Tuesday, January 30, 2007


It's democracy...but is it fair?

I note that British PM Tony Blair has confirmed an assembly election is to take place on the 7th of March after meeting Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at Downing Street today.

Blair said that there was "a tremendous yearning now for this process to reach its proper completion" and said the election could be "the start of a completely different future for the people of Northern Ireland".

The Taoiseach said Mr Blair was "convinced", from his talks with DUP leader Ian Paisley, that it was ready to take part in a power-sharing executive, adding: "I accept that."

In a joint statement the two Prime Ministers stated:

"Our purpose now is to ensure that Northern Ireland can build on all of these positive developments through the restoration of shared, accountable government committed to serving all of the people."

Fine words. But let's get real here - this election is one big joke.

So after Sinn Féin have committed to policing, after the DUP have claimed they have achieved what unionists have long sought, after the IMC report has found the IRA are being good boys, the decision is made...hey let's have an election!

You really have to feel for the SDLP, the UUP and the other parties. The March 7th election is a farce designed to consolidate the power of Sinn Féin and the DUP.

The sympathy vote?

It's democracy alright and yes the people have a choice but the timing of this whole thing is sad.

Sinn Féin and the DUP are the key players in determining whether or not devolution can even be restored to Ireland's north. The role of the other parties is to sit tight, keep schtum and let the big boys get their way.

So do your duty people of the North! Vote for the tribe you prefer the most!

And round and round we go.

Monday, January 29, 2007


"If you jump, I'll jump"

Well the votes have been counted and the right result has emerged. No, I'm not talking about Shilpa Shetty winning Big Brother, but rather Sinn Féin voting to support the PSNI.

Much has been spoken of and written on this already. Today we've heard NI's Secretary of State Peter Hain claim he is "convinced that Ian Paisley is ready to be first minister on 26th March."

There is still a lot of trepidation however between the DUP and Sinn Féin. The DUP maintain that Sinn Féin still have to deliver on their words. Sinn Féin maintain that they need assurances from the DUP that they want to restore the devolved institutions.

The whole thing reminds me of an episode from my childhood. Me and a friend of mine used to climb up on this big wall that overlooked a green. This wall was pretty high and one day I dared my friend to jump off of it. "You do it", was his reply. "If you do it I'll do it," I responded. He agreed to this suggestion so we decided to do a countdown. "OK after 3", I said, "1...2...3!"

Neither of us jumped.

The mistrust between Sinn Féin and the DUP is still very much there and the fact that they STILL can't meet each other face to face is very sad indeed.

I fear that this whole "We'll move when you move" approach will keep the North in a state of perpetual misery. The onus is now on the DUP to offer out the olive branch to Sinn Féin. Time to be grown ups, folks.

With regards to how this relates towards Irish reunification, Gerry Adams told his party members:

"You have created the opportunity to significantly advance our struggle and you have seized the opportunity to further our primary objective of a united Ireland through the building of greater political strength."

I don't think the decision by Sinn Féin to support the PSNI will have any beearing on Irish reunification. It does show, in my opinion, that Sinn Féin now accept the existence of Northern Ireland as a legitimate entity. Some in Sinn Féin have reacted angrily to this but seeing as the party signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, I don't get why they are finding this so hard to deal with.

I feel Adams' comments are best looked at with a view to the General Election that is imminent in the Republic in a few short months. Gaining power in the Dáil is one of the party's objectives and the decision by Sinn Féin to support the PSNI will go down very well in the south. We're still not clear on Bertie Ahern's thoughts regarding entering a coalition with Sinn Féin and seeing as, God knows why, his party leads opinion polls here, I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that Sinn Féin could hold ministerial positions on both sides of the Irish border this time next year.

A lot now depends on whether or not the DUP are willing to move on and face up to the fact that Irish nationalists deserve to have their views represented in an Assembly in NI. I hope that progress can be achieved.

Me and my friend did eventually jump off the wall together after a few false tries. I recall the landing was a bit sore. But we were OK in the end.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Some things to get off my chest...

Maybe January has me cranky but I'd like to vent here on UI about some things that are bothering me...

Rant 1) Why have unionists gone awfully quiet in relation to the recent findings of collusion between the RUC and loyalists? Why is Ronnie Flanagan still in a job? Remember the hissy fits unionists threw over comments made by President McAleese and Father Alec Reid in recent times? Where are the hissy fits now? These recent revelations are far more serious than some person's opinions! We're talking about MURDER which took place and was condoned by NI's police and yet there is very little coming from unionists.

What has come from unionists on the matter has been most disappointing. I witnessed "Lord" Ken Maginnis last night on the BBC's Spotlight programme huffing and puffing about the issue and just generally spouting rubbish. A remark of his which made me laugh was when he referred to prisoners being released in 1998 and said something like, "I accepted this in order so we could move forward; not look back on the past." Yeah because unionists never bring up the past, do they Ken?

Of course this is the same Ken Maginnis who, in 2001, called for the resignation of the Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan when she announced an investigation into the Omagh bombing because, wait for it:

"What she is doing, by having this inquiry, is detracting from the enormity of the crime of the Real IRA and calling into question the integrity of the RUC as they try to do their job."

Oh dear...how embarrassed he must feel! The "integrity of the RUC", eh Ken? They don't have much integrity now. What is this guy a Lord of? Buffoonery?

Rant 2) What's the deal with British news outlets referring to Peter O'Toole as a British actor? As they read out the names of their country's THREE actresses who are up for Oscar awards, Ireland's own Peter O'Toole is thrown in too for good measure. Uh, why? He lists his birthplace as Connemara, Co. Galway and O'Toole even ensured that his daughter and son were born in Ireland. He regretted his eldest daughter Patricia being born in Britain, famously remarking, "Pat was born in Britain, the poor thing."

So I'm confused here...how exactly is this guy a Brit? Anyone? It's bullshit like this which sours relations between our two countries.

Britain's newest son apparently

Hey, maybe we should do likewise, eh? Congratulations to Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Kate Winslet. Three fine Irish cailíns!

Rant 3) I see Jade Goody has gone to India to try and resurrect her career. How about this Ms Goody - stay there. Yeah give that a try. And give the rest of us a break from your talentless tripe.

Ah...I feel so much better now.

Monday, January 22, 2007


NI police colluded with murderers

A damning report by NI's Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan has confirmed that NI's police colluded with loyalists involved in over a dozen murders in north Belfast.

Nuala O'Loan's report said UVF members in the area committed murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for Special Branch.

It said two retired Assistant Chief Constables refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Special Branch officers gave the killers immunity, it said.

The officers ensured the murderers were not caught and even "baby-sat" them during police interviews to help them avoid incriminating themselves.

The Special Branch officers "created false notes" and blocked searches for UVF weapons.

Reacting to the findings, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde offered an apology to the victims' families. He said the report made "shocking, disturbing and uncomfortable reading".

NI Secretary Peter Hain said it "shone a torch into a very dark corner".

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said republicans would "not be surprised or shocked by the revelations".

British PM Tony Blair's spokesman said:

"This is a deeply disturbing report about events which were totally wrong and should never have happened. The fact that they did is a matter of profound regret and the Prime Minister shares that regret."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern branded the report "deeply disturbing" and stated:

"Its findings are of the utmost gravity. It paints a picture of despicable past behaviour."

Of course, the DUP couldn't let the truth get in the way of their bigotry and stupidity. The party's Jimmy Prat...sorry Spratt, himself a former Police Federation chairman, said:

"If this report had had one shred of credible evidence then we could have expected charges against former Police Officers.

"There are no charges, so the public should draw their own conclusion, the report is clearly based on little fact.

"This report is another clear example why both serving and former Police Officers have no confidence in the Police Ombudsman or her office, the goverment should immediately appoint an independent body to investigate complaints made against her and her office."

In other words, shoot the messenger rather than take on board the facts and criticise those involved in MURDER.

Murders such as that of Sharon McKenna. Described as a "Good Samaritan", she was shot dead while visiting a Protestant pensioner at his north Belfast home. Two men called to the door and forced their way in when the pensioner opened it. They demanded the keys to Ms McKenna's car and, as she turned to lift them from the fireplace, they shot her in the back.

This report in my opinion destroys any credibility the RUC may have had left as a fair and just police service.

In the space of the last three months, an international panel of experts, an Oireachtas committee and now NI's Police Ombudsman have confirmed that collusion WAS NOT an illusion, nor was it a "nationalist myth" as many unionists used to scoff.

We have had the British Prime Minister, NI's Secretary of State and even the Chief Constable damn the unionist police service known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

While we have witnessed one DUP moron continue to ignore the gravity of this situation, what I want to know is whether or not the majority of unionists will adopt this stance?

Both communities suffered immensely during The Troubles. The past was a nasty place, but how can we get over that unless the crimes of that time, committed on both sides of the island, are both acknowledged and condemned?

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Call made for all-Ireland football team

I welcome the comments made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern who called for the merging of football's governing bodies north and south.

Mr Ahern said an all-island league would generate more income for clubs and provide more talented players for a re-constituted national team.

He told the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland that times had changed since the governing body split in the 1920s:

"Together they can achieve so much more than by remaining apart."

"I believe the time is now right for both football organisations to sit down together for serious discussions on the basis that together they can achieve so much more than remaining apart.

"When they balance the pros and cons of having one all-island football organisation, the ledger will, I believe, come down heavily on a harmonious coming together of two noble Irish football traditions and organisations."

Northern Ireland's most famous player George Best, months before his death, called for an all-Ireland team:

"I've always thought that at any given time, the Republic and Northern Ireland have had some great, world-class players.

"I just believe in trying something. If it doesn't work, at least you've tried."

I think it's a very good idea that will bring many benefits to the people of this island - which is why I don't think the FAI will want it to happen.

The greedy fat cats in Merrion Square will resist any effort to disrupt their nice little arrangement which is currently in place.

A joint all-island organisation would mean changes in order for progress to be made, however this is an organisation that is terrified of change and progress.

What about our power?

It's not even funny the amount of debacles these clowns have been involved in. The Saipan affair, the embarrassing Euro 2008 bid, the deal with Sky to give away Irish football matches, the woeful manager selections etc.

We're expected to believe these guys would be able to work hand in hand with the IFA for the betterment of football on this island? I don't buy it.

These idiots couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery (though they'd like to I'm sure).

In an ideal world, if this all-Ireland idea does come to fruition, I personally hope that it spells the end for John Delaney and the rest of the luantics who run that asylum.

Now that IS worth a try...


Jade Baddy is evicted

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, you'll know all about this issue.

All I can say is I'm glad this talentless, media-manifested muppet has been exposed for the ignorant fool that she is.

Only in Britain could someone so useless become so popular. Hopefully she'll fade into obscurity now that her true character has been revealed.

Beware though, her sobbing eyes will be coming to a daytime TV show near you!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Scots and English Browned off with the UK

I've been absolutely fascinated these past few months at the growing demands for independence from Scottish, as well as English, people.

Long-time readers of this site will know it's an area I've touched on before. I've written in the past of my support for an independent Scotland and England which you can read about here and here.

I must say though how surprised I am that these demands have been expressed so quickly, not to mention so loudly.

The Scottish National Party is expected to do very well in the Scottish Parliament elections in May and they have pledged that if this indeed is the case then a referendum on Scotland's future will take place soon after.

It's an even more intriguing situation when you consider the fact that the man who is charged with defending the Union is himself a Scot - Gordon Brown, the man expected to be British Prime Minister in a few month's time. Unfortunately for pro-Union folks, the guy has about as much charisma as a plate of haggis.

'I want my country damn you!'

If you're a person in favour of seeing the UK continue then you won't have enjoyed the results of recent polls on the issue. An ICM opinion poll for The Sunday Telegraph in November found 52 per cent of Scots favoured Scottish independence - and if that wasn't enough, 59 per cent of English respondents also favoured Scottish independence! Not exactly a wee problem then.

Gordon Brown however is very supportive of Britishness (hell, just check his initials) and he has been busy over the weekend trying to halt the rise of Scottish independence through an article in the Daily Telegraph where he warned of a "dangerous drift" towards separatism. Brown barked:

"It is now time for supporters of the union to speak up, to resist any drift towards a Balkanisation of Britain and to acknowledge Great Britain for the success it has been and is."

Sadly for Brown the Brit, not all Scots agree with his assessment. SNP leader Alex Salmond commented:

"Revealingly, Mr Brown is unable to accept that, under his chancellorship, the Scottish economy has lagged behind both the UK and spectacularly, the small independent countries in Europe."

It seemed to me that Brown was becoming increasingly desperate in his defence of the Union. Here was a line that surprised me:

"The failure to defend and promote the United Kingdom is now becoming more a feature of the thinking of the Right."

So if you don't want to defend and promote the UK then basically you're a fascist? Oh boy.

And while Brown has warned of the potential for a 'Faustian pact' between Scottish nationalists and the Tories, which would lead to the dismantling of the Union, ironically it was Brown who ended up praising a demon in his defence of the status quo:

"In contrast to Lady Thatcher, who rightly defended the Union and did so even when not expedient to do so, Conservative writers now embrace anti-Unionist positions, from independence to another anti-Thatcher stance: 'English votes for English laws' - itself a Trojan horse for separation."

Oh dear. If this is the kind of strategy Gordon Brown has for convincing Scots of the merits of the Union - labelling nationalists as right-wing and praising Maggie Thatcher - then the Union is in serious peril!

My take on this is that the majority of people in the two countries want a break. Independence for both doesn't mean the two nations have to be enemies, it means Scotland's relationship to England would be akin to the Republic of Ireland's relationship with England. I think that's the kind of relationship most Scots desire.

Unquestionably the English are getting a raw deal. Actor Michael Caine of all people summed this up rather well when he said:

"There's a possibility that a Scotsman is going to rule over me. A Scotsman who comes from a constituency where my member of parliament, who I elected, has no say whatsoever. And there is an answer, given to me by my friend Sean: give Scotland its independence. Gordon Brown can be prime minister of Scotland."

Seems the fairest solution. Why should the English have to put up with Scots who can rule over them and tell them how to live their lives when they can't impact on the lives of Scots? It's not fair and it's not right and it's why the Union is on thin ice.

The English deserve devolution and I think it's inevitable they will get it. Therefore, even if the Scots decide this year they are not yet ready for independence, a devolved English assembly will, in my view, lead to increased calls for English separation and thus the end result will be the same.

What this means for Wales and Northern Ireland is the big question. If NI is left out in the cold as a result of the English and Scots telling them to get stuffed, then I'm sure we in the rest of the island would be prepared to embrace them with open arms into the warmth of a United Ireland.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The 100 Greatest Irish people - Results

A few months back here on United Irelander I started the 100 Greatest Irish People project in an effort to compile a list of the greatest figures in this island's history.

Having taken your votes into account I can reveal that Michael Collins has come top of the pile.

Thank you to all who participated in this little experiment.

I was unsure how I would compile the final list but in the end I decided the fairest way would be to base it upon your own votes. However, in cases where individuals have the same number of votes, I made a judgement call on who deserved to be higher.

Personally speaking, my top ten would have been very different to this one featured as de Valera would have featured in mine, as would figures like Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. Also, I doubt I would have placed Collins at the top of my list. At any rate, this is the completed list.

I have produced the list in total below including the amount of votes for each individual as well as some tidbits about the 100 names:

1. Michael Collins (33 votes)

2. Patrick Pearse (31 votes)

3. W.B. Yeats (30 votes)

4. Daniel O'Connell (30 votes)

5. James Joyce (29 votes)

6. Countess Markiewicz (29 votes)

7. Wolfe Tone (28 votes)

8. James Connolly (28 votes)

9. Charles Stewart Parnell (28 votes)

10. James Larkin (27 votes)

11. Eamon de Valera (26 votes)
12. Douglas Hyde (25 votes)
13. Ernest Shackleton (23 votes)

14. Sean McBride (23 votes)
15. George Best (23 votes)
16. Roger Casement (22 votes)
17. Brian Boru (21 votes)
18. Arthur Griffith (21 votes)

19. Oliver Plunkett (21 votes)
20. Hugh O'Neill (20 votes)
21. Oscar Wilde (19 votes)
22. John Hume (19 votes)
23. Ernest Walton (18 votes)
24. Sean O'Casey (18 votes)

25. Jonathan Swift (17 votes)
26. Arthur Guinness (17 votes)
27. Samuel Beckett (16 votes)
28. Brendan Behan (16 votes)
29. Maude Gonne (15 votes)
30. Patrick Sarsfield (14 votes)
31. William Rowan Hamilton (14 votes)
32. Robert Emmet (13 votes)
33. Duke of Wellington (13 votes)
34.Terence McSwiney (13 votes)
35. Eoghan Rua O'Neill (13 votes)
36. C.S. Lewis (12 votes)
37. Michael Davitt (12 votes)
38. Richard Harris (12 votes)
39. George Bernard Shaw (11 votes)
40. Bobby Sands (11 votes)
41. Garret Fitzgerald (11 votes)
42. Robert Boyle (11 votes)

43. Tom Crean (9 votes)
44. Thomas Francis Meagher (9 votes)
45. Sean Lemass (9 votes)

46. Kevin O'Higgins (9 votes)
47. Mary Robinson (9 votes)
48. Chaim Herzog (9 votes)

49. T.K. Whitaker (8 votes)
50. Thomas Clarke (8 votes
51. Edward Carson (8 votes)

52. Francis Bacon (8 votes)
53. Blessed Edmund Rice (7 votes)
54. Anne Devlin (7 votes)

55. Bono (7 votes)
56. Grace O'Malley (7 votes)
57. Lord Edward Fitzgerald (7 votes)
58. Bram Stoker (6 votes)
59. Jack Lynch (6 votes)

60 Henry Joy McCracken (6 votes)
61. Saint Brendan (6 votes)
62. Eoin MacNeill (6 votes)
63. Seamus Heaney (6 votes)
64. John Redmond (5 votes)
65. Saint Patrick (5 votes)

66. John Millington Synge (5 votes)
67. Phil Lynott (5 votes)

68. Patrick Kavanagh (5 votes)
69. Terence O'Neill (5 votes)
70 Peter O'Toole (5 votes)
71. Gay Byrne (5 votes)
72. Lord Castlereagh (5 votes)

73. Henry Grattan (4 votes)
74. Thomas Ashe (4 votes)
75. Tom Barry (4 votes)
76. Harry Clarke (4 votes)
77. Susan Jocelyn Bell (4 votes)
78. Red Hugh O'Donnell (3 votes)

79. Edmund Burke (3 votes)
80. Phelim O'Neill (3 votes)
81. Thomas Russell (3 votes)
82. John Devoy (3 votes)

83. John Barry (3 votes)
84. Bob Geldof (3 votes)

85. Erskine Childers (3 votes)
86. Alex Higgins (3 votes)
87. Lord Kelvin 9 (3 votes)

88. George Berkeley (3 votes)
89. Isaac Butt (2 votes)
90. John Philip Holland (2 votes)
91. Harry Ferguson (2 votes)
92. Charles Parsons (2 votes)
93. Martin Sheridan (2 votes)

94. Roy Keane (2 votes)
95. Lady Gregory (2 votes)
96. William Parsons (1 vote)
97. Kathleen Clarke (1 vote)
98. John Tyndall (1 vote)

99. William Massey (0 votes)
100. John Ballance (0 votes)

Interesting facts about the list:

- 10 people on the list were not actually born on the island. They include figures such as James Connolly and Thomas Clarke who were born in Edinburgh and on the Isle of Wight respectively.

- Dubliners make up the majority of the list with 29 of them featured. Coming second is Antrim who can boast 11 individuals, most of whom are from Belfast. Cork has eight of its natives featured.

- Of the 90 figures born on the island, 42 of them are from Leinster, 22 are from Ulster, 19 are from Munster and just 7 are from Connacht.

- Only 2 of the top 10 are non-political figures. They are W.B. Yeats in 3rd place and James Joyce in 5th.

- Of the 32 counties in the island of Ireland, 8 do not have any natives featured.

- Of the 6 counties which now encompass Northern Ireland, the only county to be without a name is Fermanagh.

- Of the 26 counties which form the Republic of Ireland, the 7 without names are Leitrim, Sligo, Tipperary, Louth, Westmeath, Longford, Cavan.

- There are 92 men featured, and only 8 women.

Once again thank you to all who voted and thus helped put the list together. It was interesting to see who remains popular in the eyes of Irish people. Who knows, maybe an RTE executive will have a read of this and decide to put one together for TV.

Monday, January 08, 2007


PUP leader dies in hospital

I was sorry to learn that PUP leader David Ervine had died in hospital in Belfast, aged 53.

Ervine, a former UVF prisoner, was a key figure in brokering the loyalist paramilitary ceasefire of 1994.

He suffered a heart attack at his home on Sunday. He later had a stroke and a brain haemorrhage.

Warm tributes have been paid to him. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the PUP leader had been a courageous politician while British PM Tony Blair said he was sorry to learn of his death.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams praised his contribution to the peace process as did the DUP's Peter Robinson.

I must admit I was never a big fan of Ervine and felt he was a bit too pretentious at times. I questioned how sincere he really was in his desire for peace and stability.

In retrospect though I think it's fair to say he was a man with far more sanity and optimism for progress than the buffoon who currently speaks for most unionists right now. If Paisley held the attitude of Ervine, I think NI would be in a far healthier state at present.

Getting away from the political side of things, it's also very sad to see a man die so young.

I have no idea how Ervine will be remembered by history but I have a feeling his legacy will be a lot more positive than that of many of his peers.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Starting off by looking back...

Some of you might have been wondering if I'd forgotten all about the project that has been ongoing here on United Irelander over the last few weeks, The 100 Greatest Irish People List.

Well you'll be pleased to know I haven't and that your votes haven't been in vain! I've compiled the list and I'll publish it soon.

For those wondering about the recent polls, the individuals who received the most votes in Poll 1 were Robert Emmet, Tom Crean and Sean Lemass. In Poll 2, the top figures were George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Clarke plus Jack Lynch and Eoin MacNeill who tied. In the final poll, the top three were Bobby Sands, Garret Fitzgerald and Kevin O'Higgins.

I stated originally that I intended the list to be as fair and open as possible so I will be putting most, if not all, emphasis on your voting patterns. I will also compile some facts and details on the eventual list.

Hopefully it will prove interesting and most important of all - fun - because that is what it's supposed to be more than anything else.

You might as well start off a new year by acknowledging the past. Here's to 2007...

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