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1 October 1998 Edition

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Television: Love and war

Would You Believe (RTE1)
Prime Time (RTE1)
Timewatch (BBC2)
``A cousin of mine goes potholin'
A cousin of hers loves Joe Dolan
Some head off to Frihilliana
But I always go to ....the house of prayer''

Well it doesn't exactly ryhme, but I might be better off there than eating sausages, chasing rotund Yanks and swilling pints in Lisdoonvarna.

Christina Gallagher, the Mayo housewife, has been under the media microscope after revealing herself as a visionary and a medium for Christ. RTE's Would You Believe investigated.

Queues of faithful visited a house in Belfast's Leeson Street after the resident claimed to have seen Christ in her fireplace a few years back and a colleague on the Falls claimed to me that he had witnessed Christ on his windowpane, but he could've been suffering from the after-effects of one too many cans of Steiger down the graveyard. For over six years Christina's house in Achill Island has been visited by thousands of pilgrims in search of miracles and solace - this mightn't have brought Sam Maguire any closer to Mayo, but has ``cured'' some, including Kathleen who claims to have been relieved of terminal cancer after visiting the holy one. The fact that she might have been cured by her own strength of character may also be of some relevance but there's horses for courses.

Christina claims to have been first visited in 1985, when she realised ``I was a sinner'', lingo I haven't heard since my last connfession back in `72.

The Virgin Mary appeared in a light through her body and Christina wanted to go home with her. Christina has suffered like Christ, including bleeding on her feet and wrists and a crown of thorns, which was filmed by Granada TV in 1994.

Her experiences and subsequent large following has been met with scepticism by the local bishop, but if the church believes in the resurrection of Christ they should have no reason to doubt Christina.

She was somewhat uncomfortable when questioned about chequebooks, the Miracle Shop, where one can purchase plastic statues of the big G and Christina's autobiography and video, but sceptical or not, she's as entitled as the next person to make a few bob.

Some of us believe in aliens and Elvis is reputedly alive and well and playing junior hurling in Wicklow, so there is no reason to criticise those who gain solace from the house of prayer, and the after-effects are a lot less harmful than a weekend at the Lisdoonvarna festival listening to hairy Christy and running from the Limerick bikers.

Our ``Big G'', as featured on Prime Time, is currently in Blackpool. He's been given a whirl on Labour's Big Wheel although he certainly hasn't got any candy floss from David Trimble, rather the usual claptrap, ``the need for paramilitary decommissioning'' obviously under pressure from hardline unionists (aren't they all?) and keen to save his own political skin.

As stated by Adams, Sinn Fein has undergone much change, including a change in constitution, but the unionists continue to be dragged kicking and screaming through the process, all the time looking for more orange candy floss. RTE unfortunately hauled the usual inconsequentials on board for ``expert analysis'', including ``ex IRA - I renounce violence'' Eamon Collins, who ironically can still read our minds, while making a few bob in the process.

He was followed by unionist John Bruton, desperately trying to sound credible, advising P O'Neill, with a most sombre face, not ``to break the law''. After a bright start RTE unfortunately followed the cliched line without questioning the northern police state and Brendan O'Brien concluded by informing us that Gerry wasn't addressing the Labour conference on the need to decommission, but was calling for the need for the dismantling of partition - how dare he!

Timewatch on the Beeb was noteworthy in that it focused on a different type of hero - those homosexuals who were prepared to proclaim their orientation during WWII. Chris and friends were a refreshing antedote to the stuffed turkey from the military who proclaimed ``there was no place for gays in the military as it ``may affect morale''. Humourous denis, was one of up to 250,000 serving gays in the war, when British officialdom turned a blind eye to the boys.

He shared a mess ``and what a mess it was'' with over 100 other navy personnel, many of whom informed him that he ``reminded them of their girls back home'' as they queued to share his bunk. No one was supposed to know but everyone did and Chris's bunk was increasingly inundated in times of death and crises.

Denis was a likeable ``old chum'' who had his share of crash landings, but none so good as when his captain gave him his first kiss.

All claim that homosexual relationships which were many, added to morale and this view is shared by the Dutch military where homosexuality has been legalised and normalised.

Unsurprisingly the Brits continue to drum out gays for ``committing a criminal offence''.

But one senses they may learn more from their Queens than their Queen.

By Sean O Donaile

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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