From Irish Political Review: February 2008

Editorial Commentary


was acquitted of the Omagh bombing on December 20th. He was also acquitted of 57 other charges. For him that should have been the end of the matter. But next day the Irish News front page headline read "Still No Justice". The rest of the page carried boxes with pictures of all 29 people killed in the bombing with an extra box in the middle saying "Omagh Accused Acquitted". Most readers of newspapers are left with impressions rather than a headful of detailed facts. Newspapers know this. And the impression given by the Irish News was that Hoey got off or got away with it.
The IN editorial says: "After almost ten years the families are no strangers to pain and disappointment but yesterday represented a further low. On the basis of the evidence Sean Hoey has been acquitted. But the authorities are guilty of an abject failure to provide justice for the victims and the ramifications of this damaging verdict will be felt for some time."
What sort of impression does this leave?
Lawrence Rushe, whose wife was killed, is quoted in the editorial as saying that the police investigation was "a disaster". What Mr. Rushe also said was: "I’m stressed but not over-disappointed. I wouldn’t have liked the wrong man to be charged." But you’d have to plough through pages of IN reports to find that.
At the time of the bombing, and for a good while afterwards, there was a widespread belief that the RUC and/or MI5 were involved through having infiltrated the RIRA. No one has claimed that it was the RIRA intention to hurt anyone that day. The best the police could come up with was that the warnings which were given were confusing. If there is to be any further investigation the RUC/PSNI are certainly not competent to carry it out. They have even lost the ability to fit someone up.
The judge at the trial accused Detective Chief Inspector Philip Marshall and Detective Constable Fiona Cooper of lying. No one has yet been charged with perjury. These two police have merely been called before the new ombudsman. No one at all seems to be inquiring into the man who led the investigation, Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, according to himself. And the overall boss at the time, Ronnie Flanagan, has been promoted.

BELFAST CITY LIBRARY… is currently displaying an exhibition called Embassy to China 1792-1794. The Ambassador was George Macartney from a landed family near Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. He was paid the then huge sum of .£16,500. His was a joint mission on behalf of Prime Minister Pitt and the East India Company. He had been Ambassador to Russia and Chief Secretary in Ireland. His number two was George Leonard Staunton, of Galway, whom he met in the West Indies where Staunton had been secretary to the Governor of Dominica. And where, as the Library delicately put it, he had estates. He owned slave camps.
Staunton wrote an account of the journey : "An authentic account of an embassy from the King of Great Britain to the emperor of China…" in 1797. Macartney refused to kow-tow to the Emperor because this would be beneath his dignity. He was then invited to the Forbidden City where a letter awaited him telling him to get lost. As we know other more forceful tactics were used later.
The Library’s version of imperialism is interesting:
"By the late eighteenth century Britain was becoming a major imperial power with ambitions to extend it diplomatic and trading relationships throughout the known world. The East India Company was already trading in Macau and wanted to expand further into China."

has decided to resume its coverage of Gaelic games following the attendance of Culture Minister, Edwin Poots, at a match between Down and Donegal in Newry. It had stopped coverage four years ago without explanation. Other DUP politicians have also been attending GAA matches. But the practice is to turn up five or ten minutes late to avoid having to stand for the National Anthem!

LIBERTY… the journal of SIPTU, had the following interesting comment to make on "green" fuels in its December 2007 issue:
"The headlong rush to develop biofuels is taking place with little or no regard for its impact on local people or indeed the long-term impact on the planet… In a nutshell what is beginning to happen in many parts of the world—especially the poorer areas—is that increasingly land is being cultivated to produce bio-fuels rather than food. This has a two-fold impact on the local people—creating both shortages and higher prices for food."

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