Archive for the 'Northern Ireland' Category

Woolly Mammals and Harp Lager: It´s Our Thing

Hilarious, sort of:

Blueprint series editor Paul McGuigan says: “We’re rolling 600 million years of Northern Ireland’s unique past into an exciting series across television, radio and online.”

Via Slugger O’Toole. Apparently the dinosaurs from both communities lived in peace and harmony.

I don’t know when it was that Northern Ireland began to seem to me like something really stupid and unnecessary. But since then, it’s started to seem even stupider (though I don’t see any state as particularly necessary).


I have a long-standing interest in the process of how words are borrowed from other languages. This article in Rebelión, about Northern Ireland, contains the following term, which the writer appears to deem self-explanatory:


The interesting thing, from my point of view, is that it is a literal translation of an English word (securocrat) which is in itself an amalgam of a Latin word -securitas, and a Greek word- kratos. I’d never seen it appear before in Spanish -and a google search doesn’t produce any results- so if I would be inclined to include it -along with the Titanic and Gloria Hunniford- as another great Northern Ireland export.

T Minus 11

While I’m in bellyachin’ mood, a long note on the education system in Northern Ireland.

Continue reading ‘T Minus 11’

Underpants of Doom

Looks like the British state has been terrorising its own citizens again.

Despite what appeared to be strong evidence against the four the PPS said all charges were be-ing dropped due to the emergence of new information, al-though it declined to elaborate.

The abandonment of the trial is understood to centre on claims that senior dissident republican Paddy Murray was being protected from prosecution as a security-force agent.


“It is clear to anyone who studies the case that the trial fell apart once we sought disclosure of this individual’s role as a security-force agent who had entrapped our clients,” Mr Corrigan said.
“Our clients could not have been guaranteed a fair trial without that disclosure.”

It looks as though the British agent supplied a few Real IRA guys -whom I presume not to be the sharpest implements in the rectangular container, being members of a paramilitary group whose name recalls the Real Ghostbusters– with the necessary tools to go out and ruin the weekend for a substantial section of Northern Ireland’s DIY enthusiasts.

Two of them were allegedly found with incendiaries hidden down their trousers.

Lovers, not fighters.

Anyway, the point here is that if they’re doing it with the remnants of the ‘RA, you can bet your firecracker-filled Y-fronts that they’re doing it with those evil Musselmans and their fearsome terror plots to blow up Kent with a packet of aspirin and some bailer twine.

State: The Truth

I mentioned yesterday that there had been little talk to date of what the implications would be for the British state to classify the ‘Troubles’ as a war, in particular what this might mean for consideration of the British state’s own actions.


Then, via Slugger O’Toole, comes a Dean Godson comment piece in which the following is observed.

The latest leak to emerge from this body is the dotty noion that it might ask the Government to admit that the British State was engaged in fighting a “war” against the IRA for more than 30 years. The Troubles were, of course, never a “war” – unless you subscribe to the Provisionals’ preposterous conceit that they are the legitimate government of the Republic.


There is good reason for the government not to admit that the British state was engaged in fighting a war. It does not seem controversial to point out that the British state had agents operating within paramilitary organisations, torturing and in some cases murdering people. As I noted yesterday, if paramilitaries could be accused of committing war crimes, then –and we are leaving to one side the often brutal actions of soldiers in uniform- the same accusation could be levelled against the British state.


Dean Godson provides the main objection to this notion:


The British State sought to prevent the violent overthrow of the legitimate constitutional order. A minority within the minority nationalist community sought to coerce the Province’s pro-British majority, and successive governments sought to contain them. If the British State had really been fighting a “war”, few of the Sinn Fein/IRA godfathers would have survived to tell the tale.


The source of the ‘legitimate constitutional order’ to which Godson is referring is the state itself. The state establishes itself as a necessary condition of everyday life, and as such has no need to justify its existence. It need only take the required actions to ensure it endures. In the Northern Ireland situation, there was no need for it to shell nationalist areas with tanks, since this would have rendered obvious the fact that, at root, the state had no legitimacy except that which it accorded itself through the threat of force, i.e. none really. For the state to endure, it merely needed people to consent to the idea of its legitimacy, and then tailor its actions accordingly.


What you had in the Northern Ireland situation was a sector of the population who were conscious of the fact that they were forced to obey the state, and accept the conditions it provided. The state imposed itself on them against their conscious will, and the consequences were subversion, insubordination, protest, violent insurgency and so on.


There is a temptation to make a case that nationalists should have been more accepting, compliant, and so on, in face of these impositions which, as it turned out, were not as bad as those obtaining in other places. But this case seems to require, at some level, recognition of the legitimacy of the state, the source of which, as pointed out earlier, is the state itself. To say this is not to provide justification for the IRA deciding to blow people’s heads off, but to point towards a more complex set of affairs than observations such as ‘the lion’s share of the atrocities was committed by terrorists’ suggest.


An alternative approach would be to argue that since the majority of people wanted Northern Ireland to exist as constituted, the minority ought to have submitted to the will of the majority, and any unlawful deviation deserved to be punished. For this approach to work, one must accept a priori the legitimacy of the state as constituted, in terms of its geographical limits, the institutions it authorizes, the functions it performs. I can no longer see how this approach will do.


If what I am saying above is correct, then there are implications for the workings of the Consultative Group on The Past. People want to find out about the events that destroyed their lives, but the group appears unable to operate effectively without the co-operation of the state, which means that its outcomes are in essence precluded by the exigencies of state. Given that it was set up by the government, this should not be at all surprising.


There appears to be some expectation that the state will, to some degree, ‘come clean’ about the nature of its past deeds. Yet this is unrealistic, since it will only do so to the extent that its legitimacy is not questioned. At any rate, the answers the Consultative Group will come up with will be in terms of what the state can do to make things better. There are better ways of doing things.

Reading Degree Zero

Roland Barthes made a lasting contribution to the way people see and interpret the world. If his vision had taken in the importance of approaching laundry trucks, we may have learned even more from him.

There are different approaches to reading Roland Barthes. One, seldom employed, is to treat him as though he were a modern Nostradamus.

he will be considering the object, or measuring it, or surveying it, using it at least as a spectacle; take the Giant’s Causeway, that mass of terrifying basalt composed by Nature at Antrim, in Ireland; this inhuman landscape is, one might say, stuffed with humanity; gentlemen in tricornes, lovely ladies contemplate the horrible landscape, chatting familiarly; farther on, men are fishing

With stunning prescience and scarce ambiguity, this refers to the presentation being made to Donald Trump so that he builds a golf course in North Antrim. The men fishing are Seymour Sweeney and Ian Paisley Junior.

Nearshore Locations

“On a different note, this autumn saw an important day for my service. On October 10, we took on the lead responsibility from the Police Service of Northern Ireland for national security work there. And I am pleased to confirm today that our new Northern Ireland headquarters will soon be opened by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland.”This new building is a regional headquarters concerned with the broad spectrum of MI5’s work. So, although we will continue to investigate national security threats to Northern Ireland from there, the capabilities will also provide us with greater capacity in our overall work across the UK.

“Our Northern Ireland headquarters is now an important part of my service’s UK counter terrorism network.

So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. Northern Ireland is strategically more important now than it was when this:

On this basis, he reiterates, on the behalf of the British Government, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.

was declared 14 years ago.  United Ireland here we come. Not.


But the Belfast immigration officials were not to be fooled. Oh no. After failing to extract a confession of illegality from him, they produced handcuffs and told him he was going to Maghaberry jail.By this stage, Mr Kakopa was extremely distressed. However, he managed to insist that there was no way they were marching him past his children in shackles.This gets worse. In Maghaberry, he was made to take off all his clothes and he was strip-searched. He was not allowed to make a phone call. He was put into a cell with another prisoner. Ill with stress, he was later moved to the prison hospital.

Susan McKay’s report from the other day on the case of Frank Kakopa, who was incarcerated by immigration officials in Belfast City airport for travelling while black.

Her conclusion:

Next time someone tells you that our commissions for equality and human rights are just money wasted on political correctness, consider the case of Frank Kakopa.

Yet I fear that no amount of commissions for such things would put an end to people getting shackled and strip-searched for being suspected of travelling illegally.

The Immigration Service in this case was sued for false imprisonment, and paid up in an out-of-court settlement. But -No Lawyer, I- false imprisonment in this case only arises from the fact of Frank Kakopa’s legal entitlement to be in the country.

Nothing has been said about the general practice of strip-searching and shackling people who under the laws of the country are not permitted to be there. It’s pretty clear that the state agents treated Frank Kakopa thus because they are approved procedures for suspected illegal immigrants. So they probably do it to others quite regularly. A fundamentally sadistic practice, but since it’s all for the benefit of we citizens, it’s ok.


Peter Foster in the Daily Telegraph details a ‘less intrusive‘ procedure.

I’m really not the bashful type – one of the many strange side-effects of an English public school education – but it was, to say the least, a decidedly odd sensation to find myself standing next to a complete stranger reviewing my naked form on screen.

I did think (before I saw them!) of taking my pictures away on a pen-drive to show you all, but you’ll be delighted to hear that wasn’t possible – not that they were in the least bit publishable in a family newspaper.

The scan is voluntary and the British Airports Authority say they are only ‘testing’ out the equipment, but to be honest if the revealing nature of the pictures becomes common knowledge, I can’t imagine many people volunteering.

I can see the machine could be used as a less intrusive way of strip-searching people – but I think I’m right in saying that there has to be “reasonable grounds” for a strip search.

Before you know it, it’ll be compulsory because details have emerged of terrorists sticking exploding pineapples up their rear ends.

Happy Days

Not the 1970s series about the 1950s with The Fonz and occasional guest appearances from Mork from Ork, but the expression frequently used in Belfast to denote a situation of eupepsia.

But Jim Kane, a builder, also from Holywood, spoke up in favour of a goldmine: “Go ahead, rip up the whole place, tear it up. If it brings money to us, happy days, bring it on. Some woman stopped me at work today and asked what I was doing, was I digging for gold? I wish.”

Emphasis mine. What the textual reproduction omits is the intonation required for its proper delivery. On a musical scale, it would be Ha (B flat, quaver), rising to Pee (E, quaver) – and then falling, with final emphasis on Dez (F sharp, minim), although to be totally accurate, you would need to change the key in accordance with the size of the speaker’s vocal cords.

Accidentally, Like An Expert

The BBC has a report into the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman’s investigation into the death of Neil McConville. Some interesting detail:

… the ombudsman expressed “grave concerns” that some intelligence information about the police operation had been deleted from a computer during her investigation.

She questioned the police claim that this had been an accident.

Any eejit will be aware that most deleted information these days can be easily retrieved. And if there’s anyone that ought to be capable of retrieving deleted information, it’s the peelers.

Here’s what the Police Ombudsman’s report itself says on the matter:

Despite seizing the relevant computer hard drive and securing expert assistance, it proved impossible to recover the information. There was no evidence to either support or disprove the police explanation of human error for the deletion of the information.

Here’s what Computer Weekly says about files getting deleted:

And that is the problem with electronic information. Dragging something to the wastepaper basket does not get rid of it at all. Corporate embezzlers or illicit internet surfers trying to cover their tracks will need either a lot of knowledge or a lot of luck to be successful.

Information about that data, along with the data itself, will be smeared all over the hard drive in temporary swap files and registry entries. In many cases, the original file will still be found intact.

When a user deletes a file, they want it to disappear as quickly and conveniently as possible, so pressing delete or dragging it to a wastepaper basket makes sense. But for the computer, which will have scattered parts of the data all over the hard drive, it is more efficient to delete just the information about that file, rather than the file itself. The file stays there, but the operating system – and the user – cannot see it.

It suspect it was an accidental expert deletion. Things like this happen in other walks of life all the time. Highly trained experts, somehow operating in accordance with established procedure, do the craziest things. For instance, there was this one military surgeon dude who once accidentally performed a successful operation on the ingrowing toenail of a patient who had been taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest.

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September 2020