Thursday, December 27, 2007
Pardon me for smilin' while waving you goodbye".
Banner comes down on momentous year
By Vincent Kearney BBC NI home affairs correspondent
Troops regularly supported police operations It was the year the British army left Northern Ireland - in an operational sense anyway.
After 38 years, the longest continuous campaign in the Army's history ended.
A strong wind blew across the parade ground at the Army's headquarters in Lisburn as the last post sounded on Friday 3 August.
But this was no ordinary parade. A few hundred specially invited guests were there to witness a truly unique ceremony.
The winds of change were also blowing.
This was the official end of Operation Banner, the name given to the Army's support role for the police during the Troubles.
It started when troops arrived during the summer of 1969, when Army commanders expected them to spend a few weeks sorting out a small, local problem.
Looking back at the footage of the soldiers arriving, it was like a scene from a war movie as thousands disembarked from ships in Belfast as the small peace time garrison was reinforced from British army bases all over the world.
Troops and equipment arrived from throughout the United Kingdom, Germany and Africa.
The Army was clearly unprepared - soldiers arrived on the streets of Belfast and Londonderry with bayonets fixed, some of the signs they carried warning rioters to disperse were in Arabic, and many of the troops were issued with flak jackets the Americans had used in Vietnam.
By the height of the Troubles in 1972, there were 27,000 military personnel here, based in more than 100 locations.
The numbers are quite staggering - that's 1,000 more than the number of British soldiers deployed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and more than double the combined Army force in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
In total, more than 300,000 British soldiers served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and for many years it was used as a training ground for the Army's most able officers.
Seven hundred and sixty-three military personnel were killed, and many more injured and maimed.
To put that in perspective, the number of combat deaths suffered by the army in Afghanistan since 2001 is 59, while in the worst year of the Troubles, 1972, the number of deaths was 129.
Thousands of troops arrived on the streets of Northern Ireland in 1969
Soldiers also killed more than 300 people, more than half of them civilians.
Many of the killings were highly controversial and provoked allegations of collusion.
A number of highly secretive military units also operated here during the troubles and they have been accused of working in collaboration with loyalist paramilitaries.
There were very different views about how the Army performed.
In unionist areas, generally speaking, the Army was regarded as a vital bulwark against terrorism, and part of the solution. However, in nationalist areas it was widely regarded as part of the problem.
Today, the Army doesn't have an operational role here.
Soldiers will still train and be based here, but they will be for deployment in trouble spots across the world, not on the streets of Northern Ireland.
The home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, the successor to the UDR, were also disbanded during the summer.
In future, there will be no more than 5,000 troops in Northern Ireland, but that figure will be significantly lower during periods when resident battalions are deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Friday, December 21, 2007
SF councillors accused over stance on policing
By Staff reporter
Sinn Fein councillors are "opposing policing and a lawful society at every turn", according to the chairman of Derry District Policing Partnership, Councillor Shaun Gallagher.
Colr. Gallagher was speaking after Sinn Fein councillors in Strabane were unable to fill their positions on the area’s DPP. Sinn Fein was entitled to five places, but could only find three candidates willing to take seats on the DPP,Colr. Gallagher said: “It is becoming clearer day by day that Sinn Fein rammed their turnaround on policing through the Ard Fheis as the price of a deal with the DUP. It was clearly a forced, top-down decision whi
ch bypassed the consultation process which they demand of everyone else. They did not prepare their grassroots or even their elected representatives..” claimed the SDLP man.“The upshot of their poor preparation in Strabane is that the DUP get handed two extra seats, just as they once handed seats on the Policing Board itself to the DUP. This is a raw deal for nationalist voters at the hands of Sinn Fein.”Sinn Fein MP., Pat Doherty said: “Obviously there is disappointment that our party grouping on Strabane Council did not reach agreement on its full compliment of nominees to the District Policing Partnership at this time. Sinn Féin is fully committed to engaging with all of the policing structures.“I am confident that right across the north we will continue to provide constructive leadership in ensuring accountable policing that serves people in the communities we represent.”
The full article contains 259 words and appears in Journal Friday newspaper.
Last Updated: 12 December 2007 4:05 PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I fully understand the historical and cultural reasons behind not cooperating with the authorities, especially in predominately Nationalist/Republican communities. However, as these communities no longer can go to the IRA to meet out justice, I see that they no longer have much choice but to go to the PSNI. For if this kind of crime is not checked, along with the drug trade, their communities will continue to be unsafe. I don't know of anyone who wishes to live in fear of their possessions being stolen or their children being offered drugs. It's the time to cast off the tags of Grass and Tout. The Police can't do it alone, they need the people to help with information.
'Joyriders' return to crash scene for booze
By Staff reporter
Joyriders who overturned a car in a weekend smash at Ballyarnett later returned to the vehicle to recover a crate of beer.
The occupants of the car narrowly escaped serious injury when the vehicle struck a lamppost and overturned close to Cornshell Fields on Saturday night.A helicopter unit searched nearby fields as it was feared the car’s occupants may have been injured in the smash.A number of eye witnesses reported that, after the car crash, a number of youths scrambled out of the overturned Vauxhall, only to quickly return to recover a number of beer bottles from the wreck.A police spokesman told the Journal: “It is understood the burgundy Vauxhall Astra collided with a bus stop and landed on its roof. “A number of youths were seen running from the vehicle in the direction of Cornshell Fields.”Local councillor Tony Hassan says it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed in such an incident.“The PSNI need to address the problem of these run arounds or stolen cars in the Greater Shantallow area over the weekends.”Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact Strand Road station on 0845 600 8000 or ‘Crimestoppers’ on 0800 555 111.
Monday, December 17, 2007
It is at this time, Christmas, ( oooh he said it again) that we are inundated with requests of charity for the needy. Where we are made to feel a sense of Obligation to donate time, money, food, and yes even New toys, to those less fortunate than ourselves. When you are asked to take the money you earned and give it freely to someone who you do not know, and lets be frank, you probably wouldn't let into your home. The plus side to that is the people who donate never really have to meet or see the recipients and so they can go on their merry way feeling good about their " Good Deed". Isn't that nice? helping your fellow man in his/her time of need.
I personally believe that helping one's neighbor and family is extremely important. The bonds formed through such acts can be very positive. However these are acts between people who know one another, not acts of generosity to complete strangers. There is a difference, a very important difference. To be helpful, kind and benevolent to ones friends and family reaps a reward, that though not always tangible, is one from which you benefit. To simply put money in a till, to give baskets of foodstuffs and toys, to those you know not, can in no way be of advantage to you directly, or might I add indirectly. It is a waste pure and simple. I do remember something about a fish and teaching a man to fish from my limited religious experiences.
Here is how I perceive the concept of charity during the Christmas ( He's going to be fired soon ) season. Growing up we didn't have much, more than some less than others. Every Christmas my dear Mother made sure there was at least a tree, and a little something beneath it for my brother, sister and I. She worked hard supporting three kids and an alcoholic husband. Two jobs and she managed to get her degree from University at the same time. I know it was difficult keeping our hectic household afloat, with the limited resources at hand which my dear old Da wanted to drink up. Yet, she managed to pull off Christmas each and every year, without taking charity from strangers. How? through hard work, determination, foresight and planning, that's how. Even as a small lad I knew the effort put forth by my mother was great and we always managed to feel warm on Christmas morning. I learned to appreciate what we had not what we didn't get, and to feel love for my mother more so on that special day because I knew she had made it all possible.
Through her work, my mother, did several things, she made us appreciate the gifts we received. She made us feel loved as she had picked each one personally, and she had given us an understanding that " nothing is free, and you have to EARN what you get". Important lessons to say the least. Those lessons, were the real gifts. More valuable than diamonds or luxury automobiles, which, unlike the material items, I have kept with me to this day. My Mother is a remarkable woman, from an age since past obviously, for today, I do not see many examples on par with my mother, on the contrary, I see just the opposite.
These days, one does not have to worry over much about providing Christmas dinner for your children or about even buying/making gifts. One simply has to apply to the local Church or Town, and all the work will be done for you. If you are in economic straits, of your own making or no, you will be provided for and your children won't " Feel" let down etc.
That is rubbish, pure and simple. Yes there are many who need assistance but does said assistance need to go so far? How is a child to learn the values of work, love and determination if they know that Christmas comes not from their mother but from the town? Does not this whole " Giving season " perpetuate an Entitlement mentality? I am wearied to death with the lazy wanting me to foot their bills, feed their children and yes provide gifts to them as well. If the indigent were so concerned about their wee ones would they not have made some kind of effort, or provision on their behalf? This summer past I was sweating each and every day in a warehouse working. What were these supplicants doing then? Going to the beach or perhaps simply sitting on their indolent asses, drinking from their indolent glasses. I would have liked to have spent my days drinking away, safe in the knowledge that someone would take care of me at Christmas. Alas, such is not my lot, for I believe that " Life's not fair". That one must EARN ones way in the world and not look to someone else to provide for you.
I have stated before that adversity builds character. This is true, for through adversity my Mother gave us the greatest gifts and Christmas memories. The needy at Christmas perhaps should take the time to learn and understand this rather than asking for gift cards and free groceries.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
It is the above attitude that has kept me from quitting all these years. Alas, the time has come for me to finally give up my beloved Camels. I had Dental surgery this Friday last and the surgeon suggested I quit for good. Normally I would have told him to just do his job and leave off the sermon, but for the first time in 20 years, I actually heard REASON, in the voice telling me to quit. Using intelligence and medical knowledge my doctor presented to me why I should quit now. NO vague " it causes cancer" or " what about the children? " crap. A wonderful change to say the least. I have had but one Cigarette in 3 days and it looks like I will be smoke free soon. I will miss my companion of these many years, but like the poet said " all good things must come to an end". And so too does this blissful, addiction.
The reason I am writing this all down is not for myself, no, I know what I think and feel. This is for all of you who urged me to quit so many times over so many years. This is so you know that in no way, shape or form did you influence my decision, that your self righteous posing had the opposite effect completely. So before you go prancing about praising your superior moral standing, realize that you did nothing and therefore have nothing to feel proud of. Simply put, Piss Off.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Maine Associated Press
A state legislator says he's not giving up on his attempt to impose a fee of 20 cents or so on plastic grocery bags as a way to prod consumers to shift to bags that are reusable.
Bar Harbor Democrat Ted Koffman proposed the idea this fall but legislative leaders declined to bring it forward during the coming session, which is reserved for emergency bills.
Koffman, who co-chairs the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee, says the switch to reusable bags would be beneficial because plastic bags harm the environment and it takes a significant amount of oil to produce them.
Koffman plans to meet this week with representatives of the Maine Grocers Association to discuss voluntary action to curb the use of plastic bags. But he says he doesn't intend to give up on his legislative proposal.
My Take on this.
About 15 years ago here in the State of Maine retailers and grocers began promoting the use of plastic bags. The reasoning was twofold; it was cheaper for the stores to use plastic and it was supposedly Ecologically friendly as paper requires trees to produce. In the past 15 years paper has virtually been eliminated as an option for customers to carry home their goods in. Subsequently this has effected the Paper Industry as well. Maine's Paper Industry is essentially defunct at this point.
So, many years pass, and now we are told that the plastic bags that were alleviating the "ecological crisis " are actually hurting the environment as they take so much oil to produce. Perhaps there is some truth to this but I ask what next? Will the Gentleman from Bar Harbor be attempting to " Tax" canvas bags next, as they are produced in a factory? This legislative attempt is ridiculous in the extreme but is important as an example. An Example of the lack of common sense in the State House. What a waste of time, energy and money to pursue such a frivolous bill.
Mr. Koffman is proposing a 20 cent fee to each bag used. According to his interview on WGAN radio this morning the revenues from this fee would not go into the state coffers. So, Mr. Koffman, where would it go? To the stores? the bag manufacturers? I see no purpose in that except to increase revenues for the business. I do not believe for one moment that the State of Maine, with its penchant for tax revenue, will not be getting a piece of the take. Our representatives, ( I use the name loosely ) already have brought the Maine taxpayer to his/her knees through creative accounting and hidden fees. Mr. Koffman would have us believe that this revenue stream would be " Hands Off " to the state. I daresay this is completely false and misleading or Mr. Koffman needs a bit of a vacation.
I wonder too, if Ted, has been watching the news of late. The price of Crude oil was up to $99.00 a barrel just the other day. Now I'm no economist, but does not that translate into higher production costs for manufacturers, including companies like Campbell's, Coca-Cola etc? And do not these Manufacturers pass on said cost to their consumers? Of course they do. That is one of the reasons, with the falling Dollar, that a gallon of milk costs $5.00 and a loaf of bread $3.00. So Mr. Koffman lets just add another $1.00 to the average supermarket visit. Thus burdening the already strained resources of the Maine citizen. If you haven't noticed Ted, Maine is in the northeast of the United States, thus winters tend to get a bit cold. With the increase of home heating fuel costs to $3.17 a gallon Mainers who are already over burdened with taxes, will be struggling to heat their homes. But that's OK isn't it? so long as you get to impose another fee and further your self interests it doesn't matter does it. A Representative is someone who represents the people in politics. Is this bill really representing the constituents of Bar Harbor?
What about the Lobster man, Clam Digger, and Fisherman? Are not they constituents of Bar Harbor? Has not the Legislature regulated these industries to the strangling point? When these families cannot make ends meet through the legislation of the industries Mr. Koffman wants to add an extra cost to their daily lives, rather than face the fact that, the problem isn't paper or plastic. The problem is Reality or Fantasy. Maybe instead of meeting with the grocers, Bar Harbor's distinguished Gentleman should make his way to the State House and see if he can wrangle up a little tax relief for his voters? A novel idea, I know, a politician that actually does his job.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I read this article Incident had hallmarks of bad policing - SF from the Derry Journal as I was starting my workday. It bothers me just a little that the victim, Gary Donnelly, was treated so harshly and I am glad someone ( Sinn Fein) is doing something about it. Police brutality, no matter the motivation, I believe to be a serious breach of trust with the community and society. There is no place for such behavior as it weakens society's confidence in the authorities.
That being said, I also believe that I can understand the Officer's Frustration in dealing with dissidents as a whole. The RIRA ( Real Irish Republican Army) and the CIRA ( Continuity Irish republican Army) have recently threatened to kill Police officer's, and burn businesses during the upcoming Christmas season. These "Dissident" groups attempted to kill PSNI Officers in Derry and Dungannon earlier this month. Emboldened, by the PIRA's ( Provisional Irish Republican Army) disarmament and cessation of activity, the Dissidents are attempting to carry the violent struggle to the fore again. What a Pity. For, I believe that the people of Northern Ireland have made their voice clear. They have accepted the cease fire, they have elected an new Assembly to Stormont, and they have chosen Politics over bullets, to resolve their differences. Nationalists and Unionists are trying to talk through the seemingly endless questions about the Troubles. The 30 odd years of violence and bloodshed have stopped and the people of NI wish to move on.
Not so the rag tag few. The perpetrators of Omagh, want to continue the struggle for a United Ireland by burning down shops. Now that's a plan. They want to shoot Police officers, good going there. To what end I ask? If the goal is for a United Ireland, and the people are seeking it through peaceful means, what is the point of burning shops? If these groups ignore the wishes of the populace they claim to represent they will find that the little support they now have will dry up and blow away on the wind. Violence for violence sake makes no sense at all, and is not a sound programme for victory. Perhaps the Dissidents should sit down and formulate a political agenda that they can present to the Nationalist communities that will actually further the interests of the people.
I do not condone the violence perpetrated against Mr. Donnelly, nor do I condone the violence and threatened violence, of these so called Dissidents. I condemn it all and can only hope that the people of NI will continue to do so as well.
Update: From the Derry Journal 12/6/2007
Four arrested in cop shooting probe
By Staff reporter
Four men were still being questioned by police last night after they were arrested as part of the investigation in to the shooting of an off-duty police officer in Bishop Street last month.
The arrests were made in a number of areas of the city yesterday and searches were also carried out at a number of houses and police took a number of items away for further examination, including a car. It is believed that leading dissident republican, Gary Donnelly, is one of those arrested.The four men were taken to the serious crime suite at Antrim PSNI station where a police spokesperson said they were being questioned in connection with “serious terrorist crime.”The arrests are part of the ongoing investigation into the shooting of 43 year-old PSNI officer Jim Doherty on 8th November. Mr. Doherty was shot minutes after he left child to school in Bishop Street. The Real IRA later claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The full article contains 166 words and appears in Journal Friday DER Edition newspaper.
Last Updated: 06 December 2007 6:05 PM
Friday, November 23, 2007
Being new to the whole " Blog thing" and the various tools at my disposal I thought I would write up a small test and see how things turn out. So a topic of note to play with is Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving morning I logged into my WOW ( World of Warcraft for those of you who have real lives) account and came upon a conversation in the trade channel of the game. Someone was saying that " As a Native American I despise this Holiday and all the Evil White People who celebrate it." What a powerful statement to make. Like anything on the web, this page included, one must determine if the author of such statements is in earnest or is simply a Troll. I thought about it for sometime and came to the conclusion that the author was not being fully honest with him/herself and was seeking to gain sympathy with the " Oppressed". This irritated me a little and my anger got the better of me to be sure.
When do we say, Enough is Enough? When will the ceaseless whining and crying end? Everytime I turn around there is another hard luck story, another cause of injustice. Blah Blah Blah. Enough already. Adversity, real, or percieved, is what strengthens our carachter.
Right I'll be ridding the world of this terrible piece soon it is a test