12 May 2005 Edition
The 5th Column
Peter Hain, the DUP and the Apartheid years
SO, WELCOME, PETER HAIN, new British Secretary of State for the Six Counties when he's not doing his other job as Secretary of State for Wales.
Before becoming one of Tony Blair's and New Labour's fiercest defenders, Peter was a radical anti-apartheid campaigner, famously leading the militant pitch invasions and protests, known as the 'Stop the '70s Tour', that stopped the Apartheid South African Springboks' rugby tours in 1969 and 1970.
Hain's parents were anti-Apartheid activists in South Africa, for which they were made "banned persons", briefly jailed, and prevented from working. In 1966, the family fled South Africa and settled in London.
Rising as a student leader to become president of the Young Liberals, Hain, even in exile, was such a thorn in the side of the Apartheid regime that the South African secret police tried to frame him for a bank robbery in London in 1974. The new Northern Secretary was acquitted at the Old Bailey two years later when eyewitness evidence was discredited. There followed calls from Liberal leader David Steel for the Director of Public Prosecutions to resign over the case.
Wonder if Peter Hain will ask Ian Paisley about his contacts with the Apartheid South African secret service and the arms they smuggled to Paisley's red berets in his old paramilitary outfit, Ulster Resistance?
THERE'S A NEW General Officer Commanding the British Army in the Six Counties too.
Taking over from Sir Philip Trousdell is Lieutenant-General Sir Redmond Watt. Watt last served in the Six Counties 12 years ago as OC of the Brits' 3rd Infantry Brigade at Portadown. He was commissioned into the Welsh Guards in 1972 and rose to become their commanding officer.
The new GOC is in charge of 11,000 troops in Ireland; his British Army counterpart in Iraq is in charge of fewer soldiers, having command of just over 8,000 troops in the Middle East cauldron of conflict.
THE IRISH INDEPENDENT and the Evening Herald weren't up to their normally exhaustive investigative standards when reporting on this week's release from prison of one particular individual.
The Indo/Herald stable usually gives up chapter and verse on the background of anyone suspected of being a republican in the past or even allegedly knowing republicans, whether true or not. But the Talbot Street tattlers were not as forthcoming about convicted paedophile Vincent McKenna. McKenna was released on Tuesday and the Indo/Herald claimed that his life has been threatened by a previously unheard group, 'Families Against Paedophiles', should he return to Monaghan.
McKenna was sentenced to three years in jail in November 2000. He was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting his daughter from the age of four until she was 12. However, the sentence was doubled in 2002 when it was appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
What the Indo newshounds forgot to mention is that the sex offender, originally from Aughnacloy, was once the darling of the Independent and other establishment media. The self-seeking opportunist was often quoted as an authoritative source and idolised by them because he was viciously anti-republican and supposedly campaigning against alleged human rights abuses.
But the Indo forgot to mention that.
Wanderers at war
JOHNNY ADAIR'S rag-tag 'army' of UDA 'C Company' exiles in Bolton, Lancashire (nicknamed the 'Bolton Wanderers'), have mutinied against their gangland boss. Word has it that Adair was actually beaten up by his 20-stone cronies, 'Fat Jackie' Thompson and 'Sham' Millar; Adair says it was the other way around.
"I have no contact with these thugs and I don't know why people are saying they gave me a hiding — I haven't a scratch on my face. Since they received this beating they have been lying very low, but Johnny Adair is certainly not afraid of them."
The former UDA gangster is said to have fallen out with his underlings about who gets to run various 'enterprises', including a car-wash business. The betting is that we haven't seen the end of the Bolton Wanderers' dirty war.
New Kidd on the cell block
ONE of Adair's camp followers will be cleaning floors at Her Majesty's Pleasure after her own bomb hoax blew up in her face.
Catherine Kidd got nine months' jail at Bolton Crown Court last week for a hoax bomb attack she set up outside her Halliwell home last November in a bid to get the local council to re-house her.
Brit Army bomb disposal teams and 60 police officers evacuated hundreds of Kidd's neighbours while they investigated the home-made device.