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15 November 2007 Edition

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Fifth Column

UDA name calling

THE UDA’s name change (they swapped the old word ‘Association’ for ‘Union’, in case you missed the enormity of it) got short shrift from SDLP media guru Tom Kelly in his weekly Irish News column ahead of the underwhelming announcement on Remembrance Sunday.
Tom was incensed by the UDA demeaning the symbolism of Armistice Day. And Tom knows about the symbolism of British ceremonies and name changes.
To the gleeful approval of his SDLP leadership, Uncle Tom slunk into Buckingham Palace and tugged his forelock before the British queen to receive the Order of the British Empire (motto: “For God and The Empire”), incorporating all the wretched colonial history of British imperialism.
And although Tom purports to be unashamed of his shiny British royal bauble, he seems curiously shy of adding his exalted imperialist title to his photo-byline on his Irish News column. ‘Tom Kelly, SDLP and Order of the British Empire,’ has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

Assembly relics

THE Assembly is expanding its gift shop, flogging all sorts of knick-knacks and souvenirs for political tourists.
There’s talk by Ulster Unionist Party MLA Robert Coulter of selling Assembly wine (that’s ‘wine’ without a ‘h’ in it) although we’re not sure that Doc Paisley will swallow “The Devil’s Buttermilk” being sold if he’s in charge of the shop.
They could make those little plastic snow shower globes with a model of a Giant’s Causeway cottage inside being showered by property developer Seymour Sweeney’s dandruff while Ian Paisley Jnr tries to hide from the storm.
Or how about an Assembly-style cuckoo clock, with Alliance leader David Ford providing the sound effects while the burly figure of Michael Stone goes in and out through the Assembly’s swing doors?

Deenihan’s army nag

ACTOR Brendan Gleeson (The General, Braveheart, Harry Potter), who famously launched a pre-election onslaught on The Late, Late Show on the Fianna Fáil-led Government for the health service crisis, was on Eamon Dunphy’s RTÉ show on Saturday morning complaining that there is still no real political opposition to speak of (I hope he wasn’t including Sinn Féin there). Fine Gael shows why people think that.
In the Dáil, every day there are five ‘priority questions’ which a minister has to answer and can then be challenged on. Then there are also dozens of ‘oral questions’ which get put into a lottery and the first five picked out are the ones the relevant Government minister on the day has to answer. Precious chances not to be wasted to stick it to the Government, you might think. Kerry TD Jimmy Deenihan didn’t seem to think so when Defence Minister Willie O’Dea faced the Fine Gael ‘Mastermind’.
One of the questions Deputy Deenihan thinks is nagging the people of Kerry, nay the people of Ireland, about what fraught situations their loved ones in the front line are facing is this one:
“To ask the Minister for Defence the plans he has to improve the quality of horses available to the Irish Army Equestrian School (sic) for international competition purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
Whoahhhhh! Hold on there, Jimmy boy. With state forces taking part in their first-ever overseas military training with the Nordic EU Battle Group in Sweden and with 300 Irish soldiers sitting on a tinderbox in Kosovo, is there nothing more worrying to the Blueshirts’ foot soldiers than the quality of the gee-gees for the horsey set at the Army Equitation School?

Gregory’s bird

INDEPENDENT TD Tony Gregory also has a written Dáil question waiting to be answered by the Education Minister, Mary Hanafin.
Gregory, a former teacher, is asking the minister if she thinks it’s appropriate for one of the Junior Cert text books influencing young minds to include a section called ‘Poisoning Pigeons in the Park’.

Spice spies

JUST in case you’re sceptical of civil liberties concerns about data collection by supermarkets being part of a Big Brother society, bear in mind the newly uncovered tale of an FBI hunt for Iranian ‘terrorists’ lurking in San Francisco.
The Feds’ top counter-terrorism experts, Willie T Hulon and Phil Mudd, hit on the idea that even Hezbollah’s deepest-cover secret agents must pop their heads out to eat. The dynamic duo tapped into local supermarket chains’ databases in 2005 and 2006 to see who was buying falafels, the spicy Middle Eastern ‘fast food’ made from spiced fava beans and chickpeas. (It would be a bit like MI5 spies staking out Mandy’s Irish Shop on Willesden High Road during the war to see if the local IRA unit pops in for a 20-pack of Tayto, 8lb Galtee rashers,  a half-dozen batch loaves and three copies of Ireland’s Own.)
The FBI’s San Francisco food hunt was shut down by the Bureau’s Criminal Investigations Department chief (or was it their chef?) on the grounds that it was possibly illegal and, anyway, it wasn’t producing any tasty leads.
Which isn’t surprising because falafels are really a Lebanese Arab favourite and apparently only popular in certain southern regions of Iran, not top of your average Hezbollah sleeper cell’s shopping list from Tesco in Tehran or Sainsbury’s in San Francisco.

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.

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