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5 October 2006 Edition

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Fifth Column

You go, Madam Editor

This column is beside itself at the thought that Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy might be sent to jail for two years for destroying vital evidence.

The former PD Dáil candidate is staunchly protecting the source of the Times story sparking the Taoiseach's funds fiasco, by shredding documents sought by the Mahon Planning Tribunal trying to track down who leaked the Bertie file.

I look forward to Madam Editor withstanding the threats and going to jail while republicans enthusiastically join the pickets outside the lonely prison walls for her whole two-year stretch in the slammer.

Seven hundred days of slopping out and "bitch slapping" with the Bad Girls of Mountjoy is a small price for the First Lady of D'Olier Street to pay to protect the freedom of the press.

You go, Geraldine; go, girl.

DUP mayor voted early, voted often

Ian Paisley's bluster about democracy can be measured by his response to a court in which the DUP former mayor of Coleraine has confessed to electoral fraud.

Dessie Stewart was DUP mayor of Coleraine in 2003 and has been a councillor for 17 years. Last week, he changed his original plea at Antrim Crown Court and admitted four counts of pretending to be someone else in order to cast postal votes, and two of fraudulently stopping free exercise of a proxy vote. The charges relate to the last Westminster and local government elections, which were held on the same day in May 2005.

Dessie is a member of the Orange Order, the Black Preceptory and the Apprentice Boys and also serves on the Coleraine Harbour Commissioners and the Riverside Theatre Trust.

He's still an official representative of the Democratic Unionist Party.

He will be sentenced at Antrim Crown Court on October 24.

Ian Paisley has said nothing about his man's confession to trying to defraud democracy. He did tell the British Labour Party conference last week, though, that Sinn Féin will have to "bow to the dawn of democracy".

Minority sports

China's Ethnic Minority Games, involving the bamboo nation's 56 ethnic groups, were thrown into chaos by the sort of mob violence, cheating and cross-dressing by competitors that could only be imagined on a UDA sports day.

Heralded as a celebration of sport, culture and unity, the event's "highlights" included the Women's Dragon Boat Racing result being overturned after complaints about "big women with Adam's apples" led to the uncovering of several rowers as men wearing women's clothes and wigs.

Then the wrestling bouts broke up into knock-down-drag-em-out brawls involving hundreds of supporters from two rival cities.

The sooner Setanta Sports gets the rights to this one the better.

No go for go-go

Thailand's coup leaders have banned "go-go girls" from dancing around tanks and army posts on the capital's streets.

Ten Bangkok beauties, wearing "tight camouflage vests and shorts", cavorted amongst smiling soldiers and purred around their tanks last week while making a music TV video.

Thai army chiefs were not amused. Colonel Acra Tiprote grumped: "People should differentiate between entertainment and seriousness. It is not appropriate to entertain soldiers while they are on duty."

So that's why the IRA never put its tanks on the Andersonstown Road.

"Jihad" car commercial cut

A United States car dealer's publicity drive announcing a "jihad" on the American motor market has been speedily reversed.

The publicity offensive included hosting "Fatwa Fridays" with salesmen giving out free play swords to children.

A local Muslim community relations group had complained about the ad.

Announcing the withdrawal, Dennis Mitsubishi, in Columbus, Ohio, said:

"This was simply an attempt at humour that fell short."

I know the feeling.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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