Posts Tagged ‘ Martin McGuinness ’

Joan Burton Squares Off With Mary Lou McDonald

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Heated debate took place this morning on Newstalk between two of the most prominent women in Irish politics. After tossing over the topical issues of the day the segment developed into a scrap on Sinn Fein’s legacy of association with Republican violence.

Burton criticised a lack of discussion and transparency on what she called recently at a Labour conference the ‘Sinn Fein – IRA nexus’. Some certainly may be tired of Burton’s approach, the usual refuge of Irish politicians who come under fire from Sinn Fein TD’s. Mary Lou retorted with a very articulate criticism of Eamon Gilmore’s alleged involvement with Official IRA groups. However there is no doubt that many Irish people are still troubled by the issue Burton discussed and it seems likely that Sinn Fein will have to distance itself further from association with the republican violence. Although the significant ground made by Sinn Fein was the main story of the recent elections, it should also be noted that many middle-leaning voters seem to have favoured the disgraced Fianna Fail party over Sinn Fein. This, in the face of the fact that we were voting against a government that has implemented several unpopular austerity budgets, tells us Sinn Fein have not yet moved into the political mainstream of Ireland. Continue reading

News in Brief- Cork Ice Cream Men Brawl As President Visits UK

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Two ice cream men have themselves whipped up into a frenzy as both face charges for assault. Frederick Williams (31), of Gurranabraher, Cork and Alan O’Halloran (29), from Churchfield, Cork have begun a turf war over the best ice cream spots in the second city after things got a little out of hand. An altercation became violent and, it has been claimed, one of the men reached into the other’s van and ‘pulled his ice cream lever’. (Please insert your own appropriate ice cream pun).

Did you know?! RTE spends over €1,000 a day on hair and make-up and that’s not just on the upkeep of Brian Dobson’s coiffure! In figures revealed by The Sun, RTE haven’t been holding back when it comes to making sure their stars look radiant, glowing and like they’ve spent the last 20 minutes in a very hot oven. That’s not all though €18,682 went on food and drink for the Late Late green room in one year. That’s not just any backstage food, that’s M&S backstage food. Continue reading

A Year in Brief: Part One

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What a year it’s been; Hitler birthday cakes, mutant rats, and Bob Geldof off to space! To celebrate the end of another 365 days here are some of NIB’s favourite stories of the year.

Kicking off the year in festive spirit a man in Derry was fined after stealing a CCTV camera which “became his friend”. Police found Peter Morrison, 24, drunk and “petting” the camera as they arrived to arrest him. CCTV pets are for life not just for Christmas. Continue reading

News In Brief-Kilkenny Man’s Hitler Cake Courts Controversy

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There are monkeys loose in Belfast. Actual monkeys, running about, acting the maggot. They escaped from Belfast Zoo and have since been blamed for trouble in the Holy Lands, excessive drinking, late night parties and defecating in the street. (For those that don’t know the Holy Lands are a notoriously student populated part of the city. You’ve probably seen the area on the news when the lads have set light to a car.) Still, if you can’t beat ’em join ’em is what Martin McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson are reported to have said in a joint statement.

VAT on hurleys is to remain the same at 23% despite ash dieback affecting the trees they’re made from. We’ll be forced to make sliotars from spuds and our sticks from ham sandwiches! It’s not really a joke though, despite the issue being brought to the attention of a certain Noo-Nar man it was rejected as VAT can only be reduced in very “limited cases”, like if you’re a multi-billion dollar technology company. The trees may be dying off but soon it’ll be the hurley makers business dying back. Continue reading

News In Brief – McGuinness Gets Into Bed With The Queen

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There’s been one word on everybody’s lips this week: Bananas. As in; ’this budget is bananas’. Quite true.

Joan Burton’s quite right about one thing, cutting jobseekers allowance by €44 a week will force the young out of the dole queue and out of the country. As always with our politicians the long-term is ignored. Like when Brian Cowen, as Chancellor, failed to see the long-term detriment of overspending during the boom. To sidestep the usual light-hearted tone of NIB for a minute, the government can stick their ’culture of dependency’ up their arse.

The Moriarty Tribunal continues, yes, really. I thought Sherlock killed him under that Waterfall but it seems Moriarty didn’t give up and is claiming legal expenses from the Taoiseach’s department. What do you mean a different Moriarty? I’m talking about fictional events, corrupt baddies and dodgy dealings. At this point the expenses reach €600,000, that certainly sounds fictional. Continue reading

Northern Ireland – Sharing the State Means Sharing Responsibility

Castlederg. Photo: Kenneth Allen.

Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, has called on the organisers of a Republican commemoration to call off their plans. A demonstration is planned for this Sunday in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, commemorating the deaths of IRA members killed during the Troubles, including two members killed when a bomb they had planned to plant in Castlederg exploded. Unionists have called the planned event a glorification of terrorism, while DUP leader Peter Robinson has gone on record to denounce the commemoration as ‘insensitive’ and ‘inappropriate’. An event is held by Republicans in Tyrone every year and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the deaths of the would be bombers.

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News in Brief- McGuinness & Healy Rae Slip Up As C Word Banned From The Dàil

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So last week we were feeling optimistic, this week we find out burglary, extortion and hijacking offences are up 34 per cent. But murder is down! Hurrah! But let’s not dwell . . .

In an online report ’controversial’ politician Michael Healy-Rae has apparently called for rural dwellers to be allowed to own guns to protest themselves. No that wasn’t a typo by News in Brief. But presumably a rather large one online. Else the austerity protests are about to take a nasty turn. Continue reading

Crippled Irish Political System Requires Total Revamp

eire“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner,”

-James Bovard, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty.

It has been stated and stressed many times over the course of the past few years, in various ways and with various examples to illustrate the point: Ireland’s political system is a frustrating failure. Our politicians are almost universally reviled as people who will say anything to get elected, promptly forgetting about such promises when the votes are tallied and their place in government has been cemented for another few years. If the people are accused of apathy then it’s hard to blame them. At this stage the whole process is a farce, a joke, to the point where much of the electorate feels alienated and simply doesn’t bother joining in anymore. Why, they ask, when elections feel like a sham – merely replacing the people sitting in Dáil Éireann rather than the policies they enact. How many thought they were getting away from cronyism and the political policies saddling the majority with the mistakes of the minority when Fine Gael was last elected to government? And how many simply sighed when they finally realised it was really Fianna Fáil in a different guise sitting in Leinster House spinning the same tired old yarn? Continue reading

McConville Case Still Resonates Within Northern Ireland

An interesting showdown, with potentially important ramifications for both journalism and academia, has been slowly unfolding over the course of several months, involving a journalist in the middle, paramilitary soldiers seeking to tell the truth on one side and the PSNI and the families of the so-called ‘disappeared’ on the other.

The controversy circles an academic historical endeavour known as the ‘Belfast Project’, conducted by Boston College, whose aim is to create an oral history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, a history which would offer a much more frank and realistic view of the conflict, from both sides of the coin. Paramilitary volunteers from either side were interviewed for the large scale project. None of the Republican interviews, however, were authorised by the IRA. In fact, the only reason they were given by the participants was on the condition that they be released only after their deaths. Understandably this was because the IRA was and is very secretive and controlling, and those interviewed revealed operational secrets, the IRA’s methods and often criticised key decisions and people within the organisation. At present, the interviews are kept under lock and key at the college. However, on July 6th the first circuit court of appeal ruled that the College and Ed Moloney, the journalist in charge of the project, didn’t have the right to promise to withhold the information they were given, and have ordered that information be turned over to the PSNI by next month. This test case has brought out academics and journalists decrying the court’s decision, proclaiming source protection as sacred. The National Union of Journalists in particular, which is a joint British-Irish organization, has condemned the ruling. General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet has argued that the ruling has “significant implications” for academic and journalistic research, while others have criticised the College for not acting like other journalists and protecting their sources to the point of going to prison.

One of the main reasons the PSNI want to get their hands on this treasure trove of information is to help them discover what happened to certain people during the conflict, a collective known as the ‘disappeared.’ This is the name that has been given to sixteen people who vanished during the Troubles at the hands of the IRA, believed to have been abducted and killed, then buried in shallow graves. In 1999, the IRA admitted to killing nine of the victims on that list, and gave up the burial sites, although only three were found at that time. Since then, a further four bodies have been recovered. The most infamous of these cases was that of young mother, Jean McConville, whose body was finally discovered in 2003 by a family out on a walk, a mile from the location the IRA had given for her grave. McConville was born into a Protestant family in East Belfast though converted to Catholicism when she married her husband, Arthur. One of her sons, Robbie, was in Long Kesh for Official IRA related activities although he defected to the INLA in 1974. In December of 1972, she was abducted from her home by 12 members of the IRA, men and women, and killed by a single bullet to the back of the head, her remains buried on a nearby beach. The IRA refused to admit responsibility for many years, and then claimed that McConville had been a British spy, passing information on local republicans to British security forces through a radio transmitter. Her children have consistently rejected this claim, and have repeatedly called on the IRA to clear their mother’s name. An official investigation revealed no evidence to prove the IRA’s claims. Enter Boston College and their Belfast Project. One of those believed to be have been interviewed, Dolours Price, could reveal she was part of the murder as the driver of the car which took McConville to her death, and more importantly, the role of Gerry Adams in all of this. Such allegations concerning Adams are nothing new. In Voices from the Grave, based on two interviews from the Boston project, former IRA operative Brendan Hughes said as much of Adam’s role, claiming that it was Adams who established the IRA unit which killed McConville, and he who gave the order for her secret burial, to avoid the negative publicity surrounding the murder of a women and the orphaning of her children.

But the families of those disappeared by the IRA during the Troubles aren’t the only ones who could be affected by the court’s ruling. Those still living ex-IRA members and their families could be in for trouble should their testimonies reach the light of day. Carol Twomey, wife of Anthony McIntyre (former IRA gunman who conducted the interviews) believes that her husband and other ex-IRA men will risk being killed should the interviews be handed over, and used to secure prosecutions. Retribution, she argues, is a very real fear for men who have been branded by some as ‘touts’ for revealing IRA secrets.

Then of course there’s the impact on Northern Ireland and the peace process to be considered. The country may be at peace but nobody can deny it isn’t somewhat shaky. If Hughes’ allegations are confirmed by a second IRA member’s testimony, given in the knowledge it wouldn’t be revealed until after her death, what does this do for the stability of Northern Ireland and its government, bearing in mind that Gerry Adams always shrugs off accusations of IRA membership, and leadership. It’s hard to predict the reaction from the Republican camp. A Northern Irish government which is dependent on its members possible past criminal lives being ignored isn’t exactly a solid foundation in the first place. But it has worked thus far. And an appeal is already in the works. Several prominent politicians in America, including the former presidential candidate John Kerry have lobbied for the interviews to remain sealed. It just might stick and it could be years before the Boston tapes see the light of day, and all those involved are dead and buried, and a new generation will have to deal with the mistakes of their forbearers.

So, to reveal or not to reveal? Do we make an attempt to forget our past in the interest of the future or do we strive to excise all of its demons. It’s a tricky one. How do you decide which is more important – the need for truth and closure on the part of Jean McConville’s family, and any others who might have something new to learn about the disappearance of their loved ones or the fact that to reveal the identities of any former IRA members who participated in the Boston project is to pass a very possible death sentence on them. Some might argue that death is what they deserve for the activities they and their Loyalist counterparts were involved in during the Troubles but to essentially have them killed makes us no better than what they are and were. The truth shall set you free, it has been said. But in this case, perhaps it might just do more harm than good. Should Gerry Adams be finally proven to be an utter liar, should he be proven to have been in the IRA command when he said he wasn’t, such a thing wouldn’t be a terrible event by any stretch of the imagination. But if Boston College can be forced into giving up these precious oral histories of such an important and tragic part of our history, where does it stop? So many hidden histories, so many stories are dependent on the assurance that can be provided by the interviewer that the identity of their source will be protected at all costs. So who in their right mind would ever again trust a journalist or in particular an academic into telling their story?

No, let sleeping dogs lie, as they say. Wait until those involved are dead and gone. With any luck, Gerry Adams and co will still be alive when that time comes. If not, then we can see the contents of that historical treasure trove for ourselves, and history can be the judge of it all.

News in Brief-United We Stand,Divided We Fall

This week we (well, not me) waved goodbye to Westlife. The fab four retired from the limelight with a farewell concert at Croke Park supported by our favourite twins who perhaps for one week should remain nameless. Never before have four men hopped off stools so diligently (and so many times), whilst the two blonde ones didn’t miss a background note and the brunettes sang someone else’s song.

As well as the eighty thousand fans that filled the stadium the concert was also broadcast across cinemas in Ireland and the UK which is presumably where old member, Brian McFatOne, sorry, McFadden, watched stoically, tears lining his cheeks. He taught them that stool move and not one of them said thank you . . .
It looks like detention for Shane Filan though who will continue to be managed by Louis Walsh as he launches his solo career as the ‘male Adele’ in a bid to reverse his bankruptcy.
 
Many Ulster Bank customers have faced their own financial difficulties over the last two weeks after a ‘technical fault’ at the bank left many payments unprocessed and some accounts empty. Today, Ulster Bank staff are still trying to clear the backlog of unprocessed transactions, now extending their prediction of resumed normal service to the beginning of next week. It’s a good job we’re used to not relying on our banks anymore otherwise this newest failure on their part may have come as a surprise.
 
Talking of Jimmy Carr’s unprocessed tax transactions – we were weren’t we? – the controversy has sparked debate on this side of the water as well. Whilst we know certain superstars of our own *cough-Bono-cough* have made use of off-shore, legal, tax reduction measures it is unlikely they will face a barrage like Carr as the Irish economy relies in part on the income of the `legitimate tax avoidance measures` we offer global companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple .
 
 . . So moving swiftly on.
 
Two newly weds in Cork had trouble with a gatecrasher at their wedding, at the Castlemartyr Resort where Bill Clinton also happened to be staying. Mr Howard, who is from Killavullen in north Cork and Ms Seamans, from Minneapolis in the US, where both more than happy to squeeze the former President into a wedding snap. Now that’s one for Facebook.
Another couple who may soon be updating their statuses are the Queen and Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness who cemented their friendship this week with a lovely, long handshake.
 
There’s no love lost between the Queen and Martin McGuinness, his former affiliates blew up her cousin, she’s the Queen. That’s just how it is. Or was. But after Wednesday, when they met in matching colours and shook hands not once, but twice for the assembled press it seems Anglo-Irish relations may be on the up. Or not. McGuinness was quick to reassure, ‘I’m still a Republican.’ Maybe it’s still more ‘complicated’ than ‘in a relationship’.