News in brief


O’Casey archive to stay in Ireland

THE National Library of Ireland, has acquired a 5,000-item collection of Sean O’Casey papers. The material, 44 boxes of correspondence, was formerly owned by the playwright’s family. It includes a box of letters between O’Casey and his friend the labour leader Jim Larkin, whom O’Casey hugely admired.

National Library director Brendan O’Donoghue described the gift by the playwright’s daughter Shivaun O’Casey as another step towards ending the “haemorrhage” of Irish literary papers to libraries in the USA, which “had gone on for far too long”.

The library already holds major collections from writers such as Yeats, Joyce and Shaw, he added, but O’Casey was “hardly represented until now”.

The Irish Democrat is informed that letters from Sean O’Casey to two of its former editors, the late C. Desmond Greaves and Flann Campbell, will shortly be added to the archive in Kildare Street.

Belfast shipbuilding era comes to an end

THE WORLD-FAMOUS Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff has built and launched its last ship, a roll-on roll-off ferry.

Only 100 workers are now employed there as it seeks to reposition itself as an engineering services company.

In its heyday, at the end of second world war, Harland and Wolff employed 10,000 men. The workforce was overwhelmingly Protesant.

The small number of Catholics employed by the company in lesser-skilled jobs regularly experienced religious-political bigotry and hatred. Catholic workers were chased from the Shipyard with burning rivets in sectarian riots in the 1920s.

Famous ships built at the yard included the Titanic, the HMS Belfast, which is moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle and the Canberra.

Six-county job inequality persists

NEW FIGURES have revealed that unemployement rate amongst Catholics in the six counties remains nearly double that of Protestants.

According to a recent labour force survey unemployment Catholic unemployment currently stands at 8.3 percent compared with 4.3 per cent for Protestants

The survey, which was carried out by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, revealed that 9.9 per cent of Catholic males were without work compared with 4.7 per cent of Protestants. Corresponding figures among the female population indicated unemployment rates of 6.1 per cent for Catholics and 3.9 per cent for Protestants .

Plastic bullets monitoring call

A RECENT report into the use of plastic bullets (PBRs) by British soldiers in the north calls for video cameras to be used to film soldiers firing the deadly weapon. The report, written by independent British military complaints assessor Jim McDonald, reveals a big increase in the number of the deadly weapon fired by soldiers in the north last year.

British soldiers fired 85 PBRs in 11 separate incidents between January and October 2002 compared with just 17 fired throughout the whole of the previous year. The report showed that eight rounds fired by the British army struck people in the upper torso while 25 missed their target completely.

Civil-rights campaigners stress that the assessors report highlights the need for a total ban on the deadly weapon.

Taking the London out of Londonderry

DERRY CITY Council took an important step towards changing the official name of the historic city from Londonderry to Derry at the end of January.

A motion co-sponsored by Sinn Féin and the SDLP councillors setting in train what could turn out to be a lengthy process was passed by 23 votes to six at a meeting held on 29 January.

The prefix London was originally added in 1613 when a royal charter was granted to London merchants who had earlier been handed the city for colonisation by the English monarch.

Unionists have reacted angrily to the move

Surveillance doubles under Labour

A SPECIAL analysis of the surveillance of telecommunications by the campaigning e-journal Statewatch has revealed that authorised surveillance in England, Wales and Scotland has more than doubled since Labour came into office in 1997.

Figures published by the Interception of Communications commissioner for England, Scotland and Wales for 2001— figures for Northern Ireland have never been made available — appear to show a drop in the number of interception warrants issued from 1,900 in 2000 to 1,445 in 2001.

However, campaigners argue that the figures are severely distorted as they exclude changes to existing warrants, which previously required the issuing of a new warrant. When these are added to the official figures for 2001 it shows that 3,427 warrants were issued compared with 1,370 for 1996, the last year that the Tories were in office.

Describing the official figures as “a travesty”, Statewatch editor Tony Bunyan said: “The new method of issuing warrants and changes to them is said to make life easier for officials but at the same time it hides from public view the true extent of surveillance.”

Irish language network

CONNOLLY ASSOCIATION members are continuing to lead the upsurge in the Irish language in Britain and are involved in organising regular ‘networking’ events throughout the country.

“Coláiste na NGael have colleges in Hampshire, Derbyshire and Durham,” explained Christy Evans. “And Liam Ó Cuinneagáin of Údaras na Gaeltachta will be visiting Britain this spring to lend support.”

For information about future events tel. Neil on 01256 414501 (evenings) or Cathal 01480 450412 (day). UK telephone numbers.

CAP costs families extra £16 per week

FAMILIES IN Britain are paying an extra £16 a week in taxes and high food prices as a result of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, according to a recent Consumers Association report.

The report highlights that the CAP cost the UK £2 billion last year, equivalent to 2 pence on the rate of income tax.

Food prices in the UK were found to be twice as expensive as in New Zealand, where there are no subsidies or tariffs for agricultural products. Britain used to import cheap food from New Zealand before joining the EEC.

EU food policy damages the countryside by encouraging intensive farming and harms the world’s poorest countries by protecting EU farmers, shutting out cheap food from abroad and then dumping subsidised EU food surpluses on Third World markets, thus undercutting local prices.

The report also dispels the myth that the CAP supports small EU farmers. Seventy per cent of EU subsidies go to the largest 30 per cent, it points out.

Nelson case judicial review call

THE COMMITTEE on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) is seeking a judicial review of decisions made the six-county police ombudsman and chief constable in relation to the Rosemary Nelson case.

The CAJ hopes to secure documents relevant to a complaint by the human-rights group made against former RUC chief constable Ronnie Flanagan. The CAJ alleged that the chief constable failed to investigate properly threats made against the Lurgan-based solicitor prior to her murder by loyalists.

Police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan and the former chief constable have both refused to disclose documents relevant to the CAJ complaint.

A decision on the judicial review application is expected soon.

Family wins review

THE FAMILY of a woman shot dead by the British Army in Derry on 6 November 1971 have welcomed a High Court ruling that their mother’s death had not been properly investigated.

The High Court ruled that even when taking into consideration different standards at the time, a more rigorous investigation was required into Kathleen Thompson’s death.

Commenting on the ruling, the family’s solicitor, Peter Madden said: “We lodged these proceedings on behalf of the family after the Pat Finucane Centre and the Spotlight programme highlighted that the RUC/PSNI was unable to even trace the police investigation file into Mrs. Thompson’s death.

“The RUC simply accepted what the soldiers’ lawyers said happened, even after it became apparent that one soldier had admitted firing shots, suggesting he was responsible for Mrs Thompson’s death.”

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2003-05-22 18:03:54.
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