Thursday, June 28, 2007


Summer break

I wish everyone, friend or foe, well and that is that, the end...for a few weeks at least.

Enjoy your summer.

Monday, June 25, 2007


What are the real values of unionism?

I recently discovered a new blog thanks to my good friends the Young Unionists called Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness, which is written by a UUP follower called 'Chekist', who describes himself as someone "with a civic unionist flavour naturally". I've found his posts interesting and articulate so I reckon he's off to a fine start but - believe it or not - I find myself at odds with some of his views.

In a post about the role of the NI Secretary, Chekov lays into the DUP and specifically the DUP leader Ian Paisley, accusing him of neglecting the values of the Union. He writes:

"In forming an alliance of convenience with Alex Salmond he has already shown that he has no regard for the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. He is prepared to undermine the Union in order to consolidate his own personal fiefdom. For Paisley the parliament at Westminster is a golden teat to be suckled on for all he is worth, rather than an institution to which he feels any real allegiance.

"Those in the DUP who retain any pretence of being unionists and who in any way attribute an intrinsic value to the Union (rather than merely viewing it as a marriage of convenience to be exploited) should look seriously at the fissures in their own party, and the route the present leader is taking them."

Now then, as someone with a keen interest in Irish history I find Chekov's opinions, to quote Mr Spock, "highly illogical". It would seem to me that the NI First Minister Ian Paisley is simply following the path once trodden by the first Prime Minister of NI James Craig. Not many unionists seem to know this fact which I've discussed on United Irelander before, but during the Treaty talks between Lloyd George's delegation and Michael Collins' delegation, James Craig actually requested dominion status for NI. A request which outraged the British. As Professor of History Michael Laffan outlined in his book 'The Partition of Ireland: 1911-1925'...

"The British cabinet was infuriated by the proposal. Lloyd George derided the idea of the north obtaining dominion status and ascribed financial reasons for Craig's request ; he wanted 'a six bob tax as against three bob'.

"Craig's suggestion of dominion status for Northern Ireland made the unionists intensely unpopular and the British cabinet resented their sabotage of its plans for a settlement with Irish nationalists."

So you see there's nothing new about unionists viewing Westminster as a "golden teat to be suckled on". In fact, Craig was willing to go several steps further than Paisley by requesting independence from Westminster just like the Irish Free State!

So with that being said perhaps some of United Irelander's readers can explain to me what this so-called "intrinsic value to the Union" involves? Because to me, looking at it from a historical standpoint, it just makes no sense.

James Craig sought dominion status. Edward Carson meanwhile opposed the partition of Ireland. Yet we have unionists like Chekov questioning the route Paisley is taking! What route are YOU and your fellow unionists taking, hmm?

Could somebody please explain to me what the real values of unionism are in 2007? What's it all about?


EU referendum likely says Minister

I see the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has said it is likely that a referendum will be held in Ireland on the new EU Treaty.

So be it. I for one will strongly oppose this treaty as it will leave this country nothing but a little fish in a very big shark tank.

You want to sell us out to Europe? Well you're going to have a fight on your hands, you crooks.


Derek Dougan passes away

I was saddened to learn that former Northern Ireland and Wolves striker Derek Dougan has died at the age of 69.

Born in Belfast in January 1938, Dougan scored over 120 goals for Wolves and bagged more goals than any Irishman in the English league.

He was capped 43 times for NI but fell out of favour with the IFA when he played for a Shamrock Rovers XI against Brazil in an exhibition match in Dublin in 1973. The Rovers team was in essence an All-Ireland XI and the IFA opposed the staging of the game which Dougan had helped organise. He never played for NI again and later commented that he was in favour of an all-Ireland football team.

'The Doog' was a real hero to many Wolves and NI fans and the likeable lad will be missed by football fans. RIP.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Today in History - Battle of the Somme begins

It was on this day, 24th June, 1916, that the Battle of the Somme began.

It was one of the most significant battles of the First World War and was the scene of immense bravery from both Irish unionists and nationalists who fought alongside each another with great distinction.

The men were given proper credit for their courage from the unionist community, but it has long been taboo for nationalists to speak warmly of Irish participation in WW1 due to other notable events which occurred in the island at this point in time.

Thankfully in recent years that attitude has changed and the Irish state has begun to acknowledge the sacrifices made by Irish people in the war. In total, 25,000 Irishmen were to perish in the Battle of the Sommes.

The 36th Ulster Division and the 16th Irish Division lost many men in the fighting but showed great heroism throughout.

The 16th and the 36th divisions together

The First World War was a ghastly business and so many brave soldiers were treated like pawns by heartless generals. Truly it was indeed a case of "Lions led by donkeys".

I'll leave you with this song from The Fureys called 'The Green Fields of France' which tells the story of a young man of 19 named Willie McBride who fell during the war. There was actually a boy of 19 in the war named Willie McBride, an Irish lad, who met his end at the Battle of the Somme. This song has a haunting beauty to it and is the best version of the song I've heard. Take a listen and remember all those poor souls who lie in the green fields of France.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Stop the Love Ulster demonstration

Over the last few days I have been closely following the ongoing "will they, won't they?" saga over whether or not Willie Frazer, and the victims' group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, should be allowed to stage another march in Dublin following last year's scenes of violence in the Irish capital.

A year ago Dublin's city centre was torn up and several people were injured when extremist Republicans, and general run-of-the-mill Dublin scumbags, decided to cause mayhem through riots which caused considerable damage as well as losing Dublin more than €10m in trade.

Now it seems wee Willie Frazer, the eccentric egomaniac of loyalism, has managed to convince the gardai to allow a march to take place in August which he claims will attract some 3,000 participants.

I must say as a Dubliner I'm left angry as well as baffled at the willingness of the gardai to run this march again. I know that many of the Guards were left seething with rage that the scumbags managed to injure a lot of officers. I'm just wondering if that's why the Guards are so keen to try this march again? Is it about payback? Make no mistake about it if violence does kick off again the gardai will beat the holy sh*t out of these people. Now many would welcome such a situation but as much as I loathe these nut jobs I don't particularly want my city to become the scene of a bloodbath. As for Frazer? Well I'm sure he'd revel in the media frenzy.

Officers were hurt by yobs

I've listened to the arguments in favour of allowing the march and to me they make no sense. One of the arguments is that we in Dublin have to "prove" ourselves to the rest of the world and show how multicultural we are! This is an argument put forth by Frazer himself. Get a load of this gem from Frazer on an Irish morning talk show:

"Dublin is a multicultural society and everybody is welcome. Now is the time to prove it".

Eh? We don't have to "prove" anything to the likes of you, Willie. When did this guy become the bastion of tolerance and multiculturalism? Let's remind ourselves of this guy's track record. Frazer once welcomed loyalist paramilitaries "as individuals" to a rally where he remarked...

"There is a difference [between loyalist and republican paramilitaries] loyalists are not trying to get into the government. They're not trying to get into the police force. They're not trying to get 'on-the-runs' returned. They're not trying to turn justice upside down. They don't really come into the equation the way the IRA does."

And yet we in Dublin have to "prove" ourselves to this sad man? I'm not sure who's more stupid, Frazer or the people who go along with his line of thinking.

The other argument put forth in favour of doing the march again seems to be rooted in Irish republicanism, namely that if we truly believe all Irish people are equal then we must let Frazer march down the Irish capital. This argument misses the point entirely - Frazer WANTS to cause violence. Frazer WANTS to sh*t-stir. If I sought to hold a march that was likely to incite violence and put people's health at risk then I would fully expect the authorities to deny me the opportunity to hold the march. So why make a special case for this guy? If we're all equal then treat Frazer the way you would treat anybody. No preferential treatment!

The fact is we had ugly scenes last year involving the dregs of Irish society and I see no reason to risk a repeat performance. Most Dubliners will avoid the city centre when this march takes place. I guarantee you that. The ones who will come out in force will be the gardai, the media and the skinhead, white-runner, Adidas-clad knackers who would love to oblige journalists and Frazer with carnage in the capital.

What other city would put up with such a farcical situation? Why is a "Love Ulster" parade taking place in Leinster anyway? And are you telling me a "Love Ireland" march - dedicated to remembering the Irish victims of British colonial rule over the centuries - would be welcomed with open arms by one and all on the streets of Belfast? Of course not! Why? Because there would be mayhem that's why!

This isn't about the right to march or the right to air one's views, it's about common sense and common sense tells you that holding another march in Dublin is a recipe for disaster. The gardai should tell Frazer where to go with his marching plan. The people of Dublin don't want this parade. The people of Dublin don't want Willie Frazer disrespecting us. The people of Dublin don't want scumbags getting an opportunity to raise anarchy.

The people of Dublin want their multicultural city to be left as it is and not to become centre stage for the monocultural Willie Frazer who doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself. He exploits the victims of violence. Don't let him exploit this city as well!

Friday, June 22, 2007


Irish involvement in 'Celtic Cup'

I was pleased to learn that the Irish football team is to participate in a competition tentatively called the 'Celtic Cup', but I was disappointed to learn that this competition will not include the English team.

Initial plans are to hold a tournament every two years with the first tournament scheduled to start in the 2008/09 season.

A semi-final round in August 2009 would be followed with a final and a third-place play-off in February 2010. All four football associations are understood to be keen on the idea but the English FA are not.

I think this could prove very entertaining for football fans but why are the English unwilling to get behind the idea? My hunch is that they're worried the smaller teams will leave them with egg on their faces.

In the rugby Six Nations in recent years Ireland have shown they can outperform England and I think that a similar tournament in football would prove equally difficult for England.

Let's let all the teams from this archipelago battle it out for supremacy. I reckon we would have a very good chance of winning such a competition.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Growing support for Irish Unity says survey

My thanks to a unionist reader for informing me that the results of the 2006 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey are now available. As a nationalist the results made for pleasant reading.

I recall writing about the 2004 version of the survey on United Irelander which many felt spelled trouble for those in support of Irish unity (I disagreed). I found that survey very interesting and the latest results are equally fascinating.

I decided to compare and contrast the findings of the surveys. The latest one was carried out from the latter half of 2006 through to the early part of this year. 1230 adults were interviewed from NI.

It is the area of 'Political Attitudes' that I will be looking at. Here are some of the questions and in brackets I have put the responses from the 2004 survey.

Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a unionist, a nationalist or neither?

Unionist - 36% (-3)
Nationalist - 23% (-)
Neither - 40% (+3)
Don’t know - 1% (-)

Interestingly for the first time we have more people claiming to be neither unionist nor nationalist. In the 2004 survey more people identified themselves as unionists. I take encouragement from this as should other Irish nationalists. Clearly there are plenty of people to be won over if the proper policies are there.

Do you think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be for it … remain part of the United Kingdom - 54% (-5)
Or, to reunify with the rest of Ireland? - 30% (+8)
(Independent state) - 3% (-8)
Other (specify) - 1% (-1)
(Don't know) - 12% (+5)

Good news. The desire to remain in the UK is waning and the desire to share a state with the rest of the island is growing. The 'Independent State' notion has withered away as I suspected it would. Plenty of undecided people out there too. Again very heartening results for nationalists and I think very worrying results for unionists.

If the majority of people in Northern Ireland ever voted to become part of a United Ireland do you think you …

would find this almost impossible to accept - 10% (-1)
would not like it, but could live with it if you had to - 43% (-3)
or, would happily accept the wishes of the majority? - 42% (+2)
Don't know - 6% (+3)

Yet again very encouraging results. The number who would "happily accept" has risen and the number that would "find this almost impossible to accept" has slightly fallen. Good stuff.

Here is the main one though - "View on future of Northern Ireland". Here are the results (It actually trails off but I believe the 'e' stands for 'elected assembly'):

Northern Ireland should become independent separate from the... - 2%
Northern Ireland should become independent separate from the... - 4%
Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK with its own e... - 42%
Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK with its own e... - 16%
Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK without an ele... - 5%
Northern Ireland should unify with the Republic of Ireland... - 23%
Don’t know - 9%

This is perhaps the most encouraging of all. While most desire to remain part of the UK, unification "with the Republic of Ireland" remains the second most popular option, and at this stage the details of such an arrangement aren't even known. Personally I desire a whole new Ireland and I think that would be more popular than unity "with the Republic". But here's the interesting part - when they break it down into groups. Here's what happens when you break it down to the sexes...

Northern Ireland should unify with the Republic of Ireland...
Men - 24%
Women - 23%

It's actually one of the most popular choices if you check the table.

Now then, remember those people who criticised me for dismissing the views of young Catholic children who seemed supportive of 'Northern Irishness' on the BBC programme? Remember how I didn't buy that this should be taken as support for partition remaining? Well here's the breakdown in terms of religion - and remember ADULTS were polled here...

Northern Ireland should unify with the Republic of Ireland

Catholics - 48%
Protestants -2%
No religion - 22%

It's a bloody landslide. Far more Catholics prefer a united Ireland to Northern Ireland remaining in the UK which turns out to be 19% of Catholics. Personally speaking I'd like to see more Protestants supporting Irish Unity but the numbers of atheists supporting a united Ireland is heartening.

But the opinions of the young generation certainly matter! Let's see what the 18-24 bracket think...

Northern Ireland should unify with the Republic of Ireland...

The 18-24 age group - 39%

See that? 39%! Well above those in support of NI remaining in the UK which is a paltry 14%.

The 25-34 age bracket - 23%

Again a healthy result. The 35-44 age bracket has 26%. It's not until you get to the 45-54 and the 55-64 age bracket does it start to wane, although strangely it is strong amongst the 65+ age bracket.

What does this mean? It means that the young generation of NI - free of intimidation from terrorists - are starting to realise that a united Ireland makes a whole lot of sense.

They feel more and more disillusioned about being part of a state that does not want them. They now want to be part of a state that DOES want them and which, more importantly, they want to be a part of.

The argument for a united Ireland is succeeding. When you take away the terrorists and when you put Ian Paisley at the forefront of unionism, suddenly the idea of having a united Ireland becomes a lot more attractive!

I have said repeatedly that within this century we will see this island reunited. I feel this poll, while not 100 per cent reliable admittedly, nonetheless hints at things to come - the inevitable reunification of the country.

What are your thoughts on the results?


EU constitution nearly dead?

My hostility towards the European Union is no secret to long-term readers of this site. I believe the European Union poses a grave danger to the sovereignty of nation-states and that there is a very real threat of the Republic of Ireland being swallowed up by a European Superstate.

These fears of mine are embodied in the form of one wretched document - the EU constitution. Two years ago I laid out my objections to this horrid scrap of paper which you can read here. With that being said my spirits were lifted considerably when I learned of plans by the Germans to propose scrapping the idea of a constitution, when state leaders meet at a summit in Brussels today and tomorrow.

The "constitutional concept... is abandoned", says a paper circulated by Germany, which will chair the summit.

The British and the Polish are most unhappy with the "concept". The former object to the potential for a European Superstate and the latter object to the voting system which works against smaller countries.

The German paper proposes that the new treaty is called "The Reform Treaty", accepts that the EU will not have a "foreign minister", and provides countries with a chance to opt out of EU policies in the area of policing and criminal law. The voting system would remain unchanged however.

I like the idea of an opt out on policing and criminal law but I strongly object to the retention of the farcical voting system (which the Poles quite rightly object to).

While I like the idea of the EU constitution dying, this means little if we will simply see the same sovereignty-stealing policies but under a new name. It is in the German interest to keep the ideas behind the EU constitution alive since it will give them increased power - at the expense of smaller nations like mine.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has already backed the dodgy constitution describing it as "the right choice for Ireland" and saying it would "enable the EU to function more efficiently, more democratically, in a way that is easier to understand". This is no surprise as Ahern has bent over backwards for his bureaucratic masters in Brussels on numerous occasions. Luckily for us we are the only country in the EU where the only way of ratifying our constitution or a successor treaty is by referendum. Several countries have ratified the EU constitution through parliament but Ahern is not allowed to. I've no doubt he would if he could.

A referendum on the EU constitution would be difficult here as I imagine most Irish parties would campaign heavily for a Yes vote as they did for the 2nd Nice Treaty vote - after the first one was rejected by the Irish people. For that reason I would not welcome such a scrap and I'm hoping the EU constitution dies its death over the next few days.

Unfortunately the EU constitution has had an awful habit of rising from the dead like the bad guy in a horror movie. I hope today or tomorrow we get to witness its final demise. If so, please don't let there be any sequels.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Sectarian divisions amongst NI's youth

I was interested to learn that a survey commissioned for a BBC programme has discovered that Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren are living parallel and separate lives divided along sectarian lines.

The poll of 667 children across NI was carried out by Professor Paul Connolly of Queen's University for the BBC NI programme 'State of Minds' and it found that segregation ran deep in the North.

Here are some of the findings:

- More than four-fifths of Protestant children (84%) believed Belfast was the capital of their country compared to 39% of Catholics. Less than half of Catholic children (47%) said Dublin was their capital compared to just 4% of Protestants.

- Catholic children (51%) were five times more likely to see themselves as Irish compared to Protestant children (10%). Protestant children were nearly four times more likely to see themselves as British (58%) compared to Catholic children (15%).

- However when children were asked if they were "Northern Irish", there were roughly similar results - 53% of Catholics said they were and 49% of Protestants.

- A third of Protestant boys (33%) were likely to choose a photograph of a child wearing a Rangers football shirt first as their friend compared to Catholic boys (11%). Almost two-fifths of Catholic boys (39%) chose a photograph of a child wearing a Celtic shirt as their friend compared to just 9% of Protestant boys.

- Protestant children (39%) were twice as likely to say they played hockey 'a lot' compared to Catholic children (18%) who were much more likely to say they played Gaelic sports 'a lot' than Protestants (35% compared to 6%).

These findings are very revealing and show that children are indeed being brought up to think along sectarian lines. It does not bode well for the future of the North if these trends continue. I feel that integrated schooling is one big step forward in helping to alleviate some of the sectarian attitudes currently being espoused in Ireland's north.

I also strongly disagree with Professor Connolly's analysis of these findings. He said:

"My own view is that we shouldn't be forcing children to be the same. Children should be encouraged to have a strong sense of their own culture and identity.

"The challenge, however, is how this can be done in a positive and inclusive way?

"One way of doing this is to encourage children's sense of being Protestant or Catholic alongside also helping them to recognise that they are all part of a wider and shared identity as Northern Irish.

"Perhaps the most positive finding from our research is that many children are already beginning to think in this way."

I agree that children should be encouraged to have a strong sense of culture and identity but why should this involve a false identity like 'Northern Irishness'?

'Northern Irishness' is a lie and does not offer hope of a "wider and shared identity". The entity known as Northern Ireland was built upon ANTI-IRISHNESS.

Professor Connolly needs to realise that if he wants these children to be part of a wider and shared identity then it will be through Irishness and not 'Northern Irishness' seeing as the former is an inclusive identity whereas the latter is an exclusive identity.

It is a real shame that many elements in the North's society try to prevent children from getting in touch with their Irish roots. I shall try and watch this programme tonight but I hope it doesn't turn into a propaganda tool for those who delight in partition remaining in Ireland.

If we want children to be free of segregationist thinking then we need to get rid of segregation and that means getting rid of the border.

State of Minds - The Children, BBC NI, tonight at 9pm.


Conditions right for Queen visit - McAleese

I was pleased to hear President McAleese say today that conditions were as good as they have ever been for a historic first visit from the Queen to Ireland's south. Speaking after receiving a warm welcome from the unionist-controlled Lisburn council, she said a visit from the Queen was possible because of the political breakthrough in NI. Said the President:

"One of the things we would all have in mind would be to ensure the circumstances are absolutely right.

"They are probably now getting to the point where they are as close to right as they have ever been.

"One of the things we take great pride and great encouragement from is what is happening here in Northern Ireland – that’s giving us great comfort."

I echo the President's sentiments and I hope that one day soon we see this historic visit. I reckon it would do a lot of good for all-Ireland relations.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


SDLP engaging in flag-flying foolery

I was disappointed to hear the SDLP making a big fuss over something which I personally felt was nowhere close to being a major issue - the flying of a union jack at a World War I Veterans' Day parade in Limavady.

Councillor Gerry Mullan of the SDLP is angry that the flag will be flown for the service saying the First World War should not be used as an excuse "to engage in flag-waving exercises". Said Mullan:

"While I have no issue with people wishing to mark the First World War, I believe that these occasions should not be used as opportunities to engage in flag-waving exercises. On this occasion permission has been sought to erect a mobile flag pole and a platform outside the council offices.

"The horrors of the First World War, or indeed any war, should not be used to engage in flag-waving, which has been the cause of so much grief here in Northern Ireland far from the killing fields of Flanders and other battlefields, where men fought side by side and put their differences aside.

"Now that we have a new opportunity to engage in the future history of Ireland let us do it together and put away the symbols of division and disunity."

However DUP MLA for East Derry George Robinson defended the flying of the flag pointing out that it is protocol for the flag to be flown due to a royal ceremony:

"The flag will be on a mobile base and won’t be located on council property, although it will be on Roads Service ground at the front of the council offices. The flag will only be flown for a matter of half an hour and will be taken down immediately after.

"The only people who will be offended by this, in my opinion, are those people who want to be offended."

I find myself agreeing with Mr Robinson. Only people spoiling for a disagreement will find fault with this. It seems to me like a perfectly reasonable commemoration service. Mr Mullan brings up the brave men from across the island who put aside their differences to fight by side. I think Mr Mullan should ask himself how those men would feel about the flying of a union jack for thirty minutes becoming a bone of contention! I reckon they'd tell him to wise up.

Let it go, Gerry

I don't like flags being used for tribal purposes as a way to rub it in the face of the "other side" but clearly that is not what this is about. Mr Mullan talks about putting away "the symbols of division and disunity" but the flag itself is just a piece of cloth. Look beyond the flag. Look at the people who are putting up the flag and ask whether they are doing this to a) rub your nose in it or b) to show respect. If it's the latter - which I believe to be the case - what's the bloody problem?

I think Mr Mullan would have been better off trying to negotiate the flying of the Irish tricolour at the same time if this bothered him so much. There was a wonderful occasion in 2005 in Derry which saw the tricolour and the union jack flying side by side for the first time to honour those who died in World War 1. I'm sure Mr Robinson, an MLA for Derry, would have been willing to consider something along those lines.

The future history of Ireland which Mr Mullan touched on above should not be an Ireland that seeks to ban, to censor, to suppress etc. It should be an Ireland that listens, that tolerates, that respects.

I think the SDLP do themselves a lot of harm engaging in this sort of nit-picking nonsense. Focus on the important issues and leave this sort of idiocy to RSF and the rest of the insecure loons.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The Green Greed Party in government

"Let's be clear. A deal with Fianna Fáil would be a deal with the devil. We would be spat out after 5 years, and decimated as a Party." - Ciarán Cuffe, Green party TD for Dun Laoghaire, speaking on May 28th.

When I picked up the Evening Herald this morning and read Ciarán Cuffe brushing off his comments above as "more poetry than prose" I knew that the Greens had officially sold out and succumbed to the lure of power.

I quite like Ciarán and readers will note I interviewed him back in '06. Similarly I have a lot of time for departing Green Party leader Trevor Sargent and I admired him for vociferously arguing for a change of government prior to the election. I felt the Greens were an honourable sort. Now? I must say that now I am filled with a lot of disappointment. They have sold out their principles to get in government. And for what? Fianna Fáil commitments? Please. What about the Green's core policies? They blasted the PDs over the plan for hospital co-location. Now? They've signed up to a government that will return Mary Harney to the health portfolio. So in effect they've signed up to the policy. They blasted Fianna Fáil over the use of Shannon Airport by the US military and the building of a motorway through the Tara valley. Now? Well now they have totally ignored those issues and backed Bertie Ahern for another term. So much for principles. Members of the TaraWatch campaign have described the coalition deal as a sell-out of Green Party principles and policies. They're right.

Bertie all smiles as he lands another term

Today Enda Kenny delivered one of the best speeches I've ever heard him give when he blasted the Greens for having swapped principle for power and claiming the only good which will come of this will be that the Greens "saved some rainforest by cutting and pasting so much Fianna Fail manifesto into the programme for government". Later on RTE Green Party TD Paul Gogarty essentially admitted that the Green Party had had to swallow a lot of Fianna Fáil policies in order to make this deal work.

Immanuel Kant once said, "The enjoyment of power inevitably corrupts the judgment of reason, and perverts its liberty". That is what we are witnessing happening to the Greens. They have jumped into bed with the soldiers of debauchery and the regressive autocrats. The Independents who supported this vile pact will be rewarded in due course as well. Ultimately however the Irish people must accept responsibility for this sorry situation. I repeat what I said when the election results came through - you reap what you sow.

As for the Greens, the party who in their election manifestos promised to "clean up politics" have ironically gone and ensured us several more years of the same old dirty, stinking politics. Who'd have thunk it? Not me anyway.

I'll finish this piece with the words of Ciarán Cuffe, again from May 28th:

"Can you change Fiannna Fáil? No, if their only measure of success is cranes on the skyline. Bertie has got to move on from that benchmark. I worry about his moral compass."

Right now Ciarán you should be more worried about your own party's moral compass. Sadly we're going to have to follow where both of these compasses take us. I dread to think where that might be. Wherever it is, I don't think it will be to greener pastures.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Words on Wednesday...with Joanna Tuffy TD

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 the newly elected Labour TD for Dublin Mid West Joanna Tuffy. First off let me first congratulate Ms Tuffy on winning her seat. Now then let's crack on with the questions...

What initially attracted you to political life?

I think politics impacts on everything and what party is in Government matters. I feel very passionate about the Labour Party, its ideas, its history including its founding by 1916 Leader James Connolly and I want to see the Labour Party succeed and be involved in a Labour driven Government. That is why I joined the Labour Party. The reason I ran for election as a public representative when I was elected to the Council in 1999 was because I felt I could get elected. That I had the drive and discipline to win a seat and do the work as an elected representative.

I read that you were born in England. Have you ever encountered negativity from anyone in Ireland because of that?

No. My parents emigrated to England from Mayo in the 1960's just after they got married and came back to Ireland when I was 5. Its part of my Irish identity!

Looking back at the recent election, what are your thoughts on Labour's performance?

I am disappointed more of us didn't get elected but we held our own I think and there are three new faces now for Labour in the Dail. I think we have to build on the position we are now in and I think we can and go on to have more representatives elected in upcoming and future elections and become a bigger more organised party, with a strong ideology and vision that will have more power in Government in the future.

You managed to win a seat in Dublin Mid West but there were some strong contenders up against you. At any point did you think you might not win the seat?
I was worried the morning of the Count at 7am when I got up to get the results of the exit poll that I might not make it. But even then I thought I might still make it. I had many strong contenders for the seats in my constituency but my campaign team ran a great campaign and we've been working on it since the last election when I came fourth in the then three seat constituency. I all through the campaign felt hopeful that I would win a seat for Labour in Dublin Mid West.

Why do you think Fianna Fáil did so well in the election?

I think there are lots of different reasons. But FF had this election well choreographed.

Mary Harney won a seat for the PDs in your constituency but her party took a hammering overall. Were you surprised by the bad performance of the PDs?

No. I thought it was very likely they would lose seats.

As I write this there is a lot of uncertainty over who will lead the next government with talk of a FF/Labour coalition and also talk of Fine Gael, Labour and the other parties forming a government. What would you personally like to see happen?

I want to see Labour build on what it has now to become a bigger party with more opportunity to bring about change in Ireland in the future.

Looking ahead to your future in the Dáil what are some of they key issues you are intent on tackling?

Issues I intend to raise as a T.D. include the need for better planning for school places in growing communities including in my own constituency of Dublin Mid West; immediate investment in our existing public transport infrastructure, bus and rail to ensure that we have good bus services, rail transport that ensures a good service both intercity and in our cities; better funding and resourcing of local government to do its work.

I know that crime is one of the issues you feel very strongly about. What do you think we need to do in order to make out streets safer?

I think a key approach that should be adopted by An Garda Siochana is that of community policing which is about working in partnership with local communities to prevent crime, solve problems, bigger emphasis on gardai on the beat in neighbourhoods, the gardai getting to know their community and vise versa. This is the approach that was considered best practice for e.g. by the Patten Commission when they looked at approaches adopted around the world. People will feel more secure with stronger garda visibility and will be more likely to report crime and work with the Gardai to solve crime. We need to do a lot more to address the issue of drug addiction and we need to be very tough on the drugs lords.

How do we solve the health crisis?

I think that it is important to put the public beds that are needed in our hospitals and step down facilities, including public nursing homes, in place as a first step.

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

1) Move away from developer led planning and build communities of affordable housing that have a nice environment, necessary facilities and infrastructure

2) Have lifelong learning central to our education system and a way of life

3) have a health system that is first class and that treats people according to their medical needs.

What are your thoughts on a united Ireland?

I would like to see it but in the meantime I think the priority is developing greater links, more cooperation.

Where should Ireland be twenty years from now in your opinion?

I would like to see Ireland having had 15 years or so by then of Labour led government that invested in our infrastructure and public services in a sustained and planned way so that we would all have the right to a good education, a home, health care when we needed it, more time with our friends and families and fair working conditions.

What does the future hold in store for Labour in your view?

See above.

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...

Bit artificial this but for the sake of it:

Pat Rabbitte - leader
Enda Kenny - Mayo
Michael McDowell - lost
Mary Harney - held
Bertie Ahern - cunning
Fianna Fáil - smooth operators
Labour - Connolly
Sinn Féin - the North
Progressive Democrats - decimated
Joanna Tuffy - T.D.

My thanks to Joanna for taking my questions. Best of luck to her in the Dáil.

Stay tuned to United Irelander for information on future interviews. Previous interviews can be found here.


FF and Greens set for govt?

I see Fianna Fáil and the Greens have agreed a draft programme for government.

I must say I never expected the negotiations to reach this stage. According to Green Party leader Trevor Sargent all that remains is for the party members to back the arrangement.

Can these parties form a stable and effective government? What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 11, 2007


Paisley blames Troubles on Brits

In the last few weeks on United Irelander I have touched on the recent softening attitude of the DUP leader Ian Paisley.

I've spoken about how bizarre it is to hear the man who so often berated and bashed Irish republicans, now going to great lengths to defend them.

We've had the warm handshake with Bertie Ahern, the fit of giggles with Martin McGuinness, and so on and so forth. It's been so...weird.

Having just read Mr Paisley's latest interview, with the Irish News, I have to say that the man is getting more and more peculiar by the second. First off, here is Paisley's thoughts on the Provisional IRA Army Council being done away with for good:

"I would like to see the IRA Army Council done away with and I would like to see a lot of other things.

"I am making an effort to be able to talk to those people in a way that shows I am not there for their destruction but to get them away from the past and get them into the future."

Can you believe that? Remember this is the guy who once promised to "smash Sinn Féin". Now he wants to "talk" to "those people" and get them into the future. Wow. I was pretty shocked by that quote but the following one left me quite astonished. Paisley was asked why more than 3,600 people had to die in the Troubles when the end result was power-sharing between unionists and republicans. Here is his pretty extraordinary response:

"To be brutally frank – they died because there were men and women prepared to take lives.

"It was allowed to go [on] because the British government totally and utterly failed us.

"We were betrayed by the British government."

Now I can't see the the Paisley of 5 years, 3 years, or even 1 year ago coming out with a comment like that. The Troubles would have been blamed solely on the Provos. Now, the Provos barely come into the equation! It is the British government that "totally and utterly" failed the people! The British "betrayed" us! This is unbelievable stuff. Can you imagine Trimble coming out with a comment like this a few years back? He would have been vilified.

Obviously the British government bears some responsibility for The Troubles but it is ridiculous to claim that the British government should bear the burden. Unionists who presided over an unfair society and who sowed the seeds of discontent and the various paramilitaries who went out and murdered people must shoulder some responsibility as well.

I am curious though exactly who Paisley is referring to when he says the British government totally and utterly failed "us". Who is he speaking of when he says "us"? And when he states that "We were betrayed by the British government", who is he referring to there? Is Paisley saying that the British government betrayed the unionist people? The nationalist people? Or is Mr Paisley actually speaking for all of the people for a change? It's hard to know these days.

I welcome this new open outlook of Ian Paisley but I'm starting to think he's overdoing it. It's one thing to go into government with Sinn Féin, but it's quite another to then go and repeat their very dubious view of historical events.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the man who once vowed to smash Sinn Féin was now in effect drinking their Kool-Aid.

Ian Paisley often referred to his political opponents as a Lundy (the unionist term for a traitor). He called Terence O'Neill a Lundy, David Trimble a Lundy and even former British PM Margaret Thatcher a Lundy.

I think many unionists will now be asking themselves if Ian Paisley might be more worthy of the term.

Lundy? Loony? Make up your own minds on that one.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Irish speakers march in Belfast

I wish to convey my support to the Irish speakers who have taken to the streets of Belfast in support of official recognition for the Irish language.

The march, organised by Irish language group Pobal, made its way from the Falls Road to the city centre and campaigners are seeking a comprehensive, rights-based Irish language act.

The consultation period on a proposed law ended on Tuesday, with more than 4,000 responses sent to the British government.

The draft bill proposes the creation of an Irish language commissioner and giving people the right to use Irish in court.

These are simple demands which ought to be honoured but - surprise, surprise! - many unionist politicians have promised to block any bill in Stormont. This is nothing but petty sectarianism on their part and they should be ashamed of themselves. Bunch of bigots.

Speaking this morning, Janet Muller, the head of Pobal, said she was saddened by the recent negative comments from a few politicians about Irish speakers and the Irish language.

As am I. Quite simply it's nothing short of disgraceful. According to the 2001 census more than 10% of the North's population can speak their native tongue so the language deserves more respect. Unionists who plan on blocking the bill are motivated by nothing other than hatred and anti-Irishness. After all it was the DUP's Sammy Wilson who referred to the Irish language as a "leprechaun language". A very revealing insight into how many unionists feel.

Best of luck to the marchers I say. Let the people of Britain and the wider world see how pathetic some of these unionist politicians really are.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Abandon hope, ye unionists?

This seems to be the message coming out of the Young Unionist's website.

Following on from my post yesterday which touched on NI being left out of 'Britain Day' by their so-called compatriots, I questioned how unionists must feel about recent developments in general.

Unquestionably the north and south of Ireland are closer now than at any other point in time since the mutilation of the national territory in 1921. It is also true to say that the people in Britain now feel more distinct from the people of Ireland than ever before. Hell, the people of England and Scotland now feel more distinct hence the reason for this 'Britain Day' idea in the first place.

Unionists at one time believed remaining in the Union was a necessity to protect their best interests. Nowadays leading economists argue the best interests of people across Ireland is through economic unity. A belief held by NI Secretary of State Peter Hain and I suspect also held by Ian Paisley's DUP judging by their commitment to have NI's corporation tax slashed to 12.5% - in line with that of the Republic.

So how are unionists feeling in 2007 as the tide towards economic and political reunification intensifies? Well, John Hussey writes on the Young Unionist's website:

"Is it just me or has the new assembly been a little surreal on occasion – we have the DUP and Sinn Fein acting like newly weds; convicted terrorists sitting on the policing board; Big Ian and Bertie holding hands at the Boyne, and Peter Hain finally going off to bother someone else (I hear that if he gets the deputy leadership that he’s going to open a Whitehall branch of 'tan-tastic').

"What finally drove me over the edge of reason, was during Monday’s assembly debate when the speaker Willy Hay shouted down David Burnside at the mere mention of the term 'Sinn Fein/IRA' a phrase that Mr Hay himself was no stranger to up until recently."

I don't know if these developments are worthy of sending unionists "over the edge of reason" but clearly they stand in stark contrast to the events of only a few short years ago. If you'd told most unionists back in 1997, just ten years ago, that these things would happen - the DUP and Sinn Féin in government, Paisley and Ahern taking trips together, the DUP requesting civil exchanges with the Shinners - I wager most unionists would have refused to believe it. Admittedly, back in 1997, I probably would have struggled to believe it myself. Yet it has happened and must prove quite scary for unionists brought up to look at the Irish nationalist position as worthy of Satan himself. Hussey continues:

"But what’s more, if you look around the new executive, it’s like something from the twilight zone – we have a first minister who thinks we’re all going to hell, a deputy first minister who thinks we’re already there (in our little 'occupied 6 county British statelet'), two junior ministers in the office, one hates the police and the other hates the gays (and what’s more, they both hate each other). We have a Finance minister who looks a bit like droopy the Education minister who was educated in the Republic, an Enterprise minister who’s about as enterprising as a blind hedgehog with a slight limp, a Regional Development minister who doesn’t believe that the region he is developing should even exist (added to which he appears to be confused about whether he is 'here' or not), and to top it all off, we have a Culture minister who thinks Picasso can't do faces. It’s like an Ealing comedy gone wrong. (Notice how I skilfully left out our UUP ministers; amongst others of course)."

I agree with Mr Hussey. It is strange. We've gone from "Never, never, never", "No Surrender", "The Union is Safe" to...well, the twilight zone as Mr Hussey so fittingly described it. Hussey adds:

"It’s a wonder more people haven’t turned to wearing tinfoil hats and checking their groceries for listening devices – indeed, if I were a Free P, I could be tempted to believe that it’s the 'end of days', the world as we know it turned on it’s head – in fact, I don’t know what’s more surprising really, the fact the country is in this situation or that the Free Presbyterian church has not collapsed in on itself."

Well it's simply evolution my dear man. Your "country" (though it was never really a country) is simply making way for the inevitable - reunification. The NI entity lasted a considerable time based upon disgusting sectarianism and gerrymandering and by treating the nationalist community like second-class citizens. With those days now over it is simply a case of when will the wrong be righted? When will the island be restored to its proper condition? These changes in NI might seem quite shocking but there are even bigger and better changes ahead. Changes that will benefit all peoples across this nation. Hussey concludes:

"But in any case – Stormont seems set to only get more bizarre with the devolution of policing and Justice powers looking set for next year. Perhaps Michael Stone ought to have painted 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here'."

If the hope of unionists is to continue the unfair status quo whereby this island stays divided against the majority's wishes then yes that hope should be abandoned. If the hope for unionists however is to have politics based upon principles and bread-and-butter policies then unionists need to look beyond the twilight zone of the Assembly and look towards the calming waters of Irish unity.

The reunification of the country at one time seemed like fantasy but in this century we can make it a reality. What we have currently in the North doesn't seem to please anybody. It is politics based upon sectarianism, homophobia, and bitterness from generations ago. As the recent Irish election showed, we have moved to a place where we can leave those petty matters where they belong - in the past.

The best future is a shared future. Don't abandon or scoff at that hope - believe in it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Money talks as Paris walks

So the world's most famous blonde bimbo Paris Hilton has been released from jail after serving just 3 days of her sentence. Fancy that, the US justice system taking it easy on a famous face! It reminds me of a scene from one of The Simpsons episodes when Krusty the Clown thought he'd be facing a prison term. He was told however:

"Krusty, this is America. We don't send our celebrities to jail. We're just going to garnish your salary."

According to the authorities poor Paris has been released due to a medical problem which they have refused to give details on. Perhaps the prison diet was to blame. Twas probably too filling for her and she ended up with a bad case of indigestion.

Hilton has now been forced to undergo house arrest 20 days before her revised jail term was due to end. This house arrest will of course be in her fancy swank mansion. Oh how horrible!

Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said that Paris would be "confined to her home", that she must wear an ankle bracelet and would not be allowed out for parties or social functions. Yes folks. Justice - Yank style.

Los Angeles does it again

I really didn't think after the OJ Simpson fiasco that the American justice system, particularly that of the state of Los Angeles, could make a mockery of judicial proceedings any further by protecting celebrities but, lo and behold, they've gone and done it again.

Yes apparently OJ Simpson is not a murderer, Michael Jackson is not a child molester and Paris Hilton is not a money-mad, drunken, disrespectful skank.

God bless America indeed.

Update: Great news! The spoiled heiress has been returned to prison. Kicking and screaming too so they say. Even better! Wait to go, LA!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Britain Day - NI not included

It was with great amusement that I learned of the latest bright idea from Tony Blair's New Labour - 'Britain Day'.

What will this day involve you ask? Well here's what Ruth Kelly, one of the ministers involved in the suggestion of the idea, had to say on the matter:

"The point of it would be to celebrate the contribution that we all make to society."

She added a Britain day would recognise the "local focus" of people's contribution to society in particular. The plan also suggests immigrants could earn British citizenship under a points based system.

Another one of the ministers involved in the proposal, amusingly named Liam Byrne (could you make up a more Irish name?) said the following:

"One of the ways that we can do that is just taking a bit of time out each year to actually celebrate what we're proudest of in this country."

Now, personally speaking, I regard this idea as a desperate ploy on the part of New Labour to try and alter the sense of disillusionment many English and Scottish people feel about Britishness and the Union. Despite that though, one thing about this idea I find wonderful - the total ignorance shown towards the NI entity! This day is not going to be called the 'UK Day'. It would be called 'Britain Day'. Note how Ms Kelly talks about her society solely in relation to the island of Britain. Note how Mr Byrne talks about this country, solely in relation to the island of Britain! What must unionists feel? Furthermore, doesn't this back up what Irish people like me have been saying for years and years? That the British people don't regard NI as their country? I think so.

British regard Ireland as different

Even Tory leader David Cameron, who has backed plans for a greater promotion of Britishness, weighed in on the act forgetting to mention the north of Ireland and commenting on a "deliberate weakening of our collective identity in Britain". He added:

"The challenge now is to create a positive vision of a British society that really stands for something and makes people want to be a part of it."

Clearly this British society does not include the north of Ireland - nor should it! It's quite revealing too reading the comments on the BBC's forum on this matter. Most people seem to hate the idea of a Britain Day and seem more intent on having their own national identities respected. Here's some examples:

"I am glad I am English. I am glad I live here instead of anywhere else. Less than I used to be, but still glad.

"But Devolution means that, I a 57 year old woman, does not FEEL British. I feel English. Sadly I have had my pride in being English chipped away for many years on the trot by our spinning-top politicians.

"To suggest we all get together again as British after giving Wales and Scotland their virtual independence from Britain is contradictory. Essentially it's all spin."

~ Josephine Bennington, Gravesend.

"I am not British, I am ENGLISH and always will be. Do not let "them" change our identity. PS Wouldn't it be good if we were allowed to celebrate St George's Day without the non-PC fraternity trying to make us feel guilty!!"

~ Dean Gallagher, Hove

"I thought a 'British Day' was a good idea until I read the comments already submitted on this topic. So many people are anti-Scottish, or anti-English, or anti-anything except themselves that I fear Britishness is now a lost cause. Perhaps the United Kingdom should split up into our respective countries to see if we can find national pride again and bring our children up to believe in something other than football, money and booze."

~ James Price, United Kingdom

"More Government spin to say how they are supporting the British identity. Well there is no British identity and never was its English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. How about we English are actually allow to celebrate St Georges Day or Battle of Trafalgar day without the accusations of racism or xenophobia. I have nothing against immigration but it would be nice if there was more respect for the local British or English customs and traditions without the fear of being non-PC."

~ KH, Surrey, United Kingdom

Here's my favourite email as it's bang on the money...

"A day to celebrate Britishness?, lets see; More Scottish don't want to be known as British, neither do the Welsh. And the English are waking up to how unfair they're treated politically as a result of devolution, and only the Unionists in Northern Irish want to cling on to the British tag."

~ Paul, Shrewsbury

Another good one:

"It would be great if we had a Britain first. The Irish are going. The Scots want out. The English want a homeland. How about Home Rule for Yorkshire? Perhaps a Tower of Babel Day might be more relevant."

~ Rob Brownell, Colchester


"'Britain' Day?Why not 'United Kingdom' Day, or are we in Northern Ireland not worthy of inclusion?"

~ Paul, Belfast

I'll answer that one. Because you don't matter, Paul. You don't fit in. You have been duped for decades by people like the Tories who sought to USE YOU as a way of consolidating their own power in Britain. Now those days are over. It's time unionists realised that.

Whatever the people in Britain go with, I wish them good luck. I'm heartened that the people there are now distancing themselves considerably from the the north of Ireland.

It is our country after all and I look forward to the day when we in Ireland can celebrate 'Ireland Day' - the day our country is reunited at long last.

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