Saturday, April 29, 2006


Border areas struggling..and so is Adams

Where's that Green Paper Sinn Féin this past week held the northwest launch of the party's vision of a United Ireland, a vision no doubt that many unionists would be enamoured with!

Party president Gerry Adams, vice-president Pat Doherty and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness were in Derry to oversee the launch and Mr Adams claimed that Partition had had "a disastrous impact" on border areas:

"The northwest is the poorest area of the poorest regions.

"We would argue that we cannot understand these problems or seek to solve them unless we view them in the context of partition."

I was with Mr Adams up to this point. Then, regrettably, he proceeded to drag up one of the most stupid, utterly pointless concepts his party has come up with in recent memory - the infamous 'green paper' on Irish Unity which none of the parties in the Dáil want to touch with a fifty foot barge pole.

The whole thing strikes me as similar to a whiny child writing up a Christmas list that includes a pony:

"But Timmy, Santa can't bring you a pony. It's just not possible. The pony wouldn't want to live with us unless we could provide for it."

"But I want a pony! Convince Santa to get me a pony!"

Sinn Féin seem to have forgotten that the onus is on them to convince unionists of the merits of Irish unity. But, alas, as Adams continued his speech, it was as if we were sucked into a time warp and taken back to 1986 rather than being able to deal in the present here in 2006:

"The Irish government has a responsibility to take the lead and develop a strategy for Irish self-determination."

What the Dickens is this all about? Does anybody have any clue what on earth he's on about here? Anyone?

"The British government should act as persuaders for Irish unity..."

Why's that? Isn't that your job? Shouldn't the job of the British government be to accept the will of the people? You know, govern?

"...and there should be an ongoing engagement with unionist opinion."

Um, here's a whacky thought Mr Adams. Why don't YOU and YOUR PARTY engage with unionist opinion? Wasn't that the whole logic behind the Good Friday Agreement anyway - the one your party signed up to? The GFA stated that, being a participant of the Agreement, you chose to:

"acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and, accordingly, that Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom reflects and relies upon that wish; and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people."

And yet, rather than attain the consent of a majority of the people, bafflingly, Mr Adams instead wants the British government to persuade unionists to support a United Ireland!

Dear oh dear, oh dear!

And people believe these guys are going to be able to bring about a United Ireland? I don't think so.

Sorry Timmy, you can cry and moan all you want but Santa ain't bringing you that pony...


A Looney suggestion

Ireland is producing a generation of young people who think they only have to talk to Joe Duffy to solve their problems, that is the view of Anne Looney (hmm), chief executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Miss Looney said:

"It is this lack of responsibility that keeps Joe Duffy on the air, and pages and pages of news media in circulation."

Talk to Joe!...not really though
Ireland's Dr Phil apparently

Joe Duffy hit back however at Ms Looney's claims saying it was the power of radio and the nationwide spread of listeners which empowered people:

"I have nothing to do with it, it is the people themselves."

You tell 'em, Joe! In all seriousness, Ms Looney does seem to be overreacting. I mean, if the young people of this country are turning to Joe Duffy to solve their problems then we're all well and truly f*cked.

Still, it could be worse. They could be turning to Adrian Kennedy...


Irish Civil War film to shake up Cannes

Big Irish film I was pleased to learn this past week that an Irish Civil War film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, has been selected for International Competition at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival which runs from 18th - 28th May.

The film, directed by Britain's Ken Loach, is an Irish-UK-Italian-German-Spanish co-production produced with financing from the Irish Film Board, the UK Film Council and TV3, amongst others, and is being distributed by Pathé in Ireland and the UK.

It tells the story of two brothers who fought together during the Irish War of Independence who then find themselves pitted against each other as civil war ensues and betrayal becomes inevitable. The film was shot on location in Cork and Kerry for seven weeks and is the first Irish film selected for competition in Cannes since John Boorman’s The General.

The film will star Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham and Padraic Delaney and Orla Fitzgerald.

I think it's great news that a film is being made about this very important point in Irish history. Films like Michael Collins have in the past had the effect of creating alot of debate about our history and these sorts of debates are to be welcomed.

In saying that though I hope this movie is alot more historically accurate than Michael Collins was!

Friday, April 28, 2006


Orange Order opposed to peace - Trimble

We're in trouble now!For a long time here on United Irelander I've spoken out against the Orange Order. If you don't believe me, just check my archives. In doing so I endured alot of flak from unionists who said my opinions about the OO were misguided and totally unfair.

Well it gives me great pleasure right now to say to those people: I told ya so!

Yes it has been a miserable time for everybody's favourite bigoted Protestant organisation as they deal with long-standing Orangeman Rev Brian Kennaway's latest book, The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed, which includes shocking revelations about the Order and its nasty little relationship with loyalist paramilitaries.

The book claims that the Order has turned a blind eye to paramilitarism and violence in its own ranks and that sectarian murderers have escaped expulsion. As well as that it is claimed that sash-wearing members have openly attacked the security forces without redress.

Many of you may have also caught last night's Hearts and Minds programme on the BBC, which you can watch online here, where Rev Kennaway discussed his book's claims with a representative from the OO who squirmed uncomfortably throughout in the face of these damning allegations.

If all this wasn't bad enough for NI's rioters of the year 2005, David Trimble, himself an Orangeman, has come out accused elements within the Orange Order leadership of conspiring to damage the peace process.

Trimble, who last night was at a book launch for Rev Kennaway's book, said some unionists had entered a pact with elements in the Orange Order to try and wreck the Good Friday Agreement:

"They saw the Orange Order, Portadown District and the Drumcree issue as a battering ram that they would use to destroy the Agreement."

He added the Order had been manipulated:

"...with the intention of creating massive public disorder and violence so that it would have a political impact".

Shocking stuff. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Orange Order is of no benefit to Irish society. It is an organisation that preaches exclusion and triumphalism and rather than bring communities together, it is primarily about keeping them apart.

The Orange Order is a disgrace and even its members seem to have finally acknowledged that much.

The real question now is - can the Orange Order ever recover from these claims?


Retired Colonel blasts 'fake republicanism'

'Fake republicanism is wrong' Retired British Army Colonel Tim Collins, who achieved international fame for a speech he made to British soldiers hours before the invasion of Iraq, spoke at a debate in Dublin last night in which he blasted 'fake republicanism' here in Ireland.

Mr Collins said there was a huge opportunity for the Republic to extend the hand of friendship to the unionist community in the North but that there was a snake in the grass:

"It can only happen in the Republic of Ireland if you deal with the menace of counterfeit Irish republicanism conceived in the back streets of Belfast."

Mr Collins said he had been furious on a recent visit to the republican plot in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, to find an inscription to two IRA bombers:

"To two Irish patriots from Poblacht Na hÉireann".

"When I look at the stretched white limousines driving around the streets of Crossmaglen and the drug smugglers and the pornographers and the counterfeiters, how dare they besmirch the name of that organisation?

"It (counterfeiter republicanism) can only be confronted by a confident new Ireland enjoying an entire breadth of its complex historical path."

Mr Collins was speaking at a debate organised by the Philosophical Society in Trinity College on Ireland’s forgotten heroes and its debt to history.

Mr Collins paid tribute to the Irish soldiers from both sides of the border who had served in the first battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment in Iraq and he went on to say that the problem in the relationship between the two peoples on the island of Ireland had to be addressed first by the Irish Government:

"I cannot tell you of the lack of sophistication in the politics of Northern Ireland. It is so backward, it is almost beyond help. The hand of friendship needs to come from this direction."

Mr Collins is currently working on a television documentary about the Irish influence in the battle for control of north Africa in World War II.

I agree with Mr Collins when he says that "fake republicanism" is damaging the potential for a greater bond between North and South.

The Provisional IRA are not patriots in my eyes and the same goes for the majority of Irish people.

Despite that though, I disagree with Mr Collins that the hand of friendship needs to come from this direction. What more can the Irish government do? It was only this past week that the DUP agreed to sit on the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body and the Ulster Unionists continue to boycott it totally! How can you shake hands with people who won't even extend their hand to you?

I'm also not sure Mr Collins is right when he says that the Irish government must deal with 'fake republicanism' in NI. How can they do that? The only way would be for Fianna Fáil to finally organise themselves in the North - a move I personally support.

Overall though I think Mr Collins made some good points and I find it most refreshing to see a former British Army Colonel who can appreciate the obvious differences that exist between the Irish republicans and patriots of the past and the so-called Republicans of this generation, whose central ideology seems to revolve around criminality and sectarianism.

There are groups in this island today who are disgrace to the noble tradition of Irish republicanism.

On a personal note too, as someone who had a grandfather who fought with the Desert Rats in Africa in WW2, I look forward to Mr Collins' documentary on the Irish influence in the battles in north Africa during the war.


Dolly Parton & Hulk Hogan = Fun

Long-term visitors to this site will be aware that on Fridays I tend to try and slow things down a bit here on UI and post on more light-hearted matters. In other words to make Friday a fun day as we prepare for the weekend.

With that being the case, I hereby present to you all for your viewing pleasure...the Dolly Parton song "Starlight, Starbright" featuring the one and only Hulk Hogan. Enjoy.


6 ways to get the woman you want

Love is in the air! Men of the world rejoice! A series of studies across America by a team from North Adams State College in Massachusetts has lead to the development of a six-step plan for lonely guys and gals to land themselves a partner.

According to The Sun (and they're never wrong) it's a "foolproof plan" that "could help thousands of lonely Brits hook up with a partner."

OK I'm sure you're all dying to find out what the steps are. Well, without further ado:

1. Ply the man or woman of your dreams with dark chocolate - It is packed with phenylethylamine chemicals, which induce feelings of excitement conducive to falling in love.

2. Take your targeted sweetheart on a rollercoaster - The exhilarating ride creates an adrenaline rush, which makes people find the opposite sex more attractive.

3. Strike up a conversation and pepper it with jokes - Laughing boosts brain hormones called endorphins, which give you a feelgood factor.

4. Maintain eye contact for as long as possible - Holding a person’s gaze affects the area of the brain linked to rewards, making them feel appreciated.

5. Stand with your arms down by your sides - It makes others feel an affinity with you.

6. Put soft rock music on the stereo - This works especially for fellas, as girls find them more handsome when they hear easy-going rock in the background.

Seems simple enough. I wish I had this information years ago! Basically all you do is buy a lady some dark chocolate, I'm thinking Bourneville, and then you ask her to go on a rollercoaster with you. I'm not sure how exactly you achieve that in this country but I'm sure there's a way. Next you try and make her laugh - which could very well happen when she hears you explain why you wanted her to go on a rollercoaster so bad - and then it's case of heavy eye contact and straight arms. By that stage she'll be putty in your hands so you finish her off by whipping out your stereo and your irresistible soft rock tunes. Simon and Garfunkel anyone?

And they say romance is dead...


Land of complaints and Scolari

Stop whingeing! I've been quite surprised at the fuss the English are making over what nationality their next manager should be.

It has recently emerged that Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has been in Portugal discussing terms with Luiz Felipe Scolari (pictured left) whose contract with the Portguese national team ends after the World Cup.

Scolari's pedigree as a coach is excellent. In 2002 he led Brazil to victory in the World Cup in Korea and Japan and in 2004, he led Portugal to the Euro 2004 final where they were just beaten by Greece.

He is also known for taking a tough stance with big stars and famously substituted Portugal star Luis Figo during the Euro 2004 tournament when he was underperforming against England - a move that helped Portugal advance in the tournament. In contrast current England coach Sven Goran-Eriksson has been accused of favouring certain players such as David Beckham.

Despite Scolari's impressive CV however, the English aren't happy with many leading figures in the game bemoaning the prospect of another foreigner in charge:

"No matter how brilliant a coach someone from abroad may be, it is a betrayal of Englishmen and England fans.

"We want an English manager that we can relate to. We all support the England team and part of that is an English manager. I expect the players and the manager to be English."
- Birmingham chairman David Gold

"I said from the outset that in my opinion it should go to an Englishman.

"I am not going to change that opinion but if he does get the job then I am sure that all of us working at this level will get behind him."
- Birmingham manager Steve Bruce

"For my money it's another blow to British coaching." - Mark Hughes (who is actually Welsh)

"I have done my pro license like Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley and Steve McClaren.

"We paid £7,000 to do them and then when it comes to the top job none of the English lads get it, which I find really disappointing."
- Peter Reid

"I would like to have seen one of the England lads get it.

"There are some great young managers in this country who could do the job no problem."
- Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp.

England legend Tom Finney weighed in too:

"I would personally like to see Martin O'Neill appointed.

"I'm quite surprised there could be another foreign manager after Eriksson.

"It's sad to see they've gone abroad for a manager when England taught the rest of the world how to play the game."

Martin O'Neill himself of course is foreign being an Irishman, but I digress. The above comments display how English people are allowing blind patriotism take precedence over a proven winner.

Crazy people
Why do these people whinge so much?

The way I see it the English would be very lucky to get Mr Scolari as their manager. The nationality of the man is irrelevant. You get the best man for the job and right now none of the English contenders have anywhere near the level of experience that Scolari possesses.

With that being said, I can't imagine why any man would want to take on this job anyway as it means having your private life left to the mercy of perhaps the most vicious media in Europe, if not the world! Add to that the fan expectation which is always sky high and it makes for a head-wrecking job altogether. I wouldn't take the job regardless of how much money they threw at me.

It will be interesting to see if Scolari does accept the offer and what the English reaction will be if that happens.

Update: Scolari has turned down the opportunity. Can't say I blame him.


Separated at Birth?

The government is strong!I'm a love machine

One is a powerful old geezer still doing well with the ladies, the other is Hugh Hefner.

Playboy owner Hugh Hefner and British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott - separated at birth? You decide.


Friday Fun's Fascinating Fact

Fact: In France, it is legal to marry a dead person.

I suppose as long as there's no honeymoon...

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Thursday Thoughts: 'Northern Irishness'

A manipulated region"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."

British PM Herbert Asquith, speaking in 1912.

Hugh over at Most Sincerely Folks wrote an interesting post on the issue of 'Northern Irishness' and how he suspects there really is no such thing. Long-term readers of this site will know that I take the same view and Hugh drew my attention to the fact that United Irelander actually tops Google's 200 search results for "Northern Irishness".

The essence of Hugh's argument was the same as my previous arguments - if there is a 'Northern Irish' nationality then ergo there must be a 'Northern Irish' nation. As we all know however, there is not.

'Northern Irishness' is a lie. People who describe themselves as 'Northern Irish' are the equivalent of football supporters who call themselves ABUs (Anybody But United). They cling to this 'Northern Irishness' because they oppose 'Irishness' due to its connotations. They have basically allowed others to dictate to them what Irishness must mean and so they run to the sanctuary of their false 'Northern Irish' nationality which, if pressed, they would be unable to define.

For instance, what are the colours of this 'Northern Irishness'? If you ask an Irishman to describe the colours of Irishness he will most likely reply green, white and orange. Ask a Briton and the likely reply will be red, white and blue. Ask someone who feels Northern Irish the same question and what reply will you get? Will you even get an answer?

And what is the relationship between 'Northern Irishness' and Irishness and 'Northern Irishness' and Britishness? Can someone 'Northern Irish' even answer that?

The simple truth is that without a nation you cannot have a nationality. The Irish nationality stems from the Irish nation. The Irish nation is the 32-county entity that Herbert Asquith spoke of in 1912 when Ireland was part of the UK. That nation remains the same to this day. States may have been formed in that time such as the Republic of Ireland but the Irish nation remains the same regardless. The Irish nation is a product of the four provinces of Ireland. It is a product of centuries upon centuries of shared culture, history and politics. It is indestructible.

In contrast, 'Northern Irishness' is the product of a manipulated territory known as Northern Ireland which was designed to guarantee an unfair Unionist majority in 6 Ulster counties. An entity which Lloyd Gerge described as "a frontier based neither upon natural features nor broad geographical considerations." From this shady, dishonest foundation it is hardly surprising that the nationality of 'Northern Irishness' failed. Likewise, it's hardly surprising that Northern Ireland itself has been an abject failure. Its legacy is sectarianism, political misrule and murder. Why would anyone want a nationality out of such a place?

One has only to look at Northern Ireland today to see the lie that is 'Northern Irishness'. The flag for Northern Ireland is the Union Jack - the people in NI have no desire even for a flag to represent the region! As well as that none of the four main parties in the North describe themselves as 'Northern Irish'. Unsurprisingly, the nationalist parties regard themselves as simply Irish but even the unionist parties refuse to embrace 'Northern Irishness'. The DUP are unashamedly British and the UUP even went so far as to launch an astonishing campaign slogan called, "Simply British", where they not only showed their contempt for Irishness but 'Northern Irishness' as well! The two main nationalities in NI are still Irishness and Britishness.

Prior to Partition, unionists described themselves as Irish. Both Edward Carson and James Craig continued to regard themselves as Irish. If you go back further through time, you'll find Protestant movements like the Patriots who took an active interest in Gaelic culture as well as Ulster Protestant involvement in the Irish volunteers who along with Grattan sought an Irish parliament. Radical Presbyterians even sought to dismantle all ties with England and establish an Irish republic.

The orange is a part of us too

When you look at it objectively, unionist hostility to Irishness means unionists have allowed themselves to be dictated to on what nationality they can and cannot identify with. Up until The Troubles in the North, many unionists continued to call themselves Irish yet when the Provo's campaign stepped up a gear, a campaign most Irish people did not support, unionists allowed themselves to be bullied by it.

The Provos might not have bombed unionists out of the UK, but to a large degree they bombed unionists out of their identity.

I personally look forward to the day when the island of Ireland is reunited once more. When several nationalities will live together in a 32 county nation-state. Where we will see Irish, Polish-Irish, Chinese-Irish, Nigerian-Irish and of course British-Irish living and working together in harmony.

"No surrender" went the unionist cry during The Troubles yet many of these unionists went on to surrender their Irishness. Sticking the word 'Northern' in front of the word 'Irishness' doesn't alter that fact.

Irishness is indeterminate. No one can deny unionists their rightful place in this nation. These days, no one will. Just ask the immigrants that continue to make Ireland their home.

This country is for unionists too. They should never forget that and I personally hope that, one day soon, they'll realise that.

"My...words to are these: It has always been a pride to a man, no matter what part of the country he came from, to say he was an Irishman." - James Craig

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Words on Wednesday...with Ambassador Sobkow

Welcome to this week's Words on Wednesday feature here on United Irelander, a concept unique to the Irish blogosphere, which sees me interview various figures from all walks of political life.

Taking my questions this week I'm pleased to say is the Polish Ambassador to Ireland Witold Sobkow.

I'd like to thank Ambassador Sobkow for very kindly agreeing to be interviewed. With that being said, let's begin.

What initially attracted you to political life?

I am not a politician. I am a civil servant. Before the democratic changes in Poland in 1989, I had not wanted to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was a lecturer at Warsaw University, as it was a free profession, enabling me to do what I wanted to do, without having to be a member of the Communist Party. After 1989 new opportunities turned up and I could enter for an open competition in autumn 1990 to become an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I managed to pass the examinations and in March 1991 I became a desk officer responsible for Italy, Malta and the Vatican. Then I was promoted to the post of Head of Section, and afterwards to the post of Deputy Director. I am a career diplomat, not a political nominee.

You are the Polish Ambassador to Ireland. Talk us through a typical day in your life.

A typical day in my life is work, work, and work, as I consider myself a workaholic. I spend most of my time in the office, I attend conferences, various seminars, I have lectures all over Ireland, I see Irish politicians, civil servants, businessmen, scientists, academics and students to explain Poland's official position on matters that interest them, or to try to broaden co-operation between Poland and Ireland. I often write letters or articles that are later published in different Irish newspapers, I give TV and radio interviews or answer different queries. As far as my free time is concerned, I usually listen to music or watch DVDs. Since I have a little daughter, I try to spend with her as much time as possible.

If you could change three things about Irish society, what would you change and why?

Ireland is a very friendly, hospitable country. Poles here feel at home. I would not change much. What I do not like, probably like most of the Irish, are high prices, much higher than in Poland. I do not complain, however, about the weather. My impression is that it is only the Irish that complain about the weather - foreigners are happy with your variety of sunshine, storms, rain, and wind. I look forward to the end of the construction of the Port Tunnel, as it would save us a lot of time to reach the airport.

There are estimated to be over 100,000 Polish people living in Ireland, mostly in Dublin. What are their thoughts on Irish society?

Poles see a lot of similarities between Ireland and Poland. We are both Catholic countries, with similar history of oppression and semi-sovereignty, with a tradition of emigration. We have a similar sense of humour. We work hard, but we are able to have a good time.

Many European countries seem to have had problems with integrating minorities. Not too long ago in France for example there were race riots and this has occurred in Britain too, however Ireland hasn't had these kinds of problems. Why do you think that is?

Ireland has no huge problems with immigration because of many factors. In France, for instance, you have a sizeable marginalised Muslim community, which is a legacy of France's colonial past. Ireland has no colonial past. For Ireland immigration is a relatively new phenomenon. For France, Britain or Germany it isn't. Ireland is pragmatic and presents an attitude worthy of praise: "if you have a problem, solve it constructively". One example of such a positive attitude is a decision to give up the requirement of knowing the Irish language for Garda recruits - as a result more than 200 immigrants are being trained to serve the Irish and their national communities - this is a step towards a better integration. There are Polish shops, churches, school, and cultural centres in Dublin. We feel at home.

Not many Irish people would be familiar with how they are perceived in Poland. In Poland, how is Ireland viewed?

People in Poland love Ireland. It is a symbol of friendliness and European success. It is a hospitable and beautiful Emerald Island. People love Irish music, dancing, Guinness and whisky. We have Irish pubs in Poland, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. A few folk music groups play Irish music. A lot of Irish trade and investment companies thrive in Poland. The Irish investment has exceeded 1 bln euro. Irish farmers lease land in Poland. There are a lot of mixed marriages. It's almost always a Polish girl and an Irish boy.

Ireland has done very well economically from the European Union. Poland of course joined the EU in 2004. What does Poland hope to achieve from its membership of the EU?

We hope to achieve from our membership of the EU exactly the same as in the case of Ireland. Ireland had hoped for positive changes when it joined the EEC in 1973. We had the same expectations in May 2004. Our membership is about prosperity, belonging to the same Western club of nations sharing identical values based on democracy. It enables us to have more influence on global affairs, our voice is heard better. Our membership lets us realise Poland's strategic aims, broaden co-operation in economic, political and cultural matters, use the benefits of the single market, develop faster. We have rights, but we also have responsibilities; we agree to pool a part of our national sovereignty. Our farming industry needs to modernise; our roads need to have higher standards. EU funds help us create a more modern Poland.

Ireland is very much influenced by its history and recent polls suggested that the majority of Irish people still favour a United Ireland. Would the Polish people coming into Ireland have much knowledge about this issue?

People coming to Ireland know little about history of Ireland. They have only basic knowledge. They know basic facts about the peace process, IRA, religious, political and social differences in the North, but it is very difficult for a foreigner to understand such a complicated matter. We are happy that the Good Friday Agreement has led people in the whole island to eliminate violence and to develop peacefully, in the spirit of understanding and solidarity.

In the future, Irish society is going to be made up of Polish-Irish, Chinese-Irish, Nigerian-Irish etc. How do you think this will affect Ireland?

Immigration affects each country. For example, in Poland we have a Vietnamese community. They have their restaurants, shops, places of worship. They are treated very well, as friends. We have refugees, too - from Chechenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. Those people enrich our culture. If they work, they contribute to the wealth of our country. We respect them and embrace their diversity. We try to do our best to eliminate any signs of intolerance, racism and xenophobia.

A Polish figure who was very respected in Ireland was Pope John Paul II. How are Polish people viewing his successor, Pope Benedict XVI?

Pope Benedict XVI is widely respected and liked. He will visit Poland in May. It will be a special event for us. Cardinal Ratzinger was one of the closest friends of John Paul II and his valuable advisor. When you see TV pictures from the Vatican, a majority of visitors waving their national flags is still from Poland.

Recently the Irish State celebrated the 1916 Rising. What are your own thoughts on that?

We admired the events to commemorate Easter Uprising. For us it was a beautiful ceremony and an opportunity to deepen our knowledge about what happened in 1916. We look forward to the 100-th anniversary. We are happy those were peaceful and dignified events, so important in the endeavours to reach a lasting peace in the whole island.

What are your thoughts on the conflict in Iraq?

Iraq is a complex matter. Most people in Poland would rather see Polish troops withdraw from Iraq this year. Our decision to join the coalition forces was a difficult political decision, but we think that Poland, a member of Nato and the EU, needs to contribute to fighting oppression in different parts of the world. When we were under the communist rule, Solidarity Movement in Poland tried to make Poland a free, sovereign, and democratic country. We had a lot of assistance from abroad, from democratic peoples of the West. Iraq was the place where we thought it would be wise to help the oppressed people to remove Saddam Hussein, known for his atrocities. It was not just a threat of weapons of mass destruction that made us act. We look forward to seeing a prosperous, secure, sovereign Iraq, ruled by the Iraqis.

Ireland is known for its strong friendships with countries like the USA and Australia. Do you think one day Ireland and Poland will become just as close?

Ireland and the USA or Australia are very close for many reasons. The main factors are huge waves of Irish emigrants and the use of the same language. Poland and Ireland are slightly different in this respect, but our relations are excellent. They will develop further as we share a lot, and there are no serious disputes or differences between our countries. Polish immigration in Ireland makes our countries even closer. We are only different in our attitude towards defence, as Poland is a member of Nato. Poland and Ireland, being active partners in the EU, share a special bond with the USA.

Finally, I'd like to play a small round of word association. I'm sure you know what it entails. Basically just outline what word comes into your head when you hear the following names:

Bertie Ahern - excellent mediator; Westlife and successful novels (U know why)
Mary McAleese - Phoenix Park, fantastic woman, pride for Ireland, elegance
George W. Bush - Iraq, 9/11
Lech Walesa - Solidarity, moustache, Black Madonna
Witold Sobkow - .....

Next week, Irish Senator and former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Joe O'Toole takes my questions. Be sure to keep clicking in to United Irelander for a firsthand look at Irish political life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Top Ten Tuesday - Political issues

Who will have power here I commented below on Fine Gael's plans that they hope will see them get into government once again.

Fine Gael's strategy is part of an initiative they are calling "Ireland Deserves Better". As campaign slogans go, it's pretty lame. The main themes of their campaign however will be health, crime and the waste of public money.

With that being said, I got to thinking about some of the issues I feel strongly about and would like to see progress on, and pretty soon, a list formed in my head.

So without further ado I give to give you all the top ten political issues I want to see tackled:

1. The North - I remember Bertie Ahern saying that for a Taoiseach, NI is probably the most important issue to be dealt with. I would agree with that. When you take into account too the recent Sunday Business post poll which found a majority in favour of a United Ireland and 22% believing achieiving this should be the Government's top priority, it's clear NI remains a very important issue here in the South.

2. Health - I've commented many times on the lousy job this Government has done in relation to health matters. See here and here. If parties can come forward an offer sound solutions to sorting out the current problems, myself and the rest of the Irish public will be all ears.

3. Crime - Crime has been a big problem for this government and question marks have been raised about the Justice Minister's handling of the situation. Remember the recent spate of gang killings? I want these people caught! Crime does seem to be getting worse by the week in this country.

4. Road deaths - Readers will know about my feelings on this issue. I don't feel enough is being done to stop the rising number of people killed on our roads.

5. The economy - Fianna Fáil would argue that Ireland has done well economically but what about the cost of living here? Remember 'Rip-off Ireland'? If other parties can offer reasons how they could do better I will hear them out.

6. Education - This is another important issue and recent news that disruptive behaviour in secondary schools is at "crisis point" is a real concern.

7. Yob behaviour - I wouldn't put this in the same bracket as crime because when I refer to yob behaviour I'm talking about the typical bad rabble you see hanging around corners at night. They are a menacing presence for communities, particularly to the elderly, and if solutions can be offered to deal with them I will again be very interested in hearing about them.

8. Drugs - This might be related to the above point. Drugs are as problematic now as they have ever been yet I think more could and should be done.

9. European Union - I am very wary of the EU and I wish more parties would stop entrusting so much faith in that lousy shower from Brussels. The EU Constitution remains a concern of mine.

10. Irish language - I'd like to see some sound proposals for helping the Irish language. My own view is that Irish ought to remain a required subject at Leaving Cert.

So there you have it. The top ten political issues I'd like to see tackled by political parties. Whichever party deals with them the best will get my vote. Feel free to comment on my choices or to offer up some of your own.


Power-sharing in our interest - DUP

Robbo ready for power The big news so far from Killarney, County Kerry, where the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body have been meeting, relates to comments made by DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson who has stated his party will consult the entire unionist community if and when, in its opinion, the IRA has moved from violence to democracy.

Speaking to the Body, Mr Robinson said:

"I cannot say if or when a judgement can be made that completion has been reached, but if and when a prima facia case can be made, we have committed ourselves as a party, in our election manifesto, to a consultation process within our community."

Seems fair enough but then Mr Robinson began to stretch the truth somewhat saying his party had "nothing to gain by unnecessarily delaying devolution":

"With over 30 MLAs, we are the largest political party in Northern Ireland and would have greater influence than any other party over decisions taken in the province.

"It is in our interests, and more importantly, it is in the interests of the people we represent, that when the conditions are right we have devolution returned to Northern Ireland at the earliest opportunity."

I think Mr Robinson ought to inform many of the unionists in his own party about that because as I highlighted in this post back in February, alot of these people take a different line. In a survey of 100 delegates who had attended the DUP's annual conference in Belfast, 37% of those questioned felt that felt that even if the IRA ended its criminality and destroyed every weapon, direct rule by British ministers in the North would be preferable while 24% had no opinion. Even though 39% of those questioned believed that, in the right context, the party should share power with Sinn Féin and other parties, those figures are still very worrying.

I see some have viewed Peter Robinson's comments as a 'Get Out of Stalemate Free Card'. It remains to be seen if that will be the case.

My own view is that the two government's recent proposals for restoring devolution have got the DUP quite flustered. I believe the top brass in the DUP like Robinson do want to be power but that this is being made difficult by those who are quietly pleased with the status quo. Thus I think that the real "consultation process" will not be through external talks with other unionist figures, but rather through an internal consultation process with their own hardline, devolution-wary members.

We can only speculate at this point how this process will unfold.


Does Fine Gael deserve Ireland?

I see Fine Gael yesterday launched a campaign on the issues they believe could lead them to success in next year’s General Election.

I figured I'd give my thoughts on their proposals.

Health, crime and the waste of public money will be the themes of posters and billboards appearing around the country in the next six weeks as part of a Fine Gael initiative termed "Ireland Deserves Better".

Commenting on the plans which he will outline at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis on May 5 and 6, party leader Enda Kenny said:

"Ireland deserves better than rising crime and falling detection rates. It also deserves a Government that uses the taxpayers’ money wisely and well. And, most certainly it deserves better than a health system that regularly sees hundreds of people stranded on hospital trolleys for days on end.

"On foot of repeated comments at public meetings and constituency clinics about these issues we have put together a campaign."

Vote for me, you know you want to...

Mr Kenny outlined that the first phase of the campaign identifies real fears, frustrations and grievances that taxpayers face while the second phase of the campaign will include a national series of public meetings centring on the solutions offered by Fine Gael. He added that the final phase of the campaign will run from the end of May into June and will involve more public meetings and a summary of their proposals for up to 500,000 households.

Hmm. As someone who is quite sympathetic to the idea of a change of government, I must say I'm not terribly impressed with this plan by Fine Gael. I feel this campaign is somewhat of a microcosm of the party in general - too much emphasis on detail and not enough action.

For example, let's look at the lethargic campaign slogan: "Ireland deserves better". Gee, really? How insightful! What a groundbreaking idea it is for a party in opposition to claim that the country could actually be in better shape. My stars!

Then we have this 'phase one' guff about how Fine Gael understand the problems of Irish society etc. Yeah well, so do we! Give us your solutions from the off and repeat them all the way to the Ard Fheis and beyond.

I'm someone who would consider voting for Fine Gael but I don't know what their solutions are for the country. I'm aware that they want to change the status quo so I don't need to hear about that. Focus on the main points - the ineptitude of the current administration.

We have a government that is presiding over an absolutely shambolic health service with people stuck on trolleys instead of hospital beds and we have had criminal gangs come to the forefront of Irish society in the last few months. Tackle Bertie's boys on these matters for goodness' sake. Take the gloves off and give them a hammering.

Right now there are real question marks over whether Fine Gael can be trusted in power. After all, it's easier to criticise and point out flaws than it is to correct them so if Mr Kenny can't do the former, how can we be sure he can do the latter?

This country is crying out for an alternative. Fine Gael don't need to tell us they understand that, they need to instead start concentrating on providing that alternative.

"Ireland deserves better", goes the Fine Gael cry but the real question is, does Fine Gael deserve Ireland?

Monday, April 24, 2006


Love Thy Neighbour

Tensions are high"And the second is like this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." - Mark 12:31

I was saddened to hear that a Protestant man has been left with serious facial injuries after an attack in Derry.

The attack has been condemned by the city's Sinn Féin mayor
Lynn Fleming.

Chief Inspector Ken Finney said the man had "received a very serious beating":

"When the police went to speak to him, they had to do it by pen and paper because he couldn't talk.

"I would hope that this can be nipped in the bud in an early stage, and the communities can calm themselves down."

Michelle Hayden, from the Irish Street Community Association, said she was concerned about the atmosphere:

"Tensions have increased from the attack."

"I think it was the seriousness of the attack that has been reported back on the ground that has heightened tensions."

She said she thought this had probably brought "run of the mill" interface violence in at "an earlier aspect than we would have in the month of April".

A friend of the injured man was also hurt in a separate attack, though not seriously. There have been ongoing problems in the Waterside area. A Catholic family recently said they were leaving their Heron Way home due to the tensions.

Shame on these thugs who are damaging community relations through their pathetic sectarianism. As if this wasn't depressing enough, the Belfast Telegraph reports that a cross-community deal which saw the removal of a UDA mural overlooking Harryville Catholic Church, which I praised here back at the start of April, is now in ruins after a war of words erupted between loyalists and republicans. (Hat tip Slugger)

Loyalists issued a statement saying the deal was off because republican flags were still in place and officials said the UDA mural could go back up in place of an Ulster Scots mural which was unveiled a few weeks ago.

Old mural could be restored

I think both parties in this mural dispute should take a long hard look at themselves. The Republicans have reneged on their word for which they should be condemned but the Loyalist threat to restore the mural is ridiculously petty.

All in all this is a pretty depressing day for community relations in the North!

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" - Psalm 133


Monday Madness - Jailing of Irish illegals

Shame on you, King I was disgusted to learn courtesy of the Irish Independent that Peter King, a Right-wing US Republican Congressman and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams's main political ally in the United States, has backed anti-immigration legislation which could force up to 50,000 illegal Irish workers to flee the country or face jail.

The move has outraged the Irish-American community as the Bill could make it a crime to be an illegal alien and a rift has opened up between Irish-Americans and King.

King has even denounced Catholic bishops who oppose the legislation which would make up to 12 million illegal immigrants instant felons and also make it an offence punishable by five years' imprisonment for anyone who harbours or employs an illegal alien. The church has declared that the new law would make a felon out of a priest who counselled an illegal alien.

A group has been set up called the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform whose spokesman, ironically, is another long-time friend and ally of Adams, Niall O'Dowd. O'Dowd and King are now at odds over the proposed legislation which would force undocumented Irish to return home or face imprisonment.

The Irish Lobby, which is supported by the Irish Government, organised a protest at Washington to coincide with the St Patrick's Day celebrations.

It has strong support within the Irish-American resident community, particularly in the Tri-State area and has attracted the support of powerful US politicians including Senators Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John McCain all of whom support amending legislation which would allow illegal immigrants "guest worker" status and eventually citizenship so long as they pay back-taxes on income they have earned since being illegally in the United States.

Peter King however is opposed to this proposal.

What a disgrace! It seems Mr King is good at paying lip-service to the Irish but when it comes to helping them out, he doesn't want to know! Have Americans forgotten what Irish people have done for their country? I have a book called "The Irish Americans" by Ernest Wood which Americans like Peter king should take a look at as it explains the influence the Irish have had on the USA. For example:

- Among the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were four native Irishmen and four men born of Irish parents.

- An Irishman, Patrick Carr, was one of the five people killed in the Boston Massacre.

- "Give me liberty or give me death!" was part of a famous speech by Patrick Henry to the Virginia Assembly in 1775. Henry was a Virginian of Irish descent.

- John Barry, a native of Ireland, was the first American naval commander to capture a British warship during the Revolution. Later, Barry became the first commander of the US Navy and is today regarded as "Father of the American Navy".

- During the Revolution, 38% of the American forces were Irish. Wrote a British officer of the Americans, "The rebels are chiefly composed of Irish redemptioners and convicts, the most audacious rascals existing".

- The Irish joined public-service jobs in America and many became firefighters and policemen. By the time of the Civil War, New York's police force was 28% Irish, despite accounting for only 16% of the city's population. They filled police forces from Boston to New Orleans to San Francisco.

- The Irish were not well received by all Americans. There were "No Irish need apply" signs, Protestant maids were preferred to Catholic maids, and in the 1850s, the "Know-Nothing Party - which advocatd "America for Americans" - urged physical violence against the Irish. Riots broke out in Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, Brooklyn, St. Louis and several Massachusetts cities. In Louisville, riots occurred against both Germans and Irish, with fires and looting of stores and houses until many immigrants left the city. This hostility took years to die out and the Ku Klux Klan added anti-Catholic sentiment to its anti-black sentiment. A cartoon from the early 20th century in Life magazine depicts hooded Klansmen staring down the Irish and blacks in Atlanta on St Patrick's Day.

- Despite this hostility, 144,000 Irishmen fought for the Union in the US Civil War, a smaller number for the Confederacy. The Irish 9th and 28th of Massachusetts both carried green flags, one with the inscription: "As aliens and strangers thou didst us befriend. As sons and true patriots we do thee defend."

- John P. Holland emigrated to America, where he built the first successful submarine. In 1900, he provided the US Navy with the first operational submarine, the U.S.S. Holland.

- Henry Ford, whose father fled the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, created one of the largest automobile companies in the world.

- America's most decorated World War 2 servicemen, Audie Murphy, was the son of a Texas-Irish sharecropper. He won 28 American and foreign medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, and singlehandedly held off a German force of more than 200 men and half a dozen tanks. After the war he starred in many films including his own story, To Hell and Back (1955).

- While in the 19th century the Irish were shown in American theatres as bumbling, belligerent and drunken buffoons, in the 20th century the Irish began to make an impact on the US screen through people like Grace Kelly, Maureen O'Hara, Scarlett O'Hara, Gene Kelly, James Cagney, Bing Crosby and John Wayne.

- US President John F. Kennedy was very proud of his Irish roots. He famously commented, "I know that the White House was designed by James Hoban, a noted Irish-American architect, and I have no doubt that he believed by incorporating several features of the Dublin style he would make it more homelike for any president of Irish descent. It was a long wait, but I appreciate his efforts."

When you consider the above information is it really too much to ask for the American people to show some respect to the Irish that now live there in the States? Americans like Niall O'Dowd, Ted Kennedy, Hilary Clinton and John McCain appear to appreciate the efforts of the Irish so why can't Peter King?

Do Americans like Peter King not give a damn about what the Irish have done for their country?



DUP coming to Kerry!

County Kerry is home to the BodyI see the beautiful county of Kerry is set to get some unusual visitors today - a delegation from the Democratic Unionist Party!

Yes the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body (BIIPB) convenes today in Co Kerry and will be chaired by former NI Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

The BIIPB was established in 1990 as a link between the Irish and British governments.

It originally comprised 25 Irish and 25 British members drawn from the upper and lower houses of both parliaments. In recent years the membership of the body has been extended, to include representatives from the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the North's Assembly – when convened – and the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

The DUP will be making their first ever attendance and their delegation will be led by deputy leader Peter Robinson and includes fellow MPs Iris Robinson, Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson.

The DUP will not be taking its seats on the body, but will make a presentation. The UUP on the other hand continues to boycott the body.

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has hailed the move as significant:

"For many years we wanted to see unionist involvement."

"The fact that we’re about to see that should be seen as very significant."

Paul Murphy has also welcomed the move:

"It is very important. It has shown how barriers have broken down in recent years.

I’m delighted that members can listen to their presentation and ask them questions afterwards."

The Welsh politician said he expects goodwill to be shown towards the unionist party at the BIIPB:

"It will be a very significant day in British-Irish relations and in the way in which the body operates."

Mr Murphy however refused to speculate on whether the DUP would agree to join the BIIPB in the near future:

"When they come and talk to us they will make their minds up. It’s a first step."

I likewise welcome the move but isn't it so silly of the unionist politicians to refuse to take seats on the body? I'd be interested in hearing what any unionist readers have to say about that.

I feel it highlights the fragility of political beliefs held by unionists. I mean, why are they so afraid of engaging in dialogue with Irish politicians? Anyone?

With that being said, at least the DUP are making an effort which is more than can be said of the UUP. I'll give Paisley's party credit for that at least.

The unionists really should put aside their reservations about this body though and join it. After all, what have they got to lose?

Update: They have decided to consult the unionist grassroots in future before deciding on power-sharing. I'll post more on this later.


Caption Time

'I turn 80 and I don't even get a birthday card from you!'It's been a while since I've done one of these!

Can you add a caption to this image to your left? (My effort can be seen by rolling over the image)


North's politicians unite to battle bigotry

Well done, sir I was pleased to learn that nationalist and unionist politicians in NI, among them the SDLP's Sean Farren (pictured left), are to travel to Scotland to learn how First Minister Jack McConnell's administration is tackling religious and racial bigotry.

SDLP Assembly member Sean Farren confirmed a plan for members of his party to team up with the Ulster Unionists in a campaign to tackle prejudice in Northern Ireland as his party hosted a conference on the issue in Belfast today.

The former Stormont Finance Minister said:

"Today's event which will have a contribution from Scottish Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson is designed to see what politicians on both sides of the divide can do to tackle sectarianism and racism.

"We very much believe that sectarianism and racism are two sides of the one coin.

"They are motivated by the same type of prejudices, ignorance and stereotyping.

"We are planning to work with the Ulster Unionists to tackle this problem and we are planning a visit in the near future to Scotland to learn from their experiences in tackling racism and religious bigotry in their part of the world.

"We are also talking about another event in the autumn involving the SDLP and Ulster Unionists."

This is welcome news. Sectarianism is a problem that needs to be tackled and this can only be achieved by the parties in NI uniting together to condemn it. You will remember I interviewed Sean Farren back in March, which you can read here, and when I asked him if he could change three things about Irish society what would he change, the first thing he said was:

"There is one thing above all others that I would want to change, indeed want to eliminate. It is sectarianism. Sectarian attitudes are very deepset and these exist South as well as North and act as a poison in our relationships. Politicians have a serious obligation to work towards their elimination. These attitudes are not the preserve of any one social class, one religious denomination or one political party but are to found throughout our society. Since sectarianism is another version of racism it shares all the characteristics of that disease."

It would seem Mr Farren does have a sincere desire to rid society of sectarianism and for that I commend him as well as the Ulster Unionists.


NI gets its first hardcore porn site

In news that is sure to cause a sensation among many Irish men, the Belfast Telegraph has reported that Sex baron Geoff Dowey has launched Ulster's first hardcore porn website.

Mr Dowey has promised that, in coming weeks, he will have an entire section devoted to local girls involved in raunchy XXX-rated action:

"At the moment, we're screening mainly American and British porn movies, but from next month we'll be offering high-quality hardcore action featuring local girls."

The site will also offer DVDs, live chatrooms and adverts offering a range of sexual services. Dowey, 50, said the introduction of the Human Rights Act had opened the door for him to produce porn:

"Everything has changed and there are now no barriers to full-blown adult pornography.

"I've been filming for almost a year in hotels and beauty spots everywhere from Coleraine to Cork. (Since when is Cork a beauty spot?)

"The girls we'll be featuring are absolutely stunning.

"There is partner sex, wife-swapping, group sex and dogging all on camera.

"The idea that in Northern Ireland we're somehow backward or inhibited is nonsense - our girls and fellas were well up for it."

Hmm. Can't say I like the idea of the average couple from Coleraine and Cork engaging in this business. In the words of Father Ted, "Down with this sort of thing!"

Still, you can make your own minds up by viewing a clip from the site here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Sinn Féin in British Legion row

SF stuck two fingers up at the Legion I was very disappointed to learn courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph that Sinn Féin councillors in Antrim have refused to lend their support to a motion designed to recognise the charitable contribution that the Royal British Legion has made to the area.

Ex-Mayor Mervyn Rea, who officially tabled the motion, said he was "delighted" to put it before the chamber, adding that the Legion richly deserved the council's highest honour.

But Sinn Fein's Henry Cushinan refused to offer support.

He revealed that his party group would not be backing the motion - but his justification provoked howls of protest.

He suggested the decision to honour the Legion was overtly political, adding that it had come at a sensitive time for republicans:

"Let's not forget that there are two traditions in this borough.

"My tradition cannot support the Royal British Legion. My tradition have their own way of remembering their dead in their own way with the Easter Lily."

But former SDLP man Oran Keenan disagreed:

"I've no problem supporting the motion.

"I've travelled across England and visited various branches of the British Legion, and it's only in Northern Ireland that there is a problem between different traditions.

"It is a charitable organisation and it supports people of all colours and all creeds. We should show some respect."

This was echoed by SDLP councillor Thomas Burns, who agreed that they had done "some tremendous work over a long period of time".

Alliance leader David Ford welcomed the "broad acceptance" among members - but voiced disappointment that it was not unanimous:

"I regret that Councillor Cushinan and his colleagues cannot bring themselves to support this."

Mr Rea argued that the republican abstention flew in the face of the views held by former Sinn Fein representative Martin Meehan.

He told the chamber that the former IRA man had told him that he was keen to visit the battlefields of the Somme to visit the grave of his grandfather - an ambition he later fulfilled:

"Here was someone from the other side, someone who was fairly bitter, who recognised that both sides fought and lost," said the UUP man.

The conferment ceremony is set to take place on June 24.

My my, what a stupid and immature stance Mr Cushinan and his party have taken! What's this nonsense about "My tradition does this..." and "My tradition does that..."? Apparently Sinn Féin want a United Ireland yet they are coming out with divisive crap like this?

Last week in Dublin the Irish people paid tribute not only to the Easter rebels who died during the Easter Rising but also to British soldiers as well as civilians. We showed that we can all honour the dead in a mature and fair fashion. Sinn Féin would do well to reflect on that and learn from it.

At least the SDLP showed a bit of cop-on but idiotic stuff like this from Sinn Féin just leaves me scratching my head and according to Mr Rea, the former Sinn Féin representative Martin Meehan had actually made an effort to take the other tradition into account which just makes this even worse!

For crying out loud if the British Legion have been doing good work then honour them and get over this narrow-minded anti-British baloney.

If Sinn Féin want to be "king makers" here in the South in the words of Michael McDowell, then they ought to cut out this kind of nonsense because down here, BS like this isn't going to do them any favours.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Oh lord...I mean Judge

How hot am I? I see Justice Minister Michael McDowell (pictured left wearing his Dolly Parton wig) has decided to deal with the British legal traditions which are still in evidence in Irish courts to this day.

As the Irish Independent reports:

"From next week, judges will be called exactly what they are - judges.

"Long-accepted, but antiquated, forms of address including "Yes, my lord", "No, my lord" and "lordship" are set to be replaced with far more simple replies like "Yes, judge"."

On Thursday Mr McDowell announced that the official mode of legalspeak used when addressing the Supreme Court and High Court's superiors is to be consigned to history. The new mode of addressing judges will come into effect from next Tuesday.

The minister emphasised that he was doing his bit for the Republican state in light of the recent Easter celebrations:

"I think it is appropriate that, under a republican constitution, the old-fashioned mode of address has been ended."

Alot of you may be wondering why it's taken so long for this to happen and why the Irish State didn't change things straight away after independence. Well, as this article in the Sunday Times reveals, efforts were made but they never really came to much:

"Since the 1150s, when Henry II introduced the common law system empowering judges to dispense justice on behalf of the king, commoners have been required to treat them as nobles, and deploy a host of titles such as "my lord".

"Despite attempts to abolish the practice in Ireland after independence in 1922, it has clung on. In fact, the new rule has existed since 1961 but the Irish courts refused to adopt it in practice. This was despite the fact that Article 40 of the Irish constitution says "titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the state" and no title of nobility or honour may be accepted by any citizen.

"Upon his appointment in 1924 the first Irish chief justice, Hugh Kennedy, asked the Dail to scrap judges’ titles, but the request was refused. Kennedy also proposed new designs of wigs and gowns for the judiciary but they were also turned down.

"In 1961, when the Dail finally established the court system, the law stated that judges were to be addressed simply by their title and name, yet the honorifics persisted.

"In the 1980s, the appointment of the late Justice Mella Carroll as the first female High Court judge prompted widespread confusion among barristers as to whether to refer to her as "your ladyship" or "your lordship". Carroll insisted on being called Judge."

I'm pleased to see this change come into place as it's stupid in my opinion for a republic like ours to preach all these republican values while at the same time turning a blind eye to titles and ranks still in effect in Irish courtrooms!

When I want to use the term 'Lord', I go to Church, and when I want to see people in wigs, I go to the circus. It's time we restored some much needed credibility to the legal profession in this country.

It's a sad indictment on this state that it's taken until 2006 for this matter to be dealt with.
That folks, is a farce, and you don't need to wear a wig and call yourself 'Lord' to make that judgement call.


TD hails teaching of anthem in schools

Brady has pushed for compulsory teaching of anthemThe decision to provide every primary school in the country with a recording of the national anthem marks a major step towards the compulsory teaching of Amhran na bhFiann, Fianna Fáil TD Martin Brady has claimed.

Mr Brady, TD for Dublin North East, said distribution of a CD of the National Children’s Choir singing the national anthem was a welcome step:

"There is clearly a desire amongst Irish people and especially our young people to learn the anthem and its history.

"Since I first called for the compulsory teaching of the national anthem I have been overwhelmed by the public response with messages of support coming from across the country."

Mr Brady said Minister for Education Mary Hanafin’s swift action on the issue would ensure teachers and young students have easy access to a recording of the anthem:

"I will be contacting the minister to see if the teaching of the history of Amhran Na bhFiann can also be included in the civics curriculum at second level schools," he added.

"If the 1916 commemorations have shown anything it is the thirst amongst people to reconnect and understand our history.

"The national anthem was there during key moments of that history, we owe it to the memory of those who gave everything to ensure it remains at the centre of major public events in this country."

I echo Mr Brady's sentiments. There should be compulsory teaching of the national anthem I feel. Go to a football game at Lansdowne Road and observe the average Irish Joe's grasp of the anthem:

"Sinne Fianna Fá, na, na, na, na, something..."

Not good enough! I was never taught the anthem in my school but I learned it myself by getting hold of the lyrics and by applying it to the tune.

I think most Irish students would welcome compulsory teaching of the anthem. Not only because it's a part of our culture, but because it's embarrassing to not know the words of your own country's anthem.

Let's sort this out!


Peace Activist 'made up' torture claims

Well said, sir!I was amused but not at all surprised to hear that Edward Horgan, spokesman for the 'Mid West Alliance against the War', has been accused of making up evidence by Fianna Fail's West of Ireland MEP, Sean O Neachtain (pictured left).

Mr Horgan is someone whose opinions I have challenged before here on United Irelander. Mr Horgan can always be counted on to spout dodgy figures as well as make the obligatory Nazi reference when denouncing what he sees as Irish complicity in the War on Terror.

Mr Horgan has in the past come up with such gems as these:

"We need to make peace on terror, not war."

"Some people still choose to deny the Holocaust. Now many Irish people wish to deny Ireland’s participation in crimes against humanity."

Now he is involved in the ongoing special EU inquiry into alleged CIA torture flights through Shannon airport, but politicians from a variety of parties said the submission by Edward Horgan to the inquiry lacked hard evidence to substantiate his claim that Shannon Airport was being used to facilitate such flights.

Mr Horgan said unless he broke into a CIA-controlled private jet at the airport, he would be unable to provide concrete evidence. He conceded:

"I don't have a smoking gun, as it were, of seeing prisoners at Shannon airport."

I have no proof
Evidence Schmevidence!

He was challenged to produce evidence however by Fianna Fail MEP Sean O Neachtain:

"How can you claim up to 100 flights have gone through without any concrete evidence?"

The testimony being offered to the inquiry was disingenuous and "made up, it's totally based on your opinion", he added.

Well said, Mr O Neachtain. It seems to me that Mr Horgan is prepared to pass off a few porkies in order to get support for his position.

Mr Horgan needs to stop taking us all for a bunch of fools.

He's not only making a mockery of himself but also the various Irish anti-war movements.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Queen still going strong but is the monarchy?

Happy Birthday to herI see DUP leader Ian Paisley is leading tributes in the North to mark the 80th birthday of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Dr Paisley, who turned 80 himself two weeks ago, said it was a privilege to have Queen Elizabeth as monarch, describing her as "youthful in soul".

He said the "beloved" and "gracious" Queen had shown everybody that growing old was not a condemnation, but a coronation.

Her royal footprints, he said, had left behind "welcoming marks on the sands of our times".

Well that may be so for monarchists but I have a feeling that there will be a sweeping tide of republicanism that will seek to wash away any lasting footprints that Charles hopes to leave.

I've said this before here on United Irelander but I feel the British monarchy will begin to die whenever the Queen eventually dies. Johnathan Freedland, writing in the Guardian today, makes a similar point (hat tip Slugger). You see, while the Queen has the respect of a large section of the British public, Prince Charles on the other hand has been villified by the British media for years and I don't see him having the admiration of the country if he accedes to the throne.

His son William might be a different story but it's hard to say if or when he'll get his opportunity.

Republicanism isn't so bad anyway. Alot of the arguments against it from monarchists seem to centre around silly stuff like, "Oh, you want to see President Blair do you?" and "Look at the state of the Presidency in the US", however Ireland is proof that a President, and indeed a republic, can work and work well.

I've never understood the fascination with monarchy. Propping people up on pedestals and awarding them luxury due to their surname and bloodlines. If I ever meet the British Queen I'll shake her hand and treat her with courtesy but I won't pretend that she is better than me because she is not. She is my equal. She eats, sleeps and farts just like the rest of us.

I'd rather live in a country that looks on all people as equal than a country that fawns over an unelected family.

I suspect that the British public will come to agree with me in the not too distant future.


Some bits and bobs...

It's been two weeks I think since I've been able to publish an interview for my Words on Wednesday feature. The reason for that is I've not heard back from some politicians who had agreed to give me an interview (politicians breaking promises, the very idea!)

However, my experiences in dealing with these politicians is that while some tell you anything you want to hear, others are really genuine, fine people who stick to their word. One such gentleman is Witold Sobkow, Polish ambassador to Ireland, and I will be publishing my interview with the Ambassador on Wednesday, 26th April, here on United Irelander.

There are estimated to be over 100,000 Polish people living in the Irish Republic right now and the interview will discuss the relationship betwen Poland and Ireland as well as how Polish people are finding their time here in Ireland.

It should prove an interesting read. I've also had assurances from other high profile names in Irish politics that they will give me interviews and assuming they keep their word, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Wednesday interviews have proved popular and I hope that trend continues. And now from one thriving idea to one not-so-thriving idea...

You know, blogging ideas are alot like throwing sausages up at the ceiling. Every now and then one will stick. But every now and then one will slowly start to peel away until you simply have to brush it off. So with that bizarre meat analogy being said, I've decided to scrap my idea for Weekend Guest Posts. Thanks again to mwk, Frank and Parnell who offered up articles.

You can still contribute an article to United Irelander though if you want by emailing it to me through the address on the sidebar.

So that's pretty much the news here on UI. As you were!

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