keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
There's very little left to say about Martin McGuinness that I haven't said already but suffice to say I won't be mourning him. As John Stephenson's stooge and then Provisional IRA Chief of Staff he oversaw indiscriminate bombing campaigns that did nothing to advance the cause of Irish unity but instead brought death to civilians. I don't condemn armed struggle as a motor of revolution but McGuinness's strategy of untargeted mayhem accomplished little or nothing. Then he single-handedly brought the peace process (so the obituaries will claim) and in doing so opened up a glorious future of kowtowing to monarchy whilst continuing to (occasionally) call himself a republican and administering Tory rule in the North to the benefit of himself and his own little coterie (equally true of all the parties here admittedly but Sinn Fein are the self-described republicans). On top of that he happily worked alongside a hate preacher like Ian Paisley and propped up the radical right Democratic Unionist Party in government, while also trying to court the feminist and LGBT vote when it suited him. There is also the small matter of the Fisherman business, the truth of which I really hope will come out now that he's dead (although I doubt it as the myth of McGuinness is still important in ensuring that republicans continue to serve their masters in Westminster).

I've already seen comparisons to Michael Collins and I think they're apt. Both firmly belonged to the old Catholic wing of republicanism and ensured that the left was silenced, despite courting the British left (many of whom are now wringing their hands over a man who happily signed off on Troy welfare reform and bedroom tax plans). Both also did their best to ensure that partition continued as long as they were alright, Jack and in that aim both were highly successful. In the final analysis McGuinness was no more a republican than his great mate Paisley and his major achievement was finishing off Irish republicanism and replacing it with a compliant, fiercely pro-British population in Northern Ireland, one part of which happens to watch silly games with sticks and talk a bit of Goidelic now and then. If the taming of the Taigs and their rebirth as nodding dog soft Unionists are to be celebrated then McGuinness is rightly to be lauded as a hero but a hero of Irish republicanism? About as much as Vidkun Quisling is a hero of Norway.
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.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
In the latest revelation to cast further light on just how dirty the so-called Troubles really were it now seems that the British security forces were forewarned about the 1993 Shankill bombing by a prominent Provo tout but decided to do sod all about it. Another one for the list then, although a rare example of an incident where the victims were those declaring their loyalty to the crown, a loyalty that once again is demonstrated to be one way.

With the proliferation of informers at the top level of the paramilitaries (seriously, there was a time in the 1980s when the heads of the UVF, UFF and IRA were all in the pockets of the security forces) and the realisation that so much of what went on was known in advance to the powers that be it becomes increasingly clear that, far from being the great war of liberation/defence that it was sold to young republicans and loyalists as, it was yet another example of the good old divide-and-rule tactic that has been the British Empire's stock in trade for centuries. How many hundreds, thousands even, died with the foreknowledge of a state that made no attempt whatsoever to save those lives? The Stevens Inquiries may have revealed a fraction of the collusion that went on between the UDA and the British but it was the tip of the iceberg, and a process hamstrung from the start by being instigated by the same British state that was involved in the dodgy deals. Like the supposed investigations into Westminster paedophile rings, can we really expect the establishment to condemn itself? Really the more you hear about the Troubles the gloomier it becomes - all that bloodshed for what? So as a tout can get big money for himself and his cronies by sitting in government, toasting his queen and doing the bidding of the people that have been paying him for decades.

A dirty war, dirtier than we could ever imagine, with communities on both sides put to the rack for the supposed forces of order to pursue their own twisted agenda. It's no wonder that any deal on "legacy" has been consistently tossed out as every man-jack of them is up to their necks in filth with their hands soaked in blood. Meanwhile Sinn Fein will continue to use the names of Bobby Sands and the others during their forthcoming election campaign to the collaborationist institution up at Stormont and the useful idiots will tramp out and put them back in to continue cosying up to the same state that oversaw the butchering their relatives. By fuck, this place is disgusting.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
I cock an eye to the Morning Star every now and then, even though it's hardly perfect. On English issues it's generally on the money with its analysis and it does fairly well with the international scene but when it comes to the Celtic fringe it's usually wanting. The soft unionist stance they took with regards to Scottish independence (the logic seemingly being "why should the Jocks get to escape the Tories when we don't?") seemed at odds with the rest of their rhetoric whilst when it comes to this dump they same to slavishly trot out the Sinn Fein line, regardless of how much that party seems to lurch to the right. Heck, were The Hibernian still around it would probably be available in every SF "advice centre" these days.

Seven months ago Martin McGuinness appeared in the pages of the aforementioned paper to announce that he wouldn't abandon the vulnerable. Yesterday he did just that, bowing down to Theresa Villiers and accepting the deep and invasive cuts that the Tory government government has already rent on Britain. At a time when poverty and unemployment are on the rise, McGuinness happily signs off on deep cuts to welfare and tax credits, plunging more and more people into deeper and deeper poverty. Still, it'll have no impact on him and his coterie of stooges, whose big money from the Stormont gravy train is now protected for another few years. With the local health service at breaking point and crisis being declared on a weekly basis he happily signs off on big NHS cuts and public sectors redundancies. None of which will apply to the nepotism factory that is Stormont, where money will continue to be blown on "special advisers", whose only expertise appears to be possessing the same DNA as Assembly members. Meanwhile the so-called republican has also signed off on increased spending on police activity against dissidents who, as Martin claims, are a disgrace to the ideology and should be joining him by showing their republicanism through praising the British queen, upholding and celebrating the British soldiers who butchered our people and participating in an arm of the British government and delivering the demands of the Conservatives.

Don't get me wrong, all five parties are as culpable for this but Sinn Fein's crime is the greatest. The Unionist duo make no bones about being right-wing, the Alliance are the local arm of the cuts-happy Liberal Democrats and the SDLP have been trotting out the "business before people" line for so long that their name is a complete joke but Sinn Fein, when it suits them, still claim to be of the Left and indeed down south are campaigning for election on the very basis that they are democratic socialist. Yet in the North they have once again crapped on the very working classes that elected them in the first place and have delivered them to further and deeper crushing poverty just so as they could protect their own interests. Hell this current "fresh start" is actually a much worse deal than the already egregious Stormont House Agreement that McGuinness rejected recently. How this cretin has lasted so long is beyond reason.

Let's face it, the Assembly has been an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, a bloated, toothless talking shop in which a bunch of completely powerless children can spend hours squabbling over flowers and street names but who, when it comes to the crunch, defer to their masters in Westminster at all times. That I personally voted no to the Good Friday Agreement is cold comfort because all of us are now reaping the thorns of that particular surrender. Resistance is the only option, although it has been made all the harder by the headlong rush that McGuinness and that great Pontius Pilate Gerry Adams made to disarm and castrate the IRA, leaving behind only a poorly armed and informer-riddled dissident rump.

In his classic 1978 psychological study of National Front members Fascists (excellent book, horrendously unimaginative title) Michael Billig demonstrates the tendency of one of the NF members he interviewed to what he describes as "meaning-shift". The man in question talks consistently about his support for voluntarily repatriation but when asked to describe what he means unequivocally endorses compulsory repatriation and yet refuses to alter his language, despite clearly stating that participation in the scheme would be mandatory. The phenomenon of meaning-shift has become an increasing part of the mainstream in recent years, where we have "volunteers" who are forced to work for nothing under threat of the withdrawal of social security or we’re told how we're all in austerity together where "all" actually means just those with very little money to begin with. So let it be the same here now as a bleak future looms for us all, apart from the folks on the hill who have pulled up the drawbridge and ensured that, like their Westminster masters, when they say "we're all in this together", they mean all apart from them and the big companies they have chosen to favour. Dark times all round and Irish republicanism as an ideology is on life support right now. I await the rank hypocrisy of the Easter Rising commemorations next year not so much with bated breath but with an air of morose resignation.

And of course there's one other major reason why McGuinness has been so prepared to sell out his supposed principles for thirty pieces of silver and why right-thinking people should detest the slimy bastard with every fibre of their being, but were I to get into that this load of old toot would most likely be closed down and my sorry arse hauled off to Maghaberry. Frankly I Should Hope Every Reader Maybe Already kNows.
keresaspa: (Jimmy Edwards)
When the history of the Troubles is written some days get more attention than others and, perhaps inevitably, some that were notorious at the time become forgotten in retrospect. Thursday 2 October 1975, forty years ago today, is one of those days, now largely forgotten in the wider consciousness despite the destruction and mayhem unleashed. In Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, W.D. Flackes and Sydney Elliott cover it in one sentence - "In a series of UVF attacks twelve people killed, including three women and four UVF men, and forty-six injured". As descriptions go its inadequacy is as undeniable as its accuracy.

In what to that point had been an unprecedented move by the group, the UVF went on an orgy of bloodshed, the death toll of which could easily have been much higher. In an attack carried out by Lenny Murphy and other members of the Shankill Butchers, a raid was carried out on Casey's bottling plant in the Millfield area at the bottom of the Falls Road. Four employees were shot and killed in the attack, sisters Frances Donnelly (35) and Marie McGrattan (47) and Gerard Grogan (18) dying that day, with a fourth, Thomas Osborne (18), dying of his wounds three weeks later. The group had entered the premises by pretending to have an order to be filled before launching the attack, Murphy personally shooting all except Donnelly who was killed by his accomplice William Green.

Ronald Winters (26), a Protestant who managed the London Bar in east Belfast (an occasional haunt of UVF members) was killed whilst visiting his parents' house close to the bar. Winters' killing remained unsolved and no motive was ever advanced, with those who knew him claiming he had no paramilitary involvement. Thomas Murphy, a 29 year old Catholic photographer, was the next UVF victim that day, was killed when two gunmen entered his premises on Carlisle Circus (close to both the loyalist Shankill and republican New Lodge areas) and shot him in the chest, before planting a bomb in his shop. The resulting explosion saw a female passer-by lose her leg. The next target was the Catholic-owned McKenna's bar in Aldergrove, County Antrim, where shots were fired and a bomb thrown from a car. John Stewart, a 35 year old Catholic merchant seaman, was killed and several others injured. In Killyleagh, County Down a no-warning bomb was exploded outside another Catholic-owned bar, the Anchor Inn. Irene Nicholson, a 37 year old Protestant woman, was killed as she was passing by in an attack that the perpetrators later claimed was supposed to be "a small one to scare them".

The final deaths of the day were to be four UVF members, Fred Aubrey Reid and Samuel Swanson, both 28, and Andrew Freeman and Mark Dodd, both 17, who were killed close to Coleraine when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely. Three loaded guns were also found in the wreckage of their car. Reid, from Belfast, was later named in court as having been involved in the murder of Brendan Doherty, a Catholic shot and killed in Derry in February 1974, with Reid named as the driver in the attack.

That there weren't more deaths was a near miracle however. Pubs in Leeson Street, Belfast, Ardmore, County Derry and Annaghmore, County Armagh were targeted in bomb attacks, along with a seamen's hostel in Sailortown and a sweet shop on the Antrim Road, both in Belfast. In all the UVF detonated thirteen bombs in that single day.

Returning to Flackes and Elliott the following day is summed up even more succinctly with the words "UVF declared illegal". Yes, all of this had been carried out by an organisation that was completely legal. In a move supposedly aimed at turning it towards politics, Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees had unbanned the UVF in May 1974 (the same day Sinn Fein were unbanned, a move never extended to the IRA). In between, this legal organisation had killed 33 civilians in Dublin and Monaghan thanks to a series of car-bombings, launched the notorious murders of the Miami Showband, killed dozens of Catholics in random gun and bomb attacks and even turned their guns on members of both the RUC and the UDA, all whilst recognised by the British government as being fully in compliance with the law. Indeed the ban was only brought in after the UVF leaders held a meeting with senior NIO officials, at which they were again asked to slow down on the killings. No chance of that – the Shankill Butchers would unleash the brutal killings that made their names soon afterwards.

Despite the bloodshed, 2nd October 1975 has been relegated to the status of a mere footnote in the history of Northern Ireland, rarely recalled at all, let alone discussed in any depth. But forty years on it's worth remembering just what a nightmare scenario the Troubles really were when 11 innocent people losing their lives could be seen as just another day. That those days are gone is a good thing but the people whose lives were stolen should not be forgotten. With the still extant UVF increasingly seeking to exploit its own supposed anniversaries by emphasising the Edward Carson incarnation (a completely different, albeit equally sectarian, organisation that just happened to have the same name, but that's for another day) as an attempt to minimise what it did in the Troubles it also serves us well to remember of what they were capable.
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
During the Troubles the Provies looked around for international comparisons for their struggle and the two groups they seized on for parallels were the ANC and the PLO. Before long images of Mandela and the Palestinian struggle were appearing on walls and in Sinn Fein literature and that continues to this day. In part as a reaction to this and also because of their own similarities the loyalists latched on to South Africa and Israel as their models and articles in support of the two states appeared in UDA and UVF magazines from the mid 70s onwards. Direct contact was even established by Ulster Resistance, who got their arms from both countries.

Eventually the South Africa links were sidelined a bit as it's hard t get any positive press out of backing an apartheid regime but the Israeli motif has continued. In the last few years, with Netnayahu's regime unleashing swathes of destruction, the public displays of support have, if anything, got even stronger as it is a fine way to wind up the Fenians. This reached a crescendo in the last few weeks with the appearance of this on the Shankill end of Northumberland Street, close to the peaceline gate.



Ostensibly a tribute to John Henry Patterson, the mural has inevitably raised the hackles of some republicans, not least because the aforementioned Netanyahu is quoted at the far end.

Oddly though, this has also had an angry reaction from a lot of Unionists. The other big thing that Unionism and Loyalism hammer home now is how great the British Army is and how everything it has ever done is to be celebrated (something Sinn Fein seem to agree with now, although complaining about that now seems rather pointless). Yet here stands a mural endorsing the IDF, a group that has its origins in the insurgents who fought against the British Mandate of Palestine and sent several members of the selfsame British Army to their graves. And so as part of the points scoring exercises that now seem de rigeur since the whole flag protests nonsense the muralists have not only managed to annoy the Taigs but also to upset a bunch of their militarists into the bargain. Job well done there, boys. Not only that but yet again it is a bunch of photos screen-printed and bolted to the wall with no artistic merit whatsoever. Can nobody on the Shankill paint any more?!

Overall typical of the embarrassing pettiness that characterises this place nowadays. These sort of "let's wind the other lot up" things have been going on for a while but this has to be the first that has backfired so spectacularly.
keresaspa: (Evil Timbo)
And so it begins as, once again, Sinn Fein got off the mark to fire the first shots of yet another election campaign (well, in my own sordid little burgh at least, happen the rest of you have been getting it for weeks). And what do you know, it's only bloody Millionaire Marty they've chosen as our candidate. Yet again the Sinners decide that we in south Belfast can't be trusted to think for ourselves and so parachute in somebody from their west Belfast base of operations, although they also seem to have come to the conclusion that wee Maskey is a bit too rough for us dazzling cosmopolites and so have ditched him in favour of the transatlantic, jet-setting, media mogul with the big nose. Deirdre Hargey may be a faceless apparatchik of the type that makes up the bulk of the party these days but at least she's from the Market so why she couldn't have contested what is an unwinnable seat for them anyway is a mystery to all bar the Falls Road mafia who run that party. OK, she's to be something on the new council but in the highly unlikely event that SF won South Belfast abstentionism would mean doing the two jobs would be easy anyway. Unless, of course, they're building up to dropping that policy, which wouldn't surprise me a jot after the last few years of public Liz-licking in which they have indulged.

But Millionaire Marty it is and once again Sinn Fein show their commitment to working class politics but saddling us with a candidate who is anything but. But in Northern Ireland that's increasingly the way they're going these days. They may make a song and dance over the border about supposedly being a democratic socialist party but that's certainly not the case here where they now promote a pro-capitalist, anti-welfare agenda combined with a fairly conservative set of social attitudes (well, in a wider context as admittedly they're ultra-liberal by the standards of the SDLP and the two unionist mobs). MM is typical of what they're about these days, a slick, sharp-suited tosspot with plenty of money in the bank who looks to the USA for his inspiration and sees the grassroots of republicanism as a bunch of nodding dogs who exist only to rubberstamp him and his ilk every election (not far wrong there, to be honest). He's already been exposed as a liar who tried to justify Sinn Fein's support for Tory cuts and the bedroom tax by pretending it had trade unionist support but what the hell eh? You could stick Michael Stone in a Sinn Fein rosette and there are plenty who would vote for him these days so lying about enshrining poverty into law is hardly going to cost him anything.

I wouldn't ever claim that there aren't decent individuals active within Sinn Fein but unfortunately in Northern Ireland it is very much under the thumb of the party's right-wing, as typified by the likes MM, Mitchel McLaughlin, John O'Dowd and of course McGuinne$$ himself. Even their recent decision to repudiate the massive cuts they agreed to seems to be motivated solely by self-interest as they must have realised it would cost them some votes as surely not EVERY republican voter can be a total idiot. It'll probably work too, even though after the election they will most likely sign up to pretty much the same thing but as George W. Bush so rightly said "there's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again".

Still, if, as I suspect, they're hoping that by leaving it this late they can delay any renegotiation until after the election in the hope that the Tories will be gone then they're playing a very dangerous game. I wouldn't like to call this election for various reasons but if they've judged wrongly and the Tories get back in they can expect them to seek revenge in any future negotiations and demand even more stringent cuts. These last five years of Tory rule have been absolutely horrible, with people's lives shattered in the name of repulsive ideological monetarism and that's with the supposed break being put on their vile excesses by the Liberal Democrats. To see an even more extreme version of that brought to Northern Ireland to teach us a lesson doesn't bear thinking about but it might well prove the outcome of SF's half-arsed attempt at politicking. Were that to be the case, and bearing in mind that Northern Ireland has far too few MPs to make even the remotest difference to anything a Westminster government does, open armed rebellion would be the only answer but of course Sinn Fein has spent the last decade or so making that impossible by surrendering their arms to the enemy and helping to turn the Provies into an unarmed bunch of old alcoholics who either drive black taxis or are on the DLA (which they soon won't be thanks to David Cameron's war on the weak and the vulnerable). And don't even bother thinking about the so-called "New IRA" as it's a real chocolate fire-guard thanks to its archaic structure and the fact that it has so many grasses that their gatherings end up looking like the pitch at the Hawthorns. Things could be set to get a lot bleaker in the not to distant future barring a minor miracle.

But to return to my original point, Sinn Fein posters have gone up on my road, the candidate is multi-millionaire with no links to the constituency and he has about as much chance of getting my vote as he has of winning Miss World. Having looked at the provisional list of candidates on the always reliable Wikipedia I suspect my vote will go in the direction of the hitherto unknown (to Me) Lily Kerr of the Sticks and I can keep up my record of always backing the losing candidate. Given that the unionist pact didn't extend to us McDonnell will probably hold the seat and we will retain an MP whose absence from Westminster can be put down to the fact that he's too busy making money elsewhere rather than any ideological reasons. Ye Gods, what a shower of bastards.

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.
keresaspa: (Cow)
As a consequence of Donegal Celtic's continuing extended hiatus from all football, combined with the rainfall levels that suggest it really is Sodom and Gomorrah times again*, I was able to continue my tour of the backwaters of east Belfast on Saturday. My travels took me to Sydenham, deep in the arse of the east, to witness the spectacularly named East Belfast take on Derriaghy Cricket Club (who play football, despite their name). I'm not sure if the UVF's Jamie Bryson, an extreme right candidate in the upcoming elections now too, was playing for his club side or not but if he was it made sod all difference as Derriaghy wiped the floor with East Belfast, winning 6-0 despite having a perfectly good goal disallowed and a penalty saved.

Of course last year Sydenham was all over the news after a mural of George Best was replaced by one of the UVF, resulting in a lot of hand-wringing by those in the media and politics who still like to continue with the canard that the UVF ceasefire is genuine. It's not an area of Belfast I regularly visit so it was only Saturday that I finally saw it with my own eyes:



Disappointed to say the least. Given the fuss that had been kicked up I was expecting it to be a massive triumphalist epic covering several buildings but in the end it was a crappy little thing about ten feet high on the side of a tiny little outhouse.

Leaving aside the nonsense of the message (if loyalists are being oppressed it is by the government, which is part of the British state apparatus, so blind loyalty is frankly the daftest reaction going and with their savage beatings and drug dealing there are few oppressing loyalist communities more than the Uve) I think the fuss was all pretty nonsensical. Regardless of their message, I'm something of a fan of the paramilitary murals and am generally left rather cold by the "community mural" crap that goes up in their place. We all know the loyalist paramilitaries run their estates so for me it makes sense to have their stuff on the wall rather than covering it with some old crap about Ulster Scots (which nobody in the loyalist estates of Belfast speaks anyway) or CS Lewis (whom nobody in the loyalist estates of Belfast reads anyway). As spontaneous outpourings of dissent and examples of outsider art I love the bones of them and frankly one of the great shames of recent years has been the way Sinn Fein has taken control of the walls in the republican estates and are plastering in them in all that "cultural" crap that has become their obsession now that they're lurching increasingly to the right. Apart from anything, were there something really worth getting worked up about it would be the fact that the nearby Belfast City Council-owned park and sports facility is plastered in UVF insignia too but nothing was said about that.

In and off itself this mural is hardly anything to write home about but I for one would rather see it than some fantasy of smiling children or, worse yet, yet another one about the bloody Titanic. And as for the argument that a paramilitary mural will dissuade tourists from visiting Sydenham, frankly any tourist that visits Sydenham is bloody mental anyway. Let's face, the UVF is as active as it ever was so why pretend otherwise? If the Fenians have a problem then resist Sinn Fein's dominance and put up murals in support of the New IRA but getting all precious about a statement of fact (that the UVF remains armed and active) is just silly.

* I appreciate that Sodom and Gomorrah were totally separate from Noah and his flood and were destroyed by fire and brimstone rather than rain but the New Creation didn't bother recording a song about Noah and their Jesus Freak craziness deserves a bigger audience.

From a purely aesthetic point of view my favourite loyalist murals are this one, this one and this one (subsequently removed), although I rather like this one too because I made money out of the picture.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
Why I didn't wear a poppy this year )
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: (Starry Plough)
Regardless of how one chooses to remember Thatcher (and to be honest I reckon I've heard enough about that to last me a lifetime these last few days - as far as I'm concerned she was a hateful fucking bastard, if you can't deal with my opinion on that then do us all a favour and piss right off) one thing cannot be denied - she was the staunchest enemy of Irish republicanism to come out of the mainland for the entirety of the Troubles. The hunger strikers, collusion, the shoot to kill policy, the broadcast ban on Sinn Fein, the Thatcher government did it all. When one's sternest enemy dies one is entitled to celebrate that fact. Who begrudged the Americans their vitriolic reaction to Osama bin Laden's death? I didn't hear any of the naysayers rabbiting on about "every death cheapens us" or "think about his family" when old dyed beard bought the farm. So who do we hear denying republicans their chance to celebrate the death of their staunchest foe? Why Martin McGuinne$$, of course. God almighty, he would be funny if he wasn't such a repulsive, sell-out, hypocritical bastard. Considering they tried to blow her to bits when he was the boss of the Provos he hasn't a leg to stand on. I rejoiced at Thatcher's death and make no apologies for it; come to think of it, I'll do the same when he joins her. Gerry Adams was able to criticise her as too was Gerry Kelly but as usual McGuinne$$ can only represent the views of his paymasters and criticise his own people. Frankly he's worse than Thatcher ever was, for she made no bones about being a Tory and a monetarist and so we could expect no better from her than we could from her children Blair and Cameron but McGuinne$$ still claims the title "republican" when it suits him and, laughably, even claims to belong the left when he wants. Vermin.
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: (Starry Plough)
So in the biggest shock since Barney Bear grabbed a roll of Andrex and said "I'm just off to the woods for a bit" it seems that Martin McGuinne$$ has agreed to shake the hand of his paymaster, no doubt doing his usual grinning like a ninny act the whole time. About as inevitable as it is possible to be that the former leader of the Provisional IRA, a man who made his name in seeking by force of arms to drive the British out of Ireland (through blowing up bus station patrons and other dangerous hard cases), is now happy to shake hands with the titular head of the war machine he once opposed. We're told that it's great, that we have this marvellous shared future to look forward to of swingeing cuts, rampant unemployment and what little money there is being blown on vanity projects but pardon me if I am unimpressed by it all. The implication of McGuinness and his Sinn Fein cohorts is that everything that went before in republicanism is now null and void and that, in the ultimate expression of a Whig interpretation of history, the revolutionary actions of his antecedents were all leading to the glorious present where we can bask in the glory of a coalition of idiots ballsing the place up and so-called republicans endorsing the rule of loyalist supporters like Peter Robinson and Nelson McCausland and idiots like Edwin Poots. It's as if McGuinness and his ilk are saying that the action undertaken from Wolfe Tone to the ceasefire was simply immaturity and that all they need to do is sit around in a permanent, money-spinning rightist coalition with the DUP waiting on one side breeding enough to make it 50%+1 and then we can slip quietly into a unification with the Irish Republic and swap The Tories for Fine Gael. Whoop-de-doo! Surely the point of republicanism was a radical new Ireland in the grand traditions of James Connolly, not endorsing monarchy for years until there are enough Fenians that we can switch over to being part of a failed capitalist state that is effectively owned by the European Union. The time has come for Sinn Fein to take their seats in Westminster because they way they are acting now they might as well declare themselves as the same monarchist party that they were when Arthur Griffith established them in 1905. Were people to turn against them as a result I would say it is worth it but unfortunately Sinn Fein have done such a number on the republican lumpen that if anything it will probably boost their support. Hell, Martin McGuinness could slip on Geri Halliwell's dress, Big Daddy's waistcoat and some prat's knickers and start singing "rebellious Scots to crush" and the Fenians would still vote for the bastard en bloc. Sickening.

But enough about that. I suppose I really should say something about that little football tournament that is going on. I did declare my support for Greece and they were eliminated but I must confess I didn't particularly care that they were as I still can't get into this tournament the way I usually do. Germany looked excellent and the 4-2 score flattered the Greeks enormously but I still feel that the Germans will blow it. If Joachim Löw was going to win a tournament he would have done it by now and let's face it the Greeks, who were surely the hairiest faced team to reach a finals tournament since Hungary and Canada's woolly cheeked squads of 1986, were really no challenge anyway. I've been saying it for a while in person so I will declare on here - whoever wins the game between England and Italy will at very least be finalists and might well be winners. You heard it here first.
keresaspa: (Mrs Mack)


In the interests of showing solidarity with my oppressed sisters the world over I have started today with an image from my collection in your honour. Yup, nothing says International Women's Day like a mural in honour of a bunch of big culchie sorts squeezed into fuzzy green uniforms tramping through the streets of some godforsaken County Laois village in their sensible walking brogues. But seriously for their strong work in support of the radical left I am happy to doff my non-existent hat to Winifred Carney and Nora Connolly, two fine females. I am normally critical of the arbitrary assignation of dates to a particular event seemingly based on nothing but International Women's Day was good enough for me la Lenin and so it is good enough for me. Mind you the "days" seem to be coming thick and fast in March - drunken tossers days on the 17th, Mother's Day on the 18th, Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day on 23rd (mustn't forget that one), clocks go in some different direction on the 25th, Reba McEntire Day on the 28th, the list goes on. Heck even yesterday was that most arbitrary and pointless of observances No Smoking Day, a day on which a former smoker like myself who nevertheless retains a pro-smoking agenda and who misses his fegs a lot more than he enjoys improved breathing (in fact my breathing is actually somewhat worse now than it was when I smoked) really has to marshal every fibre of his willpower not go and buy a deck of Dunhill International just to stick two fingers up to the health fascist mob. I didn't of course but No Smoking Day really grinds my gears as part of that insidious anti-smoking attitudes that is now trying destroy old films and even photographs with its twisted nannyism - mind your own bloody business and you'll have enough to mind, you whiny little bitches.

For my own part International Women's Day included a visit to Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, a visually very impressive Garden of Remembrance situated on Bombay Street in the Clonard area of west Belfast, ran by this mob. Given that the burning of houses by mobs from the neighbouring Shankill Road in 1969 helped to galvanise local support for the IRA and essentially begin the Troubles in Belfast as well as the large number of people from the area to die in said Troubles and the fact that it is right beside the peaceline it is a well-chosen place to house what must be the finest of these sort of gardens in Belfast. Its slightly unusual location (because of the peacelines Clonard leads nowhere and it is actually a little far from the main Falls Road) means that it is not as often viewed as some of the other similar attractions in west Belfast but I must say it impressed me and the availability of a (highly partisan) booklet produced by the ex-prisoners association was a very nice touch. And apropos of nothing here's me standing therein:



See I told you I had huge feet! So in conclusion Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden is worth a visit and I salute my sisters in the struggle on this day.
keresaspa: (Default)
The Glencairn estate is one of the more peculiar parts of Belfast. For a start it is not actually in Glencairn as that specific area lies a little to the west where one can find the rarefied environs of Glencairn Park and the once grandiose but now scummy Fernhill House from whence the late Gusty Spence announced an end to loyalists killing (except when the notion takes them) in 1994. Rather the Glencairn estate is a bunch of 70s and 80s junk houses for people that nobody wants to admit actually exist sandwiched between the Upper Shankill and the equally grim Ballysillan, a heartland for the sort of oft-discussed loyalists who continually get screwed over by Nelson McCausland but who nonetheless vote for him year on year. Belfast's greatest psychopath Lenny Murphy bought it up here in what was unquestionably one of the best actions the Provisional IRA ever undertook.

One of the things that makes it unusual is that it is surrounded by woodland, with Glencairn Park on one side and the wilds of Forth River Linear Park, which is basically a mess of trees and corpse holes gathered around one of the city's mini rivers, on the other. As a consequence of all this sylvan splendour, as well as the fact that it has quite possibly the grimmest housing in Belfast now that Carrick Hill has been redone, it is perhaps the only part of the city where both the heron and heroin are in plentiful supply, making Glencairn a paradise for the birdwatcher and the smackhead alike. Were I a more metaphorical man I might also attempt to draw some inference from the fact that the Forthriver Road (the main drag of the Glencairn estate) rises sharply for the entirety of its length only to suddenly come to a dead-end, rather like the uphill battles ending in misery for the sort of poor saps forced to live in such a hellhole but we'll leave thoughts like that for the park bench philosophers.

So, skint loyalists being screwed over by the masters they chose are inevitably present whilst large wading birds were a bit more of a surprise but, given the presence of a rivulet, perhaps not but this?!



Yes we had always been told that he lived in a pineapple under the sea but apparently SpongeBob SquarePants actually makes his home in the backwaters of Forthriver Drive, Glencairn. Whoda thunk it? Well, it makes a change from "UVF - For God and Ulster" I suppose. Naive outsider art at its finest right there, pals and gals.
keresaspa: (Arthur Atkinson)
So it seems that Theresa May is at it again, this time handing out a ban to some mob calling itself Muslims Against Crusades. Their only activities seem to have been staging rallies, fighting members of the English Defence League and burning pieces of red plastic that they made themselves but I seem to be in a minority of one on the whole poppy and the disrespecting of the heroes of Bloody Sunday/Springhill/Ballymurphy/New Lodge issue so I'll say no more on that.

The reason I actually mentioned this was not so much to do with the group banned today but rather the slightly unusual list of groups already banned. They certainly have a theme going there, something along the lines of: big beard + no booze + circumcised = illegal. Plus me las in N17, the ETA and the DHKP/C, all of which have a whiff of a Cold War hangover about them. It's all about them darn Islamofascists now, let the past go. I notice on the list that there is no place for Combat 18, not to mention the National Socialist Group, Anti-Communist Commando, Column 88, National Socialist Action Party, National Democratic Freedom Movement, White Wolves, Wolf's Hook White Brotherhood, Racial Volunteer Force or any of the other myriad extreme right terrorist groups that have sprung up down the years. Does the government believe that terrorism can only be based on Islam and communism and that racial hatred and neo-Nazism are perfectly valid reasons for violence? Alan Clark and Enoch Powell may be dead but their spirits remain at the black heart of the Tories apparently.

The Northern Ireland section also makes for an interesting read. There can of course be few bigger threats to our lives and freedom to express our beliefs (as long as that doesn't involve criticising our troops) than a couple of hefty birds from Wicklow wearing berets, knee-length green skirts and sensible walking brogues so obviously the ultra-dangerous Cumann na mBan belongs on the list but Saor Eire and the IPLO? What, seriously? It's nigh on twenty years since the IPLO were blown out of existence by the Provies and as for Saor Eire they robbed a couple of banks in the early seventies, briefly counted Tariq Ali among their supporters and then quietly disappeared after the Sticks killed their leader. Still we can all rest easy in our beds, safe in the knowledge that our government is there to protect us from non-existent terrorist groups.

Does this also mean that the most recent claimant to the Óglaigh na hÉireann name is legal as I don't see them on the list and, as has been covered, translating it as "Irish Republican Army" is not strictly correct? Come to think of it I don't see the long defunct Ulster Resistance on there either but given how much they were controlled by the security forces I suppose that's no big surprise. But their absence changes everything. When I knew that the no members of Saor Eire and the IPLO were being held in check I felt happy but now that I know the assembled no-one of Ulster Resistance are allowed to not operate legally the terror has returned. Theresa if you are reading this I suggest a blanket ban on any and every group not directly connected to the British government or the Conservative Party. After all they might use names like the Jubilee Sailing Trust or Send a Cow but it is obvious to all that these are terrorist fronts operated by Óglaigh na hÉireann and Ulster Resistance. They're under the bed I tell you!
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
Dear voters,

On 27 October 2011 you will be called upon to make an important decision that will impact on the future of your state when you vote for a new President. Although seen by some as a mere figurehead the President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) is a vital figure who presents the public face of your great nation to the rest of the world. Whilst Taoiseachs come and go the President remains as the representative of Ireland to the world for seven or fourteen years and carries with him or her the joyous burden of spreading the love for Ireland globally. As a result it is imperative that you make the right decision on election day and choose a candidate who will embody all the best qualities that make the Irish welcome everywhere. As such there can be no better choice for the Presidency of Ireland that Martin McGuinness, surely one of the pre-eminent Irish men of this or any age. By taking a leading role in a devolved government that has overseen the collapse of the Northern Irish economy he has shown himself to be a leading economic thinker. By spending the early part of his life waging war on Britain only to end up a paid member of a British devolved government he has shown himself to be a man of principle. By actively involving himself in the random bombing campaigns of Seán Mac Stíofáin whilst continuing to identify himself as a devout member of the Catholic Church and Pioneer Total Abstinence Association he demonstrated his hatred of hypocrisy and duplicity. Throughout his career in public service Martin McGuinness has been the model of the grand Irish ideals of saying one thing and doing another whilst making sure that you feather your own nest along the way. There can be no better man to represent Ireland internationally so use your vote well and elected Martin McGuinness as President on 27 October.

Or if none of that works for you at least think of your oppressed brethren in the occupied six counties and vote for the clown without make-up to take him off our bloody hands. We have suffered more than enough so please do like you did with Gerry Adams and take him away.

Yours hopefully

Keresaspa at all, at all
keresaspa: (Uncle Ho)
Good luck to the Libyans if and when Qaddafi does go as they're sure to need it if they think things are going to suddenly be rosy under a new government. Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr's old saw about plus ca change tends to apply where governments are concerned and I have little doubt that it will be the case liberal/monetarist/Islamic fundamentalist/civil war (delete as applicable) Libya is established.

Of course my sympathies are, to an extent, with all these poor saps throwing themselves in front of bullets (although with their headlong rush to hitch their wagons to Saint Barack's star they might as well stick a ribbon on their oil fileds and a tag saying "From Libya to Shell") but I'm not altogether sure what they expect to achieve beyond getting rid of Qaddafi (or whoever else in the other Arab countries). If they had definite plans for a new system with a greatly improved government it might be better but that doesn't seem to be the case. If we take Egypt as a model what has happened that is so great there? The admittedly bloody awful Hosni Mubarak is gone but in his place has come a military dictatorship giving vague guarantees about transitions to democracy which, even if eventually proven true, will simply give people the choice of two failing elite groups rather than one. A slight improvement perhaps but hardly a great leap forward. Libyans need only to look across the sea to their hated leader's former friend Silvio Berlusconi to see just the sort of rubbish voting and democracy can saddle you with. So remember these as halcyon days for when Big Afro has been replaced by Big Oil or Big Turban you might start to wonder if the whole thing was worth the fuss in the first place.

And let's be honest Libya will never find another leader who can get away with the white suit and loafers look quite like the Colonel was able to. Like Mobutu Sese Seko before him he may have been a rotter but you could never argue with the threads. And I may be alone in this but does anyone else get the feeling that our own Dave is obsessing over Qadaffi and ignoring the likes of Assad simply because he wants revenge for Libya arming the Provies way back when and is thus doing little more than channelling the spirits of Airey Neave (albeit killed by the INLA, but a fierce opponent of republicanism nonetheless) and Ross McWhirter in this particular bout of warmongering? Just me then.

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