Armagh put manners on Down

Yesterday was a great day to be an Armagh man as we beat Down in the Ulster Semi-Final. The rivalry between Down and Armagh is one of the worst in GAA, as bad as Dublin and Meath.

From my own point of view I always maintain that those of us who went to school in Newry with our Down cousins are always the worst for the slagging. After almost seven years of listening to Down people slabber about their All-Ireland's we got our first in 2002.

Last week in work was serious for the slagging, had Armagh lost I would probably have had to quit. When I return to work tomorrow there are going to be a lot of Down people very quiet and light of a few pound.

All week long I heard of the great Benny Coulter and while a nice lad personally it was a great joy to watch Ciarán McKeever put manners on him. The return of the mighty Francie Bellew brought great joy to Orangemen in Clones yesterday and it was Francie's quick thinking which set up young Kernan for the goal.

With the Down jerseys back in the wardrobe for a wee while I would like to look towards our 7th Ulster final in 1o years and think about Fermanagh. They a rare breed in so far as this is their first Ulster final since 1982 and they are the only county in Ulster to have never won the Anglo-Celt cup.

While I will be supporting Armagh come Ulster Final day I wouldn't be too unhappy to see Fermanagh win their first ever Ulster Championship.

For the neutrals and purists that would be the ideal outcome, the only problem they face is thus.

Francie Bellew and Co don't read romantic novels, they break hearts!

Anglican Communion is in Schism

I see that the Anglican Communion is teetering on the edge of schism following a showdown with Rowan Williams yesterday and the formation of Foca.

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Foca) will sever ties with the main Anglican churches in the US and Canada, whose leaders they accuse of betraying biblical teaching.

This row has been brewing ever since the ordination and consecration of gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson.

The traditionalists in the Anglican Communion accuse their Western counterparts of abandoning biblical teaching in pursuit of so-called modernity and pluralism.

In a statement, they said: "While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury."

There also plan to boycott this summer's Lambeth conference, the once-a-decade gathering of the Anglican world's 880 bishops, in a snub to Archbishop William’s leadership.

I'm not an Anglican, I'm a Catholic but I do look on with great interest. The position of the Anglican Communion inside Protestantism has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.

With the High Church and Low Church under the one banner I have often wondered what the Anglican Church actually stood for. I have often heard them described as yellow back Catholics who wish to have their cake and eat it.

Many of my English friends were Anglicans, or at least were brought up in that faith and they could never really explain where their "Church" stood with regards several issues because another would always contradict the first.

When I first moved to London one of the first things I did was to search out my nearest Catholic Church. I remember looking upon this old gothic church with ornate stain glassed windows. I'm in luck says I, this has to be a Catholic Church. I looked at the name and found out it was the Church of Mary Magdalene. I checked out the sign at the front and saw that confessions were on a Thursday.

I was quite surprised to find out that it was in fact an Anglican church, a Catholic church stolen during the reformation no doubt and that the Catholic Church was less than 20 meters over the road, St Anne's.

As I became a regular at St Anne's I was introduced to the Vicar or whatever it is they call themselves and I asked him how High Church Anglicans were able to square their faith with their lower Church brethren, he couldn't answer it.

I'm not surprised that this schism is occurring inside Anglicanism; when you try to be all things to all men you always fail in the end.

To those traditionalists who feel betrayed by Williams and Co I wonder will they consider returning to the "One true Catholic and Apostolic Church"?

Sticking the boot in again!

I see that after the collapse of the Bik trial and the conclusion of the Mc Cartney trial that media hacks are falling over themselves to stick the boot into the republican movement!

Hugh Jordan, of Sunday Lie fame, in particular had a lot to say on the matter. In fact Hugh argued that this week it was a case of ‘
“IRA 2, Truth and justice 0”.

I really wonder where Hugh’s logic and rationale have gone when he comes out with such a statement!

Let’s just take a look at both trials.

In Biks' the judge ruled that statements allegedly made by Bik could not be submitted. Rightly so in my opinion. Has Hugh never heard of the creativity the Garda had as regards doctoring statements in the Murphy case and the Morris tribunal. In fact the list is endless, with Garda corruption being somewhat prevalent. Is Hugh seriously arguing that doctored statements and fabricated lies should be put forward at such a trial? That’s hardly in the interests of truth and justice. So contrary to what wee Hugh has to say it seems that this is definitely one for truth and justice.

In terms of the Mc Cartney trial, even Catherine Mc Cartney conceded that the judgement was correct when one viewed the nature of the evidence before the court. She went further to say that had she been a lay person sitting in the court she would not have convicted Terry Davison on the basis of the evidence before the court.

The evidence of the three main prosecution witnesses were contradictory and to a degree somewhat confusing. There was even a vital issue of the identification of the attacker and where the fatal wound was inflicted.

I am supportive of the Mc Cartney’s campaign. Their family has suffered greatly and no one should die in the circumstances that their brother did. This family deserves justice for their brother. However justice comes at a price and regard must be had for justice for the accused. Quite simply despite all the publicity and prominence there was not enough evidence to convict the accused. Thus the legal system has prevailed. I do not see how Hugh can consider this a victory for the IRA. Surely it is a victory for the rule of law and due process of the legal system?

Furthermore I see that the media are peddling the claim that republicans are obstructed the case. The Mc Cartney’s claim that the republican movement are responsible for the trial collapsing as they have failed to encourage witnesses to come forward.

If one examines empirical evidence it is categorical that this could not be further from the truth. Several senior SF figures have called for people with evidence to come forward. In fact several members were suspended whilst the party carried out an internal investigation. Furthermore the Army also encouraged witnesses to participate in the trial. Brendan Devine even admitted that the Army told him to tell the truth and to “do what you have to do”. This is hardly obstructing the trial and intimidating witnesses!

It is unfortunate that no one has been convicted for the brutal slaying of Robert Mc Cartney. This will only intensify the hurt felt by his family. However it is in no ones best interest to have people convicted on evidence that is not strong enough. This would be a case of gross injustice. This is hardly a legacy that the Mc Cartney's want for Robert.


Honoured at last

I was delighted that the people of West Belfast recently decided to honour one of their finest sons ‘Cheeky’ Charlie Tully. A plaque was unveiled recently to Charlie on the Falls Road.

Charlie was a legend on the football pitch both for ‘The Mighty’ Belfast Celtic and Celtic FC. As an ardent, die hard Bhoys fan I have immense respect for Charlie. Along with Jinky and Larsson and Davy Hay he is the greatest to have ever thread the football pitch at Paradise.

Celtic are immensely proud and honoured to have such a talented football colossus wear the hoops. This pride was reciprocated by Charlie, who was proud to play for Celtic and for all that this great club stands for.

Charlie’s story of his rise to become a Celtic super star is the stuff of legend. Indeed it shows the remarkable progress of a young man from West Belfast who would become one of the icons of the world’s greatest football clubs. Charlie signed for Celtic from Belfast Celtic on the 28th June 1948. The transfer documents were signed by Charlie on the window sill of The Rock Bar on the Falls!

Indeed Belfast Celtic were never the same without Cheeky Charlie. The club folded the following season after sectarian attacks on their fans and players during a match with Linfield at Windsor Park. As was common back then the so called forces of law and order adopted a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak evil approach’ eventually forcing The Mighty to fold due to safety concerns.

Upon arriving in Glasgow the Celtic envoy were not there to meet Charlie. True to the nature of Charlie he got a tram to Glasgow and then walked two hours to the Gallowgate to Celtic Park! It was this unassuming nature, along with dazzling skill on the pitch that endeared Charlie to the Parkhead faithful.

Charlie’s skill on the pitch soon set him apart from his peers. He ran amok against Rangers at Celtic Park, and scored directly from a corner against Falkirk twice in a Scottish Cup encounter at Brockville in 1953. While playing for the 6 Counties against England in 1952, Charlie scored both goals in a 2-2 draw. Again one of the goals were directly from a corner.

Charlie’s amazing career spanned 11 years, with him playing 319 games and scoring 47 goals. Regrettably Charlie was unable to make an impact internationally. Being a West Belfast Catholic meant that Charlie was overlooked on many occasions with less talented players being opted over him.

It is great to see this Celtic legend finally being recognised in his home city.

Stick your sackcloth and ashes up your....

It's that time of the year again when the weird men in funny hats go marching, yes, it's Orange marching season.

A time when the Orange Protestant can once again try to lord it over his Catholic neighbour celebrating the victory of a foreign invader and the subjugation of the vast majority of Irish people.

Last week Gerry Adams held talks with Portadown Orangemen, much to the dismay of their brethren in the Orange leadership.

Gerry said he made it clear there was "no rationale for an Orange parade along the Garvaghy Road" and "urged them to involve themselves in a process of inclusive dialogue" with residents.

"We had an informative and useful discussion about Orangeism and its place in modern Ireland."

"For a number of years I have written to the Orange Order offering dialogue around the issue of contentious parades. Recently representatives of the Portadown Orange sought to meet with me,"

After today's Whiterock parade went off peacefully Grand Secretary Drew Nelson dipped his toe into the water and had this to say.

"As an organisation we had over 300 members murdered, If there is going to a fresh start in Northern Ireland, I think we have to hear those words of sorrow and regret from the leadership of Sinn Féin."

For starters, how many of those members were also members of the RUC, Crown Forces and Unionist death squads? The vast, vast majority and as such they were combatants hence no sorrow coming from this Republican.

If the Orange Order honestly believe that Republican's are going to don the sackcloth and ashes and ingratiate ourselves before one of the most bigoted old boys club in the world then they have another they coming.

For them to believe such a ridiculous position would even be probable suggests most of them are sniffing too much cocaine, provided at cut down rates by their friends in the UVF and UDA of course.

As an Irish Republican I will not be taking morality lessons from the Orange Order, I have higher standards than that!

I was delighted to see that the Orange Order was once again banned from going down Garvaghy Road next Sunday.

As a Republican I believe in Religious and civil liberty but with those rights come responsibility. I will never support Orangemen who seek to march through areas like the Garvaghy Road or the Lower Ormeau. They try to engage in acts of communal deterrence and attempt to keep the croppies down for one more year.

Any Orangeman who wishes and pushes to march down Garvaghy Road is a scumbag, it's that simple! There can be no reason for them wishing to march through that area except to intimidate and laud it over the Catholic residents of that area.

Some of my American readers may not be aware of the issue of parades here and it's really quite simple. It's like the KKK wishing to march through Harlem.

My response to Orangemen marching on the Garvaghy Road would be the exact same as the AOH parade which sought to go down the Shankill.

I hear the old man in Ballymena shout "tradition!" and I'm minded of the words of Mark Twain when he said "often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it".

I have a few friends on the Garvaghy Road and they have a real fear that Sinn Féin, in the cause of negotiations, will seek to offer them up as meat to the DUP in exchange for Policing and Justice.

I was happy to inform them that such a thing would never happen. For as much as we need the transfer of policing and justice it could never, ever be justified upon the backs of people's indignity and humiliation.

The people of the Garvaghy Road are worth more than that, something I'm sure the leadership of Sinn Féin are well aware of!


Willie wrong again!

It seems that wee Willie Wonka has got it wrong again, and admittedly I am not surprised.

Willie Wonka's accuracy and impartiality when it comes to reporting stories about republicans is simply non-existent. What is even worse is that he does not even try to hide it.

I read Willies drivel about the H-block martyrs on his website recently and to say that I was rather bemused at the crap he was peddling would be an extreme under statement.

Firstly Willie derides the reputation of legendary republican freedom fighter Francis Hughes. Willie referred to him as someone famed “not for courage… but for a fanatical disregard for human life including his own”. Willie then attempts to rewrite history by trying to erase and demean his contribution to the freedom struggle. This is rich coming from Willie, whose opinion is completely worthless. The lies and distorted half truths he peddles about a man he is not capable of even coming close to is just sick.

He tries in vain to portray Hughes as a coward preying on the weak. I’m sure Willies UDR chums might have a thing or two to say about this. For years Hughes and his unit tormented crown forces in the South Derry area. Indeed they even humbled the mighty SAS. Not so cowardly if you ask me! Willie then derides Hughes for claiming that he was Seamus Lafferty from Donegal whenever he was wounded and captured. Does Willie consider Capt. Robert Nervewreck a coward for claiming he was Danny Mc Erlean during interrogation by the Army?

History shows the calibre of soldier Hughes was. Nothing Willie writes or spews can change this. His revisionist take on events is somewhat comical if not macabre.

Hughes is not the only one subjected to Willies revisionism. He claims that Ray Mc Creesh was a weak individual, manipulated by the movement. Willie claims that Mc Creesh wanted to disembark from the strike but was forced to continue. He further claims that Ray was embarrassed for ‘abandoning’ Danny Mc Guinness during the operation they were arrested on.

However if Willie cared to collaborate with the people involved in the ambush he would see that this was not the case. Danny indeed was the best placed of the three volunteers when they fled, and was only arrested in a follow up operation the next day. Indeed his position was favourable to that of Ray and Paddy Quinn who were facing a shoot out scenario with enemy forces.

He claims that Ray was refused permission to embark on the 1980 hunger strike as he was too weak and indecisive. He claims that the movement knew he could not stomach such a painstaking and arduous death. This yet again is lies. Ray was a soldier of immense integrity and gallantry. Indeed it was government doctors that tried to get Ray to come of the strike, telling him he was in Scotland and that he could get help. Ray on his death bed was so disorientated that he believed that the 26 co forces were coming to recapture the 6 co’s. The song The South Winds by Christy Moore depicts this brilliantly.

Willie then tries to peddle the blatant lie that the movement callously let six men die for nothing. Willie regurgitates the lies peddled by Richard O Raw about the movement rejecting a deal before Joe Mc Donnell dying, only to accept a less favourable one a few months later. A Willie state that the hunger strike was called off after Owen Carron got elected as the continuance of the strike was a mere election stunt. This is sickening. Has Willie never heard of the five demands? Indeed it is a sad indictment of Richard O Rawe that even Willie can use the bull shit he is evincing to suit his anti-republican agenda!

All O Rawe's lies have already been challenged and exposed by Brendan Mc Farlane, a man of more integrity and honour than both Willie and Richard combined. I really can not fathom why O Rawe would seek to publish such a distorted and dishonest account of such a high profile period in republican history.

The current generation of young people looks upon the hunger strikers with an immense sense of pride and respect. Their names are enshrined with Irelands patriot dead, forever remembered in the country for which they sacrificed their lives. Throughout the mist of time the gallantry and selflessness they demonstrated will never be forgotten.

Can the same be said for Willie et al????????


Biks trial collapses!

I see that Brendan ‘Bik’ Mc Farlane's much publicised and indeed politicised trial has finally collapsed.

Make no mistake the trial was a political charade, with his arrest carefully choreographed as well as a prolonged trial amidst a blaze of publicity.

Bik was standing trial in relation to the kidnapping of prominent business man Don Tidey in 1983.

Unfortunately whenever Free State forces stormed the hostage lair two members of the Free State military were killed.

Whilst republicans have long been accused of the murders empirical evidence is suggestive that the victims were killed by Free State forces rather than the Army.

Indeed Tidey gave evidence of how he believed he narrowly avoided execution by Free State forces when they stormed the hide out.

The prosecution conceded to-day that it will not be offering any further evidence. The court ruled that Garda evidence was inadmissible. Indeed Bik refuted several statements that the Garda allege he made during questioning. Bik has vehemently denied all knowledge of the offences.

Bik was arrested in January 1998 near Carrickarnon. He was travelling from Dublin on a bus when Garda, acting on a ‘tip off’ intercepted the bus and arrested him. It later transpired that Mc Farlane was to dismount the bus at the border as he was to receive a reprieve from then NI SOS Mo Mowlem. In a further development the Garda who arrested Bik refused to disclose where the ‘tip off’ had emanated from.

His arrest and every aspect of the trial since then received a plethora and indeed a surfeit of publicity. It is great to see that justice has finally been served and that the former OC of the Kesh has finally been acquitted of these trumped up charges.

The truth will out!

The truth about the unprovoked murder of young Aidan Mc Anespie is slowly beginning to be conceded by the establishment. The HET this week released a report laying lie to the pathetic and unconvincing attempt by the Brit Army to obfuscate the circumstances surrounding Aidan’s brutal murder.

Aidan Mc Anespie was gunned down in cold blood by the British Army as he walked through a checkpoint in the village of Aughnacloy on the 21st of February 1988. Aiden’s tragic murder was the culmination of months of harassment and degradation from crown forces. Harassment and intrusion were almost a daily routine to Aidan, indeed he had to vary his travelling routes in order to try and avoid the checkpoint.

On one particular occasion with sinister overtones, Aidan along with his mother was detained at the checkpoint. The Brits then proceeded to tell Aidan that they would ‘get him’ some day one way or another. Unfortunately the Brits did not renege on this callous threat.

From the moment the fatal shot was discharged the British establishment have waged a campaign of lies and cover up in an attempt to smear the name of Aidan Mc Anespie and deny his family the justice that they deserve. The truth is that he was an innocent Nationalist, a GAA enthusiast whose only crime was being Irish in his own country.

The version peddled by Guardsman David Holden, who fired the murderous shot, defied logic and within a short space of time it became apparent that this was yet another sorry case of the Brits trying to cover up their dirty deeds. Indeed the HET have admitted that Holden’s version is the least likely to be accurate.

He claimed that he moved the weapon by holding the pistol grip with what he described as a ‘loose grip’. He claimed that as he did so his finger slipped, inadvertently squeezing the trigger and discharging a live round.

The HET have this week conceded that, as everyone in the region knew, this was bare faced lies. Evidence has decimated the sorry self-serving lie evinced by Holden.

The HET carried out a test using a similar General Purpose Mounted Machine Gun and concluded that;

“Activating the trigger required having a firm grip on the pistol grip and squeezing the trigger until it activated. It was found to be difficult and required considerable force to activate the trigger without having the hand firmly gripped around the pistol grip”.

This flies in the face of the sorry excuse Holden used in court!

Furthermore the HET found that gun was mounted on a pivot. This enabled the gun to be swivelled, thus there was no need for Holden to have his hand on the pistol grip. There was no need for him to have his finger on the trigger guard either, as he only had to swivel the butt of the gun to reposition it.

Holden further perpetuated his lies by claiming that his hands were wet from cleaning the Sanger. He said this occurred about 10 minutes prior to the fatal shot being discharged. However following an analysis of the cleaning activities the HET discovered that the cleaning had been carried out by a cleaning party and that Holden resumed duty 30 minutes before he murdered Aidan. Holden’s lies just do not add up.

In a further indictment of the initial investigation, Lance Sergeant Peters gave evidence stating that upon re-entering the Sanger after shooting Mc Anespie, Holden when asked what happened, replied that he squeezed the trigger. Furthermore Holden was not interviewed until 24 hours after the murder and forensic investigations were not undertaking until the next day. This is opprobrious and demonstrates that the British Army had as much contempt for Aidan Mc Anespie as he lay dead as they had when he was living.

This latest admission is a massive boost for the Mc Anespie family as they continue their unstinting campaign to get justice for Aidan. The dignity with which this family has bore their loss is remarkable. However the family are aware that there is still a lot left to be divulged.

Aidan’s sister Eilish stated that
“This report vindicates our family and our long campaign for justice. Those in authority should at least have the decency to feel a sense of shame”.

Indeed it is a sad indictment on the British establishment that Aidan’s family concede that whilst they may never get justice for Aidan at least now they are beginning to get the truth about his murder.


"The Enemy Within"

This was a reference made by Thatcher to one of the most progressive political figures in British politics, Arthur Scargill.

As an Irish Republican I have little time for most British political figures although there are some notable exceptions.

I'm thinking of people like Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway.

Another is legendry Socialist and Trade Unionist Arthur Scargill.

I had the immense privilege of hearing Arthur speak yesterday as part of the Campa Náisiúnta Óige 08 in Tí Chulainn South Armagh.

He spoke with great passion and enthusiasm to a packed hall of young people (and some not so young).

He told us all about the Miners Strike, his leadership of the Socialist Labour Party that was founded by James Connolly in 1903 and his hopes for the future.

While I was thinking back today about Arthur's speech yesterday and his contribution to Socialism I was reminded of a quote from Oscar Wilde in his political essay, "The Soul of Man under Socialism".

"Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made."

A few of his quotes will remain with me; the main one was that there is no middle-class. There is only the ruling class and those who work with either hand or brain.

This struck a cord with me because I have had numerous rows with people over the issue of my class. My father and grandfather were both active Republican Trade Unionist's, they believed in the rights of the worker and worked in factories all their lives. My grandfather until he retired, my father still does to this day.

Even though I come from a working-class family and community when I went to University I had many pompous lecturers' who liked to tell me I was now middle-class.

"You are reading law at Queen's University; you are now a member of the middle-class so get used to it" one ignorant Politics Professor once told me.

I have never been nor will I ever be middle-class!

Arthur also told us about his views on the European Union and his opposition to it. I have to say that I disagree with him but I can see where he is coming from.

I believe in a European Union of equal and sovereign nation states working together, where possible, under the rule of unanimity.

I oppose most viciously this federal bureaucracy of the right which seeks to create a United States of Europe. It seeks a new militarised and anti-worker Europe where the rights of the people are subservient to the interests of the political class.

That is not a Europe which I wish to live under and I would prefer to leave the EU than to live under such a regime. The utter contempt which the German and French political class have for democracy is as disgusting as it is regrettable.

Arthur spoke for two hours and it was the most informative talk I have been to in a long while.

After the talk we left two members of Labour Youth to the train station and had an interesting discussion on all manner of subjects from the Lisbon Treaty to the Mullingar Accord.

What I left with from that conversation and indeed the talk from Arthur Scargill is the urgent need for left wing unity.

We need a political realignment in this country and those of us on the left need to put personality disputes and party political garbage to one side and look to the bigger picture.

I have said before on this blog that I am as opposed to Sinn Féin's involvement in government with Fianna Fáil as I am with Fine Gael. I support a broad left wing and progressive coalition.

To that end I would like to see Sinn Féin, the Green's and the Labour Party sign a left wing pledge before the next general election. I would like the pledge to be thus.

That none of the three mentioned political parties will enter government with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. That the days of them fighting over who is to be the mudguard for either of the failed civil war parties is over.

There is no difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael; we should stop pretending that there is. It's the only hope we have of progressing a left wing agenda.

It may be naive on my part to suggest such a thing but it doesn't mean that such a thing isn't worth striving for.


The Irish people have spoken

I have to admit that yesterday was one of those days when I was really proud to be Irish.

Despite the fact that all the establishment parties, main trade unions and big business all supported the Lisbon Treaty/European Constitution the Irish people still had the dignity, self belief and confidence to vote No.

"Brave Irishmen, our cause is common. Like you we hold as indefeasible the right of all nations to liberty." That quote comes from General Humbert's Proclamation on the 22nd August 1798.

That sentiment was shared by the rest of the people of Europe yesterday, the people who won't get the chance to vote on this monstrosity.

Not only have the Irish people acted in the best interests of the Irish nation, they have acted in the best interests of Europe by delivering a hammer blow to the undemocratic Euro elite.

It is in times like these that I thank God for Bunreacht Na hÉireann! When the political class have sold their soul to the European elite this document can be depended upon to stand up for the interest of the Irish nation.

I remember when I was younger we had an Irish test which fell on Friday the 13th. We appealed to the teacher to put it off as the day was unlucky (it's always worth a try) but he told us not to worry. He said, quite bizarrely, that Friday the 13th was only unlucky for Protestants and that the day was actually very lucky for Catholics.

What we do know is that Friday the 13th is a lucky day for the Irish and for Europe but most importantly for democracy.

Not only did the No vote succeed yesterday, it succeeded with a high turnout. The final count saw 862,415 voting No, a 53.4% majority, with 752,451 voting Yes (46.6%).

Under European law the Lisbon treaty is now dead, simple as that! Any changes to existing European treaties needs the express support of all member states.

It needs to be remembered that the only party of the Oireachtas to go against the treaty was Sinn Féin; it was ourselves alone who put the interests of Europe and indeed the Irish people above politics.

It was Sinn Féin who trudged the roads for the last number of months campaigning for a No vote and I would like to congratulate my southern comrades on their sterling work, Maith thú a chairde!

Upon hearing that the Lisbon treaty had been defeated Mary Lou McDonald had this to say

"The people have spoken. They share our concerns about the Lisbon Treaty and believe that a better deal is possible. They also share our view that Ireland's place in Europe is secure. The government now has a clear and strong mandate to renegotiate this Treaty. They need to use the opportunity to get back around the table with our EU partners and secure a better deal."

"Throughout this referendum campaign three key issues came up over and over again - Ireland's loss of power in Europe, neutrality and the lack of information. People were also concerned at the race to the bottom in wages and conditions and the opening of key public services to competition."

"There is now a huge responsibility on the government, and particularly on the Taoiseach to listen to the people, and commit himself to the task of securing a better deal. These are very practical and reasonable demands, which can be delivered. "

Such a deal needs to include:

• The retention of a permanent Commissioner
• The retention of existing voting strength at Council
• Retention and strengthening of key strategic vetoes on tax, public services and international trade
• Maintenance of the absolute right of Irish citizens to have the final say in any significant say in changes to the EU treaties
• Specific article protecting our neutrality
• Specific protocol explicitly exempting vital public services from rules of competition and state aid
• Opt outs from expenditure on nuclear power and military capabilities.
• Inclusion of social progress clause and greater protections for workers rights
• Active promotion of free trade over fair trade
• Strengthening of the role of member state parliaments and of citizens

"This was a David and Goliath contest. Sinn Féin activists took the debate to local communities across the country and with sound and reasoned arguments convinced a majority of the electorate that a better deal was possible."

What also sickened me were the threats coming from the Euro elite, French and German politicians who believed that they could use blackmail against the Irish people. He should have known that the Irish people don't respond to threats, we defy them!

What was also clear yesterday was the pure and utter disdain coming from the Irish media. The Irish working class had defied their "betters" and thought for themselves, I mean, how dare they!

I was minded of that great Irish patriot, James Connolly

"Only the Irish working class remains as the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland."

It seems thought that the European elite don't have great hearing. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso still called on other members states to ratify the treaty. "I believe the treaty is alive and we should now try to find a solution,"

How can the treaty be alive when Ireland rejected it? Perhaps this man needs a basic course in European law.

Comrades, we have won the battle but we still need to win the war!


Free Speech is not for some but all

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." is a quote often, incorrectly, attributed to Voltaire. It's a belief which I hold dear, the right to Free Speech.

I bring this up because of the recent outcry relating to comments made by DUP flat earther Iris Robinson.

While being interviewed last week she called homosexuality an "abomination". This was made worse by the fact that there was a recent brutal attack on a member of the homosexual community.

She also said that gays could be "cured",

"I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals - trying to turn away from what they are engaged in. I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals."

Now, first things first, there is no doubt that Iris Robinson is a moron. Anyone who believes that gay people can be "cured" is allowing their religious views to cloud their judgement. Sexuality, in most circumstances, is not a choice.

I don't get into the whole homosexuality good/bad thing because quite frankly it's none of my business. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is their choice, so long as it's legal.

I personally believe it's unnatural, which it is, but I accept that for most gay people it's as natural as the sun rising and setting.

I still don't understand why anyone would get upset over what Iris Robinson believes or says. Why would any homosexual get upset or let their lives be ruled by other peoples prejudices, toughen up ffs!

Stephen Scott, who was assaulted by three youths in Newtownabbey, said her comments "disgusted" him.

Mr Scott said Mrs Robinson's comments had made him feel worse.

"I certainly will not rest until she stands down for what she's done, because she's made my life hell since her comments,"

I'm sorry; I don't by that for one second! How in the name of sweet Jesus has she made his life hell? If a person is that fragile then I'm afraid that's their problem.

Noam Chomsky said it best when he stated "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

Freedom of expression is central to any democracy and I will defend to the end Iris Robinson's right to spew her ignorance and intolerance. I don't believe that her comments were incitement to hatred, they were her opinions and if we can no longer express those then the system is truly rotten.

I see that Martina Anderson has called for her to resign and both Martin McGuinness and Catríona Ruane have called on her to reflect on her public opinions.

For my part equality runs both ways, people have a right to live their lives with respect and dignity but people also have a right to free speech.

Republican's should be careful before we try to censure others as we are well aware of how said censorship feels.

If a person is comfortable enough in their own sexuality then her comments will not matter a thought.

I believe that Abortion is murder, will I one day be threatened with the police over an incitement to hatred charge?

I will not live under the yoke of intellectual oppression where each man and woman is not free to say as they wish within the confines of the law.

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Thomas Jefferson


Bush to sabotage Obama's Iraq pull-out plans

Negotiations are underway in Baghdad to secure a deal that would perpetuate the American presence regardless of the outcome of future US presidential elections. Bush aims to push the deal through before the end of next month in order to claim some sort of military victory, and there we were thinking it was "mission accomplished" 5 years ago.
Under the terms of the deal, US troops would occupy 50 permanent bases, have complete control of Iraqi airspace, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law. He also wants the same protection from war crimes prosecution for the private security contractors. The Americans are aiming to keep around 140,000 troops there permanently...or at least until the oil runs out.
This would be a major victory for the corporate, military-industrialists; their $5 billion a month gravy train cannot be derailed by Obama's talk of a pull-out and it is merely the latest attempt, by their frontmen in the Bush cabal, to see just how much they can get away with.




The gloves are off!

I see that the mystery and intrigue surrounding Stormont this last couple of days has come to an end. Sinn Féin has made clear that they will be nominating Martin McGuinness for Deputy First Minister.

That has been intense media speculation, some of it completely off the wall, that Sinn Féin would refuse to nominate Martin and so bring down the Assembly over the DUP failure to devolve Policing and Justice, the Irish Language act, Education etc.

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson issued a joint statement tonight which contained the following

"We recognise there are outstanding and unresolved issues which have been raised with the prime minister and which require urgent attention."

The first round of negotiations is scheduled for Friday with more at the start of next week.

The DUP and people in general need to get real for just a second.

Promises were made in relation to St Andrews and those promises need to be lived up to. Sinn Féin will not be continuing in any Assembly which does not contain power-sharing.

The DUP have blocked Sinn Féin proposals at every turn, using a veto time after time and generally being a barrier to equality. Being totally obstructive at every opportunity is not power-sharing and it's about time the DUP learnt that.

Now Sinn Féin could start using the mutual veto all over the place but we are not interested in that kind of politics. It's about time that the DUP grew up and stopped pandering to the lowest common denominator.

These negotiations start on Friday and I hope the DUP take them seriously because Republican's are deadly serious, the gloves are off! The time for pussy footing about people and their egos is over.

I understand why Sinn Féin let the DUP off with a little too much at the start, the DUP had to be embedded into the process but that time is over.

Robinson has been given a short and sharp kick in the bollocks; he is not the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and he never will be. Martin McGuinness is his co-equal, not his underling. The days of the Unionist veto are over!

Gerry Adams laid it out tonight when he said

"The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister is a joint and co-equal office. Those two are in that office can only fulfil their responsibilities if they are mindful of that fact."

We will not be taking any nonsense from the DUP and these issues have to be addressed and as a matter of urgency.

If the DUP do not take their responsibilities seriously then a return to the people may be the only option.

As a Republican I have nothing to fear from an election, the same can not be said for the DUP.

It's about time Unionism showed a bit of maturity, these negotiations will indicate if they are up to that job.

I hope they are but Republican patience is wearing thin, we are not prepared to sit back and wait for progress any longer.


Obama slays the dragon

I am delighted that Barack Obama has finally slain the dragon that is Hilary Clinton. As much as I respect her husband and all the hard work which he did in relation to the Peace Process I can't abide her.

On Tuesday Obama finally gained the necessary votes needed to make him the Democratic nominee in November.

Obama announced his victory in St. Paul, Minnesota (home of the Republican congress this year) before a massive crowd and told them

"Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another -- a journey that will bring a new and better day to America,"

"Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States."

There has been some talk already about Clinton becoming his future Vice-President and running mate, in an effort to heal deep wounds in the Democratic Party no doubt. I hope this is only idle speculation and that Obama chooses someone more suitable.

Obama moves on to Denver and November with his eye on the prize and on his opponent. John McCain is the most dangerous kind of Republican, he's a RINO! He should not be underestimated by anyone.

Obama and his people need to be very careful in how they handle him or else they could end up saying goodbye to the Whitehouse for another four years.

How cruel to slay the dragon during the primary and fall at the last hurdle to a war mongering RINO!


New Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast

I see that Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley has been elected as the new Mayor of Belfast.

This was achieved in spite of an attempt by the DUP to cast aside the powersharing in Belfast by electing Diane Dodd's as Mayor.

Diane Dodd's? I mean, come on! A cucumber has more of a personality.

This sectarian carve up by the DUP and other Unionist's failed because Reg Empey was absent and because UUP councillor Davy Browne refused to vote for Diane Dodd's and instead abstained for "personal reasons".

As a result Sinn Féin voted on mass for Davy Browne as Deputy Mayor. Davy Browne or Dáithí de Brún as he is sometimes called once caused a stir by voting for a United Ireland in Belfast City Council.

The DUP, as usual, were foaming at the mouth but I say hell slap it up them!!

Upon being elected Tom Hartley had this to say

“I live in a great city, made great by its citizens."

“Our city is on the cusp of major change; we face many new challenges as we strive to build a prosperous and vibrant Belfast. This requires the contribution of all the citizens of Belfast. As civic leaders, we have an obligation to seek out new opportunities through a meaningful relationship with our business community.''

“As Lord Mayor, I will engage and practice and operate within a broad understanding of citizenship. This will entail building on a democratic, progressive and inclusive politic.

“It will be my aim to encourage openness and ownership of the city`s civic institutions. Ownership of the city must be felt by all the citizens of Belfast. In particular, it needs to be extended to the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, and the marginalised.''

“Ownership must be felt by ethnic minorities, travellers, the new Beal Feirstians, and by our senior citizens and our young people, by members of the gay and lesbian community, by women, by the disabled and by marginalised working class communities”.

This is just the kind of direction which Belfast needs, I'm glad that it will be Sinn Féin providing that leadership.


Tip of the ice berg!!!!

I see that the Eames/Bradley body has called on the state to admit to their role in the conflict. Although a welcome development, it is merely the tip of the ice berg. Eames claimed that the state should admit that intelligence could have been handled better and possibly saved lives.

This is probably under statement of the century, and is merely a scratch on the surface of what is a murky underworld. The state played a much more active role in the conflict than merely being negligent in handling intelligence.

The cold blooded murders of Majella O Hare and Aiden Mc Anespie can not be attributed to faulty intelligence. Furthermore the state is up to its neck with murder. Loyalist proxy killer gangs were used as surrogate killers for the state as they waged a war of ethnic cleansing against the Nationalist and Republican community. Intelligence was merely one minor component of their murderous campaign!

This went much further than merely being negligent with intelligence. The case of Pat Finnucane illustrates this! He was murdered by guns brought into the country by state agents, his murder was planned by a state agent, the murder weapon provided by a state agent and the trigger was pulled by a state agent. This exposes the true extent of the states role in their dirty sordid little sectarian campaign.

If the state is to admit its role it must go whole hog and admit to the full extent it played. Any attempt to minimise their role or attribute it to rogue elements would prove futile. The truth must come out, no matter how murky a picture it paints of the state! Nationalists and Republicans know that the state waged a concerted sectarian murder campaign against them.