Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

Pure Mule Weekend- A short Story

August 12, 2008

Friday

It was a fierce hot day in July and the work had worked up a right aul drouth on the pair of us. Myself and the other fella John had been under the Irish sun all day and were right and tired as well as sunburnt. Although that might sound laughable, with this global warming and what not, people do say that the sun is hotter and more dangerous these days. I don’t know shite but certainly this day I got a fair aul burning working out in the bog.

By six in the evening it was time to pack up and head for a pint. We fired the tools in the back of the van and headed for the nearest watering hole. This drinking establishment was the refuge of the working – man, the country farmer, the husband out for a sneaky pint to get a few minutes peace from the wife and the local teenagers who are in a hurry to grow up. Anyway, the pints of black porter with creamy yellowy heads were set upon the mahogany and it was only then after that first sip that we realised the weekend had begun.

 

“Decorate the mahogany”, I shouted at the young lassie behind the bar. Fair play to her, she dutifully carried down the beverages we required without hesitation. I do feel sorry for those poor craters working in bars and listening to the likes of myself shouting abuse and acting the cod on the other side of the counter. But sure that’s what they get paid for I suppose.  It wasn’t long until the pub began to fill up and the evening was getting on a bit too. I was in two minds to go on home after a loch of innocent enough pints or nip over to the house, get changed into the glad rags and head into town for an all out session. It was a tough call. I decided to make my decision after one more pint of which was going down very easy. In consultation with my work colleagues we decided to do the honourable thing and spread our wealth among the valued vintners of the town.

 

Being fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the pub I gainfully strolled home where I was greeted by my doting mother, who naturally enough had the spuds boiled and waiting on me. I had the dinner in me in no time and ran up the stairs for a bit of a shower, shave and to red the pipes. It was 10 o’ clock by this stage and time to make a move. I told the ma I’d see her in the morning. “No bother son” she replied. I bolted out the door like a greyhound out of the trap. Got myself a taxi into town and met the lads who were already there waiting on me.

 

On these little adventures into town the only objective was to blank out the monotony of the previous five working days and give the weekend a kick-start. I’m not much of a philosopher but I don’t think the majority of lads who get drunk at weekends actually think about why they get drunk. They just do.

 

There we were in The Shamrock bar and sure the slagging and the craic had already started as I was approaching the lads. ‘Get a round in there you miserable cunt before you sit down’ was roared at me by Paddy. Paddy I could safely say would be the ‘leader’ of the group, not exactly the sharpest tool in the box but not a bad fella all the same. As I approached the bar the young barmaid whom we have sort of gotten to know over the past few months handed me the drinks and a smile to go with them. It was the kind of smile that would make me feel good about myself as if I was worth something. The smile of a passing beauty that so seldom happens but when it does it gives you a warmth so deeply personal you can’t explain.

 

The night continued as you’d expect with a rake of pints and as I wasn’t in the mood to go with the rest of the eejits. I just got myself a curry and a taxi home courtesy of ‘Mr.T’ the Nigerian refugee turned hackney that so patiently returns the drunks of Monaghan to their beds.

 

Saturday

 

 The Saturday I would consider as the best day of the week. It can be the best day because you know that you will have Sunday to recover from whatever shennanigans may proceed. I got up about 10.00 am and had a fry that me Ma had made. For those unaccustomed as to what a fry might mean, it’s basically a cooked breakfast containing a lot lot of pig and swallowed down with a dose of tea.

After the grub I didn’t do a whole pile bar a few odd jobs about the house and getting a few messages for the mother who since having a bit of a tip in the car is too afraid to go into town by herself anymore.

It was the weekend of the All-Ireland Qualifiers and somehow Monaghan had made it into the quarter finals. The whole county was on a high and I have to admit for once I had some sort of pride in where I came from. How fifteen biys kicking a ball of inflated leather around a field can instill a sense of personal belonging and meaning to one’s life I can’t explain. It just does.

I made my way into town to make sure I got a good seat in the pub to watch the game. Well- That’s what I told my mother. More to the point I was gagging for a pint. I met the usual heads and it wasn’t long until the rounds were started. The match ebbed and flowed in an epic David and Goliath type contest. The Monaghan minnows against the might of Kerry. This time however the giant conquered and the contender was vanquished. There was no David sling with which Monaghan could hurl at Kerry.

Despite the loss the Craic continued and we carried on into the night still proud and specualting on the ifs and buts.

I don’t remember much about the tail end of the night as it was drenched in a hazy cloud of inebriation.

 

Sunday

 One of the rituals of rural Ireland that is still hanging on by a thin thread is the Sunday mass. Regardless of what sort of a sham you made of yourself the night before if the auld doll is still the ‘Bean an Ti’ she’ll have you up and out the door to get your weekly dose of communion. Sunday mass for me is usually a time for piecing together the events of the night before while I look around the chapel and see faces that provide me with flashbacks. My mind wanders and thinks; was I talking to Fintan Duffy last night or did I dream that? Did I organise a camping trip with John Murphy whom I haven’t met since we were in primary school?

Mass is the reality check needed after a week of monotony and mind numbing work and a weekend of excessive behavioural expression.

The sweats and shakes continue until the Sunday roast is dutifully eaten. That Sunday as I lay on the sofa after having my dinner I thought about my life. I thought about many things. I drifted off and imagined myslef doing something I had always wanted to do but never did. I imagined the achievements I was capable of and I hoped that somehow I would make things different.

 

Yes, Sunday was the day to take stock and ask yourself why do I do the same aul carry on week in, week out? I went to bed that evening contemplating these thoughts. I went to bed with the knowledge that I could do something better with my life. I knew I was stuck in a rut. I knew I was wasting my life. I knew I was a loser. I went to bed that night knowing I would get up in the morning to go to the work I loathe so much and my week will proceed exactly like the ones before and the ones to come. I went to bed knowing nothing will change.

 

 

Let the People Sing

June 13, 2008

‘Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle merite’ (Joseph de Maistre, 1811) or ‘Every country has the government it deserves’ is a well worn adage. The dishonesty, corruption and venality of politicians is an age old complaint. Who is responsible for this skullduggery? The quote seems to lay the blame squarely on the populus for they are the ones who elect the cretins in the first place- but as we all know- you shouldn’t generalise.

 As the counts come in it looks almost certain that the Lisbon Treaty will be rejected by the Irish people. Despite being outspent by 20 to 1 the people in the No campaign are in a victorious mood this balmy June afternoon.

The misinformation and bullying of the Yes camp has been defeated by a superior force- The intelliegence of the Irish electorate. The Irish people did not bow down to the arrogance of their political leaders who once again showed utter contempt for their electorate. Charlie Mc Creevy and Bertie Ahern joked, that you would have to be mad to even read the incomprehensible treaty and even madder again to vote against it, without explaining why. The ‘just take our word for it’ approach by almost all the spineless major political parties was rightly rejected by the voters.

I must say how proud I am to be Irish this afternoon as I felt the weight of a conscientious Europe being lifted off my shoulders. I know it is not the end but it is a small victory for those in Europe who want a better world system. No doubt we can look forward to other sinister ammendments ahead but at least for the moment we can enjoy a little taste of democratic justice.

There were many videos debating the Lisbon Treaty- this one I found particularly funny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgRLs4_1KI0&feature=related

John Lennon and the IRA

June 8, 2008

The FBI files on Lennon’s Irish political links

In February 2000, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released files that indicated that they had investigated links between Lennon and New York-based Irish Republican activists in the 1970s. These are part of a 300-page Lennon file which the FBI had resisted releasing since his murder in December 1980. Altogether, 80 pages were released after a court settlement with Professor Jon Wiener, a California-based Lennon biographer and author of Come Together: John Lennon in His Time (Univ. of Illinois Press, 1984). Wiener said that the files include “the first solid evidence” that the FBI had an interest in Lennon’s involvement in Irish issues, as prior to that he had not been aware of the FBI’s connecting Irish Republican activists to Lennon in New York. It goes without saying that both MI5 and MI6 would have also had an interest in Lennon and his political activities, and would have shared information with the FBI and the CIA in this regard. In fact, Wiener says a further 10 documents still held by the FBI were “almost definitely” compiled with the help of MI5. The FBI claims that these 10 files are “national security documents” which originated with “a foreign government” (i.e. Britain). Wiener thinks that this probably has something to do with surveillance of Lennon’s political activities in the UK as well as his arrest for possession of cannabis in 1968.

Lennon had got involved in Irish politics before Bloody Sunday in January 1972. He supported activists protesting against the policy of internment without trial, which was launched by the British army on 9th August 1971, and resulted in 342 people being arrested without charge in brutal dawn raids that netted very few IRA members, but for example led to the detainment of several members of the civil rights movement. The net was cast so wide and recklessly that within 48 hours 116 people had been released. However, 14 were “selected” by the British army and the R.U.C. to undergo a series of “experiments” in sensory deprivation and other forms of torture. It resulted in Britain being found guilty of using torture by the European Court of Human Rights for the second time – the only country in Europe which has this distinction (the other occasion was the torture of Greek Cypriot resistance fighters in the 1960’s). Internment and the massacre at Bloody Sunday were the main reasons for many in the Nationalist community taking the decision to join the IRA and fight back. Lennon appeared at an anti-internment rally in London in August 1971, where he was photographed holding a sign that read: ‘Victory for the IRA against British Imperialism !'” When asked how he reconciled his support for nonviolence with his sympathy for the IRA, Lennon stated:

If it’s a choice between the IRA and the British Army, I’m with the IRA. But if it’s a choice between violence and non-violence, I’m with non-violence. So it’s a very delicate line.”

The FBI files also include an informers account of a meeting on February 6th, 1972, at the Irish Institute on W. 48th Street, New York, just seven days after Bloody Sunday. According to the FBI informer, some of the proposals included procuring weapons for the IRA, whilst another called for the boycott of British goods. But one thing that caught the FBI’s attention was the willingness of Lennon to offer to perform at an “mass demonstration” organised by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The demo however, occurred sooner than expected – next day (February 7th, 1972) in a rally in Manhattan organized by the Transit Workers Union. Lennon joked at the rally how “the police were particularly cooperative as most of them were Irish”. He then said that “The purpose of the meeting was to show solidarity with the people who are going to march tomorrow in Northern Ireland” Referring to his Irish ancestry, Lennon told the crowd, “My name is Lennon and you can guess the rest.” He added that his native Liverpool was “80% Irish.” Then along with Ono he sang “The Luck of the Irish,” which was his second song written in reaction to Bloody Sunday:

At the time of the rally, Lennon was already in contact with the office of Irish Northern Aid, in New York, an organization which raiseD money for the families of IRA prisoners and supports Sinn Féin. Furthermore, he assigned all the royalties from The Luck of the Irish to Irish Northern Aid. Although it has been claimed by the former MI5 spy David Shayler (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/649397.stm for full details)that Lennon secretly funded the IRA at the time, this was denied by Yoko Ono, who was said to be upset by newspaper reports that MI5 allegedly had “proof” that Lennon had given money to the IRA according to The Sunday Times (February 22nd 2000).

The probability is that Lennon did give money away which may have ended up indirectly in the hands of the IRA. Whether he wittingly knew this money would be used in the IRA campaign is a matter for debate. There is no denying that what was happening in Ireland at the time affected Lennon and he was driven to do something about it. The behaviour of the British military establishment was so bad that even a peace activist like Lennon waned on his ideals of non-violence to supporting some form of resistance.

Lisbon Treaty(again)

June 4, 2008

 I really have to reiterate my disliking of the re-hashed European Constitution/Lisbon Treaty. Although we in Ireland have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to vote, many of our European neighbours haven’t had the same right as us.

The Lisbon Treaty Referendum is far from being a shining beacon of democratic exercise- The Yes campaign is backed by almost all of the major political parties bar Sinn Fein and the Socialist Worker’s Party. The Treaty is basically a re-wording of a European Constitution which nobody seems to want anyway. The EU are doing everything in its power to get what it wants.

I have included a very interesting link from Michael Greenwell which I encourage every Irish person to read before this vote on June 12th.

http://michaelgreenwell.wordpress.com/category/eu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisbon Treaty Threats

May 31, 2008

1. Green Party/Environmental Threat

According to John Gormley of “New Green” Party: a  No vote could deal a ‘crushing’ blow to efforts to save the planet.
The Independent says that Mr Gormley will claim that a No vote could ‘derail’ the fight against climate change. I hear you ask-how?

Let me explain: There is only one sentence in the Lisbon Treaty that mentions the environment. It says that combating climate change and global warming are targets of the Union.

It is not exactly a serious or committed statement. Pure lip service is the only way I can describe it.

John Gormley and the Green Party you are a disgrace.

leaders of the Green Party have voiced opposition to the aspects of the EU constitution – now Lisbon Treaty, which greatly increases Ireland’s involvement in the EU as a military bloc as well containing the EUROTOM treaty which gives a huge boost to the proliferation of nuclear power across the EU.

Green Party members for many years have opposed EU integration on the basis of its crippling democratic deficit, its creeping militarisation and worrisome support for the construction of nuclear power stations. 

Party leaders now wish to foolishly corral its members down a dark alley of implicitly supporting, the Lisbon Treaty, and all of the above. 
Green Party senator, Deirdre De Burca on Friday’s ‘Morning Ireland’ tried to justify the political party’s about turn and support for the renamed Constitutional Treaty.

She was a lady who while a county councillor outlined to the Forum for Europe, Green Party opposition to the EU Constitutional Treaty over recent years. She bemoaned the loss of power by national parliaments over important policy areas.

In May 2006, at the Forum for Europe, De Burca spelt out Green Party opposition to EU militarisation, saying “It is clear that the European security and defence policy and the EU battlegroup concept are logical first steps in the development of a fully fledged EU army.”

The Greens opposed the draft Constitutional Treaty in opposition, but now, post- election, and after Bertie appointed her as a senator, the previous policy positions have been forgotten. Not just jettisoned or forgotten, but now actively campaigned against.

2. Europe Threatens

If Ireland vote no we can no longer be part of the European Union.

In an article in Today’s Irish Times Jamie Smyth reports comments made by Herr Leinen.

The German Chair of the powerful Constitutional Affairs Committee of the EP is invoking a ‘duty of loyal co-operation’ which he says means Ireland cannot vote No and expect to stay in the EU regardless. No Irish government has ever told Irish citizens that the treaties we have signed up to previously, which contain an article mentioning a duty of ‘co-operation’, could be interpreted in this way.

This concept known as loyal cooperation also exists in the common foreign and security area – as we can see from Article 11.3 of the proposed EU treaty which similarly expands on the version in present text. The new Article says:

The Member States shall support the Union’s external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union’s action in this area.The Council and the High Representative shall ensure compliance with these principles (How?)

The Member States shall work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. (This is Democratic?)

 

3.”Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”

The government cat-cries have been the same as ever; In other words we must bow submissivley to Europe at every turn and at every cost. As we see from the Greens even at the cost of our core principles and values.

This Treaty has been purposefully made incomprehensible for voters. It is undemocratic and our government’s “information” campaign has like the Nice Treaty before been sinisterly vague and obscure. The government issued literature coming into people’s homes contains absolutely no information to infrorm the voter. It is full of scare mongering language to frighten and bully us into something we don’t have to accept. I would be willing to accept a negotiated treaty.

We don’t have to vote for this Treaty. Don’t be bullied. Vote NO!

Bitter pills to swallow (preferably not prescribed by NHS)

April 21, 2008

Thank goodness there are celebrities out there who can inform me of the injustice there is in the world. If it were not for these keenly up to date media moguls how would anything good ever happen?

It is with the utmost gratitude that I have to thank the ever so talented singer Joss Stone. Little Miss Stone has highlighted the abhorrent treatment of British Servicemen on their return from Her Majesty’s service. In her youthful modern tone of speech she told the Evening Standard newspaper: “I think the way the Government treats our soldiers is really f***** up. They can go to war and fight for our Queen and country but if they get their leg blown off they come back and are dealing with the NHS.”

“I think the NHS is the best thing about this country, but they should have a right to private treatment paid for by the Government.”

Not only is her impassioned speech endearing but it contains no hint of class elitism whatsoever. Does it?

Indeed the NHS is a fantastic service offered to Britons but we all know that private health care is better and who better to give it to then the military men who so deserve it.

Maybe Joss should be made aware that British Army chief Sir Richard Dannett is to launch a £2m a year service for former UDR and RIR soldiers in an effort to help them adjust to civilian life and cope with the legacy of the troubles. It was after all an incredibly difficult task those loyal sons of Ulster had in defending their sectarian statelet. The amount of suffering caused by the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent loss of a Protestant state for a Protestant people will be a pain that even £2m a year will never be enough to ease the trauma.

Who knows maybe Northern Ireland’s ministers can have a whip round for the Billy Boys who so loyally defended ‘their wee province’?

Bob Geldof and Bono could organise a special concert with concerned personalities such as Joss Stone to create awareness as nobody listens to people with credentials anymore.

Our Northern Brethren

April 17, 2008

Once again the manifestation of Ireland’s ills are laid bare in the sporting arena. The old age problem of sectarianism was highlighted in the recent clash between Linfield supporters and members of the Gardai Suiochana. Despite the politicians seemingly manage to get along- some are struggling to keep up with the rapid rate of maturity that their political leaders had for so long been lacking.

The amalgamation of The Ulster Cycling Federation with the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation into Cycling Ulster has been a positive step in the right direction towards eliminating sectarianism and politics in sport in Ulster. It’s a pity the FAI and Northern Ireland FA don’t have (excuse the pun)the balls to (again excuse the terminology) tackle the issues.

The Irish rugby team can play together, why not the soccer team? Too often sport gives a voice to a minority of idiots who want to vent their twisted ideas onto a public stage. My message to them is to grow up. There is no room for sectarianism in sport or indeed society.

Link:ww.independent.ie/sport/soccer/ugly-face-of-football-as-violence-flares-at-crossborder-clash-1349190.html