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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

Another Lesson From Australia

John Howards' Australia just keeps on impressing. Given the UKs' experience of The Human Rights Act this piece from "The Australian" is illuminating.

The opinion piece is set against the background of the kidnap and rape of a fourteen year old girl. The 55 year old attacker was
sentenced at first instance to one month imprisonment. Seemingly sodomising a prepubescent is hunky-dory in the Northern Territory if you are an Aboriginal elder.

The fear in Australia is that the flawed thinking which allowed Chief Justice Martin to make such an appalling mistake is about to be entrenched in state versions of our Human Rights Act. The UK experience is causing concern. As well it might.

Albrectsen has hit the nail on the head:
"these bills, filled with the alluring language of rights, cement into the law a radical left-wing political agenda"

Distressingly for this blogger the British judicial experience of "a rights culture" is examined and condemned. I never thought I would read the British and Uzbeck legal systems lumped together with equal contempt in an op-ed from a nation that shares our common law traditions. But then, on issues from travellers to terrorists, our system has held itself up to quite proper ridicule.

Our constitution vandalised, our parliament impotent, our courts mocked. Nice legacy Tony.

 

When You Dine With The Devil ...

This is a developing story but alleged UVF leader Mark Haddock has been shot and critically wounded. He was at home on Crown Court bail awaiting judgement in his attempted murder trial.

Even if this turns out to be another bout of "loyalist" internecine blood letting it would be worthy of comment. In the context of the UUP/UVF Assembly Party serious questions must be asked of Sir Reg and those within Cunningham House:

1. if Haddocks' alleged organisation was responsible for this piece of "house keeping" will the leader of the PUP be allowed to remain within the Assembly Party?

2. if Haddocks' alleged organisation was responsible for this piece of "house keeping" and the leader of the PUP remains within the Assembly Party can that Assembly Party be considered to be committed to "exclusively peaceful means"?

3. if that Assembly Party fails the "exclusively peaceful means" test should it be excluded from any potential executive?

4. Who is going to be first to tell Sir Reg I told you so?

This blogger is of the view that a grubby political deal designed solely to gain the UUP an extra ministry has the potential to deprive it of any place around the Executive table. Shrewd move chaps, shrewd move.

Monday, May 29, 2006

 

Yob Culture Tolerated

I picked this up from a piece on "Talkback" before the holiday weekend. Lord Laird has obtained, in answer to a written question in the Upper House, details of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) issued in Northern Ireland. To date in Northern Ireland 13 such orders have been made. Compare, if you will, to Manchester.

I have a problem believing that throughout each of the twenty six district councils in NI there are only 13 people deserving of ASBOs. Holywood has its' fair share of sportswear clad toe-rags one of which liberally "tags" the town with his nom de plume "Bean". He has at least twelve WKD sodden mates doing the same so why haven't they been ABSOed? The answer dear reader is simple- cost. Local councils are empowered along with the Housing Executive and others to make application to a Magistrates' Court for ASBOs. I have asked a number of councillors from North Down and else where why the rate payers were not being protected from a disruptive minority and on each occasion I was told that the councill as a whole did not want to pay for the prosecutions! They will pay for hanging baskets, to prosecute people for littering and fund twin town junkets but not to operate legislation designed to help the vunerable and check the unruly.

I thought councils in Northern Ireland were frustrated at being powerless. I thought they were crying out for powers to help communities. The government has now given them power which they ignore. Is the cost issue the only problem or is it reflective of a deeper malaise in our society? The anti social, if you are to believe their tatoos and grafitti, are well connected to the local "hoods". Perhaps the failure of local councils to pursue ASBOs has less to do with no money and more to do with no balls.

Next time a wannabe councillor comes knocking ask her or him if your quiet enjoyment of your neighbourhood is worth £1200.00. If not take full advantage of the STV system to put her/ him bottom of the pile.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

 

"A miracle of deliverance"


I have always enjoyed May. It contains my birthday, is right-bang in the middle of spring, has two (yes, count them) bank holidays and holds the promise of a long court-free summer. I also like May because every year it comes around I try to read something new about what was happening in 1940. This has ranged from "Their Finest Hour to "Never Surrender"(finished last week). This is not a post about the relative literary talents of Winston S. Churchill and Michael Dobbs but to simply point out to readers that to-day, 27th May, is the 66th anniversary of the start of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expedition Force from Dunkirk.

In "Their Finest Hour" Churchill wrote:
"Ever since May 20, the gathering of shipping and small craft had been proceeding under the control of Admiral Ramsay, who commanded at Dover. After the loss of Boulogne and Calais only the remains of the port of Dunkirk and the open beaches next to the Belgian Frontier were in our hands. On the evening of the 26th an Admiralty signal put Operation Dynamo into play, and the first troops were brought home that night.

Early the next morning, May 27, emergency measures were taken to find additional small craft. The various boatyards, from Teddington to Brightlingsea, were searched by Admiralty officers, and yielded upwards of forty serviceable motor-boats or launches, which were assembled at Sheerness on the following day. At the same time lifeboats from liners in the London docks, tugs from the Thames, yachts, fishing-craft, lighters, barges and pleasure-boats - anything that could be the use along the beaches - were called into service."

The 300,000 troops saved in 1940 included the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Ulster Rifles who are pictured above waiting to embark from the beaches.

Churchill spoke to the Commons on 4th June, marking the end of the evacuation with his "we shall fight on the beaches" speech. Less famously, he reminded the House and the nation that:
We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations

The story of the "little ships" is deeply engrained in our national consciousness because it was such a close run thing, the sense of the bullet dodged allows us not to dwell on what would have happened had the BEF been annihilated in France.

Those who carelessly enjoy freedom today should pause and remember 1940.

 

Stand Up For The Ulstermen!


After Munsters' fantastic win last weekend, Ulster won the Celtic League last night by beating the Ospreys. Much happiness chez Pakman not least because of the obvious Welshness of Ms Pakman. The win is a great shot in the arm for the team who have disappointed in this years' Heineken Cup. With next years' campaign in mind, being Celtic champions will improve the draw and consequently the chance of progressing to the knock-out rounds. I'm getting excited at the thought - roll on September!

Friday, May 26, 2006

 

It Was The Sun Wot (Should've) Won It


The Daily Telegraph has won the Newsnight poll of best front pages of the last century with its' 9/11 page. For this blogger the front page to the left will always be a favourite, capturing as it does a certain zeitgeist.

For the full list of candidate pages, see here.

 

Oh, Advance Canada Fair!


Thanks to ATW for the heads up on this good news from Prince Edward Island. Coupled with Australias' growing world stature as exemplified by her on-going intervention in East Timor could it be that by this outbreak of soundness the great Dominions are showing the Mother Country how to act on the world stage? Maybe Neville Shute was prophetic when he imagined a Commonwealth populated by the brightest and best leaving the UK with the rest.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

Any lessons from Montenegro?

The final demise of Yugoslavia restores a pre-1914 feel to the map of Europe with tiny, exotic sounding states once more sovereign.

From an Ulster unionist point of view there are a number of points worthy of comment.

Firstly, the demise of Yugoslavia yet again shows the impossibility of artificial states accommodating competing nationalities. If the hope of Irish nationalism is a unified state on the island of Ireland with 49.9% of the voters of its six north-eastern counties rejecting that state and all its trappings how long before this Eire Nua goes the same way as Czechoslovakia et al? Of course, within the present boundaries of Northern Ireland there is a destabilising competing nationalism. If Montenegro can leave Yugoslavia why can't, say, South Armagh leave the UK? While we're at it lets blow the bridges over the Foyle and trim Fermanagh around the edges. As for Tyrone ...

Then we come to the question of legitimacy of the newly independent state. The EU demanded any pro independence vote would require a 55% majority before it was recognised. Any views on this from our Nationalist readers?

And finally, viability. The new state will have less that 700,000 citizens but size, it seems, is no longer any barrier to independence. The EU is now peppered by shire-sized nations from the Baltic via Central Europe to the Balkans. Do Irish Nationalists really think that should Northern Ireland ever be absorbed into an Irish republic Ulster unionists would be happy to be the only people in Europe without a state? Palestinians we ain't.

 

Any lessons from Iraq?


Iraqs' problems dwarf those of Northern Ireland but her quest for a coalition government is worthy of note. Iraq now has a government which took three years to form. There was no talk of "joint stewardship" or similar threats whilst the Iraqis got down to the business of coalition building. Why then in Northern Ireland is the same process time limited? Is it because the form of government on offer to Northern Ireland is so inflexible as to make discussion about a coalition unnecessary? After all d'Hondt does all the hard work.

Blair talks about his hopes for the Iraqi government to go full term. It is not unreasonable to assume he has similar ambitions for the stability of any NI executive. In those circumstances is the imposition of a dead line wise? Stable government in Northern Ireland will require a fundamental shift away from the enforced coalition of the Belfast Agreement. It will also require a degree of cross community good will that has been lacking to date. This blogger expects that task to take considerably longer than six months.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

If I were to foresake the blue skies of Ulster...

By way of a slow mornings diversion I recommend this :

Which country should you REALLY be living in?

Seemingly pakman belongs in Russia

A vast terrain filled with beautiful scenery and interesting characters. You don't trust the world. You feel they are always up to no good. Which is why you'd make a great Russian.
You want life to be simple and have no desire for riches, fame or wealth - and thats the only way your government would have it.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.


Feel free to post the results. I suspect a few regulars will be joining me in St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Jail Time For Murder - 30 Months

It seems that both loyalism and the failures of the Good Friday Agreement are to remain in the spotlight for some time to come. The early release of Finucan killer Ken Barret is a coming together of both themes.

During the referendum campaign of 1998 Tony Blair weighed in behind the "Yes" coalition and in a key intervention at the Balmoral Show stated:
the only prisoners whose cases can even be considered by the Independent Review Commission are those belonging to organisations which are observing a total and unequivocal ceasefire

Now I understand that Mr Barret murdered as a member of the UDA. The latest IMC report comments on that organisations' current activities at paragraphs 2.26 to 2.28. Highlights include:
members of the UDA were responsible for
the murder of Thomas Hollran on 18 February 2006
and
The UDAs' heavy involvement in crime, including drug dealing and blackmail, continues and in some parts of the organisation
criminality can be described as endemic.
and
that it remains an active threat to the rule of law.

How does this square with the pitch Blair made for the "Yes" campaign in 1998?

It doesn't.

Like so much of the process the line from spin into lie was crossed. Is it any wonder that an arrangement sold by deliberate misrepresentation now releases killers whose terrorist organisation remains active and fails to deliver stable devolved government?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Regs' Mission To Explain

I'm sorry to go on about this but the UUP/ PUP/ UVF story will not go away. Sir Reg has confirmed to the BBC that other MLAs apart from Ervine were approached to join the UUP. Quite correctly he does not name them but a couple of Alliance MLAs and Paul Berry seem to have been the likely targets.

What is interesting is the sequence of the approaches. If extending UUP Assembly Group membership to Ervine was inspired by a noble (if misguided) attempt to bring the active UVF into the democratic fold then this blogger would have expected Ervine to be the first and only MLA to be approached. After all offering membership to, say, Seamus Close could have no possible bearing on "loyalist" criminality. On the other hand if the UUP were grubbing around for someone, anyone, to get them an extra Executive seat then it makes sense, given his baggage, that Ervine was their last port of call.

So what is it? Getting into bed with the UVF for short term party political gain or something less sordid?

Friday, May 19, 2006

 

About Last Night

An unusual post, a request for information.

Last night the UUP/UVFs' executive met in Cunningham House. Were any readers there? If so I await details with baited breath. Correspondents should focus on the following:

1- did Basil McCrea state the link-up with the PUP has cost the UUP 20% of its' remaining support?

2- did Sir Reg retort by claiming 20% was "a conservative estimate"?

3- did any North Antrim party members say they would "never be back" in Cunningham House?

4- Alex Kane.

All info gratefully received.

 

Trimble Under Threat

For a former leader of a formerly great party David Trimble is no shrinking violet. First we had the "Out in the Cold" aired last month (and blogged extensively), then there was his backbench speech at Stormont on Tuesday and now this.

All politicians make mistakes and enemies. That is the nature of the business and perhaps it is only the magnitude of the mistakes that distinguishes one politico from another. For public life in a democracy to thrive those mistakes must be expected and then judged by the electorate. Targeting of politicians by sleaze hunting tabloids, baying mobs or sinister websites can only dissuade potential politicians from entering public life. Then who suffers?

As for Mr Trimble, I trust the necessary action is taken in respect of this latest attempt at intimidation. I also wonder if he is really ready to retire from politics. Al Gore is at "step nine" of his recovering politician programme. I wonder if David Trimble has even started to travel that route. If not should Sir Reg be worried?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Boundary Commission Proposals Out

The latest proposals for Northern Irelands' parliamentary constituencies have been announced by the Boundary commission and reported on by the BBC.

I'm no Nicholas Whyte but a few points arise:

1- the retreat from any radical readjustment of East Antrim. UUP sources had been hoping for tactical voting in the proposed "Coast and Glens" seat to remove Sammy Wilson.

2- the extension of the Belfast seats. Given the RPA surely it makes sense to have Belfast City Councils' boundaries coterminous with those of the four parliamentary seats?

3- the retention of 18 seats. The blunt answer to the West Lothian Question has been a reduction in Scottish representation at Westminster. Should devolution ever work here will a similar reduction be proposed for NI? With MLAs returned for parliamentary constituencies could this have a knock-on effect at Stormont?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Judges Attacked After Head-Scarf Ruling

CNN is reporting on the murder of a Turkish judge and the wounding of four colleagues by a lawyer.
"One of the judges, Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin, was shot in the head in Wednesday's attack and died later in hospital, officials said.

Four of the judges -- including Ozbilgin -- had voted in February against the promotion of a school teacher who wore an Islamic-style head scarf outside work. The fifth had voted in favor."

If this attack had happened in Iraq or Saudi I wouldn't have blogged it. The fact is that it happened in Turkey which has embarked on a process that will lead to eventual EU membership. My question is this:

how can a society where an educated professional guns down judges who make a secular ruling in the face of Islamic opposition be reconciled to the liberal values of the current EU?

When Turkey joins the EU there will be freedom of movement for her citizens. Given the Polish example we can expect a wave of visitors from Asia Minor. Will the more extreme amongst them respect the secular nature of their host countries or will judge-killing become a risk when any issue pertaining to Islamic tradition comes before a court? Given the recent events surrounding the infamous Danish cartoons I suspect notions of judicial independence, liberal democracy and pluralism will cut no ice with some of the new "Europeans" from Anatolia.

 

Cracks Appear

Sylvia has spoken. The last UUP Member of Parliament has told the House of Commons of her
distress at the linkage of the UUP to the UVF proxies in the PUP. Seemingly she was not consulted about the move and her "support" has been bought by the pathetic logic of Hume/ Adams:
"If Sir Reg is able to establish now a policy to bring about loyalist decommissioning and prevent any more murders, any more Lisa Dorrians in my constituency, then that would be worthwhile"

Of course Lisa Dorrian was murdered by the narco-terrorists of the LVF. If one were to follow this logic UUP membership should be extended to that choice bunch as well.

Pathetic nonsense from David Burnside on Good Evening Ulster this evening as well. Seemingly he supports this move as a tactical one to deprive Sinn Fein of a hypothetical executive post. According to this moral compass the UUP can use one group of terrorists to deprive another group of terrorists of power. So much for clean hands in local UUP politics.

 

Sinn Fein/ Hamas love-fest at Strasbourg

The loathsome nature of the Irish republican movement can be judged by the company it keeps. During the Second World War it got into bed with Nazi Germany, to fund its' latest campaign they alligned themselves with Gadafis' Libya and now through the good offices of Ms. de Bruin they are acting as fanboys for the psychopathic Hamas.

Apart from the anti-semitism which links these Sinn Fein/IRA allies there is at their core an attatchment to violence to advance political aims. What message does Sinn Fein send out by singing the praises of the bus bombers? Not one that builds confidence in this unionist blogger that they are a fit coalition partner in any potential NI executive.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

 

Alliance Get it Right (At Last/ For Once - delete as applicable)

The Alliance Party collectively are anti Grammar School, NIO flunky QUNANGO jockeys but occasionally on an individual basis they hit the nail on the head. Sean Neeson is 100% right with this press release. I whole heartedly agree with him when he states :

"The creation of 10 departments was designed to facilitate an even sectarian carve-up, but it clearly has not worked. Boards, voluntary-sector bodies, businesses and individuals are all having to deal with a multitude of departments and agencies even to get the simplest task done"


If this commitment to small government continues IJP might even get a preference the next time he comes asking!

 

First Step Back to Sanity

Given this from the Sunday Times, this from the Sunday Telegraph and this from the Observer the time seems ripe to grasp the nettle of extracting the UK from the disastrous implementation of the 1998 Human Rights Act.

As a first (I admit, mostly symbolic) step in rescuing our society from the lunacy of Euro-inspired activist decision makers I propose the following :

The Civic Responsibilities Act 2006

An Act to commence the process of injecting some reality into public decision making in the United Kingdom.

[14th May 2006]

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-


1. - The Human Rights Act 1998 is hereby repealed.
2. - (1) This Act may be cited as The Civic Responsibilities Act 2006.
(2) All provisions shall come into force on the day the Act is passed.

As with all difficult situations once the decision is made to do something then subsequent actions become easier to contemplate. What about reservations or opt outs from the ECHR itself? What about reviewing our relationship with European institutions that have as a precondition of membership adherence to that convention? By flying this kite the Lord Chancellor may have opened a Pandoras' Box he and his government may find difficult to close.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

 

Forget Sinn Fein/ IRA, now its UUP/ UVF

The BBC is reporting that UVF linked PUP leader David Ervine MLA is to join the Ulster Unionist Assembly party. There have been a few occasions in the last ten years when the crass stupidity of the UUP has left me slack jawed in wonderment and this is another. It seems for political opportunity a formerly great party has thrown its' lot in with loyalist Sinn Fein wannabes. Has Sir Reg not understood the import of the last IMC report in respect of the UVF? Just to remind readers of paragraphs 2.30 and 2.31 of that report :

"2.30 The reduced level of activity on the part of the UVF following the end of the feud with the LVF to which we referred in our Eighth Report has remained apparent. But the organisation nevertheless continues to be responsible for a range of criminal
activities, including violence, and it continues to display behaviour indicating that it intends to remain in paramilitary business. The UVF undertook both shootings and assaults over the recent period. It continues to recruit new members throughout
Northern Ireland. We believe that the weapons, explosives and other paramilitary
equipment which the police seized from premises in Belfast in February belonged to
the UVF. Crime is prevalent throughout the organisation.

2.31 There has been some effort by elements of the UVF leadership to tackle criminality. As with the leadership of the UDA, we recognise that there are certain people who want to move away from criminality. We welcome this wherever it occurs but at this stage we do not see any significant impact on the behaviour of the organisation as a whole. Nor has there as yet been the positive move to stop targeting nationalists and ethnic minorities for which we called in our Eighth Report. We do not therefore change our overall assessment that the organisation is active, violent and ruthless, and the recent statement from a spokesman that it does not intend to do more before 24 November 2006 is not encouraging."

So the UUP are embracing a party linked to a terrorist organisation who at the time of the IMC report had been involved in shootings, assaults with criminality running through it like "Blackpool" through a stick of rock. It gets better - the UVF is involved in sectarian and racist targeting; it is "active, violent and ruthless".

Walking into Castle Buildings with these people in 1998 was appalling enough. Extending membership of the Assembly Party to their leader is quite another.

What the hell are the UUP playing at?

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

RIP WC

The first pro-Agreement party to actually disband is the Northern Ireland Womens' Coalition. I have fond memories of individual NIWC members from the Forum (where they secured two top-up seats) and negotiations but as a party they were even more firmly entrenched in the NIO pocket than Alliance.

As for their cross community credentials, whilst the elected membership may have come from both major traditions I always felt that the brains behind the operation were not well disposed to unionism. I recall being canvassed when I lived in South Belfast during the 1998 Assembly elections. When the WC candidate (and leader) saw who opened the door she told her team "don't bother, he's a unionist." This in a STV ballot.

As I said above on an individual basis I wish Jan Morice, Kate Fearon and Pearl Sagar well.

BTW any idea what Susan McKay means when she states that "the coalition ... is also credited with giving support and advice to other smaller parties, including the loyalist parties"
? Suggestions as to the nature and recipient of the support gratefully received.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Hain Watch #1

The Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland has apologised for a centrepiece of NuLabour hubris- the imposition of all-woman shortlists on constituency selection meetings. According to Mr Hain,
"The first law of politics is you listen to the people"

Strange then, when back in Belfast the same Peter Hain can state
"the government remained committed to the abolition of academic selection"

My understanding of the situation in Northern Ireland was that the people
supported academic selection.

Not so much NuLabour double-speak but rather Hain double-standards. I await his apology when wearing his NI hat.

 

Ballymena Murder

These posts at bebeo are almost unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as the murder of Michael McIlveen itself. I say "almost" in both cases because in my line of business I come across incidents of mindless violence almost daily. In a society that used to pride itself a 1950's sense of community how has it come to pass that we have in our midst baseball bat wielding child killers, people who disfigure others by using thieir teeth to rip off lips and ears and the almost casual use of near fatal violence as post pub entertainment? Could it be that Northern Ireland is indeed a place where you can get away with murder?

Friday, May 05, 2006

 

West Lothian Question centre stage after a bad night in Barking

So Charles Clarke has been pushed after failing to jump in response to the non-deportation scandal. His replacement at the Home Office "the government department responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales" by stage Scotsman John Reid will raise eyebrows. Given the evidence of English resentment displayed in Barking and elsewhere last night am I the only one to agree with the now former Home Secretary when he states he did not agree with the prime minister's judgement .

With Blair now clearly on the way out and Brown the heir apparant in the not too distant future both PM and Home Secretary will (initially at least) be MPs representing Scottish seats. How will that happy coincidence go down with English electors in the subsequent General Election? Will asymetric constitutional change (ie dangerous tinkering) come back to haunt NuLabour?

RUMOUR - Five Live are questioning Hains' future in NI. I fear he will stay but let's see.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Perfidious Hain

It seems that being Labours' chief enforcer in the celtic fringe can get you in trouble. Under privilege Welsh nationalists have named Peter Hain as being implicated in a peerage scandal. Seemingly, an attempt was made to buy off the late Peter Law. As regular visitors will know I have more than a passing relationship with Wales and what little I knew of Mr Law would have suggested that he was a man of principle who could not be bought with ermine. But then again we are dealing with the hubris of NuLabour piled upon the hubris of Peter Hain. I trust for the good people of Wales, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK that nemisis is just around the corner.

Update here.

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