CONGRATS to Willie McCrea, Free Presbyterian Minister, gospel singer, former hard-line DUP politico and Member of Parliament. He’s been elevated as a person of rank to membership of the House of Lords.
But, here’s the interesting bit. Previously classified British government papers released four years ago revealed that McCrea urged the British government in 1986 to launch an air attack on what he termed ‘republican strongholds’ in Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore in the North.
According to a Sindo report, the unusual request was made during a DUP annual conference, with the proviso that he wanted the Royal Air Force to carry out the ‘strikes’.
Thankfully such bellicose mumbo-jumbo is now a thing of the past, particularly since the Orange Order is currently swelling with pride as it prepares for the 328thanniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. Half-a-million people are expected to participate in the events, relishing the sectarian boom of the Lambeg drums that will reverberate with ear-breaking intensity in an exercise of intimidation and fear.
But at least the RAF is not being asked to bomb Irish towns into the stone age! And that’s reassuring even if, as usual, Orange marchers will maintain the tradition of burning papal flags and Catholic religious effigies on the top of bonfires, while fife marching-bands play sectarian tunes and drunken Orangemen urinate against the walls of Catholic churches.
No Mardi Gras
Of course, although Orange celebrations on the Twelfth are light years away from Mardi Gras-style innocent fun and community spirit, nevertheless we should abide by the recommendation of politicos down South and respect different traditions. Orange parades, after all, are merely an expression of a simple desire to uphold a traditional system of privilege and power, they say. Nothing wrong with that.
On the other hand, if we see the Twelfth as an annual salute to mob rule then the ‘celebrations’ are unnerving and menacing and, although uttered many years ago, McCrea’s suggestion that the RAF bomb towns in the more civilised parts of Ireland still resonates with a chilling logic.
And now for something different. A dusty blast from the past blew through Cork last week as former Fine Gael MEP, Colm Burke, advised Sinn Féin that its refusal to take its seats in Westminster was similar to Pontius Pilate ‘standing idly by’ (now, where before did we hear that compelling phrase?).
Sinn Féin, Burke said, could ‘neutralise the very strong influence on the ten DUP MPs on the British government’ if it wanted to. ‘Neutralise’???
Now a member of Seanad Éireann, Burke went on to accuse Republicans of ‘a gross dereliction of duty’ (duty???) claiming that it was time for them to ‘get down off their high horse and get stuck into the Brexit debate.’ He claimed the party was unable to see ‘the foolishness of its abstentionist policy’ and it should hold a special Ard-Fheis and change its policy.
We are sure Republicans appreciated the unusual guidance from an outstanding political philosopher despite the fact that if SF took its seats in London the party would be in defiance of the mandate it has from the electorate. But then, perhaps Fine Gael considers electoral promises as mere bagatelles, things as light as air!
In the meantime, the future looks promising for Burke. His arch party rival, Dara Murphy TD, announced last week that he would not stand in the next general election and would not contest next month’s party’s selection convention. Since 2017, Murphy seems to have had the political ‘hump’ after Vlad bluntly told him there would be no room for him in the ministerial ranks.
Dumped and replaced
To the mortification of his supporters, Murphy was unceremoniously dumped and replaced as European Affairs Minister by a Ms Helen McEntee TD, an enthusiastic Vladite who was hilariously criticised by the Government Chief Whip, Regina Doherty, for not saying hello in Leinster House. ‘She would walk past me in the corridor and wouldn’t even blink her eyes,’ complained the indignant Regina.
But, to get back to Dara Murphy: his mortal sin (political, that is) was to have backed fellow-Corkonian, Simon Coveney, in the leadership race. Consequently, necessarily, accordingly, and as night follows day, his goose was cooked. It was toodle-oo for the unlucky chap, and no more Garda patrol cars to Dublin when his own vehicle ‘broke down’.
Now, with Dara Murphy exiting centre stage right, it leaves the door open for Colm Burke to pick up the slack in Cork North Central. But there’s nothing inevitable about his election to the Dáil, and neither will his selection as FG candidate be plain sailing.
Because adding even more drama to an already murky scenario is barrister Julie O’Leary. She is expected to contest the convention to select the frontrunner FG candidate, making Burke’s glum political life even more glummer.
What a lark! So far all that Cork has to show for the €633,000 spent on the planned Cork Event Centre on the Beamish and Crawford site is a small sword – for all the world like a letter opener. Which probably makes it the most expensive Viking artefact in the history of European civilisation!
The Corpo received €1m in government grants to get the project under way but, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney, more than half of that money already has been spent on legal advice, economic advice, public-procurement advice, and advice in ‘finalising complex legal issues around the various funding streams’; that sort of legal-advice thing, dontcha know.
Certainly, the complexity of the advice that ‘experts’ and FG politicos are getting relating to the project is too much for the small brains of average Leesiders to take in. They’re gobsmacked at the knottiness of it all.
What’s going on? they’re asking, and getting no answers.
Simply put, €20m (€12m from the Department and €8m from Cork City Council) has been sanctioned in State aid for the €53m project. But costs already have soared to €73m.
And now, the government refuses to give any more commitments regarding the shovelling of loot down the gullet of a voracious events centre carnivore.
In the meantime, dandelions mark Coveney and Enda Kenny’s perforation in the place that commemorates the official sod-turning launch.
It took place just before the last general election and hauled in some valuable votes.
The developers say work on the Centre definitely will begin before the end of the year, once funding is secured. Yet, it’s intriguing that the project was omitted from the €1.2 billion budget made available by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and to be spent on cultural projects around the country.
However, the €22m promised for Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery was declared secure – and that’s positive news!