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Sunday, April 30, 2006

 

Real World Intrudes

There will be slow blogging over the next week or so as the evil world of work calls. Just so you don't feel too sorry for me I would recommend this from the Sunday Telegraph. It's nice to know that someone with the moniker "Moneybags" thinks I deserve a pay cut. Perhaps the more senior members of the Bar should spend more time ensuring that the Legal Services Commission pays counsel what they are owed rather than indulging in obnoxious attempts at self justification at the end of extremely lucrative careers.

 

108 Apprentices to face the boardroom?


According to sources including the BBC it seems that the Scottish First Minister is coming to Stormont to address the quasi assembly on the benefits of devolution. Why then does the story carry Donald Trumps' picture? Is he coming instead of Jack McConnell with the long overdue message "You're fired"?

UPDATE - the BBC are be back from their Bank Holiday break and have corrected the page.

Friday, April 28, 2006

 

"All the lonely people... where do they all come from?"

The world seems full of unfortunate people. The Vancouver Sun is reporting on the rise of asexuality. Seemingly
Analysing a British survey in which more than 18,000 people were questioned on their sexual practices, he [Anthony Bogaert] found 1.05 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement, "I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all."

I wonder if these figures can be extrapolated? Or if you are unfortunate to live in an area with a disproportionate number of unattractive others are the figures different? Contributions from (the many) readers in Galiagh would be welcome.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

Senior Provos are Criminals Shocker!

The Independent Monitoring Commissions' 10th report is the start of the choreography which the government hopes will lead to a return of devolution to Northern Ireland. Of course had the SDLP and the government had any political bottom line when dealing with republicans devolution need not have been suspended after Stormontgate - just Sinn Feins' executive role within it.

A great deal has been said in the media and in the Commons about the report so I just wish to focus on one area that causes me some concern amidst the generally positive comment the IRAs' past three months has generated. The report states at page 13 :

2.16 We have found signs that PIRA continues to seek to stop criminal activity by its members and to prevent them from engaging in it. We believe that some senior PIRA members may be playing a key role in this. This seems to us to be in accordance with the publicly articulated strategy. We believe that volunteers who had previously engaged in illegal fundraising have been told to refrain from doing so. That said, there are indications that some members, including some senior ones, (as distinct from the organisation itself) are still involved in crime, including offences such as fuel laundering, money laundering, extortion, tax evasion and smuggling. Some of these activities are deeply embedded in the culture of a number of communities, not least in the border areas, and increasing proportions of the proceeds may now be going to individuals rather than to the organisation. We have no reason to amend our earlier view that money is a strategic asset and that the organisation will look to the long-term exploitation of discreetly laundered assets which were previously gained illegally.

Of the top of my head a few points arise :

• How high up the Provo food chain are these senior members?
• Are these senior members in leadership roles?
• Is there a cross-over of these senior members into Sinn Fein?
• When will the criminal exploitation of illegally obtained assets cease?
• Why are these assets still being exploited?

Questions surround Sinn Feins' fitness for government that are unique to that party. Any potential coalition partner has to be sure that by forming a government including Sinn Fein they are not empowering a front for continued gangsterism. Unusually for a unionist I would look to Fianna Fail and Bertie Ahern for some guidance on this issue. No weasel words about Europe or the status of the Irish Defence Forces please. I just want to know in light of the quoted paragraph are Sinn Fein fit and proper partners in a potential Irish government?

Well Bertie?

Monday, April 24, 2006

 

ANZAC Day

. In Australia and throughout the world Australians will comemorate their veterans. Aussies have cultivated a relaxed "devil may care" persona but when it comes to the feats of the "Diggers" they are universally respectful. In 2001 I was lucky enough to spend some time travelling in Queensland and in every one street, one pub town we passed through there was always an immaculate war memorial. Australia remembers with gratitude as should we. At every possible occasion the UK should remind herself of the immense sacrifices Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth made for our freedom - especially at Heathrow where descendants of those who volunteered for Britain queue for entry whilst the EU citizens of Germany and Italy pass through unmolested.

 

Vatican To Save Ulster for the Union?

I wonder what Tim Pat "Count the Catholics" Coogan thinks about this?

 

No Dancing Please - We're Dutch.

Hold the front page! Politicians are ...too boring to bop. Thank the Lord that Mr Balkenende will forego the disco delights of Amsterdam - if only we had been spared this !

Sunday, April 23, 2006

 

The Big (Sl)Eazy?

Post hurricane politics in New Orleans has been characterised by an unpleasant racial subtext. The mayoral election is taking place against a background of displaced voters and civil rights scrutiny. According to ABC :

"Race has become a key factor in the election. Less than half the city's pre-Katrina population of 455,000 have returned, and civil rights activists note that most of those scattered outside the city are black. Prior to the storm, the city was more than two-thirds black; it has not had a white mayor since 1978 when Moon Landrieu left office.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has said he plans to challenge the election outcome in court regardless of the winner, arguing displaced voters were disenfranchised because they weren't allowed to vote in polling places in such adopted cities as Houston, Dallas and Atlanta"


Is this just African American mopery or does Rev. Jackson have a point?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

 

Arrivederci Euro?

Italys' biggest problem is not whether Prodi or Berlusconi is the head of government but rather the looming disaster caused by the Euro straight-jacket. This story has been running for some time with Italian friends of mine predicting since summer 2005 that the Lira will make a devalued return. Given this Latin re-run of Churchills' gold standard folly is it any wonder that the single currency debate in the UK has gone quiet? And what about the other small economies of Eurozone? Does the Italian present point to a Portugese, Greek or even Irish future?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

Long to Reign Over Us

Apart from a case of the head staggers in November 1985 there is very little of what Baroness Thatcher has to say with which I could disagree. This birthday tribute to HM is no exception.

Given the ghastly collection of career politicos who make up the current political class in the UK it is perhaps unsurprising that the saving grace of our system is the monarch. As Australia discovered, when faced with an exemplary sovereign no "Mate for Head of State" campaign will prosper.

So, join with this happy monarchist, Margaret Thatcher et al and send birthday wishes to our Queen.

Happy Birthday Ma'am.

 

Flying Column Licked!

Is this in the same vein as the 90th anniversary celebrations put on in Dublin last week-end? What next - the Civil Rights Mushroom Double Swiss ?

 

Land of My Fathers (in Law)

Now that the Easter holidays are almost over normal blogging service can resume. As usual the last week was spent in Wales.

Why do I feel so at home in a place awash with language fascists, psycopathic republicans, expensive yet powerless politicians and Peter Hain? Is it because Wales provides a glimpse of what Northern Irelands' future could be - with adaptable devolution and impressive civic renewal? Despite the "whisky" and and the Lib Dems I like the place.

Worth a visit.

Update

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

What was he thinking?

Television can be a terribly harsh medium and last nights' Out in the Cold was no exception. Now whatever I think of 1998 and the behaviour of the man and his minions subsequent to that years' Good Friday I actually felt rather sorry for David Trimble at the end of the video - the shopping trip with Daphne was pure Alan Bennett.

The discussion elsewhere has been illuminating and I have just one observation to add. The political failure of David Trimble was due to his lack of empathy with what made unionists unionists. His "theoretical unionism" did not understand how prisoner releases and, particularly, the demise of the Royal Ulster Constabulary would affect his project. No matter if in 20 years the GFA confounds this blogger and creates the bed rock of a prosperous, peaceful and British NI David Trimble, Lord of whatever, will always be the man who failed to save the RUC.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

Infant Malady Knocks Blog for Six!

Pakman junior (Ms Pakman?) brough home the usual from nursery last week - finger painting, new actions to "The Wheels on the Bus" and tonsillitis. Needless to say being thirty five renders one particularly susceptable to childhood illnesses and as a result I have been in a drug induced semi coma since Friday night as my pathetically low pain threshold called in pharmaceutical back up. I'm back now and ready to go.

I suppose this is going to be the talking piece of the next twenty four hours. I'll post tomorrow when I have had a chance to watch the video but in the meantime what about some gentle diversion I call Lord Trimble of ....

Drumcree
Tunnel
Castle Buildings
Bayreuth
Chateau Neuf

Over to you!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

It's Broke, Fix it.



So Tony and Bertie (since when was he invited in on Strand One?) have a
plan. Ho hum.

Here's mine, which has as much chance of success as the PMs' :

1. Reduce the number of MLAs to 90
2. Reduce the number of government departments to six
3. Remove the sectarian designation of each member
4. Remove the double sectarian veto within the legislature
6. Remove the D'Hondt system for creating an executive
7. Require any proposed Executive to be endorsed in its' entirety by at least 66% of voting members
8. Enforce collective responsibility on that Executive by requiring it to bring forward a Programme for Government within six weeks of its endorsement. That Programme would then require an endorsement by the Assembly of at least 66% of voting members
9. Failure at points 7 or 8 would start the clock ticking to one final attempt at endorsement or an assembly election
10. Casual vacancies to be filled by an election
11. Legislation to require a simple affirmative majority unless 25 members object, in which case the Speaker to rule that a weighted majority of at least 66% of voting members is required
12. First Minister and Deputy First Minister are to cease to be co-dependent and joint appointments

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 

DAAD - Direct Action Against Donaldson?

We've been here before; shotguns (forensically important), franchised killings and mendacious denial.

Republicans murdered Donaldson. All that remains to be determined is which variety and with what authority.

How about this hypothesis. We know that the short term plan to have an Assembly without an executive is deeply unpopular with Sinn Fein. Posters on other blogs have asked why would the republican movement sanction a killing which would derail their beloved process. Perhaps the answer is this - the Donaldson murder was a tactical move to derail this stage of the process. It also sends the "we haven't gone away so don't even think about messing with us" message to the the government.

I heard the bumptious Jim McDowell boast on the BBC that his paper would know the identity of the killers by the week-end - I trust the public interest will be sufficient for that knowledge to be shared wit the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

Whodunit?


Who tortured and murdered Dennis Donaldson? In terms of the Northern Ireland "peace" process no other question will matter over the next few weeks, certainly not any hard questions either PM Tony Blair or his Irish counterpart may have to ask our local political parties.

Feel free to speculate. Who gains the most by the killing? What tactical or strategic purpose could it have? I'll post my conclusions when the dust settles.

"Once you remove the impossible, whatever remains,however improbable, must be the truth."

Update here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

 

O Canada.

I have a great affection for Canada, especially BC. The place feels like a nicer version of the UK with well kept public spaces, a real sense of civic pride and a service ethos that makes you realise how dreadful the average High Street shopping experience on this side of the Atlantic is. If the option ever presented itself I'm not sure that the many delights of Holywood would trump Vancouver.

Anyhow, I came across this in the Vancouver Sun. If Afganistan is the forgotten front in the "war on terror" then the Canadians are the overlooked combatants. Did any UK readers know that Canadians were in action in Afganistan and that
"Canada's most significant battle in 32 years"
had just taken place? No small boast for the nation that took Vimy Ridge.

There was a time when the British media would have highlighted this sort of news from a Commonwealth country. That, sadly, no longer seems the case. In terms of overseas interest the visit of the US Secretary of State, the fragrant Ms Rice, monopolised the column inches. I'm all for the Special Relationship, but let's not forget who our real friends are. Spare a thought then for Pte. Costall and his comrades in 1st Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

 

A Blast From the Past.

I see that ten years since its' creation the Forum has finally appeared as a foot note in the history of the peace process. I have many fond memories of the Interpoint Centre; highlights include
"The RUC will remain a unitary force, with any delegation of authority and responsibility continuing to be a matter for the Chief Constable. There will be no two-tier police service, and there will be no special arrangements to facilitate the recruitment of former paramilitaries."

and
"there will be no reduction in the RUC's strength so long as the threat from terrorist groups continues."

and
"there is absolutely no question of allowing parties or persons who represent paramilitary-related groups to join the heart of the Administration without having clearly established a commitment to democratic and peaceful means through decommissioning and other measures"

All the above from David Trimble on 17th April 1998.
Or what about this from the voice of "progressive" unionism
"In the story that the Member recounted a moment ago he touched upon homosexuality, which society now appears to think should be tolerated. We have seen recent examples of this in an advertisement by the Yorkshire police and in a cathedral service. Is it not a fact that paedophiles very often target children of their own sex? Are we not, by turning a blind eye to one perversion, perhaps encouraging or condoning another?"

Ken Maginnis on 22nd November 1996.
But my favourite (from the very first day!) has to be
"You have the light behind you — a great policeman's trick when interrogating a suspect"

From the only gentleman amongst the entire shower, Sir John Gorman.

Is this what the shadow assembly holds for the body politic?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

The future's bright!

Thanks to Fair_Deal for the heads up. As a constant reminder of Unionist success I have pasted a countdown to 2016 on this site's side bar. Let each second that passes remind us of the continuing failure of the republican project.

 

It's the constitution, stupid!!!

Politics in Northern Ireland is presently based on a stand off between two diametrically opposing views - those who accept the integrity of the United Kingdom and want to maintain our position within it versus those who see Northern Ireland as a failed political entity and wish speedily to remove it from the UK (and indeed the map) by facilitating absorbtion into the Irish Republic. Unsurprisingly, such fundamental divisions permeate through into unionist and nationalist world views.

Take this for example. The Northern Ireland Assembly is just one of a number of devolved assembly so beloved of NuLabour. Its' design was outlined in the Good Friday Agreement (aka the Belfast Agreement) but it only came into being when legislated for by parliament at Westminster. That parliament is sovereign over all things in the United Kingdom and has powers to alter or dispense with legislation at will. The fact that the 1998 Act reflects the Good Friday Agreement makes it no more immune from amendment (or eventually repeal) than, say, The Dangerous Dogs Act.

Perhaps once Mark Durkin and his party study the constitution of the state they wish to leave they will better understand that in order to provide Northern Ireland with workable devolution changes to the Assembly will be legislated for - regardless of what happened in a different political era.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

 

Lordy, lordy, lordy ...

Welcome one and all, or as we say in Ulster-Scotts "fair fa' ye" . Having enjoyed the excellent Slugger O'Toole and ATW I have decided to follow in the steps of Fealty and Vance with "We perish if we yield". This will be an unashamedly unionist view of and from Northern Ireland to provoke debate and discussion. Enjoy.

For starters, Lord Ballyedmond has always struck me a an unusual addition to the Ulster Unionist benches at Westminster. After all what can one offer David Trimble and Bertie Ahern (never mind this good friend of Ulster)? I wonder if recent events which threaten to soil legacy of the current PM will have a Northern Ireland post script?

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