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23 September 2004 Edition

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The 5th Column

Bloody Sunday sell-out

WAS IT a member of the Parachute Regiment who tried to make money out of the massacre of civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday by selling part of a Para uniform reportedly worn on that infamous day in British Army history?

A military camouflage smock was offered for sale on the worldwide internet auction site, E-Bay, with a reserve price of £350. The smock was claimed to be owned by a soldier named by the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday as the codename 'Soldier S', to supposedly protect him from retribution.

When 'Soldier S' gave evidence to the Saville hearings in May 2003, he admitted firing 12 shots at a "gunman" in the vicinity of the Rossville Flats.

He also told the London hearings that Bloody Sunday was a "tragedy for everyone".

The tragedy was compounded last week when the uniform item was put on the auction and touted as being "a very rare chance to own a piece of history".

Featured alongside a famous black and white photo of Paras in camouflage smock uniforms rounding up civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday, the caption read:

"This is an original 1959 pattern Denison Para smock that was owned by a member of the Parachute Regiment that was involved in Bloody Sunday in Derry 1972. Smock is in good condition with a few holes on the woollen cuffs."

The seller went on to claim that the smock was "used by soldiers in the [Bloody Sunday] Inquiry".

Following protests from relatives of victims of Bloody Sunday and campaign groups such as the Troops Out Movement in Britain, E-Bay removed the offending item.

No bids had been received at the time.

Unionists try to block rugby star

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL former rugby star, Trevor Ringland, has clashed with some hard-necked opposition in his time, but he's still smarting after he came up against unionist councillors in Ballymena.

Ringland is headlining a conflict resolution tour of councils in the Six Counties with the 'One Small Step' campaign. The idea is to get local authorities to sign up to their peace mission, which asks everyone to do something small — like reading a newspaper from the 'other side' — in a bid to reach a better understanding of others and help achieve a lasting end to the conflict.

It has already been supported by councils in Banbridge and Cookstown. But when Ringland, One Small Step's skipper, came face to face with Ballymena unionists, he almost met his match.

When he proposed his hardly earth-shaking idea, unionists hit back by claiming that until there is "peace" and Orangemen are allowed to march in Dunloy, it was impossible to take such small steps.

DUP members tried to side-step Ringland and attempted to stall a decision on it until the monthly meeting, arguing that several councillors were absent.

But eventually the rugby star broke through the hardliners' defence and Ballymena Council reluctantly agreed, without a vote, to support the scheme.

Spliffing bad show

THE ROW during the Green Party and Labour Party hokey-cokey presidential campaign (you put your left leg in, your left leg out...) about GP TD Eamon Ryan having puffed a spliff was seized upon by the Sunday Independent after Marion Finucane's low blow on RTÉ Radio.

The Sindo's Jerome Reilly and John Drennan ran a Page 3 lead item breathlessly stating that President Mary McAleese has never smoked cannabis. Surprisingly, neither the ever-so-cool Messrs Reilly or Drennan told us if they have smoked the wacky baccy.

I think we should be told. It's only fair.

Sindo's style counsel

MARY McALEESE came under the microscope of the larger than life has-been comedian Brendan O'Connor.

The Sindo saw fit to waste a decent chunk of front-page space on the bizarre views of Comical Brendan on President McAleese.

O'Connor has it sussed. "The presidency, like the Irish rugby team, is some sort of advance guard for a 32-County republic. Why else would we allow someone from another state become the president?"

O'Connor drivels on: "Why else would people be accepting that Gerry Adams will one day be president while any suggestion that a Northern Prod could be would be met with outrage." (Where is this outrage, Brendan? Where, apart from in your partitionist brain?)

And, as if we hadn't guessed, the Sindo scribbler "didn't really fall in love with her over the course of her reign". She'll be heartbroken, Brendan, shattered.

"Neither do I think she's a style icon." Not next to you, Brendan, eh?

Walk on

THE Enniskerry Walking Association staged a 'Right to Roam' protest walk in County Wicklow last Sunday until they were blocked by the Irish Farmers' Association, private security guards and the landowner.

The landowner is a Mr Walker.


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