15 April 2006

Dublin roads closed for 1916 parade


15 April 2006 22:07

Large crowds are expected in Dublin tomorrow morning for the military parade commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising. A special ceremony will begin at the GPO on O'Connell Street at noon, just before the parade commences.

Gardaí are reminding motorists that some of Dublin's main thoroughfares have closed ahead of tomorrow's events.

O'Connell Street, Parnell Street, Cavendish Row, Saint Mary's Place and Great Western Way closed at 7pm this evening with many other streets in the city due to close from 6am tomorrow morning.

Diversions will be in place and delays are expected until the roads open again at 2.30pm tomorrow.

Coverage of the 1916 ceremonies will be broadcast live on RTÉ One from 11.30am tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, this afternoon the Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, called for a national coalition for Irish unity.

Speaking at his party's Easter Commemoration in Dublin he said he welcomed the Taoiseach's call for a return to the core values of Irish republicanism.

Mr Adams said that the heart and soul of Irish republicanism are to be found in the Proclamation of 1916.

He said that while there has been progress, the Proclamation is unfinished business which the majority of Irish people want to see brought to completion.

Chaplin love tale on film

Belfast Telegraph

By Maureen Coleman
15 April 2006

Charlie Chaplin's Belfast-born granddaughter is to make a movie about the scandal surrounding his romance with a teenage girl.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOona O'Neill caused shockwaves when she ran off with the comedy genius at the age of 17, prompting her writer father Eugene to disown her.

Now her granddaughter Kiera Chaplin (23), a model-turned-actress, is planning to make a movie of the scandal - and she intends to take on the role of Oona .

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usKiera, who was born in Belfast but grew up outside Geneva, runs her own production company called Limelight Films and is keen to tell the love story of Charlie Chaplin and her grandmother.

Oona's father Eugene O'Neill penned such classics as The Iceman Cometh and won three Pulitzer prizes and a Nobel Prize for his plays.

Kiera said: "I would maybe play Oona myself in the movie.

"Some people tell me I look like my grandfather and other people tell me I look like Oona."

Dirty deal on cards, says SDLP

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
15 April 2006

Secretary of State Peter Hain has been accused of attempting to implement the 'dirty deal' involving the DUP and Sinn Fein which collapsed in December 2004.

The SDLP claimed Mr Hain intends to take 'vice-regal powers' under new legislation due after Easter to underpin the recalled Stormont Assembly.

Senior SDLP negotiator Sean Farren said Mr Hain did not vote for the Good Friday Agreement and had no right to change it.

Ahead of expected consultations with the parties next week, Mr Farren warned: "He wants to take vice-regal powers to make changes to the Agreement's structures to implement the dirty deal done by Sinn Fein and the DUP in 2004."

The North Antrim Assembly man said Sinn Fein must make clear it rejects the 'flawed', so-called Comprehensive Agreement which was made public by the two Governments.

"It is there that they first agreed to a shadow Assembly with the DUP. We are still living to this day with the consequences of that flawed negotiation.

"That failed deal gave the DUP vetoes over what nationalists could be and what they could decide.

"It threatened and hindered the North South agenda and threatened the SDLP with a new form of automatic exclusion.

"The failed Comprehensive Agreement should be left to fade away instead of being pushed again now by the Secretary Of State. That is our clear message to him today."

Unionists in broadside at 'plan B' bid

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
15 April 2006

Ulster Unionists are planning an international campaign in an attempt to embarrass the Government over its 'plan B' strategy for joint stewardship of Northern Ireland with the Republic.

The initiative could involve a series of high-level meetings with international organisations in the coming months.

"Fundamentally", the party warned last night, Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposed "joint management" by London and Dublin if the Assembly collapses is a "breach of commitments to all residents living in Northern Ireland".

Former Executive Minister Dermot Nesbitt said he has been asked by UU leader Sir Reg Empey to spearhead the programme to "expose" the Government, which is still in the planning stages.

"The task is extremely difficult - the governments have the power while citizens' power is weak, " Mr Nesbitt conceded.

"Only by a process of exposure and possible embarrassment is there any chance of success, such is the power of government today."

Just a week after the joint statement by Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the UUP claims the new British-Irish partnership is outside the terms of both the Good Friday Agreement and international law.

"Put simply, the aspect of treating nationalist/republican aspirations for a united Ireland as equal to the unionist position is a crime against international law and without precedent," Mr Nesbitt argued.

Adams welcomes restoration of 1916 parade


15/04/2006 - 12:37:01

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSinn Féin president Gerry Adams has welcomed the restoration of the 1916 parade.

Mr Adams said today that it is important to remember our history and pay tribute to the men and women who fought in the Easter Rising.

He called on the Government to fulfil the promise of the Proclamation and claimed that there is a golden opportunity at the moment to push the peace process forward.

Mr Adams urged the public to get out and support the celebrations tomorrow.

'Negative' Paisley slammed

Belfast Telegraph

By Alf McCeary
15 April 2006

The Church of Ireland Gazette has criticised DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley for his negativity about the statement issued by London and Dublin last week on the Assembly.

The periodical says in its latest edition that the Assembly stalemate could not have been allowed to continue, and that both the Irish and British governments were right to set the November deadline.

The Gazette added: "It is a pity, however, that the Rev Ian Paisley chose so swiftly to be so negative about the inter-governmental statement.

"While the DUP might, after considered reflection, have come to the same conclusion, at least the party could have set an example by stopping to think about how to make the most of the political opportunity."

The Gazette also claimed that "Dr Paisley's criticism of the Republic of Ireland's role in the evolving of the political future in Northern Ireland was unhelpful. The tragedy is that Northern Ireland's politicians have not yet come to an agreement on how they can actually sit down together in devolved government."

The paper added that the Irish government and "not least Mr Ahern himself, had expended " very great energy in contributing to the peace process."

The paper warned that the greatest responsibility for progress "now rests with the republican movement. The continued existence of the IRA is an impediment to a happily shared future for Northern Ireland, and its members and friends must know what now has to be done."

Last week Primate Robin Eames warned against a "knee-jerk" reaction to the inter-Governmental statement and asked people to take time to consider it.

Assembly must have powers - SDLP


Alasdair McDonnell said he will not engage in playground politics

The SDLP will not take part in an assembly without power, the party's deputy leader has said.

Alasdair McDonnell said his party was not interested in "an insulting invitation" to engage in "pre-school playground" politics.

He said there was no point in debating important matters if they had no power to alter government policy.

The parties have been invited to return to Stormont on 15 May in a bid to restore devolved government.

Members will sit for an intitial six-week session before rising for the summer.

Speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics programme, Dr McDonnell said the SDLP would accept Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain's invitation if the political parties were given powers to alter decisions taken by direct rule ministers.

'Play group'

"If Peter Hain is saying to us, 'Yes, I 'll allow you guys to make decisions on education and I'll allow you guys to reverse some of the decisions my ministers have taken', that's fine, then we will engage.

"But if it's just a question of having a pre-school play group then we have no interest."

A deadline to restore devolution by 24 November was unveiled in the "take-it-or-leave-it" plan, outlined by the prime minister and the taoiseach in Armagh.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said the assembly would be recalled on 15 May with parties being given six weeks to elect an executive.

If that fails, the 108 members get a further 12 weeks to try to form a multi-party devolved government.

If that attempt also fails, salaries will stop.

The British and Irish governments would then work on partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement.

Belfast celebrates Titanic anniversary


Belfast is applying the finishing touches to a series of events to mark the 95th anniversary of the launching from the city of the RMS Titanic.

The Titanic was launched from Belfast 95 years ago

The fifth annual 'Titanic Made in Belfast' festival begins on Easter Saturday 15 April and continues until Saturday 22 April.

The ill-fated liner, which sank with the loss of 1,500 lives on its maiden transatlantic voyage in 1912, was built at Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard.

During the Easter week, Belfast City Hall will display 250 Titanic artefacts never seen before in Northern Ireland, which will be auctioned in England immediately after the festival.

A wealth of other activities have been organised by Belfast City Council over the week.

One of the highlights will be the first public screening of the unedited 'lost' Titanic film, believed to be the longest and most comprehensive Titanic footage yet discovered

Meanwhile, the acclaimed 'Titanic At Home' exhibition, has temporarily taken up a new berth.

Telling the story of the building of Titanic, and of the people who built it, the exhibition this year will be staged at W5, the interactive discovery centre at the Odyssey Pavilion - just a few hundred yards from where Titanic itself grew majestically on the Belfast skyline 95 years ago.

It focuses on the creation of the ship, telling the story through the eyes and words of the workers who put a piece of themselves into the ship and those who sailed from Belfast never to return.

'Titanic The Image', a major new exhibition, is being staged in partnership with the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

It will look at the enduring myths around the ship and how it has become a key icon of international popular culture and one of the great metaphors of our time.

The liner was built at Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard

Visitors will be taken on a journey of images charting the three stages of Titanic's life: its creation in Belfast, its fateful maiden voyage and sinking, and its 'afterlife' as portrayed in paintings, films and other visual representations.

Belfast Lord Mayor Wallace Browne said the Titanic story was both fascinating and poignant.

"For too long, Belfast's part in the Titanic story, and the role of the people of Belfast in bringing Titanic to life, has been neglected," he said.

"Over the past few years, the city that gave birth to the ship, and many others, finally and rightfully acknowledged her part in the tale, and Belfast City Council once again is proud to celebrate the achievement, commemorate the tragedy and educate the world about our city's role in the Titanic story."

This year's festival, which has been organised by Celebrate Belfast, is dedicated to the memory of John Parkinson, president of the Belfast Titanic Society, who passed away at the age of 99, on 1 March.

More details of the events can be obtained from the Belfast Welcome Centre, by calling +44 (0) 28 9024 6609, by email from events@belfastcity.gov.uk, or online at celebratebelfast2006.

Launch of book on Ó Brádaigh


by J Sheehy
14 April 2006

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary

"In a very real sense, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh can . . . be said to be the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans. Studies of the Provisional movement to date have invariably focused more on the Northerners and the role of people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. But an understanding of them is not possible without appreciating where they came from and from what tradition they have broken. Ruairí Ó Bradáigh is that tradition and that is why this account of his life and politics is so important."

—from the foreword by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA

THE biography Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary was launched by Dr Ruán O'Donnell, Department of History, Limerick University, on April 12 - the Wednesday before Easter.

Other speakers at the launch in the Cúltúrlann, Monkstown, Dublin; included the author Professor Robert W White of Indiana University and the subject of the book himself, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

The book is in hardback and runs to 350 pages with another 60 pages of notes and is the result of over 20 years of research and interviews with the subject. Dr O'Donnell did extensive work for the bicentenaries of 1798 and 1803 and is now engaged in a study on the Republican Movement in the 1950s

Speaking at the launch of Robert White's biography on April 12 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin, said:

"This work is a biography. It is not a disguised autobiography. The facts have been checked with me but the assessments, judgements and conclusions reached in it are essentially those of the author, Professor Robert W White.

"The project has taken 22 years, ever since he interviewed me in depth in Roscommon when writing his earlier work, 'Provisional Irish Republicans'.

"While engaged in this 'Life' he took a sabbatical leave from his post at Indiana University to spend six months in Ireland with his wife and family in order to engage full-time in research.

"He read the files of the Longford Leader, the Seán MacEoin papers (now at University College, Dublin) and checked all published material he could find. He cites as sources 140 books and he interviewed personally about 40 different people.

"Bob White visited Ireland frequently, assessed among other sources the Linenhall Library in Belfast, tracked down people and interviewed them as he meticulously sought the data. Now that he has completed his decades of work, I wish to express my wholehearted gratitude to him.

"I think I was accurate when I told him one evening on the telephone to the United States - I had just finished reading the final draft of his work - that I felt he had succeeded in getting inside my head.

"For my own part, on completing, this Easter, 55 years of endeavour with the Republican Movement, I can sum up the 'Life' by quoting these words from the tombstone of Charlotte Despard in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin:

" ' I slept and dreamt that life was beauty

I woke and found that life was duty.' "

Launching the "Life" historian Ruan O'Donnell said: "Robert White's new biography of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is an essential starting point for historical discussion of Ireland in the 1970s, with valuable insights pertaining to the Republican perspective between the early 1950s and late 1990s. The book explains and illuminates many significant incidents, policies and practices raised in outline by the late John Bowyer Bell and Tim Pat Coogan."

Table of contents for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh : the life and politics of an Irish revolutionary / Robert W. White. Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog.


1. Matt Brady and May Caffrey
2. The Brady Family: Irish Republicans in the 1930s and 1940s
3. Off to College and into Sinn Féin and the IRA: 1950-1954
4. Arms Raids, Elections, and the Border Campaign: 1955-1956
5. Derrylin, Mountjoy, and Teachta D la: December 1956-March 1957
6. TD, Internee, Escapee, and Chief of Staff: March 1957-June 1959
7. Marriage and Ending the Border Campaign: June 1959-February 1962
8. Political and Personal Developments in the 1960s: March 1962-1965
9. Dream-Filled Romantics, Revolutionaries, and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association:
1965-August 1968
10. The Provisionals: September 1968-October 1970
11. The Politics of Revolution: Eire Nua, November 1970-December 1972
12. International Gains and Personal Losses: January 1973-November 1974
13. The Responsibilities of Leadership: November 1974-February 1976
14. A Long War: March 1976-September 1978
15. A New Generation Setting the Pace: October 1978-August 1981
16. "Never, that's what I say to you--Never": September 1981-October 1986
17. "We are here and we are very much in business": October 1986-May 1998

Notes on Sources
Works Cited

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Ó Brádaigh, Ruairí.
Revolutionaries -- Northern Ireland -- Biography.
Northern Ireland -- Politics and government.
Northern Ireland -- Biography.


Since the mid-1950s, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh has played a singular role in the Irish Republican Movement. He is the only person who has served as chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army, as president of the political party Sinn Féin, and to have been elected, as an abstentionist, to the Dublin parliament. Today, he is the most prominent and articulate spokesperson of those Irish Republicans who reject the peace process in Northern Ireland. His rejection is rooted in his analysis of Irish history and his belief that the peace process will not achieve peace. Instead it will support the continued partition of Ireland and result in continued, inevitable, conflict.

The child of Irish Republican veterans, Ó Bradáigh has led IRA raids, been arrested and interned, escaped and been "on the run," and even spent a period of time on a hunger strike. An articulate spokesman for the Irish Republican cause, he has at different times been excluded from Northern Ireland, Britain, the United States, and Canada. He was a key figure in the secret negotiation of a bilateral IRA-British truce. His "Notes" on these negotiations offer special insight to the 1975 truce, the IRA cease-fires of the 1990s, and the current peace process in Ireland.

Ó Bradáigh has been a staunch defender of the traditional Republican position of abstention from participation in the parliaments in Dublin, Belfast, and Westminster. When Sinn Féin voted to recognize these parliaments in 1970, he led the walkout of the party convention and spearheaded the creation of Provisional Sinn Féin. He served as president of Provisional Sinn Féin until 1983, when he was forced from the position by his successor, Gerry Adams. In 1986, with Adams as its president, Provisional Sinn Féin recognized the Dublin parliament. Ó Bradáigh led another walkout and later became president of Republican Sinn Féin, a position he still holds.

Dr. Robert White is the Dean of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis. He has previously authored Provisional Irish Republicans: An Oral and Interpretive History and was co-editor of Self, Indentity, and Social Movements.

Mourners say final farewell to SF stalwart O’Hanlon

Irish Examiner

By Paul O’Hare

MORE THAN 1,000 mourners yesterday attended the funeral of Sinn Féin aide Siobhan O’Hanlon.

Party president Gerry Adams and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness carried her coffin, which was draped in a tricolour, following a service in Hannahstown, west Belfast.

Ms O’Hanlon, who died on Tuesday after a lengthy battle against cancer, was a notetaker in the talks which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

In his graveside oration, Mr Adams described her as a woman who got things done.

Mr Adams told mourners the former IRA volunteer embraced politics as a Sinn Féin activist and was present for historic events at Stormont and in Downing Street.

Ms O’Hanlon, 45, also co-founded the West Belfast Festival and carried out voluntary work for adults with Down syndrome.

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald also spoke at the graveside while Frances Black sang 'The Foggy Dew'.

Ms O’Hanlon is survived by husband Pat Sheehan and six-year-old son Cormac.

Mr Adams said Ms O’Hanlon would be missed not only by her family but by the Republican movement as a whole.

“Siobhan packed three or four different lives into one,” said Mr Adams.

“She made a huge difference in the lives of many, many people.

“There was her life as a child and a young nationalist from a strong Republican family - growing up in north Belfast.

“There was her life in the IRA. There was her life as a political prisoner. Her life as a Sinn Féin activist.

“Her life as a mother and a wife. And for the last four years or so her life in all these dimensions as she fought the cancer.

“For the last 17 years or so I am very proud to say that I was part of Siobhan’s life and she was part of mine.”

Historical items


Irish History on the Auction Block

April 9, 2006

Fonsie Mealy, managing director of Mealy's Auctioneers in Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, tells Liane Hansen about the auction. (audio link onsite)

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"A Card for Emmet Clarke

A hand-painted New Year greeting card made for Emmet Clarke (youngest son of Tom Clarke) made in January 1919. The verse reads: 'A happy New Year/ To you so free / From us in jail / Across the sea.'"


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A photograph taken at a reunion -- probably in 1936 -- of volunteers who served in the 1916 Easter Rising."

Photos provided by Mealys.com. More onsite.

Past wounds meet present conflict as Dublin celebrates 90th anniversary of Easter Rising


By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 15 April 2006

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usIn a milestone event replete with historical and political significance, the Irish authorities will - on Easter Monday - stage a major commemoration of the armed insurrection that triggered the ending of British rule. Thousands of members of the Irish army and other defence forces will mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising by parading through Dublin while the Air Corps stages a fly-past. (Photo from >>here. Click to view.)

The immediate significance of the event is that it has not been held in recent decades for fear of giving credence to the IRA campaign of violence. But, following the run-down of the Troubles, the Easter Rising has assumed an important new place, as Irish nationalism and republicanism undergo realignments.

The conventional political parties are locked in controversy over who are the true heirs of the rebellion, attempting to wrest any sense of ownership of the violent event away from the IRA and Sinn Fein. The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has pitched into the debate, praising "the sacrifices of the heroes of 1916" who rescued the country from being one of Britain's "captured dominions". Not for the first time, the stuff of history has become the stuff of present-day political dispute.

The GPO, one of the most prominent buildings in O'Connell Street and the focus of the fighting in 1916, is to be transformed into a national monument, part of a whole array of projects in the run-up to the centenary in 2016. Monday's march-past of the GPO is the revival of a practice that was abandoned in the early 1970s after the eruption of the Troubles. This is no mere gesture of ritual respect. It is a crucial part of a new battle for the title deeds of Irish republicanism.

The Irish political establishment is embarking on a campaign to wrest the republican mantle back from Sinn Fein and the IRA, which have largely commandeered the term. Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern received sustained applause when he recently declared: "The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916, which is not the property of those who have abused and debased the title of republicanism. We in this state will proclaim our republicanism. We will recognise and praise the vision of the volunteers of 1916."

The outcome of this new, unarmed, struggle is destined to have important effects on Irish politics. With the IRA campaign over, many observers believe Sinn Fein will reap an electoral harvest. Its declared ambition is to increase its seats in the Irish parliament from five to 14. Senior figures in other parties do not discount that, worrying that it could hand Sinn Fein the balance of power in the Dail.

The six-day 1916 siege of the GPO arguably changed the course of Irish history, leading as it did to British withdrawal, the south's independence and the creation of Northern Ireland. The rising began unpromisingly, with a confusion of orders and counter-orders which meant that many potential rebels simply stayed home. Fewer than 2,000 turned out, taking over a number of buildings in central Dublin.

Their headquarters was the GPO, which was barricaded by a few hundred volunteers who had marched to it in uniform. The chief of the insurgents, Padraig Pearse, stood on the GPO steps and solemnly proclaimed a Republic. He announced: "We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible." The same proclamation will be read out on Monday.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe authorities were taken by surprise but reinforcements were quickly brought in and artillery was deployed, with a British gunboat moored on the Liffey blasting away at the GPO. Within a short time, it was reduced to a shell, the position of the rebels rendered hopeless. (Photo from >>here. Click to view)

After six days Pearse signed a formal letter of surrender "in order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population". The death toll was 64 rebels, 132 security forces and more than 300 civilians. Following the surrender the whole episode seemed over, but unexpectedly a military fiasco was transformed into a political watershed. While Pearse and his men saw themselves as soldiers following the rules of war, British and Unionist opinion regarded the rebellion as treachery at a time when Britain was locked in the First World War. The authorities imposed martial law, ordering thousands of arrests and transporting hundreds to a camp in Wales. Critically, 15 rebel leaders, including Pearse, were executed by firing squad, producing a wave of outrage.

The subsequent surge of pro-rebel sympathy affected many who had disapproved of the rising. The importance of the event was captured by the poet W B Yeats, who wrote: "All changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born." Ironically, Sinn Fein, then a small grouping, was not involved in the rebellion. But the authorities christened it "the Sinn Fein rising" and the title was afterwards adopted by the separatist movement.

Pearse and others who were executed, such as the socialist James Connolly, achieved instant martyrdom and lasting cult status as the founding fathers of the new Irish state. Those who survived the pounding of the GPO included major figures such as Michael Collins, later killed in the subsequent civil war, and others who went on to head Irish governments.

The modern Irish state thus had its origins in a tumultuous period which began with the seizure and siege of the GPO. As columnist Kevin Myers put it: "All our political parties were born out of the barrel of a gun." For decades, nationalist Ireland felt no shame or guilt in that, agreeing with one commentator's assertion that the rebellion "was a brave, clean fight against an empire, its protagonists deserving all honour". But when the most recent troubles broke out, unease grew as the IRA argued its killings followed hallowed precedent and it was the legitimate heir to 1916.

With the ending of the Troubles the sense is that 1916 and the GPO can be commemorated in a less inhibited way. Modern Ireland has become steadily less ideological and more pragmatic. But the past still exerts a strong hold on the Irish imagination. Sinn Fein's leaders are determined to maintain a grip on the past in order to grasp the levers of power in the future. The Irish political establishment is determined to thwart them. The scene is set for the second battle of the GPO.

How the Rising and Casement fell victim to Murphy’s Law in Kerry

Irish Examiner

**Photos from Nationalist Propaganda Postcards 1914-1922. Click to view.

By Ryle Dwyer

AT the 1975 Munster football final in Killarney the much-fancied Cork team were being hammered, and many Cork supporters began to bail out early.

A Kerry supporter shouted at them, “Leaving early, can’t take ye’r beating!”

One of the fleeing Cork crowd shouted back: “What do ye mean ‘leaving’? Ye bastards, ye left Casement on Banna Strand!”

In the midst of all the hype about 1916 the story of what happened in Kerry has been largely overlooked. It was a weekend in Kerry during which Murphy’s Law ruled. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

The Germans arrived in Tralee Bay on Thursday in the Aud with an arms shipment for the Rising, but there was no one there to meet them.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAt the time the only person in the area who knew about plans for the Rising was Austin Stack, the local brigadier of the Irish Volunteers and head centre of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

On Good Friday three men were sent from Dublin to seize a radio transmitter in Caherciveen and set up a transmitting station in Tralee to get in touch with the Aud. Two of them were drowned when their driver took a wrong turn and drove off the end of the short pier at Ballykissane.

Some later contended that this tragic accident undermined the whole Rising, but it really made no difference whatsoever because even if they had got the transmitter and set it up, they would not have been able to contact the Aud, which had no radio.

Leaders in Dublin had changed the date on which the Aud should arrive to Easter Sunday after it had sailed, so the Germans had no means of contacting the ship. Roger Casement set out from Germany on a submarine with that information, but it had engine trouble and had to return to port, so vital days were lost on getting another submarine.

It arrived in Tralee Bay in the early hours of Good Friday while the Aud was still waiting impatiently for a signal from the shore.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usAs Casement and two colleagues were coming ashore their boat capsized and they were thrown into the water. Casement was suffering from malaria and after being soaked, he was in no condition to walk the six miles to Tralee. The other two went for help, but he was captured before the help arrived. The Germans were convinced that Casement came back to Ireland to take part in the rebellion, but he was really trying to prevent it. “The one hope I clung to,” he later told his solicitor George Gavan Duffy, “was that I might arrive in Ireland in time to stop the Rising.”

When Casement was brought into the RIC barracks in Tralee he was put in the billiards room and a fire was lit for him. Head Constable John A Kearney sent for a local doctor, Mikey Shanahan, who was known to have Sinn Féin sympathies.

Shanahan was allowed to see Casement by himself.

Kearney knew the prisoner was Casement. The head constable hoped Casement would identify himself to Dr Shanahan and have the local volunteers rescue him. Before the doctor left the station Kearney showed him a photograph of Casement saying he was the prisoner. He wished to make sure that Shanahan would tell the volunteers the RIC knew who it was holding.

But Stack pretended not to believe the doctor. He insisted that the RIC had only arrested a Norwegian sailor.

Meanwhile, Kearney invited Casement up to his residence for a meal. “I would love nothing better than a good steak,” Casement said when asked what he would like to eat.

Kearney’s wife went out to purchase steak from a local butcher because they had no meat in the residence as it was Good Friday. She cooked him the meal, and Kearney sent out for some Jameson whiskey for the prisoner.

Before bringing Casement back down to the billiards room, where he was left unrestrained with the front door unlocked so that a rescue party could just walk in, the head constable told his wife to keep their children upstairs as he expected the volunteers to rescue the prisoner.

Casement asked Kearney to send for a priest. Fr Frank Ryan was summoned from the nearby Dominican Church.

In Fr Ryan’s presence, Kearney asked Casement: “What do you want with a priest? Aren’t you a Protestant?”

Kearney then left Fr Ryan alone with Casement, who identified himself and asked the priest to get a message to the volunteers.

“Tell them I am a prisoner,” he said, “and that the rebellion will be a dismal, hopeless failure, as the help they expect will not arrive.”

THE priest was taken aback. He had come on a spiritual mission and had no desire to get involved in this kind of politics.

“Do what I ask,” Casement pleaded, “and you will bring God’s blessing on the country and on everyone concerned.”

Then “after deep and mature reflection”, Fr Ryan realised that “it would be the best thing not alone for the police, but also for the volunteers and the country, that I should convey the message to the volunteers and thereby be the means through which bloodshed and suffering might be avoided. I saw the leader of the volunteers in Tralee and give him the message. He assured me he would do his best to keep the volunteers quiet.”

One can only imagine Stack’s state of mind when Fr Ryan told him that Casement wanted the rebellion called off. He was supposed to be the only person in the area to know about the plans. Now he was being told about it by a priest who had no involvement in the movement.

What was worse, Fr Ryan told more than Stack that Casement wanted the rebellion called off.

“I also told the head constable of the steps I had taken, and my reasons for it, and he agreed with me that it was perhaps the wisest course to follow,” Fr Ryan noted.

At this point Kearney sent Stack a message that Con Collins, a friend arrested earlier in the day, wished to see him at the RIC barracks.

Paddy J Cahill, the deputy brigadier, advised Stack not to go, or at least make sure he had nothing incriminating on him. Stack handed over his revolver and supposedly checked his belongings to ensure he had nothing else of importance.

When he was searched at the RIC station, however, he was carrying a massive bundle of letters from people like Pádraig Pearse, James Connolly, Bulmer Hobson and a circular from Eoin MacNeill urging the volunteers to resist forcefully any attempt by the Crown authorities to suppress or disarm them. He was promptly arrested.

Stack later wrote to his brother, Nicholas, that he was carrying “a large number of letters, ie, fully 20 or 30 letters, I imagine”. The count at the barracks was 52 letters. Somebody might carry that many letters in a briefcase, but has anyone ever carried that number on their person.

One must ask why was Stack carrying so many letters when he went to the barracks? With things obviously going so badly wrong in relation to the plans for the rebellion, it looked suspiciously like he wanted to be arrested so that he would be in custody when the balloon went up?

It is about time people began examining the record for what it was, not what it should have been.

14 April 2006

PSNI man’s brother involved in Thomas Devlin murder

Daily Ireland

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBelfast teenager was stabbed to death in the street last summer

Ciarán Barnes

The brother of a serving PSNI officer has been implicated in the loyalist murder of a Catholic teenager. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is being connected to the murder of 15-year-old Thomas Devlin in north Belfast last year. It is believed he helped clean the killers’ clothes.

Detectives have obtained mobile telephone records linking him to a woman also suspected of covering up the murder. The pair exchanged calls a short time after the killing.
It is understood they allowed those responsible to shower in a flat they once shared. The man and woman used to be partners.
Thomas Devlin was fatally stabbed five times in the back in August 2005 on the Somerton Road. He was returning home after buying sweets at a local service station.
Two men from the nearby loyalist Mount Vernon estate are believed to have murdered him. One of the men was subsequently sent to jail for his involvement in a vicious sectarian attack on a Catholic teenager.
Loyalist sources in the Mount Vernon area told Daily Ireland at least five people were involved in the murder and cover-up.
“The police know the names of the two people who stabbed Thomas Devlin,” said one man.
“And they know the names of the others who helped clean their clothes.
“They are the scum of the earth. Everyone is praying the police catch them”
Some of those involved in the murder have strong links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).
One of the suspects has a close relative currently in jail for his involvement in a loyalist extortion racket.
In December of last year the UVF considered shooting those involved in the murder.
During the last eight months the PSNI has questioned eight people and searched in excess of 20 premises in connection with the killing. Despite overwhelming evidence the PSNI has steadfastly refused to describe the murder as sectarian.
In February television personality Eamon Holmes launched a trust fund in memory of Thomas. The aim of the Thomas Devlin fund is to promote public awareness about the effects and impact of violent crime, particularly amongst young people.



04/14/06 00:03 EST

Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman (Watchdog) Nuala O'Loan is about to complete a report into allegations that a former north Belfast loyalist paramilitary UVF commander was involved in more than a dozen murders while he acted as an informer for the RUC police Special Branch.

Former senior RUC officer Johnston Brown has claimed that elements within RUC Special Branch protected this UVF figure to ensure he was not exposed as an informant, despite the fact that they knew he was associated with several killings of Protestants and Catholics.

The report is expected to further confirm long held suspicions among nationalists that the RUC often allowed loyalist killers a free reign in Northern Ireland.

It is perverse what happened, and goes against everything a police officer is sworn to do," Mr Brown said yesterday.

A confidential report has been obtained, compiled by the respected London-based human rights group British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW), which lists nine of the people whom the UVF man is alleged to have murdered either through direct involvement or indirectly by ordering or being linked to these killings.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond jnr was allegedly murdered on the orders of this UVF figure in 1997, has also said that security and loyalist paramilitary sources have corroborated to him the claims made by Mr Brown, who as a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer was responsible for putting loyalist paramilitary UDA leader Johnny Adair in prison for directing terrorism.

Mr McCord snr raised his concerns about the investigation into his son's death when he met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin recently.

Sources say the Ombudsman's report, which will be completed in the summer, will be more controversial and far-reaching than her report into how the RUC handled the inquiry into the Real IRA bombing of Omagh. That exposed huge failings in the RUC inquiry and had major security and political implications.

Sinn Fein has refused to join the Police Board, citing the retention of Special Branch in the newly named PSNI as just one of the many reasons why the British government has not ensured a new beginning for policing in the North as envisaged under the Good Friday Agreement.

The following are victims of killings allegedly linked to the RUC informant:

Sharon McKenna

A 27-year-old single Catholic taxi driver from Newtownabbey, north of Belfast.

She was shot dead by two UVF men while visiting a Protestant friend, a pensioner recently released from hospital, in his Shore Road home in north Belfast on January 17th, 1993.

She was in his home cooking him dinner when she was killed. She was shot twice at close range from a 12-bore shotgun.

Gary Convie, Eamon Fox

Two Catholic workmen from Co Armagh who were shot dead by the UVF at a building site in the loyalist Tiger Bay area of Belfast on May 17th, 1994.

The UVF claimed the men were republicans but their family and police said they were murdered because they were Catholic.

Mr Fox (44)was married with six children.

Mr Convie (24) had a partner and child.

Thomas Sheppard

A Protestant shot dead by the UVF in a bar in the Ballee estate in Ballymena, Co Antrim, on March 21st, 1996.

The UVF claimed that the 41-year-old married man from Coleraine, Co Derry, was a police informer.

He had a criminal record and was known for his UVF links. His murder followed a number of UVF arrests in the area and compromised UVF operations.

Rev David Templeton

Died of a heart attack on March 24th, 1997, six weeks after he was beaten at his home in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, by UVF members with nail-studded clubs. Rev Templeton (43) had resigned as minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Greyabbey after it was reported he was stopped by customs officers when returning from Amsterdam in possession of a gay pornographic magazine.

Billy Harbinson

Found handcuffed and dumped in an alley in the Mount Vernon area of north Belfast on May 18th, 1997.

The 39-year-old Protestant from Hopewell Avenue was badly beaten and sustained severe head injuries. Initially police said there did not appear to be a sectarian or paramilitary link to his murder, but it later transpired that he was killed because he was suspected of informing.

Raymond McCord jnr

The 22-year-old Protestant former RAF airman was beaten to death at Ballyduff Quarry, Newtownabbey, by the UVF. His killing triggered the Police Ombudsman's investigation of the police handling of his murder inquiry, which now has a wider remit of whether members of RUC Special Branch colluded with X, the man who allegedly ordered the killing.

David Greer

Shot dead in north Belfast by the UVF on October 28th, 2000, during the UDA/UVF loyalist feud of that period. A 21-year-old UDA member from Robena Court, he was gunned down at Mountcollyer Street. At his funeral Protestant minister Rev Tom Greer pleaded for an end to the "wanton bloodletting". But four more died within a week.

Tommy English

Shot dead by the UVF on October 31st, 2000. The 39-year-old was a former senior UDA figure who was later a member of its political wing, the Ulster Democratic Party. He was killed in retaliation for the earlier UDA murder that week of Bertie Rice, a member of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party.

Easter Sunday at Tara


by tuathal - TaraWatch

Come along and have a picnic

Celebrate 1,916,000 years of heritage at Tara

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click photo to view

TaraWatch will host a picnic on the Hill of Tara this Sunday at 2.00pm, at the Lia Fail.

Hope to see you there!

Related link: http://www.tarawatch.org/

'Campaigning against the destruction of the Tara archeological complex'

Police blame dissidents for bomb 'lunacy'

Derry Journal

14 April 2006

POLICE WERE last night linking dissident republicans to a huge incendiary device which a top policeman said could have caused "untold damage" in the city. The device, abandoned on the Northland Road, was made safe by army bomb experts.

The incident began when a man making a pizza delivery in the Altcar Park area of Galliagh at around 12.30am yesterday was approached by three men wearing balaclavas, one of whom was a carrying a handgun.

The local man was taken from his vehicle and held at gunpoint in a nearby alleyway. The vehicle was driven away and returned within 15 minutes, and the terrified driver was then instructed to drive the van to Strand Road Police Station and leave it parked outside.

He drove the vehicle as far as Northland Road, near Springvale Park, before parking and alerting police at Strand Road.

Acting Superintendent Ken Finney said that when the vehicle was examined by an Army Technical Officer, the device contained a "petrol-like liquid, two gas canisters attached to the wheelie bin, both of which were turned on, one was empty and a timer device which had expired. This was connected to a small light suspended inside the wheelie bin above the liquid."

The deadly device which was made safe shortly after 8am yesterday. Nine homes in Springvale Park were evacuated during the security alert and the occupants were cared for at a local primary school. Supt. Finney said the incident could have caused "untold damage" and added: "Those behind last night's attack showed remarkable contempt for the people of this city."

Had the device ignited, Supt. Finney said: "There would have been a 100-200 metre radius of a severe blast which would have caused immense damage to property and would, of course, taken life."

Supt. Finney said that the military experts were now trying to establish why the device had not activated.

"The timing device had run its course, so by all accounts, it should have ignited." Speculating on those responsible, Supt. Finney said: "No-one has claimed responsibility for it yet, but clearly dissident republicans who have had similar devices in the past would be in the frame."

"Obviously, the people who carried out this action have their own agenda, but certainly from a policing perspective and a human perspective at every stage in this messy operation, lives were put at risk. "Had the van reached its intended target, and that appears to be ourselves at Strand Road, at that time of the morning there would still have been people walking about and had anyone been near it when it went off they would have been killed instantly," he added.

Supt. Finney said it had been a "traumatic experience" for the local man. (It's] "madness, lunacy, words fail me at this stage. Anyone who is doing this, think clearly what you're doing and why you're doing it and the lives you are putting at risk. Had that device went off, I doubt very much it would have helped anyone's cause," he added.

The incident has been condemned by Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey, who said those responsible were intent on "causing destruction and mayhem on the streets of Derry."

Sinn Féin's Billy Page accused those behind the bomb of having "no strategy or support and are unrepresentative of the Republican or Nationalist community." The group responsible "should desist immediately as they are causing more harm to the people that they claim to represent than they do to the British Crown forces," he said.

Witnesses to the hijacking or anyone who noticed the armed gang acting suspiciously in the area or anyone who has any information regarding the incident is asked to contact the detectives at Strand Road.

The telephone number to ring is 0845 600 8000, or contact 'Crimestoppers' anonymously on freephone 0800 555111.

UDA divided over expulsion of spendthrift members


14/04/2006 - 09:04:09

Tensions are high within loyalist factions in the North, after the UDA has failed to come to a decision on the fate of two north Belfast brothers.

All but two sections of the organisation want to expel Ihab and Andre Shoukri but a meeting last night failed to make any ruling.

The half-Egyptian brothers are holding out against other UDA members who want to desist from drug-dealing, extortion and blackmail.

Court evidence was given during a bail hearing that Andre Shoukri spent three quarters of a million pounds in one north Belfast bookmakers last year.

Their spendthrift lifestyle has increased tension within the UDA with all but its North Belfast and South East Antrim units wanting them expelled.

Attempts to oust them, however, have so far failed with loyalist sources predicting possible violence unless the issue is settled quickly.

Funeral held of Sinn Fein negotiator

Belfast Telegraph

By Debra Douglas
14 April 2006

Several hundred mourners attended the funeral of Siobhan O'Hanlon in West Belfast today.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and other top officials including Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey, joined her husband Pat her young son Cormac and the rest of her family and friends for her funeral this morning.

Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness helped carry Ms O'Hanlon's coffin, which was draped in a tricolour, from the family home at Hawthorne View, Hannahstown Hill.

Dozens of children holding wreaths led the long possession as a lone piper played a lament.

A funeral service for Ms O'Hanlon, a Sinn Fein official heavily involved in the parties negotiating team in the run up to the Good Friday agreement, was due to take place at nearby St Joseph's Church.

Ms O'Hanlon (45) died on Tuesday night after battling cancer for more than a year.

Easter Rising parade 'day of proud commemoration'


14/04/2006 - 11:23:45

Final preparations are being made today to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916.

An annual parade was shelved in 1969 after conflict broke out in Northern Ireland and the IRA sought to claim the mantle of the rebels.

However, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced last autumn that the Easter Rising parade, with full military trappings, would resume again to honour the dead patriots.

President Mary McAleese today said the celebration will be an occasion of civic pride for Irish people.

She dismissed concerns that the occasion could be used as a vehicle of triumphalism for republicans.

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that Sunday will be a day of proud commemoration and I have every expectation that it will be very well attended," she said.

“We rightly look back on our past with pride at the men and women who lived in very different times from ours, and who made sacrifices of their lives so that we would enjoy these good times.”

Sunday’s two-hour spectacle will include 2,500 members of the Defence Forces, Garda and United Nations veterans.

The parade will begin at former English seat of power Dublin Castle and wind down Dame Street and College Green before passing the General Post Office on the capital’s O’Connell Street thoroughfare.

The GPO was the headquarters of the Rising and its exterior walls remain pockmarked from bullets fired at the time.

The national flag will be lowered on the roof of the GPO and an army officer will read out the Proclamation of Independence.

President McAleese will then lay a wreath at the site and a minute’s silence will be observed in memory of all those who died.

Then the national flag will be raised to full mast and the national anthem played.

An official viewing stand on O’Connell Street will be attended by more than 900 dignitaries, including Northern Ireland’s unionist and nationalist politicians and British Ambassador to Ireland Steward Eldon.

A wreath will also be laid at Kilmainham Jail, where 15 of the Rising’s leaders were executed by British firing squads.

A lavish state reception at Dublin Castle will follow in the evening.

President McAleese compared the 1916 leaders to the thousands of Irish soldiers who fought in the British amy during the first World War.

“Whatever our background or our take on history, religion or politics, we take pride in what they gave.

“They did what they did in the belief that they were helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and without fear.

“That is true of those who died (in Dublin) in 1916, and it’s true of those who died on the Somme.”

Rising 'basis for modern Ireland'


Irish President Mary McAleese will lay a wreath at the GPO

Those who died in the 1916 Easter Rising gave their lives for those who now enjoy the benefits of the Celtic Tiger economy, Mary McAleese has said.

The Irish President said freedom had allowed modern Ireland to be what it is today.

This Sunday marks the 90th anniversary of the Rising, when rebels seized control of parts of Dublin and proclaimed Ireland a republic.

The rebellion was put down by the British in a week of fighting.

Mrs McAleese said the celebration would be an occasion of civic pride for Irish people.

"I haven't the slightest doubt that Sunday will be a day of proud commemoration and I have every expectation that it will be very well attended," she said.

"They did what they did in the belief that they were helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and without fear."
President McAleese

"We rightly look back on our past with pride at the men and women who lived in very different times from ours, and who made sacrifices of their lives so that we would enjoy these good times."

The president compared the 1916 leaders to the thousands of Irish soldiers who fought in the British army during the first World War.

"Whatever our background or our take on history, religion or politics, we take pride in what they gave.

"They did what they did in the belief that they were helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and without fear.

"That is true of those who died (in Dublin) in 1916, and it's true of those who died on the Somme," she said.

President McAleese will lay a wreath at the GPO in Dublin's O'Connell Street during Sunday's ceremony.

However, the DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr criticised Mrs McAleese and said "unionists will take a very different view of those involved in organising a rebellion against the United Kingdom in 1916".

"The claim by Mrs McAleese that those who died in the 1916 Rising gave their lives for those who now enjoy the benefits of the Celtic Tiger economy is indeed utter folly and does not stand up to historical scrutiny," he said.


Asia Times

PART 1: The poor man's air force

By Mike Davis

"You have shown no pity to us! We will do likewise. We will dynamite you!"
- anarchist warning (1919)

On a warm September day in 1920 in New York, a few months after the arrest of his comrades Sacco and Vanzetti, a vengeful Italian anarchist named Mario Buda parked his horse-drawn wagon near the corner of Wall and Broad streets, directly across from J P Morgan Company. He nonchalantly climbed down and disappeared, unnoticed, into the lunchtime crowd. (Above: BBC photo of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995)

A few blocks away, a startled postal worker found strange leaflets warning: "Free the political prisoners or it will be sure death for all of you!" They were signed: "American anarchist fighters". The bells of nearby Trinity Church began to toll at noon. When they stopped, the wagon - packed with dynamite and iron slugs - exploded in a fireball of shrapnel.

"The horse and wagon were blown to bits," wrote Paul Avrich, the celebrated historian of US anarchism who uncovered the true story. "Glass showered down from office windows, and awnings 12 stories above the street burst into flames. People fled in terror as a great cloud of dust enveloped the area. In Morgan's offices, Thomas Joyce of the securities department fell dead on his desk amid a rubble of plaster and walls. Outside, scores of bodies littered the streets."

Buda was undoubtedly disappointed when he learned that J P Morgan was not among the 40 dead and more than 200 wounded - the great robber baron was away in Scotland at his hunting lodge. Nonetheless, a poor immigrant with some stolen dynamite, a pile of scrap metal and an old horse had managed to bring unprecedented terror to the inner sanctum of US capitalism.

His Wall Street bomb was the culmination of a half-century of anarchist fantasies about avenging angels made of dynamite; but it was also an invention, like Charles Babbage's difference engine, far ahead of the imagination of its time. Only after the barbarism of strategic bombing had become commonplace, and when air forces routinely pursued insurgents into the labyrinths of poor cities, would the truly radical potential of Buda's "infernal machine" be fully realized.

Buda's wagon was, in essence, the prototype car bomb: the first use of an inconspicuous vehicle, anonymous in almost any urban setting, to transport large quantities of high explosive into precise range of a high-value target. It was not replicated, as far as I have been able to determine, until January 12, 1947, when the Stern Gang drove a truckload of explosives into a British police station in Haifa, Palestine, killing four and injuring 140. The Stern Gang (a pro-fascist splinter group led by Avraham Stern that broke away from the right-wing Zionist paramilitary Irgun) would soon use truck and car bombs to kill Palestinians as well: a creative atrocity immediately reciprocated by British deserters fighting on the side of Palestinian nationalists.

Vehicle bombs thereafter were used sporadically - producing notable massacres in Saigon (1952), Algiers (1962) and Palermo (1963) - but the gates of hell were only truly opened in 1972, when the Provisional Irish Republican Army accidentally, so the legend goes, improvised the first ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) car bomb. These new-generation bombs, requiring only ordinary industrial ingredients and synthetic fertilizer, were cheap to fabricate and astonishingly powerful: they elevated urban terrorism from the artisanal to the industrial level, and made possible sustained blitzes against entire city centers as well as the complete destruction of ferro-concrete skyscrapers and residential blocks.

The car bomb, in other words, suddenly became a semi-strategic weapon that, under certain circumstances, was comparable to air power in its ability to knock out critical urban nodes and headquarters as well as terrorize the populations of entire cities. Indeed, the suicide truck bombs that devastated the US Embassy and Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 prevailed - at least in a geopolitical sense - over the combined firepower of the fighter-bombers and battleships of the US 6th Fleet and forced the administration of president Ronald Reagan to retreat from Lebanon.

Hezbollah's ruthless and brilliant use of car bombs in Lebanon in the 1980s to counter the advanced military technology of the United States, France and Israel soon emboldened a dozen other groups to bring their insurgencies and jihads home to the metropolis. Some of the new-generation car-bombers were graduates of terrorism schools set up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with Saudi financing, in the mid-1980s to train mujahideen to terrorize the Russians then occupying Kabul. Between 1992 and 1998, 16 major vehicle-bomb attacks in 13 different cities killed 1,050 people and wounded nearly 12,000.

More important from a geopolitical standpoint, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Gama'a al-Islamiyya inflicted billions of dollars of damage on the two leading control centers of the world economy - the City of London (1992, 1993 and 1996) and Lower Manhattan (1993) - and forced a reorganization of the global reinsurance industry.

In the new millennium, 85 years after that first massacre on Wall Street, car bombs have become almost as generically global as iPods and AIDS, cratering the streets of cities from Bogota to Bali. Suicide truck bombs, once the distinctive signature of Hezbollah, have been franchised to Sri Lanka, Chechnya/Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait and Indonesia.

On any graph of urban terrorism, the curve representing car bombs is rising steeply, almost exponentially. US-occupied Iraq, of course, is a relentless inferno, with more than 9,000 casualties - mainly civilian - attributed to vehicle bombs in the two-year period between July 2003 and June 2005. Since then, the frequency of car-bomb attacks has dramatically increased: 140 per month last autumn, and 13 in Baghdad this New Year's Day alone. If roadside bombs or IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are the most effective device against US armored vehicles, car bombs are the weapon of choice for slaughtering Shi'ite civilians in front of mosques and markets and instigating an apocalyptic sectarian war.

Under siege from weapons indistinguishable from ordinary traffic, the apparatuses of administration and finance are retreating inside "rings of steel" and "green zones", but the larger challenge of the car bomb seems intractable. Stolen nukes, sarin gas and anthrax may be the "sum of our fears", but the car bomb is the quotidian workhorse of urban terrorism. Before considering its genealogy, however, it may be helpful to summarize those characteristics that make Buda's wagon such a formidable and undoubtedly permanent source of urban insecurity.

First, vehicle bombs are stealth weapons of surprising power and destructive efficiency. Trucks, vans or even sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) can easily transport the equivalent of several conventional 1,000-pound (453-kilogram) bombs to the doorstep of a prime target. Moreover, their destructive power is still evolving, thanks to the constant tinkering of ingenious bomb-makers. We have yet to face the full horror of truck-trailer-sized explosions with a lethal blast range of 200 meters or of dirty bombs sheathed in enough nuclear waste to render mid-Manhattan radioactive for generations.

Second, they are extraordinarily cheap: 40 or 50 people can be massacred with a stolen car and maybe US$400 of fertilizer and bootlegged electronics. Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, bragged that his most expensive outlay was in long-distance phone calls. The explosive itself (one-half ton of urea) cost $3,615 plus the $59 per day rental for a 3-meter-long Ryder van. In contrast, the cruise missiles that have become the classic US riposte to overseas terrorist attacks cost $1.1 million each.

Third, car bombings are operationally simple to organize. Although some still refuse to believe that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols didn't have secret assistance from a government or dark entity, two men in the proverbial phone booth - a security guard and a farmer - successfully planned and executed the horrendous Oklahoma City bombing with instructional books and information acquired from the gun-show circuit.

Fourth, like even the "smartest" of aerial bombs, car bombs are inherently indiscriminate: "collateral damage" is virtually inevitable. If the logic of an attack is to slaughter innocents and sow panic in the widest circle, to operate a "strategy of tension", or just demoralize a society, car bombs are ideal. But they are equally effective at destroying the moral credibility of a cause and alienating its mass base of support, as both the IRA and the ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Fatherland and Liberty) separatist movement in Spain have independently discovered. The car bomb is an inherently fascist weapon.

Fifth, car bombs are highly anonymous and leave minimal forensic evidence. Buda quietly went home to Italy, leaving William Burns, J Edgar Hoover and the Bureau of Investigation (later to be renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI) to make fools of themselves as they chased one false lead after another for a decade. Most of Buda's descendants have also escaped identification and arrest. Anonymity, in addition, greatly recommends car bombs to those who like to disguise their handiwork, including the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, the Syrian General Security Directorate (GSD), the Iranian Pasdaran and the ISI - all of whom have caused unspeakable carnage with such devices.

Preliminary detonations (1948-63)
"Reds' time bombs rip Saigon center"
- New York Times headline (January 10, 1952)

Members of the Stern Gang were ardent students of violence, self-declared Jewish admirers of Benito Mussolini, who steeped themselves in the terrorist traditions of the pre-1917 Russian Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) and the Italian Blackshirts. As the most extreme wing of the Zionist movement in Palestine - "fascists" to the Haganah (Jewish paramilitary in Palestine 1920-48) and "terrorists" to the British - they were morally and tactically unfettered by considerations of diplomacy or world opinion. They had a fierce and well-deserved reputation for the originality of their operations and the unexpectedness of their attacks.

On January 12, 1947, as part of their campaign to prevent any compromise between mainstream Zionism and the British Labour government, they exploded a powerful truck bomb in the central police station in Haifa, resulting in 144 casualties. Three months later, they repeated the tactic in Tel Aviv, blowing up the Sarona police barracks (five dead) with a stolen postal truck filled with dynamite.

In December 1947, after the United Nations vote to partition Palestine, full-scale fighting broke out between Jewish and Arab communities from Haifa to Gaza. The Stern Gang, which rejected anything less than the restoration of a biblical Israel, now gave the truck bomb its debut as a weapon of mass terror. On January 4, 1948, two men in Arab dress drove a truck ostensibly loaded with oranges into the center of Jaffa and parked it next to the New Seray building, which housed the Palestinian municipal government as well as a soup-kitchen for poor children. They coolly lingered for coffee at a nearby cafe before leaving a few minutes ahead of the detonation.

"A thunderous explosion," wrote Adam LeBor in his history of Jaffa, "then shook the city. Broken glass and shattered masonry blew out across Clock Tower Square. The New Seray's center and side walls collapsed in a pile of rubble and twisted beams. Only the neo-classical facade survived. After a moment of silence, the screams began, 26 were killed, hundreds injured. Most were civilians, including many children eating at the charity kitchen."

The bomb missed the local Palestinian leadership, who had moved to another building, but the atrocity was highly successful in terrifying residents and setting the stage for their eventual flight.

It also provoked the Palestinians to cruel repayment in kind. The Arab High Committee had its own secret weapon - blond-haired British deserters, fighting on the side of the Palestinians.

Nine days after the Jaffa bombing, some of these deserters, led by Eddie Brown, a former police corporal whose brother had been murdered by the Irgun, commandeered a postal delivery truck that they packed with explosives and detonated in the center of Haifa's Jewish quarter, injuring 50 people. Two weeks later, Brown, driving a stolen car and followed by a five-ton truck driven by a Palestinian in a police uniform, successfully passed through British and Haganah checkpoints and entered Jerusalem's New City. The driver parked in front of the Palestine Post, lit the fuse, and then escaped with Brown in his car. The newspaper headquarters was devastated, with one dead and 20 wounded.

According to a chronicler of the episode, Abdel Kader el-Husseini, the military leader of the Arab Higher Committee, was so impressed by the success of these operations - inadvertently inspired by the Stern Gang - that he authorized an ambitious sequel employing six British deserters. "This time three trucks were used, escorted by a stolen British armored car with a young blond man in police uniform standing in the turret." Again, the convoy easily passed through checkpoints and drove to the Atlantic Hotel on Ben Yehuda Street. A curious night watchman was murdered when he confronted the gang, who then drove off in the armored car after setting charges in the three trucks. The explosion was huge and the toll accordingly grim: 46 dead and 130 wounded.

The window of opportunity for such attacks - the possibility of passing from one zone to another - was rapidly closing as Palestinians and Jews braced for all-out warfare, but a final attack prefigured the car bomb's brilliant future as a tool of assassination.

On March 11, the official limousine of the US consul-general, flying the Stars and Stripes and driven by the usual chauffeur, was admitted to the courtyard of the heavily guarded Jewish Agency compound. The driver, a Christian Palestinian named Abu Yussef, hoped to kill Zionist leader David Ben Gurion, but the limousine was moved just before it exploded; nonetheless, 13 officials of the Jewish Foundation Fund died and 40 were injured.

This brief but furious exchange of car bombs between Arabs and Jews would enter the collective memory of their conflict, but would not be resumed on a large scale until Israel and its Phalangist (members of the Lebanese military organization Phalanges Libanaises) allies began to terrorize West Beirut with bombings in 1981: a provocation that would awaken a Shi'ite sleeping dragon.

Meanwhile, the real sequel was played out in Saigon: a series of car and motorcycle bomb atrocities in 1952-53 that Graham Greene incorporated into the plot of his novel The Quiet American, and which he portrayed as secretly orchestrated by his CIA operative Alden Pyle, who conspires to substitute a pro-American party for both the Vietminh (Ho Chi Minh's League for the Independence of Vietnam, upon which the actual bombings will be blamed) and the French (who are unable to guarantee public safety).

The real-life Quiet American was the counter-insurgency expert Colonel Edward Lansdale (fresh from victories against peasant communists in the Philippines), and the real leader of the "Third Force" was his protege, General Trinh Minh The, of the Cao Dai religious sect. There is no doubt, wrote The's biographer, that the general "instigated many terrorist outrages in Saigon, using clockwork plastic charges loaded into vehicles, or hidden inside bicycle frames with charges. Notably, the Li An Minh [The's army] blew up cars in front of the Opera House in Saigon in 1952. These 'time-bombs' were reportedly made of 50-kilogram ordnance, used by the French Air Force, unexploded and collected by the Li An Minh."

Lansdale was dispatched to Saigon by Allen Dulles of the CIA some months after the opera atrocity (hideously immortalized in a Life magazine photographer's image of the upright corpse of a rickshaw driver with both legs blown off), which was officially blamed on Ho Chi Minh. Although Lansdale was well aware of The's authorship of these sophisticated attacks (the explosives were hidden in false compartments next to car fuel tanks), he nonetheless championed the Cao Dai warlord as a patriot in the mold of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. After either French agents or Vietminh cadres assassinated The, Lansdale eulogized him to a journalist as "a good man. He was moderate, he was a pretty good general, he was on our side, and he cost $25,000."

Whether by emulation or reinvention, car bombs showed up next in another war-torn French colony - Algiers during the last days of the pieds noirs or French colonial settlers. Some of the embittered French officers in Saigon in 1952-53 would also become cadres of the Organization de l'Arme Secrete (OAS), led by General Raoul Salan.

In April 1961, after the failure of its uprising against French president Charles de Gaulle, who was prepared to negotiate a settlement with the Algerian rebels, the OAS turned to terrorism - a veritable festival de plastique - with all the formidable experience of its veteran paratroopers and legionnaires. Its declared enemies included de Gaulle, French security forces, communists, peace activists (including philosopher and activist Jean-Paul Sartre) and especially Algerian civilians. The most deadly of their car bombs killed 62 Muslim stevedores lining up for work at the docks in Algiers in May 1962, but succeeded only in bolstering the Algerian resolve to drive all the pieds noirs into the sea.

The next destination for the car bomb was Palermo, Sicily. Angelo La Barbera, the Mafia capo of Palermo-Center, undoubtedly paid careful attention to the Algerian bombings and may even have borrowed some OAS expertise when he launched his devastating attack on his Mafia rival, "Little Bird" Greco, in February 1963. Greco's bastion was the town of Ciaculli outside Palermo where he was protected by an army of henchmen. La Barbera surmounted this obstacle with the aid of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

"This dainty four-door family saloon," wrote John Dickie in his history of the Cosa Nostra, "was one of the symbols of Italy's economic miracle - 'svelte, practical, comfortable, safe and convenient', as the adverts proclaimed." The first explosive-packed Giulietta destroyed Greco's house; the second, a few weeks later, killed one of his key allies. Greco's gunmen retaliated, wounding La Barbera in Milan in May; in response, La Barbera's ambitious lieutenants Pietro Torreta and Tommaso Buscetta (later to become the most famous of all Mafia pentiti) unleashed more deadly Giuliettas.

On June 30, 1963, "the umpteenth Giulietta stuffed with TNT" was left in one of the tangerine groves that surround Ciaculli. A tank of butane with a fuse was clearly visible in the back seat. A Giulietta had already exploded that morning in a nearby town, killing two people, so the carabinieri (military police) were cautious and summoned army engineers for assistance.

"Two hours later two bomb disposal experts arrived, cut the fuse and pronounced the vehicle safe to approach. But when Lieutenant Mario Malausa made to inspect the contents of the boot [luggage compartment], he detonated the huge quantity of TNT it contained. He and six other men were blown to pieces by an explosion that scorched and stripped the tangerine trees for hundreds of meters around." (The site is today marked by one of the several monuments to bomb victims in the Palermo region.)

Before this "first Mafia war" ended in 1964, the Sicilian population had learned to tremble at the very sight of a Giulietta, and car bombings had become a permanent part of the Mafia repertoire. They were employed again during an even bloodier second Mafia war, or matanza, in 1981-83, then turned against the Italian public in the early 1990s after the conviction of Cosa Nostra leaders in a series of sensational "maxi-trials". The most notorious of these blind-rage car bombings - presumably organized by "Tractor" Provenzano and his notorious Corleonese gang - was the explosion in May 1993 that damaged the world-famous Uffizi Gallery in the heart of Florence and killed five pedestrians, injuring 40 others.

The black stuff
"We could feel the rattle where we stood. Then we knew we were on to something, and it took off from there."
- IRA veteran talking about the first ANFO car bomb

The first-generation car bombs - Jaffa-Jerusalem, Saigon, Algiers and Palermo - were deadly enough (with a maximum yield usually equal to several hundred pounds of TNT), but required access to stolen industrial or military explosives. Journeymen bomb-makers, however, were aware of a home-made alternative - notoriously dangerous to concoct, but offering almost unlimited vistas of destruction at a low cost.

Ammonium nitrate is a universally available synthetic fertilizer and industrial ingredient with extraordinary explosive properties, as witnessed by such accidental cataclysms as an explosion at a chemical plant in Oppau, Germany, in 1921 - the shock waves were felt 250 kilometers away, and only a vast crater remained where the plant had been - and a Texas City disaster in 1947 (600 dead and 90% of the town structurally damaged). Ammonium nitrate is sold in half-ton quantities affordable by even the most cash-strapped terrorist, but the process of mixing it with fuel oil to create an ANFO explosive is more than a little tricky, as the Provisional IRA found out in late 1971.

"The car bomb was [re]discovered entirely by accident," explained journalist Ed Maloney in his The Secret History of the IRA, "but its deployment by the Belfast IRA was not. The chain of events began in late December 1971 when the IRA's quartermaster general, Jack McCabe, was fatally injured in an explosion caused when an experimental, fertilizer-based home-made mix known as the 'black stuff' exploded as he was blending it with a shovel in his garage on the northern outskirts of Dublin. [Provisionals' general headquarters] GHQ warned that the mix was too dangerous to handle, but Belfast had already received a consignment, and someone had the idea of disposing of it by dumping it in a car with a fuse and a timer and leaving it somewhere in downtown Belfast." The resulting explosion made a big impression upon the Belfast leadership.

The "black stuff" - which the IRA soon learned how to handle safely - freed the underground army from supply-side constraints: the car bomb enhanced destructive capacity yet reduced the likelihood of volunteers being arrested or accidentally blown up. The ANFO-car bomb combination, in other words, was an unexpected military revolution, but one fraught with the potential for political and moral disaster. "The sheer size of the devices," emphasized Moloney, "greatly increased the risk of civilian deaths in careless or bungled operations."

The IRA Army Council led by Sean MacStiofain, however, found the new weapon's awesome capabilities too seductive to worry about ways in which its grisly consequences might backfire. Indeed, car bombs reinforced the illusion, shared by most of the top leadership in 1972, that the IRA was one final military offensive away from victory over the English government.

Accordingly, in March 1972, two car bombs were sent into Belfast city center, followed by garbled phone warnings that led police inadvertently to evacuate people in the direction of one of the explosions: five civilians were killed along with two members of the security forces. Despite the public outcry as well as the immediate traffic closure of the Royal Avenue shopping precinct, the Belfast Brigade's enthusiasm for the new weapon remained undiminished and the leadership plotted a huge attack designed to bring normal commercial life in Northern Ireland to an abrupt halt. MacStiofain boasted of an offensive of "the utmost ferocity and ruthlessness" that would wreck the "colonial infrastructure".

On Friday, July 21, IRA volunteers left 20 car bombs or concealed charges on the periphery of the now-gated city center, with detonations timed to follow one another at approximately five-minute intervals. The first car bomb exploded in front of the Ulster Bank in north Belfast and blew both legs off a Catholic passer-by; successive explosions damaged two railroad stations, the Ulster bus depot on Oxford Street, various railway junctions, and a mixed Catholic-Protestant residential area on Cavehill Road.

"At the height of the bombing, the center of Belfast resembled a city under artillery fire; clouds of suffocating smoke enveloped buildings as one explosion followed another, almost drowning out the hysterical screams of panicked shoppers." A series of telephoned IRA warnings just created more chaos, as civilians fled from one explosion only to be driven back by another. Seven civilians and two soldiers were killed and more than 130 people were seriously wounded.

Although not an economic knockout punch, "Bloody Friday" was the beginning of a "no business as usual" bombing campaign that quickly inflicted significant damage on the Northern Ireland economy, particularly its ability to attract private and foreign investment. The terror of that day also compelled authorities to tighten their anti-car-bomb "ring of steel" around the Belfast city center, making it the prototype for other fortified enclaves and future "green zones". In the tradition of their ancestors, the Fenians, who had originated dynamite terrorism in the 1870s, Irish Republicans had again added new pages to the textbook of urban guerrilla warfare. Foreign aficionados, particularly in the Middle East, undoubtedly paid close attention to the twin innovations of the ANFO car bomb and its employment in a protracted bombing campaign against an entire urban-regional economy.

What was less well understood outside of Ireland, however, was the seriousness of the wound that the IRA's car bombs inflicted on the Republican movement itself. Bloody Friday destroyed much of the IRA's heroic-underdog popular image, produced deep revulsion among ordinary Catholics, and gave the British government an unexpected reprieve from the worldwide condemnation it had earned for the Blood Sunday massacre in Derry and internment without trial.

Moreover, it gave the British army the perfect pretext to launch massive Operation Motorman: 13,000 troops led by Centurion tanks entered the "no go" areas of Derry and Belfast and reclaimed control of the streets from the Republican movement. The same day, a bloody, bungled car-bomb attack on the village of Claudy in County Londonderry killed eight people. (Protestant Loyalist paramilitary groups - who never bothered with warnings and deliberately targeted civilians on the other side - would claim Bloody Friday and Claudy as sanctions for their triple car-bomb attack on Dublin during afternoon rush hour on May 17, 1974, which left 33 dead, the highest one-day toll in the course of the "Troubles".)

The Belfast debacle led to a major turnover in IRA leadership, but failed to dispel their almost cargo-cult-like belief in the capacity of car bombs to turn the tide of battle. Forced on to the defensive by Motorman and the backlash to Bloody Friday, they decided to strike at the very heart of British power instead.

The Belfast Brigade planned to send 10 car bombs to London via the Dublin-Liverpool ferry using fresh volunteers with clean records, including two young sisters, Marion and Dolours Price. Snags arose and only four cars arrived in London; one of these was detonated in front of the Old Bailey, another in the center of Whitehall, close to the prime minister's house at No 10 Downing Street. One hundred and eighty Londoners were injured and one was killed.

Although the eight IRA bombers were quickly caught, they were acclaimed in the West Belfast ghettoes, and the operation became a template for future provisional bombing campaigns in London, culminating in the huge explosions that shattered the City of London and unnerved the world insurance industry in 1992 and 1993.

Hell's Kitchen (the 1980s)
"We are soldiers of God and we crave death. We are ready to turn Lebanon into another Vietnam."
- Hezbollah communique

Never in history has a single city been the battlefield for so many contesting ideologies, sectarian allegiances, local vendettas or foreign conspiracies and interventions as Beirut in the early 1980s. Belfast's triangular conflicts - three armed camps (Republican, Loyalist and British) and their splinter groups - seemed straightforward compared with the fractal, Russian-doll-like complexity of Lebanon's civil wars (Shi'ite versus Palestinian, for example) within civil wars (Maronite versus Muslim and Druze) within regional conflicts (Israel versus Syria) and surrogate wars (Iran versus the United States) within, ultimately, the Cold War.

In the autumn of 1971, for example, there were 58 different armed groups in West Beirut alone. With so many people trying to kill one another for so many different reasons, Beirut became to the technology of urban violence what a tropical rainforest is to the evolution of plants.

Car bombs began regularly to terrorize Muslim West Beirut in the autumn of 1981, apparently as part of an Israeli strategy to evict the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon. The Israeli secret service, the Mossad, had previously employed car bombs in Beirut to assassinate Palestinian leaders (novelist Ghassan Kanfani in July 1972, for example), so no one was especially surprised when evidence emerged that Israel was sponsoring the carnage. According to Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi, "A sequence of public confessions by captured drivers made clear these [car bombings] were being utilized by the Israelis and their Phalangist allies to increase the pressure on the PLO to leave."

Journalist Robert Fisk was in Beirut when an "enormous [car] bomb blew a 45-foot [15-meter] crater in the road and brought down an entire block of apartments. The building collapsed like a concertina, crushing more than 50 of its occupants to death, most of them Shi'a refugees from southern Lebanon." Several of the car bombers were captured and confessed that the bombs had been rigged by the Shin Bet, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI or the British Special Branch.

But if such atrocities were designed to drive a wedge of terror between the PLO and Lebanese Muslims, they had the inadvertent result (as did the Israeli air force's later cluster-bombing of civilian neighborhoods) of turning the Shi'ites from informal Israeli allies into shrewd and resolute enemies.

The new face of Shi'ite militancy was Hezbollah, formed in mid-1982 out of an amalgamation of Islamic Amal with other pro-Khomeini groups. Trained and advised by the Iranian Pasdaran in the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah was both an indigenous resistance movement with deep roots in the Shi'ite slums of southern Beirut and, at the same time, the long arm of Iran's theocratic revolution. Although some experts espouse alternative theories, Islamic Amal/Hezbollah is usually seen as the author, with Iranian and Syrian assistance, of the devastating attacks on US and French forces in Beirut during 1983.

Hezbollah's diabolic innovation was to marry the IRA's ANFO car bombs to the kamikaze - using suicide drivers to crash truckloads of explosives into the lobbies of embassies and barracks in Beirut, and later into Israeli checkpoints and patrols in southern Lebanon.

The United States and France became targets of Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian patrons after the multinational force in Beirut, which supposedly had landed to allow the safe evacuation of the PLO from that city, evolved into the informal and then open ally of the Maronite government in its civil war against the Muslim-Druze majority.

The first retaliation against Reagan's policy occurred on April 18, 1983, when a pickup truck carrying 900kg of ANFO explosives suddenly swerved across traffic into the driveway of the oceanfront US Embassy in Beirut. The driver gunned the truck past a startled guard and crashed through the lobby door.

"Even by Beirut standards," wrote former CIA agent Robert Baer, "it was an enormous blast, shattering windows. The USS Guadalcanal, anchored five miles off the coast, shuddered from the tremors. At ground zero, the center of the seven-story embassy lifted up hundreds of feet into the air, remained suspended for what seemed an eternity, and then collapsed in a cloud of dust, people, splintered furniture, and paper."

Whether as a result of superb intelligence or sheer luck, the bombing coincided with a visit to the embassy of Robert Ames, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East. It killed him ("his hand was found floating a mile offshore, the wedding ring still on his finger") and all six members of the Beirut CIA station. "Never before had the CIA lost so many officers in a single attack. It was a tragedy from which the agency would never recover." It also left the Americans blind in Beirut, forcing them to scrounge for intelligence scraps from the French Embassy or the British listening station offshore on Cyprus. (A year later, Hezbollah completed its massacre of the CIA in Beirut when it kidnapped and executed the replacement station chief, William Buckley.) As a result, the agency never foresaw the coming of the mother of all vehicle-bomb attacks.

Over the protests of Colonel Timothy Gerahty, the commander of the US marines onshore in Beirut, Reagan's national security adviser, Robert McFarlane, ordered the 6th Fleet in September to open fire on Druze militia that were storming Lebanese Army Forces positions in the hills above Beirut - bringing the United States into the conflict brazenly on the side of the reactionary Amin Gemayel government. A month later, a five-ton Mercedes dump truck hurled past sandbagged marine sentries and smashed through a guardhouse into the ground floor of the "Beirut Hilton", the US military barracks in a former PLO headquarters next to the international airport. The truck's payload was an amazing 5,400 kilograms of high explosives. "It is said to have been the largest non-nuclear blast ever [deliberately] detonated on the face of the Earth.

"The force of the explosion," continued Eric Hammel in his history of the marine landing force, "initially lifted the entire four-story structure, shearing the bases of the concrete support columns, each measuring 15 feet [4.5 meters] in circumference and reinforced by numerous one-and-three-quarter-inch [45-millimeter] steel rods. The airborne building then fell in upon itself. A massive shock wave and ball of flaming gas was hurled in all directions." The marine (and navy) death toll of 241 was the corps's highest single-day loss since Iwo Jima in 1945.

Meanwhile, another Hezbollah kamikaze had crashed his explosive-laden van into the French barracks in West Beirut, toppling the eight-story structure, killing 58 soldiers. If the airport bomb repaid the Americans for saving Gemayel, this second explosion was probably a response to the French decision to supply Saddam Hussein with Super-Etendard jets and Exocet missiles to attack Iran.

The hazy distinction between local Shi'ite grievances and the interests of Tehran was blurred further when two members of Hezbollah joined with 18 Iraqi Shi'ites to truck-bomb the US Embassy in Kuwait in mid-December. The French Embassy, the control tower at the airport, the main oil refinery and an expatriate residential compound were also targeted in what was clearly a stern warning to Iran's enemies.

After another truck bombing against the French in Beirut as well as deadly attacks on US Marine Corps outposts, the multinational force began to withdraw from Lebanon in February 1984. It was Reagan's most stunning geopolitical defeat. In the impolite phrase of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, "Essentially we turned tail and ran and left Lebanon." US power in Lebanon, added Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, was neutralized by "just 12,000 pounds of dynamite and a stolen truck".

Read >>Car Bombs, Part 2: "Return to Sender"

(This article - a preliminary sketch for a book-length study - will appear next year in Indefensible Space: The Architecture of the National Insecurity State (Routledge 2007), edited by Michael Sorkin.)

Mike Davis is the author most recently of The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (The New Press) and Planet of Slums (Verso). He lives in San Diego.

Aiden Hulme Repatriation Picket

Thursday April 13, 2006 12:12

For immediate release
Issued by the New Republican Forum, April 13th 2006

A picket calling for the immediate repatriation of Irish prisoner Aiden Hulme will be held outside the Department of Justice on Friday 21st of April 2006 from 5-6pm.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAiden, 27, was imprisoned for alleged involvement in the 2000/2001 ‘Real’ IRA bombing campaign in London. Prior to his arrest and imprisonment he was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a severely injured leg. After the accident Aiden was receiving treatment in Belfast and his condition was improving. However, upon imprisonment in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Special Secure Unit (SSU), Aiden’s medical condition began to deteriorate at an alarming rate. After long delays the Belmarsh authorities reluctantly acquired the services of a specialist to examine Aiden’s injured leg but after a brief examination the Belmarsh-appointed specialist informed him that the injured leg should be amputated. Aiden’s family and friends, disturbed by and suspicious of this opinion, immediately sought a second opinion.

After intensive and prolonged political lobbying by the Irish Political Status Committee and other groups an independent specialist was permitted to examine Aiden. After the examination the independent specialist deemed the limb “saveable” – contrary to the opinion of the prison-appointed specialist. However, the independent specialist insisted it was essential that Aiden receive appropriate medical treatment, warning he “feared the worst” if it was not forthcoming. Aiden underwent surgery, but due to continuing medical neglect he is now once again facing amputation. Several operations aimed at saving Aiden’s leg have also been cancelled by the prison authorities.

Not only is Aiden still being denied proper treatment but astonishingly, the Full Sutton prison authorities have decided to gradually withdraw his pain-killing medication on the grounds that the pain in his leg is “purely psychological”. The painkilling medication Aiden is receiving has also been called into question. He has been suffering from bouts of short-term memory loss which he believes are triggered by its use.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has contacted the British Home Office and the Department of Justice requesting that Aiden’s repatriation application be processed without delay. Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has also called on the Irish Government to intervene immediately. He said: “Aiden Hulme’s application for repatriation to an Irish prison has been with Michael McDowell in the Irish Department of Justice since last September (2005). I call on Mr McDowell to process this application immediately so that Aiden Hulme can come back where he will be close to his family and receive the much needed medical attention that he is entitled to.”

Aiden, who is on 23-hour lock down, has instructed his legal team to initiate proceedings against HMP Full Sutton on account of the treatment meted out to him.

Pickets will also be held in London and Chicago – by the IPSC and the IRSM respectively – in support of Aiden’s repatriation campaign. Various other political and humantarian groups have spoken out about this case and an online petition has been lauched at: petitiononline.com

For information visit www.ia-pl.org or www.newrepublicanforum.ie

Email: pauldoyle2006@hotmail.com
Phone: 0851048298
Write to:
The New Republican Forum,
PO Box 10,
Dundalk Sorting Office,
Co Louth,

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