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January 11, 2006

Govt Scraps Fugitive Plans

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/11/06 Government Scraps Fugitive Plans
IN 01/11/06 £800,000 ‘Spent By Shoukri In Two Years’
DI 01/11/06 Race-Hate Loyalists Target Woman
IN 01/11/06 Man Held After Knife Threats To Students
IO 01/11/06 Brits Govt Plans New Talks Over Devolution
IN 01/11/06 Council Meeting Ended By Brawl
IN 01/11/06 Council Opposed To ‘IRA Event’
TH 01/11/06 IRA Loses Millions In Bank Raid ‘Own Goal’
BT 01/11/06 Opin: Paramilitary .Reality, Not The Show
EX 01/11/06 Opin: Bizarre Events And Dirty Tricks
EX 01/11/06 Opin: Spy Scandals: Let’s Have True Story
NL 01/11/06 Opin: Sinn Fein Not Wanted By Us
BT 01/11/06 What The Doktor Ordered!
IN 01/11/06 B&Bs Closing Despite Rise In Visitors
IN 01/11/06 Backing For Suicide Play


Government Scraps Fugitive Plans

The government's controversial proposals on
paramilitary fugitives are being withdrawn, Northern
Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said.

The legislation would have seen those accused of
paramilitary crimes before 1998 appear in front of a
special tribunal, then be freed on licence.

Mr Hain told Parliament the legislation was necessary
but, Sinn Fein's rejection of it made it unworkable.

He also said he wanted to hold talks on restoring
devolution in February.

But he said the the issue of dealing with those
accused of paramilitary crime who were "on-the-run"
would not go away.

"When I introduced this Bill I said that I would not
presume to tell any victim that they must draw a line
under the past," he said.

"But the government remains of the view that this
anomaly will need at some stage to be faced as part of
the process of moving forward.

"It is regrettable that Northern Ireland is not yet
ready to do so.

"We will reflect carefully over the coming months on
how to move forward on this issue, in the context of
dealing with the legacy of the past.

"We will not rush to conclusions. I will take stock in
the autumn."

All the major political parties in Northern Ireland
had rejected the legislation.

The scrapped government plans for "on-the-runs"
covered up to 150 people wanted for crimes committed
before 1998.

They would have their cases heard by a special
tribunal and, if found guilty, would have been freed
on licence without having to go to jail.

Republicans had objected to the inclusion of security
force members in the scheme.


Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the decision by
Peter Hain to withdraw the "on-the-run" bill proved it
had been unacceptable.

"It was a major breach of what was agreed at Weston
Park and a serious act of bad faith by the British
government," he said.

Earlier, Mr Hain said elections due in May 2007 had to
be meaningful.

"We therefore need to make progress urgently. We
cannot let things drift," he said.

"I am therefore asking each of the political parties
to agree dates for substantial discussions in early
February with the British and Irish Governments to
give their views on the way forward to restore the
political institutions.

"The prime minister, together with the taoiseach, will
be closely involved with developments during the

He said there was public resentment at the continued
payment of assembly member salaries and allowances
totalling on average £85,000 per member.

Since it was suspended in October 2002, the assembly
has cost £78m to maintain, he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/11 13:11:30 GMT


£800,000 ‘Spent By Shoukri In Two Years’

By Staff Reporter

POLICE have uncovered evidence that UDA brigadier
Andre Shoukri, spent nearly £1 million in less than
two years, despite having no visible signs of income.

In November last year Shoukri (28) was charged with
blackmail, intimidation and money laundering. The
charges relate to a six-month police investigation
into UDA racketeering in north Belfast.

Part of the investigation relates to the intimidation
of a bar manageress.

It is understood Shoukri and senior loyalist William
‘Bonzer’ Borland (36) were secretly recorded
attempting to extort money from an employee of
Bonaparte’s Bar, known as witness ‘A’.

Borland is separately charged with intimidating a
second person – known as witness ‘B’ – and demanding
the keys, books and cheque books to the north Belfast
bar, as well as possession of a firearm, or imitation
firearm, with intent. Both people are in police
protection in England and will be the chief
prosecution witnesses at any trial.

The bar is just yards from the site of a former pizza
parlour where Shoukri and Borland were secretly filmed
by police in June 2000 attempting to extort £3,000
from its owner Mel Lundy.

Borland, Andre Shoukri, his brother Ihab Shoukri and
Gary McKenzie (33) were jailed for the attempted

The Lundy family were forced to leave Northern Ireland
after police warned them their lives were in danger
from the UDA.

However, it is understood police now have evidence
that around £800,000 passed through Shoukri’s hands in
the two-year period since he was released from jail in
November 2003 where he was serving a sentence for
possession of a firearm.

It is understood police have uncovered documentary
evidence from the ledgers of at least four bookmakers
in north Belfast which shows that Shoukri gambled the
money, despite being unemployed. The bookmakers’
ledgers are said to show that Shoukri put £5,000 and
£10,000 bets on individual horse races.

Detectives are also understood to have evidence that
Shoukri falsified a mortgage application to pay
£120,000 for a house at Clare Glen in the Ballysillan
area of north Belfast. The case against Shoukri is
also understood to show that he took nearly a dozen
foreign holidays in the same period and bought a host
of high-performance sports cars.

This is despite the fact that when Shoukri was stopped
while driving in October 2004 he was found to have no
driving licence or MoT certificate and had forged
insurance documents.

Shoukri could now face a potential £300,000 tax bill
for living off the illegal proceeds of crime.


Race-Hate Loyalists Target Woman

Alan Erwin

A black woman may be forced to quit a loyalist housing
estate after her home was daubed with shocking racist
slogans, she said last night.

Alison Antoine (34) woke yesterday to find the words
“Die Nigger” spray-painted on the front of the house
in Stiles, Co Antrim.

A swastika, the Nazi SS symbol and “White Power” were
also scrawled on the Housing Executive property at
Rathkyle where she has lived for four years.

Ms Antoine said: “I’m sick of it and don’t know what
to do. I’m frightened to walk out onto the street
unless I have someone with me.”

The Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities
described it as one of the worst incidents of race-
hate it had encountered. Executive director Patrick Yu
said: “Normally they distribute leaflets, but this
time it is targeting a specific family. It’s very

Ms Antoine, originally from Grenada, moved to Ireland
more than 10 years ago to be close to her partner
Robert Jones’s family.

Although the unemployed woman stressed most people in
Antrim have caused her no trouble, she told how the
intimidation from a minority has intensified.

A garden shed was burnt down and her kitchen windows
smashed since she moved in to the town, she said.

“I have been victimised because of my colour and had
racist names shouted at me, but nothing like this. I
don’t know why somebody has done this to me, I wish
they would leave me alone,” miss Antoine added.

“It’s making me think about asking to move.”

A Housing Executive order has been issued to have the
graffiti removed on Wednesday.

The attack horrified Ken Wilkinson, a Progressive
Unionist representative in Antrim. Mr Wilkinson, whose
party is aligned to the Ulster Volunteer Force, said
the Loyalist Commission he sits on has attempted to
stop the spread of racism by distributing leaflets and
talking to youths: “These people who come in the dead
of night and target a vulnerable girl are scum. They
probably cheer-on their favourite football team with
five or six black players. My father and his brothers
fought to defeat the swastika which represents the
murder of six million people,” he said.

“When I see a swastika it insults me and it insults
the people I represent.”

Mr Yu also insisted those responsible posed a major
threat and urged any witnesses not to stay silent.

“Someone, somewhere saw something and they need to
tell the police. One of the difficulties of race-hate
crime is when local police say nothing.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman
confirmed detectives were investigating a racist
attack at Rathkyle.

He said: “Racist slogans were spray-painted on the

“A man and woman were in at the time and it’s thought
the incident took place during the hours of 4am to


Man Held After Knife Threats To Students

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

A CATHOLIC student threatened by nife-wielding
loyalists at an east Belfast college has spoken of her

In a further development, police confirmed that a man
had been arrested on suspicion of threats to kill and
possession of an offensive weapon.

The news came just hours after the PSNI faced demands
to explain why no on-the-spot arrests were made.

After hurling sectarian abuse at a group of students
having a smoke break at the Tower Street building on
Monday afternoon, two loyalists later returned
brandishing knives.

Police were alerted by security staff at the campus of
Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education
(Bifhe) and a man was informally questioned at the

No knives were found and CCTV footage was seized for

Confirming that police can arrest on suspicion of
possession of an offensive weapon, even if none is
recovered, a PSNI spokesman added: “Police must have
reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been
committed before an arrest is made.”

Last night one of the Catholic students said they had
been having a smoke break when two men walking past
the college asked them if they wanted some ‘dope’.

“When we told them we didn’t, they started to get
abusive and when they heard our Catholic names they
started calling us fenian bastards and shouting that
they were going to kill us,”

she said.

“We started to go back into the college canteen and
they were running their fingers across their throats
and telling us they were going to stab us to death.

“We were sitting in the canteen thinking it was all
over when one of them appeared inside shouting that he
was going to cut us up.

“I didn’t know it at the time but was told later that
he was carrying two knives inside his coat.

“He only stopped threatening us and ran out when
someone shouted that the police were coming.”

The performing arts student said that while police
searched one loyalist at the scene, the man carrying
the knives fled.

She added: “We will have to decide if it’s safe enough
for us to come back.”

It is not the first time Catholic students at the
college have been targeted – in 2002 masked loyalists
stormed the campus, threatening students.

Maura Lavery, deputy director of Belfast Institute,
said of the latest incident: “Regardless of whether
you are a Catholic or not, none of our students want
to be abused.

“You could have got two very drunken people behaving
irrationally at any location – that is the difference
between this incident and previously.

“What we are proud of, despite everything over the 30
years, is we have offered integrated education at all
of our campuses.”

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly questioned why
no arrest was made at the scene.

“This is completely unacceptable and is not the
actions of an acceptable or accountable policing
service,” he claimed.

SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said:
“Intimidation, threats and abuse... have no place in
any part of Belfast.

“It should also be noted that there was a case for
arresting on the spot – I trust that the CCTV footage
and witness statements will yield enough evidence to
bring charges against the thugs responsible for these
cowardly and pointless threats.”

DUP assembly member Robin Newton said: “I would
totally condemn the assault, threat or intimidation of
any student regardless of their religious or political

Alliance assembly member Naomi Long said the threats
were “an absolute disgrace”.


British Govt Plans New Talks Over Devolution

11/01/2006 - 12:48:52

The British government is planning talks in Northern
Ireland in early February as part of a fresh bid to
revive devolution, it was confirmed today.

In a statement to MPs reflecting on the peace process
and announcing the withdrawal of controversial
legislation dealing with terror suspects, Northern
Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said 2006 was a make or
break year for theNorth's politicians.

“If people are serious about seeing a shared future
based on fairness and equality, they must persuade
each other of that,” he told the House of Commons.

“I am therefore asking each of the political parties
to agree dates for substantial discussions in early
February with the British and Irish Governments to
give their views on the way forward to restore the
political institutions.

“The (British) Prime Minister, together with the
Taoiseach, will be closely involved with developments
during the year.”


Council Meeting Ended By Brawl

By William Scholes

The cut and thrust of politics, normally confined to
verbal sparring, has taken on a physical dimension
after two politicians went toe-to-toe outside Larne’s
council chamber. SDLP councillor Danny O’Connor and
Ulster Unionist Andrew Wilson were involved in the
confrontation at a meeting on Monday night. Mr
O’Connor, a former security guard, was seen to swing a
right-hook at Mr Wilson, although the punch did not

The brawl at the town hall was sparked during a debate
about the possible closure of a local hospital. Mr
O’Connor said councillors should fight to keep their
area’s services.

Mr Wilson, who represents the council on the Northern
Health and Social Services Council, began to respond
but was interrupted by Mr O’Connor in Irish.

“Sui sios, sui sios (sit down, sit down),” he said.

Uproar followed and Mr Wilson made an indistinct
remark to Mr O’Connor, who said: “Say that outside and
see what happens.”

At that point Mr Wilson, followed by Mr O’Connor, left
the chamber and after a verbal exchange Mr O’Connor
swung a punch in view of reporters and councillors.
The two councillors then returned.

Alliance mayor John Mathews said he would adjourn the
meeting because “there was a blow struck outside”. Mr
O’Connor insisted his punch had not connected, but Mr
Mathews said: “I saw you lift your hand.”

Mr O’Connor later made an apology, which Mr Wilson
said he had “no problem accepting”.


Council Opposed To ‘IRA Event’

By David Wilson

DONEGAL County Council looks set to turn down a
proposal that would see officials attend an annual
remembrance service for four IRA men executed in 1923.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry McMonagle proposed that a council
delegation attend this year’s event, during a meeting
in which councillors discussed plans to mark the 90th
anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The proposal was not discussed further as it was not
on the meeting’s agenda.

But Fine Gael’s Jimmy Harte said it would be highly
unlikely that the council would back the motion.

“This is basically an IRA/Sinn Fein event and I
believe we as a council cannot get involved,” he said.

“Many will view it being exclusive rather than
inclusive. Personally I will not be attending.”

On March 14 1923, six weeks before the end of the
Civil War, Kerry men Charlie Daly, Dan Enright, Tim
O’Sullivan and Sean Larkin from Co Derry were taken
from a cell at Drumboe castle, near Ballybofey in Co
Donegal and executed by firing squad.

State forces had held the men for five months
following their capture.


IRA Loses Millions In Bank Raid ‘Own Goal’

IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent

THE biggest bank robbery in British criminal history
turned into a double own goal which cost the IRA
millions in racketeering profits as well as the entire
proceeds of the raid, military intelligence sources
said yesterday.

The Northern Bank recalled all £300m of its
distinctive notes in circulation in Northern Ireland
after a team of paramilitary criminals took hostages
and escaped with £26.5m from the vaults of the bank's
Belfast distribution centre in December 2004.

The swift decision to ex-change the notes as customers
brought in their old currency not only wiped out the
record haul, but also inadvertently rendered millions
already held in cash by the IRA from racketeering

Military intelligence sources said the Provisionals'
South Armagh "brigade" was affected most, losing
anywhere between £3m and £5m in illicit earnings from
smuggling cigarettes and fuel over the border with the
Irish Republic, and from counterfeiting DVDs.

A source said: "As botched IRA spectaculars go, this
was a classic own goal. When the bank cancelled the
stolen notes and then recalled and replaced all of its
currency in circulation, the Provos were left holding
a vast stash of worthless loot.

"With the police and security services watching every
one of Ulster's 300 bank branches, they could hardly
walk through the door and try to exchange millions in
unexplained notes from their criminal activities
without attracting attention.

"Overnight, it wiped out the IRA's fighting fund along
the border and led to some bitter internal feuds
between the team who carried out the heist in Belfast,
and their colleagues to the south in Dundalk and

"It's ironic that they pulled off a robbery with
almost military precision and ended up losing


Opin: Our Paramilitary Housemates ...The Reality, Not
The Show

Lindy McDowell
11 January 2006

Whether you regard it as compulsive or repulsive
viewing, you have to admit - whatever else Celebrity
Big Brother suffers from it's not a shortage of
"celebrity" raw material.

The "celebrities" in question are generally people who
for a brief, fleeting period of time were making the
headlines on a regular, sometimes daily basis.

Then they disappeared from sight - in some cases so
completely, so mysteriously, so utterly you'd be
forgiven for thinking they were dead.

You know the sort... people like Denis Donaldson.

In fact, if we were to have our own local version
Celebrity Big Brother, we'd be spoilt for choice with
candidates who were once all over the news but have
recently vanished, seemingly without trace.

David Trimble? Where is he now? Come to think of it,
the Unionist Party, where is it now?

It's not just the candidates we could provide for a
local series.

The motivation for participants rings a bell too.

A prime reason for taking part cited by celebs filing
into the cesspit of humiliation that is the current
Channel 4 show, is the desperation to be loved.

"I want to let people see the real me," they whine.

Generally letting people see "the real me" is ill
advised. In most cases, "the real me" is best kept
securely under wraps.

The problem for our local "housemates" - those
paramilitaries on all sides we're forced to live with
- is that we already have an all-too-clear picture of
"the real them."

Which explains our contempt.

An example is the latest desperate dodge by a unit of
the UDA in the Tiger's Bay area of North Belfast to
win public support.

If we didn't know before what the real UDA got up to,
this spells it out.

They've announced that they're calling a halt to
localised extortion.

This is a fascinating development, is it not?

Working on the premise that extortion is still
regarded as a crime in Northern Ireland, where does
this implicit admission - that the UDA has been
hitherto up to its oxters in extortion in that area -
now leave the UDA's so-called brigadiers?

If any other organisation in the land was to announce
that it had been involved in extortion but was giving
up, its directors would be hauled in and asked for
further details. Not to mention reparation.

Is anything similar being done by the relevant
authorities in this instance, Mr Hain? Mr Orde?

Hilariously, a spokesman from the Loyalist Commission
explains: "The UDA realises extortion just isn't on
any longer..."

This would seem to imply that the Loyalist Commission
believes that previously, extortion was "on."

That is the same extortion which gilded a few
paramilitary pockets with enormous wealth but robbed
the loyalist working class community on which these
scumbags preyed of economic viability.

The same extortion which is still presumably regarded
as "on" in the wide swathes of Northern Ireland where
it remains a brutal, shameful fact of life.

But it isn't just the loyalist paramilitaries who have
recently been letting people see "the real them."

Interestingly, the Republican Movement which
previously had considerable success in projecting a
distorted image of its real self, has also been
letting the mask slip.

Over the years republican spinmasters have gone to
great lengths to style their 30-year campaign of
sectarian savagery as some sort of socialist freedom

A lot of people, many of them too young to remember
the full-on horror of the Troubles, or too distant to
experience the bloody reality, were taken in.

But the past has been catching up with the Provies.

An example was the recent tragic anniversary of the
Kingsmills massacre - one of the worst atrocities of
the Troubles but one which, tellingly, has had very
little coverage down through the years.

And no wonder republicans wanted it kept that way.

Twelve working men forced at gunpoint from their works
bus and lined up arms outstretched against it . . .
the only Catholic among them asked to declare himself
. . . on either side of him, his Protestant
colleagues, fearing he is the target, squeeze his
hands to reassure him . . . but he is singled out by
the gunmen and told to run . . .

And then the carnage begins.

Ten men are murdered in a hail of bullets by the
Provisional IRA. Not because of anything they
individually have done. But murdered purely and simply
because they are Protestant.

In the years that follow there is no high profile
public inquiry into this massacre or others like it.

No international campaign for answers about who gave
the orders for this sectarian slaughter or who knew
about its planning.

No Hollywood movie based on this shocking story.

But now, 30 years on, a renewed campaign for answers
is finally gaining pace.

How many other historic horrors will now return to
haunt the Republican movement?

And meanwhile another spectre they might have wished
to keep hidden, is also making its presence felt.

Republican collusion. The matter of spies and agents.
Not least the aforementioned Denis.

And the questions here are being most keenly debated
within the republican community itself.

Just who knew what within Sinn Fein? Just who was
pulling the strings?

Just who was the real Big Brother?


Opin: Bizarre Events And Dirty Tricks

THE release of Irish and British State papers of 30
years ago points to useful lessons for contemporary
Irish politics.

Over the Christmas period there was much speculation
about the fall-out from the collapse of the
Stormontgate spying case and the outing of the man at
the centre of it as a British agent. Some commentators
have claimed the proposition that the whole episode
was an attempt by elements of special branch and
British intelligence to undermine the Good Friday
Agreement was not credible because it would need a
huge conspiracy between policemen, intelligence agents
and prosecutors.

But there are several precedents for such
conspiracies, as the State papers reveal.

In 1975, six innocent Irishmen were sentenced to life
for the Birmingham pub bombs after ‘confessions’ were
beaten out of them and false forensic ‘evidence’ was
presented. At a later hearing Britain’s top judge,
Lord Denning, said if the appeal was to succeed, it
would mean the police were guilty of threats, violence
and perjury.

Learned prosecutors and judges were either gullible or
dishonest and this was such “an appalling vista” that
the men would have to stay in jail, which they did for
over 16 years.

Back in the 1970s, allegations of collusion between
loyalists and British forces in the killing of Irish
citizens was dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theory
or republican propaganda.

These murders included bombings in Dublin, Monaghan,
Dundalk, Castleblaney and Belturbet, as well as dozens
of shootings in the ‘murder triangle.’

Now it has been revealed that British forces and their
weapons were used in many of these attacks. Recent
books and articles by former RUC and British
intelligence members confirm that such collusion had
gone on throughout the Troubles and even into this

Perhaps the most relevant example, in the light of
current events, is the role of shady agencies in the
undermining of the power-sharing executive in 1974 and
the IRA ceasefire of 1975/6.

Then the RUC and British army refused to move against
loyalist paramilitaries who were blockading streets
and workplaces. It was then that the worst ‘sectarian’
killings of the troubles occurred, including the
Dublin/Monaghan bombs, the Miami showband massacre and
the gun attacks on the Reavy and O’Dowd families,
which killed six innocent people whose 30th
anniversaries occurred recently.

Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5, and
Colin Wallace, former MI5 agent in the North, both
claimed elements of British intelligence were trying
to wreck the Sunningdale agreement and Merlyn Rees,
who died last week, has said he suspected he was being

Bertie Ahern described recent events as “bizarre”.

He is correct, but he needs to learn the lessons from
30 years ago and stand up to those who are trying to
undermine what the Irish people voted for - the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Dr Sean Marlow
90 Willow Park Road
Dublin 11


Opin: Spy Scandals: Let’s Have The True Story Now

IN autumn 2002 we were treated to the spectacle of a
huge detachment of police invading Sinn Féin offices
at Stormont. That had all the hallmarks of an event
stage-managed for maximum media impact.

Republicans were angry and many others were dismayed
by what they were witnessing.

Then we had the abrupt ending of the Stormontgate
trial as “it would not be in the public interest” to
proceed. Unionists were angered and many other were

More recently we learn that a leading Sinn Féin
official at Stormont has been a British spy for some
30 years and, not surprisingly, people want to know
precisely what has been going on at the centre of
government in Northern Ireland.

It sounds quite rich for Northern Secretary Peter Hain
and Foreign Minister Noel Ahern to imply that to deny
us the truth is a means of ensuring the peace process
will not be knocked off course. The effect is further
compounded when we are told that “the past is the
past, so let us get on with the future”.

For a long time now the New Ireland Group has been
emphasising the recurrent nature of the Anglo-
Irish/Irish sectarian conflict. We believe that
obscurantism creates falsehoods which sow seeds of
further conflict in generations to come.

Let the truth reign supreme in 2006, and let there be
an end to the refusal to disclose it.

In short, let us strive to expose the truth about the
killings of Pat Finucane, and Billy Wright and the
truth about Stormontgate.

Is it too much to expect the British government to
restore public confidence in the integrity of its work
as the colonial power here in Northern Ireland - or
are there indeed ‘dark forces’ behind government which
dictate what it may or may not do.

John Robb
New Ireland Group
59 Hopefield Ave
Co Antrim


Opin: Sinn Fein Not Wanted By Us

Wednesday 11th January 2006

The unionist population will not accept these Sinn
Fein people in government in Northern Ireland.

How can one have people in power who do not even
support the police, who mock even the honours system?
Any unionist politician from the DUP or the UUP who
tries that again will suffer the same fate as David

So far, we have seen the 'B' Specials disbanded, the
UDR disbanded, the RUC disbanded, the RUC Reserve
disbanded and, soon, the Royal Irish Rangers
disbanded, all agreed by the British Government to
satisfy Sinn Fein.

At this rate there will soon be no law and order in
Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein are not democrats, and never will be
democrats. Even Bertie Ahern has said they are totally
unsuited for government in the South.

The IRA has not even disbanded. The Northern Bank
raid, and the 'on-the-run' legislation are other
matters that are of great concern to the law-abiding
majority. This process, the Belfast Agreement, so
rashly signed, is not a peace process; it is a
surrender process.

It is the surrender of every last vestige of
Britishness from Northern Ireland, readily facilitated
by the smooth-talking Mr Blair.

Save Ulster from Blair, New Labour and the interfering
Clintons. Let the media, such as the News Letter, call
it what it is, the surrender process!

As far as unionists are concerned, the Belfast
surrender agreement is dead and buried. So be it!

T Jackson,


What The Doktor Ordered!

Ian Paisley, Ulster's new radio station U105, Gerry
Adams, Tony Blair ... even George Best have been
targets for a satirical web site, Doktormoog. Claire
McNeilly finds out more about the Dublin man who's
having a laugh ... at us.

11 January 2006

What do the Rev Ian Paisley, U105 radio station and
gay people have in common? Well, for one thing,
they've all been the subject of satire on the
doktormoog website that pokes fun at Ulster life via a
series of captioned 'cartoons'.

Yep, there's no folly or vice associated with good old
Norn Iron that seems to escape the doktor's caustic
wit - and apparently no limit to his laughing stock

From Gerry Adams to Tony Blair, from the recent same
sex marriages to local sporting legends, nothing is

Take, for example, football hero George Best, whose
funeral in December became a national event. The
caption written inside a sketch of an elaborately
painted wagon reads:

'Roll up! Roll up! All aboard the George Best
bandwagon. Belfast people - enjoy a rare opportunity
to be as smug as a Dubliner. B list celebrities -
bathe in reflected glory. Journalists - it's a story
you can milk for decades! Coming soon - George Best,
the themed city zone!'

Both loyalist and republican paramilitaries get a
touch too, with the Northern Bank robbery and loyalist
rioting mocked.

One picture features an image of a petrol bomb bearing
the caption: 'Belfast petrol crisis - prices soar to
over 50p a bottle'. Another shows a row of bank
robbers and the logos of the main banks, accompanied
by the caption: 'Northern Ireland's banking system ...
that'll do nicely'.

Another image illustrates Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern
smiling heartily outside a building under the
catchword 'Crimestoppers'.

Referring to a widely publicised meeting between the
UK and Irish heads of state, the text reads: 'Were you
in Hillsborough recently? Did you see any of these men
acting suspiciously in the vicinity of the castle? The
police (and everyone else) would like to find out what
they are up to.'

It goes on. Beneath the words 'Army Surplus' in
another cartoon, for instance, sits a drawing of six
differently sized knives and with them the words:
'Used Knife Warning: Cuts Both Ways'.

There's also a dig at the mindset of the masses in
another piece entitled Community Relations Council -
St Patrick. The graphics comprise two images of Saint
Patrick; one with bowler hat, collarette and crook,
called saint macpatrick, and another, called saint
o'padraig, bearing a hat, pair of dark sunglasses and
a knife.

At the top of the image it says: 'The CRC are pleased
to introduce two new interpretations of our national
British/Irish saint to reflect the two traditions of
this island.'

And at the bottom: 'We hope this will go some way to
stop you savages knocking the s**** out of each other
this holiday weekend... Bringing Communities together
through Patronising Initiatives.'

In fact, there are over 100 images on the website, all
of them satirising life in our wee country - and all
of them penned by the same person. So who is the funny
man behind the scenes and what, exactly, is his
agenda? His name is Diarmuid Kennedy, he's 38 and he's
from Dublin (and, for the record, he doesn't sound

For the 15 years he's been living in Belfast with his
partner and working as a librarian at Queen's
University, but he hasn't lost his southern lilt. He
does, however, seem to have acquired a hearty appetite
for our black humour.

So how, when and where did start?

"It all began about four years ago," he says. "My
friends and I used to mess around, where we would do
graphics of each other after a night out and send them
back and forth on e-mail.

"The website really only started after (local
journalist) Newton Emerson began using the stuff I
submitted to him quite frequently for the Portadown
News website."

Of course, the latter began as an on-line mock
newspaper satirising Ulster life and culminated in a
book The Portadown News, The Best Bits.

But what inspired the English Literature graduate to
get involved in such savage send ups?

"Well, I'm certainly not in it for the money," he
laughs. "I did a postgrad in Library Studies and have
a proper job and I don't see myself giving that up. I
do it for fun and I don't expect it to turn into
anything more serious than that. Sometimes I think if
I had more artistic talent I could go further... "

He adds: "A big swathe of people in Northern Ireland
are sick of the situation here. The idea is to keep
attacking both sides because of all those people in
the middle. And after my work started appearing more
often on the website, I began to realise other people
found it funny too and I started submitting more."

And who is this doktor moog, nemesis of Norn Iron?
"The name was accidental. I'm not too sure where it
came from. I think I saw it written on a music
discussion board somewhere, but it has no real

Although he has built up a considerable collection to
date, he dismisses this as being any great

"I think there are about 100 on the website and I've
probably done a few more, but I wouldn't be precious
about them. They are not fine examples of graphic art.
I cut and paste and most of them can be knocked off in
five minutes and without any great thought. It just
depends on the graphics.

Nevertheless, he admits he has suffered for some of
his art - "The Chronicles on Norn Ironia took an awful
long time and it's still not right, but 'I, Bigot'
took the longest," he explains. (Incidentally, the 'I,
Bigot' caption reads 'everyone saw it coming' printed
over the image of lots of robot Orangemen marching.)

Diarmuid adds: "It took longer to compose than any
other because I had to paste on 30 little sashes and
bowler hats individually."

And while he concedes some of artwork could be seen as
offensive, he says that's not his intention.

"I get my inspiration from a wide variety of sources,
mostly from what's going on at that time. Some things
are a bit sensitive, like George Best, but no subject
is sacred to me. It would all depend on whether it's
funny or not. And there is a fine line between being
funny and being rentagob."

He adds: "To a certain extent, it depends on taste,
but I assume people do get the jokes sometimes because
I've never had any complaints about the website yet."

÷Diarmuid Kennedy's site is at


B&Bs Closing Despite Rise In Visitors

By Claire Simpson

MORE than 100 bed and breakfast businesses have closed
in four years, new figures reveal.

Although the the number of tourists visiting the north
is rising the number of B&Bs has fallen by 15 per

It has been suggested that the rise in the number of
cheap hotel beds in urban areas in recent years has
seriously affected the B&B market.

The trend towards short city breaks and the increasing
age profile of B&B owners are also thought to have
contributed to the drop in the number of private homes
offering accommodation.

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) figures show
the number of B&Bs has dropped from 755 at the start
of 2002 to 641 by the end of 2005.

Caroline Adams, industry competitiveness manager with
the NITB, said a number of factors were responsible.

“While this type of accommodation would have had a
cost advantage in the past, the newer budget hotels
can provide even lower cost rooms,” she said.

“They can also offer packages such as golf, cycling
and entertainment and B&Bs can find it difficult to
compete. The trend towards short breaks in cities has
also hit B&Bs.”

However, Liz McMorris, acting chairperson of the
Northern Ireland Guesthouse Federation which
represents around 500 guesthouses, said the tourist
board did not support the bed and breakfast industry.

“It’s becoming more difficult and with less support
from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board,” she said.

“If you depend on your B&B for a living you won’t

“Most people need another income. If people are
struggling their only option is to close because there
are no grants available and no funding.

“We’re lucky because my husband and I can live on our

Mrs McMorris, who runs Swan Lodge Guesthouse in Saul,
Co Down, said a major problem was the lack of a
grading system.

“Most of my members want some kind of classification.
You could pay £50 for a hovel or £50 for a first-class
room,” she said.

“With no classification it’s like a ladder and we’re
all at the bottom of it.”

Responding Ms Adams said: “NITB is monitoring the
situation closely and the merits of introducing a
grading system are under consideration.”

Despite a number of new hotels opening in Belfast and
Derry in recent years, NITB figures show there were
five less hotels in 2005 than in 2002.


Backing For Suicide Play

By Staff Reporter

A support group for relatives bereaved through suicide
is backing a new play about the subject, which is to
go on tour around schools and youth centres in west
and north Belfast. The Suicide Awareness and Support
Group were invited to the Old Museum Arts Centre in
Belfast to watch Don’t Send Me Flowers. The play stars
and was written by teenagers from the Iveagh Community
Group who have been helped by directors Lisa May and
Adam Wallace. The young group, supported by the West
Belfast Area Project, have won funding to bring the
play to schools and youth centres.

It tells three stories on the subject of suicide,
centred on counselling and the aftermath of a death. A
DVD about the latest suicide statistics and the
community response to suicide in west and north
Belfast accompanies the production.

Community development worker Damien Lindsay said the
teenagers had written the play to help other young
people. Mary Creaney, a member of the awareness and
support group, who watched the play, said it would be
very beneficial for schools and youth centres.

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