AFTER Squinter’s revealing interview last week with George from the Shankill, Constable Trevor sprang into action, interviewing both him and Jim ‘Don’t Make Me Angry’ Wilson at their homes about last week’s pandemic celebration on the Shankill of Rangers’ first title success.
To add insult to injury, George (to repeat, not one of his real names) is also being investigated by his employer. When George admitted in his tell-all interview last week that he worked in a people-facing role, Squinter had no idea that it would turn out that he actually works in a sick and vulnerable people-facing role. It seems George delivers prescriptions for a Belfast chemist. And his employes were so unimpressed by George’s Covid party hugathon that they have launched an investigation too.
So that’s the peelers and his bosses who are on the case of the the 60-year-old Shankill shorts and flip-flops model. Not a great week for George, all things considered. But, nil desperandum, there’s always this weekend’s Glasgow derby to look forward to when Rangers are warm favourites to make it three wins out of three against Celtic at Parkhead. Squinter called George to see what he’s planning for Sunday evening should the Teddy Bears manage to further humiliate the team who have been their bitter rivals for almost 10 years.
Not surprisingly, George was reluctant to say too much. Indeed, his normally voluble Twitter account has been uncharacteristically serene in the past few days, so it may be that getting his bus pass has increased his propensity for critical reflection.
“We’ll win on Sunday,” he told Squinter, “no doubt about. And if we do I’m going to have a quiet celebration at home. Just me and the neighbours in the front room and maybe a few of the guys from the supporters’ club.”
As sure as night follows day, there has been a surge of coronavirus infections in the Protestant working-class Shankill area of Belfast, following street celebrations of Rangers winning the Scottish Premiership--sectarian triumphalism imaginarily offsetting social marginalisation https://t.co/AnEu0oeBYW— Robin Wilson (@robinwilson250) March 20, 2021
Big Jim, who’s another fan of the pension, shorts and flip-flops combo, was a bit more forthcoming to the press about his harrowing ordeal when the fuzz came knocking. Talking to the News Letter, he described the two officers who called to his door on Friday, five days after the PUL party, as “very polite”, but admitted he found it hard to reciprocate. “I don’t think I responded in a gentlemanly manner, to be quite honest,” he said.
Now most of you, like Squinter, have seen Jim when he’s gone off on one on TV, or heard him when he’s lost the bap on the wireless. And it’s quite an impressive sight. So we can only imagine what kind of earful the unfortunate peelers got as they talked to Jim at his front door.
The gist of Jim’s broadside was that while it took the Trevs five days to feel his collarette, it took rather longer for them to act after the Bobby Storey funeral. Apart from that observation, Jim was reluctant to talk about his man-hug with George, informing the policemen that he wouldn’t be saying anything on the matter without his solicitor present.
In a moving personal aside, he revealed to the News Letter that somebody on Twitter said that the IRA should shoot him because of what he’d done. Now, Squinter appreciates that the IRA’s list of legitimate targets was a flexible one, but he can’t remember them ever saying that they reserved the right to target oul’ fellas for showing off their varicose veins while singing The Penny Arcade.
Anyway, what happens next is not entirely clear, although the word is that a Justice for the Covid 2 campaign is about to be launched with an online crowdfunding drive to meet the men’s future legal expenses – and also to buy them trousers should they end up in court.
Celebrating the best of 100 Orange years
THE ‘NI 100’ centenary celebration programme has been revealed. And when the bells had stopped pealing and the cheers had faded, Ian Paisley Junior popped up on TV to observe plaintively that every time the subject of the centenary was mentioned “there was a shadow of begrudgery about it”.
"It is clear there is no depth of pettiness to which Sinn Fein will not descend when it comes to the celebration of the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland."🤔— richard kelly (@Richie3Kelly) March 20, 2021
Did someone complain about a tree being planted 🙄
Or complain about an Irish language act 😐
The North Antrim MP told Mark Carruthers on Sunday Politics that the DUP had “gone the extra mile in demonstrating sensitivity towards other people on these shared islands of ours”.
Now the Democratic Unionist Party doubtless has many admirable traits. Those traits have for 50 years remained stubbornly hidden to the rest of us, but Squinter’s big enough to acknowledge that there must be some somewhere. But even the party’s most ardent admirers would have to concede that “demonstrating sensitivity” is not one of their strong points. In fact, the DUP over the years has demonstrated the sensitivity of Jim Davidson at a UKIP fundraiser. And in the pantheon of determinedly insensitive DUP big beasts. Ian Óg claims a proud place alongside Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell. Edwin Poots and Jim Wells.
After the 2005 wedding of UUP adviser Steven King in Canada, Ian said the vast majority of people in the North see gay relationships aas “immoral, offensive and obnoxious”. And for good measure he threw in: “I think it is really astounding that David Trimble should have had a man such as this [Mr King] giving him advice and must surely cast grave doubts on his own political judgement.” On gays and lesbians generally, he remarked in 2007: “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and without caring about it harm society.”
Two years ago Ian retweeted the charming Katie Hopkins when she claimed “London has a far higher murder rate than New York and it’s not even Ramadan yet.” The Judith Chalmers of the House of Commons later apologised and said he hadn’t seen the word Ramadan. Easily enough done, you have to suppose, since the tweet was a whopping 16 words long and who could be expected to find every needle in a haystack that size?
And who could forget the time in 2013 when a radio presenter asked Ian what he was doing the evening Liam Neeson was in Ballymena to receive the freedom of the borough. “Well, I’m getting a Chinky tonight, I don’t know what you’re doing.”
So top sensitivity there from young Ian and when a man with a record like that asks us to quit the begrudgery and get with the programme, it’s only right that we listen and act. So in the spirit of DUP sensitivity, Squinter’s happy to take a look at what’s being laid on to celebrate the partition of Ireland through threat of violence by way of a sectarian headcount.
Every school in the north will be given a young tree and encouraged to plant it in their grounds. A begrudger might point out that, rather than present the tree to schools without them asking for it, it might be cheaper and lead to less waste if the centenary committee was to write to schools and ask them if they want one. In fact, given the demographic make-up of the North, the cost of the scheme would likely be reduced by well over a half. The complicator is that Archbishop Eamon Martin believes nationalists (ie Catholics) should get involved in the celebrations, which could mean that the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools will strong-arm Catholic schools in Andytown and the Bogside to get planting. Things could get even more complicated if the sapling in question is an orange tree.
• Centenary rose.
So, they’re going to breed a special rose, which will then be presented to the queen so she can plant it in her own garden. Well, the queen’s not going to plant it, some minimum-wage gardener’s assistant will do that, but we get the point. The committee had asked Her Maj if she would like to come over and plant it in her tenth favourite home, Hillsborough Castle, but she said she was cleaning the corgis’ kennels out that day, which is a shame. It hasn’t yet been decided what colour the rose petals are going to be, but the DUP have pointed out that there’s a breeder in North Antrim who has roses whose stems aren’t green. Which is progress of sorts.
• International Church Service.
Presbyterians – check. Church of Ireland – check. Methodist – check. Catholics – check. Muslims – check. Jews – check. Hindus – check. Sikhs – check. Moonies – tbc. Mormons – tbc. The venue of the service hasn’t yet been confirmed, but St Anne’s Cathedral is the likely choice because a) It’s large enough to accommodate the numbers (Covid permitting); b) It’s a convenient central location; c) The Orange Prods aren’t allowed into a Catholic church.
• Centenary postmark.
The original plan to have a centenary stamp of King Billy shaking hands with Edward Carson at Larne was sadly rejected for budgetary reasons. Letters arriving at your home will soon bear the postmark ‘Our Story in the Making – Northern Ireland Beyond 100’. No inference should be drawn from this downscaling of the postal tribute, as keying in the new words on the computerised franking system is a tricky task taking at least 15 seconds.
• Cultural programme.
Our Wee Country will be treated to a series of live and online events celebrating the rich cultural heritage of five hundred generations of Noel ’n’ Alan. (It’s actually five generations. Editor.) Webinars will take place on ‘Bonfire-Building During a Pandemic’ and ‘Kribbie-Painting with Stewarty: Ulster’s Banksy Shares His Secrets’. Virtual Orange parades will be held via Zoom – please be informed that these are BYOBB (Bring Your Own Blue Bag) events. ‘Sword-Dancing on Ice’ at the Odyssey Arena is described as a lively and potentially deadly fusion of Ulster-Arctic cultures. (*Viewers are asked not to try this at home.) The events will culminate in a gala concert which will be held at Maze/Long Kesh. It will be hosted from a socially-distanced watchtower, so it will, by Charlie Lawson (Big Jim McDonald from Coronation Street). The line-up will include a diverse selection of local musical talent including Rising Sons of Ulster, Shankill Sons of Ulster, Buckna Sons of Ulster, Portadown Sons of Ulster and Biggest Show in the Country Sons of Ulster. Support bands signed up so far are Ballynafeigh Protestant Boys; Ballynafeigh Protestant Teenagers; Ballynafeigh Protestant Millennials; Ballynafeigh Disillusioned Middle-Aged Men; Ballynafeigh Grumpy OAPs. Stand-up comedy will be provided by Gregory Campbell, who pre-pandemic was selling out Orange halls with his biographical show ‘Kiss My Londonderriere.’ Supporting Gregory will be Perrier Award-winning comic George From the Shankill,whose hilarious routines on supporting the NHS heroes and Rangers not dying prompted the News Letter comedy critic to observe: “I haven’t laughed as much since Gerry Kelly’s cat got ringworm.”
• Business conference.
A diverse range of business voices will discuss the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in Northern Ireland’s next 100 years. DUP Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots will discuss the thousands of job opportunities that will be thrown up by the construction of sea border infrastructure in Belfast, Derry, Stranraer and Warrenpoint. The CEO of Sainsbury’s will explain how selling Spar bacon and B&M Bargains Brie has boosted the company’s bottom line. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will explain why the collapse in trade between the UK and the EU offers great opportunities for Lurgan wine-makers, the Lisburn Camembert industry and Banbridge chorizo-curers. Break-out sessions will include ‘Bridge or Tunnel: Which is Funnier?’ and ‘British Mince: We’ll Meat Again.’