THE new DUP MLA for South Belfast is to be Edwin Poots, famously leader of the party for 21 days. “Ah,” the boul’ Edwin is said to have told friends after he stepped down, “but what a 21 days.”
Clearly, Edwin’s perception of time is rather different from the rest of us. He’s a Young Earther, which means that he believes the planet is 6,000 years old and not the 4.5 billion years indicated by radiometric dating.
Edwin trusts the word of the Old Testament over that of scientists measuring geologic materials via radioactive isotopes – and that’s his right, of course. His belief has also come in suddenly and unexpectedly handy because if Edwin uses the dating method passed down to him by the ancient prophets, his 30 seconds in the big job is transformed into the longest leadership of a political party since records began.
Edwin joined party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson outside the office of his predecessor, Christopher Stalford, who passed away in tragic circumstances last month, for the announcement that the former Lagan Valley MLA is to be co-opted to fill the South Belfast seat.

The big problem for Edwin is that the constituency is the home of Queen’s University and resident nearby are many voters who are students or staff. And centres of learning and their environs are not likely to be conducive for a man who believes that the Biblical patriarch Methuselah lived for 950 years.

Christopher was the product of a working class district of South Belfast and so he had the advantage of local familiarity. Edwin, on the other hand, is a farmer with a sizeable holding near Hillsborough and his familiarity with unionist South Belfast, the wee shops of Sandy Row or the restaurants of the Lisburn Road is not likely to be extensive. And so, when the the time comes for him to defend the seat in May’s election, he’ll be relying on his high political profile, the party brand and his skills in pig husbandry. Just what Annadale Flats need.
The big problem for Edwin is that the constituency is the home of Queen’s University and resident nearby are many voters who are students or staff. And centres of learning and their environs are not likely to be conducive for a man who believes that the Biblical patriarch Methuselah lived for 950 years.
So if he knocks on the door, say, of the head of the Queen’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Department he’s liable to find that he’ll be asked the kind of questions he’s not used to in rural County Down.
If he’s asked, for instance, how Noah squeezed a minimum of 100,000 animals on to a wooden boat the size of the Seacat he might find himself being quizzed on his answer with a little bit more rigour than he’s used to. And how did eight people feed so many animals twice daily for a year, much less shovel out their dung? If he gives the standard reply that is given on Christian creationist websites – that the boat had a complex system of self-feeders, troughs and pipes – he’s liable to have his belief system explored to a degree he's never experienced before.
Ding, dong. “Oh, hi, Edwin, I’m a fellow of the Geological Science Department, tell me more about God creating the world in six days and having a kip on the seventh.”
Ding-dong. “Edwin! How’s it going? I’m a professor in the Biologicial Sciences Department and I’ve always been fascinated about Adam and how all those women were created from one of his ribs.”
Ding, dong. “Let’s see now. Edwin Poots, DUP. A Young Earther, I hear. I’m studying marine biology and I was wondering about this Moses parting the Red Sea craic. Can you explain that to me? You can come in if you like, this might take a while.”

Sorting out the haves and the have-yachts

TAKEN: The French seized the super-yacht of oligarch Igor Sechin

TAKEN: The French seized the super-yacht of oligarch Igor Sechin


IN a super, soaraway Andytown News exclusive, Squinter’s been speaking to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about his heroic support of the Ukrainian people in their epic struggle against the Russians.
– Good morning, Prime Minister.
– Good morning, ah, Squinter.
– You’ve announced sanctions against the thousands of Russian oligarchs and placemen who are empowering and condoning the invasion of Ukraine. Can I ask you how many Russians you have sanctioned to date?
– Well, I’m glad you asked me that because alea iacta est, the die has been cast, and no longer will these people be able to sleep soundly on their satin pillows.
– So, how many?
– Lots.
– Lots as in…?
– Oodles.
– How many oodles?
– Coughing. Indistinct.
– Five thousand, did you say?
– A clock ticks on the mantelpiece.
– Five hundred?
– A chair scrapes.
– Fifty?
– A distant church bell sounds.
– Well?
– Fifteen.
– Fifteen Russian oligarchs in the whole of London, which is said to be virtually owned by Russian oligarchs?
– Not exactly, no.
– What, then?
– Some of them don’t live here.
– In London?
– No, in the UK.
– Can you detail the nature of the sanctions you have levied against Evgeny Lebedev, the billionaire son of a Putin KGB ally?
– No.
– Because of national security concerns, no doubt.
– No, because there aren’t any sanctions against him.
– Will you be sanctioning him in the future?
– Well, I’ve already sanctioned him, in a sense.
– How so?
– I told him at the bunga-bunga party I attended in his Umbrian palazzo a while ago that I wouldn’t hesitate to act if Russia started misbehaving.
– And so you…?
– Put him in the House of Lords.
– Despite MI5 and MI6 telling you he was a security risk?
– Sometimes you have to go with your instinct.
– This party you attended, is that when you were Foreign Secretary?
– It most certainly was.
– And you ditched your police close security detail to fly to Italy?
– Ditched is a harsh description?
– What would you call it?
– I’d say I gave them the weekend off. Without them knowing.
– And on the way home you were photographed alone at the airport looking badly hungover and disorientated?
– I had a bad pint of Peroni.
– You did?
– Yes, I think it was about the thirtieth, if memory serves.
– You tried to hide the Russia Report, didn’t you?
– The what report?
– The Russia Report. The report on the role that Russian disinformation and dirty money played in the EU referendum.
– Oh, that.
– Yes, that. You were the leading figure in the main pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, which broke electoral law.
– Ah, but we broke the law only in a very limited and specific way.
– That sounds familiar. And in what limited and specific way did you break electoral law?
– Too much funny money.
– The Russia Report found that the Tory government saw no evidence of Russian interference in the referendum…
– Good man, a bit of truth at last.
– …because you hadn’t bothered looking for any.
– Look, how were we supposed to know that Moscow was involved in the Leave campaign?
– Because a large number of members of the House of Lords had extensive business interests in Russia and leading figures in the Leave campaigns were vocally pro-Putin.
– What else does the report say?
– Nothing.
– See? No need to worry, it’s not that bad.
– You blanked the majority of the report out.
– Boring as hell anyway.
– How much money have rich Russians given to the Conservative Party since you became PM?
– No idea.
– Want a clue?
– It’s between two million and four million.
– Three million?
– Well done.
– What do they get for that?
– Our undying gratitude.
– How much is a game of tennis?
– About twenty quid for an hour at my local club.
– The wife of a close Putin ally once paid £160,000 for a game of tennis with you at a Conservative Party fundraising event.
– Advantage me, what?
– Companies doing business in Russia have come under pressure to do something as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.
– And just right too.
– Will you be giving back any of the money you got from Russians with links to Vladimir Putin?
– No.
– Why not?
– It’s all spent.
– How much property have you confiscated from Russians with links to Moscow?
– When you say property…
– Hotels, mansions, estates. That kind of thing.
– Oh, right. Gimme a sec till I rack my brain. Let’s see now… ah… none.
– How many super yachts have you taken?
– That’d be the same number.
– You know European states have confiscated billions since the invasion began?
– That’s because they have a bigger Russian problem than we do.
– There are more Russian billionaires and more Russian money in London than in the main European countries put together.
– Well I never.
– What do you think it is that makes London so attractive to dodgy Russians?
– The weather?
– What about the Tier 1 Investor scheme?
– The which?
– You probably know it better as the Golden Visa.
– Oh, that.
– Bring £2 million with you to London and you get a fast-track residency permit.
– Have you any idea how many fabulously wealthy Russians have a fast-track residency permit?
– 10?
– 700. And what is it Russians must have before they can donate huge sums of money to the Tory Party in the UK?
– Sound judgement?
– A residency permit.
– Yes, but we knocked that Golden Visa thing on the head ages ago?
– It was scrapped at the end of February.
– What can I say? A week is a long time in politics.