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11 August 2005 Edition

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Fifth Column

Rebel penguins in the jungle

THE ZAPATISTAS are taking a leaf out of the IRA's book, emerging from the Mexican jungle at the weekend to declare that the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (ZNLA) will now be a non-violent proponent of alternative politics.

The Zapatistas arrived on the Mexican political scene in 1994 when they led an armed uprising in the Chiapas region to advance the rights of Maya Indians and other oppressed communities.

Subcommandante Marcos and his comrades in the ZNLA leadership made the announcement at a meeting with Mexican left-wing politicians in Chiapas at the weekend.

Subcommandante Marcos appeared in combat fatigues and smoking a pipe through a black ski mask (what did Gerry Adams do with all his old pipes?).

Curiously clutching a chicken dressed to look like a penguin — apparently the unusual new symbol of the Zapatistas — Latin America's revolutionary icon, obviously in an Eric Cantona, poetic frame of mind, had told the media:

"Like penguins in the jungle, the Zapatistas will make an effort to stand upright and find a place for themselves in Mexico, Latin America and the world. We are coming out — you might as well get used to the idea."

Bomber honour

BRITAIN'S new anti-terrorism laws have made it an offence to "glorify terrorism". So it shouldn't be too long before Whitehall asks for the Parachute Regiment commanders honoured after Bloody Sunday to give their medals back, should it?

And what about that statue outside the Royal Air Force Chapel in London's West End, of the World War Two figure that the British Government glorifies as Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris? Harris was the mastermind and ruthless enforcer of saturation firestorm bombings of German civilian targets, the most notorious being the bombing of Dresden when upwards of 35,000 people were killed.

Bombers away

A BIT MORE SENSITIVE than the British Government is a national league basketball club in the west of England — the Bristol Bombers.

The Bristol Bombers were named in honour of the World War Two planes produced by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. But the Bombers regularly play in London and have decided to change their name to avoid being seen as insensitive.

Gospel of hate

RELIGIOUS LEADERS also face tough crackdowns under Tony Blair's new legislation if they're guilty of "encouraging terrorism".

Good job DUP boss Reverend Ian Paisley publicly jumped ship from his paramilitary, gun-running disciples in Ulster Resistance when he did. And DUP hot gospeller Reverend Willie McCrea MP must be clearing out his photo album of all those happy snaps of himself with the late LVF leader Billy Wright.

Decommission DESI

WHILE LONDON'S police are chasing all over the place trying to catch bombers and assassins, they'll be spending next month protecting the world's biggest state users of bombs and guns as Tony Blair hosts Europe's largest arms fair.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has spoken out against the arms bazaar, the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DESI) exhibition, to be held by Spearhead Exhibitions in the Docklands ExCel Centre from 13 September. Police will place the Docklands in lockdown two days before the event to try and thwart protestors.

Pond life

BANBRIDGE Ulster Unionist Councillor John Hanna was outgunned by UUP chickens when his move to have a council Halloween fireworks display moved to toughen up the ducks on Scarva village pond ahead of the shooting season was lost by seven votes to eight.

Hanna wanted the Halloween fireworks moved forward to coincide with a World War Two VE Day celebration in Scarva on September 16 and 17. But UUP colleague Joan Baird flew into a tizzy over the idea. "The last time there was a fireworks display in Scarva, the poor ducks went wild. It did scare them terribly."

Hanna was unruffled. "If we move the fireworks to September, it will give them a bit of experience before the start of the duck hunting season." But his proposal was shot down after he confessed that even though he's a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, he gets his jollies as a duck hunter, blasting to bits his supposedly little feathered friends.

Bow Street steal

BOW STREET COURTHOUSE in London, where famous Irish figures such as Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan (and yours truly) have stood in the dock, has been sold to an Irish property developer along with the police station next-door that gave rise to the famous 'Bow Street Runners', the world's first modern police force.

The historic site, whose cells also held notorious 1960s East End gangster Reggie Kray, the Galway-born World War Two Nazi broadcaster William 'Lord Haw Haw' Joyce, and Charles Dickens's fictional Oliver Twist, will be handed over next summer to the Galway-based Edward Holdings by the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Barracks buster

A BARRACKS CLOSURE in Omagh could turn BBC Breakfast TV presenter Dermot Murnaghan into a millionaire.

The British Army's Lisanelly Barracks is expected to close in 2006 after the detested King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBIEs) pack their kit and their kilts and take the high road back to bonnie Scotland at the end of their current tour of occupation.

It's reported that BBC man Murnaghan has a reasonable claim to the 300-acre site when the 550 KOSBies sling their sporrans because his great grandfather, George Murnaghan, originally from Banbridge, bought the land for £500 in 1888 in a bankruptcy sale. Descendants think the land was requisitioned by the British Army just before World War Two and have a faint hope of getting it back although councillors want it used for housing.

It's reckoned the site could fetch anything from £40,000 an acre if sold as agricultural land and more than £500,000 if bought by an individual.

Time to run

MOTOWN MUSIC LEGEND Martha Reeves, former leader of Martha and the Vandellas, is running for Detroit City Council in the USA.

Singing the lyrics of the Vandellas' smash hit, Dancing in the Street, Martha said: "Summer's here and it's time to run."

The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer is now a 64-year-old born-again Christian who says that the idea of running for office came to her during prayer. She'll see if her prayers have been answered in the council general election for nine seats on 8 November.

Donegal china crisis

LEGEND is not what the newly-elected chairperson of Donegal County Council, Independent Fianna Fáil Councillor Dessie Larkin, is being called.

In his first meeting this month, Larkin unilaterally banned councillors from ever discussing national or Ministerial issues. According to Larkin's law, this includes even calling for Labour Court rulings affecting redundancy payments for workers at Donegal Parian China to be implemented.

No breaking the mould of Fianna Fáil politics there, then.

Mayo 5, Dodgers 4

A DONEGAL man convicted of tax evasion has been jailed. That brings the grand total of large-scale tax dodgers in the past eight years who have found themselves actually behind bars to FOUR.

Between 1997 and 2004, the Revenue Commissioners instituted court proceedings in 26 cases. Ten of these resulted in custodial sentences but seven were suspended, so only three culprits were actually carted off to the slammer before the latest offender — which still leaves more Mayo civil rights activists in jail than tax dodgers!

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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