keresaspa: (Cartman)
For several years since his shady, drug-related death in 2000 UDA killer Stephen "Top Gun" McKeag has been commemorated by various murals in the Lower Shankill area that was formerly his home. Rather than give you the full details of his sordid life I'll just point you in the direction of his Wikipedia article which is in this case both reliable and readable, a true classic of the website (yes, I did write the vast majority of it).

A recent bout of redevelopment saw the most recent version removed and a sigh of relief breathed by the relatives of the victims of one of the most prolific sectarian killers of the later years of the Troubles. However a couple of weeks ago a new version went up in the same vicinity (albeit not the exact location) leading to an outcry as well as the inevitable Housing Executive response of "we've no immediate plans to remove it". Well, the UDA's backs are up since Boreland and the Exec have never been the bravest of agencies at the best of times.

Leaving aside any outrage, the mural itself is one of those photo-based, screen-printed efforts that have become the norm on the Shankill in recent years where the sudden surge of ultra-nationalism that followed the horrendous flag protests and culminated in the loyalist support for the extreme right "leave" option at the last referendum (despite the EU having effectively been propping Northern Ireland up since the economic collapse, but hey - foreigners) has apparently killed off any notion of murals as an art form. Be that as it may, this is the result of their efforts:



Just take a moment to drink that in and realise that that is on the side of somebody's house, twenty odd feet high for the whole world to see. I didn't know McKeag personally (not one of the biggest regrets of my life, I must confess) but I've seen the odd picture and I'm pretty sure he had a complete head throughout his life. It does rather beg the question as to why, in that case, his photo-mural tribute has a head that stops immediately above the eyes with a little beret plonked on top, presumably to stop the world seeing his exposed, pulsating brain matter. I mean, was it really that big a rush job that the designer couldn't take a little time to actually make it look vaguely realistic? Or did they accidentally hire a Fenian who decided to have a bit of fun with it? Whatever the rights and wrongs of commemorating a piece of scum like McKeag if you're going to do it at least do it right. Whatever that is supposed to be it is an absolute laughing stock and frankly the UDA themselves, never mind the Housing Executive, should be removing that with their faces beetroot-red whilst doing so. He may have been "Top Gun" but my breath was certainly taken away by that travesty.
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
Back at the tail-end of 2013 I briefly touched on the UDA internal feud in north Belfast but at that point it hadn't really advanced too far beyond "aye, yer ma" and "i'll knack yer ballix in". But on Sunday night shit just got real as veteran racketeer and former UDA brigadier John "Bonzer" Boreland got whacked by one of his own. By my reckoning he is the first loyalist to be killed by his own since the UVF bumped off Bobby Moffet outside the Ballygomartin Tesco (where I had been a few hours earlier) in 2010 and the first UDA man to be killed in an internal dispute since former East Belfast brigadier was lured to his death in 2005 by a gang that apparently included not only several former friends but even his ex-boyfriend. Even in death Doris Day had to be over the top. Either way it could lead to a spell of fun and games involving loyalist paramilitaries killing each other at a level not seen since the days when Johnny Adair was looking a one-man war with the UVF.

So, just who was Boreland? Well his Wikipedia page summarises the main points pretty well (it should do - I wrote about 95% of it and I'm so good at Wikipedia that even the South Side Advertiser has taken to plagiarising me). It should be added that the buzz on the street was Boreland and Shoukri had effectively re-established a puppet regime in the North Belfast Brigade, installing some unidentified loser who had made his name at those moronic flag protests around the same time as this all began. Said loser is apparently now in Scotland having made enemies of both the notorious Mount Vernon UVF* (who have been flexing their muscles of late) and Shankill-based veteran UVF top dog (and long-term British agent) John "Bunter" Graham. I'm sure it's entirely coincidental that after his faction made such powerful enemies Bonzer is now a goner. And pigs will fly.

Unlike some loyalists killed by their own (the aforementioned Jim Gray springs readily to mind) Boreland had friends as well as enemies. It seems unlikely that those friends will just shrug their shoulders at this and a lack of retaliation seems at best unlikely. It may be an isolated incident but the demand for some comeback is bound to be loud and these things have a nasty habit of spiralling once they begin. "Interesting" times ahead for the residents of Ballysillan, Tigers Bay and the Shore Road it seems. I may have to give Seaview a miss for a while.

* During their heyday of violence and drug dealing the Mount Vernon UVF were led by the malevolent Mark Haddock. And, you guessed it, he was a British agent too. Still don't believe the Troubles was being directed from Westminster?
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
I've never been a member of a political party in my life but, unbelievable as it seems now, there was a time when I would have identified Sinn Fein as "my" party nonetheless. So long ago. As disillusionment set in that honour was handed instead to the Irish Republican Socialist Party but a combination of the INLA's totally pointless surrender (seriously, they have gained absolutely nothing from their ceasefire unlike the Provies, who at least get huge grants from Her Majesty's Government for being good little boys) and the party's gradual drift to moribundity saw me give up on them ages ago. I mean, apart from that wee office on the Falls do they do anything any more? My days of identifying with one party are long over. If I was pushed I would say that these days I most admire the effort of Eirigi but even then I differ from them on several issues and consider them the best of a bad lot rather than my spiritual brothers.

Of course given that I live in leafy South Belfast there is no Eirigi interest in my constituency and so I am left with rather a motley crew to choose from when it comes to voting tomorrow. Sinn Fein or out of course and would have been even if their candidate wasn't the utterly despicable Millionaire Marty, unquestionably my most detested member of the party outside their two leaders. Their cohorts in that vile, Tory-lapdog rabble up on the hill- the DUP - are out of the question too of course and stick their Little Pengelly up their Stalford if they think they're getting my vote (although apparently they don't as they never canvass my area). As ever the Alliance have addressed several pieces of literature to me, apparently believing that I'm their man (or perhaps that I'm a kinsman of one of their candidate) but their support for the current set-up rules them out, as does one of their candidates' pasts as a flag waver for David Cameron. Due to their pro-Assembly and, by extension, pro-austerity stances both the SDLP and Ulster Unionists are out as well.

Which leaves me, as ever, scraping around in the bottom of the barrel to pick which losing candidate I'll be blowing my vote on. Well UKIP are running for starters. Not bloody likely. The Progressive Unionist Party are having another tilt but they can hit the road too, having lazily sent me the exact same sectarian manifesto as last time with the bit about Protestant boys bad performance at school being priority ahead of Irish Travellers and Roma, both of whom perform worse. Bigots and racists it seems. As previously covered at some length Hiddleston is running for traditional Unionist Voice but I don't vote for apartheid supporters. Ben Manton is, as ever, running for the Tories but, also as ever, he can go swive himself.

There are a couple of loyalist independents running too. Ex-DUP extremist Ruth Patterson is one option although, given that her campaign manager is fleg moron Jamie Bryson, I rather suspect she isn't really aimed at me. Indeed she seems an ideal candidate for the Protestant Coalition, our local attempt at a loyalist arm of the extreme right Britain First, but that seems to be pretty much dead these days. There's also Billy Dickson of course although his manifesto left me rather cold. A former Belfast City councillor, Dickson was a veteran of the dark days of Paisleyism, a staunch opponent of civil rights and a paramilitary on the Donegall Road. He's been through various other parties since, including the Tories and the TUV, but now claims to be leading his own party called the South Belfast Unionists. His literature stated that it was imperative south Belfast has its own unionist party but offered no reason why that was so. I'm sure it's important to him as no other party will offer him a candidacy but it can't be that important as his South Belfast Unionists are unregistered and he is competing as an independent. Next!

It's South Belfast so there are no dissident republican candidates and instead I'm left to pick amongst the debris of the lefty also-rans. There's an independent named Brigitte Anton, one of several running across the place as part of the Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee, but I've never been a fan of the British parties setting up shop here so, whilst I still respect Jeremy Corbyn, I reckon I'll give her a swerve, not least because she didn't bother sending me any bumf so I don't know what she wants. I find the Green party generally a bit wishy-washy but Bailey will probably find her way onto the ballot, most likely in third place. That leaves me a straight choice between Seán Burns and Lily Kerr. Burns in running as an independent, although his posters say he is Cross-Community Labour Alternative whilst he is actually from the Socialist Party. Confused yet? Normally he would be nailed on but his campaign has left me rather cold. Both he and his East Belfast counterpart Courtney Robinson are mere babies and this has been a big part of their campaign but the whole "vote for youth because it means progressive" thing has never really worked for me. As I've said before Tony Benn is the classic example, given how for much of his political career he was a fairly standard Labour Party apparatchik before emerging in his older years as a radical dissident of the first water so that younger = better jazz doesn't wash with me. Also for me this election is about austerity Burns seems much more interest in other issues such as abortion and gay marriage, neither of which strike me as priorities given the "Fresh Start" agreement is about to turn this place Third World. He is the only candidate with a moustache admittedly but I'm rejecting that as a criterion, along with picking on the basis of best looking (Clare Bailey, who has a bit of a mumsy Carly Rae Jepsen thing going on). As such I'll be going with the Workers Party again, the only ones in this constituency to really hammer home the anti-austerity line as the priority it deserves to be. Burns can take second and Bailey third so commiserations in advance to all three on their inevitable defeat.

For whatever its worth (sod all), that's how I'll be going but I fully expect the same old sectarian shite to rule the day and us to be faced with another five years of money-hungry Sinn Fein and DUP scumbags doing whatever the Tories order them so long as they can protect their own interests. Meanwhile their potless voters will be much worse off, having once again followed the same old "keep the other side out" line regardless. Heck, there's so little between the five main parties that they might as well all merge as their all cheeks of the same (admittedly very deformed, given there are five of them) arse. As ever grim prospects lie ahead thanks to England and their propensity for forcing the Tories on us.

Borderlands

May. 1st, 2014 09:25 pm
keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
The headquarters of the Alliance Party in east Belfast, and as such the constituency office of local MP Naomi Long, sit on the corner of the Newtownards Road and Grampian Avenue. In many ways the location is a metaphor for the Alliance in east Belfast and the oul' house they have brought upon their own heads by virtue of their recent attempts to play with fire. Up the road one finds the Upper Newtownards Road and Ballyhackamore, middle class, even upper middle class, largely Protestant areas of the sort where the Alliance has usually been able to find fertile ground. Down the road however lies the lower Newtownards Road, an impoverished, drug-riddled, working class loyalist area where the UVF rules with a rod of iron (notwithstanding the UDA murals that remain as a hangover of Jim Gray's time in charge) and where Naomi Long went cap in hand at the last election in order to secure her surprise ousting of Peter Robinson from the East Belfast parliamentary seat that he held since 1979. It's widely documented that Stephen "the Beast from the East" Matthews, the UVF hetman in the area, had grown tired of Robbo's constant sleaze and had anointed Long as his chosen one to take the seat he effectively controls. For her part Longy played the game shrewdly, keeping the anti-UVF rhetoric to one side as she waged her ultimately successful campaign. But of course such behaviour meant that she was effectively in the uve's pocket and they would expect her and her party to play ball from then on.

The fact that they haven't means that the recent slew of attacks on the pictured building is both unsurprising and difficult to feel any sympathy about. The Alliance's decision to propose a reduction in the days on which the Union Jack was flown from the City Hall immediately put them at odds with the UVF and allowed that organisation to stage a massive comeback as they took over the interminable round of protests that have gone on since then. With their fence-sitting compromise about the flag the Alliance were of course playing to type, given that they have always been in favour of half-arsed non-solutions that suit neither side, but by climbing into bed with the UVF they had placed certain expectations upon themselves and their failure to fulfil those meant they were effectively pulling the tiger's tail. I certainly don't condone the attacks but they're about as predictable as smugness from Nigel Farage and the Alliance must have known that pissing off the uve in east Belfast was always going to be a very bad idea. Still, on the plus side Long gets five years of big money at Westminster and the chance to parley it into a cushy research fellowship somewhere when she inevitably loses the seat in 2015 so she can be happy at least.

And as if that isn't enough we also have Gerry Adams being arrested. Let's make one thing clear - along with Bloody Friday, the plight of the Disappeared in general, and the murder of Jean McConville in particular, represent some of the darkest moments in the history of Irish republicanism. The vile allegations of informing levelled against the woman were simply made up and in the end Jean McConville was killed because her face didn't fit in Divis and some of the local bigots didn't like the thought of a woman born Protestant living in their midst. Simply because of the narrow minds and wicked tongues of some Fenian lumpen an innocent widow was slain, ten children were made orphans and her family didn't even have a body to bury. That somebody should see the inside of a jail for that crime goes without saying. That that somebody should be Gerry Adams also goes without saying. Brendan Hughes knew that Adams was responsible and said as such, Dolours Price (who admitted her own involvement so can hardly be blamed on passing the buck) knew that Adams was responsible and said as such and Billy McKee knows (how can he still be alive) that Adams was responsible and has said as such. Heck, despite the denials of his party and Adams' own ridiculous claims that he was never even a member of the IRA, I think even most Sinn Fein supporters know that Adams was responsible for the crime. None of which however is likely to mean that he will ever be brought to justice. His arrest looks little more than a publicity stunt intended to show that nobody is above the law. I seriously doubt he will be brought to trial but in the unlikely event that he is a conviction will never happen. Ultimately somebody might be convicted but you can bet it will be a patsy, some sacrificial lamb offered up to do about a year's easy stir and then come out to a massive bung as a thank you payment for taking the rap. Adams' guilt for ordering the murder (no way he did it personally, too high up the ladder in the IRA for that) will go unpunished and Sinn Fein's collaboration with the British government upon which they once made war will continue unabated. Nothing to see here, so move along.

Buffoonery

Mar. 8th, 2014 08:33 pm
keresaspa: (Diggory)
Butter my arse, but what an absolute pisser of a day that turned out to be. Gnash and stamp.

As yesterday was yet another in my catalogue of blood-lettings (getting mighty sick of that shite) I consoled myself with the thought that at least today I could return to the Suffolk Road and watch my first Donegal Celtic home game for the first time since last year. So off I set, nice and early by my own standards, full of the joys of spring on what proved a fine sunny day. I should have known something was going awry when I reached the town and saw yet another rumpus involving those fucking Nazi flag protest dickheads outside the City Hall who appeared to be in a tussle with a group looking to do something for International Women's Day (Socialist Party, hang your collective heads in shame for running like shite from a group of loyalists grannies and press-ganged children). Still it was all good and I headed off to the west, decamping at the bottom of the Suffolk Road as I fancied a bit of stroll. As I passed Falcarragh Drive (about five minutes from the ground) I thought "must have a look at the phone", as I generally ignore the blasted thing on a Saturday. What do I find therein - a collection of messages informing me about early morning shenanigans, culminating in a "match off" text. So there I stood in the middle of nowhere, twenty minutes off three o'clock, only to discover I had got my run for nothing. Bollocks! My own fault in a way obviously as I should have checked the phone before leaving but I'm still mystified as to how a pitch can be waterlogged when we've had hardly any rain. Honest to God, they couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery up there! It's getting to the point where I don't expect to see any more home matches this season because if the pitch is unplayable on a day like that then it'll never be usable again. Why are my anxieties about DC going out of business resurfacing, I wonder?

Reliant as I am on public transport it took me the guts of an hour to get across town to Seaview, more on the off-chance that there might be something going on there rather than with any foreknowledge. Still, Seaview being Seaview, of course there was a match on and, whilst I missed the first half hour due to the Metro bus service being a steaming pile of dogshite, I still was on time to see both goals as Crusaders reserves beat their Coleraine counterparts 2-0. It's strange to think that when [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks accompanied me there in the summer it was my first visit to Seaview as I am now getting sick looking at the place, given that it is one of the few venues in the city capable of resisting a bit of drizzle. Actually scrub that as I'm not getting sick looking at it at all and am very thankful that it is always there and always has a match available when, as happens so often, one's own team lets one down.

I was out in such good time that I was able to pay a visit to the recently opened Sick Records on my way back. Nice little shop, if a bit hipster for my taste and I generally don't buy much in the way of new vinyl, given how stupidly overpriced it invariably is. Nevertheless their second-hand section, though small, was not without its charms and I was able to touch for a Conflict album and a compilation of Japanese psychobilly. Indeed they had a decent selection of psychobilly at competitive prices which I may well revisit. Classy too that they let you keep the plastic sleeves for your purchases although, given the price of those bloody things, I don't expect that to last too long. Either way, nice addition to the local scene. For breadth of choice I prefer Head (although their recent move seems to have brought about a thinning out of range and a general rise in prices), for good punk stuff and a chance to moan about illnesses I prefer Dragon and for a good old rummage through all sorts of mess and a bit of banter I prefer Track Records in Ballymena but I imagine I'll drop in from time to time and the more choice there is amongst independent music shops the better I suppose.

So not a total loss altogether but nevertheless I am frightfully cross with DC right now. Bloody gits!
keresaspa: (Trotsky)
Whilst there are those amongst us who crave above the new, the different and the strange, many of us are, to varying degrees, creatures of habit. For some of you out there a week in which egg and chips is not consumed on a Tuesday evening is a week you would rather not live, a frightening prospect that brings a shudder even at the very thought. Routine is for the most part an enemy but there are inevitably occurrences when I too feel the name to conform to a sort of pattern.

Saturday afternoon is, of course, one such time as that is the time I must be at a football match regardless of the teams in action. A spell of diluvian rain today ensured that Donegal Celtic's intended match against Ballyclare Comrades was ixnayed but, undaunted, I spent the day at Seaview watching a drab affair in which Newington YC lost by the single goal to Portstewart. A crowd of around twenty was all the match could garner, making Seaview an eerier experience than normal (and next time I bemoan the poor crowds at DC I'll remember this match), although I spent it in the company of a slightly bonkers old West Bromwich Albion fan who had got a boat over to Belfast on the off-chance of attending any live match. I doff my hat to such hardcore anorak-ism.

Saturday may be my day for football but for others routine on a Saturday means only one thing - standing outside the City Hall bleating about a flag no longer being a permanent fixture on the building. Yes, that's right after nearly a year and two months they are still gathering outside the City Hall griping about that bloody flag with the usual line-up of spides, the elderly, children and people not from Belfast (just what does it matter to "Loyalist Lisburn" is Belfast City Council doesn't fly a flag?).

With regards to all of this crap about flags and Orange marches Martin McGuinne$$ made a valid comment recently (well, there's a first time for everything) suggesting a grand coalition for bigotry between the Orange Order, the UVF and their PUP political arm being behind all this. Were I Curly I would have added the West Belfast Ulster Political Research Group and their associated UDA dissidents who have been prominent up at Twaddell Avenue, but otherwise the point is a valid one. The Regressive Unionists, and the increasingly Strasserite weltanschauung they have adopted under the führung of Billy Hutchinson, have their eyes on doing something at the council elections and, given that their previous flirtations with more normal social democracy got them nowhere, what better way to make the breakthrough than by marrying a message of being a persecuted underclass to one of ultra-nationalism, whilst seeking a direct alliance with the main organisation of right-wing middle-class backlash.

David McKittrick has characterised the work of the Loyalist Association of Workers and the Ulster Workers Council as a form of "sectarian socialism" and it was a policy followed to an extent by the UDA's lead spokesman in the '70s Sammy Smyth, a man who combined agitation on behalf of the Protestant working class with calls for ethnic cleansing and extreme anti-Catholic conspiracy theories and whose pronouncements became so extreme that in the end he was given a punishment beating and expelled from the UDA. It's along this path that the Regressives are now going, offering a vague version of socialism for one community whilst seeking to blame other working class people for their ills rather than capitalism. Socialism that purposefully seeks to divide the working classes and instead looks to class enemies as its natural allies? That's Strasserism in my book and no mistake. And I'm not even touching on their willingness to co-operate closely with dyed-in-the-wool right-extremists like Jim Dowson and Willie Frazer in their flag protests when I say that.

Their alliance with sections of the unionist establishment is inevitable and inevitably it will get them nowhere as they will be used by the Orange Order until they get tired of them, just as the LAW and UWC were by the Ian Paisley and William Craig. By continuing in their usual role as running dogs for the unionists, the Regressives have blown any hope of effecting change and indeed it leaves one with little conclusion to draw other than the fact the, far from wanting anything to change, Hutchinson just wants to get his and a few of his mates snouts in the trough alongside the rest of them. Given that he happily stands by whilst the UVF he represents peddles drugs and inflicts terror on the loyalist communities he claims to speak for then I can't see what else he has in mind. I'm sure plenty will be fooled and Hutchinson will get his wishes and this place will once again back bigotry and put a few more horse pedlars on the councils but let's not expect anything to improve by enshrining a divided proletariat. Same old Northern Ireland, forever and ever, Amen.
keresaspa: (Mikado)
So, once again on Saturday the centre of Belfast is to be off limits to all as it is taken over by loyalist marchers, this time an outfit calling itself Loyal Peaceful Protesters, essentially the UVF, sundry hangers-on and a bunch of young junkies threatened with having their drug debts called in if they don't march.

As leader of the Progressive Unionist Party and nominal leader of the protest Billy Hutchinson argued that yet another unwarranted disruption of people's lives over a piece of cloth and the right of sectarian bigots to celebrate UVF murderers in front of their victims "is legitimate and lawful and will also highlight the other issues that are impacting on working class Protestant communities, including increasing poverty." The most depressing possible thought is that Hutchinson actually believes that although I suspect it is just what he has to tell himself to get through the night.

At heart I suspect Hutchinson is a genuine man of working class politics but he has completely painted himself into a corner down the years and is now flailing around in a desperate attempt to justify to himself his decision to crawl into bead with the extreme right. The protests are about flags on City Hall and the fact that republicans don't want Orange Order and paramilitary flute bands passing their houses and have sod all to do with increasing poverty, an issue that impacts upon both communities equally and which is being ignored by the major parties and the British government overlords to which Hutchinson is avowedly loyal. If he really believes that poverty can only be solved by a sectarian approach then maybe Hutch has willingly gone over to the extreme right and is seeking to position himself as the Otto Strasser of loyalism.

In a way his options are limited. There was a time when Hutchinson was a big cheese in the UVF but these days he is cocky on the biscuit tin, flailing around desperately trying to gain some influence but increasingly ignored by the true leaders. He preaches working class politics and the fact that loyalists (and no one else) are suffering poverty but yet he happily hitches himself to the UVF and its drug dealing empire and intimidation of the same loyalists, counting UVF commanders like Winkie Irvine amongst his party colleagues. Billy can soothe his conscience all he wants with fantasy stuff about flag and march protests being about social issues but he knows fine well they aren't and that they amount to nothing more than nakedly sectarian shows of strength by the UVF.

The increasingly irrelevant Martin McGuinness recently broke his silence on the affair by suggesting that the protest was being orchestrated by the UVF before adding that he had heard rumours about Francis I being a member of the Catholic Church, but frankly his opinion is of no consequence as he has happily allowed it to go on. The same goes for the execrable Teresa Villiers - if Belfast is indeed open for business then how about you put in an appearance on North Street on Saturday afternoon, Teesy? Thought not. Interesting too that what is increasingly taking on all the trappings of fascism and has the vocal support of the BNP, National Front and other fringe extremist groups is being totally ignored by Anti-Fascist Action and the rest of the self-declared hard men. But that's the way it always has been here - a privileged group sees aspects of its dominant position eroded and it screams no fair and rises up, completely unopposed by the republicans who, as usual, are satisfied with the merest of scraps from the master's table.

Is there poverty in loyalist areas? Yes, but how is that going to be addressed by stupid and pointless rabid nationalism and flag waving? Poverty didn't suddenly appear the day the union jack came down from city hall and if it went back up tomorrow it wouldn't suddenly disappear, no matter what cloud cuckoo land ideas Billy Hutchinson might be trying to convince himself of. Take your concerns to the DUP, disrupt their lives and above all stop voting for them and stop welcoming a rabid monetarist like Nelson McCausland to your protests when his stated desire to copy the frankly evil policies of Iain Duncan Smith will only push those already in poverty further down instead of wasting all your energies on bigotry. And above all stop attempting to make poverty a sectarian issue and instead reach across the religious divide to the underprivileged of Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge and the rest of the republican sink estates instead of emphasising the constructed differences that your masters made to keep us all down in the first place. Or to put it in more simple language, fuck flags and fuck marches, stop being such lumpenproletariat idiots and then you might start to see poverty being tackled.

The whole "shared future" argument is a load of old bollocks, an attempt by Peter Robinson to neutralise the Irish unity argument by downplaying the sectarian aspects of the British dimension. Yet it's somewhat ironic that the loyalists, who, after all, are the ones who trumpet the importance of Britishness the loudest, are the only ones to vocally object whilst Sinn Fein continue to buy into the whole farce, despite the clear contradiction that a future cannot be shared by two communities who want diametrically opposed conclusions to their situations. On Saturday, once again, Loyal Peaceful Protesters will assert their ethnocentrist identity and I'm sure they'll live up to their name as the event will no doubt pass off peacefully as it is difficult to initiate clashes when you are completely unopposed.

Edmund Burke may have, for the most part, talked wall to wall crap but he was onto something when he opined "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". Now, by no stretch of the imagination is McGuinness a good man but alas it seems that the few good men republicanism has left are happy to follow his lead in doing absolutely nothing in the face of rabid sectarian hatred. The bigotry and hatred is something you get used to - it's always been there and always will be. But when resistance dies what is left? Sickening.
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
Remember the days when the Assembly would be brought down if any of the paramilitaries even sneezed? So long ago, especially where the UVF are concerned. They can flout the law with impunity whilst the presence of their Progressive Unionist Party representatives makes no bones about it. Heck, they can even kill people and nothing happens beyond a few disapproving clucks. As such today's death threat against Conor Murphy by an organisation alleged to be on ceasefire has been virtually ignored by the local media as the UVF's violent sectarianism is now so run of the mill that it doesn't even merit reporting any more. I have little sympathy for Murphy or any of his Sinn Fein compadres because they are equally complicit in maintaining the fantasy that the Troubles are over even though the uve are still running riot as the Sinners are the ones getting the big salaries out of it. They were also the ones who rushed to get rid of their own UVF equivalent in order to get their snouts in the trough and so lost their own guaranteed protection by packing the Provos off to bed for good. Mind you, he's wasting his time making sure his mates in the cops are informed.

The UVF has east Belfast awash with drugs and has more rackets over there than Dunlop and Slazenger combined but the cops are happy to let them get on with it, afraid to touch the boys who brought this place to a standstill last Christmas with their flag protests. Frankly, the PSNI are too busy cosying up to the UVF leaders to ever arrest any of them. Hell, if Jamie Bryson had been in the IRA rather than the UVF he would have been serving a twenty stretch by now rather than some limp little ban on attending protests. As if that's not enough we have PUP spokesman and community bigwig Winkie Irvine sitting on the North Belfast policing board whilst maintaining his other career as commander of the UVF B Company in Woodvale, a group notorious for running rackets and ordering residents out of the area. How can you expect a criminal organisation to be dealt with when its top brass are running the bloody cops?! Still given that their top man is a security forces agent of long standing then it comes as no surprise that they can suit themselves.

Once again the "new" Northern Ireland reveals itself to be no better than the old, a façade of gentility placed on top of the same old festering cancerous lump that we've always had. A sectarian mafia continues to thumb its nose, knowing full well that nothing will be done to stop it as it has the law in its pocket. If this is the much-vaunted "shared future" you can bloody well keep it.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
Yeah, still alive, just not very much to tell you. Operation back garden continues apace but is nowhere near reaching its climax for a number of reasons. For one I didn't realise just how much of a forest the place had become, meaning that the clear-up operation is proving a massive task for a lone chap without any mechanical tools. Suffice it to when you start discovering unexplained tree roots you know you have a bloody big job on your hands. There's also the issue that seemingly as much as one third of the garden is composed of unwanted bricks, paving slabs and stones, all of which have to be cleared without a skip as well as my generally low energy levels (a combination of haemochromatosis giving me its usual kicking and all that extra weight I insist on sporting) and a sudden turn for the worse in the weather to be taken into consideration. That and recent jaunts to Bangor, Ballymena and Dublin eating away at my time, as well as a general weariness of gardening as a whole. I'll get there in the end of course but for the minute I do believe I've had enough for a little and will, at least temporarily, put the bent spade, the 89p hand trowel and the child's rake into cold storage.

Meanwhile outside my door we have the G8 turning back the clock to the days of the Troubles by placing Northern Ireland under virtual martial law. It's in Fermanagh, which is nowhere near me, but on Saturday there was all manner of sundry protests against their presence, notably in Belfast city centre where a big rally was held at City Hall alongside the standard fleg mobs (yup, they're still going on). There was a time I might have gone along but I gave it a miss this time. It's not that I don't detest the G8 simply that the days of demos making any difference are long gone, if they even existed in the first place. Governments are corrupt and always will be and people power won't change that as Egypt has so starkly shown. People power may have gotten rid of Mubarak but his replacements are just as sleazy and repressive and if they go too whoever replaces them will be as well. It's true communism or nothing for me, folks - ethical capitalism is an oxymoron and social democratic governments still involve a small elite group having their fingers in the till. That and the fact that the protests were organised under the aegis of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, an organisation that is frankly about as radical as the Women's Institute and was until very recently in the pockets of successive conservative governments down south. And it was pishing rain, but we'll not mention that reason.

Still, I suppose we should enjoy it whilst we can. With an EU withdrawal probably looming large, China already well in front of them and India and Brazil not far behind the nonsense of calling Britain one of the eight richest countries in the world will be over and done with soon enough and all this sort of old rubbish will be a distant memory. The sooner the better.
keresaspa: (Cookie Kwan)
I believe, gentle reader (whomever you are), that I have mentioned the Highfield estate before. But for those who weren't present or who share my strange obsession with the sectarian geography of Belfast I shall briefly run through it again. Highfield is a loyalist housing estate lying beyond the Shankill Road near the foot of Black Mountain, bordered on the north by the Ballygomartin Road, the south by the Springfield Road, the east by the West Circular Road and the west by the Springmartin Road. Generally a UDA stronghold, it is one of the most deprived areas of Belfast with some of the worst housing stock in the city. Its entire west side is crushed up against equally low grade republican areas such as New Barnsley and Ballymurphy and the area was the site of some notorious inter-paramilitary gun battles in the early 1970's. Even now it gives off something of an unwelcoming vibe with strangers regarded suspiciously and for a Fenian like myself passing through the Highfield estate always gives one a slight nervous thrill.

But a lack of options forced my hand. Well, I could have taken a quick stroll over to Daddy Winkers Lane and watched the mighty Orangefield Old Boys in action and I did toy briefly with a run out to Bangor to watch the match there. There was also the Irish Cup semi-final between Cliftonville and Crusaders at the Oval but I suspected (wrongly as it proved) that in the Ulster People's Forum stronghold that is the lower Newtownards Road a repeat performances of the protests that forced the abandonment of the same fixture at Seaview might be in the offing. So with those options shitcanned all that was left was Paisley Park Highfield estate to watch the erstwhile West Belfast Rangers (Albert Foundry as they are now called) in action against the famous Ardglass.

Paisley Park (which may or not be named after Ian Paisley, I really don't know) is better known as a bowling club but includes a few football pitches. Although the mercury touched ten degrees Celsius today the high, open, windswept location meant that as my made my way to Paisley the following sight greeted me:



I did take the thicko option of Single Award Science at GCSE so I claim no expertise in these matters but I was taught that water freezes at oh degrees so how the hell can snow exist at ten above nowt? Mind-boggling.

But I digress. I arrived at Paisley Park at ten minutes to two (two o'clock kick-off) and was surprised to be charged three quid for entry. Games at this level tend to be gratis but so be it. I was even more surprised to find that with a mere ten minutes to go I was the only paying customer there. Yup, just me. Given how full of their own self-importance Shankill roaders are (a trait they share with Falls roaders) and the fact that local favourites Linfield had no match today I expected a decent crowd to turn out but not a bit of it. I counted nine paying customers in total, augmented by about another twelve or so comps who came in late for a bumper crowd that was lucky to break twenty people.

As to the match itself it was frankly a bit of a mismatch. Although other clubs have games in hand Albert Foundry currently sit on top of the Northern Amateur League Premier Division (fourth tier overall) with Ardglass anonymous in mid-table. I don't claim to know much about this league but if this game is anything to go by there must be quite a gap between the top sides and the rest as Foundry were grinding Ardglass like so much horse meat from the word go. That they went in at half-time only 1-0 up was due to Foundry's inability to score rather than anything on the part of Ardglass. It would have seemed a really long journey home for their travelling support had it not been for the fact that they appeared to have no supporters. Fourth tier don't forget. The attitudes to health and diet are a little different at this level though. Every member of the Foundry coaching staff had a feg on at one point, including one old stager who was eating them, and when an Ardglass player was substituted off injured he sparked a tab on the touchline a few minutes after coming off.

During the second half there appeared to be a rather large fire raging behind the ground with smoke billowing but in fact it may just have been Foundry on fire as they turned the screws on a woeful Ardglass side. Four goals were scored to add to the one they already had, including two near the end that appeared to be scored within a minute of each other. To be honest they probably could have had a three or four more as this was an absolute hiding from start to finish.

It's difficult to assess Albert Foundry. On the pitch they are every inch a Championship 2 club in waiting and they would more than hold in their own in that division playing to the standards they did today. Their ground wasn't the ritz, although if Brantwood maintained senior status with their pit and Sport & Leisure Swifts do with their shoebox then this might just be good enough. The views are quite something as well as there are few places in the city where you can see the Holy Cross church on Crumlin Road, the shipyard and the City Hospital with just a slight turn of the head. Their only stand could probably stand to be a little larger and they would need to rip off the crumbling wooden slats and replace them with proper plastic seats but I could see Paisley Park as a third level ground without too much effort being needed. The big problem however would be the crowds, which are clearly woeful. This was a fine day for football and there is a big slice of population, all high on their own identity, for them to draw on but with Linfield not playing they still failed to break double figures on the gate as far as I could see. A lot of clubs in Northern Ireland fail to engage properly with their local communities in order to attract support (not least Donegal Celtic, whose PR is non-existent, a fact reflected in their own terrible crowds) but Albert Foundry are missing out badly as they could be drawing in decent crowds if they got their arses in gear. It remains to be seen if they will win the league and even if they do the system for promotion to the Irish League is arcane in its complexity but the raw materials are there. Cliftonville and Crusaders have shown what community engagement can do as they both attract bumper crowds now and whilst Albert Foundry aren't near that level yet they could do worse than looking to their northern neighbours for pointers in attracting those from the Greater Shankill who have an interest in the game but don't care for Linfield, can't afford the prices at Windsor Park, can't find transport to Blues games or just can't be arsed going. If they manage that they could thrive a couple of levels above their current position but if not they'll continue busting a gut in front of the sort of "crowds" that most of us could comfortably squeeze into our parlours.
keresaspa: (Fran Drescher)
With my usual two up the country today and the city centre in the control of not only Willie Frazer but also the Orange Order (unopposed as ever by the shit-scared republicans) my options for the football were limited. My initial choice was Ford v Colin Valley in Division 2A (which is actually the fifth division of that league and the eighth tier overall) of the Northern Amateur League, a three mile stroll away from my house. I made it there a few minutes before kick-off and was faced with the grim reality of football at such a lowly level - three pitches with matches going on, not so much as a fence round the pitch the match was to take place on and bugger all fans for either club. There and then I decided on a new rule - no fence, no attendance - and I left them to it, safe in the knowledge that there were other options in the vicinity.

About a mile and a half away there were two Championship 2 (third tier) matches taking place so I shuffled off in their general direction. PSNI v Chimney Corner was a possibility but in the end I plumped for Queen's University against Lurgan Celtic, primarily because I had been to the cops' Newforge Lane ground earlier in the season but not my alma mater's place. Similar set-up to the filth, being a vast complex containing a variety of grounds for different sports and it took me a while to find the football ground. Inevitably the crowd was fairly meagre, although most of those in attendance were Lurgan Celtic supporters and - given that I owe allegiance to their west Belfast kinsmen, given that my ma was born in Lurgan and given that I don't have that most American of traits of being a fanatic for an educational institution's sport teams just because I attended it as a student - I decided for one day only to join them.

The first half was fairly end to end with both teams looking half decent but neither mustering much in the way of finishing. I had seen Lurgan Celtic earlier this year and they looked better here even though it appeared to be the same team as before ("Jazzer", "Buckshot" and the rest all still being present and correct). The main event of the first half came near the end when as the ball ran out of play the pair of players chasing it went careening into a surrounding fence. It look innocuous enough but far from it as both men lay there for ages before the Queen's player was helped off whilst his Lurgan opposite number remained prone. He was there so long that it seemed he might be dead but in the end it turned out he had shattered his knee and it was well into half time before the ambulance men carried him out in a wheelchair. The Queen's guy got off a bit lighter but his afternoon was also over and his foot had to be strapped up. All action stuff!

QUB came out for the second half like men possessed but soon it returned to the earlier fifty-fifty stuff when suddenly Celtic won a very soft free kick not far from the Queen's box. A chap called Niall Lavery stepped up and stroked the ball delicately over the wall and into the net for the only goal of the game on the hour. For the rest of the match Queen's frantically tried to get back into the game but they just couldn't get it together and Lurgan held on in the bitter cold for a win that leaves them still in touch with the promotion race (but which pretty much condemns Queen's to another year in the basement).

Overall, not a bad game, played to a fairly decent standard in rather lugubrious surroundings. It wasn't my first choice match (I had hoped to go watch Albert Foundry but these interminable flag protests have meant Saturdays in the Highfield estate are not an option), nor indeed my second (but I abandoned the Ford game, reasoning that I would have been as well watching some wee lads having a kickabout in Cherryvale as remain at Strangford PF) but as bronze medals go it proved a dinky little diversion.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
My recent decision to prioritise Donegal Celtic over Cliftonville has proven to be a sensible one after today's shenanigans. For those who didn't catch the story those flag protest idiots, with the connivance of their friends in the filth, decided to picket Seaview with their phalanx of butcher's aprons despite the fact that Cliftonville were due to play Crusaders there in front of a sell-out crowd. When the cops tried to move them at the eleventh hour things turned ugly and the missiles came flowing, resulting in the supporters not being able to gain access to the ground and the match being cancelled. Sickening. I can recall in the mid 1990s during the fun and games that was the Drumcree protests Glentoran hoods stopping Reds supporters getting to the Oval for a semi-final and now the bigots have broken out the same technique because Cliftonville are a "Catholic" club. In an ideal world there would be repercussions but we know there won't be as it has been shown time and again that these knuckle-dragging bastards are above the British law and the republicans are too shit-scared to lay a finger on man-jack of them. So why was my decision to put DC first a wise one? Well, had I been in the Cliftonville end last Saturday I would have been caught up in the hype and bought a ticket for Seaview to watch the top-two clash but would have a done a tenner in the process as the game will presumably be rescheduled for midweek and getting buses out of the Shore Road at after ten following a Cliftonville match is a little too much of a walk on the wild side for your author.

But soft. Obviously my non-attendance at the Seaview débâcle indicates that I was up at Suffolk Road and a shock win against Ballinamallard was witnessed. Not so much a shock due to the result, as the Mallards have gone off the boil somewhat recently and so getting something from the game was always a distinct possibility, but the way the match played out. DC were frankly a pile of steaming horse crap from the word go, unable to string two passes together and giving away more fouls than Free Chicken Day at Murdoch's. Yet Ballinamallard were nothing special either and they struggled to do much in front of goal despite the odd bit of decent play and they also demonstrated a heartening inability to defend corners. This proved their undoing as it was from a rare corner that Ciaran Burns struck to score the only goal of the game and his first in green and white. Really I had thought that the corner had ceased to be efficacious somewhere around 1993 so kudos to the Mallards for going old school and reacting to one as if a meteor had just clipped the summit of nearby Divis Mountain. Backs to the wall stuff from thereon as seemingly every DC player got a yellow card, not least Paul Bradley who was sent off near the end, but in the end it a rare win was secured. Wins for fellow strugglers Distillery and Dungannon meant that it did nothing to alleviate relegation fears but admittedly anything less would have made the position significantly more discommodious.

So from a personal point of view today was a good one as I witnessed a rare triumph for DC but from a wider point of view today was a day that should (but won't) live in infamy as once again a group of narrow-minded, nationalistic bastards made life that little bit more unbearable for people by preventing them doing what they want to do, all in the name of a piece of cloth. If this place gets any more backwards John Miller Andrews will be let of Hell to take charge again. Shared future my arse!
keresaspa: (Karl Marx laughing)
I once used this little forum of mine to suggest that Jim Allister's baby, the Traditional Unionist Voice, could be considered a fascist party. I was being flippant of course as it is at best a High Tory throwback and at worst an extreme right vanity project but either way it falls some distance short of fascism. Recently however I have got to thinking about how the current flag protest movement and its Ulster People's Forum directors relate to fascism and that proves to be a little less cut and dried.

As the establishment unionism and loyalism have always tended towards the right but whether they have ever produced true fascism (and I'm ignoring any nonsensical attempt to use the term fascism as a synonym for racism, dictatorship or "I don't like it") is highly debatable. If we assume fascism should be ultra-nationalist, radically populist, seek to build a mass movement and be desirous of palingenesis or a complete rebirth of society, then the closest fit seems to be the Ulster Vanguard. Of course when they were formed they were simply conservatives adopting the trappings of militarism and when William Craig had his brain fart and decided that his preferred solution was power-sharing with the SDLP they suddenly became the most moderate of the radical unionist parties (and forget the United Ulster Unionist Party splinter group, who were little more than a TUV forerunner) but during the period when they advocated the establishment of a hard-line independent "Ulster" and were seemingly prepared to advocate violence against any opposition they came as close to fascism as this place ever has seen.

But if we turn to the current movement it is clear that some, if not all, elements of fascism can be identified. The flag protest movement are possibly the most populist movement to emerge since partition and their rhetoric is increasingly been couched in a highly populist rejection of the existing politicians. Equally a rejection of liberal democracy, seen by the likes of Gentile and Payne (although less so myself, I must admit) as central to fascism, can be detected from the very basis of the initial protests given that the flag was removed from the City Hall due to a democratic vote and the rejection of that decision clearly represents a rejection of that process. Nationalism goes without saying. The assertion of group rights, the prominence of the flag, the insistence that some are members of the "group" (Ulster Protestants) and that there are "the other" who are without the group and therefore enemies are pretty much textbook examples of ultra-nationalism and really need no more discussion. Similarly the mass movement idea is self evident as the flag protests have been the ultimate social movement, seeking to get as many numbers as possible onto the streets and relying on the sheer force of human bodies for intimidation. Indeed involvement has been as important, if not more so, than ideology at levels not seen since the formation of the UDA or the Ulster Workers' Council strike.

Palingenesis is so far largely absent from official policy, such as it is, although at lower levels the virulent strains of anti-Catholicism that run through the membership hint at a desire for a Protestant state. In typical post-modern fashion, this has manifested itself in social network groups attached to the protests advocating the eradication of Catholics. Their apparently preferred constitutional arragnement of direct rule is a fairly non-radical solution although it remains to be seen whether or not this is Willie Frazer's personal opinion or that of the wider movement whilst a desire for a return to a mythical golden age can in itself be seen as palingenetic. The Italian Social Movement, one of the few post-war groups to ever self-identify as fascist and achieve mainstream levels of support, talked of nostalgia dell'avvenire in this context, a backwards look to the future.

Willie Frazer's former involvement in the Ulster Independence Movement, a group whose Ulster Patriot journal frequently featured the thoughts of Romanian fascist leader Codreanu (a favourite of former National Front organiser and UIM big cheese David Kerr), hints at past associations with a group that was at least tolerant of fascism and, whilst it is rather guilt by association, Frazer's prominent role in proceedings suggests that at least the Ulster People's Forum would not immediately recoil at the ideology. A case can be made for the UIM as a fascist movement in the manner of the Nick Griffin wing of the National Front and the International Third Position but I'll not go down that avenue here and now as it is not strictly relevant.

So far the protests have gone through two stages. The first was as a response to a leafleting campaign by the DUP aimed at whipping up opposition to the Alliance as part of their wider attempts to regain control of their bulwark East Belfast seat from that party for Peter Robinson. In this stage it was an old case of an arch conservative establishment figure trying to use latent extreme right sentiments to further their own ends. From Franz von Papen's disastrous attempts to use the Nazi Party to further his own career all the way down to David Cameron mobilising anti-European xenophobia in an attempt to extricate himself from an uncomfortable coalition that is as old as the hills. Somewhere along the line however the DUP lost control of the protests and they entered a new phase, one of bitter resentment, ethnic nationalism and populist right wing politics in which the initial stated aim of returning a piece of cloth to a building has been confused with the introduction of vague demands for social reform and explicit attacks on the minority community, effectively giving birth to an extreme right, but ideologically weak, protest movement whose demands seem increasingly diffuse and uncertain. Conspiracy theories abound with "big lie" propaganda helping to fuel bigotry by arguing that Catholics get all the good things despite the figures still showing unemployment as higher among the Catholic community than the Protestant community. When proletarian resentment, driven by the decline of the heavy industries that the Protestant working classes traditionally dominated, gets turned on an internal out group rather than the system itself we are clearly in right-wing extremism territory.

Politically they have been so far characterised by an immaturity that is perhaps inevitable given that of the leaders only Frazer has any political background and even that has been very much on the fringes. One need only look at the bizarre events of last week when Jamie Bryson announced that the Ulster People's Forum had severed their ties with Frazer only for them to announce a united front later that same day. Had there been the slightest bit of political maturity Fraser and Bryson would surely have conducted their tiff in private. On a wider level however the absence of this maturity has left them without any real ideology. In some ways many of their followers are comparable to the impoverished people who followed the Chartists in the nineteenth century, feeling that in their own mind there was an agenda for social reform even when the stated aims were clearly solely related to the organisation of government. The flag protest and Ulster People's Forum are as yet not a fascist movement as they haven't reached that stage yet and are still stuck in the wider extreme right mode of resentment and bitterness. It's highly possible that they might never exit that mode and indeed their overall basis is weak and conditional for, were there to be a capitulation and the flag was returned tomorrow, it seems likely that Fraser and Bryson would disappear into the background and the general loyalist population would return to their default position of blindly following the major unionist parties. Equally attempts by the Progressive Unionist Party to cash in on the protests by publicly taking a much more hard-line stance than usual seem unlikely to work as Bryson has shown no desire to become a member and Fraser has old associations with the UVF's bitter enemies in the LVF.

If Bryson and Fraser decide to go the whole hog and build a new mass loyalist party from what they have now Northern Ireland might well find itself with its first indigenous truly fascist movement a good 90 or so years after everywhere else but we aren't there yet (and even if we end up there, there are no guarantees it would excite any interest). Instead we have an extreme right protest movement full of people who are very angry about a lot of things, aren't sure just who to blame and so turn their anger on the people in their midst whom they define as being different to them. Not so much a local version of the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento as a local version of the English Defence League then.
keresaspa: (Tijuana toad)
I happened to come across a copy of yesterday's Daily Mirror whilst waiting for my most recent physiotherapy appointment today. Apparently on Friday between 6 and 7 PM we are to be treated to something called "Operation Standstill" where the queen's highways are to be blocked by hordes of angry flag wavers hell-bent on preventing anybody from going anywhere. Apparently the reason for this is because loyalists are sick of how they are being treated. Really? This place is being brought to a standstill because a majority of representatives that you helped to elect came to a decision within the rules of liberal democracy and you are the ones who are sick of how you are being treated. Well, everybody else is sick to the back teeth of you lot and the pointless disruption you are bringing but never mind as I suppose democracy means "give me what I want or else" in loyalist circles. Also noticed Peter Robinson is asking people not to attend protests any more. Too late now Robbo, like Ian Paisley before you you have climbed into bed with the paramilitaries to get them to do your bidding but unlike Paisley you don't know how to play them properly and they are now outside your control. It seems strange that Paisley has played no part whatsoever in all this. Happen he really is on death's door or maybe he is just that little bit shrewder than Robinson and decided not to get tangled up in the whole mess.

Elsewhere as part of these despicable protests about a piece of cloth it seems that one group of loyalists intends to protest in Dublin in a few Saturday's time. Good idea I suppose as a decision that can only be taken by Belfast City Council should have been protested in an unrelated city since the start. And who is behind this lark - why "victims rights protester" Willie Frazer of course, the who demands justice for "republican atrocities" whilst declaring his support for LVF leader Billy Wright. That's the LVF that killed 18 people, 13 of whom were civilians, and the same Billy Wright that was Brigadier of the Mid-Ulster UVF, one of the most active and notorious units of the Troubles.

It's interesting to wonder why someone who was a candidate for the late and unlamented Ulster Independence Movement even cares about a union jack flying when his membership of that party suggests that he wants to separate from the UK altogether and establish once and for all the legendary Protestant state for a Protestant people. Far be it from me to suggest that Willie just likes to cause trouble and draw attention to himself regardless of how much bullshit he is talking but the only other conclusion I can draw is that Willie's UIM membership was simply due to the fact that pro-LVF leaders like Clifford Peeples and Kenny McClinton dominated that worthless party in its death throes.

The last time WIllie took his merry band down to Dublin for a little bit of intimidation his then hobby horse "Love Ulster" got seven shades of shite knocked out of it by the local hoods. If there is still any cojones left down there the same thing needs to happen again, just so as finally some sense might be knocked in to Frazer's mixed-up head.

And whilst we are at it the flag is flying from City Hall today, apparently because it is the birthday of the fragrant and beatific Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and the Alliance insisted that this day be protected as a union jack day to pay homage to our new saviour. Good to see the republicans out protesting about such a shameful and triumphalist attack on their sensibilities. Oh.
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
With DC away to Coleraine, Cliftonville off in dim and distant Ballinamallard and Sport & Leisure Swifts inactive until after Christmas I decided today to take a trip to one of the crappy little grounds dotted around Belfast that make up the Northern Amateur Football League. I had intended to visit the delightfully named Paisley Park on the West Circular Road beside the Highfield estate at the top of the Shankill to take in the spectacle of Albert Foundry clashing with Dunmurry Recreation. It doesn't get more glamorous than that. However I say "intended" because I hadn't banked on a crowd of those running dog, lumpen loyalist morons blocking the roads outside the City Hall again with their unbearably tedious interminable protests over the flying of that bloody flag, doing their best impression of a 1970s National Front demo (Scotland, hurry up and declare independence so as that stinking rag can finally become obsolete once and for all). As their great mates in the filth stood idly by whilst an illegal demonstration blocked the Queen's highway the chances of getting a bus evaporated (all routes bar south Belfast, from where I had come, and the Falls passing the City Hall) and my desire to give as much as a penny in admission money to a loyalist club went with it.

In disappointment I took off at top speed, my sore foot screaming in pain, with the intention of making a mad dash up to Solitude to watch Cliftonville Olympic take on Drumaness Mills in the Intermediate Cup, which was due to kick off at half one. However no sooner had I reached Clifton Street (not really near Cliftonville despite the similar sounding name) when some old geezer came up to enlist my help in pushing his car, which had broken down, off what is a very busy junction and onto the pavement. Well, I say "help" but said old geezer was giving away about seven inches, four stone and thirty years which meant the lion's share of the pushing was done by yours truly with himself little more than a bystander whose hands happened to be placed on the boot of the car. By the time I had fixed his problem it was quarter past one and the possibility of reaching Solitude had gone for a Burton. A good deed is its own reward, my arse!

The only remaining option was to take one of the Fenian taxis up to DC and watch the reserves take on their Coleraine counterparts in the forgotten backwater that is the IFA Reserve League. And so it was. I hadn't been to a reserve game before and suffice to say if I thought the crowds for home games were poor they had nothing on this. If there was twenty people they were lucky. It is often bandied around DC Park when the first team is taking another hiding that there are better players in the reserves but I can happily confirm that there most certainly are not. God help them but they were just awful. The number 11 - a tiny, willowy little boy whose shirt number could easily have also been his age had it not been for the intrusion of one of those black and white tattoo sleeves that are all the rage now - had a good start before fading but the rest were just abominable. It is no word of a lie that had Coleraine had a decent goal poacher they would have scored double figures but as it was they had to settle for just the five with Hugo Batista, a Portuguese winger who decided to swap the bairros of his homeland for the splendour of Bannside, in particularly imperious form. I don't know who that right back was for DC Reserves but Batista gave him such a roasting that he'll need a few hours in an ice bath tonight. If Oran Kearney has any sense he'll have him in the first team PDQ.

I suppose I mustn't grumble really as I still got back to the match after missing out last week and DC Reserves let you in for nothing so all it cost me was the bus fare to the town and the Fenian taxi fare to the ground (fifty pence cheaper than the bus, no less). Still, walking back the seven miles from there to my house with a bad foot was possibly not the smartest idea and I am really getting pig sick of these flag hags and the constant disruption they are causing over their imperialist rag. It needs to end tout suite or else the republican movement needs to organise a response because the law sure as hell aren't going to do anything and there is only so long people can keep following $inn £ein and I Ran Away in rolling over and having their bellies tickled. I knew all that "2012 Our Time Our Place" stuff was a load of marketing crap the minute they unveiled it but thanks to the diamond jubilee, the Apprentice Boys and now this crap 2012 in Belfast has been a hellish year if you are a Fenian. Our time, our place - it has certainly been loyalism's time and the taigs have, as usual, had to know our place as second class citizens throughout. Nothing ever changes.
keresaspa: (Tijuana toad)
Once again conflagration has broken out in Northern Ireland. Let the Assembly conspire with their masters in Westminster to dismantle the welfare state, punish the poor, wipe out the DLA that supports the ex-paramilitaries and slowly but surely kill off the NHS and the boys will happily sit on their hands (a criticism equally relevant to both sides, admittedly). But pass a law saying the symbol of one side should not fly permanently over the council chambers of the capital and once again the loyalist hordes come out in force, channelling the spirit of Ulster Day, the Ulster Workers Council and the Ulster Clubs by bringing intimidation, violence and disruption to all until their intransigent demands are met. I mean it's not as if the council has voted to hoist the starry plough from the City Hall but still the usual fascist response ensues as the working class Protestant hordes, stoked on by their upper middle class master in the Unionist parties, take to the streets to bully their way to what they want. Where but Northern Ireland would people take to the streets and attack political offices for something so bloody conformist as flying the union flag? Other countries get their "springs" we get an uprising in favour of hierarchy and dominance with a section of the working class unleashing violence in order that they might now their place a little bit more.

Of course the RUC will never go against their own, no matter what they call themselves these days. In England peaceful protesters with genuine grievances are treated like dirt, corralled like cattle and baton charged into a bloody pulp whilst if the Fenians went around smashing up buildings and attacking the filth the plastic bullets would be out quicker than you can say "Robert Hamill" but loyalist mobs are, as usual, free to do what they please when they please. Meanwhile the response of homophobic young earth creationist and hospital closer-in-chief Edwin Poots? Punish the violence by giving them their precious butcher's apron flying from Stormont too. Christ, if he worked for free his wages would be too high! If all those Egyptian protesters still haven't worked out that the difference between dictatorship and democracy is that in the latter you get to pick which inept, corrupt, power-hungry idiots get to order you about then let them look to Poots for confirmation.

In the interest of balance however I will give a rare bit of credit to Peter Robinson for at least attempting to offer a moderate, reasoned response. However I noticed he stopped short of condemning it, no doubt mindful of the votes he'll be seeking in East Belfast in 2015. Good to see that Hilary Clinton has condemned the violence though. Yup, nothing better than some bigshot American breezing in to pat us on the head and tell us how we should all get along with one hand, whilst giving a thumbs up to Israeli genocide with the other. Bugger off home, Hil, you're input is not needed and you've had your run in the pity job that Obama gifted you after wiping the floor with you in the Democratic primaries.

I must admit my sympathy for the Alliance is limited in this issue. They have followed the lonely path of well-heeled moderation previously followed by the Ulster Liberal Party and the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland but, as Humpty-Dumpty so succinctly demonstrated, when you spend all your time sitting in the fence (or wall in the Eggman's case) you will eventually have a great fall. Naomi Long might be seeking to portray herself as a great heroine but, whether by choice or not, she owes her seat in Westminster to the UVF as, without the endorsement of Stephen Matthews at the last election she would still be parking her ample rump on the cold benches of the City Hall rather than the plush loungers of the Palaces of Westminster. Matthews could just as easily have roused his supporters and stooges on the Newtownards Road, Sydenham, Dundonald and the rest to vote for Trevor Ringland or David Vance in order to force Robbo out but he anointed Long and obviously in return it was expected that she and her party would play ball. They haven't and so the special relationship is over. David Ford's decision to leave Marian Price to her fate means that the Alliance have already made republicanism their enemy so by falling foul of the loyalists they have painted themselves into a corner. But them's the breaks. They've been as complicit in the cuts-happy cosiness of the Assembly as anybody else so sorry about your damn luck.

So, plus ça change really as some silly little concession is made, loyalists react like mindless animals and bugger all is done to stop them. It would be funny if the whole thing wasn't so depressingly interminable.

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July 2017

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