Brits leaving South Armagh tomorrow

I am delighted to see that the British Army will be leaving Crossmaglen and South Armagh tomorrow.

It's about time that these foreign soldiers returned to their own country, they have never offered anything to the people of South Armagh.

Philip O'Reilly (34) a barman from Cross said: "We never wanted them here in the first place, and we're delighted they're finally going."

They will return home with their tail between their legs in the full knowledge that they never beat the Republican people of South Armagh and they never beat the South Armagh Brigade of Óglaigh Na hÉireann.

I wonder when they calculate their losses over the 30 year period will they consider it a tad foolish to have tried to oppress the people of "Bandit Country".

Since 1970 165 members of British Crown forces (123 British soldiers and 42 RUC personnel) have been killed in South Armagh.

We will remember the civilians that were killed and the Volunteers that the South Armagh Brigade lost as a result of the conflict.

People in South Armagh are fully supportive of the Peace Process and at the last election voted for Sinn Fein in record numbers, 84%, as testament to the prevailing confidence that this area has always showed.

When I step outside my front door it's nice to see Faughil Mountain free from an ugly spy post. It's nice not to have to walk past filth in a British Army uniform and it's nice not to hear gunfire which I did as a child.

I would say only this to those soldiers who are leaving Crossmaglen tomorrow

Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out!

UPDATE: Upon reviewing some of the comments on this thread I knew I was missing something, a wee song.


Raymond McCreesh memorial attacked

I am disgusted to learn that depraved scum have once again vandalised the Hunger Strike memorial to Raymond McCreesh in Camlough. Loyalist slogans were also painted on walls in the locality of the village.

This monument was attacked last year and only last month was rededicated.

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy, who is from Camlough, called for respect for all monuments.

"Those who desecrated this monument have an agenda of causing division, hurt and provocation.

"There is only one proper reaction to this attack and that is to state clearly to those engaged in this type of activity that they are wrong and they will not achieve their objective of fuelling bitterness and division."

When a person attacks a memorial, be it a Republican memorial or a Unionist memorial, they are saying more about themselves than about the person whose memorial they attacked.

This attack will not silence the people of Camlough and it will not deter Republicans.

We will keep re-building this memorial to a true Irish patriot now matter how many times they vandalise it.

McDowell, Minister for injustice

McDowell's new Criminal law bill is nothing short of draconian. He has been in rush to push it through the Oireachtas, so much so that 140 barristers wrote to him expressing concerns at the way such an important bill was being introduced.

Added to that the strength of feeling amongst the opposition and the fact that the law society have asked that the bill be pulled.

The Irish Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the Criminal Justice Bill, claiming that some of its provisions could lead to serious injustice.

The legislation was subject to 156 amendments today, which due to the time allotted only amounted to 90 seconds per amendment.

Anyone who reads this blog often will know that I take a hard stance on Criminal Justice, I am not a "liberal" in any sense of the word but what he is talking about doing would place the interests of justice outside the law.

He is proposing to restrict the right to silence and greater use of mandatory sentences amongst other things.

It includes a proposal to allow up to seven days detention and for a court to draw inferences from failure to mention facts during questioning.

This restriction on the right to silence is similar to Britain and allows the court to draw adverse inferences similar to Section 34 of PACE.

This is an unacceptable attack upon the right to silence and distorts the evidential burdern as it currently stands.

On sentencing, the Bill makes it clear that mandatory sentences should apply in all but the most exceptional cases.

Mandatory sentences are not a good idea as the judiciary need a certain element of discretion to ensure that there is no injustice inflicted when sentencing.

Every case is different and this slap dash approach by McDowell is ill thought out and reactionary in the extreme.

It's an attempt by McDowell to appeal to populist opinion, which as a Barrister he should know is not a wise move as public opinion is a fickle mistress.

The law needs continuity, clarity and justice at its heart, not reactionary right wing extremism.

The presumption of innocence is the cornerstone of any criminal justice system and McDowell's bill is an attack upon that presumption.

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD described the Bill as an assault on civil liberties.

“Many of the provisions within the Bill are ill-thought out, irresponsible and destined to failure”,

“While I would have no problem with stiff sentences for serious drug dealers, mandatory sentencing has never been proven anywhere in the world to work as a deterrent to serious crime.

In fact they have proven to be expensive failures in other jurisdictions. Mandatory sentencing takes away the discretion of judges who have listened to the case and studied the evidence before them."

“International evidence shows that it is in fact the fear of being caught that acts as the most affective deterrent to criminals."

"Therefore we need to see a radical retargeting of Garda resources into the fight against crime. The redeployment of Special Branch detectives to criminal detectives and the introduction of a civilianised traffic corps would free up many fully trained Gardaí to be redeployed in crime fighting. This coupled with the use of existing laws and sanctions would prove far more effective in the fight against crime than McDowell’s gimmicks."

“This legislation is just another in a long line of legislative gimmicks proposed by this minister who has more interest in making headlines than he has in tackling crime"

We do need a crackdown on crime but what we do not need is for McDowell to throw the baby out with the bath water.

There is a very real risk for miscarriages of justice under these proposed changes.

They will effect the golden thread that runs through our criminal justice system, namely that a person is innocent until proven guilty!

Gerry McGeough released on bail

I am glad to see that Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough has been released on bail following on from his arrest on the day of the Assembly election count.

Gerry's arrest illustrates how far many in the PSNI still have to come.

The suggestion that he was arrested at the earliest possible time is spurious in the extreme.

Gerry and his family have been living very openly in the Dungannon area since last September.

They could have chosen to arrest him at any stage; they however choose to do it outside the count centre in full glare of the media.

I am pleased to see that the Police Ombudsman will be investigating the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

I disagree with Gerry on what is the best way forward and on a great many issues but he is still a lifelong Republican and he deserves our support

Can DUP hold their nerve?

That's the question we must all be asking following the recent statements that have been coming from their camp.

We have weird Willie and his hypocrisy and now we have a statement from DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson and his lackey Stephen Moutray.

"We hope that the people of Northern Ireland will not have cause to regret this decision,"

"It is our view that both republicans and the government have more that they needed to do."

Now the question that must be asked is are their concerns enough to make them walk away like Jim Allister did?

Or will they be like the UUP version of Jeffrey Donaldson, snipping away in the background for the next while?

The DUP needs to hold their nerve and if need be sort out any internal problems they may have.

We don't need another UUP that has crisis meetings every couple of months.

The DUP should remember which way they went when they messed about with power-sharing.


Bairbre and Peter

I was on the Voice for Democracy blog and discovered this.

It made me grin anyway ;)

Willie McCrea, at heart a hypocrite!

Following on from the news that Jim Allister has left the DUP there has been some speculation that Willie McCrea may follow suit. This follows on from his speech in Westminster when he said

"I believed last week that Martin McGuinness was a terrorist. I believe he has blood on his hands. I believe that he has been a murderer,"

"I have to tell the House I believe that this week because he is still the same person."

The hypocrisy of the man is a sight to behold; let's just look at his record.

-He was a member of the Shankill Defence Association in 1969 (the group that was largely responsible for the anti-Catholic pogrom in Belfast that August).

-In 1971 he was convicted of riotous behaviour in Dungiven.

-In 1981 he acted as a 'county commander' for the Third Force as did another DUP politician Rev. Ivan Foster.

-In 1975 he conducted the UDR/UVF funeral of Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle.

Somerville and Boyle were involved in the Miami Show band massacre. Not only where they UVF members but also serving soldiers in the Ulster Defence Regiment and in uniform at the time of the killing.

They killed themselves when the bomb they were planting on the bus of the Miami show band went off prematurely; their "comrades" then machine-gunned the members of the band.

They were also responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

A volley of shots was fired over their coffins at the service conducted by Willie McCrea.

-In 1996, McCrea famously shared a platform with UVF/LVF mass murderer, Billy Wright and Mark Fulton.

Fulton was one of the men involved in the killing of Bellaghy GAA man Sean Browne. Whilst on the platform with the two he publicly supported them saying that they were "good loyalists"

Willie seems to be a big fan of the bible, could I perhaps suggest Matthew: 7:1-5.

My favourite part is "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye"

Poor Willie, never able to practise what he preaches!


Allister leaves DUP

I see that Jim Allister, until a couple of hours ago the DUP MEP, has left his party because of their agreement to enter a power-sharing executive with Sinn Féin.

I managed to watch his press conference live on the BBC internet site and found it interesting to say the least, he certainly does not like Mark Davenport!

You can watch his resignation speech here.

Now I know that a few of you may expect me to gloat at this event, I don't intend to do that.

I have little time for Jim Allister, I find his fundamentalist religious views to be pious in the extreme considering some of his, ahem, activities.

I view him as a cold fish, someone who is quite obviously intellectually intelligent but lacking in the warmth of human kindness.

That being said I respect the fact that he has followed his conscience, an all too rare occasion these days.

What now for the Free P branch of the DUP?

I always said that the DUP would suffer because they allowed ex-UUP people to set their agenda. The DUP's problem is also that of Unionism.

Short-term benefit always harms them in the long run, or as a man down my part of the country likes to say
"You have to think of the bigger picture!"

Rubicon has been crossed

I'm sorry that I have not blogged on this very surreal day but I was out having a few drinks with a friend before I return home for Easter.

Today's historic meeting between Sinn Féin and the DUP is truly ground breaking. The picture of Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams is one which I never thought I would see.

Following on from the DUP's commitment to enter a power-sharing executive in this very public and unequivocal way there is no doubt in my mind that we have seen a passing of the Rubicon on this day.

Nobody is under any illusions as to what the relationship between Sinn Féin and the DUP will be like, it will not be pleasant.

However the electorate has spoken and their wishes should be respected and that wish was for an end to British direct rule minsters

People often use words like "historic" and "ground breaking" all too often. As a result they loose their meaning, not so today.

I hope that today will lead to better prospects and a brighter future for all of us. An island which will be at peace between the Orange and Green.

An island where equality reigns supreme and where injustice is consigned to the dustbin of history.

This process is only heading in one direction, a United Ireland. Let's hope that the years between now and then can be spent getting to know one another for the first time.


Stoops morph into Unionist lite

I have always know that the Stoops are about as useful as an ash tray on a motor bike but their recent/continued morph into Unionist lite is staggering.

In reference to the possibility that Sinn Féin and Blair might agree to give the DUP a further 6 weeks grace before power-sharing Durkan had this to say.

"There is a real danger that any new legislation will leave us in a twilight zone where no doubt Sinn Fein will look for more concessions in return for the legislation"


Is that how Durkan views the advancement of the Irish language, Northern representation in the Dáil, progress on Equality legislation, more North South co-operation, proper economic packages etc?

I remember hearing Willie McCrea talking about "a concession a day to Sinn Féin", it now seems that Durkan has adopted that mantra also.

Is it any wonder that the Stoops are in the mess that they are when their "leader" comes out with this sort of crap.

I pray that Mr Personality continues to "lead" the Stoops as he will lead them into the dustbin of political party history.

Concessions?? What utter nonsense from Unionist lite!

Fianna Fail-"give me gear"

That was the message coming from the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis yesterday.

The Chelsea Dagger by Scottish band The Fratellis was blasted out at the Citywest Hotel as Minister for Finance Brian Cowen began his warm-up speech before the Taoiseach’s televised address.

The song contains reference to a girl that "gave me gear" - common slang for drugs, particularly heroin.

Now, one would have thought that given the problem that Dublin and other areas of the island have with drugs, particularly heroin, that Fianna Fail would have been more savvy about their song choice.

Europe Against Drugs (Eurad) international president Grainne Kenny said it was extremely bad taste for the senior Government party to play the song in front of 5,000 delegates.

“It was wholly inappropriate and in very bad taste. And I would go further and say that the party owes an apology to the families that have been affected by drugs."

“I have just come from a conference in Scotland where I met relatives of victims ravaged by drugs, and I can tell you they wouldn’t be impressed one bit by this.”

Surely Fianna Fail could have changed the song to suit their own unique party image.

Instead of "give me gear" they could have changed it to "give me brown envelopes".

With Fianna Fail it's not so much "Give me liberty or give me death" it's more "Give me liberty or give me money"

You play by our rules!

That seems to be the message coming from the two Governments in response to the DUP's ridiculous suggestion that they want to wait six weeks before they enter power-sharing.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said

"This is not something we can live with, it is not satisfactory to us"

"Obviously there's a lot of tic tacking going on, there's a lot of talks going on, it's not Monday morning yet and we'll have to see where we are. "

"But as of now if we don't get the institutions set up the institutions collapse - that is the position in the absence of some other innovative thinking."

Now part of me suspects that Bertie's refusal to bend the knee is because of the effects that another 6 weeks of positive Sinn Féin press will have for his party in the General Election.

It seems that the most recent opinion poll has Sinn Féin on a 3% rise with Fianna Fail down a few points.

Local opinion polls across the country also show Sinn Féin gains and Bertie has to be careful.

That being said I agree with Bertie's analysis, despite the fact that a six week delay may benefit my party in the election.

This is about putting Paisley in his place, letting him know that we are not going to be dictated to by sectarian bigots from his party.

Peter Hain has said that if a deal is not reached by tomorrow night then he will pull the plug.

Now I don't believe a word that Hain says, an eel has more of a backbone than him.

DUP sources are already claiming they had a pre-arranged deal with Downing Street over their refusal to meet tomorrow's deadline, if true this is damaging for Hain.

It's make your mind up time boys and both governments must remain strong on this. If the DUP decide not to respect the wishes of the electorate by twelve o'clock tomorrow night then the Assembly should be scrapped.

Then we move on to Plan B and see how Paisley explains that one to the Unionist electorate.


Time to close up shop

I see that Paisley has said he wants to wait until May before he enters a power sharing executive with Sinn Féin. This suggestion by the DUP executive is spurious in the extreme.

There is no reason why the DUP could not agree to enter an executive on Monday, if indeed they are prepared to do so in May.

What is going to change between now and then?

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the DUP was seeking to "frustrate the will of the electorate"

He said commitments to dissolve Stormont in the absence of agreement must be kept.

"If the DUP wants a functioning assembly after March 26 this can only happen through direct dialogue and agreement with Sinn Fein and the other parties,"

I agree with Gerry, the governments have already said that the 26th was the deadline and that date should be kept.

I am pleased by the comments of Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern when he said that if the DUP refused to share power with Sinn Féin, 'Plan B' is ready to kick in.

The proposed arrangement will see Dublin having a greater say in the running of the North in conjunction with the British.

The Assembly may fall but the other parts of the agreement will stay in place. The All-Ireland agenda, the equality directive and all the other parts will remain.

Paisley should be told that his suggestion is denied and that he has 48 hours to make up his mind.


Holy Father should come to Ireland

I see that Uachtaráin Na hÉireann, Mary McAleese has invited Pope Benedict to visit Ireland when she spoke to him in Rome. This follows on from an invitation issued by the Irish Bishops last year.

After her meeting Ms McAleese said that the response from the Holy Father was, "We must see if it is possible".

Now I would never presume to tell a Pope what he should or should not do however I do think that when you consider the circumstances he should make it possible.

I have no doubt that the Catholic faith in Ireland could do with the lift that a Papal visit would bring. Let's not forget that Ireland has been a very loyal Catholic country for hundreds of years.

It's religious orders spread the Catholic faith back across Europe after the dark ages. The fact that only one Pope has graced these shores is a shame.

At a time when the laity find their faith questioned because of the disgrace of clerical abuse and its subsequent cover up I believe that the Vatican owes an explanation to these people.

The Catholic church should get down on its hands and knees and beg forgiveness for the pain and suffering that their wilfull neglect as a Church has caused.

Church authorities allowed child raping Priests to go unpunished, they then sent them to different parishes where they committed further acts against God and nature.

The survivors of Clerical abuse deserve an apology and I believe that the Holy Father should come to Ireland and deliver that apology.

Many will view it as too little too late, I however will view it as a start.

Loughgall Martyrs

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Loughgall Martyrs. It occurred on the 8th May 1987 in the Armagh village of Loughall.

On that day, in an SAS ambush, eight volunteers of Óglaigh Na hÉireann and a civilian lost their lives outside the RUC barracks.

The eight Volunteers were all from the East Tyrone Brigade, Óglaigh Na hÉireann.

Óglach Declan Arthurs, Óglach Seamus Donnelly, Óglach Tony Gormley, Óglach Eugene Kelly, Óglach Patrick Kelly, Óglach Jim Lynagh, Óglach Padraig McKearney and Óglach Gerard O' Callaghan were all killed in the ambush.

The East Tyrone Brigade was one of the most successful Brigades of Óglaigh Na hÉireann alongside their comrades in South Armagh and West Belfast.

Following on from the Maoist strategy of creating "zones of liberation", South Armagh already being one as the Brits were forced off the roads years earlier, the men and women from East Tyrone set out to expand these zones and thus make the six counties ungovernable.

The East Tyrone Brigade already had some success with this when they were able to destroy two RUC bases there using a JCB digger with a 200lb bomb in the bucket. They then raked the station with gunfire after the bomb was triggered.

This was the tactic they set out to use in Loughgall on the 8th May 1987 however they were walking into an SAS ambush.

Anthony Hughes and his brother Oliver were caught in the cross fire when the SAS assassinated Anthony by riddling their car with a hail of bullets. By some miracle Oliver managed to survive despite being refused medical treatment for a while.

The Loughgall ambush was part of a deliberate Shoot-to-kill policy by the British.

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the eight volunteers had had their human rights violated by the failure of the British government to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances of their deaths.

We remember the Volunteers with pride!


Brits pay off their death squads

I see that some UDA members have received their pension from the British by way of a £1 million grant. This did not come as any great surprise to me as the Brits have been offering little sweeties to their death squads, sectarian militia and police force for years.

When you look at the activities of these groups it is clear that they were symbion organisations that were controlled by the Brits and their agencies.

The British government held secret talks with the UVF shortly after the Dublin/Monaghan bombings in 1974. The meeting took place at Laneside, MI5’s headquarters on the outskirts of Belfast. It was just 12 days after the bombing that killed 33 people and injured over 100 more, many seriously.

A British MOD memo to the British Cabinet in the early 1970's outlined collusion by the UDR with unionist death squads. The document admitted that the UDR was the largest single source of weaponry acquired by the death squads, and their only source of modern weaponry.

According to another document, during a meeting in 1975, Harold Wilson informed opposition leader Margaret Thatcher that members of the RUC were passing information to the UVF. Despite this, both the UDR and RUC continued to attract the enthusiastic support of the British Government.

The sworn affidavit of RUC man John Weir is a telling statement of what actually went on in the deep and murky world of British state collusion.

The Miami Showband, Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, The Reavey Brothers, The bombing of Kay's Tavern, Seamus Ludlow......... the list just goes on and on!

Still, at least the squads got their pensions in the end!


Enough is enough!

I see that Gerry Adams has said that Sinn Féin will take their positions on any reconstituted Policing Board and the district policing partnerships "as soon as" the power-sharing Executive is formed.

Now according to the Policing motion, which the Ard Fheis endorsed, that can only happen when

1. The power-sharing institutions are established and

2. When the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred

For Gerry Adams to make that statement we can be sure that the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that Policing and Justice powers will be devolved.

Can't we?

Well the only other way for Sinn Féin to sign on to Policing, as laid down in the motion and endorsed by the governing body of Sinn Féin i.e. The Ard Fheis, is when

1. New partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place.

Seeing as those arrangements are not as yet in place that is the only way in which the Ard Chomhairle would be acting constitutionally.

To say that this new policing attitude we are adapting is hard to take is putting it mildly.

I agreed with the Motion put before the Ard Fheis as I believed, albeit with certain reservations which most Republicans had, that it was the right thing to do.

I do however not wish to see us turn into a cheerleading squad for the PSNI!!!

I understand that all these recent statements by the movement have been about reassuring the DUP but I don't wish to see us treat policing like they do.

We are not there to do the job of the PSNI, this talk of "acts" on our behalf is nonsense. It is up to the police to prove that they have changed.

Our job is to hold them to account and bring them to book if, or more likely when, they slip back into their old modus operandi.

Republicans should not be licking Paisley's arse in the hope that he will enter Government. We will be in government, if one is established, by virtue of our mandate.

Not by the approval of Ian Paisley or any other bigot for that matter.

If Paisley misses the deadline the that is his problem, the Assembly should then be scrapped and alternative partnership arrangements put in place.

It's about time Sinn Féin told the DUP "Enough is enough!"

We should not be jumping through hoops trying to placate that shower of hypocrites and sectarian bigots!


Europe, n'est pas couille!

I was annoyed to learn that Europe and the US are refusing recognition of the new unity government in Palestine between Fatah and Hamas.

Now the fact that the Yanks are not on side is hardly surprising, they have stood shoulder to shoulder with Zionism for decades.

They give one third of their foreign aid budget to the Zionists, which they then use to send missiles into Palestinian refugee camps.

What has surprised and annoyed me has been the European response. They have decided to be a lap dog for Americans and Zionists instead of standing firm behind the Palestinians.

In effect Europe is now a Yankee poodle!

They keep raising the issue of Hamas refusing to recognise the Zionists, why should Hamas do any such thing?

Would Mr Solano recognise the Zionists if they invaded Spain, removed people from their own land and then started to systematically cause anger and aggression throughout the entire region?.

The lack of stability in the middle east is down to one force and one force only, Zionism.

I admire Hamas for their refusal to bend the knee to decades old squatters, long may their will remain resolute and their course remain true.


Reflections on St Paddy's Day

A belated Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig to all Balrog's readers. I had planned on blogging yesterday morning however other things stopped that.

This was my very first St Patrick's Day away from home, Ireland that is not South Armagh, and I have to say it was perhaps the best.

St Patrick's Day has always been a weird day, with my memories made up of very different days.

When I was younger it was a day when all the Scouts met at the local community centre and made the small march to the Chapel in full uniform. The St Patrick's Day mass was a special day of the year for the Scouts when we took full part in the mass.

That was an end to my "religious" dealings in relation to St Patrick's Day.

When I hit 14 I had my first taste of the green shamrock, very enjoyable day from what I can remember. Pernod and White lemonade, disgusting looking back now.

Then my first real drinking session on St Patrick's Day came when I went to QUB. Jesus Christ, a siege and a half. Doors open from 8 am, chairs and sofas on the road and Republican songs blasting over the airwaves.

A serious amount of drink was had by all!

Now I presumed that this day would be very different, after all I am in London. I had no idea just how wrong I was.

I ended up going out with a few girls from Fermanagh/Donegal and we headed to a pub in North London. Now I have been in this pub quite a lot, it's an Irish bar but a lot of English would drink in it as well.

So I met up with the girls at one o'clock and decided to go and get something to eat first. The girls then informed me that there was no point as free "Irish food" was been served in the pub all day.

Cabbage and bacon and Irish stew.

So we went to the pub and watched the Rugby match and the Cross match, I swear I am near cross eyed today after trying to watch both matches at the same time.

So as the pub began to fill up by 2 pm the band arrived. I asked the girls if this band was any good. They told me I should enjoy it as they played "Rebel" music. Now before I go on both the girls are Protestant and from a Unionist background albeit with a strong sense of Irish identity.

So when the girls told me they played Rebel music I took it with a pinch of salt, how wrong was I?

I was expecting "hay diddle diddle" music but what I got was hardcore Republican ballads. The ballad of Billy Reid, Provo's Lullaby, Go on home British soldiers (quite ironic!) and the Two Brendan's (my personal favourite).

I was fucking stunned!!

I would never had expected to hear such tunes in London, least of all in a pub that had a brave few English people in it.

What did worry me was how the girls would feel about the music, I was enjoying it but I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable. I looked around to ask the girls if they wanted to leave and one of the fuckers was shouting out the lines of "go on home British soldiers" with an English bloke.

It felt like the twilight zone!

So after many, many, many more pints the night came to on end and I was left to ponder on the day that was.

St Patrick's day is probably more important to Irish people outside of Ireland than it is to those back home. It is a day when you can feel at home, if only for a couple of hours.

The parade today in London was excellent and Ken put on a great show with Pat Doherty and Dodie McGuinness of Sinn Féin leading the parade along with him.

It's ironic that London can be more sensible with regards to St Patrick's Day than Belfast.


8 years and still no truth

I was saddened to learn today that it has been eight years since the death of Rosemary Nelson. A memorial ceremony is to be held to mark the eighth anniversary of her murder at the hands of Unionist death squads.

The event is being organised by friends and family in a Portadown community centre today as work continues preparing for an inquiry into claims of state collusion.

It is because of people like Rosemary Nelson, Pat Finucane and Gareth Peirce that I decided to become a lawyer.

Rosemary Nelson was an internationally known and respected human rights lawyer. She was the first woman in Lurgan to set up her own practise in what is a male dominated sector.

She was obstructed in the execution of her professional duties in contravention of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which state:

"Governments shall ensure that lawyers

( a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference;

( b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and

( c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics" (Principle 16) and

"lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions" (Principle 18).

Many of her clients claimed that RUC officers had threatened her through them several times.

In 1998, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param Curamaswamy, noted these threats in his annual report, and stated in a television interview that he believed her life could be in danger.

He made recommendations to the British government concerning threats from police against lawyers, which were not acted upon.

Later that year, Nelson testified before a committee of the United States Congress investigating human rights in Northern Ireland, confirming that death threats had been made against her and her three children.

Nothing was done about this and indeed there is reason to believe that the RUC were involved in her murder.

In a civilised society and in any democracy lawyers are not targets for Government agencies, that has not been the case in the six counties.

It is essential, for her family and for the future protection of Human Rights in Ireland, that the truth surrounding the circumstances of her murder be told.


Paisley, battered and broken!

Oh how the mighty have fallen!

Paisley, a man who for a generation stood as the "No Surrender" banner of Unionism, has been reduced to crying in Westminster for more money like the orphan boy Oliver.

Now, while I am glad to see Paisley enter some sense of constructive politics it is none the less amusing to hear the man, who only a week ago said Sinn Féin had to repent, speak of devolution as "a beautiful engine".

This devolution will contain Sinn Féin, who he once declared he would smash.

How is Paisley going to sell this move, which will happen, to his more hard-line bigoted members?

Some were naive enough to believe that Republicanism would implode over Policing and so leave them free to walk away unscathed and united. Now it is they who will have to eat the shit sandwich and boy will that be sweet to watch.

Paisley is to going to have to share the co-equal office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister with Martin McGuinness.

A man who many in his flock view as the risen Satan, a man determined to see the destruction of their precious Union.

I heard Jim Allister speak during the election coverage and he seems less than happy about this whole situation.

His message was very different from that of Peter Robinson and Jeffery Donaldson, both of whom are salivating at the prospect of political power like two starved hyenas gnawing on a bone.

Perhaps Paisley, who may not live to see the end of the Union but whose party will be at the helm when it does end, would care to review this quote in relation to the fall of the Roman Empire.

It may have some relevence for today

"Yet the arts of Severus cannot be justified by the most ample privileges of state reason. He promised only to betray; he flattered only to ruin; and however he might occasionally bind himself by oaths and treaties, his conscience, obsequious to his interest, always released him from the inconvenient obligation."


Et tu Mandelson

I see that former Brit SOS Peter Mandelson has accused Tony Blair of "capitulating to Sinn Féin".

In an interview with the Guardian, an interview he has subsequently tried to down play, Mandelson accuses Blair of "unreasonable and irresponsible" behaviour in the way he granted concessions to Sinn Féin.

Mandelson claimed that Blair's capitulation to the Republican movement alienated Unionism.

According to Mandy

"When Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness entered the room you were expected to stand up. They were senior military, they were top brass. Apart from being leaders of Sinn Féin they were leaders of the military council."

Good stuff, nice to see Peter show respect towards his betters.

The fact remains that Mandelson was a disgrace and he usurped the will of the Irish people when he changed the law in order to allow him the power to suspend the institutions in the North.

Indeed at the time of his departure Alastair Campbell, then Tony Blair's official spokesman, openly questioned Mandelson's judgment on the grounds that he became overly sympathetic to the Unionists and too hostile to Sinn Féin.

Now I wonder who had Peter removed????

Israeli Ambassador likes it rough

I laughed when I heard that Israel has recalled its Ambassador to El Salvador after he was found to be engaging in kinky sex games.

Tsuriel Raphael was found by local police drunk, naked and tied up with sex bondage paraphernalia in the garden of his residence.

It seems local police only became aware of his identity after they removed a rubber ball from his mouth.

I consider myself a liberal enough bloke but that is some kinky shit, LOL.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zehavit Ben-Hillel, said he was removed from his post because of "behaviour that is unbecoming of a diplomat", and not because his activities were unlawful.

What next for Mr Raphael?


Fianna Fáil, the party of cute-whoreism

I was just doing a little pruning of Balrog's links when I stumbled upon the Fianna Fáil website. Now what greeted me on the front page was hilarious. Bertie appealing for members and setting out his stall.

Bertie boasts

"We are the Republican Party"

They may be a Republican party but they are a partionist Republican party. Their Republicanism ends at the Armagh/Louth border, unlike Sinn Féin who have elected Reps on both sides of that border.

They are not a 32 county Irish Republican party, they are a disgrace! More concerned with feeding from the corporate throft than advancing the Republican struggle.

"We want to build a more prosperous and fair society"

So that is why Ireland has one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in Europe? That is why many Irish people find themselves unable to make ends meet despite the huge wealth in the country?

Sounds like Fianna Fáil have embraced McDowell's "Inequality is a good thing"

The funniest was yet to come though

"Fianna Fáil, The Republican Party, is in every community, in every county and in every corner of our country"

Right where can I sign up for the local South Armagh cumann?

Now either Bertie doesn't know that Armagh is a county in Ireland or else he is lying through his hole!

Fianna Fáil has cute-whoreism, partitionist thinking and brown envelopes but little to no Irish Republicanism.


SDLP defeat, the aftermath!

Following on for the Stoops woeful election and with the acknowledgement that they will now only have one ministerial position a few questions have arisen.

The stoops will have one seat, the party leader is the only one who has the authority to nominate ministers.

Will Durkan take a Ministry for himself?

What is likely reaction from McDonnell if he was to do this?

This result will also have a massive impact on their allocation to chairs of committees, also how will this affect their numbers on the Policing board when it is re-constituted?

If McDonnell and the Belfast cabal are to take out Durkan will they move quickly?

It will be very enjoyable to sit back and watch the stoops rip each others throats as they fight over the scraps from the ministerial table.

Perhaps Durkan could become the offical tea lady of the future executive, I can just hear it now.

"Milk and two sugars Martin?"


It's all over, well almost

With most of the results in from the election it seems to be all over bar the shouting and the crying. It has been a good election for the Sinn Féin and the DUP and a woeful one for the UUP and the Stoops.

At this late stage it is looking like

Sinn Féin 28 seats, an increase of 4.

DUP 36 seats, an increase of 3.

UUP 18 seats, a drop of 6 seats.

Stoops 16 seats, a drop of 2 seats.

With Alliance on 7, PUP 1, Greens 1 and finally Deeney.

Under d'hont, not including FM and DFM, it will be DUP 4 ministers, Sinn Féin 3 ministers, UUP 2 ministers and the stoops with 1 minister.

That will leave a slim unionist majority of 6/4 on the executive.

Who is to blame for Unionism having on extra minister you ask? The stoops!

In West Tyrone their utter, utter incompetence saw them stand 3 candidates when they only had less than one quota. As a result they fractured their vote and didn't transfer to one another and as such gifted the seat to Deeney.

That is what happens when egos are allowed to rule local politics.

In a number of areas they just slipped in 1 MLA with less than 1 quota, these seats will be vulnerable next time out. I am thinking of seats like North Antrim, North Belfast, Upper Bann East Derry and West Belfast.

Sinn Féin had a fantastic election despite what the stoops, dissidents and trolls have been telling us. I would like to congratulate our comrades in West Tyrone who took an extra seat with local councillor Clare McGill.

In Lagan Valley we took a seat in the form of Paul Butler. In South Antrim we topped the poll ahead of Willie McCrea with our first ever MLA in the form of Mitchel McLaughlin. In West Belfast we also made it 5 out of 6.

We were unlucky in a few constituencies like Fermanagh South Tyrone and Upper Bann were we came within a whisker. I have no doubt that next time out we will add seats in these areas.

What now for the stoops?

The 4th party in the North and only one minister.

The simple fact remains that Stoop incompetence has cost Nationalism a ministerial position. That is something that the Stoops will have to explain to the electorate.

Belfast Sinn Féin juggernaut marches on

I would just like to congratulate our comrades in West Belfast who made history when they managed to secure 5 out of 6 seats in Wednesday's election.

The person who lost out was the DUP's Diane Dodd's, who despite increasing her vote was no match for the Sinn Féin juggernaut!

On a personal note I would have preferred Alex Attwood to be the casualty but you can't have everything.

When I first went to QUB I remember attending canvass and electoral training which was provided by our comrades in the west. Now by the time I went to QUB I had already taken part in quite a few elections North and South.

That being said I was very impressed by the clinical precision which West Belfast showed in their electoral preparations.

Now that is not something you will hear very often from a South Armagh man, praise for Belfast. Though credit where credit is due, when it comes to elections they are still the masters.

With the election of 5 MLA's in West Belfast, 2 MLA's in North Belfast and 1 MLA in South Belfast Sinn Féin have placed themselves as the dominant party in Belfast.

I would like to congratulate our Belfast comrades on their great achievement

End Political Policing!

I was disgusted but hardly surprised to learn of the arrest of two Republicans in Tyrone tonight. Gerry McGeough and Vincie McAnespie were both arrested for what the cops claim is in relation to the attempted assignation of a UDR man in 1981 by the IRA.

Gerry stood as a dissident Republican in yesterday's election for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and was arrested outside the count centre in Omagh tonight.

Vincie is the brother of Aidan McAnespie who was shot dead by the British Army in Aughnacloy in 1988 while on his way to a GAA match. Vincie is the husband of a Sinn Féin councillor and was arrested in his home this evening.

What's more that the cops assaulted Vincie's sisters while they were making the arrest and claimed that he was a dissident.

I spoke to a comrade from that area tonight and was assured that Vincie is 100% behind the movement and is a member of Sinn Féin. This was also stated by Michelle Gildernew MP and Vincie's wife Brenda who is a Sinn Féin councillor.

The scene which unfolded tonight exemplifies the work which still has to be done to remove the scourge of political policing.

There is a section of the police, securocrats and the like, who are running off their own agenda and think they can do what they like. They think they are untouchable, well not for long!

What we need first and foremost is the release of these two men in what is nothing more than a political stunt.

We need the requisite changes to the accountability of the cops so that Sinn Féin can get in there and force these bastards out.

If we have to hound and harass every single human rights abuser and securocrat out then so be it, that is what has to be done.

The time for "forces within forces" is over; the only way forward can be through accountable civic policing.

Sinn Féin keep 3 seats in Newry and Armagh

Sinn Féin have quite comfortably kept the 3 seats that they held in Newry and Armagh with Conor Murphy and Cathal Boylan coming in on the first count and Mickey Brady coming in on the fourth.

The "pundits", stoops, internet trolls and all the other bottom feeders told us that this was going to be the scene of a Stoop gain in the form of socially inept Sharon Haughey.

Those of us on the ground knew that Davy Hyland hadn't got a chance and we also knew that this loyal Republican constituency would return all the Sinn Féin candidates.

The Stoop "presence" on the ground yesterday was pathetic, In the place where I was doing polling agent the stoops only had one person to cover 2 boxes and in the next station up they had forgot to send in the forms and had no polling agents at all.

Former Stoop councillor Pat Toner remarked on our "superior electoral machine" to one of our polling agents in Forkhill.

In South Armagh Sinn Féin polled 84% of the vote, an increase in 8 % from the last election. To say that what ever vote the Stoops had in South Armagh has gone into meltdown is an understatement.

It was a sad moment today to see former comrade Davy Hyland standing alone in the Banbridge count centre. I have said all along that I believed Davy had made the wrong decision.

Davy has been an active Republican for a long time; he must have known that the voters were not stupid. They saw through his "anti policing" facade and were quite angry with some of the alliances he made during this election.

How sore must the Stoops be after hyping up their chances here for the last 6 months/1 year. Sharon Haughey has been groomed for years and the voters of Newry and Armagh have rejected her.

To Dominic Bradley I say this, enjoy your MLA status while it lasts because next time out we will be going for four seats. We will look to remove the Stoop presence from Newry and Armagh once and for all.

Only a fool would bet against that and Sinn Féin in general within this constituency

Which leads very nicely on to the news that El Matador has lost the £100 bet that he had with me, the money will be going to Newry Hospice.

Will El Mat be man enough to pay up? Only time will tell

In closing I would like to wish our 3 MLA's all the best in the future, I know that they will fully represent the people of Newry and Armagh.


Sinn Féin secure British army withdrawl from South Armagh

I see today it was revealed that the British Army are to pull all there troops out of South Armagh. Helicopter flights will also stop over South Armagh as part of the deal negotiated by Sinn Féin.

Recently a massive British Army watchtower, which overlooks the residents of Crossmaglen village, was dismantled.

I did find it amusing to hear local Stoop Dominic Bradley trying to claim credit for the Demil progress in South Armagh. He has never been part of it.

I was a member of the South Armagh Demil committee and we invited all politicians to all our demonstrations and protests, the stoops never showed up once. In fact former Stoop councillor Pat Toner had suggested that some of these watch towers should be kept.

It has been Sinn Féin who secured the removal of the British military presence from South Armagh. As far back as last year we were told that this was the date agreed between Sinn Féin and the British for the removal of their soldiers from our towns and villages.

The Stoops contribution to demil has been what it always was, private drinking sessions between their members and the Brits in Forkhill barracks.

The people of South Armagh are well aware of who secured the removal of the British war machine from South Armagh.

Dominic Bradley's attempt to latch on to other people's hard work is as disgusting as it is predictable.