling stations.

As voting began, West Belfast Assembly member Mr Michael
Ferguson of Sinn Féin said members of the PSNI had been
reported filing and photographing voters and cars outside St
Aidan's Primary School on the Springfield Road this morning.

He said: "This sort of blatant intelligence gathering is
unacceptable and is clearly designed to intimidate voters
from going to the polls."

Earlier, the party's mid-Ulster representative for the
party, Mr Francie Molloy, said the British army was
intimidating voters at a polling station in Dungannon, Co

"This morning two British Army landrovers surrounded the
Sinn Féin election caravan parked outside Saggart Polling
station in Dungannon", he said.

Yahoo UK News


By Phil Stewart
Thursday June 10, 08:25 PM

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Three Irishmen still jailed after being cleared of charges they trained Colombian rebels to build bombs should be allowed to go home, the government says.

Vice President Francisco Santos said the Colombian government recommended the men be allowed to return to Ireland if that country agreed to send them back to Colombia if the case was reversed.

But he warned that Colombian judicial authorities would ultimately make the decision.

"If the appeal is negative, against them (the Irishmen), they will return to serve out their jail sentence here," Santos told reporters on Thursday, outlining the agreement.

"This is a decision that will be made by the court ... There is a separation of powers," Santos added.

Lawyers for Jim Monaghan, Nial Connolly and Martin McCauley have argued the men were in danger of attack from right-wing paramilitary death squads unless allowed to leave Colombia.

The Irishmen are still in Bogota's Modelo jail, pending payment of fines of about $7,000 each for using false passports during their 2001 trip to a rebel stronghold.

Judge Jairo Acosta, who cleared them of the main bomb charge in April, later ruled that the men had to stay in Colombia until the appeals process ran its course.

If the case reaches the Supreme Court, legal experts said it could take as long as five more years.

"The Irish government has given guarantees to the Colombian government it will adhere to Colombian laws," said Caitriona Ruane, a Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, who heads a support group for the men.

The attorney general's office accused them of being Irish Republican Army guerrillas hired to teach bomb-making to the 17,000-member Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a group known by its Spanish initials FARC.

Their acquittal was an embarrassment for the government, which seized on the trio's arrest as proof of the international reach of the FARC, branded a "narco-terrorist" organisation by the United States.

Monaghan, Connolly and McCauley deny any ties to the IRA, but admitted to meeting with members of the FARC and spending several weeks near a large guerrilla camp. They said they were there to learn about peace talks, which subsequently collapsed.

Connolly was once a Cuba representative of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally. McCauley was convicted in 1985 of weapons possession. Monaghan was once convicted for possessing explosives with intent.


Most Protestants against self-rule

By John Murray Brown
June 10 2004

Two-thirds of Northern Ireland Protestants are either opposed or indifferent to the reinstatement of self-rule for the province, according to a survey to be published next week.

The 2004 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, one of the most authoritative snapshots of public attitudes, highlights a sharp increase in Protestant disaffection with the Good Friday agreement since the power-sharing institutions were suspended in October 2002.

The survey, carried out in late 2003 and early 2004, says 70 per cent of Protestants believe the agreement has benefited Catholics compared with 50 per cent at the time the deal was signed in 1998. Then, 41 per cent of Protestants believed both communities benefited equally. Today just 18 per cent do so.

Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing and after the November assembly elections the largest nationalist party, is against any renegotiation. But interestingly, the survey suggests that over a third of Catholics accept there are specific aspects of the agreement that need to be renegotiated.

On the Protestant side, 43 per cent believe it is possible to get agreement if there is full implementation, or a renegotiation of specific aspects, although 41 per cent believe the agreement should be renegotiated or abandoned.

Rick Wilford, politics professor at Queen's University, Belfast, believes the results suggest that if issues such as decommissioning and paramilitarism could be resolved, Protestant support for the agreement could be restored.



About a million of Darfur's residents are now displaced

Global aid organisations have launched urgent appeals for donations to help people fleeing from fighting between rebel groups and government militias in western Sudan.

Aid agencies believe one million people have been forced to flee thier homes.

Many are camped along the border with Chad, where food and water are in short supply and they are still vulnerable to attacks.

The area is remote, and aid agencies fear that rain will soon make roads impassable.

The United Nations World Food Programme - www.wfp.org - is seeking $200 million to feed refugees in the area.

"The situation in Darfur is becoming more critical every day; the worst is still to come," said WFP Country Director for Sudan, Ramiro Lopes da Silva in a statement.

Medecins Sans Frontieres - www.msf.org - is working to combat malaria and malnutrition in west Darfur.

Oxfam - www.oxfam.org.uk - is providing clean water supplies and sanitation to the refugee camps where one Oxfam worker described "80 families living together in one compound without any shelter and only one latrine."

Islamic Relief - www.islamic-relief.com - has also launched an appeal and food has already been distributed to around 18,000 people.

The United Nations Childens Fund, Unicef - www.unicef.org - is seeking to vaccinate children against disease in the refugee camps. It has appealed for $46m.

Save the Children - www.savethechildren.org - has already distributed plastic sheeting and water storage cans in the area.

Anti-poverty organisation Care International - www.care.org - is working in Chad to help alleviate conditions for refugees who have crossed the border.

Cafod, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development - www.cafod.org.uk/sudanappeal - is working with partners in Southern Darfur to provide clean water, shelter, supplementary feeding in camps for the displaced.

UK residents can donate via the British Red Cross - www.redcross.org.uk - who have launched an appeal for food an blankets for the region.

You can donate to all the campaigns via their websites.


**I guess if you live in France, you can only say and write what is considered politically correct.


Bardot has previous convictions for inciting racial violence

French film legend Brigitte Bardot has been fined 5,000 euros (£3,301) for inciting racial hatred in a book.

The charges against Bardot, 69, related to her best-seller, A Cry In The Silence, in which she said she "opposed the Islamisation of France".

Last month the former actress apologised in court, and said: "I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody."

In her book she wrote about issues such as racial mixing, immigration, the role of women in politics and Islam.

The book also contained a section attacking what she called the mixing of genes and praised previous generations who, she said, had given their lives to push out invaders.

Bardot's comments prompted anti-racism groups to launch legal proceedings against the actress, who now campaigns for animal rights.

The court said: "Madame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them."

It awarded a symbolic one euro in damages to France's anti-racism movement MRAP and to the League for Human Rights who brought the case to court.

The court also ordered a 5,000 euro fine against the head of Bardot's publishing house, Le Rocher, and ordered both to pay for advertisements in two newspapers announcing their convictions.

Bardot has previous convictions for inciting racial violence after criticising in print the Muslim practice of slaughtering sheep.


Votes drive as N Ireland polls open
10/06/2004 - 07:35:16

Northern Ireland’s politicians today embarked on a frantic effort to get people out to vote as polling stations opened for the European Parliament elections.

Seven candidates are vying for the province’s three European Parliament seats.

However, this is the first European Election where Democratic Unionist leader the Reverend Ian Paisley and former nationalist SDLP leader John Hume will not be running.

The DUP’s Jim Allister, who has replaced the Reverend Paisley, was among the early risers who cast their vote when polling stations opened at 7am.

The barrister voted in his polling station at his local primary school in Kells, Co Antrim.

SDLP candidate Martin Morgan was due to vote in north Belfast, while Sinn Féin’s Bairbre de Brun was expected to cast her vote alongside her party leader Gerry Adams in west Belfast.

Other candidates include Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson, the Socialist Environmental Alliance’s Eamonn McCann, Lindsay Whitcroft of the Green Party, and independent John Gilliland.

It is the second election to take place under Northern Ireland’s system of rolling registration which requires voters to register each year.

Sinn Féin has been highly critical of the system, claiming it has shredded the electoral register in working class areas and disenfranchised around 211,000 people.

Voters in the North were today expected to produce photographic identification at polling stations in the form of a special electoral card, a passport, a driving licence or a senior citizen’s free travel pass.

As polling got under way, police called for a trouble-free election.

There was violence in Derry last November when police were attacked as they removed ballot boxes for the Northern Ireland Assembly at one polling station.

Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said: “People have a right to vote. It is the very essence of democracy.

“They have a right to be able to vote in peace and they have a right to expect that their votes will be safe. Police have a responsibility to protect those rights.”

Police are expected to be on duty at less than half of polling stations which open from 7am until 10pm.

The election result will not be known until Monday, when counting gets under way in Belfast’s King’s Hall.

Voting in the Irish Republic takes place on Friday for the European Parliament and also for local government elections and a referendum on Irish citizenship.


Britain fails to meet EU deadline on Sellafield
10/06/2004 - 09:17:35

The British government has reportedly failed to meet an EU deadline for outlining how it plans to clean up a radioactive site at Sellafield.

Reports this morning said Britain was due to present an action plan on cleaning up the B30 open-air containment pond before June 1, but the document had yet to be received by the European Commission.

When it demanded the action plan more than two months ago, the EC warned that British Nuclear Fuels, the company that runs Sellafield, would face fines if it failed to meet the June 1 deadline.


Mayor stands by Dublin-Monaghan getaway car claim
09/06/2004 - 19:46:24

Dublin Lord Mayor Royston Brady tonight stood over claims that his father’s taxi was used as a getaway vehicle during the 1974 Dublin bombings.

In a statement released this evening, he said: “Three weeks ago I was asked about the incident again by a journalist and again relayed the facts as they were told to me (by my father).”

Media reports today raised doubts about the incident ever having taken place.

Mr Brady, who is running for the European elections, was also accused of not providing details of the incident to the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, despite a request to do so.

The Lord Mayor did not address this in his statement but said he believed the gardaí would have a record of the incident involving his late father.

“I did not raise this during the course of my campaign for the European Parliament and would not in any way attempt to use the incident to obtain the sympathy of voters in Dublin.”

The Justice for the Forgotten group, which represents the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, said it could not understand why Mr Brady had not given evidence to either the Barron Inquiry or the Oireachtas committee investigation.

Mr Brady, who has controversially avoided media interviews during the campaign, said he wanted to focus his attention on an intensive canvass of Dublin before Friday’s European elections.

Tánaiste Mary Harney said today she did not want to comment directly on the controversy arose.

“But I would very much regret if anyone chose to cause hurt and grief to the victims of the Dublin-Monaghan bombing, who have already suffered more than enough,” she said.

Mr Brady told Hot Press magazine last November that his father was taken into the Dublin mountains and tied up just before the Dublin bombing which killed 26 people.

He said: “The night before the bombs went off in Talbot Street down here - 1974 it was – he was taken up the mountains at gunpoint and they left him tied up there. He more or less had to beg for his life and explain to them that he had eight kids under the age of 11.

“But they took the car off him and left him up the mountains.”

He told Hot Press that his father, who died aged 60, was always reluctant to talk about the incident, but spoke about it a number of times before he died.

“His car was used as one of the getaway cars,” Lord Mayor Brady said.

“So unfortunately after that incident he couldn’t drive a taxi any more because he lost his nerve, as such - which one would if they had a gun stuck to the back of their neck.”


Two men arrested over bomb attacks on SF members
10/06/2004 - 10:53:11

Police in the North have arrested two men in connection with a series of bomb attacks on the homes and vehicles of Sinn Féin members in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

The men were arrested close to Ballymena this morning. Security sources in the North have blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) for the bomb attacks.

If the UVF was responsible, it would mark the first time the group has targeted republicans since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The latest incident happened on Monday, when a pipe bomb was discovered under a van belonging to Sinn Féin member Michael Agnew at Dunfane Avenue.

Three weeks earlier, similar bombs were also found under the car and at the side of a house belonging to another Sinn Féin member in Ballymena.




In the run-up to this week's European election, BBC Northern Ireland's Dublin correspondent, Shane Harrison, visits an EU-funded project to see how it brought long-separated communities together along part of the Irish border.

The small bridge at Aghalane over the picturesque Woodford river, part of the Erne-Shannon waterway, may not look all that impressive.

The bridge has turned a 12 mile journey into just two

But to local people on the Cavan-Fermanagh border, it's special - and not just because it has an artwork beside it celebrating peace.

The bridge, which opened in 1999, was 75% paid for by the European Union.

It replaced another one blown up in 1972 by loyalist paramilitaries.

Until then, people on the Northern Ireland side of the border shopped two miles up the road at Belturbet in County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland.

There they met friends and traded cattle.

But once the bridge was bombed and not replaced, a 'mini iron curtain' came down separating the two communities in the two counties leading to a major loss of contact.

That is because what was once a two mile journey then became a 12 mile trip, with the likelihood of further delays caused by security check-points.

'Not a bit slow'

So, people like Joan Bullock, whose family farm is just on the Fermanagh side of the river, largely turned their back on the south and started shopping in Northern Ireland.

For her, the new bridge is very welcome, not least because it is helping to bring the long-separated communities together again.

"Some of the shopkeepers have changed and they would not be a bit slow about asking you who you are," she says.

Joan Bullock says bridge reunited long-separated communities

"And whenever they'd hear the name Bullock, they'd say: 'Ah, yes, you're from Aghalane.' So, we're picking up the threads again."

Without its Northern Ireland shoppers, Belturbet went into a sharp decline with many businesses having to close.

Anthony Vesey, a local shopowner, remembers all too clearly the economic devastation.

"No northerners were coming to shop. And they weren't coming to sell cattle, to do any of the normal things, banking, things that you do on a daily basis. All this ceased," he says.

But times have now definitely changed for the better, according to Raymond Johnston, a Belturbet butcher. And he says it is mainly thanks to the EU.

"The new bridge, sure that brought a new lease of life around. It's so easy getting access down there and them up here."

The EU may not always get a good press, but at least the people in this small border area are grateful that it has helped reconciliation with its bridge over what were once the troubled waters of the Troubles.


Number of asylum seekers down by a third
09/06/2004 - 19:43:53

The number of people seeking asylum in Ireland has dropped by almost a third over the last year, it emerged today.

Applications fell by 32%, to 7,900, compared to 11,634 in 2002, the office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner revealed.

The office processed some 9% more applications than it received helping to reduce the backlog inherited in 2000, the 2003 annual report also showed.

Berenice O’Neill, Refugee Commissioner, added that there was also a significant fall in the number of people who had withdrawn their applications, down from over 6,000 in 2002, to 1,243 last year.

Ms O’Neill said the drop of almost 5,000 was due to the outcome of the L and O case in the Supreme Court last year.

The court ruled that parents of Irish-born children no longer had the automatic right to citizenship.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the drop in applications was the second highest reduction in any country in the European Union.

But he added that while less people were being granted asylum, those in need of protection could find it in Ireland.

Mr McDowell said: “This country went through a crash course of being a net emigration country to a high immigration country in a very short period of time.

“It’s a great tribute to our mechanisms that the Irish people have collectively kept a low centre of gravity on this issue and not allowed it to be exploited for any maligned purposes.”

The minister added that it was due to the work of ORAC that Ireland had avoided many of the problems suffered by other European states on the issue of asylum.

Over 90% of applications after independent determination, investigation, and appeal, were found not to meet the refugee definition set down in the Geneva convention and the 1996 Refugee Act.

Mr McDowell said: “The 10% of people that are in need of protection find that protection in Ireland, and find it much faster and in circumstances much quicker than was the case at the outset of our procedures.”

The ORAC report also showed a steady reduction in applications throughout last year. From almost 1,000 in January 2003, the figure fell to under 400 by the end of December.

ORAC was set up as an independent organisation in 2000 to act as the decision-making body in the State’s asylum system.

Established under the 1996 Refugee Act the commissioner is required to offer recommendations to the Government on whether or not asylum should be granted.

The report showed that more applications are received from Eastern Europe and Africa than any other area.

In the previous two years more applicants came from Nigeria than any other country, while the number of asylum seekers from Romania has fallen to just under 10% since last year.

Figures also showed the majority of applicants were aged between 26 to 35 years-old, also a similar pattern to the annual reports for 2001 and 2002.



Aid workers fear there could be thousands of burials in Darfur

Hundreds of children have started to starve to death in Sudan's war-torn western province of Darfur.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson saw the burial of two-year-old Ikram and says 400 other children in the same camp in Kalma were unable to keep food down.

Their families have fled attacks by pro-government Arab militias, accused of forcing black Africans off the land.

Last week, a senior aid worker said 300,000 people would starve in Darfur, even if help is sent immediately.

Some 10,000 have died in Darfur, since a rebellion broke out last year and one million have fled their homes.

The rains have already begun to fall, which will soon make Darfur, an area the size of France, virtually impassable, our correspondent says.

'Too little'

Speaking after his return from the area, UK Secretary for International Development Hilary Benn said Darfur was undoubtedly the largest humanitarian crisis in the world and more aid agencies were needed there.

"We are in a race against time in Darfur," he told MPs.

Adam's mother walked for 10 days after their village was burnt

He admitted that the UK response to the crisis had been too little, too late but said the UK was committed to doing all that it could.

"I have also been concerned about the adequacy and speed of the UN's response, although this should now change."

Our reporter in Darfur says that while Ikram died, another boy on the same mat, Joseph, could not be coaxed to eat.

His mother could do nothing but watch.

The mother of nine-month-old Adam says that she walked without food for 10 days to reach the camp.

"The militias burnt our village... They were burning the children," she said.

Our correspondent says village after village in Darfur has been burnt, while food is running out in all the camps, where people have sought refuge.


"If we get relief in, we could lose a third of a million. If we do not, it could be a million," Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development told a UN donor conference last week.

The figures were based on mortality and malnutrition rates, he said.

The government and two rebel groups have signed a ceasefire but the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) has accused the army and its militia allies of attacking them near the border with Chad earlier this week.

Jem official Abu Bakr Hamid al-Nur told Reuters news agency that the government had used an Antonov aircraft and helicopters to bomb the rebel positions.

Belfast Telegraph


By Paul Dykes
09 June 2004

A FACELIFT costing £500,000 has been announced for 211 Housing Executive homes in Andersonstown in west Belfast.

The homes, which are a mixture of two- storey houses, maisonettes, flats and bungalows, had previous external improvement works carried out in 1999.

The latest maintenance work is being carried out to protect the exterior of the homes, while bringing them up to modern standards.

Defective windows and external doors will be replaced and other typical enhancements include cleaning and repair of roofs, fascias, rainwater systems, paths, steps, fences, railings and gates prior to painting.

Communal areas in blocks of flats and maisonettes will also be upgraded and redecorated, and fire-resistant entrance doors will be fitted.

Jan Sweeney, the HE's local district manager, said tenants had been fully consulted about the plans, and her staff would work closely with the community to ensure that work progressed as smoothly as possible.

The maintenance work will be carried out on a phased basis to homes in Cavanmore Gdns, Edenmore Dr, Glassmullin Gdns, Glenshane Gdns, Greenan, Inishmore Cres, Navan Green, Slieveban Dr, Slievegallion Dr and Tullymore Gdns.

::: u.tv :::


09/06/2004 15:10
By: Press Association

Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister John Spellar was under fire today over his plans to introduce new laws on anti-social behaviour without proper consultation.

Politicians roundly condemned him and backed the Children`s Commissioner who has launched a legal bid to force further consultation.

Mr Spellar proposes bringing in Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO`s) in a bid to deal with problems such as underage drinking and vandalism.

But he is doing so without a full Equality Impact Assessment - and critics say that goes against his own government`s legislation.

Children`s Commissioner Nigel Williams has sought a judicial review of the minister`s decision on the grounds that he does not think children and young people have been properly consulted.

He said if children as young as 10 were expected to understand an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, then they should be consulted on their introduction.

But Mr Spellar today accused Mr Williams , and the Human Rights Commission which also believes the measure is being rushed through without proper consultation, of being out of step with other bodies.

"Every local authority, i.e. the democratically elected bodies in Northern Ireland who have responded to us, all of those have come out in favour," he said.

Mr Spellar added that the two commissions may have a different view "but I do not believe they should have a veto on public policy."

Sinn Fein rode to the commissions` defence, attacking Mr Spellar.

Party spokesman on children`s issues, Thomas O`Reilly, MLA, said he found it "astounding" John Spellar could justify dismissing the objections of the Childrens` Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission on the grounds they weren`t elected.

"Who here has ever cast a single vote for John Spellar? Despite the fact that he has no electoral mandate, Mr Spellar feels that he has the right to ride roughshod over the Good Friday Agreement by refusing to allow a full equality impact assessment to be made," he said.

The minister should know that Sinn Fein, the party with the second largest electoral mandate in the province "objects strongly to the completely undemocratic method he is using to push this legislation thorough," added Mr O`Reilly.

The SDLP`s equality spokesman Patricia Lewsley said the government had made a commitment under the Northern Ireland Act to test the equality implications of legislation and regulations by means of an Equality Impact Assessment.

"Now the minister proposes to rush through ASBO`s without even proper consultation with affected parties, particularly young people and the professionals who look after their interests," she said.

The SDLP welcomed the decision of the Children`s Commissioner to seek a judicial review in order to ensure fuller consultation, she added.

ASBO`s should not be used as a "high profile quick fix" said Ms Lewsley who said they had not been as successful in England and Wales as the minister seemed to think.



A decade after the first IRA and loyalist ceasefires, men and women are still being murdered in Northern Ireland by sectarian organisations that pay scant attention to the Peace Process. David McKittrick reports on a relentless cycle of violence
09 June 2004

The Troubles may have subsided since the days when lives were taken at a rate of more than one a day, but Northern Ireland is still paying a price in human terms. The killing rate is down to one a month, but families are still being bereaved as the steady drip of death goes on, almost 10 years after the first IRA and loyalist ceasefires of 1994.

Although statistically the situation is much improved, lives are still being shattered by the persistence of paramilitarism. Thirty-six killings have taken place in the last three years, from 2001 to 2003.

The latest research shows that extreme loyalist groups are now far outstripping the IRA, and other republicans, in terms of committing murders. The killing rate for the last three-year period stands at exactly one per month, with three-quarters of the 36 killings carried out by loyalist groups. Overall, since 1966, about 3,700 people have died in the Troubles.

Although political and media attention tends to focus almost entirely on the IRA, that organisation is suspected of involvement in just three of the 36 killings that have taken place since April 2001.

Last month, the Government cut off Assembly funding to Sinn Fein as a penalty for continuing IRA violence. This followed a report by the Independent Monitoring Commission accusing the IRA of "punishment" attacks, cigarette smuggling and other illegalities. However, the statistics indicate that the IRA, although involved in a range of paramilitary activities, has sharply reduced its involvement in actual murder.

The resulting fall in the overall killing rate means that the past three years have been among the most peaceful in Northern Ireland since the 1960s. The death toll peaked in 1972, with almost 500 deaths, while during the 1980s and 1990s the toll rarely dropped below 70 deaths each year.

The figures for loyalist violence will be cited in support of the argument - advanced by the media analyst Roy Greenslade - that the political world and the media pay relatively little attention to loyalist activity.

The statistics have been assembled for a new edition of the book Lost Lives (first published in 1999), which chronicles the story of each of the 3,700 dead. The authors of the new edition, to be published shortly, are Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton, David McVea and myself.

A study of the deaths since April 2001 shows that the IRA is suspected of three killings, in two of which the victims were reportedly involved in drug-dealing. The third death is that of Gareth O'Connor, who has been missing since May last year. Republicans other than the IRA were responsible for six killings. Two were the work of the Real IRA, while another saw an IRA member killed in a dispute in south Armagh.

The fact that Protestant extremists were responsible for 26 killings illustrates that paramilitarism is deeply entrenched in loyalist ghettos, especially in Belfast and parts of County Armagh. Sizeable groups such as the Ulster Defence Association, Ulster Volunteer Force and Loyalist Volunteer Force remain highly active, and have become much more ready than republicans to resort to murder.

The UDA was by far the most lethal of the loyalist organisations, killing 18 people. Ironically, given that the group traditionally targets Catholics, only five of these victims were Catholic. Eight of those who died were killed in internal feuding, including some UDA members. A further two UDA members died when their bombs exploded prematurely, and one former member was shot as an informer. In two cases, the UDA killed Protestants in the mistaken belief that they were Catholics.

Many of those who died were gunned down in UDA feuds, its members killing each other or clashing with other groups. Much of the internal trouble centred on the west Belfast UDA leader Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair; this subsided a little when he was jailed.

It has been argued, though this is a controversial point, that many of these killings should not be regarded as being strictly Troubles-related, as most of them do not relate to the Troubles in any political or sectarian sense. Rather, many have sprung from internal disputes and sometimes from personal fallings-out, above all over who controls loyalist areas. In many instances, drugs, racketeering and turf wars have been the motives for killings.

4 May 2001: Paul Patrick Daly, shot dead in north Belfast

After he climbed into his car, two men walked up and fired about nine shots. The killing was witnessed by Daly's partner, who was in the passenger seat. Daly was widely reported to be a drug dealer with the nickname "King Coke". Responsibility for the killing was not claimed by any organisation, but it was said to be the work of the IRA.

27 May 2001: Stephen James Manners, shot dead in Co Down

A former loyalist prisoner, Manners was shot in the lavatory of a pub in the town of Newtownards. He had been jailed for the murder in 1992 of a Catholic woman, who was beaten and strangled. He allegedly fell foul of other loyalists in a dispute over money. The murdered woman's father said of Manners' death: "I won't be gloating about it. It doesn't relieve my pain one way or another."

23 June 2001: John Henry McCormick, shot dead in Co Londonderry

McCormick, a Catholic, was killed by two loyalists who walked into the house he shared with his Protestant girlfriend and shot him in front of his two sons, aged four and six. A young niece and nephew also witnessed the killing. His partner, who was six months pregnant with the couple's third child, said: "They told me to get down on my knees. I said, 'No, don't be doing this in front of my wee ones,' but they just fired shots into his stomach and his head." McCormick had been due to appear as a witness in a loyalist court-case.

10 July 2001: Geraldine Ewing, died in west Belfast

The 61-year-old Catholic widow died of a heart attack after loyalists forced her to leave her home in Lisburn, Co Down. Six men entered the family home and told them that they would be burnt out if they did not leave. The widow, a wheelchair-user, shared the home with two of her sons, including one who was physically and mentally handicapped, and her physically disabled brother. Mrs Ewing, who had lived in the house for 21 years, suffered the heart attack within hours.

29 July 2001: Gavin Brett, shot in north Belfast

The 18-year-old Protestant student was shot by loyalists who assumed he was Catholic. A friend who was injured in the attack sent a message to his mother saying: "Tell Gavin's mummy that I'm sorry. Tell her that I'm sorry that he died and I didn't."

Gavin's father, a paramedic who had attended the Omagh bombing and other incidents, ran to the scene but could not resuscitate his son. More than 100 of his father's colleagues were at the funeral in their ambulance service uniforms.

4 September 2001: Thomas McDonald, killed in north Belfast

The Protestant teenager was knocked from his bicycle by a Catholic woman after he stoned her car at a sectarian flashpoint. The woman, a mother of five, was taking children to a religiously integrated school when he threw a half-brick, which struck the windscreen. She drove after him, the car throwing the teenager in the air. She was found guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation. The judge described the original attack as "a calculated, unprovoked and potentially dangerous assault," and said the woman had reacted in "an impulsive moment". She was sentenced to two years in jail followed by two years of probation.

11 November 2001: Glen Hugh Branagh, killed in north Belfast

The 16-year-old member of the UDA's youth wing died after the pipe bomb that he was trying to throw at police exploded in his hand. The incident happened as police were separating rioting factions. The subsequent inquest was told that the blast severed Branagh's hand and caused severe head injuries. He was a distant relative of the actor Kenneth Branagh.

12 December 2001: William Stobie, shot in west Belfast

The former UDA member, who disclosed that he had once been a police informer, was shot by a UDA gunman after leaving his flat. He was killed two weeks after he was cleared of murdering the solicitor Pat Finucane. Stobie admitted supplying the guns for the solicitor's killing, but maintained that he had provided information that could have saved Finucane's life or led to the capture of his killers if the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) had acted on it.

12 January 2002: Daniel McColgan, shot in north Belfast

The 20-year-old Catholic was shot by two UDA gunmen as he arrived for work at a post office sorting office. His mother later said: "We have his voice on the answering machine. It cheers us up because he laughs before he says, 'Leave your name and number.'" She added: "Ultimately, Danny's death will be like all the other murders. People will not even remember who he was, or even his name." In May 2002, the headstone on his grave was destroyed. His girlfriend said: "Daniel is dead. What more do these people want?"

27 December 2002: Jonathan Stewart, shot in north Belfast

The young man was shot five or six times at an all-night Boxing Day party. The killing was related to a series of tit-for-tat shootings between UDA factions. He was not in the UDA, but was the nephew of a prominent UDA man. A year later, the father of his girlfriend was charged in connection with his murder.

2 February 2003: John Gregg, shot in north Belfast

A leading loyalist, he was shot dead by allies of the UDA leader Johnny Adair. He was ambushed in the Belfast docks on his way home after watching a Rangers football match in Glasgow. In 1984, Gregg had almost killed the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in a gun attack and was sentenced to 18 years for attempted murder. Released in 1993, he said that his only regret was that he had failed to kill the republican leader. His UDA unit was held responsible for many murders. In the wake of the Gregg killing, the Adair faction was expelled from the Shankill Road district of Belfast and fled to Scotland and England.

12 March 2003: Keith Rogers, shot in Co Armagh

Rogers was shot dead during an incident in the south Armagh village of Cullaville. The IRA said he was a member but was unarmed and not "on active service". The exact causes of the incident were unclear. At his funeral, the leading IRA figure Brian Keenan said he had been killed by criminals masquerading as republicans and described the attack as "treachery carried out by a band of vermin". Keenan said: "This was not a dispute between gangs. It was a case of IRA volunteers being fired on by criminals." Rogers was 15 years old when the IRA declared its ceasefire in 1994.

11 May 2003: Gareth O'Connor, disappeared in Armagh

O'Connor, from Armagh city, went missing in the south Armagh area and is presumed to have been killed by republicans. His family has kept up a media campaign, first appealing for information and later asking for the return of his body. The family, and the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde, blamed the IRA, although there were claims that O'Connor had been involved with dissident republicans.

17 August 2003: Danny McGurk, shot in west Belfast

The Catholic father of six was shot by the Real IRA. His 73-year-old mother Mary said he had been beaten with hatchets and hammers a week earlier after standing up to local paramilitaries. She went on: "They're just cowards. He was a big strong fella ­ he didn't need a weapon, he just needed his hands. They are nothing but the Devil's disciples and drug dealers." It emerged that the dead man had been convicted of manslaughter arising from a 1997 incident when a man died after being stabbed and beaten. He received a six-year sentence.

In February, the dissident republican Bobby Tohill, who had denied any link with the McGurk killing, was involved in an incident near the centre of Belfast and was badly injured. Several men were charged. The police said they had interrupted an IRA attack.

The new edition of 'Lost Lives: the stories of the men, women and children who died through the Northern Ireland Troubles', will be published by the end of this month (Mainstream Publishing, £30)

Irish Culture and Customs

Today in Irish History

June 9

597 - Death of St. Colomcille

"Today is the feast day of St Columcille, one of the spiritual giants of the early Christian church, and one of Ireland’s three patron saints. Born in Donegal, he founded the city of Derry — it was originally called Doiré Colmcille — and went on to establish many monasteries including Iona, the centre from which Scotland was converted to Christianity."

St. Columcille of Iona
by Bridget Haggerty

Around the same time that St. Patrick was taken to Ireland as a slave, Columcille (who was also known as Columba, Colum, Columbus, Combs, and Columkill),was born in Garton, Co. Donegal. He came from a race of kings who had ruled in Ireland for six centuries and was himself in close succession to the throne.

At an early age, he was given in fosterage to a priest. After studying at Moville under Saint Finnian and then at Clonard with another Saint Finnian, he surrendered his princely claims, became a monk at Glasnevin under Mobhi, and was ordained.

He spent the next 15 years preaching and teaching in Ireland. As was the custom in those days, he combined study and prayer with manual labor. By his own natural gifts as well as by the good fortune of his birth, he soon gained ascendancy as a monk of unusual distinction.

By the time he was 25, he had founded no less than 27 Irish monasteries, including those at Derry, Durrow and Kells.Columcille was also a poet who had learned Irish history and poetry from a bard named Gemman. In addition, he loved fine books and manuscripts. One of the famous books associated with Columcille is the Psaltair, which was traditionally the Battle Book of the O'Donnells, his kinsmen, who carried it into battle.

The Psaltair is the basis for one of the most famous legends of Saint Columcille. It is said that on one occasion, so anxious was Columcille to have a copy of the Psalter that he shut himself up for a whole night in the church that contained it, transcribing it laboriously by hand. He was discovered by a monk who watched him through the keyhole and reported it to his superior, Finnian of Moville. The Scriptures were so scarce in those days that the abbot claimed the copy, refusing to allow it to leave the monastery. Columcille refused to surrender it, until he was obliged to do so, under protest, on the abbot's appeal to the High King Diarmaid.

A very sad period in Columcille's life followed. Because he had protected a refugee and denounced an injustice by King Diarmaid, war broke out between the clans of Ireland. Filled with remorse on account of those who had been slain in the battle of Cooldrevne and condemned by many of his own friends, he experienced a profound conversion and an irresistible call to preach to the heathen. So, even though he loved Ireland with all of his heart, Columcille made the profound decision to become an exile.

In 563, he and 12 companions crossed the Irish Sea in a coracle, which is similar to a curragh, and landed on a deserted island now known as Iona (Holy Island). It was here, on this tiny isle off the coast of Scotland, that he began his work. Eventually, Iona became the heart of Celtic Christianity and its existence was one of the strongest influences in the conversion of the Picts, Scots, and Northern English.

From Iona, numerous other settlements were founded, and Columcille himself penetrated the wildest glens of Scotland and the farthest Outer Hebrides. He established the Caledonian Church and it is said that he anointed King Aidan of Argyll upon the famous stone of Scone, which is now in Westminster Abbey. The Pictish King Brude and his people were also converted by Columcille's many miracles, including driving away a water "monster" from the River Ness with the Sign of the Cross.

Even though he was far away in Scotland, Columcille appears to have retained control over his monasteries in Ireland. In 580, he returned to his native land to take part in the assembly of Druim-Cetta in Ulster, where he mediated about the obligations of the Irish in Scotland to those in Ireland. It was decided that they should furnish a fleet, but not an army, for the Irish high-king. During the same assembly, Columcille, who was a bard himself, intervened to effectively swing the nation away from its declared intention of suppressing the Bardic Order. Columcille persuaded them that the whole future of Gaelic culture demanded that the scholarship of the bards be preserved. His prestige was such that his views prevailed and assured the presence of educated laity in Irish Christian society.

Of the man himself and his personality, it is said that he was "well-formed, with a powerful frame; his skin was white, his face broad and fair and radiant, lit up with large, gray, luminous eyes..." Saint Adamnan, his biographer wrote of him: "He had the face of an angel; he was of an excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in counsel... loving unto all."

It is clear that Columcille's temperament changed dramatically during his life. Although his name means "dove", in his early years, he had a quick temper and was extremely stern with his monks; gradually, he softened and later in life, he was as gentle toward them as he had always been with children and animals. Columcille had great qualities, but ultimately, his chief virtue lay in the conquest of his own passionate nature and in the love and sympathy that flowed from his eager and radiant spirit.

A poet and an artist who did illumination — perhaps some of those in the Book of Kells itself—his skill as a scribe can be seen in the Cathach of Columba (Columcille) at the Irish Academy. The oldest surviving example of Irish illumination, it was eventually enshrined in silver and bronze and venerated in churches.

On June 8, 597, Columcille was copying out the psalms once again. At the verse, "They that love the Lord shall lack no good thing," he stopped, and said that his cousin, Saint Baithin must do the rest. Columcille died the next day at the foot of the altar. He was first buried at Iona, but 200 years later the Danes destroyed the monastery. His relics were taken to Dunkeld in 849.

The year Columcille died was the same year in which Saint Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury to convert England. Perhaps because the Roman party gained ascendancy at the Synod of Whitby, much of the credit that belongs to Saint Columcille and his followers for the conversion of Britain has been attributed to St. Augustine. It should not be forgotten that both saints played pivotal roles in spreading Christianity throughout the British Isles.

In art, Saint Columcille is sometimes depicted with a basket of bread and an orb of the world in a ray of light. He might also be pictured with an old, white horse. He is venerated in Dunkeld, Ireland and also as the Apostle of Scotland. His feast day is June 9th, the day on which he died.

"Alone with none but Thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
What need I fear when Thou art near,
Oh King of night and day?
More safe am I within Thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand."
--Attributed to Saint Columcille

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