30 September 1999 Edition
Gerry, Becks, Posh and Viagra
CUE the theme from Top Of The Pops:
Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh - Dun... Rocking in at Number 79 in the UK Top 100 Power Play - two places ahead of Pope John Paul II - are Gerry and the Peacemakers, duet Gerry Adams and David Trimble. Gerry's solo performance brings him in at Number 8 in Ireland's Top 20, one spot ahead of Mary Harney and two above The Artist Previously Known to the Sunday Times as IRA Chief of Staff.
No, relax - Gerry and David haven't teamed up to do a cover version of that old Beatles chart-topper, We Can Work It Out.
The placings come in last weekend's Sunday Times `Power List 1999', spotlighting the movers and shakers in Britain and Ireland - ``The 500 Most Powerful People in Britain - Plus Ireland's Top 50.''
Our Gerry gets no fewer than five mentions in the Power List, sharing the Number 20 slot in the `Top 20 in Politics' with Trimble and the two lads coming in at 79 in the `Top 100' - 12 ahead of David Beckham and Posh Spice, and 18 in front of Manchester United supremo Sir Alex Ferguson.
Gerry and David also make the `Top 50 Stars of the Year' alongside, Tony Blair, Charles Windsor (aka the Prince of Wales), Fergie (Sir Alex, that is), Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and Viagra.
In `Ireland's Top 20', Bertie Ahern understandably takes pole position but, curiously, Trimble comes in at Number 2 while Gerry comes in eighth - ``Trimble is a formidable intellectual who nevertheless lacks charm and does not have the charisma to carry his people with him in the way that Gerry Adams and John Hume have done.''
The Sinn Féin supremo does, however, pip Tánaiste Mary Harney (Number 9), the Sunday Times's nominee for IRA Chief of Staff (10), Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy (12), Ian Paisley (15), RUC Godfather Ronnie Flanagan (16), Tony O'Reilly (19), Mo Mowlam (22), Pat Kenny (30), President Mary McAleese (39), Chris Patten (41), and PD has-been Des O'Malley (49).
More power to you, Gerry!
The Cost of NATO
BEFORE the brass hats in the 26-County Defence Forces ride headlong into the valley of NATO, they should bear in mind the potential cost of their military adventurism.
The British Royal Air Force has banned frontline squadrons from carrying out any operations bar ``essential work'' because they've overspent their budget dealing with the crisis in Kosovo.
Casualties of the RAF's NATO involvement include basic repairs to buildings and welfare and health services.
The station commander at the RAF Kinloss air base in Scotland, Group Captain Stuart Butler, warns service personnel and their families in the base newsletter, Kinloss Focus:
``Do not be surprised if Works Services will not fix your broken door or repair your leaking roof - I am doing my best to minimise the pain but `times is tight'.''
Let all you foot soldiers in the 26-County forces be warned.
NATO Misses the Target
NATO `Supreme Commander' General Wesley Clark has begrudgingly admitted that things did not always go quite so smoothly as he and smooth-talking Jamie Shea had claimed in the 79-day Balkans blitzkrieg.
Clark said at his Brussels HQ that the number of vehicles and ordnance hit by NATO had been much lower than we were told. With the stunning military precision of a man whose nation gave us the stealth bomber, Clark said that NATO had taken out ``a lot''. ``We never thought we had destroyed it all - or even half of it. A lot was taken out, as anticipated. But what we were doing was keeping it in hiding, under wraps and ineffective.'' (Don't expect this form of analysis to be applied by NATO Brits to the IRA's guerrilla war in the Six Counties.)
Three countries - Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine - have begged the EU for cash aid to clear the River Danube of the debris left by NATO bombings. River traffic and commerce has been brought almost to a standstill along the waterway from Germany to the Black Sea. Bulgaria and Romania say the NATO fall-out has cost them £60 million each in lost trade; Ukraine reckons it's £54 million out of pocket. Romanian ship owners say they have had to lay off 3,000 workers.
With allies like NATO, who needs enemies?
KFOR Goes Goofy
PRINCE CHARLES, the heir to the British throne who dreams of being a sanitary towel to Camilla Parker-Bowles (and they called that film The Madness of King George?), took time off from his unsavoury fantasies to visit British troops serving with `KFOR' in Kosovo earlier this month.
Among those granted an audience during a six-hour visit were members of the RIR/UDR.
``It proves to the troops that our leaders care about our people on the ground,'' simpered 2nd Lieutenant Peter Hogg of 1 RIR. Captain Sean O'Hara, also of 1 RIR, couldn't have been more excited if he'd won a week on a desert island with Britney Spears. He gushed: ``For someone of his importance to take the time out to see us is fantastic.''
Labour ward Pains
WOMEN GIVING BIRTH might spare a thought for their distraught partners going through hell in the waiting room of the labour ward at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.
The waiting room has been financially supported by the Guinness brewing family since the 19th Century, according to a little plaque on the wall. But this modest citation of corporate responsibility (and the relaxing Monet watercolour on the wall) is dwarfed by four giant famous posters extolling the virtues of the pint of plain, including one telling disheveled and dehydrated dads to be, ``Guinness Gives You Strength.''
10 to 1 Barr
COLLUSION never happened between the RIR/UDR, the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries, Ulster Unionists often cry.
So why, then, did Mark Barr, of Silvio Street, in the Shankill area of Belfast, appear in the Belfast High Court charged with possession of documents targeting republicans, of which the Director of Public Prosecutions' lawyer said:
``Barr's fingerprints were on ten of the documents, including a [British] Army computer print-out.''
Barr has been freed on bail.
THREE CHEERS for French sheep farmer José Bové, the mousey-haired little man with a handlebar moustache who took on McDonald's.
Leader of a small farmers' union, Bové is now out on £10,500 bail after he and colleagues wrecked a McDonald's restaurant being built in the small town of Millau, north of Montpellier.
Bové has become a national hero, winning public sympathy across France for his direct action against McDonald's and the spread of multinationalism threatening small producers and farmers.
Many of the small farmers rallying behind the protests are said to be former activists in the May 1968 student uprising and part of the ``Return to the Land'' movement of the 1970s. Bové himself is described as a ``left-wing militant active in such causes as nuclear disarmament''. Despite being dismissed by the media as not being intellectuals, they are politically aware.
Now Bové has been invited by French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavanay to address the next World Trade Organisation (WTO) conference in Seattle.
``We have to change the WTO,'' Bové says, ``so that it respects people's cultural choices, does not destroy the world's peasantry, and guarantees fair trade for all.''
The head of a think tank in Paris, Guillaume Parmentier, says:
``McDonald's encapsulates it all. It's economic horror and gastronomic horror in the same bun. In France, food equals identity. There's a fear of being taken over by new technology.''
DANNY MORRISON, much-loved one-time editor of An Phoblacht, showed his traditional tabloid wit on last week's BBC TV programme focussing on the Patten Commission policing proposals.
Somehow, the subject of superstar songstress Diana Ross's body search at Heathrow Airport came up, prompting Danny to pronounce (with tongue firmly in cheek):
``If I could body search Diana Ross even I'd probably join the RUC.''
Fair Play for Cuba
FAIR PLAY to Dublin former GAA star Dr David Hickey, who used the All-Ireland Football Final last weekend to score a political point over the US trade bar on Cuba.
The top consultant at Dublin's Beaumont hospital was one of the 1974 All-Ireland winning Dublin team honoured in a jubilee ceremony at Croke Park.
When he stepped up during the Cork-Meath final to accept his honour, he took off his jacket to reveal the stencilled slogan on his white shirt: ``End Cuban Blockade.''
Explaining his action in front of 60,000 fans and millions of TV viewers worldwide, Hickey said it was to highlight the US trade blockade of Cuba imposed in 1962 which bars sales of food and vital life-saving medicines and hospital equipment to the socialist island. The ban is killing Cuban children, an angry Hickey said, revealing that he panned his protest for six months after witnessing at first hand the suffering of children in Cuba.
``They have children on chemotherapy who are vomiting 20 times in 24 hours because the medicine to stop them vomiting can't be imported,'' Hickey said. ``Morally, as an Irishman, as a medical doctor, as a sportsman, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to highlight this.''
Doc Hickey gets my Man of the Match Award.