Deathly Hallows end the tale

I firstly want to apologise for my lack of blogging but I have been flat out with one thing or another. Today marks an end to one of the best book series, save for Lord of the Rings, with the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Despite constant ribbing from many of my friends I am proud to say that I am a massive Harry Potter fan, not the films or other such nonsense but the books themselves.

It was because of this love of the books that I pre-ordered the new book from Waterstones in Newry. With publication due today I joined the long line of people outside the Quays at 12 O'Clock last night waiting to be one of the first to read the last book.

The crowd must have been about a thousand strong and also included our Minister for Education. Despite the fact that I was towards the middle of the line I had arranged to meet a friend from Uni who is also a massive fan.

She arrived late, as usual, and instead of joining the line with me refused to skip and went to the back. A very weird quality for a future solicitor, I blame the nuns myself. However being a gentleman I joined her at the end of the line.

Due to this very unusual display of chivalry on my part it meant that we were the last people to get our copy at 3:00 am this morning.

We did however have to question how sad was it for two 22 year old trainee solicitors to be standing in line waiting for a Harry Potter book at three in the morning.

So by half three I was sitting at home with a nice drink and a cigar starting into the last book.

I finished the book a couple of hours ago and only one word can describe it, fantastic.

No need to worry, I shall not be providing details in case any of my readers have not yet read the book.

I really hope the Church does not come out again and condemn these books, they have got many children and adults reading and that can only be a good thing.

They do not send one towards witchcraft or wizardry, the just provide a lot of pleasure for many readers. The books hold many good moral messages in relation to friendship, loyalty, love and justice.

The fact that children will read and absorb these lessons can only be a good thing.


Hypocrisy, Orange Order style!

I must say that I found today's pronouncement from the bigoted Orange Order highly amusing. Apparently the Orange Order will question Sinn Féin's commitment to democracy.

Grand Lodge Grand Secretary Drew Nelson said "There can be no equivocation, either you are a full democrat or you are not. They are not yet fully committed to the democratic system,"

Sinn Féin have a mandate from the voters, the Orange Order has no mandate and is in no position to question anyone's commitment to democracy.

They have been quick to slip into violence once they don't get their way. The money that it costs to police their hate-fests is evidence of the contempt that many members of the Orange Order have towards democracy.

Let's not forget that their "right to march" cost the lives of the three Quinn boys. We had years of the annual Drumcree violence and the mass violence in Belfast a few years ago.

Their members have refused to condemn the violence and they have long held connections with Unionist death squads.

Republicans will not be taking advice or lectures from the likes of the Orange Order.

One true church

That's the view of Pope Benedict XVI who, for the second time in as many days, has laid down a traditional marker on the issues of faith.

In a document entitled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church", it restates fundamental Catholic Church teaching to the effect that it is the one, true church, even if elements of truth can be found in other churches and communities.

The document said the "one Church of Christ . . . subsists in the Catholic Church". It also said Protestant churches were not churches "in the proper sense", but were "ecclesial communities".

The document follows the Pope's Motu Proprio at the weekend which relaxed restrictions on the use of the Tridentine Mass.

Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, not only does it carry the Pope's formal "approval", it reaffirms points originally outlined in the document Dominus Iesus, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000 when it was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

The documents says Orthodox churches are defective and that other Christian denominations are not true churches.

“Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” the document said. The other communities “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession which is the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ’s original apostles.

In relation to Protestants it says the following

"According to Catholic doctrine, these communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of the Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."

The document said Orthodox churches were indeed “churches” because they have apostolic succession and that they enjoyed “many elements of sanctification and of truth.” But it said they lack something because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope — a defect, or a “wound” that harmed them, it said.

“This is obviously not compatible with the doctrine of primacy which, according to the Catholic faith, is an ‘internal constitutive principle’ of the very existence of a particular church,” the commentary said.

This document will do very little for ecumenical dialogue but I am glad to see the Pontiff put issues of theology over political correctness.

Protestants have been upset by this publication and none more so than the head of the Free P sect Ian Paisley.

He said "This excommunication of all Christendom, by the Pope, spells out the strongest possible message that the Pope of Rome has not changed"

"All outside the pale of Rome are told dogmatically by him that they do not belong to the true church of Jesus Christ."

I follow the line from Pope John Paul II that all religions have a path to god, I don't believe that Catholics get to heaven any quicker than Protestants.

That being said I have to agree with the Pontiff, as a Catholic I believe that I am a member of the "one holy catholic and apostolic Church". I make no apologies for that, I am proud of that.

The Pope has reasserted the universal primacy of the Catholic Church and I believe that he is right to do so.

Conor Murphy to meet PSNI

Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has sought a meeting with the District Commander of the PSNI over the spate of Anti-Social behaviour in Crossmaglen.

This meeting is being sought as the PSNI has done nothing to curb the growing rise of Anti-Social behaviour in Crossmaglen. Last Sunday night a man had his windscreen smashed and his head beaten in because he dared to ask one of these scumbags to let him pass.

This was done in full view of the PSNI who were sitting in a car in Cross yet they did nothing.

This criminal activity is being carried out by a tiny minority of thugs. I suspect, as do others, that other more sinister criminal elements are encouraging this type of behaviour in the area.

They are joyriding around the square at two and three in the morning three car abreast.

This is having an effect on the local economy with local publicans and shopkeepers complaining that their trade is down because people are afraid to venture into the town after dark.

A public meeting was held last week and 250 very angry residents turned up to voice their disgust at this recent spate of hooliganism.

Conor said

"It is essential that communities get the policing service that they are entitled to, I believe that a critical engagement between republican communities and the PSNI can help bring this about."

A rally is being organised for this Friday night at 9pm for people to show these criminal elements that their actions are unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.

It's about time these rats returned to their holes and allowed the people of Cross to get on with their lives.

The European Union, a Napoleonic wet dream

I was angered to learn that the unelected and unaccountable European Commission has issued a formal warning to the Irish Government over its proposed 184 million EURO NDP (National Development Plan).

According to this group of mini-emperors the entire NDP is in contravention of EU Law.

EU environment mini-Napoleon Stavros Dimas sent a letter in the past few days to the government, saying that the commission believed Ireland’s failure to conduct a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the project was in breach of a key 2001 EU directive.

According to a spokesperson for the Government they are adamant that no SEA is required and as such Ireland is not in contravention of "EU law".

‘‘The NDP is a budgetary framework document, and doesn’t require an SEA. That remains our firm position.”

Dimas has given the government until next month to reply to this warning after which he will take steps to bring Ireland to the ECJ to enforce compliance.

Have you ever heard such nonsense in all your life?????

Whether the NDP requires an SEA is immaterial, what is important is that some unelected bureaucrat in Brussels believes that he has the right to dictate how Ireland spends its own money.

This is a fundamental problem with the EU, the cavalier attitude that many have towards the national sovereignty of member countries.

No matter what my feelings about the present government they were elected by the Irish people and they are accountable to the Irish people.

Who is Dimas? Was he elected by the Irish people? Is he accountable to the Irish people?

There is democratic deficit at the heart of the EU and that is one of its fundamental problems.

The EU increasingly represents nothing more than a Napoleonic wet dream for many French and Germans who wish to see a United States of Europe.

That is not what I wish to see, I don't wish to see Ireland trade one foreign ruler in London for 12 in Brussels.

The EU should be about countries working together where they can reach agreement, it should not be about unelected foreign politicians dictating to the democratically elected government of the day.


Sinn Féin-Labour voting pact in Seanad

I am pleased to hear that Labour and Sinn Féin are discussing the option of having a voting pact for the Seanad elections.

If the deal is struck it will see Pearse Doherty elected to the Seanad as Sinn Féin's first member of the Upper House of the Oireachtas.

In return for Labour votes for Pearse on the 11-seat agriculture panel it would see Sinn Féin's 58 votes used for Labour's Alex White on the cultural and educational panel.

I believe that this is a welcome development.

Readers of this blog will know that I would like to see a progressive left-wing alliance formed in this country.

That will take political will on behalf of the parties on the left. It will involve us putting aside personality and petty party political differences.

This voting pact would be a small step but a welcome one none the less.

IRA-Undefeated Army

I meant to blog about this last week but my internet connection has been up the left and I have been busy with party work. I see the Brits have finally admitted what Republicans have always know, the Brits did not defeat the IRA.

The admission is contained in a discussion document released by the British Ministry of Defence after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The six-month study, covering the period 1968-2005, was prepared under the direction of the then British chief of general staff, General Mike Jackson.

It describes the IRA as "a professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient force", while Unionist death squads and other republican groups are described as "little more than a collection of gangsters".

For the first time they have admitted that they did not defeat the IRA.

Republicans have known this for a long time, even if some British supporters were deluded enough to believe that the IRA were defeated.

A period of prolonged conflict have been engaged and it lead to a stalemate with neither the Brits nor the IRA able to land the killer blow.

The IRA then took the courageous decision to try and end the stalemate, they went down the political path. The rest they say is history.

The IRA are unbowed and unbroken and that is how they will remain!


Return of Tridentine Mass

I see that plans by the Pope to allow the widespread return of the Tridentine Mass has sent a few clergy in England into a tizzy.

There has been some concerns, albeit irrational and incorrect ones, that the mass is anti-semitic as it contains a prayer which prays for Jews that they may discover the glory of Jesus.

I fail to see anything anti-semitic about this. Catholics believe that the only way to achieve salvation is through Jesus Christ. That being said as Pope John Paul II said, "all religions have a path to god".

This nonsense about anti-semitism in the Tridentine mass represents the same intolerance to challenges of faith which many people accuse Muslims of. Every religion should be open to criticism, even my own.

Yet as soon as anyone dare criticise anything to do with the Jewish faith we hear screams of anti-semitism, it really is pathetic!

In relation to the return of the Latin mass I think it is to be welcomed.

Through studying law I have been introduced to a lot of Latin as many legal expressions and conventions are still in Latin. I find it a beautiful language that would be a shame to see lost to the transcripts of history.

This new plan will not make Latin compulsory, it will simply allow more members of the clergy to perform the mass in the traditional way. I personally find the Latin mass a more solemn affair than any other mass I have ever attended, be it in English, Irish or French.

I agree with many that this move by the Pontiff is likely to be the arm of friendship towards the ultra-traditionalist and schismatic group, the Society of St Pius X, in order to bring it back into the Vatican fold.

The Society was formed by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1969 after he and other members of the clergy clashed with Rome about the reforms brought in by the Second Vatican Council.

The Rev Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical expert, said: "The real issue here is not limited to liturgy but has wider implications for church life." He added that proponents of the old Mass "tend to oppose the laity's increased role in parish life... collaboration with other Christians and its dialogue with Jews and Muslims".

I have to agree with Rev Pecklers on one issue, the intolerance of many followers of the Society of Saint Pius X. My ex's father would attend mass provided by the Society and he was an ultra-conservative wacko.

The first question he asked me when he learnt I was dating his daughter was did I attend mass. He then informed me that I wasn't a real Catholic as I was baptised and confirmed in the new mass. He said I was basically a Protestant who would have no chance of entering heaven.

Sufficed to say we did not see eye to eye and clashed on more than one occasion.

I will not support any moves to remove the positive elements of the Second Vatican Council, like the increased role of the laity. I don't support priests running the place as if they were kings.

Too many priests do not see themselves as servants, they think they have the right to impose their will, or should that be the Bishops will, on the parish without any concern for the views of the inhabitants of the parish.

The Church needs a big injection of democracy, not in relation to the Catholic faith but in the way in which the church conducts the work on the ground.