Saturday, October 31, 2009

Recession blamed for 43% increase in suicides

Recession blamed for 43% increase in suicides

By Seán McCárthaigh - Friday, October 30, 2009 - Irish Examiner

RECORDED suicides increased by 43% in the first three months of 2009, figures have revealed.
Data published by the Central Statistics Office show that 106 suicides were registered between January and March this year – an increase of 32 on the same period in 2008.

By comparison, the number of road fatalities in the first three months of 2009 was 59.

Mental health experts last night warned the impact of the economic recession was to blame for the soaring suicide rate. The sharp increase in the number of suicides comes after the 424 registered suicides in 2008 represented a 16-year record low.

The HSE’s National Suicide Prevention Office said the latest figures did not reflect the overall annual downward trend of death by suicide in Ireland.

A HSE spokesperson said the CSO’s provisional suicide figures had to be treated with utmost caution. She pointed out that many of the suicides registered in early 2009 are likely to have occurred last year, as they are not formally recorded until after inquests.

The HSE said the number of suicides has been falling continuously since 2003.

However, Fine Gael spokesman on mental health Dan Neville expressed concern that the dramatic increase in the number of suicides was linked to rising unemployment and people experiencing financial difficulties.

Mr Neville, who is also president of the Irish Association of Suicidology, described the latest suicide figures as "alarming".

If replicated during the remainder of 2009, the figure would reach almost 600, said Mr Neville.

Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews called for a review of suicide prevention figures in light of the CSO figures.

Mr Andrews, who is convenor of the Oireachtas Group on Mental Health, said the rising suicide rate was worrying despite current initiatives designed to tackle the problem.


Certainly anybody would agree that these are both startling and frightening statistics. There is no need to comment further on them. It would be far more appropriate to say a silent prayer for those poor souls whose deep state of depression could cause them to take their own lives. This is also an indication that the time has come for the Irish government to take very serious measures toward providing the necessary counseling and services to prevent others from taking their lives.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bishop Tobin invites Rep. Kennedy to discuss health care reform issue

Bishop Tobin invites Rep. Kennedy to discuss health care reform issue

By Laura Kilgus - Posted: 10/30/2009 - The Boston Pilot

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) -- Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence has invited Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to engage in a discussion about the issue of health care reform following the legislator's sharp criticism about the U.S. Catholic bishops' role in the debate.

Bishop Tobin told Kennedy in an Oct. 27 letter that, as Congress "nears agreement on a final bill, I believe it is important that you are provided with specific facts about the Catholic Church's position on this critical issue."

As of early afternoon Oct. 28, the congressman had not responded to the bishop's invitation.

The bishop sent his letter in response to Kennedy's Oct. 22 interview with Cybercast News Service in which the congressman said the bishops were fanning "the flames of dissent and discord" by insisting that health reform not include abortion funding.

"I can't understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we're caring and giving health care" to the millions of people who are currently uninsured, Kennedy said in the interview.

"You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care?" he added. "I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it's going to provide health care that is going to keep people alive."

In his letter Bishop Tobin wrote: "For many years, the Catholic Church has been clear and consistent in its support of comprehensive health care reform, that support continues to this day."

"In light of your comments, I would like to extend an invitation to you to discuss the Catholic Church's longtime support of comprehensive health care legislation and measures that protect and defend life," he said.

"Please contact my office at your earliest convenience so that we can schedule a meeting to discuss this important matter that affects all Rhode Islanders, regardless of their religious beliefs," he said.

In an earlier statement about Kennedy's comments, Bishop Tobin called them "irresponsible and ignorant of the facts" and said the congressman "owes us an apology."

"The bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years," the bishop said Oct. 23. "But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals."

In other reaction, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan called Kennedy's remarks "sad, uncalled for and inaccurate."

"The Catholic community in the United States hardly needs to be lectured to about just health care," he added in an Oct. 26 posting on his blog at "We bishops have been advocating for universal health care for a long, long time.

"All we ask is that it be just that -- universal -- meaning that it includes the helpless baby in the womb, the immigrant and grandma in the hospice, and that it protects a health care provider's right to follow his/her own conscience," Archbishop Dolan said.

In the Providence Diocese, Carol Owens, coordinator for the diocesan Respect Life Office, said Kennedy's statement was unwarranted and unjust.

"If he had his facts together, he would have know that the U.S. bishops are in favor of a national health care reform but one that supports the life and dignity of all, a plan that assures decent health care from the moment of conception to natural death," she told the Rhode Island Catholic, the diocesan newspaper.

"Abortion is not health care," said Father Robert Forcier, Human Life Guild chaplain and assistant pastor of Holy Apostles Church in Cranston.

"Once again, Congressman Kennedy has misled and failed to represent the overwhelming majority of his constituents who object to use of public funds to pay for abortion," he said.


Bishop Tobin is absolutely correct in challenging Rep. Kennedy’s very irresponsible and poorly worded recent statement regarding the proposed health care reform bills and their impact on publicly funded abortion. Now, let’s see if the congressman has the necessary knowledge of the subject matter and more importantly the courage to debate Bishop Tobin on the facts rather than his own very obvious prejudicial personal opinion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US deportation ranking up as Irish deportees increase

US deportation ranking up as Irish deportees increase

By Noel Baker - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MORE Irish people have been deported from the United States in the past year, with the increase in numbers leading to a jump in our deportation ranking.
New figures provided by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office show that, in the year to the end of September 2009, a total of 117 Irish people were deported from America, an increase of 23 people compared with the previous 12 month period.

The rise in deportations has led to Ireland’s deportation ranking, based on the number of citizens expelled from the US, jumping from 65 out of 220 countries in 2008 to 53rd this year.

The figures show that 21 Irish people were removed from the US this June, the highest monthly figure in the past two years. Fourteen people were removed in April 2009, and 12 in July.

A spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office said they did not know if the increase in deportations was attributable to more Irish people entering the US and working illegally.

The ICE’s fiscal year runs from September to September, and the number of deportations to Ireland last month fell to four.

Other figures, provided by the Department of Homeland Security in the US Customs and Border Protection Office shows the number of Irish people entering the US has dropped considerably. In the fiscal year to the end of September 2008 some 596,828 Irish citizens entered the US, with 538 deemed inadmissible and refused entry.

More recent figures for the year to the end of last month show that the number of Irish visitors dropped to 427,650, with 456 people denied entry.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This article clearly underscores the need for long overdue changes in our U.S. immigration policies as they apply to the undocumented Irish community here. As stated in another recent submission, Irish Americans in general and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in particular, have a moral obligation to support immigration reform legislation. Undocumented Irish immigrants living in the U.S. must have an opportunity to resolve their unfortunate immigration status. Also, in order for Irish America, as we know it, to grow and flourish we need to amend the law to provide for legal immigration from Ireland as a permanent addition to U.S. immigration policy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

R.I. Right to Life committee attacks Kennedy on abortion

R.I. Right to Life committee attacks Kennedy on abortion

By News staff – Providence Journal Oct 27, 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Rhode Island Right to Life Committee has joined antiabortion groups in attacking Rhode Island's U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy for published comments last week in which he criticized the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to abortion-related aspects of proposed legislation to overhaul the nation's medical system.

In a videotaped interview Wednesday with Cybercast News Service, Kennedy called the church's position a "red herring" that fans "the flames of dissent and discord."

In a news release dated Friday, but faxed to The Journal on Monday, Barth E. Bracy, Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee's executive director, said, "Congressman Kennedy's attack on the Catholic Church is unconscionable."
"President Obama and his allies in Congress are trying to use health care reform to impose a government-subsidized death sentence on countless of pre-born babies," Bracy said. "The Catholic Bishops are simply standing in defense of these precious and innocent human lives."

Supporters of the legislation --- five versions of which are pending in the Senate and House --- maintain that it essentially would bind the new system to the provisions of the longstanding ban on federal financing of abortions, known as the Hyde Amendment. But many foes of abortion, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, say that the health-care overhaul would effectively permit the indirect subsidization of abortion with taxpayer money. Kennedy could not be reached for comment.


Dear New Jersey Hibernian Brother,
Where is the outrage? The silence is deafening from our A.O.H. National Board with regard to the Pro-Life issue. To your great credit, you have been diligent and outspoken not only on pro-life but on all Catholic issues of concern to our membership. It seems as though there is plenty of “sabre rattling” on other select issues but silence when it comes to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in our society.
The recent disgraceful verbal exchange between U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat and Bishop Thomas Tobin was another example of the arrogance of a supposed Catholic politician toward the clergy and the principles of the Catholic Church. Above is an article from a Providence, RI newspaper concerning the issue. Please continue to send your timely and informative news items to our membership.

Jack Meehan, Past National President Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree

Monday, October 26, 2009

Like father, like son? Kennedy Jr. takes on Catholic Church

Like father, like son? Kennedy Jr. takes on Catholic Church

Obama health care plan pits R.I. cardinal against Patrick


His late Dad may have made a peace of sorts with his beloved Catholic Church by admitting to Pope Benedict XVI that "I am not a perfect man," but Sen. Edward Kennedy's youngest son is beating the war drums.
The Lion of the Senate passed away peacefully just two months ago, but it didn't even take that long for Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island to take on the Church — in particular, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin. The issue? President Obama's sweeping health care plans, of which the junior Kennedy is a very strong supporter, even if it includes public funding for abortion services.
Needless to say, the Church is not on board with that clause, and the rhetoric is now red-hot.

Tobin fired a broadside at Kennedy late this week for what he termed the Congressman's incendiary remarks in an interview about abortion. Kennedy told the Catholic News Service he found it odd that that the Church would oppose Obama's health insurance plan.

"I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person — that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured," Kennedy said.

"You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care? I thought they were prolife? If the church is prolife, then they ought to be for health care reform, because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive.
“So this is an absolute red herring, and I don't think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord, and I don’t think it’s productive at all."

Although Tobin, like the Church, supports a universal health care plan, he believes it must outlaw the use of public money for abortions.
Tobin previously told the Rhode Island congressional delegation that he could not support any health care plan "that diminishes human dignity or threatens the right to life."

But on Friday the cardinal took no prisoners, saying that Kennedy’s comments were "irresponsible and ignorant of the facts."
"Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the state of Rhode Island," the bishop said. "I believe the congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide morally responsible leadership for our state.’"

The volley was the latest joust between the Catholic Church and the Kennedys. Ted Kennedy came under constant attack for his stand on issues that countered Catholic beliefs, such as abortion rights.
The differences seemed to be mended at the Senator’s funeral, when it was revealed that Pope Benedict XVI bestowed an "apostolic blessing" on the elder Kennedy.


It has been alleged that Congressman Kennedy does not possess the legendary political skills attributed to his late father Senator Edward M. Kennedy. That may very well be true, but this article certainly implies that morally and philosophically, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sinn Féin submission to British and Irish Governments on Truth Recovery.

RE: Sinn Féin submission to British and Irish Governments on Truth Recovery.

2nd October 2009.

A chairde

Sinn Féin’s submission to the British and Irish Governments in respect of truth recovery.
Sinn Féin believes that:

* An Independent, International Truth Commission is required.

* An effective truth recovery process is dependent on full cooperation by all relevant parties.

* The body charged with this onerous task;

- should have a remit to inquire into the extent and patterns of past violations as well as their causes and consequences

- should examine and report on institutional and collective responsibility, and

- must be independent of the state, combatant groups, political parties, civil society and economic interests.

* Accordingly, in the above context, the two Governments should authorise a reputable body, such as the United Nations, to devise and implement all measures and processes necessary to achieve

- The independence of the Commission

- Effective Independent Truth Recovery methods, and

- The public reporting of its findings, conclusions and recommendations.

This should be underpinned in legislation.

In our view this is the best way to take this forward.

We reject all attempts to create and sustain a hierarchy of victims.

All processes should be victim centered and should deal with all victims of the conflict on the basis of equality.

There are vested interests who do not want the truth and who will oppose the creation of a meaningful truth recovery process and who will use specious ‘political legitimacy’ issues to that end. The disgraceful British and Unionist wrangle over the ‘definition of a victim’ and the ‘Recognition payment’ are cases in point.

But truth recovery cannot and will not be dealt with through a British or Unionist prism or, for that matter, through an Irish Republican prism.

The British Government which has historically played such a divisive and violent role in Irish affairs must join in an honest endeavour which allows the people of our island to carve out a new future.

The British Government has pursued as a matter of policy the use of administrative and institutional violence and collusion.

It has employed the full weight of its political influence and authority to actively deny, cover-up and block truth recovery processes.

This has involved the suppression of reports by various commissions from Stalker, to Sampson, to Stevens, and has also refused to fulfil its commitments, for example on the Pat Finucane murder case or its refusal to co-operate with the Barron commission.

If there is to be an inclusive healing process and a genuine process of reconciliation then the British Government must face up to its responsibilities.
The Irish Government has a constitutional, legal and moral responsibility to actively promote and encourage this course of action.

All of us have to pledge ourselves to tell and hear the truth about the past.

Building a united, harmonious society demands that all the difficult issues are dealt with in an equal and inclusive way and as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.

Looking after victims families and survivors is a significant and important part of this.

Is mise le meas,

Gerry Adams MP MLA
Sinn Féin President


Undoubtedly, there are those who will accuse me of Sinn Fein bashing or, at the very least, question my audacity when I raise the following questions once more. If there is to be no hierarchy of victims, will this Independent Truth Recovery Commission be charged with the responsibility of launching a full scale investigation into the heinous murders of Robert McCartney, Paul Quinn, and the 1981 Hunger Strikers? In each of these cases there is reason to believe that there were mitigating circumstances which, if they are uncovered and thoroughly investigated, could have a very significant bearing on the outcome of the cases. A full scale investigation by an Independent Truth Commission such as the one proposed by Sinn Fein could remove all doubt and provide closure to the families of the victims. All of these families deserve nothing less!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet IrishCentral's latest winner of a free trip to Ireland: Lt. Commander Susan Condon

Meet IrishCentral's latest winner of a free trip to Ireland: Lt. Commander Susan Condon


Condon, who is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, will travel to the Emerald Isle over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit her father, John Shanahan, who lives in Drogheda, County Louth.

Shanahan visits his daughter at her Alexandria, Virginia home at least once a year, but Condon is excited to spend time with him in his new home country, which he moved to several years ago.
“I haven’t been there since he moved there, so I’m looking forward to going over there and meeting his girlfriend, seeing her bed and breakfast in Drogheda and staying with them,” Condon told

Condon, whose Irish roots can be traced to County Limerick and the southwest of Ireland, is eager to return to the Auld Sod. She’s been to Ireland several times, but her last visit was over 10 years ago.
“I am interested in seeing what’s changed about Ireland since I’ve been there,”
Condon said. “I was there before the construction boom and the economy change, and I’d like to see things differently than what I saw last time and spend some more time in Dublin. I really enjoyed Dublin when I was there last and I’d really like to see more of it.”

Condon sees the trip as a “good belated 40th birthday gift,” and to celebrate, she’s bringing along her friend Sandra, who’s never been to Ireland, but has always wanted to go.

The two ladies haven’t set up a travel itinerary just yet, but are certain they’ll have a great time.
“We don’t have specific plans, mostly just to see my dad. [Sandra] and I are just going hit the pubs and hope to listen to good Irish music,” Condon said.

The Lt. Commander, who’s been with the Coast Guard for 22 years, says she’s also interest in traveling to other parts of Ireland, if she has the chance.
“If my dad is willing to drive us around, we’ll go as far as we can!” she said.
Condon used to be an avid traveler, but hasn’t taken too many trips since the birth of her daughter, Kaitlyn, who’s now 2 ½.
“This is great for me because I used to travel at least once a year,” she said. “My goal is now that I have my daughter, when she gets older I would like eventually to go back to traveling once a year.”

Condon says one thing’s for sure: Kaitlyn will most certainly be joining her mom on a trip to Ireland during her future travels!


It is absolutely wonderful to see a member of our U.S. military services being the winner of a trip to Ireland. This is especially true when she is the daughter of our good friend and Brother Hibernian, John Shanahan who took up residence in Drogheda, County Louth a few years ago. John is a very lucky man to have the best of both worlds, a lovely family here in the U.S. and a very happy life with his lovely partner, Olive, in Ireland. I have only known John for a few years, but in that time we have forged a very strong friendship based on mutual respect and love of the country of our birth and the country of our heritage. I am sure that John, Susan, and Olive will have a wonderful time together on this holiday. Congratulations to Commander Condon and Best Wishes to all!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Irish in America must support undocumented

By Frieda Klotz – Staff Writer

The Irish population in America should rally around immigration reform, said Micheal Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, in New York on Saturday.

Martin said that lobbyists were hopeful that reform might take place in the first three months of 2010, and the question of undocumented Irish will be part of a comprehensive review of the immigration system.

The government had lobbied intensively, he added.

“The Irish government has articulated our concerns to Obama himself. And there’s a need for the community here to be supportive,” Martin said.

The Minister said the Irish government was pleased with the work of Irish immigration centers in the US. The government finances these centers and has asked them to project what they think their requirements will be over the next five years. Funding for the centers is at a record high, he said. “We’d be doing well to maintain that. The target is to try and hold onto what we have.”

Martin was speaking on the last day of his busy four-day visit to the U.S. during a trip to the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manhattan’s Financial District. Michael Collins, the Ambassador of Ireland, and Niall Burgess, the Consul General in New York, were among those present.

The Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary, at 7 State Street, has a historic significance for Irish immigrants.
In the 19th and early 20th century, its priests and staff welcomed hundreds of thousands of young Irish women who had come on the boat to New York from Ireland, taking them in and finding them jobs in Catholic homes.

Now, older Irish immigrants as well as young people need care.
“The senior helpline needs to be built on,” the Minister explained, speaking of the toll free phone-line for seniors which he came over to launch in May this year. “It’s an opportunity to deal with the loneliness and isolation that senior citizens experience.”

Last month at the Farmleigh Conference in Dublin, the Minister promised to set up a global Irish network, and to develop an online portal to connect the diaspora with Ireland. The Farmleigh recommendations included investing in research and development to make Ireland an “innovation island.”

But it will be hard to do this at a time when the government is cutting back on education spending. “We have to make savings,” the Minister said. “But we’re starting from a higher level than before.”

It will take about a year for the Irish economy to recover, he said. “We’re at the bottom of it now but we’re turning a corner, and we’ll come out of it.”

Irish centers all over the country have seen a rise in immigration from Ireland. New York in particular, has had an influx of university graduates. But the Minister said there is no evidence of a big migration pattern to the U.S.

“Irish people are aware of the difficulties of coming over here illegally, they’re aware of the dangers,” he pointed out. “We would be advising people against trying their luck."


Unfortunately, the economic recession that we are experiencing is not confined only to our own shores. It is a worldwide problem of very large proportions. In the case of Ireland, just a few short years ago the Celtic Tiger economy was the envy of the world. That has turned completely around and instead of Irish people returning to their home in Ireland to take advantage of the vibrant economy there, they are once again leaving in record numbers to seek a better life far away from home. The reality is that they are being met with economic depression wherever they happen to go. It will only be a matter of time, hopefully a short time, before things improve here in the U.S. and we will be in a better position to help our Irish immigrants again as we have done in the past. I have seen the Preamble to our A.O.H. National Constitution quoted many times in the past to support other causes so I will quote it once again as it applies to our obligation to provide assistance to Irish immigrants to the U.S. The Preamble states very clearly that we must, “work in conjunction with other groups to secure a fair and equitable U.S. immigration policy for Ireland”. I hope that we will always be true to that noble cause.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Adams: Orange parades will have role in united Ireland

Adams: Orange parades will have role in united Ireland

By Noel McAdam

Tuesday, 20 October 2009 From The Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order marches would have a place in a new united Ireland, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said today.

In an speech to the British Irish Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Wales, he insisted republicans had no desire to conquer or humiliate unionists.
The veteran party leader, who recently appealed through the Belfast Telegraph for the Order to open talks with Sinn Fein, said the genuine fears and concerns of unionists — including their sense of Britishness — needed to be explored in a meaningful way.

And he also told the gathering in Swansea, made up of MPs, members of the regional Assemblies as well as elected representatives from the Isle of Man and Channel Islands, that the people of Britain have a duty “to themselves, to unionists in particular, to the Irish in general and even to the world” to give their opinion on Irish reunification.
“We need to look at ways in which the unionist people can find their place in a new Ireland. In other words it needs to be their united Ireland,” the West Belfast MP said.

Sinn Fein’s vision of a new Ireland was where unionists have “equal ownership” with respect for cultural diversity, and political, social, economic and cultural equality because nationalists and republicans did not seek to deny the rights of others.
“The real distinction that we have always drawn is between justice and privilege. Justice for all and privilege for none. This means, for example, that Orange marches will have their place in a new Ireland, albeit on the basis of respect and co-operation,” he said.

With the main focus of the two-day event on the recession, Mr Adams argued that in economic terms the border is more than just an inconvenience — it is an obstacle to progress.
“While its adverse affects are most clearly felt in the communities that straddle the border, it also impacts negatively throughout the island. The reality is that the economy of the North is too small to exist in isolation.
“There are some who suggest that because we live in a period of severe economic difficulty that Irish reunification should be put off for the foreseeable future.
In fact the opposite is the case,” Mr Adams went on.
“There is now a need, more than ever, for the island economy to be brought into being in the fullest sense, and for the political and administrative structures to be instituted with that in mind.”


I wonder if this new enlightened point of view has been discussed with the residents of the Garvaghy Road or the Lower Ormeau Road and other areas where these obnoxious displays of Loyalist triumphalism have caused grief and mayhem for generations. I would venture to guess that the Catholic Nationalist residents in these areas would have quite a different opinion about acceptance of these parades and the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish bigots who conduct and participate in them. There is certainly reason to question the wisdom of accepting these parades without drastic changes in the manner in which they are presently conducted or, for that matter, allowing them at all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cardinal Egan memorializes forgotten Irish immigrants on Staten Island in New York

Cardinal Egan memorializes forgotten Irish immigrants on Staten Island in New York


Mourners gathered at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Staten Island Saturday to bury the dead, but this was no ordinary funeral.
Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians escorted two caskets - one a small, white children's casket with golden angels; the other larger and pearl-colored - into the church as bagpipes played "Amazing Grace."
The two coffins contained the final remains of immigrants who died over 150 years ago.

The remains represent the thousands of unnamed Irish and German immigrants who came to America in the mid-19th century, looking for a new and better life, but instead ended up in quarantine on Staten Island because of severe illness. Many of those confined never made it out, and were buried in mass graves with little fanfare or record.

Workers found the bones during the construction of a new courthouse in St. George in 2000. "We knew going into this project that we were likely to encounter the remains of what had once been a burial ground," said Marc Violette, press officer for the New York State Dormitory Authority, which was charged with the project.

As soon as the existence of a cemetery site was confirmed, a long process of historical excavation and forensic analysis began.

For some, the process seemed to take too long. Lynn Rogers is the Executive Director of Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, a Staten Island non-profit organization that works to reclaim and honor the long-forgotten, buried dead. Rogers and Bill Reilly, a local member of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, worked tirelessly to bring the remains back to where they knew they belonged.

“Bill and I went on a crusade," Rogers said, "and this is the result of our campaign, which was over 2000 letters and petitions.” This weekend, their hard work came to fruition, and for Rogers, the day couldn't come soon enough.

At the memorial, attendees from the community, many wearing sashes with the green, orange and white of Ireland's flag, lined the pews along with local politicians, a representative from the German consulate and Irish ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins. Edward Cardinal Egan, former archbishop of New York, presided over the interfaith ceremony. His sermon emphasized why, more than a century and a half later, it is important to honor the immigrants who had lain neglected for so many years.

"Why do we bury the dead?" he asked. "Because we are burying images of God."

Monsignor James Dorney and Lutheran Reverend Richard Michael also lead the service. "My parents having come from Ireland," said Msgr. Dorney, "made it all the more special that we could remember the immigrants this way, and to make this a celebration that -- how would I put this now-- that brings people together to appreciate all the more a very essential part of our nation's and our borough's history."

Following the service, the gathering moved to nearby Snug Harbor with live Irish music, beer and German bratwursts.

U.S. Congressman Michael McMahon (D- NY), whose great-grandfather emigrated from Co. Clare in 1848, attended the event sporting an American flag pin and a striped kelly-green tie. "It's important to show respect to those of us who came here fleeing hunger and political strife," he said at the church.

Attendee Marguerite Rivas, a Staten Island poet and the granddaughter of Irish immigrants from Co. Meath, wrote her doctoral dissertation on the Quarantine Hospital.
Through her research, she came to feel a kinship with the anonymous souls buried there. "They said goodbye to their loved ones in Ireland, and came here and died, and no one ever knew that they didn't live and thrive in the new world; they just never knew they were even buried in the ground."

For now, the skeletal fragments of dozens of different individuals will be placed in a holding tomb at the local Moravian Cemetery until the courthouse is completed in 2011. A memorial park will be constructed at the original burial site, and the remains will be laid to rest permanently.

"These people came to this country a number of years ago, being told that the streets were paved with gold. When they got here, they found out they were doing the paving," said Kevin Fair, a pipe band major and member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

"These unfortunate souls didn't make it all the way to the promised land, and get the reward they looked for, and it's only fitting today, whether they're Irish or some other nationality, that we honor them with a proper burial, for their sacrifice."
Megan Finnegan and Eleanor Miller are both freelance writers based in Brooklyn


Bill Reilly and his Staten Island Hibernian Brothers deserve a great deal of credit for bringing this problem to a successful conclusion. It is a classic example of identifying a wrong and doing whatever is necessary to make it right, Go raibh mile maith agaibh, Liam agus do chairde !

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Probe ’81 deal claim ex-INLA man says

Probe ’81 deal claim ex-INLA man says

By Allison Morris


A FORMER Belfast councillor who represented the interests of INLA prisoners during the 1981 Hunger Strike has backed calls for an inquiry into controversial claims the protest was allowed to continue for political gain.
Former INLA inmate Sean Flynn said he thought enough evidence had come to light to warrant further investigation into the deaths of 10 republicans, including three INLA men.

During the republican prison protests Mr Flynn was spokes-man for the INLA prisoners.

He was one of two IRSP candidates elected to Belfast City Council in 1981 but served only half of his four-year term after going on the run to the Republic when he was implicated in paramilitary activity on the word of supergrass Harry Kirkpatrick.

Speaking from his north Belfast home the 61-year-old, who is no longer active in politics, said: “I’ve no agenda and I’m certainly not coming at this from a Sinn Fein bashing angle.

“I can only say what I know from my experiences at the time.”
Mr Flynn claimed he received a call on July 5 1981 from the NIO telling him it was imperative that he visited the jail that day.
By that time four prisoners had already died including INLA man Patsy O’Hara.
“The caller said he was from the NIO and that it had been arranged for me to gain entry to the jail,” he said.
“I did see Danny Morrison (the IRA prisoners’ spokes-man) that day and I don’t know if he saw me, he would have to answer that himself.
“They took me through the door the screws used and straight to the hospital.
“I spoke to Kevin Lynch. Micky Devine was at that point still being held in the blocks as he wouldn’t have been sick enough yet to be moved to the hospital.
“What I can say for absolute certainty is that the INLA and the IRSP were not made aware of the Mountain Climber negotiations or any proposed deal.
“I spoke to Kevin Lynch that day and he also didn’t know or he would have mentioned it.
“I have no idea if Danny Morrison told the IRA prisoners of an offer, I can only speak for our men and they didn’t know.

“Something was obviously going on or else why would the NIO have contacted me?”
Mr Flynn said the INLA prisoners had been denied the opportunity of making up their own minds on whether the Mountain Climber offer from the British government was worth accepting.

“There is also no way of knowing whether our prisoners would have been willing to accept an offer. I’ve been told that it was pretty close to the five demands,” he said.

Sean Flynn was to later give an oration at the funeral of Kevin Lynch in Dungiven, Co Derry, following his death on August 1 after 71 days on hunger strike. He was the seventh person to die.

“Look, I know that there is a lot of speculation and misinformation going about,” Mr Flynn said.
“What I will say is that Sinn Fein do need to answer some basic questions.
“Was there an offer and if so why were the IRSP not informed and given a chance to look it over? “In that respect I would support recent calls for an inquiry,” he said.


Mr. Flynn is the latest in a long and growing list of people who were intimately involved in the Hunger Strike and who believe that an independent inquiry should be convened. Such an inquiry should end any controversy and provide the necessary closure to all of the families of these 10 valiant young men.
Several victim advocate agencies in the North of Ireland have, very justifiably, campaigned for years for the establishment of an independent truth commission to investigate collusion in the murders of Irish Nationalists at the hands of Loyalist death squads. Why then would anybody oppose seeking the truth about this very tragic event?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ireland’s choice: €4bn in cuts or IMF

Ireland’s choice: €4bn in cuts or IMF

By Paul O’Brien, Political Correspondent

Saturday, October 17, 2009

THE Government has raised the spectre of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) coming in to run the country if people don’t accept the savage €4 billion of cuts to be imposed in the December budget.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his Cabinet colleagues have launched a PR offensive to soften people up for the cutbacks, saying the black hole in the public finances was unsustainable.

Mr Cowen said everybody would have to make a contribution to help solve the crisis "according to their means".

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said Ireland would face "ruin" if action wasn’t taken to get the national debt under control.

Green Party leader and Environment Minister John Gormley said there was no point misleading people about how difficult the budget would be.

And Health Minister Mary Harney warned that if the Government didn’t take the necessary tough decisions, the IMF would do so instead. "We’re currently spending €500m a week more than we’re raising. That’s not a sustainable situation," she said, referring to the need to get borrowing under control.

"If the Government hasn’t the capacity to do what’s needed, then others will come in, like the IMF, and overnight they will make decisions."

She warned the IMF’s solutions would be much more severe: "They will immediately start cutting expenditure by maybe 30% or 40% — that is a fact."

As part of the offensive, Mr Cowen echoed the comments of Mr Lenihan by saying the Cabinet would lead by example in taking further pay cuts.

"People can be assured that from myself down, there will be a good example given," Mr Cowen said.

The Taoiseach and his colleagues took a 10% pay cut in last October’s emergency budget.

But an analysis shows that they were cushioned against this cut by a series of massive pay increases over the preceding years.

The Taoiseach’s salary rose from €243,057 in July 2005 when Bertie Ahern was in power to €285,582 in September 2008, by which time Mr Cowen had succeeded him — an increase of €42,525.

The Tánaiste’s salary rose from €209,222 in 2005 to €245,324 in September 2008 — a rise of €36,102.

Ministers’ pay rose from €192,304 to €225,195 in the same period — an increase of €32,891.

Even after the 10% pay cut in the October Budget, the Taoiseach still earns €257,024, the Tánaiste €220,792 and ministers €202,676.

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar said further pay cuts of between 20% and 30% would be needed in the budget to bring ministerial pay in line with European norms.

But while he welcomed the Government’s intention to take cuts, he warned the coalition would have to be tough enough to continue the pay reductions "all the way down" the public service in order to bring state spending under control.
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, October 17, 2009


It would appear that the old saying, “On any given day there is more money stolen with a pen than with a gun” could apply here. It is nothing short of criminal that the Irish people should be expected to accept the savage cuts in goods and services that we have read about recently while their government officials are living in the lap of luxury.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fianna Fáil - corrupt party of the elite

Fianna Fáil - corrupt party of the elite

October 8, 2009 – An Phoblacht

The toppling of John O’Donoghue as Ceann Comhairle has shone a light on the elitist and corrupt party that is Fianna Fáil. They have been in power continuously since 1997 and have governed in the interests of the powerful and the wealthy in Irish society at a time when wealth was never so excessive and consumption was never so conspicuous.

During the Celtic Tiger years Fianna Fáil pampered the super-rich and, it is now being revealed, they have mimicked them in their lavish lifestyles at our expense.
John O’Donoghue felt it was his entitlement to have the state pay for his junkets to the most expensive hotels in foreign cities, race meetings, chauffeur-driven limousines, gifts of jewellery and copious amounts of food and drink. Even a £1 donation O’Donoghue made to Unicef while he was in Scotland was claimed as a legitimate expense.

The point here is that John O’Donoghue is not alone. In a republic elected representatives are supposed to be citizens who undertake public service. They are not above their fellow citizens and their remuneration should be generous but not excessive and certainly not open to the gross abuse we have witnessed. But the reality is very different.
“My husband is working 13 hours a day so these people can swan around like the royal family” was the pithy comment from one of the many people who e-mailed Sinn Féin this week to commend the party on being the first to call for O’Donoghue’s resignation.

Sinn Féin has for some time been urging total reform of expenses and salaries for Oireachtas members, including Government Ministers and Ministers of State. It should not require Freedom of Information requests to find out what was claimed; all claims should be vouched; claims should be minimized given the very generous salaries paid to office-holders.

But far more profound change is called for. While the O’Donoghue controversy was going on this week the NAMA legislation was still progressing through the Dáil. This massive bailout for the banks and the big developers and speculators is one of the greatest legislative crimes ever perpetrated against the Irish people.
The challenge for progressive people in Ireland now is to mobilize anger against the corruption and misgovernment of Fianna Fáil and to show that there is a real alternative to government based on the greed of the few.


Judging from some of the expense reports that have been published in most of the Irish newspapers in recent weeks and months, Fianna Fail politicians are not without sin but they certainly have not cornered the market on corruption. They have plenty of company in elected officials from other parties. As stated above, the abuse of expenses seems to be rampant among elected officials in all of the political parties in Ireland both North and South.

Message from a Michigan A.O.H. Member

Message from a Michigan A.O.H. Member

Jack, I accessed your Blog page -

The news item you posted is fine, but on reading your 'Questions' after the news report has angered me. The controversy with the Hunger Strikers was handled by Sinn Fein in public statements months ago. The negotiations with Margaret Thatcher's government were never made public at the time because many of the demands of the prisoners were not agreed on by the Brits. The Brits agreed on some of the demands but Thatcher was adamant on items like recognising them as political prisoners and allowing them to wear civilian clothes versus prison clothes. The latter item was the main reason why the prisoners went on the blanket and then the hunger strike.

We all understand that the IRA made some mistakes during the 30 year war with the British army, SAS, MI5, MI6,the 14th Intelligence, RUC, Special Branch, B Specials (later the Ulster Defence Regiment) UDA, UVF, Red Hand Commandos, Ulster Freedom Fighters, Orange Volunteers, Red Hand Defenders, Third Force, Garda Siochana, and more. (Not to mention feuds with Official IRA, INLA and IPLO.)

The Hibernians in America have not forgotten that the 30 year 'troubles' was started by the loyalists. The atrocities that followed were bad on both sides. I suggest that we use our energy to achieve justice for those atrocities against the Nationalist community first, before we start maligning their defenders of those dark days. Lets not forget that the Peace Process began with Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams) contacting the SDLP (John Hume) meeting them in Clonard Chapel rooms (my old church). The SDLP approached the Brits and the rest is history.

Lets fight for Bloody Sunday justice, Pat Finucane justice, Rosemary Nelson justice, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings justice, etc., etc.,

Take your blinkers off and get back into the premier fight for North of Ireland JUSTICE.

Your on-going attacks against Gerry Adams, the Provos and Sinn Fein, on the Internet under the guise of a Hibernian American heading, in my opinion is a false representation of the AOH in America. If you want to voice your personal opinions I suggest you put your name, Jack Meehan, on the title of the blog page and remove any confusion that you speak for all the American Hibernians. You most assuredly do not speak for me.

This message refers to a previous submission in this blog entitled, “Gerry Adams: the type of truth process I will work with”.

My Reply

Dear Brother Hibernian,
I think you have missed the whole point of the Hibernian American News and Views blog. The title "Hibernian American" does not in any way imply that it is aimed specifically toward A.O.H. members, rather, it is a generic term aimed toward Americans with Irish roots or anybody who has an interest in Irish issues.
You will notice that there have been and will continue to be submissions on a wide range of issues from many sources that may be of interest to people who have no connection with the A.O.H. There will also be submissions that would be of particular interest to A.O.H. members. However, it is not my intention in those submissions to give the impression that I am speaking for the A.O.H. National Board as some have suggested. I am not, rather, I am speaking as an individual member exercising his right to voice his opinion.
Regarding your accusation of "my ongoing attacks on Gerry Adams, the Provos, and Sinn Fein", that is simply not true. Over the years, I have praised Sinn Fein as often as I have found fault with them. I happen to believe in giving credit when it is due and criticism when it is warranted.
I also happen to believe that the allegations in Richard O'Rawe's very thought provoking book, "Blanketmen" and the subsequent support for them reported in several submissions in this blog are worthy of further investigation. I should hope that we can disagree on this without being disagreeable.
Yours in our Motto,
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

This post script did not appear in the reply to my Brother Hibernian. However, just to keep the record straight, I would like to state very clearly that I am a very proud citizen of both the United States of America and Ireland who is vehemently opposed to socialism in any form and I will never hesitate to say so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harney defends €70,000 bonus for HSE chief

Harney defends €70,000 bonus for HSE chief


Wed, Oct 14, 2009

Minister for Health Mary Harney has defended the approval by the HSE board of a bonus of about €70,000 for its chief executive Prof Brendan Drumm, in respect of his work for 2007.

Opposition parties earlier criticised the payment. Fine Gael said it was "unjustifiable" and "outrageous" in the present environment, while Labour and Sinn Féin said the bonus should not be paid.

Ms Harney said the approval of such a payment was "entirely a matter for the board". It was in line with Prof Drumm's contract of employment, she said. Ms Harney said the bonus payment scheme had been introduced in about 1987 and that it had not been introduced by the present Government.

She said the payment approved for Prof Drumm related to 2007 and that it was only now coming into the public domain. No bonuses would be paid to public servants in respect of 2008, or probably 2009. "We live in a very different era now," she said.

Ms Harney said she had "total confidence in the board of the HSE" and in the chief executive, who "does a fantastic job". It had not been easy to find someone suitable for the post when it was first advertised, she said. And she noted Prof Drumm would have earned "substantially more" had he continued instead to practice as a clinician.

Asked if she would request that Prof Drumm waive the payment of the bonus, Ms Harney said it was not a matter for her. "I am not going to lecture anyone on what they should or shouldn't do. That's a matter for each individual."

Liam Downey, a member of the remuneration committee of the HSE board, acknowledged that 2007 had been a "particularly difficult year" for the HSE. Speaking on RTÉ's News at One , he said Prof Drumm "continues to put in a huge contribution to the reform of the health service".

Mr Downey said the payment was also "entirely transparent". The provision had been made for it in the 2007 accounts

Fine Gael health spokemsan Dr James Reilly said the bonus payment was unjustifiable "at a time when the health budget is being slashed, beds are being closed and the worst symptoms of the health services are getting even worse".

“A €70,000 bonus, twice the average industrial wage, on top of a €320,000 salary for the head of our broken health service is outrageous at a time when 300 patients were lying on trolleys around the country yesterday, 9,000 operations were cancelled in the first half of the year and there has been a 70 per cent increase in delayed discharges.

"It is impossible that this level of performance could be deemed worthy of a bonus like this. How are taxpayers, workers on average and lower wages, those who have lost their jobs and those who may be in danger of losing their homes supposed to feel about this?" Labour Party health spokeswoman Jan O'Sullivan said the notion "that we are even countenancing" handing over such a bonus payment would "shock most fair-minded people".

"This bonus covers the year 2007, a year in which the HSE was beset by controversies over cancer misdiagnosis, outrageous waiting lists, critical shortages of paediatric intensive care beds, delays in the roll-out of cervical cancer screening, and problems with hospital hygiene, to name but a few," she said.

"Now we are to respond to these failures, not by bringing the HSE management to book, but by giving the head of the organisation a pat on the back worth almost twice the average industrial wage." Ms O'Sullivan said this made "absolutely no sense whatsoever". She called on Minister for Health Mary Harney to "ensure that common sense prevails and that the payment of this bonus does not go ahead".

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimghín Ó Caoláin said the very existence of "massive bonuses" for top executives who are already paid the highest salaries in the public service, let alone the approval for such bonuses in the present economic crisis, showed "that these people are totally divorced from the everyday reality of ordinary citizens". "It is nauseating that the HSE Board should approve this bonus for the year 2007. It was in the autumn of that year that the current regime of health cutbacks was first imposed," he said.

"Contrast these bonuses with such heartless cuts as the slashing of home support hours for children with autism. Contrast them with the fact revealed yesterday that children with arthritis must wait up to 13 months to see the State's only paediatric rheumatologist in Crumlin children's hospital." Mr Ó Caoláin said this system of bonuses should be ended.

The approval of the bonus payment by the board of the HSE, understood to have been given recently, comes when the HSE is in the middle of a major cost-cutting programme and is making plans to reduce spending by up to €1.2 billion next year.

The bonus payment for Prof Drumm is for 2007. While it would normally have been paid in 2008, a decision on whether to pay it was postponed consistently and only taken over the summer. The Irish Times has learned that the bonus payment amounts to just over €70,000. It is understood the money has not yet been drawn down.
It emerged last year that €1.4 million had been paid in performance bonuses to other senior HSE staff in respect of 2007. The HSE board has suspended consideration of performance-related awards in respect of 2008, which would normally be paid this year, following a request from the Department of Health.
In a statement last night the HSE said: “The board of the HSE has approved payment of a performance award to Prof Drumm based on his performance in 2007. During 2007 activity in many community and hospitals services increased from the previous year and the HSE met its accountability requirements by delivering a balanced vote.”

In 2007 Prof Drumm had already received a bonus of about €80,000.


We thought that the disgraceful practice of awarding exorbitant bonuses to underperforming executives in private sector enterprises that operate at a loss was a uniquely American practice. I guess we were wrong. The HSE in Ireland is a government agency supported by the taxpayers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

John’s golden parachute

John’s golden parachute

By Mary Regan

Thursday, October 08, 2009

John O’Donoghue: The outgoing Ceann Comhairle will hold on to a number of perks in retirement.

JOHN O’DONOGHUE will receive a golden parachute package of more than €110,000 over the next two years on top of his €106,500 TD salary to cushion the humiliating blow of being forced from the Ceann Comhairle’s chair to the Dáil back benches.

The Kerry South TD will also hold on to a number of perks, including €5,000 a year unvouched expenses, €8,000 a year for travel around his constituency, €126 a night to stay in Dublin during the Dáil week and a pension of €67,000 a year once he retires from politics.

As Mr O’Donoghue stayed away from the Dáil yesterday requesting "time and space" his dramatic resignation was the centre of a number of rows between the Government and the opposition.

The Labour Party accused Brian Lenihan of "talking through his hat" after the Finance Minister said it wasn’t "right or proper" for the party to put down a motion of no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle ahead of a planned meeting in which he had promised to explain his controversial expenses claims.

"You wouldn’t treat a member of a trade union like that, or a worker, or there would be a general strike," said Mr Lenihan, who is promising a new, more transparent expenses regime for TDs.

Labour also came under attack from Defence Minister Willie O’Dea, who accused party leader Eamon Gilmore of political opportunism, claiming he "wanted to be seen as the man who brought down John O’Donoghue".

"He might get some momentary plaudits, but in the long run it will be seen for what it is and it’s pretty shabby."

Taoiseach Brian Cowen criticised those who, he said, "can’t step back from dancing on the grave" after Fine Gael and Sinn Féin said Mr O’Donoghue should step down immediately instead of after the weekend.

Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter accused Mr O’Donoghue of attempting to secure "a golden handshake of a Dáil seat in the next election" by holding on to his position until after the crucial Green Party conference at the weekend, which could see the Government fall.

Mr Cowen told the Dáil it was "less than seemly to haggle over the arrangements for his early resignation".

The Taoiseach will consult informally with other party leaders over the coming days in an effort to reach a unanimous decision on who should replace Mr O’Donoghue as Ceann Comhairle.

Mr O’Donoghue asked Leas Ceann Comhairle Brendan Howlin to oversee proceedings until he takes to the chair one last time to deliver an unprecedented resignation speech next Tuesday. When he does so, he will lose his State car and the €112,504 salary paid to the Ceann Comhairle on top of their TD wage. The compensation will be a step down payment of €112,504 over two years, after which he will get just under half of his ministerial pension, €25,313, on top of his salary until he retires, when the full pension will be paid.

Mr O’Donoghue came under criticism in recent weeks for employing 10 staff, compared to his predecessor, who had three.

A spokesperson said last night that eight of these are civil servants and will be moved to other departments. The fate of the other two, including his political adviser, is not yet decided.

The Ceann Comhairle’s fellow Kerryman Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan said Mr O’Donoghue "has been extremely unfairly treated by the media in recent weeks".

He told the Seanad: "Staff in Leinster House have more to do than answer all journalists who, on a lazy days when they can find nothing better to do, delve into the individual or collective expenses of members."

Mr O’Donoghue’s cousin, Fianna Fáil Kerry county councillor Michael O’Shea, said: "He has done no wrong. I was speaking to him last Saturday and he assured me he had done no wrong."

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, October 08, 2009

It appears as though Ireland takes very good care of their politicians during their time in office and in retirement. The Celtic Tiger may have disappeared for the people of Ireland but not for the politicians. Some things are not only universal, but they never change.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hillary Clinton in Belfast to urge devolution deal

Hillary Clinton in Belfast to urge devolution deal

Monday, 12 October 2009

Belfast Telegraph

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will today hold talks with Northern Ireland's political leaders in Belfast as they broker an historic deal on sharing responsibility for the region's justice system.

Republicans and unionists have yet to finalise an agreement on devolving policing and justice powers from Westminster to the Stormont Assembly, but lengthy talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week carved out a financial blueprint for the move.

The American delegation will today discuss its continued political and economic support for the Irish peace process when Mrs Clinton meets First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The US Secretary is making her seventh visit to Northern Ireland since she first arrived as First Lady with her husband President Bill Clinton to famously boost the fledgling search for peace in the 1990s.

As she arrived in Belfast last night, she threw her weight behind the efforts of the British and Irish governments to secure the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont.
"The step of devolution for policing and justice is an absolutely essential milestone," Mrs Clinton said.

Sinn Fein has been pressing for movement on completing the devolution of the powers, but the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said it will not agree to a deal until all issues are resolved to its satisfaction.

The unionist party has also, however, been accused of stalling the process in the face of hard-line voices opposed to a deal with republicans, though this has been denied by party leader Peter Robinson.
The DUP leader said policing and justice were life and death issues that required careful handling by politicians.

The St Andrews political agreement that led to the formation of the power-sharing administration at Stormont, which is dominated by the DUP and Sinn Fein, promised the devolution of the powers.

Sinn Fein and the DUP have been engaged in a long running dispute over the timing of the move, though in the Autumn of last year they agreed an outline plan to deliver devolution.

Mrs Clinton said: "Clearly there are questions and some apprehensions but I believe that due to the concerted effort of the British government, Irish government and support of friends like us in the US, that the parties understand this is a step they must take together.
"It will take the leaders of both communities working together to continue not only the devolution but then to make day-to-day governing a reality, and I'm confident that that is within reach."

Gordon Brown led exhaustive talks over recent weeks aimed at delivering a final deal on devolution.
Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness emerged from late night talks in Downing Street at midnight on Thursday, with the Sinn Fein representative declaring a final financial plan had been agreed.

Mr Robinson claimed the government offer was an advance on earlier proposals to cover the Northern Ireland policing budgets and courts service budgets, as well as financial pressures caused by legacy issues from the Troubles.
But while Mr McGuinness said he will advise his party to accept the deal, Mr Robinson has said it will have to be carefully scrutinised and did not represent the end of the process.

The DUP cited other issues it wishes to see dealt with, including moves to secure community confidence for the ground-breaking move that would see the creation of a ministry of justice at Stormont.


Nobody would deny that a word of encouragement and support from the American Secretary of State made during a whirlwind stop in Ireland is certainly very helpful. However in the final analysis, it is the duty and responsibility the parties involved to resolve their own problems. Hopefully, they will continue to move forward and make the right decision to do what is best for all of the people in the North of Ireland.

Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Sunday, October 11, 2009

'Leaving Belfast was like the end of a love affair' - Holy Cross priest

'Leaving Belfast was like the end of a love affair' - Holy Cross priest

By Andrew Phelan

Saturday October 10 2009

FR Aidan Troy, the priest caught in the middle of a loyalist protest at Belfast's Holy Cross School, has said leaving the Ardoyne was like the end of a love affair.

The cleric, who came to international prominence during the demonstrations eight years ago, has compared his move from the community to a bereavement. Despite getting death threats during the fraught three-month protest, Fr Troy has told how difficult it was for him to say goodbye.

In a frank radio documentary to be broadcast on RTE this weekend, he speaks of the "emptiness" he felt after his transfer last year to an affluent Paris suburb.

Fr Troy took up his new office at Saint Joseph's Church on leafy Avenue Hoche, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, in September 2008.

This followed a seven-year term in Belfast, where his ministry in Ardoyne had spanned both the Holy Cross protest walks in 2001 and the blight of suicides beginning in 2003.

After Belfast, Kaye Morley's documentary on RTE Radio 1 on Saturday, gives an indepth account of Father Troy's life.

Of the Holy Cross protest walk, he says: "Once I was asked by the parents on the first morning, 'Will you walk with us? You might be our insurance to save the lives of our children.' Once I walked one step on that road I was entirely committed to being the last step off that road.
"I still see the faces of the children going to school. I will never forget the looks of absolute terror ... When you went up the road you'd never know on two consecutive mornings what you were going to find."

Fr Troy describes being abused and spat at every day.

"There were posters saying 'Fr Troy is a paedophile'. There were the most horrendous pornographic pictures held out to the children ... There was constant intimidation in the way of conversation, screaming, shouting, placards."

Although he found his work tough in Belfast, he freely admits that he would not have chosen to move to Paris. Leaving Belfast was like a bereavement for him, he said, because it involved not just leaving people, but also a type of immediacy of social engagement which he had discovered there.
"It was like falling in love and then being told that the affair is over and it was that sort of feeling -- I don't want it to be over. I think I fell in love with engagement at a human level," he says.


Fr. Aidan Troy is many things to many people. Most A.O.H. members would know him as the recipient of the Order’s most prestigious award, the 2004 John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal. I was privileged to get to know Fr. Troy on a more personal level through my involvement as National Chairman of the Holy Cross/Ardoyne Trust, one of the most successful fundraising activities ever undertaken by the A.O.H. To me, Fr. Aidan was and is a very dear friend, a cherished Hibernian Brother, and an exemplary priest whom all other priests should use as a role model. My life was made richer for having known him. May God Bless Fr. Aidan wherever in this world his ministry happens to be.
Jack Meehan, Past National President - Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

Friday, October 9, 2009

Aer Lingus rapidly running out of runway

Aer Lingus rapidly running out of runway

Thu, Oct 08, 2009

With losses mounting and the demand for seats falling, radical steps are needed if the airline is to remain solvent, writes CIARÁN HANCOCK

IT MUST have felt like Groundhog Day for Aer Lingus workers yesterday. For the third successive year, they are being asked to agree to a major reorganisation that will significantly change their terms and conditions. If they don’t sign up to this plan, the airline has warned that its future viability cannot be guaranteed. Workers have been told in no uncertain terms that they have six weeks to sign up to the first phase of the plan – which involves 489 job cuts – or management will begin slashing routes, beginning with its long-haul services, and selling aircraft. Compulsory redundancies will also be introduced and the directors have indicated that they will meet strike action head on.

Tough talk from an airline that has always ended up compromising on its restructuring plans in the past. Aer Lingus wants to cut 676 jobs over the next two years. That amounts to 17.3 per cent of its total workforce. In financial terms, it wants to shave €74 million off its staff costs. That’s 24.6 per cent of its near €300 million annual staff bill. Those workers on €50,000 are facing a pay cut of 10 per cent and having to accept a new, lesser pension scheme. It’s no wonder trade unions described the plan as “draconian” and “vicious” and have made it clear that strike action will follow if this plan is pursued.

Staff interviewed by broadcast media yesterday also vented their anger at the latest round of cuts, given that they have already accepted two major reorganisations over the past two years. It’s hard to blame them. Unlike in previous years, there are no other jobs in the economy to go to for alternative employment.

The only crumb of comfort is that Aer Lingus has no immediate plans to outsource activities such as cleaning and catering, largely because staff in these areas have already had their terms reduced under previous plans. Chief executive Christoph Mueller even suggested to staff meetings yesterday that Aer Lingus could sell catering services to third parties, such is the leanness of the operation.
This doesn’t deflect from the huge challenges facing Aer Lingus. According to management, all of its long-haul services are loss making. Demand from business travellers has collapsed. About 70 per cent of its €93 million operating loss in the first half of the year related to long-haul services. Plans to fly to the west coast of the US next summer have been axed and its winter service from Shannon to New York is to be trimmed to three flights a week. One long-haul aircraft is to be mothballed.

Aer Lingus’s new bases in Belfast and London Gatwick are also operating in the red, although the company said they are heading in the right direction. Consumer demand, particularly in Ireland, which still accounts for 85 per cent of Aer Lingus’s business, is down and fares are under huge pressure. In addition, Ryanair has been flooding the market with cheap or free seats.

Globally, airlines are expected to rack up combined losses of €11 billion this year, the worst in living memory. Aer Lingus’s operating losses could hit €150 million this year and top €100 million in 2010. Clearly, radical action is required if the airline is to remain solvent.

In June 2008, Aer Lingus had a cash pile of €803 million. But it has been steadily eating into that fund to makes ends meet. It has already halved and some analysts believe the cash pile could dwindle to just €130 million by the end of 2010. This net cash, a legacy from the 2006 IPO, was to have been used to buy new aircraft. Aer Lingus has about €1 billion worth of aircraft on order.

The money has evaporated yet the fleet commitments remain in place. This is clearly an unsustainable position and is the reason why the airline has to urgently tackle legacy work practices and terms and conditions.
One of the most interesting aspects of yesterday’s announcement was that Aer Lingus is to apply for an Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) in the UK. It says this would enable it to operate routes from Britain to non-European Unions countries, including Russia, Turkey and in north Africa. This would also give Aer Lingus the opportunity of moving its aircraft from Ireland to the UK, a nuclear option that could be exercised if pilots here don’t play ball with its redundancy programme.

“That option is always there,” finance director Seán Coyle admitted yesterday. Coyle said it could take three to six months to secure an AOC in the UK. Separately, talks are continuing with United Airlines on the proposed joint venture service from Washington to Madrid, which is due to start next March. Under the deal, Aer Lingus would staff and operate the aircraft for this service. Coyle said this plan, which was the brainchild of former chief executive Dermot Mannion, is still under review. A final decision will be made in two to three weeks, he added.

One source suggested yesterday that if the Washington service takes flight, Aer Lingus could relocate aircraft currently serving transatlantic routes to Ireland to the US, where it could avail of lower local operating costs.

Again, such a move would diminish the influence of pilots in Ireland, a powerful lobby within the airline. Coyle said the current proposals – which, if all goes to plan, would have a payback time of less than a year for the airline – would reduce its average costs per passenger by about 10 per cent. This would still be almost twice the level of Ryanair, the leanest short-haul operator in Europe by a country mile, but would move it closer to British low cost operator EasyJet.

There are some similarities between Aer Lingus and EasyJet. Both fly to main city airports and have a slightly more human face than Ryanair.

“People prefer to fly with Aer Lingus when they can but they’re not prepared to pay excessively for it,” Coyle said. He is probably right although, as time goes by, that premium is reducing.

Ultimately, implementation of this plan will come down to management’s determination to push through these measures. The investment community will be urging them on but you can expect politicians across the country to push for a compromise.

Already some board members are queasy about the plan. David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and a director of Aer Lingus, said that if the airline’s proposals were not accepted by the staff then they could not proceed.

One thing is certain. Aer Lingus cannot continue in its current state. Something has to give. It’s just a case of who blinks first.

Gerry Adams: the type of truth process I will work with

Gerry Adams: the type of truth process I will work with

By Brian Rowan

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has spoken about the type of truth process he would be prepared to co-operate with, ruling out the Legacy Commission recommended in the Eames/Bradley report.
The West Belfast MP was speaking as his party published a 69-page document — its response to the proposals made by the Consultative Group on the Past.

A Legacy Commission with Investigation and Information Recovery units is the key Eames/Bradley recommendation.

But, yesterday, Mr Adams made clear he is not interested. His argument is the British Government should have no role in shaping a truth process.
“The British are combatant, are partisan,” he said.
“No-one would accept Sinn Fein setting up a Truth Commission, so, no-one should accept the British Government setting up a Truth Commission.”

The main recommendation in Sinn Fein’s document is for an Independent International Truth Commission.

“The two governments should authorize a reputable body such as the UN to devise and implement a process which will guarantee independence and ensure confidence and participation in any future Truth Commission,” he said.
Under those circumstances, he added, he would co-operate.
“I’ll be there and if I’m not, come back and remind me. I think I am duty-bound as part of an ongoing process to build a new society here to use whatever influence I have to build public confidence, and no more importantly than among those people who lost loved ones or who were themselves injured in the course of the conflict.
“So this is a time for, having been through what we came through, for at least trying to make up, and that means all of us have to come forward and deal with each other on a basis of common humanity, and that we’re living on this island and we have to ensure that what occurred never occurs again,” he said.
The Sinn Fein leader said he would call on republicans to “participate in an Independent International Truth Commission”, as proposed by his party.

Did that mean the IRA?
“How would you do that? I’m not going to go into speculating about that,” he responded.
“But what I do know is that I would use all of my influence to ensure that republicans who could speak with authority on these matters would be there.”

Would this Truth Commission be charged with uncovering the truth about the heinous murders of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn which to date have not been fully investigated much less resolved?

Would this Truth Commission be charged with launching a full investigation into the allegations made by former Irish political prisoner and author of the book “Blanketmen”, Richard O’Rawe? Mr. O’Rawe and several other blanketmen have charged that an offer was made prior to the death of Hunger Striker Joe McDonnell that may have saved the lives of six of the Hunger Strikers. Mr. O’Rawe and others allege that the offer was acceptable to those on the strike but was turned down by the Republican leadership outside the prison.

The families of Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine, two men who died on the Hunger Strike, have been campaigning for a truth commission to investigate the allegations since Mr. O’Rawe’s book was published.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hunger striker's children renew inquiry call

Hunger striker's children renew inquiry call

Published Date: 06 October 2009
By Staff reporter

The children of Derry hunger striker Mickey Devine have renewed their call to find out the truth about the circumstances that led to their father's death in Long Kesh in 1981.
Michael Og and Louise Devine have called on leading Belfast republican, Laurence McKeown, to explain comments he made in a recent interview when he said there was "nothing new" on offer from the British during the negotiation surrounding the hunger strike in 1981.

The Devines are calling for an independent inquiry to be held into claims that a deal which could potentially have saved the lives of six of the hunger strikers was rejected by the IRA leadership, despite having been accepted by republican leaders within jail. The claim, which was made by a former blanketman, has been rejected by Sinn Féin and many leading republicans.

Michael Og Devine said: "Our father was the last of the Hunger Strikers to die and all we ask from republicans is the truth. Due to all the contradictions, new evidence and the ever-changing shifting Sinn Fein narrative we feel that only an independent republican Inquiry can heal this festering sore that has erupted over what occurred during the Hunger Strike," he said.

Mr Devine also said he is confident his father was not aware of any deal coming into the prison through a secret contact known as the 'Mountain Climber.'

"Both Louise and I attended the Gasyard debate and listened to Brendan Duddy claim that the offer he wrote down and communicated to Martin McGuinness on the 5th July '81 contained four of the demands. He also stated that he believed this was a genuine offer from the British.

"We would make this appeal to Laurence to tell us publicly exactly what did happen in the prison hospital and what exactly was my father told, if anything, that he felt he couldn't share with his family or his movement. We would also like to ask Laurence did he see a copy of the offer which Duddy gave to McGuinness who in turn gave it to Gerry Adams," he said.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Statement by Family of Patsy O’Hara – 1981 Hunger Striker

Statement by Family of Patsy O’Hara – 1981 Hunger Striker

by Tony O’Hara

We, the family of Patsy O Hara wish to put on public again the reasons for us refusing to accept Sinn Fein’s versions (so far) of what occurred in July 1981.
Our motive is simply to reach the truth on what really happened, and find out could the lives of 6 Friends and Comrades been saved?

Martin Mc Guinness opinion piece in the Irish News 28th Sept is just a continuation of their policy to try and bury the truth in a muddle of name calling and by prolonging the fabrication that the British reneged during the first Hunger strike in 1980. He stated
''Clearly, they have chosen to forget of what mettle the hunger strikers were made, of their experiences of British deceit in December 1980''.

This is following a litany of statements

Bik Mc Farlane on UTV live on 1st March 2005 denied that any offer of any sort was ever made by the British at any point.
March 2005 in an interview with the Irish News Bik stated ‘’There was no concrete proposals whatsoever in relation to a deal. He goes on to deny that the acceptance conversation with Richard O’Rawe ever took place.

Danny Morrison in the Irish Times on 5th February 2005 said ‘’It is telling that not once in 24 years has the NIO stated that before Joe McDonnell’s death it made an offer to the hunger strikers which was turned down by the IRA army council. Even though Danny contradicted Bik by saying that there were offers being proposed by the British but he stated that none of them were concrete. Bik later retracted his earlier claim in other press briefing that there were no offers and said he meant to say no deals.

Jim Gibney said in the Irish News on 12th May 2006 that? Joe McDonnell died on 8th July –the British did not offer an agreement before he died.

SF’s position then shifted from ‘no offers whatsoever’ to ‘no concrete proposals whatsoever’ according to Barbara de Bruin on 2nd May 2009:

There were negotiations, there was an offer, in fact a number of different offers but as the British refused to sign anything or give a public commitment to move before the hunger strike ended there was no ‘deal’. Due to the way the British government had acted in the wake of the first hunger strike the hunger strikers wouldn’t end their fast without some form of public guarantee.

Indeed, the timeline published by the Bobby Sands Trust also shows that the British government refused to meet the hunger strikers and stand over their offer.

It is worth rewinding back to Jim Gibney’s public statement on March 2004 when during a speech on the anniversary of Bobby Sands 50th birthday he said, I was shown a comm written by Bobby Sands that had come out of the prison the previous day(the day the first Hunger Strike ended). The following sentence stuck out: “I will begin another hunger strike on the 1st January.” SF’s position now seems to be relying on British duplicity at the end of the first Hunger Strike by claiming that the British reneged on a deal therefore it was imperative that the Brits stand over any offer they made.
Why would Bobby Sands be writing a comm on the night the first Hunger Strike collapsed about going on another Hunger Strike if there was an alleged deal? Danny Morrison appeared on RTE, the same day Jim received this comm, saying that Bobby was jubilant. All the main players including of course the Brits knew that no deal was reneged on so why maintain this pretence and preconditions over an alleged deal that didn’t exist.

On May 23rd last the RNU (whom Gerry Adams referred to as ''IRPs and Yahoos'' despite some of the organiser being well respected ex- members of the IRA's Derry brigade) Organised a meeting in Derry's Gasyard.

The five crucial points to emerge from Derry were : documented evidence of a British offer; witness evidence that the document in question was the one handed to his interlocutor in the republican leadership;
witness evidence that the offer was refused by the same interlocutor; witness evidence that the stumbling block was not the absence of a British guarantor but not enough on the table; witness evidence that Richard O’Rawe’s account of the conversation between himself and Brendan McFarlane in which they agreed to accept the British offer was correct. The aggregated weight of evidence from Brendan Duddy, Gerard Clarke and Liam Clarke provide a linear account wholly consistent with O’Rawe and seriously at variance with those who would rather Blanketmen had never seen the light of day

1. Brits offer via Mountain Climbers proved to exist - despite SF saying there was no offer - didn't know about Mountain Climber - no concrete offer - no concrete proposal to ''we briefed all the Hunger Strikers on the MC offer, They refused it''. (The Men were never briefed)
2. According to Bik - No conversation with Richard O Rawe ever took place over the MC offer. despite other Prisoners hearing it.
He stated in Gulladuff that he briefed the men about the MC deal - in an UTV interview Bik stated that ''no offer of any sort was ever made by the Brits''. and a few weeks later in the Irish news ''there were no concrete proposals whatsoever in relation to a deal''.
And in recent days Mountain Climber has been stating that contact with the British had been ongoing since the ending of the first Hunger Strike! Were offers made that could have saved the first 4 men also?

The 1981 Hunger Strike is now part of Irish history and belongs to the Irish people as a whole. Thatcher was ultimately responsible for the attempted Criminalisation and both Hunger Strikes. The truth is something that should be searched for without fear of diminishing that sacrifice of these patriot martyrs and without fear of where the truth may bring us and could no more be vetoed or blinkered than the descendants of Pearse and Connolly could tell Irish people what elements of 1916 may be looked at!
This will be studied and debated and a judgment issued by enemies -why not have those who care deeply about this be allowed to search for the truth. Our families have met with Richard O’ Rawe and believe what he has said, especially now as those who have vilified him keep changing statements. In Gulladuff , they stated that ''they had nothing to hide''. Its time now to have the courage to agree to a truth commission. Only this will bring the truth out and put an end to all of this.


This is a verbatim statement issued by the O’Hara Family and is printed here at their request to express their honest belief that this matter should be investigated by an independent truth commission.

Don’t believe Sinn Fein’s truth plea

Don’t believe Sinn Fein’s truth plea

Sunday Times – Oct. 4, 09

Gerry “Whitey” Bradley, a veteran republican, fled Belfast for the safety of Dublin a few days before submissions closed in an official consultation on how to recover the truth of the Troubles. Bradley’s offence was to tell the truth about his role as a member of the IRA’s Third Belfast Battalion without first seeking permission.
As soon as the book Insider: Gerry Bradley’s Life in the IRA, which he co-authored with Brian Feeney, was serialised in The Irish News, Bradley’s life in Belfast fell apart. Graffiti near his home in the New Lodge area denounced him as a “tout”, and he was confronted and insulted when he socialised or attended the gym.
This is more evidence of how closely contested the history of the conflict — and the right to speak about it — is in republican areas. Richard O’Rawe, an IRA veteran whose book Blanketmen convincingly questioned whether the last six republican hunger strikers needed to die in 1981, got the same treatment.
“The attitude seems to be that only Danny Morrison and Gerry Adams, or the people they approve of, can write about their careers as republicans. It isn’t enough to have been in the IRA — you can’t tell your story unless it is on-message,” says O’Rawe, who has been denounced as an “H-Block traitor” on the walls near his west Belfast home, and has been snubbed in the street.
Yet next week, Sinn Fein plans to publish a paper proposing an open, independent truth-recovery process with no hierarchy of victims allowed. Speaking in Paris last week, Martina Anderson, a Sinn Fein MLA and veteran of the IRA’s 1980s British bombing campaign who has quite a story to tell herself, set the tone. She called for an international panel of experts which would “be fully independent, treat victims on all sides equally, involve the full co-operation of all parties and expose violations by all parties”.
Fine words, but Bradley’s case suggests that republicans are not ready for that sort of openness. Sinn Fein may pay lip service to disclosure but, like the loyalist paramilitaries and the British government, the republican movement often does its best to suppress and manipulate inconvenient truths.
Judging by the newspaper serialisation, Bradley’s memoir is a good read but won’t change our view of history, or land anyone in jail. He tells of a plan to assassinate Brian Faulkner, the former unionist prime minister, which was called off for unknown reasons. He fills in the background of several atrocities and gives a feel of what life was like for an IRA activist in the 1970s. It is, as he says himself, an unashamedly “pro-IRA book”.
At one point, he reveals that James Brown, a newsagent shot dead by the UVF in 1994, had, years earlier, been second-in-command of the IRA in Belfast. Brown allegedly ordered the murder of Faulkner and supplied Bradley with a gun to do it, but the operation was called off. At the time, Ronnie Flanagan, then an assistant chief constable, described Brown as “a hard-working, absolutely soft target”.
Other veterans confirm that Brown dropped out of the IRA many years before he was murdered. A UVF claim that he was involved in the murder of a police officer seven weeks earlier was untrue, and claims of an ongoing IRA role were what Flanagan was denying at the time.
Was Brown an innocent victim? Was he an unarmed soft target gunned down in his shop, as his family remember him, or someone whose violent past caught up with him? Or was he a mixture of all three? Such difficulties are thrown up by any effort to neatly pigeon-hole many of the Troubles’ dead. The issue wouldn’t matter to Sinn Fein if it was really sincere in saying that it recognised no hierarchy of victims.
Behind the talk of equality in death, de facto distinctions, often illogical and contradictory, are instinctively drawn between the dead. Why else draw a veil over Brown’s role in the IRA as a young man?
A similar set of assumptions is apparent in the IRA’s characterisation of its victims. It would, if possible, seek to justify a murder by stressing a victim’s link to the security forces: it might assert that the deceased was a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) or a retired police officer, or that he had supplied goods to the army, rather than describing him as a farmer or shopkeeper. The bereaved, meanwhile, would emphasise their relative’s civilian or family credentials.
The IRA has apologised to “innocent” victims, but labelled others “legitimate targets” in an attempt to dehumanise them. The loyalists have also offered “abject and true remorse” to the innocent dead while claiming that hardly anyone falls into that category.
Breaking ranks against the agreed narrative of your own side, as Bradley and O’Rawe have done, results in a backlash. Anthony McIntyre, another former IRA blanketman, was spurned, picketed in his home and insulted by some former friends after criticising the organisation’s leadership and role. “When I saw people I knew from the IRA or Sinn Fein, I soon learnt to wait until they talked to me,” he says. “Not to be talked to is OK, but if you greet someone and they won’t talk to you, that gives them an advantage.”
Despite funding public inquiries and operating a Freedom of Information policy, the British state is hardly more open or forgiving than the IRA when its interest and narrative are challenged. Whistle-blowing members of the civil service or security forces are ruthlessly pursued under the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, and restrictive contracts signed by undercover operatives. An ex-SAS man or Special Branch officer would fare little better than Bradley or O’Rawe if he published an unauthorised biography.
The Freedom of Information Act contains two sections, 23 and 27, which hamper the search for truth. I discovered that power when I applied for papers on the 1981 hunger strike. Section 23 gives a blanket exemption to any “information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters”. There is no requirement to consider whether disclosure would be damaging. It is just exempt. In fact, information damaging to national security is dealt with under another section. Section 27 gives similar powers to withhold information that could damage relations between the UK and any other state.
Neither the paramilitary actors nor the government have demonstrated much genuine interest in revealing the truth. For instance, a good deal of the £200m spent on the Bloody Sunday inquiry rewarded lawyers for fighting over what should be disclosed and what could be withheld.
Despite their fine words, both the republicans and the British government routinely treat whistleblowers as traitors and use the pretext of security to withhold information that could be politically embarrassing. Both sides are often embarrassed by the same information.
If there is an intention to change, then a convincing first move would be to set up a panel of historians, international lawyers and other experts to go through government records relating to the conflict with a brief to publish anything which was not a danger to life. Then would be the time to move on to paramilitaries and private individuals, requiring them to supplement the account or face contempt proceedings for withholding information.
One thing is for sure: if the current emphasis on secrecy is not replaced with a publicly stated bias to disclosure, then consultation on truth recovery will remain a sham.