From Irish Political Review: October 2007

Editorial Commentary

Labour's Sister Party?

After Dermot Ahern's statement about Fianna Fail organising in the North, South Down SDLP Cllr. Carmel O'Boyle said Fianna Fail had supported the SDLP "through all the difficult times. Now they want to support us in delivering a real republican alternative to the people of Northern Ireland by inviting us to merge with them. Such a move would surely restore hope for northern republicans who must be completely disillusioned with Sinn Fein and their political antics." Mitchel McLaughlin for Sinn Fein said: "Irish citizens should not be denied their constitutional right to participate fully in the life of the nation just because they were abandoned behind an artificial border imposed by a foreign power." (Irish News Every Day.) So Sinn Fein are still in favour of a united Ireland! Meanwhile Ogra Fianna Fail seem to have jumped the gun and claim that they have recruited 50 members at Magee College in Derry, and are actively recruiting at Queens during Freshers' Week.

Giant's Causeway: After DUP Minister Arlene Foster said she "was minded" to give permission to North Antrim businessman, Seymour Sweeney, to build a private visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway to replace the old one destroyed by fire, the Belfast press have had a field day. It transpires that Mr. Sweeney is a member of the DUP and a friend of Ian Paisley junior. No one is saying that young Ian has done anything corrupt. Nigel Dodds, who at first supported Ms Foster, says he is back in favour of the project being taken over by the public sector. Now another businessman has said he will do the job for nothing and hand the place over to the Government. With any luck the matter will drag on and the Giants' Causeway will be spared, at least for another while, any Visitors' Centre. It's nice the way it is.
Two-headed Corkmen:

Government inspectors recently visited the offices of The Corkman in Millstreet. They found that the levels of radiation there were 20 times those permitted at nuclear power stations. It's good to know that even if the rest of the Free State is sleepwalking back into the British Empire, the Rebel County may be taking steps to preserve its independence!

The Wild Geese: On September 19th the Irish News printed a picture of Rev. Ian Paisley with members of the "Wild Geese Association", who were holding their banner—a green emblem with a harp surmounted by a crown plus a shamrock and Ulster flag in the corner. (The other "chuckle brother" wasn't present.) The caption read: "First minister Ian Paisley yesterday presented members of the Wild Geese Association, a cross-border community venture that brings together serving and retired soldiers on the island of Ireland in a common bond of friendship, with certificates from the United Nations Association. Pictured with Mr. Paisley... are Jim Fee, chair of the Wild Geese Association, and Colonel Hubert McAllister, president..." This Association was formed at the beginning of this year and has already affiliated to the British Parachute Regiment Association. After the Treaty (should that be Articles of Agreement?) of Limerick, one option open to the defeated Irish armies was to join the English armies. This was rejected and the Irish armies went abroad seeking to enlist in the army of any country likely to be at war with Britain—something never too difficult to find. These were the Wild Geese. Anyone joining the English armies would be considered a mere mercenary at best and a traitor at worst. The term Wild Geese was also adopted by the Patricios, Irish-Americans who opted to fight for Mexico against US aggression, and by Irishmen fighting for the Boers against the British. So far this misnamed Association has been finding it difficult to recruit in the Free State to this "cross-border community venture".
Robert Nairac: The Irish News on September 10th reports that Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband massacre near Newry in 1975, is convinced that the man who ordered the killings was the late and unlamented SAS Captain Robert Nairac. The Band was stopped by a UDR patrol. Two of the UDR men were planting a bomb on the band's bus when it exploded prematurely, killing both of them. The soldiers were then given orders to kill all the band members in an attempt to cover up what had happened. Dual-membership of most of the UDR soldiers with the UVF allowed the paramilitary group to be blamed for the atrocity.
John Kelly: The funeral of John Kelly took place in Maghera on September 8th. He became a household name when he was tried and acquitted of arms smuggling alongside Charles Haughey and Army Captain James Kelly in 1971. James Kelly's widow Sheila was at the funeral. Also there were Martin Meehan and Francie Brolly from Sinn Fein, Francie Mackey of the 32 Co. Sovereignty Movement, Gaelic games commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Gerry McGeough, Bernadette McAlliskey, and SDLP leader Mark Durkan. John Kelly was from Belfast and took part in the 1956 IRA Campaign. He was captured on active service along with John Madden from Cork and sentenced to eight years in jail. They were released in 1962 at the end of the Campaign. At the time of their arrest the B-Specials wanted to kill them with a grenade and this was prevented by an RUC man present. John later became a founder member of the Provisional IRA. He became a Sinn Fein MLA for Mid-Ulster but left the party in 2003.
Crumlin Road Jail: The jail, along with the nearby Girdwood Barracks, is to be redeveloped to include a leisure centre, businesses, playing fields, a hotel and other tourist facilities (up the Crumlin Road!?!), but NO HOUSES. Ardoyne is bursting at the seams and housing in the area is desperately needed. But the declining Protestant population fears the establishment of more Fenian territory. (Catholics tend to wish to stay in their areas, which usually have a very mixed pattern of housing, while Protestants, whose areas tend to be almost exclusively working-class, tend to move away when they get the chance.) So we can expect the ritual weekend fighting on the interface to continue for the foreseeable future.
Fake Guns: The Belfast Telegraph on September 16th reported that uniformed and masked IRA men carrying what they said were imitation firearms marched through the centre of Belfast on Sinn Fein's March For Truth. Sinn Fein said it was just a bit of street theatre. The DUP's Sammy Wilson said: "The next thing we will be hearing is that they want to go to the Arts Council for a grant. Or maybe even an Oscar for some of those who acted."
A gas of a peace: The Police have announced that they have used CS gas just under 1,000 times in the last three years. In other words an average of once a day.
Who made the world? Lisburn Council has voted to write to all schools in its area urging them to teach the theory of "intelligent design" to their pupils. The Protestant parties (the DUP and the OUP) voted for. The Catholic parties (the SDLP and Sinn Fein) voted against. This may seem like the Catholics have gone off God. But the Catholics believe in the who and the why of creation. Evolution they can take or leave. But Protestants, or large numbers of them, believe also in the how and the when.

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