Women and Politics

In this week's An Phoblacht, Justin Moran expresses his displeasure at the manner in which the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle is structured. At present. of the 12 members of the Ard Comhairle, 6 must be women. This was an initiative taken in order to help address the gender balance. But many feel that this top down approach is not the proper way to deal with the under reprensation of women, something which is a common theme within all parties. Sinn Féin actually put forward a higher percentage of female candidates than the other parties in the north.

I personally have problems with the concept of "positive discrimination". Certainly I realise that it can often be a "necessary evil" but setting quotas strikes me as an easy way out. Neither do I accept the nonsense that women are not as interested in politics. Personally when signing up members I've found that a high percentage of those who express an interest in joining a political party are female, yet when it comes to actually going to meeting, males tend to turn out in far greater numbers. It is an issue which all parties must address. The image of politics as a "gentleman's pursuit" is extermely bad for the democratic process.

SDLP can't have it both ways

I'm glad to see the SDLP addressing the problems faced by refugees in this country. However I find it hyprocritical in the extreme for the SDLP to be defining themselves as the protectors of the rights of refugees this week, when just a couple of weeks ago they were seeking support from Michael McDowell, the man responsible for the draconian deportations seen recently in the 26 counties.


Good riddance

I see BUPA are threatening to pull out of Ireland.


I hate the fact the rich can simply pay for better health care than the poor and those in government should be ashamed that people feel forced to go to a private organisation for a decent service. Health should be free and a top quality standard available to all - regardless of age, class or wealth.

Guten tag!

When checking through site meter I have found that we have a regular German reader.

I can't wait to hear the Unionist jokes about this one ;)

Bertie talks tough

Bertie Ahern has said that the EU will not be allowed to interfere in Irish Divorce law.

He was responding to the claim that the new EU Constitution (sell out) will affect the Divorce law in an effort to harmonise the laws within the region.

As someone who has no moral or religious objections to divorce (a sad state but we have to face reality) It is up to the Oireachtas to change any law which it deems outdated, there should be no interference by the EU in Irish law.

The Taoiseach has said "The European Union has no say in these matters, in other words, it’s none of their business"

"Irish divorce law is a matter for Ireland."

Then why are you looking to ratify the EU Constitution?

Men and women fought and died for the sovereignty that the 26 counties now hold and Bertie shouldn't just dismiss Irish sovereignty so lightly.

Blog shares

I have just stumbled upon something called Blog Shares and have found out Balrog is listed.

I also see that Mick Fealty owns 25% of Balrog's shares; I hope you are not planning a hostile takeover Mick as things could get ugly ;)

In all honesty I haven't got a baldly how this thing works and would appreciate any help from any readers who know the way this Blog Share thing works


United Ireland - let the people have their say

Sinn Féin candidate in Foyle, Mitchel McLaughlin has challenged SDLP leader Mark Durkan to endorse his call for a referendum on Irish unity. The SDLP's response will be an acid test as to how seriously their latest documents on Irish Unity actually are. For too long the Nationalist people have been denied an opportunity to show their opposition to British rule in Ireland at the ballot box as the old unproven arguements are rehearsed about vast numbers of people voting SDLP or SF but secretly being quite happy with the border. I do not believe this is case. I believe that while the Irish Unity may not win an immediate majority, there will be a very substantial vote in favour. Many people are not happy with the status quo and if political stability can be established, they should be allowed to express this unrest. Sinn Féin will be willing to work with the SDLP to put forward a vision for a new Ireland, an Ireland of Equals. I can only hope that the SDLP will put petty political rivalry aside and do the same.

Drink Driving - no excuse

I'm saddened to see that former Irish government minster Dr. Jim McDaid has been arrested for drink driving. While I realise that politicians are only human and that they make mistakes like the rest of us, this sort of behaviour cannot be igorned. A person of such public prominence should know better. Drink driving is a scourge on society and is responsible for a tragic level of loss of life. Dr. McDaid must apoligise immediately and I would reccomend that, in addition to the criminal sanctions he will face, that he should pay a proportion of his very generous TDs salary to a charity which helps the families of the victims of drink driving.

Sinn Féin challenge British over water charges

Gerry Kelly has challenged the British over water charges.

He has stated that it is the belief of Sinn Féin that Funds earmarked last December for the failed peace process deal should be used to tackle underinvestment in the water service.

Gerry Kelly has said that Sinn Féin will

1. Campaign to force the British Government to abandon its water charges policy.

2. Support the development of a broad based coalition opposing the introduction of Water Charges.

There should be no double taxation and Sinn Féin will reject this at every turn.

Fair play Billy

I see there has been some trouble in Coleraine

It would appear that some loyalists are intent on stirring up trouble.

It makes it all the more necessary that the electorate place their trust in Billy Leonard.

Billy is an excellent candidate who has seen big changes in his own life. Billy has grasped his new role well and as such will defend the Nationalist and Republican community in East Derry as well as the whole community.

He came to Queens for a talk and I found him a very warm and genuine man who has made very difficult choices and should be respected for that.

Billy spoke about the days when Nationalists were treated as second class citizens and said "those days are gone and every nationalist and republican is an equal citizen. Mr Watton's supporters just need to wake up to this century."


Never happy

It seems the sdlp aren't entirely happy about the internal consultation that is going on within the IRA

Alasdair McDonnell has said "People will wonder whether this is being played out and spun out for electoral reasons, or if it is for real."

I was thinking the same thing Alasdair only with regards you and your involvement with the McCartney's search for justice.

This family deserves justice as much as anyone but I for one am suspect of Alasdair’s motives

IMC Report

I would like to make a bold prediction that the next IMC Report, unlike the last, will not be spending its time investigating trumped up charges against Sinn Féin and will not be recommending sanctions against the pople who vote Sinn Féin.

My reason for this belief is the announcement that the next IMC report will not be published untill after the election. Given the purely political motivations behind the IMC, I'm sure that if the next report could be used to attempt to attack Sinn Féin, it would be released in the midst of the election campiagn.

Thugs, not Republicans

Despite the anger expressed bvy a small number of people at Gerry Adams yesterday with regards to the McCartney, the Sinn Féin leader has reiterated that Republicans are united on this issue.

I believe that this is true and I also believe that the steps Mr. Adams was correct in the steps he has taken to aid the family's search for justice. The people responsible for this brutal crime ceased to be Republicans when they shamed their movement with cowardly and inhumane actions and no genuine Republican could ever possibly legitimise their brutality.

Dr No seems confused

It would appear Big Ian is slightly confused when it comes to the IRA

He has said he does not believe the IRA are capable of becoming democrats

Ian, the IRA is an army and as such is not a democratic institution!!

In an army you do what you are told or you leave, that is not democracy

The DUP will not be allowed to scupper the political process and should just get used to the reality that they will have to deal with Republicans

Get over it Ian!!

Where do they find these people?

I really do pity the sdlp when the best they have to offer the electorate in North Belfast is Alban Magennis.

He has said "The real reason why the provisional movement does not accept the new policing structures is not any issue about Patten, but that a lawful Ireland threatens their money making and control over the lives of citizen and community."

Is Alban living on the same planet as the rest of us?

His own party colleague in North Belfast, Martin Morgan, said the sdlp should reconsider their position in relation to policing!!

These sorts of comments show just how out of touch with reality the sdlp are!!


Poor Seamus

Poor Mr. Mallon has lost the plot

He speaks of "half-truths and sectarian flag waving"

What is the difference in this DUP action and the stoops own balloon launches and road signs, pathetic!!

He also said "It's this manipulation of people that probably I find the most offensive thing in the type of approach to the political process now"

So Sinn Féin are manipulating people into voting for them?

Let's not be naive Seamus, your party is pathetic and the electorate has come to see that.

I wish you and your party all the best on your retirement, the party of leadership is here to stay and there will be no stooping from Sinn Féin!!

SDLP - last kick from a dying mule?

I see there is renewed speculation on the possibility of a Fianna Fáil- SDLP merger. Personally I believe this is a case of not if, but when. The SDLP are dead on their feet and will soon be supplanted by all-Ireland forces, whether it be FF or possibly one of the other parties. I welcome steps by the parties in 26 counties to organise on an island wide scale and I am convinced that Sinn Féin will be more than ready for the electoral challenge.


Students spend €80m on alcohol

That's according to the College Lifestyle national study. It also found that three out of four drinking occasions were binge-drinking sessions.

The problem I have is that the theory on binge-drinking is ridiculous!

According to "experts" if you consume more than 4 units of alcohol a night you are binge-drinking. Its rubbish like that that makes many turn off and return to their double southern comfort and coke and a B&H cigarette :)

I think a more sensible solution to binge-drinking is to say when you wake up in another women’s bed, or man's (what ever floats your boat) and can't remember anything then that is binge-drinking.

That said that sort of activity is all too prevalent amongst students.

Imagine the taxes that are made off the backs of students.

I am unfortunate to be amongst two groups of people who are seen as fair game by many, I'm a student and I'm a smoker.


FF - remembering the past but ignoring the future

Good to see Fianna Fáil remembering its Republican roots and commemorating the brave Irish leaders of 1916. However the current leaders of Fianna Fáil need to do more than simply laying wreaths and making speeches. They should be concentrating on practical measures to achieve the Republic its founders proclaimed in 1916. Fianna Fáil should have produced a green paper on Irish Unity years ago and it is a disgrace that they are dragging their heels on this issue.

I am going to die in Aug 2054

That’s according to this freaky test

Originally it said next year and that's when I got scared so I did the test again

So it's cancer at aged 70, I think that's very optimistic

I don't believe I will live that long

When are you going to die?

The Brown envelope brigade give lecture on ethics

While I welcome the Taoiseach's recent conversion to Republicanism as well as Socialism I find it a bit much for Fianna Fail to try and lecture anyone on "Criminal activity"

What's that you say, Brown envelopes! Robbing the pensioners for years! Burke! Haughey!

Best not to be a hypocrite Bertie

As for arms, when and where did Fianna Fail decommission their weapons?

They didn't so stop the holier than thou attitude

To paraphrase former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds "How can I talk to the Republican Movement about guns, sure some of our ones brought their guns in with them under the table"

As for electioneering, save it Bertie

The last couple of months has seen the attempted campaign of Criminalisation along with Dermot Ahern's appearance with McGrady, all designed to try and stop the growth of Sinn Féin

Tough luck Bertie but this freight train isn't stopping and its next stop will be Dublin Central!

Get ready Bertie

Different school, same attitude

I just noticed this article about a teacher referring to Sinn Féin as "IRA Scum"

I must say that I know how this feels as some teachers in my old school were notorious anti-republican bigots.

I remember telling a teacher that I would be unable to attend a school event his reply was "Why, are you going to one of your murdering IRA marches"

Bigotry comes in many guises

I have a big problem with young, middle-class teachers trying to lecture me on ethics

After that comment I deliberately set out to piss that teacher off and it worked, because of my actions regarding T-Shirts and Badges, 23 new school rules were brought in and the school ended up with a hefty legal bill over a different incident.

Students should never be afraid to express themselves and teachers shouldn't be afraid that a lot of their students are more intelligent than they are.

I love this wee phrase as it pisses the teaching profession off to no ends

"Those who can do those who can't teach"


South Belfast SF - alive and well

Having read the report on Slugger of Sean Hayes' recent comments, I feel I should reply to the assertion that "Thanks to this, the party in south east Belfast and the Ormeau Road has been effectively shut down."

I can assure readers that this is not the case. I have been in the Ormeau road office every night this week and canvassing is well attended and is going well. Only last Sunday there were 80 people out canvassing for Sinn Féin in South Belfast. Sinn Féin has certainly not shut down in the area. It is flourishing, just as it is doing throughout the six counties and indeed throughout the entire island. I predict that Sinn Féin vote in South Belfast will hold and increase and we will see new Sinn Féin councillors in the area, such as Stiofan Long who is standing in Balmoral and despite there being no SF councillors in the ward at present, has a good chance of actually topping the poll in the area.

Mine's a Pint?

The GAA has come in for more criticism over its plans to open 11 new bars within the walls of Croke Park. I understand that some people see this as being hyprocritical given that GAA has recently decided to ban alcohol sponsorship within the association, however the reality is that many people, myself included, like to enjoy a couple of pints before a big game and personally I don't see anything wrong with this. Of course, I think it is wrong when young teenagers are going to matches on buses tanked up on a carry out but this is a problem of society in general and it is the responsibility of others to tackle, not the GAA. Provided the age limits are stringently enforced, I see no reason why the GAA shouldn't take part of the profit from the pre-match drinks that at present is going to the bars outside Croke Park. Personally I'd far rather to contribute the few euro I spend on a couple of pints to be going to the GAA than to some greedy Dublin publican.


British Army Killers

Good luck to the family of Peter McBride as they continue in the quest have their son's killers dismissed from the British army. Considering recent event, it seems British soldiers are to be punished for crimes in Iraq but Catholic teenagers are fair game. Perhaps the disgraced Major from Who Wants to be a Millionaire should have been trigger happy on the streets of Belfast since this seems to be a much smaller crime than murder in the eyes of his employers. I salute the family in their quest and hope that they can expose to the world the injustice of their plight.


Shock in the West?

Danny Morrison takes an interesting look at the race for Westminster seats in the north in today's Daily Ireland. If his prediction is right for West belfast, pile on the money on Alex Attwood at 25/1 with Eastwoods!

Good stuff!!

Funny election broadcast

I found this on Armchair Celts

Enjoy ;)

Ian Paisley AKA The Joker!!

I see Ian Paisley is his usual hilarious self

He wants to exclude Sinn Féin and ergo the majority of Nationalists from any devolved administration.

Well what Ian wants and what he will get are two entirely different things!!

There will be no sort of devolved administration in the North without Sinn Féin.

After these elections you can be guaranteed that negotiations and talks will continue

For any Unionist voter out there who actually believes the DUP will not sit in government with Sinn Féin for a generation, well,you have my sympathies because you are going to be very upset.

Is the Enemy of my Enemy my friend?

This must have been the question Alasdair McDonnell was asking himself and given recent developments he has given his answer

How foolish is he?

I would really love to know who is advising the stoops these days as their image (Puke Green, yuck!!) has been disastrous and their press is an absolute joke.

Jude's article in today’s Daily Ireland is excellent in relation to this

Nios mo na céad bliain

As many of you probably know Sinn Féin are celebrating the centenary of their existence in 2005. However this long and colourful history it seems that one of SF's voters come May 5th will be older than the party itself!

Sinn Féin challenge Irish Government over Unity

Gerry Adams has challenged the Irish government to begin preparations for Irish Unity

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Féin is setting out our roadmap for Irish unity and launching a campaign to urge the Irish government to bring forward a Green Paper and to begin the practical planning for Irish unity now"

Everyone accepts that Irish Unity can not be achieved by anyone party but through a broad coalition.

The Irish government has a responsibility to lead the charge for Irish Unity and now will be the time when Fianna Fail's stated Republicanism will be tested


Boycott Inquiry - Amnesty international

The fight for justice of the brave Finucane family was given an international boost today as the well respected Amnesty international group backed the family's call for judges to boycott the proposed inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane under the unacceptable limitation of the Inquiries Act. Stephen Bowen analysised the situation with complete clarity when he stated that;

"Any judge sitting on such an inquiry would be presiding over a sham."

Amnesty have now joined Judge Cory, Lord Saville, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and other Irish parties in their recognition of the stifling effect Blair's legislation will have on the hopes of the family for justice and truth.

It's sad

It's sad that Mark Durkan has become so desperate to stop a stoop wipeout that he comes out with claptrap like this

I really do believe the poor man deserves a nice long rest

I expect the voters of Foyle will give him just that come May 6th

Someone’s taking the piss!!

This lunatic has just been named Politician of Year by Magill

I really do worry about people when they become this delusional

Surprise, surprise

Very angry to hear that the PSNI have been showing their complete non-political bias by harrassing Sinn Féin elections workers. Michelle Gildernew is rightly extermly upset and appalled by these goings on. Canvassing is not an easy job and certainly nobody should be intimidated while trying to do it. I often hear people castigate SF for not joining the policing board, however how can Sinn Féin be expected to join up with a police force which seems to have the defeat of Republicans as its raison d'etre?

Unionist Turmoil

The battle for the hearts and minds of the Unionist people in South belfast took another twist last night as an entire branch of the Ulster Unionist party disbanded in order to back Mr. McGimpsey's rival candidate, Jimmy Spratt. Of all the seats across the north, this seems the most unpredictable as it is not only among the closest but also has more than two possible victors. I had initially backed McGimpsey to hold the seat for the UUP, but as the campaign wears on it seems like Mr. mcGimpsey is losing ground and could be in a very vunerable position.


The inquiry into the death of Rosemary Nelson began yesterday. I only pray that the family get the truth which they deserve from this inquiry.


Worst fear confirmed

So Joseph Ratzinger is the new pope, it's not really a surprise as I suspected and feared this would happen.

So much for the Catholic Church moving into the 21st Century.

They are heading in the wrong direction and this decision will do nothing for those Catholics who thought the Church would reform.

One step forward and ten steps back!!

New Pope

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been elected as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He will be known as Pope Benedict XVI. I pray that Pope Benedict will lead the church wisely and that under his lead, Catholicism can evolve without sacrificing its integrity. One thing is for certain, the new Pope certainly has big shoes to fill.

White Smoke

White smoke from the Vatican has indicated that a new pope has been elected. We await confirmation of the identity of the new pontiff.


Sad reminder of a violent past

It was with sadness that I read this article in today’s Daily Ireland.

This was a woman who had much to live for and whose only "crime" was to be a Republican. I have the honour of being a member of the Sheena Campbell cumann in QUB. I know Sheena's son Caolán very well and it always saddens me when I hear how she was stolen from Caolán and Brendan.

There are people out there who attack An Fhírinne and attack Sinn Féin for giving so much support to An Fhírinne.

These people must realise that while the victims of British State collusion may only be names on a placard and pictures in a paper to you and me, they are someone’s mother, father brother, sister etc.

Are the families not entitled to the truth?

A Lib Dem Shinner?

I found an interesting test over at A Tangled Web and it seems that if i'd been born on the wrong side of the Irish Sea, I'd be supporting Charles Kennedy to be the next Prime Minister of Britian!

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -6
Conservative -41
Liberal Democrat 58
UK Independence Party -3
Green 42

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Liar, Liar; Pants on fire!!

I must say I find this political back tracking most amusing.

Mr. Deeney has now said he will never join any of the political parties in the North.

In a statement to the Newsletter he said that his attempt to persuade Durkan that he wanted to be an SDLP MP was "solely, and only, to try and persuade the SDLP leader that his party should not field a candidate in West Tyrone"

If that is the case Mr. Deeney then you are a deceiving and dishonest person!!
Your attempt to try and be all things to all men is pathetic

Stop this pathetic attempt at political spin, your embarrassing!

It is not as if you ever had a chance at beating Pat Doherty

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!

More help for the SDLP

I see David Trimble has called for people to vote for his own party, the UUP and the SDLP in the upcoming elections. This comes hot on the heels of the news that Michael McDowell will be in Belfast today to attempt to bolster the SDLP's flagging capaign. Given the popularity of these two men in Nationalist cirles in the north SDLP members must be asking themselves -

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Rule 42 relaxed

The GAA's National Congress on Saturday voted to temporarily lift the ban on non-GAA sports such as rugby and soccer from playing in Croke Park. I opposed this development as outlines below however the majority of the association has spoken and I have to accept that. However, I think i speak for all GAA followers when I say that all the GAA must ensure that all profits from the relaxing of this regulation must be ploughed back into the GAA and also, when dealing with issues concerning any rental of Croke park, it must be the interests of the GAA which come first, not the interests of our competitors.

In the name of God

Conclave will begin today and is expected to last for a few days

I pray that the church will move into the 21st century and not marginalise even more the ever wavering Catholic’s who believe the church can be reformed.

I would love to see a Pope, preferably from Africa or South America, who would drag the Church away from the dark ages.

I would love to see a church where people renew their faith after many years of absence.

I would love to go back to Mass on a Sunday and see the priest’s family in the front row, to hear his wife talk to parishioners after mass.

Do I realistilcy expect this to happen in the near future, unfortunately not.

I have real fears that someone like Ratzinger will be made Pope and then my allegiance with the church will have to be re-evaluated.

Haven spoke to many young Catholics, both devout and wavering; they are all looking forward with great anticipation to the reform of the Church.

I pray their prayers don't go unanswered!

Mad Mullah heads North

It seems McDowell is heading up North today to try and bolster the SDLP in their forthcoming "Stalingrad"

You couldn't wish for this sort of thing

The man is vilified by Northern Nationalists and many view him in the same light as Thatcher.

What ever chance Alasdair had of securing South Belfast must surely be disappearing with the involvement of McDowell.

It shows the fear that the establishment has towards Sinn Féin when they send their storm troopers up North to tackle the ever advancing green army.

McCann enters race

Eamonn McCann has thrown his hat into the ring in Foyle

He secured 2,257 votes in the 2003 Assembly election

This could be the straw that broke Durkan's back!

Eamonn is more likely to attract SDLP votes than Sinn Féin

Is it possible that the Civil Rights campaigner could be a blessing in disguise for Sinn Féin?


Get them out!!!

I see Mary Campbell and Anthony Flynn have have served an eviction notice on the PSNI and the Paras.

This happend at a protest outside Forkhill barracks last saturday.

The Paras have caused uproar in South Armagh since they have arrived.

The Paras are suspected of being involved in a sledge hammer attack on the Hunger Strike memorial at Ford's Cross.

The Paras have already made it known to locals that they will make their presence felt before they leave.

I will echo the words of Mary Campbell

"These assault troops are not suitable for this area, in whatever role their political masters have sent them here for and We not only call for their withdrawal from amongst our community, but we call for the total withdrawal of all the military outposts from our hillsides and out of our towns, especially for the immediate dismantling of the base in Forkhill."

They are not welcome in South Armagh!


Mumps - who is to blame?

Crisis seems to have hit the health service in the north as it was reported today that an extra 80,000 vaccines are needed to cope what has become a mumps epidemic. As somebody who has recently contracted mumps, I know this is a very serious matter, espicially for young people. To see that our health service is so unprepared and desperate is very discouraging and those who have failed to fund it properly should hang their heads in shame. My understanding is that the initial vaccine given during school years does not fully immunise young people from the risk of mumps. Surely since this is the case, a second immunisation should have given to all students before they left school. Questions must be asked as to why it wasn't. The current desperate attempts to get on top of the situation seem to be locking the stable after a very dangerous horse has bolted.

SF join the Club

Sinn Féin joined the SDLP, UUP and the DUP today. Not in a power sharing executive but rather in the list of parties asked to stand aside in West Tyrone by Dr. Kieran Deeney. Mr. Deeney's advances were given short shift by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. What seems to strange to me is that, if Mr. Deeney is as strong a candidate as he claims to be, why is he afraid of little electoral competition. The doctor would be better served trying to attract the electorate to his message rather than trying to eliminate the compeition.

Unionist offices raided

I see that UUP offices were raided today as a result of an ongoing investigation into allegations of money laundering.

Considering the fact that a raid on offices was enough for the UUP to collapse the power sharing institutions in 2002, I assume Mr. Trimble will be soon be announcing that his party is not fit for government and should be excluded from any future executive. What's sauce for the goose............

Tell us another one Alex!!

According to Alex Attwood the SDLP will single handedly make sure that collusion with Unionist Death squads never occurs again.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

One problem Alex, the policing board has no real control over the Chief Constable or the PSNI/RUC!

Special Branch is still in place, FRU has yet to be properly investigated, and the process by which collusion occurs is still very much operational.

There is no point in trying to fool the Nationalist people into thinking you have any real control on the policing board, it's a talking shop.

Remember Plastic Bullets?

This sort of drivel might play well for some of the Castle Catholics but your average Joe Soap on the street knows it for what it is, Drivel!!

Oh really!!!

It appears a British soldier has been banned from flying after crashing a Gazelle helicopter in Derry

Gregory Campbell has said the report summery has suggested the pilot may have been drinking!

Well isn't that reassuring!!

South Armagh is used as a training ground for British army pilots and has already had two helicopter crashes in as many years and one crashed at Sturgan just last week.

This will hardly reassure people that some British army pilot won't go out on the piss and then try and fly over a populated area?

We need a total end to helicopter flights in the North and the full demilitarisation of the British war machine in Ireland.

New Order

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Sorry folks but it appears that all of the comments that were originally here have been wiped when I transferred to Haloscan.

It was in the interests of our readers and me, the administrator.

We can’t stop progress ;)


Paisley's comments

In a change to regular blogging ettiquete instead of providing readers with links to news stories, this blogger needs any readers out there to do the same for him. Specifically I need a link to the story a couple of years ago (2003 I think) when Ian Paisley called for Sinn Féin to disband. I want to use his remarks to make a point in an essay but can't find them as I need to reference them. Even remembering roughly when or in what paper the remarks were made would be a massive help. thanks a million to any balrog reader who can help me!

Animals on the hill

This title isn't a disparaging reference to our esteemed politicians at Stormount but rather it describes the occupants of Belfast Zoo, who if a Belfast councillor gets his way, will soon be shipping out of belfast. UUP councillor Chris McGimpsey believes that Belfast zoo should be closed due to the cruelty it inflicts on animals. Many people agree with this analysis and do not believe animals should be forced to live in captivy while to other, zoos are an important educational facility and an excellent attraction for tourists. Incidentially, in a shocking twist to northern politics, the UUP ranks were divided on this issue (no, I cant ebelieve it either!).

What are people's views on the rights and wrongs of life in zoos?

No votes needed

Dissapointing to see that the election for the Ballinderry ward of Cookstown council will not be contested. Unfortunately it seems that no party fancied their chances at increasing their representation and so the nominated candidates will be automatically elected. I think this is bad for democracy, the voters should be given the opportunity to express their views at the ballot box and candidates should be able to achieve a mandate for their positions. I hope that this is an unfortunate anomaly rather than a vision of things to come.

Private Inquiries Act

Good luck to the Finucane family as they continue their battle against the dilution of the public inquiry into Pat's murder. The family have asked all British judges to boycott the proposed inquiry under the disgusting Inquiries bill which wants to keep certain evidence out of the public sphere. I sincerely hope they are successful and that the message is sent to Tony Blair that justice by half will not do. Geraldine Finucane made a profound analysis of Blair's legislation when she stated;

“The best way to sum up the Inquiries Act is that the word public does not appear in the title.”

Rule 42

I see Chris' post has begun an interesting debate on Rule 42 and the possible deletion of it. This is set to be the defining issue of the year in GAA circles. As a member of the GAA I am opposed to any change in the status of Rule 42.

My reasons for this stance are not in any way political, I am merely looking at the best interests of the association. Firstly people rant about the injustice of the Irish soccer team having to travel out of ireland to play their mtaches, but if the FAi are so worried about this why haven't they written a politely worded letter to the GAA apoligised for their shambolic nature and asking the GAA to kindly allow them use of the GAA's excellent stadium. It strikes me as amazingly arrogant on the FAI's part that they are quite happy to allow the media to do their arguing for them. In addition to this I am gravely concerned at the impact a dilution of this rule will have on the GAA. My primary fear is that the GAA will become second class citizens in their own home. For example if a soccer match is scheduled for a Staurday in Septembr and an All Ireland semi final is drawn, Croke Park may be booked up for the following Saturday meaning the GAA could be deprived of their own facilities. Also, the Croke park residents group has expressed its concern at the amount of games played in Croke Park already, they are particularly concerned at games on Saturdays, the most popular day for Rugby and Soccer. If limitations on the amount of games are imposed, I am again fearful that it will the GAA's games that will suffer.

The FAI seem to think they have some divine right to the GAA's facilities. Somebody should ask them why in their 80 years of exsistence they haven't had the ability to build something even a quarter as majestic as Croke Park. I genuinely feel sorry for the followers of these codes, but as a GAA man I will be putting the future of my own sport first.

Armagh against Rule 42 change

I see that Armagh have voted against any change to Rule 42

This is going to be an interesting debate within the GAA and the community in general.

At one time I thought I was in favour of changing Rule 42 but now that I think about it I am against it.

Croke Park has a unique atmosphere, an atmosphere I have never seen replicated anywhere else. The hill was made up of rubble of the 1916 Easter Rising and the GAA has an unparallel position within Irish culture and heritage.

There are many out there who are against this because they wish to preserve what we have created. Some will argue that it should be opened up and that the GAA has nothing to fear by this.

I don't think fear comes into it but it's our stadium and we shouldn't have to prop up "Professional" sports like Rugby and Soccer.

It is a difficult issue that may yet create a civil war type split within the GAA and Irish society.

How do you stand on the issue?


What a joke!!

According to Dominic Bradley "The SDLP will continue to drive this agenda forward"

The agenda he is talking about is Demilitarisation

I am a member of the South Armagh Demill committee and the SDLP have been constantly asked to participate and they have constantly refused!

Do you know why?

It's simple, they couldn't care less!!

This is only electioneering and the people of South Armagh will see it as such. If the SDLP honestly believed this I would welcome it but they don't.

Their past record on Demill speaks for itself.

They wanted to keep the hill top forts on the Ring of Gullion in order to turn them into a tourist attraction!

I don't find the British war machine in Ireland to be a tourist attraction!

They tried to push a local DPP meeting on to the people of Forkhill and the people of that village refused because they didn't wish to be used as political pawns in an attempt to give the current police force any credibility.

Mr Bradley's and the SDLP's past form on Demill will be judged by the electorate on May 5th!

Throw him to the Lions!

The lunatic fringe of the Democratic Unionist party reared its head again as Nelson McCausland expression his belief that the rubgy team representing England, irish, Wales and Scotland should revert to the exclusionist and probably offensive name of the "British Lions". The DUP councillor, who previously launched a tirade against bi-lingual handbooks, feels that the name British and Irish Lions is innappropriate. Now pardon me for using logic but surely this is an appropriate name for a team made up of players from Britian AND Ireland (incidentally captained by an Irishman). Obviously Mr. McCausland's disdain for all things Irish simply can't tolerate this inclusive and sensible naming of a sporting team.

Divided They Fall

The SDLP's election prospects took another turn for the worse as the party appears to be in disarray and ravaged by internal conflict in a number of different areas. In West Tyrone, Mark Durkan's decision to select a sacrifical lamb (sorry candidate) to run against Pat Doherty has met with opposition from local SDLP activists who wanted the Sinn Féin MP to be the only candidate advocating a United Ireland. Reports of local side-deals with Dr. Deeney not endorsed by the party's leadership are threatening to undermine both campaigns in the area. It's strange that often the SDLP criticise Sinn Féin for being subservient to their leadership, yet it now seems the SDLP show more signs of a dictatorship.

The Daily Ireland also reports that Martin Morgan's re-evaluation of his position has led to internal bickering as neither selected candidate in Oldpark was willing to stand aside to allow the former Lord Mayor to return. Mr. Morgan was a relatively popular SDLP representative and his exclusion from the party ticket could well indicate another steep fall in SDLP support in the area. As the date of the election approaches I find myself becoming more and more confident that Sinn Féin's performance will leave no possible doubt as to who the significant majority of the nationalist people want to represent them.


It appears that our delusional stoop brethren are somewhat confused.

I must have rattled a few cages over on Slugger because an SDLPer, stoop, gave this response


I'm merely attempting to establish whether Chris Gaskin scans the web out of a personal interest in these things or because he is paid to do so by Sinn Fein.
It's a fair question, don't you think? I mean, is he the guardian of the gates for the Provos or is he entitled to say that he just does it for the love of his party?

I think if he's paid, he's in it for the money.

Posted by: John O'Connell at April 12, 2005 09:59 PM"

You know you have them on the ropes when they accuse you of being a paid spy

I think our SDLP friends are starting to feel the heat!


McGrady needs to give answers!!

It seems Eddie McGrady has questions that he needs to answer!

It appears from a leaked document, which a stoop newspaper published, that Eddie was less than supportive of John Hume and Gerry Adams efforts to create a lasting peace process.

It appears from these documents that Eddie was more interested in his own party’s future than the future of Ireland.

The people of South Down need to consider what sort of public representative they want come May 5th.

Never, never, never?

Rejectionist Unionism showed its anti-inclusion face again as Bob McCartney announed that he had received a pledge from the DUP that they would not share power with Sinn Féin, using terms like "ten years or a generation". This sort of ridiculous timeframe indicates to the world that the likes of the UKUP and the DUP are not in fact interesting in any form of power-sharing despite any claims to the contary. It strikes me as amazing that the DUP are ruling out in May a position that they had signed up to in principle in December. Were they lying then or are they lying now?

Mr. McCartney has also announced that he will not be standing in North which, given the inclusion of the Alliance Party in the race, increases the chances of an additional DUP gain in the upcoming election. According to the BBC, marks should also be given to Mr. McCartney for his mystic Meg like opposition in 1995 to an agreement which was not to be signed for another three years!

Bullying, sort them out.

While I have never been a victim of bullying, given my less than small stature, I have seen the effects of it.

I have just seen this article in the Newsletter which just boggles my mind.

Does anyone out there really believe a rap song will stop these cowards?

In my old school there was a policy of trying to reach out to the bully in some kind of pastoral care way, doesn't work.

There is only one thing a bully understands and that's someone who is going to put them in their place.

In my old school some of the older teachers would approach a few of us who they knew they could trust and ask us to have a “quiet word” in certain bullies’ ear. This did work especially when the cowards were told what would happen to them should they step out of line. Some of the parents of the kids who were getting bullied actually thanked me and a few of the boys.

Bullying was always something that I detested because it was only the vulnerable students that these cowards picked on. They never tried to take on someone they saw as equals. Kids should not be afraid to go to school and with so many kids having problems at home school should at least be their sanctuary where they can get some peace of mind.

I have no time for this softie, softie approach.


PD tail wagging FF dog

I found this article very interesting at it leads me to question what level of genuine interest the PD's have in the peace process.

You will all be aware by now that I hold McDowell in contempt but with good reason.

Sinn Féin on target for 150 council seats

That's according to Pat Doherty who said "I realise, of course, that 150 seats is an ambitious target but it’s achieveable."

You bet it is and with Sinn Féin normally very careful with their predictions it has to be a very realistic possibility.

Coupled with the possible collapse of the SDLP and UUP, are we now facing a new realingmenet in Northern politics?

Let's not forget that Paisley has said "All Ulster Unionist seats are vulnerable", and he is right, that said no SDLP seat is safe either.

For me the two most interesting elections will be in Belfast, South and North.

UUP wipe out?

Ian Paisley upped the ante in the Unionist battle for seats in the election by predicting that no UUP seat is safe. Personally I will be very surprised if the DUP are the only Unionist party with Westminster representation come May 6th however given Martin Smyth's refusual to back the candidature of Michael McGimpsey in South belfast, the Ulster Unionists could well be in for a difficult election in all their seats. Reports in today's Irish News that UKUP leader Bob McCartney is unlikely to stand in North Down gives the DUP a fighting chance in every seat currently held by the UUP.


Death Threats

I'm saddened to see that another SF member has been subjected to a threat on his life. People like John O'Dowd are hard working politicans doing their best for their constituents. Its a shameful indictment on sections of our society that those who oppose this man's work can think of no better way to confront than with threats of death. I am certain however they these thugs will not win and i'm delighted to see the Mr. O'Dowd will be continuing with his political activites.


Lesson to be learnt

Only in the Gaza Strip do kids have to learn this very serious lesson, don't play football you might get shot!!

The horrific news that Israelis have murdered 3 young Palestinians who tried to retrieve a football shows the contempt Israelis have for life and how utterly putrid their Zionist ways are.

Until the issue of Palestinian sovereignty is addressed there is no chance of peace in the Middle-East.

Good stuff

How did you lot get on with the National?

I had the winner and won a nice bet, who said gambling was a fools game? ;)

Come on Hedge Hunter!!

What an idiot!!

McDowell, you either love him or hate him (I despise him!!)

Unionists love him because they know Republicans hate him; Fianna Failers hate him because he is sending droves of their voters into the hands of Sinn Féin. Fine Gael hate him because he is even more of a west brit, sorry Dublin 4 than they are and everyone else hates him because he is an idiot.

Why is he an idiot I hear you ask?

Just listen to this

"McDowell has said the IRA must be disbanded before republicans can share power in Government anywhere."

Guess what mate it is our electorate who decides that, not you!

"Mr McDowell paid tribute to the gardaí for their success in breaking open what he called 'the secret Provo conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in this State'"

He is a solicitor by trade yet he can produce no evidence for those ridiculous claims and do you know why, he's bluffing!

Everyone needs a hate figure and we have ours, present his picture to a group of Sinn Féin activists and you will get them canvassing all night long.

Stalingrad all over again

It seems the stoops are to stand in all 18 constituencies

It would seem they have cowered away from the idea of allowing Deeney a free run and could you blame them?

Deeney, even with sdlp votes, doesn't have a chance against Pat Doherty and in my opinion the sdlp candidate in West Tyrone will be a sitting duck.

What is the bet that Deeney will no longer be there come the next assembly election, if there even is one?

Poor Durkan, he's under intense pressure with Alistair biting at his heels and with a party containing people like Hanna, Kelly and Attwood.

Sure it's enough to drive you to drink.

Don't worry Mark after May 5th you should be in line for a nice long rest.



According to the Mary Harney

“It is not time for the people to speak again; it is time for a small minority to listen finally,”

Damn right Mary, it's about time you listened to the Irish people and stop trying to spread your right-wing rhetoric, stop deporting people just because they are black and stop trying to privatise everything that moves.

One good thing will come of the next election in the 26 counties, your brand of neo-conservative bullshit will be put in the bin and your lap dog Himmler, sorry McDowell will be removed from his public platform and sent to a retirement home were the Government will probably rob him blind and take his pension.

The full circle of life, you have to love it.

Time for Smokers to stand up and be counted

A friend sent me this quote

"I don't want any of your statistics. I took your whole batch and lit
my pipe with it. I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering
out how much a man's health is injured, and how much his intellect is
impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course
of ninety-two years' indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in
the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards
occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc., etc., etc.
. . . You never see but one side of the question. You are blind to the
fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although,
according to your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty
old Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both
drink and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And
you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation and
enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime, (and
which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone,)
nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind
of people from NOT smoking."

Mark Twain San Francisco 1865

I hate the Nanny State, time to fight for your civil rights against this liberal bourgeoisie attitude some non-smokers hold.

FF & FG - a plague on both their houses?

Eoin O Brion gives an personal opinion on the future of government in the 26 counties in this weeks An Phoblacht. He advocates an "alliance of the left" and believes that Labour, the Green party and Sinn Féin should begin to build a viable alternative to the FG/FF dominated Dáil.

What Eoin proposes is both innovative and unprecedented. For almost the entire history of the Irish state either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael have been in government with the smaller parties lining up to feed on the scraps of coalition beoing offered from the table of the big two. Yet with the growth of Sinn Féin, a new axis in Irish politics could emerge. Parties of the left could unite to create a better Ireland, an Ireland where the poor are given the same priority as the rich, an Ireland of equals, to replace the unequal society that currently exists. Many southern SF activists are wary of coalition government, fearful that government with FF will allow Sinn Féin to be distracted from the policies of social justice the party advocates. Yet perhaps with similar socially conscious parties, the risks would not be as great. I am of the opinion that as a party Sinn Féin should not be afraid of coalition government, if it is a means to further our objectives then it should be embraced. I hope Eoin has opened a necessary and important debate within Republican circles.

Election time

It's Election time again and this republican is looking forward to having a proper MP at the end of it, Conor Murphy.

I have known Conor for the last 6 years and Conor will do an excellent job for the people of Newry and Armagh.

I am also looking forward to being one of a very special group of people. The electoral ward of Slieve Gullion, if all goes well, will be the only electoral ward on this Island were one party hold all the seats.

Time to say farewell to the stoops

I see the so called "Smash Sinn Féin" AKA "NO TAIGS PLEASE" electoral pact has not born fruit.

What a sad bunch of wasters the UUP and DUP are, more concerned with individual careerist policies than getting a good deal for their constituents.

I don't believe in pacts; let the people have their say

The green army marches towards May 5th

This should be the date when we bury the policy of exclusion (and if the man upstairs is listening to my prayers the stoops as well) once and for all.

How do you see the elections going?

Plastic bullets for the Plastic state

A Human Rights group in the north has backed Sinn Féin's opposition to the decision of the Policing Board to introduce a new type of plastic bullet. Plastic bullets have been responsible for 17 deaths in the north, including 14 children, so I doubt that claims that the new bullet is "less lethal" will carry much weight with the loved ones of those murdered by these bullets. At one stage the SDLP opposed all use of plastic bullets, yet they were powerless to prevent their introduction. The continued existence of these lethal weapons will serve as another reminder to nationalists that not as much has changed as certain people would have us believe.

Funeral of a Saint?

The requiem mass for Pope John Paul II was celebrated this morning. Watching the mass on television I felt it was a very solemn and dignified occasion, befitting of such a great leader. At various points the crowd made their own voice heard chating "Giovanni Paulo" in honour of John Paul and declaring their wish that he be made a saint. It was a truly momentous occasion. Go ndearna Dia trocaire ar a anam.



As those arrested for the murder of nationalist councillor Patsy Kelly 31 years ago were released this morning, I wonder are there one or two worried brows at DUP HQ. Certainly there may well be should the claims made in this article turn out to have any substance to them.

DUP's Spratt Vs UUP's Brat?

With the DUP declaring a candidate for the elctoral fight in South Belfast, it seems any chance of a Unionist electoral pact is dead. Few who have seen the bickering between the DUP and UUP in recent times will be surprised at the news, though Michael McGimspey is none too pleased describing the former Police Federation chief as "Splitter Spratt". While I was very confident about Michelle GIldernew's chances in Fermanagh/ South Tyrone in any case, the Sinn Féin MP now seems a shoo-in to retain her seat.

Think before you speak

It seems Hugh Orde is now revising his attitude when it comes to making observations.

It is a pity that he didn't think of that when he accused the IRA, without a scrap of evidence being presented, of carrying out the Northern bank robbery.

Let’s not be too hard on Hugh, after all does anyone really expect anything else from the head of a flawed Police force whose aim is not law and order but an Anti-Republican one?


Remember Rights

Amnesty International delievered an important message to the leaders of the political parties in the north as they reminded the 5 main parties to focus on human rights issues throughout the upcoming campaign. This is a timely intervention as Amnesty raise important issues concerned with both the north and also further afield. I look forward to the contribution this group will make and I hope that all candidates heed their pleas. For too long the people of the north have suffered human rights abuses. We must all work together to make sure that is a thing of the past.

President of Sinn Féin delievers speech

Gerry Adams today delievered a keynote speech in which he asked the IRA to consider their position with regards to the current political impass. Mr Adams said that while he had in the past defended the IRA's right to armed struggle, he felt that a situation now existed where that struggle should be a peaceful one. An alternative to armed struggle now exists.

I was deeply heartened by Mr. Adams' comments and I believe they are a positive contribution to the political impass. In the face of rejectionist Unionism and the criminalisation policy of the two governments, once more Republicans are the ones showing their commitment to the process with positive words rather than negative rejections.

The struggle for Irish freedom has been a long and noble one, but it is also a struggle which has been ever changing. It has been my view for quite some time that it is the force of arguement, not the force of arms which will be the final weapon in ending partition and achieving a 32 county democratic socialist republic. In order to make this island a better place, we must all adapt to changing circumstances. I hope that all parties involved will take heed of Mr. Adams' words and react to them positively in an attempt to regain political momentum in the peace process.

Doc is all mixed up

Dr. Paisley, rather unsurprisingly, has begun his pre-election posturing by claiming that he will never negotiate with Sinn Féin. If Mr. Paisley is serious about carrying on with rejectionist politics then that is his deicision, but let's remember that this is the same man who felt that Sinn Féin would have to disband 2 years ago. He didn't succeed then and was almost in government with Republicans last winter. It seems obvious that rejectionist Unionism has no better way of dealing with confident Republicans than taking away their ball and leaving the pitch.


Muddled Morgan needs to make his mind up

Following Martin Morgan's decision last year to quit the SDLP after his principled stand on the loyalist march through Ardoyne fell on deaf ears at SDLP Party HQ, it now seems that Mr. Morgan has had a change of heart. However it seems as though he may have come back on board too late to save his council seat. I have a good deal of respect for Mr. Morgan, he is an SDLP candidate that I had no problems in transferring to however I think he needs to evaluate what his best position really is.

Death by State

Following on from a discussion we've had previously on this site about the death penalty, figures were published today saying that almost 4,000 were executed worldwide last year. This figure comes from Amnesty International who are worried that the true figure could be even higher than that. I am firmly opposed to the death penalty and I think it should be noted that the countries in which it tends to be used the most are those with very suspect human rights records.

The cover-up continues 16 years later

I see that the Finucane family have decided that they will not be giving any support to an inquiry into Pat's murder if the inquiry is restricted under the terms of the Inquiries bill which Blair seems determined to push thorugh parliament. While this must have been an exceptionally difficult decision for the family, I feel they have made the right choice. An inquiry in private is no inquiry at all and is certainly not what Judge Cory intended, as he himself states. The policy of collusion prepetrated by the British state continues to be protected to this day. The Inquiries bill should be scrapped. The Finucanes should get the full transparent inquiry they deserve and they should accept no less.

Making a mockery of faith

Very dissapointed to see that a so-called "man of God" saw fit to mock the incurable disease of a true spiritual leader. Reverend Stephen Dickinson, Presbyterian minister of Glenarm and Cairnalbana decided it would hilarious to mock the Pope's debilitating illness ealier this year. In his defence Reverend Dickinson was of the opinion that;

"Let me say it again, I was not making anti-Catholic jokes, I was not making anti-Parkinson jokes

So what sort of joke were you making then, Reverend?!

Shame on him.


The worst kept secret in political life was finally confirmed today as Tony Blair confirmed a general election for May 5th, the same day as the poll for the local council. The parties in the north will be on election footing for the next month so expect plenty fo back stabbing and bitter recriminations. If you're looking for impartial and unbiased reporting on the upcoming battle for seats in the north, then this just ain't the blog for you! However if you want an insight into the thinking of Republicans during this election season then stay tuned!

Dontcha just love elections?!

Sun democracy

I see the Sun is unsure who to support in the upcoming British election. While personally I see little difference between Howard's Tories and Blair's Tories, the amazing arrogance of this statemnt from the Sun "Newspaper" astounds me;

"Instead we are going to listen very carefully to Labour and the Tories between now and May 5 to see which party deserves the backing of our readers."

I sincerely hope that the importance the Sun affords itself in the outcome of the election is merely a selfish boast yet I fear that somehow it hits closer to the truth than any of us would like. Shame on anybody who allows this rag to decide their vote for them. People fought hard for the universal franchise and voters should decide for themselves who they want to vote for and not decide merely by glancing at a headline as they turn quickly to see the tits on page 3.


Wise words

The Irish News carried a number of short quotes from John Paul II today and I thought they were worthy of note.

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.

Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.

I appeal to you in the language of passionate pleading. On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the paths of peace. Further violence in Ireland will only drag down to ruin the land you claim to love and the values you claim to cherish.

May no Irish Protestant think that the Pope is an enemy, a danger or a threat. My desire is that Protestants would see me as a friend and a brother in Christ.

The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message.

Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men.

War is a defeat for humanity. From now on it is only through a conscious choice and through a deliberate policy that humanity can survive.

I have a sweet tooth for song and music. This is my Polish sin

Long Live People Power

It’s good to see that people power seems to be alive and well. After the joyous scenes on Friday which greeted the return of deported Nigerian student, Olukunle Elukanlo, so too have the workers of the Gama company asserted their rights through protest. Since Joe Higgins’ timely intervention in the Dáil, thousands of pounds have been found in Dutch banks. This was money earned by employees through hard work but the fat cats decided that they had to have more of the cream and as usual, it was the working people who had to lose out. The GPO was the spot in 1916 where Irish leader fought against the injustice of British rule and I am glad that in 2005, the GPO is the scene of a different protest against a different injustice. Congratulations to all those involved in this honourable campaign.


There will much talk in the coming days of the circumstances in which the next Pope will be elected. While I believe that Pope John Paul II should be grieved for properly, it is only human nature that people begin to speculate on the process of selecting the next leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics. An excellent summation of the complicated process of "Conclave" which elects the new Pope is provided in today's Daily Ireland.

Mixing sport and politics

It is not unusual for sporting figures on this island and across the world to go into politics, the late great Jack Lynch being a fitting example. However it is mildly surprising to see a fairly high profile sporting figure enter the political arena whilst still competing in sport professionally. Ulster rugby star, and former Irish international, Tyrone Howe has announced that he will be standing for the Ulster Unionists in the forthcoming elections. He joins the ranks of other former Ulster and Ireland players to become involved in politics in the north, such as Trevor Ringland (UUP and the One Small Step campaign) and Davy Tweed, DUP councillor, who has been involved in the disgusting picket at Harryville Catholic Church.

Day of Mourning?

I see Bertie Ahern has rejected calls for a national day of mourning in memory of Pope John Paul II. While I realise that there are some very valid arguements against this and I recognise that we must remember that a sustantial percentage of people on the island are not of the Catholic faith, I still feel that if Fidel Castro in Cuba sees fit to call three days of national mourning, then surely Ireland should be able to justify one day in order to show our appreciation for a great leader, and a person for whom so many Irish had so much affection for.


The bells begin to toll

Back home the SDLP have decided to run two candidates in the Slieve Gullion electoral ward.

In my view a stupid decision as there is a real possibility that Sinn Féin will have all of the council seats in the Slieve Gullion ward come May and possibly over all control of Newry and Mourne Council.

This would be a fantastic result for the people of South Armagh as they would never have to worry about the SDLP sullying their good name ever again.

Ádh Mór, Gráinne

Congratulations to Gráinne Mhic Géidigh who made history today by becoming the first Sinn Féin representative on the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Sinn Féin performed well in this election, picking up 7% of the vote throughout the Gaeltacht, despite competing in only 3 constituencies and once more out polled the PDs. This was an huge increase considering the fact that Sinn Féin picked up only 1% of the vote in the 1999 election. Congratulations to all who were involved in the campaign.

Ta mé cinnte go mbeidh Gráinne ag obair go han crua ar son muintir na Gaeltachta agus tá súil agam go mbeidh si in inmhe stadús na gaelige agus na fadbhanna ag baint leis saol na Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn. Léirionn na torthai seo go bhfuil Sinn Féin ag fás i ngach aon coirneail den oilean.


Hi people, just back from USI Congress and it was very interesting.

Away tomorrow to Blackpool so must dash ;)

United in Sorrow

As the tributes for the deceased Pope John Paul II come in from home and abroad, it's nice to see that our religious and political leaders in the north can unite to pay their respects to a great man on his passing.


El Papa

The Vatican has just confirmed that Pope John Paul II, Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, died tonight. Men much greater than I will pay tribute to this man who has lead the Church with grace, courage and dignity. I pray that the Holy Father is with the God he loved so dearly.

At times of sadness, I believe this prayer can offer solace to those who feel bereaved.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was
walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the
sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene,
he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one
belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.When the
last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked
back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that
many times along the path there was only one set of
He also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really
bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.
'Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all of the way. But I have noticed
that during the most troublesome times in my life, there
is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why
when I needed you most you would leave me.

The Lord replied,
"My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your time of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints, it was then
that I carried you."

Potato - I salute you!

Is there anything the potato can't do?! As well as being the staple in the diet of many Irishmen, it seems the humble spud is also a vital weapon in the fight against secterianism in Scotland! Thanks to Newshound for an illuminating insight into the ability of this most unique of foods!

All for one and one for all?!

There were amazing scenes in the Premiership today as two Newscastle players were sent off for fighting WITH EACH OTHER. It's absolutely unbelieveable that two players, being paid tens of thousands of pounds every week, don't have enough self-restraint to keep their hands off their team mates! They had to seperated by a player in the opposing team. Their manager, Graeme Souness has a reputation for being a "hard man" so I'd say both Bowyer and Dyer face some harsh words tonight.

Hugh Orde in Court

A man left brain damaged by our "new improved and inclusive" police force is suing the Chief Constable for breach of duty. Mr Rouse was viciously beaten by a loyalist gang and he claims that the police were in a position to have preventd his injuries. Considering the fact that the attack took place in Portadown, the same town where RUC officers looked on as Robert Hamill was kicked to death, this case would seem to a sense of "deja-vu" about it. If Republicans are ever to made feel secure that we have a police service acceptable to all, the PSNI need to prove to the Nationalist/Republican community that these incidents are a thing of the past.

Céad mile fáilte

Ryle Dwyer pays a tribute to the spirit of the Irish people and lauds the contribution the poeple of this island have made across the world, notably in church affairs and bringing the faith to far off lands. As Ryle point out, despite the agony which some evil men masquerading as priests caused many innocent children, this country can still be proud of the majority of good, decent holy men who spread God's word to places like Nigeria. However unfortunately our leaders in government have shown a much less gracious attitude in their treatment of a young Nigerian student. Those who campaigned against Minister McDowell's have a right to be proud of themselves and the nation should be proud of them. They have given an example of what an "Irish welcome" should truely mean.

Tax for all?

Brian Cowen has been put under pressure to close tax loopholes for the rich. In my opinion, it is high time this was done. I am disgusted by the worldwide phenomenum that seems to imply that rich people somehow have the right to bypass tax laws. The most stunning example is Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, who barely pays a penny in tax despite his vast wealth. Here in Ireland this "celtic tiger" (or "Bullshit Golden Calf as Tommy Tiernan once called it) has been great for the rich but has also produced an extremely unequal society. Those in power must ensure that there is no special treatment for those most well off and that the most vulnerable in society are treated fairly.


"We wuz wrong"

It seems a presidential commission has confirmed what many of us knew a long time ago- that US intelligence on the WMDs in Iraq was WRONG. When even Bush's own people don't have faith in US intelligence, surely none of us can be expected to take what this president tells us about foreign countries seriously again.

One man, one vote?

Pat Doherty has highlighted the grave issue of the disenfranchising of thousands of voters due to the Electoral Act. Since its introduction, the act has proved highly controversial and indeed had to altered last month to allow 70,000 voters back onto the register. It is estimated that up to 50,000 potential voters are not registered for this election and they tend to be young, working class Nationalists. I’m sure we are all shocked that legislation brought in at the behest of the Unionists and the SDLP seems to target a group most likely to be Sinn Féin voters. For years those bitter at the electoral success of Sinn Féin made baseless allegations that the votes gained were fraudulent, yet even in the fact of repressive legislation, the Sinn Féin vote continued to rise, as I am confident it will do so in May. Many members of the SDLP frequently boast of their involvement in the Civil Rights campaign, but how they can then support legislation which denies the vote to the very sections of society which the Civil Rights movement fought to win the vote for.

Toghcháin eile

Tomorrow the people of the Gaeltacht areas will vote in elections to decide to format of the board of Údarás Na Gaeltacht. This week's An Phoblacht gives an explanation of what this board does and what the people will actually be voting for. I know that Sinn Féin have been taking these elections very seriously in an attempt to win the party's first seat on the board. Best of luck to those candidates involved and hopefully Sinn Féin will soon adding to its growing power base in the 26 counties.