Sunday, December 31, 2006
Happy New Year!
Let's hope 2007 proves to be a better year for the world than 2006!
Enjoy the festivities wherever you are...
Saturday, December 30, 2006
And a martyr is born...
How many times in Irish history did the British decide to execute our leaders, foolishly thinking it would being peace, only to find that it made things far more unstable in the long run?
You don't stop killing through more killing.
This tyrant should have been left to rot in a jail cell for the rest of his natural life and to think about his crimes until the day he died. We're hearing that he showed no remorse as he was about to be executed but would he have done so in his later years? Now we'll never know.
It's hard to believe George W. Bush supports this kind of punishment when he claims to be a devout Christian. I must have missed the bit in the Bible where Jesus Christ advocates carrying out acts of revenge. Wasn't he all about forgiveness? Wouldn't commuting Saddam's sentence to life imprisonment have been a fair reflection of that? I would say so.
Reaction seems split. The Iraqi and American authorities are pleased, with Bush claiming Saddam got a fair trial (I think not) while France, Italy, the UK and the Vatican have expressed unease at the use of the death penalty.
Here in Ireland the Government stated its disapproval of capital punishment but said the right of the Iraqi judiciary to hand down a sentence had to be accepted.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern said he believed Saddam Hussein should have ended his years behind bars for his heinous crimes.
Fine Gael's Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Bernard Allen TD, said the execution will deepen the already open wounds in Iraq and will inevitably lead to increased violence and bloodshed with further consequences for other parts of the Middle East.
I too believe this will lead to increased violence and see it as yet another incompetent act by the American administration.
As I watched the footage of Saddam being led to the gallows surrounded by men in balaclavas and as I observed the dignified way in which he met his demise, it just seemed to be too righteous a send-off for someone so repugnant.
I find it a sorry indictment of humanity that we are heading into a new year - 2007 - and the main story around the world is the execution of a human being. What a way to start a new year, eh?
We seem to learn nothing.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Merry Christmas ladies and gents!
I still hope to write a post before the new year comes in a few day's time.
So with that being said, Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you have a great one.
I'll leave you then with the immortal words of Benny Hill...
Roses are reddish,
Violets are bluish,
If it weren't for Christmas,
We'd all be Jewish.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Haughey damned by Tribunal!
Here's a sentence that is a joy to behold...
"The first report of the Moriarty Tribunal has said payments received by the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, during his political career devalued the quality of a modern democracy."
So much for the "lovable rogue", "oul chancer" (insert usual bullshit term for the guy)
This criminal has been exposed at long last and I couldn't be happier. Here's four more beauties:
"The tribunal found that Mr Haughey personally misappropriated one particular donation of £20,000 for Mr Lenihan's benefit and took a series of steps to conceal his actions.
"In relation to the Lenihan donations the tribunal established that up to £265,000 may have been collected for that purpose and of those funds no more than £70,000 was applied in meeting the costs and expenses of Mr Lenihan's medical treatment in the US.
"The tribunal says it is satisfied that a sizeable portion of the excess funds collected was misappropriated by Mr Haughey for his own personal use.
"The tribunal report found that throughout the period 1979-1996 Mr Haughey lived a life and incurred expenses vastly beyond a scale of public service entitlements."
The sad thing here is the guy managed to avoid a jail sentence for his actions. This man was the worst Taoiseach in the history of the State and was an utter disgrace to this country. I've said it time and time again.
I must say this report by the Moriarty Tribunal has really capped off a great year for Irish justice in general! Better late than never eh?
One more thing - can you believe people actually wanted this chap to make United Irelander's 100 Greatest Irish People List?! Perish the thought.
A shower of gangsters!
100 Greatest Irish People - Final vote
Now on to this week and for a final explanation on how this works, these are multiple choice polls meaning you tick the box of the figures you feel are most deserving of a HIGH ranking. The Irish figures with the most votes will feature higher in the eventual list while those with little support will be at the tail end of the list. You can select as many boxes as you like.
For instance, one of this week's polls features George Bernard Shaw and Eoin MacNeill so if you feel Shaw is a great Irish figure but don't feel that way about Jack Lynch, tick the box of Shaw only.
Here are details on the figures featured in the final polls...
Tom Crean - Kerry-born Antarctic explorer who received the Albert Medal for heroism after an 18 hour walk through 35 miles of Antarctic ice to save his comrade's lives. Was also part of Ernest Shackleton's three-man team who saved the 22 stranded men of the Endurance expedition.
Henry Joy McCracken - Belfast-born founding member of the United Irishmen who was hanged for his part in the United Irish rebellion after refusing to testify against his compatriots.
Robert Emmet - Leader of the failed rebellion of 1803 whose rousing speech from the dock inspired future generations of republicans. Born in Cork.
John Redmond - Home Rule leader from 1900 to 1918 who led the reunited party following the split over the Parnell affair and who helped secure the Third Home Rule Bill. Born in Wexford.
Sean Lemass - Former Taoiseach who helped bring Ireland away from its agricultural reliance and towards industry. Also worked hard at building bridges with the North. Born in Dublin.
Edmund Burke - Statesman and political thinker, most known for his support for the American Revolution. Born in Dublin.
Erskine Childers - Popular former President and son of revolutionary Robert Erskine Childers. Born in London.
Isaac Butt - Donegal born-barrister who abandoned unionism and founded the Home Rule Party due to his opposition to the handling of the Famine.
John Ballance - Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and founder of that country's first organised political party. Born in Antrim.
Patrick Kavanagh - Monaghan-born poet most famous for his works The Great Hunger and On Raglan Road.
George Bernard Shaw - Dublin-born playwright who received the Nobel prize in Literature. Famous for his work Pygmalion.
Harry Ferguson - Developed the modern agricultural tractor and became the first person to fly in Ireland using an aircraft he invented himself. Born in County Down.
Henry Grattan - Campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the 18th century and supporter of Catholic emancipation. Also opposed the Act of Union. Born in Dublin.
Saint Patrick - Patron saint of Ireland responsible for bringing Christianity to the island. Born in Wales.
Thomas Clarke - Senior IRB figure and leading figure of the 1916 Rising who was executed for his involvement. Born on the Isle of Wight.
Jack Lynch - Former Taoiseach and successful Gaelic footballer and hurler. Born in Cork.
Eoin MacNeill - Co-founder of the Gaelic League and leader of the Irish Volunteers.
Phil Lynott - Lead member of Thin Lizzy. Born in England.
Roy Keane - Retired former Manchester United and Irish footballer, regarded as one of the finest players to ever play the game. Born in Cork.
William Massey - Former New Zealand Prime Minister, noted for his skill and his support for rural interests. Born in Derry.
Bobby Sands - Provisional IRA member who gained global attention when he was elected as an MP whilst on a Hunger Strike that would result in his death. Born in Newtownabbey, Antrim.
Saint Brendan - Explorer saint whose exploits have gone down in folklore. Speculated that he discovered North America as opposed to Christopher Columbus. Born in Kerry.
Garret Fitzgerald - Former Taoiseach who attempted to liberalise Irish society and who secured the Anglo-Irish agreement. Born in Dublin.
Tom Barry - Cork-born IRA guerila leader during the War of Independence whose flying column made West Cork ungovernable for British authorities.
Martin Sheridan - Mayo-born athlete who represented the USA and who won four gold medals for discus throw and the shot put. Caused controversy when he refused to dip the flag to King Edward VII of England.
Alex Higgins - Belfast-born snooker player, regarded by many as the sport's greatest player. Played a big part in making the game popular.
John Devoy - Senior Fenian figure who gave much support for Irish independence from his exiled position in America. Born in Kildare.
Kathleen Clarke - Widow of Thomas Clarke , founder of Cumann na mBan and the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin. Received a state funeral upon her death. Born in Limerick.
Peter O'Toole - Celebrated actor, best known for his leading role in the film Lawrence of Arabia. Born in Galway.
Kevin O'Higgins - Former Sinn Féin MP, responsible for founding An Garda Siochána and played a key role in earning greater autonomy for Ireland within the Commonwealth. Assasinated in 1927 by anti-Treaty IRA men.
So there you have it. My aim is to have the list compiled and ready by the end of 2006. Now get votin'...
Saturday, December 16, 2006
United Irelander - Two years old
You can read some of the early stuff here. Very raw content if I may so. (And not in the good way)
I'm surprised I've had the site this long, particularly since I thought about quitting every so often, but there you have it.
A lot of things have changed since then. Back then, NI was without a devolved assembly, the world was mad at George W. Bush and Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson were battling it out for the Premier League title whereas now...uh, well, some things have changed, some things have not.
Thank you to the people who visit this place. I know there are a good few of you who have visited for a long time now so cheers for that.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Padraig Nally - A free man!
Mayo farmer Padraig Nally has been found NOT GUILTY of the manslaughter of John Ward by a jury today at the Central Criminal Court.
Long-term readers of this site will note that this issue was covered in some detail on United Irelander in November of last year (hard to believe it was that long ago) and I don't think it's being arrogant or inaccurate to say that it was covered more on this blog than any other Irish blog. Hell, if you type 'Padraig Nally' into Google you'll get this result.
I recall there being some great discussions on this site over the matter but I feel that the decision made today by the jury to free Padraig Nally is the correct one and is a verdict that all Irish people can be proud of.
This is what I wrote on the subject of Padraig Nally's imprisonment on November 12th, 2005, and I'll reprint it as I stand by every damn word! Quote:
"My take on this is that Ireland has witnessed a grave miscarriage of justice. Should Padraig Nally be in jail? Certainly not!
"The most important right a person has in society is the right to defend themselves. When the English political scientist Thomas Hobbes outlined his views on the social contract (which detailed how a society ought to be governed), he was in favour of giving up all rights to the Sovereign with the exception of one right which he believed could not be sacrified under any circumstances - the right to defend oneself.
"People have argued that Mr Nally should be locked up as he went too far in the way he acted towards Mr Ward. Well isn't hindsight a beautiful thing? The fact is, when faced with a situation akin to the one Mr Nally faced, reason and rational thinking go out the window. Something primeval takes over, based on instinct. It's unfortunate that nowadays in society more concern is shown to the perpetrators of crime than the victims themselves!
"If Mr Ward had not set out to commit a crime in the first place then none of this would have happened. In my opinion, when you set out to commit a crime and to deny people their rights, you should automatically forfeit your rights!
"Mr Nally was under tremendous psychological strain. What about showing some consideration to him? A man who had never had trouble with the law previously?A suspended sentence would have been far better than six years in jail.
"Right now a man is in prison who shouldn't be there. A man who was imprisoned pyschologically by perpetrators of crime, who found himself compromised and who took action to defend himself, now is literally imprisoned at the behest of the judicial system we have in this country.
"It seems to me that the majority of popular opinion in this country is on the side of Mr Nally and the elected representatives of this country would do well to take notice of that.
"Criminals get a slap on the wrist in modern society whilst the men who take action to defend themselves and their property against criminals get locked up! Utter madness!
"Free Padraig Nally now!"
Well Padriag Nally is free now and I'm incredibly happy at the news!
I was listening just now to the radio and while most people who texted in were happy, some do-gooders are already starting to whinge. Someone called 'Orla' lambasted the "hypocrisy" of Irish people condemning gun crime and yet supporting the decision to free Mr Nally. Well "Orla" what you seem to have missed is the fact that Irish people condemn gun crime because it is a CRIME and that John Ward was originally shot because he was committing a CRIME. See? There is no inconsistency - crime is wrong and Mr Nally was the victim of crime, not the perpetrator.
Then we had a representative from some travellers association calling in alleging that the jury's decision was based upon Ward being a traveller and claiming that Nally shot Mr Ward because he was a traveller. WRONG. This argument - if you can call it that - really pisses me off. The fact that Ward was a traveller is irrelevant! Ward was shot because he was BREAKING AND ENTERING. I don't care if you're a traveller or a damn Martian, the bottom line is breaking into another man's home is wrong and if you decide to do so then you must accept the likelihood that the occupant of the home will do ANYTHING in order to protect himself, his family and his property. END OF STORY.
In all this talk about what Nally should and should not have done (by people who weren't in the scary position that Nally was) the simple reality is this - Ward would not be dead if he had not broke into Nally's home in the first place!
I am very pleased at the wisdom and common sense shown by the jury today and I find it refreshing. Padraig Nally gets to come home tonight and he gets to spend Christmas with his loved ones. I'll raise my glass to that.
Peace on earth and good will to all men!
Mr Bergis prank call
I've no idea if this is staged or not but I want to believe that it's not. If it is then it's very well acted. If you liked that one check out some of the other clips on Youtube. I also enjoyed this one involving poor Mr Bergis being asked to support Gay Day in Mississippi. Terrific stuff!
Monday, December 11, 2006
100 Greatest Irish People - Vote continues
This week I have posted just two polls, each one featuring ten great Irish figures.
For the uninitiated unsure how this works, these are multiple choice polls meaning you tick the box of the figures you feel are most deserving of a HIGH ranking. The Irish figures with the most votes will obviously feature higher in the eventual list and obviously those with little support will be at the tail end of the list. You can select as many boxes as you like.
For instance, one of the polls this week features Daniel O'Connell and Arthur Griffith so if you think O'Connell is a great Irish figure but don't feel the same way about Griffith, then tick the box of O'Connell only.
Now then here are some details on the figures featured in this week's polls...
Charles Stewart Parnell - Born in Wicklow, dubbed the 'uncrowned King of Ireland', made Irish Home Rule a key issue in British politics.
John Millington Synge - Dramatist and poet as well as a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival, most famous for his play, The Playboy of the Western World. From Dublin.
Bram Stoker - Born in Dublin, famous for his highly influential horror novel Dracula.
Countess Markiewicz - Born in London, became involved in Irish revoutionary activity as well as helping Dublin's poor. Was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons but refused to take her seat due to Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy.
Arthur Guinness - Born in Kildare, founder of Guinness Breweries.
John Barry - Born in Wexford, regarded as the Father of the American Navy.
George Best - Belfast-born Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballing legend. Regarded by many as the greatest player of all time.
Robert Boyle - Regarded as 'The Father of Chemistry', described the inverse relationship between the volume of a gas and its pressure – now known as Boyle’s Law. Born in Waterford.
Lord Edward Fitzgerald - Dublin-born revolutionary, at one point the most dangerous United Irish leader at large.
Sean McBride - Born in Paris, fought during the War of Independence, founder of the Clann na Poblachta party and was a founder member of Amnesty International. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Daniel O'Connell - Born in Kerry, achieved Catholic Emancipation and worked for the repeal of the Union. Regarded as 'The Liberator'.
Terence McSwiney - Born in Cork, succeeded Tomás MacCurtain as Lord Mayor of Cork when he was murdered by Black and Tans. Went on hunger strike for 74 days after being imprisoned.
James Larkin - Trade union leader and social activist, born in Liverpool to Irish parents. Fought for worker's rights and founded the Irish Transport and General Worker's Union (ITGWU).
Phelim O'Neill - Tyrone-born nobleman and leader of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Executed in 1653.
Duke of Wellington - Born Athur Wellesley in County Meath, widely regarded as the British Army's greatest general and also served two terms as Prime Minister. Famous for defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
Grace O'Malley - Mayo-born pirate and chieftain, opposed British influence in Ireland.
Lady Gregory - Born in Galway, was a driving force of the Irish Literary Revival and co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and Abbey Theatre along with W.B. Yeats and others.
Bob Geldof - Lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, most famous for his political activism and for his role in Band Aid, Live Aid and the Live 8 concerts. Born in Dublin.
James Joyce - Dublin-born writer and poet, regarded as one of the 20th century's most influential writers. Most famous for his works Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegan's Wake and Dubliners.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Where are all the great Irish women?
I replied to this by saying, "I don't think we have had many great women in this country though. (Besides my mother of course)."
Well if you read the comments, the gals haven't taken too kindly to my view (must be that time of the month again eh fellas?!) but I figured I'd get your take on it.
Now we've had great women in this country no doubt (such as Anne Devlin for example) but have there been that many of them? I just don't think so.
Also, I think it's worth pointing out here to Red Mum that many of the names featured were SUGGESTED to me by readers. In fact, Ciarán from Neither Indifferent Nor Sceptical even commented that:
"I figure that, including all the names in the comments, we're running at a 5% female quotient. Irish women must be rubbish."
I think the participants featured on this site merely reflects the reality which is that the great figures of this country - be they political, cultural, sporting etc - were predominantly male. I don't think it has been unfair myself.
Monday, December 04, 2006
100 Greatest Irish People - The vote cont'd
To reiterate how this works, these are multiple choice polls meaning you tick the box of the figures you feel are most deserving of a HIGH ranking. The Irish figures with the most votes will obviously feature higher in the eventual list and obviously those with little support will be at the tail end of the list. You can select as many boxes as you like.
For example, one of the polls this week features W.B. Yeats and John Hume so if you think Yeats is a great Irish figure but don't feel the same way about Hume, then tick the box of Yeats only.
Now then here are some details on the figures featured in this week's polls...
Sir Ernest Shackleton - Famed polar explorer born in Dublin, best known for rescuing all the crew of his stranded ship Endurance.
Thomas Russell - Cork-born co-founder and leader of the United Irishmen executed for his involvement in Robert Emmet's rebellion of 1803.
Hugh O'Neill - Chieftain from Tyrone, best known for leading the resistance against English authority during the Nine Years War.
Edward Carson - Ulster Unionist leader, born in Dublin, successful in his goal of preventing the island of Ireland from attaining Home Rule.
Thomas Ashe - Kerry-born IRB member and founding member of the Irish Volunteers, famous for his leading role in defeating a much larger force of British troops during the Easter Rising.
Oliver Plunkett - Meath-born Archbishop of Armagh who maintained his duties in spite of English persecution and who went on to become the last Catholic martyr to die in England. He was canonised in 1975.
John Philip Holland - Developed the US Navy's first submarine. Born in County Clare.
Maude Gonne - English-born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress who was won over to nationalism by the plight of evicted tenants in the Land Wars.
Sean O'Casey - Dramatist, memoirist, socialist and nationalist. Plays include Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. Born in Dublin.
Ernest Walton - Waterford-born physicist, winner of the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics. The only Irishman to win a Nobel Prize for science.
Eamon de Valera - New York-born Irish revolutionary, Taoiseach and President of Ireland. Successfully protected Irish neutrality during World War 2.
Brendan Behan - Dublin-born poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright and former IRA member.
Jonathan Swift - Irish priest, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer and poet most famous for writing Gulliver's Travels. Born in Dublin.
Eoghan Rua O'Neill - Anglicised as Owen Roe O'Neill, the Ulsterman fought in the 1641 rebellion and sought Irish independence and for the Plantation of Ireland to be overturned. Also noted for condemning the murder of Protestants.
Patrick Pearse - Teacher, poet, writer and one of the most famous leaders of the 1916 Rising who was executed for his involvement. Born in Dublin.
Charles Parsons - Engineer best known for inventing the steam turbine. From Offaly.
Douglas Hyde - Roscommon-born scholar, founder of the Gaelic League and first President of Ireland who aimed to use the language to build bridges in the island.
William Parsons - Cork-born father of Charles Parsons who built a telescope in Offaly which for many decades was the largest in the world. Carried out pioneering astronomical research.
Harry Clarke - Dublin-born stained glass artist and illustrator known for producing many magnificent stained-glass works in the country.
Patrick Sarsfield - Born in Lucan, best known for his role in the Siege of Limerick where he played a key role in stopping the English from taking the city. He remains popular in Limerick to this day as a result.
Brian Boru - High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014. Born near Killaloe (modern County Clare).
Thomas Francis Meagher - Waterford-born Irish revolutionary who also served as Brigadier-General in the US Army during the US Civil War.
Anne Devlin - Wicklow-born housekeeper to Robert Emmet, famous for refusing to inform on Emmet despite torture which included half-hanging. She also refused bribes and was imprisoned along with her family (including her 9 year old brother who died in jail due to the conditions). She died in poverty in 1851.
George Berkeley - Philosopher from Kilkenny, noted for his dictum "Esse est percipi". ("To be is to be perceived")
Francis Bacon - Figurative painter, born in Dublin to English parents. His artwork is known for its grotesque and nightmarish imagery.
John Hume - Born in Derry, former SDLP leader respected by friend and foe alike for his role in the peace process. Co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.
William Rowan Hamilton - Brilliant mathematician, physicist and astronomer. Born in Dublin.
Blessed Edmund Rice - Catholic missionary from Kilkenny who devoted his life to the education and service of the poor. Beatified in 1996.
James Connolly - Born in Edinburgh to Irish immigrant parents, went on to promote the cause of the working class and founded the Irish Citizen army. He was carried in to Kilmainham Gaol on a stretcher by the British, propped up in a chair and shot for his role in the 1916 Rising.
W.B. Yeats - Dublin-born poet and later Senator who was a driving force in the Irish Literary Revivival and who co-founded the Abbey Theatre. Received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. Was featured more than any other poet in the Irish Times' top 100 Irish poems.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Great Irishman clip
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