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29 April 2004 Edition

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The 5th Column

Monstrous Regiment of Women?

LIBYAN LEADER Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's appearance at a meeting with Commission President Romano Prodi in Brussels on Tuesday caused quite a stir, and not just because of the controversial colonel's recent political rehabilitation by the West.

Muammar appeared flanked by four bodyguards, resplendent in blue paramilitary uniform. But there was hardly a murmur about Muammar because all eyes were on his security detail, an all-female ensemble and what our laddish contemporaries in the commercial tabloids might describe as a bevy of bodyguard babes.

Prodi told the Irish Times that the decision to let Gaddafi bring his uniformed bodyguards was a matter for the Belgian authorities. But Prodi added that he had no objection "because they're so beautiful", sexist certainly but not something he's ever had cause to say about the minders guarding Bertie Ahern or Ian Paisley.

Carry On up the jungle

WE LOVE an oul' sound-bite with our media lunch at the 5th Column but we were intrigued by the reaction of Ian Paisley Jnr to this week's verdict on the Colombia Three.

Pin-striped Paisley was unhappy about the result and he described the verdicts as "jungle justice at its worst".

But what did he mean? The case was heard in Bogota, a modern capital that obviously doesn't compete with the metropolitan charms of Ballymena, but is unquestionably urban. So was the "jungle" jibe a pseudo-racist reference? Would someone ask the Boy Paisley what he means?

Ballykinlar's BNP links

A BRITISH ARMY corporal at Ballykinlar Barracks is under arrest after a black soldier was attacked by two others while he was asleep. The victim needed urgent medical attention after he was dragged to the floor and kicked in the face and body.

All the men are serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets.

One witness said of the victim: "He was in a bad way. They punched him and kicked him again and again. He was bleeding and seriously bruised. There were at least two of them having a go at him. They were shouting, 'You black bastard — we are going to kill you' and things like that."

A search of the corporal's quarters following the attack a fortnight ago is reported to have found race-hate propaganda from the British National Party.

If you've half a mind...

JUSTIN BARRETT, the right-wing, self-styled republican, has crawled out of the woodwork to stir the racist pot and is expected to announce this week that he might contest the EU elections on an anti-immigrant ticket in what used to be the Leinster constituency.

Barrett used to be the demented public face of the anti-abortion commandos in Youth Defence and the annoyingly shrill right-wing voice haunting the overwhelmingly progressive No to Nice campaign.

It was in October 2002, during the Nice campaign, that Barrett was found out as having taken part in meetings of Germany's far-right National Democratic Party and Italy's Forza Nuova two years earlier. The Youth Defence press officer was never out of the current affairs spotlight during his hey-day but he protested that he wasn't aware that both groups were regarded by anyone with two brain cells to rub together as neo-fascist, racist and anti-Semitic.

They used to say back in the '70s: "If you've half a mind to join the National Front, don't worry, that's all you need."

Justin Barrett may be struggling to muster even that.

Beyond their Ken

THE YOUNG FOGIES in the Ulster Unionist Party's dreary youth wing claim to have been vindicated by the Electoral Commission's recommendation that the voting age is not lowered from 18 to 16.

The Young Unionist Council attacked Sinn Féin and the SDLP for wanting to extend the franchise to 16-year-olds and encourage more engagement in civic society by young people. YUC spokesperson, the patronising Kenneth Donaldson, said:

"The YUC will not make flippant assertions. Instead of telling our young people what to believe, we will proactively engage with them."

And then Ken will tell them they can't vote.

Judging the judges

JUDGES were denounced this week by the leader of a loose-knit federation of uniformed activists whose members train secretly in riot techniques and have a reputation for fomenting violence on May Day — not The Wombles but the Garda Representative Association.

The Guards' 'trade union' annual conference in Bundoran heard outgoing GRA President Michael Kirby challenge Justice Minister Michael McDowell, sitting in the audience, about how some judges criticise Guards in open court for foul-ups and discrepancies in evidence, etc.

"Who are these privileged elite answerable to? Effectively no one."

Hear, hear, Brother Kirby. Just what republicans have been saying for years.

It's lucky for Brother Kirby that he's a union official and not a rank and file Garda, otherwise McDowell wouldn't have him just outgoing from the GRA but going out to issue traffic tickets in Baghdad.

Brighton rock

THE IRA's 1984 bombing of the Conservative Party conference in Brighton that almost wiped out Margaret Thatcher and her war cabinet is to be the subject of a new docu-drama by the BBC. But the Beeb has come under fire from Tory grandees for paying limited expenses to one of the former IRA men who took part in the operation.

Pat Magee was given eight life sentences but freed in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement. The BBC confirmed that Magee had been consulted by them in the making of a BBC2 docu-drama, Bombing Brighton, which will be screened to mark the 20th anniversary of the audacious attack.

A BBC spokesperson said: "To ensure the programme was a thorough, well researched documentary, we spoke to a number of people involved in the story, including Patrick Magee. As normal in these situations, we paid minimal expenses. We are talking Ryanair flights and railway station sandwiches." (Is there no end to their revenge?)

Nevertheless, Lord Norman Tebbitt and Sir Bernard Ingham, Thatcher's former press secretary, are going bonkers. Ingham fumed:

"Does the BBC really believe in democracy or does it believe in supporting or encouraging terrorism? The answer is, it will do nowt for entertainment. It is a pretty poor form of entertainment. They are putting bums on seats. I don't think we should be using terrorists or ex-terrorists as consultants."

Tebbitt and Ingham are not as forthright in denouncing their party's patronage of the Tories' favourite renegade republican, Seán 'James Bond' O'Callaghan.

An Phoblacht Magazine

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.

Buy An Phoblacht magazine here

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