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23 March 2005 Edition

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The 5th Column

Sackcloth and ashes

THE 5th Column has come up with a Peace Process initiative aimed at pleasing Ian Paisley and breaking the logjam.

Back in December, Big Daddy threw a spanner in the carefully choreographed Peace Process machinery when he demanded that the IRA not only follow through on its pledge to make an historic and unprecedented commitment on decommissioning weapons and going into a new mode, but that the IRA covers itself in "sackcloth and ashes".

In his provocative but now largely unremarked speech in Ballymena, the DUP chief called for the IRA to be "humiliated". He thundered: "They need to wear their sackcloth and ashes, not in a back room but openly."

Will P O'Neill and friends shopping in this shop in Sallins, near Bodenstown, County Kildare, satisfy Big Ian?

Orange Order's cultural Corker

CORK CITY'S St Patrick's Day organisers invited the Orange Order to join them in "celebrating cultural diversity on the island". Noble sentiments, but one which the Orange Order clearly showed it doesn't really share by its actions in St Patrick's Week.

The day after they were due to "celebrate cultural diversity" in Cork, the Orange Order leadership in Belfast showed what it really thinks about cultural diversity. On Friday, 18 March, the Order hosted a top-level political summit at its Schomberg House headquarters, with DUP leaders Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds and an Ulster Unionist Party team led by David Trimble.

The aim of the meeting organised by Orange Grand Master Robert Salters? To eventually restore the unionist monolith but, in the immediate short-term, hammer out an election pact to keep nationalists out of power in the Westminster and local council elections in May.

The unionist daily newspaper, the News Letter, reported: "The Grand Lodge of Ireland has requested that the parties put aside their differences in a bid to avoid splitting the unionist vote in some constituencies at the general election and handing seats TO SINN FÉIN OR THE SDLP [our emphasis]."

Not just keeping republicans out, Cork St Patrick's Day organisers may note, but the SDLP too.

The meeting was brokered by the Orange Order, in its own words, "for the good of unionism". So much for celebrating cultural diversity.

PSNI's threatening letters

RUC Reservists still resisting Patten's policing reforms are up in arms because they are being asked to retrain or leave the PSNI. Now they are threatening to hit back by... leaving!

The Peelers have accused their boss, Hugh Orde, of sending them "threatening letters" to try and transform them from their role guarding security bases into one for community policing.

One RUC man with 18 years' service in the Reserve said he felt that his three months training he got in the 1970s and 1980s and two hours a month extra training is more than enough. He even got a certificate for it! He's had a bellyful of training and feels that he and his pals are being pushed out. He told the News Letter:

"We feel the letters from the Chief Constable are a threat — either go through the training or leave. I know a large number of excellent part-time officers are thinking of leaving because of this."

Er, that's what the "threatening letter" wants.

DUP no to PC police

THE DUP's ever-stressed Gregory Campbell has found a new policing whinge about the name change that has overtaken his beloved RUC.

Speaking during a Westminster debate on policing district partnerships, the East Derry MP claimed that "political correctness" has meant that no one ever refers to "the police" but it always has to be "the PSNI".

"There appears to be a political correctness in Northern Ireland. Every time we talk about the police in Northern Ireland, it seems that political correctness enters into the phraseology of Northern Ireland Office Ministers, the media and others.

"They have to call it the Police Service of Northern Ireland. We do not now have police stations, we have PSNI stations. We do not have police inspectors, we have PSNI inspectors."

And we have the PSNI instead of the promised "new beginning to policing".

Swan bake

The Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, is in hot water after police swooped on his kitchen and found out that he was having a swan for his gourmet dinner.

The swan is a protected species that, under ancient laws covering Britain and the Six Counties, has royal status and can only legally be eaten by the British queen. On the Scottish island of Orkney, though, an ancient and more palatable Viking law says that swans are the property of the people and not the British crown.

The 70-year-old Music Master said he found the electrocuted bird beneath power lines and was planning to make it into a "delicious" terrine.

Police spotted the bird maturing outside his house and a flying squad later descended on the old master's home with a search warrant to lift the lid on the foul deed.

He said he offered the police some swan terrine he had made earlier but they had turned down the chance to taste the rare delicacy. "They told me they are taking this very seriously," he said. "I was cautioned and told that anything I said could be given in evidence.

"I might yet be in Inverness Prison, but I suspect that being the Master of the Queen's Music I might have to do porridge in the Tower of London.

"In some ways I would welcome going to prison because I think the whole experience would inspire some very interesting music."

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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