Sunday, 09 December 2012The mural to Pat Finucane was unveiled in west Belfast on Sunday. The family of Pat Finucane has gathered at a new mural in memory of the murdered solicitor, days before a report into his death is published.
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who forced their way into his north Belfast home in February 1989.
A report into the death of the Catholic father of three, conducted by Sir Desmond de Silva, will be published on Wednesday. On the same day Prime Minister David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons.
On Sunday, a mural was unveiled on Beechmount Avenue in west Belfast, close to where the 38-year-old grew up.
His widow Geraldine told UTV the Finucane family is still calling for a full independent public inquiry into the murder.
"We've not participated in this review. We don't know anything that went on. We don't know who he has spoken to. We don't know what he's seen - and we won't know," she said.
"I do know that there will be no recommendations made in this report."
Mrs Finucane said Sir de Silva told her that his report would contain "hard-hitting conclusions".
"But we do know that he was shown sensitive material and he agreed not to put it in the report. That doesn't inspire us with confidence," she added.
She welcomed the new mural which she said was painted in "part of Pat's community".
"It's very important that he's recognised in his own community by the people. I'm delighted with the mural. It's lovely," she commented. "We do feel that this report will only further our calls for the public inquiry rather than diminish them."
Mr Finucane's youngest son, John, said the unveiling of the mural had come at a very appropriate time for his family. He added they will read the de Silva report "with an open mind".
The Finucanes will travel to London this week to view the results of Sir de Silva's inquiry, which cost £1.5m.
It was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron, who has admitted collusion took place and apologised to Mr Finucane's family.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was also at the event to show the Finucane family his support.
Mr Adams said the community in west Belfast knows what happened to Mr Finucane.
"This community knows that collusion was an administrative practice," he commented.
"The family's demand is very, very reasonable and I would call again on David Cameron and on the Irish government to use its influence on David Cameron to make sure that - regardless of the outcome of this DeSilva review -the family have the fully independent inquiry that they are looking for," said Mr Adams.
Never-before-seen pictures of the final hours of IRA leader Michael Collins have emerged after spending 90 years forgotten in an attic Daily Mail
4 December 2012
**More photos onsiteHours before death: This newly-uncovered image is the last one taken of IRA leader Michael Collins (in the back of the car, left) before he was shot deadA photo of Michael Collins, taken just hours before his assassination rocked the country, has turned up after more than 90 years.
Killed in an ambush later that evening, Collins is seen in the back of a touring car outside a hotel in Bandon, Co. Cork.
The remarkable photograph taken on August 22, 1922 by 18-year-old Agnes Hurley, has only come to light after being discovered in the attic of a Dublin house.
Until now, the last photograph of ‘The Big Fellow’, as IRA leader Collins was known, had been assumed to be one taken in Bandon the day before, on August 21.
Hurley also captured the scene of the shoot-out near Béal na Bláth the next day, showing a scrap of cloth on the ground believed to be Collins’s shirt collar.
Until now, historians assumed no photo of the scene was taken.
Agnes ‘Aggie’ Hurley, from Mallowgaton in Bandon, used a brownie box camera and her remarkable collection of hundreds of photos spans 20 years dating from 1921.
Her niece Mim O’Donovan, also from Bandon, brought the pictures to the Revolutionary Decade Roadshow in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, organised by the History Department at University College Cork on Saturday.
‘Aggie went to Béal na Bláth to see what had happened because they’d heard gunshots the previous day,’ she said.
‘She was well informed of current affairs and if something was happening she would be there. She took hundreds of photographs over the years and she dated the back of every single one.’Béal na Bláth the day after the death of Michael Collins. The scrap of cloth (centre right) is believed to be the blood-stained collar from Collins' shirt
Cork City and County Archivist Brian Magee described the find as ‘extraordinary’. ‘The fact that it survived is remarkable,’ he added.
Collins is an influential figure in the history of twentieth century Ireland. He was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, and, after working in a number of roles in London, returned to Ireland to take part in the Easter Uprising.
He was elected as an MP for Sinn Fein for South Cork and Tyrone at the general election in December 1918.
During the Anglo-Irish war he was a key part of the IRA's military campaign.
After the controversial treaty negotiations with Britain, he was appointed Chairman and Minister of Finance of the provisional government which was responsible for the establishment of the Irish Free State. He played a decisive role in devising a constitution, creating security forces and appointing a civil service.
He was murdered while on an inspection tour of Munster and searching for a basis for peace with IRA leaders opposed to the Treaty.
The photos will be scanned and archived to form part of the public record of a crucial period in Irish history.
15 Nov 2012NI's senior coroner John Leckey (l) said Mr Larkin (r) may have exceeded his powersInquests ordered by NI Attorney General John Larkin into 14 controversial killings have been suspended.
Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey said Mr Larkin may have exceeded his powers by ordering the hearings.
They include the death of Francis Rowntree, 11, who was hit by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier in 1972.
A preliminary hearing into the circumstances of his death was due to begin in Belfast on Thursday.
Mr Leckey, however, announced that the hearing and a number of other inquests were being adjourned because of potential national security concerns.
He told the court the attorney general may have overstretched his powers and may not have had the legal authority to order the new inquests.
The coroner has referred the matter to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Teresa Villiers as national security issues were not devolved to the assembly and remain a matter for the Northern Ireland Office.'Very upset'
The family of Francis Rowntree said they were considering seeking a judicial review of Mr Leckey's decision to suspend the inquest.
The Rowntree's family solicitor, Padraig O Muirigh, said: "The decision by the attorney general in June 2012 to direct a fresh inquest was a significant step forward for the Rowntree families' quest for truth.
"The family are very upset by the decision of the coroner to suspend the inquest.
"They have waited 40 years to have a proper inquest into the death of their loved one and this development is a step backwards for them."
Francis Rowntree was 11 when he was shot in April 1972 by a soldier from the Royal Anglian Regiment as he played with friends at the Divis Flats complex in Belfast.
He died four days later from his injuries.
The other adjourned preliminary hearing due to begin on Thursday concerned the loyalist murder of Gerard Slane 24 years ago.
Mr Slane, a 27-year-old father of three, was shot dead by the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA) at his home at Waterville Street, west Belfast, in September 1988.
His murder led to allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces.
...Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.
01 Nov 2012James Rhodes is a concert pianist and has made television programmes for the BBC and Sky Arts. He tours extensively and has recorded three albums for Signum and Warner Brothers. His website is www.jamesrhodes.tv and he is on YouTube at www.youtube.com/jamesrhodepianist.Yet another bloody article about Jimmy Savile. We read more and more about the horrors that went on and the now incontestable fact that others knew it was happening, and we get all shouty and indignant. It reveals the irksome, irritating side of Twitter, the tabloid press, self-published blogs and the loud, chatty guy in the pub. The moral high ground. The furious bleating and self-righteousness of the whiter-than-white populace.
The outcry will not do any good at all. How many times since "Never again" has it happened again? Using words like "molest" and "abuse" runs utterly counter to the horror of child rape. As do the prison sentences handed down upon conviction. You can serve longer in prison for saying "I'm going to kill you" (maximum sentence 10 years) than you can for having sex with your three-year-old daughter (maximum sentence seven years). Newspapers happily show pictures of 14-year-old girls sunbathing and use sexual language to describe them while at the same time appearing indignant and appalled at the crimes of Savile, Glitter et al.
The culture of celebrity has the same shroud of secrecy, power and authority as the Church. Why on earth should we be surprised at sexual abuse going on in those circles? The only thing that surprises me is that people actually seem surprised. In any environment where there is power, there will be an abuse of that power.
When I was at school I was sexually abused. Let me clarify: I was serially raped when I was a child, between the ages of five and 10. At least one other teacher knew it was happening and even after voicing their concerns to the relevant authorities within the school, nothing was done and the horrors continued. (Over two decades later, and only after a statement from both me and another teacher, did the police arrest and charge the rapist with 10 counts of buggery – at the time of arrest he was a part-time boxing coach for boys under 10.)
We read about things like this and we think "how awful" and then get on with eating our cornflakes, but no one really wants to look beneath the surface. The physical act of rape is just the beginning – each time it happened I seemed to leave a little bit of myself behind with him until it felt like there was pretty much nothing left of me that was real. And those bits do not seem to come back over time. What goes too often unreported and unexamined and unacknowledged is the legacy that is left with the victim.
Self-harm. Depression. Drug and alcohol abuse. Reparative surgery. OCD. Dissociation. Inability to maintain functional relationships. Marital breakdowns. Being forcefully institutionalised. Hallucinations (auditory and visual). Hypervigilance. PTSD. Sexual shame and confusion. Anorexia and other eating disorders. These are just a few of my symptoms (for want of a better word) of chronic sexual abuse. They have all been a part of my life in the very recent past and the abuse I went through was 30 years ago. I am not saying that these things are the inevitable result of my experience; I imagine that some people can go through similar experiences and emerge largely unscathed. What I am saying is that if living life is the equivalent of running a marathon, then sexual abuse in childhood has the net effect of removing one of your legs and adding a backpack of bricks on the starting line.
I don't want to be writing about things like this. I don't want to deal with the inevitable feelings of shame and exposure that will come from it. And I don't want to deal with the accusations of using my back story to flog albums, being full of self-pity, attention-seeking or whatever other madness will no doubt end up in the comments below. But neither do I want to have to keep quiet, or even worse, feel as if I should keep quiet, when there is so much about our culture (which is in many ways so incredibly evolved) that allows, endorses, encourages and revels in the sexual abuse of children. Paedophilia has acquired a grim, vaguely titillating, car-crash fascination that the press have jumped all over.
We simply cannot on the one hand have sexualised images of children on billboards and magazines, underwear for six-year-olds with pictures of cherries on them, "school disco" themed nights at bars and community service sentences for downloading "indecent" images (indecent? Saying "shit" in church is indecent – this is abominable), and on the other hand regard the Savile story with abject horror. It just does not equate. This is not about censoring what the press can write (typical example from one tabloid: "She’s still only 15, but Chloë Moretz … The strawberry blonde stepped out with a male friend in a cute Fifties-style powder blue sleeveless collared shirt which she tied at her waist – revealing just a hint of her midriff"). or what pictures they can publish. It is about protecting minors who do not have a voice, who are not capable of understanding certain matters and who cannot protect themselves.
This has all been said before. And nothing has really changed. We forget (who would want to remember this stuff?), we think shouting loudly will absolve our collective guilt and change things for the better, we point fingers and form lynch mobs. We paint "paedo scum" on convicted (or suspected) paedophiles' homes. And yet what we need to do is open our eyes fully and simply not tolerate this, rather like we've done and continue to do so effectively with homophobia and racism. We need to look at providing more visible therapy for both victims, perpetrators and those who have urges that threaten to make them perpetrators. We need to overhaul sentencing guidelines and start tackling the issues with more clarity and integrity. Whatever it takes for as long as it takes needs to be the guiding principle here, because otherwise we will, to use a well-worn but apposite phrase, simply continue the cycle of abuse.
November 02 2012Padraic Wilson, pictured in 1999A former IRA leader in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland has been remanded into custody on charges linked to a police investigation into a murder outside a Belfast bar.
Padraic Wilson was accused of IRA membership and addressing a meeting encouraging support for the organisation.
A detective told Belfast Magistrates' Court that Wilson, 53, took part in a meeting with the sisters of Robert McCartney, 33, who was stabbed to death outside the pub in 2005. The court was told police were not connecting him to the murder.
Wilson was the leader of IRA prisoners in the Maze in the late 1990s. He was remanded in custody after police expressed fears the political manager would intimidate witnesses, a claim denied by his lawyer Peter Madden. A detective told the court: "The police objections to bail are based on our concerns of interference with witnesses and reoffending."
He said it is alleged that at the time the offences took place in 2005, the accused, a married father-of-two from Hamill Park in Andersonstown, west Belfast, was reported to be a member of the IRA's ruling army council.
"He still holds a significant position of influence within portions of the community and because of that we have concerns that there would be interference with witnesses," the policeman said.
He said six witness statements had been received from Mr McCartney's sisters and former partner accusing him of involvement in an IRA internal investigation following the murder of Mr McCartney.
The detective said: "It is alleged that Mr Wilson and an unidentified person met with the family in their capacity as members of the IRA and as representatives of the Army Council of the IRA. That role was carrying out an internal investigation into the murder. It is alleged that at least two meetings were held with members of the family and Mr Wilson."
The detective said the McCartney family were able to identify Wilson recently through internet research and recognised him as he person who took the lead in addressing the meetings. He said: "This is an unusual case and it certainly would be our belief that Mr Wilson would have the ability to influence things and that is something which will be difficult to manage."
Wilson, who wore a checked shirt, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges. Magistrate Fiona Bagnall remanded him in custody to November 30.
Joe NoceraNY Time - OP ED
29 Oct 2012
**live links onsiteMark Thompson, former BBC director-general who seems to have memory problems concerning paedophile Jimmy Savile (Photo: Richard Saker)There are, to start with, the obvious business challenges: like all newspaper companies, the Times Company has struggled financially as the Internet has eroded its traditional revenue sources. Its third-quarter results, announced on Thursday, were typical: It reported a 9 percent drop in advertising revenues and an 85 percent decline in net income compared with the same period in 2011. Its battered stock price tumbled another 22 percent.
Then there is the Sulzberger family, which controls the Times Company. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., is both the company’s chairman and the publisher of the flagship newspaper. Seven other family members work at The Times. No chief executive can expect to be able to make decisions independent of the Sulzbergers. The previous C.E.O., Janet Robinson, left abruptly in December, amid speculation that her relationship with Sulzberger had become strained.
So it was with no small relief that, after a lengthy search, Sulzberger announced in mid-August that Mark Thompson, the departing director general of the BBC, had agreed to take the job. Although the BBC has a radically different business model from The Times — it gets most of its money from an annual fee levied on every British television watcher — his tenure as the BBC’s boss included an international expansion and strong digital growth, two areas where The Times could use his skills.
Thompson is scheduled to start his new job on Nov. 12. His nameplate is already on his office door. He is getting to know Times employees. Yet, since early October, all anybody has asked about Thompson are those two most damning of questions: what did he know, and when did he know it?
The questions are being asked, of course, in the wake of an enormous sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the BBC. At its center is Jimmy Savile, who for three decades was one of the BBC’s best-known personalities, his television shows aimed at the teenage set. He has also been accused of being an incorrigible pedophile; the number of young girls he is said to have molested could run into the hundreds. Although he stopped being a BBC regular in the mid-1990s, his enduring fame was such that when he died last fall, people in his hometown of Leeds lined the streets to mourn his passing.
Soon after his death, a BBC current affairs program called “Newsnight” began an investigation into Savile’s sexual proclivities. Yet despite getting at least one woman on tape who said she had been molested by Savile, the piece was killed. Then, earlier this month, a BBC competitor, ITV, ran a devastating exposé of Savile. The ITV investigation raised subsequent questions about whether the BBC had covered up Savile’s wrongdoing.
Plainly, the answer is yes. What is far less certain is how high the cover-up went. Thompson first said that he never heard the rumors about Savile, and that he didn’t learn about the “Newsnight” program until after it was canceled. Given the byzantine nature of the BBC bureaucracy, these are plausible denials.
Here is where it gets a little less plausible. Thompson now says that at a cocktail party last December, a BBC reporter said to him, “You must be worried about the ‘Newsnight’ investigation into Jimmy Savile.” Soon thereafter, Thompson asked his underlings about the investigation and was told that it had been killed — for journalistic reasons. He claims to have inquired no further, not even to ask what the investigation was about.
A few months later, the news broke in the British press that the BBC had, as The Daily Mail put it in a headline, “shelved Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation ‘to protect its own reputation.’ ” Given the seriousness of sexual abuse allegations — look at what it did to Penn State — you would think that Thompson and his underlings would immediately want to get to the bottom of it. But, again, they did nothing. Thompson winds up appearing willfully ignorant, and it makes you wonder what kind of an organization the BBC was when Thompson was running it — and what kind of leader he was. It also makes you wonder what kind of chief executive he’d be at The Times.
Arthur Sulzberger is in a difficult spot. He believes strongly that he’s got the executive he needs to lead The Times to the promised land of healthy profits again. Although he declined to be interviewed for this column, he appears to have accepted Thompson’s insistence that he knew nothing about the explosive allegations that became public literally 50 days after he accepted the Times job. Sulzberger is backing his man unreservedly.
For the sake of Times employees — not to mention the readers who want to see a vibrant New York Times Company — let’s hope his faith in Thompson is warranted. Otherwise, the BBC won’t be the only organization being asked tough questions about its judgment.
November 2, 2012 BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Padraic Wilson, an official in the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party, has been charged with Irish Republican Army membership in a case that highlights a pivotal unsolved murder, the 2005 stabbing of a Catholic civilian outside a Belfast pub.
The victim's sisters complained the IRA covered up evidence and received White House backing, embarrassing Sinn Fein and spurring the major IRA faction, the Provisionals, to renounce violence and disarm that year.
But nobody has been convicted of killing Robert McCartney. His sisters, however, have told police that Padraic Wilson was one of two IRA officials who met them about the murder.
In Friday's Belfast court appearance Wilson was charged with membership in an outlawed organization and organizing IRA meetings. His lawyers rejected the charge, and Sinn Fein demanded his immediate release.
By Steven Swinford and Sam MarsdenTelegraph.co.uk
02 Nov 2012
**Video onsiteA senior political figure has threatened to sue the BBC after claims that one of its flagship news programmes planned to out him as a paedophile.
The BBC yesterday refused to comment about a Newsnight investigation into the man, which is currently with the corporation's lawyers.
However Iain Overton, editor of the London-base Bureau of Investigation, claimed yesterday morning: "We've got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile".
Michael Crick, a former Newsnight presenter and now a political correspondent with Channel 4 News, later said: "[A] 'senior political figure' due to be accused tonight by BBC of being paedophile denies allegations and tells me he'll issue a libel writ agains the BBC."
Details of the investigation, which is due to be broadcast tonight, emerged after the corporation was accused of covering up allegations that Jimmy Savile abused children.
Last year, Newsnight was due to broadcast a programme detailing some of the allegations against Savile but pulled the programme shortly before a tribute show to the presenter was broadcast
Peter Rippon, the Newsnight Editor, stepped aside last month shortly before being publically critised by George Entwistle, the Director General of the BBC.
Mr Entwistle said he had made "inaccurate or incomplete statements" about the Savile scandal.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP, told the Commons last month that there was "clear intelligence" linking a former aide at Number 10 to a notorious group of sex offenders. He said the aide was linked to the conviction of Peter Righton, a child pornography smuggler who was convicted in the early 1990s.
He said: "The evidence used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.
"One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.
"The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10."
On Thursday Freddie Starr, the comedian, was arrested by detectives from the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse investigation team. Mr Starr, 69, was questioned about a claim he tried to molest a 14-year-old girl in Savile's BBC dresssing room in the 1970s. He has strenuously denied the allegation.
2 Nov 2012Colin DuffyA dissident republican has been arrested in connection with the murder of a long-serving prison officer and Orange Order member who was gunned down in a motorway ambush.
Colin Duffy, 44 and a second man were detained by officers in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Duffy, 44, was acquitted by a judge in Belfast earlier this year of the murders of two soldiers shot dead by dissident republicans outside Massereene military barracks in Antrim in March 2009.
The second man is aged 31. Both men were taken for questioning by detectives at Antrim.
Married father-of-two David Black, 52, was shot several times from a car that pulled up alongside his on the M1 near Lurgan, Co Armagh, as he drove to work at Maghaberry jail yesterday morning.
Colleagues said Mr Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, had been actively considering retirement after more than 30 years' service. He was a long-standing member of the Orange Order in Cookstown.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson last night branded the culprits "flat-earth fanatics living in the dark ages, spewing out hatred from every pore".
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson said he was the 337th member of the organisation to be murdered by terrorists since 1969.
"His professionalism throughout the worst of the Troubles and beyond is in stark contrast to the cowardly and faceless terrorists who today have left a wife without her husband and two children without their father," he said.Forensic officers search the scene on the M1 motorway where prison officer David Black (inset) was shot as he drove near the town of Lurgan, Northern Ireland (Photo: Reuters/Pacemaker)
"Our thoughts and prayers are with David's wife, Yvonne, his children, Kyle and Kyra, and wider family circle at this deeply traumatic time.
"They can be assured that the Orange fraternity will rally around them in their hour of need."
Prime Minister David Cameron joined political leaders on both sides of the Irish border in condemning what he said was a "brutal murder".
He said: "These killers will not succeed in denying the people of Northern Ireland the peaceful, shared future they so desperately want."
After being shot, Mr Black's black Audi A4 veered off the road and crashed into a deep drainage ditch.
Police have blamed dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.
The violent extremists have been engaged in a long-running protest campaign against conditions inside HMP Maghaberry in Co Antrim - Northern Ireland's only maximum-security prison.
Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Republic's government will discuss the murder at a North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh today, according to the BBC.
Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted the murder would not destabilise the peace process.
"Our community stands absolutely four-square and united against the activities of these groups," he said.
Mr Black has become the 30th prison officer killed in Northern Ireland since 1974, though the first for almost 20 years.
He was driving on the motorway between Portadown and Lurgan at about 7.30am when a dark blue Toyota Camry, with a Dublin registration, pulled alongside and several shots were fired.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said dissidents had been actively targeting prison officers.
He indicated the gunshots, not the crash, had been the cause of death, adding: "Mr Black appears to have sustained very serious and probably fatal gunshot wounds. The motive behind this is sheer terror."
The Toyota believed to have been used in the attack - registration 94 D 50997 - was later found burnt-out in the Inglewood area of Lurgan, Co Armagh - a town with strong pockets of dissident support.
Mr Black's service stretched back as far as the 1981 IRA hunger strike inside the Maze prison when 10 republicans starved themselves to death.
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said it was a "completely senseless attack" that "demonstrated the recklessness and ruthlessness and sheer dangerousness of those who oppose peace and are dedicated to taking us back to those dark days of the past".
Prison Service director-general Sue McAllister said Mr Black had expressed interest in an early retirement scheme but his departure date had not been set.
She vowed the officer's colleagues would not be bowed by the attack.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers branded the attack on Mr Black "cowardly and evil".
"Like his colleagues across the Prison Service, he was dedicated to serving the whole community in Northern Ireland," she said.
"This is in stark contrast to the people responsible for this despicable crime."
Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, said the murder was "deeply disturbing".
"I utterly condemn the actions of those who carried it out and their scant regard for human life," he said while on an official visit to Berlin.
Mr Kenny added: "Those who committed this brutal act will rightly be condemned by all civilised and right-thinking people on this island who utterly reject such hideous and mindless violence."
By Suzanne BreenBelfast Telegraph
Friday, 2 November 2012Robert McCartney and sonA senior Sinn Fein member and former Provisional IRA leader has been arrested in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney.
The 53-year-old west Belfast man, who is a well-known figure in mainstream republican circles, was taken to Antrim serious crime suite for questioning by detectives.
The arrest will be a major embarrassment for Sinn Fein. The prominent republican has held several senior positions in the Provisional movement, including in the Maze prison where he was serving a life sentence.
When he was granted early release under the Good Friday Agreement, he was greeted at the prison gates by Sinn Fein politician Gerry Kelly, who described him as “a close friend” and praised his leadership role. The republican was convicted in early 1990s of possessing explosives and conspiracy to murder.
Sources said the man’s arrest follows substantial new detailed information given to the PSNI recently.
No-one has been convicted for the murder of Mr McCartney, a father-of-two from the Short Strand, who was beaten and stabbed to death outside Magennis’s bar in Belfast city centre in January 2005.
Three men were charged in connection with the killing: Terry Davison with murder, and Jim McCormick and Joe Fitzpatrick with causing an affray. But they were all acquitted in 2008. Robert McCartney’s sister Paula last night said: “Our family welcomes the latest arrest but is treating it with caution. However, we hope that, after all these years, we secure justice for Robert who was so brutally murdered by the IRA.”
Robert McCartney (33) was killed after trying to help his friend, Brendan Devine, who had become involved in a row in Magennis’s. It was alleged that the IRA’s Belfast commander ordered the murder after the argument.
As well as a fatal stab wound to the stomach, Mr McCartney suffered a broken nose and arm and leg injuries.
The McCartneys claim that the IRA forensically cleaned the pub to hide all evidence.
Mr McCartney’s five sisters and his partner, Bridgeen Hagans, waged a campaign to bring his killers to justice.
Brian WalkerSlugger O'Toole
23 Sept 2012
**See article below this one.”A convicted IRA bomber (Dolours Price) claimed that Adams had sanctioned a series of attacks on London in 1972, including the bombing of the Old Bailey, which killed one man and injured 200 more, according to the Telegraph.
Price has given a fresh series of interviews in which she makes claims about Adams, which she says are the same as she made in the tapes being sought by the police. The bomber, who served eight years in prison for playing a leading role in the Old Bailey bomb plot, alleged that:Adams was her “Officer Commanding” in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA
He was involved in approving an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain and asked for people to volunteer for it, stating it would be a “hanging offence” if they were captured;
Adams ordered her to drive alleged informers across the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic, where they would later be executed.
Adams denies each of the allegations. A spokesman for Sinn Féin said last night: “The allegations purportedly made by Dolours Price are not new and have been vehemently denied by Mr Adams before. Mr Adams entirely rejects these unsubstantiated allegations
Price has agreed to be interviewed about what she told the Boston College researchers, and her claims of the contents of the tapes are published by The Sunday Telegraph
today. They put her at odds with Ed Moloney, a documentary-maker who was commissioned to carry out the research for the college. Earlier this month, he issued a statement in which he claimed that there was no mention of Adams or Mrs McConville in Price’s testimony.
In a series of interviews at her home in a suburb of Dublin, she outlined what she said she told the researchers and outlined allegations about Adams being a key figure in the IRA during the early 1970s.
By Patrick Sawer, in London, and Bob Graham, in DublinTelegraph.co.uk
23 Sept 2012For former IRA bomber Dolours Price, who has accused Gerry Adams of betraying the cause of a united Ireland, republicanism runs in the blood. Dolours Price pictured at home in Dublin (Photo: PACEMAKER BELFAST)Today she looks like any other 61-year-old, the type you might pass in the street without noticing, should you be walking through the quiet Dublin suburb where she lives.
But the story which Dolours Price has come forward to tell has the potential to derail the process which has brought peace to Northern Ireland for the past 15 years.
She claims Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein who helped bring about the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement, has not always been a man of peace.
In fact Price, herself a convicted IRA bomber, accuses him not only of having approved the bombing of targets on mainland Britain – including the Old Bailey – but of personally ordering the abduction of several people the IRA considered to be traitors. Adams categorically denies her claims.
It is an extraordinary charge sheet, which has a deep personal motive behind it: she feels that Adams has “betrayed” the Republican cause by being involved in the peace process, and that he has betrayed her and other IRA members by denying he was one of their number.The Price Sisters, Marion, Left, and Dolores, right outside 10 Downing Street in London (Camera Press/Colman Doyle)
It would be easy, therefore, to say that these are the words of an embittered woman, out for revenge – and indeed, that may be true.
But these are claims which she says are contained in recordings which the Police Service of Northern Ireland has gone to extraordinary lengths to obtain, invoking a legal “mutual aid” agreement with the American government to obtain the testimony she – and other former terrorists – gave to researchers working for Boston College in the United States.
The college made the recordings with an offer that their contents would be kept secret until the death of the 28 former terrorists from the IRA and its Loyalist equivalent, the Ulster Volunteer Force to whom they spoke.
The belief was that the offer would guarantee candour – but it also piqued the interest of the police, when a book based on the recordings of two dead terrorists was published by Ed Moloney, the documentary maker who led the research.
It disclosed that Brendan Hughes, who had been an IRA commander, spoke of the “disappeared”, the group of people killed by the IRA and buried in secret graves. He said that Jean McConville, the most high-profile of the victims, was killed by a squad called the “unknowns” and added: “Gerry had control over this particular squad.”
The allegation prompted the lengthy legal action.
However, Price has agreed to be interviewed about her knowledge of the “disappeared” and The Sunday Telegraph today publishes what she said.
Price and her younger sister, Marian, now 59, followed a family tradition of Republicanism.
“It is not enough to say we were born to be Republicans, it’s more precise to say Republicanism is part of our DNA,” she said.
“My father used to sit us on his knee and tell us stories about how he’d gone off to war in 1939 at the age of 19 to bomb the English.”
It was the reintroduction of internment in 1971, when hundreds of Republican activists, along with many who had no involvement with the IRA, were arrested and imprisoned without trial, which led Dolours and her younger sister to join the organisation.Jean McConville , left, with three of her children (PA)
She approached Seán MacStiofáin, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and said she wanted to be a “fighting soldier”, not part of Cumann na mBan, the women’s wing of the republican movement. An IRA Army Council was convened and Price was sworn into the organisation, followed by her sister.
Marian Price later boasted how she also used the fact she was wearing a miniskirt to talk her way through a British Army checkpoint after being stopped in a car packed full of explosives.
Speaking of the period, Dolours said: “It was an exciting time, there was no real order or structure to everyday life, the war had taken away all normal routine . . . I should be ashamed to admit there was fun in it in those days.”
In 1972 the Price sisters rose to prominence in the single bloodiest year of the Troubles.
In 1972 alone, 249 civilians were killed as a result of the conflict, among them the 13 victims of Bloody Sunday, along with 148 British security personnel, 70 Republican paramilitaries, 11 Loyalist paramilitaries and one Irish security forces member.
Price was adamant that the IRA should target mainland Britain and in particular London.
She claims the plan to bomb London was hers and was explicitly approved by Adams, in what she claims was his role as “Officer Commanding” of the organisation’s Belfast brigade.
She said: “I was convinced that a short, sharp shock, an incursion into the heart of the Empire would be more effective than 20 car bombs in any part of the north of Ireland.”
Her plan was presented to Gerry Adams and, she said, discussed and agreed by IRA commanders, before Adams convened a meeting to find volunteers.
She went on: “Adams started talking and said it was a big, dangerous operation. He said 'This could be a hanging job’. He said ' If anyone doesn’t want to go they should up and leave now through the back door at ten minute intervals.’ The ones that were left were the ones that went. I was left organising it, to be the OC of the whole shebang.”
First there was a botched attempt to firebomb Oxford Street, but then came the serious attack, four car bombs targeting symbols of the British state:Old Bailey, New Scotland Yard, an Army recruiting office in Westminster, and Whitehall.
The 300lb bomb outside the Old Bailey went off at 3pm on March 8, 1973, as police evacuated the area. One man, Frederick Milton, 60, died of a heart attack and more than 200 were injured. In Whitehall, 33 were injured; the other two were found and defused.
Price and the rest of the terror gang were arrested before the bombs went off, as they tried to board flights and ferries back to Ireland, as police were already hunting them.
A police officer later recalled how, at 3pm, Marian Price looked at her watch and smiled.
Price remains unapologetic about the use of violence, stating in her memoir: “There were warnings phoned in but people had stood about curious to see, some had even stood at office windows and been sprayed by broken glass when the car went up.
“In Belfast we gave 15 minute warnings, in London we’d given them an hour.”
At their trial at Winchester Castle in November 1973, the Price sisters, along with Gerry Kelly – who went on to serve as a Sinn Fein minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly – were jailed for life.
The Prices, Kelly and fellow conspirator Hugh Feeney immediately began a 203-day hunger strike, demanding to be transferred to prisons in Northern Ireland.
Price says: “Make no mistake about it, when I made the decision we’d be on hunger-strike, I had a vision we’d starve to death, it was that simple.”
They were eventually moved to Northern Ireland, as part of an agreement struck with the IRA during its truce of February 1975 to January 1976.
In 1980 Price was granted the royal prerogative of mercy and the following year was freed on humanitarian grounds, suffering from anorexia nervosa. She had served eight years of the “minimum” 20 years of her life sentence.
However, she remained committed to her cause and during the late 1990s spoke out against the Good Friday Agreement.
Until now Price, who claims to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being force fed, and has attempted suicide on a number of occasions, has said little publicly about her role in the IRA. Between 2001 and 2006 she agreed to be interviewed for the college’s oral history Belfast Project.
In 2010, she offered to help the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains to find the graves of three men abducted and killed by the IRA, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee – although she has not offered to co-operate with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Dolours’s sister Marian is currently in prison hospital in Northern Ireland after falling ill while on remand for charges relating to aiding the dissident Real IRA’s campaign of violence.
Adams denies Price’s claims. He said: “I reject again, as I have consistently rejected, the allegations contained in The Sunday Telegraph interview.”
Price herself remains unrepentant about her role. Asked if she is happy that what she now says may disrupt the peace process, she says: “I don’t believe in the process. ,” she said. “I think the process should be undermined, I think the process should be destroyed in some way and I think Gerry Adams, deserves to admit to his part, in all of the things that happened.”
11 Sept 2012A Derry man who was shot by the vigilante group Republic Action Against Drugs, in what is thought to be a case of mistaken identity, has been refused compensation for his injuries.
45-year-old Paul Ward was shot twice in the stomach and still has a bullet lodged in his back since the shooting three years ago.
Mr Ward now claims the Compensation Agency says he will not be compensated because he did not co-operate with the police investigation into the shooting.
His case has been taken up by SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey who said he intends to raise the matter with the Compensation Agency and the police
Mr Ward said he is devastated, and getting the letter from the Compensation Agency was like being shot all over again.
Mr Ward, who has agreed to be identified for the first time, said the Agency's claim is ridiculous.
"They claim that I didn't give enough evidence to the police. I can't fathom that, I mentioned a name to the PSNI, twice actually, and do not know how the Compensation Agency has the audacity to say I didn't co-operate with the PSNI. I don't know where they are coming from.Danger
"I provided one name who was there that night. One of the gunmen shouted his name and told him to come on.
"I could be putting myself in danger for doing this but it has to come out."
Mr Ward said he does not know what the future holds for him.
"It took the wind out of me, I don't know where to go from here I don't know where to turn.
"I'm 45 years old and I have to start a new career. They have left me in a hole without a shovel.
"Who is going to employ me, with a damaged leg, a blind left eye and a bullet in my spine?" he said.
The Compensation Agency has refused to respond to Mr Ward's claims, saying they do not comment on individual cases
The secret justice bill will normalise security force abuses – and undermine the Northern Ireland peace process
Brian GormallyThe Guardian - Comment is free
27 August 2012John and Geraldine Finucane, the youngest son and wife of Pat Finucane, the murdered Northern Irish lawyer, in Dublin last February as part of an Amnesty International campaign for a judicial probe into the 1989 killing. (Photograph: Reuters)'The right to know and effectively challenge the opposing case has long been recognised by the common law as a fundamental feature of the judicial process" – so said Lord Kerr in a recent supreme court judgment.
However, the justice and security bill now going through parliament would give the government the power to decide that certain evidence in civil proceedings might cause "damage" or "harm" to the public interest, and therefore must be given in secret. It would use the special advocate procedure, which excludes non-state parties from a hearing or from any knowledge of the secret evidence given in these "closed material proceedings". Those of us campaigning on human rights in Northern Ireland are particularly concerned about the impact of this legislation in our region.
The Northern Ireland dimension is important for three reasons. First, the legislation is a breach of the common law principle of open justice, which is at least 300 years old. Second, similar measures have been trialled in Northern Ireland and led to miscarriages of justice. Third, applying this law here would add to the cover of secrecy over the past and present actions of security and intelligence agents – threatening to undermine the peace process and nurture a culture of impunity.
The establishment of a parallel "anti-terrorist" justice system would lead to the kind of human rights abuses that fuelled the conflict in Northern Ireland and marginalised communities. And this legislation risks weakening the peace process in one crucial way. One of the gaps in that process is the lack of a comprehensive method of dealing with the legacy of the past, especially in terms of unsolved murders and other crimes. Instead there is a patchwork of measures, including public inquiries, the historical inquiries team, ongoing investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the police ombudsman and inquests.
Thankfully, the secret justice proposals do not relate to inquests. But a range of civil proceedings dealing with the legacy of the conflict would be affected, including any future judicial reviews of investigations into conflict-related deaths, challenges relating to decisions not to prosecute, and civil actions for damages that concern miscarriages of justice, cases of ill-treatment or unlawful killings. This legislation would in effect close off all the other legal avenues that victims or their relatives are trying to use to get at the truth.
Many of these cases revolve around the actions of state agents – whether uniformed policemen or soldiers, or the shadow army of agents and informants recruited by a range of secret agencies during the secret war in Northern Ireland. There is a pattern emerging of covering up these activities and refusing to properly investigate cases where state agents may have been involved in unlawful killings. This pattern includes the refusal of an inquiry into the murder of the human rights lawyer Pat Finucane – the most prominent and serious collusion case admitted by the UK prime minister.
There can be little doubt, however, that the experience of waging a 30-year dirty war within the borders of the UK has deeply corrupted the British security establishment. It is arguable that its long experience in Northern Ireland has normalised human rights abuses in the pursuit of "counter-terrorism". Today the dirty war is not confined to Northern Ireland but has a global theatre of operations. And, under the same lid of secrecy, a culture of impunity for the security establishment corrupts and rots the very fabric of democracy and the rule of law.
• Brian Gormally is director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, a human rights NGO in Northern Ireland
Chris KilpatrickBelfast Telegraph
28 August 2012John MitchelIt has become a symbol of hardline unionism over the years after becoming caught up in Northern Ireland’s most contentious parade.
But now the church at Drumcree is to host an exhibition telling the true story of two Irish republicans who were married there.
The Church of Ireland in Portadown is the venue for the 'Musical Love Story of John Mitchel and Jenny Verner'.
The pair were Young Irelanders involved in the 1848 rebellion and in the American Confederate states.
Organisers Altnaveigh House and the Young Ireland Fund say they have combined to cast a cold eye on the rebellion, to turn on its head the idea that controversial periods of history must divide people.
Jenny tried to elope with Mitchel at 16, married him in Drumcree, and travelled to Van Diemen’s Land with her young family to be with her convict husband.
She struggled through the jungles of Central America, crossed the Altlantic and Pacific oceans, was shipwrecked and ran the Union blockade to be with Mitchel, who would become a leading figure in the Young Ireland rebellion.
“This project has been supported by a variety of churches and groups on both sides of the community, both sides of the border,” said Anthony Russell, chairman of the Young Ireland Fund. “Jenny Verner and John Mitchel, both Irish republicans, both American Confederates, one a supporter of slavery, were married in Drumcree on the February 3, 1837.
“The story is more romantic, more adventurous than Titanic, Gone With The Wind and Ryan’s Daughter
, but it is a true story. It is fascinating, complex and tragic,” he added.
The exhibition will take place from September 5-8.
Ailin Quinlan explains why Irish women failed to stay on the national political stage despite making such an impact during the early 1900s and the War of Independence
By Ailin QuinlanIndependent.ie
25 August 2012During the War of Independence, more than 10,000 women were active campaigners for the cause of Irish Republicanism. Yet within 20 years, only a handful remained in national politics -- by 1940, there were virtually no prominent women of power on the political stage in Ireland.
The causes were many: divisions caused by the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty led to a fatal splintering of the women's Republican organisation Cumann na mBan, while the effects of internment during the Civil War on female prisoners and the growing dissension within remaining Cumann na mBan members over policy and ethos all played a part in the disappearance of women from the national political stage.
And it had started so well.
Women first started to emerge on the Irish political scene in the 1890s and early 1900s in various cultural, nationalist and suffrage organisation.
Then, explains author and historian Ann Matthews, the founding of the Irish Suffrage Movement in 1908, and the establishment of Cumann na mBan six years later, saw women become increasingly politically active.
Cumann na mBan was the first female military force in Ireland. Its function was to support and help the Irish Volunteers who were actively seeking the freedom of Ireland.
However, it was not until about 1916, when Cumann na mBan became involved in the Easter Rising, that women really came to the forefront.
The years 1917 and 1918 saw the organisation grow rapidly, and women were elected to the executive council of a reformed Sinn Fein party, which had Eamon de Valera as president.
Britain's threat to extend conscription to Ireland -- meaning that Irishmen would be forced to join the British army to fight in World War One -- was strongly opposed.
"Cumann na mBan joined in the wholesale opposition to this proposal right across the country, and the organisation was very much to the forefront in this campaign," says Ann Matthews.
As a result, its profile was significantly heightened, and it attracted even more members and expanded rapidly.
The general election of late 1918, after which Sinn Fein set up the first Dail, also helped its profile. What's more, Cumann na mBan was very vocal in support of Sinn Fein candidates in the election campaign, which further boosted public awareness.
By now, the organisation had 600 branches around the country. Throughout the War of Independence in 1919, the organisation was very active in support of the IRA. Members carried guns to ambush sites, acted as couriers and nurses, carried out first aid and supported Michael Collins' intelligence system.
Some members -- women ranging in age from their late teens to mid-30s -- hid men who were on the run, while others carried guns and ammunition in their prams and in their voluminous underwear.
"You could carry an armalite in your knickers," says Matthews. "They wore bloomers that stretched down to the knee and women sometimes carried guns inside them, because the bloomers were gathered by strong elastic at the knee."
Records show that by October 1921, Cumann na mBan had up to 12,000 members and more than 800 branches.
Very much perceived as the female arm of the IRA, they were not, however, a visible force. "In rural areas you could be arrested for membership," explains Matthews.
Nevertheless, women such as Jennie Wyse-Power, who had been the first president of Cumann na mBan, were well known.
Sinn Fein had more than 8,000 female members, including high-profile figures such as Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington who was a founder of the Irish Suffragette movement, Dr Kathleen Lynn, a member of the Sinn Fein Party, and Countess Markievicz, who was Minister for Labour in the first Dail.
However, in 1921 storm clouds also began to gather. Eamon de Valera signed a truce with Lloyd George and the Anglo Irish Treaty was negotiated, resulting in partition and the creation of the Irish Free State.
Dail Eireann voted in favour of the Treaty, but there was a major split and the issue created discord in the wider republican movement.
"The IRA and Cumann na mBan divided into three parts: those who supported the Treaty, those who opposed it and those who maintained a neutral stance," says Matthews.
"Cumann na mBan effectively splintered into three groups; a development which signalled the demise of the organisation."
The anti-Treaty group was the smallest faction, and although it was the one to keep the name Cumann na mBan, it quickly declined into a rump organisation.
"Those who adopted a neutral stance simply stepped back from the political stage, and those who supported the Treaty formed a new organisation called Cumann na Saoirse," explains Ann Matthews.
Meanwhile, 645 members of Cumann na mBan were interned for opposing the Free State.
The organisation had started to crumble and by 1924, when the Civil War ended, Cumann na mBan was a fraction of its former self.
Determined to rebuild, in 1926 the organisation created the Easter Lily symbol to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.
However, the organisation never regained its former influence and its decline continued to such an extent that by 1932 there were more British Legion Ladies Clubs in the Irish Free State than Cumann na mBan branches.
Then, in 1925, Cumann na mBan was rocked by another split: Countess Markievicz left the organisation to ally herself to Eamon de Valera, and Fianna Fail was formed in 1926. Kathleen Clarke, another leading light, and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington followed suit.
Following the formation of Fianna Fail, the Republican movement splintered in many different directions, and by 1934 both the wider Republican movement and Cumann na mBan were in disarray.
In 1934-1935, another major convulsion rocked the organisation, this time over the group's political ethos. Leading light Mary McSweeney left, accompanied by 16 prominent members, to form Mna na Poblachta.
"Eamon de Valera dismantled the Irish Free State, created the Presidency and wrote the 1937 constitution we have today," Matthews says.
"But because of the fragmentation of the Republican movement in general and the decline of Cumann na mBan and Sinn Fein, the unified female voice represented by both organisations had effectively disappeared."
There was no strong female voice, no influential women's lobby group to object to to the controversial Article 41, which perceived women's role in society as a subordinate one very much confined to home and family.
"By 1940 there were no prominent political women of power on the political stage in Ireland," says Ms Matthews, "primarily because of the infighting and disagreements in the Republican movement over the previous 20 years."• 'Dissidents: Irish Republican Women 1923-1941' by Ann Matthews is published by Mercier Press. €18.99
JOHN WATERSIrish Times
17 August 2012**Poster's note: Thank you, Mr Waters, for writing a cogent article addressing the morons who took Katie to task for her articulation of faith and who said that she should keep her religious views separate from her sports life and mostly to herself. When I read one article at 'Irish Central', for example, I could not believe the stupidity and arrogance of the writer for criticising Katie. What a fool he is, and a pompous one at that.
</i>The boxer’s faith makes interviewers squirm but is intrinsic to her world view, her personality and her right hookTHE OLYMPIC victory and homecoming of Katie Taylor has been one of the most telling episodes of Irish public reality in quite a while. Before our eyes, Katie became the centre of a drama in which our culture’s developing understanding of human life and possibility became briefly visible.
Were the implications less serious, it would have been entertaining to observe the squirming of sports presenters and journalists confronted by Katie’s matter-of-fact understanding of the centrality of God in her life, their discomfiture as she expressed her gratitude for the contribution to her success of the prayers of other believers.
Each time, it was as though she had not spoken or had said something else – as though she had been talking about her training regime or wittering about the thrill of winning a medal. Her interlocutor would jump upon some smaller dimension of what she had just said, as though terrified that the “religious” dimension of Katie Taylor might cause the medal to melt.
If, instead of referring repeatedly to Jesus, Katie had referenced her aunt Margaret, or Richard Dawkins, we can be certain that there would have been lots of follow-up questions, and that the newspapers next day would have provided chapter and verse of the life, times and perspectives of the credited mentor.
But it was as if Jesus had never been mentioned, as if each of us who had heard Katie Taylor speak His name had been suffering from some odd tic of hearing that had made some other word (perhaps “busier” or “easier”) seem to come out as “Jesus”.
They tell us that Katie is a “simple” and “humble” girl. Allow me to translate: “Katie is a great girl when it comes to the boxing. We wish she were more like us and did not have her head stuffed with this simple-minded stuff about Jesus, but in the circumstances we are prepared to overlook this eccentricity.
“Normally we would insist she keep her religious beliefs to herself, but we are tolerant people and, since she is the most successful Irish sportswoman for aeons, will not make an issue of it. Please understand, though, that in our endorsement of her there is no approval of the delusions which she, in her simplicity, insists upon purveying.”
When I look at and listen to Katie, I do not detect simplicity, nor is “humble” a word that springs to mind, anymore than it might in respect of Muhammad Ali. The word that occurs is “grace”, followed shortly by “centred”, and “whole”. I see a woman inspired by a singular, irreducible idea, who as a consequence shines more brightly than gold.
There is nothing simple here: such certainty about reality requires long reflection, contemplation and asking. Humility? Perhaps – if you have in mind the idea of a human creature contemplating her place amid the dizzying firmament and understanding what power really means.
Katie Taylor understands her own heart. In her I see an intensely lived humanity of a kind being rendered atypical by the crudity and stupidity of contemporary culture. Katie is totally at ease in the world because she has come to understand reality as coherent and positive. This understanding is not an extraneous, add-on element of her personality but intrinsic to it, generating her smile, her ease, her right hook.
When she refers to Jesus there is no hint of piety or preaching. Her tone doesn’t change or shift gears. There is always the sense that she is speaking about something obvious. And when she thanks her supporters for their prayers it is as though she has never contemplated the possibility that she could have won without them. The whole thing is a seamless exposition of an understanding of reality in which boxing is just one element – and by no means the most important one.
Occasionally nowadays, the culturally imposed banality and meaninglessness of Irish public reality is punctuated by some famous sporting achievement, provoking a massive expression of vicarious triumphalism.
In the disproportionate commotion of the occasion it escapes mention that such moments increasingly serve as a destination point for the collective imagination, generating a feeling that, with the addition of injudicious quantities of alcohol, seems vaguely to pass for a “reward” for the attrition of the quotidian grind.
An Olympic medal, or a creditable appearance by an Irish team in the finals of some international competition, is proposed as something fundamental, rather than a mere passing cause for celebration. This enhanced sense of meaning can be detected not just in the intensity of the partying but in the repeated invocation of the concept of “hope”, which the sporting victory is deemed to have delivered.
And it is indeed as if such successes occur to provide a kind of hope by proxy for the entire population, for whom more enduring forms of hope are nowadays culturally inaccessible. Sport, in this schema, stands as a shield against the nothingness that is the logical end of the collective thought process, a fragile, short-lived distraction that usually ends in drunken tears.
But here’s the news, folks: the medal belongs to nobody but Katie, who alone seems to know that it’s but a token of the embrace that enfolds her.
17 August 2012Michael CollinsIt might be nice to think that he would solve everything by having a few bankers shot and wresting back our sovereignty from the IMF; but remember that as Dail Minister for Finance, and by training and aptitude, he was an economic, fiscal and social conservative.
He was antagonistic towards any form of public agitation not controlled by the independence movement, and his civil war record up to August 22, 1922, demonstrates that he had no time at all for the grievances of landless men or underpaid workers.
Nor was he a proto-feminist, nor an early eco-warrior.
Historians also debate the extent of Collins' attachment to democratic politics, given his use of the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood and his inclination to involve himself in matters outside his ministerial and military remits.GENIUS
Collins was a man of extraordinary talents. Anyone looking at the records can see this from what he himself said and wrote. He was a prodigious issuer of concise, clear instructions.
His Post Office training was reflected in his insistence, even in the midst of civil war, that every penny must be counted and receipts secured.
He was an organisational genius, he was someone who commanded great loyalty and admiration, he was an able public speaker and he was a ruthless director of violence -- not only against British agents in the War of Independence, but against his civil war opponents.
Once battle was joined, he deployed tools such as assassination and arbitrary execution without compunction.
Yet in death he became the darling of Winston Churchill, himself a forthright proponent of State terror in Ireland and Iraq between 1920 and 1923.
More recently, the Belfast Telegraph, on June 27, 2012, declared that through shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth, Martin McGuinness would become 'the Michael Collins of our times'. This is a truly amnesiac accolade, given Collins' involvement months after signing the Treaty in the preparations for the IRA's abortive northern campaign, not to mention the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson in June 1922.
We must hope that Mr McGuinness does not let the compliment go to his head.
Diverse political parties now lay claim to Collins and his legacy. You can buy a Michael Collins hurley for €24.99 online from the Sinn Fein shop, if you are not distracted by the whiff of Zapatista Coffee (€7.50) or the practicality of a Loughgall Martyrs Hoodie Top (€24.99).
Fine Gael, unfortunately, do not have an online shop through which to sell Collins golf clubs or blue hoodies, but they still claim Collins as their founding father.
Two years ago, a cardboard cut-out of Collins in military uniform loomed over the Fine Gael stand during the Trinity College Freshers Week. I wondered why not WT Cosgrave, the first leader of Cumann na nGaedheal in 1922 and the maker of Irish democratic government?
Or why not Fine Gael's first President, General Eoin O'Duffy, over whose memory there would be no unseemly custody battle with Sinn Fein or any other party other than, perhaps, Greece's Golden Dawn?
We should remember that Collins was not universally popular either with his cabinet colleagues before and after the Treaty split, or amongst the fighting men. It was not just Dev versus Mick.
Even in Cork, the steely Sean O'Hegarty, O/C of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, did not get on with Collins in 1920-21 despite their shared belief in killing without hesitation or compunction.
When the Treaty terms were announced in December 1921, O'Hegarty suggested killing Collins and the other delegates "as soon as they got off the boat in Dublin".
Mick Murphy, also of the Cork IRA, recalled laughing when he heard that Collins had been shot at Beal na mBlath. He was reproved by de Valera: "It's nothing to laugh at when an Irishman is killed by another."
Collins' greatest military achievement was not the War of Independence, where his role is overstated, but the civil war.
As Commander in Chief, he deserves much of the credit for the fact that, by the time of his death, the conflict was all but done in strategic terms, although the planning and execution of the operations which secured the Provisional Government's victory was the work of his military staff.
Neil Jordan's 1996 film Michael Collins has had a lasting impact on the iconography of its hero. The film was brilliantly cast, because it simplified the plot for anyone who might not appreciate the nuances of Irish politics.
Collins was played by Liam Neeson, fresh from his humanitarian heroics in Schindler's List. The role of Eamon de Valera went to Alan Rickman, already feared and loathed by audiences across the world as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.Fluke
Collins' death 90 years ago is still shrouded in controversy. A range of theories have been offered to explain how and why he died. The most persuasive account I have read remains Meda Ryan's The Day Michael Collins Was Shot.
I think it was a fluke shot that killed him, as he and his drink-addled party processed through West Cork. His companion Emmet Dalton, a First World War veteran, remarked to one republican years later that "Mick wouldn't keep down. If he had ever been in a scrap he'd have learned to stay down for I was flat down and so Mick was killed standing up".
Great leaders do not have to be great fighters -- in fact the two roles may be incompatible, as suggested by the anti-Treatyites' civil war campaign.
Michael Collins never made the mistake of unduly ruminating on what previous generations of Irish revolutionaries have done in the circumstances in which Ireland found herself between 1919 and 1922.
He judged war, politics and government in the present tense, looking to prospects for the future. Our political class should put their rhetorical ouija boards aside and follow his example. Ireland's future is their responsibility, not his.• Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the Ernie O'Malley notebooks in the UCD Archives.
Eunan O'Halpin is Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin
Received via email from Caroline Carr
Donegal County Museum
15 August 2012
Below are details of some of the free events we have on during this forthcoming Heritage Week.Saturday 18th August - Historic Donegal Battlefields Sites - Talk and Demonstration
Donegal County Museum in association with National Heritage Week presents a unique opportunity to learn about the battlefields of County Donegal including the Battle of Scarrifholis on Saturday 18th August at 2pm. There will also be a display of military equipment and weaponry. All provided by Oireas Historical Services. Admission is free and young and old are welcome.
Contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal - T 074 9124613.Wednesday 22nd August - Making Butter in the County Museum
Donegal County Museum in association with National Heritage Week invites you to join Seamus & Tessie Harkin at 1pm on Wednesday 22nd August to learn about traditional butter making and to hear stories and traditions associated with it. At the end of the demonstration, you will be able to try the country butter on Tessie's homemade brown bread. Admission is free and young and old are welcome.
Contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal - T 074 9124613.Olympics 1900 - 2012
Currently on display in the Donegal County Museum is an exhibition of Olympic Games posters and related memorabilia, from 1900 right up to this year's London Olympics. This exhibition draws on Paul Foley's Olympic poster and memorabilia collection. This diverse collection of images includes official posters for the football tournament held in the summer games. The posters broad popular appeal and ability to relay messages through eye-catching and memorable imagery means that many of them are now prized souvenirs or collectable works of art and design. Admission is free and young and old are welcome.
Contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal - T 074 9124613.Until End of September - 'Walking the Colours' Exhibition
Donegal County Museum is hosting the exhibition 'Walking the Colours' in association with the Causeway Museum Service until the end of September. The exhibition looks at the origins of parades, marches and processions and at the organisations that 'Walk the Colours'. It will include items from The Ancient Order of Hibernians, The Freemasons, The Orange Order, Irish National Foresters and others. It considers civic, sports, remembrance and honor parades. The Project is funded under the European Union's PEACE III Programme and is managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the North East. Admission is free and young and old are welcome.
Contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal - T 074 9124613.