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14 February 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Poster boys and girls

YOUNG Fine Gael is holding a slogan competition for a poster supporting the Lisbon Treaty.
To try and get people’s creative juices flowing, YFG heads are showing what they describe as their “provocative” posters used in the first Nice Treaty referendum, Better 2 B Inside and Passion for Europe.
The idea, YFG says, was to motivate young people.
You may remember that they lost that one.

I spy with my little eye

SAS “HERO” Captain Andrew McLauchlan took his holiday stop-off point of Blackpool Pleasure Beach literally and he was caught by the coppers engaging in a “solo sex act” before trying to run away.
The SAS man was on his way to visit his family in Scotland when he landed on Britain’s busiest seafront, known as The Golden Mile, and had a “drunken sexual encounter” of the Monica Lewinsky type with a woman who was not his wife. ‘Captain Intrepid’ was later spotted on CCTV finishing with his solo sexual moment himself outside a Blackpool pub at 1:30am. When the police went to pull him in, he tried to leg it.
PC Gillian Leech told Blackpool Magistrates’ Court: “He kept breaking wind in front of me. I asked him to stop several times. He told me he was hungry. He did not seem bothered until I got out my handcuffs and I said I was going to arrest him. He started to run.”
Despite the police evidence, magistrates acquitted the 44-year-old SAS officer after accepting a submission from his solicitor that there was insufficient evidence he had alarmed or distressed anyone.
The SAS hero wasn’t in court, magistrates were told, because he is now in Iraq on a spying mission. Hope it’s undercover.

Imperfect ten

LABOUR Party TD Joe Costello has come up with a novel idea to help people travelling on the tail-end of their ten-year passports.

Joe has submitted a Dáil question: “To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will extend the period of the passport to 10 years and six months as travel is often refused in the six months prior to expiry.”

But, Joe, what about people who travel in the last six months of your new 101/2-year passports?

Fill your boots

BOOTS, the chemists, have invited TDs to a free health screening in a Dublin hotel at the end of this month.
“Complimentary health check screenings for cholesterol and blood pressure will be offered,” Boots announce, adding: “A complimentary photographer will also be on hand to record the event for your local newspaper.”
It’s not clear, though, if the photographer will also record any over-indulgence of the “full bar and canapés served throughout the evening”.

NIO buggers

NEWS that a British Labour MP’s meetings with a prisoner had been bugged by Scotland Yard prompted journalist Anne McHardy to recall how she found out she was being bugged by Secretary of State Roy Mason when she was the Guardian correspondent in Belfast in the late 1970s.
When Anne McHardy attended a British Government dinner party in the Europa Hotel in 1978, a well-oiled Tommy Roberts, an inveterate drinker and a colonel in the Ulster Defence Regiment who was Mason’s senior press adviser, was put next to her by NIO officials in the hope he might actually eat something in her company. Instead, he boasted that he knew there were tensions between her and her boyfriend ahead of their wedding.
“Roberts, glass in hand, refused to eat,” McHardy wrote in The Guardian. “He talked about the UDR. Then he leaned towards me. ‘That boyfriend of yours doesn’t like you being here,’ he said.
It felt like a tape had started playing in my head. I knew I hadn’t described that conversation to anyone, and there was only one way Roberts could have known. ‘Where did you hear that?’ I asked, seeing Corbett [another NIO press officer] turn ashen. ‘On the tapes,’ Roberts replied aggressively. ‘The Secretary of State and I were listening to the tapes!’
“He went on to berate me for being too pro-republican and claimed that drastic measures to get rid of me had been considered, including planting bullets in my handbag to perhaps get me prosecuted.”
Roberts died a decade ago. It’s not known how many other journalists were treated and threatened this way. How much personal information about news people’s private lives did the NIO use to compromise media treatment of the conflict?

Currying no favour

HOW come no one is outraged about Britain’s Queen Elizabeth paying huge sums of tax-payers’ money to relatives with no open competition for their jobs?
One of Mrs Windsor’s high-paid, high-living relatives, Prince William, and 47 other Hooray Henrys descended on the Saffron Desi Indian restaurant in York last week. The p*ss artist known as Prince is training to be a pilot at a nearby RAF base.
His royal retinue scoffed curries to the value of £1,300 before leaving – but without leaving a tip.

An Phoblacht
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