Belfast Catwalk Week 2022 comes to an end

The annual Belfast Catwalk Week 2022 came to a close at the weekend with some stunning outdoor catwalk parades attracting crowds from near and nearer.

Organiser of one of the shows which brought the weekend of famous ‘Catwalk Parades’ to a close, Seamy McKalash said ‘This weekend has been a roaring success. I am so proud of all those who helped make this weekend such a success. It’s been really successful”.

When asked what was the winning concept this year, Mr McKalash said there had been a common theme.

“Just like last year and as always in the Occupied 6 counties, it’s all about the Rebel Army Chic. Flags, balaclavas and berets. Colourful armbands get an honourable mention too though”.

When asked about Belfast’s traditional ‘marching walk’ common at the shows, and which some outsiders believe to look quite unusual, Mr McKalash, dismissed concerns.

“Marching instead of walking like a normal person is a real Belfast Catwalk Week tradition. Sure, it looks like some of them are walking after they’ve sh*t their trunks, but it’s our thing.”

The Belfast Catwalk week has been going for decades and has now grown to include shows staged all over Northern Ireland, including Newry and Derry. There are conditions attached to including shows as part of the event, as Mr McKalash explained.

“Well, first you have to do the catwalk up the road with your big flags. It’s important for the models to be serious. No smiles, no waving. Of course the walk has to finish up in a graveyard – that goes without saying – and then speeches were we remember those who gave their lives to the cause of Irish Fashion.”

“It’s been an incredible Sunday, despite the weather, which I know the models always worry about. One of the guys said he has 10 weather apps on his phone and just goes with whichever one gives him the best forecast”.

Controversy surrounds the parades each year with some feeling that having a Rebel Army theme each year is insensitive to those who had family and friends murdered by various rebel armies who operated in Northern Ireland.

Jim Allister of the T.U.V. (Trade Unionist Voice) said “It’s time for the Belfast Catwalk Week 2022 to diversify and become more inclusive. There are many of us who would absolutely love to take part. I am a huge follower of fashion and have attended shows in Milan, and Slough. The Rebel Army Chic vibe just doesn’t appeal to me. I think there needs to be scope for regular army chic with different colour flags.”

The controversy appears likely to rumble on, however, the traditional graveyard ending has proven to a big success given that the catwalk participants have really contributed to the thriving cemetery scene in Northern Ireland for years.

MJS

Jim Allister praises Green Party MLAs

Jim Allister heaped praise on the Green Party today after their MLAs successfully steered two bills through at Stormont.

One bill allows for ‘Safe Access Zones’ outside healthcare clinics where women avail of abortion services, and the other allows 10 days of leave from work for victims of domestic abuse.

Performing a stunning U-Turn after having voted against the bills, TUV Leader Jim Allister was amazed by the determination of the small group of Green MLAs.

“I’ve amazed by their determination” he said “They’ve stuck at it and achieved what they wanted. When I seen Claire Bailey afterwards she was running around whooping and high-fiving. Sometimes I think the TUV has really missed out on high-fives.”

“Or maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit” he sighed. “Everytime I vote or say anything the DUP agree with me. That alone is enough reason to realise I must be talking some shite.”

Local weirdo, Douglas McCooth, who keeps vigil outside a healthcare clinic in Belfast refused to believe in Jim Allister’s change of view. “That’s utter nonsense, Jim is a hero of our movement. He is ‘pro-life’, and ‘pro-women should do as they’re advised’. This must be some sort of left wing piss take” he said as he unpacked his sandwich board.

“We’ll continue to come here everyday. It is my human right to shout things at vulnerable women. And follow them of course”.

The new bill on Safe Access Zones is likely to be subject to a legal challenge as God-fearing law-abiding citizens have serious issues understanding how democracy and laws work, when they don’t suit them.

When asked what his supporters may think of his stunning change of views, Mr Allister was unapologetic.

“I look around me every day and see Jeffrey Donaldson, Jamie Bryson, Kate Hoey, my supporters. You know, just a bunch of moany fuckers. I think to myself do I want to spend the rest of my life with these people, then I realised I am these people. It’s time for a change.”

“I’ve already arranged a night on the town with Claire Bailey. She seems good craic, and says she’s gonna get me shitfaced.”

“Maybe being a communist will be fun for a while. I am immediately asking my supporters to give any second preference votes to Green Party candidates. If they’re not available in the constituency, then transfer to People Before Profit”.

Police Ombudsman collusion report described as ‘clear as a puddle of sh*te’

There was widespread confusion across Northern Ireland after the publication of a report on RUC-Loyalist collusion by Police Ombudsman, Mrs Marie Anderson.

The report describes ‘collusive behaviours’ by the RUC at the time of UDA/UFF murders in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Unionist scepticism

Both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland claimed the report vindicated their views fully. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson MP (but not MLA), stated that the report ‘was as clear as a puddle of sh*te. All opinion, not one fact.” He said, while casually ignoring the facts about Special Branch helping Loyalists acquire ‘military grade weapons’.

Mr Donaldson, whose party supported one of the soldiers who was involved in the murder of innocent people on Bloody Sunday continued “Sure what about them’uns? Sinn Fein/IRA must have had informants too. They’re murderers. The RUC was a fantastic force. One of the best ever, if you ask me. What does ‘Collusive Behaviour’ even mean? It sounds like a late night film on channel 5. The RUC fought bravely and proudly against the horrors of Republican terrorism.” he added, fresh from his recent strategy meeting with Loyalist terrorists.

Sinn Fein anger

When questioned about the report, Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Fein in the Northern Occupied Proud British 6 counties revealed her anger at the findings.

“Oh bies, I am real f**king angry over here, hey. Them b*stards were in bed with Loyalist terrorists. This behaviour is not surprising, we knew this, and it’s shameful they helped paramilitaries murder innocent people. There should be consequences”. said the Northern leader of the movement that killed over a thousand people here.

When asked if IRA members who carried out murders during the troubles should also suffer legal consequences for their crimes she said “No way, f**k that. Sure there’d be hardly any of us left not in jail, jaysus.”

The report has opened fresh wounds in Northern Ireland about how to proceed with justice and legacy issues. For now dealing with this matter, just like issues over flags, or paramilitary murals or the NI protocol, or fox hunting seems to be beyond the capabilities of the main parties at Stormont.

Opinion is divided between Unionist views, Republican views, and the truth. Though the DUP and Sinn Fein were both delighted to see a 300% increase in ‘positive engagements’ (or likes) around their tweets on the issue.

Public Opinion

Asking members of the public in Belfast city centre today their views on the matter, many feelings were summed up by one man, who wished to remain anonymous.

Asked whether it was likely to be an extremely difficult issue to resolve given the polarisation between the various political parties, the man was unimpressed.

“Listen, let me make this clear on behalf of all the normal people. It is easy to condemn all murders. IRA murdered people, Loyalists murdered people, some within the RUC and Army murdered – or helped – to murder people. If you’re in a position where you can’t condemn different murderers equally, then you’re doing something seriously wrong.”

He continued “There is a simple solution. We work out who killed who. Then either those murderers go to jail, or we give the whole sh*tting lot of them amnesty from jail and move on with our lives. Simple. If you think ‘your’ murderers should have amnesty from prosecution, but the other ones shouldn’t, then I’m here to tell you, you’re an idiot.”

Sinn Fein and the DUP are likely to ask for a deeper investigation, and also a complete end to the investigation, respectively. Sources for both sides have confirmed that negotiation, compromise or common sense will not be considered.

MJS

Leading bands announce NI Protocol Aid 2022

Rumours circulated today about the organising of a large concert to increase attention of, and bring aid to, those deeply affected by the N.I. Protocol.

Olde Time Rockers ‘Leaders of Unionism’ are understood to have agreed to headline the event, with backing from modern electro-rock group ‘Protestant Action Force’.

The man leading attempts to bring the groups together was quietly confident that he would be able to pull it off. “I’m quietly confident I will be able to pull this off”. He said.

Billy Primrose from the Loyalist Community Against Any Attempts to Bring About a United Ireland (L.C.A.A.A.B.A.U.I) group praised the Leaders of Unionism for continuing the tradition of Anti-everything that is steeped in the history of Unionist Music.

“The leaders of Unionism have been one of my favourite bands for years. I don’t want to give away my age but I was there back in the 70’s at all their shows. Obviously the shows were a bit more hardcore back then, and there were more berets, but I’ve loved them ever since. It’s an absolute privilege to help organise what could be their biggest show ever.”

The event seems to have been inspired by local businesses who have been suffering as a result of the N.I. Protocol. Unionist estimates suggest this could be up to as many as four affected businesses.

The event comes on the heels of the Leaders of Unionism’s U.K. tour and the Protestant Action Force’s album release ‘Burning Buses’. Both were thought to have been significant failures, with hopes that NI Protocol Aid 2022 could result in an upturn in fortunes for both bands.

When asked if any other acts were likely to be involved in the event, Mr Primrose said “Yes, we’re very excited to announce Loyalist Singer/Songwriter, Jamie Bryson, will be on first. He’ll probably take the 1.30pm-2pm slot, so I’d suggest showing up around 2.15pm. Though technically he’s not meant to have any other income, so if you could keep his appearance on the down low. Other than that we’re struggling to get many other acts.”

The venue is yet to be decided and has thrown up logistical issues given the current lack of telephone boxes in the Belfast area.

At least 10% of the money raised will be donated to the 4 businesses who have suffered under the N.I. Protocol.

Michelle O’Neill, Leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland was asked what she thought of the proposal.

“Sure they’ve f**k all else to do with themselves haven’t they? Quitting on Stormont when they know there’s always a mid-term party during February. Just because them feckers don’t drink they’re going to ruin it for the rest of us. They can stick their concert up their arses, though I have to admit ‘The Protocol is no good at all’ by the Leaders of Unionism is a catchy tune”.

MJS

Unionists eager for world to end

Unionist political parties united yesterday to demand that the NI assembly at Stormont pushes forward in assisting an earlier end to the world than required.

Voting on an amendment tabled by the Green Party NI (now referring to themselves as GPNI in case Jim Allister thinks Green Party refers to Nationalism or Catholicism) committing to net zero emissions by 2050, Unionists rejected the need – and internationally accepted agreement – to halt the deterioration of our world and environment.

The target date – which is extremely conservative compared to the targets of many other nations – was seen as pointless by the Unionist parties in the assembly. The members of the UUP, DUP and TUV agreed with each other that the environment wasn’t really a big deal.

A spokesperson for the DUP – who wished to remain anonymous – said “What even is the environment? There are loads of trees about and why would anybody complain about the world temperature increasing? Sure we always complain Northern Ireland is freezing. Just imagine lying on a beach in your speedos at Millisle in 30°C heat. It’d be paradise. We’d never have to go abroad again”.

Jim Allister of the TUV when asked to comment grumbled something incoherent about Sinn Fein/IRA.

The target date is set to proceed after votes of support for the amendment from Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and the Greens. (Not the nationalists, Jim.)

The once liberal UUP led by ex-progressive, Doug Beattie doubled down on the stance of the DUP.

Their leader, Doug Beattie, fresh from deciding he isn’t a misogynist anymore said “Listen, who cares if the world burns. Think of the tan.” He laughed. “Think of all the women in bikin.. men and women in bikin… eh.. just think of the sunshine. This is nothing to do with trying to win over some of the hardline unionist votes. Future generations can look after themselves.”

He continued “Sure we’ll probably be living on the moon by 2050 anyway. Probably be some of us married to aliens and all by then, living in spaceships. I’d just like to state I’ve nothing against aliens by the way, and I realise anything I said about them in the past is completely wrong.”

Nationalists were dismayed again by Unionist failure to read the room. Sinn Fein leader, Michelle O’Neill condemned them in no uncertain terms.

“Shower of sh*tes so they are. Sure why don’t we just set the world on fire you gormless ‘oul eejits. This just shows that Sinn Fein are like really hip and cool and left wing. Sure we’ve let fox hunting continue, but with this vote we’ve probably saved at least 10 polar bears and up to 40 penguins. I’m sure wee Greta Thurnberg would be f**king raging with these eejits”.

Working towards the target is due to begin in the near future with an exasperated Green Party NI statement saying that ‘contrary to comments on social media, there will be no policy of mandatory veganism, and people will still be allowed to drive cars’.”

Sinn Fein consider returning salaries

Sinn Fein Leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, suggested that her party may consider returning all of their MLA salaries for the past 6 months.

When asked why this was being considered, Ms. O’Neill spoke about the difficulties within both main Unionist parties.

“Without suggesting that our team of MLAs are not ready to work, or up to the work, it feels like the salary is unearned.” She continued.

“Given the troubles Jeffrey Donaldson has had with his double jobbing request, and just a shambles of a party really, it doesn’t feel like we have political opponents right now. When they screw everything up for themselves, we’ll just let them tear away. To put it bluntly, we’ve really been doing fuck all squared.”

“We’ve had a couple of students in releasing a few half hearted statements, but really what’s the point? If we say or do too much we’ll end up making a mess of something like the Unionists have done.”

“Even the big puppy dog, Doug Beattie of the UUP, turns out he’s a misogynist and a racist. Who knew. Just shows, you can like a man’s beard, but still think he’s a gobshite. The only positive for him is his leadership lasted longer than Edwin Poots.”

“Lucky in some ways I guess – even Sinn Fein being Anti-Fox Hunting in the 26 counties and voting to retain fox-hunting in the 6 counties barely registered. Even when we’re shit, we’ll never be as bad as the Unionists.”

Sinn Fein say they have made no concrete decision on the matter and will vote on the issue at a meeting of their Northern Ireland leadership by the end of the week.

Some comments from other Sinn Fein reps have suggested other options have been considered with the funds, including a huge ‘political training event’ for all Sinn Fein members – to take place in Ibiza.

Also under consideration is to commission an artist to create a huge 40 foot bronze statue of Gerry Adams, which would replace the ‘balls on the falls’ at Broadway roundabout. Sources though say the cost of security for the statue may prove prohibitive.”

When questioned on whether they would consider something similar an SDLP spokesman said they are not currently considering to return any salaries.

“There is a cost of living crisis. In the Stormont canteen the price of fresh cream buns has increased from £1.10 to £1.90 within the last 2 months. In such uncertain times it would be negligent of us to expect our MLA team to absorb these additional costs. They added “We don’t all get to have £500 a seat fundraising dinners with business leaders”.

Other parties at Stormont were unavailable to officially comment though two Unionist MLAs – who wished to remain anonymous – said they would be suggesting the ‘saying nothing is the best policy’ to their respective parties at the earliest opportunity. One of who said “If only we’d heard about this policy before now we ‘d have saved a whole lot of bother…”.

MJS

Republican Rioters Claim They Weren’t Told Furlough Had Ended

There were remarkable scenes at Lanark Way last night when an open net opportunity to riot was apparently rejected by confused rioters.

A loyalist protest was arranged in opposition to the N.I. Protocol, to take place in West Belfast. In an entirely unfortunate coincidence, this also happens to be the site of a large and historically hostile peace wall between two divided communities.

Incredibly this open invitation for a good ‘oul recreational riot was turned down by rioters on the Republican side. Having been questioned on their non-appearance it seems to bizarrely have been as a result of the Furlough scheme ending.

When asked why they had not shown up as expected veteran member of the Springfield Giants Rioting Squad, Jimmy McDuffy, blamed the Northern Ireland executive.

“I’m angry as a bear after Goldilocks has visited, fuck sake. Nobody told us furlough had ended. We’ve had a pile of riots we’ve missed out on because of a lack of information coming from Stormont. It’s time for our political representatives to explain themselves.

Why go out rioting when you can sit at home and get 80% of your pay anyway? By the time you get the taxi up and home, and get a chinese afterwards, you’re talking the guts of 30 quid. But if I had have known the Loyalists were busting for a firework fight I’d have been there in an instant. In a funny way, I miss them. It’s them I feel sorry for actually, especially these cold nights.”

Nobody within the Stormont executive was willing to respond to requests for comment on the matter at time of printing. Though Jimmy McDuffy has stated he plans to start a campaign to bring furlough back in, at least until the nights are brighter and the better weather comes in.

Loyalist sympathy

When told about Jimmy McDuffy’s claims of not knowing about the end of Furlough, his opposite number sympathised. Sammy Orchard from the Shankill Devils Riot Collective.

“I know where he’s coming from, I didnt know it had ended either at first. Jim Allister had been on the phone about getting the lads back out to work. He told me furlough had ended but I didn’t believe him. As the saying around here goes ‘There’s only one thing full of more sh*te than a communal toilet, and that’s Jim Allister’. How could anybody trust that big red face anyway.

So anyway, off he went and 20 minutes later I’d Jamie Bryson on the phone about it. Now Jamie is a man of great integrity and intelligence, so that’s when I knew it must have ended.

I still couldn’t believe it when the Springfield boys didn’t show up, but that furlough thing explains it. I sympathise with them, but the Belfast Riot Commission will have this down as a win for us, since they didn’t show up. Nothing I can do about that”.

Community Workers

Local community workers were also left confused and upset about the incident. They had expected to be out to be seen preventing young rioters from attacking from the Republican side, but it didn’t happen.

Local community worker Seamus McHardy seen both the pros and the cons of the riot not taking place.

“Usually we try stop them – not that it ever works like. Tonight though makes it look like we’ve achieved something so I guess that’s good in a funny way. I wish I had’ve known in advance though because it is absolutely freezing and my wife said she’s going to watch the next episode of Squid Game and won’t wait on me getting home. Pissed off doesn’t cover it.”

It’s yet to be seen whether the incident and the end of furlough will mean a return to the streets for the Sprinfield Giants Riot Group, though an appeal is expected to be made against the Win being granted to the loyalist side.

If the S.G.R.G. decide to focus their efforts on re-implementing furlough, then it could be a long and lonely winter for the Shankill Devils. Left to their own devices and with only police to riot with, the sadness was palpable.

“Everybody knows the PSNI are the wooping boys of the riot scene.” Said Sammy Orchard. “They’re just lucky there’s no relegation, or they’d be fucked. For the sake of the sport we need the Springfield Giants back on the streets”

The community and fans of watching riots on the news will wait with baited breath to see if the invitation will be accepted.

As always we will keep you updated with any exclusive news, as soon as we think of it.

MJS

NI Centenary 2021: Officially the shittest thing anybody has ever celebrated

Well, Congratulations Northern Ireland. We made it to the big 1-0-0. 100 years old. Party Time!

Is this the milestone that gets you invited to Buckingham Palace for a few pints and a scone, or is this the milestone the Queen just sends you an ‘oul shitty letter?

Either way, who knew, I mean seriously holy sh*t. We are the State equivalent of an addict with a life long heroine, coke and alcohol habit slowly destroying ourselves internally – only we’ve combined this with an effortless ability to acquire bomb making materials.

The only question is what do we celebrate first?

I know, I know, it’s obviously that time we beat Spain at football 40 years ago, or maybe that time we beat the English at Windsor Park, when it was still called Windsor Park.

So let’s do something a bit different from the standard 10 Greatest Northern Irish Achievements list. Otherwise I’ll just call this page The News Letter. Let’s do the…

5 Things Not To Mention During The Centenary Celebration 2021:

The Orange Order/Marching Season

Yep, I went there. I can already sense the faint smell of aggressive online abuse coming my way, but hey-ho. Also I know this isn’t only in N. Ireland, but that’s where its focus is, so let’s not be pedantic.

What in the name of holy shit is the Orange Order all about? It’s a lot of marching about in formal dress with drums that are unnecessarily big, and those big awkward looking flags with pictures of events that only your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great Granny and Granda would have been alive for.

It doesn’t exactly scream 21st Century, does it? If it was a bunch of older fellas marching about commemorating a battle from 400 odd years ago, I’d understand a little bit.

But what is the craic with the young ones taking part? It’s like some parallel dimension found only in N. Ireland, where the kids who are in the marching band are the cool ones.

Listen I get the ‘event’ of the whole thing, I really do…

Have it outside in July, it’s gonna be hot(ish) – I’m on board!

Call it a public holiday and give (almost) everyone a day or 2 off work – Don’t mind if I do. Gracias mi Orange amigos.

Make it socially acceptable to get pished in a big field – I’m in!

Have a midnight pre-party where we throw a load of stuff into a big pile and set it off in one giant fire – Yes! Actually, I think we might be best friends soon.

Stand around for hours watching marching bands walking along the road who are dressed like a cross between a soldier and a bus conductor – F*ck it, I’m out.

Come on ffs. Let’s bring it into the modern era! What about a samba band, or a DJ or something? Why not have a celebrity bare knuckled boxing match between King Billy and King James? Give us something to spice it up, please.

Maybe if the local nationalist residents who object to a parade from time to time knew they were going to get a DJ Shadow remix of The Sash, they might be more likely to let the marches pass by.

Aside from the whole weirdness, if a group of band nerds is going to march close to your house early on a saturday morning – Fucking let them.

Go about your day, take the kids to football, sleep away your hangover, go get a fry, or go watch the band nerds.

The day that people stop giving a shit about these parades is the day that all the hangers-on decide to lie in bed instead of traipsing down the road after the parades. When all these loonytoons piss off, then the years ahead will mean the only people parading will be a bunch of old, religious bus conductors that you see once a year.

It also astonishes me how the residents objecting to the marches have an encyclopedic knowledge of Orange/Protestant/Unionist music.

Segregation

Yee-haw, welcome to Jim Crow era U-S-oh, it’s actually Norn Iron. Yep that’s right, in 2021 we are operating a policy of housing and schooling segregation.

We love to keep a good old-style tradition going. So as of right now we have significant areas of housing that are separated between what are dispairingly called ‘catholic areas’ and ‘protestant areas’.

In many, many places (more than before the Good Friday Agreement was signed) we have huge brick or steel ‘Peace Walls’ (laugh out loud moment). We also make use of business parks, abandoned buildings and wastelands of unused space to separate our 2 communities. Enough to bring a tear to the eye, but wait…

WE SEGREGATE OUR CHILDREN TOO! We have Catholic Schools and Protestant schools. Yep, seriously. As the bible famously doesn’t say ‘Our children shalt never meet children not of our kin, lest they be tainted’.

There is a smattering of integrated schools too. These schools only educate around 6 – 7% of our children, despite overwhelming public support to integrate our schools. So most people want integrated education, but it’s not implemented. Welcome to our special brand of NI Democracy.

Even more grotesque is our ‘shared education’ sham where catholic and protestant children share the same school campus (and play areas) but do not freely mix.

So kids in Northern Ireland go to school – in the main – only with children from their own religious background. Then go home to their houses in areas that are almost exclusively filled by people from their own religious background.

Is it any f**king wonder this country is such a shambles?

If those who ran this country genuinely wanted to reconcile the ‘two communities’ (which is an utter nonsense of a phrase) they would aggressively and pro-actively implement an integrated schools and housing policy.

Top Secret Fact: Now whisper this, but it could be suggested that our Politicians don’t want integration, because they depend on division for votes. Sshh! Wink Wink Nudge, say no more.

DUP/Sinn Fein

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls I give you Sinn Fein and the DUP – The two biggest parties in Northern Ireland! (APPLAUSE!)

One of these political parties continue to commemorate those who murdered and killed innocent people for 35ish years, and the other lot support those brought to trial for murder, and want a law passed preventing ex-armed forces members accused of murder to be brought to trial.

Both are particularly loyal to those from ‘their’ side who carried out murders here, but carry a particularly pure form of hatred towards murderers from ‘the other side.’ This is called hypocrisy, friends.

Seriously, these are the 2 biggest parties in the assembly. These people run our government. How does that make you feel inside? I hope you’re angry.

Actually think about it some more.

In one corner we have the Marriage equality hating, gay conversion therapy supporting, Loyalist terrorist ambivalent, the earth is 15 minutes old absolute moonbeams of the D.U.P.

In the other corner we have the ‘socialist’ Let’s rubber stamp civil service redundancies, sell off public land, produce a Catholics v. Protestant election leaflet, refuse to light up city hall for unionist celebration, kingsmill anniversary loaf on the head PR masters of Sinn Fein.

If these 2 parties were written into a film the critics would call it unbelievable. Slapstick. Like a carry on film with lots of sectarianism and populism thrown in.

Well Done Northern Ireland for continuing to vote for these muppets in such consistently high numbers. If voting for them was some sort of piss take then I’m here to tell you the joke is old. Really old.

Murals and Flags

Piggybacking on our Segregated housing section is flags and murals.

Flags are extremely important to many people in Northern Ireland. Do not mess with their 5ft x 3ft piece of coloured cloth. These mass produced items are absolutely precious.

Flags also ensure that it is clear whether your area is a catholic/protestant one, and to signify that no catholic/protestant (delete as applicable) should ever consider living here. Often when new housing areas are built then people will come and fly flags around the area to ‘claim’ it as ‘theirs’. Much the same way dogs piss on trees and claim them.

The agreed etiquette is that they should be on as many lamp posts as possible. Please also note that the next street to yours will take the piss out of you if your street doesn’t have as many flags as theirs.

There was once a quaint little tradition – that may still operate in some areas – that meant if you didn’t have a flag flying from your house then the boys with woolly faces would come round and politely ask you to put one up. If flags weren’t really your thing, then they would ask for a little financial donation to ease their troubled hearts over your anti-patriotic front garden.

Murals. Well, what really can you say about these. Admittedly there are some murals in Northern Ireland showing images of our history. They’re pretty amazing.

But lets be honest, our most famous ones are the ones with balaclavas and guns. Now, Republicans have a tiny flickering light bulb in their head and their most outwardly public murals normally portray their heroes with long flowing hair and a half smile showing the good nature of Republican gunmen. This is good when the tourists come calling. If you want the real AKs and balaclava murals normally you have to travel deeper into housing estates, where they probably think no tourists are likely to end up.

Loyalists on the other hand couldn’t give a flying fiddlers. They’re happy to portray themselves as skeleton-headed gun-toting maniacs for anybody who wants a look.

They try to show their soulful side sometimes – ‘Prepared for Peace. Ready for War’. Reading between the lines though most of us see ‘Prepared for EU Peace Money. Ready to build a criminal enterprise, mainly around drug dealing.

Needless to say the majority of the flags, murals, kerbs painted are insecure territory marking. This is obviously linked to the segregated housing mentioned earlier.

So, how exactly are people allowed to fly flags supporting terrorist organisations? Who was it gave the OK for terrorist organisations to be glorified on the side of a gable end house?

Why is there no talk of removing all this shit? Because… … come on…. you can get it… Yes! That’s it! Because this is Northern Ireland were painting the face of terrorists on the side of houses is the done thing. Of course that is totally 100% normal. Totally.

So yeah, anyway, let’s keep the whole marked out territory thing out of the Centenary discussion.

The Troubles

So I was trying my best to ignore this part, but it turns out that’s impossible. So ignoring the whole bloodshed that took place before our modern day ‘troubles’ – we shouldn’t mention the troubles. It’ll put a real dampener on the 100 year birthday party we’re going to have.

For nearly 30 years, Loyalists, Republicans and the security forces murdered people. Some have more responsibility than others for the deaths but whatever background you were from, you were a legitimate target for somebody. Bloody Sunday, Shankill Bomb, Greysteel, Kingsmill, Collusion, Omagh. Murders.

What has any of it achieved for anyone? What does the sh*te our Politicians still go on about achieve for anyone?

Thousands of people died over which colour of coloured cloth flies over government buildings.

100 year celebration? Celebrating what?

MJS

‘Leaders of Unionism’ announce U.K. Tour

Classic political rock band ‘The Leaders of Unionism’ delighted their followers by announcing the band (feel free to insert rabble) are getting back together.

They met up earlier to get some publicity shots done and announce their upcoming tour. The intern reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, Isla Geetarz, interviewed the guys though admitted after that maybe she was too young to understand who the band were.

“Yeah, they kept talking about Sea Borders and Protocols” she said “Maybe it was the name of their new album, I’m not sure. I did say their band seemed very old-male heavy and asked them if they ever thought of getting a female vocalist into the group, but they just all went quiet.”

“The posh looking one, Jeffrey I think, told me he’d a signed picture of Queen, I asked ‘Freddie Mercury?’ but he said no, it was the actual queen”.

So far the Tour is likely to be quite limited, mainly due to nobody wanting to pay money to hear the same ‘oul shite we heard 40 years ago. ‘The Leaders of Unionism’ are set to go ahead with it anyway.

Some have suggested the group have only reformed due to the abject failure of lead singer Jeffrey’s solo career.

The band have confirmed two venues so far. “Just Westminster and Stormont probably, and maybe Jeffrey’s house. He says he’s a signed picture of the Queen, but I’ve a tenner on that he’s yanking our chain” said Doug ‘Chords’ Beattie. A spokesperson for the band later confirmed they had no gigs planned in Dublin or the surrounding areas.

Asked to describe their sound or influences, Jim Allister said ‘A mix of old school Paisley, old school blackboard being scraped, and ABBA.”

When asked why they’d split up and went their separate ways in the first place the band were evasive. “Now, now that’s all water under the Boyne Bridge now” laughed Jeffrey ‘Poshboy’ Donaldson. “The most important thing is Opposing the protocol. It’s going to be our best and most important work yet. There couldn’t possibly be anything that comes between us this time”.

“I’ve actually suggested an alternative to the…”

“Sshhhh” said the other three in unison when Doug Beattie went to speak.

“I totally agree with Jeremy”. Said Billy ‘Surprised to be here’ Hutchinson.

He went on to admit the call to involve him came at the last minute “Yeah so Jeff told me he needed to make the numbers up to 4 because Jim Allister thinks odd numbers are a Sinn Fein/IRA conspiracy. Everyone thinks the PUP don’t really exist anymore, but we do. Besides, who’s going to do security at the street protests at our gigs if I’m left out. I know all the hard lads, well, the ones that aren’t about to do some serious time. Really I’m just glad to be on the TV again.”

The band’s reunion has not been met with universal approval. Michelle O’Neill, lead vocalist of Prog Rock band, Sinn Fein, said “What a bunch of dicks. We’ll sit back with our feet up and let them tear each other apart on stage. There’s already rumours of arguments between Doug, Jeffrey and Jim over lead vocals. Doug thinks it should be him because he got most likes on Facebook, and Jim Allister thinks it should be him because he has the loudest voice and reddest face. Jeffrey just assumes it’ll be him because he’s the poshest.”

Whatever the outcome the tour is likely to cause controversy given their set list with fan favourites such as ‘We have the right to petrol shortages too’, ‘Fuck the Sea Border’ and their cover of ‘Bad Habits’ by Ed Sheeran.

MJS

The Simplicity of Democracy: The Irish Border

Northern Ireland is once again gripped by border mania. The recent poll in relation to the constitutional preferences of people in Northern Ireland provided the predictable outcome of around 50% wanting to remain with the union with Britain, and 42% wanting a United Ireland.

It’s been suggested that Sinn Fein polling extremely well in the North and the South has complicated the situation, in that it would suggest an overwhelming majority across the entire Island would support Irish Unity. That’s not how it works though. The political reality is that Ireland is divided and Northern Ireland is a different entity to the Republic of Ireland.

So, why is that simple point, and the majority of people here supporting to remain within the United Kingdom not enough for our Politicians? Northern Ireland is in the midst of a pandemic, a housing crisis and a Universal credit crisis. That’s before we even mention ongoing sectarianism, and unpunished racist attacks. So why the focus on the border?

Oxygen of Sectarianism

The sad reality is that it doesn’t benefit our politicians to reconcile or compromise with each other. If your identifying feature as a political party is that you are either Unionist or Nationalist then your overarching focus is going to be on the Nationalist/Unionist agenda. If voters focus on other issues then their votes are up for grabs – to any party that can match voter’s views.

Ultimately that is the reason behind the perma-crisis Northern Ireland finds itself in year after year. The leaders of Unionism and Nationalism create an ever present fear of some impending catastrophic constitutional change, when really right now, that is nowhere near on the cards.

Unionism appears as extremely insecure about the Union despite the fact that, at the minute, they have a clear majority in favour of maintaining it. To keep getting their vote out though they need to portray the Union as under threat. This way Unionists will continue to vote for the main unionist parties, even if they disagree with the party’s other policies, like the DUP’s opposition to marriage equality.

Sinn Fein on the other hand bluff along on a potential United Ireland, as if they’re holding four aces and Ireland will be United by Tuesday. Their real cards are a 2, a 7, a Jack and a tesco voucher. Right now, a United Ireland isn’t happening. They need to con their supporters, and those within their movement who gave up ‘the struggle’ for freedom, or there will be plenty of smaller Republican parties willing to take those votes or ‘activists’ off their hands.

This sectarian Them v. Us, Ireland v. Britain, Catholics v. Protestants suits their agenda. It is a manufactured crisis concocted in cahoots between Sinn Fein and the DUP (and played along with others). It is the political equivalent of price fixing. We’ll be your bogeyman, if you’ll be ours.

Accept Democracy

Northern Ireland politics was angry and polarised, before it became fashionable. The relief and joy that should have met the signing of the Good Friday Agreement did not have a chance to take hold. The agreement was under attack as soon as the deal was complete. Those main Unionist/Nationalist leaders quickly realised sectarian division was good for voting patterns.

Taking a step back from the recent, pointless border poll arguments, it is clear that the Good Friday Agreement has always, and still does, clearly set out the situation regarding a United Ireland.

The Secretary of State can call a referendum on a United Ireland if it appears a clear majority would support Irish Unity.

It is democracy at its simplest. When/if most people in N. Ireland want a United Ireland, then the mechanisms will be put in place to allow it to happen. However, instead of accepting this and focusing on resolving the issues that people face every day of their lives, our local politicians approach life like the Border question is the only question.

What next?

Going forward the simplest thing to do is to confidentally accept the principle of consent. Yet this is the least likely thing to happen.

Some might say Nationalists will simply sit contentedly and wait until they outbreed unionism. Their growing demographic will turn the issue into an inevitable sectarian head count. This though would be a rejection of democracy, dressed up as a rejection of sectarianism. I am yet to hear any nationalist say “Me and my partner are going to have a couple more kids, you know, 2 more votes for a United Ireland”.

The mature route now would be for Nationalist/Unionist parties to work effectively to create the best conditions possible for all people in N. Ireland. The ironic thing is that their best chance of winning a future border poll is to work as hard as possible for their (current) political enemies.

Unionism needs to show it is willing to share power, create better lives for everybody in N. Ireland and – let’s be honest – drag some of it’s policies into the 21st Century. If they can do this they can take some of the heat out of the emotion behind the misty-eyed view of a United Ireland. This could be enough to convince moderate or wavering Nationalists to vote for Unionism, if they feel the quality of life within the U.K would be better than within a United Ireland. Giving support to the previously agreed, but not yet implemented, Irish Language Act would be an important first step for a more welcoming form of Unionism.

Sinn Fein’s position is currently the losing one, so they have harder work to complete. In this they have not helped themselves by continuing a narrative of Catholics v. Protestants. It has not slipped everybody’s mind about the Sinn Fein electoral leaflets in North Belfast from a few years back that showed a bar chart of Catholics V Protestants in that electoral area. The blatant sectarianism was astonishing. By the time they had changed the leaflet to Nationalists v. Unionists, they had blamed Royal Mail for the error, before ultimately finding an internal scapegoat after the Royal Mail claim was ridiculed. This shouldn’t really need to be said but memorials and glorification of IRA men – who murdered and bombed protestant civilians (and others) – have to come to an end.

If you would be upset by people celebrating the Paratroopers who murdered innocent people on Bloody Sunday, then you cant think celebrating and commemorating the organisation that carried out the Kingsmill Massacre is acceptable.

Sinn Fein’s problem is that in some ways they are still trying to ride two horses at the same time. They need to come across as concerned and statesmanlike which polls better in the Republic of Ireland, but also revolutionary and on the cusp of ending partition to voters in the North.

It’s simple.

The Good Friday Agreement was agreed by the majority of people in N. Ireland. It was on the basis of an agreed coalition of previously political enemies. Though certainly ingraining a Unionist v Nationalist into the very fabric of the political system was arguably flawed, this is what democracy gave us.

This is therefore what we must work with. The people of Northern Ireland didn’t vote for the agreement thinking it would lead to 20+ years of arguing over the border. The agreement was meant to put the border issue to bed, and it does.

We are a (almost) post conflict society and understandably there will be tension, disagreement and some anger. We all need to realise though, it is ok to disagree. If somebody believes in maintaining the Union with Britain it doesn’t mean they are old style unionist ogres waiting to put catholics in their place.

Just the same as people who want a United Ireland are not protestant-hating Republicans who cant wait to get their own back on Unionists in a United Ireland.

It really is a simple matter of accepting the democratic wishes of the people here. It’s so difficult because Unionism and Nationalism are obsessed by the border. Other issues are just decoration used to give the appearance of proper politics.

Jeffrey Donaldson’s request that DUP, UUP and TUV should take part in electoral pacts show their differences don’t matter. All that matters is the Union with Britain. Personally I can’t see the UUP taking part in this, but stranger things have happened. Parties should beware though – Entering a pact with parties that are anti-marriage equality, and are otherwise backward in their social and political views, then you are validating and condoning that position by joining them. Beware the backlash.

As political parties and as a people we must tear away this obsession with the border. Let’s start by tearing down peace walls, encouraging integrated education, and forget the border for now. Truly, really 100% there are more important things in life.

MJS