No support without influence

That was the message from Sinn Féin's Policing and Justice spokesperson Gerry Kelly. He was reacting to claims from the DUP that the devolution of Policing and Justice powers would not happen within two years of the restoration of devolution.

According to Nigel Dodds it would take longer for unionists to trust Sinn Fein to take responsibility for security.

"It is certainly not a target date for us. As far as we are concerned, there will be no devolution of policing and justice for a very long time. I have no evidence whatsoever to suggest that that is likely to happen within a political lifetime."

Gerry Kelly responded by saying that it was "crazy" for the DUP to ask his party to sign up to policing and justice and then deny them any influence on the issue for years to come.

"They should not be able to demand that Nationalists sign up to this issue of policing and justice and then say that you won't have any influence on it for a generation,"

This is one of the reasons why I will be rejecting the St Andrews proposals, in their current form, as it has an inbuilt Unionist veto on Policing and Justice powers.

Let's be quite clear that while the DUP would like to get its hands on these powers they are more than happy to live with the status quo.

This is not a situtation that will be tolerated by Republicans, the status quo is not an option.


Papal visit may annoy DUP, I say tough!

It seems that the DUP are none too pleased with the idea of a Papal visit to Ireland and specifically a visit to the North.

Archbishop Sean Brady revealed yesterday that he has invited Pope Benedict to visit Ireland - and there is speculation that it could take place in April shortly after the final deadline for devolution.

According to DUP sources this may place Big Ian in a difficult spot as he might have to meet the Holy Father as First Minister.

Here's a suggestion, DON'T GO IAN!

It would certainly make a difference from the last time you met a Pope.

Pope Benedict is the head of the Catholic Church, the majority of Irish people are Catholic. As such Ian Pasiley and his gang of bigiots are in no position to decide if he can or can't come.

As the direct decendent of Saint Peter and the head of the one true Catholic and Apostotic Church I would greatly welcome the Holy Father to Ireland, as will many others.

I was also extremely encouraged by his recent comments about child abuse within the Church.


Enemy of the Empire

Balrog is not going to take over the BBC, we are going to start our own version.

The Balrog Book Club is starting up. I and my co-contributers (very thin on the ground at the moment) are going to start giving our readers book reccomendations.

It will not just be about political books, it will cover all fields.

I would like to make our contributers a part of this as well. If anyone wishes to reccommend a book all they have to do is e-mail me and I will happily oblige.

To start the ball rolling I would like to reccommend a book called "Enemy of the Empire".

It is a book written by a Senior South Armagh Brigade Volunteer, a first of it's kind in Republican circles.

What's more is that this book is written with the full approval of the South Armagh Brigade, Oglaigh Na hÉireann.

Described by the CIA as the chief technical officer of the IRA, Eamon McGuire was involved in undercover activity for over twenty years. He is the only person ever extradited from the 26 counties to the USA for political activities.The exotic, colourful and secretive life of the CIA's most-wanted IRA man.

I would reccommed this book to anyone with an interest in the subject area, well worth a read.

Tommy Tiernan

I am a big comedy fan so in order to lighten the tone I have decided to highlight my favourite comic, Tommy Tiernan.



Colonists against progress

I see that the last relic of the British Empire (Unionism) has come out against the two governments plans for a "joined up economy" i.e. All-Ireland economy on this island.

Both Unionist parties are opposed to the two governments plans of a major cross-border initiative on economic co-operation.

While no specific projects are mentioned yet it understood that the Irish government is planning to contribute up to £700m on a major spending package in the 6 counties.

This may include upgrading the Derry to Aughnacloy Road, helping to provide radiotherapy facilities at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and co-funding the construction of the new north-south electricity interconnector.

All of these projects have benefits for all the people of Ireland, North and South.

It is hardly surprising that Unionism would oppose this, they have always had their heads up their own arses.

Most people however will see this as a chance to develop a strong All-Ireland economy that we will all benefit from.

There is no reason why the Celtic Tiger should stop at the Armagh/Louth border.


Think of the children

I am starting to get slightly miffed with the whole McCartney marriage affair. I don't know which side is telling the truth and to be honest I don't care. My only concern is that of the children involved in this whole debacle.

Do Paul and Heather really think that tearing strips off one another in the gutter press will help their daughter?

I have no time for most family law solicitors; most of them are vultures that escalate these types of situations for financial reward.

I firmly believe that Solicitors have no positive role to serve in these types of situations.The problem is that one of a Solicitors core duties is to act in the best interests of his/her client. Now what is in the father’s best interests and the mothers best interests is not necessarily in the child’s best interests.

I am well aware of the effect that break-ups can have on children and it is for this reason that I believe that the court should appoint someone to act for the child’s best interests.

While Mammy and Daddy are busy ripping their throats out in public the child is forgotten and that is the only person worthy of sympathy


Ard Chomhairle discuss St Andrews

I see that the Ard Chomhairle will meet this afternoon to get briefed on the Governments proposals from St Andrews. The Ard Chomhairle will also decide on the consultation which will take place in the party during the coming weeks.

I have yet to fully make up my mind on the deal but I am leaning towards rejecting it as the reforms of the RUC/PSNI do not seem to have went far enough.

There are not too many other Republican blogs in Bloglaigh Na hÉireann but Wednesday seems to be leaning the same way as well.

I was reassured though by the words of Gerry Kelly, our Policing and Justice spokesperson, on Spotlight when he said that

"We wanted to get to the point where we could put a proposition to an Ard Comhairle - we have not reached that.”

That would suggest that the party is aware that the strand of the deal that affects policing has not went far enough in order for Republicans to support the RUC/PSNI.

Republicans are not against law and order, far from it. We realise that policing is too important an issue to get wrong. The SDLP accepted less and we all saw what happenned to them. The Nationalist and Republican people of the six counties have entrusted Sinn Féin to work in their best interests. With that mandate comes a responsibility, a responsibility to make sure that any new start to policing must be acceptable to all.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin put it best when he said

"Again let me be very clear about Sinn Féin’s position on policing. Sinn Féin is for proper civic, democratic and accountable policing. What we are against is bad policing and bad law and order. What we are against is political policing, counter-insurgency policing, policing as a weapon of war, which has been the norm in the Six Counties for generations. Sinn Féin is about changing all of this and we have made huge progress in recent years. The issue before is whether policing in the Six Counties has reached a stage where it can enjoy the support of all the community. Our job is to resolve all of the outstanding matters and to create a proper policing service. It will be the PSNI’s job to prove themselves to the community. But we want to see rapid progress made on this issue. We believe such progress is possible. When this happens, and in the right context, Uachtarán Shinn Féin Gerry Adams will go to the party’s Ard Chomhairle to ask them to call a special Ard Fheis on the matter"

The bit of his speech that is most important though was his last line

"It will then be the membership of Sinn Féin that will decide our position."

I have been saying this for almost 2 years, that it will be the grassroots who will decide our position. This is why I don't think the leadership will go to the membership with these current proposals because from the members that I have being speaking to they will not get the desired response.

Now is not a time to accept less than what is required!

UPDATE: The Ard Chomhairle have met and set up a group to assess the feeling from Republicans on the ground. Mary Lou McDonald, Martin Ferris and Conor Murphy are amongst this group.

I am encouraged by the words of Gerry Adams

"There was a consensus at the meeting that work needed to continue to resolve outstanding issues which continue to block progress towards creating a policing service which is democratically accountable and free from the sort of political control which has blighted policing in the north for generations. We remain determined to reach that point and discussions with the governments will continue in the weeks ahead."


Deal or No Deal

Jesus, you go away for a few days and the world turns upside down. I see that the two governments have outlined their proposals for the restoration of devolution. The parties have until the 10th of November to accept these proposals.

I have read these proposals and there are bits that I like and bits that I dislike.

The bits that I like

1. Advancement of the Irish language with an Irish language act.

2. Advancement of the North South agenda with a North South parliamentary forum , North South Independent Consultative forum and checks and balances to ensure that these groups are accountable to the Oireachtas and the Northern Assembly.

3. Further progress on equality, social, economic and ex-prisoner issues.

Bits that I dislike

1. Academic Selection

2. Policing

The policing issue will be the most crucial issue for Republicans. I do not like, nor do I think I could support, any new policing arrangement that gives Unionism an automatic veto over the devolution of Policing and Justice powers.

Most people will know that Unionist's like Robinson etc are power hungry, they would sell their Grannies for a slice of Political pie. That said, no matter how much they would like to wield the powers of policing and justice they would far rather not if it meant denying us the chance to access the same powers.

I don't know yet what kind of assurances that the leadership got in relation to Policing, what changes that the Brits promised etc.

If however it is "what you see is what you get" in relation to this document then I do feel that the leadership would be foolish to approach the membership at a special Ard Fheis and ask them to support the RUC/PSNI.

I think that Gerry Adam's statement today was the right one

"So far no one has agreed to these proposals except the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach. Issues of this importance, with such major implications, require careful study. They need comradely debate and thorough discussion. Our leadership will consult with our party membership and the wider republican community to see if these proposals contain the potential to resolve outstanding issues and deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

We need to do this calmly and with political maturity but critically, if Sinn Fein is to respond positively to these proposals they must have the potential to deliver equality, accountable civic policing, human rights and the full restoration of the institutions."

This is a time for debate, Republicans should use this opportunity to let the leadership know exactly what it thinks of these proposals. This is not a time to accept less than what is required.

Do these proposals give us enough in order for Republicans to support the RUC/PSNI?

I don't know but my initial reaction is No.

Only time will prove me right or wrong


Liar, Liar, Pants on fire!!

It seems that Brit Secretary of State and Umpa Lumpa look-a-like Peter Hain has been telling tall tales. According to Hain the RUC/PSNI are now accepted in South Armagh.

This is bullshit!

I come from South Armagh, Peter Hain has never been in South Armagh in his life, except perhaps flying over it in a British Army helicopter.

This is a slur against the people of South Armagh and is baseless!

All of the evidence points to the contrary, that the people of South Armagh do not support the RUC/PSNI. The local DPP tried to hold a public meeting in Forkhill, not a part of South Armagh that is noted as a Republican stronghold, and the locals acted against it. They managed to get 99% of the people of Forkhill to sign a petition opposing the meeting.

The DPP then had to cancel the meeting.

South Armagh is a Republican stronghold, the vast, vast majority of people in South Armagh vote for Sinn Féin.

I am a bit sick and tired of all this baseless bullshit from the likes of Hain.

Where is his evidence that the people of South Armagh support the RUC/PSNI?

The people of South Armagh, like Sinn Féin, will support the police service when we get one. We have always had and continue to have a police "force" that looks down its nose at the people of South Armagh and other Nationalist and Reublican areas. That is unacceptable and while the PSNI continues to walk, talk and act like the RUC then it will continue to be the RUC even if it has a new name and uniform.

Sinn Féin, unlike the SDLP, is not prepared to accept less. We will not be taking whatever a Brit minister decides to give us, which is what the SDLP did as they got down on their hands and knees and kissed their asses.

Republicans will not support policing structures until we get the required changes, the Nationalist and Republican community know that. That is why they removed the SDLP as the leading voice of Nationalists in the 6 counties.


Doc and Bishop have tea!!!

I see that Big Doc has had tea with Archbishop Sean Brady. The reaction of the media has been exageratted and blatantly over the top. While I'll admit it does represent a massive development from the man who was ejected from the EU parliament for heckling the Pope, but in the end its really just a comestic exercise. My views on the RC hierarchy are well documented on this blog, so therefore I am devoid of even one shred of respect for Sean Brady and Paisley did not meet someone who represents me. A much more worthwhile 'development' would be if he sat down andtalked to the people I democratically elected to represent me!!! Then he could ameliorate this be forming an all inclusive executive with those the vast majority of the Nationalist/Republican community's elected representatives!!!! No one buys Ians minor cosmetic PR stunts. Truth is if he'd met Brady and the likes in the late 1960's, instead of spleening his venom on the Shankill and stirring up a frenzy in Divis we would not have had to suffered half as much as we have!!


Hamas will never recognise Israel

That was the message from Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. In an address to a rally which contained tens of thousands of supporters Mr Haniyeh ruled out any notion of compromise. He also rejected any attempt to remove the democratically elected government of Palestine.

“There are new scenarios, such as an emergency government, a technocrat government, or early elections,” Mr Haniyeh told the crowd in a packed soccer stadium. “They all aim at one thing, getting Hamas out of the government.”

Before the last Palestinian election I had hoped that Fatah would win again, I have always supported the party of Yasser Arafat. That said the Palestinian people have spoken and any attempt to get rid of the democratically elected government is an attack upon democracy itself.

“Our bodies can get tired, but our soul will not, and we will not stop our steadfastness,”

I wish them well in their quest for freedom and independence. If they choose not to recognise Israel then that is a matter for them and their people.


Unionist death squad recieves a medal

The UDR/RIR sectarian militia have been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross at a ceremony in Belfast. Now how Britain chooses to honour its state sponsored death squads is a matter for them.

That said I did find it a bit sick when Elizabeth Windsor spoke about these scumbags in such glowing terms.

According to Ms Windsor "Your (UDR/RIR) contribution to peace and stability in Northern Ireland is unique,"

I'll say, unique in so far as the UDR/RIR sectarian militia never ever sought to uphold peace and stability anyway. They were more interested in the sectarian murder of Catholics.

Their members were responsible for the Miami Showband Massacre (In fact their members were actually in uniform when they carried out this attack), the Dublin Monaghan bombings and countless other attacks.

"Today you have cause to reflect on the fine achievements, while remembering the suffering,"

Indeed they do, they have the blood of enough innocent Catholics to make this a proper Loyalist shin dig. Perhaps if the relatives of those they murdered passed on mass cards they might be able to reminisce about how Mervin wasted that "Fenian" and Billy sorted out that "Taig".

Great craic all together

Enjoy the medal lads, I hope it's red to match your hands!


Adam and Eve, not Madam and Eve

I see that the row about same sex "marriages" has led to a case being brought before the High Court. Lesbian couple Dr Katherine Zappone and Dr Ann Louise Gilligan are taking an action against Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners after it refused to treat them the same as heterosexual married couples for tax purposes.

They married under Canadian law in Vancouver in September 13, 2003. Michael Collins, senior counsel for the pair, said they wanted the High Court to recognise the status of their marriage or allow them to marry in Ireland.

They may well have "married" under Canadian law but they are now living in Ireland and are therefore subject to Irish law.

I have spoke on this issue before and received some angry responses, not that angry responses have ever bothered me before.

I am not homophobic, I am comfortable enough in my own sexuality not to be concerned by any one else’s. That said I am a Catholic and I do believe that a marriage is the union between a man and a woman under God.

I always found it surprising that any homosexual couple would want to be affiliated with a heterosexual ceremony. Most gay couples would like gay marriage to be legal because they believe that it will lead to an acceptance of their relationship by society in general.

It is not a case of financial concerns because there is civil partnerships for that, or at least their will be at some point. No, those who are not happy with civil partnerships and want marriage believe, rather foolishly, that marriage will give their relationship in this heterosexual dominated society.

It won't!

We need to address the root causes of homophobia, we need to educate children at a young age that gay people are no different to you or me. They are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister etc

My aversion to gay marriage is because the entire concept is oxymoronic, you can not have a marriage with two women or two men.As far as I am concerned the Government should ban all marriages not conducted within a religious institution because marriage is a religious union, they should shut down registry offices.

The way to create equality is to apply the rule equally, remove religion from government and by association marriage as a religious institution.

All couples should be referred to as civil partners, whether heterosexual or homosexual. A married couple should have the same rights as a gay couples and vice versa.

That way you ensure equality and preserve the institution of marriage

Ahern apologises to the Nation

I see that Bertie Ahern has apologised to the Irish people for accepting "loans" and "gifts" from rich Businessmen while Finance Minister in the 1990's.

"Nobody is infallible or perfect," he told the Dáil.

Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens launched a blistering attack on the Taoiseach claiming "This Taoiseach is still the great evader, still the great evader."

Blue Shirt leader Enda Kenny said the Taoiseach's combined apology and defence harked back to a culture espoused by disgraced politicians such as late Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and former minister Ray Burke, whose careers foundered after they were found to have taken payments from big businessmen.

"Does this sound familiar?" Kenny asked, before quoting Mr Burke`s speech to the Dáil in 1997 where he denied receiving payments.

"I'm taking this opportunity to state unequivocally that I have done nothing illegal, unethical or improper"

"They are the words of Deputy Burke in this house on September 10 1997. Same words, same standards, different application. I thought that this country had moved on from that period. I thought we had moved away from the Haughey era of the 80s, but apparently Fianna Fail resurrects the same old standards in the same old way."

I would like to think that Bertie's apology was sincere but the words of Charlie still echo in my ear, "the most ruthless, the most devious, the most cunning of them all"

That said all the polls show that as far as the country are concerned the prospect of having Ultra Blue Shirt Kenny and Stickieus Maximus Rabbitte in charge is about as popular as a dose of the clap.

I personally believe that this issue has caused Bertie some real harm, not in the short term perhaps but I do feel that he will be got in the long grass of the next election.


Terrorism Tourism???

It was with much amusement that I read an article in the paper yesterday in which a DUP councillor berated the 'terror tourism' of an Ogra Sinn Fein demil weekend. Is the guy for real? The thing that appears to have caused umbrage to the irascible Mac Farland is Ogras intented republican tour of West Tyrone. With West Tyrone renowned as a basstion of republican militarism it is only likely that some sort of tour appeared on the itineary of events. Mac Farland has his orange sash in a twist because the tour apparently incorporates visiting the scene of many 'IRA attacks against the security forces' and the spot were 'many IRA members were shot by the security forces'. Maybe all the war museums in Vietnam should be shut, US Veterans day cancelled and Mac Farland and his orange chums should cancel their visits to Flanders, the Somme etc. if he takes offence to this tour. Maybe Irish History should be removed from the cirriculumn as well? Its time the DUP realised the value of republican history and accept it!!!


Oh, well that's all right then

I see that Bertie Ahern has moved to repay the brown envelopes/"loans" that he received when he was Minister for Finance in the 1990's. It seems that in the world that is "Bertie" repayment somehow makes everything all right.

It doesn't!!!

It would not matter whether Bertie received £5 or £5 million, the fundamental problem, which some find hard to grasp, is that as Minister for Finance Bertie knew or should have know that accepting such "loans" would be unacceptable.

They create the impression of impropriety and considering what all the tribunal’s have being revealing about those dark days of cronyism and cute-whoreism that impression has an awful lot of substance.

It is unacceptable for any Minister for Finance to accept any kind of "loan" (I thought loans had to be paid back?) from a businessman.

It's political rule 101, no sleaze in politics. A rule that Fianna Fail still fail to grasp.

I know that 64% do not want Bertie to leave as Taoiseach and considering the realistic alternative (Blue shirts and Stickies) at the moment I don't blame them.

I do have the feeling though that if the Government doesn't collapse, and it won't because McDowell would sell his granny for any class of political power, Fianna Failers will view this as a let off.

I am of the view that this repayment is just more attempts to gloss over the real issue of sleaze that lies at the heart of most of the establishment parties.

Let's not forget that Bertie also said he "searched up every tree in Dublin" to find sleaze on Ray Burke.

He obviously didn't look too hard!

It doesn't surprise me that Ahern thought of it, he's living up to the mantra that his predecessor gave him as "the most ruthless, the most devious, the most cunning of them all"

I do hope that in time ordinary working-class Fianna Fail voters will examine their party of choice more closely.

Do they wish to be represented by a party that only pays lip-service to its Republican credentials?

As Conor Murphy said, Fianna Fail may be a Republican party but their Republicanism stops at the British imposed border.

Do they wish to be represented by a party embroiled in sleaze, brown envelopes and cronyism?

Instead of looking after the interests of the working-class they are more interested in selling themselves to the highest bidder in the corporate tent at the Galway races.

Look who they let run Health and Justice, you may as well just let Göring and Höss lead two of the most important Government departments.

They should think about being represented by a genuine Republican party. A party which places the needs of the most vulnerable over those of corporate businessmen. A party whose principles are not up for auction to the highest bidder. The only party untainted by sleaze.

Sinn Féin is that party!

They never learn

It seems that the Church authorities have learnt nothing from the last couple of years. I am of course referring to tonight’s Panorama programme which accuses the Church of repeating policies in the developing world that allowed priests to abuse children in Ireland over the past 40 years.

'Sex Crimes and the Vatican', which is being aired on BBC's Panorama programme tonight was partly made by Irish anti-child abuse campaigner Colm O'Gorman. He claims thousands of children across the developing world have been abused by priests because of the Church's failure to confront child abuse.

Mr O'Gorman has claimed that even today, the Church is continuing to protect itself over the interests of children in the developing world.

You would think thought that the Church would have learnt from its mistakes but instead of begging forgiveness for the terrible crimes that were inflicted upon children they seem to want to bury their heads in the sand.

This is not going to go away and they more they try to hide the sick bastards who do this the more they damage the Church.

I had hoped that our new Pontiff would put a stop to this. It does seem that old habits die hard within the Catholic Church, especially the "hear no evil, see no evil policy" that was all to prevalent in our last Pontiffs reign.

As the successor of Peter Pope Benedict should be ashamed of himself.