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30 November 2010
For the second year the ‘Derry Journal’ in partnership with Eason bookstore in Foyleside is running a special Christmas writing competition.
Launching today, we are asking readers of all ages to let the holiday spirit inspire their imaginations and submit a story based on a Christmas theme.
The story can be a work of fiction or a fond memory of Christmas past.
Margaret Foley, Divisional Regional Sales Manager with the Derry Journal, says the company is delighted to be working in conjunction with Eason for a second year.
“We hope the short story competition will get local people putting pen to paper with some festive stories,” she says.
“Last year we were overwhelmed by the standard and number of entries. We hope to see this again this year.”
Martin McGinley, Editor of the ‘Journal,’ is encouraging schools and budding writers to enter. “We’re delighted to be running a short story competition this Christmas,” he said. “The great thing about this competition is the talent and imagination that will be exhibited by the people of Derry and Donegal.”
Eason – the real Irish deal, who have a book for everyone – currently have their biggest ever 3 for 2 selection. Mix ‘n’ Match with the best fiction, non-fiction and children’s books of the year.
To take part, entrants will need to submit their own short story. There are four age categories in which writers can enter: Ages 5 -7 (up to 150words), Ages 8 -11 (up to300 words), Ages 12-17 (up to 1,000 words) and Adults (up to 2,000 words).
Winners will receive vouchers for Eason.
All winning stories will be printed in the Derry Journal. All entries must be submitted by noon on Tuesday, December 14.
All articles must be original and must not have been published elsewhere. We reserve the right to reproduce all entries. You can send your entry to: Derry Journal Christmas story competition, 22 Buncrana Road, Derry, BT48 8AA or email email@example.com
Entries will be judged by a panel of experts including local writers.
Normal Derry Journal competition rules apply. All entries must be marked with an address and contact phone number.
I recently received a comment on this bailout protest post from Shay Murphy, who kindly linked me to his Flickr album of photographs he took of the protest itself. Please visit the album to see what happened.
Shay Murphy’s Flickr photos of the Dublin Bailout Protest
By Paul Ainsworth
South Belfast News
30th of November 2010
A Belfast-based victims’ group Relatives For Justice has attacked a bill brought before the Stormont Assembly by the DUP, which seeks to change the definition of a “victim” of the Troubles.
The Private Members’ Bill seeks to amend the Victims and Survivors Order of 2006, in which no distinction is made between innocent civilians killed during the North’s bloody conflict, and a ‘combatant’ involved in the violence.
Following the move by the DUP, who have long sought a change to the order, the Chairperson of Relatives For Justice accused the unionist party of “playing politics with victims and survivors” of the Troubles, and claimed it could prevent the achievement of a true “shared future” for both communities in the North.
Speaking after DUP MLA Peter Weir introduced the bill last week, RFJ Chair Clara Reilly said: “There needs to be equality for all victims of the conflict.
“The DUP are yet again seeking to manipulate people’s trauma and play politics with victims and survivors. Instead they should be focusing on needs, healing our divisions and encouraging reconciliation. Where now for a shared future?”
Warning that the bill was unlikely to gain the necessary cross-community support, she continued: “Equality and sensitivity are the themes that should be adapted and vigorously pursued by all political leaders with regards to victims and survivors in healing the hurts of the past.
“The DUP are well aware that their proposed bill needs cross community support, and both the SDLP and Sinn Féin are on record as stating that they would not support the DUP’s narrow and exclusive definition which would essentially discriminate against thousands of bereaved relatives and people injured.
“The DUP talk about criminality and wrongdoing, and yet fail to recognise that all sides engaged in the conflict carried out actions that constituted wrongdoing and human rights violations. This includes the state.
“Do we then say that because there was collusion and shoot-to-kill on the part of the state that this should also exclude members of the RUC and the British Army from being defined as victims and survivors? We in RFJ would say no and that everyone affected by the conflict should be treated equally. The current legislation provides for this.”
Praising the 2006 Victims and Survivors Order, she added: “This has been a very successful working definition and one of the key positive developments within a sector that has otherwise been embroiled in controversy on this issue, much of it created by negative politics.
“We would encourage the DUP to play a more positive and constructive role concerning this matter, and not in these times of economic hardship to waste taxpayers resources within the Assembly by grandstanding and early electioneering when they are quite aware of the outcome.”
By Ciara Quinn
Two West Belfast IRA volunteers who died on active service were honoured at the weekend.
Patricia Black and Frank Ryan were killed in an accidental explosion in England on November 15, 1991.
The socialist republican group éirígi held a commeration ceremony at Milltown Cemetery on Saturday. Along with family members, wreathes were laid at both Patricia and Frank’s graves on behalf of éirígi and the Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band from Glasgow.
Speaking at the ceremony éirígi member Rab Jackson said that republicans have experienced much disappointment and turbulence over the past 20 years but “those here at the commemoration today and many more people around Ireland have emerged from this period as committed to the struggle for the socialist republic as they ever were”.
“There is little doubt that many more will join the struggle in the time ahead as the economic meltdown wrecks the lives of working class people across the country. It isn’t simply the traditional avenues of republicanism that people are becoming involved in.
“Through the language revival, sporting and other cultural activities, trade unionism, projects like the Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band, many different community initiatives and éirígí, people are again building community pride and cohesion in working class republican areas,” he said.
Rab spoke of how it takes a special type of courage, diligence and ingenuity to be able to take the fight against oppression right into the power base of the oppressor.
“These are qualities which Patricia and Frank obviously possessed in abundance.
“When their community was under attack, their country occupied and their neighbours exploited, oppressed and imprisoned, they didn’t look the other way or keep their heads down. They decided to take risks, to become involved in struggle because they valued the place where they were from and the people who they loved more than anything else.
“If we can instill the pride that Patricia and Frank showed in their community, their class and their country then the struggle for national independence and socialism will reach a successful conclusion.”
By Paul Ainsworth
MEMBERS of the Workers’ Party have gathered to remember those killed in a bloody republican feud 35 years ago.
Up to 350 supporters attended the event at Milltown Cemetery, which was organised by the party’s National Commemoration Committee, in honour of the people killed during the 1975 feud between the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA.
Culminating at the Republican plot, the event saw a speech by party activist Terry Carberry, in which he referred to the events of 1975 as a “dark period” in the history of the Workers’ movement.
The party was famously linked to the Official IRA following the 1969 split in the republican movement which saw the formation of the Provisional IRA. Originally taking the moniker Official Sinn Féin, the movement became known as the Workers’ Party, and stuck to its left wing policies.
Addressing the crowd ahead of a roll call of the dead, Mr Carberry spoke of the feud that at the time threatened to rip apart West Belfast, and had harsh words for describing the Provisional organisation at the time.
“1975 was a very traumatic and dark period in the historical development of our party,” he said.
“A period in which renegade and right wing nationalist gangsters sought to silence and remove from Belfast the voice of authentic socialist republicanism.
“To say that they were vigorously opposed is something of an understatement. We remained unbroken, unbowed and undaunted. Many fine comrades went to jail, many more were wounded, had their homes attacked, lost their jobs, and suffered along with their families’ untold hardships.
“But there were others who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who paid with their lives, and it is those people who we honour and remember today.”
By Gráinne McWilliams
A NEW book charting the experiences of a West Belfast republican behind bars during the height of the Troubles is being officially launched next week.
‘Faoí Ghlas’ (Irish for ‘lock up’) is the work of ex-prisoner Dominic Adams, who was imprisoned from 1984 to 1986 in Crumlin Road Gaol and from 1986 to 1991 in Long Kesh after he was arrested for possession of firearms and explosives.
“The title of the book comes from when the screws called for the prison wings to ‘lock up’ over the loud speaker,” explains Dominic, who described his time in prison as “a major part of my life”.
“We would wait until our OC (Operating Commander) within the prison shouted ‘Faoí Ghlas’ before we closed up for the night.”
Dominic, who the youngest brother of West Belfast MP Gerry Adams, came up with the idea for the book while working at ex-prisoner support group Coiste na niarchimí as a youth development officer in 2005.
“Part of my role was to educate young people about republicanism,” he said.
“A lot of them would always ask what it was like to be in prison, so I would tell one story, which would lead to another and another. It triggered off different memories of my time in gaol that I’d long since forgotten about, so I decided to sit down and piece them all together in a book.”
Dominic completed the first draft of the book in January this year, which he circulated among fellow republicans he served time with for opinions and input.
“The book deals with various characters I met in prison, how people found different ways of dealing with being inside – some took it very seriously while others joked about,” said Dominic.
“I also talk about my feelings around the Gibraltar shootings (where IRA volunteers Danny McCann, Seán Savage and Mairéad Farrell were shot dead by the SAS in 1988).
Danny McCann and Seán Savage were personal friends of mine and I found out about their death from listening to the radio inside the prison, which was very hard.
“I also talk about hearing about the gun attack on their funeral in Milltown Cemetery, which family members of mine were at. I felt totally useless during that time because I couldn’t get out to help, I couldn’t help influence anything. All I could do was sit in prison and listen to as many news programmes over the radio as I could.”
Although serious times are touched upon in the book, Dominic explains how a life-long speech impediment provided some light-hearted incidents within the gaol environment
“The screws were constantly getting confused with what I was saying because of my stammer, which made for good craic at times,” said Dominic.
Talking about the differing environments of Long Kesh and Crumlin Road, Dominic explains that the North Belfast goal had “harder and sterner conditions than Long Kesh”.
“The conditions in Long Kesh were better thanks to the hunger strikes and blanket protests of the early 80s,” he said.
“In Crumlin Road we were all just new in gaol, so didn’t know how to deal with the system. It was only when prisoners came in who had already served time did we learn how to fight for better rights and to stand up for ourselves in Crumlin. People like Eddie McSheffrey from Derry did that.”
Dominic said the support of his late mother Annie was a source of comfort through his period of incarceration.
“I mention her at the start of the book and at the end, as she was there for me through those times,” he said.
“It’s a way of paying tribute to her now that she is no longer here. There’s also a forward by ex-prisoner and local community worker Jim Gibney.”
n Faoí Ghlas will officially be launched in Tar Anall at Conway Mill, Conway Street, on Tuesday, November 30, at 7.30pm. Copies of the book will be given away free initially and can be picked up at the Sinn Féin Art Shop in Sevastopol Street, An Cultúalann, and Fáilte Feirste Thiar.
29 Nov 2010
Human remains found in the Republic of Ireland have been identified as those of one of the Disappeared, Gerry Evans.
Mr Evans, 24, from Crossmaglen, went missing in March 1979.
His body was found on 15 October in bogland in County Louth, days after officials decided to wind down the search.
Gerry Evans went missing aged 24 in County Monaghan in 1979
Mr Evans’ funeral will take place at 1100GMT on Saturday at St Patrick’s Church, Crossmaglen.
On Monday, the Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains said: “The results positively indicate that the remains are those of Mr Gerard Evans.
“Dr Brian Farrell, Coroner for the City of Dublin has accepted this as evidence of identification and has authorised the release of the remains to the family.
“The thoughts of everyone in the commission are with the Evans family at this difficult time.”
The remains were discovered shortly after the commission announced they were winding down the search at Carrickrobin after 16 months of painstaking excavation.
They had unearthed an area the size of four football fields but had found nothing. The family were devastated.
At that stage, Gerry Evans’ brother Noel said they were losing hope that he would ever be found.
Mr Evans was last seen hitch-hiking in Castleblayney, County Monaghan.
The 24-year-old was believed to have been kidnapped and murdered by the IRA.
The ICLVR was established in 1999 to obtain information in strictest confidence which may lead to the location of the remains of the disappeared – those killed and buried in secret by banned paramilitary groups prior to 10 April 1998 as a result of the Troubles.
Sixteen people were murdered by republican paramilitaries and secretly buried in isolated areas of Ireland during the Troubles.
Nine bodies have yet to be found.
In 1999, the IRA admitted responsibility for killing and secretly burying nine of the 16, while one was admitted by the INLA.
25 November 2010
**Via Helen McClafferty
LORD Morrow has been accused of undermining the justice system and placing lives at risk after he branded the defendants in an attempted murder trial as ‘dissident Republicans’.
Last week, the DUP peer attacked Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew after she called for the trial involving Gerry McGeough and Vincent McAnespie to be dropped.
The pair are charged with the attempted murder of a part-time UDR soldier almost thirty years ago.
Lord Morrow said that he found it strange ‘two dissident Republicans have found a cheerleader in a high-ranking member of Sinn Fein’.
Criticising the Unionist politician’s intervention, Gerry McGeough said the comments carried a serious risk of substantial prejudice, and also placed his and Mr McAnespies’ lives at risk.
“I would like to put on the record that Vincent and I are mainstream Republicans and not so-called ‘dissidents'”, said Mr McGeough.
“This was an outrageous comment to make, especially while a court-case is under way.
By JEROME REILLY
Sunday November 28 2010
ONE of the country’s most famous sporting families went through 30 years of hell during the Troubles — running the gauntlet of extortion and death threats from loyalist paramilitaries.
A new book by Down GAA legend James McCartan Snr reveals the tightrope they walked as a pub-owning Catholic family in a mainly Protestant area.
The family regularly feared for their lives as their pub, run mostly by his wife Marie, became a focal point for intimidation and threats.
The bar was also the McCartan home, which meant the family was at the heart of the Troubles 24 hours a day.
“When the IRA campaign of killings and bombings escalated from 1969 onwards, it was the innocent Catholics living in unionist strongholds such as Donacloney village who suffered most,” wrote James Snr, who co-authored the book with Derry writer Seamus McRory.
Between 1972 and 1994 nine people from the McCartans’ parish of Tullylish were murdered, for the most part in their own homes, by loyalist paramilitaries.
On one occasion, a bomb was planted outside the bar.
He wrote: “It was a powerful bomb, which would have killed all of us and had been planted by a loyalist organisation.”
The McCartan children had to move from the local Protestant primary school beside their home because of intimidation by their peers.
“More frightening was our conviction that the depth of antagonism towards us by the local Protestant population had dramatically increased.”
There was also an attempt by loyalist extremists to extort £12,000 from the McCartan family with a written warning that they would kill his son James, now the manager of the Down team
“James’s end will not be quick. It will be slow and painful,” a note demanding the money said.
A leading loyalist, ‘Mr X’, who shared James Snr’s love of greyhound racing, came to the family’s aid.
“The extortion bid and threats were dealt with and no money was paid over,” recalls the hero of the double All-Ireland winning Down team that lifted the Sam Maguire in 1960 and 1961.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Steve MacDonogh: THE WRITER and publisher Steve MacDonogh, who has died aged 61, founded Brandon Books and was a former chairman of the Irish Writers’ Co-operative. A firm believer in freedom of expression, one newspaper described him as fighting a one-man “war against censorship”.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, one of Brandon’s authors, said MacDonogh’s “contribution to Ireland, the arts and to the world of publishing and free speech was immense”.
Writer Emer Martin described him as a “maverick and a global thinker, the most committed publisher I ever worked with”.
Born in Dublin in 1949, he was one of three children of Jack MacDonogh, a Church of Ireland clergyman, and his wife Barbara (née Sullivan). Brian Faulkner, a former prime minister of Northern Ireland, was a distant cousin.
Educated at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, he was a classmate of Princess Anne’s husband-to-be Mark Philips. At York University he studied English literature, wrote poetry and edited a literary magazine Cosmos. He graduated in 1971.
In the United States, he worked and travelled on the rock/poetry circuit before returning to Ireland where he became a publishers’ agent. In 1976, with Leland Bardwell, Desmond Hogan, Neil Jordan and others he set up the Irish Writers’ Co-operative.
Hogan’s The Ikon Maker and Jordan’s Night in Tunisia were two early successes, and hardback editions of both books were published in the UK.
MacDonogh became interested in freedom of expression issues, and commissioned non-fiction titles. However, some members were unhappy with the change of direction signalled by the publication of Nuclear Ireland, by Matthew Hussey and Carole Craig, and Nell McCafferty’s The Armagh Women.
He parted company with the co- op, having founded Brandon Books in 1982, taking some writers with him. Based in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Brandon launched into publishing with Anthony Cronin’s study of Irish literature in English Heritage Now and the autobiography of the Glencolumbkille priest Fr James McDyer.
Two books dealing with Northern Ireland attracted controversy. These were Falls Memories by Gerry Adams and The Longest War by American journalist Kevin Kelley, perceived to be sympathetic to the IRA’s campaign.
Some booksellers refused to stock Adams’s book, but MacDonogh reported an “excellent response” from the public. He faced other obstacles on becoming the republican leader’s publisher.
“English and Irish fascists went into the bookshops and carved swastikas on the covers of Adams’s books,” he said.
He believed it was important that paramilitary voices, loyalist and republican, should not be silenced by the State. “The public needs to know what is happening,” he said.
Openly supportive of the IRA’s aims, he said he could not condemn what it was doing. However, he was not in favour of the organisation’s methods and instead proposed a campaign of mass civil disobedience.
In publishing British Intelligence and Covert Action in 1984, he ran up against the British ministry of defence, which wanted the book banned. He managed to get it into the shops only to find that his British co-publisher had gone broke – without contributing to the costs.
Two years later, the British attorney general claimed that another Brandon book One Girl’s War, a Memoir of Life in the Secret Service, threatened UK national security. An attempt to stop its Irish publication failed, but British distribution was delayed for six years.
Brandon published Joanne Hayes’s My Story , her account of the Kerry Babies case. It sold well but attracted a libel writ from three gardaí, which cost £100,000 in damages and costs and almost bankrupted the company.
MacDonogh left Brandon in 1997 following a disagreement with his business partner. He continued publishing, under the new Mount Eagle imprint, and relaunched Brandon in 1998.
Brandon’s authors include Ken Bruen, Paul Charles and Alice Taylor, and its output includes new editions of works by Walter Macken.
Rejecting the charge that Irish publishers were parochial, in 2007 MacDonogh pointed to the fact that his lists included writers from Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the US.
He was the author of a history of the Dingle peninsula, a book on folk customs and three collections of poetry. He also edited The Rushdie Letters: Freedom to Speak, Freedom to Write. His most recent book Barack Obama: The Road from Moneygall was published earlier this year.
A former president of Clé, the Irish Book Publishers’ Association, he was instrumental in developing the Irish presence at the Frankfurt book fair. He is survived by his wife Meryem and their daughter Lilya, his mother Barbara, sister Deirdre and brother Terry.
Steve MacDonogh: born September 3rd, 1949; died November 17th, 2010.
By Mark Simpson
27 Nov 2010
Voters in the coastal county of Donegal have delivered a sea-change in Irish politics. The defeat of Ireland’s largest party, Fianna Fail, in one of their heartlands shows the political impact of the country’s financial meltdown.
The Irish Republic is in a mess, and the government is getting the blame.
It is the first time Sinn Fein has won a by-election in the Irish Republic since 1925
Fianna Fail’s 13-year domination of Irish politics seems to be at an end. The chances of them staying in power after next year’s election seem remote.
In Donegal South West, their vote collapsed, from more than 50% in the 2007 election to just 21%. That is an electoral humiliation.
It is true that in by-elections across the world, governing parties do badly, whether it be in Donegal, Darlington or Detroit. However, by any standards, losing more than half of your vote is an embarrassment.
The only hope for the party is that by the time the general election comes next year, the anger will have died down.
It is likely they will have a new leader by then as Brian Cowen’s days seem numbered.
The best he can do now is to ensure that he can stay in office until March, to allow time for the public mood to improve. It would also give his party some breathing space to elect a new leader to fight the next election.
In fairness to Mr Cowen, the timing of the by-election could hardly have been worse, coming just 24 hours after he introduced a four-year package of austerity measures.
His focus will now turn to securing the Irish Republic’s international bail-out and stabilising the country’s financial position.
His priority in the Irish Parliament will be to try to ensure that the next budget – due on 7 December – is passed.
At present, the ruling Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition, has only a two-seat majority in the 166-strong parliament – and that includes a number of independents who currently support the government.
To call it a fragile majority is an under-statement.
On paper, the chances of the budget being passed look slim. However, Mr Cowen’s trump card could be “the national interest”.
The European Commission has made no secret of the fact that if the Irish Republic wants an 85bn euro bail-out to resolve its debt crisis, it needs to make savings at home – and that means passing a new budget.
Mr Cowen will tell his critics, inside and outside Fianna Fail, that it is not a time to play party politics; it is time to back the budget for the greater good.
Looking for momentum
One party unlikely to accept that argument is Sinn Fein. They are capitalising on the government’s unpopularity, and the victory in Donegal South West was their first by-election victory since 1925.
The party believes it is now on a roll. Its leader, Gerry Adams, is hoping to add further momentum by running in the general election, and trying to win a seat in County Louth.
An election looks likely to be scheduled for early next year but some people are demanding one now
Victory in Donegal raised the number of Sinn Fein seats in the Dail, the Irish parliament, from four to five. The party has a long way to go, given that it is a 166-seat legislature.
Sinn Fein is unlikely to be part of the next Irish government as the other two opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, are likely to have enough seats between them to form a right-left coalition.
The best guess for an election date is some time in March. However, it could come sooner if the budget is voted down, or the opposition parties manage to push through a motion of no-confidence.
The result of the Donegal by-election completed an awful week for the Irish government, possibly the worst political week in the life of Mr Cowen.
Donegal is Ireland’s most northerly county but it has placed itself at the centre of Irish politics with the by-election result.
It is, arguably, the country’s most beautiful county with its green hills, long beaches and stunning Atlantic scenery.
It is a fantastic place for a holiday, but next summer Mr Cowen is likely to choose somewhere else.
Demonstrators protesting austerity measures throw fireworks at gardaí protecting the Dáil from anarchist groups
Henry McDonald and Andrew Clark
27 Nov 2010
An Irish protester waves a tricolour flag outside Government Buildings in Dublin during midweek protests against the austerity plans. (Photograph: Cathal Mcnaughton/Reuters)
One of the largest demonstrations in the Irish Republic’s history brought more than 100,000 people on to Dublin’s streets in protest over the international bailout and four years of austerity ahead.
As European officials thrashed out the finer details of an €85bn rescue package, huge crowds braved freezing temperatures to demonstrate against the cuts, aimed at driving down Ireland’s colossal national debt.
The main march to O’Connell Street passed off peacefully but there was an uneasy standoff outside the Irish parliament as two lines of Garda Siochána officers hemmed in around 100 leftwing demonstrators who had broken away from the union-organised protest. Fireworks were thrown at gardai outside the gates of the Dail as protesters shouted: “Burn it down, burn it down.” Extra police were rushed to the scene to surround the ad hoc demonstration by leftwing and anarchist groups, who also set fire to a picture of the taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
Among those on the main march there was deep anger that most of the €80bn-plus from the EU and IMF will be used to shore up Ireland’s ailing banks.
Mick Wallace, who has had to lay off 100 of his workers due to the crash in the construction industry, said it was time the Irish became more militant: “We are far too quiet. We should be more like the French and get on to the streets more often. Because our politicians go over to Europe and tell the EU that our people do not demonstrate, they don’t take to the streets. It’s time we changed that and openly opposed what is going on.”
Jimmy Purdy, 77, was at the demonstration outside Dublin’s General Post Office – the scene of the 1916 Easter Rising. “I have lived through three recessions and I think this could be the worst one yet,” he said. “I’m here because I’m angry that the EU are telling us to cut euros off the minimum wage and boss Irish workers around while the people that caused this crisis get off scot-free.”
As the protesters took to the streets, sources said negotiators were keen to announce a rescue deal in time for the opening of financial markets on Monday.
Britain’s share of the bailout is likely to be close to £10bn, although Whitehall insiders say the money will not add to the Treasury’s budget deficit; instead a bilateral loan to Ireland will be treated as a “financial transaction”.
Finance ministers from across Europe will converge on Brussels on Sunday for an emergency gathering of European finance ministers to agree the final terms of Ireland’s bailout, which is expected to amount to around €85bn. An announcement could be made as early as Sunday night, before the markets open on Monday.
George Osborne will join representatives from the 16 eurozone nations plus those from the three countries that have agreed to provide bilateral loans as part of the rescue plan – Britain, Sweden and Denmark. This will be followed by a larger conference of ministers from all 27 EU countries.
The Irish government is likely to get a loan contingency of about €50bn and a further €35bn will be extended to support the country’s ailing banks. “It will be a long-term facility offering the Irish the opportunity to draw down funds over a number of years,” said a source.
The money will be provided through a variety of routes. A chunk of it will be from the IMF, a further sum from a eurozone fund and from a Europe-wide stability mechanism, plus bilateral lines of credit offered by Britain and Sweden. But there were objections in Dublin at the prospect of a punitive interest rate. Ireland’s RTE broadcaster reported that the country may have to pay a rate as high as 6.7% on some of the money, a price described as “very disturbing” by the opposition finance spokesman, Michael Noonan.
“This rate is too high and is unaffordable,” Noonan told the Irish Independent newspaper. A source said the rate would be lower than 6.7%, but above the 5.2% paid by Greece for its €145bn bailout.
By Carmel Crimmins
Fri Nov 26, 2010
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s nationalist Sinn Fein party is having a good crisis.
Once the political wing of the now-dormant Irish Republican Army (IRA), the party won a fifth seat in Dublin’s parliament at the expense of the government on Friday after its anti-austerity rhetoric struck a chord with the people of county Donegal.
Known internationally for its campaign against British rule during decades of violence in Northern Ireland, the leftwing party is picking up momentum south of the border amid public anger at a financial meltdown that has forced one of Europe’s former economic stars into the arms of the IMF and EU.
An opinion poll showed it could pick up a record 12 seats in the next general election in the Republic, likely early next year, making it the second-largest opposition party in Dublin’s parliament after Cowen’s Fianna Fail are pushed from power.
Not bad for an organization whose members were officially banned from speaking on Irish media until 1993.
“I’m around long enough to know that you don’t judge the mood of the country on what happens in one by-election but I do think we are going to see a changed political landscape at the next general election,” Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander, now deputy first minister in Northern Ireland, told Reuters.
“I think Sinn Fein are going to be very much at the heart of that.”
Once viewed as a pariah both north and south of the border, Sinn Fein has swapped the Armalite rifle for the ballot box and now runs Northern Ireland in partnership with its former foes.
Its electoral track record in the Republic has been less stellar. Despite predictions that it would double its representation, Sinn Fein lost one seat at the last parliamentary poll in 2007, when Ireland’s property boom was still in full swing.
Now, two years into a six-year cycle of swingeing tax hikes and spending cuts, and with the worst recession in the industrialized world under their belt, some Irish people are taking a second look at Sinn Fein’s leftwing views.
The party has long argued that banks should be nationalized and bondholders burned. Some of those policies may well materialize under an IMF/EU bailout, expected to leave the state in control of three of the country’s top banks and possibly offer loss-making swaps to some bondholders.
Sinn Fein is the only party to call for delaying a 2014 deadline for getting the deficit under control to allow more economic growth. The view was endorsed by the country’s most prestigious economic think-tank earlier this month.
An IMF/EU rescue package is likely to deal a killer blow at the next election to Fianna Fail, which has dominated Irish politics during the 90 years since it won independence.
The loss of sovereignty implied by accepting a bailout is humiliating for a country where politics are still cast in terms of the struggle against British colonial rule. It is a particular loss of face for Fianna Fail, which sees itself as the embodiment of Irish nationalism.
Keen to capitalize on the mood in the south, Sinn Fein’s President Gerry Adams has said he will contest the Republic’s next election. He is not taking any chances, standing in a safe seat in the border county of Louth.
“I don’t think he resonates terribly well in the south. There is a history, there is a baggage and ultimately he is not seen as part of the system we have here,” said David Farrell, professor of politics at University College Dublin.
Under Ireland’s political system of proportional representation, Sinn Fein needs to attract vote transfers from supporters of other parties, and their history of being associated with violence may cap their gains.
Donegal, where Sinn Fein’s candidate trounced a Fianna Fail member for a vacant seat on Friday, borders Northern Ireland and its voters would have a soft spot for nationalist parties that is unlikely to translate to many other areas.
Three of Sinn Fein’s five MPs are based in border counties and the party may struggle to win support among middle-class voters wary of their violent roots and anti-EU stance.
“I would hate to see Sinn Fein have any power at all. I don’t support them and I don’t know anyone who does. They are a subversive party, it would be anarchy if they got in,” said Dubliner Donal Neeson, 50, who works in financial services.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)
26 November 2010
THE “quiet courage” of female UDR personnel in the midst of the Troubles has been documented in a new book – penned by a former servicewoman.
Barbara Wilson, who served in the regiment for 12 years prior to its disbandment in 1992, took three months unpaid leave from her current employment as a personal assistant to detail her experience fighting terrorism on the front line.
Dubbed affectionately as the “Greenfinches”, female UDR soldiers, unlike their male counterparts, were unarmed while out on patrol. Four members paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Ms Wilson, a member of the 2nd (Co Armagh) Battalion before the regiment’s amalgamation with the Irish Rangers in 1992, hailed the bravery of her female colleagues as “unique” at a time of unprecedented turmoil.
The Armagh woman declared she feared their story would be “lost” if pen wasn’t put to paper.
“After we became the Royal Irish, the girls [sic] were armed and became integrated with the men – there was no difference,” she said.
“Prior to that the girls were not armed. They were unique in that they still served on the front line. They were still out in the land rovers and out where the men were.”
Fully supportive of the decision that females were unarmed, the former soldier believes they were deployed appropriately.
She said: “Women were being used by the IRA to smuggle things through and we were brought in as searchers. It was then discovered that their voices projected much better on radio so they were used as radio operators and it really developed from that.”
Recalling her 23 years service, also incorporating the Royal Irish Regiment, the 50-year-old admits some experiences left permanent emotional scars.
“One particularly stands out of going to the death of a young fella, 17 years of age, who got into his father’s car and there was a bomb underneath it. We arrived at the house just as the ambulance was leaving.
“The smell of the burning flesh will probably never leave me.”
On a lighter note, she also shares some of the cameraderie among army ranks, despite its obvious dangers.
“We had to wear camouflage to disguise our faces when we were out and one girl allowed one of the corporals to put the cam cream on. I couldn’t understand why people were laughing but he had put on whiskers like you would see a child’s face painted.”
Ms Wilson, who hopes other women will now record their stories, stated her strong “Christian faith” guided her through her project.
“When you go to do anything, there is a lot of moutains arrive in front of you. Without your faith those may not have moved and they did.”
Asked if she could resume her writing role in the future, she quipped: “It would be good to follow on and show the changes in the Royal Irish, but I don’t think I could afford to take three months off again.”
On Thursday evening, Lisburn mayor Paul Porter hosted a civic reception for Ms Wilson. Her new publication was formally launched by Amanda Moreno, head of collections and museums for the Royal Irish Regiment.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who also attended the event, pays tribute to the UDR women in the book’s foreword.
“The Greenfinches were every bit as courageous as the men they served with,” he said.
“Their contribution was vital to the effective operation of every patrol, every manoeuvre, every search and every engagement with the enemy. They were a key part of regimental life and it is appropriate that their story be told.”
• ‘A Quiet Courage’ is available, priced £8, from the DUP offices in Castle Street, Lisburn and the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, Armagh or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
27 Nov 2010
Tens of thousands of demonstrators are protesting against the Irish government’s proposed cutbacks, aimed at slashing the country’s budget deficit to meet the terms of a bailout for its devastated economy.
The rally on Saturday follows an announcement from Brian Cowen, the Irish prime minister, of a four-year package to cut spending, raise taxes and axe thousands of state jobs, the toughest budget measures in the nation’s history.
Cowen acknowledged that living standards will fall, but insisted action is needed to tackle a 2010 deficit running at 32 per cent of GDP, the highest in Europe since World War II.
His government will unveil an emergency annual budget on December 7, which must be passed to allow an €85bn [$113bn] loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Ireland’s Congress of Trade Unions, an umbrella group representing labour unions with about 832,000 members, said the protest in the Irish capital, Dublin, would be a final chance to influence the budget.
“It’s difficult to see any justification, either economic, social, or indeed moral, for what the government proposes to do, and we’ll oppose them in every way we can,” David Begg, general secretary of the group, said.
“There’s a lot of anger in Ireland, but the Irish have a different way of expressing themselves than protesters in Greece,” Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Dublin, said.
Our correspondent said the protesters included not just trade unionists but also shoppers and ordinary families.
Peter Mullen, from the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation, told Al Jazeera that the austerity measures will decrease living standards and put home ownership and jobs at risk.
“Today’s protest will be ordinary Irish people coming out to give a clear message to government that the austerity measures they’re proposing are not acceptable and that they have to go back to find a better, fairer way to address Ireland’s economic problems,” he said.
“The government is trying to cut itself out of a recession and no one has ever done that before. There is no proposal in the government’s plan to create jobs, or growth which will be necessary to turn this economy around.”
Jack O’Connor, the head of Ireland’s biggest union, SIPTU, said the collapsed economy was “the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy”.
The country’s national sovereignty was at stake as a result of the government’s policies, he said.
Cowen’s 2011 budget will seek €4.5bn [$6bn] in spending cuts and to raise an extra €1.5bn [$2bn] in taxes.
Though he is expected to have the plan endorsed at Ireland’s parliament, Cowen’s governing Fianna Fail party lost a special election on Friday, reducing the government’s majority.
The embattled prime minister vowed to call a national election after the 2011 budget is passed into law.
Begg insisted the city centre protest – a march to the General Post Office, headquarters of the leaders of Ireland’s 1916 uprising – would be free from violence.
Even so, Michael O’Sullivan, the Irish police chief superintendent, said officers would be on guard for trouble.
“There are individuals and groups who seek to exploit such events for their own ends,” he said.
Joan Burton, the Labour Party deputy leader, urged demonstrators to consider the image of Ireland that violent protests would send across the world.
“I appeal to people in some of the smaller political organisations – I know some people are mad as hell and do not want to take anymore – not to be used as photo fodder presenting the worst image of Ireland,” she said.
The Special Criminal Court has ruled against lawyers for a father of three accused of IRA membership, that his arrest by Gardaí was invalid and that the investigation was a “sham”.
Lawyers for Barry O’Brien had argued that his arrest at his home in Mountainview Court, Dundalk, Co Louth, in April 2004 was invalid because his house was searched on the belief that firearms would be discovered there. None were found.
The 38 year old has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself on the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on April 6, 2004.
Fifteen books of raffle tickets for “POWs”, walkie-talkies, a metal detector, nearly €6,000, a number of mobile phones and bodhráns bearing republican images were however discovered when Gardaí searched the house.
Senior counsel for the defence, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, argued that these were neutral items and were not grounds for the Gardaí to form a “reasonable suspicion” that O’Brien was an IRA member, and arrest him.
“The totality of evidence shows that this was in fact a sham investigation concocted when members of the SDU were very disappointed with the search of Mr O’Brien’s house,” she said.
But Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the three-judge court, found that O’Brien’s arrest and the subsequent investigation was valid.
He said there had been evidence that the Superintendent who issued the search warrant for O’Brien’s house had in fact “believed evidence in relation to scheduled offences would be found” and not just firearms.
Mr Justice Butler also referred to evidence given in the case by Chief Superintendent Patrick McGee, who said it was his “strong belief” O’Brien was an IRA member.
The Chief Superintendent said he knew O’Brien for many years on a personal basis and was very familiar with his activities “and of his involvement with the IRA.”
The court has also heard that O’Brien’s fingerprints were found on mobile phones seized by Gardaí from a northern-registered car, in which firearms and ammunition were also found, in September 2003.
Two men arrested during the search were subsequently convicted of unlawful possession of firearms, while a third was convicted of IRA membership at the Special Criminal Court.
The trial resumes on Tuesday.
Kentstown resident Sean Garland plans to go to the Supreme Court after the High Court rejected an application by his legal team seeking discovery of documents from the United States authorities, relating to his attempted extradition there.
Mr Garland, a former president of the Workers’ Party, is accused of being involved in distributing forged US money allegedly produced in North Korea. Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an extradition request for Garland, who is now in his 70s.
Sean Garland on stage with the Alabama 3 in Dublin recently — Garland plans to go to Supreme Court
Mr Garland’s legal team wants the US to produce the evidence they are basing their extradition request on, but the High Court has ruled that a precedent was set in a previous case and that it is not necessary to make the documentation available here, Mr Garland said last week.
A major fundraising event is taking place this Friday night in Kells to raise funds for the campaign to stop the extradition of Sean Garland, who has been refused legal aid.
Mr Garland was involved in the North Korean Friendship Society, of which he was chairman, he explained, and he had been there and visitors from there had been in Ireland.
During the 1970s and ’80s, he was very active in developing and expanding the Workers’ Party’s international contacts and activity. He played a major role in organising and supporting solidarity campaigns across a wide area of the world, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Africa, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where it was believed United States foreign policy had inflicted great suffering, repression and untold deaths on people.
For decades, he has been a vocal and active critic of United States foreign policy. He said he was never an enemy of the American people but is a consistent opponent of the right wing reactionary policies which have been pursued by US administrations over many decades.
Garland was first arrested in Belfast at a Workers’ Party conference five years ago, and again in Dublin in 2009, when he was in the city for medical treatment.
He says that bail conditions set are very onerous, including signing on at the local Garda station in Navan, which has been reduced to four days a week, and not being able to stay out of the country for more than 48 hours.
“If I want to go away for longer, I have to go back to the High Court,” he said. There was also a bail figure of €100,000 cash sought.
Numerous politicians and local authorities, including Navan and Kells Town Councils, have supported his campaign, as well as trade unions in Ireland and Britain. Belfast-based Rev Christoper Hudson, MBE, is chairperson of the Sean Garland Support Committee, while a local Meath committee is chaired by Seamus McDonagh, Kells.
Friday night’s fundraiser in the Headfort Arms Hotel, Kells, is headlined by Alabama 3, with the McGarry Brothers playing support. Doors open at 8pm. For information or tickets, contact Seamus McDonagh on (01) 8733 916 or email email@example.com
Friday, 26 November 2010
The Parades Commission has banned the Shankill Star Flute Band from marching past Ardoyne.
The area saw fierce rioting during the marching season with a policewoman badly injured when a concrete block was dropped on her from the top of Ardoyne shops.
Dozens of arrests were made following the disturbances, which lasted several nights.
Last night’s ruling said the parade must start and finish promptly and be stewarded by sufficient numbers of identifiable marshals.
The parade is organised by the Ligoniel Walker Club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
The Parades Commission accepted that the club had never been involved in any violence or misbehaviour in the past, but said the band was not to walk past the area around the Ardoyne shopfronts.
It said residents and nationalist political parties found the band provocative, as it commemorates former member, UVF killer Brian Robinson.
It also called for local face-to-face dialogue to deal with the issue of parade disputes in north Belfast.
25 November 2010
Flowers at the scene of the Loughinisland killings in 1994
CALLS have been made for an independent public inquiry into the Loughinisland killings after a decision was made not to prosecute a police offcer over the UVF attack which claimed the lives of six people more than 16 years ago.
The police reservist had been reported to the Public Prosecution Service by the police ombudsman. The officer was questioned earlier this year over perverting the course of justice and aiding the killers’ escape.
In a statement released this week, the PPS said they “concluded that there is insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of the individual reported by OPONI (Offce of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland) in connection with its investigation into the police investigations into the fatal shootings at The Heights Bar in Loughinisland on June 18, 1994”.
SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie called for the immediate publication of the police ombudsman’s report into the massacre and said there was a clear need for a public inquiry.
“The families of those who lost loved ones in the Loughinisland massacre have lived without justice for 16 years now,” said the South Down MP who had family connections with some of the victims.
She said the PPS decision not to prosecute the police officer was “another frustrating turn of events for the victims’ families”.
“Each delay and setback adds to their pain and suffering. There is a clear need for the truth to come out and it must be established once and for all whether there was collusion between members of the security forces and the loyalist murder gang.”
The solicitor acting for the families said the decision by the PPS was “premature”.
“I consider that the evidence which was presented to the police ombudsman was suffcient to merit further arrests,” Niall Murphy told UTV.
“We’re dealing with families here who have not had the beneft of a proper police investigation, either in 1994 or indeed this century.”
26 November 2010
AN attempt to prevent an Apprentice Boys feeder parade from passing the Ardoyne shops next weekend has failed.
However, the ABOD Ligoniel Walker Club were told by the parades commission yesterday that they are not permitted to march with a band.
They will also not walk the return parade after returning from the Closing of the Gate celebrations in Derry on Saturday, December 4.
The determination, which was issued yesterday after intensive meetings this week, came after the Ardoyne residents’ group CARA campaigned to prevent the feeder parade, which is set to pass the Ardoyne shops at
The Apprentice Boys will parade from Crumlin Road, Woodvale Road and Shankill Road to Battenburg Street where they will board a bus to
Londonderry for the Closing of the Gate celebrations – one of the two major events on the calendar for the Apprentice Boys.
CARA have claimed the parade is a “deliberate attempt to stoke up tensions within the community”.
It particularly objected to the Shankill Star band because they have a drum which remembers UVF man Brian Robinson.
CARA has been permitted to hold a protest with 150 taking part.
However now that the band will not be taking part Tommy Cheevers from the North and West Belfast Parades Forum told the News Letter that the protest should be called off.
“The band was what they said they had a problem with,” he said. “Now they are not going to march with us so it’ll just be 30 Apprentice Boys walking silently down the road at 8am, what is there to be offended by now?”
The parade was allowed to go ahead with the band last December but in August of this year the band were refused permission for their feeder
parade to the bus in August for the Relief of Londonderry celebrations, despite offering to use four other bands.
A sit down protest at the Ardoyne shops on July 12 aimed at preventing an Orange Order feeder parade from passing sparked a three day riot across north and areas of south and east Belfast.
Joe Marley from CARA has accused the parade organisers of being deliberately provocative by trying to include the band.
North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly backed CARA’s campaign describing the parade as causing “great offence to local people” and said it should be stopped.