Sunday, July 30, 2006



It continues.

More than 54 civilians, at least 34 of them children, have been killed in a town in south Lebanon in the deadliest Israeli strike of the conflict so far.

Displaced families had been sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana, which was crushed after a direct hit.

Lebanon's prime minister denounced "Israeli war criminals" and cancelled talks with the US secretary of state.

Israel said it regretted the incident - but added that civilians had been warned to flee the village.

I continue to ask myself how many more innocent people have to die before the Americans, the British and other leading players in the international community denounce these heinous crimes against humanity?

At least 34 children are dead while the Israelis hardly bat an eyelid.

What Israel deems 'regretful'

What the Israelis are doing is downright disturbing. Yes Israel has suffered greatly too but that does not give them the right to kill innocents at will. Their actions make them no better than the people they oppose.

Amidst the death of men, women and children in Lebanon, we have also witnessed the sad demise of Israeli morality which has succumbed to bloody, mindless butchery.

Viewing this situation one can't help but draw parallels between Israel's actions and that of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the latter of course who began his slow descent into evil thanks to his barbarous, murderous deeds.

In particular I cast my mind back to Act 3, Scene 4 when Macbeth tells his wife:

I am in blood

Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o'er:

Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;

Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.

In a similar fashion the Israelis are 'stepp'd in so far' that to pull back now would show the world how futile their actions were to begin with.

No, instead, much like Macbeth, they will continue to wade in the blood of innocents while also taking the silence of the key players in the international community as a green light for more acts of gargantuan carnage.

Is there anyone virtuous enough in the international community to stand up, heroically, to the Israeli tyrant?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Israeli murder continues

More carnageThe madness continues apace.

The insanity of the Israelis reached a crescendo as four United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an Israeli air strike on an observation post in south Lebanon which UN Secretary Kofi Annan described as a deliberate attack:

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon."

The victims included observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, UN and Lebanese military officials said.

Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman (pictured below) expressed his "deep regret" for the deaths and denied Israel had hit the post intentionally. He also hit out at Kofi Annan's comments:

"He went too far for the seasoned diplomat that he is.

"I think that his statement was irresponsible, unfortunate and deplorable."

Really? Well most of us around the world regard Israel's actions in Lebanon as "irresponsible, unfortunate and deplorable".

I can't quite believe how Israel has managed to get away with a foreign policy that amounts to nothing more than bullying through bombardment.

Dan Gillerman
'We regret the death of civilians people care about'

As the bombs rain down in Lebanon causing deafening destruction, major powers such as the United States and Britain have stayed sickeningly silent.

The United States preaches equality and declares that it is "self-evident" that "all men are created equal" yet here they turn their backs on the men, women and children of Lebanon being murdered by the savagery of Ehud Olmert's Israel.

Britain meanwhile, which knows the horror of air raids on civilians all too well, likewise turns a blind eye to the suffering endured by the Lebanese.

The Israelis have targeted civilians and now they have targeted UN peacekeepers. What moral boundary do these murdering scumbags have to cross before the international community will gather the courage to stand up to these bullies and say "no more"?

Stop this murder. Stop Israel.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


IRA delivering on promises - Hain

In news that will please democrats and anger the Democratic Unionist Party, the Irish and British governments have announced that the Provisional IRA is honouring its commitment to shut down all terrorism and crime at an organisational level.

Although Northern Secretary Peter Hain accepted that some current Provos are still involved in illegal operations, he insisted that was not a good enough excuse for political parties to refuse to restore devolution at Stormont by the November 24 deadline:

"There probably is still some localised individual criminality by former and maybe existing Provisional IRA members for their own private gain.

"What there is not, is any organised ‘from the centre’ criminality any more.

"To that extent the IRA are delivering on their commitments made last July, not just in respect of shutting down paramilitary activity but also shutting down criminality."

When Minister of Justice Michael McDowell was asked if he believed the IRA’s war was now over following its declarations and disarmament last summer, he stated:

"The Irish Government and British government are working on that assumption, based on the evidence we have."

No doubt the Democratic Unionists and the rest of rejectionist unionism will pour scorn on these statements. After all, who needs facts and evidence when you can resort to tried and tested stubbornness and ignorance?

A man more optimistic than Paisley
I don't believe it

Will he ever say yes? No.
I won't believe it

I think the unfortunate reality is, as long as unionism continues to be dominated by bigots who look down their noses at any Catholics/nationalists about the place, then the prospect of devolved government will remain remote.

The two governments are now aware that the stumbing block to progress is no longer the Provisional IRA but rather the dismissiveness of the DUP.

Roll on joint authority stewardship I say.

Monday, July 24, 2006


UN appalled at Israeli action

Courtesy of Israel I'm pleased to see the international community finally doing the right thing and condemning the heinous obliteration of Lebanese towns and cities by Israeli forces.

The UN's Jan Egeland has denounced the devastation caused by Israeli air strikes in Beirut, saying it is a violation of humanitarian law.

Mr Egeland, the UN's emergency relief chief, described the destruction as "horrific" as he toured the city.

He arrived hours after another Israeli strike on Beirut. Israel also hit Sidon, a port city in the south crammed with refugees, for the first time.

A visibly moved Mr Egeland expressed shock that "block after block" of buildings had been levelled.

He said the "disproportionate response" by Israel was a "violation of international humanitarian law".

He appealed for both sides to halt attacks and said UN supplies of humanitarian aid would begin to arrive in the next few days.

"But we need safe access," he said. "So far Israel is not giving us access."

I welcome Mr Egeland's criticism of Israeli's pathetic and disproportionate action. What is occurring in Lebanon is overkill. Literally.

The Americans have stayed silent which is hardly a surprise. The neo-cons are probably secretly hoping that Syria or Iran interferes so they can go in and fight for freedom, liberty, greed, self-interest and so forth. The British meanwhile are content to sit silently in the shadow of the US like the good little lapdogs that they are. France and Russia have condemned the bombing but more needs to be done.

While the rest of the world has stayed largely silent, Israel has taken upon itself to tackle terrorism by engaging in mass murder. Any moral high ground they may have had has long since evaporated through their calculated decision to pummel homes, displace people and target civilians. The only modicum of superiority the maniacal Israelis now possess lies in their ability to unleash destruction and mayhem upon innocents.

While others try to bury their heads in the sand over this crisis, choosing to flaunt their tired, flawed paradigms in an ill-fated effort to justify Israeli murder, here is the reality of Israel's actions. This is the legacy they are leaving:

An innocent targeted

A survvior recounts his ordeal

This woman lost two of her aunts

This man was left in a coma

The first girl pictured above is Zeinab Haidar, 13, who was left with shrapnel wounds in her chest, arms and legs as a result of an Israeli air strike on a civilian convoy. As the convoy's three cars approached Tyre, the first was hit by an air strike, killing everyone on board. The two remaining cars tried to escape, but one was also hit by an missile, causing more deaths and injuries. The Haidars jumped out of their car and ran to a nearby orchard, but the Israeli jets returned to drop two more bombs, wounding Zeinab, her mother and grandfather, and killing her grandmother. Describing what happened, Zeinab said:

"The first cars in our convoy were bombed and when we tried to hide among the trees the planes came back and dropped two more bombs on us."

Fellow Irish blogger MacDara, who writes the blog 'Lebanon an Irish Experience', was part of an Irish contigent which managed to get out of Lebanon safely. I'm glad he and his family are well. MacDara drew my attention to a peaceful march which will take place tomorrow, 1 pm, in Dublin's city centre. The march will be from the Central Bank at Dame Street to the Israel Embassy in Pembrook Road. I urge you to attend to voice your disgust at what is happening to innocent people such as Zeinab Haidar. More details on the march can be found here.

What is occurring in Lebanon right now is, as Jan Egeland correctly stated, a violation of humanitarian law. Innocent people are dying, people no different to you or me. It is inexcusable and completely unacceptable and it is high time people from all over the world stood up in condemnation of it.

"Israel is grateful that America believes in us. Let me assure you that we will not let you down."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olbert addressing the United States Congress, 24 May 2006.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Israeli action intensifies

I understand now why Israel refers to its actions in Lebanon as "surgical strikes"...

An overreaction

Homes are being destroyed

People are terrified

People are in despair

Children are suffering

A nation is being left in ruins

People require urgent assistance

It's because if you're lucky, you'll escape from the carnage needing only surgery.

This madness needs to be stopped.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Barr Tribunal farce

I'm shaking my head in disbelief at today's findings by the Barr tribunal which has found fault with the decision by garda officers to shoot dead John Carthy (pictured left) after he emerged from his house brandishing an armed shotgun.

In 2000, in Abbeylara, John Carthy, who suffered from depression and who had been treated by a psychiatrist, ordered his mother out of the family home leading to a long siege between him, the gardaí, members of the Armed Response Unit and trained negotiators.

During this time John Carthy had fired at gardaí a number of times and efforts by the local priest and friends to get him to come out without the gun failed.

Carthy eventually left the house at around 5pm carrying the shotgun, refusing to comply with garda requests to put the weapon down. As he advanced towards the gardaí he was shot a number of times and was killed.

Now there was a tribunal into this incident which cost €18m and I still can't help but wonder - what exactly was wrong with the gardaí's response?

I understand that the man had some personal problems but at the end of the day he had been shooting at gardaí and had advanced towards them whilst carrying a shotgun! The officers involved had to think of the safety of themselves, their colleagues and everyone else around them and so they had to make a difficult split-second decision. As tragic as this incident was, Carthy brought it on himself.

Bafflingly, as RTE report, Justice Robert Barr has stated that:

"he was satisfied that responsibility for Mr Carthy's death rested primarily with the scene commanders, and to a lesser extent with the Emergency Response Unit tactical commander.

"Mr Justice Barr said the greatest garda mistake was not preparing for an uncontrolled exit by Mr Carthy from his home. He also found failings in garda actions relating to the family, Mr Carthy's doctor and his psychiatrist. The judge found however, there was insufficient evidence that the shooting was an unlawful act.

"The judge has recommended that there be an urgent review of garda command structures and said there needed to be training."

Apparently what the gardaí should have done as a man approached them brandishing a shotgun was to apprehend him with some pepper spray.

The Carthy family have welcomed the report with John's sister Marie commenting that:

"Right now over 300,000 Irish people suffer from depression. In April 2000, at the age of 27, John was shot dead by members of the Garda Siochana.

"For my only brother to die in such circumstances was heartbreaking. Words cannot describe the pain and suffering John’s unnecessary death has caused my family.

"Life has never been the same for us since John died. John’s death has left a huge emptiness in our lives which will remain forever.

"To this day, my family believes that there was no just cause to shoot John."

While I sympathise with this woman and the rest of her family, I believe she is placing blame on the wrong shoulders.

Clearly there are some troubling issues involved with this case. Particularly the fact that John Carthy was allowed to attain and keep hold of a gun despite serious psychological problems and despite a history of offensive and threatening behaviour.

I reiterate my view that the actions of the gardaí in Abbeylara were justified considering the situation they faced. This isn't a situation akin to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes by British officers, John Carthy instead brought this situation upon himself.

The gardaí should not be criticised for it.


Bush rubs Merkel up the wrong way

This story just cracks me up.

Not content with gaining headlines at the G8 Summit for using salty language and bemoaning the other leaders for talking too long, US President George W. Bush is yet again in the spotlight following footage which shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel recoiling in horror due to his attempted massage.

Ms Merkel appeared to welcome the Presidential neck rub about as much as a unionist welcomes the Irish tricolour on The Twelfth.

Bush ends up looking pretty cheesed off as well. Here is a brief summary of events...

I got me an idea

Softly softly catchy monkey

Could it be Gerhard Schroeder back for revenge?

No it's the US President! Help!

Pfft. I'm gonna find Tony, he likes it

US President George W. Bush proving once more that even when the world is on the brink of chaos, he can make himself look like an idiot.

Check out Jon Stewart's The Daily Show below for their take on the situation...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


TDs enjoy cheapest pints

I love this cheap stuff! Enjoy this pint of bitter. Bitter news that is.

It's been revealed that Irish politicians are availing of some of the cheapest drink prices in all of Dublin.

Reports this morning say an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General's office has found that a pint costs as little as €3.70 in the Dáil visitors' bar - more than 50c cheaper than elsewhere in Dublin.

The audit has also reportedly raised concerns about the slow rate at which TDs pay off their bar tabs and the falling profit margins at the four bars and restaurants in Leinster House.

However, this morning's reports said the audit committee had dismissed suggestions that prices should be increased.

OK let's see...

Politicians getting a better deal than us ordinary folks? Check.

Politicians not paying off their debts? Check.

No movement whatsoever to alter the situation? Check.

It's enough to drive you to drink wouldn't you say? Just make sure you hang out in the right places...

Monday, July 17, 2006


British terrorism?

I've just finished watching a fascinating programme on RTE about Allied air raids on Germany in 1945 during World War 2, specifically the bombing of Dresden.

Historians estimate that between 25,000 - 35,000 people were killed in a raid which took place at a time when the outcome of the war was no longer in doubt.

What particularly caught my eye though on the programme was this comment from Winston Churchill after the raids. Churchill, who had approved of the raids originally, began to distance himself from the attack and in a memo sent by telegram to General Ismay for the British Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff he wrote:

"It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land."

Increasing the terror? Does that not make the bombing of Dresden and certain other German cities terrorist attacks? How is this any different to tactics applied by groups such as the Provisional IRA in later decades?

There is of course much debate about the definition of 'terrorism' in the modern age but surely at its most basic level, terrorism involves the deliberate murder of civilians in order to strike fear or "terrorise" the general populace. So isn't that what this attack on Dresden was? A terrorist act?

Interestingly, under pressure from the Chiefs of Staff and in response to the views expressed by men such as Arthur "Bomber" Harris among others, Churchill withdrew his memo and issued a new one. His final version read:

"It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of the so called 'area-bombing' of German cities should be reviewed from the point of view of our own interests. If we come into control of an entirely ruined land, there will be a great shortage of accommodation for ourselves and our allies."

I should probably clarify that I am not necessarily for or against the Dresden bombing, however having seen the programme these thoughts did occur to me and I figured I'd let some of you folks offer your two cents on the matter.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Israeli murder and the moronic response

Carange courtesy of the Israelis I don't tend to comment on issues that affect the Middle-East mainly because I have little interest in doing so. The region has always struck me as a part of the world that is more concerned with the 'eye for an eye' mentality than actually attaining some semblance of stability.

Still, the present situation there is very worrying indeed and I felt I ought to share my thoughts.

I think the actions of the Israelis have been totally abhorrent and unacceptable. The BBC report that they have murdered at least 17 Lebanese civilians who were fleeing southern border areas.

Women and children were among those killed when the convoy was hit. "Bodies litter the road," an eyewitness said.

I felt Russian President Vladimir Putin summed things up well at the G8 summit - unlike Bush - when he said Israel's concerns for its soldiers seized by Hezbollah militants were legitimate but that "recourse to force must be balanced and it must be stopped as soon as possible".

"Escalating violence will not bring any positive result," he added.

Another thing that has bothered me has been the sorry response to this issue by other political blogs. Some bloggers are so obsessed with siding with one particular side that they are blind to the grave realities of the situation.

Apparently Israel are allowed to get away with murdering innocent women and children because the "other side" are wrong.

I've always felt if you're willing to sacrifice integrity and morals just to defend you position, then your position itself has become indefensible.

It reminds me of a quote by US comedian Chris Rock when commenting on how in America, people seem more focused on defending their liberal or conservative positions than the actual issues:

"If you're willing to make your mind up on an issue without listening to the detail, you're a fucking moron."

Sadly it seems there are a lot of fucking morons in the blogosphere right now.

Israel have murdered innocent civilians. This cannot be justified and it must stop immediately. Case. Fucking. Closed.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Vicar steps down for cheek kiss

This man deserved better This story is both tragically hilarious and tragically sad in equal measure.

The BBC has reported that a vicar in Staffordshire, England, has stepped down as a school governor after kissing a primary pupil on the cheek to congratulate her for doing well in maths.

The Rev Alan Barrett was stunned to find himself at the centre of a police inquiry for the gesture.

A church spokesman said a police inquiry found no offence had taken place, but the vicar was told to have no contact with the school.

In a statement Rev Barrett said he had helped some pupils with class work and congratulated one who had struggled:

"I was stunned to hear I was subject to a police and social services investigating, examining my character, conduct and ministry.

"I was relieved when they found there was no case to answer and I could continue with my life."

The Archdeacon of Lichfield, the Venerable Chris Liley, commented that "even giving a child a kiss of congratulations is inappropriate in this day and age" and a spokesman for Lichfield Diocese stated:

"The conclusion that Mr Barrett had acted inappropriately is not a finding of guilt or negligence, but recognition that in today's climate, previously acceptable innocent behaviour is now subject to misunderstanding and suspicion.

"As the complaint and subsequent police investigation demonstrates, the simple act of a kiss on the cheek - a common greeting throughout the world - has potentially damaging consequences.

"The bishop of Lichfield has written to the mother of the girl setting out the steps the diocese has taken and the conclusion of the investigation.

"He has explained that if the mother still feels that the conduct warrants a formal investigation she may lodge a formal complaint under the clergy discipline measure."

I just find this so pathetic and petty. It would appear that the child's mother felt the behaviour of the vicar was out of line and I despair at that kind of thinking.

Since when is a kiss on the cheek inappropriate? When was that decided? Have we become that paranoid? Are we heading to a stage where we won't be able to shake the hand of a young child without attracting suspicion and hostility?

I just feel so sorry for this man and so disgusted at how everyone has turned their back on him.

I wonder too if this has anything to do with gender at all. If a female vicar had kissed the girl on the cheek would anything have been said? I doubt it. Yet when a man shows a degree of affection towards a young child, people are quick to jump to the conclusion that he must be some kind of pervert.

This story reminded me of another story which broke this week concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin. The President came across a young boy in the Kremlin courtyard and much to people's surprise, he lifted up the shirt of the boy and planted a kiss on his stomach.

Here is what Putin said explaining his actions:

"He seemed to me very independent, very serious, but at the same time a boy is always vulnerable. He was very sweet. I'll be honest, I felt an urge to squeeze him like a kitten and that led to the gesture that I made, there was nothing behind it really."

Now this is a gesture that warrants raised eyebrows and even his explanation is a bit of a concern. Now compare Putin's actions with that of the vicar. See what I mean?

Does he know what he's doing?

In closing I think the people who initiated the investigations against this vicar should be ashamed of themselves. The Diocese has behaved very poorly too.

One of the most famous stories in the Bible tells of how Jesus allowed for young children to be brought to him when the Disciples had rebuked them. I wonder how people such as the Archdeacon can reconcile their actions over this matter with their faith in Christ?

Children are the most vulnerable members of a society and their safety is of paramount importance but what has happened in Staffordshire was overkill and amounted to nothing more a witch-hunt.

All those involved are pitiful.


Friday Fun - News in Brief

Interesting news this week. A 16 year old girl was treated for injuries on Wednesday after being attacked by a tiger at Dublin Zoo yesterday afternoon due to her and a man scaling two fences, one of which was 2m high, to reach a Siberian tiger enclosure.

The girl then put her hand through the wire mesh of a third protective fence leading to the tiger ripping into her limb causing significant injury. She is now said to be in a stable condition in hospital.

No word yet on how the tiger's doing but reports suggest he's pissed off.

In other news a naked man disrupted a train service between Limerick and Dublin yesterday morning.

The train is understood to have been delayed for some 20 minutes when the man stood on the line before it departed from Limerick's Colbert Station and refused to leave. He was eventually removed by gardaí and later examined by a doctor.

The man is said to be pleased at the doctor's claim that he can get him "back on track".

And now for the key images doing the rounds:

Street vendors reveal hottest selling item on Twelfth

The poster for the upcoming Blues Brothers film is at long last revealed

And finally, French President Jacques Chirac begins to regret defending Zinedine Zidane over his controversial headbutt in the World Cup final

That was the news in brief.


Separated at Birth?

One is renowned for showing guts the other is renowned for...well, showing guts.

Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and film director Quentin Tarantino - separated at birth?

You decide.


Friday Fun's Fascinating Fact

Fact: It is illegal not to smile in Pocatello, Idaho.

Definitely not a place for Irish people then...

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Thursday Thoughts: 12th's awful legacy

How dare they? The following image appeared in Daily Ireland yesterday. It is an Irish tricolour that was burned at an 11th night hatefest bonfire which reads, "Fuck Mickey Bo", a reference to murdered Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen.

I'm sure you all remember well the horrible circumstances which surrounded Michael McIlveen's death. The 15 year-old Catholic teenager was beaten to death in May of this year after being attacked by a Protestant gang.

The sick fuckers responsible for the burning of this particular Irish flag were in effect killing two birds with one sectarian stone.

The simple truth of this ladies and gentleman is that the desecration of the Irish flag, the desecration of this young boy's name and even the boy's tragic death itself are all thanks to one ugly and uncomfortable aspect of life - sectarianism.

And make no mistake this is the kind of sick sectarianism that is the very legacy of The Twelfth.

Would unionists have batted an eyelid if this was just an Irish tricolour being burned? Fuck no. But unionists need to realise that by turning a blind eye to bigoted acts such as burning the Irish flag, unionists are actually condoning sectarian attitudes. The Irish flag is an important symbol to the nationalist people and burning it sends out a truly vile message.

I have heard welcome criticism from unionists for the desecration of the boy's name but none for the burning of the flag itself. Then again, the leading figure of unionism today - Ian Paisley - was one such bigot who chose to set alight an Irish flag. So much for tolerance.

And it's all a damn shame because back in February when the riots occurred in Dublin, most Irish people like myself were appalled and condemned the arseholes responsible for the mayhem. Unionists however are unwilling to do the same for the bigots in their community.

This is what The Twelfth's legacy is. It is a legacy that promotes division and ignorance. For instance I happened to watch footage of the various "celebrations" last night throughout the country for the 12th of July and I was astonished at the number of Rangers football jerseys on show.

Apparently William of Orange was a big fan of the Gers when not riding on his white horse.

Look, if you play with fire you are going to get burned and if you glorify sectarianism and anti-Irish attitudes, people WILL get hurt.

I watched one woman on the BBC last night explaining why she loved The Twelfth:

"Ah sure it's great. This is orr culture."

What's your culture? Burning flags and disrespecting the dead? That's not a culture lady, it's a fucking disgrace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Words on Wednesday...with Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn Welcome to another edition of Words on Wednesday 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 is Irish Senator and founder of Superquinn Feargal Quinn.

I'd like to thank Mr Quinn for kindly agreeing to be interviewed. With that being said, let's begin:

What initially attracted you to political life?

This takes me a long way back – because it's not generally known that I made my first attempt to get elected to the Seanad back in 1973, a full 20 years before I actually succeeded.

I think that what drove me to put myself forward was a feeling that the political process should be able to benefit from the experience of a wide variety of people with different backgrounds, and at that time there was nobody in the mix who had my kind of business experience.

Added to that, I suppose, was a strong sense that we all have a duty to give something back to our community. Between that first attempt and my eventual election in 1993, I had the opportunity to experience public service in a different way, most notably as chairman of what became An Post for 10 years.

You are an Independent Senator elected by the National University of Ireland. Talk us through a typical day in your life.

Is there such a thing as a typical day, I wonder? Part of what I find exciting about life is that every day is so different, with its own challenges. When the Seanad is in session, I will usually frame my day around the sitting – beginning with the Order of Business that starts off the day.

I have two offices – one in Leinster House and the other in Sutton, and both myself and my super-efficient personal assistant shuttle between the two.

I usually speak in the House a few times each week, and of course a lot of preparation and research goes into what I say. I have a range of business interests which make inroads into my time, and of course I am in constant demand as a speaker both in Ireland and around the world.

For relaxation, I usually play golf with close friends who are prepared to keep the secret of just how bad I am at it.

You are of course famous for founding the supermarket chain Superquinn. How does life as a politician compare to life as a businessman?

It's not all that different, as a matter of fact!

I have always defined management as "getting things done through other people", and it's much the same way in politics. In both situations, you have to bring people along with you if you want to get things done. I was never the kind of boss who barked orders and expected people to fall into line.

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

(1) I would eradicate educational disadvantage, so that every young person has the opportunity to develop his or her potential to the full.

(2) I would seek to create a fairer society, so that who your family is or how much money you have has no influence at all on what happens to you.

(3) I would like to make people aware of the fact that they must plan for a changing future, and not expect that today's situation will always continue.

What are your thoughts on a United Ireland?

I see it as a challenge, and perhaps an opportunity for this generation.

What should be done to improve the situation in NI?

I think that we need to give much more attention to the basic underlying problem, which is how to persuade the two traditions in the North to find a way of living together in harmony and paying each other the respect that is due to good neighbours.

Achieving that is not something you can do simply through political institutions, though they may provide a framework within which it can happen. I was impressed recently that the two sides in Ballycastle (I think it was!) came together to erase the sectarian paintings on the footpaths and the walls of the town.

I understand that your father is from Down and mother is from Armagh. You must have found the worst years of The Troubles quite hard since your roots are in the North.

In spite of my Northern connections, it still seemed that it was far away until the night I got a telephone call informing me that my brother-in-law had been shot dead, leaving my sister with 7 children. I certainly can understand how slow wounds will be to heal, after the terrible time that so many people have been through.

What are your thoughts on allowing MPs from NI to speak in the Oireachtas, perhaps in the Seanad? Would you welcome such a move?

I think the idea is premature, since at this stage it is very likely that only those from one side would participate – which would send all the wrong messages.

I think that in recent years we have made much useful progress on an informal basis through the mechansim of the Taoiseach appointing some Senators from the North. Looking at it purely from the South's point of view, we certainly benefit from listening to people from the North – but how exactly we go about doing this is something that needs to be approached with care and sensitivity.

I interviewed another Senator, Joe O'Toole, who likewise represents the National University of Ireland, and he said that the Seanad was "unrepresentative and undemocratic and needs to be reformed". Do you agree with his assessment?

I do, and so would every other sitting Senator on all sides of the House.

There is no shortage of proposals to reform the Seanad - what is lacking is a general political will to implement them. It's not helped by the almost total lack of public interest in it. Personally, I believe that the Seanad is worthwhile as it stands and it could be a lot more worthwhile if it was reformed.

I've read comments on your website from speeches you gave in the Seanad about how the methods for teaching Irish have been detrimental to our young people. What do we need to do to help our national language in your view?

I think our major concern should be about how we teach the language in our schools.

Given the vast amount of time and effort that we put into it, the results we get are very disapointing indeed. I agree with spending all the time and the effort, but I believe that we should invest in finding out exactly how and where we have gone wrong over the past 80 years.

We should expect that every young person leaving school is able, at a minimum, to conduct a simple conversation in Irish easily and with pleasure. Until that happens, we should consider that our system is wrong and work to fix it.

Unlike a lot of Irish politicians you have a website which you update frequently and take seriously. Do you think one day soon we will see websites and blogs playing an important role in politics here, as has happened in the US?

If we are to embrace the knowledge society which I see as the key to our future, an essential part of that is that we fully embrace the internet and transform our lives accordingly. At the moment, we have a lot of catching up to do on this one.

In the medium-term, I certainly see us moving closer to the US model, but given the smaller size of our community in terms of both area and population, I think there will be differences too. I am a great believer in the power of the internet to bring the workings of democracy closer to the people, and it is that belief that drives all the effort I put into my Oireachtas website.

Arguably the biggest story of the year so far in Ireland was the death of Charles Haughey. What are your thoughts on the man and should he have been given a State funeral do you think?

I see Haughey as a Napoleon figure, rather than as a Hitler.

On your website you state that you are a committed European and strongly globalist - why?

On the day I finished university, I went to France and spent a winter there. It was the first time I discovered that I was not just Irish but part of a broader community. Also, I have always believed that we can be truly Irish only in a wider context, one that includes Europe as next-door neighbours and regards the entire world as our concern and our working space.

What are your thoughts on the current conflict in Iraq right now and Ireland's position?

As a friend of America, I believe that we should leave the US Government and people in no doubt whatever that we consider they were wrong to go into Iraq the way they did, and that the situation there can only get worse so long as they stay.

Having said that, I believe the Shannon issue is a bit of a red herring. The important thing is that we should not shrink from speaking our mind clearly on these differences that exist between friends – while making sure that at the end of the day we stay friends, which is very much in our interest.

Where should Ireland be twenty years from now?

What I hope is that it will be well established in a leadership role in the knowledge society, which will be a totally different world to the one we know today and which gave us our present prosperity through the Celtic Tiger.

What may stop us from achieving that is the kind of complacency that we are suffering from now. Too many people believe that things will always go on the way they are now, and if we go on thinking that we face nothing short of disaster in my view.

Persuading people of the need to adapt to a very different future is a difficult political task, but one that I believe we simply cannot afford to shirk.

I have to ask, Superquinn sausages - why are they so tasty?

Because we made them that way!

We went into the sausage business because our customers complained that factory-made sausages were pretty well tasteless. So we sought out the old traditional Irish recipes, and followed those in creating an artisan product rather than a manufactured one.

I'm glad you like them...

What does the future hold in store for you?

Well, if I thought that giving up the executive reins at Superquinn would leave me more time, I was wrong! I seem to be busier than ever.

I have just become president of Eurocommerce, the EU-wide lobbying body for the distribution sector, and was recently appointed an adjunct professor of marketing at NUI Galway.

But in the medium-term, I am focusing on putting myself forward for re-election to the next Seanad, and look forward to continuing and extending my work there.

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 - Bass
Mary Harney - Tallaght
George W. Bush - Texas
Gerry Adams - Armani
Ian Paisley - Loud
Mary McAleese - Feisty
Michael McDowell - Gonzaga
Charles Haughey - Free Travel for OAPs
Padraig Pearse - 1916
Feargal Quinn - Who he?

Information on future interviews will be posted soon. Be sure to keep clicking in to United Irelander for for your firsthand look at Irish political life.

Previous interviews can be read here.


The Twelfth arrives! Huzzah!

Great fun for EVERYONE! Yes it's that time of year again. The 12th of July. It's a very important date on the calendar here in Ireland. To clear up any confusion, it's not because on this day in 1979 Kiribati declared independence from Britain nor is it because today is Bill Cosby's birthday. No, it is because on this day in 1690, William of Orange, the Protestant king of England, defeated forces loyal to James II, the Catholic king who he replaced.

Now you would think there would be no problems whatsoever celebrating this sectarian moment in history but you'd be mistaken because, unfortunately, Catholics believe it or not do not like this glorious day in history being celebrated right in front of them. How unreasonable is that?!

Luckily, DUP MLA Norah Beare was at hand to set the naysayers straight:

"There are those in recent years who have tried to turn the Twelfth period into something controversial and to make unionist culture appear as something shameful which is a burden to Northern Ireland."

"However, for unionists the Twelfth means something very different."

Yeah! You tell 'em, Norah! Some crazy people (morons I call 'em) see the 12th of July as a triumphalist affair for one side of the community only which has a divisive rather than healing influence, but this is clearly not the case. It's not like Irish tricolours are going to be burned or anything. The knowledgeable Norah continued:

"When there is so much focus today on antisocial behaviour, isn't it also fantastic to see young out with old parading in a disciplined fashion, taking pride in their appearance and enjoying real musical talent which is a product of years of practice and commitment? Are those not qualities we should encourage?"

Too fucking right! We need to see more of these kinds of events as they encourage good qualities. In fact if you ask me there are a few other sectarian conflicts we could be exploiting right now. Wasn't there a town in Limerick or some other rural part of the country which ran some Jews out during World War 2? I think we should commemorate that too. Get a few bands in, some disciplined parading etc. Great fun altogether! Norah concluded:

"As unionists, we can respect other cultures but we will hold our heads high and proudly defend our own traditions."

Hear that you morons? Stop ruining unionist's sectarian fun for feck's sake.

Penal Laws - A glorious legacy!

In closing I'd like to say that I hope the 12th of July celebrations go off peacefully and that no one gets hurt.

Let's face it, there is no reason at all for such a marvellous moment in Irish history to be tarnished by a petty few.

As many unionist politicians have repeatedly stated, the events of 1690 which pitted Protestants against Catholics should prove a unifying influence today for ALL communities. And if you think otherwise you're a moron.


Unfair city

We're a good show honest! I see Irish people are going to be hit in their pockets yet again as the Government has decided to increase the Television Licence Fee by €3 to €158 from October 1 this year.

This increase will provide RTE with an estimated increase in public funding of just under €2m in 2006.

It is also estimated that RTE will benefit from an increase in public funding of around €6m from a combination of new household growth and a reduction in the level of evasion.

Communications Minister Noel Dempsey turned off BBC1 to announce that the Government agreed to the price hike in order to provide RTE with money to improve its output:

"Having regard to all of the circumstances it is considered that there is a strong case for approving an increase in the level of the television licence fee.

"The principal reason for this is that it will provide RTE with the means to further strengthen the schedules it delivers the audience in circumstances where Indecon have reported that RTE is providing value for money."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The same tired old horseshit. The fact is RTE don't need more money they just need more sense. I know I spoke highly of them for their World Cup coverage but the next one's four years away for feck's sake and what we're being served up with now is just diabolical. I took the time to check out RTE 1's evening schedule for tonight which reads as follows:

Documentary charting the amazing life of Richie Kavanagh and his journey from a maker of ornamental fountains to a hit singer-songwriter

Richie who? If he's so great how come I've never heard of him? A documentary about Patrick Kavangh I could sit through but this one? You might as well give me a documentary about Niamh Kavanagh (maybe that'll be on next week).

Vets on Call
Docu-soap series centred around the busy lives of dedicated veterinary surgeons, focusing on the all-women practices in Ceithre Cos in Tulla, Co Clare.

Oh great. A show about people putting their hands up animal's arses. A great show to watch as you're having your supper. I think I'll pass, thanks.

This week's lotto draw

A load of balls. Literally.

Fair City
McNab lets Niamh and Nicola know that the date for the tender has been brought forward. Mannion tries to pin down Dermot to talk to his friend. Brian tells William his price.

Oh thank goodness McNab is letting Niamh and Nicola know that the date for the tender has been brought forward. I can't bear the thought of them missing out on that. I've no idea what any of this is about nor do I want to.

House Hunters
Buying and selling houses in Ireland. Dublin-based couple Sarah and Peter want to sell their house and move to Cork, where Sarah has found a new job.

Dubliners moving to Cork? Clearly they're crazy and not worthy of my time!

RTE News: Nine O'Clock
The latest stories

As if the earlier programmes hadn't made you miserable enough...

Snake Eyes
Fast-paced thriller in which a wheeler-dealer cop becomes entangled in a high-level assassination conspiracy while on routine bodyguard duty

I'm supposed to waste my summer time on this?

RTE News and Weather
The latest stories

Another reminder of how bad the world and the weather is.

Medical Investigation
US drama series about the adventures of an elite American medical squad. The team face a mysterious puzzle when a community's kids fall prey to a muscular ailment.

Oh great now we get a programme about sick kids. I thought summer was supposed to be a happy time?

Forget Me Never
Drama about a successful lawyer whose short-term memory loss is finally diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease. Reluctant to burden her husband, she tries to keep it a secret.

I don't mean to sound callous here...but I'm thinking someone with Alzheimer's disease would struggle to remember to keep a secret, no? The show's premise has failed on me.

Shortland Street
New Zealand soap set in the Accident and Emergency unit of an Auckland hospital.

A chance to learn about sick people on another continent.

Now with all that being said I'd like to offer my groundbreaking idea to improve RTE. Ready? OK here goes. GIVE US BETTER PROGRAMMES.

Did you hear that Mr Dempsey or do you only listen when someone takes out their wallet?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Freedom of speech Americans

OK this one really pisses me off. I've learned courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph that an "international row" has erupted over on Slugger O'Toole after BBC NI presenter Gerry Anderson told his listeners he wanted George Bush "to rot in hell". (Oh no! Won't somebody please think of the children!)

As the Belfast Telegraph reports:

"The Radio Ulster host and Belfast Telegraph columnist was presenting his morning show on Tuesday - July 4, US Independence Day - when he referred to the President's forthcoming birthday and added: "May I say I hope you rot in hell."

"Despite a diplomatic reaction from the US consulate who described the remarks as "unfortunate" but alluded to the importance of free speech, almost all of the 112 entries on the Slugger O'Toole website on the comment would suggest it has not been well received on the other side of the Atlantic and has sparked a swell of anti-European feeling."

Now I like Americans and have had pleasant experiences with every US citizen I've ever encountered but these particular Americans are complete and utter arseholes...or should I say assholes. Let me show you what I mean. Here is a guy called Michael's view of the situation:

"Being of Irish descent, I often contemplated a visit to Ireland (both North and South) but if this creep is any example of the politeness and warmth of the Irish, you can keep it.

"That country (Northern Ireland) has, in my lifetime, been nothing but a hotbed for terrorists and killing.

"And now they attack the one President of the US since the end of WWII who is willing to stand up for and act on what is right in the world instead of 'trying to get along' by selling the American soul down the river to a bunch of self-important Euros - who really have slipped into irrelevancy.

"So I will spend my vacation dollars in Hawaii or some other place and no longer care to see the land from whence my ancestors came several generations ago.

"I am also now no longer proud to be of Irish descent. It is now a shame I must bear. And sadly too, I might say."

Is this guy for real? An Irish guy makes a comment he doesn't like so he writes off the entire nation? Now this guy isn't from North Korea, he's an American. A country that is traditionally associated with freedom of speech. You really couldn't make it up. Hey Michael, here's some welcoming words for ya - shove your vacation dollars up your hole you fucking Nazi.

If that wasn't enough, 'Rebecca H' weighed in:

"My family and I have been discussing a trip over there in the next couple of years. But frankly, over what I've been reading about attitudes there, I'm thinking we should not come."

I'm thinking that too Rebecca because you see diversity and freedom of expression are still encouraged in this part of the world. Once upon a time it was encouraged in your part of the world too. Rebecca is another gobshite. I wouldn't be surprised if Rebecca H's surname was Hitler.

Ireland's spokesperson apparently

I'm tired of this kind of false sanctimonious bullshit spouted by conformist clowns such as those mentioned above. The current US administration is always harping on about freedom and liberty yet it seems to many Americans, these ideals have become simply slogans. I know there are many Americans who actually "get" what freedom of speech is about but there are a worrying number of Americans who seem to miss the point entirely.

I don't give a fuck what Gerry Anderson thinks. Who the hell is this guy anyway? Anybody who writes off an entire nation because of the comments of one individual is quite simply a moron.

And that ladies and gentleman is my opinion.


Zi butt of the joke

Not his year... These things don't take long to come out but I did get a laugh out of this one:

Zidane's headbutting game

Monday, July 10, 2006


Monday Madness - I return...uh, again

Quite a lot of things have happened in my absence I see. Even so I'm finding it strange to be posting again because I haven't really missed posting...oh wait I've done one of these already. Silly me.

This is my attempt at returning properly so to speak and whenever I've returned from a good break off I've attempted to do things a bit differently. Some things will remain the same and as you've probably noticed by now, I have an interview with Senator Feargal Quinn lined up for this Wednesday.

With that being said though, I intend for there to be a few changes. To be honest over the last few weeks I've become quite disillusioned with the way my country is heading. For the sake of my blood pressure I'm glad I was away for some of the last few week's events. Perhaps my writing style will come to reflect my disillusionment with everything and you can probably expect a more cynical and pessimistic opinion on society. Hooray!

Some things did really disgust me over the last few weeks which I'd like to touch upon now. I know some of my opinions might prove upsetting for some of you but Article 40.6.1 of the Irish constitution does guarantee:

"The right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions."

So unless Brussels has gots its claws on that I'm going to make the most of it.

I think what pissed me off most of all over the last few weeks was the State funeral and general adulation offered by many in the media and public to one of Ireland's greatest national disgraces, Charles Haughey. I've heard all the arguments to justify his State funeral. "Ah but he was Taoiseach so he deserved one" some say. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean a guy can become Taoiseach, act like a prick and still get a State funeral? Let's say a guy became Taoiseach, urinated in a bag and then proceeded to pour the contents of this bag over an old person's head - would that not then count against that person one day getting a State funeral? "Ah but he gave free travel to pensioners" some say. Yeah and Mussolini made the trains run on time. Big fucking deal. And that fucker got kicked around the streets instead of getting a State funeral. Haughey was a gangster and would have got twenty years in another sane country.

Shameful desecration of our flag

Another thing that pissed me off was the news that our TDs have decided to give themselves a 12 week summer recess. Shower of wasters.

Then in sport we had the disgraceful reaction by the English media to England's World Cup exit who have now effectively hounded Cristiano Ronaldo out of their country. Oh how dare Ronaldo point out to the referee that Wayne Rooney had STAMPED ON HIS TEAM MATE'S TESTICLES. Damn you, Ronaldo! Gimme a break. Then I read that they lost because of the Argentinian referee. It's all quite extraordinary really. Look, you lost because you were rubbish and had a rubbish manager. That's it. Seriously.

If that wasn't enough, I then read that Irish people support EU membership and its benefits more than ANY other people in Europe. Jeez isn't it great that we have such support for a Union that effectively PISSED ALL OVER Irish democracy after the Nice Treaty rejection? Isn't it great that we have such love and respect for a Union that took LEGAL ACTION AGAINST US for alleged breaches of environmental regulations? Luckily for us they recently decided to drop their legal cases against us. How can you not love 'em?

Wait, wait, gets better. The same EU (who we love remember) has given Ireland a deadline of three years for all Irish passports to include fingerprints from June 2009 under new measures designed to tackle international terrorism. What a comforting thought it is to know that Big Brussels will have my fingerprints on file. But I can't help thinking of that quote by one Benjamin Franklin:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Ah but what did he know, right? He wasn't even European! us.

So yeah, a pretty annoying few weeks without a doubt. Issues affecting Ireland's north have been frustrating too strangely enough. It is my aim from now on however to give my thoughts and views on where I think Irish society is failing and failing badly. I believe there is an awful lot wrong with this country and an awful lot of people who are uninterested in saying anything about it.

It's high time people spoke out.


Mama Mia! Italy are the champs!

So Italy are the champions of the world.

Many people are saying the final wasn't a great advertisement for football but if the country that's shaped like a boot winning football's greatest tournament isn't a great advertisement for football, I don't know what is.

In all seriousness it wasn't the best of finals but contrary to what a lot of people have said, I think Italy are worthy winners. After all France shouldn't have got a penalty in the first half and Luca Toni's goal shouldn't have been ruled out. Oh yeah and Zidane acted the bollocks so it's a fair result. The Aussies must feel pissed off though.

Some things I've learned from the World Cup:

- Football remains unpredictable. Italy to beat France in the final? On a penalty shoot-out? With Zidane getting sent off? If someone had predicted that at the start of the tournament they would have been laughed at and hit over the head repeatedly.

- England are shite. Just accept it, guys. Seriously. It's nothing to do with dodgy referees, it's nothing to do with evil opposition players, it's nothing to do with the length of your football season. You're just shite. Really, really shite. OK? OK.

- RTE may be woeful in lots of ways but when it comes to football coverage, they are streets ahead of their British counterparts. Whose bright idea was it at the BBC to get Leonardo to be a pundit? And why is Ian Wright getting paid to spout the kind of bullshit that one hears down at a local pub? And as for Shearer...just why in general? RTE's coverage was excellent and I really enjoyed it. Also, getting Graeme Souness on board proved to be a very smart move.

- Even top players like Zinedine Zidane can lose the head. What was he thinking?

Zidane's lack of hair made the headbutt extra painful

That's about it I feel. It was a decent tournament but it's never really the same when your own team isn't there. Something all NI fans can attest to.

But now it's time for us Irish to laugh in the face of all logical probability and believe that we can indeed qualify for the European Championships in 2008.

Come on Ireland! It's gonna be our year and so forth...


Remembering Charlie...

A man who required a state funeral"Get married again."

Charles Haughey's response to women asking for an increase in the widows' pension.

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