Sinn Féin to unveil proposed economic reforms

People often accuse Sinn Féin of having no economic policy other than very vague left wing socialist beliefs. This could not be further from the truth. Sinn Féin have begun to answer their critics as a review of Sinn Féin economic policy has come up with concrete policies which should help narrow the gap betrween the rich and poor in Ireland. Unsurprisingly, for a socialist party, these policies involve raising tax, however not to extorionate levels. I have always believed that a high level of tax is sensible in any society as long as the money derived from it is used well and fairly in order to give those less advantaged in society what they deserve - a decent standard of housing, education and health care. If the rich must pay a few extra thousand (which they can well afford) every year in order to ensure these basic levels of human dignity, then that is a price well worth paying.

LVF stand down

Good to see that the sectarian murder gans of the LVF have finally decided to "stand down". This is to be welcomed, however considering the "alphabet soup" of variou Loyalist paramilitary groupings who are still armed and dangerous, there is still a lot to be done before we can finally look forward to a society without guns.


Disbarment? You must be joking!

I am in a good mood this evening as it seems the Media has yet again made up lies in relation to the so-called "disbarment" of 15 councillors in Newry and Mourne Council. According to media reports the councillors will be hit by a £10,000 surcharge and disbarred for 5 years. While they are being hit by a surcharge, no where in the Local Government Auditors report does it say the councilors are being disbarred.
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Under the Local Government Act 1972 section 82 the LGA has sought to recover the amount according to him that was a loss incurred by the willful misconduct of the 15 councillors.

That is all fine and dandy but according to Section 82 (4) If a certificate under this section relates to a loss or deficiency caused by the wilful misconduct of a person who is, or was at the time of such misconduct, a member of the council concerned and the amount certified to be due from him exceeds £2,000, that person shall be disqualified for being elected or being a member of a council for the period of five years beginning on the ordinary date on which the period allowed for bringing an appeal against a decision to give the certificate expires or, if such an appeal is brought, the date on which the appeal is finally disposed of or abandoned or fails for non-prosecution.

The amount that each councillor has to pay is around £670, far below the £2,000 bar that leads to exclusion. This piece of legislation proves that there will be no councillors in Newry and Mourne disqualified and Willie and Danny will just have to cry into their tea.

The case with the Fermanagh Unionist councillors is different because it involves a surcharge of almost £40,000 with each councillor exceeding the £2,000 bar for exclusion.

It will be interesting to watch this story unfold but there is no doubt in my mind that not one of these councillors will be disbarred and that the real winners out of all of this will be the people of Newry and Mourne who will not lose very valuable and very experienced public representatives.


Iran calls for an end to Zionism

I noticed during the week that a "crisis" has started because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated the words of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic revolution, by saying: "Israel must be wiped off the map"
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I am not Anti-Semitic but I am most definitely Anti-Zionist

Zionism is as repugnant and sickening as Lebensraum ('living space') as it shows the same level of racist supremacy of believing that you have some right to a piece of land and to hell with the inhabitants.

In that respect I would dearly love to see an end to Zionism but let's examine the situation. This recent comment and the million odd supporters who attended the annual al-Quds day protests have a bigger significance than just some corrupt and racist state, they are about the Middle-East's and more precisely Iran's attempt to draw a line in the sand with the western military capitalism that has been unleashed in the Middle-East.

Iran seems to be putting a big two fingers up to the West and America in particular. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does seem to be upping the ante and almost encouraging the West to respond. Iran holds all the cards as both China and Russia will veto any security council resolution, just like America has done in relation to Israel for so long.

Israel however has some cheek when it argues that Iran should be suspended from the United Nations. Israel has flouted more Security Council resolution than any other country in the world and if the West had any balls and weren't a bunch of racist hypocrites they would have blown Israel to kingdom come a long time ago.

America is racist in the sense that the "white" Israelis are spared but the "dark" Iraqis are butchered.

By his actions shall we know him

I see the Blue-shirts, Stickie lite and the West-Brit party have come out in opposition to Bertie Ahern's proposed Northern Committee of the house. I am not even sure if I should be surprised that Partionist's disagree with the all-Ireland agenda.

Is it not about time that Labour, Fine Gael and the PD's just came out and said they are against Irish Unity?

Anyone who actually believes these parties are Pro-United Ireland is either stupid or gullible!

Let's not worry about the Partionist's for now; I want to know what Bertie is going to do. This is Fianna Fáil's acid test in relation to their new found Irish Republicanism.

Will Bertie do the right thing and bring in the committee or will he pander to the likes of the PD's and expose himself for what he is, an opportunist?

The next election really can't come soon enough as far as I am concerned.

Get your facts right!

Lies annoy me. As do people who print misguided nonsense. This letter (hat tip NI Maygar) which alleges that NI tops were barred from QUB Students' Union a number of weeks ago falls into one of those categories. Although while it may be true that someone in a Northern Ireland jersey was turned away, the reason behind this was that ALL football jerseys were barred that night, as the prior advertising for the match had informed those planning to go to the Union for the evening. Personally I disgaree with this policy as I'd like to think that students are mature enough to "let and let live" as far as football jerseys are concerned. However what really annoys me is this constant attempt to paint the Students' Union as a "cold house for Protestants" when, in reality this is far from the truth. NI tops are a regular sight in QUBSU. People should stop trying to see something which just isn't there.


Aussies plummel Irish.

Ireland took a beating Down Under today in more than one sense of the word as the International Rules side were beaten by 63 points to 42 as Australia won the series and with it the Cormac McAnnallen Cup. While Ireland were undoubtedly outclassed over the two tests, the main talking point tonight has been about the over physicality of the Australian players. Certainly the Australians were desperate to get revenge for the thumping they received in Croke Park last year but some of their tactics today bore little resemblance to anything which should be acceptable on a sports field. The Irish lads are all amateurs who have to go back to work and some could have been seriously injured. Personally I like the concept of International Rules and although the series has its critics such as Tyrone manager Micky Harte, I do think it is a series that is worth perserving with but only if the safety of those participating is not put at risk by unsavoury tactics.

Best improving

I'm glad to see that George Best's medical condition, while still critical, has improved slightly. I have a lot of time for George and I hope he pulls through. Yes, the man has his flaws and his demons but alcoholism is a disease and I detest the way that many seem only too happy to stick the boot into the man. George was the best footballer this island ever produced and I wish him well in his most important battle. He is also responsible for one of my favourite quotes : I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I squandered

Good News.

I'm glad to see that it seems a resolution is near to disputes over contentious parades in Derry involving the Apprentice boys. Once more, we have clear evidence that the ONLY way forward in these situations is dialogue. Orange Order - please take note.

UVF - Special Branch Brigade

Few who have done any study of Britian's war in Ireland over the last 30 years will have been surprised at yesterday's revelation that RUC Special branch has once more been implicated in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries. More evidence, if any were needed, that the RUC were up to their necks in Loyalist paramilitarism, even after the IRA ceasfire and Loyalist ceasefires of 1994. Untill this issue is resolved, it will be very difficult for Republicans to support a policing service in the 6 counties. I also hope that our new Victims Commissioner studies this report very carefully.


MP's from the 6 counties to attend Oireachtas

I welcome the news that all of the 6 counties MP's will be invited to attend a special Oireachtas committee on the North of Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.
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Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said: "The Taoiseach has informed me, together with other party leaders, by letter this morning that he is to invite MPs from the Six Counties to participate in the Dail through `a Committee of the whole House` which will discuss matters relating to the Good Friday Agreement and the North of Ireland.

"It would meet at least every six months."

"This is a very important development and represents welcome progress. Throughout the peace process Sinn Fein has been campaigning for Dail representation for people in the Six Counties."

"While this proposal does not involve full representation, it is clearly a step forward. Full representation and full participation remains Sinn Fein`s goal"

I agree with Caoimhghín, this is an important development and should be welcomed and we must continue to press for full representation.

One people, one nation and one Oireachtas


Allister needs to get a life!

I am absolutely delighted that the UFU have told Jim Allister where he can stick his £12,000. Allister refused to pay for the delegation's visit if they insisted on meeting with Bairbre de Brún as well. Jim Allister has no right to tell anyone who they can or can't speak to. Bairbre de Brún is an MEP the same way Jim Allister is and the UFU have now rightly decided to fund the visit themselves.
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Allister accused the union leadership of taking "a spineless decision"

I am very proud that the UFU have decided to put the concerns of its members before placating the likes of Jim Allister.

OTR's set to return

I welcome the news that so-called "on-the-run's" will be allowed to return to the 6 counties next month. This is long overdue and I am glad that this loose end is finally being sorted out. Peter Hain has said that the relevant legislation is likely to be brought before the British Parliament early next month.
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Hain said sometimes undesirable things had to be done in the interests of conflict resolution. I agree with him and I understand that this is a very sensitive issue for Unionism. I know that a lot of families will be very hurt and angry but we need to move on.

Final Warning!

This is final warning to those trolls who continue to post here

The volume of traffic to this site has greatly increased and it has had the unfortunate side effect of bringing with it the expected trolls. This warning goes out to all trolls and sock-puppets, whether Unionist or Republican. I will not stand back and see this site slip; both myself and Paddy invest a lot of our time and energy into Balrog. I do not have the time or will to go around editing and deleting posts.

Any poster who deliberately impersonates a person or a poster who engages in spam will have their posts removed and see themselves banned from this site.

Unlike Mick Fealty I do not operate a two week ban; it will be a final ban subject to right of appeal.

I enjoy the fact that this site facilitates debate between Unionists and Republicans but I will not tolerate trolls in any manner, shape or form!

As you were!

NB:UPDATE "Willy Frazier" and "Andre Shoukri" (One in the same) has become the first person banned from Balrog.

Trolls will not infest this site!



Two people, One struggle

I felt very privileged last night as I attended the meeting with South African Minister for Intelligence and senior representative of the African National Congress, Ronnie Kasrils.
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The meeting was fantastic and it was the first time I heard the beautiful Nkosi Sikelil’Africa. Ronnie has led an extraordinary life, from violent struggle, to negotiation and now peace.

"That’s what your cause has demonstrated time and time again. Two people, one struggle - what a wonderful thought.
"We feel tremendous bonds of solidarity between two struggling, fighting people - fighting for justice, for freedom, for independence, for unity, and the Irish cause has inspired the South African freedom struggle.
"We feel and we hope that the example of reconciliation of adversarial forces in South Africa in such a successful way acts as a shining example to people throughout the world - not least the Irish people, who need peace, justice and reconciliation very much indeed,"
Mr Kasrils said

The crowd was hanging off his every word and laughed immensely when he told us that he still misses his AK47 and goes to bed thinking about it every night.

Last night was very successful and represents the very close bond that both our countries share, a shared struggle and shared problems.

Two people, one struggle

The new "D" word, Disbarment

I see that 17 Republican and Nationalist councillors in Newry and Mourne District Council are facing a 5 year ban from holding Public Office. This is because they denied Willie Frazer's group "FAIR" access to Newtown Hamilton community centre.
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It is my understanding that Willie's group asked the council not only to use the centre but said they wouldn't set foot in it unless the council installed bullet proof glass, something that the ratepayers of Newry and Mourne would have to fork out and which was not needed. When this was being considered by the council the Management committee of the centre threatened to resign if FAIR entered the building which would leave the building closed anyway.

According to the front page of the FAIR website the group

"are a non-sectarian,non-political organisation working for the interests of the innocent of terrorist victims based in South Armagh,Northern Ireland."


Sinn Féin group leader on the council Terry Hearty said the councillors believed they had acted in the best interests of the council and the community in Newtown Hamilton.

I agree Terry, the councillors did act in our interests and I would like to wish all of the councilors the best of luck with the appeal.


The bigotry of the DUP has once again vlighted the north as it was revealed the DUP threatened to withdraw funding for a leading farmer's union to visit Brussels simply because they had planned to meet Sinn Féin. This is disgusting behaviour and of course the real victims in all of this are the farmers of the north who need all parties fighting on their side. I am sure that many members of the UFU vote for Sinn Féin and considering that Sinn Féin are the only nationalist party in the north represented in the European Parliament, the UFU were right to want to meet Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin have always been responsive to the needs of farmers and our voters include thousands of farmers who have now been effectively disenfranchised by bigotry. It is shameful that the DUP have been allowed to blackmail the UFU in such a cynical manner but then I suppose by this stage, we expect nothing better.

Shameful vandalism

Disappointing to see that secterian attacks continue. over the weekend an Orange Hall in Bellaghy was defaced. Rightly, local councillors and priests have condemned this action. these idiots offer society nothing. They should not for one minute think that Republicans want anything to do with these sort of actions. Republicans want positive steps forward, not negative vandalism which can only harm community relations.

Deserting the sinking ship.

You can tell things are getting bad for the Sunday Independent when even their favourite poster boy, Michael McDowell, is lining up to stick the boot in. Still unfortunately it puts me in the strange position of having to agree with the Minister for Justice. The things we do for Ireland!


New victims commisioner.

I see that the wife of an RUC reservist who was killed during the troubles has been appointed as Northern Ireland's victims commissioner. Now I don't know the woman so I can't judge how appropriate or fit she is for this position, although certainly she qualifies as a victim and seems to have worked in this field before. However what she must remember while performing her duties is that the organisation her husband belonged to was responsible for making victims as well. the last thing we need is another version of FAIR.

How much lower can they go?

I see the Sunday Independent sunk to new depths yesterday when they claimed that former Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor, who died in a car crash in Moscow over the weekend was travelling with a prostitute at the time. The paper had no evidence for this claim and such reckless reporting can only have added to the family's pain at this terrible time. Most decent people respect the phrase "Don't speak ill of the dead" espicially in the immediate aftermath of a death but it seems that the Sindo see it as nothing other than a chance to sell papers.


Saddam trial breaches international law

That is the view of Vincent Browne in today's SBP. Browne argues that Saddam Hussein was quite right to question the presiding judge at his trial. He asks under what authority was Rizgar Mohammed Amin sitting in judgment on the legal president of Iraq?
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According to Vincent Saddam was a tyrant, he manipulated the electoral process to give feigned legitimacy to his rule but, under international law, he was - and remains - president of Iraq. In contrast, the judge presiding over the trial of Saddam has no legitimacy whatsoever.

He was appointed by the illegal invaders and occupiers of Iraq. The court has no basis in the Iraqi constitution or Iraqi law. It has no basis under international law.

This is an excellent article from Vincent and one that can't easily be refuted. Vincent argues that occupying forces could have brought Saddam before the International Criminal Court but because it can't deliver the death penalty and because the Americans are opposed to the ICC they decided not to. The Americans are worried that some of their soldiers or politicians may end up before the ICC if they show it any legitimacy.

The entire hypocrisy of the Americans and British on this issue would make you want to vomit.

Let's not forget that when Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam George Galloway was warning of the dangers.

Hypocrisy at it's finest!


Allister gets knickers in a twist

It seems that Jim Allister is rather upset with British Secretary of State, Peter Hain. Jim has accused Hain of being overtly pro-nationalist. Jim Allister claimed Hain found it impossible to wean himself off a nationalist agenda.
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I wouldn't call locking up Sean Kelly for no reason, discriminating against Sinn Féin and pandering to DUP whims as the actions of a man who has a Nationalist agenda.

He is the British Secretary of State for goodness sake; he is a member of the British government. If he has stopped taking the typical British action of appeasing rejectionst Unionism then I welcome that. That said no one should be under any illusions in relation to Peter Hain, he is no friend of Irish Nationalism.

The MEP told party colleagues in Newtownstewart, West Tyrone: "Peter Hain among unionists is fast becoming as distrusted and despised as Mo Mowlam, who was the last Secretary of State so overtly pro-nationalist"

Which translates as, Mo Molam didn't take any of our shit!

"Indeed, all the signs are that he finds it impossible to wean himself away from a nationalist agenda,"

Which means that equality rather than naked sectarianism and discrimination is the order of the day

"First, they hope that by heaping upon us increasingly unacceptable manifestations of Direct Rule they will soften us up to the point where we will meekly accept the failed Belfast Agreement structures as being better than Green Direct Rule"

The DUP said they would be happy with Direct Rule, that doesn't seem to be the case.

"Second, making unionist politicians appear impotent in the face of unpalatable concessions spreads disillusionment, diminishes the unionist vote and thereby serves the Government`s purpose of facilitating the nationalist solution."

This means that they are not getting their wish list and they are pissed. The so-called "concession a day" or equality and fairness to everyone else has not stopped. They told the Unionist electorate that it would but it hasn't and rather than accepting that their own lack of leadership has led to the disaster that Unionism finds itself in they are blaming the Brits.

"Remember this Government is pledged to legislate for a unified Ireland if only the majority would acquiesce."

I am sick of hearing this crap about the majority not supporting a United Ireland. The sooner we have a border poll within the confines of the GFA the better. Let's see how tenable their majority is.

That's when the proverbial shit will hit the fan!

I firmly believe that it will not be Sinn Féin who flicks the last switch to light the United Ireland Christmas tree but it will be the DUP which hammers the last nail in the coffin that is the "Union".

Petty minds, petty people

More anti-GAA bigotry to report unfortunately as a row has erupted over plans to hold a civic reception for the Armagh ladies side which lifted the All Ireland Junior title earlier this month. Craigavon Borough Council's plans to celebrate the girls' sucess have descended into controversy due to what the SDLP and Sinn Féin claim is the insistence of Unionist councillors that the players agree to stand for the British National Anthem. (Sorry I couldn't find a link that didn't require a subscription.) Could you imagine the furore if a Nationalist controlled council insisted that Amhrán na bhFiann be played at all civic recpetions. The Armagh ladies have produced a statement expressing their sorrow that their celebrations have been tainted by this row. Those responsible for this ridiculous pettiness should grow up.

1916 Parade is Back

I'm glad to see the Fianna Fáil have made the decision to re-introduce a military parade on Easter Sunday to commemorate the brave men of 1916. The Easter Rising is something for the whole nation to be proud of and it is good to see Fianna Fáil attempting to re-discover its Republican roots. We must celebrate our past as well as looking forward to a shared future.


Losing his grasp on reality

I see Clonard Monastery has understandly reacted furiously to the disgraceful allegation made against them by Willie Frazer who now claims that the priests in Clonard have "blood on their hands" with regards to the formation of the PIRA. It seems Mr. Frazer has lost the run of himself completly and since the man is so fond of running to the law when it suits him, perhaps Clonard Monastery could give his lawyers a defamation suit to worry about.


South Africa hails Adams

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will make a formal address to the South African parliament in Cape Town tomorrow.
Confirmation that parliament has been formally convened to receive Mr Adams came on the first day of the West Belfast MP's official visit to South Africa.
Mr Adams is visiting South Africa at the invitation of Foreign Minster Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. The Sinn Féin leader was received by minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils and police commander Robert McBride at Johannesburg International Airport.
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The Irish ambassador Gerry Corr hosted a lunch and reception for the Sinn Féin president.
Following this reception, Mr Adams held top-level discussion with members of the African National Congress executive committee at the organisation's Luthuli House headquarters

Sinn Féin has long had a close relationship with the ANC and this is just one example in the differences between Unionism and Irish Republicanism.

What international influence does Unionism has?

Unionism's siege mentality is a mirror image of the former apartheid regime and of Israel.

It is time for Unionism to open the doors

FAI act as Kerr-minator

I see brian kerr is not to have his contract renewed as manager of the Irish soccer team. While Brian was a decent and honest man, i honestly don't feel he was cut out for the role and recent results more or less sealed his fate. The big question now is who will the FAI choose to replace him? martin O'Neill is the favourite with the bookies and I think he would be an excellent choice, however the fact that his wife is battling cancer may rule the Derry man out of the running. if you fancy a flutter, Paddy Power ranks the runner and riders like so.

Allowances restored.

Sinn Féin are to have their assembly allowances restored, it has been anounced after today's IMC report. While of course these announces should never have been suspended in the first place, this must be seen as a positive step forward and away from the failed policy of attempting to criminalise Republicans.

Lies- Damned Lies!

It seems that that rag which passes as a newspaper - the Sunday (we'll print anything as long as it bashes the Shinners) Independent has been exposed once more. On Sunday the following article was printed.

GAA honours Irish Hitler

Even the GAA's enemies-and there are a few of them out there-could hardly have dreamt this one up.

It turns out that the O'Duffy Cup,awarded to the All-Ireland Senior Camogie champions,is named after Eoin O'Duffy,Irish Fascist leader and self-proclaimed'third most important man in Europe'after his heroes Adolf(Hitler)and Benito(Mussolini).

Somehow the Fifth Column doubts that Juventus would be all too happy if they found the prize for winning the Italian soccer league was a Benito Mussolini Cup.But in Ireland,it is obviously still OK to name a top sporting prize after a fascist who had his supporters give him the one-armed salute amid cries of'Hoch O'Duffy',a man still hero-worshipped on Neo-Nazi websites.

But then of course there is still the O'Duffy Stand at the GAA ground in Clones.Clones even has an O'Duffy St.Surely Monaghan has enough local heroes to name streets after without using its local wannabe Hitler?

OK.So O'Duffy was a star organiser for the GAA in the 1910s.But in the Thirties he was also a Garda Commissioner who tried to organise a coup to stop de Valera winning power.And he was willing to become Ireland's Quisling if the Nazis conquered us in the Forties.You'd think he'd be the last person the GAA would want to have a cup named after.

Of course the GAA will probably say it is only commemorating his work for Gaelic games,not his politics.If so,then why doesn't it have an Edward Carson Cup too?After all,Carson tried to set up a hurling club before the GAA was created,and played the game.Or is it OK to name a prestigious cup after a fascist,once they were a Catholic nationalist one,but not OK to name one after a unionist,even one who played hurling?

Jim Duffy

Now before we get the usual GAA bashers jumping in with their tuppence worth, there is one very important fact which has been overlooked. Firstly of all the comagie association is not technically part of the GAA, but far more importantly- the cup IS NOT NAMED AFTER GENERAL O'DUFFY. rather it was named after a Sean O'Duffy and presented for the first time in 1932. Camogie President Miriam o'Callaghan was forced to ring Sportscall, an RTE radio programme earlier in the week in order to correct the mistake. Shame on those who allow these lies to be printed.


Get your facts right!

I see the DUP are up in arms once more over the suggestion that Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil may have Nationalist sympathies. To make a big deal out of this is ridiculous as it has been common knowledge for so long. After all, Fianna Fáil have always been known as Fianna Fáil - the Republican Party. Of course some of us have accussed them of paying only lip service to their Republican creditentials but a United ireland has always been a part of Fianna Fáil policy. Gregory Campbell is showing his ignorance with these silly comments.

A wee break

I am writing to let everyone know that I am taking a few days off from Balrog. I have a few personal problems to sort through before I can even think about blogging. I am sure that Paddy will be in and out but until I sort my head out I will not be blogging.
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Just before I go I would like to inform Balrog readers that Balrog is and will remain a designated Smoking Area.

I raise my Southern B&H to you all ;)



McGrady's ignorance shines through

I see McGrady has yet again proved his ignorance to the world at large. He had tried to attack CRJ after he likened many of the projects to kangaroo courts. This could not be further from the truth and shows just how out of touch with reality McGrady has become.
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"In South Down and elsewhere, the particularly Sinn Féin political party has been engaged in setting up committees in communities gathered throughout the constituency, quite frankly as a basis of an alternative to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and also I would argue very strongly as a measure of sustaining an element of control over the local community"

"Sometimes they result in punishments"

They NEVER result in punishments, that is not what CRJ is all about.

Sinn Féin South Down assembly member Caitríona Ruane described McGrady’s attack as "a smokescreen because the SDLP was presented with the choice of continuing to fight for a new beginning to policing or accepting less, and they accepted less"

"They know they have done wrong, and the communities are very clear that they [the SDLP] have failed in terms of negotiating"
"Eddie McGrady’s misrepresentation of CRJ is part of that smokescreen. CRJ has been subject to evaluation from groups like the Department of Social Development and, in local neighbourhoods, the Housing Executive and other groups like the Probation Board accept and approve of CRJ’s efforts"
"What we’re saying is that we need a policing service that is accountable and representative, which we don’t have at the moment, and that we also have Community Restorative Justice. The two are very, very different,"

As someone who has engaged in CRJ training I know that McGrady's comments are an outrage, he is of course using this as a smokescreen.

CRJ is about community empowerment; it is about finding solutions to problems that both parties can live with.

No room on the plane.

Ryanair have caused a storm by refusing to allow disabled passengers onto a flight. Disability group Scope have subsequently called for a boycott of the sirline. It will interesting to see if Ryanair's claim that their policy is line with other airline's is true. Personally I see this as a sad reflection of our current society where the euro/pound/dollar is king and the rights of others are trampled on if it is convenient to do so. Such a backward view on those with disbilities belongs firmly in the last century.

A sad tale

I'm saddened to see that both the Vatican and the Gardai have been indicted for failing to deal properly with the issue of clerical child abuse in Co. Wexford. I've often heard it said that on the things which most enraged people about clerical sex scandals was the cover ups that were involved. Those evil perverts who shamed the priesthood and Catholicism in general should have received no help whatsoever. They were only a small minority amongst the vast majority of decent good people in the priesthood but the evil deeds which took place deserve punishment.

Catch a grip Willie!

I see Willie"me and mine are whiter than white so we are"Frazer has made an official complaint to the RUC/PSNI and wants Fr Reid done for "stirring up hatred".
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According to the News Letter he is the man "who was on the recieving end of Roman Catholic priest the Rev Alec Reid's Nazi insult to unionists"

If Fr Reid's comments were an insult to Unionism in general then they can't have been directed at Frazer in particular.

It seems he was accompanied by his legal representative, DUP MLA Arlene Foster. Foster has said that Fr Reid should be prosecuted under the Public Order (NI) Order, Article Nine.

It states: "A person who used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour... is guilty of an offence, if a) he intended thereby to stir up hatred or arouse fear, or b) having regard to all the circumstances, hatred is likely to be stirred up or fear is likely to aroused thereby."

Obviously he did not intend to stir up hatred or fear so that is out. I am also unsure as to whether he fulfils part b of article nine.

Am I the only one who is disgusted by this development?

He we have a nut job who causes hatred in the Nationalist and Republican community by just opening his mouth and then we have the hypocrisy of the DUP on this issue.

As for extreme clerics, look no further than Paisley.

I do not expect Fr Reid to be either charged or convicted of this offence, he is a man of integrity something neither of these two are.

This situation has the potential to inflame the Nationalist and Republican community.

Whats the point of this?

It seems likely that the DUP are about to get their first members of the House of Lords. Ian's wife Eileen and Belfast mayor Wallace Brown are amongst the likely candidates. Now my views on the DUP are more than clear but there is a wider point here about whether the House of Lords should even exist. Having studied British constitutional law, I quickly became of the opinion that the House of Lords and indeed second chambers in general serve no useful purpose. If they are not elected, they are an affront to democracy, if they are elected then what is the point of having two elected chambers in competition with each other? Personally I would be in favour of a single elected chamber, safeguarded by an all encompassing and codified consititution. Disband the House of Lords!


Lets get things in perspective.

Is anybody else amazed by the furious reaction to Fr. Reid's mistimed comment? Fr. Reid made an error of judgment when he compared Unionist treatment of Catholics to "the Nazi treatment of the Jews." But lets be very clear - what Fr. Reid said was an exageration rather than a complete mistruth. His "outburst" was made while under severe provocation from the supposed victim in all this- Willie Frazer. Only one week ago, Mr. Frazer said that if Loyalist Paramilitary memebers "come as individuals they're more than welcome" when referring to his "Love Ulster" Rally.

Who is the real bigot out of the pair? One man has dedicated his life to achieving a peaceful solution in the north, the other calls Loyalist Paramilitaries onto the streets. One man's misjudged comment caused offence. That is regrettable but the other comment has the potential to cause actual violence. It is clear to me that Mr. Willie Frazer has no right to claim any moral high ground over Fr. Reid.

Fair play Father!

I would like to congratulate Fr Reid for having the guts to stand up to Unionism. He is a man who will not be told what to say or think and I admire that. The Unionists are of course trying to use his recent comments on Unionism and the Nazis as an excuse for not sharing power with Sinn Féin. Come January these excuses will not hold water.
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Fr Reid conceded that it was possible IRA members out to feather their own nests could be involved in criminality because every organisation could have individuals prepared to go to such lengths.

However, in the programme broadcast on Thursday night, he said he did not accept the IRA was a criminal organisation.

"The whole spirit of that would be a betrayal of the whole meaning of the republican movement," he said.

There are very few priests who I admire and like but Fr Reid is certainly one of them.

This man is entitled to his beliefs as much as anybody else, who does Unionism think it is to start lecturing people.

Court system still biased against Republicans

I see that there is still no chance of Republicans receiving fair and equal treatment under the law in the 6 counties. Liam Shannon, Chairman of the Felons club had his gun license revoked because, well because he is Republican!
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Liam was initially granted a firearms certificate for a shotgun and 250
cartridges after he became a member of a clay pigeon club.

But the certificate was revoked by the Chief Constable after Liam applied to have it extended to a .22 Theoben rifle.

His appeal to the Secretary of State was dismissed after police claimed he "associates with members of the PIRA"

I wonder how many DUP and UUP members has their gun licenses revoked, after all they sit down and chin wag with Unionist death squads on all sorts of Parade Forums.

I know I had similar problems when I applied for a gun license; In fact they laughed in my face and said I had no chance.

It is clear that this is not justice, it is discrimination against Republicans.

What a waste of money!

I see that the Stormont Assembly has cost the tax payer £70 million since it was last put into suspension. This is a ridiculous waste of money and I lay the blame for it squarely on the shoulders of the intransigence of Unionism. Devolution does have a value but we can not allow Stormont to act as nothing more than a disposal bin for money which could be put towards valuable resources. Devolution needs to get up and running soon. The first step is meaningful negotiations between all sides and the sooner the DUP realise this the better.

Still some snakes left in Ireland

It seems St Patrick didn't manage to get rid of all of the snakes and one has just wriggled out from under his rock. Michael McDowell has claimed that there is clear evidence that the IRA did the Northern Bank robbery.
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I intend to challenge that bit of detective work by McDowell.

"There`s clear evidence now that the IRA did the Northern Bank robbery and all the denials and all the people who said that they went back and checked out the story and that it was untrue and all the Army Council members who spoke in public and said there was no truth in it, now they are getting their comeuppance."

Where is this clear evidence?

I understand that it wouldn't be presented in public but had they any "clear evidence" you are guaranteed that they would be telling people what they have.

Commissioner Conroy said: "I am satisfied at this stage of the investigation that we will show the money recovered during Operation Phoenix is part of the takings from the robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast."

What utter rubbish!!

The forensics that were carried out on the money found at the RUC grounds, the only confirmed money from the robbery ever found, came back as positive very quickly. How long has it been since the money was found in Cork? Months

If they had forensics they would have announced it a long time ago, they are bluffing.

In conclusion, there is no clear evidence to back up McDowell's ridiculous claim and after the Colm Murphy case will anyone be prepared to take the word of the Gardaí as absolute?

I know I won't


The **** hits the fan!

I see Fr Alec Reid has sent the cat amongst the pigeons but claiming that Unionists treated Catholics in the 6 counties the same way the Nazis treated the Jews. He said that "They (Catholics) were not treated like human beings. It was like the Nazis' treatment of the Jews,"
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I really do hate when these sort of comparisons are made as I think they devalue the cruel treatment that the Jews received at the hands of the Nazis.

Were Catholics treated like animals? Yes!
Was there widespread discrimination? Yes!
Was this down to the pure sectarianism of the Unionist state? Yes!

Were Catholics in the 6 counties treated the same way as the Jews? No!

I will however have no truck with the likes of Frazer who is nothing more than a bigot and an arsehole who has absolutely no support and who hasn't got a clue what he is saying half the time.

Please, let's move away from these unhelpful statements about Protestants and Nazism.

Should this current crop be persecuted because of the sins of their parents? No!

If we do not find a way of resolving the sins of the past then we are doomed to repeat them.

Time to make the Swiss roll!

I wait with much in trepidation for the match this evening. Will we do it? My heart says yes but my head says no. We are without our two best players, Roy Keane and Damien Duff. I thought from the start that Kerr was not the correct choice as manager, as Roy Curtis said "He's more conservative than Thatcher"
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There is nothing we can do about that now but the simple fact remains that our squad is not as strong as it once was. The players are just not there and if we play the way we played the last match we will be kicked out of the match after 20 minutes.

We should have already qualified because we should have beaten the Israelis on both occasions and on both occasions the manager got his tactics wrong.

Here's hoping we can do it tonight because all we have is hope

P.S. This is Balrog's 600th post

Durkan, an apologist for British Securocrats

That is the view of many Nationalists and Republicans and has been articulated by Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin. Mitchel accused Durkan of sour grapes and said "For the most selfish party political reasons Mark Durkan is regurgitating tired and unfounded propaganda lies and myths peddled by British securocrats"
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"Margaret Thatcher's criminalisation policy failed in 1991 and despite the SDLP's efforts it will not succeed in 2005.

"The SDLP still find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that the majority of nationalists and republicans endorse Sinn Fein including our position on policing. Their resentment is the real reason for their singular focus on Sinn Féin at a time when loyalists and British securocrats are attempting subvert the peace process"

I don't usually post about the same issue more than once unless it is important and given some of the ridiculous comments and analysis on the other thread I feel I must make this clear once and for all.

Our position on policing has nothing to do with any fantasy "IRA criminal activity". Republicans want and need a proper policing service but what we have at the moment falls far short of that.

As a police service they are woefully inadequate, they have limited accountability and the same cops who were involved in Collusion in the past are still there now.

I know staunch SDLP voters who disagree with the SDLP on policing, which is why Martin Morgan asked his party to reconsider their position on policing.

As a Republican, living in a Nationalist/Republican area I have seen no new start to policing and that has been the experience of most Nationalists and Republicans. If people can't accept that then they are living in Never Never land.

We will not accept less on Policing just because some stoop apologist demands that we do, we take our view from our voters and they have spoken.

We will never accept the cosmetic changes that the SDLP have, we demand real change.


Sinn Féin must support RUC/PSNI

That is the "ultimatum" given by head stoop Mark Durkan. According to Durkan "Either they are for the law or they are for crime. Either they are for policing or they are for criminality."
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Mark Durkan seems to have forgotten a few things, Sinn Féin is the majority Nationalist/Republican party in the 6 counties and the Nationalist and Republican community agree with our assessment on Policing.

I would like to ask Mark a few things

What has really changed following the few "image and name" changes to the RUC/PSNI?

Special Branch is still there, The Policing Board is still only a talking shop and the RUC/PSNI remains a totally ineffective policing force with little or no support from within the Nationalist and Republican community.

What happened with the Plastic bullets Mark?

The SDLP may have accepted less on Policing but we will not and we don't take ultimatums from people such as you

Wake up and smell the coffee Mark, your party is nothing more than stooges for British policy in the 6 counties.

More talks.

I see the two governments are meeting in Downing Street today. Republicans will be hoping that this meeting is the first step by Blair and Ahern in attempting to move along the momentum in the peace process created by the IRA initiative and subsequent decommissioning. Republicans have lived up top their commitments, now so must the governments. As Gerry Adams pointed out last night;

There are a number of things that need to happen and on which the two governments have already made commitments - the political institutions need to be restored, the British government need to come forward with legislation on policing and justice, the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission need additional resources and powers, northern representation for all MPs - nationalist, unionist and republican - in the Oireachtas and the completion the process of demilitarisation. There is nothing new in any of this -- these are issues which are at the core of the Good Friday Agreement which was signed seven years ago and they have been at the core of every negotiation since then. They must be delivered now

I agree with Mr Adams' position completly. Progress on these issues is both overdue and necessary.


Remove Securocrats from ARA

That was the message from Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy

Conor called on the two governments to remove securocrats from within their respective organisations who are intent on abusing their power in an attempt to destabilise the Peace Process.
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"It is very clear that the ARA raids in Manchester last week were politically motivated and based entirely on innuendo, spin and malicious briefing. It had nothing at all to do with recovering the proceeds of crime.

"The media were conned with reports of £30m property portfolios, IRA links and thousands of documents seized"

"There is a clear responsibility on the two governments to sack those securocrats responsible for using their positions in organisations like the ARA to undermine the peace process. Such individuals not only undermine the political process but also undermine public confidence in the impartiality and ability of groups like the ARA to properly carry out the important job of seizing criminal assets."

Correct and right, how can Nationalists and Republicans be persuaded to join up to any policing arrangements when this sort of activity continues unchecked.


Can we unite for unity?

I see Mitchel McLaughlin has called on all parties who want a United Ireland to join forces and make it happen. This is something I am very glad to see Mitchel advocating. While I have my differences with the likes of Fianna Fáil and the SDLP, I do think it is important that, despite our differences, when it comes to securing a united Ireland that a united front is found. There are many issues on which pro-United Ireland parties can work together, though we do not have to agree on every single issue. Hopefully we will soon see such a relationship develop. There is strength in unity!

Lucky Ireland

World Cup Qualifiers tonight and Ireland just about kept their hopes alive with a lacklustre 1-0 win against Cyprus away. The first half performance was described by Eamon Dunphy as the worst Irish performance in years and few would be fit to disagree with them. Shay Given was the hero of the hour and Stephen Elliot was one of the few outfield players to emerge with any credit. Still a win's a win but Ireland are going to need a huge improvement to have any chance of beating Switzerland on Wednesday and winning a play off to reach the finals in Germany.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland were beaten 3-2 at home by Wales and England secured their finals berth with a 1-0 victory over Austria combined with a Dutch victory in the Czech Republic.

I knew it!!

I read with horror the news that a FLYBE plane from Belfast to Liverpool had to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Belfast City Airport. The aircraft was diverted to Belfast International Airport and landed with one engine out.
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I'm telling you, forget the RA; FLYBE want to be stood down!

I travelled on that exact same route with FLYBE in April when we attended the NUS conference in Blackpool and it was like flying in a large tin can with match sticks propelling us.

Scared the f****** shit out of us coming back

Up and down, left and right!

I know the flights are cheap but it is worth paying extra for some things in life

e.g. your life


New era, same dirty tricks!

I see the ARA have conviently searched 250 properties in Greater Manchester worth an estimated £30m and have claimed these properties are linked to the IRA. All of this occurs within a time when Paisley and the Dupers are fast running out of excuses to share power with Nationalist’s and Republican's. Already we hear the noise from under the rocks that this may cause problems for the restoration of the institutions.
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I have too much respect for my own intelligence to place any credence in these baseless claims.

I remember the incident at Stormont, at Castlereagh and the Northern Bank

Has any proof been given for any of the previous incidents?

Any convictions?

Should I have any reason to believe that this is anything else than a smoke screen for rejectionist Unionism?

No, I should not!

UPDATE Conor Murphy slams ARA, he said his constituent Thomas Murphy was being unfairly accused of being involved in criminal activity.

Tracks being laid for a United Ireland

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said that the 100 billion all-Ireland Infrastructural investment programme over the next ten years, highlighted by IBEC, should lay the foundations for constitutional reunification.
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The 100 billion will come directly from the Irish Government and the Strategic Investment Board. The time bound investment will focus on the development of an all-Ireland integrated transport network and energy and communication systems and focused through a spatial development plan for the whole of the island.

Mitchel also said that "Planning for Irish unity is already underway. Minister Seamus Brennan has stated that united Ireland would make a 'wonderful economic, social and cultural unit'. He's right but people don't want it to be a 32 County Rip-off Republic"

I also welcome this initiative as it is long overdue. Too many naysayer's and rejectionists have tried to use the cost card as a way of stagnating progress towards a United Ireland. The cost argument is an argument that must be won and this is an excellent start. I also favor a Unity fund with a certain percentage of GDP being put aside to cover any costs that will be incurred when this island is united.

If it becomes clear in 20 years that there is no support for a United Ireland, not bloody likely, then that money will be a lovely nest egg for the government to use.

Progress has an objective and a destination, this train is an express and there is no stopping it now

Choo, choo!!


Unionism in meltdown

I see that the utter chaos that has engulfed Political Unionism for the last few months is becoming fatal. Jim Gray, a one time UDA commander has been shot dead in East Belfast. This to me has a cloak and dagger feel to it, wasn't he supposed to have 24 hour police protection?
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Anyway, I only found out about it when I tuned into Spotlight.

To hear the member of the Orange Order speaking was a sight to behold, the mask well and truly slipped there. Any notion that the OO was a religious and cultural organisation is gone, I question if it ever was. The IRA initiative seems to have been the biggest blow to Political Unionism; it has left the Siege mentality in hyper drive and their political leaders licking the floor in a fit of rage and irrationality.

Political Unionism can't handle peace; it can't handle the new situation.

The bogeyman is gone and soon working class unionists will see them for what they are, a failed relic of the 19th century who can't and don't want to provide leadership for their community.

Do working-class Unionists who vote DUP or UUP actually think these Malone road types care about them or their areas?

I firmly believe that Sinn Féin can provide a far better voice and leadership for these communities, if they will let us. For these communities to raise themselves out of the hole they are in they will have to do a few things.

Throw off the shackles of a failed ideology, what has being a Unionist and a loyal son of the crown done for them?

Has it helped their children get a better life, a life free of drugs and poverty?

No, the cycle of inequality is constantly perpetuating and this cycle of fear, mistrust and hate will only have one outcome in its current context, oblivion!

I call on working class Unionism to take a leap of faith for future generations, join with us in making a better country and community for us all.

There is one sure thing; political unionism is on its last crawl to a death it was always going to endure once the Empire threw it aside, a relic of a forgotten era.

Don't go down with the sinking ship; get out of the headlights befo

No regret

I see that a political storm has developed over Conor Murphy's comments in the CHAMP debate at the Conservative party conference. It follows Conor's remark that he did not regret the Grand Hotel bombing at the time as it was part of a war. He said his only regret was that people had been driven to violence.
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I do think it is time for people to be realistic about these things. Republicans, while glad and supportive of the peace process are not about to turn into hypocrites in relation to this issue about past killings and bombings.

Republicans are not ashamed of the IRA or the armed struggle in which they engaged in. Terrible things happened and the IRA have already apologised to all the non-combatants that were killed in that phase of struggle.

That said the Grand hotel bombing was an attempt to wipe out the British government, a government that was engaged in the occupation of the 6 north eastern counties of our country.

Republicans will not be ashamed for being republicans

SDLP need to think before they speak

According to RUC/PSNI stooge Alex Attwood the British government should call "Sinn Fein's bluff" on policing in the 6 counties and introduce legislation allowing for the transfer of justice powers to a future administration at Stormont.
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What Alex fails to fundamentally grasp is our position on Policing

When Patten is FULLY implemented we will DISCUSS policing. That does not mean that once Patten is implemented that we will support the policing structures on this part of the island.

The SDLP may have accepted less on policing, we will not!


Equality/Sectarianism DUP style

It seems that Willie McCrae and the DUP have demanded a major financial package solely for Protestant areas. According to Willie "It is clear that the severe deprivation of the unionist community has been overlooked by government and must be addressed with the relevant financial implications it brings."
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I agree that many Unionist areas do indeed suffer much deprivation and require urgent assistance. The problem many Unionist areas have is that they do not have the relevant structures in place to receive money from agencies like the LSP. As a member of a few community and resident groups/forums I can attest to the absolute bureaucracy that is entailed when you go to apply for funding from any of the relevant statutory agencies.

Most of it is totally unnecessary and can lead to areas that need it the most benefiting the least because they can't fill out a form properly.

That said what the DUP are proposing is funding on the basis of religion rather than need and that is something that should be attacked at every opportunity. That is not what tackling genuine social deprivation and advocating equality is about.

It should come down to a question of need and not religion.

Fast running out of excuses

I see the DUP have again tried to change the goalposts with regard to a restoration of the political institutions here in the 6 counties. According to Nigel Dodd’s the absence of "terrorist" and "criminal activity" alone will not qualify Sinn Féin for government.
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So let's get this straight

The IRA are disarmed, have stopped participating in "terrorist" and "criminal activity" and the DUP will still not enter power sharing with Sinn Féin?

It is fast becoming clear that it has never had anything to do with the IRA; they just don't want to share power with taigs!

The DUP know that they are fast running out of time on this issue, if they will not play ball in January then I would suggest that the British government will take that ball off them through the Review of Public Administration.

Joint Authority is almost an established fact, if the British Government were to create 7 councils this would rob the DUP of any power what so ever

The stakes in this poker match seem to be getting higher and higher and the DUP's bluff could see them and Unionism losing big time!


I see that certain Loyalists dropped even further into the depths of depravity yesterday when they saw fit to threaten to desecrate Catholic graves at a Graveyard ceremony. This "protest" was designed to do nothing other than intimidate local people from praying for their dead relatives. The local priest had actually cancelled the initial ceremony earlier this year in a bid to lessen tensions but it seems there are those who are determined to forward their secterian agenda of hate. Shame on them- they contribute nothing to society


McGurk reveals the real picture

Tom McGurk is really on the money when he rubbishes the DUP suggestion that pictures would have proven that IRA weapons were gone for good.
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"Since the IRA's final act of decommissioning, no interviewer has yet chosen to ask the DUP the obvious question: if you, as a member of the DUP, had been allowed to view the decommissioning process and even to bring a film crew with you, how would you have found proof that the IRA had decommissioned every weapon?

The answer, of course, is that there is no way of proving such a thing, either you accept that the republican movement is for real or you don't."

100% correct, pictures were about Paisley's attempt to make republicans don the old "Sackcloth and Ashes".

Sorry Ian but no Republican will ever do that!

Sinn Féin moving the agenda towards Irish Unity

I read an excellent article in today’s SBD about the relationship between Sinn Féin in coalition and the ambiguity that some political parties in the South hold towards Irish Unity.
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"Certainly, it has long been the policy of all parties and successive governments that the Northern problem wasn't just ‘their' problem, it was ‘our' problem, too - and that problem did concern us ‘down here'.

That consensus is now fracturing. In that sense, the row over Sinn Féin's participation in a putative future government is more about fundamental attitudes to the North than simple coalition mathematics.

Southern attitudes to the North have long been shrouded in ambiguity"

I wonder why though that not a single political party in the South has come out and said

We do not want a United Ireland!

The simple answer is because they would be flamed by the electorate. If there was meaningful support for partition in the 26 counties at least one party would be raising this.

I am glad that this debate is now beginning because it is long over due; it is time to put up or shut up so to speak. Apart from Sinn Féin there is no other political party actively pursuing Unification with any sort of rigour.

Fianna Fail claim to be "The Republican Party" but as Conor Murphy informed John O'Donoghue, their republicanism stops at the border!

DUP found wanting in leadership stakes

That is the headline in a SBP story today. I have to admit that while not surprised I am slightly disappointed in the leadership shown by Unionism's largest party to the IRA imitative.
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I understand that many Unionists are sceptical about the IRA's new modus operandi but that does not give its Political leaders the excuse to neglect their responsibility.

Let's just look at Republicans

Does anyone honestly think that Republicans actually wanted the IRA to put their weapons beyond use?

Republicans have made sacrifices for this process and that seems to have been forgotten. What is constant however is the ever dependable vision that the Sinn Féin leadership shows. They are able to keep a movement together whose members have their disagreements on issues but who accept the will of the majority and saunter ahead in to uncertainty.

The Sinn Féin leadership have never shied away from making hard decisions be that Alex Maskey’s participation in wreath laying at the Cenotaph or calling on the IRA to step aside in the interests of peace and progress.

That same leadership is sadly lacking in the DUP, it is about time they stopped swimming in the pond of sectarianism and rejectionism and joined the rest of us.

It is up to them to give hope and leadership to their community.

The DUP will have hard choices to make in the time ahead.

Increase good but could be better.

I welcome the news that the minimum wage for workers in the north is to rise to £5.05 an hour and £4.25 for 18 to 21 year olds. Having worked for the minimum wage I can assure you that it really isn't a lot, for example a minimum wage worker can easily find an hours pay gone simply by buying lunch. Any increase should be welcomed and as the Unions point out; "Every year miserly bosses say any wage boost will be at the expense of jobs, but every year their predictions of doom and gloom fail to materialise." Let's hope that our society never forgets about those surviving at the cut throat end of the economic scale.


£100k? This shouldn't get a penny!

I see from the Irish News that Unionist Councillors in Belfast have voted to hand £100,000 of public money to Loyalist secterian bonfires. To me, this exposes the worst elements within Unionism. Recently we have seen various Unionist leaders complain about how Loyalist areas are underfunded and poorly resourced. Surely then this money could be better spent than on a bonfire where secterian actions are regularly on show such as burning tricolours, burning nationalist election posters and worst of all- burning effigys mocking Catholic suicides.