16 February 2006 Edition
Look who's talking
Who said this week: "Direct rule is politics without values, authority without accountability. It is geared towards serving New Labour, not society here. This needs to be changed."
Conor Murphy? Mark Durkan? Enda Kenny? David Cameron?
No, it's South Belfast MLA Esmond Birnie, the Ulster Unionist Party's Finance spokesperson. It's a pity Esmond didn't tell his UUP leaders the same thing when they brought down the power sharing institutions and handed power and "authority without accountability" to unelected New Labour officials from Whitehall.
Rocking Berry goes solo
The Free Presbyterian songster and Paisleyite MLA for Newry & Armagh, Paul 'Rocking' Berry, ain't gonna sing from the DUP hymn sheet any more.
Berry joined the DUP at the age of 16 and became the youngest member of the Assembly in the 1998 elections, becoming the wünderkid who promised great things for the party.
But the young hot gospeller's private life was too hot for the DUP band to handle when a Sunday tabloid ran a huge exposé last July claiming that the married Berry had a rendezvous in a XXX hotel room with an unregistered male "masseur" who was giving Paisley's until-then favourite boy wonder a quick rub-down for "a sports injury".
DUP CENTRAL then gave the pouting Paisleyite a slap by suspending him pending further "disciplinary action". Berry hit back with a High Court action against his DUP bosses but now he's given up the fight. Last Friday, Berry's lawyers told the Belfast High Court that he was abandoning his action and was going to pay £3,000 towards the DUP's legal costs. On top of that, Rocking Berry is going to leave the DUP for a solo career.
There is no talk of them getting back together.
RUC/UVF veteran dies
Farewell too to another controversial unionist figure, William McCaughey, who murdered a Catholic shop-keeper and kidnapped a priest while being a member of the RUC Special Patrol Group and the UVF at the same time.
McCaughey was a veteran RUC officer in 1978 when he was jailed for the murder of William Strathearn, a Catholic shop-keeper, in Ahoghill, County Antrim, a year earlier. The killing became known as the 'Good Samaritan murder' because the UVF gang lured Strathearn, a 39-year-old shop-keeper and father-of-seven, to his front door at 2am by claiming they were seeking aspirin for a sick child.
McCaughey admitted supplying the handgun used in the murder and driving the assassin to the scene. He also admitted shooting and wounding a customer leaving the Rock Bar, near Keady, County Armagh, in 1976. A bomb was also left at the door of the pub but it failed to explode.
McCaughey carried out the attack with two other serving RUC officers, one of whom was on duty at the time. The two other RUC men received suspended sentences.
McCaughey was also jailed for kidnapping Ahoghill parish priest Fr Hugh Murphy in June 1978 with another RUC officer after the IRA had captured an RUC man.
Turning the tables
In a bizarre episode, less than two months after murdering William Strathearn, McCaughey was alleged to have stolen two tables while acting as an RUC bodyguard for the Ulster Unionist MP, John Taylor, now Lord Kilclooney. McCaughey and another RUC man were accused of taking the tables from the home of Elsie Kelsey, the then Mayor of Lisburn, while waiting for Taylor to leave a party.
On his release from jail in 1994, McCaughey joined the UVF's Progressive Unionist Party and was photographed, wearing an Orange Order sash, during the loyalist siege of Harryville Catholic Church.
He later turned against the protests and helped clean up anti-Catholic graffiti at the church. Shortly before his death the former UVF/RUC man complained that unionist politicians had been responsible for luring young men into violence.
The 55-year-old McCaughey died last week after a battle with cancer.
Play it again, Sam
The Irish Daily Mail's mother ship, the Mail on Sunday, has tried to hide yet another of its John Bull attacks on Irish sport and culture lest it stymie the sales drive of its offspring in our Emerald Isle.
The Mail complained that the parading of the Sam Maguire trophy at Celtic's ground demonstrates the links between the club's fans and the IRA.
The article - which was curiously missing from editions sold here in Ireland - claimed that Celtic was "at the centre of the storm after agreeing to allow a football trophy named after an IRA intelligence chief to be paraded around Celtic Park despite the club's insistence that it 'condemns' support for paramilitary organisations".
The rant from the Mail came after All-Ireland Champions Tyrone took the Sam Maguire Cup on a special lap of honour of the ground before the SPL match with Dundee United on 28 January.
The Mail on Sunday said that Sam Maguire's role in the IRA at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916 was "a major embarrassment" for Celtic bosses. Huh?
The GAA dismissed the Mail's bile with contempt:
"The Sam Maguire Cup was named in honour of the man's sterling work as secretary of the London County Board, and not for anything he did for the cause of national independence, however worthy."
Mail on Sunday 0, GAA 1 (Scorer: Sam Maguire).
Bagging a Rabbitte
Frank Dunlop, political lobbyist who confessed to bribing Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors in Dublin in the 1980s and '90s in return for backing for planning motions, told the Mahon Tribunal last week about how he delivered a brown envelope full of cash to Pat Rabbitte, then of Democratic Left and now Labour Party leader.
Dunlop said he was surprised when Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte and his former Democratic Left colleagues supported the controversial rezoning of lands at Ballycullen in 1992.
The property speculators' bag man said that it was unusual for Democratic Left councillors to take this stance and could not remember any other occasion when they supported rezoning motions.
Dunlop also said he paid IR£3,000 in cash to Rabbitte in November 1992 "to help cover general election expenses". Rabbitte says that it was only IR£2,000 and was returned by cheque a few weeks later.
Rabbitte is due to give his version of events to the Mahon Tribunal shortly.
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.