Category Archives: DUP

The past ever with us?

Malcolm tries to avoid any pre-occupation with stat-porn [© Guido Fawkes], which — with his readership — is just as well. However, this day he did take an interest, and found an antique effort had suddenly received notice.

Indeed, this one is so old it was originally posted to the blogspot site. It dates from 24th July, 2007 — which is positively antediluvian in Clarus the Dogcow years.

Yet there is a lurking frustration here: who, and for what reason, needs Malcolm’s milldewed views on the Orange Arch of Magherafelt — however exquisitely he presented them?

Answers, not on a postcard, please to mredfellow at gmail.

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True! D’Oh! Trudeau!

Sadly, readers in the benighted UK & NI are not able to get their Sunday doses of Doonesbury, except via the net.

So, especially for the benefit of Edwin Poots and such like fundies, here’s today’s offering:

On which uplifting, nay Rapturous note, Malcolm rejoiced in Howard Brenton’s warm-up to his piece, in yesterday’s Guardian, about Anne Boleyn and the theatre of reformation:

My father, who was a Methodist minister, once had a blazing row with a fundamentalist. This good soul – a butcher and fiery lay preacher always with a battered King James Bible tucked under his arm – argued that the miracles of Jesus really happened. Dad was what was then called a “modernist”: he believed that many of the Bible stories, Old and New Testament, were not literally true but “symbolic”; in unguarded moments he would hint that even the resurrection of Jesus did not necessarily happen, what mattered was that the gospel story illustrated a great mystical truth.

The butcher would have none of this. Everything in the Bible was true: the Red Sea literally parted, Lazarus rose from the dead, the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus ascend into heaven. The Bible is the word of God, end of argument. A realisation began to dawn on my father, and he said something like “but it is only a translation, from Hebrew and Greek”. The butcher exploded. Translation? No! He believed Jesus and the disciples actually spoke the words of the King James Bible. The language of biblical Palestine was Jacobean English.


At risk of being repetitive, Gary Trudeau has been this way before, in December 2005. In a way what he propounded then is directly relevant to the present Northern Ireland Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, one Alderman Edwin Poots MLA, eminent alumnus of Greenmount College of Agriculture, and proud Deputy Mayor of the city of Lisburn.

So here’s that pertinent flash-back:


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Filed under Britain, Doonesbury, DUP, education, health, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, Religious division

Royalism: the last resort of some scoundrels

Groucho Marx sent the Friar’s Club of Beverly Hills a telegram:

Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.

Old Jolyon of Galsworthy’s The Man of Property had the same inclination:

He was too old to be a Liberal, had long ceased to believe in the political doctrines of his Club, had even been known to allude to them as ‘wretched stuff,’ and it afforded him pleasure to continue a member in the teeth of principles so opposed to his own. He had always had a contempt for the place, having joined it many years ago when they refused to have him at the ‘Hotch Potch’ owing to his being ‘in trade.’ As if he were not as good as any of them! He naturally despised the Club that did take him. The members were a poor lot, many of them in the City—stockbrokers, solicitors, auctioneers—what not! Like most men of strong character but not too much originality, old Jolyon set small store by the class to which he belonged. Faithfully he followed their customs, social and otherwise, and secretly he thought them ‘a common lot.’

So we come to another ‘wretched stuff’ Liberal and his club.

Bob Russell, the LibDem MP for Colchester, has engineered his way into the public prints with this:

Obviously Russell is in favour of bread-and-circuses and anything that distracts attention from ConDem incompetence (who provoked those street protests and why?). Russell may well find that more than a few of the “nation” ruefully eye the costs of this little extravagance.

Guilt by association

Then we discover that Russell is a member of a very select club: the Constitutional Monarchy Association. Its very web-address breathes over-inflation: http://www.monarchy.net. So, let’s look in the round and totality at its distinguished patrons:

  • H D Dickie Bird MBE (retired cricket umpire and jobbing “character”);
  • Sir Cliff Richard OBE (say no more);
  • The Viscount Exmouth (otherwise undistinguished scion of the great frigate captain, prototype for Horation Hornblower, Sir Edward Pellew;
  • Lord Jones of Cheltenham (PR man and former LibDem MP);
  • The Baroness Knight of Collingtree DBE (the very right-wing and fruity former Tory MP, Jill Knight);
  • The Viscount & Viscountess Massereene & Ferrard (he is a.k.a. John David Clotworthy Whyte-Melville Foster Skeffington, stockbroker and another Monday Club right-winger, with strong family connections to Ulster Unionism and the Orange Order);
  • The Lord Northbrook (of the Barings Bank dynasty, a Tory spokesman in the House of Lords, and a London clubman);
  • Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt CBE (doesn’t publicise his baronetcy, an ecologist with a hot line to the heir to the throne);
  • The Viscount Simon (a Labour peer, grandson of Sir John Simon, “the slime of hypocrisy” [Lloyd George], “a toad and a worm” [Harold Nicholson] who slithered from being a Liberal to pre-War Tory appeaser);
  • David Atkinson; (car salesman and former Tory MP);
  • Greg Barker MP (fellow Tory husky hugger with David Cameron; a close associate of Russian plutocrats including Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich);
  • Roy Beggs (very right-wing Ulster Unionist and Orangeman, advocate of corporal punishment);
  • Henry Bellingham MP (barrister and farmer; loyalist and reputed nice-but-dim Tory MP and now junior minister);
  • Sir Sydney Chapman RIBA FRTPI (architect and former retreaded MP, “The dullest Tory candidate” [London Evening Standard] in 2001);
  • Sir Patrick Cormack FSA (former Tory MP and about to become a life peer: if one must be a Tory, he is as decent as they come);
  • Nirj Deva DL MEP (Sri Lankan born former Tory MP, Bow Grouper but with links to the Reaganite Heritage Foundation of the Republican Party);
  • Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA; (former acolyte of Enoch Powell, Orangeman, UUP defector to the DUP, widely despised in Northern Ireland for upward mobility);
  • Peter Duncan (presumably the Scottish Tory, rather than the Blue Peter presenter?);
  • Michael Fabricant MP (another Tory: this one a political joke, mainly for his suspiciously-farmed hair);
  • Cheryl Gillan MP (former Tory Whip, now Welsh Secretary who previously opposed devolution; ran into trouble over her dog-food and second-home expenses claims);
  • Gerald Howarth MP (Tory Monday Clubber, who had to be swiftly shuffled at the Defence Ministry because of his over-close ties to arms-dealers);
  • Edward Leigh MP (about as right-wing and unreconstructed as any Tory can get);
  • Peter Luff MP (was Ted Heath’s officer manager, but has redeemed himself among straight Tories by hard committee work and an interest in fox-hunting);
  • Patrick Mercer OBE MP (a decent Tory back-bencher , ex-soldier, sacked from front bench by Cameron because of “racist” remarks about ethnic minorities in the forces);
  • Andrew Rosindell MP (Romford born-and-bred right-wing hang ’em, Monday Club Tory, expenses diddler);
  • Bob Russell MP (the hero of this post);
  • Lord Spicer, the erstwhile Sir Michael Spicer (former assiduous and knowledgeable economist on the Commons Treasury Select Committee; ran into trouble over expenses for his helipad);
  • Sir Teddy Taylor (former right-wing Thatcherite Tory MP, hanger-and-flogger, Europhobe, and leading light of the Monday Club);
  • Sir Nicholas Winterton DL (and a final right-wing Tory, Monday Clubber, Europhobe, expenses fiddler, bum-pincher and snob).

All of which underlines that Groucho and Galsworthy had it spot on.

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Filed under bigotry, Britain, broken society, Conservative family values, cricket, David Cameron, Devolution, DUP, Lib Dems, prejudice, sleaze., social class, Tories.

The greit navie of Norlin Airlann

It sprang from a casual tweet by Eamonn Mallie:

A row has broken out over Ag Minister Michelle Gildernew’s decision to name new Fisheries Protection vessel Banrion Uladh. DUP not happy.

Well, Eamonn, as P.G.Wodehouse might have said, were Blandings and Stormont transposed:

It is never difficult to distinguish between a DUPer with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.

And few can hold a grievance quite so unremittingly.

Yet Malcolm’s eyes are now opened.

Northern Ireland has a navy!

It may not be as large as that of Switzerland, which has no fewer than ten vessels to patrol the international borders on Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano. Still, it says here:

We have responsibility for sea fisheries, aquaculture and fish health policy; the enforcement of fisheries legislation; the licensing of aquaculture; fishing vessel licensing; the administering of fisheries grant schemes and supporting the operation of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (FCILC).

We are based in Dundonald House, Belfast with Fisheries Offices in the three main fishing ports of Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie.

We operate a fisheries protection vessel, the Ken Vickers, to assist with the conservation and protection of fish stocks.

Now the good ship Ken Vickers habitually lies at Bangor, generally bothering nobody except a passing photographer, but providing a cosy refuge for resting gulls. As the geograph.ie site caustically captions a 2004 image:

Although the fishery protection launch “Ken Vickers” is based at Bangor marina it is unusual to see it underway. This was only the second time in ten years.

Changes, though, are afloat. In February of this year the FPV Ken Vickers engaged in international manoevres with the Irish LE Orla and the Scottish FPV Norna out of Campbeltown.

Which leaves some unanswered questions:

  • Are Michelle Gildernew, Richard Lochhead (who has four vessels and two aircraft at his behest), and cheesy Brendan Smith (with some real firepower) about to launch a campaign against the English and Welsh littoral, once their forces outnumber the rapidly-reducing “Royal Navy”?
  • With which armada will the Welsh naval force, the FPVs Crangowen and (half of the) Aegis sail?
  • Or, was this merely the rehearsal for the Anglo-French aircraft carriers project?

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Filed under Belfast, Britain, DUP, Ireland, nationalism, Naval history, Sinn Fein, Wales

More devious dubious Cameroonie manoevres in the dark

Another day, another dollar. Still no signs of comprehension from the massed “intellect” of Tory blog-artists.

Overnight, the story gets more complex, thanks to Henry McDonald in the Irish edition of today’s Observer. For some inscrutable reason, it seems this dynamite had to be kept away from the rest of the UK readership.

What we know for certain is that the Tories, the UUP and the DUP inner circle met up at Hatfield House a week back. Already the story enters the realms of surreality: the modern progressive Tory Party doesn’t revert to Edwardian skullduggery in the country house of the Lords Salisbury (hereditary owners of the Tory Party) ? But it did.

Subsequently two totally opposing narratives have emerged:

One is that Owen Paterson, the Tory Shadow for Northern Ireland,  was doing the decent thing, elbowing aside Secretary of State Woodward, and oiling the squealing wheels of Unionist Policing and Justice “policy”. Therein lies another preconception: that Peter Robinson and the DUP leadership want such movement. For reasons nobody has yet explained, all this ultra-altruism needed to be kept from public scrutiny.

The other is that the Hatfield House Cabal was in part or in whole a stitch-up of NI constituencies to benefit the London Tory machine. For very obvious reasons this had to kept away from the public, and indeed most of the UUP and DUP. When this was realised by the poor bloody infantry back in Northern Ireland, three would-be Tory candidates pulled the plug on their potential nominations. What adds spice to the pot is the three candidates were:

  • Peter McCann, a BBC producer for Top Gear, who must on any grounds qualify as one of Cameron’s A-listers, but who happens also to be a West Belfast Roman Catholic;
  • Sheila Davidson, a high-profile businesswoman, another “star” candidate, who happens also to be a Roman Catholic;

and

  • Deirdre Nelson, a Ballymena councillor who defected from the DUP to the Tories last summer.

On the surface, three highly eligible and photogenic potential candidates. Yet, two RCs and two women: not qualities which command respect from your average DUP stalwart.

So we are left wondering: did they jump precipitately, or were they sensing that the wind had changed and they were no longer welcome?

All of which is part, but only one part of a far greater story:

Why are the Tories and their London megaphones ignoring the dark depths of this story?

As if we couldn’t guess.


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Filed under bigotry, blogging, Conservative Party policy., DUP, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, prejudice, Tories.

Mouths of babes and sucklings

Note: some of the following may seem repetitive if the reader has already seen the posting, The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 14 , on Malcolm Redfellow’s World Service.

________________________________________________

It’s not a comic to which Malcolm would regularly turn. He would admit that Brian Feeney’s Wednesday column is worth a scan, if only for gems like:

What we need here, and soon, is a rallying statement describing the financial circumstances of the north and explaining in terms what’s going to be done. Unfortunately it’s likely to come from Depooty Dawds, a man as dour as Alistair Darling and with as much charisma as a potato.

In other words, any analysis of the present state of affairs will be as uninspiring as a session with the speaking clock.

Those outside the eclectic circle of Northern Irish “politics” (Malcolm realises he is using the word very loosely) might not instantly recognise the peculiar Derry drawl of Nigel Alexander Dodds, OBE, MP, MLA, BL, the double-jobber who is the twelfth highest taker on the Westminster gravy-train, and (perhaps no coincidence since he knows the system so well) recently on the Members’ Allowance Committee.

Avanti, Malcolm!

Indeed. The Feeney delights were not Malcolm’s topic of choice today. It was this gloriously-ironic headline:

Adams warns dissidents ‘not to hijack IRA name’

Well, neither a borrower or a lender be. Yet, how many IRAs have there been? How many splits have provided more and still more claimants to the name?

Let’s recapitulate the origin of the name.

As Malcolm has discussed elsewhere, it was essentially a product of the realignment in Irish nationalism, picking up the pieces after the executions and internments of 1916.

By 1918 the Volunteers had been also re-formed; and were now directed by IRB men, Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy in particular. The IRB tradition went back to St Patrick’s Day, 1858, when it was originated by James Stephens and Thomas Clarke Luby. It had representation in cells in every parish of Ireland (and many in the Irish diaspora). The IRB constitution (to which the IRB adherents swore their oath) maintained that:

  • The Supreme Council of the IRB is declared the sole Government of the Irish Republic.
  • The President of the IRB shall be in law and in fact the President of the Irish Republic.

The Sinn Féin Féis of October 1917 asserted its aim of achieving international recognition of an independent Irish republic. One of the limitations on phrasing that aim was to bring on board the IRB hardliners who saw James Stephen’s provisional government of February 1867, rather than Pearse’s executive of Easter 1916, as the moment of incitement for the independent republic. Another concern was to close down the “dual monarchy” notion stemming from Arthur Griffith’s The Resurrection of Hungary [1904].

A potential impasse

Was the open republican democratic Sinn Féin dog going to wag, or be wagged by the clandestine IRB and its Volunteers? Again, this is something Malcolm has reflected on elsewhere.

In fact it was the IRB who blinked, twice, and de Valera and Cathal Brugha who prevailed:

  • In the August 1918 issue of the IRB’s periodical, An tOglach, it was laid down that The Irish Volunteers are the Army of the Irish Republic. This, in effect, establishes the use of the term “IRA”; and with it … advantage Sinn Féin.
  • In March 1921 the First Dáil, under de Valera’s direction, formally accepted responsibility for the actions of the Volunteers. De Valera then stated that the Volunteers were “under the Civil Control of elected representatives, and that their officers held their commissions from these representatives. The Government therefore is responsible for the actions of this army.” Thenceforth, the term used by the Dáil, by ministers, and by Sinn Féin at large is “IRA”, so conveniently adjacent to “IRB”.
  • Then, again in the playing-footsie period, leading to the start of Treaty negotiations in 1921, it was again vital for the IRB/Volunteers to be kept on a leash. There was now a Dáil and a ministry: the IRB had no alternative but to recognise what was, in large part, its own creation. So the IRB discarded its claim that the President of the IRB was also president of the Republic, and went on to accept that Dáil Éireann was the “duly elected public authority competent to declare the will of the Irish people. Almost game, set and match.

Now comes a remarkable inversion

With the Treaty, the “republic” is subsumed into a “Free State” which, in law at least, recognises a King. Only one member of the IRB Supreme Council votes against the Treaty — Liam Lynch. The anti-Treatites, at a Convention held at Dublin’s Mansion House on 26 March 1922, claimed the right to the name of the IRA, and established a sixteen-man executive. The Free State censored any use of the term “IRA”, preferring pejoratives such as “irregulars” and “rebels”.

The bottom line

… is most effectively summed by Tim Pat Coogan (and originally from 1971):

From the end of the Civil War until the present day a debate on the use of force has continued within the IRA and the Republican movement generally. At some stages in the IRA’s development the debate takes the form of Force v. Six Cos., or Force v. Free State; at other times it is Force v. England or Force v. Six Cos.; and sometimes it is Force v. a concentration on economic and social issues.

The use of force is a dilemma which the movement can never solve. The guns, the excitement and the secrecy attract new members thirsting for adventure. The guns go off and the authorities act. Take away the guns and the excitement and how do you offer a credible possibility of achieving the IRA’s objectives and so attract new members?

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Filed under democracy, DUP, Gerry Adams, Ireland, Irish politics, nationalism, Republicanism

Ask not for whom the Bell tolls

The metaphor linking the political arena with a battlefield applies in one special case.

Ex-politicians are like unexploded munitions.

Eileen Bell came into Northern Irish politics through the Peace People. From there she migrated to the Alliance Party, as General Secretary. She went into Stormont as a “top-up” candidate in 1996, and took a seat in North Down in 1998, which she held in 2003.

In 2001 Alliance was riven by debate over its future direction, which led to the resignation of Seamus Close as Deputy Leader. Bell was appointed to his place. When Sean Leeson departed the Leadership, Bell went for it. Her competition was David Ford; and it came down to the essential question of “Alliance? For heaven’s sake, why?” Bell was the builder of bridges between the communities: Ford’s LibDemery is more ideological. Ford took the leadership, effectively 2 to 1, and Bell remained his Deputy.

In 2005 she announced she would stand down, but her consolation prize was to become Speaker of the Transitional Assembly, and so she opened the new Assembly in May 2007, before handing over to William Hay.

All of which would make her, with a CBE for services rendered, a very small footnote to recent history.

Hold the front page! Politicians on the take!

The BBC’s Good Morning Ulster shrewdly interviewed Bell about the recent Stormont “sleaze”. At first this schemozzle had been a spin-off from the Derk Conway business, but has achieved a life of its own, and with good reason.

Westminster rules preclude MPs pushing money for office rental onto relatives. Not so at Stormont.

Particular attention became focused on the intricate financial arrangements of the Paisley clan. The Reverend Doctor was paying his son (already in receipt of £43,201 as an MLA and £19,609 as a Minister) to be his research assistant. They were renting their constituency offices, at £62,500 a year, from Junior’s father-in-law, James Currie. All of this, of course, was coming from the public purse. Even more curiously, that same office had been bought by Seymour Sweeney (of Causeway Visitors’ Centre fame, property developer, beneficiary of Junior’s lobbying at St Andrews, DUP member and — doubtless — general good guy) before being assigned to Currie.

Then an even more curious arrangement became public gossip. This time the cynosure of all eyes was that pillar of Presbyterian morality, Gregory Campbell, who twin-tasks as DUP MP and MLA for East Londonderry. He needs two constituency offices, so he rents one (acquired for the occasion) from his wife. Using his Stormont allowance, he pays £12,600 a year for the facility (which must set something of a record for premises in Bushmills Road, Coleraine). He then employs the same wife (nothing polygamous about our Gregory) in that office.

Danger! UXB!

Enter, stage centre, Eileen Bell.

Back in 1998 she had been instrumental in drafting the Stormont Code of Conduct. Yesterday, she was saying the Code had been “abused”. She pointed to, and read out a key extract:

“Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.”

The morals of this story:

There is no such animal as a “harmless”, “nice” politician. All can, and do bite.

While you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, there are no “friends”, only clients, in political life. Hence the regular supply of Committees of Enquiry to keep your cast-offs busy and dependent.

No politician is dead until memorial service and memoirs are safely concluded, and mine-disposal has cleared the grave for use as a dance-floor.

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