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22 January 2004 Edition

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The Fifth Column

Cruiser scuppered by tax

Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien, the anti-republican columnist with the Irish Independent, has had to loosen his fat money belt and shell out a six-figure sum to the Revenue Commissioners for unpaid taxes on his high earnings from journalism for over 30 years.

The Cruiser became notorious for his Big Brother censorship while a 26-County Labour Party Communications Minister in the 1970s. During that time he rigorously enforced Section 31 censorship of TV and radio and he even adopted J Edgar Hoover proportions by scouring the letters pages of newspapers and clipping the writings, names and addresses of government critics and left-wing and republican correspondents.

The Cruiser limped out of government in 1977. He has now written more than 20 books, including studies of Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson. Royalties from books were tax-exempt under Charles Haughey's Artists' Exemption Scheme as writings "of artistic or cultural merit". His bloated ego convinced him to believe that his hysterical ramblings in newspaper columns met the criteria of "artistic or cultural merit".

Conor Cruise O'Bonkers dodged the tax man until 1998. On RTÉ Radio, Vincent Browne torpedoed the Cruiser by forcing him to admit to the tax-paying public (and the Revenue Commissioners) that he had never paid a single penny in tax on his 30 years of journalism.

Big Brother brought to book. Now that's a good ending.

In the Heat of the Night

POT-BELLIED Peelers at Strabane PSNI Barracks were feeling hot a lot further down than their ample collars when a fire broke out at their in-station SAUNA.

Rosy-cheeked chaps ran hot-foot as the barracks was evacuated when some bright spark dropped burning coals onto a wooden bench.

No PSNI member was injured although they were left smarting over the public humiliation after their sweat box suffered scorch damage.

Yorkshire puddings

EMMERDALE, the TV soap series littered with on-screen disasters such as air crashes and terrible storms, nearly suffered a real-life wipe-out of new cast members by Scotland Yard's Terrorist Squad, on the hunt for IRA Volunteers.

The tragic news of the cast's brush with death was revealed in Saturday's UTV programme, It Shouldn't Happen on a TV Talent Show. Describing itself as "a selection of embarrassing and cringe-worthy moments from TV talent contests over the years", the show lifted the lid on the fly-on-the-wall search for soap stars among amateur actors to join the BAFTA award-winning cast of the Yorkshire drama three years ago.

Directors told how they whittled down the hundreds of entrants to a wannabe famous five. The five, earmarked to inject a bit of life as a new family in the stodgy Yorkshire drama, were whisked away from the Fleet Street TV gossip pack to a secret hideout in the country. Cut off from their families, the characters practiced their lines and honed their thespian skills behind closed curtains in an isolated farmhouse. Meanwhile, convoys of vans snaked their way up the dirt track for shifty men to unload tons of equipment in steel cases. For weeks, they coasted along, smugly surmising that they had escaped the unwanted attentions of prying eyes ... until they answered a knock on the door several weeks after they moved in under cover of their top-secret operation.

MI5 and police snipers had staked out the farmhouse and had the place surrounded. SAS-trained gunmen had the shadowy figures in their sights as they flitted across the curtained windows. Luckily, the MI5/SAS gang deviated from the usual script associated with such police dramas, and none of the 'bad guys' was riddled with bullets. But then, none of the actors was Irish.

Royston is running

BERTIE AHERN'S baby-faced protégé, Dublin Mayor Royston Brady, is showing worrying signs of congenital Foot in Mouth Disease in his single-minded bid to win a European Parliament seat against party rival Eoin Ryan.

In September, PD leader Mary Harney told Bertie to make his boy publicly grovel for calling PD Justice Minister Michael McDowell "arrogant". Then Baby Face Brady did a u-turn on his support for lap-dancing clubs after coming under pressure from women's and community groups.

Last weekend, the silly mayor launched a full-blooded attack on fellow city councillors.

Baby Face was particularly scathing of Labour Party Councillor Kevin Humphries, calling him "a clown, an absolute clown". Labour burghers were particularly incensed, especially since Royston got his well-upholstered seat in the Mansion House thanks to the carve-up between the Labour and Fianna Fáil groups, which rotates the mayoralty between the supposed enemies.

After having his bottom politically spanked by his Fianna Fáil minders, a chastened Baby Face got on the phone and told Humphries that he was sorry for calling him a clown. But when he saw the rest of the 52-strong council lining up to give him a verbal slap at Monday night's council meeting, Baby Face said he wasn't going to say sorry in public and went and hid on them.

The following day, Royston Brady was named as a fit candidate for Fianna Fáil and to represent Dubliners as their MEP.

Heil and farewell

CORK UNIVERSITY'S Law Society says it is "disappointed" that it has had to withdraw its invitation to the neo-Nazi British National Party to speak at a debate on asylum seekers after fears expressed by college authorities about the safety of students (particularly non-white students who bump into the BNP).

Law Society auditor Patrick O'Callaghan was particularly upset that the mini-führer of the Young British National Party, Anthony Wentworth, won't be able to do his Nuremburg Rally impressions in the Rebel County. "Far-right politics exists," O'Callaghan said. "We can either try to sweep it under the carpet or debate it in open forums."

Or we can give it a good kick in the Goebbels.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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