Taoiseach says IRA did not kill Rafferty

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said the he is satisfied that there was no official involvement by republicans in the brutal murder of a Dublin man in West Dublin in April.
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"I don't think there were any instructions given by the IRA," Ahern said on Tuesday, adding: "Elements, probably of criminality, claimed they had links with republicans."

Since the murder, several notoriously anti-republican journalists have claimed that the IRA killed Rafferty while others have said that Sinn Féin members were responsible. This has been vehemently denied by Sinn Féin from the outset.

Weird and Wonderful!

Did anyone else spot the notice on p46 of the Irish News wanting volunteers to test a time machine (I kid you not?! All ages are required but applicants are warned that it could be dangerous!

Rumours that the Professor involved is actually Ian Paisley wanting to take the north back to the 1960s are entirely invented by me.

Don't be silly, Margaret

I see a row has erupted over a proposal to name a council pitch in Killyleagh after David Healy, the goal scoring hero for Northern Ireland against England. I agree with Caitriona Ruane that SDLP councillor Margaret Ritchie's opposition is 'mean spirited and petty minded'. I don't support the Northern Ireland side but I accept that many do and are entitled to do so and to celebrate their great victory. Encouraging children to want to match Healy's exploits is a positive sign and I hope that the pitch is renamed. After all, if some one tried to prevent a pitch in Tyrone being named after the late Cormac McAnnallen I would be disgusted, and therefore it is only right that I should support this measure as well.

Integrity- What integrity?

Like many, I have been dissapointed but unsurprised by the reaction of Ian Paisley and the DUP to the decommissioning of all IRA arms earlier this week. Robin Livingstone exposes the hypocrisy of the DUP leader. I agree with him when he says that in a comparasion of levels of integrity, Ian Paisley will come up short against the two witness to IRA disarment about whom he has reacted so scathingly.


40 years for 2 lives?

What did people think of the 40 years minimum sentence imposed on Ian Huntley which was announced today? I see David Vance is unimpressed and calls for Huntley's execution and I know there are many who would agree with him. Huntley is an evil evil man and while I do not support the death penalty, I would agree with the families of the victims that he should never be allowed out of prison.

They haven’t gone away, you know

Isn't that the truth!

I am disgusted to learn from the Daily Ireland that the British security forces have not stopped their wee inteligence war in the North of Ireland. In a dramatic series of events last week, the family home of Kevin and Lorraine Murphy in Coalisland became the centrepiece of a controversy that appears to lift the lid on the British government's continued use of covert operations in the North.
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The couple, who got married earlier this month, returned to their home last Friday to discover that neighbours had disturbed what they suspect to be an undercover British army unit trying to install a monitoring device in the couple’s home. During the incident, the area where the couple live was swamped by PSNI men. The officers arrived to rescue two balaclava-clad men who had pointed a gun at a local man who tried to challenge them after the pair were detected moving through the couple's empty home.
Locals say several PSNI members entered the couple's home and escorted two men carrying holdalls from the premises to a Land Rover parked in the house’s front garden.

Clear evidence that the PSNI have not changed and that we do not have this new dawn to policing that the SDLP keep telling us about.

DUP quizzes witnesses

I see the DUP have interrogated the two church witnesses that were party to the IRA action of putting all of their weapons beyond use. David Simpson has accused Danny Kennedy of "misrepresenting" his party's position when Danny said it was "a matter of regret" that others (DUP) from another Christian tradition had chosen to question the churchmen's integrity.
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I am sorry to tell you David but your party did just that

Some people are of the opinion that a certain section of Unionism will never accept the fact that Republicans are committed to exclusively peaceful means and that some just do not want to share power with "taigs". That is possibly true of about 25-35% but others are prepared.

I had a very constructive conversation with Basil McCrae of the UUP at the Queens Fresher's Bazaar yesterday and the man seems 100%. He had no problem shaking hands with Republicans or engaging them in constructive and respectful debate. The same was also true of many of the Young Unionists. Neither was under any illusion about the beliefs that the others held but a certain respect and maturity was evident.

The DUP will also come down that road in time, after all Dr Paisley shook hands with the first member of Sinn Féin yesterday and posed for a picture, I doubt he knew that person was a member of Sinn Féin but the point is that his hand did not fall off. I was also surprised that Ian Paisley Jnr acknowdledged me but he did and I was standing at the Sinn Féin stall so I suppose that is progress.

Dialogue is the only option and Republicans must show moderate or liberal Unionists like Basil and others that we are serious about what we say and in return they must prove that they are serious about their promises to share power.

No one ever said it was going to be easy.


UUP accepts reality of situtation

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy has said his party accepts the account given by witnesses Fr Alec Reid and Reverend Harold Good of IRA disarmament.
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I watched Spotlight tonight and found the comments made by Fr Alec Reid very honest and open. You can see how much this thing means to these two men of god.

I have to admit that I, while not needing any reassuring on the recent event, did find their passion and pure convictions very emotional.

I would just like to congratulate the UUP on finally stepping away from the DUP's cloak.

They deserve credit for that


Ian doesn't seem to get it

It seems that the entirety of the situation has not sunk in yet for Ian Paisley. He said the more the searchlight was shone on IRA disarmament, the more it seemed like a "con job"
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Ian can huff and puff all he wants but there is nothing he can do. The job is done, it is over!

He claimed the two clergymen had effectively been appointed by the IRA and could not be called independent

Why though?

Ian was under a misunderstanding that he was somehow going to be allowed to call the shots in relation to IRA disarmament; does he think Republicans are stupid?

Did he honestly think Republicans would allow him to use this issue as a sackcloth and ashes moment?

Ian you can not turn back time so you may as well just accept facts, your bogeyman is gone!

A Republican's appeal to Unionism

Following on from today's historic announcement that the weapons of the IRA have been destroyed I think it is time to look at Unionist fears and mistrust.

I know that it will be hard for many Unionists to accept that the IRA's armed struggle is over and the guns destroyed. I also accept that Unionism has lost many loved ones at the hands of the IRA. I suspect that even had every single Unionist been present at these acts of completion they still wouldn't believe that the IRA's intentions were peaceful and that their use of the gun was a thing of the past.

Unionism and Nationalism has been at each others throats for centuries, there has been hurt inflicted by both sides. It would be foolish to expect this to change over night. This is not an issue of clean hands because there are no clean hands in this country. Everyone has given in to sectarianism or violence at one time or another even if the manifestation of such an action has not happened.

There is however one clear truth in all the twists and turns of political speech.

We have to learn to live together!

Do we want our children growing up in a society were they text their counterparts for a riot at the age of 9? Where they see no other option for their community but through the barrel of an AK47?

I believe Gerry Adams when he told Unionism today that we have no Plan B, I know that because I was told that myself by Republicans. I was told, as was every other Republican, after the IRA's imitative that this was not a wink wink episode, this was for real. There is no doubt within the Republican community that this is the end of physical force republicanism. For some republicans it will be a somber occasion and I fully expect the calls of "traitor" and "sellout" to come from the Barstools but that does not matter. This is a truly momentous occasion for the people of Ireland.

I do not expect Unionism to jump straight away, this is going to take time and Republicans need to be sensitive to Unionist fears and mistrust because some of them are legitimate fears. Unionism must be given space to fully digest what has happened.

I hope they make the leap of faith because there really is no other option for us as a people.

Stalford hasn't a clue but what's new

I was amused to read that Christopher Stalford has accused the QUB Students Union of trying alienate those pupils who are from a pro-Union background. Now Christopher is talking out of his rear end and I shall yell you why.
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The Student newspaper was renamed "The Craic" last year by the then Deputy President, Paddy Hughes. I wrote for the Craic last year and can assure people that it was not a "republican rag". The deputy editor was the head of the DUA in Queens, he never bothered his backside to attend meetings but then again that is a matter for himself.

Mr. Stalford said: "This publication, which describes itself as 'the official newspaper of Queen's Students Union'

It IS the official newspaper of Queen's Students Union!

"Firstly, the front-page story featured prominent quotations from Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey - he was the sole political representative to be featured in the article."

It was relating to the so-called "riot" in the Holy lands last year, surely that is news which would be relevant to students?

The reason that Alex was the only political representative in the article is because he was the only political representative there.

"On opening the paper up, the first article in it is entirely in Irish - a language alien to unionists and nationalists alike - and page three of the paper contains a far from delightful article about a collusion exhibition that was staged in the university along with pictures of Mrs Thatcher and Sir Jack Hermon placed alongside a picture of Brian Nelson - a disgusting and disgraceful inference."

We tried to find someone who could do a regular article in Ulster Scots but we could not, hardly the Unions fault that no one can speak a made up language. The collusion exhibition was also in the Union, which is what the paper is for. It is there to provide students with news on student life.

Christopher’s arguments and allegations are as baseless as they are disgusting. He is in danger of becoming a media whore in relation to QUBSU. He will try to create any story that alleges Protestant discrimination.

Christopher, stop taking rubbish and grow up!!


Unionist bogeyman is gone

I am relieved that the IRA's initiative has been completed. Now is the time to move the process forward.
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"We are satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA's arsenal."

Unionism must step up to the mark!

I would say more but as it is the first day of University I am enjoying a drink. I will be back to full speed tomorrow but at the moment I find a pint of Bulmer’s or a whiskey more appealing to political speak.

Sorry ;)


Republican guns removed from Irish Politics

That is the story according to Paul T Colgan in today’s SBP. It will not come as a surprise to Republicans, but it will come as a hammer blow to Unionism.
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The Dáil is due to return on Wednesday, and it is understood that the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) is preparing publicly to confirm that IRA weapons have been put beyond use – possibly on the same day.

Now it's time to see will Unionism grasp the nettle or will they continue to inhabit their sectarian quagmire of NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!


I'm Back!

Howyis! Firstly I’d just like to apologise for my absence over the past fortnight. Unfortunately I was working so my blogging was restricted- whether or not that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll leave to your own judgement. I realise the events of the past fortnight have been well covered by now, but for what its worth here’s my tuppence. As I left for Belfast, mayhem was developing on its streets and unfortunately it continued. I noticed a real air of tension and frustration as the vast majority of decent people, Unionist and Nationalist who simply wanted to live and work in peace had their lives disrupted. I know of decent people from Loyalist working class areas whose only concern was not whether a bunch of middle aged men held a supremacist march in an area it was not wanted, but rather they were simply worried that the mayhem certain groups were perpetrating would stop being able to go and do their day’s work. Personally I found the “peaceful” roadblocks a huge inconvenience and one has to wonder why these people who supposedly have such a loyalty to Britain and its law were allowed to disrupt people’s lives in such a manner. I found the line about how the protests were “peaceful” pathetic. Whether or not it was true, peace or not, the protests were still illegal and unwanted and should not have been allowed to hold Belfast to ransom.

Also unsurprising was the reaction of the organisation with responsibility for the chaos, the Orange Order. It was amazing to watch how pathetic and inept their Belfast leader Dawson Baillie appeared on television. His ostrich-like approach to the situation made it quite clear and apparent that there is no levels to which the Orange Order won’t stoop in order to continue trying to assert their supremacist beliefs and marches where they are not wanted by decent folk. Of course, despite Loyalist paramilitaries behind actual violence, Ian Paisley was far more worried and angry towards an organisation which is actually giving its arms. His energy would be much better spent showing positive leadership in his own community rather can calling people out onto the streets to cause mayhem. Once more the DUP is exposed. Shame on them and Shame on the Orange Order and all those who feel it is above reproach.


Make Partition History

I am off in the morning to Dublin for the rally so I will be away from Balrog for the day, I have been pretty prolific this last while so I intend to savour the day off.
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It should make for a very enjoyable day and I know most of the areas have done an awful lot of work on this. I myself am close to a mental breakdown and I am still adding the finishing touches to part of South Armagh's entry.

Tomorrow is a day for family and friends. A time for reflection on how far we have come, a time to remember and celebrate lost comrades.

South Armagh, Republican and Proud!

Freemasons; secret society or anti-christian sect?

I have always been intrigued by secret societies and none more so than the Freemasons. Anything that I have been told about them has been negative, anti-catholic, anti-Christian, control the world etc. I would love to know more about them as their influence is quite obvious. I know QUB have two "lodges" and when you enter the great hall you can tell that Masonic influence is ever present.
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Do other people have an opinion on this?

Adams calls for Unity

Gerry Adams tonight urged republicans to stay united in the aftermath of imminent IRA disarmament. With the destruction of all remaining IRA weapons dumps set to be confirmed, possibly within days, the Sinn Féin President accepted that some at grass roots level may still oppose the decommissioning strategy.
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"Republicanism has to be tolerant. Some people have fundamental disagreement with the way we are pursuing this strategy, and I think that’s okay."

"We are not leading sheep, we are leading proud activists who have been through an awful lot over the last 30 years or so."

I agree, that is the difference with Sinn Féin, people agree and disagree but once a decision has been made people abide by that decision. We are not like other political parties where debate and disagreement is frowned upon. Debate is encouraged within Sinn Féin and that can only be a good thing.

The Sinn Féin chief tonight addressed supporters in South Armagh ahead of a rally in the centre of Dublin on Saturday.

Ian Paisley has accused the British government of striking a clandestine deal to exclude his party’s demand for an independent Protestant clergyman to verify any disarmament.

"I believe they have entered into their secret agreement with the IRA"

Poor Ian, we all feel for him.

Gerry Adams hit back by saying "It’s a bit rich when unionist paramilitaries are using heavy calibre shoulder weapons to shoot at British troops and PSNI officers – and profess to be loyalists – that the DUP should be concerned about IRA weapons which are silenced and which are going to be, we all hope and pray, put beyond use in the period ahead."

Next week will see the gates of Unionism come crushing down, be prepared to see the siege mentality go into hyper speed.


The alternative "coalition" flexes its muscles

I am happy that the domination of world issues by the US and its poodle Britain is being challenged by China and Russia. They warned the United States and European Union yesterday against escalating the nuclear stand-off with Iran; the possibility of vetoing any future Security Council resolution seems likely.
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"While Iran is cooperating with the IAEA, while it is not enriching uranium and observing a moratorium, while IAEA inspectors are working in the country, it would be counter-productive to report this question to the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Let's just look at the issue, who all have atomic bombs?

Britain, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.

Hardly comforting!

The only country to use Nuclear weapons against other people is America; the hypocrisy on this issue is breath taking.

I applaud the stance of Russia and China.

Difficult issues are never solved by the easy option

I read with much dismay that voters aged under 35 are overwhelmingly in favour of legalising abortion, pointing to a major change in the constitution within the next decade.
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I think my views on abortion are very clear, I am against it but I will never vilify a woman for making a very difficult choice. It seems that voters intend to take the easy option of legalising abortion at some point in the future. That may sound harsh and I understand that abortion is never an easy option for many women but I suspect that many people believe that by legalising abortion the problem will go away.

It won't!

These issue needs to be tackled before it arises, more work on encouraging the use of contraceptive and more support should be made available for woman to have the children adopted.

In many cases the child is the only innocent party.


They left the barstool to free Ireland

I was shocked to learn that Denis Bradley was attacked in Derry while out watching a football match with his son.
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Martin McGuinness has said "The attack on Denis Bradley was wrong and unacceptable and must be condemned.

"The fact that he is the vice Chairperson of the Policing Board does not warrant an attack on either him or his family"

How true and I would love to know what these people thought they would achieve by doing this. I do not agree with his stance on policing but I do believe his intentions are true. Any time I have seen him on TV he has always came across as a caring and tolerant man. I hope he makes a speedy recovery and my thoughts are with his family.

These so-called lesser spotted barstool republicans have nothing to offer the situation.

He who pays the piper calls the tune!

I am slightly amused to see the Duke of York himself, Ian Paisley "up in arms" over the IRA's decision to call the shots in relation to the details of their recent imitative.
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According to Paisley "The IRA is making the rules, controlling the programme, refusing the photography, appointing their own referees and engineering the whole affair."

Well duh! It is their weapons after all and surely your main priority is that these weapons go away or did you expect the IRA to bow so you could place the sack cloth upon their head?

Get real Paisley!!

The IRA will destroy their arsenal how and when they wish. You will not be allowed to stagnate progress any longer. Unionism has always said it was about the guns but that can be seen for what it always was, a red herring. Unionism can not handle change and the noose they thought they had around Republicans heads will be removed very shortly.

What is Paisley doing about Unionist weapons, or does he think the rest of us have forgotten about the red berets and the guns from South Africa?

What has he done to persuade loyalists to destroy their weapons, the guns that aren't silent?

The IRA imitative has been the most deadly blow for Unionism since the foundation of the state, they can't handle peace. Conor Murphy put it well when he said

"The issue of the IRA was held up by unionists as the only stumbling block to political progress. It is now clear that political unionism cannot cope with the new realities presented."

Violence was about sectarianism not deprivation

That is the view of Alex Maskey, Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast and the man chosen to head up the Unionist outreach programme for Sinn Féin.
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"I cannot see how deprivation can be tackled by forcing a sectarian parade along the nationalist Springfield Road. Last weeks violence was not about deprivation it was about a failure to force a sectarian Orange march through a Catholic area.

" The reality is that there is a failure of leadership within unionism. The DUP and the UUP ignore the real needs of their constituents and instead focus on out-dated expressions of sectarian triumphalism. If unionist communities are voiceless then they really need to look at the quality and performance of those they have elected to represent them."

Alex is spot on in this regard, if working class Unionist areas feel isolated and voiceless then they have no one else to blame but the main Unionist political parties. It's about time this anger and frustration was vented in the right direction, at the DUP and UUP.

Divorce on the rise

I see a record 2,500 couples divorced in the 6 counties last year. As a person whose parents are separated I feel well placed to know the pain and suffering that children go through. Separations are hardest on the children but because parents are so wrapped up in their own emotions children invariably get the bums rush with regard to expressing how they feel.
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I do believe that children, through their schools, should be persuaded into having some form of counselling. I know my own school were excellent in this regard. Very few separations end amicably and because of the hate many parents feel towards their former spouses their children become sponges for their rage.

"Tell your father he's a ..."

"Tell your mother to..."

Children of course never deliver the message with the intensity and emotion in which they received it so they end up soaking up all of that hurt and anger. I found the lay Chaplin that I spoke to was great at letting me vent my own anger and frustration.

It's true what they say; it's the kids that suffer

Via della morte

I see the circus that is the "Holy lands" is about to begin yet again. QUB Pro Vice-Chancellor, Gerry McCormac has appealed to new and returning students to "show respect" and allow their neighbours to live in peace.
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I agree of course but wish to look at this issue a little closer as it is a very important issue for me.

"A small minority of students are involved in anti-social behaviour, but their action tarnishes the reputation of the whole student body,"

Gerry is of course right but if we ever plan to tackle the Holy lands issue we need more than statements. At the end of last year, Queen's announced a new disciplinary code for off-campus behaviour, which would be used against offending students. This new disciplinary code is a joke!

I often wondered why, with perhaps the best Law school in the country, Queens never seem to get their act together with regards to keeping their bases covered. This draconian measure, if challenged by Judicial Review would undoubtedly fall. Queens seem to have acted Ultra Vires on this issue and the code is so uncertain that it is not a viable option. I could be expelled for having a fight in Tokyo.

Queens students should and possibly are only accountable to QUB when on QUB property. I am worried than in an effort to save face Queens may have lost sight of the objective, finding a solution to this problem.

In the Holy lands there is no sense of community. When you ask a student there where they live they tell you Armagh, Tyrone, Newry but never Belfast even though they live their most of the time. For most young people it is the first time away from Mammy and Daddy and it's like the fabric of community responsibility just lifts as soon as they walk on University Road. We need to make students feel like this is their community as the perception amongst some students is that the Holy lands is Party lands. Last year I advocated a far reaching education programme that would see the Union talk to 6th formers and try and convey to them the reality of the situation, it didn't happen. That said the new President has some very good ideas and I know this is one of his priorities.

We need to make the new generations of students realise that respect is a two way street, if you don't give you don't get.

One final point is that the media seem to have fixed this issue at the door of QUB students, let’s not forget our UU comrades as well.

That said, pass the Bulmers!!


This man is not for turning, unless the price is right

I see that Ian Paisley has voiced his concerns about the lack of confidence in the Unionist community to the British PM, Tony Blair.
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"The unionist community feels ignored and isolated and has suffered greatly as a result of the one-sided approach by the government," he said.

"The prime minister is aware of the importance of building confidence within the community.."

AKA, Show me the money!!

"I reminded the prime minister that unionists were no longer prepared to tolerate second class status."

LOL, catch a grip Ian. Your community has never been treated as second class citizens in their lives.

I have no problem with money being invested in many of the Unionist areas as there is a high level of deprivation in many. That said money must be allocated according to need and not what I have heard from DUP reps in the past about 50/50. The majority of areas that are in need of investment in the north are Nationalist areas.

McGuinness - Church attacks must end

Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness has demanded that those responsible for spraying graffiti on three Protestant churches and an Orange Hall in the Magherafelt area cease this type of activity.
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"There can be no justification for this sort of behaviour. It is unacceptable and must end. Those responsible need to reflect long and hard upon their actions and ensure that this sort of sectarian behaviour is ended"

I absolutely agree!!

These attacks are a total disgrace, places of worship of whatever percussion should not be attacked. This mindless sectarianism from Nationalist youths in that area is sickening.

If they are young people then their parents should get involved and make sure these attacks stop. A clip around the ear or a boot up the ass wouldn't go a miss either.

Tory chief: Hain is anti-unionist

British Secretary of State Peter Hain was accused today of being "insensitive" to unionists by a former minister who once chaired the talks process in the 6 counties. Michael Ancram, now deputy leader of the Conservatives, says Mr Hain's "anti-unionist and pro-republican baggage" has compounded the perception that unionists have not been treated fairly by the British Government.
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What Ancram means is that Hain is not getting down on his hands and knees and licking Unionist butt!

Republicans should not be under any illusion that Hain is a friend of ours. He is a British Secretary of State and even if perhaps he is less of a stiff than Mandelson he is still a British Secretary of State. This is a man who had Séan Kelly interned to try and cover up his "supposed" republican sympathies in the past. This was all done and a man’s liberty suspended to try and appease rejectionist Unionism.

We are Irish Republicans; we don't have friends in the British government!

Good news for Sinn Féin in opinion poll

The Irish Examiner/Lansdowne Market Research opinion poll has given Sinn Féin good news. Sinn Féin's support is steady at 10%, up 3% since the last general election. 52% want to see Sinn Féin in government under the right conditions and 40% hate our guts but these are just blue shirts and PD's.
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Given these figures we would get 10 seats, doubling our current number of TD's. It would also see a hung Dáil with Sinn Féin set as the kingmakers. I myself believe that this poll represents our base potential. With IRA arms due to be dealt with inside the next 2 weeks and the current mood of the electorate I expect our support base to grow very heavily.

Barring a total disaster and you can never bar that in Irish politics, I expect a general election no earlier than 8 months time. We also have McDowell’s ranting to come yet which are always worth a few percentage points to us.

It is too early to set a number on the TD's we might get but judging by these figures and the mood of the electorate our numbers could be anywhere from 10 - 20 TD's.

The futures bright, the futures green!


I can't believe it's Labour, it isn't!

It seems Stickieus Maximus, Pat Rabbitte, has assured Ireland's upper-middle class elite that their money is safe in his hands. This follows reports that Rabbitte will not seek to increase personal taxes if the "Mullingar Accord" get their way in the next election.
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It seems Labour has taken advice from their counterparts in Britain, abandon everything that makes you Labour! Unlike their near neighbours, who are their own right-wing masters, Rabbitte's Labour have established themselves as a poodle to one of the most right-wing parties in the country, Fine Gael.

I am sure all of the senior health consultants who call in sick for their jobs in the public sector and then go out and work in places like Black rock will thank him. These so-called "senior health consultants" leech of the working class. They ring in sick and get paid by the tax payer and then go out and work in private clinics and end up getting double pay packets while junior doctors and the like have to cover their work load for no extra pay. I would tell these leeches very simply, Fine! If you want to go out and work in a private clinic while you are getting paid to work in the public sector, No problem! But the pay packet you get for your regular job will be taxed at 45% and the pay packet you get from your "moon lighting" will be taxed at 75%!

That should put a stop to that

Personal taxation should be increased, for those who have been on the crest of a wave for too long or should that be those who have trodden on the working class for too long.

Very simply, Tax the rich and free the poor!

Free them from the social deprivation and inequality that has marked the same families for generations. Free education, free health care, proper pensions etc

Celtic Tiger? More like the Celtic Blast-ended skrewt!

It sucks the money from the poor and then gives it to the rich. The entire system is rotten and for a Labour party to be selling itself to Fine Gael should have ordinary, decent Labour members in a rage.

The General Election has begun

It is unmistakably obvious that the General Election in the 26 counties has begun with the recent comments from the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. I had wondered which strategy Ahern would use in his attempt to slow down the Sinn Féin juggernaut. He needs to be careful as all roads are fraught with danger.
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Bertie said he believed decommissioning would provide an "injection of confidence", which would help alleviate some of the tensions, which led to last week’s Loyalist riots.

Now if anyone believes that the violence of last week had anything to do with the slow pace of the IRA imitative then they are either stupid or liars. The reason for the violence was, if anything, to try and force the IRA back into armed conflict.

Ahern knows this and is being disingenuous for party political reasons. He will use any opportunity from now on to try and stop the Sinn Féin electoral advance which threatens to destroy Fianna Fáil in many constituencies around the country.

Nice try Bertie but no cigar!

DUP 'must not stall progress'

Martin McGuinness has said the DUP must not be allowed to set the pace of political progress.
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"If the DUP is unwilling to break out of its negative cycle and begin to show the positive leadership which the political process and also their own community require and deserve, then the two governments need to push ahead with the full implementation of the [Good Friday] Agreement,"

Absolutely, the two governments have their own responsibilities and their own work to finish in relation to the GFA, if the DUP wish to be left behind that is their business.

The DUP dismissed as "fantasy" any idea of it take part in early negotiations with Sinn Féin over the resumption of power sharing.

Martin McGuinness responded saying the DUP must not be allowed to dictate the pace of progress.

The leaders of unionism and the Orange Order were harking back to the old days of unionist domination that were gone forever, he said.

It is time for the DUP to show political leadership to their communities and their electorate, they should get off their asses and do a deal!

Sinn Féin denies making approach to Ó hAilpín

Sinn Féin last night denied reports Cork All-Ireland hurling star Seán Óg Ó hAilpín had been approached by the party to run as a candidate in the forthcoming General Election.
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Sinn Féin last night denied any suggestion the party had tried to bring one of Ireland's best known sporting stars onboard.

"No I don't know anything about it and nobody down in Cork is aware of it. We're not aware of anything about it. It's not the way we do business. We usually tend to pick candidates from the community sphere," she said, adding that local councillor Jonathon O'Brien would likely emerge as the party's candidate after a scheduled convention in the coming weeks"

I find this story very hard to believe and suspect the Indo are just doing what they do best, making up stories. I am not saying Ó hAilpín wasn't approached by a political party but having read what he said it does not mention Sinn Féin. This sort of stuff has come up before with GAA stars like Joe Brolly and Peter Canavan being touted as Sinn Féin candidates.

That isn't the way we work people.


Hain: Unionists living in denial

As the unrest threatened to spill into a second week, Mr Hain gave his blunt assessment of unionism in a Belfast Telegraph interview - saying many unionists live with a "sense of denial" about what the peace process has achieved and need to "get real" about the future.
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It's not very often that I agree with the Unionist lite party, Alliance, but Naomi Long hit the nail on the head when she said

"When push comes to shove, the commitment of unionist politicians to the defence of police and the rule of law and order is just tactical and superficial,"

Of course it is, it always has been!

Unionism masquerades as democratic but their history exposes the double standards by which they have always operated. They have never been interested in peace or equality, their only interest is in domination and discrimination.

Hain also said "There's an element of not reacting to the ferocious violence against police in a way that the reaction would have been to equivalent violence from republicans against police. I just think there's a sense of denial over that as well"

It seems the writing's on the wall for Unionism.

SDLP lite urges republicans to back police

It seems the SDLP's 26 county representative, Dermot Ahern, has called on Republicans to back the RUC/PSNI because they protected nationalist communities from recent loyalist rioting.
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Now Dermot must think republicans are thick if he expects us to believe that rubbish.

"Sinn Fein now have a duty to join with the SDLP in making the PSNI accountable to nationalists communities through the Policing Board and to press for the full implementation of Patten Report"

No Dermot, we are not going to make the same mistake as the SDLP. We will not even be considering the issue of policing until Patten is fully implemented. To suggest that the RUC/PSNI stood between Nationalists and Loyalists is a lie. Perhaps Dermot could address the actual situation instead of trying to turn everything into a Sinn Féin issue. The reality is that Unionism is reluctant to change and the will to dominate is still there.

"In Antrim, Catholic families living in small communities have been attacked and intimidated for no other reason than that they are Catholic,"

Correct Dermot, what have the great RUC/PSNI done?

They handed out fire blankets!!

They are a disgrace and do not have the support of the Nationalist and Republican community and until the necessary reforms happen e.g. Removal of Special Branch, they won't have that support!


Why haven't you swallowed your trunk!

I see Unionist members of Belfast District Policing Partnership have withdrawn in protest at police handling of recent violence in Unionist areas.
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The North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum said unionists were withdrawing because there was "no partnership in policing"

Which basically means, for the last 30 years it was Nationalist and Republican skulls that you were cracking and we said fair play to you but now we have seen the light because you cracked a few Unionist ones.

It is almost like a piece of absurd theatre, something from 19th century Paris. That said the lack of a cohesive strategy and direction within Unionism could well cause it serious problems in the near future.


Working-class Unionism used, again

I do feel a certain pity for working-class Unionism; they have been used by the DUP and the UUP for the last 30 years. This was all too evident over the last few days as the UUP, DUP and Orange Order used them to do their dirty work.
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Middle-class Unionism (UUP especially) has never given a crap about its working class brethren. To hear Reg Empey asking the SOS to come and visit "loyalist" areas is almost laughable if it wasn't so serious.

He said Mr Hain should meet people in these areas and get a "real taste" of what was happening.

I doubt there is many in the UUP who have had a real taste of what happens in working-class areas, least of all Unionist ones.

They have been abandoned by their political representatives and the extent of the social deprivation is incredible

Why does working-class Unionism allow itself to be used by leafy Malone Road types who couldn't care less about them from one year to the next but will use them if it suits their political ambitions?

Republicans must do more to reach out to working class Unionism, what benefits exactly have they received from the "Union"

It seems Republicans were right, Unionism can't handle a peaceful society and the recent IRA imitative has hit the underbelly of the beast.

Only time will tell if the hit was fatal.

"The unionists were largely upper-middle-class people from Malone Road and places like that who got their votes from working-class areas. So these people, whom you've never seen before in your life, come down from a big house in the Malone Road, come down with a Union Jack, playin' their tapes, and you voted for them. You don't question yourself at the time but you do it in later years - like what are you votin' for these people for? They're not from the same background I am from, and they don't give a shite about working-class people. They're just after power and wages and keepin' the system goin' ."

Reflections of the Stormont parliament in Fortnight, 1994.

Paisley in denial

That is the view of Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness who expressed disappointment over Ian Paisley's attack on party president Gerry Adams and accused the DUP leader of compounding the negative leadership of recent months and being in denial about his responsibility to get the peace process back on track.
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He said
"Last weekend's violence is a response to the realisation that the status quo is not an option and to the uncertainties of a process of change which demands equality, human rights, proper policing, justice and inclusion. It is a response to the dawning reality that the days of domination, triumphalism and second class citizenships are gone forever"

Martin has also called on Unionism to sit down with Republicans in an effort to move the process forward.

There can be no future for this country unless we learn to live together. This can not happen while Unionism deludes itself that somehow Equality = Concessions


Order turned to chaos

According to the Orange Order it has no responsibility for the trouble over the North this last couple of days. Grand Master Robert Saulters said the Order regarded itself as blameless.
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"The extent to which ordinary, decent and reasonable men have been goaded into behaving out of character by the authorities and their insistence on appeasing and rewarding nationalists at the expense of loyalists."

LOL, does he honestly expect people to buy this?

What about the gunfire at your beloved police?

These people are bigots who throw a tantrum every time they don't get to march through a Catholic area.


Unionism throwing the toys out of the pram

It seems Unionism is most unhappy with US envoy Mitchell Reiss after he accused unionists of failing to show leadership during violent loyalist riots in Belfast and surrounding areas over the weekend.
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Nigel Dodd’s responded today by accusing Mr Reiss of making one of the most unhelpful, negative and damaging contributions he had ever heard.

He described the US politician's comments as "crass" and said he no longer had any credibility among unionists.

Oh please Nigel, dry your eyes and grow up!

It seems as soon as someone criticises Unionism they automatically lose all credibility in the Unionist community.


Gospel according to McDowell

It seems Irelands greatest Republican, no not Pearse, Sands, Connolly or Tone but the "real" republican, Mickey McDowell has offered his "analysis" of the current situation in the North.
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He said that a new vision of Ireland must recognise and respect the orange panel in the Irish Tricolour.

I agree 100%

He said the first challenge for all republicans was to respect the orange panel of the Tricolour and to develop a sense of Irishness which includes Ulster Scots and Anglo Irish.

Again I agree

"The two communities are drifting further and further apart. That`s wrong for Ireland and it`s wrong for the children of both communities going forward."

Now I am getting scared, I have never agreed with McDowell this much in my life.

"Not polarisation of two communities, not the foolish idea being proposed by Sinn Fein at the moment that Westminster elections should in Catholic areas be elections to Dail Eireann and in Protestant areas be elections to Westminster."

I knew it wouldn't last, someone please show me where Sinn Féin have advocated that?

Sinn Féin would prefer it if all elections were held to Dáil Eireann, this has nothing to do with religion.

Michael McDowell does not have a republican bone in his body; he is a tried and tested partionist!


This pisses me off

An order freezing the assets of a woman who is allegedly claiming income support and housing benefit despite owning more than 40 properties has been enforced.
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I have no problem with working-class people "doing the double" so to speak. Many working-class famlies rely on both dole money and the few pound they get from jobs on the side to make ends meet.

This woman however is a disgrace and deserves to have her houses taken off her and sold and the money given to St Vincent de Paul.

Not even a condemnation

Did anybody else see the BBC lunch time news? Amazingly, the Grand Master of the Orange Order for Belfast refused even to condemn the vicious rioting of the weekend. It seems that elements within the Orange Order are being exposed for what they really are - sectarian bigots and thugs.

How can we help?

I do seem to be laying the boot in to Political Unionism a lot recently (they do deserve it however) and believe it's time to try and sort this out.
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I accept that Unionism sees itself as under threat and I admit that to a certain extent it is. Nationalists will not relinquish their plans to unite this country. Unionism is just going to have to find a way of reconciling that with the siege mentality. I don't accept that Nationalists or Republicans have a "siege" on Unionism. That mentality has been a part of the Unionist psyche ever since they first set foot on these shores.

Let's look at the problems that Unionism has and see what Republicans and Nationalists can do about it.

1. Parades

If the Orange Order followed the example set by the Apprentice boys in Derry we might get a lot further. Unionists have no automatic right to parade through someone else’s neighbourhood with "foreign" flags, singing triumphalist songs and generally using parading as a form of communal deterrence. Unionists need to accept that many nationalists and republicans equate "Unionist Culture" with sectarianism and bigotry. If the Orange Order sat down with the residents of each area and engaged in meaningful dialogue then perhaps this mess could be sorted out.

2. "Concessions"

Unionism needs to specify what they mean, for the majority of the Nationalist and Republican family Unionism bemoaning about concessions is basically Unionism resisting equality.

Let’s be honest here and call a spade a spade

Unionism, the evangelical wing, will never accept or trust Catholics because they know that Nationalism wants to destroy their own "wee country" and replace it with a United Ireland. That said Nationalists and Republicans will no longer keep their head below the parapet. Unionism, and I include loyalism, need to look at their situation.

What percentage of their young people attend University compared to their Nationalist comrades?

All of the jobs, with the exception of Policing, the criminal justice system and the civil service are no longer considered Unionist. Gone are the days when Nationalists and republicans were labourers. They are now Doctors, Solicitors and Psychologists as well.

I think it's about time Unionism opened the gates and let people in

What do Unionists think Republicans could do to help?

What it means to be loyal

I see yet more Unionist violence has erupted as a mob of around 700 people have taken to the streets of Belfast in a new wave of rioting.
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I wonder who is to blame this time, Republicans? Parades Commission? Bosco?

Or perhaps it was this uppity taig who had the audacity to walk across the street?

"A bus full of passengers was also hijacked on the Belfast road in Bangor. The bus was driven from the Belfast Road to the Clandeboye Road where two men ordered all passengers off after stealing personal belongings from them. The bus was driven to the Green Road, Conlig and set alight."

Isn't that marvellous, thieves as well as wankers

The Orange Order, DUP and the UUP must take a large chunk of responsibility for the current violence, Paisley donned his old Duke of York hat once again last week and has now begun the process of trying to wash his hands of responsibility.

Not good enough!!

It is about time Unionism/Loyalism got its act together and engaged in meaningful dialogue with Nationalists and Republicans. The problem is that none of their elected reps have the courage to make that step.

If the DUP and Unionism believe they can provoke the IRA into returning to the armed campaign they have another thing coming.

Republicans may be a lot of things but we're not stupid.


Colombian ambassador to Ireland says extradition papers to be served

It seems Colombia's ambassador to Ireland, Jeffrey Donaldson, has confirmed that extradition requests for the "Colombian Three" are to be served to the Irish Government.
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He said that Colombia's vice-president, Carlos Santos, confirmed that his country will be serving papers on the Irish authorities within days.

This is good news, the sooner the Irish courts dismiss this rubbish the sooner we can put this issue to bed.

Perhaps however Jeffrey's energy would be better spent at home, controlling some of the malcontents who were expressing their loyalty to Britain so publicly yesterday.

IRA moving the process forward

The IRA is engaged in putting its weapons beyond use this weekend, at the start of a week of significant movement in the peace process.
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The three members of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) have not been contactable for a number of days. The process is expected to take some time, as the weapons are stored in a number of arms dumps around the country.

I am glad that the IRA are again taking the lead and moving the process forward, I hope this is the last we will hear of "the bouncing cheque"

This bold move from the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann is in stark contrast to Unionism, which seems hell bent on putting us back in the 60's. Is equality and justice that hard for Unionism, and I include loyalists here, to accept?

I pray that someone inside Unionism has the balls to move the process forward from their side but judging by the "leadership" they have shown thus far I won't hold my breathe

Ruining everyone's life.

I see Beano at Everything Ulster is livid with today's events and the Loyalist riot. Not that I blame him considering that his brohter's stag night was ruined. I know how much I looked forward to and enjoyed the stag do I was at a fortnight ago (Lovely city, Edinburgh) and I have been angry myself if it had been ruined in such a manner. Basically Beano's point is very valid- to hell with this hatred and violence on the streets, most of us just want to live our lives in peace. Yes, we may have political views but most of us are mature enough to realise that rioting isn't going to forward those views in any way, shape or form. Its time some people caught up with the rest of society.


Get the story right

Having read an article of Newton Emerson's during the week and thought it worthy of comment, I am glad to see it republished on Newshound. Now Newton is an extermely talented and witty writer but in his attempt to criticise all which he dislikes about politics in the north, he often deliberately misinterprets facts. This article is one such occasion.

In it, Newton condemns what he sees as a Sinn Féin councillor's ill judged reaction to disturbances in Cushendall and attempts to make a wider point about Sinn Féin's commitment to law and order. I have two problems. Firstly Newton scornfully rejects Mr McMullan's assertion that a yellow lad was attacked while out to buy chips. Mr. Emerson goes on to use the phrase as a euphemism for other sorts of activities. But please tell me Newton, how do you know that wasn't exactly what the person was doing?!

Furthermore, Newton goes on to deride the Community Restorative Justice schemes as having the objective of "putting people in hospital". Lies of this order cannot be let slide. Mr. Emerson obviously knows nothing about the CRJ schemes if this is what he thinks they are about. CRJ has as its purpose the wish to resolve conflicts in communities peacefully and without the need for any hospital visits. It seems Mr. Emerson is willing to believe any anti-Republican propaganda in order to make his cheap shots. I wonder would he be willing to actually spend time examing how CRJ works so that he could be rid of his current misconceptions. Shabby journalism from a man who is capable of better.

Trouble in Belfast

It is with sadness that I read on slugger that the situation in Belfast seems to be spiralling out of control into an orgy of violence and destruction as Loyalists go on the rampage. While the ulimate responsibility lies with those carrying out the violence, blame must also be apportioned to the Unionist politicans seemed to condone the violence by saying that it was "inevitable" in order to try to overturn the decision of the Parades Commission. Unlike the Nationalist residents who called off their portest in order to attempt to maintain calm, it seems Unionism is more concerned with gaining supremacy that ensuring a peaceful resolution. I just hope nobody is badly injured or worse.

For Queen and Country

It seems the Orange Order are intent on showing loyalty to their "country" by breaking as many of its laws as is humanly possible.
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I do find it humorous that a group that confesses devotion to Queen and country has absolutely no respect for the rules of said country. I wonder if the cops that were shot and fired upon by supporters feel the love.

To suggest that this organisation is interested in "culture" is an insult to people’s intelligence, they are only interested in sectarian triumphalism


"Free policing from politics", bit of an Oxymoron

British SOS Peter Hain has said policing in the 6 Counties must be freed from the political debate.
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He said 65% of the 175 Patten Report recommendations on policing the province had been fully implemented.

Peter, why hasn't the other 35% been implemented?

"They must continue to have confidence in the police service"

What confidence????

That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, Hain should stop trying to play politics with policing and introduce the necessary reforms.

In my opinion 6 county policing will always be political and they will continue to serve their political masters in Whitehall, that is why I personally will never support 6 county policing


Fine Gael getting desperate

Senator Brian Hayes of Fine Gael has called on all political parties to make a public pledge that would see Sinn Féin excluded from future Governments.
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Perhaps the Mullingar accord isn't going as well for Fine Gael as they had hoped or perhaps they realise that Sinn Féin may well have the balance of power after the next election?

I wonder will Fianna Fáil make this pledge, after all Bertie has already said he can't see Fianna Fáil in coalition with Sinn Féin.

Somehow I doubt it


No SF or IRA role in Rafferty death: Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin's leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, has claimed there was no involvement by any member of Sinn Féin or the IRA in the murder of Dublin man Joseph Rafferty.
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Caoimhghín said that he openly and unequivocally appealed to everyone to come forward with whatever information they might have about the murder.

He said that the killing was an action Sinn Féin roundly condemned, and hoped justice would be done.

From speaking to party collegues I feel fully assured that this had nothing to do with the Republican Movement.

Paisley cares more about parades than Catholics

The DUP leader Ian Paisley has warned that police in the North may not be able to handle events if the Orange Parade is not allowed to take its intended route on Saturday. Pity he wasn't as quick to condemn the sectarian pogroms against Catholics
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So this is the response of the so-called "democrat"

You would have thought that a democrat would be telling the Orange Order to follow the law and accept the decision

Not Paisley, his idea of Democracy is an Orange one. This shrivelled old man is pathetic!

Something has to be done!!

More people in the North took their lives through suicide than were killed during thirty-five years of political conflict. According to shocking new figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, a total of 4,451 people died through suicide between 1969 and 2002 in the North.
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Sinn Féin president and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams obtained the figures through the North’s freedom of information provisions.

"The official statistics also reveal that during the last decade, more people in the North of Ireland have died as a result of suicide than from road accidents. While the efforts to reduce road accidents – including the resources invested by government agencies in this work – is creditable, it begs the question why suicide prevention does not merit the same or greater resources."

A question that needs to be answered very quickly!

I have known a few people who have committed suicide and had the heartbreaking experience today of attending the funeral of a young lad who I went to school with who committed suicide this week. A really nice bloke who always seemed so happy and a lad who you just couldn't dislike. He was a member of the party, the GAA, you name it and he was there.

The poor family are inconsolable and I pray they get some sort of help from the man upstairs, presuming there is one.

A coherent strategy needs to be put into place as it's becoming a very serious problem.


Come on Ireland!!

Tonights the night, when the Irish take on the French in a match that has the potential to be a cracker, nowhere near as entertaining as a Gaelic match but good none the less.
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It will be tight and my heart says a win but my head says a draw


Prove me wrong Keano!!

Now if only we had fans like her ;)

What Religion are you?

I took this nice litle test (Hat-Tip Maca)



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with QuizFarm.com

It's hard to know what you are, but as Homer says

"If I'm wrong I'll recant on my death bed"

Law on army killers slammed

Campaigners are urging a change in the law to prevent soldiers convicted of rape, murder or torture from remaining in the British army.
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That is an awful lot of soldiers you will be removing!

Families of recruits who died at the notorious Deepcut barracks in Surrey last night joined supporters of the family of Belfast teenager Peter McBride to press for a legal 'loophole' to be closed.

At a meeting in London, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the killing, Paul O'Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre, said: "The family can accept the release; what they have never accepted is that they (Wright and Fisher) remain in the British Army.

"While in jail they were visited by senior officers who encouraged them to remain loyal to the armed forces and said they would look after them."

He said the two soldiers were allowed back because of Queen's Regulations 9404 which states soldiers given a custodial sentence should be dismissed unless there were "exceptional reasons"

For exceptional reasons see, killing Paddies

Judge a person by the company they keep

Let's look at the friends that Unionism keeps, Combat 18, Colombian Government, White South Africa, and the Israeli’s
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Is it just me who sees a trend?

Political Unionism has always kept "friends" who are either racist, supremacist or both. Adding to the list of friends is Colombia and judging by Unionist history they should get on like a house on fire. One human right’s abuser to the another.

It seems wee, yes wee Jeffrey Donaldson has been to Colombia to inspect mortars, and no it isn't for Ulster Resistance. He spoke of an "IRA legacy" in Colombia. Jeffrey said that the inspected mortars were identical to weapons used by the IRA.

Let's just examine that claim a bit further, the Iraqi army used AK47 assault riffles does that mean the IRA trained them as well?


It seems that Political Unionism is under so much pressure that they are trying to play shadow games with the peace process. Political Unionism is under threat, from what you ask? The IRA? The Bogeyman?

No, from Equality!!!

Unionism’s past form runs against it, it has never been able to operate in a system of equality and that is why it ranks up with Israel and Colombia

This looks like the last roll of the dice from the political dinosaurs and they just rolled a two.


Subverting democracy

Anybody else disgusted at the news that Fianna Fáil are trying to lessen the accountability of the taoiseach to the Dáil by allowing him to refuse to answer unexpected questions. The taoiseach is in charge of the country, he should be expecting questions on all issues! The Dáil is the elected representative of the Irish people and those who make decisions affecting the Irish people must be accountable to its reprensatives. to do otherwise makes the people suspicious that its politicians don't want to them the truth behind what is really going on. In the cabinet, the buck stops with the taoiseach, so he should be ready to deal with any issue that may arise.


I'm shocked and appalled to learn that Loyalists have been recruiting children as young as five to be their sectarian footsoldiers. Apparently these lowlifes send text messages around the local schools in order to recruits youths for the evening's rioters. This is scandalous behaviour and child abuse of the highest order. Something must be done.

Life's greatest mystery?

I got sent this humorous picture by a fellow Queen's student, I had to laugh
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Can someone please tell me why a student in the North would pick Ulster Polytechnic over QUB?

I understand that a lot of UP students wouldn't get into Queen's

I must admit that I enjoy baiting UP students as their complex is rather enjoyable to observe.


You get the picture ;)


Roberts is US Supreme Court judge

John Roberts is George Bush's nomination for the seat vacated after the recent death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
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I studied the Supreme Court as part of my A-level course and found it a fascinating subject. Given the fact that the 5/4 ratio of conservatives and "liberals" looks set to be altered in favour of a conservative majority, is it now likely that Roe v Wade will be over-turned?

Bush however should remember what happened when Eisenhower appointed Warren, not everything goes as one would expect.