Friday, October 31, 2014

Fallon's stay in Michelin Guide

Fallons of Kilcullen are one of just two pubs in Kildare to be featured in the 2015 Michelin Eating Out Guide, writes Brian Byrne.

The other is the Ballymore Inn. Both pubs retained their status from last year's Guide, as did all 27 pubs listed from the Republic.

Counties Cork and Down have the most listings with six, each followed by four in Clare and Mayo with three.

Did you miss Kilcullen Gospel Choir on KFM?

The recent interview with Kilcullen Gospel Choir on KFM's 'Kildare Focus' programme was broadcast yesterday, writes Brian Byrne.

For those who missed it, you can listen to the podcast of the piece here.

There are videos of them singing in studio on the radio station's Facebook page, here and here. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

GAA Fun Night upcoming

Our Family Fun Night will take place in Newbridge Dog Track on Friday 14 November with the first race at 8pm, writes Jim Buckley chairman of Kilcullen GAA.

Our club is growing very quickly as our Juvenile section grows. Our membership has doubled in the past three years and space is now at a premium in our club. We are also introducing hurling next spring and this will increase our number of teams and increase the pressure on space.

Our first task in our development plan is to improve our current playing facilities. Our pitch development program will start with the upgrading of our pitch beside the convent. This involves intensive drainage works plus training lights on the field. We hope to have these works completed in the next six months.

Later in 2015 we will erect floodlights on our main field to lengthen the playing season at both ends of the year when a lot of important competitions take place.

Your continued support is vital to the health, well being and the future of our club. Come along and bring the family. We have two special novelty races for kids and adults after races 3 and 7 which are proving to be a great attraction. We are still looking for entries so if you are fleet of foot give us a call. We also have a raffle on the night.

For those who don’t want to miss the big Ireland v Scotland game it will be covered on the TV screens at the track. I hope you enjoy yourself and that you have a great evening. Tickets are only 10 euro per adult. Children are free.

Table Quiz for badminton

A fundraising Table Quiz for Juvenile Badminton in Kildare will be held on Friday 7 November in Naas GAA, writes Ronan Murphy.

The event starts at 8pm, with the usual fee of €40 for a table of four. Vivian Clarke will ask the questions.

All are welcome and there will be spot prizes and a raffle. Further information from Nora at 087 9901465.

Letter boxes damaged

The Kilcullen Community Text Alert Scheme reports that letter boxes were damaged and stolen in the Castlefish area last night, writes Brian Byrne.

Anyone with information about suspicious activity is asked to contact An Garda, at Kilcullen Garda Station.

The Text Alert Scheme is operated in conjunction with An Garda.

Albert just keeps on winning

Kilcullen man Albert Keenan carried his recent Kildare County cross country victory to the Leinster and National stages over the past few weekends.

In very testing conditions last Sunday in Avondale, Co Wicklow, Albert took the runner up spot in the Leinster masters cross country finals to claim another Leinster silver medal. Just two weeks prior, Albert ran a fantastic race in the Autumn Open Cross Country in Dublin's Phoenix park just getting pipped to 5th overall in his age category. As a result Albert is now first reserve for the Irish team who compete in the UK in an international competition in November.

Fingers crossed he gets his chance to wear the Irish singlet in the Irish masters team as his recent form and superb efforts certainly warrant a call up to represent his country. Best of luck Albert.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Gaza rebuild: a corruption of war

(This is another article based on an in-depth interview with Col Des Travers when he came back from testifying recently to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.)

The recent confirmation of aid to rebuild Gaza City after the destruction wrought by Israeli Defence Forces during the summer 'Operation Protective Edge' campaign may do Israel more good than it does Gaza itself, according to Kilcullen-based Col Des Travers (Retd), writes Brian Byrne.

In the immediate aftermath of the summer's war, some $7bn was pledged by the international community to repair the damage in Gaza, which Des Travers has previously compared to that done to Guernica in the Spanish Civil War and to Dresden in WW2. At a recent donors conference in Cairo, that figure washed out to $5.4bn, half of which would be used to repair the physical damage done to the Gaza community. At the conference, Ireland pledged an additional €2.5m to the €500,000 promised in July to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) emergency appeal.

But Col Travers — a former Irish Army officer who has served in a number of Irish peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and the Balkans, and who is also an acknowledged international expert on investigating war crimes — says the factual siege situation between Israel and Gaza means that any rebuilding work will inevitably be to the advantage of Israeli business.

"​In the past, such monies were lodged in Israeli banks to be disbursed as they saw fit — the building materials will come from Israel, and if anyone attempts to bring in materials from anywhere else, they will remain warehoused in Israel forever," he says, adding that this will mean the $1.7bn which the IDF claim to have expended on the summer campaign of bombing Gaza 'will be redeemed many times over'. "It will go into the coffers of the Israeli military system. Cronies will get preferential contracts."

While acknowledging that the government of Gaza itself, involving the Hamas organisation, has 'endemic' corruption, Des Travers says a previous war between Israel and Gaza showed 'serious corruption' on the Israeli side, in the demolition of certain targets 'purely for commercial reasons'. "They interfered with the importation of product from Israel to Gaza. I worked on this investigation along with human rights activists in Israel, and our findings are valid."

In that particular conflict, in 2009, Gaza's only flour mill was bombed and destroyed. Col Travers notes that in Israel, the 'closed' flour milling​ industry is controlled by a small number of families, and that these days flour is imported into Gaza at a 14 percent premium over its price in Israel. "The Israelis claimed they hadn't bombed it, but one of the bombs didn't go off and a journalist representing a major​ English language​ newspaper took a photograph of it and sent it to me for identification. He said his paper was going to publish it, ​but​ it never appeared. The journalist left Jerusalem, and has been working as a researcher in a university ever since."

A recent special session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine to which Col Travers provided key testimony about the weaponry and munitions used in the summer conflict, concluded that there were 'genocidal aspects' to how Israel is dealing with Gaza. But he also has a view that such short 'wars' are being used to test weapons systems, and have been in the past.

"In Israel the military industry is huge. One household in every ten derives an income from it, and the sector has something like 8,000 salesmen abroad. They market and field test weapons for the Americans, who can't do it themselves for legal and human rights reasons." He cites an attack on a crowded​ Al Fakhoura Street on a market day, in ​January, 2009. "I investigated it very carefully. Three 120mm mortar bombs landed one after the other, killing 31 and shredding and removing limbs and seriously injuring a further 34. That was inspired by a test ​firing of a new ​gun, ​or ​to ​demonstrate its efficiency."

It was an incident which was also investigated meticulously and carefully by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which included interviews with Israeli officers. "Reading their article, I said to myself that they will eventually arrive where I had ... but they stopped short by a paragraph of saying it was a test of a mortar. I think the newspaper, which has often been called a traitor publication in a very militaristic society, survives because there is some line in the sand beyond which they don't transgress."

After the 2009 incursion into Gaza, when Des Travers was part of an international investigation into what had happened there, he suspected there were some long-term objectives. "I spent four years afterwards researching, and following my visit to Gaza in 2013 I could see what consequences had emerged. Depletion of water. Desertification and drying out of soil. Opening and closing of intervals in which fishermen were allowed to go out. All of this was consistent with exploration for gas in the area. In other words, the campaign had been entirely predatory, a self-serving and corrupt activity masquerading as a conflict against Hamas."

Col Des Travers is not someone who jumps quickly to any conclusions. His training and personality means he tends to consider carefully all aspects of any situation with which he becomes involved. He is very familiar with the Middle East since he first visited the area in 1964 while on furlough from peacekeeping duties in Cyprus. He visited Gaza for the first time in 1980, and has been there a number of times since, watching it grow from a fishing village to what he considers to be one of the most developed communities in that part of the world.

A very experienced military man, who has been under artillery fire himself, he doesn't scare easily. But his views on Israel's military policy towards Gaza have made it more difficult for him to travel to the area. And while he was recently assured by a key security company that 'they' are not going to 'come after him' because they are '​concerned about a reaction from the Irish American community', he is very aware of 'vile stuff' that is written about him in the blogosphere. And he acknowledges that it does have an effect.

"When you are a soldier, in Cyprus, the Lebanon and the Balkans, you know that there are bad guys over the hill who will try to kill you," he muses. "You can live with that, because it is a very identifiable threat. But when there's a threat that you think would upset your children, your grandchildren, that does affect the way you behave." Based on those thoughts, this year he told a human rights scholar at Harvard, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, that he was 'walking away' from it all. She asked him not to. "Then Protective Edge starts, all hell breaks loose, and you cannot walk away from that."

Because he still believes in a bottom line, one outlined famously by Nelson Mandela. "He said, unless the Palestinians get human rights, then there are no human rights. And that impacts on all of us."

PREVIOUSLY:  Kilcullen soldier questions Israel's Gaza strategy

KBC riding high in SW League

Kilcullen Badminton Club played three SW League matches this week and first out on Thursday 23 October was the Grade 4 Mens squad, writes Enda O'Neill, PRO of Kilcullen Badminton Club.

The venue: The Complex, the opposition St Laurence's. This top of the table clash was a one-sided affair with Enda, Vincent, Sean and Fintan taking the match 4-0. Mens 4 sit on top of the table with an impressive nine points from a possible 12, followed by St Laurence's and Killoughy on six points and Kildare towns CMWS at the foot of the table on three points. Mens Grade 4 play Killoughy in their next fixture at home and a win would nearly guarantee the lads a spot in the semi finals.

Ladies 1 were also out on Thursday night in an away clash against Portarlington. Norrie and the girls were still waiting on their first points of the season and duly got a well deserved two points after a tough draw. Well done to the girls and best of luck in your next game.

Oliviers Mens Grade 6 visited table toppers Baltinglass on Monday 27 October and earned a good away draw. The lads were 2-1 up going into the last game but unfortunately Olivier and Ben lost their game in a heartbreaking 26-24 and 21-19 two-setter. Still, an away draw is a great result for the lads who are now second in their table and only one point off Baltinglass who are on seven points. Well done to Olivier and the lads.

Finally, good luck to Helen and her team who play Ryston of Newbridge on Tuesday 28 October, and also congratulations to Helen and her partner Jen Monaghan who won the Division 6 Midlands Tournament last weekend.

Jen has also opened a brilliant shop just beside Centra at the top of the town at Unit 13, Hillcrest, it's called J& A Shabby Chic and I would recommend you go and visit as she has some beautifully crafted items. The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am-5pm and you can contact Jen on 088 3702554/0872628305. Also check them on on Facebook just type in Shabby Chic Junkie.