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23 February 2006 Edition

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Fifth Column

Glorifying terrorism

The British House of Commons has passed a Bill making "glorifying terrorism" a criminal offence. If the House of Lords also passes the Bill, then perhaps we'll see New Scotland Yard rounding up several serial offenders. As Ian Paisley Jnr is always on at us to help the police, maybe we can make a tentative step by putting these names in the frame as criminal godfathers (and godmothers) whose tradition is steeped in "glorifying terrorism":-

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Commander in Chief of the entire British Army and consequently all its counter-insurgency death squads in the UDR, SAS, 14 Int, MRF, FRU, etc, etc;
  • Prince Charles, Commander in Chief of the Parachute Regiment, the regiment responsible for the massacre of civil rights marchers in Derry on Bloody Sunday;
  • Colonel Derek Wilford, commander of 1 Para on Bloody Sunday, who was personally rewarded by the British queen with the Order of the British Empire;
  • The entire British royal family, whose self-perpetuating, sectarian dynasty owes its power, wealth and privileges to the terrorism waged for centuries across the world by the British Empire;
  • And most of the British aristocracy in the House of Lords whose stately homes and lands were secured by terrorism either at home or overseas.
  • And that's without looking at the Embassy of Israel, the state that glorifies its terrorism of the Palestinian people.

That should keep Inspector Frost and Chief Constable Hugh Orde busy for a while.

Scrap the 'Bomber'

Another "glorification of terrorism" is the statue of the Second World War British Royal Air Force's Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris which sits outside the RAF Chapel in London's West End.

Harris was in charge of the massive Allied air campaign against Nazi Germany from 1942 to 1945, including his advocacy of "saturation" or "area" bombing of German cities, causing countless civilian losses and enormous destruction. The anniversary of the firestorm Harris unleashed on Dresden, near the war's end in 1945, causing the deaths of at least 35,000 people, including hundreds of refugees who had fled the horrors of the Eastern Front. The anniversary of Dresden occurred last week, 13 February, but was almost universally ignored by the British media.

Sponsoring terrorism

Torrens Knight earned notoriety when he led his UFF murder gang into The Rising Sun pub in Greysteele, County Derry, during Halloween 1993 and shouted "Trick or treat" before spraying customers with automatic gun fire, wounding 19, killing eight of them.

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is now investigating evidence that Special Branch shielded Knight before their agent carried out the Greysteele massacre and the murder of four Catholic workers at Castlerock, County Derry, seven months earlier. The probe centres on a statement that Special Branch moved a weapon later used for the Greysteele massacre to prevent it being found in routine RUC searches.

When Knight was released from jail, his MI5 and RUC Special Branch handlers continued to pay him a £50,000 a year salary as an agent of the British Government.

This probably doesn't qualify as "glorifying terrorism".

Sponsoring terrorism, though...

Alderdice's alliance

John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice, former leader of the Alliance Party, maintains that he is an independent-minded sort of guy, just the sort of decent skin to sit on a body worthy of being called the Independent Monitoring Commission.

No prejudice or petty, political partisanship clouds John's judgment when he, that scruffy bloke from Scotland Yard's Terrorism Squad, the man from CIA and the career civil servant employed by Fianna Fáil and Michael McDowell's Progressive Democrats pronounce haughtily to the world's media that Sinn Féin is up to its ballots in all sorts of skulduggery and criminality.

But hold on, did we say "former"? Alright, he no longer runs Alliance but he confessed to Daily Ireland last Friday that he's still a card-carrying member and surely a man of influence and advice to the small unionist outfit and bitter rival of... Sinn Féin.

Poker aces

The Alliance Party flop, Lord John Alderdice, isn't the choice of poker players asked: "Which politician would make the best poker player?"

A survey by paddypower-poker.com among internet poker players asked: "Which politician would make the best poker player?"

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey got the worst kicker with a miserable 1%. The oh so Green Trevor Sargent drew just 2% backing while short stacks Enda Kenny and Mark Durkan joined the Bad Beat Club with a paltry 3% each.

Progressive Unionist David Ervine raked in 6% as Ian Paisley and big bluffer Pat Rabbitte drew 7s apiece. Mary Harney showed a 10.

Seán Haughey might think he's a double dealer, but poker dudes gave Bertie Ahern 17%.

So who did paddypower-poker.com players think would beat any politician anywhere in Ireland and Britain? You've guessed it - Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Féin ace polled a 44% rating among Irish players and, perhaps a little surprisingly, came out top amongst players in "the UK", beating his nearest challenger, Tony Blair on 21%, by a clear 10 points.

But poker players aren't going all-in for Sinn Féin. Asked who they would vote for in the general election, 24% stuck with Fianna Fáil while Sinn Féin and Fine Gael tied at 11% each.

It's all to play for.

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