“If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started with truth” – Julian Assange The Australian Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were a top team of journalists. Both in terms of scoops and global political impact they exposed the barbarism of the 21st century’s “never-ending wars”.
No further deaths and eighty three new cases have been reported leading to a total of 2,146 deaths and 120,501 cases since the start of the pandemic. 83 individuals have tested positive out of 1,567 tested in the last 24 hours. Two people have died in the past seven days, down from eight in the week before.
Tempting, but no, as Anna Scott replies to Rufus when he asks for her phone number in Notting Hill. Tempting to get stuck into the internal politics of the DUP, but no. Tempting to look at the significance of homophobia and creationism for the future of unionism, but no. Tempting to speculate on why unionists and loyalists, who are not really Unionists and Loyalists, retain their ‘bread and butter’ faith in the union. But no. It is, however, hard to avoid reflecting on the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland – this week especially. But how should 100 years of this entity be marked, if at all? Very few seem to see it as an occasion for celebration. Perhaps the DUP will quickly resolve its present difficulties and step forward with a convincing list of reasons to be cheerful. This will obviously include – sarcasm alert – 50 years of the Special Powers Act, 30 years of Direct Rule, or recent policy high points such as RHI and Brexit. It is improbable that the DUP will get too drawn into listing positives. For a start, it was born to say ‘no’ and, especially, ‘never’. Remember, this is not just the anniversary of partition and Northern Ireland’s painful and bloody birth. It is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the DUP itself (in September). How will the party be celebrating? More to the point, what is there to celebrate?
Is gearr anois go mbeidh deireadh le seal Arlene Foster mar cheannaire ar an DUP. Bhí na sceana amuigh le tamall, ach bualadh buille maraithe na muice ar deireadh nuair nár chaith sí vóta bealach amháin ná bealach eile i ndíospóireacht in Stormont maidir le cosc a chur ar theiripe tiontaithe do dhaoine aeracha. Ní mó ná sásta a bhí an bráithreachas sa pháirtí leis sin.
THESE days of video telephony have changed the world completely. Some users prefer modesty, others will not mind showing up in their pyjamas. I have heard of Zoom meetings that would have gone Full Monty if not for the watchful eye of the of the video conferencing host. Well, modern video conferencing has met both positive reviews and disapproval. The main problem with it is the unnatural way in which people get together, total strangers, and make decisions that can massively affect others within a short time – and of course there are pros and cons to this. That Zoom meeting I attended the other day was dead boring; I wonder if it would have been fun if it was an interactive face-to-face workshop. I used to attend many of these. Participants used to wait for some official, the mayor of a town most probably, to say a few words from his prepared speech or some small talk that made you feel appreciated. Then lots of tea or coffee (and, oh, I drink these for East Africa). I miss these normal days, I am sure you do as well. You think the Covid protocols here are very strict until you read stories of what is happening in the other parts of the world. The Covid curfew starts at 8pm in Kenya and every living thing is expected to stay off the streets after that. Last week traffic police officers in Kenya blocked movement on both directions of the Thika highway which was brimming with motorists trying to get home. Any government directive gazetted by law in Kenya is final and so ambulances and other emergency services had to tolerate the delays brought by police in the name of saving the country from the pandemic. Covid is a cash cow there; some people are making serious amounts of money by presenting phoney tender bids in the name of procurement for government. The number of fatalities in Kenya is around 2,400 now since the disease locked the world in March 2020.
Newtownards, my Newtownards,The home of heroes, songs and bards,The star of the lovely County Down,The place I call my dear home town. The stories ring down through the years,Of victories, losses, joy and tears,But of all the tales that swell my heart,There’s one that stands tall and apart. It tells of courage and of dreams,Its glory o’er the world it beams,It gladdens the thoughts of loyal folk,That blessed breed, that Ulster oak. Bring close your chair and listen well,While I this stirring history tell,And in years to come you’ll tell your kin,Of the Newtownards Blue Wheelie Bin. In the year Two Thousand and Twenty One,A foul injustice had been done.Our culture had been stripped away,For queers and poofs we couldn’t pray. Our flags were torn from every mast,While we looked on shocked and aghast.They had no need for guns and bombs,They could ban Rule, Britannia! From theProms. And when we thought it could get no worse,Along come the Bobby Storey hearse.The rebel hordes came out to mourn,While Ulster of its rights was shorn. (Except for Shankilll George’s Rangers show,And that Apprentice Boy’s funeral on Sandy Row.And Glentoran when they won the cup,And their many fans came out to dance and sup.) But the blow that came most harsh and cruel,Uttered from lips as thin as gruel,Was to say our Union could no longer be,‘We’re sticking a border in the Irish Sea.’Eight miles away along the coast,A young man sat and watched engrossed,As Ulster’s woes were piled up high,In Donaghadee he heaved a sigh. For years he’d worked to serve his land,First by marching in a band,Then he worked as a taxi dispatcher,Which suited a bloke of modest stature. But Jamie wanted so much more,And was drawn by the pull of the nightclub door,And when he finished with the world of bouncing,He called up all his friends announcing That he’d now decided to study Law,But that had one decided flaw.Although he’d saved and had the cheque,They don’t do degrees at Bangor Tech. And so he said with a voice so regal,‘I think I’ll be a paralegal.’And then he became the voice of the people,And the bells rang out from every steeple. And now he knew the Irish Sea border,Could only be scrapped through civil disorder,And the funeral injustice would be put right,By a massive show of loyalist might. And then he vowed to spread the news,To light the righteous anger fuse,To tell the truth and fight the spin,From the top of his ma’s Blue Wheelie Bin. For oft on Jamie God had smiled,Both as manly man and child:A cheeky smile and rare good looks,A velvet voice, a love of books. How people gasped and were impressed,By the stylish way that Jamie dressed,His hair was neat, his shoes were shiny,But the fact remained that he was tiny. And so when he first began to speak,The results to tell the truth were bleak.He’d thunder forth but then fall flat,When the people shouted, ‘Who said that?’ And so he knew he’d have to riseAbove the crowd towards the skies.For that very evening with his guards,He was headed south-west to Newtownards. But on what proud platform could he stand,To shout his message loud and grand?And suddenly he remembered with a grinHis ma had a lovely Wheelie Bin. So out the back he fairly flew,And then he had to think things through,The bins were black and blue and green,But on which one should he be seen? Black was the heart that betrayed his land,Green was the rebel with blood-stained hand,So in his mind the passion grew,The Wheelie Bin for him was Blue. Then came the time to be en-route,But the Bin wouldn’t fit in his Skoda’s boot,So acting quick and thinking smart,He decided to pull it like a cart. In every village they roared and cheered,When the Skoda towing the Bin appeared,‘Ulster’s saved!’ cried every street,‘Wee Jamie’s gained another four feet.’In Newtownards the whole Ulster nationHad gathered outside the local police station:A bloke and a dog on frayed nylon rope,Three women dancing and cursing the Pope. All at once from the crowd came a deafening din,As Jamie appeared with his Blue Wheelie Bin.But when on its lid he attempted to climb,The wee man kept failing time after time. Then bravely stepped forward his four loyal men:Stewarty and Geordie and Billy and Ben.And they held the Bin steady and gave him a lift,And Jamie rose skyward so surely and swift. For the next twenty minutes the wee man did his thing,Outshining Paisley and Gandhi and King.And by the time he’d finished he’d given it plenty,And the crowd at his feet had swollen to twenty. Though things looked for Ulster so bleak and concerning,From that glad day forward the tide began turning,The border’s still there on that damned Irish Sea,And I’m still not allowed to have haggis for tea. But now when my heart’s feeling troubled and down,I think back to that evening in Newtownards town,And I fill up with pride and with hope and with joy,When I think of that Wheelie Bin under that boy. When the Museum of Ulster opens its doors,We’ll remember our history – it’s mine and it’s yours.The ‘Ulster Says No’ banner from Eighty-Five,A loyalist mural interactive archive. The flag protest caravan in all its proud splendour,The City Hall window, that shrill ‘No Surrender!’An Ulster Resistance red DUP beret,A stone or two loaned from the old Walls of Derry. But in those hallowed halls a place we will hold,For the bravest of brave, the boldest of bold.For there in the foyer just as you go in,Will be Jamie on top of his Blue Wheelie Bin.
RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE has issued a witness appeal in the case of two Cumann na mBan members shot dead by the British Army in 1971.Mother-of-four Maura Meehan (30) died alongside her sister Dorothy Maguire (19) when soldiers opened fire on a car in which they were passengers in Cape Street in the Lower Falls area on 23 October 1971.