Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Could this be the start of a bug bear?

I’m regularly appalled by the gaps in my reading which no amount of good intention seems to plug. My girlfriend’s parents’ house is replete enough with books of all kinds to send me into an auto didactic, kleptomaniacal frenzy.

A light fingered spree has led to me being in the process of plugging a couple of gaps with Ruth Dudley Edwards’ “The Faithful Tribe” and currently Declan Kiberd’s “Inventing Ireland”.

The Faithful Tribe is an admirable (and occasionally hilarious) attempt to explain Orangeism to the uninitiated and unsympathetic. Edwards may have become too close to her subject, but her understanding of Sinn Fein’s manipulation of the parades issue is impeccable.

Inventing Ireland promises to be the more interesting book however, perhaps principally because its content and nationalist assumptions are jarring with me after only a chapter and a half. Those who buy their own tradition’s myths wholesale are always the most suspect analysts and whilst Kiberd is far too clever and nuanced to fall into this trap, his elegant commentary nevertheless disregards the self-confident revisionism of RF Foster to wallow in post-colonial victimhood.

Kiberd correctly identifies the tendency of the Irish and English cultures to set themselves up in opposition to each other. However he absolves Ireland of any responsibility. He views the process as one purely fuelled by the English identifying in the Irish characteristics which they wanted to deny in themselves. He fails to see that this was a two-way process and that Irish culture has been shaped by a self-conscious attempt to negate Englishness and Britishness.

Bizarrely he invokes Burke’s social conservatism in defence of nationalism, rather than detecting in it the horror of a socially mobile, but philistine mercantile class.

I imagine I will be returning to this book as I read more. Despite my early disagreements, I look forward to Kiberd developing his themes.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Hero Hughes treads the hallowed turf

I have missed the handful of Ballymena friendlies played thus far this season, including a fine 2-0 win against St Johnstone.
This Saturday, however I will be in attendance, as the real Sky Blues play another team who answer to the same nickname: Coventry City.
Happily there is a tremendous bonus as it transpires that Northern Ireland's legendary winger Michael Hughes is likely to play some part in the game.
OWC supporters have many happy memories of Hughes, who began his career as a skillful, pacy wide player and has evolved into a crafty midfielder as age has diminished his pace. Who can forget his brilliant goal against Germany which put us into the lead deep into the 2nd half and awoke the beast of Oliver Bierhoff, Northern Ireland eventually being defeated 3-1?
Michael won the last of 71 caps at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff in 2004 and copper-fastened his cult status with a fine challenge on Robbie Savage, which saw the little Larne man picking up a red card and a 3 match ban. He wishes to be reconsidered for internationals under Nigel Worthington, and who would rule out a final appearance in a green shirt to culminate a fine international career?
I'm delighted at the prospect of seeing Hughsie ply his trade again on Saturday. Match kicks off at 3pm at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

Harry Potter and the Blinded Morons

I am not a man it is difficult to irritate. Indeed the ocean of my annoyance is in constant flux, its water’s rising daily to breach defences and flood fresh antediluvian tracts of human behaviour. But it strikes me that I am not overstating the case whenever I suggest that it would be equitable and just to stab in the eye any adult reading the new Harry Potter book ostentatiously in public.

When one wields this volume in a public place one is presumably embracing some of the following statements:

1) I still believe after all these years that it is quirky and fun to read Harry Potter. Look at me indulging my inner child.

2) I really genuinely love the books and feel no shame at reading a children’s fairy story in public.

3) I am a crowd following sheep who will jump aboard any departing craze.

Any / all of these sentiments deserve at the very least, a blunt object jabbed in those unforgivably abused eyes.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Antics to live long in the memory

I am by no means a man of complete abstinence, but I feel that the bar has been raised in the field of drunken antics inexorably. I feel humbled, nae ashamed to reproduce an e-mail from a certain young man, let us refer to him merely as Douglas Priestly Streat of Carlisle, Cumbria. Dougie, I pay tribute to your virtuoso performance. Quite simply it deserves a larger audience, but in the absence of much chance of that I will post it here:

Cracked open the glens+ orange at around 5 on fri.
Coupled with some tunes, golf and Father Ted it disappeared rapidly. Long gap in memory but am remember burping some puke down breeks at some stage tho NI top appears to have miraculously survived. A delicious curry was made and scoffed at some point and i am reliably informed that i was persuaded to sit through an episode of eastenders on promise of some grisly character demise, tho canna remember a single second of it. Some wine and Ted were on thr go at half four or so.
Predictably slow start. Getting to game meant bus at half 9 or something so that was out. Missed half 3 bus so didn't make pub till 6. Bus at 9 ruled out so ended up sprinting for 11 o'clocker, which turned out to be going different route. Driver and passangers conferred and established i could be hoofed off 2 miles from usual stop. Figured 3 mile walk was better than 20 odd quid for cab. Managed to veer off down what turned out to be grim clart track. Due to British stubbornness and being pissed, refused to turn back. Cue lots of scrambling around in mud, hedges etc and one hell of a lot of rustic language. Tempted to try to gatecrash some kind of toffs party going on in what appeared to be a massive house. Threw unopened voddy (half bottle) into field after particularly violent stumbling incident involving nettles and brambles. Bus left at 11.05. Made it home at about 1.45ish, utterly filthy.
Next morning saw toilet water bubbling up into the shower. Not good.
A lesson is there to be learned, and that is never throw away innocent drink, no matter how angry you are.
Went back yesterday to see if i could find bottle and to see how the feck i managed to go wrong but denied due to cow-herding episode..

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Belfast Giants skating on thin ice - har de har

I am never one to pass up an opportunity for a little schadenfreude, but this story is particularly sweet.

During the post ceasefire hysteria, with established Northern Irish sports crying out for money and facilities, the government bent over backwards to attract a soulless sport with no history here and no prospects of ever attracting significant participation. Belfast Giants ice-hockey team represented the crassest type of political correctness, driven by an ill-conceived notion that watching a team full of journeyman Canadians play a sport we didn't understand, with a lot of music blaring and cheerleaders (and I'm hoping that point will get you on board Miss Maxwell!!), would bring us all closer together!

One unprecedented bail-out by the Inland Revenue (a courtesy not extended to Irish League football clubs threatened with closure for one) and a government orchestrated campaign to butter-up other creditors later, they're decamping to Dundalk because gate receipts won't cover their expenses. Now if only we'd built a multi-sports stadium at the Odyssey instead .....

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

My experience of the Twelfth of July

Having outlined the apathy which Orangeism and the parading culture inspires in me, I felt it only fair to relate some observations about the Belfast Twelfth having witnessed several of the festivities. Living in South Belfast and staying there during the eleventh and twelfth, it was hard to ignore what was going on and I was compelled to experience it first hand.

Or that at least is my contention, because on the 11th night there was nothing forcing me to take to the bottle. After returning from work and making my way up the road for some celebratory chips, I was intrigued by the fact that one household in the neighbourhood had elected to leave a significant quantity of sagging, antique furniture out on the street, presaging some of the events to come with a very cunning plan to avoid paying the council to remove their unwanted items.
Thus irritated, I acquired my sausage supper and cheese, a copy of the Tele and dispatched myself eventually to Hunters for a browse of the paper and a fortifying pint. Thence to NG’s, who as a man of some prodigious liberalism, surprised me by entering into the festive mood rather wholeheartedly, providing a Youtube smorgasbord of rioting and loyalist music to soak up our tins of lager.

We ventured to Lavery’s, unsure of our plans for the night ahead, other than for the continuance of imbibing beer. Alarmingly we were informed that the establishment was shutting at 10pm, a forewarning which turned out to be accurate, as only half way down our second pint, there appeared bouncers urging our bibulous alacrity.

Another session of Youtube and the Snow family’s analysis of the Battle of the Boyne enthused us sufficiently to visit the Sandy Row bonfire. The crowd was substantial, although slightly underwhelming, although at this juncture a persistent rain had begun, which continued unabated throughout proceedings. The younger enthusiasts congregated directly in front of the imminent fire and we were reasonably well back along the Sandy Row itself. There were large groups of young men, and no shortage of alcohol, but the atmosphere didn’t seem particularly threatening.

With the inclement conditions, the fire was initially slow to take hold and teenagers took it upon themselves to shinny up the construction with extra flame and with paraffin. Eventually the blaze was impressive, even though the actual bonfire was substantially smaller than many others around Belfast. Some loyalist songs were sung (unsurprisingly), I had no close view of what was on the bonfire, although as seems to be traditional a couple of tricolour Republic of Ireland flags were burnt.

There were stalls selling merchandise and food, there were a large number of children and families present and a surprising number of curious foreigners had chanced upon the event. One Polish family, consisting of a man and wife and their two daughters, were getting a great number of snaps taken in front of the fire on a digital camera. As the bonfire blazed, a spidey disco commenced in an adjacent car-park, crowds began to drift off and we got a bit fed up with being soaked.

During this period we’d had brief conversations with the Polish family, with a Chinese man taking photographs, with a family from Blackburn who were over for the event and with a large chap who I’d met whilst waiting for the plane to Leeds which never left.

In conclusion, the bonfire was a fairly tame occasion in actuality. Whether this was because of the rain, or simply because these events are not generally the repositories of violence and drunken mayhem depicted in the media, I cannot comment on the evidence of one event.

On the Twelfth itself, my bonfire induced hangover dictated that I only watch the outward parade on the television. Indeed I dozed on and off until lunchtime at which point Kerry and I braved the Lisburn Road, looking for some lunch. Neither Tescos nor any of the usual cafés we use were open and eschewing a botchalism burger we settled on the only place interested in tapping the biggest crowd which congregates in the area all year for a few quid.

The Lisburn Road was a bit of a mess already and we crunched through glass and tins, passed groups of drunken teens lying in doorways and generally averted our eyes on numerous occasions.

A walk that afternoon from Shaw’s Bridge revealed similar sights and crowds, before we mercifully got away to the quieter parts of the Lagan Meadows.

That evening I elected to walk up and briefly watch some of the lodges and bands coming home. Searching for a suitable perspective some members of a NISC I’m acquainted with shouted for me to come over. One pint from the Edinburgh Club later I felt rather ensconced, particularly as the BDL lads were forthcoming with a refill. Certainly the parade can take on a festive hue after a pint or two and in the more relaxed atmosphere of the return parade. Some reprobates were perched on top on the portable toilets doing their best to damage them, but such things happen in large crowds. Several fellow spectators voiced their displeasure at this vandalism and lack of consideration.

Kerry joined us after a spell, and in many ways I was having a merry old time, having been presented with a pair of Ulster flag specs and exchanging some banter with the lads.

There were admittedly some fairly belligerent bands and some quite overt displays of sectarianism. Particularly as the alcohol flowed, it was easy to see how the event could be interpreted as a display of atavistic aggression. There were also examples of benign humour and even an Irish leprechaun at one juncture.

The most bellicose and rowdy bands tended to be accompanied by large entourages making their way alongside them on the pavement. The gawky youth who tend to comprise these outfits clearly acquire some manner of sexual mystique for the large groups of teenage girls who follow them along the pavement. Admittedly if it weren’t for these “blood and thunder” bands the events would be rather tedious. They add a frisson of danger and their music as one of the spectators commented to me “gets the blood pumping”.

The Belfast Twelfth was far from insidious and clearly provides a days entertainment for a large number of people. It also attracts a fairly dubious element and realistically there is little that will sustain anything more than casual interest from tourists (especially given the lack of shops, restaurants and bars open). I cannot lie and say I didn’t enjoy the two days though.

Davinity: the new religion of West London

In Will Self’s latest satirical novel he creates a dystopian future London where the citizens worship a 21st century cabbie named Dave. Self’s contortion of godliness in his characteristically fiercely extrapolated world is “Davinity” and it is a word I find myself drawn to for reasons entirely unrelated to the novel.

David Healy, Sir Dave, King David or “the little Lord Jesus” as one enraptured mate of mine insists on calling him, commands an adoration bordering on worship from Northern Ireland fans and I count my self unashamedly amongst the proselytising hordes of the “Davine”.

For years we have been insistent that Healy deserves a greater stage to display his talents at club level. His recent demolitions of defences around Europe in a Northern Ireland shirt, coupled with the departure of “our leader” Lawrie Sanchez to Fulham, have given David this chance and he will ply his trade next season in the Premiership.

Having watched Healy demolish every Northern Ireland goalscoring record by the age of 27 and having felt surges of love which no straight man should feel for another, on the occasions of his greatest achievements, I have little doubt about Sir Dave’s abilities. My reservations exist only as regards the patience of Fulham’s support and chairman, should things not immediately click for Sanchez’s newly constituted squad (and Healy in particular).
Healy must be given every chance to prove himself, up front and every week. If Sanchez has the confidence in the player to do this, and the supporters and chairman have the patience to allow his new arrivals to gel, the goals will come in bucketfuls for the Premiership’s newest and most natural goalscorer.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Berezovsky wanted in Brazil

Whilst Western relations with Moscow deteriorate, and David Milliband expels Russian diplomats from London, it is puzzling that newspaper in the west have missed a report about a criminal being harboured by the British government. There doesn't seem to be any realisation that Putin's regime might be entitled to see an element of equivalence between the desired extradition of Alexander Luguvoi and that of a self-confessed plotter of violent insurrection, wanted for serious financial crimes not only in Russia but now also in Brazil.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Defining Unionism III - unapologetic inclusion

In the previous two pieces I defined unionism in its wider context as the constitutional imperative for the United Kingdom and examined the specifics of Ulster unionism, identifying the civic strand as more firmly rooted in a genuine wider unionist ethos.

Ulster unionism, when it focuses on the civic essentials, can claim to be an intrinsically better philosophy than Irish nationalism.

Ernest Barker’s view was that nations did not exist before nationalists set about creating them. To paraphrase, nations do not give birth nationalists, nationalists give birth to nations. Nationalism mines fundamental tribal human impulses, evokes ancient precedent and claims it is perpetuating natural law, but nationality is as contrived a notion as any other, on which to base statehood.

Arthur Aughey traced Irish nationalism’s roots to the movement of 19th century romantic nationalism in Germany. This movement was also the wellspring of Hitler and National Socialism. Irish nationalism is about identity whilst unionism is about values, institutions and freedoms.

Aughey refers to the broad, outward looking, inclusive strand of unionism which emphasises its belief in the United Kingdom’s institutions, rather than merely emphasising disapproval of a United Ireland. He does not refer to so-called 'unionists' with Ulster nationalist leanings.  If unionism is advocated merely as a competing nationalism it has no intrinsic superiority to Irish nationalism and we have ceded any notion of improving politics in Northern Ireland.

So that's how I believe genuine unionism is defined, what about the challenges which it faces and some of the attitudes which it should adopt against these challenges?    I believe there are three primary relationships which determine the challenges to be met. Firstly the relationship with mainstream UK parties and our position within the wider constitutional debate on these islands, secondly our relationship with Irish nationalism and thirdly the relationship of civic unionism with competing strands of unionism.

The imperative of becoming involved in the wider UK constitutional debate I have emphasised in the 1st thread of this series and only intend to touch upon here. Ulster Unionism cannot be seen to be colloquial. The DUP is a notoriously colloquial party. Its attendance at Westminster has become worse since the advent of devolution and it has flirted with Scottish and Welsh nationalists rather than engaging with British unionists.

Ulster unionists routinely complain about Northern Ireland being treated as an exception in the UK, differently from the other nations within it. How can we challenge this assertion if we continually reinforce the stereotype ourselves and don’t assert our unionism within a UK context? Without wishing to labour this point, a unionist who is fully engaged in the UK-wide constitutional debate is O’Neill with his excellent blog, A Pint of Unionist Lite. More of this engagement from unionists and in particular from politicians would see Ulster Unionism in a much healthier state.

As regards our relationship with Irish nationalists I find myself coming back to the Union Group’s document. Predominantly cultural unionists have boxed themselves into a corner and they are slugging it out on at best on equal terms with Irish nationalism. You look after your “volk” and we’ll look after ours. Civic unionists however, have no necessity to accept parity with nationalist doctrines. We should not apologise for being unionists. We should not concede equivalence between our philosophy and the dogmas of nationalism. There is no need to give in to a nationalist agenda or to embrace greater constitutional ambiguity.  In doing so we weaken our own case for the Union. With Northern Ireland’s status secured and with their place in its government a given, we have no further need for “outreach” to Sinn Fein. Work with them only in so far as the institutions of government necessitate it. Do not allow ourselves to be deceived into legitimising their agenda.

Whilst many of these initiatives are couched in the language of inclusion, they have the opposite effect.  There is a difference between respecting difference and fostering division and separateness. We must remember, and be firm in our contention, that unionism can accommodate and respect all cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and aspirations while nationalism cannot.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

And the bells were ringing out ....

The most detestable little upstart who has ever pulled on a Liverpool shirt, Craig Bell-end-amy has been sold to West Ham for £7.5m!


Monday, 9 July 2007

Why Orangeism isn't my culture.

Despite strenuously attempting to avoid remaining in Belfast over the course of this Twelfth week, it looks like circumstance has conspired to ensure otherwise. A certain trepidation therefore, may colour these few thoughts that I share about the imminent parades and bonfires.

I may be a unionist, but to be completely candid, the Orange Order, bands, the twelfth of July – none of these things means anything much to me. The Twelfth represents a day off work, and a rather anticlimactic one at that, given that every amenity in the country closes down for the day. It is also a difficult holiday on which to travel, due to the number of traffic restrictions caused by demonstrations.

I am aware that the character of parades differs immensely around Northern Ireland. My limited experience of the Belfast parade specifically (having happened upon it by accident on a couple of occasions) is that it attracts a great number of drunken youths, leaves a very great quantity of smashed glass and rubbish and that many of the marchers would cause you to cross the street in avoidance were they not walking directly down the middle of it.

The eleventh night bonfires, to the best of my knowledge, comprise rather sectarian open air parties. Whatever fun these deliver is somewhat offset by the paramilitarism, sectarianism, hooliganism, vandalism and environmental damage which can accompany the events to a greater or lesser degree.

Now this Orange philistinism isn’t an attack on either the Twelfth demonstrations or the previous night’s reveries. I fully acknowledge the validity of the culture from which they spring and I defend the right of that culture to express itself in these ways, unhindered as much as possible, within the confines of the law and within reasonable boundaries of nuisance and risk.

This post merely contains my own personal relationship, or lack of it, to an event which some would say was an integral part of my culture (given that at least on one side of my family there were many Orange Order members). I don’t regard this as a legacy which I have unfortunately lost. I view my ambivalent reaction to Orangeism as representative of a large and silent section of the unionist and nominally unionist community.

It is not really for me to expedite conclusions from the existence of such attitudes. That is the challenge for Orangeism itself. Perhaps they might conclude that a large section of mainly middle class unionists have collapsed into a cultureless mulch. Perhaps they may conclude that sections of society have simply moved on and can never be recaptured. Perhaps they may conclude that the festivities are severely flawed and must be reformed, repackaged and represented to provide a better advertisement for the organisations behind them, their culture and values.
Regardless I move toward Thursday pleased to be enjoying a day off work, slightly irritated that I may be curtailed from using the day how I would chose and with little intention of paying the parades much attention.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The dangerous precedent of Tatarstan

It is a paradox that whilst world economies become more global and multi-national cooperation seems to make more and more sense, recidivist tribal instincts to fracture, separate and diminish, still thrive. Nationalism is a base impulse, but it is an impulse none the less.

The Russian Federation remains, even after the break-up of the Soviet Union, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Europe. Given this diversity it has developed a unique system of regional government, which includes, ethnically identified republics, territories (or kraya), autonomous regions and oblasts (provinces).

The republics derive their ethnic character from the titular nationality of the majority, although this is by no means accurately ascertained. Any virulently discriminatory law issuing from these regional governments should theoretically be tempered by the supremacy of federal law.

It should concern Russia watchers then, that a dangerous constitutional precedent seems likely to be set by the Duma in its dealings with Tatarstan. The republic, which is a hair over 50% ethnically Tatar, looks to have secured the signing of a treaty with their own federal parliament. Not only is this a constitutional absurdity, but the treaty due to be signed institutionalises language restrictions by which the Russian parliament is conniving in discrimination against its own citizens. The consequences of this precedent, in a federation which still includes Chechnya, Dagestan and other restive regions may be indescribably dangerous and foment volatility.

It is unlikely that the weakening of the Russian Federation will cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the west, but it should be of concern to us all when ethnic nationalism is stirred up and indulged.

The bloodshed which accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union was reasonably localised when the horror which might have unfolded is considered. Weakening the federation raises fresh dangers and awakens fresh instability. Rather than indulging its Russophobic impulse at every discomfiture for whichever incumbent regime, perhaps the US and EU should view the bigger picture and realise the importance Russia has as a source of stability in Central Asia.

Sochi to host Winter Olympics

Congratulations to Sochi on the winning bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. The venue will undoutbedly be spectacular. The Moscow Times attributes the win in no small part to Vladimir Putin intervening with the type of political charisma we don't often see attributed to him in western reports.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

He drank sangria, and came from Barca to bring us joy

But a little sadly Luis Garcia has left Liverpool again. Liverpool fans will have many great memories of Luis' contribution. My personal favourite was a long-range corker just below where I was standing at Old Trafford, to put the reds into the F.A. Cup Final at Chelsea's expense.

Goodbye Luis and all the best. You're gone, but not forgotten.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Defining Unionism II - Ulster unionism and the difference cult

Writers on Ulster unionism have long recognised the existence of two competing forms of the philosophy. Civic and Cultural Unionism, of course, are ambiguous and elusive concepts, particularly when we try and neatly classify unionist politics into either category. Civic unionists have often used the language of cultural unionism to bolster a wavering electorate, there has been a certain amount of crossover between the two strands and many unionists and unionist politicians straddle the two definitions to a greater or lesser extent.

Broadly, the civic unionist position is focused on the importance of the shared political, legal and cultural institutions of the United Kingdom. Cultural unionists are focused on the particulars of the British and protestant traditions in Ireland. There is no mutual exclusivity between the two unionisms, but generally the former has a tendency towards political rationalism, inclusivity, plurality and secularism whilst the latter tends to be narrower, to be focused on the interests of Ulster Protestants, on occasions to flirt with religious dogmatism and in many cases has an insular character. It is when this latter tendency manifests itself in ambivalence to the rest of the United Kingdom and indeed to the Union itself, that Cultural Unionism becomes Ulster Nationalism and becomes a contradiction in terms.

With its emphasis on religion and ethnicity, Cultural Unionism has much more in common with Irish Nationalism than its civic counterpart. It is no accident then that Republicans can much more comfortably identify with Ian Paisley for example, rather than Lord Kilclooney or David Trimble, politicians cut from a much more mainstream British cloth, and men as comfortable in Westminster as Stormont.

This instinctive understanding of nationalism has manifested itself also in the new Stormont administrations flirtation with Scottish and Welsh nationalists. The strand of the DUP most in tune with their leader and most steeped in Ulster particularism, see less danger in pandering to Sinn Fein’s ethnic identity rhetoric, as long as their own perceived identity is also indulged. This is where ethnic nationalists in the DUP and the “sopping wet unionists” Alex Kane sees in the Union Group tend to converge, in a willingness to indulge Sinn Féin under the guise of diversity. The DUP in many cases are paid up members of the cult of the loyalist community and so are prepared to sign up to the cult of the republican community all the more easily.

Respecting difference is an important tenet of liberal democracy and by implication of Civic Unionism. Pluralism, tolerance and diversity are three of the ideas we believe are safe-guarded by the Union. There is a very clear distinction, however, between valuing diversity and institutionalising, emphasising and fetishising difference. Rather than building bridges, the agenda of the two main parties, which others are allowing themselves to be drawn into, is to polarise and separate our two communities.

Monday, 2 July 2007

No religion please Mr Brown

The last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was a churchgoing Anglo-Catholic moving steadily towards Rome. The new incumbent is the son of a Church of Scotland minister, who by his own admission, roots his “moral compass” in his reformed faith.

Tony Blair had the stamp of a conviction politician, charging ahead with an unpopular and unjustifiable war because he felt it was the right thing to do. That irrational streak cannot be divorced from his religious faith and worryingly it seems from his rhetoric thus far that Brown will be similarly reluctant to separate his faith from his work.
It is not the job of politicians to meddle in setting a nation’s “moral compass”. It is their duty to provide laws which allow people to lead their lives safely and freely. It is particularly outside a politician’s remit to exert a morality based on an archaic 2000 year old book.

Britain still harbouring criminal insurrectionist.

Boris Berezovsky's trial begins in Moscow this morning, alas in his absence. Berezovsky lives in lavish comfort in the Home Counties, hatching plots of violent revolution for his native land and enjoying the fruits of his bandit capitalism. That Britain continues to harbour this would-be revolutionary thief is an affront to relations between the two nations.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

As below!

I had a rather lengthy discussion with my good friend and UUP councillor Neill Armstrong last night regarding comments made by Rodney McCune and reported in the Newsletter.

Alas we were unable to reach agreement over the comments, but I must admit I wholeheartedly agree with Rodney's characterisation of the DUP as Ulster nationalists.