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29 May 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Mary Coughlan is Blunder Woman

THERE’S something about Mary alright but we’re not sure what it is about Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, now derided as ‘Blunder Woman’.
Coughlan – described as having “a salty tongue” in the non-culinary sense – last week repeated factual errors at Fianna Fáil press conferences for a ‘Yes’ to Lisbon.
Blunder Woman got her facts and figures wrong about the make-up of the European Commission not once but twice on different days last week.
Even Dastardly Dick Roche tried to rescue her but TV and print reporters saw The One with a Salty Tongue “give him the brush-off, abruptly cutting him off”.
As Fianna Fáil handlers squirmed, Coughlan insisted on lecturing everyone else that “instead of muddying the waters we give absolute clarity on what the issues are” and “it is important to realise what the facts are”.
But obviously not important enough for her to bother with.

Big band fine

THE bandmaster of the Ballymena Protestant Boys – the son of an Ulster Unionist Party councillor – is beating his chest this week after being fined £1,000 after a loyalist band broke a pledge not to play outside a Catholic church in 2006.
Jonathan Gaston appeared at Ballymena Court for “failure to comply with conditions imposed by the Parades Commission” because he was the one who signed the 11/1 form accepting conditions about bands’ behaviour and not provoking or insulting resident communities.
Jonathan is the son of East Belfast Councillor Sammy Gaston, who was with the DUP but has now joined the Ulster Unionist Party.
Gaston might appeal because ‘sources close to him’ are blaming bands that weren’t invited to his parade.
It was the Ballymena Protestant Boys’ last parade. The Samaritans will not be setting up a helpline for distraught fans.

Odd odds

BEREFT of betting pleasure looking at the odds from Paddy Power on Britain coming bottom in the Eurovision, I glanced at the Political Betting section on who could be the next president of Ireland.
Favourite at the moment is Bertie Ahern at 2/1, odds which I find a bit odd given the tribunal clouds hanging over him, although that probably wouldn’t bother the Fianna Fáil faithful and election machine.
Ali Hewson (Mrs Bono) is in the listing at 16/1 behind Fianna Fáil matriarch Mary O’Rourke at 14/1 (there’d be some diplomatic incidents with her in the Áras, I bet).
Others include David Norris, Seamus Heaney, Charlie McCreevy, John Bruton and Ivana ‘I’m a Labour Candidate/No I’m Not’ Bacik (all at 25/1), Albert Reynolds and Mr Bono himself  (both at 40/1 with Dick Roche!). At 66/1 is Professor Brian ‘I Wear a Bow-Tie so I Must Be a Posh  Brain-Box’ Farrell, ‘celebrity’ money advisor Eddie Hobbs and our very own Mary Lou McDonald.
Interestingly, Mary Lou & Co are ahead of cheap airline boss Michael O’Leary and Sunderland gaffer Roy Keane (both 100/1), with Louis Walsh at 250/1 and Pogues front man with no front teeth Shane McGowan the rank outsider at 500/1. After voting for Dustin the Turkey to carry our hopes in Eurovision, the public’s perverse humour could see Shane get the nod. Can you imagine world leaders’ reaction at presidential photo-calls?

Mad Max

A KANSAS CITY car dealer says that his sales have quadrupled since he started offering buyers a free handgun with every purchase.
Mark Muller, owner of Max Motors, came up with the idea after Barack Obama made a remark about people in the mid-west clinging to their Bibles and their guns. “I found that quite offensive,” the mad motor dealer says.
Now he’s giving customers a $250 credit note for petrol or a local gun shop. Thirty buyers in three days went for the gun option. Mr Muller recommends a Kel-Tec .380 pistol. “It’s a nice little handgun that fits in your pocket,” he adds cheerfully.
“We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns. We’re not clinging to nothing. We’re just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want. This is the way it ought to be.”
Which will no doubt be his opinion if some two-bit gang-banger shoots him with one of his nice little offers.

Appetite for power

‘BREAKFAST ROLL MAN’ may be blamed for returning Fianna Fáil to power but the political gravy train in India could be upset by ‘Spiced Potato Ball in a Bun Man’.
The xenophobic Shiv Sena party controls Mumbai City Council and it’s hungry for more power, so now it’s launching its own chain of fast-food stands offering the popular street food known as vada pav, which is a spiced potato ball fried in batter served in a bun.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut announced: “We’re making a chain like McDonald’s.”
But there’ll be no vada pav vendors smiling, “Have a nice day,” at migrant workers because the right-wing Shiv Sena says Mumbai belongs to the native fishing community, which makes up less than half the city’s population, and its members have a British National Party type of reputation for beating up migrant workers.
There’s a difference at their McDonald’s you won’t enjoy.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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