I feel violated and pissed off by the recent archaic punishment the authorities have tried to force upon me, a TV license!!

Last Thursday I was driving through Mullaghbawn and got stopped at a "Routine traffic checkpoint" AKA "a chance for the Brits (Paras) and RUC/PSNI to harass the locals"

I was stopped by a total prick who thought it would be fun to try and wind me up, things got slightly heated and I told him what I thought of him in no uncertain terms.

His reply was "Once a Provo always a Provo"

The next day I was just about to leave the house to go for a spin with one of the lads and a car pulled up outside the gate. A fellow got out of the car and hurried up the pad but left the engine of his car running. I found this peculiar but opened the door anyway and got the reply "TV License"

******* *******!!!!, I thought

I explained to him that I just got the TV that day, which I had, he looked very nervous and said all I had to do was to fill out this form and they would send me out a license so I signed it and he rushed off speeding down the road.

Do I intend to pay the TV license? Do I heck!!!

Not a mission and to make matters worse I met the same cop on the way to the market on Sunday and he asked if I had any interesting visitors since we last met and asked what kind of TV I had and smiled.

I informed the officer to be careful on the roads in winter during the frost as accidents do happen.

Never mind, long live the fox!!

Guess who's back?

How's it going?

I am back from my spiritual journey to the Catholic Mecca and have finally realised one important fact, I am still a heathen and a hedonist ;)

I have been very impressed with the work of Comrade PS in my absence. Very controversial at times and I like it.

I will be back to full operation in less than two weeks and you can expect an awful lot more controversial stories.

I would like to think Balrog's gloves are off and it's time to start going for the jugular.

Don't be scared ;)
I have been gripped by the Haughey documentaries.

I know I am supposed to oppose everything this man did in relation to the corruption and the money, and I do, but I can't help having a small glint of admiration for the man.

He came from nothing and worked his way to the top, he may not have clean hands but he got the job done.

He is one of those loveable rogues.

I found it interesting that he and his family were Fianna Failers but yet they had admiration for Collins. Something that I have also, not the Fianna Failer bit but the admiration for Collins.

The establishment shafted him in relation to the Arms crisis.

I also like him because he shafted O Malley and I have nothing but contempt for the founder of the West-Brit party.

Any man that is loathed by both Fine Gael and the PD's can't be that bad, can he?


Slán a chairde

Just a quick blog to say Goodbye!

I'm starting a job tomorrow so my internet time will be serverely limited. I'll only be contributing the occasional blog at the weekends for the next few weeks. Hopefully however Chris will be back from Rome soon and ready to take Balrog by the reigns again. As for hensons I've no idea where our comrade has been this while. Sorry to be deserting you for the timebeing but Balrog's wages just don't pay the rent! Hopefully we won't be inactive for too long.

So long anyway and thanks for listening to my rambling!

Dealing with the Issues.

Further to the debate on the flags thread, I have been asked to address a number of issues. One of these refers to the IRA's recent statement that they were repsonsible for the death of Kathleen Feeney in 1973. As a rule I tend to shy away from mounting defences of various incidents such as this, for the simple reason that it all happened so long before I was even born and so when people try to pin some sense of responsibility for these action on me as a modern day Republican, I am understandably wary. However since Madradin Ruad is a regular and well respected commentator on this site, I feel I should attempt to address the points he makes.

As far as the IRA statemnt at the time goes, yes it seems that it was untrue. This is unfortunate and caused the family unneccessary grief. However as far as political organisations go, the IRA is hardly the only one guilty of ever attempting to conceal the truth. The IRA has a reputation for being fortright and frank with its opinions, however unacceptable these may be to some. As with any statements when a person or organisation makes a statement it is up to the individual whether or not to believe him. I'm sure we have all told a lie of some sort in the past, yet would we accept this as justification if a friend of colleague refused ever to believe a thing we said?

The IRA could haave made life a lot easy for itself by simply ignoring this case and ignoring the wishes of the family by simplying never referring to this case again. No one can change the past but we can try to make the future better and I think the IRA took a very brave step in confronting this particular misdeed. The British government would do well to remember that all the victims of collusion want is a similar apology.

MR also wrote
I'm not having a dig at the language here - yours has the millstone of the Irish language hanging round your necks - a language you feel you should support but for most of you it's lip-service. Take away the things adopted when cultural nationalism was invented - Seán de Fréine has called this "an ingenious device of national parallellism" - and you are as British as any of the rest of us - in some ways more so.

I'm sorry but I simply don't see how I am British. I was born in Ireland, to irish parents. I have spoken Irish froma young age (long before i was involved in, or was even interested in politics I might add). I support Irish teams and am involved in Irish sports. I have friends from Donegal, Westmeath, Down, Derry and Dundalk. I see none of them as different from me in nationality. When I go to Scotland later this summer I feel as though I am going to someplace different from home, somewhere much more ailen than a trip across the border and i'm sure that in Edinburgh i will be seen as an "Irish tourist" not a fellow brit. People can label me as British if they so wish, but the cap just doesn't fit.

No respect for Democracy

I certainly have my differences with Labour leader Pat Rabbitte but I must give the man his due and say that he has it spot on as regards his criticism of the government over both their holiday plans and their plans to reform Dáil procedures. Mr. Rabbitte rightly points out that it is disgraceful that the government are not willing to extend the Dáil term by a mere week to debate important legislation including the Garda Bill and the Disability Bill. Both these bills have proved to be very controversial and the Dáil should be given the proper time to scrutinise them. Considering the fact that the Dáil gives itself a 3 month summer break, I hardly think an extra week sitting is too much of an imposition.

Of even more conern is the notion that the government intends to reform the schedule so that opposition leaders are less able to question the Taoiseach on his performance. Questioning by the opposition is an excellent way of keeping the taoiseach in check as he has no place to run from questions in the Dáil. Accountability is government is a key principle of democracy and any attempts to dilute accountability should be firmly opposed. When the government treat the Dáil with such contempt they are really sticking two fingers up to the people of ireland who elected them.


Flags are all that Unionism has?

Druing a discussion on Slugger about the use of flags to mark out terrority in the north, regular contributor Billy Pilgrim gave a very eloquent appraisal of why he feel Unionism is so attached to its flags and banners. I thought his analysis was very thought provoking and gave an insight into the thinking of Unionism which is much closer to the truth than many would care to admit. I told his contribution was worthy of reproduction here. I do however think he's being a little harsh on Gibraltar when he likens it to "Portadown with the sun"!

Doany of the unionist posters have any thoughts on Livingstone's parting shot:

"Of course, as far as the flags issue is concerned, we're asked to believe that one's as bad as the other, when nothing could be further from the truth. A stray flag on the Shaws Road can be seen as the drop in the ocean that it is when one drives into Carrickfergus on a summer's evening. And while you'd have to drive around Twinbrook and Poleglass for half an hour before you'd find a tricolour (if indeed there are any at all), the existence of even one is enough for unionists to wheel out the big lie that West Belfast is as bad as Lisburn."

Are unionists more guilty than nationalists when it comes to the scourge of flag flying? I'd have to say that in my experience that is certainly the case - yes nationalist areas are sometimes pock-marked with tricolours but, if I may make an incredibly unscientific observation, if there was to be an ordnance survey of unofficial flag flying across Northern Ireland, unionist paraphernalia would most likely account for 90Q% plus.

I had a good-natured banter recently with a friend of mine from Gibraltar and we talked a bit about the Rock. She was olive-skinned, with dark brown eyes and a fiery temperament, and spoke perfect Spanish, yet spoke English with a norf Laandaan accent. We talked about the difficulties of maintaining an identity so at odds with the inescapable realities of geography. We talked about the eternal slight of being considered Spanish by the very English people she fundamentally sees as her compatriots. I told her another friend of mine had been there and described it as being "like Portadown with sun". Eventually she declared with a flash of strident temper: "At the end of the day, our flag is still flying over Gibraltar and that's all there is to it."

I came away thinking that, fundamentally, the flag is all they actually have. Take the flag away and there really isn't a hill of beans left that defines what it is to be a Gibraltarian. Without the flag, what's the point in continuing to resist the totalitarian logic of reality?

And when I thought about that, I felt incredibly sorry for my unionist brothers and sisters in Ireland. Nationalists don't need flags: we're of Ireland and for Ireland, so the ground beneath our feet gives us all the validation we need. Unionism on the other hand needs its flags and paraphernalia and anything that might distract from the sheer reality of this land's Irelandness.

Maybe that's why unionists have such a thing for flags, pathetic things that they are. There is nothing else.

Posted by: Billy Pilgrim at June 24, 2005 04:28 PM

Spot on, Brian

Brian Feeney, in his Irish News column (thanks to Newshound) gives an excellent summation of the role which the Orange Order plays in secterian tension and strife in the north. I might not always agree with Brian but he does tend to have his finger on the pulse as regards events in the north and on this issue he is spot on. He compares Orange marches through Nationalist areas as
equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan marching through Harlem playing Dixie.

He correctly points out that there is a disturbing habit of those in authority caving into the Orangemen even when a sensible compromise semed to have been reached. I can see the Orange Order as nothing nothing that a secterian organisation who are the product of hatred of Catholics. Their agenda is one of trying to assert and maintain supermacy over their Nationlist neighbours and in an era when we are trying to promote equality, this should not be tolerated.

Clones Cyclone Vs Clones Colususs

I see a slight row has developed which could be threatening to ruin the homecoming of Kevin McBride to Clones after his defeat of Mike Tyson almost two weeks ago. Clones's other great boxer and favourite son, Barry McGuigan is not to invited after dismising McBRide's chances of beating Tyson before the fight. Personally I think this is a little petty. Barry only said what many of us were thinking and I'm sure he was delighted when McBride overcame the odds. Barry McGuigan was a true champion and a great man and if Kevin McBride achieves anything like the success McGuigan did in his future career then he'll be doing extermly well for himself. I'm sure Barry McGuigan will be cheering on his fellow townsman in McBride's next fight and I believe McBride should end any simmering tensions by making sure Barry is welcome next Tuesday.


The sweet smell of Justice!

In a landmark decision, almost on a par with the release of the Guildford 4 and Nelson Mandela, Francie Bellew, the "Clones One" has had his red card rescinded and is available to line out at full back for Armagh on Sunday against Derry in Casement Park. It is a huge boost to Armagh to have their former All Star available to them as they attempt to take another step towards retaining their Ulster Title. Francie is something of a cult figure amongst the Aremagh fans and we're all delighted to see him back after his completly unjustifiable sending off against Donegal! Hopefully the Orangmen will be inspired to victory in Casement Park on Sunday and march on towards a Croke park date with Cavan or Tyrone.

Forget Linfield v Glentoran matches/riots, forget NI taking their customary hiding whenever a decent European side visits Windsor Park, this is undoubtedly the biggest sporting event in Belfast this year!

Let the cry ring from the rooftops - JUSTICE FOR FRANCIE!

Disclaimer - Francie's availibilty, while hugely inportant, is not really as important as the Guilford 4 or Nelson Mandela!

UDR - PSNI - All the Same?

I see from this morning's Irish News that new recruits to the "new improved and non-secterian" PSNI are to be trained by a former officer of the UDR. As Gerry Kelly correctly points out, this sort of appointment simply reinforces the doubts and disullionsment of many Nationalists on the policing issue. How can a man who served as a member of the naked secterian Unionist militia which was the UDR possibly be seen as an acceptable appointment to what was supposed to be an police service for both sides of the community? To get a flavour of the views inherient in the UDR, former UDR commandant Brigadier David Millar once said that if he sacked members just beacuse they were a member of a loyalist paramilitary group, he would be left without a regiment. Appointing a man from such a background is surely sending out the wrong signal to those in the Nationalist community who want a fresh start to policing, far detatched from the secterian failures of the past. It seems that even if we get progress of demilitarisation, the PSNI will simply become a new military style police force if they are allowed to continue down this route.

Robbed by the rich.

I've often heard people complain about the price of train fares. Many feel that in order to encourage use of public transport, fares should be cheaper. But the prices charge translink charge are nothing comapred to the £45,000 fare Prince Charles was responsible for due to his use of the Royal Train. However I'm sure Charlie isn't too concerned since this gross expenditure is just a drop in the ocean of the £36.7 MILLION that the monarchy cost the taxpayers last year.

Personally I find this waste of money disgusting. Think of all the better ways in which the money could be used. People are crying out for better health services, for more facilities for their children, for play parks and for better facilities in schools. But never mind that, the real priority is to make sure the Royal family don't have to share planes with smelly commoners. Priorities are being mixed up in a major way.


Never on a Sunday?

I see that the IFA, which is the organisational body for soccer in the north, could be thrown out of FIFA if they continue to allow the disscriminatory "Never on a Sunday" rule to stay on their books. I'm glad to see that their hand is being forced by the powers that be. This rule is in clear contravention of the European Convention of Human Rights and must be scrapped immediately. It is disgraceful that such a rule should exist in this day and age. Clubs should be free to play when they wish without having the morals of fundemental Protestantism shoved down their throat. Nobody is forcing clubs to play on Sundays if they don't wish but it is right and proper that clubs should have the choice to if they feel that it would result in higher attendances and a better atmosphere at games.

Falling out at home and abroad?

I see Mr. Ahern has expressed his frustration in the Dáil today with the British position as regards the recent deadlock over the EU budget. The taoiseach described Blair's position as "dishonest". It is clear that there is a serious rift developing as Britian tries to asset its supermacy over the rest of Europe. Perhaps this sharp disagreement might also manifest itself in the situation in the north. History shows that relations at EU level have a great bearing on the relationship between the British and Irish governments. For example common membership of the EU was one of the driving forces behind the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Is it possible that this disagreement on Europe could extend to matters closer to home?

Hopefully this will be Bertie's cue to stop taking his lead from Blair and stop merely mimicking the British position. With tensions in Belfast rising and spreading across the city, the Dublin government needs to be prepared to protect the interests of Northern Nationalists and I hope that they are willing to face up to this challenge.


Small steps not enough.

While I cautiously welcome the news that there is to be a reduction in the amount of British troops in the north, I can't help but feel that this is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what is required. While all the focus seems to be on Republican arms, it must be remembered that there is still much anger in the Nationalist/ Republican community about the continuing high level of invasive and unwanted Army spyposts and barracks. The world and his dog knows that these troops are still here only as a sop to Unionism. Demilitarisation MUST be addressed if we are to return to anything like a normal society here


Big Brother is watching you!

Derek, the Tory Political analyst and Big Brother contestant has compared the BB house to the House of Commons. But which of the north's MPs would compare best to the BB housemates?

Answers on a postcard please.

Sam seems to be Big Brother's answer to East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson given her inability to keep her clothes on. Although she did drive her fellow housemates crazy with her terrible singing so perhaps she also has something in common with Mr. Wilson's colleague- the Reverend Willie McCrea!

How is she going?

I feel terrible

It's 38 degreees out here and I was out on a pub crawl last night.

I can't even remember getting home. The Yanks can not drink for shit.

Great night however one of the black lads from Serbia started shouting "Tiocfaidh ar La" at British tourists.

The poor fella didn't even know what it meant.

I had a very interesting conversation with a Pro-Israel Jewish girl from Texas.

She did not appreciate my views on Palestine and asked me if me if we still had terrorists in Ireland.

I told her yes, the British Army are still refusing to leave ;)

Dr. No and the Communist

When comparing Ian Paisley with world leaders, there seems very few would would bear comparasion with the DUP leader who seems almost a unique identity in world politics. Whoever the candidates might be, I'm sure few would see Fidel Castro as having much in common with the good Doctor. However Terry Prone sees certain similarities between the two. Thanks to Newshound for the link!

Cashing in

I see from RTÉ that talks are being held to attempt to deal with the issue of roaming mobile phones in border areas. This is quite an important issue for many people. The problem atrises as there are various parts of the north, including most of south Armagh where the only mobile phone signal is often a southern one. The opposite problem occurs in places like Clones in Co. Monaghan. While this may seem like a trivial concern, if a call is answered when a phone is "internationally roaming" it can cost both the person who made the call and the person who received it several pounds even though they may not have realised that the phone was receiving the "wrong" signal. Also, due the lack of signal for northern phones in parts of south Armagh and other border regions, many people have to purchase both a northern and southern phone, espicially if they live or work in places like Newry or Belfast during the week. Given the cost of mobiles phones these day, that is hardly an inconsiderable expense.

In my opinion, tariffs should be introduced on an All Ireland basis. It makes no sense that my mobile phone should be rendered useless simply because I head a few miles over the border to watch a football match or go about my business. Mobile phone companies are using the border to make a fortune and fleece their customers and some one should step in to stop this farcical situation.


El Papa

Just back from the Vatican

Every Sunday, when in town, the Pope blesses the crowd in St Peters square.

I think it is well known that I have my reservations about our new Pontiff and I do believe the church is taking a step backwards. When he was announced as Pope I was quite upset and did not speak of our new pope with the respect his office deserves.

Today however opened my eyes

When you see the emotion this man or perhaps his office radiates to the crowd it is spell binding.

Hundreds of thousands recieved his blessing today and I am humbled to have been one of them.

An incredible experiance, to see grown men beside me cry

If only I had their faith.


When the Irish bar became English

Time for a good rant

After visiting the Pantalon (fantastic)and the Collosso (eye opening)

We decided to head to the "Irish Pub" for a drink and to watch the Armagh match.

I got outside it and saw an English flag, no union jack TBTF but an English flag none the less.

That didn't really bother me but I walked in and found an English and French barmaid.


I asked if they would show the Armagh replay and the said "What sport is that?"

I said GAA

The English one said "Base ball?"

Then the red mist desended

When did an Irish bar turn into a place frequented by English larger louts?

One of the customers thought himself funny to refer to me as a "Paddy"

I said nothing sat down and waited on my drink. A few of the lads told me not to worry about it but when the women called me to collect collect the drinks I didn't hear her.

Some Cockney C*** said "He's a Paddy Love, you have to shout here boy!!! pwwww"

As if I was a dog

Dirty bastards

We left before a row broke out but it shows the fall of the Irish Pub on the continent.

It's back to the good old Italian Cafe.

Larger louts!!, don't you just love them

Rant over

Morris tells only half the story.

As the fall out from the Morris Tribunal continues, Garda Commisioner Noel Conroy is being called upon to resign. However it is also emerging that some of the Gardai involved in the disgusting corruption revealed by the Morris Tribunal may also have questions to answers with regards to the murder to Co. Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton. Mr. Fullerton was murdered in 1991 by the UFF during a period where RUC collusion was helping to make loyalist targetting more "professional". Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams spoke at a protest on this issue outside the Dáil today. He told that crowd that;
It has been known for some time now that three Gardaí, roundly discredited by the Morris Tribunal in recent weeks, were centrally involved in the flawed investigation into Eddie Fullerton's murder. One of them, Detective Garda Noel McMahon was branded corrupt and a liar by the Tribunal

There MUST be a fully independent inquiry into this matter immediately. Both Security force collusion in the murder and Garda inadequency in the subsequent investigation need to be examined. Mr. McDowell has already attempted to stifle this issue by refusing to allow the Morris Tribunal to deal with these allegations. But this matter cannot be allowed to rest there. The family of Eddie Fullerton deserve the same closure that the Morris tribunal afforded to the Barron family.


Why the hangers on?

I was dissapointed to see that tonight's Orange Order parade through North Belfast ended in violence. From the pictures on this evenings news, it seems that the flashpoint occured when the Orange Order's supporters marched through the Ardoyne interface.

For the life of me, I can't understand why these supporters have to involved in marching behind Orange Order parades. We constantly are told that it is "traditional" for the Orange Order to march various routes. Are gangs marching behind the Order also traditional? I recognise that the Orange men have rights, however one has to wonder why they insist on having supporters follow them when those supporters are not part of the actual march and do nothing except crank up sectarian tension. Last July, I understand that supporters on the same route carried paraphenalia of various Loyalist Paramilitary groups, yet of course received nothing but support from MP for the area, the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

While the Orange Order tie themselves so closely to these "supporters", few can have any doubt that their marches are not in fact an expression of culture, bur rather an attempt to exert dominance and superiority over their Nationlist neighbours.

What are they doing now?

As the deadline closes for applications for immunity with respect to the Robert Hamill inquiry, the Irish Echo carries a story outlining the tragic last few minutes of Robert's life and the tragic aftermath, as told by his own sister.

I just wonder how many of those brave RUC men who sat and watched and heard the mob screaming "Die, you Fenian bastard, die" are currently employed by the SDLP backed PSNI.


No Justice for Sean.

I'm not sure how many of you would have watched Crimewatch UK last night, I missed it myself but it featured a reconstruction of one of the many appaling murders during the Troubles. Sean Brown was a 61 year old and was chairman of the Bellaghy football club when he was murdered by the LVF as he locked up the club's grounds. Sean Brown paid the ulimate price for the sport he loved and I know how shocked and appalled the whole GAA community was when he was murdered, espicially those in Co. Derry. The awful details are recorded in the excellent book "How the GAA survived the Troubles."

Nobody has ever been charged with his murder, yet this is hardly a surprise since the Police Ombudsman has produced a damning report on the inital RUC investigation which found that, surprise surprise, the RUC made no real effort to catch Sean's killers. It seems that this is just another episode in the long history of RUC collusion with loyalist paramilitarities. Only when the truth is finally exposed in incidents such as this can nationalists like the people in Bellaghy ever contemplate accepting a Police Service in the north.


Come sta?


Just arrived in Rome this afternoon and it is fantastic. The women in this fair city are fantastic. Just after a fantastic meal of veal, yes; bambi was delicious ;)

I am heading off to see the Holy See in the morning and I will most likely be ex-communicated from the Catholic Church by the afternoon.

The weather is fantastic and the Southern Comfort is flowing

The only reason I am blogging is because there is an internet cafe right next to the hotel, I will talk to you all soon.

A più tardi!

Don't make it easy for them

I'd like to echo Michelle Gildernew's call that an All-Ireland body be set up in order to help protect young vulnerable children and others from disgusting perverts. It is shocking to think that, according to the Sex Offender Strategic Management Committee, up to 2000 sex offenders may be on the loose in the 6 counties. There needs to a system in place where those on the Sex Offenders lists in the south must also automatically be registered in the north and vice versa. It is very distrubing to think that a convicted sex offender could escape his/her past deeds by merely crossing the border where they can continue to prey on the most vunerable in society. As Michelle rightly points out;
The activities of sexual abusers know no boundaries so it is vital that a key tool in protecting children and young people should not be confined by borders.

It is of paramount importance that these disgusting perverts are not allowed slip through the system in order to repeat their evil deeds.

He's catching on

I must say I am encouraged by the noises coming from DUP leader Ian Paisley after his meeting with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern this morning. While of course Mr. Paisley has to keep up his usual bulster to keep the hardliners happy, it does seem that he is willing to face the reality that there can be no political settlement in the north if his party are prepared to deal with Republicans.

However the sooner Mr. Paisley realises the logical conclusion of this reality and engages with Sinn Féin in face to face discussions, the closer we will be to a settlement to restore devolution in the best interests of both Nationalists and Unionists.

Ulster final re routed.

The GAA tonight have made the decision to switch the Ulster final from Clones to Croke Park for the second year in succession. This has also necessitated a change of date from the 17th July to Sunday 10th.

My main concern at the moment is seeing Armagh get to the final but I can't help but think that the GAA might jumped the gun a little in this case. Although last years final at Croke Park was a huge success with a massive attendance, things could well backfire. While a Tyrone Armagh Ulster final clash would undoubtedly bring a huge attendance to HQ, there is no guarentee that either will be in the final. If, for example, Derry qualify, they have a notoriously small support and a Derry Cavan final could mean the Ulster Council ending up very embarrassed at a poor attendance. There are also going to be although of angry publicans in Co. Monaghan! I don't think there was any need to make the decision so quickly, although hopefully it'll be a huge success and we'll see Armagh avenge their 2003 All Ireland final defeat as they claim another Ulster title at the expense of the Red Hands!
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You said it mate!

Quote of the week has to go to Martin from Slugger. During a conversation on the new leader of the UUP he came out with this classic gem

What they need to re-vitalise the party is someone young,right wing and fanatic about Union.

Bring on Michael Mc Dowell.

So how about it Michael? He'd be one of the few politicans moving to the UUP to be in a more successful party!


Hands off Aer Lingus

Congratulation to the Sinn Féin councillors in Dublin who were successfull in building a cross party coalition to halt the government's plans to sell off Aer Lingus. This is a great victory for those who oppose the continuing privatisation of our nation's assests. The last thing Ireland needs is another privitised airline where the rights and needs of the workers are ignored in the hunt to squeeze out every last euro of profit. Aer Lingue is one of the great symbols of Ireland and I'm glad that councillors from across the party divide have made the right decision to keep it in public ownership.

Bob's not happy

Bob Geldof has vented his rage at those who are trying to profit from the Live Eight concerts by selling their tickets online. I suppose this sort of thing was inevitable with the increased use of internet auction sites such as ebay but in my opinion Bob is right to denounce those involved. It is sad to think that these people who have been lucky enough to receive tickets are now effectively using the poverty and death of others to cash in for themselves. It seems that there is little can be done legally to prevent these sales. Hopefully ebay will do the right thing and ban the sale of these tickets from their site. Unfortunately I'm not confident that it will happen.

Stadús Oifigiúil don Gaelige

Bhi me go han sasta nios luaithe inniu nuair a chuala mé an nuacht faoi stadus na Gaelige san Aontas Eorpach. Tá stadus már teanga ofigiúil bainte amach ag an Gaelige i ndiaidh blianta obire ar son an teanga ag daoine airithe. Tá an stadus seo go leor tuillte. Is é an Gaelige an céad teanga agus an teanga duchais den tire seo. Ba choir go mbeadh cothrom na feinne aige in Eoraip. Ach fosta, tá sé tabhachtach a cuimhiu gur teanga Eireannach é agus caithfidh muid stadus na gaelige a chur i bhfeabhas in Eirinn fosta.

EU constitution - Dead or merely sleeping?

I see the latest opinion polls show that most Irish people still want a referendum on the EU consititution despite the No votes in both France and Holland. This consititution has certainly attracted a lot of opposition and has united bloggers as diverse as United Irelander, David Vance and Balrog's own Chris Gaskin in opposition to it. What I find most interesting is that less than 10% of potential voters have a good understanding of the consitution. Certainly if there is to be a referendum it is this figure which must be drastically improved.

Personally I haven't been roused the fervent anti-EU sentiment this constitution has casued in some. I would certainly be open to both sets of arguements on the constitution before deciding how to vote. I realise how good EU membership has been for Ireland and I hope that the new members can gain from the EU the same benefits which Ireland has enjoyed. I think the EU is a good concept, however I do have concerns about its democratic accountabiliy. I think it is important that unless the constitution is declared officially dead that the Irish people, north and south should have a chance to vote democratically on it.


A mere lover's tiff or is it all over?

I see there's trouble in paradise as regards the Fianna Fáil/ Progressive Democrat coalition. It seems some FF backbenchers, probably worried about their own Dáil seats in the next election, have become sick of a PD tail wagging the government dog. This could well be a reaction to the recent poor showing in the polls both government parties suffered. It seems as though we are entering an interesting phase in Irish politics, both north and south. It will be fascinating to see how both FF and the PDs attempt to counter a seemingly bouyant opposition and whether they will be doing this as a united front or if it will be "every man for himself".

PS - For those of you with access to RTE, a very interesting documentary on the life of Charlie Haughey is starting tonight. Haughey was one of the most enigmatic Irish politicians of the 20th century and love him or loath him, few can doubt that major impact he had on Irish politics. I will be very interested to see how he is portrayed in this new series.

No grasp on reality.

The completly rudderless approach of the UUP in the wake of their electoral humiliation was shown today with a call by David Burnside for their party to oppose a deal with Sinn Féin under any circumstances. Any leadership which pays a blind bit of attention to this rant is showing little heed of political reality.

Does this mean that Mr. Burnside is suggesting that UUP abandon a policy of pursuing devolution because, as he knows well, if there is to a deal, it MUST involve Sinn Féin. No other deal is acceptable to the Nationalist people.


Níl fáilte don Club seo sa CLG.

Má tá tú ag amharc ar an craobh peile na hEireann i mbliana, tá seans mhór gur chonaic tú imreori ag ól an deoch "Club Energise" ar an telifis nuair atá agallamh ann. Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil tart ar na imreoiri ach nil é sin an cuis mhór go bhfuil said ag glacadh an deoch seo.

Ni fhaigeann na imreoiri gaelach airgead ar bith de bhri nach bhfuil peil ghaelach spórt gairmiuil. Ach tá an comhlacht Club ag iarraidh €500 a thaibhairt go dti gach imreori a chuireann an deoch ar an telifis.

Ach nil an CLG sasta már sileann siad nach bhfuil cothrom na feinne ar fáil do na comhlachtai eile ag thabhairt urráiocht go dti an CLG. Tá fearg ar an GPA nach bnfuil cead ag na himreori an deoch a ól ar RTE anois.

I mo bharuil, b'fuath liom peil ghaelach a fheiceail már cluiche gairmiuil. Tá rud eigean faoi an CLG nios tabhactai agus nios speisialta ná airgead. Ach tuigim go gcaithfidh an himreori duais eigean mar gheall ar an obair a chuireann siad isteach.

PS - Tá bron orm nach bhfuil an caighdéan gaelige chomh maith már ba choir dó a bheith. Tá barriaocht de mo chuid gaelige caillte ó a chuigh mé go dti an ollscoil ach tá sé ar intinn agam é a fháil ar ais aris.


If she can get away with it......... Why can't I?!

I hope Balrog readers are enjoying the sunny weather we are experiencing this weekend. It's a great time of the year with exams over and the Championship in full flow. I'm looking forward to my trip to Clones tomorrow for Armagh's clash with Donegal.

However I was thinking that since it was such a nice day today perhaps I could change my brithday to this date. After all, my real brithday tends to get ruined by exam preparation so perhaps I could invent a date in June to celebrate on. And while I'm at it perhaps I could convince taxpayers to fund an extravagent lifestyle for me simply because of who my parents were. Does this sound ridiculous? Well someone else gets away with it!

OK I admit it!

I watch Big Brother!

Some will see this as meaning that I am a pathetic individual with nothing better to do with his time than watch a bunch of wannabe celebrities prance about playing childish games, but hopefully there'll be some recognised the show for what it is - the best soap on TV! The popularity of Big Brother has been lamented by some as being part of a dumbing down of society, but personally I don't see this as being the case. To me, the show is merely entertainment and doesn't take away from the serious issues in the world. On a political note, political advisor Derek is a contestant this year. Derek belongs to a small section of gay, black Tories and although he doesn't seem to be the most popular housemate within the house, I think he is a very interesting character.

Irish involvement in this year's show ended last week with the eviction of White Witch Mary and tonight the generously endowed Leslie beacme the second evictee.

So is any other Balrog reader going to admit to being a fellow BB fan?


Sinn Féin support on the rise

I'm delighted to see that a recent opinion poll conducted in the 26 counties has shown a rise in support for Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin are on 11%, which is up 2% from the previous poll. If this result was replicated in a General Election, Sinn Féin would seem on course to at least double their Dáil representation. This would a truly historic achievement. However since an election could be two years away, things can of course change between now and then, but I am confident that Sinn Féin can build even more support thorughout the Island in the next two years.

The poll also showed an increase in support for the potential anti-Fianna Fáil coalition. Fianna Fáil have lost support and the combined percentage of the government parties is now less than the support for Fine Gael and Labour. Perhaps this loss of support for Fianna Fáil might make one or two in the party reassess their attitude towards Sinn Féin as a potential coalition partner, considering the fact that SF could well hold the balance of power in the next Dáil


That's life

Hi folks

Sorry I have been very quiet for the last while but it will remain like that for the next few weeks.

I have just read Danny Morrison’s article in today’s Daily Ireland and have to admit his analysis is very close to the mark.

It is going to be an interesting time over the next few months.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my old adversary Chris Stalford in today’s paper.

He must have got over his paranoid affliction when he presumed it was a "Provo Daily"

Next thing you know Chris will be heading to Armagh and Antrim GAA matches ;)

Small steps

WARN us against discrimination

In his Irish News Column (transcipted from Newshound), Jim Gibney exposes the NIO over their disgraceful decision to deny the anti-Racist group WARN funding. This funding was retracted due to a row over a weclome pack distributed to ethnic minorities in the West. The NIO seem to have been offended at the suggestion in the package that the PSNI is not supported in West Belfast. Funningly enough however, Sinn Féin, who do not support the PSNI, are overwhemingly the largest party in West Belfast and indeed secured 9 out of 10 seats in two of West belfast's council wards. In reality the package has done nothing other than inform its recepients of the realities of the area they are living in. I think it is pathetic to deny WARN this funding and I wish them well in their fight against racism, which is a scourge on all areas in the north.


Brits cause Cancer?

I am very concerned to hear of new research which shows that people living in South Armagh could be sufferring serious health problems as a result of the radiation they are being exposed to due to British army spy posts. An expert has declared that there should be an immediate independent inquiry into the affects of this radiation of both animals and people. I sincerely hope his calls are taken very seriously and acted upon immediately. Recently, deformed animals have been born near British spy posts and while outsiders seem to think this issue is some sort of joke, I can assure them that it is no laughing matter for the people involved.

I recall attending a public meeting about a mobile phone mast to be informed by an American that South Armagh was already exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and that a phone mast would add to the problem. As a resident of South Armagh it is very troubling to think that my family could be subject to ill health as a result of invasive foriegn military spy posts. The process of demilitarisation has been a farce and 8 years after the IRA ceasefire South Armagh remain one of the most heavily militarised parts of Europe. This affects not only the beauty and natural landscape of area but also local industry and the health of the residents. These British spy posts are a disgrace and should be removed immediately.


Ireland let it slip

Ireland's hopes of making it to next summer's World Cup Finals in Germany were dealt a blow tonight as they let a 2 goal first half lead slip to allow Israel to snatch an undeserved 2-2 draw at Lansdowne Road tonight. This result means Ireland lie third in the table with many tricky fixtures ahead. Their chances of topping the group and securing automatic qualification seems problematic at best.

While I couldn't fault the Irish players for effort in the second half, I do feel that they resorted to desperate tactics against an inferior opposition too early on. As the RTE analysers put it "They tried to hammer the door down when they should have been looking for the key." Yes Gary Doherty was effective in ways but Andy Reid is a class act plying his trade very successfully in a decent Tottenham team. Reid was playing well, had supplied a brilliant second goal and I feel it was a mistake to take him off. That said, Ireland have good reason to feel angry about some of the antics of the Israeli team and to be honest the nicest term I have to describe their goalkeeper is cheat. If that sounds like sour grapes on my part then you obviously didn't watch the match!

Still I suppose at least they didn't lose and the dream is still alive. At least 10 points are required from the final 4 matches though.

PS - I was glad to see that the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campiagn received good media coverage for their protest. I was also glad that they left the protest outside the confines of the ground as I feel that any disrubtion to the match itself would have had an a negative impact on their very worthy campaign.


Crazy, crazy frog!

I'm not sure how many Balrog readers are interested in the UK music charts but tomorrow the "Crazy Frog" ringtone will be attempting to secure another week in the No. 1 spot in the charts. ALthough the ringtone seems to be very popular, many people (also called sane people) are sick to death of the damned thing!

If you've ever felt like shooting the next person with that ringtone, save yourself a criminal conviction and shoot the frog instead!

My best score is 92 so far so let's see if any readers can beat that!

N.B - Balrog would like to point out that we do not condone any violence towards the frog whose mandate as the represenative of the UK charts must be respected. Furthermore, we believe that these arms used against the frog should be put beyond use in a complete and verifable way in the presence of witnesses but without the need for photographic evidence. We do not believe that it is helpful or constructive to engage in a process of humiliation against the frog.

From Iraq to Cloud Cuckoo Land

In an attempt to flog as many copies of his new book as possible, it seems Colonel Tim Collins has lost his grip on reality and could be endangering lives as a result. The British army officer has been roundly condemned for describing community representatives in Ardoyne as "Provisional IRA to a man." This is a disgraceful allegation which could well endanger the lives of many of those brave people who tried their upmost to resolve the nightmarish situation at Holy Cross Primary School in 2001. Fr Aidan Troy and Martin Morgan, two men who know a lot more about Ardoyne than Mr. COllins, have both registered their disgust for Mr. Collins' comments.

As Fr. Troy rightly points out;
The situation wasn’t about politics or paramilitarism. It was about the rights of children to attend school. Anyone who misses that point has no understanding of Holy Cross.

Shame on Mr. Collins for his remarks. He should know better. The issue of Holy Cross is a murky enough issue without his attempts to blacken the waters even further.

It's good to talk

As we enter the Summer months and the marching season beckons, many are fearful that the political vacuum could lead to a long and problematic Summer ahead. While we all hope that all marches will pass off peacefully and without contention, the intransigent attitude of the Orange Order does not bode well. The same group that refuses to meet with residents to discuss their concerns is also refusing to meet the Parades Commission. This is a very disapointing and unhelpful stance, yet I suppose we should expect no better.

The way forward in these situations is dialogue, as has been shown in Derry where the Apprentice Boys have liased with the Bogside Residents to ease tension in the lead up to contentious marches. If the Orange Order refuse to behave in a similarly responsible and mature manner then they can have no complaints if the Parades Commission decide to curtail their activities.

More than a game?

Best of luck to the Irish soccer team today as they face Israel in a crucial World Cup Qualifier in Lansdowne Road. Having dropped two points in Tel Aviv, ireland need to win this match to go top of their group and put themselves in pole position for qualification for the World Cup finals. Although Ireland have suffered a few injuries and haven't shown wonderful form in recent qualifiers, I still think they can sneak this one. I predict a 2-1 win with Israel to give them a scare.

Of course many may wonder why Israel are even in Ireland's group considering the fact that they are not a European nation. The reason, of course, is the political situation. I am generally of the opinion that sport and politics make poor bedfellows, however there are times when it is impossible to seperate the two. I realise that Israel have a right to play international football and I am sure they will make it difficult for Ireland ont he field of play tonight. However, the Israeli authorities also make it difficult for another national team in many different and more sinister ways.

Let's have a break together!

I'd like to wish our readers in the 26 counties an enjoyable bank holiday weekend and I also hope that Balrogians in the wee 6 enjoyed last weekends bank holiday. However, I'd like to point out that the difference in these dates seems like madness to me. Surely there should be an all Ireland sychronisation of bank holidays. It would be far more convenient for many if the same holidays were taken on both sides of the border. For example bank holidays are an ideal time for sporting events however sports which are organised on an All Ireland basis are hindered from using these dates as not all the people on the island share holidays. The tourist economy could also flourish as bank holidays become an even bigger occasion with more people heading to resorts on the same weekend. Hopefully this situation can be rectified and people on both sides of the border will be looking forward to the same dates in May and August.


Live Eight is Great!

I'm delighted to see that Bob Geldof is once more showing his tireless dedication to the cause of the world's poor by organising a musical extraganza to be known as Live Eight. The musical line up is spectacular, especially those performing in Hyde Park, London. However the music takes second place to the real issue, that of world poverty. The event has been organised to coincide with the meeting in Scotland of the G8, the world's most powerful leaders. Live Eight has been designed to send these world leaders the message that they cannot ignore the plight of those living in poverty around the world.

Whilst reading the Irish News I came across these shocking statistics;

The world's 3 richest people control more wealth than all 600 million people in the world's poorest countries

More than 10 million children die of hunger and preventable diseases each year - one child every three seconds, while 25 million in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV or Aids. Each day 8,500 people - of whom 1,600 are children - die from HIV-related diseases.

Every day, 30,000 children die as a result of extreme poverty. Each day 50,000 people die of hunger and preventable illnesses.

It would cost less than one per cent of world income to wipe out world poverty.

More than 40% of the world's population live in low-income countries - yet these countries account for just three per cent of world trade.

I must admit to having been shocked by some of these figures. Too often, we get caught up in the petty trials and tribulations of our own lives and take basic things such as food and shelter for granted. Unfortunately too many people across the world do not even have these basics and I salute Bob Geldof and the organisers of, and participants in, Live Eight for bringing these crucial issues to the forefront of public debate. Ireland should be proud to call Bob Geldof one of our own. I hope that we will all be as generous as possible to these worthy charity and pay no heed to those who cynically dismiss this act of generosity and would prefer that the world would do... well... nothing!

Same Old Story

I see Unionist councillors on Lisburn City COuncil have decided to continue their attempts to have their council entered into the dictionary as the definition of secterianism and exclusion. Giving the Equality Commission the proverbial two fingers, they have voted to fly the Union flag on Council flagpoles 365 days a year rather than the 17 designated days. It hardly needs mentioning that Nationalists will of course never see their flag on council premises. The blatant bigotry apparent in this council is staggering at times. In addition, the council has decided to once more ignore Sinn Féin's mandate. In 20 years of presence on the council, Sinn Féin have never once held a committee chair, so this decision with regards to flags is hardly surprising. However I hope the Equality Commission deal swiftly with this situation and ensure it cannot be repeated.

My position on flags is very clear and is line with both Sinn Féin and the SDLP. The Good Friday Agreement guarentees equal respect for both the Unionist and Nationalist traditions and so council authorities should fly the symbols of both traditions in tandem on special designated days. In short, both flags or none.

Boycott the sham inquiry

As has been previously mentioned on Balrog, Amnesty International has called for all judges to boycott the proposed inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane under the terms of the Inquiries Bill. They have been renewing their appeals recently. Amnesty International has pointed out that this disgraceful sham Inquiries Bill affects matters beyond the north and the British government's attempts to hide the policy of collusion. It means that there will never be a proper public inquiry again. In the future tragedies on the scale of the Paddington Rail disaster and the tragedy at Hillsborough football stadium would be rife for a cover up if the new Bill is allowed to stay on the statute book.

Amnesty are calling on members of the public to write to the senior judges involved and ask them to ensure that all their colleagues are fully aware of the circumstances of this case. If enough people register their support for this appeal, hopefully we can make a difference. I would like to personally appeal to every Balrog reader to send a letter. The Finucane family have been deprived of the truth for so long, please help to make sure they finally get the closure they deserve.

Is it cos I is black?

Obviously humilated by the way in which attempts to deport Nigerian student Olukunle Elukanlo failed as a result of people power, it seems that those behind deportations in this country are determined to flex their muscles once more and have turned their attention to one of Olukunle's classmates. Personally I feel this is nothing more than a pathetic macho attempt to show these students who is boss, espicially when you consider the thoughtlessness of timing involved since the student is due to begin his Leaving Cert exam this week.

It is my opinion that many people in Ireland have a terrible attitude towards those who have come here looking for a new start to life. Ed Bryne once remarked "Blacks haven't been in Ireland long, but God we've taken to racism like ducks to water."

There is a serious point behind these remarks. There is a disgusting hypocrisy in many of those who complain about the level of immigration. The reality is that those who complain the most bitterly are often the same people who 20 years ago may well have had to emigrate themselves. They should be thankful that currently there is a level of prosperity that enables our young people to stay at home, rather than complaining about other hardworking people.

I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I have a feeling that if all thepeople who are seeking asylum in Ireland were replaced by illegal Irish immigrants in other countries, there would be very little change in the population numbers. The only tangible difference would be in the colours of the faces and I'm saddened to say that, to many people, it is this which is their main objection.


The Cover up continues.

A lot of questions need to answered about how a British Army Rifle used on Bloody Sunday managed to turn up in Africa a year AFTER the Ministry of Defence had claimed it had been destroyed. These extraordinary claims, which will no doubt trouble the relatives of those murdered, had been made by former British army officer, Tim Collins.

This is a very distrubing development. It seems the web of lies and deceit spun by the Brits in order to attempt to conceal their murderous activities lasted well beyond the pathetic Widgery Inquiry. The Saville inquiry MUST investigate this mystery immediately. As far as Bloody Sunday is concerned, the army have been telling lies for decades and people have a right to know if they are still telling lies even now.


Profit before People

As the horror stories of the disgusting, degrading and inhumane treatment which many of our elderly have suffered in Ireland's nursing homes are coming into the public view, no doubt many will be shocked to find that the owner of the Leas Nursing home where a 73 year old woman
developed “gigantic holes” in her body which contained “rotting, smelly flesh”
due to bed sores, made HALF A MILLION EURO in profit last year.

To me, this is typical of the sort of mentality that has developed in "Rip Off Ireland". This damned Celtic Tiger is of benefit mainly to the rich who get richer, while a culture of greed and selfishness develops from which the most vunerable in society suffer. My own grandmother spent many years in a nursing home and due to Alzheimers, she was completly dependent on the staff there, who I must add were extermely professional and caring people. However it sickens me to think of the sort of dehumanising treatment that some other eldery people have been subject to. They deserve better.

Arrests in McCartney investigation

I see that two men have been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of Robert McCartney. While obviously it is much too early to make any informed comment on these arrests, I do hope that the family's fight for justice has reached a turning point.

Mercy is for the weak!!

Just a wee line out of the Karate Kid, class movies ;)

Apologies for the lack of activity around Balrog and for Halo scan fucking up this last few days.

Actually I am not sorry!!

My exams have ended, thanks be to fuck and I have been out celebrating AH!!!!!!! ;)

I am heading home to Gods Country in the Morning and will be inactive for the next couple of weeks.

I am heading off to Rome in 2 weeks for a well earned holiday; hopefully Benny can mend my wicked ways

I doubt it though ;)

Until next we meet, chow!!