16 October 2008 Edition
SDLP surrender to British warship
THE SDLP has run up the white flag in a battle over Belfast City Council allying itself with a British warship.
The council has voted to “affiliate” itself with HMS Duncan, a Type-45 destroyer currently being built by the British Ministry of Defence (which used to be known as the War Office).
The request to associate Belfast with the battleship came from Rear Admiral Philip Jones, the Royal Navy’s Flag Officer for Scotland, Wales and the Six Counties. Council officials say the link will bring Belfast prestige and goodwill around the world!
When it came to a council vote, Sinn Féin councillors valiantly tried to repel the move but they were out-numbered by unionists as the cheese-eating surrender monkeys of the SDLP stood idly by and abstained.
Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey branded the decision a “disgrace”, adding:
“The majority of people in Belfast do not want anything to do with this destroyer. It is madness to think Belfast is now linked with a ship that will go around the world killing people.”
SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood, one of those who abstained from the vote and is a vocal opponent of selected forms of violence, said that although he has “concerns” about the affiliation it is “not an important enough issue” for his party to lodge a formal objection.
EX-PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan was wearing his new hat as CEO of Co-operation Ireland when he gave the Billy McCaughey Memorial Lecture at Saturday’s annual conference of the Progressive Unionist Party, the political voice of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
The PUP stuck to ‘bread and butter’ issues and the issue of the UVF still not having decommissioned – or even likely to – its weapons doesn’t seem to be a major issue with unionist politicians normally obsessed with ‘illegal weapons’.
In Monday’s Irish News, Roy Garland described Billy McCaughey as “a former RUC constable who served a life sentence for militant loyalist actions” before he went on to become involved in the PUP and reconciliation.
Billy McCaughey wore a number of hats while he was serving as an officer in the B-Specials, the RUC and its elite Special Patrol Group.
A one-time bodyguard to Unionist Party minister John Taylor, McCaughey held dual membership of a number of unionist paramilitary groups, including Ian Paisley’s Ulster Protestant Volunteers and then the UVF. He was part of the infamous ‘Glenanne Gang’, responsible for a string of sectarian murders and linked to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
McCaughey himself – along with RUC man John Weir, who served with McCaughey in the RUC Special Patrol Group – served 16 years for murder, kidnapping and attempted murder.
Billy McCaughey’s “militant loyalist actions” were, in fact, purely sectarian-motivated murders, based on unadulterated religious fundamentalism. Whatever McCaughey’s later actions were, glossing over his earlier motivations detracts from his ‘Road to Damascus’.
Wide of the mark
THE PSNI have shot themselves in the foot with a million-pound mobile firing range system which was to be wheeled around police stations in the Six Counties to give Peelers gun practice home on the range rather than have them wasting police time and mileage travelling to a fixed firing range.
Three ranges – loaded on articulated lorry chassis and giving hot shots three nine-metre lanes in which to blatter away - were bought at a cost of more £900,000.
PSNI big-shots beamed as their gleaming, brand new toys revved up their engines and drove off into the sunset to bring in-house training to police bases all over the Six Counties... only to find that the artic ‘shoot and scoot’ ranges can’t fit through the gates of most stations. Even when the ranges can get through the doors, there’s neither the space or the power supply available to make them fit for purpose.
Now the wheels have come off the supposedly cost-saving manoeuvre there’s been some political sniping over the farce.
Sinn Féin Policing Board member Daithí McKay says:
“People will quite rightly question the calibre of the PSNI’s decision-making process.”
Follow your leader
ENDA KENNY’S surprise announcement that he’s going to take a 5 per cent cut in his salary shocked quite a few people. How much of a selfless sacrifice it actually is is arguable when you’re earning €106,581 and you’re sitting on a pension of €14,000, so don’t expect average wage earners to be following in their droves. But then Fine Gael TDs won’t be following in their droves either. Their beloved leader hadn’t told them he was going to put them on the spot in the glare of a media briefing. “Sorry for landing you in it there, lads,” Enda was overheard telling his stunned acolytes as the newswires chattered about The Not So Great Leader’s bold move.
Richard Bruton fell into line sharpish but reluctantly otherwise his daily TV and radio interviews would have been overshadowed with questions about why he hadn’t also tightened his belt. Likewise with his Number 2, Kieran O’Donnell.
Hard-nosed TDs Brian Hayes, Charlie Flanagan and Lucinda Creighton told their boss where to stick his pay cut.
The rest of the boys in the Blueshirts silently indicated that they weren’t for cutting this particular public expenditure either.
Even more surprised, though, must have been listeners of Today FM’s The Last Word drivetime show when there was a discussion last week about Green Party TD Paul Gogarty’s suggestion for TDs and Government officials to lead by example and take an 8 per cent pay cut. “Populist nonsense,” snorted Enda Kenny... who then went off and did just that in a blaze of publicity although with a less painful 5 per cent threshold.