Exercising Freedom of Expression is not a credible defence

This letter appeared in The Irish News today Tuesday June 3rd 2014 – Sean O’Fiach, Belfast BT11.

NOT only is sectarianism rife in loyalist areas but it seems that there is an orchestrated campaign of racism as well.


The sentiments expressed by Pastor McConnell and Peter Robinson can easily be interpreted by those behind this campaignacts bestowing a cloak of legitimacy for it. There has been speculation as to whther Robinson’s utterances breached the ministerial code which stipulates executive ministers should “operate in a way conductive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment”. Of course the code also states as a result of the St Andrews Agreement: “We beleive that the essential elements of support for law and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of Norhern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively encouraging everyone in the community to cooperate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.” That paragraph was designed to make participation in the assembly and executive conditional in support for British rule of law and was aimed at Sinn Fein.


It makes it necessary for Sinn Fein to call on its supporters to support British law. Yet republicans and nationalists have never felt that they have been treated equally under the law and that continues to be the case. 10352779_650245588388552_982480272051038018_nTake, for instance, the case of James Taggart convicted of disorderly behaviour inM May because he shouted Tiocfaidh ar la (our day will come) in public. His solicitor argued he was simply exercising his freedom of expression but the judge ruled that his freedom of expression rights were outweighed by criminal test of annoying members of the public. The judge also went on to point to a legal definition of the offence which covers words which would give annoyance to members of the public, including police officers, and attract attention meriting intervention. It does not have to be proved that anyone was actually annoyed, she said. James was convicted under “The Public Order (NI) Order 1987. Peter Robinson argued that Pastor McConnell was merely exercising his freedoom of expression but although James Taggart’s remarks were far more innocuous than Pastor McConnell’s or Robinson’s he could not relay on that defence. Does any republican or nationalist seriously think that Pastor McConnell or Robinson will be treated in the same way as James Taggart? What’s changed, where is or Island of equals?

With many thanks to: Sean O’Fiach, Belfast BTII, The Irish News.


The DUP the muppet party

N121’s Tina McKenzie has claimed the DUP is incapable of attracting Catholic voters.


In recent years the DUP leader, Orangeman, and bigot Peter Robinson has made a number of speeches in which he attempted to reach out to Catholics, particularly those who share his party’s veiws on moral issues such as same sex-marriage and abortion. The First Minister also points to apparently significant numer of Catholics who support the so-called union. But according to Mrs McKenzie, the DUP is “incapable of normalising politics”. Peter Robinson and the DUP regularly make positive noises that they want to be progressive, reach out to Catholics and develop more inclusive politics,” (are you having a fucking laugh), she told The Irish News. “The problem is very few, if any, Catholics actually beleive in them.” the DUP. She accused the DUP of speaking “with a forked tongue”. “Peter Robinson says unionism needs to seek converts but the next day calls for unionists not to split the vote at the elections – unionist unity and tribal politics at its worst.” She said Mr Robinson made a “good speach” in 2011 in which he called for an end to “us and them politics” but this was followed up by “a year of flag protests, talks of a cultural war and the Haass failure”. Ms McKenzie added that most Catholics would see the first minister’s call for a single education system as an attack on Catholic schools and Catholic education. “The bottom line is the DUP and increasingly UUP under Mike Nesbitt are the biggest reason why people from different backgrounds, whow want the North of Ireland to stay in the United Kingdom, will never vote for traditional unionist parties,” she said.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

Iris was not expelled from party insists DUP

THE DUP maintains that disgraced former MP Iris Robinson and was not expelled from the party, as widely thought.

Aftermath (Peter Robinson novel)
Aftermath (Peter Robinson novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ms Robinson, wife of DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson, left the party in January 2010 following scandalous revelations over financial dealings with a teenage lover. Less than a fortnight after she announced plans to retire from politics due to Iill hhealth it emerged the Strangford MP and MLA had help secure tens of thousands of pounds from two developers for then 19-year-old Kirk McCambley. Mr McCambley used the money to set up the Lock Keeper’s Cottage (nicknamed the Lock Keeper got it in) restaurant in South Belfast. Mrs Robinson, stepped down just a week after the revelations. A party spokesman last night said a statement was issued at the time Mrs Robinson “was stepping down and was not expelled”. Mr Robinson also temporarily stepped down as first minister in the wake of the scandal. Since then police have ruled out any wrongdoing by Mrs Robinson. A report commissioned by Castlereagh Borough Council cleared the former councillor of any wrongdoing in her role as an elected representative….


Public fund Stormont office jobs

MORE than half the DUP‘s Storming team use taxpayers’ money to employ family members in their offices. According to the assembly’s register of interests 22 of the party’s 38 MLA‘s have relatives working for them.

Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The figure is twice as many as all other parties combined. The total wage bill for MLAs‘ relatives working at Storming has been estimated at £500,000. In the wake of the expended scandal at West minister rules were introduced allowing MPs to employ one family member. No such rules exist at Storming. DUP finance minister Sammy Wilson, who has never employed a family member, defended the practice. “Provided people can do the job then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be employed,” he said last night.”It happens in every walk of life and it’s not regarded as nepotism there so why should it be regarded any different in political life?” However, N121 assembly member John McCallister said the high number of relatives working for MLAs could give the public the wrong impression. “I’m sure many of these family members who work for MLAs do a very good job but unfortunately it does little to enhance the image of us politicians,” he said. “The perception that nepotism is rife can only further damage politicians in the ppublic’s minds.”

The register shows four Ulster Unionists, three SDLP, two Alliance and one Sinn Fein member have given jobs to their family members or relatives of other MLAs, while TUV leader Jim Allister employs his daughter as a part-time secretary and researcher. Among those employed at Stormont or working on behalf of MLAs include DUP leader Peter Robinson’s daughter and daughter in-law, foformer UUP MLA Billy Armstrong is employed by his daughter Sandra Overend, while employment and learning minister Stephen Carry employs his wife. The recruitment process for party workers is not governed by Fair Employment law, so in effect assembly members can employ anybody they wish. Mr McCallister said he was glad rules had been introduced at Stormont which forced MLAs to reveal which members of their family they were employing. “It’s difficult area to regulate but it’s much better now that assembly members must declare where they are employing family members or relatives of other party representives,” he said.

With many thanks to : John Manley, Political Reporter, The Irish News.

Email: J.manley@iiris news.com

Whose wages do taxpayers pay?

Latest New Member in East Belfast Welcomed


  • Jonathan Bell employs his wife as a part-time secretary and researcher; employs Peter Robinson’s son as constituency manger and the DUP leader’s daughter-in-law as a part-time secretary.
  • Paula Bradley employs her cousin as part-time office support.
  • Gregory Campbell – jointly employs fellow MLA George Robinson’s son as a researcher.
  • Trevor Clarke employs his wife as a part-time clerical assistant.
  • Jonathan Craig paid his brother-in-law consultancy fees for design, update and maintenance of website.
  • Sammy Douglas employs his son as a researcher.
  • Gordon Dune employs his son as a researcher.
  • Alex Easton employs his wife as a part-time clerical officer with typing duties.
  • Paul Frew employs his wife as a full-time personal assistant and researcher.
  • Paul Girvan employs his son as a part-time researcher.
  • Brenda Hale employed her brother-in-law to refurbish her constituency office.
  • William Hay employs his brother-in-law as an office manager in his Derry constituency office.
  • William Irwin employs his daughter as a full-time office assistant.
  • Nelson McCausland employs his nephew as a constituency worker.
  • Ian McCrea employs his wife as a secretary and his brother-in-law as a researcher and personal assistant.
  • David McIlveen employs employs his father as a part-tme researcher.
  • Michelle Mcllveen employs her brother as a researcher and office manager.
  • Adrian McQuillan employs sister-in-law as a full-time researcher, aunt as a part-time assistant secretary and jointly with two other members, employs a nephew of George Robonson as a researcher.
  • Robin Newton employs his son as a resarcher/constituency worker and wife as a secretary/office manager.
  • George Robinson employs his son as an office manger and personal assistant and jointly with two other members, employs a nephew as a researcher.
  • Peter Robinson employs his daughter as office manager.
  • Alastair Ross employs his sister-in-law as a constituency case worker.
  • Jimmy Spratt employs his wife as a part-time manager.


  • Alex Attwood employs his brother as a constituency assistant
  • John Dallat employs his wife as an office administrater
  • Pat Ramsey employs his wife as a driver and his wife’s nephew as a parliamentary assistant.


  • Roy Beggs employs his wife as a part-time secretary.
  • Leslie Cree employs his wife as a part-time researcher.
  • Joanna Dobson employs her sister one day per week as a clerical officer
  • Sandra Overend employs her father Billy Armstrong, a former MLA, on an ad-hoc basis to undertake advisory and constituency work.


  • Stephen FCarry employs his wife as a senior researcher.
  • Korean McCarthy employs his son on a part time basis for general office duties.

Sinn Fein

  • Fra McCann employs a nice of Paul and Alex Maskey as a personal assistant.


  • Jim Allister employs his daughter part-time as a secretary and office manager.


Pro Fide Patria

Time to end jobs for boys culture


AT A time when the ccredibility of our devolved structures has been increasingly called into qquestion, it may not come as a complete surprise to find that so many DUP MLAs insist on using public funds to employ family members in their offices.

Our investigation today has established that more than half of the members of the DUP’s assembly group have given posts to relatives of eleceted representives, with the total figure twice that of all other parties combined. Although no-one is suggesting that any rules have been broken, the thinking which leads to the selection of partners, children, ccousins and even in one case a parent is still striking. Jobs of all kinds are very hard to come by these days and ordinary voters may well think that attractive opportunities in the managerial, secretarial and research sectors both at Storming and constituency level should go to the best available candidate. Indeed, progress over fair employment has taken decades to achieve and it is reasonable to expect that MLAs should set a positive example to the wider community in this respect. However, cynics will have noted how clear it is that sharing a name or a blood line with a DUP politician provides a huge advantage when it comes to filling in an application form. After all the uproar over the special advisers, when it emerged that some parties could be handing out key portions offering enormous salaries provided by the tax payer in almost complete secrecy, this is another damaging episode. The main problem with appointing special advisers and other party posts is the almost total lack of transparency and accountability which surrounds the entire process. If journalists from The Irish News and other outlets did not persistently ask questions of the authorities and frequently receive hostile treatment as a result, important information would never enter the public domain. Politicians who are operating in previliged circumstances should remember at all times that they are spending our money and the least we can exexpect is that they should tell us exactly what they are doing with it.


ANALYSIS – John Manley.

FOR the second time in little over six months scenes of loyalist unrest are being beamed across the world, undermining any positive PR last months G8 garnered. The disruption may not have been as extensive as it was at the height of the Union Flag protests but the violence has been just as vicious and the accompanying statements just as vitriolic.


The parallels do not end there. In December and January we saw  a comparatively small number of people dictate the political agenda while unionist leadership gave their cause legitimacy through equivocal condemnation. They said street protests and rioting were wrong but that ultimately fault lay with those who “tore down the flag from Belfast City Hall“. Likewise, the actions of those who in recent days threw stones, bottles and petrol bombs at police lines have been condemned. Yet, according to unionists, it was not the iinflammatory rhetoric of the Orange Order that brought people onto the streets but rather the Parades Commission and its folly in banning an evening march along Crumlin Road. As with the flag protests, the messages from Peter Robinson appear inconsistent and contradictory. On the one hand the first minister joined the north’s five main parties ahead of the Twelfth in calling for Parades Commissions determinations to be observed. Yet when the ruling on the contentious parade past Ardoyne was made, the DUP leader recalled the assembly and accused the commission of doing “nothing to encourage mutual respect and tolerance”. Even Mr Robinson’s condemnation of the Twelfth night loyalist rioting on Crumlin Road mentioned the “justifiable anger” against the commission but failed to address the order’s role in bringing people onto the streets. Many nationalists see the order as blatantly sectarian while a large sectiono of the unionist popopulation claim it does not represent them, yet the first minister and his DUP colleagues continue to support the institution’s actions and its refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue. The strategy of riding two horses at once is fraught and unsustainable.

With many thanks to : The Irish News.

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It struck me as bands approached the Garden of Remembrance how reverently they stopped their music and removed their hats as a mark of respect. I wonder why they don’t do this when passing all places of worship – Tom Kelly.

This wasn’t the usual disaffected youth but men old enough to know better, attacking police lines with everything they could lay their hands on and cheering as officers went down injured – Allison Morris.


Third night of violence

‘It’s important that cool heads prevail – Peter Robinson.

A CAR was hijacked and set alight, roads blocked and a police officer was injured during a third night of loyalist violence. Loyalists threw petrol bombs and other missiles at police in the Woodvale area of North Belfast shortly before 11pm yesterday.

One officer was injured. Police fired two baton rounds. Earlier the disorder spread to Newtownabby, Co An trim, where a car was set alight, blocking the main O’Neill Road. Youths gathered near the road and began throwing stones and other missiles. There were unconfirmed reports of a second car being torched. Five men and boys, aged between 15 and 25, were arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour. Large crowds blocked Albertbridge Road in east Belfast late on Sunday night, close to the interface with nationalist Short Strand where violence broke out on Friday and Saturday evenings. There were also reports that loyalists had blocked roads in Antrim, the Mount Vernon area of Newtownabbey and the Square in Ballyclare. Members of the Orange Order have ccontinued to take part in street protests in north Belfast despite the Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast having called a halt to all action following the weekend’s rioting. The order released a statement at 1am on Saturday after six hours of sustained violence in north and east Belfast, saying it was “suspending” all further action.”In support of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland appeal for calm, the Ligional lodges with the full support of the County Grand Orange Lodge in Belfast have decided to suspend their protest in relation to the determination for the Crumlin Road,” a spokesman said. About 50 people including members of the order wearing collarettes and holding banners aloft gathered at Twaddell Avenue on Sunday, ignoring the Grand Lodge’s call.


During the protest community representives were at the nationalist interface to prevent sectarian clashes. Police continued to maintain a large-scale security presence at Woodvale Road where loyalists have clashed with police for the past three nights. A small loyalist protest took place at 3pm on the Crumlin Road. Six people draped in the union flags stood in the middle of the road watched by police in Land Rovers parked nearby. No spokesman for the order was available for comment on Sunday. Sunday night’s violence and roadblocks came after First Minister Peter Robinson called for an end to rioting following the annual Twelfth demonstrations. He said protesters needed to follow the Orange Order’s call for the suspension of demonstrations over restrictions on a parade past the Ardoyne shops flashpoint in north Belfast. “It’s very important that cool heads prevail in these circumstances and I hope people will obey the announcement and statement by the Orange institution that people should desist from violence,” he said. “The only kind of protest that is ever justifiable is a lawful and peaceful protest.” Mr Robinson’s comments come after he Tweeted on the evening of the Twelfth claiming that nationalists from Short Strand had attacked an Orange Order parade on lower Newtownards Road.

With many thanks to : Claire Simpson and Allison Morris, The Irish News.

Dodds injured in riot

Loyalist throws missile at police and hits MP

NORTH Belfast MP Nigel Dodds was taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious during rioting in the Woodvale area of his constituency. Police said he was struck on the head by a missile thrown at their lines.

COLLAPSE: North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds injured at Woodvale in North Belfast last night.
COLLAPSE: North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds injured at Woodvale in North Belfast last night.

Serious rioting broke out across the city as the Orange Order protested against a Parades Commission ban. The worst of the vviolence was in the Woodvale where about 1,000 rioters attacked officers as soon as the parade reached police lines just short of the Ardoyne shops. Five officers were injured, four knocked unconscious. Police responed by firing 20 plastic baton rounds and using water cannon. The Irish News understands that police are prepared to maintain the line in Woodvale for days if necessary amid fears that loyalists plan a Drumcree-style protest. It was also reported last night that hundreds more officers would be sent over from England. There were also clashes in the Short Srand area of east Belfast and at York Street in the city centre. In a statement after 10pm First Minister Peter Robinson called for calm. “While there is justifiable anger and frustration at the Parades Comnission who bear much responsibility for the situation in Belfast…. those using the cover of protest to attack police are massively damaging the cause they supoort,” he said.

North Belfast MP was seriously injured during rioting in north Belfast last night. The DUP politician was taken from the scene in an ambulance shortly after 9.30pm. It was reported he had been knocked unconscious. DUP councillor Brian Kingston tweeted that Mr Dodds had been hit on the head by a thrown object. Police tweeted that a missile was thrown at police lines and struck the DUP deputy leader. However, it was suggested at the scene that Mr Dodds was far from police lines and the missile may have been thrown deliberately at him by disgruntled lloyal its he had been trying to calm. Earlier in the evening Mr Dodds, who had been left dripping after being soaked by a water cannon, spoke to senior police officers and told reporters he would spend a couple of hours trying to ease tensions. In April Mr Dodds (54) was taken to hospital after falling I’ll at Westminster. He spent the night in hospital in London but the DUP later said he was given the all-clear.

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.



‘If the first minister has something to put to me, bring it on – Jim Allister.

THE assembly heard dramatic claims of further links between the DUP and contractor Red Sky from the party’s former MEP Jim Allister. Social devolopment minister Nelson McCausland has faced questions over a meeting he and DUP leader Peter Robinson had with Red Sky management after the company had been placed in administration.

 The party has strongly denied any involvement in the awarding of Housing Executive contracts. During yesterday’s debate there was clear evidence of acrimony between TUV leader Jim Allister and his former party colleagues. Mr Allister made a series of claims after DUP MLA Robin Newton produced a photograph in the chamber which he said showed former social development minister Alex Attwood with another Housing Executive contractor, PK Murphy. Co Tyrone-based PK Murphy was one of four firms named by Mr McCausland last month in connection with estimated £18 million in overpayments by the executive. All four firms have vowed to challenge the minister’s allegations. Mr Allister said Mr Newton “thinks that there is some great importance in photographes”. “Well he did not quite produce the DUP family album but I wonder whether there would be any photographes of dinner parties in the home of [Red Sky managing director] Mr Norman Hayes?” he said.

“I wonder whether there would be any photographes of work done at the homes of members of the DUP. “I wonder whether there would be any photographes of the alleged £27,000-worth of work to partition a [DUP] office at 141 Holywood Road, which Red Sky charged to the assembly. Are there any photographs of that?” Mr Allister accused the DUP of attempting “to cover its tracks in relation to its unhealthy arrangements with commercial interests”. Earlier DUP leader Peter Robinson had challenged the TUV leader over his own ties with any companies mentioned in last week’s Spolight programme. “I have no such interest to declare except when I was a practising barrister I gave advices to Mr Turkington in respect of matters,” Mr Allister said. “Those were absolutely nothing to do with this case or anything else. “However, I thought that when the first minister rose to his feet to talk about transparency he might have been going to tell us about the details of his relationship with Mr Norman Hayes and Mr Turning ton.” The first minister told his former party colleague “to think again about whether he has any further interests to declare”. “If tthe first minister has something to put to me, bring it on,” the TUV leader said. Finance minister Sammy Wilson also told the TUV leader to be “very careful” about withholding interests. “I think an Exocet has been launched today that will eventually find its target,” Mr Wilson said. “The cant, hypocrisy and pseudo outrage that he is so good at will be blown away once that Exocet reaches its target.”

With many thanks to : John Manley (Political Reporter), The Irish News.


This letter appeared in the Irish News on Monday June 17 2013

 THE Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) condemns in the estrongest terms the impending prosecution of Ardoyne residents set for July 9 2013 for merely being on the streets of Ardoyne on December 1 2012 at the time an Apprentice Boys Parade passed by.


This draconian action must be condemned by all right-thinking people.These residents did not have any banners, placards or signs nor was there any shouting, chanting, heckling or any noise or sound of any kind. The residents did not cause any disturbance nor did they try to impede or disrupt the parade in any way. This development now means that Ardoyne residents cannot leave the confines of their of their home at the time of loyal order parades without fear of being prosecuted by the PSNI/RUC, and effectively places all Ardoyne residents under house arrest when loyal order pardes are scheduled.

This is a clear breach of the civil and human rights of Ardoyne residents and a blatant case of political policing. There has been a total failure by local nationalist politicians to defend the rights of Ardoyne residents and Garc calls on politicians in North Belfast and further afield to make public statements supporting the residents. The hollow words of PSNI/RUC chief constable Matt Baggot : “He is obliged by European human rights law to let people peacefully protest” or the words of First Minister Peter Robinson : “Only a tyrant would stop people from protest” shows yet again that the “city of equals in an island of equals” is no more than a meaningless slogan spouted by politicians to defend them for inaction in bringing a fair, just or impartial society and shows that there is no equality for Ardoyne residents as they are again treated as second-class citizens.

With thanks to : Aiden Ferguson, Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) Belfast BT14.


I FIND the split personality of the first minister Peter Robinson totally amazing on the  subject of victims. As recently as May 10, Mr Robinson in his role as first minister meet family members of the Birmingham bombing victims.


After meeting them he said a new investigation was necessary. He also said that they must try to pinpoint who was responsible for this dreadful act. He then asked families to put ttogether a dossier of documents of their campaign and he would pass them on to David Cameron. He said if the British prime minister looks at these arguments there is every reason there should be an investigation. He also signed their petition for a public inquiry.

Fair enough but then put this in the context of when Mr Robinson as DUP leader met the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre in February 2011. He was sympathetic and seemed shocked when he was told there was no proper investigation. The families then asked would he speak to the then secrtary of state Owen Paterson. He said he would and would raise other issues for the families. To this day the Ballymurphy families are still waiting. Mr Robinson also said that to lose a loved one is a painful experience. The way in which we deal with the past requires sensitivity. Then he said the DUP’s of the view that a further raft of open-ended inquires is not beneficial. 

No calls for a dossier of documents for the British PM.

No calls here for pinpointing who was responsible.

No calls for looking at the arguments.

No signing of the petition for an inquiry.

This is a first minister who says he wants a shared society. Alas it seems not for the victims of state violence.

With many thanks to : Pat Quinn

Ballymurphy Massacre Committee Belfast.

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