Loyalist Parade to clash with Best funeral

I think its a real pity that the Apprentice Boys have found themselves unable to reschedule their proposed marches in Belfast on Saturday. The matches clash with the funeral of soccer legend George Best. Around 500,000 are expected to gather in and around the Stormont estate for the funeral of the former Northern Ireland footballer. Nationalist residents have cancelled their protests scheduled for Saturday but despite the appeals of former unionist Lord Mayor and leading Orangeman, Jim Rodger, the Apprentice Boys have refused to consider a rescheduling. Previously I have paid tribute to the Apprentice Boys for entering into constructive dialogue but I feel they have missed an opportunity here to gain a lot of good will. With only 30,000 to be allowed onto the actual Stormont estate, things are going to hectic on the streets of Belfast on Saturday. Organisers could have done without this extra headache.

England 1 Germany 0 - or is it?!

To lighten the mood a little, I thought I'd have a look at the EU's proposals to install one language as the official main language of the EU.

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z", and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords Kontaining "ou"and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in Ze forst plas.

Blogger nua!

Feicim go bhfuil blogger nua ag "Slugger O Toole" (Go raibh mile maith agat - Maca) Cathal O Foirreidh an t-aimn ata air agus tá tús maith deanta aige go fóil. Adh mhór, an fear agus tá súil agam go mbeidh tú in inmhe an teanga a chur chun cinn i measc daoine nach bfuil suim ar bith acu i ngaelige go fóil.

Just not good enough

A very interesting article from the Irish Examiner exposing the shameful extent to which the current Irish government has ignored the health concerns of the nation. I'm sure the vast majority of readers will have had cancer touch their families in some way, shape or form. We all know what a terrible, wasting disease it can be, even more tragic when it hits somebody young. How then can the government possibly defend having only ONE cancer specialist amongst a population of 500,000 in the Cork/Kerry region. As the article points out, the people of the region have 21 TDs but only one cancer specialist. There's something badly wrong with the balance there. The article goes on to inform us that;

What the doctor (Dr Seamus O’Reilly - the sole oncologist in the Cork/Kerry region) had to say reflected the abominable treatment by the Government of cancer patients who were forced to suffer pain at home because they could not access hospital beds.

Patients were also placed in inappropriate wards because of the lack of a specialist unit.

It was also pointed out that because of the failure to roll out BreastCheck in Cork and Kerry, cancers took longer to diagnose.

The situation is so grim for 500,000 potential patients in the region that three consultants have already resigned because cancer services are so badly underfunded.

Fairly play to the TDs who were threw out of the Dáil on Tuesday for making a protest about this disgusting state of affairs, however belated the protest might have been. Its only a few weeks since Martin Ferris was also ejected from the chamber for bringing to light the disagraceful state of affairs in a Kerry hospital. Something needs to be done about the provision of health services in the Munster region in the near future.

The current state of affairs is a damning indictment of this FF/PD government and its complete lack of concern about the health and welfare of the population.


More arrests

I see there have been more arrests in connection with the Northern Bank raid. Strangely one of the men arrested is an employee who took part in a BBC documentary on the raid a few weeks after the bank was robbed. Presumably this programme was sanctioned by the PSNI.

Why then would a Police Service allow someone who they felt might eventually need to be arrested take part in a such a programme?

It is becoming increasing apparent that the PSNI are running around like headless chickens with regards to this investigation. They were so busy jumping to politically motivated conclusions that they paid little attention to the small of actually investigating the offence.

On another small note, when describing the stolen money, the BBC refers to money in Cork which was suspected, but not proven, to be part of the raid. But why have they ommitted to mention that the only money found which was scientifically proven to be from the raid was discovered in an RUC sports club?!


Young people being priced out of the market?

Susan Mitchell has a look at the issue of house prices in the 26 counties. She seems somewhat spcetical of the Econmists' claim that house prices will fall by 20% in the next 5 years. This is a very important issue for a lot of young people given that any decent house in Dublin these days will cost the guts of half a million euro. Young people are being left with one of two options - rent or don't live in Dublin which isn't a great option considering the percentage of the nation's jobs which are settled in the capital.

I'm far from an economist but, like most people, I hope to own my own house eventually so this is an issue which interests me. According to the article, house-owners have made more than 300 per cent in nine years. I just hope that in future house owning does not become the preserve of only well to do people in the 40s and 50s. Personally I prefer the notion that houses are homes rather than in investments. The issue is whether prices are about to take a dip. Some economists would suscribe to the theory that "What goes up, must come down" but the article disputes this revealing that;

economists have predicted six of the last three recessions!

SDLP MLA attacked

I'm sad to see that the home of SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey has been attacked by lowlifes once again. Mr. Ramsey has been targetted many times in the past and it must be very traumitising for his family, espicially his five year old daughter. there seems to be policy of targetted certain SDLP members numerous times in order to intimidate them. I don't know who these people are but they are completly in the wrong. They have no support amongst the community and should stop their hateful activities immediately.


St Galls are Ulster champions

I was delighted today when the final score of the AIB Ulster Club Football final was announced, St Galls winning 1-8 to 0-8 against Bellaghy.
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I was particularly delighted for John Rafferty and Kevin McGourty, knowing both men well. It will be a huge lift for Antrim football and the higher the bar is set the better as it can only be a good thing for Ulster football.

Ulster's position as the dominant province of Gaelic football must be guarded and reinforced.

Well done St Galls!


All Stars Named

The GAA interocunty season reached a glittering conclusion tonight with the annual Vodafone All Star awards. Congratulations to all 30 players named as All Stars and particular congratulations to Stephen O'Neill and Jerry O'Connor who were named Footballer and Hurler of the year respectively.

It was nice to see three men from my own county Armagh receive awards. These were Andy Mallon, Paul McGrane and Stevie McDonnell. Aaron Kernan of Armagh was also named as Young Player of the Year It was particularly gratifying to see Paul get an award as he has been a mainstay of Armagh's side for many years and is a superb midfielder and a model to any young footballer. Hopefully as he begins his time as County Captain, he will manage to get his mitts on Sam Maguire next September!

As always the selections were controversial and there were notable absentees such as Ross Munnelly, Brian McGuigan and Paddy Bradley. Players from only 3 counties (Armagh, Tyrone and Kerry) received All Stars and while I would have included a few from other counties, it does show the extent to which these three counties have dominated Gaelic Footbal recently. Tyrone's 8 is the largest number by any single county since Kerry scooped 9 in 1981.

Durkan cynically using the victims of State Collusion

I am sick and tired of listening to Stoopus Maximus on the issue of the OTR legislation and his new found support for the Collusion issue. Let's get something clear from the off, the stoops don't give two fucks about the families of those who died through State Collusion.
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The evidence shows the SDLP for what they are, shameless opportunists!

-In the 1980's the SDLP denied that there was a Shoot-To-Kill policy

-When the issue of Collusion was first brought up by Sinn Féin the SDLP described it as 'republican propaganda'

- I know from An Fhirnne members, a body that represents over a 100 families of British State collusion that they have been asked to participate and have not bothered their arse

-When an unarmed republican was shot dead by British State Forces in Downpatrick the local SDLP MP expressed his satisfaction

-The SDLP ignored the relatives of those killed through state violence when they lobbied MPs at Westminster and MLAs at Stormont

-The SDLP members of the Policing Board have abjectly failed to deal with the issue and in particular those PSNI members who were centrally involved in collusion

-Their lack of action in response to the passing of RUC/PSNI files on 400 republicans to loyalist death squads

-Hugh Orde investigated 20 cases of serving RUC/PSNI officers for prosecution, what happened to these prosecutions now that he is Chief Constable? What have the SDLP done about this issue on the policing board?

This crap about Sinn Féin not caring about the victims of State Collusion is insulting to people’s intelligence; let's not forget that our party members and supporters were the primary targets of State Collusion.

Free State SDLP cheerleaders may buy this tripe but I don't and neither do the families involved. They see the SDLP "conversion" for what it really is, shameless gutter politics!

Where was the SDLP when the shit was hitting the fan and these people were being murdered? When the families lobbied for justice where was the SDLP?

Martin McGuinness put it best "Mark Durkan is using the victims of state violence as political footballs to try and score cheap political points against Sinn Féin instead of confronting the British government on their policy of collusion and cover up"

"Sinn Fein will continue to support the victims of collusion and state violence as we always have done"

The levels to which the SDLP will stoop to appear relevant are endless!

An error of Judgment

I see that certain blogs and many commentators have been cock-a-hoop this week at the news that Sinn Féin have suspended the Mayor of Dungannon Francie Malloy from the party due to remarks he made during the week expressing his displeasure with Sinn Féin’s support for the seven council model announced earlier this week. Francie has even been getting support from Unionist councillors. Many people are trying to manipulate this situation in order to attack Sinn Féin. I’m certain that Francie will know better than to pay too much attention to these fair-weather friends.

My own view is that Francie made an error in judgement this week. I disagree with him on the council situation as I think seven councils will be more efficient. The changes will not result in a “sectarian headcount” any more than the current councils do. They will hopefully produce more effective governance. Talk of repartition strikes me as exaggerated in the extreme.

People have been quick to condemn Sinn Féin as not tolerating dissent. This is not the case I know myself that debate in encouraged within the confines of the party. I have taken part in debates on policy with other party emembers and we often disagree on certain issues. But, as Francie himself knows, there is a tradition that debate and dissent should be welcomed but left behind closed doors. Unfortunately Francie neglected to respect this tradition this time. We all make mistakes – Francie is a good man and has done more for Republicanism than the likes of myself are ever likely to achieve. Although currently suspended, I am hopeful that the matter will soon be resolved and Francie will be back doing what he does best- representing his electorate as a Sinn Féin councillor in Tyrone

McDowell gets away with it

I see Michael McDowell has managed to squeem his way out of the libel charges brought against him by the editor of the Daily Ireland newspaper, Mairtin O Muilleoir. The law does not allow proceedings against somebody who was acting "on behalf of the government". I can understand this ruling but it says a lot about McDowell considering he saw fit to mock Mr. Muilleoir with the taunt `see you in court' when in reality the Daily Ireland were denied their day in court. Mr. McDowell's comments about the newspaper were disgraceful and show the man in his true light.

A waste of Paper!

I see Lord Laird is coming up with his usual nonsense. His current claim is that the Stormont regieme which ran the six counties with a bigotted Iron, Unionist fist was in fact not sectarian at all! Laird accuses the Southern government at the time of in fact being much worse than its 6 county counterpart. This particular bit of rubbish sums up how blind Laird is to the sad facts of his party's history;

An interesting point, often overlooked, is that the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 - under which the Stormont Parliament was set up - made any legislation passed by the new parliament illegal if it discriminated against anyone on religious grounds.

The facts are that the first act placed on the Northern Ireland Statute Book that allowed religious discrimination was the Police Act of 2000 which dealt with police recruitment. To allow this to be passed the Government of Ireland Act had to be repealed in 1998.

The position, which any lawyer knows, is that Stormont was not and could not have been sectarian.

Laird goes on to ridicule the Irish parliament. Now I freely admit that Irish politics at the time was far from perfect but to claim that the Dáil had a more sectarian outlook than Stormont is simply wrong. Unionists often claim that the lessening of Protestant numbers after the 1920s was some sort of ethic cleansing. This is a vicious lie which must be countered at all times. Protestant numbers fell simply because the amount of mixed marriages rose and children tended to be rbought up Catholic. Whatever the rights and wrong of this system, it is far from an enthic cleansing.

Simply the Best

As Mick Fealty eloquently puts it, today is a sad day for followers of Manchester United, Irish soccer or indeed sport in general. George is on the brink and it is only a matter of time untill the inevitable happens and George passes on. Many will miss the man but I suppose for most of us the memories are of the footballer. I never saw George play live but there's no doubt having seen the footage that he was quite simply the most gifted footballer this island ever produced, the best player ever to play for Manchester United and one of the greatest the world has ever seen. George had his demons and his flaws, but don't we all? It is his talent which will be the abiding memory.

Update - George Best died this afternoon. May he rest in peace.


Bigots forced to change

I was pleased to learn that Lisburn City Council has been forced to change its stance on at least one equality issue. It has reversed its decision to ban same-sex couples from holding civil registration ceremonies on council property.
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Gay activists had threatened legal action against the unionist-dominated council when it introduced the ban last July.

It was hardly surprising that both Sinn Féin and the SDLP opposed this ban, it is rather indicative of what Unionist controlled councils are up to.

The Review of Public Administration has showed up one thing at least, no matter what structures we have we need stringent equality legislation to protect minorities.

This is a welcome development

Re-appraising the GAA

A very interesting from Jarlath Burns which focuses on the GAA and its relationship with Unionism. Many Unionists are outwardly scathing towards the GAA but, as the article tells, often the crys of the minorty mask a feeling of interest from the silent majority. Personally I've always noted that the amount of Protestants who watch and follow the GAA is much greater than many may think. Jarlath is a hell of a decent fellow and the points he makes are very salient. I hope readers take the time to read and divulge them and hopefully take his concerns on board. Catch some of the debate on the issue over at Slugger!


The price you pay for intransigence

Unionism still seems to be learning lessons the hard way. Unionism is going nuts over the new reforms to Public Administration. The new proposal for 7 super councils has led to Unionist fury at the British government.

There have been calls of "Balkanisation" and accusations of this being a "sop to Sinn Féin" . This however is the price that it will pay for its intransigence and its failure to enter into dialogue. Unionism has said that it will be very happy for direct rule to continue, this current situation suggests otherwise. It would seem that the British government has drawn a line in the sand, it will no longer be dictated to by its former colonists (Spongers).

If Unionism is genuinely angry at being left out in the cold in relation to consultation then it has to learn one very simple lesson.

The Unionist veto is a thing of the past!!

Nationalists will no longer be treated as second class citizens and your refusals to enter into dialogue with the largest Nationalist party is a slap in the face for Nationalism.

This place can only move on through co-operation and mutual respect, when you acknowledge that times have moved on and when you accept that equality and justice are the order of the day then perhaps we will be able to move on.

If not, then enjoy your "Direct Rule"

You have definitely earned it

DUP to meet Loyalists

I see the DUP are looking to meet with the Loyalist Commission in order to discuss the problems in Loyalist areas. Now personally I welcome this move as I believe dialogue is neccessary to resolve problems however it does expose the hypocrisy of DUP thinking. On the one hand they are willing to meet the head of the Loayist Commssion which houses both the UDA and the UVF (both of which have been reponsible for murders this summer), yet they refuse to enter into negotiations with the democratically elected representatives of the Nationalist community. Double Standards - the DUP do it best!

Partition is Over!

So its official and the worst kept secret in politics is out for good now. It's going to be seven councils for the north with a maximum of 50 councillors each. Now a lot of people have expressed reservations about this shake up. One of the worries has been a loss of local identity but having looked at the new proposals personally I don't think this is a problem. To be honest my own council will now give me more local identity as the parition of the great county of Armagh has ended and our comrades from the north of the orchard county are to have the honour of being rejoined with their southern cousins! Personally I never identified with "Newry and Mourne."

Councillors will also be barred from holding both a council and MLA seat. This is also to be welcomed as councillors will now have more powers and probably a greater area to serve and therefore it is important that they are not distracted from their work by double, or even triple, mandates. I also hope that since planning powers are to be returned to councils, we will have an improvement on the disgraceful situation at present where it is almost impossible for farmers to get planning permission on their own land for their children to build a house. If this situation is not rectified soon I fear that many young people will have to leave the areas their families may have inhabited for generations.

These changes are hoped to save £200 million a year and if this money is put into public service in the 6 counties then I believe the changes will be more than worthwhile.


Congratulations St Galls

I would like to congratulate St Galls after they beat Down side Mayobridge in a "hotly" contested Ulster Club Football Championship semi-final yesterday. I know a few of the boys on the team and in fact one is a regular drinking buddy. I also know the manager very well, former Armagh player John Rafferty or Raffo as he was always called.
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The poor man had the unenviable task of being my PE teacher in the Abbey and we almost came to blows on several occasions due to fact that we are both as thick as a double ditch. John is a sound bloke and a good manager and I hope that both he and St Galls win next Sunday as it will be a good result for Ulster GAA.

The fact that they beat a team from the enemy county yesterday is just a bonus

St Galls face Bellaghy next Sunday in Omagh in what promises to be an excellent final

Irish Passport Office possibility for Derry

I am delighted to learn about the possibility of an Irish Passport office in Derry, apart from the job opportunities it also shows that the Irish government is living up to its responsibilities and is taking into account the rights of its citizens in the North.
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Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness has said that he is confident that the campaign for an Irish passport office in the north will be successful in the very near future.

Excellent news!

One award ceremony you don't want to win!

I see the Orange Order are attempting to go upmarket by introducing the "Orange Oscars" of all things! Unconfirmed rumours report that Dawson Bailie is hot favourite at the bookies to collect the most prestigous award of the night - "Great merit shown in the field of hatred of Catholics"


No more elections?

I think Blair's just gone a little too far this time.... (hat tip Frank O'Dwyer!)

Bigots - Any Minority will do!

Unfortunately there's more bigotry to report in northern politics and, you've guessed it, its a member of the DUP who's responsible. DUP councillor Maurice Mills has made the outrageous claim that homosexuals were responsible for the devestating huricane in New Orleans. Mr. Mills claims it was a punishment from God. Now I don't know the particulars of Mr. Mills' personal faith but I certainly don't believe that there is a God reeking havoc and revenge on people in such a manner and I don't think anybody who understands true Christian principles would agree with such a view.

Trade Union leaders have rightly condemned Mr. Mills remarks in the strongest of terms saying that they could lead to hate crime and indeed murder against the gay community. Far from ebing repentant, Mr. Mills has gone on to claim that the AIDs epidemic in Africa is God's punishment for homosexuals in that continent. Such levels of bigotry and ignorance are astonishing. In recent weeks the DUP have been accused of bigotry towards homosexuals, women and the disabled community. It seems they are branching out from the mere anti-Catholic bigotry they are renowned for!

The day the music died............

I got one of those "you'll remember where you were when you heard this news" text messages today referring to the retirement from Manchester United of soccer legend and former Ireland captain Roy Keane who has left the club by "mutual consent" although rumours abound that the Corkman was actually sacked. While Keane certainly had his faults, the fact remains that during his twelve and a half years at the club, Keane produced performances worthy of the tag of best midfielder in the world. Of course people will remember the bursts of temper and the incident in Saipan (during which I think Keane was in the wrong, incidentally) but to concentrate on the flaws would be unfair. My own personal abiding memory of Keane is during the European Cup Semi Final of 1999 when even though he knew for much of the match that he would miss the final, Keane inspired Man Chester United to overcome a 2 goal defecit to claim their place in the Champions League final. For Ireland, his two commanding performances against Holland and Portugal in Dublin during 2001 were phenomonal, even if the campiagn did end in frustration for Keane personally.

Portsmouth have declared an interest in signing Keane although Celtic are rumoured to be his preferred choice. Speculation will of course be rife that the FAI could be tempted to offer him their managerial post though personally i think this is unlikely, although there's more chance of that than Keane heading here!


More cracks begin to show in DUP

Following on from the recent controversies surrounding Paul Berry and Rhonda Paisley one of the "DUP old guards" has thrown his two cents into the pot. Former Belfast Councillor Rev Eric Smyth said he was very unhappy with the current position the DUP is taking.
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Rev Smyth also said that many others are unhappy

"A lot of the old guard are very unhappy, it’s no longer the party they joined. They just don’t know what’s going on"

"Look at Stormont, most of the boys up there are not old DUP, they are all Ulster Unionists who could not get places until they joined the DUP"

"I’m not happy with the direction the party is moving in. I’m glad I got out when I did."

A serving DUP councillor in the greater Belfast area who spoke to Daily Ireland shared Rev Smyth’s concerns. The politician who insisted on not being named said there were deep divisions within the party

Now I wonder who that might be ;)

The cracks are beginning to show and they will only get deeper as time goes on.


Newry and Mourne Councillors to fight!

It has been revealed that all 14 Nationalist and Republican councillors who are accused of "wilful misconduct" are to appeal to the High Court. The move comes after the Local Government Auditor found that 17 councillors who barred "victims' group" FAIR from using Newtownhamilton Community Centre in 2000 were guilty of "wilful misconduct".
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According to the News Letter "The auditor now requires all 17 nationalists to repay £11,000 legal costs, a move which would automatically bar them from the council for five years"


The councillors are not automatically barred from office unless their individual surcharge exceeds £2,000 and in this case it doesn't.

I do wish that news papers would do some research before they try and peddle tripe.

Sinn Féin Group Leader Terry Hearty said: "We believe we have a strong case. We acted correctly as elected members of the community in the interests of the community."

There is a very strong case Terry and our councillors, yourself included, are going nowhere!!

QUB told that Collusion is not an illussion

There was a well organised Anti-Collusion protest at QUB today, in relation to the policy by Queens to allow advertising space to both the RUC/PSNI and the British army on open access computers within the University.
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QUB Ógra Shinn Féin organiser, Andrea O' Kane said "this demilitarisation protest organised by young republicans within the University shows the opposition and disgust felt at the British army’s recruitment drive and charm offensive within our campus. The British army are an illegal force of occupation and should not be permitted to cover our University campus with their posters and recruitment advertisements. A university should be a neutral environment free from offensive literature and posters that only serve to promote an atmosphere of exclusion and segregation."

She continued "Considering that the policy of collusion orchestrated at the highest ranks of the British Army resulted in the murders of innocent Irish men and women including students at this university, we can not allow this PR drive and charm offensive to continue. The British army have no right to be in Ireland never mind our universities. We will continue our campaign over the next few weeks raising awareness through postering, letter writing and lobbying the university."

This move by QUB contravenes their own Neutral working environment policy and breaks the University statutes. We are calling on the University and the Registrar, Mr. James O Kane, to take immediate action on this issue.

Our Cumann is named after a party member, Sheena Campbell, who was killed through Collusion by British Crown forces and Unionist death squads.

Young Republicans don't forget and we will not allow the University to forget either!

And this time its personal!

I see the DUP have become embroiled in another equality controversy. Fresh on the heels from the news of Paul Berry's upcoming disciplinary action for the crime of... well being Gay it seems, new action accusing the DUP of being sexist is fortcoming. (Also being discussed on JoBlog and Slugger) The twist in the tale is that the lady taking the suit is none other than Rhonda Paisley, daughter of party leader Ian. Since the DUP wouldn't know the word equality if it jumped up and bit them in their collective faces, nothing surprises me anymore. Talk about a disfunctional family!


Republicans' lives "under threat"

I was concerned to learn that the RUC/PSNI has warned dozens of republicans that their lives are under threat from Unionist death squads. It comes after the discovery of a document believed to have been taken from a British Army office in the Castlereagh security complex last year. More than 20 British soldiers were transferred to other duties while the investigation into the missing document began.
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Alex Maskey, Sinn Féin MLA for the area said "This development is clearly of concern to the people involved directly, their families and the wider community in the Short Strand,"

"It has been well over a decade since such a large number of republicans were visited in an operation like this in the city"

The question must be asked, how much does the RUC/PSNI know about this?

We all know that Loyalists are ridden with touts and that they are controlled by their handlers.

A very worrying development!

Co-operation makes sense

Glad to see Mary Harney is in talks in Belfast today to devise an All-Ireland solution to the problem of cancer treatment. It is ludricrous that epople suffering from cancer in counties like Donegal should have to travel to Dublin when there are facilities available only a short hop across the border. I would hope that all sections could benefit from this type of logic and that epople across the island would receive the best possible health care, no matter what side of the border it is on. On these sorts of issues, all-Ireland co-operation is not about politics, it is about common sense and saving lives.

1985 - Why did they bother?

I see a bit of debate has developed on the blogosphere to co-incide with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Now while I pride myself as being quick to catch on, at 6 months of age I'll to not having been troubled by the arguements at the time but in the last year or so thorugh Univeristy, I came to study the document quite closely. My reaction was simple, what was all the fuss about?! To me, the document offered Irish nationalists very little. A mere consulative role for a Fine Gael free state government was hardly worth Unionism getting so worked up over. And the agreement failed to address one key point. By ignoring the "extrememes", they were never going to simply go away. Making peace is about getting everybody, however difficult it may be, involved and willing to negotiate and attempt to solve their differences. Its just a pity we had to wait to 1998 to see it happen.


Exposing the PDs for what they are.

Excellent article from Vincent Browne in yesterday's Sunday Business Post where he points out that not only have the PDs gotten the dates wrong for their 20th anniversary but that also their oft-made claims over the weekend of having made a positive influence on Irish life and the Irish economy are a myth. Browne sums the PDs up well when he points out that;

The reality is that they have had almost nothing to do with our economic success.

They and their coalition partners have presided over the most massive waste of public funds in the history of the nation, and they have sponsored and celebrated grotesque inequality.

An even more serious indictment against them-which on its own, should consign them to disgrace and political oblivion, and for which they should never be forgiven - concerns the citizenship referendum of 2004.

Browne focuses his criticism on the referendum on citizenship on 2004. Rightly he condemns it as a opportunistic stunt by Michael McDowell in order to use the racist card to boost the PD vote. While unfortunately the referendum was passed, at least the voters in 2004 told the PDs where to go. At the next General Election, Harney and McDowell deserve to hear the same message.

DUP - nowhere to go

I see the DUP have continued their immature, dated and obstruction approach to politics in the north by refusing to talk part in talks with the British and Irish governments today. It seems that since the IRA decomissioned its weapons in September, the DUP no longer have a bogeyman to rely to avoid sharing power and so, like the spoilt brats that they are, they have decided to take a huff and refuse to play with the big boys! The sooner that the DUP realise that their negative attitude will get no-one, Nationalist or Unionist, anywhere, the better.


Stating the obvious

I see PD leader Mary Harney has seen fit to waste a few minute's of journalists time and her own breath by ruling out being part of a coalition with Sinn Féin after the next election. You needn't have bothered, Mary. Sinn Féin have absolutely no intention of being part of a government where right wing, anti-working class policies are the norm. Sinn Féin believe in standing up for the working class people, the PDs take their orders from big business. They are an incompatible pair and Sinn Féin cannot support the PDs in government although unless Mary can improve on her pathetic 2% in the council elections, there'll be very few bothering to knock at her door when it comes the time to look for coalition partners.


M15 hit Red Devils?

Strange news from the Premiership this morning as it seems that last Sunday somebody manged to bug Manchester United's dressing room during their crucial game with Chelsea which United won 1-0 thanks to a Darren Flethcher goal and a miraculous performance from stopgap midfielder Alan Smith. It seems amazed that people were capable of doing this although who knows what Abrahimovic's millions can buy! Didn't do Chelsea much good on the field though!

On another sporting theme, I got a hold of the new GAA game for the playstation 2 last night and it was great to finally be able to play my favourite sport on the Playstation. The graphics on the game are superb and stadiums across the country are recreated on the screen almost perfectly. The gameplay is decent although not top class. However gaelic football is a difficult game to recreate in this format and I think the producers are on the right track. The most dissapointing feature is that none of the players' names feature in the game due to a failure to reach an agreement with the GPA (Gaelic Players Association). Still Gaelic Games: Football 2005 is a welcome addition to my house!

SDLP don't have a clue

I see the SDLP have been attempting to make political capital out of the collusion issue by claiming that the new OTR legislation will hurt the victims of State Collusion. What sheer arrogance from Durkan and his cronies. If the SDLP had paid a blind bit of heed to the anti-collusion groups over the years they would know that the families have little interest in seeing people in jail, all they want is to know the real truth behind what happened to their loved ones. As An Fhirinne member Robert McClenaghan points out;

The SDLP has been on the Policing Board for the last number of years.
In that time, they have failed to raise the issue of state collusion with Hugh Orde or Desmond Rea.
In fact, they are responsible for ensuring that those who now hold senior positions within the PSNI and who were involved in the mass murder of citizens have remained unchallenged and still in place.
The SDLP has been deafeningly silent on the issue of collusion. We, the families, have asked them for help on a number of occasions to meet with us but so far they have refused.

This is gutless exploitation and twisting of the issue by the SDLP. Their desperate attempts to achieve relevance again are falling way short.


Doesn't even care

Another day, another example of DUP hypocrisy. This time Ian Paisley Jr has reacted with stunning indifference to threats made against anyone in Ahoghill who dares to be seen wearing a GAA jersey. Mr. Paisley described the threats as "difficult to take seriously." Now I bet that if it had been a threat against anybody wearing a Rangers or Northern ireland jersey he would have taken it seriously!

This is a disgusting reaction to disgusting threats, espicially when you consider the amount of secterian attacks this community, and others in Mr. Paisley's consitiuency, have had to suffer.


On the run again.

I see British Army killer, Tim Spicer has shown himself once more to be too gutless to face the mother of the man he murdered 13 years ago. Jean McBride, who has tirelessly campaigned on behalf on her murdered son had threatened to confront Mr. Spicer who in turn pulled out of the conference. As Mrs. McBride put it;

“He didn’t have the courage of his convictions. He has slandered Peter and the people of New Lodge by suggesting they spirited away a phantom explosive device and I am going to remain a thorn in his side,”

Good luck to the McBride's in their worthy campaign.

No one is safe from their bigotry

Once more the bigotry of the DUP is exposed as they refused to support an important motion on disability at Ballymoney Council simply because it was put forward by Nationalists. The motion called on the council to adopt the Barcelona Declaration to ensure that the rights of those with disabilities were properly taken account of. This is in line with the British and Irish governments and 400 councils across Ireland. But however laudable the sentiments in the motion might be, the DUP still prefer petty sectarianism. I hope any DUP voters with disabilities have a long think about the choice they made at the last election.

Fair play Liz!

I don't think I have ever congratulated a PD member before in my life but I am about to. Progressive Democrat TD Liz O'Donnell has launched a scathing attack on the Catholic Church during a Dáil debate on the clerical sex abuse scandal in Ferns.
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The Dublin South TD accused the Church of acting like a secret society by operating under its own laws and codes.

She said bishops colluded to protect priests accused of child sex abuse and attempted to implement a cover-up when details were eventually made public.

She said the cosy relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish State had to end and also said the Government should examine the Catholic ownership of national schools around the country.

This is a very dark cloud that has enveloped the Church and my scathing criticism of the church is not the usual Anti-Catholic bashing that I have been accused of in the past.

I am a Catholic, I don't attend mass and I have serious issues with a few of the Churches policies but that does not alter the fact that I am Catholic. I was an alter boy growing up and it was an experience that I enjoyed immensely, in fact I would go as far to say that I was happier and closer to god at that time than at any other period in my life so far.

I come from a very conservative Catholic family and by this I mean my wider family circles. I have aunts and uncles who disapprove of girls being alter serves but it is always a proud moment for any Catholic family when they see their child up on the alter "serving the church". The priest is always god so to speak and you do what he says. I have never had any problems with any priest in that way before. I do disagree and dislike a few of the priests that I know but it has nothing to do with child abuse, it is to do with their 18th century attitude towards the parish.

What these scumbags, I refuse to call them priests after what they have done to children, have done to children is the worst possible thing that a person could do to a child. They have stolen their innocence and they have stolen their soul for their own sick, depraved pleasure!

The Church has let down these children very badly; they have moved these priests and allowed them to abuse more children. This is the most unforgivable part of this tragedy.

The Church held a pivotal role in Irish society, their rule and their word was absolute. They neglected their responsibility and instead of standing up for the victims and the good priests, and there are many, they choose to shelter these perverted bastards of the cloth!

I hope this blow to the Church is not fatal but only time will tell.

The Church should be on its knees begging forgiveness from these children because they abandoned them.

They were supposed to protect them and instead they abandoned them and protected the filth and that is what is the hardest to comprehend

Burglaries 'cost Irish households €60m every year'

I read with disgust the news that Burglaries cost Irish households almost €60m every year, according to a survey published today by Eircom Phonewatch.
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I know what it feels like to be burgled as I was burgled. It isn't the stuff that it is stolen that annoys you; it is the fact that for a while your piece of mind is also stolen. There is no doubt that it changes you as a person and it leaves you very angry. To know that someone was through your stuff and touched your private belongings almost contaminates them.

These sorts of people are the filth of society and it really, really annoys me when old people are burgled as they are the most vulnerable.

I am a supporter of Tony Martin, if a piece of scum enters your property to either steal from you or to harm you then all of his/her rights are forfeited.

It is open season on the filth!

They know the consequences before they do it and they must live with those consequences, or not as the case may be.

Exposed once more.

Fascinating article from Susan McKay in the Irish News (via newshound) which highlights some of the shocking tales to come from the new book written by ex-RUC CID member Johnston Brown. Once more RUC collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries and the cosy relationship which existed between the two is exposed. Brown tells of the mistreatment he suffered at the hands of his collegues becuase he didn't toe the RUC party line and realise the simple tenent of Special Branch life - Prod good, Taig bad.

According to Brown, every "every fifth or sixth person in the UVF was a police or MI5 informant." Brown confirms that it was with the compliance of the British security forces that the UVF went on their secterian rampages.

By the time Special Branch had finished with 'X', he was taking life after life after life. When we brought his murderous activities to the attention of our CID authorities, they assured us they had often made the Special Branch aware of them.

Rarely have I agreed so wholeheartedly with a piece of journalism as I do with the final line of this article;

That means the Inquiries Act of 2005 must be repealed. The sinister arena must be emptied and razed to the ground. Otherwise, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and his successors will continue to be haunted by the 'force within a force' and its 'dirty war'.

These demands are an absolute minimum for many Nationalists and Republicans before they can consider lending support to the PSNI.

OTR legislation revealed

I see that legislation pertaining to "On-The-Run" cases has been revealed, the proposals cover up to 150 people. They would have their cases heard by a special tribunal, and if found guilty would be freed on licence without having to go to jail.
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This legislation does not just pertain to republicans, it also involves Crown forces.

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness said "We have to see all of this as part of a bigger picture... the peace process has transformed the lives of people in the north"

"What is the sense of people being pursued whenever everybody knows that as a result of the releases under the Good Friday Agreement they are not going to spend one day in prison."

I understand that these proposals will be painful for very many people and I believe that Republicans need to show sensitivity on this issue. That said I do believe that this was always going to happen as we have moved into a new period of conflict resolution on this island.

I support these proposals.


I'm disgusted to hear of 13 migrant Eastern European workers being left stranded on an island by an unscrupulous employer. To treat workers in such a fashion is appalling and no doubt the employer only did it simply because these people were foreign and he/she thought they could get away with it. This is not the first time migrant workers in Ireland have been treated in such a shoddy and spiteful manner. I have always said that the Irish people should extend the hand of welcome to migrant workers, just as our forefathers decades and centuries ago would have liked to have welcomed. Sean Crowe TD is entirely right to call upon further measures to be taken to stop this disgraceful exploitation.

Ferris speaks out

I see that Martin Ferris was thrown out of the Dáil last night as the government refused to address his concerns about the state of the health service in Kerry. The conditions which Mr. Ferris described were absolutely appaling;

"There were at least 50 patients waiting to be seen. However there was no consultant available as he was at a meeting. There was only one doctor there and a relief doctor was due at 4pm, and even that was uncertain. There were only four nurses to cope with all these patients who had been waiting several hours. Many had been there for up to five hours.

"But what I saw next was the most appalling of all. I met a lady of 74 years of age lying on a trolley in the corridor. She told me she had been there since 11:30pm on Sunday night. This was at 3pm on Monday afternoon."

This sounds more like a third world nation than a supposedly rich and developed country. Shame on those who have presided over such a shameful state of affairs in Ireland's health service and fair play to Martin for doing his best to bring this disgraceful situation to the public's sttention. The people of Ireland deserve better than this. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

El Tel?

It seems Terry Venables could be the man Ireland turn to as they search for a manager to take over from the debacle that was the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. Personally I was in favour of Martin O'Neill or David O'Leary but after these men ruled themselves out, I suppose the list of quality contenders was somewhat limited. Venables did well with England in 1996 and indeed was unlucky not to win the European Championships of that year. His record in club management is mixed and getting Ireland back into a position to qualify for major championships could be his toughest job yet. Opinion is divided on whether he is the right man for the job and it should be noted that we have nothing but speculation so far based on betting trends. Whoever takes over, I just hope they realise the magnitude of the job that faces them and are willing to invest the time, energy and passion needed.

UPDATE - the money on Venables seems to have dried up to some extent and he is now back to Even money (still the favourite mind). According to the bookies its now a straight fight between Venables and ex-Ireland captain Steve Staunton. While I have the greatest for respect for Steve, I'd say Venables' wealth of experience might sway the decision towards him.


Talking to the Dead?!

Most of us feel very attached to our mobile phones but is our obsession really that great that any Balrog reader would consider getting buried with their phone?! It seems that an increasing number of people in Ireland are choosing that very option. I suppose its up to the individual but its certainly one number you don't want to be receiving a call from!

Cowardly acts

Another disgusting attack on the home of an SDLP councillor last night. I have no idea if it was Loyalists or "dissident" Republicans involved but it does not matter- these people are lowlifes whose arguements are obviously so poor that they are forced to express them via petrol bombs. Fair play to Mr. McMenamin who is refused to allow these people to intimidate him from his work.


Berry's Lawyers cause storm.

I have to admit to being surprised by the furore that has developed over Paul Berry's hiring a solicitor who has been used in the past by Republicans. Surely the man is entitled to use whatever legal representation he wants? Now, as I have stated before, I have little sympathy for Mr. Berry's current troubles given his previous attitude towards Nationalists and Republicans but the very fact that he is facing a disciplinary trial seemingly for no other reason than having partaken in homosexual activity surely shows that the DUP can never be taken seriously as a modern, open-minded party. I do realise that Mr. Berry's actions are hypocritical given his background, but if being a hypocrite was cause enough for explusion for the DUP, there'd be nobody left in the bloody party.

As per usual, Willie "only Protestant victims are innocent" Frazer has stuck his nose in where it is not wanted claiming "This is a terrible insult to the people Paul Berry is supposed to represent, so many of whom have lost loved ones to the IRA's bombs and bullets." This gives a excellent insight into the thinking of the likes of Frazer. To his mind, Republicans, or anyone suspected of being a Republican, is scum, a low life and not entitled even to legal reprensentation to fight any case made against them. And the worst is, these are the people who claim to love their British democracy, laws and legal system!

Equality in action

I'm glad to see that the people of Derry have begun to take a mature, responsible and even-handed appraoch to Remembrance services with the news that both the Irish tricolour and the Union Jack were flown at a remembrance service in the city on Sunday. The whole issue of remembrance can be unnecessary divisive and despite the best efforts of many in the past, Unionists too often use this time of year as a chance to shove their identity down the throats of others. I have no problem with the Poppy so long as it is granted parity of esteem with the Easter Lilly, just as I have no problem with the Union Jack so long as it has the same equality and respect as the Irish tricolour.


Bertie Ahern is a "real" Socialist!

I laughed when I read this piece, the "gospel" according to McCreevey. According to Charlie McCreevey Bertie is one of the last few genuine socialists in the country. Bertie Ahern is a supposed Socialist and yet he has formed a government with the most right-wing, anti-working class and pro-business party in the country?
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I personally believe this clap trap is an insult to people’s intelligence, Bertie Ahern has lead this country into a situation where the gap between rich and poor is one of the biggest in Europe. He presided over the Celtic Tiger which made the rich richer and the poor poorer. He has allowed the property market to become a feeding ground for leeches and has priced first time buyers and people of low income out of the market. The need for social housing has never been greater and we have a two tier health system that favours the rich. His government believes that some working class mother who does the "double" to feed her family is a criminal yet his friend Ray Burke was just unfortunate.

Do people honestly buy this Socialist crap from Bertie?

Socialist my arse!

Short changed!

I suppose at some stage we all feel like we've shelled out hard earned money for something that was poor value (textbooks spring to mind). But spare a thought for the poor eejit who paid £8,000 for a dinner date with former Ulster Scots chief, Lord Laird! I just hope the overseas businessman chooses somewhere away from SOuth Belfast or he'll never be fit to get Laird away from protesting at the bi-lingual ATM machines!

DUP and democracy? Oil and Water!

Although the issue has been well covered on various other blogs, I thought I might as well add my comments on the row over the election of the DUP's WIlliam Wilkinson to Ballymena Council following the death of the SDLP councillor Margaret Gribben. Now as you all know, my political sympathies aren't exactly in tune with the SDLP but in this case, I believe they have been treated disgracefully and have every right to be enraged over the subversion of democracy by the DUP. Only 6 months ago the electorate in this ward voted for 3 DUP councillors, 1 UUP and 1 SDLP. Therefore it is clear that this is the DEMOCRATIC wish of the people in the ward. However due to the rules governing PR-STV elections, obviously any election with only one seat will be won by the DUP. The DUP have, in effect, stolen the seat and I am glad that the SDLP have chosen not even to enter the contest since to do so would only only Mr. Wilkinson some semblance of democratic credibility which he does not deserve.

The duplicity of the DUP on this issue can be clearly seen through the words of their MLA for the area Mervyn Storey who claims that "the SDLP are afraid of losing and believe that, in some way, they should be immune from the electorate."

Of course the SDLP will lose but the point is that on the grounds of the initial and proper election 6 months ago, they fairly won their seat.

Storey goes on to accuse Nationalists for wanting the DUP to pull out of elections altogether. What utter nonsense. All Nationalists want is for the DUP to respect the will of the people as demonstrated in May.

It is clear that a system of co-option is needed for councillors like what is in place for the assembly elections where, for example, Bairbre de Brún was replaced as MLA for West Belfast after her election to the European Parliament. Such a system would be much fairer than what has happen here. Most parties have acted with dignity and common sense, the DUP have not. Should we really be surprised? Mr Wilkinson may "Love Ulster" and be a member of "FAIR" but he certainly doesn't love democracy nor act with a sense of fair play.



Seeing as most of the stories in the media today have been flogged to death on this site already I would like to look at our Health care system. Many political parties view Health as the poison chalice as there is a group of thought that Health will never be solved to the public’s satisfaction.
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I don't view it that way and when Sinn Féin does eventually enter Government in the 26 counties I think that Health is a post that we must take. Everyone knows that there are hard choices to be taken in relation to Health but no one seems to have the balls to take them.

We have a two-tier Health system that favours the rich and that is not my idea of equality or good government.

The Medics in the Heath system only make up 15% of the people employed, almost 85% are "managers" and other leeches that do bugger all but increase red tape and suck the recourses out of the Health care system.

Our Health care system is an upside down pyramid with the vast majority being pen pushers and only a small minority actually caring for people. The problem has got that bad that many view privatisation as the only option. Privatising any section of the Health care system would be a total disaster.

We need to make difficult decisions and the number one priority needs to be "cutting the fat" in relation to the bureaucracy. Most of these people are viewed as the untouchables but what exactly do they offer the Healthcare system?

We need more Doctors, Nurses, and Psychologists etc!

We do not need more managers!

We need a proper pyramid in Health care where the majority of workers are medics and the minority are pen pushers.

We need to cut junior doctors more slack and we need to punish greedy consultants who bleed the health care system of recourses and systematically work for the private sector as well.

The south is coming down with money and they don't know what to do with it so what do they do? They squander it!

What are people’s views?


The Order of Skull and Bones

As some of you may know I am intrigued by secret societies. As a member of Sinn Féin I am banned from membership of any secret society, not that I would want top join one in the first place. That said I find the whole concept fascinating and I believe it is the secrecy that gives them their mystique. I have already looked at the Freemasons and would now like to look at the Order of Skull and Bones.
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This Order was founded at Yale University in 1832 by William Huntington Russell and Alphonso Taft, two students who were not admitted into Phi Beta Kappa at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Skull and Bones Tomb was rumoured to hold Geronimo's skull, which inspired Native American activist and Apache chief Ned Anderson to try to force a search and a DNA test. He would face many obstacles. As a Yale student in 1918, Prescott Bush, former Connecticut Senator, father of President George H. W. Bush and grandfather to President George W. Bush, had dug up the skull himself with two other students from its federal burial ground at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and presented it as a gift to the fraternity.

Both John Kerry and George W. Bush are members of Skull and Bones. Bush refused to talk about their common membership in the Order of Death during his February 9, 2004 appearance on NBC's Meet The Press.

In another interview, when Kerry was in turn asked what could he reveal about Skull and Bones, Kerry said: "Well not much, because it's a secret... Sorry, I wish there was something I could manifest..." and then quickly changed the subject.

Any thoughts?

New start to policing? What new start?

I see the RUC/PSNI has once again exposed itself for what it has always been and will always be, an unaccountable, Political, Unionist Force with no interest in the rule of law or justice in general. I am of course referring to the ridiculous political expeditation that the RUC/PSNI has engaged with regards to the robbery of the Northern Bank and this recent crop of ridiculous arrests.
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I hear that one of the men arrested is bringing an action to the Police Ombudsman. Brian Arthurs, a former POW, said “This has been terrible ordeal for my family. I deny any involvement in the Northern Bank raid.

“Over the last six months, my name has begun appearing in various newspapers, claiming I am a senior IRA man, even a member of the army council and the link man with General de Chastelain on decommissioning. All nonsense.

“I regard this as a process of police victimisation through the media.”

He added: “On the morning of my arrest, (yesterday) the police arrived at 7 (am) and within two hours reporters were outside the door. I believe they were tipped off by the police.

“The beat on the door, they terrified my children (aged 8, 14 and 17) and handcuffed me in front of my family.

“The police stayed in the house for five hours. They took away 39 bags of our property, every scrap of paper in the house, every phone, every bank statement and document relating to my two businesses.

“They even took my daughter’s GCSE coursework.

“They were very aggressive, they threatened my son Declan, aged eight, telling him at one stage to “Get back inside the f.....g house” or they would kill him ‘like we killed your uncle’.

“Seven jeeps arrived at my parents house, they are aged 65 and 70 – and were there for four hours. My children are now not sleeping at night.

“I am taking a case to the Police Ombudsman.

“When I was being interrogated, they asked me briefly about the Northern Bank robbery, accusing me of being involved in preparing the job and of being a leading IRA man.

“They then began to ask me about the IRA’s structures, how many members it has and how they feel about the ceasefire, it was a fishing expedition.

“When my lawyer asked what evidence they had to justify holding me, the police could only say unspecified intelligence information. They had nothing at all.”

From what I can see this is nothing more than a fishing expeditation and I fully expect nothing to come of it. The SDLP should take note of the mood in the Nationalist and Republican community, you jumped too soon and Nationalism can see that.



I realise that I have not been very active with regards to posting this last week but I have had a few reasons, namely

1. Getting drunk
2. A death in the family
3. A serious amount of party work

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I will try and post tomorrow but as I see that Paddy is doing such a good job I don't feel as bad with taking the time off.

I also feel that a wee break every couple of months tends to stop the burnout that United Irelander and others have suffered.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers and posters as the traffic for Balrog has increased immensely over the last couple of weeks.

I am also planning a big change to Balrog in the next few months but I am not going to tell you what it is and it will not involve changing the colour or my handle ;)


Truth hurts?

If any Balrog readers are feeling at all bored this morning then try going to google, typing in the word failure, click on "I'm feeling lucky" and see what comes up!


Hypocrites strike again.

I notice Belfast City Council has passed a motion condemning Fr Alec Reid's now infamous "Nazi" remarks last month. Now I have made my position clear on this issue - I feel his remarks were unfair, mis-timed and ill-judged. However I am annoyed about the hypocrisy of such selective condemnations in the council. For example, did the council also pass a motion in August condemning the highly inflamatory remarks of Ian Paisley before the Whiterock Parade weekend which undoubtedly helped trigger the rise in tensions that led to such vicious rioting and chaos?

Dáil motion of Irish re-unification

I'm gald to see that Sinn Féin TD's have put forward the following motion to be discussed by the Dáil today;

That Dáil Éireann:

· re-affirming its support for the Good Friday Agreement as endorsed in referendums by the people of Ireland North and South;

· recognising the political progress brought about by the peace process and the Agreement, benefiting all the people of Ireland; and

· reiterating its appreciation of the work undertaken to date by the North-South Ministerial Council and by the North-South bodies;

· resolves to:

· work for the full implementation of the Agreement in all its aspects and for the re-establishment of the institutions of the Agreement at the earliest date;

· promote all-Ireland policies and strategies, benefiting all parts of the island;

· actively seek to persuade Unionists, through dialogue, of the advantages of Irish unification for all the people who share this island, in their diversity; and

· prepare politically, economically, socially and culturally for Irish unification, identifying steps and measures, including a Green Paper, which can assist a successful transition to a united Ireland.

It will be very interesting to see how the Dáil reacts to this motion. The vast majority of TDs belong to parties who claim to support re-unification by consent as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Now we will finally see the colour of their money. I sincerely hope this motion is passed by a huge majority. The re-unification project is bigger than any one party and needs a broad based alliance of support.

An Irish solution to an Irish problem?

I was vaguely amused to learn that new memoirs recently published have revealed that the Irish delegation in the 1921 treaty talks wwere "drinking excessively" through the negotiations. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why they signed the bloody thing?