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8 May 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Derry songmeister robbed by fascist Franco

1968 may be remembered by dewy-eyed radicals like yours truly as the year of the Irish Civil Rights movement, student revolt in Paris, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, and the Vietnam War but, unbeknownst to us, the dark forces of fascism were weaving their evil web even more deeply behind the scenes. The fascists stole the Eurovision Song Contest. And what’s worse is that Derry song scribe Phil Coulter was the victim of this international fraud.
Phil had written the song Congratulations, the entry for Cliff Richard and Britain (but let’s hold no grudges). As the votes rolled in to London’s Albert Hall from all over Europe for Congratulations, the bookies’ favourite, Phil looked like a winner.
TV executives dragged Coulter & Co from their seats in preparation for the victory ceremony while the last votes were being called in. Disaster! A shed-load of votes pushed the Spanish entry - the lyrically-challenged La, La, La - over the finishing line by just one solitary point. A shocked Phil and his entourage were unceremoniously shoved back in the cheap seats and second place while the Spaniards cracked open the sangria and took the glory.
Fast-forward to today and a Spanish TV documentary this week claims that Spain’s fascist ruler, the dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Hitler’s war-time ally, had dispatched wide boys from the state-run TV to the dodgier corners of Europe to bribe voting juries with holidays in Spain (an exciting novelty in those days) and offers to buy up their rubbish TV programmes in the days before the BBC produced Eldorado.
Phil Coulter, though, is philosophical about the alleged Iberian Job by Franco’s fascists. La, La, La plummeted into immediate obscurity and Congratulations continues to make Phil (and Cliff Richard) a rich man by haunting wedding parties over 40 years to this very day. Even I can’t blame the fascists for that.

No ifs or buts

EX-DUP MEP Jim Allister doesn’t accept the misnamed Independent Monitoring Commission’s latest report accepting that the murder of Armagh man Paul Quinn at a border farm last October was “clearly contrary to the instructions and strategy of the leadership of the PIRA”.
The IMC went on:
“It was also contrary to the interests of PIRA and to those of Sinn Féin. We are aware of no evidence linking the leadership of PIRA to the incident.”
But that’s not good enough for the Traditional Unionist Voice MEP who split from Paisley’s party in protest at power sharing with republicans:
“The IMC have conceded that IRA men killed Paul Quinn and that makes it an IRA murder. No if, buts or maybes.”
So, in Jim Allister’s eyes, that must mean that because the Miami Showband massacre was carried out by soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment then that makes it a UDR massacre, “no ifs, buts or maybes”.

What a performance

MILLTOWN MASSACRE killer Michael Stone, facing trial on 14 charges including attempting to kill Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness when he tried to storm the Assembly Buildings 18 months ago, is to call an expert witness – in performance art.
UDA hit-man-turned-painter Stone burst through the doors of the Assembly Buildings in November 2006 allegedly carrying home-made explosives, a real or imitation gun “with intent”, a garrotte, three knives and an axe. Security staff stopped Stone from reaching the debating chamber.
A defence lawyer told the Belfast High Court that Stone – who killed three mourners at the funeral of the Gibraltar Three at Milltown Cemetery in 1988 – had not intended to endanger anyone’s life.
The creative Stone has insisted that the attack was a piece of “performance art”.
The trial is due to begin later this month and last five weeks.

Dramatic entrance

THERE was a time when IRA Volunteers didn’t recognise the court but no one has any trouble recognising the one just built in south London.
Lambeth Council housing chiefs thought it would be a good idea to name a new block of apartments after the very first black British actor to play Othello way back in the 1800s.
And so the local housing association proudly unveiled the new sign honouring the Shakespearean actor Aldridge, better known to his friends by his first name of... Ira.
Come the big day, the sign was unveiled to reveal, in bold, capital letters: “IRA COURT.”
Tenants have lodged an appeal.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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