That was the week that was, 27.01.07

From time to time, it will be the pleasure of the Sunrise to bring you brief snippets from Norn Iron, stories that probably don’t merit a post in their own right but, taken together, give you some idea of what’s going on in God’s Wee Ulster. Today we will cast our jaundiced eye over the local press, which has understandably been preoccupied with policing, the conjunction of the O’Loan report and the Provo Ard Fheis being too good to ignore.

The News Letter, the voice of bigotry, was as usual almost unbearable unless you’re in the mood for unionist paranoia. The universal line was to forget about collusion or having serial killers on the state payroll – the important thing was to remember the sacrifices of the gallant Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, and protect its hallowed memory from the facts – sorry, slurs – contained in a report authored by an uppity Catholic woman. Say what you like about the News Letter, at least it’s comfortingly predictable.

I’ve never really taken to the Irish News since it discovered “lifestyle” – the old Vatican Times format had a certain olde-worlde charm to it – but it still remains compulsive reading. Not only for fully reporting stories that the News Letter and Telegraph tend to bury, but also for its inimitable letters page and its array of columnists. The latter have been in good form this week, with the focus firmly on O’Loan.

Susan McKay was wonderful as always, and Newton Emerson quite excellent. In fact, the Thursday Irish News has quite a surreal cast to it, with the humorist Newt writing hard-hitting and thoughtful pieces, while Grizzly’s messenger boy Jim Gibney is often unintentionally hilarious. Though Jim is a skilled enough practitioner of Gerryspeak to give Bangers Morrison a run for his money, even he is finding the policing debate tough going, and this week’s offering – a convoluted claim that the Provos had been right not to join the Policing Board in 2001 but were right to do so in 2007 because of the massive concessions their brilliant negotiators had won – was really pisspoor. Even better, though, was Wednesday’s offering from Brian Feeney, the Humeite hatchet-man turned Gerryite hatchet-man. Brian wrote a blistering piece about how the O’Loan report exposed the rottenness of the Northern state – which makes it all the more curious that his column the previous week had excoriated any republicans who didn’t want to join the cops.

Popping over to the op-ed pages of the Belfast Telegraph, things look pretty bad. There was a typically hateful and ignorant rant from imperialist lickspittle Kevin Myers. Keep at it, Kevin, the knighthood can’t be far off. Plus a more than usually idiotic piece from Lindy McDowell, who asked us to consider the thousands of lives saved by informers. Either Lindy didn’t read O’Loan or she was deliberately blowing smoke – in any case, I fail to see how the cops using the Mount Vernon UVF as proxy killers actually saved lives. Either way, we have a fine example of unionist “see no evil” politics.

Tele columnist Eamonn McCann found himself in the news this week, not only opening the Free Derry Museum, but addressing the proletariat of Derry along with Anthony McIntyre (now there’s a bad sign) on the subject of policing. Eamonn’s tack was the usual SWP pseudo-radicalism of claiming the cops are the same all over the world – which is how the Socialist Worker lead editorial on policing could maunder about strike-breaking in South Africa without once using the word “sectarianism”. The funny thing is that the Concerned Republicans are dying to get Eamonn to be the anti-policing candidate in Foyle – Eamonn, however, is adamant that he’ll be the anti-water charges candidate.

With all this going on, you might have expected Eamonn’s column in Thursday’s Telegraph to be on policing. But no – Eamonn laid into the Provos over, er, the National Graves Association’s plan to restored the decapitated statue of Seán Russell. Eamonn huffed and puffed about this atrocity on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, and just to make things a bit racier, included a thinly-veiled incitement to vandalise the statue again were it ever to be restored. But even Eamonn seems to have sensed this was a bit thin, so he padded the column out with a denunciation of the Medjugorje hoax and the Catholic Church’s historic links to Croatian fascism. No wonder the Prodocracy love Eamonn.

A small story you may have missed – Norn Iron’s voluntary sector, under the umbrella of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, called for the restoration of Stormont. Maybe it’s worth explaining that we don’t have a voluntary sector here in the sense that it exists in Britain or the South – what we have in the North is a funded community sector floating on a sea of peace grants. This corrupt setup, employing 30,000 people, is what Newton Emerson calls the “peace industry”, and it’s the biggest employer in the North, bigger even than the civil service. So the headlines should have read, “Peace industry calls for continuation of peace process”.

Also this week, I note from the court reports that nationalist councillors have failed in their bid to get Stroke City’s name officially changed to Derry. Yeah, we’re really on the road to the Republic.

Dawn Purvis was elected leader of the PUP and appointed to the Transitional Assembly in succession to the late David Ervine. She instantly got off to a flying start by refusing to meet Raymond McCord, just as her predecessor had done. Dawn also issued a statement about how the community of Mount Vernon were being victimised. Well yes, they are, by the UVF, but I suspect what Dawn meant is that the UVF are being victimised. Dawn Purvis, by the way, is a member of the Policing Board.

Finally, in view of Lord Maginnis’s fine Deep Southern performance on the news this week, we will be running a readers’ poll. Surely “Ken” is too modest a name for a man like this. So I invite readers’ comments on whether he should be named:

a) Stonewall
b) Scoop
c) Bullrun, or
d) Roscoe.

Cast your votes now!


  1. ejh said,

    January 27, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I thought that said Stoke City for a moment (well, it is Saturday and my mind tends to be on football).

  2. Phil BC said,

    January 28, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Nowt wrong with Stoke City being mentioned on any blog outside Stokieville.

    Liking the site btw Splintered. It’s excellent as a source of news on Irish matters.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    January 28, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks, Phil. I had been hoping to write about broader international issues, but there’s been so much going on locally it would be a shame to miss it.

  4. AN said,

    January 29, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    At the risk of joining the self congratulatry circuit of left bloggers who puff ewaxch other up, I think this is the best new blog I have found for ages.

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