Republican News · Thursday 4 September 1997

[An Phoblacht]


The US Army has decided to check the tattoos of its servicemen for evidence of membership of ``hate groups or extremist organisations''. If any are found the soldiers will be disciplined or counselled.

d what sort of tattoos are the tattoo inspectors looking for? Well, swastikas, of course, and other Nazi stuff. But not everything on the list of objectionable tattoos is quite so obvious. For example, they are told to look for Celtic crosses. Must be because the Irish Association of Ancient Monument Watchers are a known subversive, commie outfit. Also on the list are ``rabbits with a black star on one ear''. Strange place, America.


Last week the brave RUC rushed at great speed to Peter Robinson's house. They had received reports of suspicious activity at a gate at the DUP man's large house. Sniffer dogs, electronic equipment and the well-peeled eyes of the busy peelers checked and rechecked. But nothing was found. The phantom intruder was none other than the cold north wind which, it seems, had rattled Peter's gate a little harder than usual.


Meanwhile in Britain police forces are using powers designed to be used in a nuclear war to disconnect thousands of telephone lines during riots, disasters and ``other disturbances''. Their excuse is that the disconnections protect the network from being swamped and prevent ``rioters and terrorists'' talking to each other.


I see that the dependable Daily Telegraph is still a doughty supporter of Ulster Unionists. Last Friday a piece defended them against the charge of being ``gloomy, stupid, bigoted and boring''. They produce ``comparatively few eminent pop singers, hairdressers, television cooks, homosexual dress designers, rubbish artists and esteemed fun people in general,'' it says with typical Telegraph wit. Then it suggests a solution to marching issue: ``Ought they to give up all the Orange marches for good and put on a ``gay pride'' parade down the Garvaghy Road instead?''

d the name on the article? Appropriately, it was Peter Simple.


It calls to mind a comment by a traveller in Ireland in the last century who found the inn-keepers in Belfast with ``faces as surly, severe and grave as a bad conscience. It was not possible to get them talking, while in the rest of Ireland one only had to knock on the door for it to be opened and to breach the surface ever so slightly to tap an eternal spring.''


The new train service between Belfast and Dublin picked a bad day to launch. On Monday the choo-choo was drowned out by Diana's canonisation. But that didn't deter the trainspotters who travelled on the inaugural two hour trip with pens and notebooks at the ready, noting down the times at which it passed each station. Equally vital information was noted by the anoraks on station platforms. Others weren't so keen. As the train steamed (glided?) back into Belfast that evening it was pelted with a hail of stones by a crowd of kids obviously welcoming the arrival of an important cross-border institution.

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