“OVER the last number of weeks the vast majority of people have been appalled by sectarian glorification of the Provisional IRA. An event such as this so-called commemoration for the ‘D Company’ of the IRA does nothing but offer legitimacy and encouragement for sectarianism and division in our community.”
Applause and cheers rang out across the land as the DUP group on Belfast City Council issued the above statement taking a courageous stand against the scourge of political parties commemorating blood-soaked terrorists. In this case it was a gathering at an IRA memorial on the Falls Road, attended in a private capacity by the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor, Tina Black.
Say what you like about the DUP. They may have reneged on a deal to reinstore Stormont after it was collapsed over the RHI debacle after meeting the UDA.
They may occasionally and accidentally have their pictures taken with UDA.
They may have met a UDA commander in 2017 two days after the organisation shot dead Colin Horner as he buckled his three-year-old son into a car seat in the car park of a Bangor supermarket; and they may not have asked the UDA commander about the murder.
They may have “strayed” into a UDA parade in South Belfast when they were on their way to a church service. But they don’t attend yer actual commemorations for dead UDA men, they don’t do that, do they?
Well, yes, they do. And they do so with some regularity – the most recent being this weekend when Lisburn DUP Councillor Paul Porter attended a parade in Derriaghy honouring UDA thug Jim Guiney, shot dead in 1998 by the INLA at his carpet shop in Dunmurry.
The parade was organised by the UDA’s political wing, the UPRG… No, wait, it was organised by relatives of the dead man… No, wait… It was organised by the Derriaghy community… No, wait, it was organised by… the Orange Order. Yes, the Orange Order, that famously non-political organisation which to this day refuses to meet with Sinn Féin, the largest party in Ireland, because of its links to the IRA.
The story was broken by Sunday Life and picked up the next day by its sister paper, the Belfast Telegraph, and the Irish News. But because it didn’t involve an IRA parade or somebody singing “Ooh, ah, up the Ra,” a story revealing that a DUP politician marched in his Orange collarette to remember a dead member of a proscribed sectarian killer gang had died a lonely death by Tuesday.
Can a single Tory Sleaze Tsar be up to the job?
THEY’RE going to have to invent another word for sleaze that reflects the full scope of the greed and arrogance that the past 13 years have visited on the people of the north and Britain.
The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines sleaze as “Activities, especially business or political, of a low moral standard.” In its latest long run in office, the Tories hit ‘low’ about two weeks after the 2010 election and proceeded to hit ground level in double-quick time, burrowing 100km into the Earth’s crust before making their way inexorably through the first mantle, then the second, pounding through the outer core around 2015 before arriving at the inner core with the arrival of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings. In the past few days they’ve begun the second half of the journey, and at the current rate of progress are expected to reach New Zealand around St Patrick’s Day.
So what new word might best reflect a politics as debased as discredited as this? Well, returning to our online word respositories, the thesaurus section of Dictionary.com suggests a few antonyms for sleaze, the most attractive – or indeed repugnant – for Squinter being ‘feculence’, which is defined as ‘The condition of being befouled or besmirched. That which contains waste matter.’
Would a ‘Feculence Tsar’ do any better than a ‘Sleaze Tsar’? Well, a relaunch of the office might not be a bad thing, given that Boris Johnson’s Sleaze Tsar, Lord Geidt, resigned after two weeks in the job because he couldn’t stick the stench of booze and hypocrisy coming from Party Central, Downing Street. He got the fortnight-long gig because the guy before him jacked it in over the the PM’s magical No.10 furniture payment and his failure to act on the Priti Patel bullying revelations.
Or maybe the answer is to give every Tory Minister his or her own Sleaze Tsar, because clearly the volume of work is far too daunting for the incumbent, Sir Laurie Magnus. How somebody’s supposed to look into the tangled affairs of Tory Chairman Nadhim Zahawi, for instance, is going to have to put in an 18-hour day on that alone.
•He bought his current house via a tax haven in Gibraltar.
•He threatened to sue people reporting (accurately) on his very odd tax arrangements.
•He ended up repaying tax and penalties totalling £5m after a two-year investigation of his affairs by a Whitehall ‘international tax detective’.
•He was in tax default while he was yer actual Chancellor of the Exchequer with ultimate responsibility for… collecting tax.
•He told Sky News last July that he had never benefited from an offshore trust.
•Tax expert Dan Neidle told Sky News on Monday that Mr Zahawi had received £99,000 from Balshore Investments, a company based in – altogether now! – Gibraltar.
•He went to HMRC and offered to settle the unpaid tax on a sum of £27m after reports began to emerge (reports that he threatened to sue over; see above).
•He assured civil servants in his private office that he had not exchanged messages with former PM David Cameron in relation to the Greensill lobbying scandal.
•When a check of Mr Cameron’s phone revealed that he had indeed been in contact with Mr Zahawi, the Tory Chairman admitted that he had exchanged texts with Mr Cameron… but they had been somehow deleted.
And then, just as Mr Zahawi was no doubt preparing his more-time-with-the-family statement, along came a likely saviour with a “Hold my Chablis” intervention.
They were still cleaning the Partygate omit and red wine off the walls of No.10 as 2022 turned into 2023 and the calls within the Tory Party for Boris Johnson to return started getting louder and louder. In a carefully orchestrated attempt to replace his non-existent reputation, stories began to emerge in sympathetic media outlets (i.e. about 90 per cent of them) about a growing swell of backbench support for “election winner” Johnson.
And then the man-child in the Hawaiian shorts and bobble hat fouled the nest again.
A report in the Sunday Times at the weekend claimed that in late 2020, then-PM Johnson was in dire financial straits and had secured a loan of close to a million with the help of a guarantor suitable to the bank. That guarantor was arranged, the report went on, with the help of Tory donor Richard Sharp. Weeks later Mr Johnson appointed Mr Sharp Chairman of the BBC.
Office of the Sleaze Tsar. Monday morning. Telephone rings.
– Yes, good morning, Mr Magnus, can you talk?
– To be honest I’m absolutely up to my eyes with this Zahawi mess.
– It’s kind of important.
– How important?
– Like, goes-to-the-top-of-the-BBC important.
– Go ahead.
– Well, I’m afraid Boris…