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11 May 2006 Edition

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The Fifth Column

Bertie looks the other way

Bertie Ahern last week told the Dáil (so it must be true) that he himself came across no fewer than 80 people in one single house in his own Dublin Central constituency who were registered to vote.

And he did nothing.

So when did Bertie Ahern wake up to suspect that there might be potential electoral fraud here?

Was it over-registration? Or was it overcrowding by an unscrupulous landlord jamming tenants into an unsuitable premises? Shouldn't Bertie have asked the electoral registration office to look into it? Shouldn't Bertie have asked the health and safety and fire authorities to look into it?

In a time when Joe and Josephine Public are chastised by Bertie & Co for looking the other way when wrong-doing is seen, wouldn't you have thought the Taoiseach would have done something about the '80 people in a house' on his doorstep?

Desert song

We're not sure how many voters there are in the English National Opera House, but the culture vultures will be treated to something a little out of the ordinary when a new production opens there in September - Gaddafi.

And there's an Irish connection too. The title role will be played by an Irish-Indian nightclub MC called JC-001.

With music composed by Steve Chandra Savale of the Asian Dub Foundation, the show features Asian beats and rap so it should be a bit of an eye-opener for the opera buffs.

Gaddafi deals with some of the most controversial moments in the reign of the colourful Libyan leader, including the US attacks on his country, the Lockerbie disaster of 1988 and the shooting dead of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside Libya's London embassy in 1984, and even when Tony Blair dropped into his tent in 2004 for a cup of tea. Oh, and the IRA features as well, of course.

Composer Savale told London's Guardian newspaper:

"Most musicals are just glorified karaoke or too nice, too mainstream. This will be anything but mainstream. It's about a modern political myth.

"Gaddafi's like Ziggy Stardust in reverse.

"Instead of a messianic pop star, you have this captivating man who took a great deal, in terms of his cult of personality, from Nasser [the west-defying Egyptian president]. He was and is an immensely seductive person, who isn't really a fundamentalist, conservative or a socialist but is taken for all those things. He draws on his own Bedouin heritage as well as Marx, Rousseau and the Koran to create an idealistic revolution.

"And the story has everything- oil, terrorism, women bodyguards."

Now where did I put my top hat, gloves and cane?

Call history

Gaddafi music man Savale asks: "Did you know there is a day of revenge in Libya for the attempted genocide by the Italians?"

No, tell us more.

Last year, to mark the 94th anniversary of Italy's invasion of Libya, anyone trying to dial into the country heard a recorded message saying: "International communications are interrupted until 6pm to denounce the odious crimes committed by the Italians against the Libyan people."

Suppose there's no chance of BT or Eircom doing that.

DUP ex-mayor's electoral fraud charges

The former DUP mayor of Coleraine has appeared in court charged with electoral fraud in the 2005 local government and general elections in Coleraine and East Derry respectively.

Dessie Stewart, from Portrush, is also charged on two counts of impeding the free exercise of the franchise of an elector or proxy for an elector.

The retired, part-time firefighter is pleading not guilty.

Remembering the UDR

Last week, it was revealed that even the British prime minister in the early 1970s knew that the UDR was riddled with members of the UDA and UVF; last week, unionists on Lisburn City Council announced a permanent memorial to the UDR.

DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said:

"I know that this memorial will be welcomed across the province."

Really, Jeffrey?

Totally dotty

Snooker champion Graeme Dott paraded his World Championship trophy at his beloved Rangers' Ibrox at half-time last Saturday minus sponsor's corporate colours - because they're green.

Dott (28) showed off the only bit of silverware seen at Ibrox this season during half-time at the last league game of the season against Hearts.

Dott unashamedly said before the match:"It's not true that the only time I touch green is when I play snooker, but I don't wear green and the ribbons will definitely be coming off the trophy before Saturday. That is guaranteed!"

Earlier in the week, organisations from across Scotland came together to sign a joint statement agreeing to work together to tackle the issue of sectarianism.

Graeme Dott wasn't there.

Dúirt Siad

I am quite sick, sore and tired of the continued slur against the party I am proud to represent.

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin responds to allegations by establishment parties that the mess they have made of the electoral register represents a Sinn Féin plot.

His involvement....raises serious questions about the relationship between British military intelligence, the RUC Special Branch and loyalist paramilitaries.

Margaret Urwin of Justice for the Forgotten on the disclosure that Wesley Somerville, Miami showband killer and Dublin Monaghan suspect had faced a previous bombing charge yet remained in the UDR, Sunday Business Post 7 may.

What we knew in that moment of silence was that things had changed for ever.

Laurence McKeown, Former blanket man on hearing the news of Bobby Sands death, Daily Ireland 8 May.

In the eyes of the nationalist community Mr Mackay's position as a Parades Commissioner is untenable.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd on Parades Commission Chair Roger Poole's endorsement of Orange Order member Donald McKay. Irish News 6 May.

Those who led the rebellion in 1916 believed in conscience that their planned action was the only way to evoke a hearing. Subsequent events Confirm the validity of this view.

Bishop Michael Smyth addressing a mass to commemorate the 1916 rising in Arbour hill prison. 3 May

An appalling snob who lives in some sort of a bubble.

Former colleague on Kevin Myers and his move to his natural home, Independent Newspapers. Sunday Tribune 7 May.

A lucky shot.

British army source on the shooting down of one of their helicopters in Basra.

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