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23 March 2006 Edition

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Fifth Column

Changing uniforms

The LVF and UVF have begun a "changing walls" makeover in Mid-Ulster "to remove images glorifying terrorism", according to Alan Murray in the Sunday Life.

One senior LVF source told Murray:

"We don't want children to go to school anymore seeing these images of masked men with guns."

So the LVF is going to replace one of its murals in Lurgan's Mountainview Estate with one paying tribute to its heroes in the UDR. No masks and a different uniform and paramilitary name, but all too often the very same gunmen.

In their own image

The painters and decorators of loyalist Lurgan told Murray:

"There will probably be a tribute to the sacrifices of the UDR members from the area placed there instead, and other local heroes in sport and other fields will be put at some of the other sites.

"It's a revamp for the area to change the image from one of paramilitarism to more positive issues, and everyone should welcome that."

The UDR mural is not expected to feature the Miami Showband massacre carried out by UVF members double-jobbing as UDR soldiers.

Mad Mac turns on Little Richard

Justice Minister Michael 'Mad Mac' McDowell is seriously losing the plot (or several plots) lately. Days after practically accusing Green Party supporters of trashing the Progressive Democrats' office during the Love Ulster riots, Mad Mac turned on the genteel Richard Bruton, his opposite number in Fine Gael.

When Bruton claimed that there had been an increase of only two extra Gardaí in Dublin last year as gangsters are running amok Wild-West-style all over the capital, the testosterone-fuelled TD for Dublin South-East screamed that he was "angry" at what had been said by little Richard. Mad Mac blew a blood vessel and challenged his critic to "square up to me, man to man" in the Dáil.

Isn't that the sort of Saturday night pub language that comes under the offence "conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace"? When Mad Mac fulfills his dream of bringing in Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, maybe he should slap one of his ASBOs on himself.

A load of Goebbels

Mad Mac compared the poor Fine Gael former minister, Richard Bruton, to being like the Nazi propaganda minister, Goebbels.

Now if he'd said "gerbils" instead of "Goebbels" he might have had a point.

• Richard Bruton

Wrestling with history

Fine Gael's terrorist hero Michael Collins has had his macho man credentials called into question again by The Irish Daily Mail's morning free-sheet in Dublin.

Under the headline "The Big Fella liked fellas", the Metro reported on Monday that an internet reference guide claims that Michael Collins may have been gay.

The Notable Names Database "has suggested the revolutionary leader was not heterosexual" despite his engagement to Kitty Kiernan.

"It was commented on during his lifetime," the Metro continues, "that Collins liked physical contact with men and enjoyed wrestling."

Which suggests that:-

(a) Most macho American (and Irish) fans of WWF are in the same category;

(b) Who gives a flying drop-kick anyway?

(c) And would it make any difference to Collins's place in history?

Struggling with reality

Ian Paisley Jnr has been giving out again about people like President McAleese's husband, Martin, for meeting UDA leaders in a bid to get them to become part of the peace process.

Baby Doc fumed:

"The McAleeses cavort with people regarded here as hoods. The DUP would be lambasted if it did that."

Earlier, the Paisley boy's fellow DUP MPs, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds, met the chairperson of the Loyalist Commission as a way of reaching out to unionist death squads. The Loyalist Commission includes the UDA and the UVF.

Concocting the plot

Losing the plot, or rather concocting a plot, last Saturday was press baron Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Evening Herald.

The Herald headline screamed, "Adams sparks terror alert at US airport," when the Sinn Féin President was questioned by security officials at Washington Dulles Airport.

Adams's name appears on a "watch list" of more than 200,000 names of people those intelligence types at the CIA and FBI reckon are linked to "terrorism".

Which must have come as a bit of a shock to President George W. Bush's security team. Just hours earlier, Dubya had been shaking hands with Adams and other Irish political leaders at a St Patrick's Day reception in the heart of the White House.

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