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16 March 2006 Edition

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Fifth Column

Michael McDowell and former Green Party leader John Gormley

Michael McDowell and former Green Party leader John Gormley

The Special One

Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea FC manager who revels in the title of 'The Special One' despite being loathed across Europe and a serial whiner, has a rival for his coveted title - Michael McDowell.

While Mourinho is busy casually insulting and blaming all his opponents on the soccer pitch for his troubles, McDowell is doing the same on the field of Irish politics, even blaming the mild-mannered Green Party for trashing the Progressive Democrats' office during the riots surrounding the Love Ulster rally.

McDowell was replying to a question in the Dáil from former Green Party leader John Gormley on the riots when he said: "The Indymedia website produced footage of the Progressive Democrats' offices being ransacked from the outside by Deputy Gormley's type of people."

Gormley's type of people?

When Gormley went from green to red, McDowell continued to trample all over his pacifist credentials.

"The anoraked group that descended upon the office would be the one which most people, including myself, would most closely associate with Mr Gormley's party and his viewpoint."

So, if you have a hoodie you must vote for the Green Party (they wish).

The nominally independent Ceann Comhairle blithely ignored Gormley's calls for McDowell to withdraw his remarks as an abuse of Dáil privilege and let the PD president continue on his merry flight of fancy, adding: "There was muesli in the air and open-toe sandals witnessed," chortled McDowell. Or magic mushrooms in McDowell's lunch?

It's a wonder the Minister for Justice didn't go further, slipping a Garda file and blurred photo to pet journalist Sam Smyth blaming Bill and Ben, The Flowerpot Men.

It might still happen.

Who put the dim in dimmelling DUP?

Up in Ballymena, though, DUP councillors who were on the Love Ulster bandwagon were blaming Sinn Féin for the rioting (and probably the snow, England being trounced by France in the rugby, and X-Factor reject and goat herder-cum-stripper Chico being Number 1 in the charts).

While young Paisleyite William Wilkinson laid into Sinn Féin in a motion criticising the violent reaction to the Love Ulster march, DUP colleague Robin Stirling blamed the Pope as well! He was at fault for nurturing what Stirling said was his "vile anti-Protestantism".

Wee Willie Wilkie's fellow juvenile councillors in the DUP banged their tables to try and drown out Sinn Féin's solitary councillor Monica Digney when she tried to actually debate the facts. SDLP Councillor Declan O'Loan said that the allegations about Sinn Féin were "unfounded". And even the DUP mayor, Tommy Nicholl, asked his party members to "stop dimmeling with their fingers".

But the DUP motion was, unsurprisingly, passed. Mind you, for all his feelings of persecution by a state riddled with anti-Protestantism, "bigoted Roman Catholic clerics", fears for unionists in a united Ireland, and "the Irish state's latent sympathy for republicanism" (!), rabid Robin Stirling felt comfortable enough to spend not just the day in Dublin, nor even an overnight, but three whole days between the jigs and the reels.

Stirling asked if he was entitled to any sterling for his expenses. "I have kept all the receipts," he said. Hope none of them are from Ann Summers.

Provocation once again

And then DUPer Robin Stirling this week lays into President Mary McAleese, accusing her of "provoking" unionists by accepting a school's invitation to visit Ballymena.

President McAleese has been asked to visit Ballymena Academy on March 28.

Stirling says:

"This is provocative on Mary McAleese's part because she knows the feelings of unionists towards her and she is coming to Mr Paisley's constituency."

So if rabid Robin follows his own logic (which we don't but, then again, who does?), then surely his Love Ulster parade through the heart of Mary Lou McDonald's Dublin constituency was "provocative"?

SDLP rebels

The SDLP's much-vaunted all-Ireland raft of policies have hit the rocks in the shape of Limavady Borough Councillors Michael Carten, Gerry Mullan and Mayor Michael Coyle in County Derry.

The SDLP rebels joined DUP and Ulster Unionist councillors last week in opposing a Sinn Féin motion calling for Irish reunification. Even though five councils have already backed the motion Carten said: "The time is not right." Which must be news to SDLP councillors in Fermanagh who had no trouble supporting the very same motion the very same week.

Sterling service

The British Government is to strike a medal to mark the dedicated service of soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment to go along with their lotto-size demob pay-offs.

Full-time UDR/RIR soldiers will pocket £28,000 (€40,800) severance packages on top of their regular redundancy payment, a life-time pension. Part-time UDR/RIR soldiers will trouser £14,000 (€20,400) along with their redundancy and pension.

Whatever any of them get from their part-time work with the UDA, UVF and LVF will be an added bonus.

Chain reaction

Maybe War Minister Dr John Reid should put the UDR/RIR medal on a big gangsta rapper type of chain so that soldiers can't lose it.

After all, if the 28 UDR/RIR soldiers who had to be moved from Castlereagh Barracks in East Belfast when a shed-load of secret military intelligence files with the personal details of 400 nationalists simply "disappeared" out of their hands into thin air, what hope will they have in keeping a tinchy little medal safe?

An Phoblacht Magazine


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