NOTHING wrong with commentators – in fact, you could call Squinter a commentator, if we’re being completely technical about it. And as is the case the world over, newspaper and broadcast commentators have their supporters and their detractors. Squinter too gets his fair share of bouquets and brickbats for his daily online and weekly print musings on this little corner of Paradise.

But the thing about commentators – whether they’re on the airwaves or in the inky trade – is that their commentary is always judgmental and smug – and once again Squinter doesn’t excuse himself from either of those two accusations. But what he will say is that the shortcomings of the Andytown News – created as it was as an alternative to the established press – can hardly be explained by it acting as a guardian of the status quo.

As an Irish republican, Squinter gets lectured on a daily basis by people working for pro-union print and broadcast outfits that stood idly by for half a century while the Ulster Unionist Party presided over a one-party Protestant state. And not only did those organisations not baulk at the manifestations of unionist superiority – they actively promoted them. Live coverage of the Twelfth of July featuring OAPs and toddlers eating ice-cream but blind to the Homeric street drinking and sectarianism on full view on the other side of the street; full colour pull-outs of Orange parades; kick-the-Pope band competition results; bonfire building updates.

Things have changed for the loyal Ulster Fourth Estate, of course, as the GAA is no longer covered by crime correspondents and reporters sometimes have fadas in their names. But Féile, just as it has been since its first gig, will always be an IRA training camp and they’ll always snap a salute at the first sight of a British army uniform. And the marches and the boneys continue to be events not only worthy of publication, but demanding celebration.

Squinter wouldn’t care if in certain quarters loyalist culture is held above others;  after all, you’ll get Easter parade and Paddy’s Day details and reports in the Andytown News, but the Scarva Sham Fight is unlikely to feature prominently. But in those same certain quarters there’s so much having their cake and eating it that Type 2 diabetes is an occupational hazard. So let’s open the pages to see what kind of elite-level side-of-the-mouthery we’re still being treated to years after BBC Ulster management laid on drinks and nibbles for Orange Order leaders as they watched the Belfast parade pass the Ormeau Avenue office.

Page 8. The scourge of sectarianism remains. By Phil Whyte.
Why, oh, why, can’t we get along together ? Why are we stuck in a wearying cycle of Ussuns and Themmuns, intent on poking each other in the eye over old battles and older enmities? Is it too much to ask that we finally put the hatreds of the past behind us, remember that we’re on this Earth together for a short time only and there’s not enough time to waste on arguing about Orange and Green? Can’t we finally decide that enough is enough and there is so much more that unites us than divides us? For the sake of our children, let’s look together with hope to the future and leave behind those who offer nothing but bitterness and the toxic supremacy of yesteryear.
Page 9. The Dublin Road comes alive on the Twelfth. Features Editor.
The Rising Sons of Sean Graham’s Bookies were the toast of Belfast as they won the Best Turned Out Band award on another Twelfth to remember in Belfast. A new banner was unveiled paying tribute to Pliers McCoubrey of the 1912 UVF who passed away last year. Bands obeyed a Parades Commission order not to play the Famine Song while passing the Holy Sacred Virgin Heart church and went with the Billy Boys instead. Police are asking for anyone with information about an unfortunate incident involving the Parish Priest and members of the Young Protestant No Pope Here Flute Band to come forward. The RVH said in a statement that the priest’s injuries are not life-threatening. 
Page 10. Irish language Balkanisation must stop. Housing Correspondent.
Just as dogs piss on lampposts, so the Irish language Mafia keep dividing us by insisting on Irish language signs on our famously quiet and leafy streets. We’ve made slow but steady progress in a hundred years in eradicating the scourge of sectarianism and nothing should be done to endanger that. For instance, the UDA has promised to cut down the number of attacks on new homes in mixed areas if the NIO comes up with a modest amount of moolah. And the good UVF drug barons are making encouraging headway in expelling the bad UVF drug barons from a number of housing estates. The damage done to that work by the erection of Irish signage would be incalculable and would send a message to hard-working paramilitary chiefs that the IRA is in charge. No-one is objecting to an Irish language nursery in a second-hand Portakabin in Turf Lodge, but the in-your-face disrespecting of English names like the Ballygomartin Road and Dunmore Drive has to stop.
Page 11. Craigyhill boney-builders reach for the stars. Civil Engineering Correspondent.
The Guinness Book of Records may have laughed, but Larne bonfire engineeers laughed last and longest after the Craigyhill bonfire officially became the tallest red, white and blue illegal flag-draped loyalist stolen pallet structure in the world. It overtakes the record previously held by a bonfire in Carrick, which has been discontinued after the death of three men in a fall in 2021. That tragedy prompted a bout of soul-searching in Craigyhill and in March of this year, 500 used care home mattresses were placed around the bottom of the structure as an extra safety precaution. The mattresses have been linked to an outbreak of scabies and ammonia burns in the area, but engineers insist they have saved lives. In a well-attended ceremony yesterday, bonfire staff received safety certificates from the Ulster Society of Chartered Boney-Builders. “We’re extending a cordial invitation to everyone from Larne and beyond to attend on the Eleventh Night,” said a boney spokesman. In another demonstration of the spirit of professionalism which is slowly but surely taking hold at Craigyhill, the spokesman advised that extra precautions should be taken on the night by expectant mothers, OAPs, asthma sufferers and Catholics. 
Page 12. Euro 2028 in Belfast? Let’s not forget Casement’s named after a terrorist. Football Editor.
Be in no doubt: We’d all be speaking German if ‘Sir’ Roger Casement had succeeded in his plan to drive a U-boat up Belfast Lough in 1916 and install a puppet Kaiser government in Connolly House. And yet the GAA insisted on naming a stadium after him. That sent out a clear message to the Protestants of Ulster that there was no place for them in the starting 11 of any team in Gaelic sports. That toxic legacy continues to this day as we face the appalling vista of France playing Italy on the Andersonstown Road. The very thought is enough to have Sir Edward Carson spinning in his grave. What a sickening insult that would be to the man who saved us from Home Rule and the Kaiser by his courageous and only technically treasonous importation of arms from the, ah, Kaiser. By pretending that names don’t matter, by sectioning off our city into sectarian ghettos, we only hasten the day when the men of violence prevail. Yes, we want the Euros in 2028, but we want a city that we can all call our own even more. What legacy are we handing to our children if we bequeath to them a city divided not only by history and religion, but by the very names of its streets and buildings?  Is a neutral living environment too much to ask?
Page 13. The Twelfth 2024: All you need to know. By ‘Lambeg Larry’.
The Loyal Protestant Sons of Lenny Murphy will lead off the main East Belfast feeder parade, which will get under way from Queen’s Corgis Avenue at 10am, making its way along El Alamein Drive via Spitfire Street with a Buckfast break at 11am at the junction of Rourke’s Drift Park and  Blair Mayne Heights. In North Belfast, meanwhile, at 9.30am the Chairman of the Brian Robinson Appreciation Society will unveil a plaque dedicated to the 1912 UVF man murdered by the SAS on the Crumlin Road in 1989. The Last Post will be played by the trumpeter from the Who Dares Wins SAS Brass Band. The parade proper will get under way at 10am, proceeding along Raj Street, then on to Dunkirk Glen to meet up with smaller parades at the Parachute Regiment monument in General Sir Mike Jackson Court. Brethren will then proceed along Lord Mountbatten Road to the memorial to Lord Kitchener’s role in our victory over the Germans, situated at Prince Albert Von Saxe-Coburg und Gotha Avenue.  There will be a short stop at Rhodesia Drive to deliver a petition against a proposal for dual language signage in the new Bomber Harris Leisure Centre.