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Passport to danger in wake of murder in Dubai



Date Published: {J}

Debate still rages over who used false Irish passports in the killing of a leading Hamas figure. Israel denies that it was their security service, Mossad. It might after all have been any one of a number of highly organised agencies that go around assassinating leaders of terrorist organisations sworn to destroy Israel. Honestly, there could be dozens.

It was Mossad. It’s funny though, I’m not having a lot of trouble with this. Not the passport thing certainly, but not even the assassination itself. It’s always been frowned upon in warfare to skip over the intermediaries and just attack each other’s leaders.

After all that sort of approach can only lead to redundancies in the military. The principals are somehow above all the actual suffering, maiming and dying stuff. This clearly goes right back to the days of kings, when you got to be leader mainly by dint of being the most violent person around. So proper etiquette now is to first wipe out vast numbers of your opponent’s troops – and probably a decent proportion of their unarmed population too.

Only after this formal procedure are you officially allowed a go at their leadership. And even still you’re only meant to capture the leaders, give them a fair trial, and then kill them. That doesn’t seem right. If anybody deserves a trial before being killed it’s surely the troops and the civilians, not the people who were, beyond any reasonable doubt, giving orders.

So I can’t feel much sorrow for Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, leader of an organisation that uses suicide attacks against civilians, assassinated in a 5-star hotel room. Really, sod him. By any measure this was a better way to counter Hamas than the 1,400 casualties caused by Israel’s attack on Gaza just over a year ago. All wars should be fought like this. More kings, fewer pawns. Let the Israeli cabinet occupy the occupied territories by themselves. Other Hamas leaders could deliver their own suicide bombs.

Yes, we should complain in no uncertain terms to the Israeli ambassador about using our passports. Forging a country’s documents is, at the very least, rude. And a dumb move on their part anyway. Israel didn’t exactly enjoy widespread support in this country beforehand. Now its opponents can claim that it has endangered them personally. But does this really pose a danger to Irish travellers? I don’t think so. It might – just possibly –lead to occasional delays, but no one’s going to get arrested or shot as a precautionary measure just because they’re travelling with on Irish passport.


To be honest . . . I think it’s kind of cool. The Irish passport hasn’t been widely considered a sign of international danger and intrigue for some years now – no doubt one reason why Mossad chose them. But this gives it renewed cachet. Next time I go through border controls, especially if I happen to be in or near the Middle East, I’ll know that for at least a moment they’re going to be wondering "Irish Citizen – or undercover assassin?"

I’m going to practise that one-eyebrow thing.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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