Tuesday, January 31, 2006


North and south 'must work together to prosper' - Hain

Let's work together!The economies of NI and the Republic of Ireland must forge closer links if they are to prosper in an increasingly competitive world marketplace, British Secretary of State Peter Hain has said.

With more manufacturing and service jobs being outsourced to countries like China and India, Peter Hain insisted the North needed to develop a high-value skills economy in conjunction with the Republic.

Mr Hain told the Fabian Society at Stormont that meant developing a common inward investment strategy and companies on one side of the border expanding in the other.

He argued: "The island of Ireland faces common external threats from globalisation which, by working together, we can help overcome.

"The Republic’s enormous success has led to some of its companies being prevented from expanding because of a lack of additional capacity and skill shortages. They should be encouraged to outsource in the North.

"More Northern Ireland-based businesses should follow those which have successfully expanded into the South.

"In addition, both governments should have a joined-up strategy to attract inward investment, especially maximising the South’s strong relationship with Irish American business to showcase opportunities in the North.

"We should also work on a joint audit of opportunities for further economic co-operation to mutual advantage both sides of the border, bearing in mind, for example, the Republic’s proposed €7.5m investment in the City of Derry Airport which will benefit Donegal as much as the north-west of Northern Ireland, and which is an integral element of the €100bn investment plans for the island’s infrastructure over the next 10 years.

"I believe all of this is good, common-sense co-operation on matters of mutual interest across both jurisdictions."

While unemployment levels in the North had been halved and reached an historic low at 4%, Mr Hain said the level of economic inactivity among adults of a working age remained alarmingly high at 27.4%.

Ireland's north, he said, had a much higher percentage of long-term unemployed than the UK – 33.8% compared with the national average of 20.7% - while 23% of the working population had no qualifications whatsoever, compared with 13% nationally.

"Only 15% of the Northern Ireland workforce has a degree or equivalent, compared to 18% in the UK," he observed.

"Therefore, it is vital to invest in opportunities and skills, with greater access to vocational education, training and apprenticeships, to ensure no young person is left behind.

The minister said the North’s economy also had to wean itself off its current over-dependence on the public sector.

Public expenditure accounted for around two-thirds of the North’s GDP, he said, whereas the UK average was around 40%.

The private sector remained under-developed, with the public sector accounting for almost a third of all jobs in Northern Ireland compared with the UK average of a fifth.

Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP was significantly higher in the North than elsewhere – accounting for some two-thirds of regional GDP, compared with the national average of around 40%.

I have to applaud Mr Hain for his ideas. The island of Ireland does need to unite for the benefit of the people throughout the island.

The North needs help and the south can provide it.

Keep up the good work, Mr Hain.


January sets new records

Posting will be light from me today as I just have too much work to do right now (no, seriously).

I thought I'd say thanks though to those of you who have visited lately as January has seen United Irelander get more visitors than ever before. Site Meter tells me that as of right now January has seen over 7,500 hits which is a new record for this blog.

Lately, as I'm sure you have probably noticed, there has been quite alot of heated debate on this site. There's nothing wrong with that of course, indeed it makes things interesting, but sometimes we can let our emotions get the best of us when we are dealing with emotive topics. I include myself in that.

United Irelander follows the Slugger O'Toole philosophy of 'play the ball and not the man', in other words to attack the post but not the poster. Let's all try and avoid the ad hominem attacks and stick to the subject at hand.

Anyway, thanks for your contribution to the site. Onwards and upwards.


No sex please, I'm the Italian Prime Minister

No lovin' for me This amusing story in the Herald AM paper caught my eye yesterday.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged not to have sex before the April 9 election!

At a party rally in Sardinia, TV preacher Massimiliano Pusceddu blessed the media tycoon, thanking him for opposing gay marriage and defending family values.

"Thank you dear Father Massimiliano, I'll try not to let you down and I promise you two and a half months of complete sexual abstinence until April 9," pledged Berlusconi.

Well we know what politicians are like for keeping promises!

Still, if he does manage keep his word and he wins the election, there will be some celebration then won't there?!

Monday, January 30, 2006


Bruce declares for Ireland

The Irish team can actually defeat other countriesThis is a great bit of news that I came across on Slugger.

Birmingham defender Alex Bruce has opted to declare for the Republic of Ireland team, despite being selected in the North's under-21 side.

Manchester-born Bruce qualifies to play for both countries through his grandparents.

Bruce, son of manager Steve, was last week selected by Northern Ireland for an under-21 clash with Israel, however, he looks set to turn them down in the hope of working his way into Steve Staunton's Ireland set-up.

The smart man in question
Ireland's newest acquisition

Bruce has explained why he turned down the NI team in favour of the Irish team.

"I'm very flattered that Northern Ireland and the Republic are both showing an interest in me.

"But I think I'm going to pick the Republic purely because I think they are a better team. That's no disrespect to Northern Ireland. I've still got a few things to sort out but hopefully I will be playing for them soon."


I like this guy already!

In other words, no offence to the NI team but you're muck and the Irish team are far superior! Therefore, slán libh!

I salute Alex Bruce on a wise decision. Why waste your time going to a team whose main goal will be to finish above Liechtenstein and who have a fanbase that contains a hefty portion of bigots, when you can instead join the Irish team who will be challenging for qualification and who have the greatest supporters in the world? It's a no-brainer.

Best of luck to the young lad. Hopefully he will prove an excellent addition to the Irish squad!


Today in History - Bloody Sunday

The British Army caused carnageToday we the people of Ireland remember the dark day that was the 30th January, 1972, better known as Bloody Sunday, when the British Army murdered 14 civil rights marchers in cold blood in the Bogside district of Derry.

On the fateful day, some 10,000 people gathered in Derry to march under the banner of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association against the policy of internment. The march had been banned. Within an hour of the march, 13 protesters were shot dead by members of the 1st Parachute regiment, the final victim died later.

The soldiers claimed they had been fired on by the IRA as they moved to make arrests but the Catholic community maintains to this day that the crowd was peaceful and that the British Army murdered unarmed civilians.

A British inquiry under Lord Widgery concluded that,"At one end of the scale, some soldiers showed a high degree of responsibility; at the other end, firing bordered on recklessness."

This view was not shared by the Derry coroner, Major Hubert O'Neill, who stated that:

"The army ran amok that day. They were shooting innocent people. These people may have been taking part in a march that was banned but that does not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without hesitation that it was sheer unadulterated murder."

The Widgery inquiry backed up the Army's account of events but it is widely regarded as a whitewash. In fact British Prime Minister John Major wrote to John Hume in 1992 stating:

"The Government made clear in 1974 that those who were killed on 'Bloody Sunday' should be regarded as innocent of any allegation that they were shot whilst handling firearms or explosives. I hope that the familes of those who died will accept that assurance."

In January 1997, English television station Channel Four carried a report on its news programme which suggested that members of the Royal Anglian Regiment had also opened fire on the protestors and could have been responsible for 3 of the 14 deaths.

A new inquiry under Lord Saville is now attempting to uncover the truth about what really happened on Bloody Sunday. At a total cost of £155m it is the biggest investigation in British legal history.

Barney McGuigan - shot dead as he attempted to help an injured man
An innocent man robbed of his life by the British Army

The events of Bloody Sunday were absolutely horrific and the Irish people will never forget what happened on that day when 14 civilians were murdered at the hands of the British Army. The image to your left depicts the horror. It is the dead body of Barney McGuigan who was shot dead by British troops as he waved a white handkerchief high above his head attempting to go to the aid of a dying man.

The scumbags who perpetrated these murders never went to jail for their crimes. Indeed, shockingly, some of those involved in the murder were actually HONOURED by the British Queen.

El Blogador has written an excellent and poignant post here which touches on the human element of the tragedy.

The families of the victims deserve justice and the people of Ireland deserve answers over what occurred today in history, 30th January, 1972.

The day was significant in a political sense too as it signifies why Ireland ought to be ruled as a sovereign and united state, independent of Westminster and why British rule can never be fully trusted by either community.

It is clear that Bloody Sunday is one of the most important dates in Irish history. Take the time to pause and reflect today about what happened that day 34 years ago.

Remember the murdered. Never forget them.


Conan O'Brien enters Finnish election campaign!

Separated at birth This is without a doubt the funniest story I have heard in a long long time!

Conan O'Brien, the well known US talk show host, has decided to help out Finnish president Tarja Halonen in her bid to get re-elected - because she looks like him!

Right now Finns are voting in the second round of their presidential election and Halonen, the country's first female leader, has failed to win an outright majority in the first round. Her bid for a second six-year term is facing a strong challenge from the Conservative candidate Sauli Niinisto and opinion surveys say the race between President Halonen and Mr Niinisto is too close to call.

O'Brien has explained why he is supporting the current president.

"Why do I support Tarja Halonen? Because she's got the total package: a dynamic personality, a quick mind, and most importantly - my good looks."

Apparently O'Brien's support has not gone unnoticed in Finland. "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" airs five days a week on SUBTV, a Finnish cable channel, with a few days' delay and every time he mentions Finland or Halonen, local tabloids report it prominently.

"Of course, when she is mentioned so many times it's positive for our campaign," said Halonen's campaign manager, Markku Jaaskelainen.

Conan looks on...
The spitting image of Tarja Halonen!

Halonen's supporters quickly saw an opportunity, and her campaign started running real ads before O'Brien's show on Finnish TV.

Halonen was hugely popular even before O'Brien discovered their similarities, but Jaaskelainen said hits on the campaign Web site have quintupled partly because of O'Brien's shows.

In one show, O'Brien presented a mock ad for Halonen in which he and two Finns were discussing the election while fishing on a frozen lake.

When they talk about rival candidate Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, a dead fish shoots out of the hole in the ice, prompting a joke about how the mere mention of his name causes fish to commit suicide.

"Fish recognize a bad leader," O'Brien says in broken Finnish to laughter from his studio crowd.

Halonen's opponents have reacted angrily to O'Brien's actions.

"He's just making fun of the whole election," said Harri Jaskari, campaign manager for Niinisto.

"If this decides the election, then we're in trouble. It gives a very poor picture of Finnish democracy."

In Helsinki, people did not seem to take offense at O'Brien's use of their presidential election for comic relief.

"I think it's quite funny," said Mia Myllymaki, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher. "Of course we are proud that Conan O'Brien talks about Finland and Finnish people. ... People in the USA don't even know where Finland is, so maybe it helps if he talks about it."

Anu Linnus, a 22-year-old economics student, said O'Brien's backing could indirectly affect the election.

"I don't think people are going to vote for Tarja because she's on the show, but it helps her image," she said.

NBC, which runs Conan's show in the United States, said the popular host is planning a trip to Finland in February. It was not clear whether he would meet with Halonen, 62, who apparently does not mind being compared to the 42-year-old O'Brien.

"She thinks that it's very nice that she looks the same as Conan O'Brien because Conan O'Brien is so much younger than she," said Jaaskelainen, the campaign manager.

I think this is hilarious! I've become a big fan of Conan O'Brien and I try to watch his show whenever I can. He's sort of like Ryan Tubridy...but with talent. He's also very proud of his Irish roots which is great.

You can watch Conan giving his support to Tarja Halonen in this clip here.

Personally I hope Tarja Halonen does get re-elected and I hope she meets with Conan in the February show. How funny would that be?!

Come on you Finns, do your duty! Re-elect Tarja Halonen!


Monday Madness - Sam Maguire silliness

All-Ireland champions What a load of nonsense we have been subjected to over the fact that the All Ireland champions Tyrone paraded the Sam Maguire trophy before Celtic's clash with Dundee United on Saturday at Parkhead, Celtic's ground.

Scottish Conservative politician Bill Aitken MSP even went so far as to call for the Sam Maguire to be banned from Glasgow Celtic's ground this weekend.

The stupid bigot then had the audacity to brand former Irish Republican Brotherhood activist Sam Maguire a 'terrorist'.

I support Tyrone County Board Chairman Pat Darcy's call for the unionist community to see Gaelic games in a sporting context and to disregard their hang-ups over names. The county GAA chairman has called for an end to verbal attacks on the GAA by politicians, particularly those from the unionist persuasion, simply because many clubs are named after republican and nationalist historical figures.

"Every year we have certain unionists politicians in the county taking issue with the flying of Tyrone flags during the championship," said Mr Darcy. "Club names is another point of issue.

"Gaelic clubs were founded in Irish traditions. Both cultures have names that are associated with their traditions. That's the reality and we should all get on with it. We should accept it and stop making an issue of it.

"Take Craigavon, for example. It is named after a man considered as someone who discriminated against a section of the community for years.

"Windsor Park is named after the British Royal Family, as is the Royal Victoria Hospital. We all have to tolerate these names.

"We have to accept that these are places that exist. Politicians should do the same rather than criticise GAA clubs. It's just an excuse they give for not participating in Gaelic games."

Mr Darcy is quite correct. Windsor Park is named after the Royal family, which one half of the North's community does not support and Craigavon is named after one of the most disgraceful, sectarian individuals to have ever lived in Ireland, James Craig. Yet nationalists get on with it.

Furthermore, the simple fact is that Celtic is a club with strong Irish roots. Brother Walfrid, an Irishman from Sligo who established the club to alleviate poverty in Glasgow, suggested the club's name be 'Celtic' to reflect the club's Irish and Scottish roots. With that being the case, for the Sam Maguire to be paraded before Celtic fans, many of whom will be from Ireland anyway, is perfectly acceptable. Donegal, Armagh and Galway have all brought Sam Maguire to Celtic Park in the past and when Celtic won the European Cup in 1967, they brought to trophy to Dublin where they presented it before Irish president Eamon de Valera.

Celtic's crest - Can you believe they have Irish roots?
Hmm what's so Irish about Celtic I wonder?

West Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Derek Hussey, a critic of the GAA in the past, said that Mr Darcy has to understand that many of his constituents have strong views on the GAA.

The UUP politician said, "The greatest difficulty arises when names are associated with those who have been associated with more recent terrorism in Northern Ireland. There is also concern with the ethos that the association has had in the past with regard to the security forces.

"Club and pitch names within the GAA quite often are related to personalities who have a preeminence within what would be regarded by some within the unionist community as republicanism.

"I realise there would be appear to be a gradual sea of change within the association in general on issues such as participating and ground use. But we live in a society that is slow to change," added Mr Hussey.

In fairness to Mr Hussey, at least he's setting out his stance in a respectful manner without resorting to hysterical hyperbole like others.

Even so, Mr Hussey has to appreciate that Irish people are entitled to be proud of their Irish Republican history and that we don't take kindly to bullshit comments such as Mr Aiken's who has the audacity to label Sam Maguire a "terrorist".

Mr Hussey is right that we live in a society slow to change but there is no point in trying to change the past, is there? The fact is the GAA has an association with Irish cultural nationalism and many of its members fought for the independence of Ireland. The fact is Celtic football club has an association with Irishness and the club itself was built upon this association.

Neither the GAA nor Celtic should have to apologise for that and sad little bigots like Bill Aiken will just have to learn that any attempt which is made to try and damage Irish culture will be challenged and challenged vociferously by Irish sports fans!

Deal with it!


Special Branch cover-up their role in innocent man's death

Preventing crime or engaging in it?This is a shocking bit of news.

A police watchdog has found Special Branch officers launched a cover-up to conceal their fatal role in the shooting of inocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station.

According to a report in The News Of The World, undercover police tried to change a surveillance log to hide the fact they had mistakenly identified the 27-year-old electrician as a suspected suicide bomber.

As a result blame for the tragedy would have been shifted to senior Scotland Yard commanders or the armed police who pulled the trigger.

The claimed leak of the IPCC report - handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service 10 days ago - revealed de Menezes was only shot after he was wrongly identified as suspected suicide bomber Hussein Osman by an undercover Special Branch team.

However, once they realised their fatal error, officers altered the log to show that no positive identification had been made.

A "Whitehall source" is quoted as saying: "It says the log was actually tampered with in a major way.

"In particular the words AND and NOT were inserted about the Osman ID, so it read 'and it was not Osman' rather than 'it was Osman'."

The log was apparently tampered with at a debriefing meeting 10 hours after the shooting.
It had been produced by colleagues of the officers listening to the team's radio messages.
During the evening debriefing, the officers on the ground were allowed to check it for errors - but crucially, the alterations were not signed.

A spokesman for the de Menezes family launched a scathing attack on the British authorities for keeping them "in the dark" - and said the latest revelations added to their beliefs the shooting had been shrouded by "lies and deception".

It's all so very murky but is anybody really surprised at the actions of Special Branch? The people of Ireland have had to deal with collusion between Special Branch and loyalist paramilitaries for decades.

Perhaps this incident will highlight to the British people just how dangerous Special Branch really are.

I hope that the Menezes family get justice for their murdered relative.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Poll Results - Britishness in decline

Britishness is in decline according to visitors of United Irelander. Having been up for a week, I've closed the poll on my sidebar which asked the question:

Is Britishness in decline?

The results were:

Yes - 78% (18 votes)

No - 22% (5 votes)

Would a similar result occur if a proper survey was conducted of people in Britain? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

I've stated already on United Irelander that I personally feel Britishness is in decline but it's more of a decline in the perception of Britishness. The challenge that Britishness faces is whether or not it can successfully incorporate a growing sense of Englishness within the United Kingdom.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the UK in the future.


Playwright hits out at loyalist harassment

Loyalists causing troubleThere's an interesting interview by Henry McDonald in The Observer (hat tip Slugger) with the playwright Gary Mitchell, whose family have been intimidated out of their homes by loyalists.

Loyalists have been incensed by the playwright's work. His best known drama, As the Beast Sleeps, screened in 2001 on the BBC - revealed how young Protestants were coping with life before and after the loyalist ceasefires. It provoked a hostile reaction.

In his first interview since the attack, Mitchell reveals what has happened to his family in the aftermath: their seven-year-old son, Harry, is so traumatised he spends most days in his bedroom and has had to take time off from school; Alison rarely goes beyond the door; and Gary cannot return to the house they still own on the northern outskirts of Belfast.

Henry McDonald explains why the man has been harassed:

"The Mitchells were attacked for two reasons: first, there has been growing resentment in Rathcoole about Gary's exploration of Ulster loyalism and its identity crisis. Secondly, the loyalist paramilitary groups have begun to fragment.

"Detectives have recently identified 'rogue paramilitaries' at Rathcoole - where Mitchell used to live - who don't answer to either the Ulster Volunteer Force or Ulster Defence Association leadership. They deal in drugs, picket Catholic families trying to visit graves at nearby Carnmoney Cemetery, and killed a doorman at a north Belfast nightclub because he refused to let them sell cocaine and ecstasy on the premises.

"Mitchell admits he has 'history' with some of this renegade gang. In 1997 when he won a Dublin-based award for new writing, he was branded a traitor. 'They would stop you in the street, ask you what you were doing in Dublin and accuse you of selling out.' The 40-year-old writer eventually left Rathcoole the next year, after a campaign of intimidation. He returned for his grandmother's funeral in November. 'They (the gang) sent a message that I was banned from Rathcoole and had defied them, but I never even knew there was a ban.'"

Absolutely disgusting what these loyalists are engaging in. Can you believe the hostility the poor man faced just for accepting an award in Dublin?

This man deserves the chance to live in peace but not enough is being done for him. Henry McDonald makes that point in his article:

"Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, offered Mitchell and his family some comfort just before Christmas - an invite to a drinks reception at Hillsborough Castle. But the playwright says that the invite spectacularly backfired.

"'When we arrived at Hillsborough there were senior loyalist paramilitary figures drinking and eating in the same room. It was insensitive of the Northern Ireland Office to invite a family who were victims of loyalist intimidation to a function where loyalist leaders were in attendance.'

"The Northern Ireland Office stressed there was never any intention of putting the Mitchells into a difficult situation."

There doesn't seem to be any effort from the Northern Ireland Office to get the Mitchells out of a difficult situation.

It's OK to have a piss-up with loyalists but it's not OK to challenge their activities?

Why is the focus always on Republican paramilitaries when the loyalist paramilitaries appear to be far more dangerous right now?

When are the loyalist activities going to be condemned by the main unionist parties?


Some trivia about United Irelander

I came across this cool little thing called The Mechanical Contrivium (hat-tip Fence). Here's what it had to say about yours truly:

1. It took united irelander 22 years to build the Taj Mahal!

Better late than never, right?

2. United irelander became extinct in England in 1486!

Those bloody English...

3. United irelander was originally green, and actually contained cocaine.

My solicitor says I shouldn't comment on this.

4. The international dialling code for united irelander is 672.

This should help me break into that tricky Japanese market...

5. United irelander is the only bird that can swim but not fly!

Yes, now that I've exterminated those pesky penguins the honour is all mine!

6. A united irelanderometer is used to measure united irelander.

Indeed. And ladies, I measure up nicely!

7. United irelander has only one weakness - the colour yellow!

Bah! My secret's out!

8. Early thermometers were filled with united irelander instead of mercury.

Those were the days...

9. United irelander was originally called Cheerioats.

That's actually true. I got rid of that name as it sounded too gay.

10. There are six towns named united irelander in the United States!

This year I'm aiming to have seven!

Why don't you enter yourself in The Mechanical Contrivium and see what it comes up with!

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Anti-Irish NI fans

Rule Britannia! Seeing as football has been all people have talked about lately I decided to visit the forums of Our Wee Country, a football fanzine for the North's fans, to see what they had to say. Some of you who visit United Irelander might remember my anger a few months back towards a truly vile and sickening article that is still lauded on their front page and which expresses sickening anti-Irish and anti-Traveller sentiments. It can be read here.

Anyway I noticed a thread entitled 'Euro 2008 Qualifier with the Republic' which had a poll asking fans, "Would you like a draw with the Republic in the qualifiers"? Sadly this thread also contains some sickening comments about the Irish and you can read the thread for yourself here. I've chosen to highlight some of the comments. First up:

"Nah, I'll be happy with a visit to a far flung Eastern European country instead of a trip to the Theatre of Xenophobia (aka Croker)."

As well as that here are comments from 'MD HNISC':

"Dambusters and Rule Britannia would no doubt get an airing (particularly as the country were playing wouldn’t let the Royal Navy use their ports in the Second World War). GSTQ will feature a few times as well, particularly away after we finish booing the Soldiers Song but, that aside, I think we could ensure that Northern Ireland football songs predominate and hopefully make the Beggars look bad, when they start up their usual repertoire."

Charming stuff, don't you think? 'MD' follows this up with:

"Also as Stuart G says, a trip to Latvia or Slovenia to check out the lovely ladies there is much more appealing than waking up in a Tallaght tower block next to some dog rough Dublin knackerette."

Such lovely folks these NI supporters. Can you believe nationalists are sceptical of their motives?

Most disappointing of all, 'mac' follows up the 'dog rough Dublin knackerette' comment with:

"Especially with a horse baying in the background."

What lovely sentiments don't you think?

'Football For All' indeed

It seems that all this talk of NI supporters changing their ways is exactly that - talk.

I would continue to advise northern nationalists to steer clear of the NI team and not to go near it with a fifty foot bargepole!

The views which I have highlighted about the south are narrow-minded and unhelpful and they contribute nothing of benefit to football or society.


Fatah farce

We need more guns!Things are crazy right now in the Middle-East.

Several gunmen from the defeated Fatah Party climbed on the roof of the Palestinian parliament building today, firing in the air to the cheers and whistles from hundreds of supporters below.

Thousands of Fatah activists held protest marches across the West Bank today, demanding the resignation of their leaders after a stinging election defeat at the hands of the Islamic militant Hamas.

In Wednesday’s parliament vote, Hamas captured 76 of 132 seats in the legislature.

They don't seem to have grasped what democracy is all about over there. Democracy involves handing over power peacefully to your rivals and with good grace as happened in the Irish Free State when Cumann na nGaedheal handed power over to Fianna Fáil peacefully in 1932.

Thankfully they didn't climb on the Dáil and start shooting in the air like maniacs.

Hopefully the Palestinians will understand things one day!


Holohans ask DPP to appeal O'Donoghue sentence

Brave parents I hear that Robert Holohan's mother Majella has reportedly written to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking him to appeal against the sentence handed down to her son's killer.

Last Tuesday, Wayne O'Donoghue was given just four years for the manslaughter of the Cork schoolboy.

The Holohans feel this was too lenient and have, since the victim’s impact statement at the end of the trial, raised questions over the nature of the relationship between their son and the defendant.

The office of the DPP now has until the February 21 to consider the state's position.

I think I speak for most Irish people when I commend the brave stance of Mrs Holohan and I truly hope that the DPP reconsiders the disgraceful sentence given to Mr O'Donoghue for the 'manslaughter' of Robert Holohan.

Let's restore some faith in the Irish judicial process.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Fun Irelander Feature - Pet peeves

Bloody Corpo! Last week's Fun Irelander Feature was quite cheerful as I went and described the little things in life that make it worth living. Right now though I'm feeling about as cheerful as Victor Meldrew here to your left so I figured that this week I'd describe some of my pet peeves which make life a pain in the arse:

- People who don't watch where they're going - I have to deal with these types all the time on O'Connell Street. They're either stopping to talk to their friends or stopping to look in the window but they don't seem to be aware that there are other people around too. WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING. I particularly hate these muppets who whip out their mobile phones and hold it aloft as if it were Moses' staff parting the red sea. Idiots.

- Ringtones - Speaking of phones, another pet peeve of mine is people with annoying ringtones. As for those people who have the Crazy Frog as their ringtone, they deserve to be beaten with sticks.

- Dublin Bus - Maybe I could tolerate the fact that they keep raising their prices to ridiculous levels if they actually made sure the busses turned up on time. Sadly, trusting Dublin Bus to show up on time is akin to trusting Sven-Goran Eriksson on his own with an attractive female...

- People who cough on you - Staying with Dublin Bus, I had the pleasure today of sitting in front of an old guy who was coughing and splurting right behind me. What the hell do you do in this situation? You can't exactly turn around and tell him to shut up. Maybe if you're from New York you can I suppose. Incidentally my throat feels a little sore right now. Gee, I wonder why that is? It's certainly not from yelling at sick old people.

- Rip-off culture - It's ridiculous in this city. I got charged forty cents for taking two teeny tiny pieces of butter for some toast. Forty cents? Are we that loaded? Whatever next? Paying for straws and napkins? F*cking joke. Where's Eddie Hobbs?

- People who spit - Use a hanky for feck's sake.

- 'Dorsh' accent - 'Roysh so loike myself and Sorcha were out at that club Bondi and loike it was soooooooo amazing loike. Loike totally loike.' This D4 accent does my head in. The people who use it sound like a cross between posh Brits and dopey Americans. It seems to be catching on down here too. Loike totally.

- The Corpo - Dublin Corporation workers are a pet peeve of mine. I'm seeing them everywhere these days. Anyone know what all that construction work on O'Connell Street right now is for? I'm just wondering why it is that they're turning the street into a shithole.

Anyway that's all the pet peeves I can think of for now. I probably have alot more. Getting that off my chest has mad me feel much better! Feel free to offer some of your own pet peeves.


Ireland get Wales in Euro 2008 Draw

Hopefully Ireland will be thereI've just watched the draw for Euro 2008 live on Sky Sports News.

It was the usual stuff with men in suits talking waffle and clips being shown but they eventually got down to business and it proved an exciting draw.

(It was also funny how one official struggled to open the little plastic balls that were used for the draw!)

I think Ireland have found themselves in a good group by being drawn in Group D. It could have been alot worse anyway.

Group D reads as follows:

Czech Republic
San Marino

First thoughts that spring to mind? Why the hell are we ranked below Slovakia? I know they have improved in recent times but come on! Ireland play Wales for the first time competitively which will be good, we have a history with the Czech team and hey we're going to Germany after all...just a little later than the World Cup teams in 2006.

As for the 'Northern Ireland' team, which for some reason was depicted with an 'Ulster flag' when NI doesn't have a flag, they are in Group G with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Denmark, Spain, Sweden. Presumably their goal is to finish above the mighty Liechtenstein!

As for our neighbours in Britain, England have got a good group in Group E with Macedonia, Andorra, Estonia, Israel, Russia, Croatia. I would fancy them to top that group. Why was Sven there though when he will be leaving in the summer? He must have felt awkward. Poor old Scotland eh?! Not only are they in the 'Group of Death' but they're in the Group of Hell in my opinion. They are in Group B with France, Italy, Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia and the Faroe Islands. Ouch.

It was a good draw from an Irish perspective in my view and I think Irish fans will be pleased. At least we're not in Scotland's group! Here are my thoughts on Ireland's opponents:

Czech Rep - We had a memorable victory over the Czechs a few years ago at Lansdowne Road in the qualifying camapign for Euro 2000 I think. They are a good team and will be at the World Cup this year but I think there are more dangerous teams out there and I fancy our chances against them.

Germany - Our last encounter with the Germans was the memorable game in the 2002 World Cup when Robbie Keane scored that dramatic late equaliser. I think the Germans are vastly overrated and I fancy us to beat them in Dublin.

Wales - This should be a good encounter. We've never met competitively before but that will soon change. I think we can take these guys. They struggled against the North's team and they will struggle against us. There's a red dragon about to be slain by some Irish warriors...

Cyprus - Why do we always get this team? We've had them in the last two World Cup campaigns and we have them yet again. They have threatened to embarrass us in the past but have failed to do so and I imagine they will fail again. We should handle them.

San Marino - Should be a good trip for Irish fans to get to travel to a sunny place as Damien Duff torments these guys.

Overall, we should be pleased. I'm glad in a way that we have got Wales as we tend to struggle against the supposedly weaker teams but the two games against Wales will surely inspire us. As for the supposed big boys of the group, Irish teams tend to do well when we are depicted as the underdog so I think we can take points off the Czechs and the Germans in Dublin.

I fancy our chances of qualification for Euro 2008 if Staunton and Robson can successfully rebuild the Irish team. We have one or two world class players and some decent youngsters coming through and if we have a good team spirit, we should be a force to be reckoned with.

Come on you boys in green!


O'Donoghue won't attend Holohan inquest - why not?

Only 4 years in jail for this manThe student convicted of killing Co Cork schoolboy Robert Holohan last January will reportedly refuse to attend the inquest into the 11-year-old's death.

Reports this morning said Wayne O'Donoghue (pictured left) would not attempt to use the inquest to reject allegations of a sexual link between himself and his victim.

The 21-year-old's solicitor is quoted as saying that he will not attend the inquest even if summoned to do so by the coroner.

O'Donoghue was said to be "deeply upset" by suggestions that he had a sexual relationship with Robert, which were made by the youngster's mother at the student's sentencing hearing earlier this week.

Isn't that a bit baffling? Why won't he attend the inquest - even if he is summoned by the coroner?

If you were accused of something that you didn't do, wouldn't you be eager to fight the accusation tooth and nail?

O'Donoghue's motives certainly are questionable. Not just on this matter.

I think it was Mrs Holohan who made this point before, that if Robert's death was an accident, why didn't he call for help at the time?

Wouldn't that be the typical response? If you were in his shoes (God forbid), would you dump the body, actively take part in the search - when you know where the body is - and then criticise the Garda's response to the search?

You might try and excuse these actions by saying that he wasn't thinking and that he panicked.

I'll respond to that point through Judge Carney's own words:

"It cannot be dismissed as being due to panic by reason of the calculation and deliberation involved."

On Tuesday, Wayne O'Donoghue was sentenced to just four years in prison for the manslaughter of Robert Holohan. He is unlikely to have to serve the full term.

Mr O'Donoghue's actions certainly raise alot of questions.

And this country, especially the family of Robert Holohan, deserve answers to them.


Hamas Headache

When will the region have peace? The big issue in the world right now concerns the victory in the Palestinian elections by Hamas, the radical Islamic militant group.

Israeli interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any talks with "an armed terror organisation that calls for Israel's destruction".

Near-complete results gave Hamas 76 of the 132 seats in parliament.

The Middle East "Quartet" - the US, UN, EU and Russia - issued a statement later on Thursday, calling on Hamas to renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist.

The group will hold talks in London on Monday to decide what to do after the victory.

US President George W Bush said Washington would not deal with Hamas unless it rejected its call to destroy Israel.

I am quite concerned about these developments. It's not my place to question the outcome of a democratic election but I do not like the idea of terrorists being endorsed.

I haven't discussed the Israel/Palestine situation much here on United Irelander, primarily because I have little interest in the issue.

What I will say is that I think the two sides are a long way away from peace and unlike the situation here in Ireland, I question whether these two sides genuinely do want to have peace as they seem too gripped by hate and revenge to contemplate a compromise.

The Israel/Palestine situation brings home to me that things in Ireland are a hell of alot better than we think and while we may differ on this island about what is best for the future politically, thankfully we all seem to share the same concensus that whatever the future holds, peace must be a part of it.

I hope the situation in the Middle-East can one day find a peaceful solution that satisfies the people but I do not know where this will come from, or who indeed will be responsible for it.


Friday Fun's Fascinating Fact

Fact: 'During his or her lifetime, the average human will grow 590 miles of hair.'

Though if you're a Frenchman, chances are you will grow that much in the space of a year.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Ahern and Blair meet in Dublin for talks

How nice it is that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is holding a summit with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Dublin today in a bid to kick-start a fresh bid to bring back the North's Assembly and other political institutions.

The two leaders will meet at Farmleigh House in Dublin’s Phoenix Park as parties in the North prepare for a new round of talks on February 6.

The Irish role in the North's affairs is pivotal and the British government acknowledges that.

However it might be now time for the British government to grant Joint Authority in the North and make the Irish government an official partner in the governing of the region.

As I've said before, the DUP can't be allowed to halt progress.


Events of Shame - Partition of Ireland

A horrible image no doubt Continuing with the 'Events of Shame' feature on United Irelander which looks at shameful episodes in Irish history, today we look at perhaps the most shameful episode of them all - the partition of Ireland. I don't want to dwell too much on the background of events which led to Partition as not only would it take me forever, but I assume most people who read this blog are aware of the basics. I think it would be wise however to at least detail the main background details of Partition for those who might not be aware of them.

There are many factors for the partition of Ireland but it essentially stemmed from the third Home Rule Bill which was set to become law at long last in Ireland in 1914. Home Rule involved Ireland attaining a subsidiary parliament within the United Kingdom to look after domestic affairs. It did not mean separation from the United Kingdom but it was met with fierce opposition in the north-east of the country from unionists who did not want to be ruled from Dublin. Ireland was predominantly Catholic and it was felt by unionists that 'Home Rule is Rome Rule'. However by 1914 Home Rule was set to become law and unionists in the north-east were prepared to resist this democratic reality by force if necessary.

Following threats of civil war on the part of the Ulster Volunteer Force, British politicians began to talk of excluding certain counties in Ulster from Home Rule. This was a policy adopted by unionist leader Edward Carson, a Dubliner by birth, who did not really want Partition but was willing to threaten it to prevent Home Rule for Ireland. The Home Rule leader John Redmond eventually acquiesced to the idea of some form of partition of Ireland - which he was told by Lloyd George would be temporary - but it outraged Irish public opinion and is incidentally the reason why Padraig Pearse dropped his support for Home Rule and became a Republican.

In the end, Partition was eventually imposed on the island of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 which involved Home Rule for Ireland in the form of two states, a far cry to what was originally planned. Partition remains arguably the most appalling thing the British have ever done to the Irish people (which is saying something!) and I will now attempt to explain why Partition was so disgraceful.

"You can no more split Ireland into two parts than you can split England or Scotland into parts. Ireland is a nation; not two nations, but one nation. There are few cases in history, and, as a student of history in a humble way, I myself know of none, of a nationality at once so distinct, so persistent, and so assimilative as the Irish." - British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, speaking in Dublin in 1912.

The will of the people was ignored

The Government of Ireland Act was passed in Westminster in December 1920, two years later in the 1918 General Election Sinn Féin's republicans effectively wiped out the Home Rule party by gaining 73 out the 105 total Irish seats available. In the local elections of 1920, Sinn Féin obtained 80% of the seats, winning a majority in 28 of the 32 counties. It was to be the last national election that the Irish people as a whole were to participate in.

The Government of Ireland Bill had been introduced in Parliament in December of 1919. It was rejected by all sides in Ireland. The pro-Unionist Irish Times commented, "The Bill had not a single friend in either hemisphere, outside Downing Street." Not a single member of any Irish party voted for it. The Irish people did not vote for it and did not want it. Carson remarked, "I know Ulster does not want this parliament." Despite this, unionists ultimately accepted the partition of Ireland. (The Northern Ireland state which unionists achieved was actually a Home Rule parliament which as we know they had previously fought)

An artifical statelet is created

The six-county entity which was called 'Northern Ireland' had never existed before then as an entity in history, politics or economics. Containing six of the nine counties of Ulster, it was a completely artificial area, made by drawing an arbitrary boundary and carving an artificial unionist majority out of a majority nationalist country. Even Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister responsible for Partition, called it "a frontier based neither upon natural features nor broad geographical considerations." In 4 1/2 counties out of the 6 there was a majority of people for independence. The numerical strength of the unionists in the other 1 1/2 counties enabled them to permanently out-vote the nationalists majority in the rest of the northern statelet.

The other three counties of Ulster contained 70,000 unionists who were not included in the new statelet because they also contained 260,000 republicans and nationalists. This was the only reason Britain would not keep the entire province of Ulster in the "UK". The inclusion of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan would "reduce our majority to such a level that no sane man would undertake to carry on parliament with it," said James Craig, the first Prime Minister of the six counties.

Unionists prepare to rule

The discrimination against Catholics in the 6 county state, which would be angrily challenged decades later by Catholics in the Civil Rights campaigns, began around this time. Between June 1920 and June 1922, in what can only be described as ethnic cleansing, 428 people were killed in political conflict, 8,750 Catholics were driven from their jobs and 23,000 Catholics were driven from their homes.

While the province of Ulster was and is a nine county entity, the unionists recognized that they would not have a sufficient majority to control the historic province.

"We should like to have the very largest area possible, naturally. That is a system of land grabbing that prevails in all countries for widening the jurisdiction of the various governments that are set up; but there is no use in our undertaking a government which we know would be a failure if we were saddled with these three counties." - Edward Carson

Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan were the three Ulster counties that were left out of the 'Northern Ireland' state.

The British treat the Irish with contempt

"We must make it clear that at the end of the provisional period Ulster does not, whether it wants to or not, merge in the rest of Ireland." - Lloyd George

It suited the British government to have a divided Ireland. A divided Ireland could be controlled by the British. Their aim was to retain the whole country by dividing it and thereby making it an untenable entity.

"We never asked for partition and we never wanted it," said Lord Glentroan, a unionist leader, many years later in the Stormont Parliament.

Lloyd George admitted that if the Irish people were asked what form of government they wanted, they would choose an Irish Republic "by an emphatic majority." But the British government made sure that this did not happen. Throughout the rest of 1920, the British waged war on Ireland in order, according to the Irish Times, "to scourge the Irish into obedience, leaving as sole alternative to resistance, the acceptance of the present Bill." That was in November 1920, the bloodiest month of the war.

In that month, 18 year-old Kevin Barry was hanged; in India, Corporal James Daly was executed for leading a mutiny in protest of Black and Tan atrocities; 14 British agents were executed by the IRA in Dublin; 13 Irish sports fans were shot dead by Black and Tans at Crooke Park; two IRA officers and a civilian, Conor Clune, were tortured and shot dead in the guardroom of Dublin Castle and at Kilmichael in Cork, the IRA, taking on a force many times its size in personnel and arms, inflicted the worst military defeat on the British army to date.

A month later, the British passed the Government of Ireland Act.

Final piece of treachery from the British

The British needed to sell the Act to the Irish people but how do you sell to nationalists the partition of their country? Well it was simple - you lie to them. Lloyd George persuaded the Irish delegates in the Anglo-Irish Treaty talks that a Boundary Commission would deliver huge chunks of nationalist-dominated territory in Northern Ireland to the Irish Free State. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith were aware that the counties of Tyrone, Fermanagh, the southern portions of County Armagh, Down and Derry had Catholic/nationalist majorities. Lloyd George indicated that the Free State would acquire this territory and that the Northern Ireland state would be too small to function in a divided Ireland. Because of this, they signed the Treaty.

As history shows, not only did the Boundary Commission NOT advocate territory for the Free State, in actual fact it advocated that the Free State lose territory to Northern Ireland!

It is for all these reasons that the partition of Ireland is, in my opinion anyway, the most disgraceful thing the British have ever inflicted upon the Irish people. We are all still dealing with the ramifications of the British abuse of democracy and justice almost 100 years later.

Perhaps those reading this who aren't from Ireland and who sometimes wonder why this is such an important issue for Irish people now realise why we care so much.

Partition was a heinous act of shame inflicted upon Ireland. I would hope that the majority of Irish people, and indeed British people and people around the world, would echo my sentiments when I say that it was a terrible wrong and a wrong that one day soon should be righted through the reunification of the island of Ireland.

Ni neart go chur le chéile (No strength without unity)


FG and Labour call on TDs to actually work

I hate having to work again I had to comment on this story.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party are reportedly demanding an increase of up to 50% in the number of Dáil sitting days as TDs returned yesterday from their annual five-week Christmas break.

Those of you from abroad who are reading this, no this is not a joke - they returned from their Christmas break YESTERDAY.

Now bear in mind that we're almost into February at this stage!

Reports on Wednesday said Fine Gael and Labour wanted to see the Dáil sitting for four days every week, with shorter recesses for summer and Christmas.

Gee, should we really allow that to happen? I mean, we wouldn't want them to burn themselves out!

I can't believe I'm back in work already
I bet Bargain Hunt is on right now

The call for more sitting days from Fine Gael and Labour is expected to coincide with a sustained attack on the Government during the upcoming Dáil session as they continue their efforts to present themselves as a viable alternative coalition.

Well I certainly back the idea of reducing the time off for these politicans. They only returned yesterday from their Christmas break can you believe that?

All their kids would have been back in school weeks ago, that's the ridiculous aspect of it all! You can just imagine what the mornings must have been like in the households of these politicans...

"Mam it's not fair! Why do I have to go back to school while Daddy McDowell gets to stay home and watch This Morning on ITV?!"

"Because it's like I told you sweetie...Daddy's an Irish politician."

What a country we live in eh?

We get a week off for St Paddy's Day too!
Damn Bertie, you Irish TDs have it made!

People in Britain have been bemoaning George Galloway for entering the Big Brother house when he should have been working (quite rightly too) but the thing is, in Ireland, our politicians weren't even working at all!

They were all busy sitting at home watching Galloway on TV probably!

George Galloway should try being a politician in this country as it would be far less hassle for him!

"Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." - Charles de Gaulle

Damn straight, Charles!
Shower of gangsters!


Lions vs Hyenas

Ever wondered who would win in a fight between a lion and a hyena? Well now you can see for yourself:

Lion vs Hyena war

Never disrespect a lion!


News round-up

Gorgeous (sic) George Galloway has been evicted from the Big Brother House! 1, 2, 3...aww!

He should consider himself lucky in my opinion. Having watched both Big Brother and the debates in the House of Commons, the British parliament seems far more exciting!

Galloway of course pretended to be a cat in the Big Brother House. No word yet on whether he'll milk his performance. (I'll get my coat)

George Galloway relaxing
I am such a pussy

In other news, the always interesting Ronan Mullen has written an article in the Irish Examiner regarding priesthood celibacy and Clonfert priest Fr Mossie Dillane, who it was revealed recently has fathered a child.

Mullen points out that contrary to one of last weekend's newspapers, the issue had not "reignited the debate over celibacy" since we haven't ever had a proper debate on it. It's an article that's well worth a read and I agreed with his final paragraphs:

"However we look at the story, no one can present it as an argument against mandatory celibacy. You might as well claim that a man having an affair after years of happy marriage is an argument against keeping your marriage vows.

"Not everyone should choose priesthood and not everybody will live celibately in the proper spirit. But when it is lived well, a celibate life typifies the kind of selflessness an individualistic society badly needs."

Staying with the Irish Examiner, they touch on the major issue in Ireland right now - the sentence given to Wayne O'Donoghue for the manslaughter of Robert Holohan and the issue of semen that was found on the boy's body:

"What many people find perplexing is how such leniency could be extended to someone who had daily participated in the hunt for the Robert’s body after killing him, knowing at the time that he lay in a ditch near Inch strand in east Cork"

"Two families have been destroyed. The nation has been shocked. A community is riven by remorse.

"And the State’s legal system has been called into question"

And finally in a truly bizarre bit of news that I learned of yesterday on Slugger, Brokeback Mountain, the movie about a relationship between two gay cowboys, is apparently not coming to cinema screens in Ballymena.

I'm sure Maurice Mills will be devastated!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Labour TD calls on DPP to appeal O'Donoghue sentence

Well said, JoeI'm delighted to hear that Labour Party TD Joe Costello has called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to re-examine the sentence handed down to Wayne O'Donoghue yesterday.

The 21-year-old was jailed for four years for the manslaughter of his 11-year-old neighbour, Robert Holohan, in January of last year.

It emerged during the sentencing hearing that semen had been found on the youngster's body, but reports this morning said the DPP decided not to introduce the evidence as it could not be proved that the semen was that of Mr O'Donoghue.

The presiding judge said he was handing down a four-year term based on the evidence heard in court, but Mr Costello is now calling on the DPP to appeal the leniency of the sentence.

I made my feelings on the sentence given to Wayne O'Donoghue quite clear yesterday. I think it was an absolute disgrace and I hope and pray for the sake of the Irish judicial system, but more importantly for the sake of Robert Holohan's family, that the court's decision is reviewed.

Not everything is at it seemed from the looks of it.

I salute Joe Costello for bringing this to light. I know Joe and I feel he is a good man and that he's not simply another political slimeball tying to get ahead, but rather someone who genuinely does want to make a difference in society.

What Irish society needs to know is whether or not justice was done yesterday and in light of revelations that semen found on the body was not introduced, that may not have been the case.

The DPP has serious questions to answer.


Sonia O'Sullivan becomes an Aussie!

I must watch Crocodile Dundee tonightThis is news I was not expecting to hear (thank you to maca for drawing my attention to it), Sonia O'Sullivan, one of Ireland's most famous athletes in history, has only gone and become an Aussie!

Sonia O’Sullivan will receive Australian nationality at a ceremony in Melbourne tomorrow and has confirmed she now wants to compete for her new country at the Commonwealth Games in March.

O'Sullivan, who hails from the Australian town of Cobh, County Cork, was one of the leading 5000m runners for most of the 1990s and early 2000s.

She won a Gold Medal at the 1995 World Athletics Championship and set a 5000m world record time in 1991, becoming the first Irish woman to set a world track record.

She also won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, being narrowly beaten by Romanian Gabriel Szabo.

Even with one leg Sonia was devastating
How am I supposed to go crocodile hunting like this?

However O'Sullivan now intends to bid for a team place over the 5,000 metre distance by contesting the Australian trials which take place in just over a fortnight.

"I have finally got my nationality sorted out but I will not really believe it until I’ve got the certificate in in my hand," O’Sullivan told PA Sport.

O’Sullivan, who has two young children and lives in a second home in Melbourne with their father Nic Bideau – also her manager – was delighted she has made a dream come true.

She said: "Let’s remember I am Irish and they don’t come and compete in the Commonwealth Games but with dual nationality I can now do so. It’s a simple thing really."

But she insisted: "No matter what championship it might be, I would never compete against Ireland. That is the country where I was born and bred. But this is an exception.

"I plan running for them at the European Championships in the summer," she added.

Now O’Sullivan is looking forward along with other people granted citizenship, to swearing her allegiance to Australia and receiving her official papers at a public ceremony in Melbourne.

Then she plans to continue preparations for the Commonwealth Games where the track and field programme will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from March 19-26.

'OK which joker took my real flag'?
G'Day mates! What's the good word?

I think this is a real shame. As visitors to United Irelander will know, I support the idea of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth as I think it would have many benefits for the island of Ireland including a chance to participate in the Commonwealth games.

While we refuse to even countenance the idea of rejoining, here we see an Irish athlete actually adopting another nationality to have a chance to participate! It would be so much simpler if we actually rejoined the organisation. Other republics are already there so what's stopping us?

I'll be rooting for Sonia if she does participate in the Commonwealth games, and I hope most Irish people will do the same and I think they will, but I can't help feeling that the best solution in the long run is for Irish athletes to participate in the Games under their own flag and colours.


'What If'? Wednesday - New Irishness

There has been alot of talk about the British identity in recent weeks. As some of you may know there is a poll on United Irelander's sidebar asking whether Britishness is in decline. As I write this, 80% of you so far say yes while 20% say no. Go and vote in the poll if you haven't yet. There does seem to be a concern about Britishness right now amongst politicians in the UK. Gordon Brown has called for a national day of celebration for Britishness which has received a mixed reaction at best. While a decline in Britishness largely affects the people of Britain, it would also affect the north of Ireland too and thus would have ramifications for the people of Ireland as a whole. With that being said, I feel the question needs to be asked...

What if there is a decline in Britishness in NI? Will we see a new sense of Irishness amongst those who currently renounce it?

I think it's an interesting thought. The north of Ireland is a peculiar place when it comes to discussing national identity. Prior to the Easter Rising, Irish people in Ireland felt both British and Irish. As is the case now with the people of Scotland, Wales, and to a lesser extent England, people did not have to choose between the British aspect of their character and the Irish aspect. Indeed, at the outbreak of World War I, Irishmen queued up in their droves to join the fight for the British Army and recruitment matched levels of those in Britain. Of course, the 1916 Rising changed everything. Suddenly a separatist desire had been reawakened in Irish people and thanks to alot of British incompetence, such as the desire to introduce conscription in Ireland, the Irish people suddenly found themselves having to do something that they had not had to do prior to 1916 - choose between their Britishness and Irishness. As we know, most people in Ireland chose Irishness and renounced their Britishness. In the Free State and subsequently Eire, Britishness gradually withered away.

Ireland's north was different. While some renounced their Britishness, most people retained their sense of Britishness as well as their sense of Irishness, albeit an Irishness quite different to the one perceived of down in the south. However the North had issues of its own to face which would force the people to choose between their Britishness and their Irishness - The Troubles. The Provisional IRA campaign in the North led to many people who regarded themselves as 'Irish unionists' renouncing their Irishness totally in favour of Britishness or else 'Northern Irishness', which was little more than a retaliatory identity anyway.

In the North today, the two main unionist parties try to outdo one another on which one is more British. The same is true of the nationalist parties in relation to Irishness. None of the main parties seem to acknowledge the groups who refer to themselves as British and Irish or British and 'Northern Irish' or who simply refer to themselves as neither. Everything is left in black and white terms. Or green and orange terms to be more precise!

What happens though if Britishness declines in Britain? Where does that leave the people in the North who curently define themselves as British? Would they consider the idea of once again calling themselves Irish?

I know it can be hard to assess the relevance of surveys, however one 'Northern Ireland Life and Times' survey conducted in 2004 attempted to determine the political attitudes of people. The results were:

Unionist - 39%
Nationalist - 23%
Neither - 37%
Other (specify) - 1%
(Don't know) - 1%

When one assesses the 18-25 age bracket, things get even more interesting:

Unionist - 27%
Nationalist - 27%
Neither - 45%
Other ( specify) - 1%
(Don't know) - 0%

Now people can draw many different conclusions from these types of surveys but what I think is abundantly clear is that there is a significant portion of people in the North who are sick of being herded into one of the two tribes, unionism or nationalism. As I highlighted above, unionist parties are too busy preaching about their Britishness while nationalists are too busy preaching about their Irishness.

The situation facing the two national identities is complex. I personally believe there is a decline in Britishness but that this decline is more of a decline in the perception of what it means to be British.

I think the same is becoming true of the Irish identity. We can see small glimpses of this happening. How people define their Irishness in 2016 will be vastly different to how people would have defined it 50 years previously in 1966. It won't be based on Catholicism, it won't be based on anti-Britishness, it won't be based on conservative values. In 2016 we will see a more secular Ireland, we will see an Ireland that has embraced Europe (hopefully not too much) and we will see a more liberal type of Ireland I reckon.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Irishness is evolving. Soon we will have to reshape Irishness altogether as it was reshaped in 1916. We will have Polish-Irish, Chinese-Irish, Nigerian-Irish etc. If Ireland can successfully integrate these people into Irish society, as a true republic should be able to, then it will greatly enhance the chances of a United Ireland in my opinion.

If Britain does not handle the evolution of its national identity as well as Ireland, and with its strong conservative elements and cautious approach to the outside world it's quite possible, then the people of NI, particularly the younger generation, might find it in their best interests to be part of in a society with many definitions of what it means to be Irish.

After all, if we can have Polish-Irish, Chinese-Irish and Nigerian-Irish, what's stopping us from having British-Irish as well?

Irishness in 1916 witnessed a revolution in its identity. Irishness in 2016 will have hopefully witnessed an evolution in its identity.

We've spent long enough focusing on the 'dead generations'. Let us all now focus on the future generations.


One for the lads

We are here to do your bidding Don't you just hate it when women tell you what to do?

Well...now you can tell them what to do!

See here. If you're in work it will make the day fly by.

You're welcome!


British warship anchors in Malvinas

Islas MalvinasI read with interest how a British warship anchoring in Argentina for the first time since the two countries went to war over the Islas Malvinas, aka the Falkland Islands, 23 years ago, met with a chilly reception in its homage to those who died in the conflict.

The captain of the icebreaker HMS Endurance, Nick Lambert, and interim Tierra del Fuego Governor Carlos Saladino presided over today’s memorial ceremony in Ushuaia, 2,150 miles south of the capital, Buenos Aires.

Captain Lambert called the visit "historic" and said he hoped it would mark the start of "a very good relationship between Argentines and Britons", according to Argentine news media.

But some residents, still bitter over the war, raised a poster reading: "Killer pirates: English out of here!"

The British ship anchored yesterday, making what was described as a technical stop on a scientific research expedition to Antarctica.

Relations between Britain and Argentina have been haunted by the 1982 war that began when Argentina’s military government of the time captured the islands, known in Argentina as the Islas Malvinas.

Jose Martinez Aranibar, who heads the Argentine veterans association for the Rio Grande area, complained that Britain has blocked efforts by his comrades to return to the islands to visit the graves of war dead there.

"I would like it if the recognition of the dead was in the Malvinas, but because of various manoeuvres carried out by Great Britain, we cannot visit our dead in the islands," he said.

Authorities in the Falklands have refused to allow the Argentine flag to fly there.

So the veterans said they did not want to see British warships in Argentina.

"Next year, we’re ready to oppose this and the ship probably won’t be able to enter our waters", said the veterans association chief for Usuaia, Juan Carlos Parodi.

I think it's a damn shame that the British have been so hostile towards the Argentinian veterans.

The 'Falklands War' was a terrible business altogether and it wasn't really all that surprising when war broke out. The British tend to be quite protective of their former colonies as we here in Ireland know all too well.

As we all know the British response to the Argentinian occupation of the Malvinas was one of outrage. You see when the British do that kind of thing it's called expanding the glorious Empire and is praised in history books, whereas when the backlash comes as a result of this kind of expansion, it is loudly condemned.

That's not hypocrisy - it's just history.

When her atlas revealed where the islands were, Thatcher was outraged
I shall protect my Empire!

I feel bad for the Argentians over this issue. The Malvinas/Falkland Islands are yet another example of the terrible legacy that the British Empire has left to the world. They have brought misery, pain and suffering upon many nations, not just Ireland.

Hopefully one day a peaceful solution will emerge for the disputed Malvinas.

The Argentinians deserve that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


More on the Holohan case

Following on from my earlier post, I've just watched an RTE reporter on TV explain the issue of semen found on the body of Robert Holohan.

I will try to explain what he said as best I can.

Apparently when Robert Holohan's body was found, traces of semen were found in the left hand. A swab was taken and the sample was sent to France where it was suggested that the sample may have matched the DNA of Wayne O'Donoghue.

O'Donoghue's defence then wrote to the examiner in France who then produced a report saying that the sample might not actually match Wayne O'Donoghue's DNA.

The DPP then ruled that the sample could not be used as evidence.

It all sounds very dodgy and it's looking like the full story was not presented to the court.

Mrs Holohan made a speech to the court questioning how it had been conducted. As Breaking News reports...

She said she knew that semen had been found on her son’s body.

She referred to O’Donoghue’s explanation for the start of their confrontation which led to the death of her son, in which he said Robert had been throwing stones at his car.

"Would you kill someone for throwing stones at their car?" she said.

She said there had been no forensic evidence that stones had hit the car and questioned why there were no fingerprints found on her son’s mobile phone.

"Who wiped it clean and deleted a number of images from it?" she said.

She told a packed courtroom that Robert’s phone had shown that Wayne had contacted him at 6am.

"What was Robert doing in Wayne’s bedroom at 7.30am when he was supposed to have been on a sleepover?" she asked.

Mrs Holohan also asked why her little boy had rang 999 that morning as his phoned showed he did and why were his two runners were off when his body was discovered.

Was justice really done in this case?


O'Donoghue gets away with 4 years

This is a dark day for the Irish judicial process.

Wayne O'Donoghue has been sentenced to just four years in prison for the manslaughter of Robert Holohan.

Last month O'Donoghue, a 21-year-old engineering student from Ballyedmond near Midleton in Co Cork, was acquitted of murder but convicted of the manslaughter of 11-year-old Robert in January 2005. O'Donoghue admitted killing his next-door neighbour. He said that it was an accident after a row erupted when Robert threw stones at his car.

Earlier today Robert Holohan's mother, Majella, addressed the court. She claimed that semen was found on Robert's body when it was discovered dumped in a ditch at Inch strand in east Cork last January.

Mrs Holohan said that her family's suffering following Robert's death was heartbreaking and indescribable.

She asked why would he have been killed for throwing stones; why were images deleted from his mobile phone; and what was Robert doing in Wayne O'Donoghue's bedroom at 7.20am on one occasion when he was supposed to have been on a sleepover with a friend.

Prior to imposing sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney warned Majella Holohan to prepare herself.

He told her that the sentence he was going to impose would be upsetting; he said that he would endeavour to explain what he was doing but there was no getting away from the fact that it would upset the mother.

Mr Justice Carney then set out the aggravating and mitigating factors and imposed a sentence of four years.

I'm not so much outraged by this news as I am sick to my stomach. My heart goes out to Mrs Holohan at this time as she must be reeling at this decision.

This family has suffered enough and now they have suffered again, this time at the hands of the Irish judicial system.

Mrs Holohan's testimony raised some dark and disturbing issues. Semen on the body, images deleted from a phone, why was Robert in O'Donoghue's bedroom unbeknownst to his family?

Four years is the result?

It is a tragic case of that we can all agree, but I feel this is a tragic sentence and a rotten day for justice in this country.

The system has failed here.


Top Ten Tuesday - An Ideal ROI

Beautiful, don't you think? I figured it would be worthwhile doing an optimistic list this week.

In an ideal world the Irish people would have a United Ireland where they shared a nation-state with their fellow compatriots but as we know, despite the majority of the island wanting this, that is not what we have.

However, 26 of the 32 Irish counties have autonomy, although I don't think this autonomy is being utilised as well as it could be. With that being said, this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday is about my views on an ideal Republic of Ireland. So without further ado:

1. Northern representation in the Seanad - This was in the works ages ago yet it has conveniently fallen by the wayside. In my opinion, politicians from north of the border should have the option of having speaking rights in the Oireachtas. If not in the Dáil, then in the Seanad. It makes sense.

2. All-Ireland economy - In an ideal ROI, we would have an all-Ireland economy. This would be a good way to highlight to unionists the benefits of all-Ireland cooperation. The British Secretary of State Peter Hain wants to see it happen and so do I.

3. All-Ireland Presidential elections - I think it's high time that people in the North were allowed to vote in Irish Presidential elections like the rest of the island of Ireland. President Mary McAleese was born in the north of Ireland and is the President yet people from the North can't vote for her! This is farcical and needs to be sorted out.

4. All-Ireland police force - There should be an all-Ireland police force because recent events in the North show that political policing is still very evident and even the British government seem to be realising this of late.

5. British citizenship - I think granting British citizenship rights to people in the Republic who desire it would be a good idea and a great way of showing unionists how far the Republic has come. Again, it would highlight the benefits of greater links north and south.

6. Leave the EU - In an ideal ROI, we would be free of the hellhole that is the EU which has the audacity to castigate Ireland for using UN courts instead of EU ones! If only we could get away from these bumbling bureaucrats.

7. Commonwealth membership - In an ideal ROI, we would be once again members of the Commonwealth as this would be a great way of reaching out to the British culture on the island of Ireland.

8. NATO membership - In an ideal ROI, we would abandon the joke that is Ireland's 'tradition of neutrality' which is nothing but a great big sham. It would be a big weight off Irish shoulders.

9. Visit from Queen - In an ideal ROI, the British Queen would be set to make her historic first visit to the Irish Republic because at present, this visit still doesn't look like it's happening. It should happen as it would go down well throughout the island and would improve relations north and south a great deal.

10. No Cork - In an ideal ROI, Cork would be cut off and allowed to sail away into the Atlantic somewhere.

So there you have it. The ten hallmarks of an ideal Republic of Ireland. Feel free to comment on my choices or to offer up some of your own.

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