Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No apology necessary

Sinn Féin is demanding an apology from Ian Paisley Jnr for saying he is repulsed by homosexuals. That's a bit rich coming from a party that supported terrorist murder.

[ Update: Martin McGuinness has weighed in, saying "Gay rights are enshrined in legislation ..." . Legislation outlaws murder, Martin. When can we expect your statement expressing true remorse for the genocide wrought by the IRA of whom you said you were proud to be a member? ]

So what if Ian thinks that? He says he doesn't hate them, but he's describing the feeling he gets when considers the issue of gay people and, presumably, lesbians too.

I've known a few gay men in my time, though not in the Biblical sense. By and large they were pretty nice guys, but I too am repulsed by the thought of one man putting his penis in another man's bum. I make no apology for that. I don't think God designed us to have sex that way.

Friendship: yes. Brotherly love: yes. Buggery: no.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sinn Féin - what went wrong?

Plenty. They only had five seats in the 30th Dáil. Now, after the Éire elections, that's down to four. Four out of 166. So much for the self-proclaimed "only all-Ireland party". SF will now be navel-gazing like never before, and its critics are having a field day. For my money, there are three huge reasons Sinn Féin barely got half the number of seats it was shooting for.

1. Its brand of Marxist socialism was consigned to the dustbin of European politics fifteen years ago. Connolly's socialist ideals had popular relevance when Ireland was under the English economic boot in 1916, but modern Éire is enjoying a burgeoning neo-capitalist existence as an equal on the world economic stage, making Sinn Féin's economic dogma appear backward and, at best, irrelevant.

2. It's a reactionary movement which thrives on confrontation whereas Éire politics have grown to be consensual. It may see merit in upholding dated political ideologies, but the Éire people see it as a one-issue party: Brits out. Again, Éire has moved on, and I think Sinn Féin failed to judge that properly. Éire has a new-found confidence - well deserved and too long in the coming - and it's too busy with its role on the European and the world stage to worry about its nearest neighbours who are respected friends now anyway.

3. It is, at present, a constitutional party in name only. After almost a century supporting terrorism across Ireland and claiming the IRA to be the true government of Ireland, it'll take quite some time to build up trust enabling the electorate to accept Sinn Féin's full commitment to democracy and to the constitutional legitimacy of both Irish jurisdictions. The continued existence of a private army which needs to acquire but a handful of weapons to unleash terrorist hell again does nothing to endear Sinn Féin's brand of reactionary republicanism to the hearts of a mature, discerning Irish electorate.

It's been said on at least one blog recently that anyone in a tricolour could win elections in West Belfast or South Armagh. That's true, and with respect maybe it's been happening. And maybe the corollary is also true of unionism. Maybe the key players in Ulster's parties aren't yet perceived as up to the job of running a nation state as opposed to a regional assembly.

In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin is seen by most ardent nationalists as, currently, the only local party that stands a chance of delivering Irish unification before 2016, and that is the mainstay of its popularity. A single-issue party in our single-issue adolescent political universe. In a world where unification had happened, or where Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael competed in NI elections, that popularity might come under major pressure in Ulster too.

So what would I be advising Sinn Féin to do? Easy. Disband the IRA immediately, shift economic policy into the 21st century, live out commitment to constitutional politics and to both Irish jurisdictions and develop detailed policies which the electorate really desires. Not rocket science, but acceptance may be a long, slow process.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things that don't happen in Garvary, Part [I've lost count]

Many moons ago I used to highlight the odd quirky news item under this heading predicated on the fact that, to my knowledge, the good burghers of said village outside Enniskillen were  fine upstanding lot but perhaps no strangers to 'the quiet life'.
Now then, to business. Picture the scene: he and she live together and plan to marry. They book an expensive honeymoon. 24 hours later he says he'd like to stay on in the pub a while longer. She says she wants to go home. Now. He lets her. She does.
Exciting, eh? It goes on ...
She takes the keys to his employer's transit and transfers to its capacious interior every last item of his possessions - clothes, personal effects, Phil Collins CDs, the lot. Capitalising on the fact that they live by the sea - you've guessed it - she drives the van to Whitehaven harbour and pushes it into the water. The first thing he knows is he gets rung up by his boss asking why the van is bobbing around and smelling of fish.
Of his girlfriend our hero apparently said, "I haven't told her yet that the wedding is off, but I think she can put two and two together." Eeek.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Watch him

Gordon Brown, I wouldn't trust him an inch. He says he's "truly humbled" by the level of apparent support amongst Labour MPs at Westminster.
I've known a lot of Ameicans down the years and have never failed to be underwhelmed when hearing how "truly" this and "truly" that they are. No offence, that's just the way they speak (ah reckon).
But when a politician says he or she is "humbled" by something, well it's just un-politician-like to be humbled. Vanity's part of the make-up of an ambitious politician, and they don't come more ambitious than Gordon Brown, the man who's going to become Prime Minister by the back door.
Call me a cynic (time will tell), but I'm reminded of the Dickens character Uriah Heap who was "ever so 'umble". Not.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NI more democratic than England

At least our First and Deputy First Ministers were elected on their respective tickets, but not Gordon Brown. The news tonight is that he is going to succeed to the Blair throne unopposed. How democratic is that? (Not one bit).

The Sands that shake the barley?

Steve McQueen, no less, is to make a film about Bobby Sands (or, more accurately, his hunger-strike death - some would say suicide - in 1981).
Sands, an active member of the IRA, was serving time for terrorist offences he didn't deny, and aim of the hunger strike was to persuade Margaret Thatcher's government to give convicted IRA offenders the status of "political prisoners", i.e. those imprisoned for their political beliefs, not their crimes. Tragically for them and their friends and families, he and ten colleagues died in this effort which did not succeed in its aims.
Like the IRA's many victims, the film will be shot in Northern Ireland.


I see the first days of the NI Assembly are being put to good use (not). I've lost the story link, but some Sinn Féin lass is asking for an in-depth study into why there aren't more female MLAs and, worse, oodles of cash for encouraging more women into politics. I wonder if that includes Unionist women.

What a load of old tosh. The reason there aren't more female MLAs is exactly the same as why there aren't more male MLAs, to wit:

(a) because they didn't stand for election;
(b) because the electorate didn't think they were good enough.

Why should a second-rate woman be preferred over a first-rate man? Or the other way about? If it were the other way around there'd be a revolution.

When will people wake up to the fact that all this feminism stuff is actually sexism dressed up as an equality struggle. Men and women already ARE equal! But we're not identical.

I'm all for bringing women out of the kitchen, if that's what they need and want. They should have equal opportunities, and if they run for office they should be judged on their merits, not their chromosomes.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I have to take my hat off to Sinn Féin on this one. The Ulster Unionists want the NI Assembly to rejoin the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It sounds a pretty toothless forum, but it's bound to be more than a mite distasteful to militant Republicans. Nonetheless, SF's Mitchel McLaughlin has said his party will not oppose the idea because it recognises membership is important to Unionists.
At one level this is no big deal. Some MLAs will now be able to talk shop with people from Canada and New Zealand. Yawn. But it's far more than that. Unionists may have a right to talk and associate with others who value the British elements in their cultures, but the SF of the bad old days would have just sneered as they got on with it. Mitchel's open acknowledgement of this Unionist 'need' pays greater tribute than I could to where his party has got to and it's the kind of tolerance we're going to have to see from both sides.
Well done, Mitchel. Big move.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Brown-nosing MSM

The mainstream media has been running story after story on Gordon Brown over the last couple of days, quite obviously a managed campaign to get Joe and Josephine Soap foursquare behind this unelected dullard.

Tony Blair's grip on the Labour party has been legendary, but how democratic is it for the elected prime minister to abdicate (!) and hand over to someone of his choosing? Not a lot. If Gordon Brown becomes prime minister by default it'll be because the UK electorate wasn't consulted and because, er, the Conservatives are so unelectable. God help us.

But what really annoys me is the sheer patronising manner in which the British public is being manipulated. Yesterday's big story was how great a family man Gordon is. Today - guess what? - Gordon really wants to build five eco-towns. Gimme a break.

Make no mistake: the Labour luvvies and the MSM are in serious cahoots, and the British public is being manipulated so heavily it would make Alistair Campbell blush.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Democracy at last

There were no Stones blocking the door to progress today. The new First Minister and Deputy First Minister are in place, oaths sworn, and the ministerial team chosen. For the first time in at least 500 years - maybe ever - all of Ireland is governed by inclusive administrations elected by the people without outside interference, so this is a happy day for Irish people everywhere.

To those Protestants disaffected by power-sharing I say we have to respect Sinn Féin's electoral mandate; whether we like it or not it's a reality, and Republican voters have as much right to self-determination as anyone. I'm delighted especially for my Catholic fellow-countrymen who've waited a long time for this. Personally, I disagree with much of Sinn Féin's socialist aspirations and every attempt to glorify past terrorist acts, but I believe in democracy as a means of channelling and distilling varying opinions into workable policies for daily life, and now it's time to see that played out to the benefit of all.

It won't be easy. It'll be a rocky - not Stoney - path, but one worth treading together.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A BIT of a miracle?

Éire President, Mary McAleese, has described the Ulster power-sharing deal as containing a "hint of the miraculous". Er, just a little! In an age where the influence of post-Christian individualism is exerting itself even in Éire (although thankfully less so than in the UK), I'm just glad the President has the guts to say it at all. Well done.

Thirty years ago Northern Ireland was being ripped apart every week by bombs, beatings and cold-blooded, calculated murders - often in front of children and spouses. Even 10 years ago Ulster was a hopeless basket case. Five years ago the Assembly fell apart amid a spy scandal and, though the political process was in motion, the acrimony and back-biting offered no hope of what we have today.

Today the Provisional IRA, the greatest perpetrators of terrorist death, have disarmed and turned (they say) permanently away from violence. Soon, I hope, it may cease to exist altogether by its own choice. The UVF, lawless murderers and extortionists, yesterday ceased to exist as a paramilitary force. Soon, I hope, they will destroy those weapons and disband. Sinn Féin and the DUP - politically poles apart - are about to lead us forward together into a future thousands, maybe millions, of us have been praying that God would give us. He has.

That's a Big miracle. Let's be really thankful to him and show it. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

For God and Ulster - NOT

I used to think Gusty Spence's first name paid tribute to some monumental farting ability, then someone told me his parents had named him Augustus, and the bottom fell out of my world like the day I found out about Santa.

I jest, but the hot air and disappointment meted out by today's (non)-disarmament by the "UVF" and the "Red Hand Commando" is similar. We all thought they'd go down the same road as the IRA, but they've only gone half way. In their so-called peace statement they say their weapons have been put "out of reach" by members. What's that supposed to mean? Look through the hype of a supposedly ground-breaking statement - made by the most media-unfriendly man they could find - and the paramilitary organisations still possess guns, bullets and bomb-making materials like those they've used to kill of 500 people. Not a bullet, not an ounce has been destroyed. It's a scandal, and the public mustn't let them away with it.

Not only that but they haven't gone away, you know. The organisation still exists with its command structures. They could have set a law-abiding example for the Provisional IRA, but they failed to do so.

Don't tell me this is for God or Ulster. God hates murder and violence, and you need to hand your weapons in to the police, disband and get on your knees before Him somewhere quiet. Our ancient province of Ulster doesn't need attitudes like yours.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No handshake?

So Ian Paisley won't be shaking Martin McGuinness' hand as they swear the joint oath on 8th May. Given that he's undoubtedly already done so several times in the negotiations and joint meetings that led up to this power-sharing deal you might say, why?

Because Paisley's a master strategist, that's why. Imagine the scene. Paisley and McGuinness standing in front of Madam Speaker at the focal point of the Assembly chamber like in a wedding. Vows said, then a handshake. If it's a handshake without smiles, it'll appear awkward, forced and doomed to failure like when Trimble and Hume posed in Oslo looking like statues forced to be there. But if there are smiles, it'll look like a sell-out, with Paisley risking even more marginalisation from his right-wingers.

No. The handshake, if Paisley has his way, will take the press by surprise. It'll be at some semi-mundane gathering in the summer - the opening of a call centre perhaps.

Unless, of course, Máirtin decides to put the old man on the spot by standing square-on to him, oaths still echoing round the chamber, and offering his hand with a modest smile and the words, loud enough to be picked up by the mikes, "Looking forward to working together". Sinn Féin are nothing if not brilliant tacticians. What choice would Paisley have then? Just remember - you heard it here first.

Real royals

I love the Netherlands and go there as often as I can. The Dutch are a great people - happy, socially responsible, industrious and good fun.

Yesterday was Koninginnedag - Queen Beatrix's official birthday and the country's great annual bank holiday. The nearest they get to St Paddy's day.

The Dutch royal family (Unionists will be pleased to hear they're still called Oranje ;-) contrast so sharply with the UK royals. They're an easy-going lot, much loved and greatly revered, not because they have political power, because they don't, but because they're informal and approachable, embodying all that's good in the nation. There are a few diehard communists who want rid, but not many. Just look at some of the photos of Beatrix (as the people call her) and her son Willem-Allexander at yesterday's celebrations. I wish Lizzie and Chuck would take a leaf out of the Dutch book.