Patrick Kavanagh, 1904-1967

Memory of My Father

Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.

That man I saw in Gardner Street
Stumble on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half-eyed,
I might have been his son.

And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London.
He too set me the riddle.

Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me
"I was once your father."

-Patrick Kavanagh
Copyright © Estate of Katherine Kavanagh

Irish Independent

Honour for poet on his own stony grey soil

**Photo from the Patrick Kavanagh, 1904-1967 site where you can learn more about the poet.

WHEN poet Patrick Kavanagh first visited Aras An Uachtarain, he wore a green woolly jumper and arrived somewhat the worse for drink.

Such was the recollection of President Mary McAleese, as she laid a wreath of white lilies on the grave of the literary genius yesterday to mark the centenary of his birth.

"The upshot was some rather pompous missives sent to the president, saying Patrick Kavanagh should not be invited again," she said. "I feel rather horrible about that. That's not who we are as a people. Maybe he'll forgive a president now, as I am here today at his grave."

Standing in the hilly churchyard in Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, as the late afternoon sun slanted from a blue November sky, President McAleese read aloud his poem 'The Inniskeen Road'. The President felt recognition for his work had come very late, saying: "He had to wait a long time for the warmth and affection of the Irish people to express itself, but I think it has been expressed now, particularly in this generation."

Also at the graveside were two of the poet's nephews, Andrew Quinn and Fr John Quinn.

Fr Quinn said the presidential visit was an honour for his late uncle, and said she had accurately pinpointed the struggle Patrick Kavanagh had for appreciation of his work, which includes 'Stony Grey Soil' and 'Raglan Road'.

Andrew Quinn's wife, Maureen, said she had one abiding memory of the poet in her youth.

"He took me and my mam to Clery's in Dublin, to buy us raincoats. But when we came to the till, he didn't have any money. So mammy had to buy them instead," she smiled.

Patrick Kavanagh, who died in 1967, now rests in a modest grave under a small wooden cross.

The church has become the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, run by curator Emily Cullen. She said the beauty of Kavanagh's work was in his pioneering focus on "what was under our noses".

Last night his fellow poet Seamus Heaney delivered a keynote address entitled 'Patrick Kavanagh's Essential Gesture'.

The Patrick Kavanagh weekend will continue today with a performance from actor TP McKenna.

Helen Bruce


**Amsterdam: 'Fly Now - Fly Later'

Laws could end Irish ‘drug tourists’ going Dutch

27 November 2004
By Cormac O’Keeffe

THOUSANDS of Irish people who flock to Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops each year will be hit under Dutch plans to combat ‘drug tourism’.

The Netherlands Government is considering bringing in rules which would ban foreigners from coffee shops, where marijuana is sold and smoked.

“Our cities don’t want this drug-related tourism. They are having a lot of trouble. That is why we have to do something about it,” said Martin Bruinsma of the Dutch Department of Justice.

The plans will come as a blow to travellers who flock to Amsterdam and other Dutch cities each year to avail of the liberal cannabis policy.

Nationals and tourists are legally allowed to purchase and smoke small quantities of cannabis in licensed coffee shops.

The ban is being driven by Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, who said drug tourism “should be fought”.

Mr Bruinsma said they were examining the possibility of introducing a pass system for coffee shops.

“You will have to have a pass to get in. We are trying to eliminate the unwanted visitors from coffee shops.”

The passes would be for Dutch people and residents.

“Tourists would not be allowed.”

The Netherlands has for many years been criticised, by France and Germany in particular, for its lax policy towards cannabis.

But Mr Bruinsma said the initiative was due to pressure from their own cities. He added a decision would probably be made next year.

There are around 780 coffee shops in the Netherlands, half of which are in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.

It’s estimated around 40% of the coffee shop summer trade in Amsterdam is tourist-related.

A Cannabis Ireland spokesman said: “About 90% of tourists who go there go to sample the coffee shops, so there will be a lot of disappointment worldwide.

“It’s difficult to know the long-term effects. It may make the Dutch model more effective and make it more transferrable to other countries. Alternatively, it could be the first step to closing down coffee shops.”


Bush to call Adams in search for deal

27 November 2004
By Harry McGee

US President George W Bush is expected to speak by telephone to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams today as part of an intensive, last-minute effort to restore the devolved government to the North.

Mr Bush spoke with DUP leader Ian Paisley by phone yesterday, in his first direct intervention in this round of negotiations.

Yesterday, Dr Paisley confirmed he had had what he described as a long and useful conversation with Mr Bush at lunchtime.

“I told him I would like to be in a position to make a deal but that any deal must be fair and it must address to my satisfaction and my electorate’s satisfaction all the fundamental issues that have blocked progress for so long,” he said.

Dr Paisley said he had reiterated his party’s unwavering antipathy to the IRA: “We reminded the President of the fact that he would not have terrorists in his government and that we must be satisfied that IRA terrorism is over and cannot return.”

Last night, a senior Sinn Féin spokesman said that Mr Adams had not yet received a phone call from the president but that one was expected sometime today.

“We are assuming on the back of his call to Ian Paisley that President Bush will call Gerry Adams today. But as of now, no definite arrangement has been made,” he said.

The unexpected intervention of the president came shortly after the Irish and British governments presented an amended document to both parties, incorporating the points raised by Sinn Féin during ongoing negotiations last week as well as the 43 points of clarification raised by the DUP.

The amended document, setting out a way forward for restoring Northern institutions and an executive, is being studied by both parties this weekend.

It followed a frenetic two days of contacts between British and Irish officials following Wednesday’s Downing Street talks. A Sinn Féin delegation led by Mr Adams met British prime minister Tony Blair in London yesterday morning and there were high level contacts yesterday involving Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and his British government counterpart Paul Murphy.

It is not expected that either party will respond to the latest initiatives until tomorrow evening at the earliest. That will be quickly followed by another round of negotiations that will conclude within days, irrespective of whether a deal is struck or not.

SF sources last night accepted that a deal may not be possible on this occasion. A spokesperson said: “Sinn Féin has been involved for 12 years in the process. The DUP have not had that.

“They have had to move from a position of being hard-line opponents of the Good Friday Agreement and to the process and have had to learn to moderate and nuance and alter their position. Signing up to an agreement may prove to be beyond them at this stage.”


Suspension lifted for student who posed with President McAleese

27 November 2004
By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

A SCHOOL has reversed a decision to suspend a student who had her photograph taken with President Mary McAleese during an official visit this week.
Ballinteer Community School in south Dublin had decided that Zainab Kadhum broke school rules and distinct orders not to ask the President to pose for pictures.

Despite protests from the students and her father the 17-year-old from Iraq was suspended for five days as a result of asking President McAleese to pose with her at the school on Wednesday morning. However, the suspension has been revoked and Ms Kadhum returned to school yesterday.

“In deference to the occasion and to avoid any possible misunderstanding, the school authorities have decided to revoke the suspension,” principal Austen Corcoran said yesterday afternoon.

The school had invited Mrs McAleese to watch students of the school take part in a wheelchair hurling match. The 400-pupil school has around 25 students with physical disabilities.

Mr Corcoran said students were told before the President’s arrival they were not to approach her and ask for photographs.

Ms Kadhum said a member of the President’s entourage had told her she could ask Mrs McAleese if she would have her picture taken with her. The President agreed to the photograph but the matter was later pursued with the student.

After missing classes on Thursday, Ms Kadhum returned to school yesterday after the suspension was lifted.

A spokesperson for the President said Mrs McAleese would not get involved in the situation as disciplinary issues needed to be dealt with by the school.

The standard protocol guidelines for institutions visited by the President tell hosts, while Mrs McAleese is happy to have her picture taken, people should not ask her to pose for personal photographs as she would not have time to facilitate everybody.

Sinn Féin

Decision to route M3 through Tara and Skyrne valley must be overturned

Published: 27 November, 2004

Sinn Féin representative for Meath Councillor Joe Reilly has described the decision to route the M3 through the Tara and Skryne valley as misguided and called for it to be overturned. He said "Even at this late stage I would call on the Department and the Minister to display some common sense and proceed with the delayed Dunshaughlin, Kells and Navan bypasses as a matter of urgency and start to deal with the traffic chaos being endured by the people of Meath and Cavan every day" Councillor Reilly is attending a protest in Dublin against the proposed route of the M3 through the Tara and Skryne valley.

Councillor Reilly said:

"No matter how much the Minister for Transport and the NRA play down the impact of the proposed routing on the archaeological heritage of the Tara-Skryne valley, the evidence contradicts these assertions. Archaeological test trenching proved that there are many more archaeological sites on the route of the proposed motorway than initially claimed. Eminent archaeological experts from Ireland and abroad have testified to the archaeological importance of the Tara/Skryne valley and have spoken about their dismay at the proposed routing of the motorway.

"The Government got itself into this mess because it did not consult adequately with local communities or elected representatives. It should have learnt by now that taking time to consult in the initial stages saves time and money in the long run. The case has been made by many of those campaigning against the proposed route of the M3 that there are viable and realistic alternatives where both infrastructure and heritage can be accommodated. The single 64 kilometre construction contract for the M3 should be broken up into a number of contracts to ensure work on the bypasses and non-contentious sections of the route would not be further affected by archaeological concerns and delays in the Dunshaughlin to Navan section. The people of Meath and Cavan should not be forced to endure the current levels of traffic congestion because of the delays to one section of the proposed motorway. The best way to address the appalling congestion problems we have heard about is to proceed immediately with the work on the bypasses.

"Commuters are irate that despite the fact that Meath County Council approved a plan for a bypass of Kells in 1999, nothing has happened to date. Public transport in County Meath is seriously underdeveloped. As well as proceeding immediately with the construction of the bypasses, the Government must commit the necessary funding for the reopening of a rail link from Dublin to Navan. Traffic congestion is inevitable in the absence of proper public transport alternatives. Navan is one of the fastest growing towns in the State and a commuter rail service is vital and would make environmental sense.

"It is proposed that this motorway should be constructed by way of public private partnership and should be tolled. The Government arbitrarily upgraded the road, which was to have been a dual carriageway, to motorway status just to apply a toll. Sinn Féin is opposed to PPPs as a method of infrastructure delivery. They do not make long-term economic sense and cost the State more in the long run. Road tolls are an additional stealth tax on motorists and the consequences of tolling this route for a person who lives in Cavan and travels to the southside of Dublin is that he will be ripped off three times - once between Cavan and Navan, a second time between Navan and Dublin and a third time by the Department's modern day highway men who are waiting to fleece him yet again on the M50 toll bridge."ENDS


Secret memo deepens Thatcher link to coup plot

David Leigh and David Pallister
Saturday November 27, 2004
The Guardian

The Obiang regime in Equatorial Guinea yesterday jailed 11 foreign mercenaries for up to 34 years, as documents surfaced further implicating Mark Thatcher in a British-led coup attempt which has caused international embarrassment.

A long memo from the Old Etonian mercenary Simon Mann, said to be at the heart of the plot, has been seized by authorities in South Africa. A court there ruled this week that Mark Thatcher will face trial in April.

The memo, written before the coup attempt, refers to "MT", identified to the South African prosecutors as Mr Thatcher by a key witness.

The document taken from the plotters' computer says Mr Thatcher's role must be kept secret, or the coup would be at risk: "If involvement becomes known, rest of us, and project, likely to be screwed as a side-issue to people screwing him".

Mann goes on to say that even if mercenaries succeeded in taking over the oil-rich state, news of Mr Thatcher's role "would particularly add to a campaign post-event, to remove us". He then emphasises: "Ensure doesn't happen."

These disclosures follow the leak of phone records revealing Mr Thatcher was also in contact with another of the alleged British plotters, businessman Greg Wales, at a crucial moment before the coup bid.

Mr Thatcher is facing a further five months on bail, reporting daily to police from his suburban Capetown villa.

Mr Thatcher, who claims he thought he was financing a helicopter for an air ambulance, gave an interview to Vanity Fair saying: "I feel like a corpse that's going down the Colorado river and there's nothing I can do about it."

The Simon Mann memo now seen by the Guardian does not implicate the British in the coup. Instead, in what seems to be a detailed plan for a takeover, the ex-SAS officer seems preoccupied with getting US backing, to prevent his mercenaries being chased out of Africa once their role is discovered.

"We must follow plan to ensure that neither US government nor oil companies feel that their interests are threatened."

He says the US oil firms, who dominate Equatorial Guinea "must be made to believe very fast that the thing is in their interest; their staff safe; and that we are very powerful."

In Equatorial Guinea yesterday, President Obiang's regime drew back from imposing death sentences. Nick du Toit, the South African arms dealer who this month retracted a confession alleging torture, drew a 34-year jail sentence.

Four other South Africans whom prosecutors said were mercenaries received 17 years each in prison. Three others were acquitted.

Six Armenian air crew received jail terms of between 14 and 24 years each.

Would-be president Severo Moto was sentenced in absentia to 63 years. Eight other opposition exiles were similarly sentenced to 52 years each.

Belfast Telegraph

Gardai seek recruits north of the border
3,000 are sought in new campaign

By Jonathan McCambridge
26 November 2004

The Garda has launched their first ever recruitment drive for trainee police officers from Northern Ireland, it emerged today.

The Republic's police force has placed an advertisement in the Jobfinder section of today's Belfast Telegraph and also in the Irish News seeking 3,000 new recruits.

The Garda recruitment campaign could attract those who are unwilling to join the PSNI or who have been turned down because the PSNI is oversubscribed.

The advertisement for An Garda Siochana is seeking applicants for a two year trainee programme.

The annual salary for trained officers starts at €22,523 - significantly below the starting rate for PSNI officers.

The PSNI recently said that it had achieved success in attracting southern applicants.

A Garda spokesman said: "We have had applicants from Northern Ireland before but it is the first time we have actively sought recruits north of the border."

DUP Policing Board member Sammy Wilson said: "You may well find people who have been left disappointed because of 50/50 recruitment in the PSNI could get a career in the Garda - it would be the ultimate irony.

"At least they seem to be recruiting on merit and are not subject to the same politically correct mechanisms which exist here.

"I was talking to senior Garda officials this week and they told me that many of the PSNI officers who are taking redundancy here would be snapped up in the South."

SDLP Policing spokesman Alex Attwood said: "A wider membership of the Garda from the North must be welcomed.

"The PSNI is already attracting people from the South and this broadens the base of policing throughout Ireland," Mr Attwood added.

Belfast Telegraph

Jailed for attacks on army vehicles

By Ashleigh Wallace
26 November 2004

A 24-year-old father of two who was caught on CCTV attacking Army vehicles in the Ardoyne area with a wooden baton stolen from a soldier was today jailed for eight months.

Terence Young, from Navan Green in Belfast, was involved in riotous behaviour against the security forces at the front of the Ardoyne shops on July 12. He was involved one month after receiving a suspended sentence at Belfast Magistrates Court.

Police and the army were called to Ardoyne due to tensions surrounding a contentious Orange parade. At around 8pm, a crowd became hostile towards an army patrol and Young was captured on CCTV striking an army Land-Rover with a wooden baton.

He was also seen attacking a windscreen and side panel as well as striking an additional three Land-Rovers.

A prosecutor told the court: "It has been established that the baton was stolen from one of the military by another person earlier."

Young's solicitor said the police officer responsible for investigating "the totality of the day" confirmed Young did not become involved in the "more serious allegation of physical violence."

Magistrate Mark Hamill pointed out Young got involved in the situation when he was in breach of a suspended sentence, adding: "I'm afraid there is no where else to go."

Young was handed a four-month prison term on each of the four charges - namely riotous behaviour, possession of an offensive weapon, handling stolen goods and criminal damage. Each four-month sentence will run concurrently.

Mr Hamill also activated a suspended sentence, imposing a further four-month jail term, to run consecutively with the other four-month term, on Young.

An Phoblacht

Charlie Kerins hanged by Free Staters - Remembering the Past


Photo: Volunteer Charlie Kerins

On 1 December 1944, 60 years ago, the IRA's Chief of Staff, Charlie Kerins, was hanged in Mountjoy Jail.

Charlie Kerins was born in Tralee County Kerry in 1918. At the age of 17 he joined his local unit of the IRA and took part in action against the Blueshirts in the area. In 1942, Charlie travelled to Dublin to join the GHQ staff, then under extreme pressure from the Free State Government of Fianna Fáil. Hundreds of IRA members had been arrested and interned without trial or sentence.

A year later, when Hugh McAteer was arrested, Charlie became Chief of Staff. He moved about the city under the name of Charles Hanley, constantly on the run and with a price on his head.

These were dark days for the IRA; its ranks had been depleted by constant arrests at the hands of former comrades who had taken the Free State shilling and were now members of the Broy Harriers. One of these men was Sergeant Dinny O'Brien.

Dinny O'Brien had fought with his two brothers, Larry and Paddy, in the Marrowbone Lane garrison in 1916; afterwards they had fought together in the Tan War and in 1922 Paddy was shot dead by the pro-Treaty forces in Enniscorthy.

Dinny stayed in the IRA until 1933, when, along with a number of other IRA men, he was inveigled into the Broy Harriers on De Valera's plea that "we need you to fight the Blueshirt menace". Within a few years, he was fighting and hunting his own, as rapacious as the most dyed in the wool Stater. In his time, he cut down quite a few republicans, Liam Rice and Charlie McGlade among them, shot while resisting arrest. O'Brien built up his own secret network in pubs, hotels, at stations and among the news vendors on the streets. By 1942, he had turned into a vicious and determined hunter and the IRA gave the order that he was to be executed.

At 9.45am on 9 September 1942 at Ballyboden, Rathfarnham, County Dublin, O'Brien left his house and began getting into his car. Three IRA men, wearing trench coats and armed with Thompson sub machine guns, came up the drive and opened fire. The shots from the Thompson smashed the windows of his car, wounding him. He alighted and ran for cover to the gate but before reaching it, he was cut down by a single round to the head. Two of the IRA men then wrapped the Thompsons in their trench coats and mounted their bicycles and rode towards Dublin. The third IRA man left on foot, leaving his bicycle behind. The operation was a success, apart from the abandoned bike, which had been used by IRA men including Charlie Kerins for over two months and may have had fingerprints on it.

After the shooting of O'Brien, a huge police swoop began and many of the IRA's safe houses were raided. Charlie continued to move about the city re-organising the army.

He took part with Jackie Griffiths and Archie Doyle in a robbery of the Player Wills factory on the South Circular Road, where £5,000 of much needed funds was taken. The three men arrived at the factory gates on bikes. When the van with the money arrived, they placed scarves around their faces and stopped it at gunpoint. The van was handed over and the three men drove away in it.

With the constant raids on republican houses, it became harder for the IRA to move about the city. By 1944, the IRA had just four safe houses in Dublin. One of these was 50 Upper Rathmines Road. It was in this house that the Broy Harriers were to finally capture Charlie Kerins.

On 16 June 1944 at 4am, the police raided the house. Charlie was asleep on the top floor of the house with a Thompson under his bed but before he was fully awake the police had him in handcuffs.

Charlie was charged before a military court with the shooting of O'Brien. He refused to recognise the court or enter any plea. He was found guilty on the flimsy evidence that one of his fingerprints was on the bicycle that was left behind.

At the close of the trial, the Free State officer presiding adjourned for several hours to give Charlie time to change his plea and avoid the death penalty. But when the trial resumed, Charlie told the military judges: "You could have adjourned for six years as far as I am concerned, as my attitude to this court will always be the same." The court then sentenced him to death.

Over 77,000 people signed a petition for a reprieve but the Fianna Fáil Government was determined to execute Charlie. His last letter was to his friend Liam Burke in Belfast. Charlie posted him a leaf of a calendar for the month of December, a month he would not see. On it he had written:

"What, said Cathal Brugha, if our last man's on the ground.

When he hears the ringing challenge if his enemies ring him round.

If he'd reached his final cartridge — if he fired his final shot.

Will you come into the empire? He would answer, I will not."

At 8am on Friday 1 December 1944, Charlie Kerins was hanged in Mountjoy Jail by the English hangman Albert Pierpoint.

North Atlantic Skyline


From 30 November 2003--visit the link for the rest of the story and the large view of the beautiful photograph


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

"On a back road outside Ardrahan, interrupting a line of Scots pine, stands a simple stone memorial. Eighty three years ago this weekend, the bodies of two brothers, Pat and Henry Loughnane were dumped on this road..."

Click and scroll down


An Phoblacht

Derry taxi drivers attacked

A Derry taxi driver has appealed to unionist politicians to use whatever influence they have to put an end to attacks on taxis, based in Derry's Cityside, travelling through the Waterside area.

Four taxis were damaged as they drove along Crescent Link in the Waterside in a weekend campaign of violence orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries.

One driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, told a local newspaper how he saw two men dressed in dark clothes stepping out of bushes at the side of Crescent Link and firing something at the windscreen. He said that someone is going to be killed if a stop is not put to these sectarian attacks.

Sinn Féin Councillor Lynn Fleming said the sectarian attacks call into question the so-called UDA ceasefire.

"This is an orchestrated campaign of terror by the UDA against nationalist taxis driving through the Waterside area, yet we are asked to believe the UDA ceasefire is intact," she said. "Unionist politicians should be doing all in their power to put a stop to these attacks immediately."

An Phoblacht

UDA attack pensioner's home

A nationalist pensioner is being treated in hospital after her Coleraine, County Derry, home was attacked by members of the UDA on Tuesday 23 November.

The gang responsible for the attack on the pensioner had earlier threatened her three grandsons, warning them to leave the area.

The masked men, armed with baseball threats, forced their way into the house in the Harpers Hill area of Coleraine and forced her three grandsons to lie on the floor before smashing up the woman's home.

Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard described the attack as grotesque. The incident is the latest in the line of intimidation against this family by the UDA, he said.

"This family and particularly the elderly lady, who is waiting on an operation to have an artificial limb fitted, should not have been subject to this grotesque ordeal. Yet again the UDA in Coleraine have shown themselves as incapable of accepting nationalists and republicans in this area."


Irish Echo Online - Editorial

Inside File: Immigration duplicity has Irish under lock and key

By Ray O'Hanlon

Ciarán Ferry cuts a lonely figure on his petition for habeas corpus. His name is at the top of the cover page in the spot reserved for the petitioner. Just below is the space reserved for the respondent, or in this case, the respondents.

In order of appearance the respondents are: Scott Weber, director of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; John Ashcroft, the now former attorney general; Tom Ridge, the homeland security chief who is reportedly looking for a better paid job; Eduardo Aguirre Jr., acting director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services; Michael Garcia, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Mike Comfort, a district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and James Vandello, a judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Ferry must be thanking his lucky stars that he no longer lives in the era of big government.

Be that as it may, this one-man-against-a-mere-seven contest is heading fast the way that one might expect. Ferry's tenuous hold on his American life has slipped to the point of being almost hopeless.

Many Americans, of course, would be inclined to cheer on the magnificent seven who make up the team of respondents. Ferry, after all, is a onetime IRA man who neglected to mention this fact when he entered the U.S. under the visa waiver program.

That he did own up to his Provo pedigree on his green card application form cuts little mustard with the feds or less forgiving members of the citizenry. As far as they are concerned, it's a case of lies and damn lies. The law is the law and must be consistently applied even if that means that Ferry's American wife, Heaven, and their American-born daughter, Fiona, end up having to quit the country.

The forced departure from the United States of U.S. citizens has been threatened, or actually witnessed, in other recent deportation cases, including that of the McNicholl family from Philadelphia.

Onetime INLA man John McNicholl was bundled out of the country last year but his expulsion also resulted in his citizen wife, and two of his three citizen children, having to leave the U.S. shortly afterward.

The law is the law.

The three Derry men who turned up in Boston a year ago to go to a wedding found that out quickly enough. The reception given Don Brown, Damien McCafferty and David Curtis was not quite of the champagne variety. The U.S. Justice Department, which saw them as being from "Londonderry," had them arrested and thrown in jail for a few weeks before sending them back across the Atlantic.

Again, the three had dubious actions on their records that they did not own up to on the visa waiver form.

The law is the law.

Joe Black thought he had put a less memorable part of his past behind him as well when he arrived at Philadelphia airport earlier this year en route to Pittsburgh for yet another wedding. But Black never got past the posse of armed agents waiting for him in the terminal.

The law was being the law again.

And after 9/11 it would be logical to expect that the laws of admission to the United States be applied with maximum rigor to all nationalities.

You might expect. But you would be wrong.

"IF" is here indebted to Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz for a recent report on the happy and uninterrupted arrival of three non-Irish lads at a Florida airport in the waning days of August. Pedro Remon, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Gaspar Jimenez had just been released from a Panamanian prison after being pardoned by the outgoing president of that country. The three had been doing time for trying to blow up Fidel Castro at a summit of Latin American leaders. The bomb they had intended to use was powerful enough to obliterate not just Castro, but also and many others in his immediate vicinity.

Ruiz wrote that Remon, according to U.S. law enforcement records, was additionally the triggerman in the murder of Eulalio Negrin, a Cuban American who favored dialogue with Castro. He was also the shooter in the assassination of a Cuban diplomat in New York named Felix Garcia.

Novo Sampol was involved in the assassination of a Chilean diplomat, Orlando Letelier, in Washington, D.C., in 1976, while Jimenez had both murder and kidnapping in Mexico on his record.

The muchachos, however, were welcomed with open arms on America's doorstep.

The law is, well . . .

Some Irish-American activists have complained that Irish nationals are being targeted so that any complaints that more rigorous controls at America's borders are being applied selectively can be knocked down.

Most law-abiding folk would like to believe otherwise. But though they might have no time at all for Castro and his bunch, the law abiding would likely be concerned at the manner in which the U.S. border seems to loom oh-so-large for some, but not for others.

Late last year, a dozen Irish-American organizations sent a joint statement to the Bush administration concerning the plight of a number of Irish "deportees" including Ferry, McNicholl and Malachy McAllister

The statement pointed to the 2000 Republican Party Platform position on Northern Ireland which called on the then Clinton administration "to suspend deportation proceedings" against a number of Irish immigrants whose cases predated the Good Friday agreement, "and by doing so show support for the Good Friday agreement and those that have sacrificed so much to achieve the peace process."

Separately, the national president of the AOH, Ned McGinley, in an open letter to Tom Ridge, expressed bewilderment as to why Irish people were being targeted for rapid deportation.

Recent actions taken by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement left the Irish-American community feeling like a scapegoat, McGinley wrote Ridge.

He then revealed a gift for prophesy in a separate comment to "IF," one that would be confirmed a few months later at Opa Locka Airport in sunny Florida.

"If these guys were Cubans they would be in already," McGinley said.

What McGinley did not see in his crystal ball was that the 2000 GOP platform line on the deportees would be absent from the 2004 version.

This story appeared in the issue of November 24-30, 2004


'War of words' over battle

By Diarmaid Fleming

Sunday sees the 84th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles in Ireland's War of Independence.

But it will be taking place amid intense debate among historians over recent research by a former Queen's University, Belfast, academic alleging that an IRA leader had surrendered soldiers shot in cold blood.

Now, another expert says he has found new evidence of a British propaganda "spin" operation which discredits all official British accounts of the time.

Nationalists fought against British rule in Ireland

For nationalists, the ambush at Kilmichael in County Cork, was seen as a turning point in their fight against British rule, which was to lead eventually to the foundation of the Irish State in 1921.

Seventeen auxiliary officers and First World War veterans died in the ambush by an IRA flying column led by Tom Barry.

Three IRA men also died - two of them shot, according to Barry, after they stood up to take the surrender of a group of auxiliaries.

Speaking on film before his death in 1980, Barry said: "The Auxies opened fire immediately (on the IRA men) and they killed them with revolver fire after surrendering.

"I shouted at the same time to the Section 'Keep firing and don't stop until I tell ye'. They tried to surrender again and I said 'Don't take any surrender'.

"We wouldn't take prisoners after their false surrender and after killing two of our men."

But Barry's account has been challenged by Canadian historian, Dr Peter Hart, in his book The IRA and its Enemies.

"British fury over the ambush was reflected in newspaper articles which wrote false reports of the mutilation of the bodies with axes of those killed at Kilmichael"

He says the notion of a "false surrender" was made up to excuse the execution of defeated auxiliaries in cold blood.

As well as presenting a report allegedly made by Barry to his IRA commanders - which some historians dispute as a British forgery - he cites seven unpublished accounts, including two from anonymous witnesses he interviewed.

"Seven accounts by eye witnesses, two of whom were interviewed by me, say there was no false surrender. Either they explicitly deny it or they make no mention of it at all in their accounts.

"So I think there is an enormous preponderance of evidence giving accounts of the ambush radically different from Tom Barry's," says the former Queen's University academic and now associate professor of history at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

British fury over the ambush was reflected in newspaper articles which wrote false reports of the mutilation of the bodies with axes of those killed at Kilmichael.

The ambush intensified the war in Cork: Martial Law was declared on 11 December 1920 citing the mutilations, and on the same night the centre of Cork was sacked by British forces.

But new research by another historian, Dr Brian Murphy, reveals that fictitious "official" accounts were run from a British propaganda office.

It was established in August 1920, just three months before Kilmichael, headed by British army Major CJC Street in London, and former journalist Basil Clarke in Dublin, to counter propaganda from the underground Irish parliament Dail Eireann publication Irish Bulletin.

"Basil Clarke said we must engage in propaganda by news rather than propaganda by views and he said we must do this in accordance with truth and verisimilitude, that is the air of being true but not strictly true," says Dr Murphy.

"Major Street said that for propaganda to work it must be dissolved in some fluid which the patient will readily assimilate and official news is the best way of doing that."

In his book published before Dr Murphy's research, Dr Hart says that the British information on the ambush "seems to have been remarkably accurate" while Tom Barry's account was "riddled with lies and evasions".

He also cites a report captured by the British from Barry to his IRA commanders to back his analysis - a document which others say is a forgery.

Dr Hart - who's also finalising a new biography of Michael Collins - says he does not mind criticism, but feels that some of his critics are not open to debate

Dr Murphy says that because reports were labelled "Official", newspapers carried accounts, often false, which represented British "spin".

Any analysis of the time which relies on official British papers must take this into account, he says.

"To dismiss - as Dr Hart does - Barry's account as 'lies and evasions' I don't think is tenable.

"It must be now very close as to whether Peter Hart has to qualify his statement in the light of the fact that the hand of Basil Clarke was at work in defining what happened at Kilmichael," says Dr Murphy.

But Dr Hart disagrees: "My account is based on IRA witnesses, not on the British report. One of the points of my looking into Kilmichael was to examine the kind of stories and labels which came out of the event - both sides calling each other terrorists for example and to try and get to the truth behind it.

"The truth is, as I think the whole book shows, that really in many ways the two sides acted in much the same way whether in terms of propaganda or thinking or violence."

The centre of Cork was sacked by British forces

But Barry's biographer Meda Ryan - who recently published a book on the IRA leader - maintains that her interviews with the IRA leader and Kilmichael survivors, including her uncle who was beside one of the IRA men when he was shot, do not corroborate Dr Hart's analysis.

"Admittedly it was years later but it was so vivid in their minds," she says.

"This was a major event and if a major event occurs in somebody's life then they will remember it with stark reality. In fact they were really adamant about the 'false surrender'."

Dr Hart - who's also finalising a new biography of Michael Collins - says he does not mind criticism, but feels that some of his critics are not open to debate.

"The typical reaction of critics is not that I have some things wrong, but that I have everything wrong and that everything Tom Barry says has to be right.

"It's almost a kind of faith-based history, a pseudo-history rather than a real debate where people concede some things and put forward others or are sceptical about weak points and accept the strong points."

Irish Examiner

26/11/2004 - 7:34:20 PM

Finucane family threatens to snub inquiry

The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane tonight ruled out taking part in the British government’s inquiry into his controversial killing if legislation setting it up remained the same.

Following the publication of a proposed bill setting up the tribunal, the family expressed deep concern that it would not have the full power to compel witnesses and documents.

The British government has insisted the legislation is needed to enable the inquiry to go ahead because it will deal with sensitive matters of national security.

When the legislation is passed, judges will be asked to probe allegations that members of British army intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the murder of Mr Finucane in his North Belfast home in February 1989.

Loyalist Ken Barrett was given a life sentence in September after he admitted his role in the attack which was claimed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

That conviction paved the way for Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy to announce an inquiry.

However the Finucanes, nationalist politicians and human rights campaigners have been disturbed by suggestions that the inquiry will require new legislation and that much of its proceedings will have to held behind closed doors because of sensitive matters of national security.


These are the REAL faces of the war

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Al-Barghuthi 'told' to drop candidacy

Friday 26 November 2004, 15:46 Makka Time, 12:46 GMT

Al-Barghuthi was sentenced by an Israeli court to five life terms

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan al-Barghuthi has come under pressure from his Fatah faction to drop potentially divisive plans to run for Palestinian president from his Israeli jail cell.

Fatah officials said Palestinian cabinet minister Qaddura Faris, a member of the faction, visited al-Barghuthi in prison on Friday to try to dissuade him from challenging its presidential nominee, former prime minister Mahmud Abbas.

There was no immediate word on whether Faris persuaded al-Barghuthi to change his mind.

"The door before Marwan is closed now, after the decision of the Fatah Central Committee to nominate [Abbas]," said Hatim Abd al-Qadir, a Fatah official and legislator.

"If he runs as independent candidate, Fatah will lose votes to other factions and this also may create divisions inside the movement," Abd al-Qadir said.

Popular appeal

Fatah officials said on Thursday that al-Barghuthi, 45, had decided to run in the 9 January election to choose a successor to the late Yasir Arafat, but an official announcement would be made only after further consultations.

Aljazeera's Ram Allah correspondent Shirin Abu Akla, however, said it had not been confirmed that al-Barghuthi was intending to run and outlined that Faris's visit would shed light on the issue.

Abbas is Fatah's official nominee for president

Al-Barghouthi's candidacy could throw the election wide open and pose a dramatic challenge to Abbas, 69, now caught in the glare of the charismatic al-Barghuthi's popular appeal with Palestinians.

As an independent candidate, he could score many votes inside and outside the movement particularly among youths. It was his particulare influence among the younger cadre of Palestinian movements that prompted a move to convince him to renege on including his candidacy, Abu Akla said.

A behind-bars bid to succeed Arafat could also bring international pressure on Israel to free al-Barghuthi, sentenced in June by an Israeli criminal court to five life terms after it convicted him of involvement in the killings of Israelis.

At his trial in Tel Aviv, al-Barghuthi said he was a political leader with no involvement in violence.

Future peacemaker

Abbas, who took over the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation after Arafat's death on 11 November, is favoured as a future peacemaker by Israel and the United States.

Before heading to southern Israel to see al-Barghuthi, Faris met Abbas, who Abd al-Qadir said repeated a promise to press the Israeli government to release him.

A senior Fatah official said Abbas could also persuade al-Barghuthi to stand down by promising to hold internal elections within the faction, the largest in the PLO, to give its "young guard" a stronger voice.

Al-Barghuthi was the main voice of a revolt for an independent Palestinian state after peace negotiations collapsed in 2000 and has long been seen as a potential successor to Arafat.

Palestinian political analysts predicted he would stand a good chance of winning the ballot, drawing support from mainstream voters as well as from Islamists who oppose Abbas's call to end the uprising.

Passionate and articulate, the bearded and diminutive al-Barghuthi has also advocated peace with Israel, making his case for an end to occupation in the West Bank and Gaza in near-perfect Hebrew learned during previous jail stints.

Aljazeera + Agencies

Irish Times

Student is suspended after photograph with President

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Alison Healy

An Iraqi student was suspended from her school yesterday after she had her photograph taken with the President, Mrs McAleese. The school has defended the action, saying it was a disciplinary matter as the pupil had disobeyed specific instructions.

Zainab Kadhum (17) is a Leaving Certificate student at Ballinteer Community School in south Dublin. Mrs McAleese visited the school on Wednesday and watched a wheelchair hurling match.

Before the visit, Zainab asked the deputy principal, Mr Danny Cussen, if she could have her photograph taken with the President.

Mr Cussen said she could not. The school had received a set of protocol guidelines from Áras an Uachtaráin in advance of the visit.

The guidelines said that the President was happy to have her photograph taken, but people should not ask her to pose for personal photographs as she would not have the time to facilitate everyone.

During the visit, Zainab approached the President's group and asked one of her entourage if she could have her photograph taken.

She was told she could ask Mrs McAleese. The President agreed, and Zainab gave her camera to another student to take the photograph.

After this came to Mr Cussen's attention, he brought Zainab and her father into his office yesterday morning. They disagreed on the version of events, and Mr Cussen suspended the girl for five days.

He told The Irish Times that he was very saddened at the highlighting of this internal school matter as it would embarrass the President. She had generously given her time to the school, and he did not want to drag her into a disciplinary matter.

Mr Cussen said it was not fair or accurate to say that the student was suspended just because she had had her photograph taken with the President.

"This is an internal matter. It's a disciplinary issue," he said. "The action was taken after a particular instruction was given to a student and was then disobeyed."

It is understood that the student was to be suspended for a shorter period of time until a further disagreement arose between the student and the deputy principal over who said what.

Yesterday Zainab said she was shocked by the suspension. "I don't deserve this," she said. "Can you tell me if this is a democracy? I am from Iraq. We had not a democracy, so I wanted to take a picture with the President of Ireland. She was very lovely to me. But he [Mr Cussen] told me 'You can't touch the President'."

She said she did not fully understand Mr Cussen when he said she could not request the photograph. "The woman with the President said: 'It's OK, just ask her' and nobody said no. If I did something wrong, I didn't mean to do it."

A spokeswoman for Mrs McAleese said the President was not aware of the suspension. She said people were asked to not request personal photographs so that the visits would flow smoothly.

However, whenever someone asked the President to pose, she obliged if at all possible.

"The President wouldn't get involved in something like this as a disciplinary action is a matter for the school," the spokeswoman said.

Zainab said she wanted to go back to school because the Christmas exams were coming up.

Mr Cussen said the incident had "absolutely nothing" to do with Zainab's nationality. It was a multicultural school, he said. None of the students had been allowed to request personal photographs with the President.

© The Irish Times


Prisoner's plea to inspect cell

A woman prisoner in Hydebank Offenders Centre has asked the Human Rights Commission to inspect the conditions in which she is being held.

She claims she is locked up 23 hours a day and forced to wear an anti-suicide suit.

The Prison Service recently transferred women from Maghaberry Jail to Hydebank where it says it could provide a better environment for them.

However, the 18-year-old woman and her solicitor say conditions have not improved.

Last month, the treatment of woman prisoners in Northern Ireland came under fierce criticism from the commission.

It said it had uncovered human rights abuses at Mourne House in Maghaberry where the regime was studied between March and June.

It talked of a woman dying in her cell, two suicide attempts and a girl held in isolation in a cell with no mattress and a potty for a toilet.

However, the Prison Service said conditions at the new facility in Belfast, to which the women have now been moved, offered better conditions for inmates.


Hotelier 'helped free Annetta'

26/11/2004 - 08:50:58

A British hotelier said he had been detained over the kidnapping of three UN election workers - including Armagh woman Annetta Flanigan - in Afghanistan and claimed to have helped negotiate their release from Taliban-linked militants.

Peter Jouvenal, a former journalist who owns a guesthouse in Kabul, said Afghan authorities questioned him about the abduction of the three foreigners, who were freed on Tuesday in mysterious circumstances after being held for 27 days.

Contacted by telephone yesterday, Jouvenal said police were refusing to release him from a house in Kabul where he was quizzed on how he tried to free the trio on behalf of a wealthy European businessman.

“I was involved in the negotiated release of the three UN officials,” Jouvenal said from what he described as an unmarked residence controlled by the Afghan Interior Ministry. “They’re not letting me leave.”

Afghan government officials could not be reached for comment.

Armed men seized Annetta Flanigan, Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo and Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan on a Kabul street on October 28.

Their abduction revived fears that Afghan militants are adopting the tactics of their counterparts in Iraq, where dozens of foreigners have been kidnapped.

Afghan officials say a criminal group seized the three, perhaps at the behest of a Taliban splinter group called Jaish-al Muslimeen. The officials say they negotiated with the kidnappers. But they have declined to give details, saying it could harm their efforts to apprehend the kidnappers.

Jaish-al Muslimeen, whose name means Army of Muslims, claim Afghan authorities agreed to free 24 jailed comrades in return for the hostages’ freedom.

But Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali insisted on Tuesday that no prisoners were released and no ransom paid to secure the freedom of the three, who appeared Wednesday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai looking drawn but happy.

Neither authorities nor the ex-hostages have given details of who was responsible for the incident. But Jouvenal said he helped persuade Jaish-al Muslimeen to liberate them.

He said he had travelled to the Pakistani city of Peshawar and contacted the group’s leader, Akbar Agha, through “old friends from the jihad” – veterans of Afghanistan’s war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

He said he wasn’t asked to deliver any ransom and did not know if any was paid.


Arms report 'possible by new year'

Decommissioning pictures would be held until March

More details have emerged on British-Irish proposals to deal with the demand for visible decommissioning.

Talks sources suggest that by the end of December, General de Chastelain could report that all IRA weapons have been put beyond use.

Photographic proof of arms being put beyond use would be held by the head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning until March.

There would then be a new power-sharing Executive.

Insiders have told the BBC that the proposals from the two governments are very clear: if a deal is done, then, by the end of this year General de Chastelain would report that all IRA weapons have been put beyond use.

This would open the door to a shadow Assembly at the start of January.


Northern Ireland conflict
Two churchmen - agreed by the DUP and republicans - would witness the acts of decommissioning.

Sources say that under the governments' proposals, photographs would be taken, but would not be published immediately.

General de Chastelain would hold the pictures until March: the latest target date for devolution to be restored.

This is when the DUP and Sinn Fein would enter a new power-sharing Executive.

It is not yet known how much of these will be agreed to by the parties, although the DUP is saying no deal will be made without photographs.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan added that "nothing was coming from republicans at this time to suggest that the IRA has agreed to this proposal".


Young Irish among top drug users in Europe, says report

26 November 2004
By Cormac O’Keeffe, Brussels

IRELAND is ranked towards the top of the European drug league, particularly for cocaine and ecstasy, according to a new report.
The report, published by the EU drugs agency, also expressed concern that a small, but growing, group of cannabis smokers were becoming more heavy users of the drug.

The 2003 annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) estimates between 1-4% of young adults in the EU are using cannabis daily. Ireland is towards the top of that group, with 3% of 15-34-year-olds smoking it every day.

The report, using more recent data from Ireland (2002/2003), removes us from the top of the EU drug table, where we were in previous reports under older, 1998, figures.

In the 15-64 age group and the 15-34 age sub-group, Ireland is generally ranked in fourth or fifth place for ecstasy and cocaine and around tenth for cannabis over three different time periods - lifetime use, use in the last year and use within the last month.

Dr Jean Long of the Drug Misuse Research Division of the Health Research Board - the national focal point for the EMCDDA - said Ireland was more “in the middle” of the EU range in relation to cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.

She said while Ireland’s rank may be higher for cocaine and ecstasy, the actual percentages placed us towards the middle of all 25 countries.

The EMCDDA report also highlighted a growing problem in relation to heavy cannabis use.

Dr Long said data showed that 3% of young Irish adults smoked cannabis daily, placing us at the top end of the EU average.

She said the number of treatment cases for problem cannabis use doubled between 1998 and 2002, from 2,088 to 4,422.

Dr Long said 30% of new cases outside the Eastern Regional Health Authority in 2002 were under 18.

In relation to chronic cannabis use the EMCDDA report commented: “Among the key concerns in this area are an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases and an association with the development of long-term psychiatric health problems, including depressive illness, psychosis and schizophrenia.”

The report noted a general rise in cocaine and the emergence of crack cocaine in seven countries, including Ireland.

But among recreational users, cocaine consumption was light and continued use was rare, it said.


5% of Irish young adults have taken cocaine as some stage - fourth highest in the EU.

7% have taken ecstasy at some stage - fifth highest in the EU.

24% have smoked cannabis - tenth highest among the 25 member states.

2% have taken cocaine in the last year - fourth highest.

2% have taken ecstasy in the last year - fifth highest.

Cannabis use doubled in Ireland, from 2,088 in 1998 to 4,422 in 2002.


**from yesterday

UDA members meet arms body

The Ulster Defence Association has held another meeting with Northern Ireland's decommissioning body.

It is the second time in recent weeks that there have been talks involving the representatives of the paramilitary group and General John de Chastelain.

The latest talks follow the recent government announcement recognising the UDA ceasefire.

General de Chastelain returned to Northern Ireland last weekend.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said the UDA's ceasefire was "holding" and "genuine".

Mr Murphy was explaining his decision to give recognition to the loyalist paramilitary group's cessation of violence, which officially came into effect on Sunday 14 November.

The UDA said in a statement it committed itself to working towards the end of all paramilitary activity.

It has also committed itself to re-engaging with the international decommissioning body.

The Ulster Political Research Group, which advises the UDA, announced a 12-month period of "military inactivity" in February 2003.

One year later, it announced an "indefinite extension" to this ceasefire.

The Guardian

Smoking while Iraq burns

Its idolisation of 'the face of Falluja' shows how numb the US is to everyone's pain but its own

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Naomi Klein
Friday November 26, 2004
The Guardian

Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph of James Blake Miller, the 20-year-old marine from Appalachia, who has been christened "the face of Falluja" by pro-war pundits, and the "the Marlboro man" by pretty much everyone else. Reprinted in more than a hundred newspapers, the Los Angeles Times photograph shows Miller "after more than 12 hours of nearly non-stop, deadly combat" in Falluja, his face coated in war paint, a bloody scratch on his nose, and a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

Gazing lovingly at Miller, the CBS News anchor Dan Rather informed his viewers: "For me, this one's personal. This is a warrior with his eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes don't dampen, you're a better man or woman than I."

A few days later, the LA Times declared that its photo had "moved into the realm of the iconic". In truth, the image just feels iconic because it is so laughably derivative: it's a straight-up rip-off of the most powerful icon in American advertising (the Marlboro man), which in turn imitated the brightest star ever created by Hollywood - John Wayne - who was himself channelling America's most powerful founding myth, the cowboy on the rugged frontier. It's like a song you feel you've heard a thousand times before - because you have.

But never mind that. For a country that just elected a wannabe Marlboro man as its president, Miller is an icon and, as if to prove it, he has ignited his very own controversy. "Lots of children, particularly boys, play army, and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette," wrote Daniel Maloney in a scolding letter to the Houston Chronicle. Linda Ortman made the same point to the editors of the Dallas Morning News: "Are there no photos of non-smoking soldiers?" A reader of the New York Post helpfully suggested more politically correct propaganda imagery: "Maybe showing a marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have a more positive impact on your readers."

Yes, that's right: letter writers from across the nation are united in their outrage - not that the steely-eyed, smoking soldier makes mass killing look cool, but that the laudable act of mass killing makes the grave crime of smoking look cool. Better to protect impressionable youngsters by showing soldiers taking a break from deadly combat by drinking water or, perhaps, since there is a severe potable water shortage in Iraq, Coke. (It reminds me of the joke about the Hassidic rabbi who says all sexual positions are acceptable except for one: standing up "because that could lead to dancing".)

On second thoughts, perhaps Miller does deserve to be elevated to the status of icon - not of the war in Iraq, but of the new era of supercharged American impunity. Because outside US borders, it is, of course, a different marine who has been awarded the prize as "the face of Falluja": the soldier captured on tape executing a wounded, unarmed prisoner in a mosque. Runners-up are a photograph of a two-year-old Fallujan in a hospital bed with one of his tiny legs blown off; a dead child lying in the street, clutching the headless body of an adult; and an emergency health clinic blasted to rubble.

Inside the US, these snapshots of a lawless occupation appeared only briefly, if they appeared at all. Yet Miller's icon status has endured, kept alive with human interest stories about fans sending cartons of Marlboros to Falluja, interviews with the marine's proud mother, and earnest discussions about whether smoking might reduce Miller's effectiveness as a fighting machine.

Impunity - the perception of being outside the law - has long been the hallmark of the Bush regime. What is alarming is that it appears to have deepened since the election, ushering in what can only be described as an orgy of impunity. In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies. At home, impunity has been made official policy with Bush's appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the man who personally advised the president in his infamous "torture memo" that the Geneva conventions are "obsolete".

This kind of defiance cannot simply be explained by Bush's win. There has to be something in how he won, in how the election was fought, that gave this administration the distinct impression that it had been handed a get-out-of-the-Geneva-conventions free card. That's because the administration was handed precisely such a gift - by John Kerry.

In the name of electability, the Kerry team gave Bush five months on the campaign trail without ever facing serious questions about violations of international law. Fearing that he would be seen as soft on terror and disloyal to US troops, Kerry stayed scandalously silent about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. When it became painfully clear that fury would rain down on Falluja as soon as the polls closed, Kerry never spoke out against the plan, or against the other illegal bombings of civilian areas that took place throughout the campaign. When the Lancet published its landmark study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as result of the invasion and occupation, Kerry just repeated his outrageous (and frankly racist) claim that Americans "are 90% of the casualties in Iraq".

There was a message sent by all of this silence, and the message was that these deaths don't count. By buying the highly questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanisation of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are expendable, insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked.

The real-world result of all the "strategic" thinking is the worst of both worlds: it didn't get Kerry elected and it sent a clear message to the people who were elected that they will pay no political price for committing war crimes. And this is Kerry's true gift to Bush: not just the presidency, but impunity. You can see it perhaps best of all in the Marlboro man in Falluja, and the surreal debates that swirl around him. Genuine impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence, and this is its face: a nation bickering about smoking while Iraq burns.

--A version of this column was first published in The Nation




Put that in your pike

In answer to the faceless individual known in the Andersonstown News as Squinter (20 November) it seems the Andersonstown News has set this individual up as nothing more than an avenue to push anti-republican Sinn Féin propaganda.
For both the Andersonstown News and Squinter’s information there were 64 proposals put through the Republican Sinn Féin 100th Ard-Fheis. These covered as follows: political policy, electoral strategy, prisoners, constitution and rules, organisation/activities, international affairs, social and economic, saoirse/publicity – these proposals from cumanns all over Ireland.
In the Andersonstown News dated (20 November) in an attack never seen before towards a political organisation or party, the Andersonstown News under the cloak of Squinter launched an attack on Republican Sinn Féin making little of our Ard-Fheis and the views and opinions of our membership and cumanns.
This attack came in the form of Squinter, a faceless gutless wonder who put him or herself across as some kind of stand-up comedian no better than those anti-Irish lot we have had to endure, you know the kind – no one getting the joke only themselves, the Bernard Manning type.
Here we have Squinter Manning jokingly using the United Irishmen and the rising of ’98 to attack Republican Sinn Féin. ’98 was a period in Ireland’s history that saw the birth of Ireland’s freedom struggle.
Maybe if the Andersonstown News had given Squinter Manning even more space he/she could have got the boot into Enniscorthy, Antrim and Ballynahinch. Oh, have I come too far North for you? Maybe that’s because I live here.
Who knows, given the space, you could have given us all a joke about the rebels of 1916 but only to get the boot into Republican Sinn Féin, you understand.
Who are you to question those Irish people/Irish republicans who show solidarity to their fellow Irish men, women and children?
Who are you to condemn those who show solidarity with those who suffer oppression and aggression from whatever quarter it may come?
Is the Andersonstown News now telling us republicans no matter what part of Ireland, or for that matter, in the world, they may be, they have no right to look North? Are you telling us Republican Sinn Fein have no right to an opinion?
At the Republican Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis there were people of all ages, young and old alike, some with over 50 years in the service of Ireland as part of the republican movement. They have been in prison cells, have suffered the hardships known by all republicans, have seen sell-outs, but have stayed faithful and true to their republican principles. Can Squinter Manning say the same?
The Andersonstown News was born out of the struggle, it stood out against the anti-Irish/anti-republican gutter press. Can it still say the same?
Do we now assume that the Andersonstown News is now a one party paper, that it is not open-minded to the views and opinions of other political organisations other than that the Andersonstown News favours?
Will the views and opinions of those who are anti-Stormont face the same attack on them as that on Republican Sinn Féin?
The answer lies with the Andersonstown News.
As for Squinter Manning, your attack on principled republicans in your faceless manner only shows you for what you are and to use the United Irishmen as you did only goes to show the level you are willing to go.
We in Republican Sinn Féin are not ashamed of the United Irishmen nor are we ashamed of being republicans in the undiluted sense that is.
I don’t know where you were at the weekend of the Republican Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis or why you were hanging around draughty phone boxes in Dublin.
What I would say to you is this: when you are standing with your poppy at the going down of the sun, I will still be cheering those who gathered with their pikes upon their shoulders at the rising of the moon!
S ó Leagain
Republican Sinn Féin Poblachtach


Funding shortfall for Worktrack

Proposals put forward by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) to end Worktrack’s funding by 2006 have been met with anger in West Belfast.

Worktrack is a waged-based programme based on either full or part time employment. It entitles participants to full employment rights and they can avail of other financial benefits of being in employment. Participants on the scheme can be placed with an employer and receive on the job training which increases their employability.

Representatives from Worktrack have said that they will fight the proposals every step of the way and have already sought legal advice on the matter.
The group which is run in West Belfast by City West Action received notification recently stating the implications for Worktrack under the recently published Budget and Priorities document. As the proposals stand proposals include a major reduction in funding for Worktrack in 2005/06 and the complete removal of funding beyond that. Under the proposals Worktrack would cease to recruit in January 2005.

DEL say that while the decision is regrettable it had to be taken.
“Difficult decisions have to be taken over budget allocations and the reality is that the department’s funding allocation is insufficient to allow Worktrack to continue in the future,” said a spokeswoman for DEL.

Representatives from Worktrack now have until 7 December to respond to a consultation process being carried out by DEL.

The removal of the scheme will result in more than 1220 participants staying on the benefit system and 150-200 permanent jobs which are supported through the programme will be lost.

Gerry Ward the Director/Treasurer of City West Action said: “It came as a complete shock and there was no talk about it.

“We have been in contact with DEL and so have our solicitors.”

Liz Groves, Chairperson of City West Action said that if Worktrack ceases operation, it will have far-reaching consequences.

“We are looking at the economics of this and what it will do to the dignity of people who want to work.

“We are looking at the political side of this and are looking at the whole legal implications,” she said.

“This is the equivalent of closing down the brewery six times over, it will not just affect the people on the programme, but will also have a knock-on effect,” said Gerry.

“We will not take this lying down,” added Liz.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, MP for West Belfast has expressed concern about the decision to cease funding of Worktrack.

"Worktrack is a programme aimed at assisting the long-term unemployed in West Belfast,” said Mr Adams.

“I have been pressing government departments to exercise their responsibility for generating employment in this constituency. Given that job losses have been announced recently by companies in this area, it makes no sense that the Department of Employment and Learning have now announced that it will cease funding a programme for the unemployed.

“I intend to write to Barry Gardiner, the British Minister responsible, to challenge this decision and to question whether the Department of Employment and Learning has properly assessed the equality implications of its decision to end Worktrack,” added Mr Adams.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus


Setback for Kieran Milnes
Attorney General rules out reopening of case

The Deputy Mayor of Belfast, Joe O’Donnell, has expressed disappointment after the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, appeared to rule out any re-opening of the case of local man Kieran Milnes.

The Attorney General’s position will come as a blow to those seeking a re-trial in the case.

The 29-year-old is currently serving a nine month prison sentence in Maghaberry prison after pleading guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm.

Mr Milnes’ GBH charge arose after he interrupted a youth who was in the process of breaking into his partner’s car in Poleglass in November 2002.

Mr Milnes apprehended the youth, detained him and then called the PSNI – who took an hour to arrive at the scene – before handing the culprit over.
The PSNI later charged Mr Milnes with using excessive force in the course of the incident.

Mr Milnes’ call for his conviction to be overturned has gained support from a host of political, civic and community leaders.

However this week’s intervention by the Attorney General appears to close down the possibility that the conviction could be reversed.

In replying to a letter from Councillor Joe O’Donnell, the Attorney General stated: “I have no doubt that this prosecution was properly brought”.

“It was not the view of the prosecution that (the injuries suffered by the youth) were consistent with the reasonable use of force.

“It is not mine, and given Mr Milnes’ plea of guilty, it was also accepted by him as being unreasonable.

“It is fundamental to the rule of law that individuals do not take the law into their own hands. Not only does it undermine public order, it may lead, as in this case, to matters going too far, individuals suffering serious injury and the very people trying to protect property finding themselves liable to be prosecuted.

“I have considerable sympathy with the feelings of those who are targets of repeat offending, but this was a matter for the police and it is their efforts that should be supported,” wrote the Attorney General.

Expressing his dissatisfaction at the Attorney General’s response, Cllr O’Donnell said the leading lawyer’s view “is flying in the face of popular opinion across Belfast and beyond”.

“I am calling on the Attorney General to think again and use his powers to quash the conviction and immediately release Kieran Milnes,” he said.
Meanwhile a vigil in support of Kieran Milnes took place last night in conjunction with Families Bereaved Through Car Crime along the Andersonstown Road.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney


Our 40-plus job plan gets thumbs-up from community sector

Community groups across Belfast have been giving their backing this week to the planned new daily newspaper, Daily Ireland.

As key staff for the newspaper take up their posts at the Teach Basil headquarters of the Andersonstown News Group, West Belfast Partnership Board chair Gerry Carson has been kicking off our subscribers’ campaign.

"I’m signing up to Daily Ireland because the opportunities to improve the economy by having more jobs, by keeping money circulating within West Belfast has to be a good thing,” he said. “I think the Andersonstown News have proved themselves to be, over the years, very successful in seeking out new business and this is an example of entrepreneurship in West Belfast.

“I think they spotted a gap in the market and they’re going to fill that gap and in doing so they are going to bring more jobs into the area, they’re going to give more young people opportunities to enhance their lives, by seeking any of the range of jobs that are available, from sales reps to trainee reporters, so I think it’s a good thing, and on behalf of the Partnership Board, I’m delighted to sign up to the subscription to Daily Ireland."

Daily Ireland Subscriptions Campaign Manager Connla Lawlor says she’s confident of rolling out an American-style subscriptions campaign across the country.

“Our potential readers are passionate about obtaining an alternative to the papers in the market at present, and the truly national proposition of the new title appeals to them.”

Over the past ten days, Connla has been hosting meetings of potential subscribers on both sides of the border. “People are more aware today than ever of their own economic clout,” she said. “They realise that they no longer have to accept second-best. Daily Ireland promises to respect and reflect opinions which are marginalised at present while producing a modern, dynamic, vibrant newspaper.”

Daily Ireland editor Maria McCourt says interviews have now concluded for editorial staff.

“We’ve been deeply impressed by the calibre of applicants and are delighted that we’ve now appointed a Deputy Editor, Sports Editor, News Editor and Chief Designer. Canadian-based designer Tony Sutton has made a good start to his work of designing the new paper and we’re confident it will be the brightest and most striking paper on the news shelves each morning,” she said.

Tony Sutton previously designed the Birmingham News in Alabama and the Novia Scotia Chronicle Herald as well as papers in South Africa and Europe.
Other community groups in the west of the city backing the new initiative are the Falls Community Council, Falls Women’s Centre and Springhill Community House.

“We’re overwhelmed at the enthusiastic support of the community sector across the North and Border Counties,” adds Andersonstown News Group head Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. “People really understand the historic importance of the new paper and the vital role it will play in community regeneration.

“No newspaper has a record to compare with the Andersonstown News when it comes to defending our community and likewise when it comes to singing the praises of our communities as witnessed by the Aisling Awards.

“Our secret weapon has always been our community support and that’s the guarantee of success for Daily Ireland.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Belfast Telegraph

Security alert at army base

25 November 2004

A security alert outside an Army base in north Belfast led to a number of controlled explosions.

Army bomb disposal experts attended Cliftonpark Avenue, where a car was abandoned outside Girdwood Barracks at around 8am today.

The area was sealed off for a number of hours, while controlled explosions were carried out.


RUC man at the centre of Pearse Jordan shooting leaves the North

The Andersonstown News has learned that the RUC member – known as Sergeant A – who was responsible for the shooting dead of local man Pearse Jordan in 1992, is no longer resident in the North.

And the fact that Sergeant A no longer lives within the jurisdiction creates a real possibility that he will never have to testify at any kind of legal proceedings related to Mr Jordan’s killing.

Pearse Jordan was shot dead in a controversial shoot-to-kill operation on this day (November 25) 12 years ago.

The 22-year-old was driving down the Falls Road when two vehicles carrying an elite RUC unit rammed his car near the entrance to St Louise’s school.
At that point, eyewitnesses reported that Pearse – who was unarmed – stumbled from his car in a daze before the RUC opened fire, shooting him three times in the back from close range.

Although the IRA later stated that Pearse was a Volunteer in the organisation, no incriminating evidence of any kind was recovered either at the scene of the shooting or in the car he was driving.

For the last 12 years Pearse’s parents, Hugh and Teresa, have continuously battled with their legal team at Madden and Finucane to secure justice in the case.

However, as with many shoot-to-kill cases, there has not been an inquest yet into Pearse Jordan’s killing.

Legal sources close to the Jordan family have indicated that the key reason behind the delays is a policy decision by the British government to constantly obstruct proceedings and challenge almost every direction issued by the courts in the case.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, Hugh Jordan pledged to “carry on and get justice in whatever way we can”.

“We don’t have any other choice,” he said.

“The RUC/PSNI, the DPP, the courts and the British government generally have been consistently getting these cases strung out.

“Ironically the length of time since the incident could also be used by the Crown in their favour at any future hearings.

“Potentially, as well as witnesses not being available, they could use the delays they encounter in order to try and question the credibility of independent eyewitnesses.”

Arguing that the British government has taken a policy decision to obstruct even basic hearings into killings carried out in its name, such as the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, Hugh called for justice in the cases.

“These cases all have similarities. It is British policy to string out the cases as long as possible in the hope that detail can be distorted or the search for truth diverted.

“The police have routinely withheld key evidence from coroner’s courts and then when they have been forced by the courts to hand it over they have given assurances they will comply, only to go back and constantly challenge such rulings in the courts.

“The reality is I would prefer that the European courts were able to impartially consider all these cases and issues, because there is no possibility of British justice in this type of case,” said Hugh.

Earlier this year there were two key decisions in the case regarding Judicial Review proceedings taken by solicitors for the Jordan family.

The Jordan family have welcomed the potential impact of some of the recommendations arising out of these proceedings, particularly the fact that following any inquest the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should re-examine its decision not to prosecute the RUC members involved in the killing, specifically Sergeant A.

Any inquest will also be allowed to examine the planning of the operation in which Pearse Jordan was killed, as well as reaching conclusion on the nature of the death.

However given that Sergeant A is apparently no longer resident in the North, there are very serious question marks as to whether he could even be compelled to attend an inquest, never mind face subsequent charges from the DPP.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney


Annie demands Blair apology

Appeal made on eve of 30th anniversary of arrest and wrongful conviction

As the 30th anniversary of the arrest of the Maguire Seven approaches this week Annie Maguire has called on the British Prime Minister to apologise publicly to her family for their false imprisonment.

Members of the family were arrested on 3 December 1974 and charged with the possession of the explosive nitroglycerine. The Maguire Seven were arrested following an alleged remark made by Gerry Conlon from the Guildford Four during his own arrest. Conlon, a nephew of Annie and also a victim of a miscarriage of justice, is alleged to have made a remark about learning to make bombs in his Aunt Annie’s kitchen when being grilled about the Guildford pub bombings.

The seven were sentenced to various terms in prison, despite a lack of forensic evidence. Annie and her husband Patrick were sentenced to 14 years. Sean Smyth, Annie’s brother received 12 years as did Gerry Conlon’s father Guiseppe and family friend Pat O’Neill. Sixteen-year-old Vincent Maguire was sentenced to five years and Patrick Junior, who was 13 at the time, was given a four year term.

On 23 January 1980, Guiseppe Conlon died in prison, the rest of the Maguire Seven served full sentences with Annie being the last to leave prison on 22 February 1985. The Maguire Seven finally had their convictions quashed in June 1991 after the Guildford Four’s convictions were also quashed. However no apology was ever made to the Maguire family by the British government.

Now on the eve of the 30th anniversary of their arrest Annie – who hails from Abyssinia Street in the Falls – says that the time spent in prison robbed her family of precious years together, something they can neither forgive nor forget.

“The day I was sentenced my life finished. I had no husband or no children and I believed that my life was over. I died at that point,” said Annie.
“The time in jail completely destroyed my family and to this day we are affected by it.

“My kids were made orphans and all I ever wanted was to get that time back with my kids.

“Nobody has ever said sorry and I want Tony Blair to apologise for what the British government did to my family,” she added.

The 69-year-old says that she hopes that one day an apology will be made.
“I will never give up hope that one day they will say sorry and if I don’t see it in my lifetime then I hope that my children will see the day when an apology is made to the Maguire family.”

Annie says that the family are closely knit, living just streets apart in London.
“Every day for me is a bonus and I have seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren and every minute that I spend with them is a bonus. Although sometimes when I watch the grandchildren playing I get flashbacks and think that when their parents were the same age they were in jail or had no parents to look after them.

“The memories of that time never go away,” she added.

Journalist:: Anthony Neeson


Missing 25,000 voters

The Andersonstown News can reveal that up to 25,000 voters could be shaved off the latest West Belfast electoral register due for publication next Wednesday.

The finding comes after the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley wrote to West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams, in response to a letter from the Sinn Féin President inquiring into voter registration in his constituency.

“Reminder letters and registration forms were sent in early November to a total of 12,658 individuals in Belfast West whose names appeared on 1 September Register but had failed to return completed forms by 19 October,” wrote Denis Stanley. “Blank registration forms were also sent to a further 5,249 homes where there were no electors registered at 1 September.”

With the new electoral register scheduled for publication next Wednesday the Andersonstown News has learned that a massive registration campaign – spearheaded by key community activists – is already gearing up for action.

The news comes amid speculation that the British government is planning to change the registration laws in order to address widespread concerns about the shortfall in the electoral register.


The Andersonstown News has learned that up to 25,000 voters could be shaved off the new electoral register for West Belfast which is due to be published next Wednesday (December 2).

The astonishing revelations are contained in a letter written by the Chief Electoral Officer Denis Stanley and sent to West Belfast MP Gerry Adams last week.

News of the potential shortfall comes amidst media reports that the British government is considering changes to the electoral registration process following widespread concerns over the drop in the voting register.

That drop – disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters – was provoked by new registration policies and restrictive ID methods introduced as part of the Electoral Fraud Act.

In his letter, dated November 13, Denis Stanley stated that, “reminder letters and registration forms were sent in early November to a total of 12,658 individuals in Belfast West whose names appeared on 1 September Register but had failed to return completed forms by 19 October.

“Blank registration forms were also sent to a further 5,249 homes where there were no electors registered at 1 September.

“During the course of this year’s annual canvass, query letters have been sent to 2,166 electors who had returned incomplete or incorrectly completed forms.

“Of these 438 queries remained outstanding on Monday 15 November,” wrote Denis Stanley.

When the figures are totalled for both individuals and households, seasoned electoral observers calculate a possible shortfall in the West Belfast register of 25,000 voters.

Expressing anger at the revelations, local Sinn Féin Councillor Gerard O’Neill – who also experienced trouble with his electoral registration form last month – said the figures “quite clearly demonstrate that a problem exists in relation to the registration of people in working-class areas of high deprivation, particularly in terms of the resources given to an area like West Belfast”.

“I am very angry and concerned about these revelations. The Electoral Office has a responsibility to ensure the maximum number of people is assisted to secure their democratic franchise, but if this success rate related to a commercial business – it would fold.

“The Electoral Office has failed and very serious questions are now being asked about the manner in which the process of registration is being managed.

“I experienced basic problems with my form last month when I was told it hadn’t arrived even though I had sent it in, but because I am a councillor, I was able to take the matter up publicly. How many other residents in West Belfast are going to be faced with a similar disenfranchisement but won’t be able to pursue the matter the way I did?” asked Councillor O’Neill.

Since the 2001 Westminster election, the electoral register for West Belfast has already dropped by over 12,000 voters.

Next week’s fresh register is expected to confirm that negative and dramatic trend. In anticipation of that likelihood, key community activists are already gearing up for a massive registration campaign throughout the constituency.

• Read next Thursday’s Andersonstown News for more details

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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