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Around Ireland: news briefs

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

IRA MEMORIAL MOVED

An IRA memorial at Slater’s Cross near Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, has been removed at the request of a family victimized by the organization.

The announcement by a Sinn Fein representative that the monument would be moved came as a surprise, according to the Impartial Reporter.

The monument commemorated three IRA men, and was next to a spot where the IRA murdered two Protestant workmen, Willie Hassard and Fred Love, in August 1988.

The two men’s families had asked for the memorial to be moved because they found it offensive.

Marina Hassard, whose father had been one of the two men killed by the IRA, said her family’s reaction to the announcement had been one of surprise and relief.

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“The siting of this monument at Slaters Cross, Belleek, was totally unnecessary and hurtful to our family, as we always quietly remembered our father each time we passed this place and to have had his name dishonored in this way only added insult to injury,” she said.

“We are especially thinking of our father now as July 31 was his birthday and Aug. 4 was the day he was murdered 14 years ago this year, and we want our memories of him to become our own private issue once again as soon as possible,” she said.

DURROW TO OPEN?

The ancient site of Durrow, Co. Offaly, will soon be open to the public, according to a family who have battled the government’s heritage service, D_chas.

Spokesperson Elizabeth O’Brien said the state would hopefully buy the site.

“But in any case, we are confident that public access will not be an issue in future, and that restoration work will be completed.”

The site is a 12th century church, Durrow Abbey, with a 9th century cross, a holy well and a moat. There is no public access to the site.

4,000-YEAR-OLD BOAT

The Drogheda Independent reported last week that a wooden boat found on Gormanston Beach may be 4,000 years old.

The boat, seven meters long and made from a log, was found by workers digging a gas pipeline.

D_chas, the Heritage Service, called in an archeological company, which found that the boat may have been designed to travel out to sea.

“This is a unique find,” said Dr. Niall Brady, director of Arch’ological Diving Company in Castlecomer, who oversaw the person diving team.

“It’s a very exciting find because while logboats are common enough on rivers, they are much rarer in a maritime context. This is the first successful raising of a seagoing vessel that emerged as part of an infrastructural program in Ireland.

“Logboats can range over thousands of years, but are usually prehistoric,” added Dr. Brady. “The date will emerge once analysis is completed.”

ADCO’s web site will post photographs of the log boat at: www.adco-ie.com.

“A BABBLING IDIOT”

A 42-year-old U.S. citizen made his fourth appearance in an Ennis District court last Friday, charged with air rage offenses on an Aer Lingus flight.

The court heard last time that Paul Curry of Las Vegas is a bipolar manic depressive.

Curry addressed the court and admitted that he no longer planned to represent himself.

“After reading Irish law, I know I’m in over my head and I need to be represented. I can be a babbling idiot, but I feel I did nothing wrong and I feel very strongly that I am innocent in this case,” he said.

He is charged with abusive and threatening behavior on a Boston-to-Shannon flight last July 5.

His lawyer, Joe Chambers, told the court, “His behavior on the airplane may be a symptom of that particular order where what he thinks is normal behavior other people may think that he is being out of order.”

In court, five staff members of Aer Lingus, including the captain of the flight, were present to testify.

Garda Inspector Michael Gallagher told the court that Curry has done everything possible to frustrate the case.

Having borrowed a book on Irish law from a local library, Curry originally felt fit to represent himself.

He said: “I have several applications. First, Judge, I would like that some of my witnesses would be able to give their evidence by videotape. Also, I would like time to gather 28 witness statements in the case. Also, I would like three days in which to present my medical records.”

Judge Mangan rejected his demands and asked that a condition of bail be that Curry sign in with the local police station three times a day.

TOURISM DEAD IN DERRY

Derry’s tourist industry is dead — that was the stark assertion made in the Derry Journal by several local hoteliers and retailers.

The Waterfoot Hotel claimed that there has been a 20 percent fall in revenue and the Everglades Hotel has suffered a 30 percent fall.

The economic downturn after Sept. 11 is partly to blame, locals say, but the rot set in after the foot-and-mouth crisis broke.

“It has been particularly bad this month, but it has been a bad year so far. Now should be the peak time for tourists but there are not many on the streets,” said Anna McLaughlin of the Irish Shop on Waterfoot Street.

Statistics suggest that the entire tourist market from North America has collapsed.

There is a sense of foreboding as three new hotels are being built to open in the next few years.

The Derry Journal reported a slightly different tourism angle as well last week, quoting a U.S. tourist in Derry, who said he worked in the travel industry and wished to be anonymous. The man said that in Derry’s city center he “encountered a group of about 15 people drinking in Waterloo Place,” and said that the public drinking problem in Derry was out of control.

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