31 March 2005 Edition
The 5th Column
Shome mishtake, surely?
LITTLE HICCUP during Martin McGuinness's speech at the Easter Sunday commemoration at Dublin's GPO.
Martin paid a well-deserved tribute to the rising strength of Sinn Féin in the capital, particularly the election of 14 councillors on the city and county councils, last year's triumph by Mary Lou McDonald as Euro MP and Dublin's "two DTs" before almost seamlessly correcting it to "two TDs".
ENGLAND'S World Cup mauling of their Six-County counterparts may boost moves towards organising national soccer on a 32-County basis, like many other sports.
Badly behaved boy and soccer legend George Best usually sees things through champagne-tinted glasses but, just days before the 4-0 drubbing of Lawrie Sanchez's side at Old Trafford, said that a united Ireland team could be a more powerful force in international football.
"I've always thought that at any given time both the Republic and Northern Ireland have had some great world-class players," said Best.
"I just believe in trying something. If it doesn't work, at least you've tried. I still hope that in my lifetime it happens.
"Why not have a go at it? See what it's like."
Flagging a foul move
IN THE PRE-MATCH ceremonies at Old Trafford, both sets of supporters had to stand for God Save the Queen as their shared national anthem in what BBC commentator Jackie Fullerton insisted on calling "an all-British clash". But why was the loyalist, red and white flag (with the Red Hand under the British crown) paraded?
As we've pointed out before, the World Flag Database states that the loyalist standard has no official standing. It says:
"The official flag of Northern Ireland is now the Union flag... It should be noted that the [the loyalist Red Hand] flag is closely connected with the Protestant community of Northern Ireland and is unpopular with sections of the Roman Catholic community."
Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, adds:
"There are currently no official flags of Northern Ireland. The Union flag is used instead. From 1953 to 1973, Northern Ireland used a flag, called the 'The Red Hand Flag of Ulster', showing a red St George's cross on white (like the flag of England), with a crowned six-pointed white star showing a red hand...
"As this flag is associated with the unionists and loyalists, it has no chance of being re-introduced, although it is displayed at the Commonwealth Games."
And the World Cup.
FRAUDSTERS are getting lenient sentences for multi-million scams, according to a study by City of London accountants BDO Stoy Hayward.
The study says that the typical jail sentence for fraudsters stealing more than £1 million was three years and four months; frauds involving more than £500,000 resulted in an average sentence of two year and three months.
What the study doesn't say is that frauds by bank chiefs on customers usually result in absolutely no jail time at all, huge pay rises and bonuses and early retirement to somewhere sunny should they slip up and get caught ripping off their customers.
26-COUNTY Labour Party spin doctor Fergus Finlay has resigned as Pat Rabbitte's chef de cabinet to head up the Barnardo's children's charity.
Recounting his days as a script-writer for Labour's lost leader, Dick Spring, Fungus told Marian Finucane's RTÉ Radio listeners about how he had to craft Spring's after-dinner speeches, including one at the Brandon Hotel in Tralee for the national federation of Irish funeral directors.
Fergus noted, without a hint of irony, that the funeral directors are "an all-Ireland body".
A LEADING Church of England bishop has said Prince Charles must apologise to the former husband of Camilla Parker-Bowles before their wedding next week, on 8 April.
The Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, said church rules mean that the prince, the future Governor of the Church of England if he becomes king, should "make good any hurts" to his wife-to-be's British Army husband because of their long-running affair behind his back while Chas was still married to Princess Diana.
We're still waiting for the bishop to call on Charles, as colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment, to "make good any hurts" to the Paras' victims on Bloody Sunday, 1972.
ACCIDENT-PRONE Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Conor Lenihan put his foot in it again at the launch in the Irish Embassy in London for BBC star Fergal Keane's book, All of These People.
Introducing Keane, the Fianna Fáiler told guests of Keane: "I am sure he will turn into a first-class writer."
All of These People is Keane's sixth book.
The Fianna Fáil Junior Minister also left a poor impression on Keane's publisher. "I'm not sure who that man was," the publisher told reporters. "I didn't expect him to be speaking." Bertie Ahern often wishes he didn't.
Long Kesh bulldozer
WILLIE FRAZER, the much-travelled head of the anti-republican 'victims group', FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives), has threatened to bulldoze Long Kesh Prison if part of it is kept as an international conflict resolution centre.
Willie, whose relatives have served in the notorious UDR unionist militia, said:
"If the plan goes ahead, the victims are more than prepared to bulldoze the site to the ground, irrespective of the consequences, be that jail or whatever."
Willie claims that he is worried that the Kesh would become "a shrine to terrorists". No, Willie, that's SAS Headquarters.