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8 December 2005 Edition

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Fifth Column

The legend of Lennon

The 25th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon occurs as An Phoblacht goes to print. The 40-year-old music icon and former Beatle was gunned down as he arrived at his home on Manhattan's West Side by Mark Chapman.

After the Parachute Regiment's massacre of civil rights' marchers in Derry on 30 January 1972, John and Yoko penned the lyrics of the original Sunday, Bloody Sunday, which included the words:

Well it was Sunday bloody Sunday

When they shot the people there

The cries of 13 martyrs

Filled the Free Derry air

Is there anyone amongst you

Dare to blame it on the kids?

Not a soldier boy was bleeding

When they nailed the coffin lids!

Sunday bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday's the day!

You claim to be majority

Well you know that it's a lie

You're really a minority

On this sweet emerald isle

When Stormont bans our marches

They've got a lot to learn

Internment is no answer

It's those mothers' turn to burn!

Sunday bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday's the day!

From the album Some Time In New York City (1972)

Do you think this will feature in various John Lennon tributes being shown by the BBC?

Moronic tags

A story ahead of George Best's funeral carried in last Thursday's Dublin commuter free-sheet, Metro showed a local authority worker using a power spray above the headline, "Loyalists scrub up for Best". It then explained how all UVF and UDA flags and graffiti were to be cleared from the Cregagh Estate, around the Best family home in East Belfast, ahead of the funeral. Metro quoted one "senior UVF chief" as saying: "We know the world's media will be there on Saturday and we don't want Belfast or Northern Ireland to be portrayed as moronic."

Moronic? The UVF and UDA? Surely not.

Offside ruling

Loyalist leader Ihab Shoukri, awaiting trial on charges of membership of the UDA/UFF, has had his bail conditions eased so that he can play soccer on Sundays.

The 31-year-old North Belfast loyalist was last week also granted permission by a Belfast court to move out of his Mammy's Westland Way home to a pad around the corner.

Described in court as "no mere footsoldier but a high-ranking member" of the UDA and UFF, the no mere footballer still has to abide by a 7pm curfew, so he'd better not get involved in any lengthy penalty shoot-outs.

Who's Hoon's OTRs?

There were no British Army personnel in jail at the time of negotiations on the OTRs (the British Secretary of State at the time, Mo Mowlam, released the Scots Guards murderers of New Lodge teenager Peter McBride to make sure there were no British Army prisoners).

The scheme published by the Irish and British Governments at Weston Park in 2003 related only to OTRs and did not include members of British state forces.

There are no British Army prisoners serving sentences as a result of the conflict in Ireland.

And there are no British Army personnel "On the Run" (unless Army Minister Geoff Hoon has been keeping it secret).

So who exactly in the British military or MI5 and MI6 does Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon, and former Stormont direct rulers Peter Mandelson and John Reid want to come under the OTR law?

Perhaps someone in RTÉ, TV3, UTV or BBC might ask them

Sticky OTR

One OTR with close connections to would-be Tánaiste, Pat Rabbitte, is Seán Garland. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Garland, President of the minuscule Workers' Party, after he failed to appear in a Belfast court last week to face possible extradition to the US.

Garland (71), former chief of staff of the so-called Official IRA, was arrested in Belfast in October on the eve of the Sticks' annual conference. He appeared in court on an arrest warrant alleging that he had been involved in counterfeiting large quantities of $100 bills.

He was subsequently released on bail, on the condition that he lived with a friend in County Down. Last month, his bail was varied to allow him return home to Navan to undergo medical treatment.

Like Garland, Rabbitte is keeping a low profile on this one.

Christmas card game

Anyone stuck for Christmas gift ideas could pick up the latest board game to take the toy world by storm, 'Battle to Baghdad'.

Oregon firm Jiggi Games, run by husband and wife Rick and Michele Medina, have launched 'Battle to Baghdad'.

"You can finish the invasion in 30 to 45 minutes, making it a great game for families or get-togethers," their website states, under the slogan: "Where reality is just a game."

Among the cards players can receive is one showing a female soldier with a naked detainee on a leash that reads: "Disgrace: Some soldiers are found guilty of unlawful treatment and inhumane acts of violence toward Iraqi prisoners. You lose 50 troops!"

We hope there's also a card telling you: "Dumb Irish Government believes CIA spies don't tell lies — Go straight through Shannon — Do go to a secret jail."

A dollar from every game sold goes to a charity for families of American soldiers killed in the real war.

Sounds like one for Willie O'Dea's Christmas stocking.

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