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24 January 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Sir Edward Carson’s camán

SPORTS MINISTER Edwin Poots’s late, late show (after Amhrán na bhFiann was played) at a GAA match in Newry and the ensuing debate about unionism’s cultural disengagement from Gaelic sports threw up the story that one of unionist history’s big hitters was in fact a big hurler – none other than Sir Edward Carson.
The Dublin-born Carson went to Trinity College Dublin and reports claim he was actually a founding member of the university hurling club before becoming Liberal Unionist MP for the University of Dublin and later leader of the Unionist Party from 1910 to 1921.
At the Carson family home at Castle Ellen, near Athenry, County Galway, he is reputed to have “swung the hurley with the local lads”.
Would The Fields of Athenry ending with an added chant of “Sir Edward Carson’s a hurler” make Gaelic sports more attractive to unionists? Or what about the Sir Edward Carson GAA Club? It’d be the first Gaelic team playing in red, white and blue.

Life On Mars bars

THE BBC wants to spice up its TV coverage of politics in the Six Counties.
BBC Director General Mark Thompson told The Guardian newspaper that he wants to give it “a burst of creative energy” in its coverage of the Assembly and other forums “to make the most engaging, the most creative multi-media portal for democracy in the world”.
And how is the Beeb going to create this brave new world of TV politics for the god of democracy?
It’s going to “reinvent our coverage in the same way as drama has been overhauled with Doctor Who and Life On Mars”.
Watch this space.

Bend it like the SDLP

ONE of Alasdair ‘Doctor Who’ McDonnell’s SDLP protegés has been pumping up the SDLP’s misappropriation of the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in the North.
Writing in his Irish News column this week, SDLP former PR guru Tom Kelly claims for the SDLP the mantle of Mahatma Gandhi through the virtue of being non-violent.
But while Gandhi was indeed an advocate and practitioner of non-violence, he engineered confrontation with oppressive forces on the streets, he wasn’t talking about capitulation, and he saw why resistance was carried out in other forms.
Gandhi said there are three ways of facing oppression.
The first (which he described as the coward’s way) is to accept the wrong or run away from it.
The second is to stand and fight by force or arms. And this, Gandhi said, even though he did not advocate it or like it, was better than giving up or running away.
But Gandhi’s best option, of course, was the one that, in his opinion, needs the most courage – to stand your ground and resist by non-violent means alone in the hope of convincing your opponent of the justice of your cause.
Which was what the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-internment protesters did – and we all saw the reaction of the unionist state, the B Specials and, later, the British Army and the Parachute Regiment to that.

One man, one OBE

AMONG the Pantheon of SDLP civil rights heroes Tom Kelly cites in the tradition of Gandhi are Austin Currie (who encouraged and then turned on the families backing the rates strike against internment) and Gerry Fitt, who was to be rewarded for his services to British counter-insurgency by being made a member of the House of Lards (“Don’t you mean House of Lords?” – Editor).
One of the slogans of the Civil Rights Movement was “One man, one vote.”
Tom Kelly coyly omits to lay any personal claim to the egalitarian ideals of the Civil Rights Movement, which is just as well as he was the proud recipient at Buckingham Palace from the British queen of the Order of the British Empire. Wonder what Mahatma Gandhi would have made of that?

Pushmi-pullyu position

JOHN GORMLEY’s jolly green giants are being disingenuous when they claim to have triumphed in Saturday’s members’ vote on supporting or opposing the Lisbon Treaty.
They did win a simple majority but the motion failed because it did not secure a two thirds majority, the Green Party’s own rules and ones which Gormley & Co have always supported and been bound by – until now, that is. Maybe some of your own party rules don’t count when you’re a Green minister in a Fianna Fáil/PD regime.
Now the Green Party has adopted a position that the Green Party has no position. John Gormley is a bit like Doctor John Dolittle’s pushmi-pullyu, with two heads on the one body going in different directions.

Shark bait

FIANNA FÁIL Junior Minister Conor ‘Kebab’ Lenihan was standing loyally by his leader last week when he was asked by Eamon Keane on Newstalk 106 radio if Des O’Malley was still leader of the PDs would he tolerate Bertie as Taoiseach.
Quick as a whip, Kebab replied: “Well he tolerated Charlie Haughey.”
In the same discussion someone compared coalition with Fianna Fáil to “having oral sex with a shark”. No comment necessary.

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