Thursday, December 27, 2007

Banner comes down on momentous year

The following article appeared on BBC today and I found it very interesting. The figures associated with " Operation Banner" are impressive indeed when placed in comparison to the current conflicts that the armed forces are engaged in. As many know my feelings as to the army's involvement in NI I'll not bore you with a tirade on the subject. Allow me but one line from a song " With your Kit bag on your shoulder, and a tear all in your eye,
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

The following article , again, comes from the Derry journal. I find the points made in it interesting as it supports my previous post as concerns Joy Riders and the Nationalist communities aversion to the PSNI and the old RUC. If SF cannot even get enough political Representatives to fill the allotted seats on the board, because there are not enough Representatives willing to participate, what message does that send the people? Or, which I doubt, does the Nationalist community as whole wish to have no say or influence on how their neighborhoods are policed? I reiterate my position that the people of NI need to work with the PSNI and turn their backs on the old ways. At least give it a go, then if it doesn't work out you can always go back. Whats the harm? I am betting if cooperation was forthcoming many more criminals, Drug dealers, Joy Riders, Hoods etc. would be off the streets.

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

Joy Riders: a plague

The following story was in the Derry Journal this morning and it reminded me of this epidemic that has Plagued Norn Iron for as long as I can remember. Hoods, stealing cars and racing about causing destruction, and injury. I was informed by a mate from Belfast that the PIRA used to knee cap these little demons when caught. It seems the PSNI ( Police service of Northern Ireland) is having difficulty in catching and punishing the joyriders. This fact shows that much more confidence needs to be built in the PSNI by the community as a whole.

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

News Flash!!!! Life's NOT fair.

Ahhh, Christmas. The time of year that, for most, is filled with warmth, gifts, good food and good cheer. When these self same folks express their gratitude and affection to their friends and families. When the exchange of gifts takes place in which, the supposed reasoning goes, one brings a moment of happiness to the recipient, and feels good about doing it. Simple pleasures that, until recently, I took for granted. For, as we are so reminded by the ringing of Salvation Army Bells, it is also a time of privation, want, need and despair.

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.

Nollaig Shona!


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Infamous attention seeking.

The other night on my way home from work, I heard the story of the Mall shooting in Omaha Nebraska. It seems a 19 year old, who lost his job at Macdonald's was so upset about not being qualified to mop floors at the fast food chain he decided to shoot a whole bunch of random people. The News media has since covered this story extensively and we now all know who the shooter was, along with a myriad of explanations as to why he would do such a heinous thing. I have been barraged with the story of his troubled youth, his kind and compassionate personality, and his " Victim Status". There are a couple of things about these incidents that I feel I need to put down for posterity as the various takes on these acts trouble me a wee bit.

Firstly I am now very familiar with the shooter's visage as his photo has been posted all over the web and the news. You can see I have added it above for all of you cave dwellers out there.Here is the problem. Robert Hawkins, 19 left a note for the police stating " Now I will Be famous". By covering his life, his story, and everything about him, the media has now given this twisted lad his final wish. Does that not seem a little oxymoronic? Every time one of these Nutter's comes out with guns blazing, we give them all the fame and attention they are craving. They know it and desire it above all else. Why not cover the shooting like this?
Today 13 productive decent human beings were shot down by a useless piece of garbage. The victims of this attack sadly lost their lives because of this sick individual's inability to cope with life. There will be a memorial for the victims on , Such and Such a date whilst, on the other side of town, the coroner burns the Human refuse that perpetrated the crime. After which his ashes will be scattered over the City dump as a testament to his contribution to society.
By not mentioning the name, relations, etc. The Infamous legacy these useless slugs so desire is removed from the equation. Thus, giving the next nutter pause as his/her goal of fame is negated. Without fame they have no other reason to attempt such things
My next point about these types of shootings concerns the logic used by the perpetrator. We all have felt powerless and or victimised at some point in our lives. Some of us have actually contemplated killing the people who we feel have wronged us in some way. That's OK. it's a natural instinct acting on that instinct is another matter totally. Now, if you are angry or upset, and to the point of murder, how do you decide to gun down 13 people you never met, rather than those who you feel actually caused you injury? Would not the satisfaction been greater for young Mr. Hawkins if he had shot the MacDonald's manager who let him go? ( I am not promoting this BTW) For if we are to believe that the emotional state of the shooter is of import, as the media loves to put forth, then this murderous rage is important. And the causes of the rage are of equal value no? Essentially, there is no logic behind these acts. For if the shooter is angry with the Hamburgler, his girlfriend, or even the US Army, why shoot randoms who never did anything to harm him? Again; the fame factor comes in to play.
OK, now I get to the part where the bleeding hearts start crying about poor young Mr. Hawkin's childhood. His poor upbringing, drug use, and institutionalisation. I say to this " So What?" Millions of people suffer from drug addictions, millions have been through Jails and Mental health facilities, and millions have endured less than idyllic upbringing. If these were truly the reasons behind these spree shootings, would not there be a hell of a lot more? Would not all the junkies of NYC take up arms and start killing all the Macy's shoppers? Wouldn't the countless children that went through Child services these past 50 years start slaying innocents en Mass? To be honest, I don't care if Mr. Hawkins didn't adjust well, or that he felt powerless, or that he even existed. I don't see any correlation to his upbringing, in comparison to a million other cases exactly the same. The bleeding heart "fix its", and "we need someone to blame crowd" are barking up the wrong tree. The State is not at fault, Society is not at fault, no one is. These criminals are simply fame seekers. They are weak willed and useless to start with and this is the only way their small minds can think of to " make their mark."
Lastly, I need to point out that all of these various incidents end with the attacker committing Suicide. Normally I abhor the idea of Harri Kari, but in cases such as this I applaud it. Now, it is obvious that these spree killers have already determined that they are going to take their own life. They have decided that point before they ever engage in the act of murder. I do not believe that these individuals all have this great moment of remorse after seeing what they have done and decide then that they cannot live any longer with their guilt. The suicide is as premeditated as the attack. Without the chance for fame, or some kind of recognition, good or ill, I believe these Nutters would simply off themselves alone in the wilderness. Thus saving many lives and tragedies and as a bonus, ridding society of their uselessness in the bargain.
So what I am saying, is stop publicising the life and times of these losers. Leave off the sermonizing and the compassion for the criminal. Give them nothing, not even their names. Degrade them, demean them leave them no hope of any real or perceived impact on their world. Do this a few times and the other fringe loons out there, will stand down their ideas of fame and glory.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The end of an era

I was told recently by my Dentist that my smoking habit needed to end. It seems the last pleasure of my misspent youth is now actually harming me. What a shock, cigarettes are harmful to your health, thanks for the update doc. To be honest I have heard the " Quit Smoking" routine a few times before from various doctors, nurses, busy bodies, and randoms who feel the need to save me from myself. Thank God they are all out there eh? Generally when someone says to me " smoking is bad for your health" I take it in stride and brush them off with a simple; " so is talking to strangers." or something of the sort. I have found that those people who feel the need to save me from myself, are simply parrots. There is nothing new with the information they spew forth in self righteous moments. They really could care less if I live or die so lets be honest, it is not from actual concern for my well being that they assault me with their opinion. No, these parrots are simply attempting to assert some sort of Moral superiority over me for their own self gratification. The sad thing is, we as a society have made this an acceptable form of behavior. Smokers are considered " Less than" and are discriminated against on a daily basis. It's OK to be rude to a smoker right? It is for their own good after all......

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.