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Fiona Brady

IRISH emigrants in Australia say housing and car insurance costs are the biggest barriers to returning home. The findings are contained in a new report that also proposes ways to tackle the problems. The independent report, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs, looks at the challenges facing returning emigrants worldwide. It makes 30 recommendations about how to cut the red tape and make the move home easier. As part of their research, the report’s authors, Indecon, surveyed more than 1,100 retur ned emigrants and emigrants living abroad – including Australia – about the barriers they

faced on returning to Ireland. The biggest obstacles cited by all Irish emigrants were: buying or renting a house; getting a mortgage; car insurance costs and the paperwork needed to open a bank account or transfer savings or pensions, the survey found. “The cost of car insurance is going to force us back to Australia,” one respondent told the researchers. Another said: “It is impossible to get a mortgage. Added to that the price of rentals and I am in a crazy living situation.” Other major issues were finding employment – particularly with the requirement for face-to-face interviews – and the difficulty of having professional qualifications recognised.

Health insurance, childcare, access to welfare and higher education costs were also significant concerns. “My son, who has just finished high school in Australia, cannot move home for university because he is now considered a foreign student,” another respondent said. “He was born in Ireland and has always considered himself Irish but because we, his parents, left for work, he is now not allowed to move home for university.” Respondents living in Australia and New Zealand viewed many issues even more negatively than respondents living in other countries, or those already returned to Ireland. Perhaps this is not surprising because the report

notes that people who emigrated to non-EU countries face more barriers when they try to return. More than 80 per cent of sur vey respondents living in Australia or New Zealand believed buying or renting a home in Ireland, or getting a mortgage, was either difficult or very difficult. More than 50 per cent viewed opening a bank account as difficult or ver y difficult. Overall, car insurance was the biggest area of concern for those returning from Australia, with 81.6 per cent rating it as ver y difficult. The problem is the Irish insurance companies often do not recognise a no-claims bonus from overseas. In response to all these issues, the

report has made 30 recommendations on removing unnecessary administrative or other barriers. The numbers of returning emigrants prove there is a need for urgent action. The report found that more than 26,000 Irish emigrants returned to Ireland in 2016 – 20 per cent of those from Australia.

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Irish thought to be behind Qld frauds POLICE in Brisbane are searching for a group of brazen and disrespectful Irish tourists, who have been accused of defrauding residents and stealing from businesses across south-east Queensland. The group of men and women – two of whom were captured by CCTV cameras – have been linked to 12 incidents at Brisbane and the Gold Coast, including scamming people out

of thousands of dollars in a scheme police described as seamless, the ABC repor ts. Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said the group had been targeting small businesses and the elderly since January. He said the men seemed to single out homeowners by taking payments for house repairs but failing to follow

through with the work, while the women focused on shops and restaurants. “What we have before us would appear to be a group of people who are incredibly brazen, disrespectful, and likely to continue to offend,” he said. In one case, police say an elderly man lost more than $25,000 when he paid men to repair his roof but they never finished the job. At a shop in Brisbane CBD, police have alleged two women distracted a staff member while a child slipped a pair of shoes into a pram. There have also been allegations the group avoided paying restaurant bills by claiming they found foreign objects, including glass and hair, in their food. Detective Superintendent Fleming said there was “a bit of an art and a craft” to the scams. “They generally remain highly mobile and they don’t stay in one place too long, and my experience tells me they’re generally alert to the practices of police,” he said. Detective Superintendent Fleming said police were working the Australian Border Force (ABF) to investigate the group of Irish nationals, who could be depor ted if found guilty of the allegations.

U2’s Bono apologises U2’S Bono has apologised for the so-called toxic work environment at his charity’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, where it is said workers were harassed and humiliated for years. “We are all deeply sorry. I hate bullying; can’t stand it,” Bono told Britain’s Mail on Sunday after it published an account of allegations against The One Campaign, which the singer founded in 2004 with Bobby Shriver, a member of the extended Kennedy family in the US, Complaints from The One office include one from a married female worker who said she was pressured to sleep with an elderly Tanzanian politician. When she refused she

was demoted to receptionist and had her salary slashed, it is alleged. Employees first came forward with claims of abuse and bullying in November. Chief executive Gayle Smith, who joined the company a year ago, admitted there had been “institutional failure” between 2011 and 2015. Bono said he was “reeling and furious” when he learned of the abuse and hopes to meet the victims in person. “My team and I heard concerns about low morale and poor management … but nothing along the lines of what emerged recently. I was assured that those concerns were being dealt with. Clearly, they were not.”


VICTIMS: Rajaa Berezag and her father Zaoui, who was severly injured in the Docklands bombing in 1996. Pic: PA

Devastation of Dockland’s bombing THE daughter of a man left severely brain damaged in the IRA Docklands bombing choked back tears as she described how the explosion had ruined her family. Rajaa Berezag, 31, told of the gut-wrenching moment she heard her father Zaoui had been caught up in the blast 22 years ago. “We got a phone call from my brother saying ‘daddy’s dead, his brain is all over the car’.” Ms Berezag was speaking during an event in Belfast to mark European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Terrorism. Shopkeepers Inan Bashir and John Jeffries were killed when the half-tonne bomb ripped through London’s financial district in February 1996, shattering the fragile peace brokered in Northern Ireland. Her father, who is now 77, survived but never fully recovered.“It ruined our family,” Ms Berezag said. “It completely crushed my mum and I was a little child who didn’t know what was going on, confused all the time. “I felt scared all the time because at any moment something could happen. My dad was having strokes, epileptic

fits, he would go missing for days on end, it was just continuous fear.” Ms Berezag’s mother Gemma died in 2016, aged 58, through the sheer exhaustion of being her husband’s principal carer. “They told us he would come out of

STRUGGLE: Rajaa Berezag’s father was badly injured by an IRA bomb. the coma a vegetable. He is no vegetable but he had to learn everything again. “He had to learn how to speak and how to walk. “My job as a daughter is to make sure he is healthy and happy. My mum,

on the other hand, didn’t have it so easy. She struggled for the 22 years, struggled to look after him and she struggled to find carers who would understand his brain injury. “I tried to understand it. I just learned to live with it; to live with his new personality, because he wasn’t my dad any more. He was just a man and I had to learn who he was,” Ms Berezag said. Meanwhile, Anthony O’Reilly, who lost his sister Geraldine in a loyalist bomb attack on the village of Belturbet, Co Cavan in 1972 spoke for the first time about his loss. “I didn’t even know what had happened. There were cars on fire everywhere around me. I went down the street and I thought I was sort of dreaming.” The event, organised by Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, is in its seventh year at Stormont and was attended by Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson, DUP MLA Jim Wells and Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt. “Terrorism can never be justified and leaves a horrendous trail in its wake. We have heard enough from the victim makers, we want to hear from the victims,” Mr Allister said.


Farrell lauds Dunkirk star Keoghan

COLIN Farrell has praised Dunkirk actor Barry Keoghan for overcoming insurmountable difficulties in his life to become a successful performer. Farrell was presenting Keoghan – who grew up in foster care and whose mother died of a heroin overdose – with an award in Los Angeles. The rising star, who played George Mills in the Oscar-nominated Dunkirk, was handed an Oscar Wilde Award alongside Mark Hamill, who followed in the footsteps of his late friend Carrie Fisher to collect the honour. The awards, held by the US-Ireland Alliance last week recognise the contributions of Irish people in film, television and music, as well as those with a connection to Ireland. Far rell praised the 25-year-old Dubliner for excelling despite experiencing “desolation” that Farrell said he

would not be able to overcome. Keoghan, who is nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for his work alongside Farrell in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, has spoken openly about his disturbed childhood. “It’s really incredible what he has achieved in a few years,” Farrell said. “Anyone who knows Barry can testify to the fact that he has gone through a certain amount of experience in his own personal life. “He has experienced a cer tain amount of desolation in his personal life, in his past, things that I would find in my contemplation of such loss, completely insurmountable.” Keoghan, with his grandmother’s support, first landed some small roles in independent Irish films. His first big break was in 2013, coming to national attention after playing cat killer Wayne

in the R TE drama, Love/Hate. Speaking on the green carpet before the ceremony, Hamill said his honour had extra significance because he had accompanied his Star Wars co-star Fisher to receive the same award in 2015. “Her speech was, of course, hilarious,” he told the Press Association. “I can’t touch her in that regard, but I’ll tr y and be more coherent.” Also presented with awards were Paula Malcomson, who starred in US series Ray Donovan, and Home Alone actress Catherine O’Hara. Malcomson, who left Dublin for the States during The Troubles with just “£27 in my pocket that I borrowed from my granny”, made an impassioned speech about immigration in the US which allowed her to live the “American dream”.

ADMIRER: Colin Farrell has high praise for his co-star Barry Keoghan.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Mardi Gras’ green glow

Loretta Cosgrove

ON a perfect late summer’s day in Sydney on March 3, some 80 Irish men and women proudly marched up Oxford Street under the Sydney Queer Irish banner for the 40th Anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, watched by an estimated record -breaking crowd of about 300,000 spectators. SQI’s float entr y – Ireland, From Small Things Big Things Grow – was one of 200 parading groups with a combined 12,300 participants. This year’s parade has been dubbed the most iconic Mardi Gras parade yet – partly because of the 40th anniversary and certainly because it was the first since the legalisation of same-sex marriage late last year. SQI is still in its infancy in terms of participation in Mardi Gras, having only entered the parade in 2015. However, each year we attract an eager group wanting to represent Ireland and SQI to march with us. As a community group, our floats have been professionally designed and constructed – and they have not gone unnoticed! In 2015, our Follow the Rainbow to Ireland won best float at the St Patrick’s day parade. In 2016, The Pirate Queen took out the coveted best design award at Mardi Gras. Last year, we were awarded a special commendation for our Claddagh Heart design. Marching up Oxford St for Ireland is one of the most exhilarating emotions you can ever experience. As you turn the corner from College St into Oxford St, the next 2.7 kilometres of choreographed moves are greeted with earsplitting cheers and roars from the crowd that lift you all the way to the end of the parade route on Anzac Parade. The adrenalin kicks in and all the months of planning, prop-making, costume sourcing and rehearsing are finally worth it. In the lead-up you will

GREEN IS THE NEW PINK: Members of Sydney Queer Irish decked out in green for the 2018 parade

have met and worked with new members and forged friendships that will last a lifetime. Another bonus is meeting LGBTQI people from nearly every county in Ireland who now call Sydney home. There are also a few Scots, some Irish Aussies, a couple of Irish Kiwis and a Frenchman thrown in for good measure. This year we brought the Irish Tricolour to life with big blocks of green, white and gold on our costumes and props – all representing different times in LGBTQI Irish history on the road to the resoundingly endorsed same-sex marriage referendum in

VISA-BILITY Your visa questions answered

Co Antrim native and registered migration agent John McQuaid provides a uniquely Irish perspective on immigration issues. Dear John, My employer is sponsoring me and was preparing a sponsorship application to go into Immigration in March under the new rules as they preferred the new employer levy options over the old system’s training benchmarks. But after March, the new sponsorship option hasn’t been made available. Is it coming in and when? My working holiday visa expires in May so I need to apply for a new visa soon. Thanks, Elizabeth J

Dear Elizabeth, The government announced in April 2017 that the temporary sponsorship system (TSS) would change on March 1, 2018 with the 457 visa stream to be replaced with a new TSS 482 visa. The employer sponsorship and nomination application requirements were expected to change at the same time. However (at the time of writing) the new laws have not come into force. The government is advising applicants that the new rules will be introduced “subject to passage through Parliament”. No date has

Ireland in 2015. Each marcher carried two LPs (paying homage to the original Mardi Gras marchers, the ‘78ers) decorated with ostrich feathers, LED lights and symbols of Irishness, remembrance and love. Highly choreographed moves and a killer track featuring Dreams by Dolores O’Riordan and The Time is Now By Moloko made us really stand out. SQI was so proud to take part and to showcase Ireland and Irish Sydney. The response we have received has been amazing – from our families, friends, the broader Irish community in Sydney, Ireland and the LGBTQI

community worldwide. We thank the Irish Consulate in Sydney for its support, in particular Jane Connolly, who has been a strong supporter since our first float entry. SQI is bigger than Mardi Gras, with monthly catch-ups and events throughout the year. We are thrilled to be holding a massive St Patrick’s Night party at the newly reopened Imperial Hotel in Erskineville on March 17th with Irish themed Drag Shows, DJ’s and craic that will last into the wee hours. Loretta Cosgrove is a co-founder of Sydney Queer Irish.


Home Truths FROM PAGE 1

On the issue of bringing down the cost of car insurance for returning emigrants, Indecon has recommended promoting companies that offer noclaims discounts to returning emigrants and introducing measures to remove unjustified penalties for these motorists. To help returning emigrants with housing, the repor t recommends extending eligibility for the government’s Help to Buy scheme. The scheme gives a tax rebate to first-home buyers. However, at present anyone who has lived overseas for more than four years is not eligible. The report recommends extending eligibility to people who paid tax in Ireland in the last 14 to 15 years. In its conclusion, Indecon said some of its 30 recommendations will require significant changes but adds: “Given the extent of the barriers faced by our returning emigrants we believe these [changes] are justified.” On a positive note, one of the key recommendations has already been implemented. A centralised Returning to Ireland website, with advice on everything from setting up home to setting up bank accounts, is now live on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Global Irish website. Gover nment depar tments must report on their progress in implementing the rest of the 30 recommendations before summer. The full repor t and recommend ations can be accessed at: global-irish/returning-to-ireland/

Main recommendations „„Allow more emigrants to access the Help to Buy scheme for first-home buyers. „„Promote insurance companies who offer no-claims discounts to returning emigrants. „„Improve procedures to allow Irish people working abroad temporarily to renew their driving licence online. „„Invest in overseas job fairs.

been set. The Senate does not sit again until March so nothing will change before then. There may well be further delays while the proposed laws are debated. In the meantime, the old 457 sponsorship stream is still available for online applications. Businesses can apply for sponsorship approval if they meet the old/current benchmarks – that is, by spending 1 per cent of annual payroll on training Australian staff, or donating 2 pr cent of payroll to an industry training fund. An employer could feasibly spend this money on training in one day and thus meet the training benchmark rules the following day. Careful assessment and calculation is needed here. The employer also needs to lodge a nomination application. This is the part that talks about the job role – salary and market testing. For many roles, the employer has to show it advertised the position and was unable to find local staff. Stricter market testing rules will apply in the new TSS stream and will apply to more occupations. If the employer is lodging under the old system, the 457 visa should be lodged directly after the nomination application. You will not be able to lodge the new TSS visa type 482 visa against an old rules nomination. The upside here is that the old, cheaper visa fees still apply; that is

$1080 for a four-year visa versus the planned $2400 for the 482 four-year visa. The new Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) employer levies will not apply to a nomination lodged before the rules change. An approved sponsor under the old scheme will still be able to nominate visa applicants in the new stream. Therefore, for a short time there is an extended opportunity to apply for the 457 visa. The 457 visa option also has a particular advantage if you have less than two years’ work experience in your occupation and are relying on your qualifications to meet the skill requirements. When the new 482 TSS visa rules come in to force, a minimum of two years relevant work experience will be needed, regardless of what qualifications you hold. These are uncertain times for sponsorship visas and the rules are more complex than ever before. Before committing your hardearned cash on making applications, consider asking a registered migration agent for help with assessment of your eligibility. Find a registered migration agent at


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st patrick’s day NATIONAL

Importance of trade, diaspora given weight by two ministers


David Hennessy TWO Irish ministers – the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan, and the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, have arrived in Australia for the St Patrick’s Day festivities. Mr Flanagan spent some time in Melbourne before travelling to Sydney, where he will attend events on St Patrick’s Day. Mr Daly is visiting Perth, Western Australia. The ministers’ trips form part of the Promote Ireland programme of international events, under which the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and 35 government ministers are taking part in more than 100 business events and high-level political meetings in 35 countries. The focus is on promoting Ireland’s interests as Brexit unfolds. Both Mr Flanagan and Mr Daly are meeting Irish welfare organisations and agencies as well as business groups. In addition to visiting the Celtic Club, an Enterprise Ireland lunch and memorials to Jim Stynes and Ron Delany in Melbourne, Mr Flanagan met memebrs of the Irish Friendship Group in the Victorian State Parliament. A meeting with Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has been

LEADING THE WAY: The Queensland Irish Association Pipe Band will be playing at Brisbane’s parade. PHOTO: Katherine O’Malley Taoiseach Leo Varadkar talks trade with Evan Smith, CEO of Texas Tribune at the SXSW festival in Austin Texas. PHOTO: Niall Carson/PA Wire mooted when Mr Flanagan is in Sydney, an embassy spokesman said last week. Brexit would be a focus of meetings and talks, the spokesman said, because both countries are concerned about the many consequences of Britain leaving the European Union, Equally important as economics and trade is the social and cultural issue of the Irish diaspora. “This importance is reflected in the presence of two ministers for St Patrick’s Day,” the spokesman said.

Mr Flanagan will also visit the Irish Famine Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney; attend Mass on St Patrick’s Day morning in St Mary’s Cathedral, and be present for the greening of the Opera House sails. Jim Daly will attend St Patrick’s Day morning Mass in Perth, visit the Claddagh Association who have been assisting Irish people in times of crisis since 1997 and have lunch at Parliament of Western Australia.


Lots of laughter in Qld BRISBANE’S St Patrick’s weekend celebrations get underway with the Irish Ausralian Chamber of Commerce’s annual St Patrick’s Day corporate lunch. Starting at 12pm, March 16, the event will be addressed by prominent speakers and a guest appearance by comedian Paul Martell. Queensland Irish Association’s St Patrick’s Eve dinner takes place at the Pullman Hotel from 6.30pm on Friday, March 16. The day itself star ts with a St Patrick’s Day Mass at the Cathedral of St Stephen at 8am before the parade gets under way at 10.30am. The parade begins at the Botanic Gardens with more than 700 participants and 40 floats to travel through the city before returning to the botanics. This will be the 29th St Patrick’s Parade in Brisbane. Enter tainment will be provided by Celtic Fusion on the rotunda while stalls in the Gardens will

offer food, drink and crafts for sale. Jimeoin, the Northern Irish comedian who has long called Australia home, will take to the stage at Paddyfest, a day of Irish music and entertainment at Eagle Farm Racecourse. General admission and VIP packages have already sold out but a Celtic Stable Party package has been added. There will also be performance by pipe bands, rock bands (including a U2 tribute act) and Irish dancers. The festivities start at 11am and continue until 10pm. Fortitude Valley’s Brunswick Street Mall will also turn into an Irish street party. Finn McCool’s pub, celebrating its second St Patrick’s Day, extending its outdoor area to incorporate two stages and food stalls. The festivities will wind down with a performance by the Queensland Irish Choir at the Brisbane German Club from 2pm on March 18.


London party eclipses Australian efforts Fiona Brady GREEN LIGHT FANTASTIC: The State Library all lit up in 2015. The nearby Opera House is going green this year.

Craic everywhere David Hennessy

IN Sydney, St Patrick’s Day gets under way with Mass at St Mar y’s Cathedral at 10am with Bishop Terry Brady. After early Mass, there is a lunch at The Castlereagh Club. The Mercantile Hotel, the oldest Irish pub in Australia kicks the big day off with its annual St Patrick’s Day Breakfast, including a three-hour beverage package with Irish coffee, live Irish music and dancing. For the first time in over 20 years, The Mercantile has been granted access to George Street with pop-up bars and food stalls making it an Irish street party. Paddy’s weekend at the Bald Rock Hotel, overlooking Sydney Harbour, includes live music all day. You can enjoy St Patrick’s Day at any of the four PJ Gallagher’s pubs, where you will find traditional Irish music, Irish dancers and Guinness giveaways. There will also be festive fun at the St Patrick’s Race Day in Gosford. You can join the craic for PJ O’Brien’s St Patrick’s Day Weekend whether you

are in Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne or Sydney. There will be live Irish music all weekend. On Sunday, the festivities continue in the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park. There will be a variety of music on the big stage from 12pm, a children’s parade and play area with bouncing castles and face painting galore, Irish dancers and marching bands displaying the very best in local talent. You can catch Eirebor ne, The Rebirth of Irish Dance, on March 1718. They perform at Wentworthville on Saturday and Dee Why on Sunday. More than an Irish dance show, Eireborne is a theatrical experience like nothing you have seen before. Featuring a live band, dancers from hit Irish shows Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance kick up their heels performing traditional and modern Irish dance as well as ballroom and tap dance. Canberra Irish Club is hosting a range of events over St Patrick’s weekend with Saturday filled with fun, including Irish dancers and Irish-style dishes. On Sunday, you can recover

with a BBQ and drink deals from noon. Perth St Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Fun Day takes place on the day itself. Starting at 10am, the streets of Leederville turn green for parade day, with floats, walking groups and marching bands. The Family Fun Day includes kids activities, food stalls, live entertainment and a bar. Also in Western Australia, you can head to St Patrick’s Race Day at Ascot Racecourse. There, you can celebrate all things Irish with plenty of Guinness and Kilkenny on tap, live music and a full race day schedule. In South Australia, Adelaide Oval is turning green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in conjunction with the Irish Australian Association. There will be food and drinks, live music and entertainment all day. In the Nor thern Territory, you can join in the festivities at Shenannigan’s St Patrick’s Race Day on Saturday 17 March. You are encouraged to come dressed in green to enjoy a relaxing luncheon and a three-hour drinks package.

WHILE London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is hosting that city’s biggest St Patrick’s Day celebration, some of Australia’s largest city councils are not holding a single event to mark the occasion. As the Irish Echo reported in the last edition, London is going all-out to embrace its Irish heritage with a threeday festival of events spread across all 33 city boroughs. In contrast, neither the City of Sydney nor the City of Melbourne will mark Ireland’s national day, despite being home to Australia’s biggest Irish populations. “There will certainly be a lot of events at venues across the city,” a City of Melbourne spokesman said, “but none are officially organised by the City of Melbourne.” City of Sydney said while council was not hosting any St Patrick’s Day events, “you’ll find events listed on the City’s free What’s On site,” a spokeswoman said. Council has, however, donated $8000 of in-kind funding to the volunteer-run Sydney St Patrick’s Day organisation, which helped towards raising about 200 festive flags around the city centre this week. It is all a far cry from London’s lavish celebrations and its focus on how the Irish have enriched the city over the centuries and contributed to its success. Admittedly, London is home to the biggest Irish population outside Ireland,

but more than 2.3 million Australians claimed Irish ancestry in the 2016 Census – the third most reported ancestry after English and London’s mayor Sadiq Australian. Khan decked in green. Local government in Queensland is stepping up to the plate: Brisbane City Council is hosting a St Patrick’s Day tribute concert in City Hall. There is also a bilingual English and Irish story-telling session in one of the local libraries. Brisbane City Council would also be giving “financial and in-kind support” to the annual St Patrick’s Day parade through the CBD on Saturday, a spokeswoman said. “Supporting local community events is part of council’s vision for a vibrant, creative and inclusive city,” she said. Gavin Roche from the Brisbane Irish Festival said the group was grateful for council’s backing: “Without their help and commitment, the parade could not go ahead every year,” he said. Of course, while Sydney and Melbourne don’t have any official St Patrick’s Day events in City Hall, there are great community festivals organised by hard-working teams of volunteers.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I


st patrick’s day


When I hear bourbon whiskey I think the next response might be tariffs against Irish whiskey, so what you get into is a spiral of tit for tats.


Global trade, Brexit and tariffs on menu for talks between Taoiseach and Trump THE Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, began a week-long official St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States in Texas on Sunday. On St Patrick’s Day, the Taoiseach meets US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, where he will present Mr Trump with the traditional bowl of shamrock at the Speaker’s lunch on Capitol Hill. Topics likely to be raised in discussions between the two leaders include the US President’s tariffs on steel imports and Brexit. Mr Varadkar spoke in the Dail last week of the two countries’ strong links: “They are cultural – they run in our blood, most of us have American family and many Americans have Irish family – and they are economic. They are extremely important and I want to maintain and strengthen them. They will outlast any president or Taoiseach and it is important that we see everything through that perspective.” However, Mr Varadkar acknowledged the leaders’ acute differences, the

British LGBTI newspaper Pink News reports: “There are many of Donald Trump’s policies with which I do not agree. I do not agree with him on migration, climate change or trade. I am very much a supporter of free trade. I also believe very strongly in individual freedom, which encompasses women’s right and the rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” Against the backdrop of a potential global trade war sparked by President Trump’s impending tarrifs, it is expected there will be some intense discussions during Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s official St Patrick’s visit to China. Mr Coveney has engagements in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shenzen and Shanghai. The trip ends in Beijing, where Mr Coveney will take part in St Patrick’s Day celebrations, which include the greening of a section of the Great Wall of China. In Washington, Mr Varadkar will raise concerns with Mr Trump over a pos-

sible tit-for-tat trade war between the EU and US. The Taoiseach said tariffs were a road that he did not want either Europe or the US to go down. “As a policy I can’t imagine how it would be good for anyone, I don’t think it would be good for America, I don’t think it would be good for Ireland or the EU,” Mr Varadkar said. Mr Varadkar, said the day before his White House meeting with Mr Trump later this week, the European Commission will announce its response to the tariffs. “What has been hinted at is tariffs on denim jeans and bourbon whiskey,” he said. “When I hear bourbon whiskey I think the next response might be tariffs against Irish whiskey, so what you get into is a spiral of tit for tats.” In Texas, Mr Varadkar announced an extension of the Irish consulate in Texas as part of plans to foster more links with a number of key US states. He also met the Texan Governor, Greg

Abbott in Austin. Mr Varadkar said there were about 100,000 people working for Irish companies in the US. On Monday, the Taoiseach met the Governor of Oklahoma and visited a Choctaw Nation native American community, whose ancestors raised funds for the victims of the Great Famine. On Tuesday, he addressed the Brookings Institution in Washington after which he was expected to meet former US Senator George Mitchell, who was a key negotiator leading to the Good Friday Agreement. Undoubtedly, the main focus of Mr Varadkar’s visit is his face-to-face meeting with Mr Trump today. Up for discussion are the issues faced by the tens of thousands of Irish citizens who live in the US without legal residency. As is tradition, the focus of the itinerary will be Mr Varadkar’s meeting with President Trump at the White House on St Patrick’s Day.


Celtic Club Melbourne open for St Patrick’s Day By David Hennessy

THE Celtic Club Melbour ne has launched its new licensed premises in time for St Patrick’s Day. There is a full day of music and enter tainment planned for March 17, culminating in the screening of the Ireland v England rugby match. The club’s new home, named Celtic at Metropolitan, had a special gala launch attended by the Irish Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí on February 15. The club expects to be in its new home for three years while its former premises at Queen Street is refurbished and the club can return there. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan, visited the new club as part of his pre-St Patrick’s visist to Melbourne. While in the city, the minister attended an Enterprise Ireland lunch and visited memorials to Irish sporting heroes Jim Stynes of the AFL and Ron Delany, who won gold in the

1500 metres at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. “With the new club, Celtic at Metropolitan, we’re able to focus on the cultural aspects,” Celtic Club Melbourne committee member James Dunne told The Irish Echo. “For the launch, we had a four-day event. We had a lot of cultural activities: we had two days of Bloomsday [and] lots of Irish music. The 130-year-old Celtic Club Melbourne is the oldest Irish club in Australia. Located at 36-42 Courtney Street, North Melbourne, the club’s new home is par t of the old Meat Market, an iconic Melbourne venue and hub for creative arts and cultural activities. It is also very close to the city and accessible by tram. Last October The Irish Echo reported that The Celtic Club had sold its premises at 320 Queen Street. However the Celtic Club has exercised its option to buy back into Queen Street so it can return to the fully refurbished building in three to four years’ time.

The sale marked the end of another chapter in the club’s 130-year history but it put the club’s finances into the black, with more than $22 million retained after the payment of longstanding debts and taxes. “We were there for over 50 years,” Mr Dunne said. “Luckily enough, with a lot of foresight a few years ago we negotiated air rights for 44 floors above the building and so, as a result of that, we were able to sell it for $25.5 million and that cleared the club’s debt. “A lot of clubs, not just ethnic clubs but also RSLs and other types of clubs, find that when memberships have aged a lot of them have gone under and luckily enough, because of the foresight of some of the previous presidents, we’re able to sell the air rights and also negotiate our way back in.” The club moved its administration and cultural activities to 420-424 William Street. Queen Street is being renovated into

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HOME FROM HOME: The Celtic Club Melbourne’s new premises for the next three to four years in Courtney St, North Melbourne.

a prestigious, high-rise complex that will incorporate a vertical forest providing some nature in the heart of the city. The club is guaranteed 2,460 square metres and may look to lease some of this space to generate income. The annual Melbourne Irish Festival takes place on Sunday 18 March from noon in Edinburgh Gardens. Open to all, the family fun day celebrates Irish culture and heritage and creates an oppor tunity to come together as a community, to reflect the true nature of a diverse and modern Irish community and its contribution to the fabric of Australian society.

The family fun day will feature entertainment such as U2 tribute act Achtung Baby, a session tent for featuring more intimate acts, Irish dancing and kids activities such as fun races, GAA and Irish language events. There will be a history tent where people can ask about their ancestry or find out more about the influence of the Irish in Australia. You can enjoy food, drink and music at Jimmy O’Neill’s, St Kilda for its St Patrick’s Weekend making it a great focus for Irish culture and histor y. There is entertainment all weekend and Irish dancing on Paddy’s Day.

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March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Rumours claim quashed A PUBLIC inquir y has dismissed claims that a former Garda commissioner had spread false rumours about a whistleblower. The whistleblower, Ser geant Maurice McCabe, said that former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan had composed text messages, circulated to other officers, journalists and politicians, in which he made an unfounded sex abuse allegation. This claim at was described as hearsay by the Disclosures Tribunal chairman because it came from a disputed conversation between Sgt McCabe and the former chief of the Garda press office. “I could not possibly rely on it at the present time,” Judge Peter Charleton said, “I appreciate that could change.” Mr Callinan has strongly denied the claims and the judge has said there was no evidence of malpractice against him. The sergeant faced unfounded and false allegations of sexual assault on a

child and a Facebook post described him as “Maurice the Rat” after he made claims of wrongdoing among officers, including the quashing of penalty points. On Monday the tribunal was told former commissioner Mr Callinan ordered that Sgt McCabe be “buried” after the whistleblower made malpractice claims against officers near the Irish border and later escalated his complaints of bullying to the highest levels of the force. During emotional testimony Sgt McCabe alleged ex-commissioner Callinan told Fianna Fail parliamentarian John McGuinness he had abused his own children and his nieces, and was not to be trusted. Sgt McCabe said he was left feeling “isolated” and “alone” after a smear campaign allegedly ordered by Mr Callinan. Separate and unrelated hearsay claims were also made surrounding

WHISTLEBLOWER: Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

another former Garda commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan. Garda documents before the ribunal suggested she had taken Sgt McCabe’s complaints seriously. Sgt McCabe relayed his recollection of a conversation with former Garda press chief Superintendent David Taylor. “I am not saying that I have evidence

against either of the commissioners,” Sgt McCabe said. “All I am saying is this is what he [Supt Taylor] told me.” Legal counsel for Supt Taylor, Tara Burns SC, said her client did not accept that he passed on information from former Commissioner Callinan about “scurrilous” untrue rumours of sexual assault. “Text messages related to informing persons regarding any developments or media broadcast,” Ms Burns said. “The text messages did not relate to the rumours regarding you and the sexual assault allegation in 2006.” Sgt McCabe responded that it was his word against Supt Taylor’s and he stood by his account. “Supt Taylor denies that he said that Martin Callinan created these texts and sent them on,” Ms Burns said. The row over how senior Garda figures and ministers handled his claims of negligence and corruption almost brought down the Government.


Top gong eludes Ronan for Lady Bird lead role

STAR MATERIAL: Saoirse Ronan looks pretty in pink arriving at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. PHOTO: PA Wire

LEAPS OF FAITH: (from left) Shane, Alyssa, Joshua, Lachlan and Leanne Hyland are bound for the World Meeting of Families. Pic: Giovanni Portelli

NSW family heads to Dublin for world congress By Catherine Sheehan THE Hyland family has witnessed God perform miracles in their own lives and they cannot wait to share their faith story at the World Meeting of Families (WMF) in Dublin this August. The family of five, from Charmhaven on the NSW Central Coast and in the diocese of Broken Bay, has been selected by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to attend the international gathering as the delegate family from Australia. Shane and Leanne – both teachers at Catholic schools – and their children Joshua, 12, Alyssa, eight, and Lachlan, five, will take part in a pilgrimage of Ireland followed by six days in Dublin for the WMF.

“The kids are really excited to go overseas. It’s great just to give them the opportunity to go somewhere and experience something bigger than our little church,” Mr Hyland told The Catholic Weekly. “It’s a real honour and a wonderful opportunity for our family. We’re really elated with happiness, with joy,” Ms Hyland said. The theme for this year’s WMF on August 21-26 is The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World, and will include keynote speakers, workshops, testimonies, discussions, daily Mass, as well as prayer time and cultural and musical performances. It is the largest international gathering of families in the world and takes place every three years. The climax of the meeting will be

the final Mass, which it is hoped will be celebrated by Pope Francis. The Hyland family is very active in their parish St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Warnervale and has been running family groups there for a number of years. Mr Hyland is also involved in prison chaplaincy. They are all looking forward to meeting other Catholic families from around the world and sharing with them how God has transformed their lives. “Our youngest, Lachlan, had a very traumatic birth and during his time in intensive care we had a lot of people praying,” Ms Hyland said. “He made a miraculous recovery and doctors can’t believe that he is functioning like a normal little boy.” “It was God’s love and it was the Holy

Spirit. It was beautiful to see the life being brought back into him.” “Through sharing our stories with other families we can make wonderful connections and find God’s love in that,”she said. Mr Hyland said it was his wife’s prayers that eventually brought him back to the Catholic faith. This message of hope is what he would like to share with other families at the world meeting. “I think it’s important for people to know that, whatever situation they’re in, the church is there for them.” Joshua, 12, said he was looking forward to “maybe meeting the Pope and meeting other families”. This story was first published in The Catholic Weekly.

IT was a disappointing night for Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut Lady Bird at the Oscars, as the film failed to win a single trophy – despite persistent speculation that its Irish star, Saoirse Ronan, was destined for a best actress award. The film had been nominated for five prizes, including best picture, but was left empty-handed. Gerwig, who had been nominated in both the directing and original screenplay categories, lost out to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape Of Water and Jordan Peele for Get Out respectively. The film’s star, Saoirse Ronan, lost out in the best actress categor y to Frances McDor mand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, while supporting actress contender Laurie Metcalf was defeated by Allison Janney for I, Tonya. Mudbound also left the ceremony without any prizes, despite Mar y J Blige making history with her nominations for best supporting actress and best original song. The film’s cinematographer. Rachel Morrison, who was the first woman to receive a nod in the category, lost out to Roger Deakins. It was an equally bad night for The Post, which failed to win either of the categories it was nominated for: best picture and best actress for Mer yl Streep. There was also disappointment for Christopher Nolan, who also lost out in the best director category, after he picked up his first nod for Dunkirk. However, the film did win three of the eight prizes it was nominated for.


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March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Proposed abortion law changes marks ‘quantum leap’: Harris THE proposed changes to the Republic’s abortion laws mark a quantum leap from being one of the most restrictive regimes in the world when it comes to the termination of pregnancy, the Health Minister, Simon Harris, has said. The Government is proposing to permit terminations up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication, Mr Harris told the Dail. A referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is expected to be held at the end of May. Mr Harris made his comments after the Bill to hold a referendum on abortion was introduced in the Dail. It follows a decision by Cabinet ministers on Thursday to formally approve the wording of the draft legislation. At present, terminations are only allowed in the Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. If the referendum is given the goahead by the Dail, voters will be asked if they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replace it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland’s abortion laws in the future. The exact wording would be: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.” Mr Harris told the Dail he was mindful of the impact of the Eighth Amendment since it was inserted 35 years ago. “If this Oireachtas facilitates a referendum, I will be casting my ballot for repeal and asking others to do the same because I cannot live any longer with a law that sees a woman or a girl who has been brutally raped forced to continue her pregnancy or travel to another country if she cannot,” he said. Mr Harris said he was looking into introducing a system of free contraception in an effort to reduce pregnancies. In line with the parliamentary committee’s recommendation, the Bill proposes to allow termination up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication. Mr Harris said he is now proposing to introduce a time period that is required to elapse between the assessment by a medical practitioners and the procedure being carried out. “Contrary to some assertions, such

provision would not make Ireland an outlier internationally,” Mr Harris said. “But I accept they represent a quantum leap from our position on the spectrum today where we have one of the most restrictive regimes in relation to termination and I think are pegged somewhere in and around where Saudi Arabia is on the issue.” Mr Harris said this brief period of time would allow women to consider of all of the options before making an informed decision. Politicians debated the draft legislation in the Dail for five hours on Friday. Fianna Fail’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said Irish women were treated as second-class citizens and this could no longer continue. “The minute an Irish woman becomes pregnant she no longer has destiny over her own health care,” Mr Kelleher said. “The first thing we have to do, if we are to bring about change, is to repeal Article 40.3.3.”

“RESTRICTIVE REGIME”: Health Minister Simon Harris. A former Labour Party leader, Joan Burton, said she hoped the debate would be respectful and produce a good outcome for the people of Ireland. “We, the women of Ireland, inherited a Republic of misogyny, a Republic of cruelty, and an Oireachtas, a Dail and Seanad that has been, and in many cases still is, a cold place for women and girls.” “Instead of doctors and midwives providing the best of maternal care to women, instead what we have had is decisions about women’s care moving to the hands of lawyers and courts.”

Referendum commission will oversee campaign A REFERENDUM Commission has been formally established before the proposed vote on liberalising the Republic’s abortion laws. The independent body will be chaired by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy. A referendum commission must be set up in advance of any referendum being held, to explain the subject matter. Its aim is to create awareness of the referendum and to encourage citizens to vote. It will be responsible for preparing, publishing and distributing unbiased information about the proposal on constitutional change being put to the voters.

Other members of the commission include the Comptroller and Auditor General, Seamus McCar thy; the Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall; the clerk of the Dail, Peter Finnegan and clerk of the Seanad, Martin Groves. The Housing and Planning Minister, Eoghan Murphy, made the order to establish the statutory body after the referendum bill was introduced in the Dail on Friday. The commission will not be able to finalise the information material that it will provide to the public until the referendum bill has been passed by the Dail.

REPEAL THE EIGHTH: Activists show their support for change to the Constitution as the debate hots up. Pic: PA

Anti-abortion activists march through Dublin

TENS of thousands of anti-abortion activists have marched through Dublin to demand the retention of Ireland’s restrictive laws on terminations. The mass demonstration called for the preservation of the constitutional provision that enshrines the unborn’s right to life. Irish citizens will decide on the fate of the contentious Eighth Amendment of the Constitution in an anticipated referendum this summer. The Save the Eighth rally was held days after thousands of pro-choice campaigners held a similar demonstration in the city. Activitsts travelled from all over Ireland to attend last Saturday’s event, which crossed the city and culminated

outside outside Leinster House. Among those taking part were doctors who support keeping the present laws. They had a €100 Specsavers voucher for the Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone, chairwoman of the Oireachtas committee that recommended changes to abortion laws. “There are a great many doctors out there who are deeply concerned by, and opposed to, these proposals,” said one of those doctors, Maire Neasta Nic Gearailt. “The fact that the senator [Noone] said she could not find us can be explained only two ways: that she did not really look, or that she simply could not see what was in front of her face. “Perhaps if she had looked harder

she would have discovered what a poll of GPs revealed this week: seven in 10 doctors do not wish to be part of the Government’s abortion scheme. “Doctors who oppose this radical UK-style abortion law may not have been listened to in Senator Noone’s committee but we will make our voices heard in the coming weeks,” Dr Nic Gearailt said. “We trust that this time Senator Noone will not miss us but we enclose this voucher for Specsavers to be absolutely sure”. A number of dif ferent religious groups were represented, as were campaigners focusing on the rights of people with disabilities.


Dail settles on wording of referendum to allow termination of pregnancies THE Dail has finalised the wording for an abortion referendum, giving the go-ahead for voters to have their say on liberalising abortion laws. The move follows Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that protections for the unborn child offered under the Constitution do not extend beyond the right to life. The Government had waited for the r uling before deciding to hold a constitutional referendum. If the court had found rights were more widespread within the Constitution it may have put the referendum in doubt. At present, terminations are only allowed in Ireland when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abor tion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. Citizens will be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replace it

‘NO’ CHANGE: A boy holds a placard at a rally. Pic: PA

with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland’s abortion laws in the future. That wording will be: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.” The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said this referendum is about asking citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves. “It’s about

trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what’s right for them and their families,” he said, “and it’s about trusting our doctors to decide when continuing with a pregnancy is a risk to the life or health of a woman. “Above all, it’s about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will.” The Health Minister, Simon Harris, said it was fitting the Government had approved the wording on International Women’s Day. “It is very appropriate and fitting that on this day the Irish Government has taken a decision that we will have a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment,” Mr Harris said. “The women we’re thinking of today on international women’s day are the women who have courageously told their woman personal sensitive stories.” The minister said it was these women’s stories that had brought about the change.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Landmark court ruling paves way for referendum A LANDMARK Supreme Court ruling on the rights of the unborn will allow the Government to press ahead with a planned abor tion referendum, the Health Minister, Simon Harris, has said. Mr Harris said it was right and proper that the government had waited to consider and finalise the wording of the referendum until the Supreme Court had made its ruling. “If you believe there needs to be change in this area in this country you need to repeal the Eighth Amendment [of the Constitution]. If you believe that it is wrong that a woman who is brutally raped and has to carry her pregnancy to full term in this country, you have to repeal the Eighth Amendment. “If you believe it is wrong that a woman who has a fatal foetal abnormality in her pregnancy finds herself having to travel to Britain and bring back her baby’s remains in the boot of her car, you have to repeal the Eighth Amendment.”

Mr Harris made the comments outside Government Buildings in Dublin following the ruling. He said the Bill would be introduced into the Dail as soon as possible, with the intention of formally establishing a referendum commission ver y quickly. “I would appeal to all political parties and groupings in the Dail to facilitate the passage of this referendum Bill so the people of Ireland can finally have their say on this important, sensitive and substantive matter,” Mr Harris said. The Children and Youth Af fairs Minister, Katherine Zappone, said the court’s ruling had provided clarity. “I welcome the clarity offered by [the] Supreme Cour t decision and look forward to continuing the process of putting the 8th amendment before the Irish people by way of referendum,” she posted on Twitter. The move was welcomed by the Justice Minister, Charles Flanagan,

NO VOTE: Pro- and anti-abortion protestors have taken to the streets recently to argue their respective positions, in a reminder of the highly divisive campaigns during the 1983 constitutional amendment. Pic: PA

who said: “I welcome the clarity that this Supreme Court judgement provides regarding the status of the unborn within the Constitution. “In relation to the implications for the status of potential deportees from the State with regard to their family status; this is a detailed and comprehensive judgment, and my department, along with others will analyse it fully,” Mr Flanagan said. An Independent TD for Tipperary who strongly supports retaining the

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Eight Amendment, Mattie McGrath, suicide. The maximum penalty for said the ruling was profoundly disturb- accessing an illegal abortion is 14 ing. “It has demonstrated with absolute years in prison. Campaigners are clarity that the Eighth Amendment is seeking to liberalise the regime to alnow the only defence that the unborn low for unrestricted abortion up to 12 child has against the arbitrary deci- weeks into pregnancy. sions of politicians to extent the If the referendum goes ahead, voters grounds upon which an abortion may will be asked if they want to remove be obtained.” the section of the Constitution that Mr McGrath said the ruling may one gives equal right to life to the mother day be seen as the Irish equivalent of and the unborn child, and replace it Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court with wording to allow the Dail to regucase in 1973 that made elective abor- late for the termination of pregnancy. tions legal in the US. “Today the Supreme Court made a “While I do not believe that the landmark decision,” Senator Noone Eighth Amendment will be repealed said. “This judgement will allow us to regardless of today’s decision, I do move forward to a May referendum on think that if the government’s hostile, the Eighth Amendment. manipulative and “It is my belief that aggressively prothe only rights afforded choice agenda is sucto the unborn under cessfully perpetrated the current constituupon the people, then tional status is the right The Eighth today may one be seen to life provided for in Amendment as the Irish equivalent the Eighth Amendment of Roe v Wade.” represents and this does not exThe Sinn Fein leader, tend to other areas of a real and Mary Lou McDonald, the Constitution. ongoing threat said the judgement “I urge us all to accleared the way to adcept the court’s judgeto the health vance the referendum. ment in good faith and and lives of Ms McDonald said she move forward in a civiunderstood the lised and respectful Irish women. Taoiseach, Leo manner, as has been Sinn Fein leader, Varadkar, was waiting the case for the most Mary Lou McDonald for legal clarity before part so far”. advancing legislation A Labour Party TD, but that now matters Jan O’Sullivan, had been clarified welcomed the clarity there was no reason for provided by the ruling. further delay. “The decision paves the way for the “The Eighth Amendment represents Oireachtas to debate, with clarity, the a real and ongoing threat to the health wording of the proposed government and lives of Irish women,” Ms referendum, which is coming before McDonald said. “Our recent history is the Dail this week. marked with so many tragic episodes In Januar y the Government forof that hard reality. It has to go. mally agreed to hold a referendum on “The Eighth Amendment is a relic the Eighth Amendment. The move of an Ireland of the past, yet it restricts came after the Oireachtas Committee the rights of women in the here and on the Eighth Amendment published now and profoundly affects our wel- its report recommending repealling fare. It should not have been intro- Ar ticle 40.3.3, that recognises the duced into the Constitution in the first equal right to life of the mother and the place.” unborn. A Fine Gael senator, Catherine The report stated that constitutional Noone, said she welcomed the clear provision prohibiting the termination and unanimous Supreme Cour t of pregnancy in Ireland was unfit for decision regarding the rights of the purpose. unborn. Ms Noone chaired the allThe Green Par ty leader, Eamon party parliamentary committee on the Ryan, also welcomed the unanimous Eighth Amendment, which recom- ruling. “[It] offers real clarity, and mended the amendment be repealed. paves the way for a referendum on the At present, terminations are only Eighth Amendment in May,” he said. allowed in Ireland when the life of the “We look for ward to seeing the mother is at risk, including from Government’s legislation.”


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Varadkar, Tusk assess progress on UK exit EUROPEAN Council president Donald Tusk has visited Ireland to meet the T a o i s e a c h , L e o Va r a d k a r, f o r discussions on the Brexit negotiations, the European Commission’s draft withdrawal agreement and suggested guidelines for the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The two leaders considered key economic issues during the talks at Government Buildings in Dublin. Mr Tusk’s visit comes before the European Council meeting of EU leaders on March 22-23 on Brexit and economic affairs. The Republic’s Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, has suggested the EU could block British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to maintain a soft Irish border while leaving the customs union. One fallback option is the UK would have to accept keeping Nor thern Ireland in an effective customs union with the EU. This was Mr Tusk’s second visit to Ireland in three months. He has already pledged that the EU will stand with the Republic on the Irish border issue and Dublin’s efforts to ensure frictionless passage of people

and goods across the border. Northern Ireland’s position post-Brexit is holding up agreement on Britain’s exit terms and a transition deal. M r s May’s s u p p o r te r i n h e r Government, the Democratic Unionist Party, is adamantly opposed to any settlement distinguishing Northern Ireland’s EU trading relationship from the rest of the UK’s after Brexit, what some have termed a border in the Irish Sea. Mr Varadkar also held a separate meeting with the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria. Their discussions covered the OECD’s latest economic sur vey of Ireland and the potential for deeper Ireland-OECD co-operation. Meanwhile, the British Department for Exiting the EU’s minister, Robin Walker, is to meet Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo. Gibraltar voted almost unanimously ‘remain’. Cabinet Of fice minister David Lidington is hosting a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee with representatives of the devolved administrations.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and EU Council president Donald Tusk in Dublin for Brexit talks. PIC: PA


COLD CALL: A Sinn Fein billboard calling for ‘No Hard Border’ on display in Belfast, Northern Ireland. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

London confirms it does not countenance a hard border DOWNING Street has insisted it wants “no hard border and no physical infrastructure” on the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic, after the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested some “very minimal controls” would be acceptable. The Foreign Secretary also said that leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal holds no fear for the UK, which he said would do very well on World Trade Organisation terms. Speaking to an audience of London Telegraph subscribers, Mr Johnson said Brexit would be a triumphant success. “I’ve never been one of those who is apprehensive about the so-called ‘no deal scenario’,” the Telegraph reported Mr Johnson saying. “No deal is better than a bad deal. “If we have to come out on WTO terms we will be prepared to do so. It

doesn’t hold terrors for me and we will do very well under those circumstances as well.” On the issue of the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic, Mr Johnson said it “will be possible to have very, very minimal controls at the border”. He said the issue “has understandably a great deal of political, emotional charge” and it is “all too forgivable for politicians to wish to be absolutely certain about how things will work”. Asked if Mr Johnson’s comments amounted to official government policy, a Downing Street spokesman said: “As the Prime Minister [Theresa May] has set out, we are firmly committed to working towards a deep and ambitious partnership with the EU. That remains our position. “As any responsible government would, we are continuing

to prepare for all scenarios, but our focus remains on securing this deep and ambitious partnership. “On the border question, as the Foreign Secretary set out, he said there would be no need for a hard border. That remains our position. No need for any physical infrastructure.” Mr Johnson also indicated he would be prepared to accept the timetable for the Brexit transition period set out by Brussels, expiring at the end of 2020. “That would suit me fine,” he said. The British Prime Minister has suggested a transition period should last for about two years, which would expire near the end of March 2021. Brexit Secretary David Davis has put a range of between 21 and 27 months on the deal.


May’s frontier plan could be tweaked amid concerns of rejection by EU A PLAN by British Prime Minister Theresa May to maintain a soft Irish border after Brexit could be changed to accommodate European Union concerns, her deputy had said amid signals that Brussels could reject it. Cabinet Of fice minister David Lidington, the Prime Minister’s de facto No.2, said her high-profile speech about Brexit last Friday was an “ambitious opening bid” for negotiations on trade. After Foreign Minister Simon Coveney suggested the EU could block Mrs May’s plans to maintain a soft Irish border while leaving the customs union, Mr Lidington accepted it could be changed to accommodate people’s concerns. However, he rejected suggestions that the UK would have to accept the fallback option of keeping Northern Ireland in an effective customs union

with the EU. The issue is holding up agreement on Britain’s exit terms and a transition deal. Mr Lidington backed Mrs May’s plan to avoid a hard border through technological solutions and placing no new restrictions on the 80 per cent of cross-border trade carried out by smaller businesses, while suggesting it could be tweaked. Asked on a current af fairs programme on British television if the backstop option was inevitable, Mr Lidington replied: “I’m much less pessimistic than you are. Clearly we are at the start of a negotiating period and will want to sit down with our EU partners and work through where their concerns, whether legal or technical, are and see how we might together address this.” However, Tanaiste Simon Coveney told the BBC that he was “not sure that

the European Union will be able to support” the plan, because it would be worried about protecting the integrity of the single market. “While of course we will explore and look at all of the proposed British solutions, they are essentially a starting point in negotiations as opposed to an end point,” he said. Mr Coveney said if agreement cannot be reached during tripartite talks between the UK, Ireland and the EU Commission, the backstop plan of full British alignment with customs union and single market rules that Mrs May “committed clearly” to in December’s conclusion of withdrawal negotiations would have to be put in place. “This isn’t a question of either side wanting to put up borders,” Mr Coveney said, “but if you have to protect a functioning single market, just the same way Britain wants to protect

its own single market, well then you have to understand that if goods move from one customs union to another then there needs to be some checks unless there is some mechanism that is negotiated and put in place that prevents that.” Mrs May said she was pleased that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, had agreed to form the three-way talks to look at her proposals. She declined to defend her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s comparison of the border to crossing between London congestion zones in Camden and Islington, but insisted both politicians were absolutely clear that there will not be a hard border. “The Irish border is something to which we are all committed – the Irish government, all the parties in Northern Ireland – to making sure there’s no hard border,” Mrs May told the BBC.

DISSATISFIED: Foreign minister Simon Coveney is not entirely happy with Theresa May’s plan.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Leaked letter inflames debate BRITISH Foreign Secretar y Boris Johnson has said his Government should focus on stopping the Irish border becoming “significantly” harder after Brexit and suggested that crossings of the frontier could be monitored by technology like travel between London boroughs. Mr Johnson said “there’s no border between Camden and Westminster” as he suggested that goods crossing between the Republic and Northern Ireland could be subject to electronic checks, in an apparent reference to the congestion charge. Further details of his thinking on the issue were contained in a leaked letter to the Prime Minister in which he suggests “it is wrong to see the task as maintaining ‘no border’ but instead the aim was to stop the frontier becoming “significantly harder”. The letter, obtained by Sky News, suggested that “even if a hard border is reintroduced, we would expect to see 95 per cent of goods pass the border [without] checks”. The document, entitled The Northern Ireland/Ireland border – the Facilitated Solution, accompanies a concept note that “draws on Foreign Office expertise”.

The leak came a day before the publication of the European Commission’s draft text for the withdrawal deal. This will include procedures for putting into operation the “alignment” of Northern Irish regulations with the EU rulebook, which will be needed if no technological solution is found to keep the border with the Republic open after Brexit. Whitehall sources insisted that there was agreement the task was not about “no border” but “it’s about no hard border”. Mr Johnson’s comparison of the the Irish border to nor th London was dismissed as “willful recklessness” and “unbelievable” by Labour MPs. Mr Johnson also said that the CBI business lobby group and the Labour Par ty leader Jeremy Corbyn were wrong to back a customs union with Brussels because as it would leave Britain a colony of the EU in a situation that would be the “worst of all worlds”. Mr Corbyn’s initiative has set the scene for possible defeat for Theresa May at the hands of Tory rebels and Labour in an upcoming Commons vote on the Trade Bill. But Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s

Today programme: “You can’t suck and blow at once, as they say, we’re going to have to come out of the customs union in order to be able to do free trade deals.” And with the EU set to publish a legal document containing commitments to avoid a hard Irish frontier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson dismissed the suggestion that leaving the tariff-free customs union would see the erection of border posts on the island. Meanwhile, Britain’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, became embroiled in a row with a former top official at his department over the Government’s Brexit plans. Sir Martin Donnelly said leaving the customs union to strike free trade deals around the world was like “giving up a three-course meal for the promise of a packet of crisps”. Sir Martin, who left his role as permanent secretary at the Department of International Trade last year, said any divergence from Brussels’ rules would deal a blow to British services which would not be compensated for through deals with nations such as the US. But Dr Fox, answering questions after a speech in London, said: “It is

CONTROVERSIAL: Foreign Secretary compared the North-South border to the boundary between London suburbs of Camden and Westminster. PHOTO: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

unsurprising that those who spent a lifetime working within the European Union would see moving away from the European Union as being threatening.” The International Trade Secretary said the UK could reach agreements

with the EU as well as other nations. “It is not a choice of one or the other. And, in any case, I think the UK Brexit process is, as we have all discovered, a little more complex than a packet of Walkers.”


Rees-Mogg assails Ireland and the EU about ‘absurd’ border

GET TOUGH: PM Theresa May was advised by a Labour MP to jab Boris Johnson as hard as necessary to get his report on the Irish border.

May urged to give Johnson clip on the ear over memo THERESA May was urged to give Boris Johnson a “clip round the ear hole” to force the Foreign Secretary to publish his Irish border memo. The suggestion by Labour Party MP Wes Streeting was labelled “very discourteous behaviour” by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. The altercation came after Mr Streeting asked the PM to “prod” or “jab as hard as necessary” to ensure the full text of Mr Johnson’s latest thoughts on the issue were released to the public. The previous week Mr Johnson had sent a letter to Mrs May in which he said the Government should focus on preventing the Irish border becoming “significantly” harder. He later claimed his letter showed “there are very good solutions” that would prevent a hard border for goods crossing the Irish border, and accused Remainers of using the issue to try to frustrate Brexit. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Streeting said: “Tony Blair and Sir John Major both warned during the referendum of exactly the scenario facing the

Prime Minister now in relation to the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border, which is presumably why a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. “If everything is as plain sailing as she suggests, why is the Foreign Secretary writing her memos entertaining the pr ospect of a har d border? “And given he’s given an undertaking to publish that memo but hasn’t found time to do so, perhaps she could prod him or maybe jab as hard as necessar y to get that memo out of him.” Mrs May replied: “The Foreign Secretary hasn’t said that. He’s absolutely clear that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland - that is the position of the Government, it is what we’re working on. We’ve set out our proposals and I look forward to discussing them with the Commission and the Irish Government.” After her answer, Mr Streeting could be heard jokingly shouting: “Clip him round the ear hole. Get the memo out.”

BRITISH Conser vative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused Ireland and the European Union of risking a no deal Brexit with their so-called absurd suggestion that Nor thern Ireland should be in a common regulatory area with Brussels to avoid a hard border on the island. The Tor y’s leading Brexiteer blamed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s “irresponsible, vote-chasing immaturity” and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s “clear disregard” for the Good Friday Agreement for the row over the Irish border. The MP said it was clear that a solution cannot be found to maintain a soft Irish border until Britain and the EU have finalised their future trading relationship. British Prime Minister Theresa May has already rejected the EU’s demand, arguing it would threaten the constitutional and territorial integrity of the UK by keeping Northern Ireland in a de facto customs area with Brussels, which the rest of the country would be outside.

ACCUSATIONS: Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has let fly over Brexit.

Mrs May has instead called for either a customs partnership, under which the UK mirrors EU requirements on goods from around the world, or a streamlined customs arrangement, using technology and trusted trader schemes to do away with the need for customs checks. Writing in the Belfast NewsLetter,

Mr Rees-Mogg praised Mrs May for rejecting Brussels’ demands “firmly and unalterably”. “The thing she said no to was the egregious act of aggression by the European Commission, under its lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, that a friendly European state should be dismembered at its behest,” Mr ReesMogg wrote. “This will not happen. Our union has endured rather more unpleasant threats than a policy paper out of Brussels which the Prime Minister has rightly rebuffed. But the presumption of Brussels in even proposing this is an unfriendly act. “This absurd suggestion – that the Province should be detached from the rest of the countr y and become a protectorate of Br ussels – in fact means … that Brussels is still not being serious,’ Mr Rees-Mogg also attacked Mr Varadkar. “I cannot see how it is in the Republic’s interests for its current prime minister, Leo Varadkar, to posture in this way.”


Ryanair threatens to ground aircraft RYANAIR is threatening to ground its aircraft after Britain withdraws from the European Union to persuade voters to rethink Brexit. The Dublin carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary said he wants to create an opportunity by making people realise they are “no longer going to have cheap holidays”. “I think it’s in our interests – not for a long period of time – that the aircraft are grounded,” he told an audience of airline leaders in Brussels. “It’s only when you get to that stage where you’re going to persuade the average British voter that you were

lied to in the entire Brexit debate. “You were promised you could leave the EU and everything would stay the same. The reality is you can leave the EU, yes that’s your choice, but everthing will fundamentally change.” Mr O’Leary warned that there would be a “real crisis” as flights between the UK and the EU are disrupted after Brexit. “When you begin to realise that you’re no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy, you’ve got to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland as your only holiday options, maybe we’ll begin to rethink

the whole Brexit debate. “They were misled and I think we have to create an opportunity.” EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren interrupted him to say: “If you start grounding your planes, I’m flying.” Carsten Spohr, the boss of German carrier Lufthansa, added: “In theory, if we could use this industry to prove to the British how wrong the decision was, that might be a good thing.” Mr O’Leary has repeatedly warned that airlines will be forced to cancel post-Brexit services from March 2019 if no agreement is reached in the Brexit negotiations by September.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Beast from the East brings big freeze THE Beast from the East and and Storm Emma did their best to bring Ireland and much of Europe to a halt recently, but it surely didn’t stop people having a lot of fun in the freezing temperatures and snow – as well as testing people’s ingenuity. There were seisuns in igloos, brides ferried to the altar by tractor, and a granny hurtling down a snow-covered slope on her grandson’s knee on board a tray! For those old enough to remember the Great Snow-In of 1982, it was a real blast from the past. But just how rare is deep, thick snow like this? Here, we take a look at how wintry conditions have affected Ireland in the past: - Forty-five centimetres of snow, the greatest depth recorded by Met Eireann, fell on New Year’s Eve in 1962. - Fifty-five people were killed during a violent snowstorm on Valentine’s Day in in 1853 when the Queen Victoria ship struck rocks off Howth Head, Dublin. - In 1886, before systematic records began, a blizzard with snow up to 60cm deep is said to have struck Northern Ireland. - In 1947, it was so cold that people were skating on frozen ponds in February. - Dublin airport had 10 consecutive days of snow in February 1955. - The winter of 1963 was the coldest of the 20th century, the forecaster said, as a large Scandinavian anticyclone brought easterly winds over Ireland.

LEFT: Locals take part in clean up in the town of Sallins, Co Kildare. TOP RIGHT: Members of the public help push a stuck Garda car in Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin. BOTTOM RIGHT: A woman and her dog enjoy the snow near Dublin. PHOTOS: Niall Carson/PA Wire.


RTÉ producer groomed girl, 13

JAILED: RTE producer Kieran Creaven arriving at Leeds Crown Court where was given an 18-month sentenced for sex offences after he was caught in a paedophile hunting sting. PIC: Peter Powell/PA

AN RTÉ television producer who was tricked by a paedophile-hunting group into travelling to England to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl has been jailed for 18 months Kieran Creaven, 55, flew from Dublin to Leeds to meet a “girl” he had groomed on Facebook with hundreds of messages. But the fictional teenager – Keeley Nutton – had been created by Leedsbased group Predator Exposure. Leeds Crown Cour t heard how married Creaven – who worked as a sports producer for RTÉ – was living

in a “cyber-world of inter net pornography”. Kitty Colley, prosecuting, said he told police he viewed sex abuse images of children as young as eight. He admitted he had made online contact with 15 to 20 teenage girls, aged between 13 and 18, blackmailing some of them by threatening to release information about them on Facebook. The prosecutor said the defendant thought he was flying to meet Keeley on November 18, after inviting her to stay in the Queens Hotel and go to a Leeds United match with him.

He had made a fake online profile, telling the girl he was a man in his late 30s called Jimmy Cee. The prosecutor said the pair exchanged hundreds of messages between July and November last year. At one point, he sent the girl a picture of his erect penis. Ms Colley said his messages to the girl included one which said: “I’m wishing you were here in bed with me warm and snuggled under the duvet. I’ll keep you wrapped up in my arms all night. Smell your hair. Kiss you. Wake up together in the morning.” Another said: “You are cute and funny and a hottie. Good combination.” Ms Colley said Creaven told police: “I need professional help. I find children attractive.” The prosecutor told the judge the messages made clear from the beginning that the girl was 13. He was detained by people from the Predator Exposure group outside the Queens Hotel on November 18. The group streamed the encounter live on the internet. The court heard how Creaven had two boxes of condoms and a list of girls’ names when he was arrested. Ian Cook, defending, said: “He was living in almost a cyber-world of internet pornography.” Judge Simon Phillips QC told him: “You believed you were dealing with a real person, and you believed her to be 13 years of age.” Creaven stood in the dock with a security guard, and was wearing a white, open-neck shir t and a dark overcoat. He pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to attempting to meet a child following grooming for a sexual purpose and attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, namely kissing and cuddling.

Dr John McAreavey before his resignation, following claims he celebrated Mass with a priest he knew was a paedophile. PIC: Niall Carson/PA

Catholic bishop resigns over claims he celebrated Mass with paedophile A CATHOLIC bishop in Nor thern Ireland has resigned after claims that he celebrated Mass alongside a priest he knew was a paedophile. Dr John McAreavey was Bishop of Dromore. Diocesan secretary Father Gerald Powell said he had resigned with immediate effect. Fr Malachy Finnegan has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people. “Following media reports, which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and fur ther afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect,” Bishop McAreavey said. “I shall make further comment in due course.” Fr Finnegan taught at St Colman’s College in Newry bewteen 1967 and 1976. He is also allegedly linked to a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils. He died in 2002. Amnesty International has called for a public inquiry into clerical sex abuse. Amnesty’s Northern Ireland direc-

tor Patrick Corrigan said: “To date, clerical abuse victims here have been let down, not just by the church, but also by the authorities.” Solicitor Claire McKeegan, of KRW Law, who represents a number of Fr Finnegan’s alleged victims, said she had received calls from numerous further witnesses since a settlement by one of her clients was made public recently. “The message is clear: victims demand a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland without any further delay,” she said. “The victims and survivors deserve to speak about the horrific abuse that took place and be heard in a public forum tasked with sufficient powers to get to the truth. “This case has brought to the surface yet another paedophile priest who was never investigated or exposed by the church or the police.”


March 15 – 31, 2018 I

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March 15 – 31, 2018 I


northern ireland

No immediate end in sight to impasse over powersharing T H E pow ersh a ring impasse in Northern Ireland is likely to extend throughout the year and potentially beyond, a senior Democratic Unionist has said. Simon Hamilton said he did not think an agreement between his party and Sinn Fein to restore devolution would materialise in 2018. “I think the prospects of a return to devolution in the short-term are bleak,” he told MPs at Westminster. “It gives me no pleasure to say that I don’t think that is going to happen in the short-term. “I don’t see it happening this year and perhaps even beyond.” Mr Hamilton, who was briefing members of the Nor thern Ireland Affairs Committee on the long-running powersharing crisis, blamed what he called Sinn Fein’s “scorched earth” policy for poisoning relations between the parties. The DUP continues to reject Sinn Fein’s claims that it had struck a draft

agreement last month before it reneged when confronted by a backlash by party supporters who were angry that potential concessions on the vexed issue of the Irish language were in the offing. Media reports suggesting that a draft deal had been done, including claims that DUP leader Arlene Foster had handed over a hard copy to Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill, were “mischief making” and “selective leaking” by the republican party, Mr Hamilton said. Mr Hamilton said the reasons preventing the restoration of devolved government included Sinn Fein’s intransigence and the party’s continued eulogising of the IRA. The DUP has called for a return to Westminster direct rule to stabilise the region’s rudderless public ser vices amid the continued absence of a Stormont executive. Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy said Mr Hamilton’s remarks showed the DUP had “checked out” of powersharing. He

BLEAK: The DUP’s Simon Hamilton is pessimistic about a new powersharing deal with Sinn Fein.

said the only option was for the UK and Irish governments to chart the way ahead through the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference – a peace process structure that gives the Dublin administration a consultative role on cer tain Nor ther n Ireland issues. “If these comments reflect the position of the DUP leadership, then clearly that par ty has checked out of the

powersharing institutions or any renewed effort to restore them,” Mr Murphy said. “This follows their decision to renege on the draft agreement and to crash the talks process in the face of opposition from their own most rightwing, anti-agreement elements. “Our public services and the rights of citizens cannot be held to ransom by the DUP’s refusal to close on an agreement which they negotiated over 14 months. “So in that context, there is a renewed onus on the two governments to urgently convene the British-Irish intergovernmental conference to implement previous agreements and pave the way for a restoration of the Executive by addressing the British government commitment to an Irish Language Act, the release of funds for legacy inquests, progressing the legacy mechanisms and safeguarding the rights of citizens including the right to marriage equality.”

Foster repeats denial that a draft Stormont deal was shared with Sinn Fein as pressure mounts DEMOCRATIC Unionist leader Arlene Foster has moved to counter new claims about an alleged draft deal that Sinn Fein insists she struck witih the party to restore Stormont powersharing just days before walking out on talks. Ms Foster has already denied claims that she personally handed over the proposed text of an agreement to Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader, Michelle O’Neill, five days before she pulled the plug on negotiations last month. She has acknowledged she handed over numerous papers to Ms O’Neill during the talks process but has insisted none amounted to a draft deal. Last Tuesday, it was further reported that the DUP’s deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, had been in the room on February 9 when the alleged

agreement text was exchanged. Ms Foster said the claim, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, was “complete and utter nonsense”. “I want to say that very, very clearly: Nigel [Dodds] was not in the room,” she said. Ms Foster also responded to a report in the Irish News that DUP members had briefed hardline loyalists linked to paramilitary groups about the contents of the mooted accord to resurrect devolution after a year-long impasse. Asked to respond to that allegation, Ms Foster did not deny that briefings had taken place but she insisted she had no knowledge of them. “If people were briefing organisations they were doing it on their own behalf,” she said. “Certainly they

weren’t doing it on behalf of me or the Democratic Unionist Party. “I am not saying it didn’t take place, I am saying they didn’t do it on my behalf, or on behalf of the Democratic Unionist Party.” The reports were the latest challenges to the DUP’s insistence that it had not agreed the framework of a deal with Sinn Fein that would have seen devolution return to Stormont. The party has been accused of getting cold feet at the eleventh hour because of internal revolt by grassroots members who are angry about potential concessions to Sinn Fein on the vexed dispute over the Irish language. The DUP has vehemently denied its negotiating team agreed a draft before the break-up of talks on February 14.

“NONSENSE”: Arlene Foster’s response to deal sharing allegation.

Woman stable after stabbing in Down A WOMAN is in a stable condition in

hospital after she was one of four people stabbed in Co Down. They were attacked by a man at a house in the Queens Park area of Saintfield during the early hours of Sunday. Police said the suspect fled the scene in a blue Volvo C70, with the registration K9 NES. Three men were also treated in hospital for less serious injuries. Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have arrested a 46-year-old man who remains in custody. Officers have appealed for information from anyone who may have seen the vehicle.

Lynskey murder case reopened A NEW search for a man abducted

and killed by the IRA in 1972 is to be launched. Joe Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk who later joined the Provisional IRA. Preparatory work was expected to have begun on Monday to clear a small area of trees in Oristown, Co Meath, in the Republic, with the dig proper beginning within days. Lynskey was kidnapped in west Belfast in August 1972 and became known as one of the so-called disappeared -– 16 people who abducted and secretly buried by republicans in the 1970s and 1980s.

Attempted hijacking foiled in Derry POLICE have thanked members of the public who helped stop an attempted hijacking in Derry. The incident happened in the Carlisle Road area of the city on Saturday. A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: “Shortly before 11.45am it was reported that a man wearing a green top and grey bottoms approached a silver Toyota Avensis which was in traffic and damaged the wipers and bonnet before entering the vehicle and trying to make off in it. “Fortunately, members of the public intervened.” A 35-year-old man was arrested at the scene and remains in police custody.


UK Government unveils £12bn budget for leaderless Northern Ireland

DASHED HOPES: NI Secretary Karen Bradley expected a new Executive.

THE British Government has tabled a budget for Northern Ireland in the absence of a fully functioning Assembly because of the powersharing crisis. Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley unveiled the £12 billion spending plan for the region in a written statement to Parliament. The budget includes £410 million of the £1 billion investment package secured by the Democratic Unionist Party as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the minority Conservative Party administration. It is the second time the British government has imposed a budget for the region’s rudderless public services since the devolved institutions imploded in January 2017. This occasion is more politically significant, however. When Ms

Bradley’s predecessor James Brokenshire passed a delayed budget last November, he was merely enacting draft spending plans already formulated by devolved ministers before the Stormont executive crashed. This time the British government is making its own policy decisions on where to allocate the region’s block grant in the coming financial year. While the Government continues to insist that it does not want to see a return to full Westminster direct rule, the passage of the budget in London will be viewed by many as another step in that direction. “It had been my firm hope that a new Executive would be in place to set a budget. That will now not be possible in time for plans to be put in place for the forthcoming financial year,” Ms

Bradley said. The budget delivers real-term increases in health and education spending and cash terms increases, at below the rate of inflation, for justice, infrastr ucture and agriculture. All other departments will have their allocation maintained at the same level, or cut. The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, welcomed the release of the latest tranche of confidence and supply money. “Having called for a budget to be passed at Westminster, we welcome the Secretary of State’s necessary intervention to give departments certainty and fund public services for the next financial year,” she said. “Departments living hand-to-mouth is no way to run public services. This

budget contains £410 million secured by the DUP as part of our confidence and supply agreement. Sinn Fein’s vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, said the budget contained only what she called “stop-gap” measures. “This is a disappointing budget which doesn’t provide the resources needed for the public services our people need and deserve,” she said. “It’s not good for householders, for victims, for health, for our economy, our colleges or the homeless. “Seven departments, including those which serve vulnerable communities, housing and ar ts, face real-terms decreases.” Ms O’Neill also accused the Gover nment of failing to release additional money to fund inquests into Troubles related killings.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Ulster rugby rape accused denies cover-up of woman’s claims Lesley-Anne McKeown IRISH rugby international Paddy Jackson has denied concocting a story with his friends to cover their tracks in case of rape allegations. The Ireland and Ulster player was giving evidence on the 28th day of a high-profile trial at Belfast Crown Court. Arthur Harvey, QC, representing Ulster player and co-accused Blane McIlroy, who is contesting an exposure charge, put it to the court: “The allegation that has been suggested is that when you were in Soul Food on the afternoon on June 28 (2016) that you, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison concocted together a version of events which would satisfy any police inquiries into allegations of rape against you and the others. “Did that happen?” the QC asked. Jackson replied: “No that did not happen.” Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman in south Belfast in June 2016. McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road,

Belfast, denies a charge of exposure. Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information. Jackson spent several hours giving evidence as the defence teams opened their case. He was cross-examined about his close friendships with the co-accused. However, he told the court that neither McIlroy or Harrison had revealed, the day after the alleged attack, that the woman had apparently been distressed. “Sitting here now, yeah it’s disappointing,” Jackson told the court, “but I trust them. If they did not tell me, it is because they did not think it was as serious as it clearly is now.” Jackson also said he was not informed by Harrison that the complainant had reportedly said what happened had not been consensual. “He did not tell me,” said Jackson. “Rory is a very nice guy and if he was worried he would not want to worry me or cause me any alarm or distress.” He was also asked about prosecution claims that his friends and teammates had effectively closed ranks after the allegations emerged.

“[The complainant] was concerned that if she was to report the matter to the police that essentially it would be the word of your group against hers” Toby Hedworth QC said. “She’d be the silly little girl who had done something then regretted it. And that’s exactly the stance that has been taken?” Jackson replied: “No, it’s not. There’s not stance.” Later the court heard how Ulster Rugby did not provide Jackson with a solicitor or contact him while he was in police custody. “Was there any pulling of ranks as far as Ulster Rugby was concerned,” Defence QC Brendan Kelly asked. Jackson replied: “No there wasn’t.” Meanwhile, Jackson was also asked about his level of intoxication on the night in question. He had consumed beer, gin and tonic and some shots, the court heard. “Do you accept that being a gifted sportsman is not a defence to the charges that you face,” Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC asked. “And being involved in charitable work is not a defence to the charges that you face?

ACCUSED: Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he was cross-examined about his friends. Pic: PA “And being drunk or having drink is not a defence to the charges that you face? “But being drunk is perhaps an explanation for the charges that you face, is it not?” Having rejected all the previous questions, Jackson interjected: “Sorry, what do you mean?” The lawyer replied: “You recall that


Victims of troubles killings march for justice in Belfast VICTIMS of the Northern Ireland Troubles are tired of their rights being used as a bargaining chip in the push to get a deal at Stormont, a campaigner has said. A number of groups representing relatives bereaved in different fatal incidents have taken to the streets of Belfast to call for political action in dealing with the region’s troubled past. Hundreds of people made their way to the city hall, marching together under the banner Time for Truth, with many carrying pictures of their loved ones. Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill joined other party members, including South Down MLA Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was shot dead in the UVF Loughinisland massacre in Co Down in 1994. The march was organised before the breakdown of talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein earlier this month. Legacy issues were among those being discussed as politicians worked towards a deal to restore powersharing at Stormont. Sinn Fein president Mar y Lou McDonald, speaking the day after talks collapsed, said the party had secured a commitment from the UK Government to have a public consultation on stalled mechanisms to deal with the Troubles and to release funds needed to finance legacy inquests. Sinn Fein’s Gerr y Kelly claimed funding for coroner investigations into disputed conflict deaths were agreed during the recent talks. DUP leader Arlene Foster said it would be astonishing if the government granted funding for legacy inquests without an overall agreement. The government said all discussions with Northern Ireland’s parties were in the context of how it would

ALWAYS REMEMBERED: Relatives’ groups remember their loved ones killed during the Troubles.

respond if there was a deal. A spokeswoman added that the government has set out clear commitments to progress the Stormont House Agreement legacy institutions and to support inquest reform. Mark Thompson, director of Relatives for Justice (RFJ), who attended Sunday’s march, said the British Government “carries the responsibility” of ensuring legacy issues were addressed. “You can’t use as a bargaining chip the rights of victims. “It’s disingenuous of the Secretary of State and the UK Government to dangle as a carrot in front of political parties ‘If you guys can get a deal, we will give victims their rights’.

“These rights are obligations and rights that are held under the European Convention and the Human Rights Act.” Mr Thompson said the demonstration was about more than the sole issue of legacy inquest funding, reiterating a call for action on important elements of the 2014 Stormont House Agreement. A historical investigations unit to examine unsolved murders is crucially important to bereaved families, he said. “That would look at all the unsolved issues for families right across the community and that will deal with approximately 1,800 to 2,000 cases.

“That’s crucially important. So it’s not just about the legacy inquests people are marching for; families are wanting the implementation of all the mechanisms to deal with the past.” While organisers of last Sunday’s march had urged victims from across the community to attend, Mr Thompson blamed unionist politicians for making the issue of dealing with the past a very divisive one at times. “I think it’s much more difficult for groups and people to just be out publicly around this issue, given that it’s being presented by unionist politicians in one way.”

a doctor called by the defence gave evidence and said how alcohol reduces inhibitions and about how it makes people do things they would not normally do? It makes people do unacceptable things that in the cold, sober light of day they maybe shouldn’t have done. That’s what you did isn’t it Mr Jackson?” Jackson replied: “No, not at all.” The case continues.

Loughlinisland: former RUC man cleared of collusion NORTHERN Ireland’s Police Ombudsman has cleared a former police commander of collusion in the Loughinisland attack. Six Catholic men were shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as they watched a World Cup football match in a pub in Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994. In June 2016 the ombudsman, Michael Maguire, ruled there had been collusion between some police officers and the gunmen. Minor amendments were being made to the published report to make it abundantly clear that collusion did not apply to the Royal Ulster Constabulary commander of its Downpatrick subdivision at the time, Ronald Hawthorne, an ombudsman spokesman said. “We did not believe he was connected to these events and have made changes which make that even clearer.” The office has withdrawn two paragraphs that referred to police failures in addressing the activities of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in south Down and has replaced them with one in which it continues to acknowledge such failures but says these cannot be attributed to any individual police officer. It has also withdrawn two paragraphs that comment on the storage and destruction of the car used by the terrorists on the night of the attack. The paragraph in which the ombudsman makes a determination of collusion has been amended. “The office has removed text that collusion involved ‘catastrophic failures in the police investigation’ of the attack and ‘the destruction of exhibits and documents’, although the determination remains. “While these remain significant issues in the report, the changes are made in order to clarify that they do not apply to Mr Hawthorne. The office will continue to defend the judicial review action taken by the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association regarding our legal powers.”


time out

David Hennessy catches up with James Nelson of The Celtic Tenors just before they tour Australia for the first time.

Perfect Tenors

March 15 – 31, 2018 I

FORMER US President Bill Clinton described their rendition as “The finest version of ‘Danny Boy’ I have ever heard.” The Irish Examiner says they “combine the high standards of operatic singing with a delightfully informal sense of fun.” Now, after 18 years of performing together and 12 studio albums, The Celtic Tenors are coming to Australia with their biggest tour to date. Although they have done shows with Celtic Woman here before and performed the occasional one-off gig, the classical-based singing trio are bringing their sound to Australian audiences, having concentrated mainly on America/ Canada until now. “It’s very new territory for us,”

Sligo’s James Nelson tells The Irish Echo. “The few things we have done in Australia have gone very well. I think that’s why we’re coming back. We’re confident that Australia will be in our touring schedule because we’ve nearly toured every other continent.” The Celtic Tenors provide a unique stage show, combining classical music with more traditional Irish, pop and all with their distintive charisma and banter. “Even though we’re essentially a classical/crossover act, we don’t like to be labelled in that way because what we do in the show is so different. We do Nessun Dorma but the next minute we’re doing Whiskey in the Jar, Danny Boy or even the Boxer. The mix is so eclectic, there really is something for everybody. I think that is why we’re together so long. “Sometimes the name works against us. People think, ‘Bloody Irish; only sing Irish songs’. Even with our albums, it’s hard to know where to put them in a record store because they could be in the classical, crossover, or world, or Iish or easy listening. You kind of have to ask at reception where they are.” The Celtic Tenors have been in existence since 2000. While James and Matthew Gilsenan have been involved from the very start until now, Daryl Simpson from Omagh replaced Niall Morris in 2006. This tour will see them perform The Irish Songbook that will include Song For Ireland, Danny Boy, You Raise Me Up and more favourites. “As a group, our passion is the music and as long as the music is forefront, that is what will keep us together. If we stop enjoying the music and stop enjoying what we do, we’ll give it up. You see orchestras and when the conductor is giving notes, they take out their newspapers and you want to go up and shake them and say, ‘do you not realise how lucky

you are to make music or a living?’ I pinch myself all the time. “We were in Abbey Road for our second album in the same studio as The Beatles and I was just pinching myself, I couldn’t believe that this was what we were doing for a living. This is how I sing for my supper. “In Sydney as well when we were getting our pictures taken with the Sydney skyline in the background, I was just thinking, ‘How fortunate am I?’ I think that’s the biggest achievement for me as a group, that we are loving the music still. If it becomes a job, I will pack it in. There’s no point in doing it as a job. You have to be in love. I hope that doesn’t make you throw up.” Another of James’s passions is philanthropy. For years he has been part of a project in Kenya that gives AIDS orphans a second chance at life: “Now we’re seeing kids we worked with years ago graduating as teachers, accountants, chefs and engineers which is the most surreal thing. James is not the only one with such an extremely worthwhile personal project as bandmate Daryl was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list with a British Empire Medal for services to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and services to music. Daryl, from Omagh, started a peace choir of Protestants and Catholics that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. James says: “BEM. I thought he had dyslexia and it was an MBE but it’s a BEM. We’re very proud of him.” They are arriving too late for this one but would The Celtic Tenors love to see St Patrick’s Day in Australia? “I’d love it. For 16 years we have been in America for St Patrick’s Day but I’d love to go to Australia for St Patrick’s Day.” Where are they this year? “We are in Washington DC but we are not playing for President Trump.

‘Making a Commitment’ David Hennessy chats to Andrew Strong, star of The Commitments, as he tours Australia singing the soundtrack of the iconic film. AH, MEMORIES. “It’s nice to revisit those songs, songs I haven’t sung for quite a while,” Andrew Strong tells The Irish Echo of his current tour. Strong is known for playing Deco, the singer with the powerful voice and repulsive personality, in the 1991 film The Commitments. It is now more than 25 years since the Alan Parker film, based on the Roddy Doyle book made international stars of Colm Meaney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball and Bronagh Gallagher. Andrew is returning to Australia to perform the songs that brought him to people’s attention. “I didn’t think there would (still) be demand out there for me to sing these songs and especially so far away, in Australia. But I suppose it’s now kind of turned into a bit of a cult thing and cult movies tend to have a life of their own.” Asked if he could have imagined back then just how famous and enduringly popular

the film would go on to be, Andrew reflects: “I was quite young at the time, I was 16, so I was quite naive, I suppose, about success in general but when I found out who was directing the movie, Alan Parker (Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, Angela’s Ashes), I knew he was a high calibre director. I had a bit of an inclination but I didn’t realise that I would be talking to you 25 years later about it.” The film kept the character of Roddy Doyle’s book by depicting a Dublin for which the Celtic Tiger was still too far away. It also kept its authenticity by using real musicians like Andrew, Glen Hansard and The Corrs in place of actors. Andrew was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Role and a Grammy for the outstanding soundtracks that included Mustang Sally, Try a Little Tenderness, Chain of Fools and more. Andrew has spoken of the film being something of an ‘albatross’

around his neck sometimes prohibiting him from exploring other types of music: “I’ve always been very proud of what I did in the movie. I mean, it’s probably one of the biggest movies to ever come out of this country and I’m very proud of that. “I’m 44 now and I meet so many kids who come up to me and say: ‘If it wasn’t for you, man, I wouldn’t be in the music business, you inspired me to do this’. I meet people who have gone through serious illnesses and certain songs I have sung help them get through hard times in their life. You hear stories like that, it is definitely well worth it. On the other side, it is a bit of a double edged sword because it was so successful and you have a tendency to be pigeonholed. “At the end of the day, I do music. Music is what I love. I’ve made five solo records. I’ve pretty much seen the world ten times over. I’m very happy with that. There were times, trying times,

when I had to deal with a lot of politics with record company people because they wanted to see my career go one way and I wanted it to go another way. Then again. My story, is it really that different to any other artist? “I’m 44. I’m in this game nearly 30 years. I still love it. I’m still touring and it’s great to go to places like Australia where I’m appreciated and I can go over there and show my gratification. Nowadays, I’m more mature and I feel that I have achieved a lot of things in my life, I’m a bit more relaxed about the whole Commitments thing.” In recent years, The Commitments characters have returned with a West End musical

and a sequel book, The Guts. “If you come to my shows, there’s three generations of families at my shows. You have people who originally went out and watched the movie who may have been ten or fifteen years older than me. Then they introduced their kids, and they introduced their kids. It’s great to see three generations of a family come to your show, dig what you do and appreciate what you did three decades ago. “I still don’t watch the movie. I haven’t watched the movie in 20 odd years. It’s on in Ireland three or four times a year but I guess it’s different for me being in it, I’ve a different perspective.” Strong tours Australia until March 23.

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March 15 – 31, 2018 I



thursday 29 march- sunday 22 april FORUM DOWNSTAIRS SYDNEY COMEDY FESTIVAL

friday 27 april enmore theatre PERTH COMEDY FESTIVAL

saturday 28 & sunday 29 april regal theatre

“Edgy material snappy never sappy Bishop has judged this one beautifully” The Age






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March 15 – 31, 2018 I

Mal Rogers scans Ireland’s regional media for what’s making news in your county DOWN

MP blasted for using base named after two IRA men LOCAL unionist politicians have expressed their opposition to South Down MP Chris Hazzard (Sinn Féin) using the McNulty-Magorrian Advice Centre as his local base on Castlewellan, Co. Down. The name refers to Peter McNulty (47), who was killed when a bomb he was placing outside the town’s RUC station exploded prematurely, and Paul Magorrian (21), who was shot dead by the British Army in the town in 1974. Mr Hazzard has defended his decision and has said that the advice centre was named after Mr McNulty and Mr Magorrian 25 years ago. However, Sammy Heenan, whose father William was murdered in 1985 outside his home five miles from the town, said he was disgusted by the decision. He questioned how an MP can serve everyone in his constituency from an office with a sign bearing the name of terrorists. DUP South Down Assemblyman Jim Wells said he had complained to the Commissioner for Standards at Westminster and Stormont about Mr Hazzard’s office. However, Mr Hazzard said he believed Mr Wells “could not come to terms with the fact there is a Republican MP working in South Down”. ”Jim is engaging in distraction politics as he and his DUP colleagues would rather talk about anything other than the accommodation they reached with Sinn Féin last week including an Irish Language Act,” he said. “Under the Good Friday Agreement, everyone, including Irish republicans, has the right to remember their dead with dignity and respect.” CLARE

Lisdoonvarna votes against asylum seekers A VOTE among the people of Lisdoonvarna returned a 93% rejection of plans by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) to house asylum seekers in the King Thomond Hotel. The Clare Champion reports that hotel owner Marcus White told a public meeting that he would honour the townspeople’s wishes. In response, the community held a secret ballot, at a public meeting organised by Lisdoonvarna Fáilte. In answer to the question “do you want a direct provision centre in Lisdoonvarna?”, 197 voted no and 15 voted yes. Paddy Dunne, Lisdoonvarna Fáilte chairman, called on Mr White to honour his undertaking not to proceed with the plan. Mr Dunne said that the 115

asylum seekers would increase the 300-strong population of Lisdoonvarna by 38%. “People in the town will be welcoming to a lesser number, but not 115,” he said. “It is not about the asylum seekers coming. It is about the way in which the Government has conducted this, having no consultation, and no facilities in place for these people.” The RIA said the addition of 115 people over the course of a year “should not put an undue strain on existing resources and services”. RIA said the implementation of the plan could not be delayed and it intended to accommodate 30 people per month, until it reached capacity at the accommodation centre. CLARE

Anger at Department’s request for €5.90 AN angry Clare man revealed today how he has received a letter from the Department of Public Expenditure asking him to repay a pension overpayment of €5.90 — three months after his wife Peggy died. Peadar Daly, from Co Clare, told Joe Duffy on RTÉ of his shock and anger at receiving the letter. “It was an awful shock to get a letter like that.” Peadar went on to say he felt that surely anything under €200 should be dismissed. He revealed how his wife Margaret (Peggy) Daly’s pension was €3.75 per fortnight for cleaning work she had done for an hour a day in the local Garda station. He also revealed how Margaret was part of the group that lost money because she was forced to resign from the Civil Service because of the marriage ban. Responding to the case the Payroll Shared Service Centre extended their sincerest sympathies to Mr Daly and his family on the death of his wife. “We apologise for any hurt caused by the letter Mr Daly received. It was not our intention to cause any upset to him at this very difficult time. Unfortunately Mr Daly did not contact us directly on this matter as we would have liked to resolve this with him directly.” DERRY

City of Derry flight targeted by laser THE BBC reports that a flight from London was targeted by a laser while coming in to land at City of Derry airport. The PSNI said the incident happened at 2145 GMT on March 1 and could have had “terrible consequences”. Almost 1,400 laser attacks were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2016. Police have appealed for anyone with information about the incident involving the Derry bound flight to contact them. PSNI Sergeant Nick Rainey said: “We believe the laser was shone

Members of the public walk past a burnt out car in Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin as nine people have been arrested after a supermarket was attacked in Dublin during blizzard conditions. Unverified social media footage appeared to show looting at a Lidl store in the west of the city, as well as heavy machinery being used to damage the property. Irish police said the damage was substantial. PHOTO: Niall Carson from somewhere between the Magheramason and Newbuildings area. “If you can help identify whoever was responsible, or have any relevant information, please contact police.” Shining a laser at an aircraft in flight could pose a serious safety risk and is a specific criminal offence, said the CAA. “Anyone convicted of shining a laser at an aircraft could face a significant fine or even imprisonment should the safety of an aircraft be endangered,” said a CAA spokesperson. ANTRIM

Thousands expected at Slemish climb THOUSANDS of people are expected to tackle the slopes of the historic Slemish Mountain this St Patrick’s Day. According to legend, St Patrick was a pig herder (or perhaps shepherd) on the slopes of the Co. Antrim mountain. The Ballymena Guardian reports that the 1.5-kilometre walk at Slemish takes approximately one hour up and down. Sections of the short climb can be steep and slippery, but overall the climb to the summit is not arduous. LEITRIM

Mother of one jailed for simulating suicide of housemate to impede murder investigation THE Leitrim Observer reports that a mother of one has been sentenced to three years in prison for staging her housemate’s suicide in order to impede the prosecution of the man, who strangled her. The judge took into account the fact that the accused was one of life’s victims and in an abusive relationship with the killer at the time. That man, whom the judge said “could undoubtedly be described as the murderer”, was never charged. This was due to his limited brain function arising out of an injury sustained months later while fleeing gardaí after a car he had hijacked crashed. A self-confessed neo-Nazi,

he is living in a care facility, where he is spoon fed. However, his 34-year-old former partner was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury. She was found guilty of impeding the killer’s apprehension or prosecution, knowing or believing him to have murdered Antra Ozolina (49). Egita Jaunmaize, of no fixed abode, admitted placing a blue cord around her fellow Latvian’s neck so as to simulate her suicide in order to make it more difficult to establish that her death was suspicious. She had pleaded not guilty to carrying out the offence, without reasonable excuse, at their home at The Old Post, Main Street, Kilnaleck, Co Cavan in 2014. The mushroom picker told gardaí that she was in fear for her life and acting on her boyfriend’s orders at the time, having just seen him strangle Ms Ozolina. Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy took into account her lack of a previous criminal record and the fact that she had worked hard in Ireland, as well as “certain vulnerabilities of temperament and of personality”. CARLOW

Heartbroken family want real justice for murdered daughter “YOU spend more time in primary school than a murderer spends in prison before he gets the opportunity of parole,” is the stark message from the heartbroken family of murdered Carlow woman Ciara Campbell The Carlow Nationalist reports that the family are campaigning for tougher life sentences for murder. Ciara’s son Jamie and her parents Paidi Campbell and Micheál Cunnigham were robbed of their mother and daughter when she was murdered by her former boyfriend, Gordon Molloy, in November 2007 at her home in Ardmore Gardens, Carlow. They have joined a group of families who have also been devastated by the murder of loved ones to form the Sentencing and Victim Equality (SAVE) group and are campaigning for a minimum tariff on life sentences before a murderer can be paroled. Molloy, from Ballickmoyler, was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 but has already been before a parole board, although he was unsuccessful.


Shop owner fleeced vulnerable customers of £150k with sob stories A SHOP owner who preyed on friends and vulnerable elderly customers, fleecing them of tens of thousands of pounds, has been jailed for 18 months. The Belfast Telegraph reports that George Henry Patrick Crossett, 53, whose eldest victim was 91, took almost £150,000 from them over a two-year period with his sob stories of being in dire trouble or under death threat. Judge Gordon Kerr QC told the bankrupted Crossett that his was “one of the most serious cases of fraud I have come across in this jurisdiction”. He said that while such offending normally attracted a sentence of six years on a contest, he was entitled to credit for his guilty pleas. Quoting from a victim impact report, Judge Kerr said it showed the extent of Crossett’s fraud and his behaviour in willingly being prepared to prey on the vulnerable and elderly on Belfast’s Shankill Road, where he operated an electrical shop. A statement, supplied by the daughter of two of his victims, told how Crossett, even after fleecing his victims, would often turn up at their home, “unannounced and uninvited”. Prosecution counsel Philip Henry said Crossett had his “set stories” backed with extraordinary promises of repaying his victims within weeks, and large amounts in interest. He would claim he needed funds to restock after break-ins, or to invest in buying up stock at knock-down prices. Then, after getting his victims’ sympathy, he would drive them to their banks to collect their cash.On occasions he would also talk the same victim into handing over even more money, none of which they ever saw again. Defence lawyer Charles MacCreanor QC said that what might have started out with Crossett borrowing money with the thought of paying them back “rapidly became a criminal offence”. However, Mr MacCreanor added, “it was obvious all of this was always going to come back to his door”. Crossett was jailed for 18 months, with a further 18 months to be spent on licence.

March 15 – 31, 2018 I

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“This ensemble is world-class” – DE GELDERLANDER, NETHERLANDS

Friday 6 April – 8pm Horsham Town Hall Saturday 7 April – 8pm Bunjil Place, Narre Warren Sunday 8 April – 3pm The Capital, Bendigo Tuesday 10 April – 8pm The Wedge, Sale Wednesday 11 April – 7.30pm Melbourne Recital Centre

Friday 13 April – 8pm Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul Saturday 14 April – 8pm Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre Sunday 15 April – 12pm The Loch, Berrima Tuesday 17 April – 7.30pm Wednesday 18 April – 7.30pm The Q — Queanbeyan


Friday 20 April – 7.30pm Devonport Entertainment & Convention Centre Saturday 21 April – 7.30pm Theatre Royal, Hobart Sunday 22 April – 4pm Latrobe Performing Arts Centre, Traralgon Tuesday 24 April – 7.30pm Frankston Arts Centre DUETPRESENTS




March 15 – 31, 2018 I

Modern Ireland, warts and all HERE is a book to make any reader over 50 realise how out-of-touch with modern life she/he is. And we are not talking about an inability to understand the language and thinking and lifestyle of teenagers – that’s a cliché. The characters here are all aged 28, give or take a year; they are mostly young women taking full advantage of their ‘babby-pills’ freedom. That may imply a Fifty Shades’ treatment of life and loving, but that is not the case at all. In fact, there is nothing here that would raise the censuring eyebrow of a mid-century book-burner; sex is just part of what happens, like driving to work or going to the pub or playing hurling and just as a reader of fiction is not really interested in the contest between a full back and full forward, so there is no need to describe what may happen in the bedroom. And because these are working adults in their late-20s we would be reading about bedrooms rather than back seats or back alleys. Which brings us back again to the different world occupied by the characters in the story compared to the uncomfortable reader, admitted for purposes of this review, to have passed the biblical number allotted to mankind. The book arose from a Facebook page set up by the two authors which described the fictional life of Aisling, who does a weekly commute to Dublin from the small town of Ballygobbard (abbreviated as BGB for Ballygobackward). Aisling – pronounce Ash, by the way – works in an office on something to do with pensions; her friends are teachers or work in the nebulous world of HR. They are country girls in the big city, but enthusiastic embracers of the culture in which they find themselves. “I suspect that she ended up in McGowan’s last night with her housemates. I just know she won’t

have resisted the lure of Thursday night pints, even with a class of 29 to face first thing in the morning. She swore blind to me that she was only going out, not Out Out. It’s an important distinction. Out is a couple of pints of Coors Light in The Big Tree or The Foggy Dew, last bus home, maybe a bag of chips if the hunger is at you. Out Out is roaring along to ‘jump around’ at 1am, spilling vodka and Diet Coke down your work shirt.” There is nothing sinister in their ambitions, nothing proscribed in their practices, just young women having a good time. And however much a reader may tut-tut at problems being lined up for them by their drinking habits, they realise that they must soon face the prospect of marriage and a plot of land from daddy in their native place on which they will put up a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house. There is a kind of story running through the book, but it has all the traits of what you might expect, given its origin: something made up by the authors as they went along. That need not take from it, because it is the writing that makes the book. The references are completely Irish and modern Irish at that. “My Gaisce bronze certificate is framed and hanging on the wall, along with my Leaving Cert results. Mammy and Daddy were very proud of my 440. I fell down in the French and my drop to Pass Maths still distresses Mammy, but didn’t I get a B in biology despite the Krebs cycle not coming up?” The book dominated the Irish bookseller lists in the second half of 2017 and continues to do so, ahead of anything to do with crime or politics; ahead of John Banville and Colm Toibin and Marian Keyes. It does for young women in Kilbeggan and Kinnegad what

“The book arose from

a Facebook page set up by the two authors, which described the fictional life of Aisling.

BOOKS OH MY GOD, WHAT A COMPLETE AISLING Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen Gill Books 293 pp 14.99 euro

CCC CORNFLAKES FOR DINNER Aidan Comerford Gill Books 296 pp 14.99 euro

CCCC Frank O’Shea

in his company to be one of the last to be made redundant. By this time he was married and the father of two daughters, both of them on the autism spectrum and both needing constant care. His wife had a sleeping disorder and was also diagnosed with depression. As the economy collapsed, the family found itself kneedeep in debt, with banks sending them threatening letters about mortgage arrears. Enough there to be the kind of excuse for malfeasance that would delight a defence lawyer. What Comerford did instead was to turn to writing funny songs and performing them unpaid before small audiences. Then he entered the So You Think You’re Funny stand-up comedy competition at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival and surprised himself by winning. This was the break that turned fellow Irish comedians Dylan Moran and

Tommy Tiernan into household names and might well have done the same for Comerford. There was quick success with appearances before large crowds in Ireland and the banks were no longer on his back but the family situation was not changing. His older daughter was making some progress in school – learning to ride a bicycle was a particular triumph – but the younger daughter Sophie was a bigger worry. As the book ends, the author has decided that he will take an ordinary day job and devote his excess energy to his family. All that may seem a slender basis for a book, but it is written with a light touch and with tenderness that sometimes masquerades as brashness. Because it is written in the first person, the author comes across as a hero, but this is in the nature of the story rather than in the way he presents himself. Indeed, he is hard on himself and is often the victim of his own silliness.

“[This could] profitably

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly did for men in South Dublin, albeit in a kinder, less abrasive and completely nonjudgemental way. Modern Ireland as it really is. THIS book comes with the secondary title “A Heartbreaking comedy about Family Life.” Certainly the first few chapters have comedy and there are occasional flashes of humour throughout, and indeed it is also heartbreaking in places. However, words like inspirational or moving would describe it better; it is a book that could profitably be read by anyone who has a person with a disability in their family or who meets such a person at school or in the workplace. A native of Co Carlow, Aidan Comerford trained as a draughtsman and was in well-paid employment during the boom years when Ireland was putting up buildings as if there was no repayment required. And when the crash came, he was sufficiently high

be read by anyone who has a person with a disability in their family, or who meets such a person at school or in the workplace.


Letters to My Daughters


The Year That Changed Everything


The Woman in the Window

4 5 6

Still Me


12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

8 9



Emma Hannigan


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Cathy Kelly


A J Finn


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman


The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris


Still Me

Jojo Moyes Jordan B. Peterson

Oh My God What a Complete Aisling Sarah Breen/Emer McLysaght


Fire and Fury


10 The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Michael Wolff John Boyne


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine


The Heart’s Invisible Furies


The Great Gatsby


Gail Honeyman


12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

John Boyne


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Elena Favilli/Francesca Cavallo

The Woman in the Window

A J Finn


Lose Weight for Good

Heather Morris


5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food

Jojo Moyes


The Secret


Oh My God What a Complete Aisling Sarah Breen/Emer McLysaght


Half Hour Hero


Force of Nature

Jane Harper


Atlas of the Irish Revolution

Cork Press

Surprise Me

Sophia Kinsella


The Psychobiotic Revolution

Scott C. Anderson


Steve Cavanagh


Women & Power: A Manifesto

Joanna Trollope

10 Owning it: Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety Caroline Foran

10 Unsuitable Match


Fire and Fury

John Boyne


The Fat-Loss Plan

Scott. F. Fitzgerald


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Camino Island

John Grisham


The Tattooist of Auschwitz



Claire Keegan



The Couple Next Door

Shari Lapena



Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck


The 4 Pillar Plan


Edge of Darkness

Karen Rose



Exit West

Moshin Hamid


Educated. A Memoir

Amor Towles

Tom Kerridge Jamie Oliver Rhonda Byrne Rozanna Purcell

Mary Beard


Gail Honeyman

10 A Gentleman in Moscow

Jordan B. Peterson

Michael Wolff


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway

Joe Wicks


Bad Dad

David Walliams

Yuval Noah Harari


The Midnight gang

David Walliams

Heather Morris



Enlightenment Now: The Case For Reason...

Steven Pinker


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down

With the End in Mind. Dying, Death & Wisdom

Kathryn Mannix


Adventures of Dog Man 4: Dog Man and Cat Kid

Dr Rangan Chatterjee


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind Shoukei Matsumoto


Gansta Granny

David Walliams


Demon Dentist

David Walliams

10 The Cartel

Tara Westover Steven Breen & Owen Conlon

Jeff Kinney

R. J. Palacio Jeff Kinney Dav Pilkey J. K. Rowling

10 Adventures of Dog Man 3: A Tale of Two Kitties

Dav Pilkey

March 15 – 31, 2018 I

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Sunday 18th


02 (98184792)



Shake your Shamrock In Store for 50% OFF* *Receive 50% off your 2nd St Pats item. Offer In Store Only. Offer refers to item of lesser value. Valid until 17th March 2018.



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Perennial posers about Patrick Delighted that St Patrick’s Day is upon us. It’s the one day of the year when I allow myself to drink as much as I do every other day of the year. And I suspect that’s true for a lot of you out there. But of course, as I enjoy my Guinness I always like to mull over the historical and ecclesiastical implications of our patron saint’s life. Again, like most of you out there. The trouble is, we don’t really know a lot about St Patrick, so contemplation of his life can be patchy. It seems he was probably a Roman born in Britain who was captured at the age of 16 by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland – this much appears to be established fact. He escaped, but returned as a missionary in the early 5th century, subsequently founding Ireland’s first Christian church at Armagh. He is reputed to have banished snakes from Ireland but perhaps the Vatican advised him just to move them from parish to parish. Maybe they eventually fell into the sea? St Patrick’s birthplace is also a poser. Various sites have been put forward, the favourites being somewhere in the west of Scotland or the west of Wales. However, a historian called Harry Jelley has put forward a plausible case for St Patrick being a Somerset lad. He reckons that the village of Banwell, five miles east of Weston-super-Mare, could be the saint’s birthplace. A late Roman settlement is known in the area and it contains an undated, unexplained earthwork in the form of a cross. This, Mr Jelley believes, has a religious connotation. Irish monks – of whom there were many in the area from about the 7th century onwards – perhaps constructed the cross as a monument to Patrick. This would have been a few centuries after the saint’s birth, but

the memory of his birthplace of such an important personage would have survived. In one of the few pieces

March 15 – 31, 2018 I

of writing credited to St Patrick, his Confessio, he writes: “I had as my father the deacon Calpornius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, who belonged to the small town of Bannavem Taberniae; he had a small estate nearby, and it was there I was taken captive.” Bannavem Taberniae, Mr Jelley argues with some linguistic authority, is Banwell. Maybe we should celebrate the Apostle of Ireland’s West Country credentials? Perhaps down a few glasses of cider and even get The Wurzels up on stage to give us a bit of scrumpy and Western music? St Patrick would undoubtedly approve.

They said it... ”The fact that the UK has not come up with a legal text of its own for the withdrawal treaty, to reflect the agreement Mrs May made in December, but is still criticising the EU version virulently, shows that we have long way to go on this unproductive, time-wasting and tragic road to Brexit.” Former Taoiseach, John Bruton. ”I remain concerned that some of the constraints of leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market are still not fully recognised.” Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. ”During the month of St Patrick’s Day, we celebrate Irish-American heritage month and the tremendous role Irish immigrants and their descendants have played in the development of our great nation.” US President, Donald Trump. ”Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield I have decided to resign with immediate effect.” Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore. The bishop has resigned amid controversy over celebrating Mass alongside a priest he knew was a paedophile. “I cannot see how it is in the Republic’s interests for its current prime minister, Leo Varadkar, to posture in this way, not least by endorsing the fantasy proposals of [Europe’s chief negotiator on Brexit] Michel Barnier this week, which would do such comprehensive harm to the Belfast Agreement and risk No Deal, which would be more damaging to the Republic’s economy than to any other European state.” Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg on the EU’s draft document for Brexit, which advocates Northern Ireland staying in the EU single market, even if Britain leaves. “If these comments reflect the position of the DUP leadership, then clearly that party has checked out of the power-sharing institutions or any renewed effort to restore them.” Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin. “Ireland is a good place for women, equality has not yet been fully achieved … it is important to emphasise none of these rights fell from the sky. Campaigns had to be fought and won.” The President, Michael D Higgins, speaking about women’s rights for Interational Women’s Day. “Lady Bird captures the mother-teenage daughter relationship so well. Maybe the best picture or best director winner would have reflected that if more Oscar voters were women.” Jennifer Epstein, US entertainment correspondent, commenting on the fact that Saoirse Ronan failed to win an Oscar.

BY A NOSE: A mural of the racehorse Faugheen in Dublin. The champion races at The Cheltenham Festival, 2018. Pic: Niall Carson/PA

Quiz 1. What sort of animal was the Large Ulster White? 2. The Belfast Giants have just won the Challenge Cup, beating Cardiff. In which sport? 3. Who was elected Anti-H Block MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in 1981? 4. Ireland has three, Australia has 19, but Italy has the most with 48. What? 5. In terms of their names, what links Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Morrissey, Michael Crawford, John McEnroe and Jimmy Page? 6. Where did the Connaught Rangers mutiny in 1920? 7. Scalteen is another name for what? 8. Liam Neeson had one game for a League of Ireland soccer club, but wasn’t offered a contract. Which club? 9. What is the county town of Kildare? 10. Who first arrived in Ireland around 795 AD?

Crossword Clues across: 1 Learn perfectly what to do for post in Greendale, or perhaps Ireland (3,2,3,3) 6. Still in hock, we hear, to a poem (3) 9. Strangely, an omen lies at the root of name of Irish actor (4,6) 10. Put the flags down (4) 11. Law concerns short saint @ utility vehicle (7) 12. A trashy untidy table receptacle (7) 13. Make fun of a bone (3) 14. Hostility here in France heading towards Scottish loch (7) 17. Irish town is official in Scotland (6) 19. He raved awkwardly, then hesitated in Scotland or the North of Ireland (7) 20. Irishman or tree precedes saint at the start (5) 21 & 32 across: Fast start from a quiet English weekly soccer team (3, 9) 23. Trouble brews, frets badly about males (8) 25. Irish family belonging to Dame Vera (6) 27. Sports meeting in Killeentierna (3) 28. Third man in a bed negotiates being hidden in furnace (8) 29. Secret escapade sister is to cease (6) 31. Religious division in

Aghadrumsee (3) 32. see 21 across Clues down: 1 Confused mild ghost writer (9) 2. Myself at the near centre of Ireland’s royal hill in headband (5) 3. Haircut 100 for certain (7) 4. Tentative suggestions put out by some sea creatures? (7) 5. Periodically silver, heading northeast then south to a woman (5) 7. Depart from established route heading from Aughakillymaude via Teraghafeeva towards destination (7) 8. A field splits to reveal area of Dublin (12) 12. Sailor ahead of Good Queen leading nun (6) 15. Nerviness wrongly exhibited in Scottish town (9) 16. Serious end of boat (5) 18. Note mess in type of pudding from school (4) 21. Irish term of endearment for supermarket? (5) 22. Oh, Ed crookedly dug out weeds (4) 23. Quiche, we hear, precedes Mr O’Brien (5) 24. Superlatively fast milk seller results from me in the Upper or Lower Lough in Fermanagh (5) 26. See a mixed up Irish woman? (5) 30. First woman registered in Artnalevery (3)








8 9



12 13




17 18


20 21



22 25


27 28





LAST EDITION’S ANSWERS: Clues across: 1. Mary Tyrone. 6 & 25 across: Bull Island. 8. Urgently. 9. Tuba. 10. Eel. 11. Tirconnell (also spelled Tyrconnell). 13. Erin. 14. Iota (Iona). 15. Oban. 19. Kin. 21. Annex. 22. Shannon. 23. Rees (Merlin). 25. see 6 across 27. Ashe (Thomas). 28. Voice. 31. Tram. 33. Cillian Murphy. Clues down: 1. Maumturks. 2. Roger (Casement). 3. Ten Ton Tessie. 4. Roland. 5. Excel. 6. Butler. 7. Lublin. 12. Lebanon. 14. Indelible. 16 & 20 down: Nano Nagle. 17. Ancestry. 18. Exile. 20. see16 down 24. Avoca. 25. Derry. 29, 31 & 32 down: Van The Man (Van Morrison). 30. Amy.

Answers: 1. A pig, which largely died out from the mid-20th century onwards; 2. Ice hockey; 3. Bobby Sands; 4. UNESCO World Heritage Sites; 5. Their middle name is Patrick; 6. India; 7. A hot whiskey; 8. Shamrock Rovers; 9. Naas; The Vikings.

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Friday, March 16 ST MARYS, NSW Charity Golf Day, Penrith Gaels

Annual Charity Golf Day is a 2 Man Ambrose event teeing off at 7.00 am at Dunheved Gold Course. Following the game players will return to the Penrith Gaels Club for a delicious lunch at 12pm and an afternoon of fun and games, raffles, auctions and prizes. Funds raised will be donated to the Nepean Hospital Neo-Natal Unit’s Family Room, a very worthy cause.  Lunch only tickets available for the non-golfers.  Contact:

Friday, March 16 CANBERRA, ACT St Patrick’s Day Service

The Friends of Ireland will hold their annual St Patrick’s Day Service at the Chapel, with a keynote address from Genevieve Jacobs. Commencing 12:00pm in the Chapel at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture Website:

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Friday, March 16

Friday, March 16

Friday, March 16

SYDNEY, NSW Lansdowne Club St Patrick’s Day 2018 Lunch, ICC Sydney

MELBOURNE, VIC St Patrick’s Corporate Lunch, Docklands

QLD, NSW AND VIC P.J. O’Brien’s St Patrick’s Day Weekend

Hosted by the Lansdowne Club at the ICC Sydney. Around 2,000 members of the Irish & Australian business community attend from a wide range of industries in what will likely be the largest St. Patrick’s Day lunch in the world. Contact:

The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce hosts a flagship corporate lunch in Melbourne for the Irish Australian Business Community and all our friends. Great entertainment, prominent speakers and the opportunity to come together. A threecourse lunch will be served, followed by the very popular post-lunch networking. Contact:

Friday, March 16 – Monday, March 18 BLUE MOUNTAINS, NSW Blue Mountains Folk Festival Blue Mountains Music Festival is a threeday festival of folk, roots and blues. See and hear world-class musicians in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere.  Irish singer-songwriters Pauline Scanlon and John Spillane join the 2018 line-up.

Friday, March 16 BRISBANE, QLD St Patrick’s Corporate Lunch, Hilton Hotel The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce hosts the flagship corporate lunch for the Irish Australian Business community in Brisbane. Including prominent speakers, music, dancers, international visitors and the opportunity to come together. Guest appearance by comedian Paul Martell. Contact:

Friday, March 16 ROZELLE, NSW Paddy’s Weekend at the Bald Rock Hotel Located on the Balmain peninsula and overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Bald Rock is hosting a range of events to celebrate Paddy’s Weekend. St Patrick’s Eve - Music with Pat Brady Irish Duo, live in the front bar from 8pm  Contact: 02 98184792

Friday, March 16 ST KILDA, VIC Jimmy O’Neill’s St Patrick’s Weekend If you enjoy good food, whiskeys, ales and music steeped in tradition, Jimmy O’Neill’s is the perfect place to enjoy a taste of Irish culture and feel a bit of history. Full Irish breakfast available. St Patrick’s Eve:  Lonely Finnegan Contact: 03 90421749

what’s on

Join the Craic at P.J. O’Briens for the St Patrick’s Day Weekend 2018. Party all weekend in Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne, or Sydney. Live Irish Music all weekend. Website:

you’ve seen before. Featuring a live band delivering hits from Irish recording artists such as U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, Hozier, The Script, Ronan Keating, Enya, and many more. Dancers from hit Irish shows Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance kick up their heels performing traditional and modern Irish dance as well as ballroom and tap dance. Venue – Rooty Hill RSL. Website:

Friday, March 16

Friday, March 16

BRISBANE, QLD Brisbane St Patrick’s Eve Dinner

NEWCASTLE, NSW Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour

The Queensland Irish Association has hosts an annual St Patrick’s Eve Dinner. This year it will be back at the Pullman Hotel. Tickets: $150 each ($1,500 table of ten) Contact:

Friday, March 16 CANBERRA, ACT Canberra Irish Club, St Patrick’s Weekend

Canberra Irish Club is hosting a range of events over St Patrick’s weekend.   Friday night - John Spillane and Pauline Scanlon Website:

Friday, March 16 ROOTY HILL NSW Eireborne – The Rebirth of Irish Dance

One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s will be in Australia in 2018 for a national tour as he celebrates 50 years in music.    Website:

Friday, March 16 MELBOURNE, VIC Andrew Strong Live – The Commitments Tour

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the award-winning film The Commitments, Andrew Strong returns to Australia to perform the classic soundtrack in full! Get ready for the film’s hits “Mustang Sally”, “Try A Little Tenderness”, “Treat Her Right”, “Take Me To The River”, “In the Midnight Hour” plus more. Website:

More than an Irish dance show, Eireborne is a theatrical experience like nothing


stay up to date with what’s on at :: (02) 9555 9199

Open from 10am till late. Traditional Irish Food served from 12-8.30pm

Join us at our New social home for

Music starting from 12 noon

Ciaran Boyle 12.00-3.00pm

Traditional Irish Session 3.30-5.30pm

Rossa McCann 6.00-9.00pm

MIC 9.30-12.30am


Ireland Vs England

Celtic at Metropolitan 42 Courtney St Nth Melbourne

LIVE 1.45am

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YOUR GUIDE TO ALL THE MAJOR ST PATRICK’S DAY EVENTS HAPPENING IN YOUR CITY St Patrick’s Day Mass Saturday, March 17 BRISBANE, QLD St Patrick’s Day Mass - St Stephen’s Cathedral

This year the St Patrick’s Day Mass will be held before the parade at 8:00am at St Stephens Cathedral on Elizabeth St in the city. 

SYDNEY, NSW St Patrick’s Day Mass - St Mary’s Cathedral

Annual Mass for the Feast of St Patrick in the Sydney CBD at St Mary’s Cathedral at 10.00am. Celebrated by Bishop Terry Brady.

ADELAIDE, SA St Patrick’s Day Mass - St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral This year the St Patrick’s Day Mass will be held at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral at 11.30 am

Major Saturday Events

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Major Sunday Events

Saturday, March 17

Sunday, March 18

BRISBANE, QLD Brisbane St Patrick’s Day Parade and Picnic

SYDNEY, NSW Sydney St Patrick’s Day at The Entertainment Quarter

The Parade will starts on Alice St in the Brisbane CBD outside the City Botanic Gardens. The Picnic in the Gardens will be happening with market stalls from 8:00am together with live music by Celtic Fusion into the afternoon after the parade. Website: 

ADELAIDE, SA St Patrick’s Day at Adelaide Oval

Adelaide Oval is turning green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in conjunction with the Irish Australian Association. Revel in Irish festivities on the Telstra Plaza where there will be food and drinks, live music and entertainment all day. Be sure to dress in green and celebrate St Patrick’s Day, a global celebration of Irish culture. Website:

PERTH, WA Perth St Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Fun Day

Starting at 10am the parade will see the streets of Leederville turn green for a day with floats, walking groups and marching bands. The Family Fun Day once again includes kids activities, food stalls, live entertainment and a huge bar - this is an Irish celebration not to be missed! Website:

The Sydney celebration traditionally takes place on a Sunday and this year with the festivities taking place in the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. There will be a variety of music on the big stage from 12pm, a children’s parade and play area with bouncing castles and face painting galore, Irish dancers and marching bands displaying the very best in local talent. With lots of amazing food and drink stalls to keep attendees refreshed during the day. Make plans to get there early, grab a great vantage point and enjoy the best celebration in the country. Website: au

MELBOURNE, VIC Melbourne Irish Festival, Edinburgh Gardens North Fitzroy The Melbourne Irish Festival is an annual family fun day open to all, celebrating Irish culture and heritage. Creating an opportunity to come together as a community, to celebrate Irish culture, to reflect the true nature of a diverse and modern Irish community and its contribution to the fabric of Australian Society today. 12 – 5pm. Website:

what’s on

Saturday, March 17

Saturday, March 17

P.J. Gallaghers St Patrick’s Day


Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at PJ Gallaghers, The Criterion - Sydney, EQ – Moore Park, Enfield and Le Pub – Sydney. Enjoy traditional Irish Music, Irish Dancers and Guinness Giveaways Website:

Saturday, March 17 THE ROCKS, NSW Mercantile Hotel – St Patrick’s Day Breakfast

Our Annual St Patrick’s Day Breakfast includes live Irish music and dancing, plenty of colour and traditional Irish hospitality and you’re invited! Tickets are just $80 per person, including a traditional Irish breakfast, an Irish coffee, and a 3 hour beverage pack!  Book early to avoid disappointment.   Contact: 02 9247 3570

Saturday, March 17 ROZELLE, NSW Paddy’s Weekend at the Bald Rock Hotel

Located on the Balmain peninsula the Bald Rock is hosting a range of events to celebrate Paddy’s Weekend. St Patrick’s Day includes Full Irish breakfast with a pint of Guinness or Bulmers only $25!! Served from 9am-11am. Live Music all day: 12pm-3pm - Murphy’s Law, 4pm7pm - Cara Kavanagh & Lindsay Martin, 8pm-11pm - Irish Connection, Irish Classics Bar Menu 12pm-10pm Contact: 02 9818 4792

If you enjoy good food, whiskeys, ales and music steeped in tradition, Jimmy O’Neill’s is the perfect place to enjoy a taste of Irish culture and feel a bit of history. Full Irish breakfast available. St Patrick’s Day:  Irish Dancing, Brian Hogan & Friends, Stephen Kennedy, Wez & Mark, Whisky Gypsy’s Contact: 03 90421749

Saturday, March 17 QLD, NSW AND VIC P.J. O’Brien’s St Patrick’s Day Weekend Join the Craic and P.J. O’Briens for the St Patrick’s Day Weekend 2018. Party all weekend in Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne or Sydney Live Irish Music all weekend, Irish Dancers & big Irish Breakfasts on St. Patrick’s Day Website:

Saturday, March 17 NORTH MELBOURNE, VIC The Celtic Club Presents St Patrick’s Day at Celtic at Metropolitan Open from 10am until late. Traditional Irish food served from 12 – 8.30 pm. Music all day Ciaran Boyle 12 – 3pm, Traditional Irish Session 3.30 – 5.30 pm, Rossa McCann 6 – 9 pm. Six Nations Rugby Ireland v England 1.45 am Contact: 03 9328 4222 :: (02) 9555 9199

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March 15 – 31, 2018 I


Saturday, March 17

Saturday 17 March 2018

Saturday, March 17

Sunday, March 18

Sunday, March 18

THE ROCKS, NSW St Patrick’s Day George Street Takeover – The Mercantile Hotel


WENTWORTHVILLE, NSW Eireborne – The Rebirth of Irish Dance

ROZELLE, NSW Paddy’s Weekend at the Bald Rock Hotel

CANBERRA, ACT Canberra Irish Club, St Patrick’s Weekend

Located on the Balmain peninsula and overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Bald Rock is hosting a range of events to celebrate Paddy’s Weekend. Sunday includes “The Cure” Hangover Breakfast, Full Irish + Bloody Mary + Berocca, Live Music 6pm-9pm, by Irish Connection, Irish Classics Bar Menu 12pm-9pm. Breakfast and lunch bookings essential. Contact: 02 98184792

Canberra Irish Club is hosting a range of events over St Patrick’s weekend.   Sunday St Patrick’s Day Recovery Party -  A great way to relax after a huge day of celebrations.  Enjoy a great BBQ and drink deals from 12 noon.   Website:

Sunday, March 18

The Queensland Irish Choir will return to the German Club for a two-hour performance from 2 – 4 pm. Contact: 0447 744 788 or email jennifer.

For the first time in over 20 years, The Mercantile has been granted access to George Street which means we will be taking over The Rocks Market space! There will be pop-up bars & food stalls, Irish dancing from Currie-Henderson Dance School & entertainers including a face painter & magician. An amazing line up of musicians, including Backwater, Shindig, Shaylee Wilde & The Soniks. 7am – late. Website:

Saturday, March 17 CANBERRA, ACT Canberra Irish Club, St Patrick’s Weekend

St Patrick’s Day will be filled with fun, festivities and great giveaways! Full Irish Buffet Breakfast from 8am. Irish style dishes in the bistro, Irish dancers performing.  Great give-aways all day. Live Bands from noon ‘til late including: Fir Croi, Night Potion and Cassidy’s Ceili. Website:

Saturday March, 17 SYDNEY, NSW St Patricks Day’ celebrations

“The Catholic Club” on 199 Castlereagh Street invites you to join them for St Patricks Day celebrations. Enjoy mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, then stroll across Hyde Park and enjoy some great company and lunch at the Club. Contact: 02 9267 9725

St Patrick’s Race Day - Ascot Celebrate all things Irish on St Patricks Day at Ascot Racecourse with plenty of Guinness and Kilkenny on tap. Book with family and friends and enjoy traditional Irish treats, live music and a full race day schedule in your best green outfit! Join all the action celebrating Irish good times and exciting thoroughbred racing including the Listed Ascot 1000 Guineas and Supremacy Stakes. Gates open 9am. Website:

Saturday, March 17 DARWIN, NT Shenannigan’s St Patrick’s Race Day Come dressed in green and celebrate St Pat’s day at the races with a relaxing luncheon at our Ted Bailey’s Grand Stand or purchase a ticket to the Pavilion and enjoy a 3 hour beverage package hosted by DJ Hot Toddy. Gates open from 10 am. Contact: 08 89234222

More than an Irish dance show, Eireborne is a theatrical experience like nothing you’ve seen before. Featuring a live band delivering hits from Irish recording artists such as U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, Hozier, The Script, Ronan Keating, Enya, and many more. Dancers from hit Irish shows Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance kick up their heels. Venue – Wenty Leagues. Website:

Saturday, March 17 SYDNEY, NSW Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s celebrates 50 years in music.    Website:

Saturday, March 17

Saturday, March 17

GOSFORD, NSW St Patrick’s Race Day Gosford

ROOTY HILL, NSW Andrew Strong Live – The Commitments Tour

Come along to the St Patrick’s Day Race Day featuring the Polytrack Provincial Championships Gosford Qualifier. The Race Day in Gosford will not only feature live racing and the AUD150000 Provincial Championships, but will also feature live music, entertainment for the whole family and all the fun that is St Patrick’s Day! Gates open at 12pm. Contact: (02) 4325 0461

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the award-winning film The Commitments, Andrew Strong returns to Australia to perform the classic soundtrack in full! Get ready for the film’s hits “Mustang Sally”, “Try A Little Tenderness”, “Treat Her Right”, “Take Me To The River”, “In the Midnight Hour” plus more. Website:

ST KILDA, VIC Jimmy O’Neill’s St Patrick’s Weekend If you enjoy good food, whiskeys, ales and music steeped in tradition, Jimmy O’Neill’s is the perfect place to enjoy a taste of Irish culture and feel a bit of history. Full Irish breakfast available. Naomi Campbell, Ciaran Boyle, PC Duo, Marty Kelly Duo Contact: 03 90421749

Sunday, March 18 QLD, NSW AND VIC P.J. O’Brien’s St Patrick’s Day Weekend Join the Craic at P.J. O’Briens for the St Patrick’s Day Weekend 2018. Party all weekend in Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne or Sydney Live Irish Music all weekend. Website:

stay up to date with what’s on at

Sunday, March 18 BRISBANE, QLD Queensland Irish Choir Performance

Sunday, March 18 DEE WHY, NSW Eireborne – The Rebirth of Irish Dance More than an Irish dance show, Eireborne is a theatrical experience like nothing you’ve seen before. Featuring a live band delivering hits from Irish recording artists such as U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, Hozier, The Script, Ronan Keating, Enya, and many more. Dancers from hit Irish shows Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance kick up their heels performing traditional and modern Irish dance as well as ballroom and tap dance. Venue - Dee Why RSL. Website: The Online Voice of Irish Australia


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Monday, March 19

March 15 – 31, 2018 I

Thursday, March 22 – Sunday March 25

CANBERRA, ACT Ireland Cup Golf Day Hosted by the Canberra Irish Club at the Royal Canberra Golf Club Time to get your team together and come and play the best course in town. Players need to be at the course at 9am for a 9.30am tee-off. Contact: Contact John Morgan on 0411 555 221 (or Marek Bilski on 6288 5088)

Monday, March 19 – Sunday, March 25 PENRITH, NSW 2018 AON Sydney International Rowing Regatta 2018

BRISBANE, QLD Des Bishop – Egorithm at the Brisbane Comedy Festival

Performing at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival, Des Bishop returns with a brand-new show, Egorithm. In yet another open and honest, fast paced hour of stand-up. Des will delve into his thoughts on a myriad of matters: Male defensiveness around feminism; Islamophobia; his time in China; men; sexual harassment… and a few dirty bits.  Website:

Thursday, March 22 – Monday, April 23

Come and Support Irish World Champions and Olympians. The Regatta will see not only clubs from across Australia , but also competitors from Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ireland. Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists and World Champion rowers, Gary and Paul O’Donovan are set to compete at the event, along with Irish World Champion teammates Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan. From 19 – 25 March 2018 Website:

Tuesday, March 20 ADELAIDE, SA Gilbert O’Sullivan Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s celebrates 50 years in music.    Website:

MELBOURNE, VIC Jason Byrne at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

The Man With Three Brains is a brand new show from the highly acclaimed and extremely funny, Jason Byrne. Jason has three brains which kick into action when he hits the stage. His left brain scans the audience, looking for improv moments. His right brain collates stand-up material and stunts, poised to dish out the funnies at speed. His centre brain is Jason’s coach, pushing him to the limit. Performing at the Forum. Website:

Thursday, March 22 ADELAIDE, SA Andrew Strong Live – The Commitments Tour

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the

award-winning film The Commitments, Andrew Strong returns to Australia to perform the classic soundtrack in full! Get ready for all the films hits plus more. Website:

Monday, March 26 CANBERRA, ACT Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s celebrates 50 years in music.    Website:

Tuesday, March 27 MELBOURNE, VIC Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s will be in Australia in 2018 for a national tour as he celebrates 50 years in music.    Website: Website:

Friday, March 23 MANDURAH, WA Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s will be in Australia in 2018 for a national tour as he celebrates 50 years in music.        Website:

what’s on

Friday, March 23 PERTH, WA Andrew Strong Live – The Commitments Tour To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the award-winning film The Commitments, Andrew Strong returns to Australia to perform the classic soundtrack in full! Get ready for the film’s hits plus more. Website:

Saturday, March 24 REVESBY, NSW Eireborne – The Rebirth of Irish Dance More than an Irish dance show, Eireborne is a theatrical experience like nothing you’ve seen before. Featuring a live band delivering hits from Irish recording artists such as U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, Hozier, The Script, Ronan Keating, Enya, and many more. Dancers from hit Irish shows Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance kick up their heels performing traditional and modern Irish dance as well as ballroom and tap dance. Venue - Revesby Workers. Website:

Saturday, March 24 PERTH, WA Gilbert O’Sullivan 50th Anniversary Tour One of the biggest Irish songwriters & recording artists to reach international chart success in the 70s and 80s celebrates 50 years in music.    Website:

Thursday, March 29 – Sunday, April 22 MELBOURNE, VIC Des Bishop – Egorithm at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Performing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Des Bishop returns to with a brand-new show, Egorithm. Des delves into his thoughts on a myriad of matters: Feminism; Islamophobia; China; men; sexual harassment… and a few dirty bits. Website:

Friday, 6 April HORSHAM, VIC The Celtic Tenors

Kicking off their 2018 Australian tour, The Celtic Tenors will perform The Irish Songbook with such classics as Finnegan’s Wake, In The Gloaming, Song For Ireland, Danny Boy, The Dutchman, Caledonia, you Raise Me Up and many more favourites. Website:

Friday, 6 April SYDNEY, NSW Great Irish Famine Commemoration Fundraiser with Evelyn Conlon

Irish novelist, Evelyn Conlon, will talk about her novel Not the Same Sky. Finger food, drinks will be served and selling raffle tickets with the winners of our Grand Draw announced.The event is the 2nd fundraiser for our Famine Refugee Scholarship to support a student who arrived in Australia as a refugee. 6 – 8.30 pm at History House, Macquarie St. Website:

stay up to date with what’s on at :: (02) 9555 9199

St Patrick’s Day Eve 16 March 2018

Lonely Finnegan

S t P a t r i c k ’s D a y 17 March 2018

Fu ll Ir is h br ea kf as t

Irish Dancing Brian Hogan & friends Stephen Kennedy Wez & Mark Whisky Gypsy’s

Day after St Patrick’s 18 March 2018

Naomi Campbell Ciaran Boyle PC Duo Marty Kelly Duo 154-156 Acland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC 3182

Tel : (03) 9042 1749

E-Mail :

Join us at The Catholic Club for St Patrick’s Day Lunch. The Catholic Club on 199 Castlereagh Street invites you to join us for ‘St Patricks Day’ celebrations. Enjoy mass at ‘St Mary’s Cathedral’, then stroll across Hyde park and enjoy some great company and lunch at the Club. We are located close to all forms of transport to ensure an easy and enjoyable day for all. We hope to see you at the ‘Catholic Club’

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33 sports

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O’Neill unhappy with Republic’s recruitment of young Catholic players to side NOR THERN Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has claimed the Football Association of Ireland targets Catholic players to switch allegiance and play for the Republic. Players born in Northern Ireland are eligible to represent the Republic. O’Neill, who recently signed a contract extension with the Irish Football Association, is peeved at losing potential future senior internationals to the nation south of the border. James McClean, Shane Duf fy, Darron Gibson, Eunan O’Kane and Marc Wilson – senior internationals with Martin O’Neill’s Republic side – all represented Northern Ireland at youth level before they transferred. Michael O’Neill has decried the situation by criticising the FAI’s approach. In an interview with the Irish Daily Mail, the Northern Irish manager, who

is Catholic, said: “The FAI only ever aproach one type of player – Catholic. “I don’t have a problem with James McClean. He was 22 years of age; he knew what he wanted. I have a problem when it’s a 16, 17 or 18-year-old having to make a decision on his international future. “What is the point of asking a player to change his allegiance, to make a decision about his whole international future, and then not pick him? “Daniel Devine of Partick Thistle is a West Belfast boy and would have gone to the Euros with us. “Only he can’t play for Northern Ireland as he’s signed an international transfer. “I can list you 10 players who’ve made that decision and have never represented the Republic.” O’Neill went on to add he did not fear Paul Smyth, a Nor ther n Ireland Under-21 international who scored on

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill (right) with assistant Roy Keane during the FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off first leg match at the Parken Stadium, Copenhagen. PHOTO: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

his QPR debut in January, would switch to the Republic ahead of an expected senior call-up later this year. However, he intends to speak with his Republic counterpart Martin O’Neill – himself a former Northern Ireland international – about the situation. “I hope that Martin and I can get some sort of gentleman’s agreement whereby if a young boy has represented Northern Ireland at ages 17 to 21, the FAI don’t ask him to change,” Michael O’Neill added. Nor thern Ireland will meet the Republic of Ireland in a Dublin friendly in November. Press Association Spor t has contacted the FAI for comment.

John Delaney insists FAI will cope without O’Brien backing THE Football Association of Ireland

is strong enough to cope without the backing of Denis O’Brien, its chief executive John Delaney has said. RTE reported on Friday that businessman O’Brien, who has contributed to the wages of the Republic of Ireland national team since 2008, had ended his spending. Delaney confirmed that to the network but said that the FAI was

able to manage. “Over the past 10 years [O’Brien] has given funding of almost €10 million (£8.9m),” Delaney was reported as telling Newstalk. “We always knew it was going to come to an end. At this particular juncture we are strong enough to stand on our own two feet.” The current management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane recently signed a new contract.


Michael Cusacks double winners at Pearses sevens David Hennessy

CALLING IT A DAY: Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip, who won 95 caps for his country, has retired from rugby. PIC: Niall Carson/PA .

Heaslip will be missed at World Cup – O’Driscoll BRIAN O’Driscoll feels Ireland will miss Jamie Heaslip at next year’s World Cup and believes the retired number eight was never properly appreciated. On Monday, Heaslip announced he was calling time on his career at age 34 because of a lower-back injury that has kept him out of action since last March. Heaslip won 95 caps, three Six Nations titles and the 2009 Grand Slam, and played alongside O’Driscoll with Leinster and the British and Irish Lions. Although O’Driscoll feels his country are well stocked in the back row, he also feels Heaslip’s absence will be felt at next year’s World Cup. “I know lots of people really, really rated him but I don’t think people truly understood his value,” said O’Driscoll, who was speaking in Monaco his role as a Laureus ambassador. “He’s a big-game player. He always turned up for big games, always. I never saw him play a sub-standard performance in a game where it really counted.

“He was a very savvy rugby player. He cleaned up an awful lot of messy stuff - good link player, great athlete and an unbelievably good professional. He is a big loss. “Ireland are in good shape in that position but what you don’t see is that rugby intellect in every player. I think he was one of the rare ones that he could put it all together. He had a real winning mentality. “He is absolutely a loss for Ireland - to not have him in their 30-man squad for the World Cup, for me, will leave a little bit of a dent. “A great opportunity for other guys but I’ve a lot of time for Jamie as a team-mate and as a player he was someone that you wanted in your team. “I felt we were stronger for having had him in our team.” • The Laureus World Sports Awards highlight spor ting excellence and recognise those who use spor t to change lives for the better. For more information, head to www.laureus. com/awards

MICHAEL Cusacks of Sydney were the big winners of the Padraig Pearses sevens, completing a double victory of both the hurling and ladies football titles. New South Wales took cups in three of the four codes with Sydney’s Cormac McAnallens also coming out on top in the camogie competition while Garryowen made sure the football title remained in Victoria. Pearses sevens is the biggest club GAA tournament in Australia with participants coming from as far away as Western Australia and this one proved to be the biggest yet. The full day of family fun also included a petting zoo, live entertainment and an exhibition match by Kids GAA Melbourne. Special guests were Conor Nash and Conor Glass, two Hawthorn Irish AFL stars, who presented trophies to the lucky kids. Michael Cusacks came out on top against Melbourne Shamrocks in the hurling final. Cusacks captain Frankie Culleton, said: “Over the moon, we were.

When we start off the season, we try to focus on sevens and that’s our first goal of the season. You need a lot of luck down there as well. “We had the two buses coming back so we had a cup on each bus but we weren’t long meeting up with each other when we got back. We headed out onto the town. We celebrated well anyway. “We won it two years ago and that was the first time we won it in the history of the club with the hurling. That was big but it was ver y special to be able to captain the side to win it as well.” Cusacks’ lady footballers had to overcome Cormac McAnallens to take the club’s other crown of the day. Captain Grainne McGread said: “It was an unbelievable day, such a great atmosphere and I think it’s probaby the highlight of the pre-season competitions that all the teams in Australia go to. There’s such a good atmosphere and everyone goes there for the football and the craic as well. “I think it’s been nearly 10 years since Cusacks have won it so it was really good especially for the older girls who have

been there and then the new girls as well, winning it and being successful for their first season. It’s motivated us to continue our success this season and definitely push us forward and start the season as we mean to go on.” Cormac McAnallens got revenge in another code when they beat Michael Cusacks in the camogie final. Their captain Maria Brody said: “It was fantastic to get it because we have never won the camogie there before. We’re absolutely over the moon. It’s fantastic to get the win. “A lot of our team this year are new players that are just out this year and they had never experienced the sevens before. I’ve been in Australia five years and I’ve been playing with Cormac McAnallens five years so it was great for me to get the win after five years of losing or getting to finals and getting hammered by other teams like Michael Cusacks but finally it was our turn this year. It was such a pleasure to be captain as well after five years of playing. Cusacks are our big rivals so it was extra sweet to beat them.”

Michael Cusacks ladies football team and the men’s hurling winners . PIC: Darken Sportz


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Vital moments that secured Ireland the Six Nations title IRELAND’S third NatWest 6 Nations title in five years would simply not have been possible without a raft of key moments keeping the championship bid alive. Here is a clutch of turning points. Johnny Sexton drops Ireland to victory in France: Ireland were coasting in their opening-round clash against France in Paris, that was until Teddy Thomas scythed off the wing, bisected the cover and skipped between the posts. But just when Ireland looked to have snatched defeats from the jaws of victory for the second time running in France, up popped Sexton with a nerveless, 45-metre drop-goal that won the day. Ireland built some 41 phases in a final-play winning move that extended into the third minute of overtime. Ireland hardly merited victory, but on such stunning rescue missions are title triumphs founded. Jacob Stockdale seals victory over Wales with a fine intercept score: Not until the final throes of Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales in

Dublin were Schmidt’s men able to gain total control. At no point before the closing stages had Ireland nailed down the win. So when free-scoring wing Stockdale picked off Gareth Anscombe’s pass and powered home, the entire Aviva Stadium breathed a severe sigh of relief. Peter O’Mahony conjures a fine cover tackle and turnover against Scotland: Though Ireland eventually subdued Scotland by four tries to one for a 28-8 victory, the visitors bungled a host of clear-cut scoring chances that could have entirely altered the game’s complexion – but they didn’t. Munster flanker O’Mahony produced a momentous performance of grit and industry throughout, battling manfully to nullify Scotland’s clear contactarea advantage. O’Mahony pulled off a fine stunning tackle on wing Blair Kinghorn that saved a try-scoring chance, but not finished there though, he leapt to his feet and forced a turnover penalty. At the top of the second-half, this was a vital intervention, with Ireland only leading 14-3.

Sexton fires a bullet pass to send Stockdale in for his first try against Wales. Ireland have spent large swathes of this tournament bulldozing through phases but at points struggling to finish off moves swiftly. No such trouble against the Welsh, with five tries the fruit of an attack-heavy performance. There could be no better tour de force than Sexton’s flat, fast and defence-splitting pass that sent Stockdale walking into the corner for his first of two tries in the 37-27 victory over Warren Gatland’s side either. Garry Ringrose’s runaround sends Stockdale in for a second score against Scotland. Fit-again Ringrose had only played an hour’s rugby since January with Leinster before this encounter. It never showed. Not one jot. Instead the 23-year-old scythed and stepped through the Scotland defence on several occasions. And then he forced a runaround off Bundee Aki to fire a bullet pass to send Stockdale home for a score that all-but sealed Ireland’s 28-8 win over Scotland.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Ireland’s Garry Ringrose is tackled by Scotland’s David Denton and Pete Horne. PIC: Donall Farmer/PA


Famous Five who clinched Ireland’s biggest adventure Ireland’s Sean Cronin and his sons Cillian and Finn celebrate after the final whistle. PIC: Donall Farmer/PA

IRELAND claimed their third NatWest 6 Nations title in five years with a week to spare. Here are the five key players in Ireland’s victory march:

Jacob Stockdale The first Irishman to score six tries in a single Five or Six Nations championship - and he still has a week to add to that tally. The 21-year-old Ulster star now boasts 10 tries in just eight Test matches. By any measure, that return remains remarkable. The Lisburn native has established himself as a fixture in Joe Schmidt’s firstchoice XV almost as soon as he has broken into it. His ability to mix power running with unerring finishing has proved invaluable to Ireland’s title march, as has his uncanny aptitude for the interception.

Conor Murray

Ireland’s Rob Kearney is tackled by Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA

Irelands Jacob Stockdale scores his side’s first try of the game. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA

Munster and British and Irish Lions star Murray has only the All Blacks’ Aaron Smith as any credible challenge to the title of the world’s greatest scrum-half. The 28-year-old boasts the kind of all-court game most sides across the globe would crave from a half-back general. His ability to kick with unerring accuracy, snipe around the fringes with power and pace, and also pop up in midfield and direct play like a fly-half, remains almost unrivalled. That new-found propensity to drift through the 10 and 12 channels and act as an auxiliary ball player to boost Johnny Sexton’s craft has elevated him even higher in the scrum-half pantheon.

Johnny Sexton The Lions fly-half’s nerves of steel shone through when he dropped that 45-metre goal in the third minute of overtime to snatch a 15-13 victory over France in Paris on the opening weekend. Without that Herculean rally, Ireland would simply not have been in this place.

Andrew Porter Less than two years ago, 22-year-old Leinster star Porter was a loosehead prop. Since then he has excelled in his switch to the other side of the front-row, so much so that he has pushed himself into the Test-match 23. And when Lions star Tadhg Furlong went down just three minutes into the Italy match, Porter stepped off the bench and excelled for the remaining 77. Porter backed that showing up in style against Wales too. As a scrum anchor so young in years, Porter has already come of age.

James Ryan Young lock Ryan has spent the last 18 months battling niggling injuries, but has suddenly broken free – and into Ireland’s starting ranks. The 21-year-old is not just a physical specimen of some repute, he also has a fine analytical mind. Leinster star Ryan stepped up in the absence of more senior men, and has glued Ireland’s pack together at times.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I



Eddie Jones wonders where the love has gone

England’s James Haskell runs through the defence during the NatWest Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris. PIC: PA

EDDIE Jones insists England are negotiating an inevitable slump where the “game does not love you” after France handed Ireland the NatWest 6 Nations title by prevailing 22-16 in Paris. England surrendered the crown they have held for the last two years with a second successive defeat, a fortnight after falling to Scotland. The breakdown, exposed at Murrayfield, was a fault line once more but even more alarming were the 16 penalties that saw them whistled out of contention by referee Jaco Peyper. “It’s just a tough period for us. We are always going to go through this at some stage,” England boss Jones said. “Any team that is developing, as we are, goes through tough periods where the game does not love you. “If the game loves us then we might have won against France, but we didn’t get bounce of ball, we

didn’t get the 50/50 decisions and we are in the losers’ chair and it is not a very happy place.” It was the third defeat of Jones’ 27 Tests in charge and the Australian called for a sense of perspective while England address their slump. “I don’t think we should get too carried away or too melodramatic about where we are,” he said. “We are a rugby team and no rugby team has an aura of invincibility about them. “Every team is fallible and every team has a weakness and certain strengths and, at the moment, teams are outplaying us in certain areas of the game and we have to learn from it.” Jones revealed that number eight Nathan Hughes is “unlikely” to be available for the climax to the Six Nations against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday. The Fijian-born Wasps star took a blow to his left knee inside the

opening half hour and had to be helped from the pitch. France could now finish as high as second in the Six Nations table if they topple Wales on Saturday and head coach Jacques Brunel was delighted after stitching together successive wins against Italy and England. “There was suspense right until the final minute, but this time the coin fell onto the right side,” Brunel said. “Our defence was remarkable and there was a lot of energy and will. We got a lot of good opportunities which we weren’t able to finish, but there’s lots to be happy with. “We knew the physical challenge would be key and we controlled the ball and that upset England, they’re not used to that. “I told them that if we won it would open up new and positive things. We’ve been criticised a lot but we believe in the team.”


Ireland’s Six Nations’ title triumph in numbers IRELAND clinched NatWest 6 Nations glory after the penultimate round of fixtures and will head to Twickenham next weekend bidding for their first Grand Slam since 2009. Joe Schmidt’s side sealed a fourth win from four matches in this year’s edition by downing Scotland in Dublin and their coronation as champions was confirmed later on Saturday when England were beaten by France in Paris. We look at the numbers behind their success:

136 The number of points Ireland have amassed at an average of 34 per game. France are the next highest scorers with 95 points.

Joe Schmidt warns England as Ireland chase Grand Slam 17 JOE Schmidt has war ned England that “history doesn’t protect you from the future” as t h e N a t We s t 6 N a t i o n s champions Ireland chase the Grand Slam at Twickenham next weekend. Ireland racked up a 28-8 bonus-point win over Scotland in Dublin to move within one victor y of just their third Six Nations’ clean sweep. England’s 22-16 loss to France in Paris handed Ireland the title with a week to spare but now head coach Schmidt’s men must end Eddie Jones’ unbeaten Twickenham record to claim a first Grand Slam since 2009. Ireland are unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since 2013, leading Schmidt to insist he knows full well the pressure England face defending hometurf honour. “I guess histor y doesn’t protect you from the future; we knew that today,” said Schmidt, with Ireland landing their third Six Nations title in five years. “We hadn’t lost in five years in the Six Nations here in Dublin. “It didn’t protect us. We had to go out and win again today. That’s all par t of the challenge. “ We n e e d t o g o t o Twickenham and try to test that record out, I guess. “But it won’t be uppermost in our thinking because you can be distracted looking back when you need to be moving forward. “We didn’t feel our five-year run in the Six Nations here protected us. “And I’m sure Eddie Jones and the boys will be fully focused on winning the game next week.” Jacob Stockdale became the first Irishman to claim six tries

in a single Five or Six Nations competition with a brace against the Scots. Conor Murray and Sean Cronin sealed Ireland’s third bonus-point win in their four clashes to date, with the Grand Slam now on the line at Twickenham. Ireland registered a national record 11th consecutive win too, in another boost for former Leinster boss Schmidt’s hugely impressive tenure. Asked how he would feel to guide Ireland to a Grand Slam to equal the exploits of the 1948 and 2009 vintage, Schmidt said: “I think it would give me incredible satisfaction. “I work with these young men who go out and do an incredibly difficult job and work very hard. It would give me incredible satisfaction to see that rewarded. “In the end the satisfaction is something that really is placed around the ef for t that they make.” Only Ror y Best and Rob Kearney remain in Ireland’s squad from those that claimed the Grand Slam in 2009. Cur rent skipper Best admitted Ireland will now need to summon their best rugby yet in this year’s tournament to topple England and complete the clean sweep. “We’re going to have to save the best for last, and that’s what it’s going to take to win ever ything next week,” said Best. “Everyone knows the size of the challenge. They haven’t lost at Twickenham under Eddie Jones.” British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton admitted being on the peripher y of Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam triumph only heightens his desire for further glory.

The number of tries scored, versus eight conceded.

6 The number of tries registered by wing Jacob Stockdale. Scotland’s Huw Jones, England’s Jonny May and France’s Teddy Thomas are his closest challengers on three each.

40 The number of points Johnny Sexton has scored in this year’s Six Nations. His best haul was the 66 in 2014.

4 WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: A jubilant Irish side after their convincing win over Scotland; (inset) a clearly delighted head coach Joe Schmidt gives the thumbs-up. PICS: PA

Sexton made his Ireland debut in November 2009, but was part of Declan Kidney’s wider Grand Slam-winning squad earlier that year. Asked if that experience makes him even thirstier for success now, Sexton said: “You’d be lying if you said otherwise. “Declan Kidney said I was just as much a par t of it as ever yone else back in 2009

when I was in the bibs. I definitely didn’t feel that way. “Around those times, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara – they’d been tr ying to achieve that for 10 years. “You could tell by their speeches and their actions how it meant to them. “It’s very similar now: I know Rory [Best] is desperate for a Grand Slam because he thinks

he’ll be a bigger part of it than he played back then. The young guys probably think they are going to get a lot of opportunities but it doesn’t work like that,” Sexton added. “I remember playing Scotland in Croke Park for a Triple Crown and almost taking it for granted – and I still haven’t won a Triple Crown. You’ve got to take these opportunities with both hands when they come.”

The number of times Ireland have won the Six Nations.

2 The number of times Ireland have completed the Grand Slam in their history. The last occasion was eight years ago. The only other time they had a clean sweep was in 1948 Five Nations.


March 15 – 31, 2018 I

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Irish Echo St Patrick's Day Edition 2018  

Irish Echo - Australia's Irish Newspaper Digital Edition Vol 31, No 3 - Mar 2018

Irish Echo St Patrick's Day Edition 2018  

Irish Echo - Australia's Irish Newspaper Digital Edition Vol 31, No 3 - Mar 2018