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22 May 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Gaybo says ‘NO’ to Lisbon

GAY BYRNE, RTÉ’s premier broadcaster until he took over as the road safety chief, says he’ll be voting ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty.
Gaybo attacked the treaty as “sneaky, dishonest, underhand and sinister” before adding:
“I feel desperately sorry for my grandchildren that certifiable lunatics in Brussels will dictate every single aspect of their lives.”
Gaybo’s not keen about being on the same side as Sinn Féin “but that’s how it is”. Indeed it is, Gaybo. So what about the ‘Yes’ camp - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and big business? He might not like Sinn Féin but he doesn’t trust them as far as he could throw a seafarer off an Irish Ferries vessel.
 “I don’t believe a word out of the mouths of any of the ‘Yes’ brigade and I have deep scepticism about any of their promises or undertakings.”

The Karate Kidder

PSYCHOLIGICAL WARFARE was the order of the day when Ulster Unionist MLA David McNarry faced Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff in a karate bout staged in the Assembly’s Long Gallery last week by a local martial arts club.
McNarry towers over Barry in height and physique but he’d met his match in McElduff in terms of mind games.
Clad in his white karate outfit, the Ulster Unionist man anxiously waited... and waited... and waited. The tension built. Ten minutes after the confrontation was due to begin, Barry calmly strolled into the Long Gallery. The anxious McNarry tugged at his novice’s white belt; McElduff was brandishing the karate expert’s black belt.
“Do you know why I have a black belt on today?” the mighty McElduff taunted his opponent.
“To hold your trousers up?” McNarry shot back nervously.
“No,” replied McElduff inscrutably. “It’s the strap of my briefcase that broke this morning but I wanted to give you a fright.”

The thick arm of the law

AND Judge Seán Martin McBride might want to heed Barry McElduff’s call for an apology after the Monaghan lawman branded a woman before his court for showing what he called “the typical thickness of Tyrone people”.
The injudicious outburst came after a case of mistaken identity brought the wrong woman to his court. The woman only had sterling cash to pay the €50 bail for something which she shouldn’t have been there for in the first place!
Barry’s call for a rebuke by the Justice Minister has been met with predictable cautions against interfering with the independence of the judiciary. But what if Judge McBride had made the same comment about another ethnic group - or if he’d been an English judge talking about the Irish?

Terminal trouble

LOOK who’s been coming to dinner with troubled British Airways boss and former Aer Lingus CEO Willie Walsh.
Walsh has made a big public show of giving up his £600,000 bonus from BA after the chaotic opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport that saw 500 flights cancelled, leaving thousands of angry families stranded and tons of luggage lost.
Wily Willie, ex-CEO of Aer Lingus, denies that his noble deed was a PR stunt so as not to provoke passenger fury but who has he been seen dining and chatting with lately in London? None other than who the London Independent describes as “fellow Irishman” and former British Airways PR guru David Burnside.
David Wilson Boyd Burnside is known here for being the press officer for William Craig’s Ulster Vanguard movement in the 1970s, before becoming an Ulster Unionist MLA and one-time gunman in the Ulster Defence Regiment. In British business, Mr Burnside is notorious for being behind a dirty tricks campaign against Richard Branson’s fledgling Virgin Atlantic airline when he was the head of PR at British Airways in the early 1990s. Branson sued British Airways, BA sued back; the case went to trial and, in 1993, BA settled before the verdict, Burnside costing his company the best part of a million pounds.
Are his lunches with the BA boss, as Burnside claims, “a purely social affair”? Or is the staunch Orangeman and PR bad boy helping the former Aer Lingus CEO with his image. With handlers like David Burnside, who needs terminal trouble?

Dubya bunkered

IN the war in Iraq, many Americans have made many sacrifices. Tens of thousands have lost their lives; many more have lost limbs; many more still have given up family lives to fight George W Bush’s war; and George W Bush has given up something too because of the families’ suffering - golf.
Asked in an interview why he hadn’t been seen on the fairways in a while, the President of the USA said:
“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as... to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
George Bush says he doesn’t lose any sleep at nights, he takes more vacations than any other president in history, and he’s just laid on a lavish wedding ceremony for his daughter at his multi-million-dollar ranch in Texas. But just in case GI Joe thinks he doesn’t feel their pain, remember while you’re lying in your Baghdad military hospital, the president isn’t having fun either.

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