Friday, 17 July 2009

It’s all getting a wee bit weird…

IT is, of course, the time of year that news planners refer to as the silly season – that time when the headlines are made up of the improbable, the laughable and the downright silly.

And if you were to listen to the news headlines on Thursday you may have thought that the silly season was firmly entrenched.

To review…

Monday: July rioting over an Orange Order march – situation normal.

Tuesday: follow-up disturbances and rioters criticised by Gerry Kelly – not that normal a couple of years back but relatively normal now.

Wednesday: minor rioting, condemnation from usual suspects – situation normal.

Thursday: Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness emerge from Downing Street with Robinson saying that if Brown writes the right cheque we’ll have policing and devolution in place by autumn – shurely shome mishtake there!

No – it wasn’t the devil’s buttermilk talking (DUP speak for alcoholic beverages) but was rather a straight-faced statement that the devolution of policing and justice was on its way. The First Minister even said that it would be better than that Direct Rule nonsense.

How Martin McGuinness managed to keep a grin off his face is unknown.

The situation will return to normal when Jim Allister gets all shrill and strident claiming that every elected politician in Northern Ireland has sold ‘the country’ out.

And more silliness

THE esteemed MP and MLA for West Belfast that is Gerry Adams, has made what must rank as one of the strangest statements of his career by offering up a political analysis (Sinn Fein always have one of those handy) of the road to a united Ireland.

The Sinn Fein leader was speaking in Westminster as part of an international campaign for Irish re-unification, where he said that the Orange Order would have a role in a new Ireland and that “Orange marches, albeit on the basis of respect and cooperation, will continue in a United Ireland if that is the wish of the Orange."

Whatever his reasoning (unionists, he claims, would make up 20% of the electorate in a united Ireland, meaning they would be a strange type of unionist…opposed to the union they are in and hearkening for a union they are not in), Gerry must have finally lost the plot. Does he think that his analysis would have members of the loyal orders clamouring to parade along O’Connell Street, march through Drogheda to honour Cromwell, followed by a swift dander along Tallaght’s streets? Or that ‘Kick the pope’ flute bands would, by his logic, gleefully sign up for their Irish citizenship to make sure that they can try and blag some Euros in grant aid to teach the ‘Sash’ in Gaeltacht schools?

Robbo nice chap shocker!

THERE was more silliness as it emerged that Garvaghy Road residents in Portadown thought that First Minister Peter Robinson was a nice chap who was willing to play ‘honest broker’ in the ongoing Drumcree dispute.

Residents rep Brendan MacCionnaith declared that Robbo was not going to be a proxy for Orangeism, and the First Minister said that a meeting between the two sides was possible under the chairmanship of new Parade’s Commissioner head, Rena Shepherd.

So…to get this straight: A DUP minister has been cautiously hailed by nationalist residents in Portadown; and Orange Order representatives may soon be meeting the chair of an organisation they refused to recognise.

If this is silly season, we could all do with a little more silliness.

Brendan again

Brendan MacCionnaith, however, briefly got over his brush with silliness. After the Ardoyne rioting, he swapped his Garvaghy Road hat for his Eirgri headwear as he claimed that the PSNI attacked ‘peaceful protestors’ in the Ardoyne in North Belfast, and that Sinn Fein has sold out the nationalist community.

Brendan could just be rivalling Jim Allister in the ‘all Northern Ireland’s elected politicians are dirty sell-outs’ chart-topping statements.

Of course, that the ‘peaceful protestors’ were criticised by Ardoyne residents and seemed to have had on hand petrol bombs, blast bombs, fireworks, firearms (including one rifle they ‘lost’ when children found it) is in Brendan’s eyes irrelevant and not worthy of comment.

In American military slang, Monday was Northern Ireland in SNAFU mode – Situation Normal All…… Up. (Fill in the blank word beginning with ‘f’ as you see fit.)

Any God will do

Keep Radio Four an atheist free zone! Such is the cry of an Early Day Motion from the DUP’s Iris Robinson. The First Ministers other half wants Radio Four’s Thought for the Day to exclude those subversive humanists and atheists.

Jewish, Islamic, Hindi and other faiths have had representatives appear in morning slot, but God forbid those atheist fiends having their say. The DUP, it would seem, have missed the fact that Radio Ulster have had humanists and humorists appear on Northern Ireland’s equivalent.

It’s nice that the DUP has found a new fresh target ahead of those Romanists; it’s okay to have the papists on radio, but not the likes of Richard Dawkins. ‘Tis indeed a strange and silly season.

It pays to have a hobby

BEEKEEPERS unite for the pollination of Northern Ireland’s plants. No, it’s not another silly season story.

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew revealed in written answers that DARD’s Bee Health Strategy will be published at the end of 2009 in response to concerns over bee numbers.

She also revealed that while there were no so-called commercial beekeepers, there were 1,000 hobbyist beekeepers here. So, firstly hobbyists are excellent lobbyists in that they get their issue on the agenda and get action, and secondly what happens to all that honey? Is it not sold? And if it is sold is that not a commercial activity? Commercial hobbyist lobbyists – makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

No bees – special or otherwise – were available for comment.

A summer break

After all the year’s political excitement, drama and intrigue we’re taking a short break for a couple of weeks over the summer. Well-earned we say. Lazy skivers you might say. However, a shorter break than any MLA or MP is taking. Not that this is a fair or equitable comparison…