Rose of Tralee

I have to admit, I don't like the Rose of Tralee festival. I consider it the intellectual, political and cultural equivalent of the "Lovely Girls" contest on Father Ted.

All that aside it would appear that Balrog and the festival will be entering a period of Détente this year, unlike other years.

The reason for this is very simple; my cousin has been selected as the Limerick Rose.

As you can imagine Rebecca is over the moon and even my suggestion to her that she should change her title to Stab City Rose did nothing to dent her jubilation upon her selection.

I asked her how as a Dundalk girl she could be considered a Limerick Rose; her reply was that her heart is in Limerick. I thought she meant flick knife but there is only so much ribbing I could give on one occasion. It just wouldn't be fair.

She now moves on to the regional finals in June in the hope of making it to the final in August.

She's the eldest of the Gaskin grand-children, I’m the second oldest though I'm a bloke so that makes me head honcho (that’s a joke feminazis).

I'd like to wish her well in the interests of family unity; my Aunt Mary is going to be hard to listen to though.


The Holy Goalie causes a stir

I see that Celtic Keeper Artur Boruc has caused a bit of a stir amongst the chattering class because of his celebrations at the Old Firm match.

After Celtic beat Rangers 3-2 Boruc took off his jersey and revealed a t-shirt of Pope John Paul II with the message of "God Bless the Pope".

Needless to say Rangers fans were none to pleased with this and neither was Danny Kennedy.

According to Kennedy

“The player should be ashamed of himself and the manager should reflect on his inability to condemn it and to deal with it properly."

This is not the first time that Boruc has courted controversy as he was once cautioned by the police for the heinous crime of "Blessing himself".

At the time the Catholic Church hit out along with Nationalist MSP and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond who said

"The procurator fiscal has taken leave of their senses. I will be demanding an explanation for this,"

Artur Boruc is a devout Polish Catholic, and he blesses himself at the start of every match and at the start of the second half. He has always done this; it's not something that he developed when he began to play with Celtic.

I can't see how Boruc blessing himself is a problem; it's something that many Catholics do on a very regular basis. I always blessed myself before every exam, in fact I do it on a daily basis.

It doesn't matter if it's an ambulance/fire engine passing or just walking past a Catholic Church, I bless myself.

I have no doubt that Boruc wore the Pope t-shirt in order to piss off Rangers fans and I can't say that I blame him. As a very devout Catholic he has come in for some serious abuse from Rangers fans and players alike.

It was childish but hell rub it up them!

Red Army march on Moscow

It was a great night and a great goal from the fantastic Paul Scholes. I don't think I have any nails left and I must have smoked 20 B&H tonight as I watched Man Utd dispatch Barcelona.

I am overjoyed for Scholes, a United legend for many years, as he and Roy Keane missed our last final in 1999. This time he will be able to savour the moment himself.

I always watch Manchester United matches on RTÉ because the three bitches are hilarious to watch. I am of course talking about Brady, Giles and Dunphy. A sad mix of washed up, bitter and jealous old men.

Dunphy is visceral in his hatred for United, a sad reflection on a sad human being. I sometimes wonder if he's pissed most of the time.

It was great to watch him squirm at half-time and full-time, Bill O'Herlihy knows which buttons to press in order to set him off.

Our opponents will be chosen tomorrow night and I for one am praying for Liverpool. It's nothing to do with fearing Chelsea as I believe we are capable of beating either of them.

I want Liverpool because our victory will be all the sweeter with their scalp as well.

The Red Army marches on!


Abandon every hope, ye who enter here

I am always up for a bit of procrastination and as a result I came across this very strange on-line eternal judgement. I can only hope that the same result comes up in the after life.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test


"You have escaped damnation and made it to Purgatory, a place where the dew of repentance washes off the stain of sin and girds the spirit with humility. Through contrition, confession, and satisfaction by works of righteousness, you must make your way up the mountain. As the sins are cleansed from your soul, you will be illuminated by the Sun of Divine Grace, and you will join other souls, smiling and happy, upon the summit of this mountain. Before long you will know the joys of Paradise as you ascend to the ethereal realm of Heaven."


Don't fund them!

I haven't really ventured into the education debate up until now. That said the recent move by some elitist schools has changed all that.

I am the first to admit that at the start of all of this I didn't really see where Caitriona Ruane was going with her reforms but the last month or so has changed that for me.

Before I get into the entire debate on the future of education I think it only fair to outline my own experience.

I was one of the 30% of children for whom the 11+ didn't classify as a failure, I got an A. Up until the results day and even shortly afterwards I was fully expecting to go to my local secondary school, my parents were told that I had the brains to go to Grammar school but that my poor handwriting would stop that happening.

They were wrong.

After I got an A my parents felt that I would be happier going to a Grammar with the rest of my friends as they were all heading to the Abbey CBS. As a result the Principal of my primary school told me that she was not signing forms for me to go to a secondary school, in effect giving me the push I needed.

I have to say that bar a few quite nasty months at the end of my 7th year I loved my 7 years in the Abbey, I was always more academically inclined. Being a carpenter or an electrician held no sway with me. From almost my first day in the Abbey I decided that I wanted to be a Solicitor and that's the career path that I have followed.

I have no doubts that were it not for my time in the Abbey I would not be in the position that I am today.

It may sound weird but the 11+ made me realise that I wasn't a failure as I had very low self confidence after a very nasty experience with a poor teacher who told me that I was good for nothing.

The problem with the 11+ is that I was one of the lucky ones, for many other people it labelled them a failure at the age of 10 and that is criminal in my eyes.

While my parents didn't expect me to pass the 11+ they did expect my younger brother to pass. They fully expected him to be joining me in the Abbey, this didn't happen. I can still remember his tears at the time and it was heart breaking.

He went to the local secondary and is now in Uni training to be a PE teacher.

My youngest brother will be the last child to do the 11+ this September and his teacher, the same one that I had, said he has a good chance of passing. I am a bit concerned because he is already talking about going to the Abbey and studying law like me.

I'm concerned because the 11+ is lottery, it's a cruel lottery and most children don't benefit from it.

I am 100% opposed to the 11+ and I fully support Caitriona Ruane in the work that she is doing because I have seen the cracks that children fall through because of it.

I know young fellas at 18 and 19 who have left school and who can't read or write, I'm not joking. Imagine in this day and age a young fella leaving school with out basic literacy and numeric skills.

It's an outrage!

Many people have accused, Unionist's mostly, me of being a hypocrite. They argue that I have benefited from a Grammar school education yet I support denying that to others.

That isn't the case at all; I oppose the current system because most other children didn't get the same standard of education that I received.

I'm not the kind of person that believes everyone should go to University, I don't and it would be wrong to suggest that. University is not for everyone and some children would benefit from a more vocational style of education.

I want to see the bar raised for everyone, not just the top 30%.

I was disgusted when Lumen Christi College broke ranks and said they were imposing their own system. As far as I am concerned they are nothing more than a bunch of elitists and the Catholic Church should have come down on them like a tonne of bricks.

The principal of that school suggested that she had no right to ban academic selection. As the minister for Education she has every right and we are not going to let a minority of snobs dictate to the rest of us.
There are 229 secondary schools in the North; we are not going to let the minority dictate the rules for all.

If Lumen Christi is so concerned then they should go the whole hog and declare themselves a private school and stop taking public money.

If you want to be in our club you play by our rules, it's that simple.

I also see that a further 31 Grammar schools have rebelled and said they are introducing their own test. These state (Protestant) Grammar’s are going down a very dangerous and elitist road.

If I was the Minister for Education I would be doing more than pulling funding for their examination, I would be pulling their funding full stop.

Basil McCrea has revealed a Sinn Féin discussion document which suggests that if Caitriona Ruane fails to get the required consensus she will use existing legislative provision to issue guidelines and in effect bypass Stormont.

I couldn't have been happier when he did this and I was very impressed with John O’Dowd on let’s talk who said you can have Plan A the easy way or Plan A the hard way.

The DUP had the opportunity to take Education, the same as they did in the last administration.

Sinn Féin took the ministry because we believe in Education, we believe in the future of our children and I mean all of our children.

The 11+ has failed children in working class Protestant areas a lot more than most. Their political reps don't give a shit about them; they only concern themselves with the middle-class elite.

That is one of the major differences between Catholic and Protestants in the 6 counties, our attitude towards Education.

Catholics have always saw education as a way to advance and better your position in life, for too many years the Protestant working class have relied upon their religion and contacts.

Those days are over and the reality is that the only chance working class Protestants have is a Sinn Féin Education Minister. We are the ones who will ensure that their children get the Education which they are entitled too.

The opposition to Caitriona Ruane has nothing to do with policy, I have watched the DUP in the chamber and their opposition is thus.

She is a Woman, she is a Southerner, She is an Irish speaker and she isn't going to take shit from any of them

The sexist approach of the DUP is typical of patriarchal Unionism but it will not be tolerated by Republicans.

I wish Caitriona Ruane the very best of luck in her efforts to improve the lives of children on all sides.

Blue-Shirts just don't get it!

I see that Fine Gael are calling for a constitutional referendum to change Ireland's laws on underage sex and statutory rape.

This has been raised because of a case where a 27 year old got off on a charge of statutory rape.

The man admitted having sex with a 13 year old but relied on the defence of "honest belief"

Ireland's previous laws on underage sex were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court two years ago because they did not allow the defendant to claim he or she had made an honest mistake

Blue-Shirt TD TD Alan Shatter said the only way to change this is to provide an "absolute zone of protection for children" by having a constitutional referendum on the issue.

I have already looked at this issue when it first occurred two years ago; my view has not changed since then.

The 1935 act was a disgrace and it is quite right that the law has changed. The defence of honest mistake is not just a subjective defence; it also has a test of reasonableness as well.

That means should the defendant argue that he or she believed the person was over age, such a belief must have been a reasonable belief. That is where the objective test comes in and it's the only way to go.

The Blue-Shirts are playing to the gallery on this issue and living in cloud cuckoo land.

Shatter claimed "The law in this area can only properly be reformed if a Constitutional Referendum takes place to restore an offence of absolute liability in such circumstances. Fine Gael is fully committed to the Constitutional and statutory reforms necessary."

I'm sure that everyone is well aware of my views on rape but this suggestion by Fine Gael could very well lead to a denial of justice.

Having worked in bars and nightclubs for the best part of 10 years I can tell you with some authority that I have met many a young girl who looked and acted a lot older than her age.

Let's say a man meets a 15 year old girl in an over 18's disco, a very common occurrence with fake ID, and he honestly believes said girl is over the age. Should he be held liable to a charge of statutory rape if she consents to sex and lies about her age?

I don't believe so and I don't believe that this showboating by Shatter will materialise to anything.

Once again Fine Gael demonstrates their unsuitability for government.

So much for the age of innocence

I was going to post on this case when it was first reported but because the would be rapist had still not entered a plea I decided to keep my powder dry.

I am of course referring to the situation whereby a 14 year old has pled guilty to the attempted rape of a girl in North Belfast two years ago. His co-accused, only 15, pled guilty to indecent assault.

This is becoming an all too common occurrence, young teens engaging in this kind of sick and violent behaviour. Some people will point to the sexualisation of our society and the loss of innocence, that argument is horse shit in my opinion!

Rape is not about sex; it's about violence, domination and control.

I can't imagine what goes through any mans head when he rapes a woman, never mind a 14 year olds.

Has our society become that repugnant that this now seems like a common action? Has our legal system of passive resistance led to this kind of gendered violence and depravity?

When you consider that the Bill of Rights forum wish to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 it really makes you wonder what planet some people live on.

Parental responsibility is the issue here; parents have abdicated their responsibility in favour of child minders. They are so consumed with keeping up with the Jones's that their children have become lost in the equation.

I really do despair for the youth of tomorrow when you consider the youth of today.


Without remorse!

I wasn't surprised to learn that death driver Christopher McGinn's "remorse" in court was merely a tactic but I was surprised at his utter stupidity.

It seems that this young boy racer has left a message on his bebo page which states

"I'll be back and I'm not changing"

His bebo profile also contains a "joyriders' prayer" including the lines: "Lead us not into checkpoints but deliver us from traffic branch and speed traps."

Is that what Justice Hart believes to be remorse?

Mrs Shields said she had seen McGinn's Bebo profile and was outraged at what he had written there.

"He's just adding insult to injury, still letting people know that he's a mad boy racer - for that to still be on the site on the day he was sentenced is unbelievable,"

Stephen Shields' brother-in-law Ciaran Burns said he had "never known such a level of depravity".

"I honestly believe it was two fingers to both our families, to the police, the prosecution and the judge, and it was certainly his parting shot,"

It's very clear to me that justice is missing from this case, as it is from so many other cases. With that in mind and with what appears to be the utter incompetence of many members of the Judiciary I favour a new approach.

When we have devolved criminal justice powers I would like to see every member of the judiciary stood down and have them all re-apply for their jobs.

Let's look at their record and decide if they are fit to judge people and deliver justice in our society.

In my own opinion they are an absolute disgrace with a severe detachment from the community they are supposed to serve.

The law should serve justice, not the other way about!

Good for nothing!

That is the only words to describe Sunday World aka Sunday Lie 'columnist' Hugh Jordan.

It seems that Hugh has taken issue with the exclusive AP/RN interviews with legendary republican icon Brian Keenan.

Hugh has accused Brian of trying to re-write history as well as some other very personal attacks on the republican colossus. This is rich coming from someone who writes for a rag that only last week was fined in court for ‘slipshod’ reporting and contempt!

Brian Keenan is well placed to give his perspective on history. Hugh on the other hand is not. Where was Hugh when the war was on? Where was Hugh when Nationalists were left high and dry by the so called forces of law and order? Certainly not on the front line like honourable soldiers like Keenan were!

The attacks are all the more despicable and cowardly when one considers Brian's ailing health. This is the type of thing that gutter journalists like Hugh thrive on. This is a man after all whose only claim to fame is writing about loyalist paramilitary godfathers in one of the most ridiculed papers on the circuit.

One thing is for sure, people have a lot more respect for Keenan than the ever will for Hugh. Will Hugh's name be remembered in years to come? I think not! It would be best all round if Hugh stuck to writing fantastical stories about loyalist godfathers and lay off true heroes like Keenan!


Cosy Bedfellows

I see that the Stoops and FF had a grand bash at the Carrickdale yesterday. They were having a spot of breakfast in their now official capacity as ‘friends‘. In reality it is more of a master/minion relationship with FF the supreme masters.

Now this new friendship could raise a few eyebrows. The Stoops have always tried to portray themselves as the party of moral reckoning, the absolute authority on all things just. Indeed they have often been quick to dismiss republicans as criminals and gangsters.

Interesting this, saying as how they are now cosying up to the most corrupt party in the history of Irish politics. Haughey, Bertie et al are hardly an apt authority on morality. The Stoops have now aligned themselves with political gangsters and prostitutes. I suppose this is a curious new friendship, an amalgam of cute whores, corrupt bastards and career politicians.

I suppose the Stoops don’t really have much left to lose. Maybe the new proclaimed ‘friendship’ is their strategy for preventing their ‘friends’ from contesting elections in the 6 counties. Indeed such a move would signal the end of the near death Stoops.

Both parties to the friendship have been quick to quash talk of a merger. Does anyone honestly think Mark and his cabal of career politicians would abdicate control to Biffo et al? Not a fucking chance!

Maybe the Stoops should have thought about their friendship a little harder before shouting it from the roof tops. How are FG and Labour going to feel when they are canvassing for the Stoops in the 6 co’s now? Indeed the Stoops should look at some of FF’s other friends. One of their PD friends is rapidly turning the 26 co health service (if you can call it that) into an unholy mess.

But part of me is glad for the Stoops. They have no friends left in the 6 co’s but at least now they have found a nice friend that they can grow old and retire with. The Stoops and FF, they go together like peas and carrots!


An Irish session

I've been hit by what I believe to be a kidney infection so instead of my usual Friday night drinking I'm stuck in the house. How in the name of god do people sit in on a Friday night?

Pat Kenny and the Late Late Show I hear the grannies roar, I'd rather saw off both my hands!

Instead I'm checking through Youtube and I began to think about the Irish tradition of singing and the session.

As soon as the bar stops serving and the band stops playing there is always some bloke in the corner who starts the session.

I think we Irish are unique in many ways but one thing that always sticks out for me is our music. When we have a few drinks we always revert back to the old Irish songs about misery, despair, injustice etc

I was at a Basque cultural evening recently with a group from the Basque country and their music is quite different, uplifting and dramatic.

Some of my friends prefer the more recent "I, I, IRA" type of rebel ballad and while not averse to those kinds of ballads I have to admit that my taste tends to revert back to the more traditional rebel ballad, Kinky Boots and other classics aside.

I don't tend to listen to Irish Rebel songs unless I am at an Irish night or unless I am drunk, they are never quite the same when you are sober for some reason.

My own personal favourites are the Ballad of James Connolly, The Foggy Dew, Only Our Rivers Run Free, The Time Has Come, Boolavogue, Man from the Daily Mail and Irish Ways and Irish Laws.

It was one of the things I missed when I was in England, the traditional Irish session at those ungodly hours.


I was deeply disgusted yesterday when I heard about the "sentence" that Christopher McGinn received for the killing of Gerard Fearon and Stephen Shields.

McGinn got 4 years in a youth detention centre/Holiday camp.

In effect he will only serve 2 years which equates as 1 year for each life that he took.

Some of you may remember me discussing this issue at the time of Gerry's death.

Let's look at the facts of this case first.

Gerry was a 26 year old lad from Dromintee and Stephen was a 44 year old father of two from Cloghogue.

On the night in question McGinn, then 16, was driving his £200 Toyota Carina at excessive speeds and was drinking. He claimed that he only had two bottles of WKD but the medical tests proved that was a lie as his blood alcohol level was high.

McGinn admitted in court that he had been driving since he was 14, had no license or insurance and have never even taken formal driving lessons.

So after pleading guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death, two counts of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and driving without insurance he gets 4/2 years in a youth detention centre.

Justice Hart is an absolute disgrace to the position he serves and his actions in sentencing McGinn will do nothing to curb the culture of death driving in this country. Make no mistake, that's what McGinn is, a death driver!

A car is a very serious weapon, under the control of the wrong person and in the wrong conditions. I view his actions on that night as akin to carrying a loaded gun.

My heart goes out to the two families with the delivery of this disgraceful verdict. In particular the Fearon family as I know them so well, Gerard's mother is a cousin of my Ma.

After the verdict yesterday Gerry's father Peter described the sentence as an "insult"

"The sentence isn't going to act as any kind of deterrent to stop other young men getting behind the wheel of a car drunk"

"We didn't expect justice but we certainly didn't expect to be insulted by a sentence of four years' detention in a holiday camp"

The judicial system in the country is an absolute disgrace, at a time when some communities are under siege from death drivers and anti-social behaviour what message are they sending out?

The sooner we have accountable local control of policing and justice issues the better, maybe then we will be able to place justice back into the Criminal Justice System because what we have at the moment is a bastardised monster which serves the whims of criminals.

My continued sympathy will reside with Helen and Peter, Gerry's brothers and sisters and his girlfriend Aveen.

He was a much better man than the dross now serving a few years in a holiday camp.


Yesterdays Men

I was listening tonight to a song by Glasgow Irish rebel band "The Wakes". They have a song called "These Hands". It was written about Vol James Maley, of the Scottish section of the 15th International Brigade. The song tells the story of Maley's exploits and how he is now old and reflecting on the battle at Jaramma.

The song starts with the line "Look at you old man sitting in your chair". This really got me thinking. I thought of how this is so relevant to aged republicans today.

The majority of the youth of today do not respect veteran republicans or look up to them. Much of this is down to ignorance of the dedication and sacrifice these heroes gave in pursuit of their republican goals. The war is over and the youth are quick to disregard the actions of our forefathers. It is disgusting.

They look on the old as a burden that should be seen and not heard, never mind taking time to reflect on the services republican veterans have given to the cause. All they see are old men and women and are oblivious to the price these people paid for their republican beliefs. This is a disgrace and a disservice to our unsung heroes. Personally I love being regaled with the tales of republican veterans. Indeed our struggle would be nothing without them and their commitment!

Personally I held veterans like Joe Cahill, John Joe McGirl and Owen Mc McCaughey in the highest regard. On the surface they may have appeared to be frail old men, but the history behind these men is remarkable. It really hammers home the sentiments of the old adage looks can be deceiving!

In my own area veteran republican Hugh Kennon was honoured for his services to the republican movement. Indeed Hugh epitomises the unassuming nature and modesty of that generation of freedom fighter. Hugh remarked that he felt he was not worthy of being honoured and that he felt that he was just an ordinary Irish man doing what anyone would have done in his position. Today’s republican youth can learn a valuable lesson from republicans like Hugh.

In an age where it is easy for some republicans to take their eye off the ball and get led astray by those with their own ulterior motives, we should look at the sacrifice of our veterans. We should look to return to the principles they endorsed and led by example with. We should use their example to rededicate ourselves to bringing our struggle to a successful conclusion!

Celtic Ireland

I don't know if any of you have had the misfortune of watching the totally abysmal BBC production, Blueprint.

In the programme they suggest that we are not really a Celtic country as the Irish never referred to themselves as Celtic.

Mon dieu!

The word "Celt" comes from the Greeks, who called the tribes to their north the "Keltoi", but there is no evidence that the Celts ever referred to themselves by that name. The Irish preferred the word Gael and it relates to the original Gaul in France.

I mean according to BBC if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck it must be a rabbit.

The medieval "Book of Invasions" talks about Milesians and Fír Bolg arriving in Ireland. These have been identified with displaced Celts from Spain and Belgium. We also have DNA evidence which shows extreme similarities between Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton people.

Then again, what's science to the BBC when there are Irish people to annoy?

In the 4th century AD the Roman Avienus called Ireland "Insula Sacra" or Holy Island and its inhabitants "gens hiernorum", a Latinisation of the Greek word for Ireland, Ierne.

This is a modification of the word Ériu, which was an original Celtic word for Ireland and a root of the later Irish word Eire.

You see linguistics offer a much more stable and correct form of tracing history.

In the 2nd century Ptolemy drew up a map of Ireland, published in Geographia, and in it he listed the Irish tribes.

The Ulaid tribe was found in my own part of the country and Usdia in the south. The Monaig tribe was on the East coast and this tribe were also found in Gaul.

No matter how insecure some people are at their lack of identity that does not give them the right to deny others theirs.

Ireland has a long history of Celtic/Gaelic influence

1. Celtic Laws

Brehon Law was the law of the Celts and lasted for many hundreds of years. It was mostly oral and was first brought together under St Patrick in "Senchas Már". At that time laws which contradicted church law were replaced. It was a civil law as any notion of a state sponsored criminal system was foreign in Ireland. It's here that we find Hunger Strike used as a tool to bring shame on the person who owed a debt or a wrong which needed corrected.

The Synod of Birr enacted “Cáin Adomnáin”-the law of the innocents-in 697. It was enacted to guarantee the safety and immunity of various types of non-combatant in warfare.

Irish society under the Brehon Laws was male-dominated but women had greater freedom, independence and rights to property than in other European societies of the time.

Brehon law shunned capital punishment and was unique; fines were the order of the day

2. Celtic Language

Irish is the 3rd oldest written language in Europe, behind Greek and Latin. This is the one area which there is irrefutable evidence of a Celtic Ireland.

When you look at Scots Gaelic today it must be remembered that it is merely a variation of Irish and this relates to the way in which Scotland was established.

Dál Riata was a Gaelic kingdom in the glens of Antrim, the people of Dál Riata were referred to as Scotti (Latin for those who resided in Ireland).Their most successful colony was that of the Dál Riata in western Scotland .In the ninth century they took control of Pictland, to the east, and founded the united kingdom of Scotland.

3. Celtic Church

The difference between the Celtic Church and the Roman Church came to a head at the Synod of Whitby in 664.

In relation to Private confessional many Catholics may be unaware of the fact that it was the Celtic Church in Ireland which first introduced this. At that time the Roman Church favoured public confessionals with sackcloth and ashes but the Celtic Church shunned this.

I’m sure that Blueprint may convince some flath-eathers that Ireland is a not a Celtic/Gaelic country, the rest of us will laugh at the length that revisionists will go to in order to insult.

Rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic

I see that the PD's/West Brit Party have chosen a new leader in the form of Senator Ciaran Cannon.

He defeated Fiona O'Malley by 51% to 49%; talk about the bland leading the bland!

Cannon had this to say

"Within our ranks, we have people with the passion, the commitment, the talent, the knowledge and the experience to stage a major comeback."

We'll have to agree to disagree on that part.

He has said that the local elections next year would be a litmus test in deciding the future of the party.

My own personal view is that the PD's are in serious trouble and may be beyond the point of saving but only time will tell.


Sunday Lie gets slapped

I was delighted to hear that the gutter press got slapped in court recently. This relates to the news that the publishers of the Sunday World and its editor have been fined a total of £60,000 over reports it carried about two men facing trial by jury.

Jim McDowell and Sunday Newspapers limited were facing a contempt of court hearing which Brian Kerr described as the most serious of its type.

Brian said the paper had acted in an "astonishingly slipshod way".

"One is driven to the conclusion that the focus of the newspaper was on highly sensationalist reportage, couched in lurid and melodramatic language, rather than, as it should have been, on the checking of elementary facts,"

Of course, it's the Sunday World, that's what they do week in and week out!

Outside the court, McDowell said the newspaper "would continue to do its job".

What is that job exactly? They are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the old RUC and Garda Special Branch.

He concluded with "our job is to expose the godfathers of crime in this society and we will continue to do so to the best of our ability."

LOL, how does that tally when you have so-called journalists that snort more Charlie than an anorexic supermodel?

The Sunday World is a sensationalist rag and always will be. I couldn't be happier with this judgement.

To Hell or Coleraine!

That seems to be the war cry of those poor deluded DUP backwoodsmen in Coleraine.

DUP councillor Samuel Cole said, in response to a question about dividing up council positions, that democracy had to be defended as it had been fought for and won by Oliver Cromwell.

That's like suggesting that the Spanish Inquisition forms the basis for ecumenical dialogue.

Cole showed incredible naivety when he invoked the spirit of Cromwell.

To say that Cromwell is the most hated man in Irish history is not being dramatic, this religious nut engaged in a sectarian and hate filled blood lust throughout his time in Ireland. His actions during that time would be called war crimes or even genocide today.

I have always had a love for Irish curses as they are so descriptive, for example "Go ndeine an diabhal dréimire de cnámhdo dhroma ag piocadh úll i ngairdín Ifrinn" means "May the devil make a ladder of your backbone and pluck apples in the garden of hell".

Cromwell is unique in Gaelige culture as he has his own curse, "Malacht Cromail Ort" - Curse of Cromwell on you.

During his bloody conquest of Ireland we were left with mass evictions, killings and deportation for slave labour to Bermuda and Barbados.

We had the Penal laws in 1695 and the slaughter of men, women and children all in the name of his puritan madness. In fact during his time in Ireland the population decreased by 20% as a result of murder or exile.

He stole Irish land because of the £10 million that he raised under the Adventure Acts during the English Civil war and in order to pay off rich merchants he promised them Irish lands.

So not only was he a murderer but a hypocrite as well.

After the sacking of Drogheda he said "the righteous judgement of God on these barbarous wretches, who have imbued their hands with so much innocent blood". This was a lie as during the Rebellion of 1641 Drogheda was under the control of Royalists, not Catholic Confederates.

His actions in Ireland have resonated throughout history and led Winston Churchill to say this

"upon all of these Cromwell's record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. 'Hell or Connaught' were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred 'The Curse of Cromwell on you.' ... Upon all of us there still lies 'the curse of Cromwell'".

This DUP idiot should be more careful before he invokes the spirit of Cromwell in the future; it's disgusting and deeply insulting to the Irish people.

James Joyce summed up Cromwell best in his iconic novel "Ulysses"

"What about sanctimonious Cromwell and his ironsides that put the women and children of Drogheda to the sword with the bible text God is love pasted round the mouth of his cannon?".

Dr. Patrick J Hillery

The funeral has taken place of Ireland's sixth President, Dr. Patrick Hillery. At this very moment his cortege is on its way to his final resting place with his daughter.

Let's be clear on this from the outset, as Hillery was a Lynch loyalist I would have had serious problems with the political direction in which he and his Fianna Fáil colleagues handled the crisis in the North.

Today is not a day for such discussions though; instead it's a time to look upon his successes.

His father fought in the Tan War and indeed the family home was burnt down by the Black and Tans. He stood for election in 1951 after much pressure from De Valera in his native Clare.

After nearly a decade on the back benches he was appointed as Minister for Education in Seán Lemass's new cabinet. He paved the way for free secondary education and also held the post of Minster for Labour before he moved on to Minster for External Affairs in Jack Lynch's government.

It was at this time that the troubles broke out in the 6 counties and Paddy Hillery irked the British by making a visit to the Falls Road. The British described it as "a serious diplomatic discourtesy" but Paddy Hillery said that as a Minister in the Irish Government he would travel to any part of the country that he wished, including Belfast.

After Bloody Sunday he travelled to the UN and made an impassioned plea for UN peacekeepers in the North.

He said that "a near neighbour was practising the arts of war in his country". This came to nothing but he shocked both the American's and the British by suggesting that he hadn't "ruled out turning to the East", at the time he was encouraging the government to set up diplomatic relations with the USSR.

Most people will remember his angry remarks at the 1971 Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis. This was after the Arms Crisis involving Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney. Kevin Boland resigned from the cabinet in protest at Lynch's policy on the North and at the Ard Fheis he stormed the podium and challenged Lynch to one last show down.

While Boland was, quite rightly, lambasting Lynch Hillery grabbed the nearest microphone and challenged Boland. As Boland's supporters starting to chant for Kevin Boland Paddy Hillery roared the famous line, "Ye can have Boland but ye can't have Fianna Fáil".

Loyalty was an important quality for Paddy Hillery.

Hillery was Ireland's first European Commissioner and indeed negotiated Ireland's accession to the EEC.

As Vice President of the Commission with responsibility for Social Welfare he was the one who introduced equal pay for men and women.

In 1976, following on from the resignation of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh as President, Patrick Hillery was chosen as the Fianna Fáil candidate to contest the election and was endorsed by most of the parties.

He was then re-elected in his second term and remarked that it was the only sentence in which after 7 years good behaviour you got another 7.

He was never elected as president because he was the only candidate on both occasions.

He held the independence of the Presidency as sacrosanct and in 1982 resisted pressure from Haughey to help bring down the opposing coalition government. In this instance Hillery put country before party, famously refusing to take phone calls from Haughey and others.

Paddy Hillery lead a life of public service, loyalty and integrity were bywords of that public service.


Upwards and onwards to victory!

It was with much interest that I read the Irish News interview with El Presidente last week. The interview concerned the 10th anniversary of the GFA.

In the interview Adams admitted that the conflict, in military terms at least, was "over done and dusted". Adams has often side stepped demands to make such a statement. I have heard his justification for this and it is valid. He said that by him making such a statement others would go out to try and prove him wrong.

However it was another point in the interview that really got me thinking. Adams said that when he goes as leader he believes that the next SF president should be "a southern politician".

He stated of how when he assumed the mantle of power in SF he was reluctant to do so. Furthermore he said that his reluctance was due to his belief that the SF presidency should always be filled by someone from the 26 counties.

This is where Gerry and I differ.

Not to adopt a partitionist mentality, but I must admit that I am a staunch advocate of having the presidency reside with someone from the 6 counties.

I can see the merits in Gerry’s view. We got decimated in the last Southern elections, showing a need to develop a competent and capable leadership down there. We simply were not ready to go into government and we had jumped the gun! We came up against parties that had been playing the politics of governmental power for the last 80 to 90 years, when in reality we have only been at it for about 10 or 15 years.

I agree with Adams that there are several realistic candidates in the 26 counties. Pearse Doherty has all the attributes of a leader and Martin Ferris is another republican I hold in high regard. However I believe the cons out weigh the pros on this issue.

My belief is ground in the empirical evidence that other ‘republican’ (and I use the term loosely) parties have gone into free fall after abdicating control to 26 county leaderships. The Sticks are nothing short of raving gangsters and lunatics, whilst the IRSP has shown more than ample evidence of what happens when control is stipulated by those in Dublin. The so called RSF and 32 CSC have not even been a blimp on the local politics scene since their inception. What have they done for their community? The problem lies in removing control over a struggle (albeit a political one now) from those in the firing line. These people voted against removing abstentionism and the GFA, whilst a lot of them were not in the firing line and returned home to Limerick or Wicklow or Dublin. Many of those who voted in favour had to go back to the firing line in areas like Ardoyne and the Short Strand.

It is my belief that the next SF leader should be from the 6 Counties. I would also like the leader to be a former military person. In this way the party can keep their radical, revolutionary cutting edge. Many have evinced a belief that SF are starting to lose this element. Installing a leader from the 26 Counties would indubitably further erode this. I would love to see someone like Conor Murphy or indeed Gerry Kelly as the next SF president. I believe that it is people of this ilk that have the ability to bring our freedom struggle to a victorious conclusion.


A broken man

I haven't really paid much attention to the public inquiry into the death of Diana and Dodi Al Fayed.

I have obviously mulled over the theory of Mohamed Al Fayed that racist Prince Phillip and MI6 had them killed.

Now, I believe that MI6 is more than capable of having anyone killed and hiding the evidence, all you have to do is look at the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

That said, as much as I would love to believe that Philip and MI6 killed her I simply can’t buy it.

I have been through that same tunnel in Paris and if you were going through it at high speed with drink taken I don’t believe a crash would be out of the question.

I watched Mohamed Al Fayed’s interview with Trevor McDonald last night and it was hard not to feel for the man. He is broken and devastated at the death of his son.

His grief is raw and fluid and that is understandable.

In my opinion he has done all in his power in his quest to get justice for the killing of his son.

I hope he finds some comfort in that.

Freedom is more important than sport

I was intrigued by the scenes from London at the weekend in relation to the Olympic torch relay.

The Free Tibet Campaign quite rightly protested against this event because of China’s human rights abuses in Tibet. There were further altercations in Paris and San Francisco as well.

This organised campaign has been so successful that Olympic chiefs are now thinking about scrapping the event.

There has been a large amount of speculation in relation to a proposed boycott of the Olympic Games in China, or at least the opening ceremony anyway.

I’m of two minds in relation to boycotts. I personally don’t believe that they work and because of that I normally side with caution when they are mentioned.

There is no denying the serious abuse that China has inflicted on the Tibetan people. I would prefer to see Western nations place political and economic pressure, of what ever kind, on China.

If a boycott does indeed occur I will have huge sympathy for the athletes who have invested huge amounts of time, money and energy for the games.

I also place considerable blame on the Olympic committee who awarded China with the games in the first place.

That said the welfare of the Tibetan people must come before personal enrichment and I would support what ever action that people feel will bring an end to the misery of the Tibetan people.

If that amounts to a boycott then I believe it should be supported and supported by all.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

The coronation is now complete, arise King BIFFO. Brian Cowen is the 7th leader that Fianna Fail has had since they became a splinter group.

There has been constant speculation about who will be in and out when it comes to his cabinet; I don’t suspect much blood letting on his part.

I would love to see Mary Harney and others depart the scene but BIFFO is not stupid, he will use them as a buffer between Fianna Fail and the electorate.

I see that former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, possibly the best Taoiseach that Ireland has ever had, has endorsed his one time protégé.

Albert and Cowen are both members of the Country and Western division of Fianna Fail and it was Albert who first gifted Cowen with a Cabinet post.

Albert has this to say about Cowen

“He was very bright. He was never behind the door in giving his view, whether you like it or not.

“He was that sort of man and that’s the sort of man who is good for politics.”

He added: “I’m very proud of him and I think the country will be very proud of him too.”

I’m not holding my breathe Albert but we’ll wait and see.

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó'Caoláin has urged a new direction in Government policy following on from Cowen’s coronation.

"I congratulate Brian Cowen on his appointment this morning as the new leader of Fianna Fáil. His appointment should offer the Irish people a fresh opportunity for a new direction in Government policy.

" We need a change in direction in the Government’s social and economic policy. Such change must include the delivery of a truly equitable health service, the prioritisation of education and other public services and abandoning the privatisation agenda."

I have heard it said that Cowen is a good “Republican”; only time will tell if that is the 32 county or the partitionist variety.

Going by previous leaders of Gombeen PLC, Albert excluded, I suspect it will be the partitionist variety.

The horse has already bolted

A row is certainly brewing between Sinn Fein and the DUP over the latter's back flip on the role of the victim commissioners.

A proposed Alliance party amendment, supported by the DUP, looks to appoint one of the four newly appointed commissioners to the position of chief commissioner.

I hope that Sinn Fein holds firm on this issue as this process can only work on the basis of equality.

It was agreed that all four of the commissioners would be equal; any attempt to alter that deal at this stage is unacceptable.

We are not going to be dictated to by DUP backwoodsmen!


More Zionist agression

Yet again we see this morally bankrupt Zionist regime engage in another sabre rattling exercise. The Zionist’s argue that they will destroy Iran if they are attacked.

Nothing really surprising in that I hear you say but those crafty Zionist’s now argue that not only will they destroy Iran if directly attacked, they are now linking an attack on Iran with Syria and Hezbollah rockets.

According to National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer

"The Iranians won't rush to attack Israel, because they understand the significance such action would have and are well aware of our strength. However they continue to provoke us by arming their Syrian allies and Hezbollah.”

Does that mean that America is now a legitimate target for Syria, Palestine, Hezbollah and Iran seeing as they are the ones who pay for Israel’s war machine?

This chest beating is nothing more than a deflection away from internal problems within the Zionist state.

The again leadership has never been high up on the Zionist agenda, when in doubt they simply blow the shit out of some refugee camp.

That’s a civilised democracy for you!

Take it down from the mast...

I see that the Chairman of Limerick County Council has called on the Government to introduce an education campaign to inform people about the display of the national flag.

Kevin Sheahan said: "It is especially disheartening to see the national flag touching the ground, trailing in water or becoming entangled in trees or other obstacles."

He called for the Government to develop a media campaign "aimed at educating Irish citizens about the guidelines and the importance of respecting the national flag".

I fully support this call from Mr Sheahan.

I support the right of every Irish person to fly the national flag, though I do believe that it should be flown with dignity.

I personally don’t support the American approach when it comes to flags as I believe being a good citizen amounts to more than just putting up a flag.

It means helping your fellow Irishman and woman in ensuring that all the children of the nation are cherished equally.

For me that means campaigning for an inclusive Education and Health care system, free at the point of delivery. It’s about stopping the gross profiteering in our building sector.

In short I believe in an active form of citizenship.

I am the first to admit that many Republicans have not shown the national flag the proper dignity. I don’t support people who hoist the national flag on the top of a lamppost and leave it there to rot.

In South Armagh we have a national flag on top of a flag pole in every village and the Republican movement provides the upkeep.

I have always had a dislike towards people who wrap the national flag around their waist on St Patrick’s Day. In my opinion it is not showing the proper respect for the flag.

Though it has to be said that the British do things to the Butchers apron which defies belief.

Anyone who wears their national flag as boxers has serious issues. How in the name of god can you respect a nation who wraps their flag around their arse?

The national flag is, I believe, something we can all place our allegiance towards. It’s a revolutionary flag which embodies the very notion of equality.

Let’s show it the respect it deserves!


The mind boggles!

It was with equal measures of horror and humour that I read a story in last weeks Irish News about the plot by primary school children to kill their teacher.

Pupils between the ages of 8-10 plotted the teacher's death at a school in South Georgia, USA. The school caters for children with special needs such as ADDO and hyper activity.

It seems that the pupils planned to knock the teacher out with a paper weight, bind her hands together and then stab her with a letter opener. The level of precision that went into the planned murder is frightening to say the least. The pupils had designated each other roles of covering the windows to make sure no one could see in and of cleaning up the evidence after the murder. This is what 8 year olds had planned to do!

The plot was only foiled after one pupil alerted staff that a little girl had brought a weapon into school. And what did the teacher do to merit the death sentence? She told a pupil off for standing on a chair!!!! This is outrageous and shows the depths that society has now descended to. In my day I would probably have cried had the teacher told me off never mind try and kill her!

Surely the parents must shoulder some of the blame? How can I child contrive such a ruthless plot in this fashion? Surely it must be due, in part at least, to how they were reared by their parents? I know they may have problems but that is no excuse. I know several children with similar problems and they would never dream of such a cold and calculated plot. These children must be devoid of morals!

We are all aware of America's problems with gun violence in schools but this is a new low. Surely action must be taken now to prevent a repeat of this opprobrium.


Freedom lies in being bold

Robert Mugabe, once an honourable Marxist who fought for his countries independence....now nothing more than a despot!

I have no doubt that he has rigged parts of the election in order to at least make a run off a possibility. He has turned into what he once despised, corrupt and undemocratic.

I see that he has launched an attack upon MDC and journalists.

“Mugabe has started a crackdown,” Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Tendai Biti told The Associated Press. “It is quite clear he has unleashed a war.”

His ZANU-PF group are said to be preparing for a possible run off, this can mean only one thing, more intimidation.

It seem that this man can not be forced to step aside by peaceful and democratic means which leaves only one course of action open to the people of Zimbabwe, Armed Revolution!

It was JFK who said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

I pray that it doesn't come to that and that sense will prevail. I hope that the people of Zimbabwe can convince Mugabe that the time has come for him to depart.

I don't hold out much hope of that happening.


The King is dead, long live the King!

It seems that Brian Cowen's coronation is almost complete. All the main players have now fallen into line behind Cowen.

The real contest is now to see who will become Tánaiste; my own feeling is that it will be between Lenihan, Martin and Ahern.

Just as one crook leaves, another one enters, or should that be re-enters? I'm talking about the news that Beverly Cooper-Flynn will re-join the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party on Tuesday.

Now that the heir apparent has received these endorsements we can look forward to the rule of BIFFO.

Taoiseach's question time is certainly going to be interesting from now on!

Harris blames Blogs!

During the Bertie Ahern media saturation yesterday the most comical part for me was the role of Supreme Stickie Eoghan Harris.

Harris was everywhere, on all the mediums, all day long! Linking Bertie to Parnell and telling us how he was grieving at the loss of this great leader.

Out of all the daft things that Harris said yesterday, and its Harris we are talking about so there was a lot, the funniest was his suggestion that "blogs" had a hand in Bertie's downfall. He said this on the Last Word on Today FM.

I was searching for the exact words and found them on Mamam Poulet's blog.

Matt Cooper - How do you feel about this?
Harris - I feel sick, I’m going through the death thing, denial first and then anger. I think the public is going to go through the same series of shocks. There’s going to be a lot of grief about Bertie Ahern.

A few days ago when I spoke about him here there was an extraordinary amount of vitriolic texts and this has been par for the course across the media.

I don’t know whether put in by Fine Gael or a group of sour heads in Sinn Fein.

There’s a virulent group of people out there helping this campaign, especially on the internet, the blogs reached an incredible level of abuse in the last ten to fifteen days, and I mean really bad stuff.

This man is nuts!

I have no doubt the Bloglaigh Na hÉireann played a part by raising the issue but to link us with his downfall is an accolade we don't deserve.

The link that I find even more curious is the link with Harris himself. Every person that Harris has "advised" or supported has fallen by the wayside.

The Worker's Party, John Bruton, David Trimble and now Bertie Ahern.

With friends like Harris who needs enemies!

Arise Sir BIFFO

With Bertie Ahern now a dead duck we now see moves to crown his successor, the heir apparent Brian Cowen or BIFFO to his friends.

We have already witnessed two of his major rivals for the leadership of Fianna Fáil fall into place and pledge support to him, Brian Lenihan and Micheal Martin.

The only other threat, if any such threat exists, is Foreign Affairs Minister and Stoop ally Dermot Ahern.

We shall return to the fate of the other Ahern shortly.

I see that Noel Dempsey and Mary Coughlan have refused to rule themselves out of the running. There is also a suggestion that Mary Hanafin may challenge Cowen.

I don't buy any of this and neither of these three have anywhere near enough support to challenge Cowen. This is all about jostling for position and securing their Merc's for a few more years.

If any of these three do decide to run against Cowen the only thing it will tell me is that they know he will cut them from his future cabinet.

Now returning to Dermot Ahern, for a while I would have said that he had a strong chance but that was about 2 years ago. I'm not sure what kind of support he has within the FF Parliamentary Party.

I wouldn't be overly moved by the views of the Cabinet as the election of Charles Haughey proves that you don't need the support of the cabinet in order to be elected Taoiseach.

When he ran against George Colley he was running against a similar candidate to Cowen. Colley was the heir apparent and Jack Lynch even stood down early to facilitate Colley. All of the cabinet bar Michael O'Kennedy supported Colley but he still lost to Charlie.

The problem I see for Ahern is that he isn't a Charles Haughey; he doesn't have the temperamaent for that kind of Machiavellian coup.

I personally don't see Ahern challenging Cowen and as a result of this "loyalty" I can even see a promotion in his future.

Cowen will be the next leader of Fianna Fáil and the only other question relates to the PD's. In 1992 he said "When in doubt, leave them out!" and he doesn't necessarily need the PD's for numbers.

I'm sure that removing Mary Harney from Health would be a very popular decision across the country and even more so in Fianna Fáil. The only problem here is that Cowen needs Mary Harney and the PD's for other reasons.

He needs them because Cowen and others support her disastrous policies on Co-Location; they just want a buffer to blame when it comes to election time.

Cowen is a FF traditionalist; he is a former ally of Albert Reynolds and founder member of the Country and Western division of the party. I'm sure there is a part of him that would prefer to see a Fianna Fáil bum on the Health seat and a Merc for one of the lads.

That aside he will not be the one to send a Fianna Fáil member to "Angola"

UPDATE: Coughlan and Hanafin have come out in support of Cowen


Same old nonsense!

It seems that the securocrats, with the aid of a compliant media, have taken up the crudgels again to try and attack the integrity of SF president Gerry Adams and by extension of this the entire republican movement.

It seems that they have been falling over themselves to stick the boot into Adams over one issue or another.

Firstly and most distastefully they tried to attribute blame for the callous murder of ex-POW and life long republican Bap Mc Greevy to El Presidente.

This is absurd.

These securocrats are attacking Adams in an attempt to mask their own short comings in providing acceptable policing to areas like West Belfast. The same old shite was peddled in the Sunday World, but anyone on the ground in the area will tell you that talk of dissent is nonsense. These people have never set foot in West Belfast never mind spoke to people on the ground!

Secondly they are now trying to undermine the position of Adams within the movement. Following the outing of the traitor Roy Mc Shane (who was driver for Adams for a brief period, but in all reality despite what the media tell you, was merely a bit part player) they have tried to accuse almost everyone associated with Adams of being an informer.

The goal of this is obviously to have the grass roots support base cast doubt on Adams, yet this will never happen. Most recently two prominent community activists and ex-POW's Jim Mc Carthy and Chico Hamilton have been accused by faceless securocrats of being informers.
Both men have come forward to categorically deny these claims. Indeed they too have been associated with Adams, so the aim behind the rumours is once more to cast doubt on Adams.

May I remind readers that the claims against both these men were originally made by the tout Martin Mc Gartland! This is how ludicrous the whole fucking thing is! A paid perjurer accuses the two men he claims abducted him were touts. As Mc Gartland is a tout, I like anyone else with an iota of intelligence, do not believe a word this scumbag says. How dare he try to tarnish others for his own claim to fame! It is obviously that he is still kow-towing to his pay masters agenda (even if they are withholding payments!lol)

The attacks on Adams are clearly designed to destabilise the republican movement, at a time when they have remained united and strong throughout several difficult stages of late. One can not help but wonder if the whole situation is being manufactured by the securocrats to deflect away from the internal machinations and power struggles between the various cabals within the DUP.

All political careers end in failure

That was the view of Enoch Powell and it has certainly proved the case for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Bertie has announced that he will step down as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil on the 6th May.

Now, I believe that Bertie did a lot of work when it came to the Peace Process but let's not over egg the pudding here. On too many occasions the Irish Government, as led by Ahern, acted liked a junior party of negotiations.

Bertie has stood over the most prosperous era in Irish history yet the gap between rich and poor has widened even further under his watch. Huge sums of money were generated under the Celtic Tiger but too much of that money was squandered on waste and gross inefficiency.

The Health Service is in crisis, criminal gangs roam with free reign throughout Irish cities and Bertie has failed to advance the Republican cause.

Too many people are caught in the rat race of paying for mortgages, childcare and healthcare yet their standard or enjoyment of living has diminished.

It's all well and good for Bertie to receive platitudes from foreigners but what about the average Joe on the street.

Bertie's financial irregularities have left a blight on his character and showed him to have the same flawed pedigree as other gombeen men in Fianna Fáil.

Bertie does not resign from a position of strength; he leaves after the political death of a thousand cuts.