Irish Journalists Had Lance’s Number
By Bill O'Donnell, February 7, 2013
BY BILL O’DONNELL
Irish Journalists Had Lance’s Number – While the big media hotshots slavishly followed the exploits of professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, writing glowing tributes of the seven-time Tour de France winner, two Irish journalists consistently wrote the truth. For years, Paul Kimmage and David Walsh chronicled with growing skepticism Armstrong’s claims, debunking the success of the racing phenomenon and calling into question the rider’s drug-free claims. Kimmage has spent at least a dozen years doubting Armstrong’s assurances that his high profile victories were accomplished without using PEDs or similar performance-enhancing drugs. Kimmage, a former Tour de France rider from Dublin, dismissed the recent Oprah TV interview as “soft,” saying that a tougher one-on-one by Oprah would have benefitted the sport.
Armstrong has also been a target for over a decade of the Kilkenny-born Walsh, who has finally been vindicated after Armstrong’s admission that he was a regular drug user. Walsh explained the Armstrong mystique by saying, “People gave Armstrong a latitude they don’t give their best friends. Why? Because he’s powerful. Because he’s rich. I was a bit of a crusader...trying to convince them that Armstrong was a fraud.” Walsh has recently been named Sports Journalist of the Year in Britain.
Obama May Join JFK Wexford Tribute – President Barack Obama is firmly scheduled to attend this year’s G8 summit of world leaders on June 17 and 18 on Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Four days later, in Dunganstown/New Ross, Wexford, a few hundred miles south of the G8 conference, there will be a dramatic 50th anniversary celebration there of President Kennedy’s nostalgic June 1963 visit to Ireland. The question that is being considered now by White House officials and the American embassy in Dublin some four months before the G8 in Fermanagh is whether it might be possible for the opresident and his retinue to add some days to the Irish trip to airlift Obama to Wexford in the Irish southeast to join in the Kennedy event on June 22.
One young Democratic president and his voyage home to the land of his ancestors half a century ago could be symbolically joined by another young Democratic president to mark the historic occasion of the Irish government-sponsored commemoration of John F. Kennedy’s visit.
The possibility that President Obama could do a quick side trip to Moneygall following the G8 summit and then move onto Kennedy country in Wexford is not out of the question. It is reported that first lady Michelle Obama is interested in a return to Moneygall. Stay tuned.
John Cullinane & The Ulster University Peace Forum – Entrepreneur and Irish benefactor John Cullinane (founder of Cullinet, the Friends of Belfast, and other associations too numerous to name) will be heading to Derry in May for the Ulster University Peace Forum. John, who has made Ireland, north and south, his special concern, hopes to lay a wreath on his uncle’s ship, the SS Laurentic that hit a mine off Buncrana in the First World War. John’s uncle, his mother’s brother, Walter Fitzgerald was from Dunmore East in Co. Waterford, one of the beauty spots of southeast Ireland.
Irish Boxing Champ In One Fight ‘Comeback’ – Steve Collins, 48, the Irish-born double champion who began his career in Boston, is soon to meet American boxing legend Roy Jones Jr
in a single-bout grudge match in Dublin or London. Collins claims that Jones avoided him during his 15-year career and even at age 48, he is eager to face Jones in the ring. Collins was a popular figure in and around Boston in the early ‘80s and at home in Ireland where he won 26 Irish titles in three weight divisions. He turned professional in 1986 and was the WBO’s middleweight and super middleweight world champion. The former champion, who since his retirement has appeared in several movies and television shows, now lives in St. Albans, England, where he awaits one last match with the elusive Roy Jones.
Inez McCormack, Legendary Irish Labor Leader, Is Dead – One of Ireland’s premier labor leaders and human rights activists has died after a 40-year career fighting for social justice and
fair employment. Inez was active in numerous trade unions and was perhaps best known in Northern Ireland and beyond when she served as the first female president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Among Mrs. McCormack’s close friends and allies locally was former Boston Mayor and US Vatican Ambassador Raymond L. Flynn, who made the following statement: “Inez McCormack was a fierce fighter for human rights and economic justice in Northern Ireland. Together she and I campaigned on both sides of the Atlantic for passage of the Fair Employment law for the Catholic minority in the North and throughout the US in behalf of the MacBride Principles. I will not forget Inez McCormack’s courage and determination in standing up to powerful political leaders in the North and was proud to stand with her as she helped change the face of Ireland and history.” “Rest in peace, my friend. You helped provide hope and opportunity for thousands of people.”
Another friend and supporter is Frank Costello, an economic consultant now living and working out of Belfast. He offered the following comment on Mrs. McCormack’s passing: “Inez was one of the best people in the effort for fair employment — stalwart, brave, relentless, and true to the courage of her convictions. She called people into action. Without her there would have been no fair employment Act and likewise, the MacBride campaign would have been minus a main signatory and advocate.”
A Portrait Of Rural Ireland – An updated statistical picture of the Irish Republic reflects trends and threads of a changing but relatively stable Irish countryside. For instance, Co. Cork has the most farms (14,222), Co. Dublin the least (798). Some 40 percent of the national farm acreage can be found in five counties: Cork, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, and Kerry. In 2010, Ireland had 139,860 farms, representing an 18 percent decrease since 1991. While Ireland has seen a decline in the number of farms, their size has increased. The average Irish farm is 33 hectares, or 80 acres. This is over 50 percent larger than the average in 1991.
Beef farming remains the dominant force in Ireland where 6.6 million cattle were spread across 111,000 farms. Co. Cork has 15 percent of the cattle. Beef production accounts for 55 percent of farms. There are 4.7 million sheep in Ireland, in 32,000 farms with the average flock of 148. The distribution of sheep is found mostly in the west, in Counties Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Kerry, and Donegal.
Scoundrel Time For The Old Crowd – Once again (and no, it’s not a Mt. Everest thing) we take a closer peek at the perks & privileges of Ireland’s ruling class, to wit: Bertie Ahern. I thought he was lying low and consoling himself at the loss of his Big Euro status at the speakers bureau after they decided to move on, or given that he had to finally hand over his longtime Fianna Fail hideaway on the North side. Yes, I sensed he was back to watching his pennies.
The former taoiseach’s latest headbanger is his decision to reverse his earlier pledge to give back some of his bloated pension (over $200,000 per annum) as some other former ministers have
done. No, shorn of his car and driver, no big speaker bureau checks, and other humbling stumbles, the veteran of the Celtic Tiger era is keeping every farthing of his pension. One never knows with the expenses of a new office to replace the Fianna Fail digs and buying a round for the boys in the back room, when that stunning state payoff will come in handy.
As my old friend, Boston radio’s late and lamented Jerry Williams said so often of the fat cats who squirreled it away in the good times: “They’ll never run a dinner for him.” But Bertie, maybe!
Pats Beat Writers Knew The Score – As a former New England Patriots season ticket holder and 40-year armchair rooter, I never remember seeing more baffling, bizarre pro picks on the Pats-Ravens game than those that were made by the Boston Globe writers who cover the Pats full time. The predictions by the top four beat writers on that playoff game made on the Friday before the Sunday evening game all favored the Baltimore Ravens. Each of the Globe’s four seasoned football writers (forget the points) all picked the nine-point favored Pats to lose to Baltimore. And that they did, by a not-close 15 points to end New England’s season.
The ultimately accurate selections were made by the four writers, Greg Bedard, Shalise Manza Young, Christopher Gasper, and Jim McBride. All first rate football people, especially Bedard.
Scott Thurston (whom I do not know) was the fifth selector, and he picked the Pats to win.
If I were a little less lazy, I would pull the Pats coverage in the days leading up to the game just to see if the writers maintained their objectivity in their pre-game stories. I’d guess they did.
How Are They Doing, Gerry & Sinn Fein – Turning our attention to the political and judicial scraps from our Republican brethren, there are developments. First off, Sinn Fein is upset about CNN’s World Report describing Gerry Adams as “a former IRA para-military commander.” Maybe CNN got him mixed up with Martin McGuinness, who indeed fits the description. Gerry’s party passed on any criticism of CNN for using the less-onerous label, “The leading Catholic politician in Northern Ireland.” Apparently the retirement of John Hume freed up that designation, but CNN forgot the Adams sinecure in the free state as a Louth TD.
Once again SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and his party members have passed on any new spirit of cooperation with Sinn Fein. It’s been eons since the IRA boyos of Sinn Fein, were singularly unkind to the medical doctor turned MP.
Gerry Adams has been campaigning hither and yon for a border poll as he continues to trumpet Irish Unity, despite the real polls that places the unity question on the long finger. It once was 2016, centennial of the Easter Rising, but that been back-burnered. The unionists are tempted to agree to a poll on the North’s constitutional future just to show up Sinn Fein, but new secretary of state for the North Theresa Villiers says no go.
Gerry has re-enlisted for three more years as Sinn Fein party leader. That will bring him a few years closer to 2020, the lads’ new “to do” date on a unity referendum. Meanwhile Gerry has
been taken to the woodshed by a few malcontents who didn’t care for his expensive trip to the States for some surgery while the punters without a party to their name are left to languish on some long-forgotten healthcare waiting list.
British PM Stonewalls on Finucane Open Inquiry – Prime Minister David Cameron has some fresh problems on his agenda such as escaping from the European Union, but he still hasn’t come through with a public investigation of the Patrick Finucane assassination in1989 that was long ago promised by the British. The most recent inquiry into the Belfast lawyer’s murder
was conducted by a British government-appointed Queen’s Counsel and although a biting indictment of loyalist collaboration in Finucane’s death, it was not open and the family still awaits justice.
Judges and other British appointed agents of the crown have not covered themselves with glory in running down the details and conspiracies involving the death of innocent nationalists.
The following is an astonishing statement made by leading British Judge Lord Denning on the appeal in 1980 of the conviction of the Birmingham Six, later found innocent and freed after years in a British prison:
“If the six men win, it will mean that the police were guilty of perjury, that they were guilty of violence and threats, that the confessions were involuntary and were improperly admitted in evidence and that the convictions were erroneous. That would mean the Home Secretary would either have to recommend they be pardoned or would have to remit the case to the Court of Appeal. This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say ‘It cannot be right that these actions should go any further.’ ”
The flag protests by unionists in the North and other opportunists have cost Belfast retailers millions of euros and are sending a wretched message to prospective businesses about the North’s Instability. … Ireland is finally following Europe’s example and issuing plastic drivers licenses. … An Irish trade union is mounting a legal offensive against Waterford Crystal for making its glassware abroad and not in Ireland. … The Brits are doing it again. They have taken possession of the nationality of Daniel Day-Lewis, who carries an Irish passport and lives in Ireland. … The golfer Rory McIlroy of the Number One world ranking has signed with Nike for ten years and $200 million. … Big question for former US Sen. Scott Brown: Does he run for governor after Deval Patrick concludes his second term or in this year’s special to succeed John Kerry? … The big, bad boys described as ‘dissidents” (but breakaway IRA thugs) have been warning the Irish serving in the British military and PSNI members that they are targets. Try them and fry them, or throw away the key. … A brewing medical disaster is in the offing for young Irish women smokers, with lung cancer passing breast cancer as a leading cause of death.
Is Facebook on your side? The social network’s printed terms of service and data use run to 14,000 words. Do you know what you signed onto? Incidentally, Facebook’s Irish operations had revenue of one billion euros but paid taxes of only 3 million euros. If my math is right that’s three-tenths of one percent. … Are the shameless Republicans red-faced for calling Hillary Clinton a phony victim of “Benghazi Flu” when she actually had a serious blood clot near her brain. Yes, fellows and gals, keep listening to Rush and his cadre of radio destroyers. … Michael O’Leary and his Ryanair sometimes have low prices (but there are fees) and a recent poll shows passengers who fly the short-haul airline ranked Ryanair at the bottom in satisfaction. ...Billionaire Bill Gates was in Ireland recently and had nice things to say about the country’s commitment to charity and he liked Ireland’s mid-range recovery plan. … Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady has a new keeper sent by the Vatican to help him in his planned departure. The new coadjutor and successor-in-waiting is Monsignor Eamon Martin. … Junior Paisley, sprig of Reverend Ian, is a fierce defender of the monarchy and the Church of Ireland as a key player in the royal succession redo underway, but Junior must have forgotten that he is a Presbyterian. … After several failed burials for Aussie outlaw Ned Kelley, his family has finally received his remains and he will be interred in the family plot in Australia.
An Irishman living in Sydney, formerly of Limerick, just received an Irish orthopedic doctor’s appointment after being on the waiting list for 17 years. … Legal silliness: Sean Fitzpatrick, who “borrowed” 100 million euros from the bank of which he was chairman and never paid it back, is looking for a delay because there are 24 million documents to be vetted before his trial can begin. And how about Irish billionaire Sean Quinn’s daughter, who went through half a million dollars in less than a year but says she doesn’t have a bill or invoice to show for her memorable spending spree.
The good news, boys & girls: Less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Florida.