“PREPARED for peace, ready for war.” Most of you reading that line will think of the loyalist mural (right) at the entrance to the Mount Vernon estate on the Shore Road, an image which has been tinkered with by online satirists countless times.
It’s not something you might expect an EU diplomat to come up with, is it?
“Préparé pour la paix, prêt  pour la guerre.” Doesn’t have the same pithy impact in French, does it?
“Fertig für freiden und kampfbereit auch.” Doesn’t set the pulse racing in the same way that North Belfast English does.
“Preparada para la paz, dispuesta para la guerra.” Spanish is much too lyrical for such bleak sentiments, dontcha think?
Well, not according to the English media, which this week is breathlessly reporting that a senior EU figure said in relation to the prospect of the UK triggering Article 16 that Brussels was, altogether now… “prepared for peace, but ready for war.”
While this caused much indignant harrumphing among Home Counties Tories and Daily Mail-reading retired colonels, it was particularly galling for UUP leader Doug Beattie, an old soldier who knows the touch of cold steel and the deadly clatter of live fire.
“The comments attributed to a senior EU diplomat that ‘We are ready for peace, but prepared for war’ are scandalous,” thundered Doug, his war medals clanking on his chest as he shook with fury. “This isn’t a game. They are playing with people’s lives and needlessly ramping up tensions that will have consequences for the people of Northern Ireland who deserve better.”
Fixing bayonet and charging forward with a bloodcurdling yell, Doug added: “I would urge the EU to immediately withdraw these comments and admonish the diplomat who uttered them. They owe the people of Northern Ireland an apology. The people of Northern Ireland need solutions to the problems caused by the Protocol, not heightened tensions and war-like rhetoric.”
TUV leader Jim Allister might not have experienced the white-heat of combat, but he still knows a thing or two about fighting battles. “It’s quite clear that the EU is quite deliberately trying to taunt and be provocative. It tells us a great deal about the pernicious, malevolent intent of the EU as epitomised in those appalling word used this morning.”
Click your heels and salute that, Ulster.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson may never have seen the whites of the enemy’s eyes when he was on UDR roadblock duty, but he knows how and when to fire a warning shot. He ordered the EU to distance itself from the ‘Prepared for peace, ready for war’ comment and called for the Irish Government to use its influence to silence the Brussels hawks.
Extraordinarily convenient, of course, that the EU would turn the temperature up to such a degree, giving such a huge delivery of ammunition to its staunchest critics in Belfast, who are all too exquisitely aware of the historical import of that sentence from the mural. And it was blessed relief for Boris Johnson just as he found himself in the midst of a massive corruption scandal.
So who was this EU diplomat – and to whom did they utter those fateful words? Well, we don’t know who, as the source was unnamed. But we do know that the words were said to the Daily Telegraph, which by sheer coincidence is a hysterically pro-Brexit, anti-EU paper which remains extremely close to its former star columnist, who is, altogether now… Boris Johnson.
Which all seems fine.

Protocol remains the burning Ulster issue


ALL units returned safely to base after the latest loyalist bus-burning in the ongoing campaign to have the pernicious© and hated® Protocol consigned to the Irish Sea bed.
It was a busy couple of days for loyal Ulster. On Sunday the latest measured and proportionate response by Uncle Andy to a contested international agreement was another coordinated attack on customs infrastructure at Belfast and Larne. (Checks notes.) Correction: an attack on Translink passengers and their driver.
The day after, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson announced that he could no longer support the Good Friday Agreement. Wait, no. What he actually said was that he wasn’t saying that he couldn’t support the Good Friday Agreement, but that he couldn’t support what the Good Friday Agreement has become. So he still supports the Good Friday Agreement but he doesn’t support the Good Friday Agreement because it isn’t the Good Friday Agreement even though it is the Good Friday Agreement but it’s not really the Good Friday Agreement. Got that?
What this means for the PUP’s three dozen voters isn’t entirely clear at this point, in just the same way as it’s not entirely clear when the PUP and the UVF have actually supported the Good Friday Agreement over the past decade.
A few days earlier, a Shankill Road active service unit burned a hatchback with a County Louth registration that had dared to cross the peace line. And that came after wheelie bins were burnt at Lanark Way.
So that’s buses, bins and cars in the military crosshairs, while on the political front the political institutions are about to be collapsed. Again. Just a few days after the last time they were due to be collapsed and only a few weeks after the first time they were due to be collapsed.
Kind of confusing how unionists politicians are finding it so difficult to collapse the institutions. Maybe they should just do the fashionable thing and set them alight.

Now you see them, now you don’t (or do you?)


A SUNDAY stroll through Antrim town and a bit of shopping in Tesco and Junction One on the Sunday before Remembrance Day – November 11.
Year after year Squinter is intrigued by the very clear dichotomy between the virtual unanimity of TV presenters here in opting to remember Our Boys with a poppy proudly displayed in their lapel and the stubborn refusal of loyal Ulster to follow suit.
Squinter’s observed before in majority unionist towns the meagre poppy uptake of the populations compared to the newsrooms of BBCNI and UTV, but Antrim this year is particularly unconcerned about The Fallen, given that by Squinter’s generous estimation some five per cent of the people were appropriately poppied-up. Reflecting on this annual observation on Twitter, Squinter fell into conversation with a couple of gentlemen who chided him for, um, noticing poppies.
Huey (*not his real name) wondered why Squinter would worry about poppies while he’s out for a walk and observed “If I’m honest, I probably wouldn’t notice.” Lawrence, meanwhile, made the same point, asserting that he’s so far above the annual debate that he doesn’t notice whether a person is wearing one or not.
Now Squinter’s heard a lot of strange things in his time, but with his oul’ Roddy’s mate Eddie, the font of all wisdom, back home in Canada, Squinter finds things increasingly hard to understand. And this is the first year he’s heard somebody say that people who notice poppies are up to no good. After all, the things are literally designed to be noticed and they’re worn in the second most prominent position on the body apart from the face, although it may only be a matter of time before poppies are worn ashes-like on the forehead.