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7 July 2005 Edition

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Fifth Column

Bandy opening

THE 'LIVE 8' London gig had a star-studded line-up with some legendary bands and acts that had millions of fans from all over the world gasping: U2, The Who, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Elton John, Coldplay, the British Army. Hold on — the British Army?

Yes, some loony tune in Bob Geldof's supposedly with-it entourage saw nothing odd at all in opening London's showpiece event with the trumpeters of the Coldstream Guards even though they proudly represent the military wing of the British Empire and their history as the enforcers of the sort of international exploitation that has plundered and ravaged so many colonies in the name of Western civilisation and created the need for the likes 'Live 8'.

Last weekend, 200 protestors picketed the Coldstreams' comrades in a Royal Marine Commando band at Belfast City Council's showcase 'Opera in the Gardens' event. Victims of British state violence were joined by members of the anti-collusion group, An Fhírinne, Relatives for Justice and campaigners against plastic bullets.

Wonder how the British Army band given the honour of opening 'Live 8' went down on the world's TV screens, particularly in Kenya, Cyprus, India, East Tyrone and South Armagh, not to mention Iraq.

Paisley's lady in waiting

IAN PAISLEY'S WIFE, Eileen, is about to join Britain's most elite unionist fur-coat brigade, the House of Lords, if Westminster rumours are true.

Big Daddy has reportedly put Big Mammy's name forward as one of the DUP's four life peers — and Tony Blair is said have accepted.

The couple celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year and getting the taxpayer to stump up for a coat with an ermine collar for dearest Eileen seems like a sharp move.

But the normally voluble DUP and Big Daddy are unusually tight-lipped about the move to make the leader's lady a real lady.

"These are matters between the party and the government," a DUP manservant said. If readers have suggestions on what title Eileen could assume, let us know and we'll pass them on to the DUP.

The legal eagle has landed - out of a job

GLASGOW RANGERS' former vice-chair and barrister Donald Findlay QC, who was forced to stand down five years ago after being filmed singing loyalist sectarian songs at the Rangers Social Club, has now had to resign for a top legal job after making jokes about the death of Pope John Paul II at a Rangers supporters' club in the Six Counties.

Findlay (54) left as chairperson of Faculty Services Ltd, a private company that looks after the business affairs of legal eagles, when embarrassed colleagues refused to back him after his latest public outrage.

Findlay was a guest speaker at a £22-a-head dinner attended by 140 Rangers fans and former players, including Andy Goram, in the Six Counties last month. During his speech, the one-time Rangers executive was reported to have said: "It's very smoky in here. Has another f***ing Pope died?"

When the storm broke, an unrepentant Findlay lamely claimed that he also told jokes about unionist leaders.

"I am not denying telling jokes. I refute that it was a sectarian tirade. It sickens me a bit as I was in the heart of Ian Paisley land and also told a couple of jokes about him.

"I do after-dinner speeches and my act consists of swearing and dirty jokes. People do not have to listen to it. I tell jokes about all sorts of things so this is all bullshit."

Is that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Fellow travellers

NEVER MIND Bono's legal tug of war over his leather pants with the light-fingered Lola, what about the 26-County Labour Party's prosecution of Labour's Sligo Mayor, Declan Bree?

The junior wing of Fine Gael, Pat Rabbitte's Labour Party, is in turmoil as Bree faces an internal disciplinary hearing after describing the action of two Labour Party council colleagues in voting against the Traveller Accommodation Programme as "disgraceful".

The enquiry has been sparked by a complaint to Labour head office from the Sligo/Leitrim Constituency Executive over criticism made by Bree of his party colleagues, Jim McGarry (a Fine Gael defector) and Veronica Cawley in the Sligo Champion newspaper. Bree asked: "How can anyone who claims to share the values of the Labour Movement, or how can anyone with an ounce of compassion tolerate such a situation?"

Labour General Secretary Mike Allen has ruled that the complaint is valid and now Bree faces a formal inquiry.

The two Labour members who voted with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors against the Traveller housing plan to defeat it 7-4 WILL NOT face an inquiry.

But Bree seems to be standing firm against Labour head office's Blueshirt-style probe: "I don't compromise on matters of principle."

One to watch.

Cop out

BRITISH MILITARY POLICE have tried to stop newspaper stories that they are about to introduce "martial law" in British Army garrison towns to police the civilian population.

The presence of Military Police patrols in the garrison town of Royston, Hertfordshire, has fuelled reports that the Redcaps will be used against civilians.

Britain's War Office, now the Ministry of Defence, said:

"The role of the Military Police is to enforce military discipline, deter any off-duty military personnel from committing any offence and to support the civilian police in situations involving service personnel, not to bolster the civilian force in tackling civilian crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour. Military Police have no jurisdiction to deal with civilians, over and above their citizen's powers of arrest."

The Military Police continue to be deployed against the civilian population in the Six Counties, though.

Criminal charge

A US ARMY soldier in Georgia who refused to go to Iraq for a second tour of occupation will be court-martialled for accepting unearned combat pay, despite a US Army investigator's conclusion that an accounting error was to blame.

Larceny charges were added against Sergeant Kevin Benderman (40), who was awaiting trial on charges that included desertion. The larceny charges raise the possible penalty from seven years to 17. A trial date has not been set.

Benderman's attorney, William Cassara, said: "It's an outrage."

Spokespersons' food cycle rage

A GREEN PARTY MP in New Zealand has hit out at Kiwi cops for handing out vouchers for fat-food giants McDonald's as rewards to school-kids on school safety traffic teams.

MP Sue Kedgley says that the police action flies in the face of NZ Government programmes to reduce obesity, diabetes and dental decay.

But while the Green Kiwis are kicking up about trying to get kids into McDonald's, the British Greens are upset over McDonald's refusing one customer.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas, one of the best and brightest of the environmental bunch, has taken McDonald's to task for refusing to serve someone at a Big Mac drive-thru because they were riding a pushbike!

Charles Burns (57) pedalled up to the drive-thru at Portsmouth's Pompey Centre in Hampshire but was turned away because he had no engine on his bike. What made Mr Burns even sicker than a fast-food feast was that the restaurant was slap-bang alongside a cycle path.

Speaking during Britain's 'National Bike Week' this month, Green MEP Caroline Lucas said: "This incident absolutely beggars belief.

"Road transport is by far the greatest contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions which are fuelling climate change. McDonald's should be encouraging its customers to use healthy, non-polluting forms of transport. In fact, it appears to be doing exactly the opposite.

The burgerless Mr Burns has called on McDonald's to be more environmentally friendly by serving cyclists at drive-thru hatches.

On yer bike.

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