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23 October 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

‘Where are the IRA when you need them?’

THE SIMPSONS have fallen foul of DUP misery guts Gregory Campbell.
The North’s Arts Minister is upset at reports about Episode One of the 20th series which has been broadcast in the US and features a punch-up between Springfield’s St Patrick’s Day celebrants and a rival ‘Pride of Ulster’ Orange parade.
Cue the arrival of comic-book giants The Hulk and The Thing, from the Fantastic Four (even Jade Goody could grasp the symbolism of the jolly green giant doing battle with the orange Thing).
But what really has the DUP taking on Hulk-like angriness is a scene where Mayor Quimby announces that St Patrick’s Day will be booze-free, prompting Bart Simpson to retort:
“Where are the IRA when you need them?”
Kids say the darndest things.

Funny bone of contention

GREGORY Campbell doesn’t see the funny side of this Simpsons storyline.
“The Simpsons is a humorous cartoon,” Gregory acknowledges, obviously taking his arts and culture brief very seriously, “but the context of using a line like that about an organisation which caused so much death will lead people to have very mixed views.
“It’s one of these things that, had it been done many years after the events, would possibly have been looked upon in a more benign light but there’s still a generation out there dealing with the aftermath of the IRA violence which was so brutal.”
Yes, Gregory – a bit like nationalists who have been brutalised by the UDR/RIR who the DUP still insists on giving a real-life war parade through Belfast on 2 November.

Green Party war cry

JOHN GORMLEY’S standard bearer in the Six Counties, Green Party North Down MLA Brian Wilson, wants UDR/RIR veterans, SAS, Paras, et al, to be given a hearty welcome home from Afghanistan and Iraq when they stomp through Belfast in a fortnight’s time.
Sitting on the fence he’s made from recycled copies of the US Army Guide to Guantanamo Bay, Brian says he still opposes the imperialist war in Iraq (although he supports it in Afghanistan) but welcomes them all with open arms because the soldiers didn’t vote for it, parliament did.
“It was politicians who took the democratic decision to invade – not the soldiers,” is Brian’s war cry, so don’t blame the Paras or the SAS for what they do. (Anyone back-chatting about Whitehall ‘sexing up’ dossiers, manipulating democracy and lying to parliament will have to sit in a tub of seaweed and chant Kumbaya, My Lord until Brian’s rhubarb fool is more than half baked for his homecoming war party.)
Brian – who’s married to Alliance Party Councillor Anne Wilson – claims that Sinn Féin’s opposition to the war wagon on 2 November is motivated by sectarianism and the war in the North rather than concern over the war in Iraq.
“If anyone wants to demonstrate against the war, that’s fine,” Brian says, but asks, “Why select the same day as the homecoming parade if it’s not an attempt to increase tensions?
“It shouldn’t be done at the same time as there is a possibility of confrontation,” he insists, which is a new Green Party attitude to direct action – wait until the G8 and climate change summits are over before you protest so as not to upset anyone? How very green of you, Brian.

Getting Gormley’s measure

HEADLINE from John Gormely’s Green Party website at the weekend as pensioners’ anger rises over the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government’s snatch-back of Medical Cards from the over-70s:
“Gormley welcomes measured Budget in difficult times.”

Banking on ASBOs

GANGS of testosterone-fuelled men with easy access to cash, booze and drugs who have been wrecking communities with callous indifference particularly to old people should be given ASBOs, says a probation officers’ leader. Ban the bankers, he says.
Harry Fletcher, head of the British probations officers’ union, NAPO, says that bankers and financial speculators who have acted irresponsibly should be slapped with an ASBO and banned from working in the money markets.
He’s not joking either.
The probation officers’ governor says he cannot see any difference between the misery inflicted on the public by young criminals and the criminal actions of bankers that have cost families their homes and their livelihoods.
“The Government must therefore investigate whether there has been any wrongdoing under current laws and, if not, should consider, as a matter of urgency, new laws.”
Don’t bank on it.

Defective detectives

THE suicide of former UDR soldier Billy Bell that led to the discovery of more than 80 weapons and 100,000 rounds of ammunition at his home in north Belfast raises some questions about the prowess of PSNI detectives.
If it’s not a UVF arms dump – as seemingly omniscient security correspondent Brian Rowan claims – but Billy boy’s ‘hire and fire’ gun shop for non-political gangsters, how was a known and noted gun nut (sorry: “eccentric”) allowed to amass such an arsenal in his house. Just where did he keep them all undetected – and how? Was he never visited (let alone raided) by the Peelers?
And if  the haul is not the UVF’s, then why isn’t Gregory Campbell & Co jumping up and down about where the UVF’s and UDA’s real guns are rather than about references to the IRA in fictional TV cartoon capers in The Simpsons?

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