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8 November 2007 Edition

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Fifth Column

The man behind the poppy

POPPY-WEARING ‘personalities’ (other than Kevin Myers, who becomes a professional Poppy wearer around this time of year), might take a closer look behind the emblem they brandish in memory of the British military’s fallen dead “of all wars”, as the Royal British Legion helpfully reminds us and people on TV.
In the centre of the Poppy, the black button used to bear the name ‘Haig’, a tribute to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the man personally responsible for the mass carnage on Flanders’ fields. The Poppy Appeal used to be known as the Earl Haig Fund.
Haig was a veteran of the Sudan campaign that saw Kitchener’s imperialist army, equipped with modern rifles and artillery, crush the native forces of the Mahdi (although I don’t think he got a mention in that old Charlton Heston movie, Khartoum).
Haig went on to bigger things – or bigger massacres, at least. He oversaw the Battle of the Somme that led to his forces sustaining 300,000 casualties, many of them Irish.
Haig was the military genius who insisted on sending wave after wave of conscripts over the top, through the mud, the mire and the barbed wire, into the teeth of the German machine guns in what was probably one of the first suicide attacks by a ‘civilised’ Western power in modern-day history.
There is, of course a world of difference between Earl Haig and Osama Bin Laden – Bin Laden’s suicide attackers choose to die this way; Haig, the man behind Kevin Myers’ poppy, didn’t give his men a choice.

Sticky poppies

POPPY WEARERS will face one dilemma familiar to Irish republicans: will they wear the new sticky poppy or stick with the one with pin?
Stick-on versions are being brought in because the safety pin used to attach the poppy was the most expensive part of its production.
Given his admitted history of carrying a gun for the ‘Official IRA’ in Belfast (see last week’s Fifth Column), I suppose it would be a return to tradition for Kevin Myers to become a ‘Sticky’.

Myers’ rising ignorance
KEVIN MYERS’ recent denunciation of a University College Cork conference in 2006, The Long Revolution: The 1916 Rising in Context, as “a barbaric, half-witted, disgusting academic jubilation” of the Rising has been blown apart by one of the organisers.
Writing in last Friday’s Irish Independent in response to Myers’ resurrection of criticism he aired on 26 October, Gabriel O’Doherty ridiculed Myers’ piece as “slovenly”.
He added that Myers “has managed the intellectually impressive feat of becoming positively more ignorant of the subject in the intervening 20 months” since it was first pointed out that he hadn’t actually attended the conference he was trying to demolish. Nor had Myers read the book on the conference published by Mercier Press or even the book review by John Bruton – in the Irish Independent!
“This from a journalist who recently described Irish historians as lazy,” chides O’Doherty.
“What is relevant is that Mr Myers is oblivious to the fact that both the original conference and the subsequent volume were marked by frank expressions of opinion on all aspects of the Rising (including its moral dimension), and a tolerance of differing views of same – but as he was neither present at the event nor has he bothered to read the book I am content to allow your readers to draw their own conclusions as to the intellectual force of his views on the matter.”

Making plans for Nigel

LOYALIST flute band Pride of the Raven plans to lay siege to the Chinese community in Belfast in a fortnight’s time with 3,000 of their pals because Chinese MLA Anna Lo dared to complain about their annual band parade. Now a mystery spokesperson is trying to pretend that it isn’t racist intimidation by the Raven.
A man calling himself simply ‘Nigel’ (is it flute major Nigel Booth?) told the BBC:
“I can understand why they might feel intimidated but that’s totally wrong.”
If you understand they feel intimidated, Nigel, then why not call the whole thing off?
“I mean, we can only please some of the people some of the time, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Okay. Then what about not pleasing the British National Party by rejecting its support for the Raven rampage?
No comment.
So Nigel won’t upset the neo-Nazi boneheads of the BNP but he wants to plough on with upsetting the Chinese community.

New Labour concern on Colombia

THE  26-County Labour Party’s Kathleen Lynch tabled the following Dáil question to Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern last week.
“To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he or his colleagues in the European Union are concerned or intend making a statement on the widespread concern by human rights organisations and Human Rights Watch in particular over Colombian President Uribe’s interference in the Supreme Court’s investigation into links between politicians and paramilitaries, and what they suggest are his repeated attacks on the court itself and which constitute a threat to judicial independence.”
This is a welcome change of heart by Kathleen Lynch and the new Labour leadership who were strangely silent when Pat Rabbitte blocked Labour TD Joe Costello from being an observer at the 2002 trial of the Colombia Three when just these sorts of shenanigans were going on.

Iraq like Ireland — Bono
U2’s Bono has taken to likening the Anglo-US occupation of Iraq with the British Army’s occupation of the Six Counties in a bid to get through to policy makers in Washington.
Music website said that “U2 star Bono urged America’s top politicians to speak with British soldiers who had occupied Northern Ireland before choosing to extend the war in Iraq”.
The celebrity world’s favourite anti-poverty campaigner told the famous Rolling Stone magazine:
“I told all of them to go ask the British Army what it’s like to stand on street corners and get shot at. Remember that, during the British Army’s first years on the streets of Northern Ireland, they were applauded by the Catholic minority. Go look at that and ask yourself how that all got turned around.”

An Phoblacht Magazine


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