Willie John McBride: ‘He was one of the great men of this world and I am proud I had him as a friend’

Kyle’s close friend, Reverend Colin Morris, who ministered in the Zambian town where the surgeon lived for three decades, spoke of his principled stand on racial issues. He revealed that he refused to associate himself with all-white sports clubs in the post-colonial country despite numerous requests for the endorsement of the famous rugby player.

“He said he had no intention of having any association with any sports organisation that practiced segregation,” he told the congregation.

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Northern Ireland – part of us

‘I’m proud to be from Northern Ireland but question my future there’

DUP MP Gregory Campbell’s comments on Irish language indicate wider social problem

Sorcha Ní Mhealláin

First published: Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 17:00

I am sitting in a coffee shop in Sao Paulo drinking an iced coffee and the world is bustling by. I flick through Twitter and news from home, easing that little itch of homesickness that sometimes comes and goes. Coleraine’s Mussenden Temple at night glows from my screensaver.

It’s not the first time that I have read about DUP MP Gregory Campbell’s comments on the Irish language, but this time, it brings a pang of sadness.

Sadness, I say, not anger, because I am thousands of miles away and if I choose to ignore this, I never have to think of it. Most people here don’t even know Irish is a language. What makes me feel sad is the attitude of people and the bigotry and small-mindedness of politics in Northern Ireland.

I am from Castlerock outside Coleraine in Co Derry. I’m proud of my home, of the beautiful landscape, of the hearts of the people and of their ability to endure hardships. I have defended in many a conversation in bars and restaurants and buses around the world the need for young Northern Irish people to be proud, to invest, to represent and to work to change how people see us.

“Was it scary growing up?” “Is your dad like a terrorist?” “Did you have bombs in your school?” they ask, and I have always answered with pride, perhaps like a mother oblivious to her child’s wrongs, always sugar-coating the truth, hoping people will see there is no bigotry, there is no hatred, no rivalry.

But I have been losing my vigour, to tell you the truth; brushing off questions about politics and culture and identity and the Troubles has become much harder, because I am starting to lose my faith. I am also getting older, and I am beginning to think about settling down and having children and where I want to do this, and I feel utterly embarrassed at the lack of respect Campbell’s comments represents for Northern Ireland.

People are perfectly entitled to question government funding for Irish language, to disapprove of it being prioritised, or to be personally disinterested in the language and its development. But to mimic it in the way he did is unhelpful and insulting. Such comments don’t contribute to political policy or debate, but have become commonplace as far as I can see.

What kind of politicians engage in such mindless slagging? What kind of people accept it? What kind of society are we leaving to our children? Are we still obsessing over getting one up on the other?

If we accept criticism of a particular language, are we accepting that it’s also ok for a child to turn to their friend in the playground and mock Polish or Chinese, or make fun of them for having a different colour of skin?

I am young. I am educated. I am proud of where I am from. I will eventually choose where to settle down and raise a family, but I already know it won’t be in a place where xenophobia and bigotry goes unquestioned.

I will not bring up my children to hate or to mock or to disrespect the other side. I will bring them up to articulate their ideas and opinions in a respectful and intelligent manner without offending others. They would never learn this from the politicians of Northern Ireland.

And I am not alone. Look at the UCAS statistics, check out the number of young Northern Irish people making lives in England and Scotland, leaving behind the complexities of their homeland.

I would like to have my children near my parents, and to bring them for walks on Downhill beach. I’d love to teach in the school I went to as a child, but I don’t know if any of this is worth living in a society marked by petty mockery and hatred.

And so the young people leave, pay tax to other governments, raise children and make families who’ll say their mother or grandmother or eventually great grandmother came from “somewhere in Northern Ireland… I think”.

Read Sorcha Ní Mhealláin’s previous article for Generation Emigration: ‘Irish is my language, no matter where I am in the world’

Bankers do time in Iceland

Icelandic banker jailed for actions during recession

Former Landsbanki chief Sigurjon Arnason receives a one-year sentence but nine months suspended

Arthur Beesley

Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 01:00

The Icelandic banker who orchestrated the 2005 buyout of stockbroker Merrion Capital and who once had serious designs on Irish Nationwide
has been sent to prison over his actions at the height of his country’s financial collapse in 2008.

Former Landsbanki chief Sigurjon Arnason received a one-year sentence from Reykjavik District Court but nine months were suspended.

He was one of three former Landsbanki figures to be convicted yesterday over the demise of the bank, one of three collapsed lenders whose combined debts of $75 billion (€59.8bn) precipitated Iceland’s economic collapse.

Iceland’s courts previously imprisoned the former chiefs of the two other collapsed banks, Glitnir and Kaupthing.

Share price manipulation

Arnason was convicted of manipulating Landsbanki’s share price and deceiving investors, creditors and the authorities in the bank’s dying days between September 29th and October 3rd, 2008.
He and two former colleagues had pleaded not guilty.

After yesterday’s sentencing, Mr Arnason was quoted by Reuters saying he had not yet decided whether to appeal to the supreme court . “This sentence is a big surprise to me as I did nothing wrong,” he said.

As joint chief executive of Landsbanki in November 2005, Mr Arnason led the €55.3 million acquisition of Dublin broker Merrion. That deal followed Landsbanki’s purchase of London broker Teather & Greenwood and pan-European firm Kepler Equities.

Strategic interest

As the Irish economy boomed, Mr Arnason saw big attractions the growth story telling reporters at that time that the Dublin market was of strategic interest “due to its size, location and characteristics.”
The bank was considered a potential bidder for IIB Bank, later acquired by Belgian lender KBC and it examined the books of Irish Nationwide, which was never sold and ended up in the State’s hands.

Merrion’s management bought the firm back from Landsbanki as it, in turn collapsed. The business is now controlled by management, with Brehon Capital and Somers Limited taking “sizeable” minority stakes earlier this year.

Working group announced to examine direct provision

Ministers say group will look at practical ways of improving the lives of refugees

minister 1

Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said he is confident the working group will be able to resolve some of the problems with the direct provision system. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Mon, Oct 13, 2014, 22:01

Members of the working group set up to examine what improvements should be made to the State’s existing direct provision system have been announced as have the group’s terms of reference.

The group, chaired by Mr Justice Bryan McMahon, has been asked to indicate what actions could be taken “in the short and longer term” with a view to improving the processing of applications for asylum, which can take a decade or more.

They have also been tasked with looking at “showing greater respect for the dignity of persons in the system.

But they must ensure, in making any recommendations, that “the overall cost of the protection system to the taxpayer is reduced or remains within or close to current levels and that the existing border controls and immigration procedures are not compromised.”

More than 4,000 asylum seekers live in the direct provision system, a form of temporary shelter set up 14 years ago in response to greater numbers seeking refugee status. Those in the system are given €19.10 a week while they await a decision on their asylum applications.

The group’s members include Sue Conlan, the chief executive officer of the Irish Refugee Council; Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance; Tim Dalton, retired secretary general of the Department of Justice; Eugene Quinn, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service; Fiona Finn, chief executive of NASC (Irish Immigrant Support Centre); Greg Straton, director of SPIRASI; Sophie Magennis of UNHCR Ireland; Reuben Hambakachere of the IRC Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees; Dr Ciara Smyth, lecturer in international human rights and immigration law at NUI Galway and Dan Murphy, former chair of the Local Authority Implementation Committee and a former member of the executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she was confident the working group will be able to identify a range of “practical recommendations to the Government to address the issues that have featured in much of the commentary about the direct provision system in recent times”.

Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who has been severely critical of the system, also expressed confidence the working group will be able to resolve some of the issues.

“I am particularly mindful of the position of families and children and the need to ensure that the facilities ar1e capable of meeting the needs of families in circumstances where their cases are ongoing for protracted periods,” he said.

Racism in St Paul US

At Lansdowne’s No 10s dinner


Newcastle University Med Students murdered in Malaysia. (friends of my daughter)

Borneo stabbings: Four men could face death penalty after two UK students are murdered in Malaysia

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Arrests made over fatal attack following disagreement with locals in bar

Wednesday 06 August 2014

Two British medical students were stabbed to death yesterday in the Malaysian part of Borneo after a disagreement with locals at a cafe.

Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were students at Newcastle University, which praised them as “excellent” and “committed”.

The university said they were on a six-week work placement at a hospital in the city of Kuching, “doing what thousands of medical students do every year”.

Police have launched a murder inquiry and have already detained four men.

Reports from Kuching, located in the west of the Malaysian part of Borneo, said that Mr Dalton, from Derbyshire, and Mr Brunger, believed to be from Gillingham, were attacked after getting into a disagreement with locals, who had been drinking.

The pair had gone into a cafe or bar in the Jalan Padungan area where they were approached by one of four young men who complained that they were being too loud, the reports said.

After an argument, the students left but the men followed them in a car. At some point one of the four locals got out of the vehicle, a Malaysian-made Perodua Viva, and attacked Mr Dalton and Mr Brunger. A restaurant worker who witnessed the attack apparently called the police at around 4am.unnamed (3)

Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger had been on a work placement in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak in Malaysia (Alamy)
Reports said the bodies of the students, both aged 22, were found lying in the street in the early hours. One had been stabbed in the chest, the other in the chest and the back, according to a report by Malaysia’s Bernama news agency.

“We were informed this morning of the very sad news that two of our fourth-year medical students working at a hospital in Kuching, Borneo, have been tragically killed,” Professor Tony Stevenson, the university’s acting vice-chancellor said in a statement.

He said two members of the university staff would be travelling to Kuching as soon as arrangements could be made. “This has come as a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time,” he added.

The state’s deputy police chief, Datuk Chai Khin Chung, said the knife allegedly used in the attack and the suspects’ vehicle had also been seized. Forensic teams have examined the site of the attack.

“Technically, the case is solved with the recovery of the knife believed to have been used in the murder,” Mr Chai was quoted as saying.

Professor Jane Calvert, Dean of Undergraduate Studies for Newcastle University Medical School said “they were excellent students” who were “doing really well with their studies, they were highly committed and coming back next year to work as doctors.

“Aidan was aspiring to do some medical research on his return, Neil was going straight into his final year and it’s such a tragic thing to occur.”

Michael Smile, the Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Sarawak General Hospital, posted a message on social media, offering his condolences and warning other students to be careful.

“May I caution other students who might be venturing out late at night, particularly to night spots to be very careful,” he said. “I am not sure which area is unsafe; there will always be a few bad hats around.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was aware of the deaths of to British nations and was working to provide assistance to their families.

Malaysian police said the case was being investigated under Section 302 of the country’s penal code which carries the mandatory death sentence for anyone convicted.

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Brian Byrne – Major contributor to Finglas for years

NoveDec 2013 to Jan 2014 040

Austin Healey writes bilge. The Rabo is quite good and note that Irish teams (ex Connacht) are perenially in the first five.The fans at the RDS attend in bigger numbers than all except Leicester. There is a culture of rugby in Ireland and the GAA is huge also. in the first five

Leinster’s Heineken Cup thrashing of Northampton proved Irish sides have advantage in current format

Not all complaints about the Heineken Cup are to do with money – English sides have a clear disadvantage as Leinster’s thrashing of Northampton proves


Falling short: Northampton had no answer for Leinster and Brian O’Driscoll Photo: ACTION IMAGES


By Austin Healey

11:00PM GMT 12 Dec 2013

If the Premiership clubs required further evidence to underpin their bid to change the face of the European season, it came at Franklin’s Gardens last weekend.

Northampton, on home soil, were humiliated by a Leinster team, against whom, prior to kick-off, the Saints would have fancied their chance. A very strong Irish province, yes, but 40-7?

The real frustration for me about the scoreline is the reason why Team B travels to Team A and delivers a beating to match any other in recent European history. The answer is not only straightforward, but one of the main reasons why the leading clubs in England are so unhappy about the current European structure.

To many of them, the contrast in performance between the two sides, physically and technically, would not have come as too much of a surprise.

On one side, you had the Saints, for whom the lion’s share of their top players have been competing, week in and week out, at the highest domestic and international level since the beginning of September. Many of them might not have had a full pre season.

On the other side, you had a team, for whom its leading lights are fresh and raring to go after a relatively low-key start to their domestic season.

With no straight shoot-out between the teams in the Rabo Direct Pro 12, to see who does and subsequently, does not, qualify for the Heineken Cup, the Irish teams, in particular, are able to pick and choose when their players play.

Not so in England, where the demands of the Aviva Premiership are far greater. After all, fail in the domestic competition in England and there will be no Heineken Cup the following season.

Look at it this way. In an ideal world, a player will have a comprehensive pre-season. He arrives back at his club in June and works tirelessly over the next two months to rediscover the size and strength he had at the beginning of the previous season. For example, a player might target a starting weight of 14 stone. Given a proper pre-season, he will achieve that.

Those players who have been on a summer tour are forced to start their pre-season late, which is all very well if you play your rugby in Ireland where coaches will not expect their leading players to feature in the early rounds of the Rabo Direct.

With respect, the Rabo is not a priority for the likes of Leinster and Munster and as a result, they will allow their senior players and their summer tourists to extend their pre-season to make sure they come back in tip-top condition. They have one or two games leading into the autumn series and then appear in these rounds of the Heineken Cup, fresh and raring to go.

In England, however, whether or not they have reached that optimum weight, the top players are required to play from weekend one.

So, without a proper pre-season, it might be that those individuals hoping to start the season at 14 stones, have only achieved 13 and a half. Then, after that, it’s a real struggle, trying to manage that weight whilst retaining the strength and power to compete. After all, most clubs are seeking a smart start to the season and want their best players in harness, regardless of condition.

The perfect example of what I’m trying to say is this. Jonny Sexton has played more rugby in the first three months of the season for Racing Metro, then he did in the whole of last season’s Rabo for Leinster. What does that tell you about the contrasting demands on players?

So, despite widespread claims to the contrary, not all arguments connected with the Heineken Cup row, are based around money or qualification.

A lot of the concern is based on success and freshness. What the Heineken Cup is doing at the minute, is not only giving the Irish a huge opportunity in terms of development and growth, but hampering the player development in England. The teams in Scotland and Wales are suffering in comparison to the Irish because their squad sizes are smaller.

I understand that some supporters might dismiss the argument and say it was just one of those games and that this weekend, in Dublin, the Saints will come marching back. Who knows what the result will be? However, I do know that if Saints win, it will be a remarkable performance.

Anyway, it would be remiss of me not to mention Connacht’s win in Toulouse in this column. Unbelievable! I remember we (Leicester) beat Toulouse in 1998 and it was a real turning point for the squad. It gives you a huge amount of belief and allows you to kick on. It was not only beating them, but realising how enjoyable that can be. Obviously, Connacht will want to follow that up this weekend and if it’s cold in Galway (it normally is) they might just fancy their chances.

  • Austin Healey is proud to be an ambassador for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee