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11 December 2008 Edition

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Black and Tans still terrorising Limerick!

I READ the Mail on Sunday last week. It wasn't by choice, but it was fascinating in the same way that celebrity reality television can be for some people I suppose. The reason was a number of very amused texts from republicans telling me the paper was claiming that the thugs running the Limerick drugs gangs were descended from the Black and Tans.
Larissa Nolan, who seems to have moved from frothy gossip for the Sunday Independent to being a crime correspondent (Good grief) writes that, "Senior gardaí sent to solve the serious crime problem in the city believe that some of the most infamous crime gangs in Limerick are direct descendents of the Black and Tans."
Showing the mark of a journalist trained in the intellectual crucible of the Sindo Larissa manages to base the article on quotes from an unnamed Garda source and an unnamed Limerick historian. Names Nolan, you need names.
Anyway, it's not clear what the point of the whole piece is. According to Ms Nolan the gardaí were tipped off because, "The main crime gangs bear distinctly British names like Collopy, Campion, Dundon, Stanners and Crawford, a fact which aroused the interest of gardaí looking at the case."
Did it? Did it really? One of the biggest criminal investigations in the history of the state. Massive political and media pressure on the gardaí to break up the gangs and you can just imagine them sitting round the staff room wondering whether they can prove the gangs have, and she did use this phrase, ‘bad blood’ because, ‘..it helps to understand the problem’.
Maybe Nolan thinks we should just automatically lock up people descended from the Tans. Actually, come to think of it....


A few pages further on and we find the second most entertaining story in the Mail last week, showing the neverending ability of unionists to get upset. Dido, known for mellow, sad, soft kinds of songs has been attacked by outrage specialist and DUP MP Gregory Campbell.
In her latest album Dido includes a song that is a tribute to her father, who had a habit of playing rebel songs, an example of which she includes in the lyrics. "Armoured cars and tanks and guns / came to take away our sons / But every man must stand behind / the men behind the wire."
Never heard of it.
“People from a unionist background who listen to her music would, I imagine, feel appalled at her lack of judgement,” fumed Campbell. After all, according to Greg, the song is about ‘murderers, arsonists and terrorists’.
How many unionist Dido fans does Campbell know would recognise rebel ballads?
Meanwhile, rumours that Dido albums were being sold in the Sinn Féin siopa on Parnell Square cannot be confirmed at this time.


“What planet are the teachers of Ireland living on? Judging by the recent protest in Dublin, it’s a different one to the rest of us." The Sunday Tribune took a strong line last week after the teachers' march on Saturday. Words like ‘obscene’, ‘absurd’ and ‘hysterical’ filled an editorial that was....well...more than a little hysterical in tone and obscenely hypocritical.
In 2007, the Sunday Tribune was losing money at the rate of €54,000 a week. That's €2.8 million a year. And the year before it was €2.6 million. How does a paper lose close to twice the average industrial wage every week and yet manage to pay editorial writers to bash teachers?
It helps that Tony O'Reilly's Independent Newspapers props it up as a way of protecting the Sunday newspaper market from British publications.
Our teachers live in the real world. It's a world of pre-fabs and rats. A world with overcrowded classrooms and contempt from the media. The staff of the Sunday Tribune are genuinely living on a different planet. 

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