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15 January 2004 Edition

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The 5th Column

RUC Foster mother

THE RUC core is still beating at the heart of the PSNI as the Peelers cling to the title 'RUC Athletic Association'.

New DUP MLA and recent UUP defector Arlene Foster is opposing warnings about its acceptability in society if the Peelers' health association insists on keeping its unhealthy association with the RUC.

"What perhaps concerns me most about this proposed name change," the defective Arlene laments, "are some of the reasons given to members of the RUC AA as to why the name should, perhaps, be changed.

"These include 'future Government funding may be at risk if we retain the current title' and 'duty credit for sport could also be called into question'.

"The very fact that these reasons are mooted within the RUC AA indicates the possibility of pressure being applied from a high level.

"If this is the case, it is an absolute disgrace and an abuse of power."

An "absolute disgrace and an abuse of power"? Well that's one RUC tradition the DUP should be at home with.

Silly Billy Boys

A SCOTTISH LOYALIST on trial on UFF gun and explosives charges had eight ski-masks because he and loyalist band pals were going to a fancy dress party as 'Osama Billy Laden', his girlfriend told Kilmarnock High Court last week.

James McKenzie (35), Neil Findlay (32), and Eric Hamilton (18), all from Ayrshire, were accused of being members of the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

All three men, members of the Ayr Protestant Boys Flute Band, faced charges of possessing guns and bomb-making equipment, fireworks, igniters and incendiary devices to further the religious and political aims of the UDA and UFF at seven addresses in February and July last year.

During what was described during the three-week trial as a "massive" surveillance operation by MI5, the police searched a car driven by Hamilton and with Findlay in the passenger seat, in Irvine last July, just after returning from an Orange Order Walk in Belfast.

Police found a half-kilo of cannabis and a sawn-off shotgun in the boot. At McKenzie's house, they found what they believed were explosives.

Further searches of addresses throughout Ayrshire revealed a mass of UFF "paraphernalia" and the eight ski-masks.

The court was told by Findlay's girlfriend, Lynne Beveridge, that the Three Stooges had bought the ski-masks for a fancy dress party. Asked by prosecutor Alan Mackenzie why balaclavas would be part of his Osama disguise, she replied: "That's what he wears, obviously."

The jury returned verdicts of "not proven" on the explosives and UFF charges against the Three Stooges but McKenzie and Hamilton were convicted of a further charge involving possession of a shotgun. McKenzie also admitted possession of two stun guns and Hamilton pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cannabis.

As the confessed gunman and dope dealer were remanded in custody for sentencing in three weeks, Findlay walked free from court, no doubt to have a celebration Osama Billy Laden party with the fanciful Beveridge.

Coldstream hots up hotel

COLDSTREAM GUARDSMAN Daniel John Casely won't be getting a transfer to the Intelligence Corps after his drunken attempt to set fire to a Belfast Hotel café, forcing the emergency evacuation of all 26 guests.

Casely, whose address was given as c/o Wellington Barracks in London, had checked into the Travel Lodge Hotel in Brunswick Street with two friends in the early hours of 2 December 2002.

The Travel Lodge night porter watched the cream of the British queen's Household Division pour himself and his buddies into the lift as they staggered to their rooms on the fifth and seventh floors.

But the court heard that the Travel Lodge night porter was "run ragged" after he raced to investigate a fire alarm on the sixth floor, where he found that the fire hose had been turned on and gallons of water had poured all over the carpet.

The poor porter saw the water damage but was then called to the seventh floor to deal with the fire hose and alarm bell on that floor. He then discovered that a small fire had been started in the café area six floors down again, on the first floor.

As the whole hotel was being evacuated, the perspiring porter turned Poirot to track down the arsonist but his job wasn't too tough — the Coldstream Guard had started the fire by igniting cushions and using a towel from his own room, 708, which sort of led hotel security to the culprit. And the careless Casely helpfully left his fingerprints all over the fire hose cabinet on the seventh floor.

The guardsman's defence counsel claimed that this "drunken incident was an aberration in a life of service to his country" (a 'lifetime' even though the fire raiser was only 24).

Belfast Crown Court Judge Derick Rodgers last week deferred passing sentence for six months to allow the time to make a "substantial effort" to make restitution for the damage.

Fashion police

SCOTLAND YARD police chiefs are trying to make crime pay for themselves but this time it's honest. They want to try it legitimately this time by merchandising branded leisurewear and goods on a British police theme.

With NYPD T-shirts and baseball caps flourishing in the wake of 9/11, the Plods with the pointy hats think they can fill the shoes of 'New York's Finest' with their own imitation crime line.

Moving from fitting people up to fitting them out is a bit of a challenge for the chief constables, so they've called in a style guru to help them with their sales enquiries.

Handcuffs from the Soho Vice Squad are an obvious novelty item for those boys and girls who want to feel just a little naughty. Then there could be sports shoes under the brand name 'Bow Street Runners'. Or how about six portraits of any Irish person from Birmingham, carefully framed by the West Midlands Police?

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