Who will make up the next government?

I know that many have viewed Bertie as a certainty for the next Taoiseach, is that the case? Enda Kenny has said that Fianna Fáil leading the next government is not yet a foregone conclusion.

I personally believe that Bertie is in the driving seat when it comes to the formation of the next government. That being said his options are not as numerous as others make out.

Fianna Fáil

Option 1: Fianna Fáil, PD's and Independents

This seems to be the favoured option for many in Fianna Fáil and is looking like a probable outcome. They can rely on Jackie Healy-Rae and Beverly Cooper Flynn as they are both Fianna Fáil gene pool independents.

Tony Gregory has a history of supporting minority Fianna Fáil governments and is known to be interested in the job of Ceann Comhairle.

Finian McGrath will go with either block if it means he gets his shopping list however as he is a republican would most likely prefer Fianna Fáil.

The two PD TD's are both ex-Fianna Fáil and have worked with Fianna Fáil for the last decade. Harney wants the job of health minister (heaven forbid!!!!) and will get it under this coalition.

84 is the magic number in the Dáil however it could be 83 if the Ceann Comhairle is a supporter of the government.

Fianna Fáil have 78, PD's 2 and Independents 5.

Fianna Fáil could most likely get the required 84 under this option.

Option 2: Fianna Fáil and the Greens

This shouldn't take long, it's not going to happen! For a number of reasons.

Fianna Fáil's vested interests in construction and farming will go bananas if they are admitted to government and many in Fianna Fáil consider them "flaky". Trevor Sargent has already said that he would have to resign as leader if the Green's went into government with Fianna Fáil and that is the last thing that the Green's want.

Option 3: Fianna Fáil and Labour

This would be the most stable and secure coalition as together they hold 98 seats. That being said the cabinet positions that Labour would require would annoy several Fianna Fáil back benchers who are close to getting their hands on a "merc". If Fianna Fáil were cute though they would go with this option for strategic long term vested interests.

The only reason that Fine Gael won 20 seats was because they used Labour as a foot stool to gain respectability. If Fianna Fáil could break up the "alternative coalition" at this stage, by bringing Labour into government, then they would almost guarantee themselves a place in government for the next 10 years.

Fine Gael

They only have one coalition option and that is a grand coalition

Fine Gael/PD/Labour/Green/Independents and possibly implicit support from Sinn Féin.

This is the least likely outcome however at this stage, numerically, it is still possible. Fine Gael need to get Labour and the Greens to stay onside. This may prove a hard task however it will be the easiest of all the tasks that Enda Kenny will have to pull off.

With Fine Gael, Labour and Greens this equals 77 seats, just one behind Fianna Fáil.

Michael Lowry is ex-Fine Gael and so could possibly be counted so that places them on 78.

That leaves us with the PD's (2), Independents (4) and Sinn Féin (4).

That means that the "alternative government" would need to secure 6 of the 10 TD's.

Firstly, he hasn't got a hope in hell of getting Jackie Healy-Rae as he is a South Kerry republican from the Fianna Fáil voting base. Jackie wants his son to succeed him next time around and knows that a deal with the blue-shirts will make that impossible.

Beverly Cooper Flynn is also another tricky one as she is ex-Fianna Fáil and despite being elected as an independent got elected on a Fianna Fáil vote. She will also be facing a possible bankruptcy challenge from RTÉ which would force her to vacate her seat. If this did happen Fine Gael would win the seat.

I personally find this coalition option unlikely as it would be very hard to put together, with Harney demanding Health and the Greens and Labour against co-location.

This would also require Sinn Féin to abstain from the vote for Taoiseach and although they did that the last time there is no reason to believe that they will do so now in order to facilitate an anti-Republican Blue Shirt Taoiseach.

I also don't believe that this would be a stable or good coalition for the country.

At this moment in time I am calling it as either

1) Fianna Fáil/PD/Indo

2) Fianna Fáil/Labour


You just can't win!!

When I published my article yesterday about our performance in the 26 counties election perhaps I was wrong.

Perhaps I was wrong to give my honest opinion in public, maybe it would have been better to says these things within the confines of the party.

I say this after the hatchet job that TalkBack (starts 1hr in) made of my analysis today, it was used as a tool to attack the party and I am angry about that.

I really do despair, their "analysis" was nothing more than an attack on the party and had no basis in reality!

I mean, Republicans are attacked for not being open enough and yet as soon as someone writes their honest opinion, free from spin, it's used as a tool to attack the party with.

I want to apologise to my fellow Republicans for my piece being used in this way.

It was meant as an honest starting point for an open debate within the grassroots and the party as to how we rectify the problems and build for the future.

I will be looking at my whole attitude to blogging after this, perhaps I was being naive.

While I apologise for how my analysis was used, I don't apologise for what I said.

I believe everything that I wrote


Sinn Féin: What went wrong?

I wanted to wait until all the results were in before I posted about the outcome, and the outcome for Sinn Féin was not good!

We are left in a situation were instead of doubling our number of TD's, as we expected, we are going into the 30th Dáil with one less TD.

The loss of Seán Crowe in Dublin South West is a huge blow and a hard one to take. It's a loss that nobody predicted and came totally left field. Seán is a seriously nice guy, a hard worker and a dedicated Republican. I have no doubt that he will be back next time out to reclaim the seat.

What makes this all the harder to grasp is that Seán topped the poll last time and the person who took the Sinn Féin seat is uber blue-shirt Brian Hayes.

Some, especially in Fianna Fáil, are making the mistake though of overstating the failure of our campaign.

We came very close in a lot of constituencies.

Padraig MacLoughlin came within inches in Donegal North East. Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Larry O'Toole and Mary Lou McDonald all came very close to taking seats for Sinn Féin in Donegal and Dublin.

On top of that we have made huge advances in other constituencies and with 5 more years hard work will hopefully yield seats.

-I am thinking of Jonathon O'Brien in Cork North Central, who with 8.2% increased our vote by 2.5%.

-Joanne Spain in Dublin Mid West, who with 9.3% increased our vote by 2.6%.

-Martin Kenny in Roscommon-South Leitrim, who with 8.4% increased our vote by 3.4%

We also saw strong showings in Waterford, Wexford, Laois-Offaly, Sligo-North Leitrim and Meath West.

It should also be born in mind that our share of the vote actually increased in this election despite the squeeze on the smaller parties.

Now I am going to try and work out firstly what went wrong and how we can improve for the future.

What went wrong?

1. Fianna Fáil Vs Fine Gael

The last week of the election saw a change of focus away from the issues and onto the debate of who would be the next Taoiseach. It became a straight fight between Bertie Ahern of Fianna Fáil and Blue-Shirt Enda Kenny.

The results bear testament to that with all the smaller parties, including Labour, doing badly yet with Fianna Fáil holding and Fine Gael advancing by 20 seats.

Fianna Fáil voters who would have came to us in our key constituencies stayed with Fianna Fáil in the hope of staying off the blue-shirt axis of evil.

2. All fur coat no knickers

That's the only phrase that I can use in relation to our campaign. I am not blaming our candidates or our party activists who busted their balls night after night, I am placing this blame directly at the foot of the leadership.

I will explain why

Let's have a look at our manifesto, or lack there of, for example. I want to make it clear that I don't blame the people who drafted it, there is a serious problem within the party with policy formation.

That being said the manifesto was the biggest pile of watery, airy fairy, head in the fucking clouds, not a notion of what is going on, bullshit that I have ever had the misfortune of reading!!

Yes, we identified the problems in health, in lack of childcare, in housing, in public transport, in inequality, in lack of all-Ireland co-operation etc

What we didn't supply to the electorate was an answer to these problems! To say that our "policies" were vague in the extreme would be spinning to the nth degree. All we provided to the electorate was pub talk, nothing more.

We did not supply clear answers that would solve the current problems, it's that fucking simple!

Our back flip on Corporation tax so close to an election was suicidal, it looked like we were running scared and unsure of our own position. I have often heard it said that a dog can sense fear in a person, well an electorate can sense fear in a political party.

It's about time we got off the fucking pot and decided who we are and what we hope to achieve. Let's drop this pretence and say to the electorate very clearly.

-Yes, we want a 32 County Socialist Republic!

-Yes, we want a secular state where all forms of discrimination be it race, sex, creed, sexual orientation etc are consigned to the past

-Yes, the rich should pay their fair share

-Yes, the private sector has no role in public services

-Yes, the most vulnerable in society should be protected

-Yes, housing are for living in not for speculators to make money off

You can't be a catch all party, we are not like Fianna Fáil. We are an ideological party and we should stop trying to court a vote that we can never get!

3. Too much focus on the North

That has been a mistake by the party. The simple fact is that the vast majority of people in the 26 counties want a United Ireland but as the vote for such is not up next month it is not the major issue. The major issues are health, education, crime, the economy, transport etc

We have relied too much on our Northern reps and I have felt that they sometimes overshadowed our own candidates. In a way it seemed like we were babysitting our Southern candidates and while that was not the intention that's how it came across.

Too much time spent on the peace process!

You can't live off past victories and past successes, eaten bread counts for nothing. Why would I vote for someone because of what they did in the past? I want to know what are they going to do for me in the future!

4. Mistakes at leadership level

I said yesterday to JG that if we failed to win Dublin Central that I would place the blame for that squarely at the foot of the Ard Chomhairle, that position has not changed. This talk of the smaller parties being squeezed does not hold true in Dublin Central, in others constituencies yes but not Dublin Central.

We threw everything and I mean everything, including the kitchen sink, at Dublin Central and we failed to win a seat. This was a seat were Nicky Keogh came within a 100 votes of winning it last time and yet this time our vote was down 5.4%.

Tony Gregory said last night that had Nicky stood again he would have won, I concur with Tony. I don't hold Mary Lou responsible for this failure, she did everything in her power to win a seat here for Sinn Féin and I would like to express my commiserations.

I do however hold the view that this was the wrong constituency for her to stand in, I said it at the time to party comrades and I am saying it again. Working class areas are less disposed to perceived parachute candidates than other areas. They like to see one of their own representing them and righly so, all politics is local afterall.

What the Ard Chomhairle did here, in my opinion, was to look for the best possible chance that we had at a seat gain in Dublin and said right, we'll stick her there.

It doesn't work that way.

The ignored the fact that the reason why we were so close to a seat there was because of the serious hard work by local activists on the ground and by Nicky himself. The evidence of this was born out by the vote we achieved yesterday in Cabra.

The Ard Chomhairle are really going to have to look at their all-too-often temptation to interfere with the workings of local Sinn Féin areas.

I understand that they have these powers and responsibilities to ensure local areas are singing off the same hymn sheet however in my opinion their interference cost us a seat yesterday.

Now I am not the type of person who gives out about problems without offering my humble opinion on how we can rectify the problems.

What do we do?

1. Policy and Development

We need to have a serious and I mean serious look at this department within the party. I personally never want to read the garbage that I read this election ever again.

The problem we have is that we have a serious issue with the use of our resources. Policy formation is often ad hoc and airy fairy or not at all. This is no longer acceptable in these changed times.

We must also remember that the electorate in most of the 26 counties are not as trusting as the Northern voters. They require and demand proper policies and proper strategies from us. It's not like South Armagh or West Belfast where you could stand a donkey with a tricolour and they would get elected.

What we did to our candidates in this election was to send them out unarmed, an unusual thing for Republicans. We left them without the answers to many key questions and I think for that we owe an apology to them.

They were sent out like lambs amongst the wolves and that must never happen again. This result should be used as a wake up call for us.

We need to spend a year, at least, developing policy and we need to widen the scope of people who contribute to policy formation. I have been saying that since University!

We have people in every sector of society within the movement, be they plumbers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, community workers etc. Not to mention the students that we have all over this island studying and researching these areas

Do we use that talent which is open to us??? You must be joking!

To the great and the good they are more use putting up posters than helping us destroy the one stick the establishment have left to beat us with, our lack of credible policies.

Unless we make a credible attempt at developing clear, concise and developed policies on a whole range of issues then we can expect this result to occur again.

You only have to look at the leaders debate to see how Gerry got hammered on this issue.

2. Internal reflection

We need to have a look at these results and try to determine where we went wrong. We need to look at our slavish adherence to discrimination when it comes to the selection of candidates.

We need to decide which is more preferable, a credible and strong male candidate who can win a seat or a female candidate who can't.

It's that simple!

People will be aware of my opposition to Sinn Féin's, what can only be described as discrimination, gender policy.

I fully support the move to get more of our female members elected, you can't however secure that goal by the use of discrimination. We need to address the fundamental problem that exists within the party when it comes to advancing women.

We need to work on getting more women to take up positions of responsibility within the party. That means Chair and Secretary of local Cumann, Chomhairle Ceanthair and Cúige .

We need to change the way we do business in order to facilitate more of our female members.

I've lost count of the amount of times that I have attended meetings, at ungodly hours or inappropriate hours for women with children. They don't start on time because some people work off "republican time", they last for hours on end and we have meetings about meetings.

We need to create space for some of our female members to take up the mantel of responsibility. That can't be achieved by having, what many female comrades have said to me, patronising "gender quotas".

I know female members of the party that have outlined their utter contempt for our gender polices to the senior people concerned because I was there when they did it.

There is a perception that should they get selected it isn't on merit and it's because they are women, it's tokenism at it's worst!

You could have the entire Ard Chomhairle elected as women and all of our elected reps and women would not enjoy equality because that is not were the power lies.

Who are we?

I don't write these things out of anger or bitterness, I write them as a concerned and loyal member of the Republican movement. I think we need to face up to these problems and deal with them accordingly.

We are not beat, we are still going strong and headed in the right direction. We have local elections in 2009 and all of our energy must be focused on that.

The fight back starts now and our challenge for the 31st Dáil starts now!

Left lost out

I think the entire Irish political system was the loser when Joe Higgins, leader of the Socialist Party, lost his seat in Dublin West.

It shows just how much smaller parties got squeezed as most of the commentators had expected him to retain his seat and bring in party comrade Clare Daly in Dublin North, that didn't happen.

Joe was born in the Lispole area of the Kerry Gaeltacht and he actually trained to become a priest before he became political in America at the time of the Vietnam war.

Joe went to jail in 2003 over his opposition to the bin tax as it has serious consequences for the most vulnerable in society. In 2005 he exposed the exploitation of the Turkish workers by GAMA who had kept 30 million EUROS of their wages without their knowledge.

This lead to Fianna Fáil reptile Conor Lenihan interrupting Joe and telling him to “stick with the kebabs” (in reference to his support of the Turkish workers) during one of his many attacks on the Taoiseach.

I was delighted that the independent deputies of the Dáil decided to elect Joe as their "leader" within the technical group (Independents, Green Party and Sinn Féin).

When Bertie had the audacity to suggest that he was the only Socialist in the Dáil Joe had this to say

“If this conversion was genuine we would have to go back 2,000 years to find another as rapid and as radical. Saul’s embrace of Christianity on the road to Damascus stood the test of time but the Taoiseach’s embrace of socialism on the banks of the Tolka hardly will.”

A week after Joe was dragged by Garda riot police from the gates of Leinster House during an anti-war protest in 2003, McDowell responded to hectoring from Joe in the Dáil by saying,

“I have a right to make a speech without being barracked by somebody who is not a democrat but believes in establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat as soon as he possibly can”.

The only person to truly annoy Bertie was Joe

Joe was attacking the Government for the current state of housing market when Ahern attacked him. He told the Dáil that the cost of buying a house was now beyond most working people and that Fianna Fáil, which receives vast sums of money from developers, was not doing anything to tackle the problem.

Bertie Ahern claimed that Joe was "a failed person". He also said to Joe "you were rejected and your political philosophy has been rejected".

I think Joe can view these attacks by McDowell and Ahern as badges of honour

Irish politics is poorer without his voice in the Dáil, a great shame!

Enda's Bitch!

That's what many Labour members must be thinking right about now. The "alliance for change" has done nothing for Labour, in fact Labour lost their seat in Kerry South to Fine Gael.

Many of their own potential gains were got by Fine Gael instead.

All that the Mullingar accord did was to propel Fine Gael and give them a sense of credibility.

I remember speaking to many Labour members who were very unhappy by the deal at the time. They were not happy that their party was allied with one of the most right wing parties in the country.

I was watching the RTÉ coverage last night and listened very intently to Labour TD for Dublin North East Tommy Broughan.

He said that he opposed the Mullingar accord and that from listening to Blue-shirts their plan was to build for an overall majority by cannibalising the Labour vote.

It's hard not to agree with Tommy. I only hope that people like him win out in the Labour party and that they cast aside their stickie leaders.

I say this as someone who wants to see the building of a broad left wing consensus for progressive politics in this country.

There are lessons for "the left" from this election, allying yourself to either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael will not advance your objectives.

Let's hope we learn those lessons

McDowell in Politics? No Thanks!

I will deal with my own parties performance in a while however my first remark has got to be on the total demise of the PD's.

Yesterday morning on RTÉ (excellent coverage) it became clear that Liz O'Donnell in Dublin South, Deputy Leader, was going to lose her seat.

By lunchtime it became clear that the biggest scalp of this election was going to be the Tánaiste, Minister for (in)Justice and Leader of the PD's Michael McDowell.

McDowell has never successfully defended a Dáil seat since he was first elected. He has only been leader of the PD's for 6 months and now they face electoral extinction.

It's seems that when Harney bailed as leader she was leaving the rats to sink on the ship.

On a personal level I feel some sense of sympathy for McDowell, he had the guts to put himself before the electorate and he has been rejected. I will however miss the bogeyman's vitriolic outbursts.

On a political level I am very glad to see him go.

As Minister for Justice he has been an absolute disgrace!

-His conduct in relation to Frank Connolly was disgusting and he debased the integrity of the Dáil in that instance by his abuse of Parliamentary Privilege.

-His playing of the race card for short term political advantage in relation to the last referendum was unforgivable.

-His new Criminal Justice bill was a serious curtailment of the right to a fair trial and an attack on individual civil liberty.

-His scant regard for the privileged material of a government tribunal of inquiry made him unfit to hold the office of Minister for Justice.

While I will miss the bogeyman on a personal level I will not miss his corrosive influence on Irish politics.

Fianna Fáil will not miss his outbursts either!

I remember attending a conference last year and talking to a leading member of Ógra Fianna Fáil about McDowell, his reaction was telling

"Every time that fascist bastard opens his mouth he sends more and more of our people over to you guys (Sinn Féin)"


Election time

Tomorrow voters in the 26 counties go to the polls in order to decide the seats for the next Dáil Éireann.

The story of this election will yet again be about the rise of Sinn Féin and the attempts of the establishment parties to curtail that rise.

I have followed the campaign with much interest.

The campaign started with Bertiegate II, then we had the Rumble in Ranelagh, the Menopausal Paris Hilton and finally today we had the Blue-Shirts screaming about "the shinners are coming".

I have no doubt that we will do well in this election, I reckon in the region of 9-12 seats.

At the moment the established view is about 10 seats, double what we have now. That also leads to the possibility of us holding the balance of power in the next Dáil.

Where 5 of those 10 seats will come from is quite straight forward. We will keep the 5 that we have in the form of Arthur Morgan in Louth, Martin Ferris in Kerry North, Sean Crowe in Dublin South West, Aengus Ó Snodaigh in Dublin South Central and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in Cavan/Monaghan.

I would be very surprised if Mary Lou McDonald was not elected in Dublin Central, Pearse Doherty in Donegal South West and Dessie Ellis in Dublin North West.

I think Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has an excellent chance in Donegal North East. I also think that Larry O'Toole has a great chance of a seat in Dublin North East.

I believe that David Cullinane will push hard in Waterford, as will John Dwyer in Wexford however this may prove just one election too soon.

I think both Seán Mac Manus and Joe Reilly have been unlucky with boundary changes since the last election. Had their constituencies not been changed both would have been elected this time. As it is I believe it may be too much of an ask this time out.

Look out for strong showings from Jonathan O Brien in Cork North Central, Joanne Spain in Dublin Mid West, Daithí Doolan in Dublin South East, Felix Gallagher in Dublin West, Brian Stanley in Laois/Offaly and Martin Kenny in Roscommon/South Leitrim.

They will all be potential gains at the next election.

For the other constituencies this is about laying down markers for the local elections in 2009. This is about building up support in those areas where we have never had support before.

Tomorrow will make for an interesting day

You'll never walk again!

I firstly want to apologise for my lack of blogging, the reasons are many and varied. They include studying, drinking, a trip back to God's country and a dodgy internet connection.

I am delighted to see that Liverpool have failed to win the Champions league.

I was watching the FA Cup final with "Setanta" (absentee blogger) on Saturday and the shit that I had to put up with from that Liverpool supporting reprobate was enough to drive any sane man to drink!

Hell rub it up ye Setanta, I fucking told you Liverpool were shite!

Glory, Glory Man Utd!!!


Memorable Irish political quotes

Last night we saw two, to my taste anyway, humorous one-liners from both Herr McDowell and Stickieus Maximus AKA Pat Rabbitte.

Rabbitte referred to Herr McDowell as a "menopausal Paris Hilton" over his craven desire for media attention.

McDowell snorted that in relation to Pat Rabbitte, Gerry Adams and Trevor Sargent he was surrounded by "the left, the hard left and the left overs"

Not bad however in my mind only one Irish politician stands out when it comes to the one-liners. Fianna Fáilers called him "the boss", a lot of people called him "a crook" but there is no denying the charisma of Charles J Haughey.

Here is some of the good, the bad and the down right dirty!

In relation to Ahern he called him "the most clever, most cunning and most devious of them all"

He said "Deep down I'm a very shallow person"

He only went to Erskine Childers funeral “to make sure the fucker was planted”

While passing a crowd of female sailors on his boat “Celtic Mist”, he shouted out “Are ye’r knickers wet?”

Charlie was talking, in the privacy of this office, to his Press Secretary, Frank Dunlop

Charlie-“Where the fuck were you yesterday?”
Dunlop- “Yesterday...Sunday...I was at home in the bosom of my family”
Charlie- “We’re making some progress.....the fucker knows yesterday was Sunday”

Haughey supporter Don Lydon, after being grilled by Charlie, was having trouble finding the door out of his wood panelled office. After a few moments, Charlie looks up

Charlie-“What are you still doing here?”
Lydon- “I can’t find the door, Taoiseach”
Charlie- “Then why don’t you jump out the fucking window?”

“Jasus, Frank, she’ll go fuckin’ banana’s when she reads this”

-Charlie's reaction on reading a Private Eye magazine article linking him with the “aging” Terry Keane, in Frank Dunlop's presence.

"I have done the State some service, and they know't. No more of that."

- His departing speech as Taoiseach, he quotes Shakespeare's Othello on February 11th, 1992

Any other Irish political quotes spring to mind?

Rumble in Ranelagh

It seems that the Green party have robbed an election tactic from the DUP.

Many will remember Peter the Punt and Co accosting Trimble and Co outside Cunningham during the Assembly campaign a few years ago.

The Green TD John Gormley seemed to think that was a good idea and attacked McDowell yesterday as he was going up his favourite lamp post in Ranelagh.

McDowell went up that lamp post to put up his now infamous "Single Party Government? No Thanks!" poster at the last General Election.

It seems McDowell had a similar idea this time and put up a "Left-Wing Government? No Thanks!" poster this time.

During his "private” press conference Gormley interrupted in order to call the Tániste and Minister for Injustice a liar.

What happened next was hilarious!!

Who said elections were dull? LOL

Rabbitte rules out coalition with Fianna Fáil

It was the words that the Blue-shirts were longing to hear and the words that many in Labour and Fianna Fáil hoped would never be uttered.

Rabbitte told listeners on RTÉ radio's Today with Pat Kenny

"I have no intention of doing any business with Fianna Fáil."

He claimed that he had risked his reputation (*snigger*) on the Mullingar Accord with the Blue-shirts and that he was determined to ensure there was an "alternative government" in place.

In full he said

"As regards the electoral strategy I have risked my reputation as leader in constructing a platform with Fine Gael in order to ensure that the people will have the opportunity of an alternative government, and I have no intention of doing any business with Fianna Fáil."

This will come as welcome news to many Blue-shirts who were afraid that Rabbitte would shaft them in the 11th hour and do a deal with Bertie.

I am sure this will come as a shock to many Fianna Fáil voters who suspected that while Rabbitte was currently in bed with Fine Gael the lure of power and position might lead him over to Fianna Fáil if the numbers didn't add up.

There are a few questions that now have to be contemplated

-If the "alternative government" aka Blue-shirts and Stickies don't have the numbers, even when including the Green's, will Labour dump Rabbitte and Co and go into bed with Fianna Fáil?

The fact that the old stickie brigade has such a tight hold over the leadership it might prove difficult and indeed counterproductive to have a bloodied coup after the election. That said with Brendan Howlin waiting in the wings waiting to strike it really is anyone's guess.

- Now that Rabbitte and as such Labour have ruled out coalition with Fianna Fáil who will the soldiers of destiny (*snigger*) transfer to?

I suspect that this statement by Rabbitte could boast transfers to Sinn Féin since the stickies want into bed with the Blue-shirts. Civil war politics is still very strong in the 26 counties and the hatred between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael should not be underestimated.

This election is shaping up to make Sinn Féin king-makers in the next Dáil!

This election just gets better and better, more twists and turns than a Swedish prostitute!


The big debate

Tonight will see host to the RTÉ Prime Time debate between Gerry Adams, Michael McDowell, Trevor Sargent and Pat Rabbitte.

This has been billed as the "other debate" by RTÉ however it promises to be a much better and more explosive event that tomorrow nights dour affair with the blue-shirt and the brown envelope.

It is these parties that will set the agenda in any future government. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have shown in the past to be more than content to allow the junior party of government to set the policy while they enjoy the vestiges of power.

I wonder if any of you can remember the car-crash debate between Gerry Adams and Ruairi Quinn at the last election on the Late Late Show. Quinn was raving while Adams was cool and collected.

I am looking forward to seeing Adams putting these political pygmies in their place

Bertie speaks to the Brits but not as an Irish Republican

I see that an Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has spoken to the Brits in the joint houses of the British parliament.

Now, many herald this as the stuff of history, "Peace in our time" and other such nonsense.

Bertie is not the first Irishman who masquerades as an Irish Republican to have graced the floor of the British houses of parliament.

The Stoops do it all the time!

I did find it interesting that Bertie was introduced as "the son of an Irish Republican" rather than as an Irish Republican in his own right. I am not surprised and think it was rather appropriate.

Despite the fact that I come from an Irish Republican family and have had realitives who fought in the Tan War, Civil War and current conflict, I don't seek to live off their deeds or reputation.

I am a Republican because of my own deeds and my own deeds alone!

I look at people like Paddy who used to post here and the fact that he came from an SDLP background and admire him more than many other Republicans.

He didn't take the easy option when it came to being an Irish Republican like many of us did. He weighed up all the options and went against the grain to a Republican.

He is ten times the Republican of Ahern who has said or done nothing in his political tenure that would lead one to believe that he is an Irish Republican.

-When the issue of Northern Representation came up in relation to the Dáil he buckeled!

-When a Green Paper on Irish Unity was proposed he sneered!

-When a call was made to extend the vote for the Irish Presidental elections to every Irish citizen he was found wanting!

I judge people by their words and actions and not by the words and actions of their relatives.

When you have to rely on the good name of your relatives you know that your own is in question!

Bertie said yeterday

"it is my passionate hope that we will see the island of Ireland united in peace"

The last time I checked hope, albeit it passionate hope, never secured freedom. Bertie would do well to remember this quote from Thomas Davis, the father of Irish Republicanism

“As well might you leave the fairies to plough your land or the idle winds to sow it, as sit down and wait for freedom.”

Ógra launches youth election video

Ógra Shinn Féin has today launched a youth election broadcast for the upcoming 26 County General Election.

It is aimed towards young people and includes the launch of the Ógra Shinn Féin Youth Manifesto by National Organiser Barry McColgan, and interviews from SéanCrowe TD and young Sinn Féin candidate Séan Tracey.

Speaking on the launch of the video, member of An Chomhairle Náisiúnta Ógra Shinn Féin Caoimhe Sloan said,

“We produced the video which will now be displayed on YouTube, GoogleVideo andBebo in order to engage with Irish youth on forums they use.”

“We are asking young people to make use of their vote in this election, and tovote for the party that best represents youth – Sinn Féin.”

“The video deals with issues that Ógra will be highlighting in the upcomingelection including Irish Unity, suicide prevention, road safety, tackling homelessness amongst young people and challenging international imperialism, including the US Military use of Shannon Airport.”

“On the 24th May vote for Irish Unity; vote for youth and for change, Vótáil Sinn Féin!”

I would like to congratulate Ógra for taking the lead when it comes to issues facing young people.

Onwards to the Republic comrades!!


No abuse of veto by Sinn Féin

Today saw the first real debates in the newly established Assembly. An interesting issue that cropped up was a motion by the UUP that the Assembly rejoin the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

I am sure many believed that Sinn Féin would use its veto in order to stop this motion passing, I am glad to say that this did not happen.

Don't get me wrong, I don't support this motion and neither did the party however there is a mature recognition that this may be important to Unionists.

I have no interest in rejoining some archaic throw off from the crumbled British Empire however Sinn Féin's actions today show an intent not to abuse their veto.

I believe that Republicans are mature enough and confident enough in our own identity to allow Unionism membership of a talking shop. I believe it is a signal to Unionism that Sinn Féin intends to be fair with its wielding of power.

I hope that after a few more years of issues like this being resolved with maturity that some Unionists may begin to see that when a United Ireland does come about their traditions and culture will be respected and protected.

Mitchel McLaughlin spoke on the issue of the CPA and said that while we opposed it we would not be forcing a vote on open floor.

"Our approach to this matter is that while this is not, as you would understand, a primary matter of interest for us, neither should we create any obstacles to those who feel it reflects their particular cultural, political and social affinity,"

It's my firm belief that neither Sinn Féin or the DUP should abuse their mutual veto. Power sharing should be about respect and working together where we can.

I am glad that Sinn Féin took the mature approach today and I hope that when a similar issue arises in relation to Nationalism and Republicanism that the DUP will take a similar mature approach.

Sinn Féin take seats on Policing Board

I see that the Ard Chomhairle has approved Sinn Féin taking our seats on the new reconstituted Policing Board. Our three representatives will be Alex Maskey, Martina Anderson and Daithi McKay.

Sinn Féin Policing and Justice spokesperson Alex Maskey had this to say

"Sinn Féin are going onto the Policing Board to hold the PSNI to account. On the Policing Board we will provide the voice for communities who have in the past experienced only bad policing. We want to play a constructive role on the Board but we will not shy away from challenging, or criticising, or questioning policing decisions and policy when the need arises. "

"Sinn Féin argued for a strong and effective Policing Board as a key accountability mechanism. We argued and gained significant additional powers for the body over a series of negotiations with the British government. Our participation on the Policing Board and local DPPs will I believe ensure that the sort of effective, accountable and non partisan policing service demanded by the Good Friday Agreement is delivered in the time ahead."

I would like to wish Alex, Martina and Daithi the best of luck, they have a very difficult road ahead of them and I for one don't envy them one bit.

I do feel that while our reps on the Policing Board will have significant responsibility in terms of keeping the cops to account, it will be our reps on the DPP's who may have the most difficult roles.

The DPP's are the bodies that hold local cops to account for local issues, our members on these boards will be very important. It will be down to them to ensure that the free reign they got from the stoops comes to an end.

There is a job of work ahead of us to ensure that the sort of policing we all had to endure never happens again.


A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

I was amused and shocked to learn that a search of Portlaoise prison has turned up a budgie. The budgie was smuggled into the prison by a female visitor who concealed the bird in her body.

Now I have heard stories of women smuggling drugs, silencers etc into prisons but a fucking budgie????

Twenty Major is convinced he knows who the culprit was and it's not a pleasant image. Readers of a delicate disposition are asked not to clink on the link.

The search of Portlaoise was prompted after convicted armed robber John Daly telephoned RTÉ radio's Liveline programme from an illegal mobile phone from his cell last week.

Joe Duffy was interviewing Sunday Lie hack Paul "I don't snort cocaine" Williams at the time.

During the interview Daly phoned up and called Williams a "fucking cunt" live on air.

Some true stories are more amusing than fiction!


Paisley hands over his gun

No, it wasn't a gun from the stockpiles that Ulster Resistance brought in. It was a musket that was used at the Battle of the Boyne and which is now owned by Paisley.

Don't worry Ian, I'll use it wisely. Now where is that bastard Frank Connolly?

When Paisley met Ahern at the site of the Battle of the Boyne today he presented it to the Taoiseach for it to be given to the visitor centre to hold on loan.

This gift comes after the Taoiseach presented Paisley and his wife with a walnut bowl made from a tree at the site. The bowl was presented to Paisley by the Taoiseach as it was his wedding anniversary during the St Andrew's talks.

My god, how times have changed! Paisley handing over a gun to the Irish Taoiseach on the site of the Battle of the Boyne.

It's enough to give a Ballymena Free P a coronary embolism! This must be their version of the seventh level of hell.

Today was another big step towards lasting peace in Ireland. A meeting between the Orange and Green on the site of one of Ireland's biggest battles. A battle that decided the fate of not only Ireland but Europe as well.

I do find it amusing the brave King Billy was supported by the Pope at the time, try telling some of the ones in Kilkeel that.

The visitor centre at the site will open next year and I am looking forward to attending. This site, while a huge part of the Orange culture on the island, is part of our shared culture and history.

Paisley said

"Instead of reverberating to the roar of cannon fire and the charge of men the shot of musket or the clash of sword steel, today we have the tranquillity of still water where we can contemplate the past and look forward to the future."

I fully agree!

Let's look forward to the 32 county United Secular Socialist Republic! eh Comrade?

Jesus was a Socialist

I see that the Holy Father has made it clear that supporters of abortion have no future in the Church.

On the start of his trip to Brazil he vowed to stem the defections from the "one true church" to evangelical Protestanism and said that the penalty for supporting abortion was excommunication.

I myself have no particular problem with this view as my opinion on Abortion is well know, I do however have a problem with the double standards.

In Mexico the Church hierarchy excommunicated politicians who voted for a law that legalised abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City, as well as doctors and nurses who performed abortions.

The Holy Father said

“canon law says the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving Communion, which is receiving the body of Christ . . . It expresses our belief that human individuality, the human personality, is present from the first moment of life.”

This is in stark contrast to the way in which former Presidential candidate John Kerry was treated when he supported abortion. I am not surprised with this volte-face for a number of reasons.

The Church in America has a much more liberal streak and any move against Kerry would have annoyed too many vested interests, besides, money talks.

Therein lies the reason why the Church allows many Catholics to adopt an á la carte attitude to Catholicism in Europe and America as say compared to Africa or South America.

The Pope admitted that the rise of evangelical Protestant churches in Latin America was “our biggest worry”. He did however refuse to accept the reason for this, namely church opposition to liberation theology.

According to the Pope those who followed liberation theology were “mistakenly mixing faith and politics”. Church teaching was he said “not aimed at destroying the commitment to justice but guiding it along the right path”.

The simple fact is that many in South America do have a thirst for religion, you can't however eat a bible! This hysterical notion within the Church that somehow Catholic= Conservative is not based on any of the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus was the first Socialist, I kid you not!

Let's look at some of his teachings regarding wealth and redistribution

To the poor he said, "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,". To the rich he said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth," and "go, sell what you have, and give to the poor." When the rich turned away from him because they wouldn't follow his command he observed, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

According to Jesus helping the poor is not some optional extra, it is demanded. In the parable of the last judgement he speaks about welcoming the righteous into heaven. "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

When the righteous answered that they didn't recall doing any of these things, he said, "as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

The bible is littered with left-wing teachings. I would describe myself as a Catholic/Christian Socialist insofar as neither Socialists nor Catholics either fully understand or accept my views.

To adapt a quote from James Connolly

"Catholicism and Socialism are not antagonistic, but complementary."

The Church needs to wake up and realise that economics do play a major part in peoples lives.

This would be wiser than falsely suggesting that they (the Church) are politically neutral as opposed to the conservative capitalists that they are.

Archbishop Dom Helder Camara, from Brazil, once said, "When I feed the poor, you call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor, you call me a communist"

Not an Inch

I see that the new executive met for the first time today, this really is the season for great pictures. I was delighted to see that the first order of business was to rule out water rates.

The £75 Million that is required to update our water service has been secured from Gordon Brown's wallet, rather than ours!

A review into our water and sewage has been announced and we should have feedback by the Autumn.

I am glad that this has been resolved as this was a big issue during the election. I remember canvassing in Armagh city and the issue of water rates came up at every door. I reassured every voter that Sinn Féin would not allow the introduction of water rates.

I also informed them that the whole "don't pay" campaign was a red herring as the Stoop minister Austin Currie had brought in legislation in the 70's, the Payment of Debts act, that allowed the government to take the money from benefits and bank accounts.

The stoops did this after they told people not to pay their rates during the rent and rates strike. This hit my grand-father and grand-mother very hard and my grand-father cursed the stoops to his dieing day over it.

The voters were assured that while others promise, Sinn Féin delivers!

In an interesting aside Martin and Paisley smiled at one another before taking their seats as head of the executive, how times have changed!

When Paisley was asked to shift his chair for an official photograph he joked that he would move it "not an inch"

I'll give the old bastard one thing, he has a great sense of humour!

Sinn Féin: Health

I am glad to see that Sinn Féin are determined to keep the focus of this election on the Government's biggest fuck-up, Health!

Today the party unveiled their plans for Health and declared that they would only be investing government funding in a public health system.

Speaking at the launch of Sinn Féin's Health proposals in Dublin this morning Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said

"Health is the single biggest issue of concern to people in Ireland in 2007. Yet so far it has featured very little in this General Election campaign. Our purpose here today is to focus the debate back on this key and critical issue for all of us. We want to set out Sinn Féin's clear vision of a renewed and transformed Health Service based on equality. "

"The term of office of the Fianna Fáil/PD Government has ended with chaos in the health services. The crisis in A&E departments continues. MRSA is endemic in our hospitals. The talks on a new contract for hospital consultants are deadlocked. The Government and the HSE publicly disagree on the number of new hospital beds we need. And the nurses have been forced into a work-to-rule. "

"I want to begin by urging Minister Harney to intervene immediately and to order the HSE to withdraw its outrageous threat to the nurses to deduct 13% of their pay if they do not end their work-to-rule this evening. The INO is meeting today in special delegate conference and the HSE is attempting to bully them into stopping their protest action. We fully support the nurses' demand for a 35-hour week and improved pay. "

"The Fianna Fáil/PD government has left a trail of broken promises in its wake. They broke their promise in 2002 to end hospital waiting lists within two years. They broke their promise to deliver an additional 200,000 full medical cards. Yet they have proceeded with a scheme which they never signalled in advance and for which they have no mandate - the privatisation of hospital services through the public-private hospital co-location scheme. "

"When challenged this plan to allocate public hospital lands and tax breaks to developers of private hospitals, the Government has claimed that it will 'free up' 1,000 beds in public hospitals currently designated private. In the last week of the 29th Dáil I asked the Health Minister how many beds would be provided in each of the eight co-located private hospitals. She could not tell me."

So where does the figure of 1,000 beds come from?

It is a fiction and an attempt to deceive the people.

"In contrast to this, Sinn Féin believes that healthcare is a public service and a fundamental human right. We have the resources in Ireland to ensure that everyone has equal access to health services that are both equitable and efficient. We also have the resources to ensure that factors which lead to poor health for many people, including social and economic inequality, are tackled effectively. "

"In contrast to appalling record of the current government, Sinn Féin TDs in Leinster House have

-Stood firm in support of the public system and public patients and against privatisation

-Fully supported people campaigning for services to be retained in their local hospitals

-Used Dáil time to set out our positive proposals for a universal health system based on equal access for all

-Published a comprehensive policy - Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals - the most detailed health policy published by any political party in Ireland

-Campaigned for Healthcare as a Right, meeting healthcare workers, local groups and the general public throughout Ireland.

"We translate our vision for the health services into three key proposals"

-A new universal public health system for Ireland that provides care to all free at the point of delivery, on the basis of need alone, and funded from general fair and progressive taxation.

-Fundamental re-orientation of the health system to adopt a central focus on prevention, health promotion and primary care (including mental health care), and on ultimately eliminating the underlying social and structural causes of ill-health and premature death, such as poverty and inequality.

-Immediate establishment of a Health Funding Commission to report within a reasonable timeframe on the projected costs of the transition to an all-Ireland system of universal provision, taking into account all spending on health services under the current systems.

"We see decent healthcare as a right and we want that right vindicated. Therefore we would

-Enshrine the right to health and the right to healthcare in a future all-Ireland Charter of Rights and a future United Irish Constitution, and seek in the meantime to amend the current 1937 Irish Constitution to include these rights.

-Enshrine the right to healthcare in legislation, and make this a fully enforceable right in Irish Courts.

-Establish a Health Ombudsman to provide an administrative remedy short of the courts.

"Action is needed to deal with the causes of the current crisis in our healthcare system. These measures include"

-Investing all Government health funding in the public system only, ending the two-tier public-private division of our Health Services.

-Rolling out the promised Primary Care Centres throughout the state on an accelerated timetable.

-A timetabled and fully resourced strategy to deliver the additional 3,000 hospital beds required.

-Provide full medical cards for all under 18 and all under the poverty line.

-Halting the over-centralisation of hospital facilities and reversal of cutbacks in services at local hospitals.

-A plan for enhanced provision of essential public nursing home beds, community care facilities and home care.

-All new hospital consultant posts to be public-only

-Effective strategy to stamp out MRSA and other hospital-based infections

-A new emphasis on mental health with 12% of the health budget ring-fenced for mental health.

-Produce, resource and implement a comprehensive National Suicide Prevention Strategy

There really isn't much for me to add, our policies speak for themselves.

Hopefully they also speak for those who want an effective, fair and competent Health service.

Equality at Stormont

Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has said that in the interests of equality statues of Irish Republican icons should be placed at Stormont as well.

At the moment there are no Nationalist or Republican statues, symbols or emblems at Stormont.

It is all Unionist in outlook and as someone who has been to Stormont on several occasions I must say I find that unacceptable.

Paul said

"It is Sinn Féin's view that where British cultural symbols are involved in public life, equivalent symbols should be given equal prominence. If agreement or consensus cannot be found on this, then a reasonable alternative, which fits the required criteria, is to suspend the flying of flags until such agreement of consensus can be found."

"The display of the Union flag at Stormont and other emblems wholly associated with unionism do not promote mutual respect for both traditions,"

Not surprisingly Unionists have said this is a non-runner, the UUP's Robert Coulter said that Republicans should move on.

I always find it funny that Unionists want to "move on" when they are in a dominant position, be it in regards to politics or culture.

If we are in a new dispensation and if Unionists really are serious about sharing power and building an equal society then they need to accept that change is needed.

Be it in Belfast City hall, in Stormont or any other public buildings there is no recognition of the Nationalist and Republican tradition with regards to symbols and emblems.

This is unacceptable and something that needs to be changed

Albert Reynolds: "Bertie shafted me!"

That seems to be the view of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds after he spoke to Newstalk radio yesterday.

Albert said the reason he "misled" the Dáil, an incident that lead to the collapse of the Fianna Fáil-Labour government, was because BBBertie did not pass on a crucial document to him during the debate.

This row centred around the Fr Brendan Smyth case and the failure to extradite him. Albert went to the Dáil and apologised for this. He said that this was basically the only case of its kind in the Attorney General's office.

What Albert didn't realise at the time was that there was another case, the Smyth case wasn't unique. While Albert was making the same speech to the Dáil an usher came in with a note for Albert. It was a note to tell him that he should not tell the house that the case was unique, they found another one.

As Albert was speaking the note was passed to the man sitting behind him, BBBertie. On TV footage you can clearly see BBBertie opening the note, reading it and putting it in his pocket. Albert then went on to say what he did, unbeknownst to him that the was misleading the house.

Dick Spring was convinced that Albert had known and as such pulled down the government.

So BBBertie stuck the knife into Albert! why? Well, I could guess!

When Albert became Taoiseach after Charlie he purged the Cabinet, determined to root out all of those who were corrupt. We also know now that Albert would not have allowed BBBerties financial "irregularities" to continue had he known about them.

BBBertie then stabbed Albert in the back again when it came to the Presidential nomination in 1997.

When the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party went up to vote for the nominations BBBertie opened up his ballot and showed Albert that it had his name on it.

Albert then turned to Brian Crowley and said "That's me fucked then! if he feels he can waste his own vote"

Albert was the shortest serving Taoiseach but in my opinion he was the best. His position on the North was excellent and he had a real desire to reform Fianna Fáil. He did a lot of work on the Peace Process and was in power just at the start of the Celtic Tiger.

It's a disgrace that he was shafted in such an underhand and cute hoor way by the Haugheyites. Albert would have made a far better President than Mary", Mary, quite contrary" McAleese.

Hard luck Albert, you were shafted by "the most clever, the most cunning, the most devious of them all"


Golf and the Scots

Further to our conversation (attempted education) with Tony I came across this on Youtube. It's Robin William's take on the Scots and the game of golf.

Enjoy Tony ;)


Who do you think you are kidding Mr Dempsey?

In a desperate attempt to try and take the gloss off a good day for Sinn Féin both the Brown envelope brigade and the stickies have announced that they will not be entering a coalition with Sinn Féin after the election.

Only the most naive person would actually believe this crap from Fianna Fáil. When they would enter coalition with the PD's they would enter coalition with the Devil himself!

With regards Labour, I can't say I am surprised. Those boys have sold their souls and their working class constituents to the Blue-Shirts for 30 pieces of silver.

It's still amusing though to hear a supposed working class, left wing party like Labour citing "economic policy differences" as the reason why they would not enter government with Sinn Féin.

"Differences over economic policy were cited by Labour's Eamon Gilmore as the reason his party would not consider coalition with Sinn Féin."

Imagine the sheer cheek of a Socialist party like Sinn Féin talking about issues like "wealth distribution" and "making the rich pay their share", sure it's enough to make them brave working class heroes in Labour cry out in agony.

What galls me though is that this sad excuse for a left wing party still claim to be the party of Connolly!!

He would be spinning in his grave!!

I know a few Labour members and most of them are 100% socialists and very hard working activists. However as long as the sticks rule their party they will continue to lead them further and further away from their political roots.

In relation to Fianna Fáil

Dempsey must think we all came up the Liffey in a bubble, his party would no more refuse coalition with Sinn Féin if the numbers stacked that way as would I refuse a glass/bottle of Whiskey.

His party's motto is power at all costs, that is the reality. He fails to see the wood for the trees though because the real question is this, would Sinn Féin go into government with Fianna Fáil??

I know that many people believe it's a simple case of , "ach sure the shinners would jump at the chance of government".

Sorry lads, you couldn't be further from the truth.

As Gerry Adams has said we are ready for government but we will not be entering government just for the sake of it. If we can't be sure that our agenda and our policies will be carried out then it will be a , "thanks but no thanks!"

"Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said his party would be seeking a mandate to go into Government, but not just for the sake of it.

Mr Adams said the election was a farce because of the absence of a focus on how to manage the country's wealth."

It's always best not to second guess the electorate, they will decide how the numbers lie after this election.

It's shaping up to being a cracking contest!

A green day, an orange day, ere the sun rises

So we have finally arrived at the day when Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley, Sinn Féin and DUP, will jointly lead the new executive at Stormont.

A great many people believed this day would not come, I always believed we could get there if people were prepared to take hard choices.

The naysayers and bitter backwoodsmen are more intent on festering bile and hatred than creating a new and equal society that our children may live in.

This day has saw old enemies put aside their differences, not their politics but their differences, in the interests of the people.

Sinn Féin remain determined to secure a United Ireland, the DUP remain determined to stop that.

That fundamental difference in approach does not however stop us from improving the day to day lives of our people.

We have an opportunity now to ensure that, I prefer Ian Paisley's term, "the squatters from England" stay where they are and allow local people to administer power.

There is a job of work to be done in Education, Health, Planning, Water Service, Agriculture and the Environment but to name just a few.

Today marks a watershed in Irish politics, a day when the spirit of the national flag really does take meaning.

Orange and Green at Peace


DUP assembly member dies

I see that DUP East Antrim assembly member George Dawson has died after a short illness aged just 45. Mr Dawson was also the Grand Master of the Independent Orange Order.

During the election coverage I saw Mr Dawson on TV for the first time and thought he was a very able speaker, not the usual snarling that one used to associate with the DUP.

According to reports along the political grape vine Mr Dawson was in line to be a Minister.

I never knew the man and I didn't agree with his politics however he was someone's father, husband and son.

There is a human element in politics that sometimes we loose sight of in the bear pit that is politics in the North.

A man behind the party and a father and husband behind the rhetoric

This man will be sadly missed by his wife and family. It is with them that I place my thoughts.

The Sinn Féin plot

No, I am not referring to that historic moment in 1918 when the entire leadership of Sinn Féin and the Irish Volunteers were arrested.

Arrested amid speculation/nonsense from the then Viceroy Lord Wimborne that they had been involved in a treasonable conspiracy with the Germans.

I am referring to the delusions of ubber West Brit and stickie extraordinaire Eoghan Harris.

According to Harris the problem that BBBertie is facing because of his financial irregularities/corruption is down to those nasty shinners.

In his column in yesterday's Sunday Indo, titled

"Knocking Bertie brings Provos closer to power"

He writes the following

"I believe the anti-Ahern campaign to be the most sinister, sustained and successful manipulation of the Irish media that I have seen in my lifetime. "

LOL, that's a bit rich coming from him and his paper.

"The big picture is that Sinn Fein has both a strategic and a tactical objective in the coming General Election. The strategic objective is to finish off Fianna Fail in the Republic, the way it did the SDLP in Northern Ireland. The tactical objective is to create chaos in Fianna Fail."

Now let's be serious for a minute. I would love for us to "finish off Fianna Fáil" in this election however it's not bloody likely.

Nobody in Sinn Féin has that as their "strategic and tactical objective in the upcoming election".

"In my view, Sinn Fein aims to replace Ahern either with a greener and more biddable Fianna Fail leader, or with a weak Fine Gael-led Rainbow, open to attack on the "national" question. To achieve their twin objectives, I believe the Sinn Fein dirty-tricks department provided leaks to certain prominent journalists which helped create what I call a "consensus stampede" in the media."

What utter nonsense!

The question to ask in relation to the BBBertiegate affair is, Cui Bono??

It is not in Sinn Féin's interest to use dirty tricks against Fianna Fáil. We are trying to win votes from them and nothing galvanises voters better than a sense of dirty tricks from the opposing side.

The other thing to remember is that Sinn Féin will be seeking transfers from Fianna Fáil voters. The last poll I saw relating to transfers was last year but it said 38% of Fianna Fáil voters will transfer to Sinn Féin. If that were to happen in the election you are looking at serious seat gains for Sinn Féin.

It is not in our interest to use dirty tricks against BBBertie however it may be in Fianna Fáil's??

"Securing seats for Sinn Fein is the objective aim of the anti-Ahern campaign. Flushing out that fact is real journalism. Just as obsessing about Celia Larkin is junk journalism."

LOL, he is losing the plot! Isn't it about time he was put out to pasture, it's obvious that the stickie is showing the first sign of dementia.

Nobody with half a brain cell will buy into this nonsense from Harris.

It is however a disgrace that the standard of the print media in Ireland is so low that crap from Harris is considered journalism.


Man Utd win title

I am delighted to see that Man United secured the Premiership title today as Chelsea were only able to obtain a draw with Arsenal. The league is the most important trophy as the best team will always win the league.

This is Fergie's ninth Premiership title with the club and our first in four years.

I was also glad to see that not only has Roy Keane's Sunderland secured automatic qualification, they have secured the league as well with their 5-0 win over Luton.

Keane's first season in management had been like a fairy tale.

When he took over from Niall Quinn Sunderland were languishing at the bottom of the table, now look at them!

When Fergie does decide to hang up his coat at United Keano is the man that I want to see managing United.

Keano and Fergie, a winning team!


PD's set to pull plug on axis of evil

The story floating about is that the PD's may be about to pull the plug on their coalition with Fianna Fáil because of "new" revelations into an Taoiseach BBBertie's financial "abnormalities".

The Nazi, sorry, PD high command will meet today in order to decide on their course of action in light of the "new" revelations. The suggestion at the moment is that McDowell may well pull the plug on the coalition.

This isn't a moral stance against corruption as the coalition is over anyway for all intensive purposes as the election has been called.

McDowell, like PD mouth pieces before him, tries to present his party as a watch dog on the excesses of Fianna Fáil. The reality is however that they have failed miserably.

Any action they take now will rightly be seen as crass electioneering.

What now though for McDowell?

He must know that his parties days in government are numbered, the vestiges of power are slowly being stripped from his party. They are destined for the political wilderness.

In relation to BBBerties ongoing financial problems, am I the only one who senses a bit of the Father Ted about the whole affair?

When questioned by Vincent Browne on Monday he said

BBBertie-"that money was not money for me, it was money, his money"

Father Ted-"that money was only resting in my account!"

Vincent also has a number of other questions that an Taoiseach has failed to answer.

I find the reaction of Fianna Fáil sycophants hilarious, Minister for Communications Noel Dempsey being a case in point,

"There has been a fairly concerted effort over the past two or three weeks to put a whole range of stuff from the Tribunals into the public domain.

There has been a very deliberate attempt by at least one party to smear the Taoiseach in the run-in to the general election"

Shouldn't the public be aware if they are electing a government riddled with corruption? Shouldn't they have all the information possible at their disposal in order to make an informed choice?

The attitude of Fianna Fáil and the Taoiseach in relation to this issue shows nothing short of contempt for the electorate.

They demand more, they are entitled to more!

UPDATE: According to Politics.ie The Mail on Sunday will tomorrow morning accuse BBBBertie of lying to the country last Thursday when he said the £30,000 was intended for Ceila Larkin. The paper will exclusively reveal detail of transcripts they have from the Mahon tribunal which reveal that the money was intended for him, and not his then partner as he told the press on Thursday.

If this is true then Bertie must resign!!!

UPDATE: It seems McDowell has decided against giving up the Ministerial gravy train, quelle surprise. It seems Tom Parlon kicked up a fuss when the Dublin based TD's suggested pulling out.

I really hope the PD's are wiped off the electoral map in this election.

A risen people

Today marks the 26th Anniversary of Volunteer Bobby Sands. Bobby was the first of ten Republicans who made the ultimate sacrifice against the British state policy of criminalisation.

They fought with conviction, valour and courage.

In Dublin today Gerry Adams said

"Today 26 years ago Bobby Sands died on Hunger Strike and it is clear that the hunger strikers continue to hold a special place in the hearts of many people. The enduring legacy of the hunger strikers is to be found all around us. Like the Easter Rising 66 years earlier it marked a watershed in modern Irish history. The political growth of Sinn Féin and of Irish republicanism is in no small measure a result of their courage.

But more importantly, their legacy is to be found in the peace process and the positive transformation it has brought about in Irish society in recent years. That process of change continues.

Despite the brutal conditions Bobby never lost his faith in people or his determination to look to the future. Twenty-six years after his death Irish republicans face that future with confidence."

The Hunger Strikers hold a very important place in the heart of Irish Republicans, especially the young ones. Most of the young people in Sinn Féin today, myself included, were either not born at the time of the Hunger Strikes or were too young to remember them.

It has to be remembered that these were young men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of our liberty.

Bobby was an exceptional writer and one of his last pieces of writing always makes me think. It was written on the 17th March 1981.

"If they aren't able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won't break you. They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show.

It is then we'll see the rising of the moon"

Let's hope that we can show even a quarter of the dedication of Bobby and the other lads as we advance this struggle on towards its final conclusion. Let's make sure that their sacrifice and the sacrifice of other men and women like them was not in vain.

"They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn't want to be broken." - Bobby Sands

No more cap in hand!

That was the message from a large section of the Scottish people at the recent Holyrood elections. The SNP are now the biggest party in Scotland and received the most votes in the election.

The election however was marred with up to 100,000 Scots being denied their democratic entitlement of a vote because their papers were deemed spoilt.

So much for electronic voting, eh Bertie???

Alex Salmond had this to say

"There may well be Labour Governments and Labour first ministers in the decades to come but never again will we see the Labour Party assume that it has a divine right to rule Scotland.

Labour has no moral authority left to govern Scotland."

I was however sad to see the total wipe out of the Scottish Socialist Party and their former leader Tommy Sheridan who now fronts Solidarity. It seems that with the huge surge in support for the SNP "labour must wait" until after Independence.

The SNP, whether they form part of an administration or not, have a lot of work to do over the next couple of years. The need to convince a large section of the Scottish people that Independence is in their and their children's interest.

I wish them every success in breaking the link with England, I hope that the ancient Celtic nation of Scotland can one day re-join the other great nations of the world.

This election result reminded me of one of my favourite songs by the Proclaimers, Cap in Hand.

The lyrics seem to sum up what a lot of Scots believe about the Union.

"But I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land, We’re cap in hand.

We fight - when they ask us
We boast - then we cower
We beg- For a piece of what's already ours"

These election results will deliver a strong message to London.

The days of the Scottish people going cap in hand are over, Alba gu bràth!