Monthly Archives: June 2017

Will A Hung Parliament In UK End Sinn Fein Abstentionism And Postpone Adams’ Retirement?

This is how The Guardian is reporting the exit polls from the UK general election.

Do the math. If this prediction holds, the Tories’ 314 seats exactly equals the combined total of Labour’s 266, the Lib Dems’ 14 and the Scottish Nationalists’ 34. That leaves 22 seats, eighteen of which are in Northern Ireland and they will be divided between the DUP, other Unionists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

The other 22 will, if this scenario unfolds, thus hold the balance of power at Westminster. Sinn Fein won four seats in 2015 and this time may win more. The DUP had eight seats, the SDLP 3 and the Ulster Unionists, two with one ‘other’. That may all change however when the votes are counted.

With political power so finely balanced can Sinn Fein afford not to attend the House of Commons, oath of allegiance to the Crown notwithstanding? Helping out their old mucker Jeremy Corbyn may bring SF all sorts of unexpected prizes; refusing to take part, on the other hand, could be badly penalised, especially if by so doing the DUP become king, or should that be queen-makers?

And another question pops up. Gerry Adams is due to retire, so the jungle drums tell us, sometime in the autumn. If there is a hung parliament, with all the possibilities that may flow from that, will he be tempted to stay on? Even arrange a sudden by-election in West Belfast?

Trump’s Unwittingly Revealing Response To ISIS’ Attacks In Iran

This is what Donald Trump had to say in the wake of today’s ISIS bombings and shootings in the Iranian capital Tehran which claimed twelve lives:

‘We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.’

I am prompted by the last sentence to respond with a question:

‘You mean like invading Iraq on the basis of a lie, or overthrowing the leadership in Libya so the country’s oil and water reserves become available for exploitation?’

‘IRA “Disappeared” Twenty-Five Alleged Informers During The Tan War…..’

A fascinating article on the IRA’s treatment of alleged informers during the 1919-1921 War of Independence popped into my mailbox this morning courtesy of the ever entertaining and informative Irish Republican Education Forum on Facebook.

The article appears on the blog The Irish Story’ and was written by Padraig Og O Ruairc, the Co Clare-born author and historian. O Ruairc examines in detail the where’s, who’s, what’s and when’s of the IRA’s attitude towards British spies and in the first really detailed study of informers during this period, he writes that a total of 196 people were killed by the IRA, allegedly for working for the British.

Padraig Og O Ruairc at a book signing

You can read the whole article here.

Here’s one surprising revelation:

‘The execution of suspected spies was almost exclusively a ‘Southern’ phenomenon. Apart from a cluster of executions in Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan the IRA execution of spies was almost unknown in Ulster.’

Here is his map of executions of informers by the IRA and not surprisingly the bulk of victims were killed in Co Cork, the south Armagh of the 1919-1921 Troubles. Seventy-eight of the 196 slain informers were killed by the IRA in that county.

The most surprising revelation, about which I would like to know more detail, is his claim that the IRA ‘disappeared’, Jean McConville-style, twenty-five alleged informers during the Tan war. Their bodies were never recovered.

Perhaps Mr O Ruairc will some time in the future tell us more about them: who were they and what were the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’?

Were any efforts ever made to locate their bodies? After the Treaty were such victims just forgotten, their fate written out of the story of the fight for Ireland’s independence? Why the silence?

Should the Irish government, which has condemned the Provisional IRA for its behaviour in this regard and co-operated in efforts to recover the ‘disappeared’ from the North, not do more now to restore the ‘disappeared’ from their own conflict and jurisdiction to their families?

 

Some More Thoughts On John Finucane & Sinn Fein

The more I think about John Finucane’s decision to stand in the Westminster general election for Sinn Fein in North Belfast the more I find aspects to puzzle over.

John Finucane leaving Belfast High Court

The Shinners have clearly given up on Gerry Kelly ever persuading enough middle class Catholics in North Belfast to vote for him to make the seat winnable.

John Finucane however just might do the trick. He is a successful solicitor with a commendable track record in fighting for many years to expose the full story of his father’s murder. I have had dealings with most the Finucane family over the years but never John, But by all accounts he is a very nice guy, with genuine concerns for the people in his putative constituency and a lawyer with real interest in human rights issues.

He also comes from a family which is respected in the well-to-do Catholic parts of the constituency, of which there are quite a few. Unlike Mr Kelly, despite his ministerial mantle. As the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig……..

John Finucane on the other hand just could pull off a surprise and deprive the DUP of a seat which for many years they have considered almost part of the family silver. And it would be quite a coup for Sinn Fein, signifying a new dominance of electoral politics in Belfast.

So running John Finucane in North Belfast makes a lot of political sense for SF.

But what about John Finucane? Why did he throw in his lot with Sinn Fein, aside from an ambition to be an MP? Or to put it another way, did he think that Sinn Fein did all that it could to help his family get to the bottom of his father’s death and that, in return, helping the party score a striking political victory in this crucial seat is therefore warranted?

In the run up to the final power sharing deal between the DUP and SF back in 2006, there were multiple opportunities for SF to insist upon a firm British commitment to a full judicial inquiry, held in public, into the Pat Finucane killing as a precondition to progress. But Sinn Fein never played that card, even though it could have done so.

It was well known at the time that the people who were really ready and willing to do anything about the Finucane case were the SDLP but their clout was minimal. The game at the time was all about getting the Shinners into bed with Paisley. SF were in the driving seat and could have named their price. But, in relstion to Pst Finucane, they didn’t.

So why not?

The UDA team that killed Pat Finucane in February 1989 was essentially from the same part of the organisation that had attempted to assassinate the Sinn Fein president and West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams in the autumn of 1988, just a few months before Pat Finucane’s assassination at his home off the Antrim Road.

Pat Finucane leaving Crumlin Road courthouse with his client, the late Pat McGeown, a Sinn Fein and IRA activist. This was the photo that the UDA used to identify Pat Finucane. It had appeared in an MI5 produced propaganda sheet called ‘An Phobcrap’, which was published in the UDA’s name

Using a motorbike and pillion passenger, the UDA team had planned to place a limpet mine – constructed by a bomb-maker in East Belfast – on the roof of Adams’ car as he was driven away from a Housing Executive office in the city centre which he visited weekly. The mine had a very short fuse and the UDA calculated that it would almost certainly kill Adams.

The man who commanded the UDA unit for the Adams’ murder bid was the same man who led the unit which led and directed the killing of Pat Finucane. And in both cases, Brian Nelson, the UDA’s intelligence chief and an agent for the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU), did the preparatory intel work.

Pat Finucane, as we know, was killed by UDA gunmen who stormed into his home as he prepared to eat Sunday dinner with his family. Adams survived when the UDA’s limpet mine was discovered during a security force raid and the plan to kill him was then abandoned.

If there had been a proper public judicial inquiry into Pat Finucane’s death it is almost certain that the full story behind these two contrasting episodes would have been told. And given the overlapping role played in both incidents by FRU agent Brian Nelson, it stands to reason that this would have been a very interesting story.

Interesting for sure, but also possibly a story whose details would prove to be embarrassing and unwelcome for the Sinn Fein leader.

Is this why Sinn Fein never made a proper probe of the Finucane killing a precondition for sharing power with Ian Paisley? Was Sinn Fein just not willing to push for a public inquiry for fear of what might emerge?

If so, John Finucane should perhaps be asking himself why on earth he is standing for Sinn Fein in North Belfast?

Donald Trump’s Lies, Inventions, Distortions And Fake News……

This report is significant by virtue of the source, the Associated Press, or AP as it known in the business. The AP is known for its caution, some might say timidity, born out of the agency’s business plan, which is to supply copy to a wide variety of outlets with often differing politics.

So, it invariably prefers a circumspect style of journalism. This article is a significant break with that approach, effectively calling out the President of the United States for his lies and distortions. It is a significant way-point in the American media’s relationship with power in Washington.

Enjoy:

AP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts homeland security secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.

The latest deadly London attacks, like one in the Philippines last week, prompted visceral reactions from Trump instead of statements shaped by the findings of the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic apparatus. He got ahead of the facts emerging in Britain’s chaos Saturday and got it wrong in the Philippines case, calling the episode there a “terrorist attack” when it was not.

A look at some of his weekend tweets about the London attack and rhetoric that came from the president and his aides about climate change and more last week:

TRUMP: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” — tweet Saturday, soon after the rampage at the London Bridge and Borough Market that killed at least seven people and wounded dozens

THE FACTS: Trump’s tweet directly contradicted an earlier statement by his homeland security secretary that the travel restrictions blocked by U.S. courts do not constitute a ban.

“It’s not a travel ban, remember,” John Kelly told Fox News on May 28. “It’s the travel pause. What the president said, for 90 days, we were going to pause in terms of people from those countries coming to the United States that would give me time to look at additional vetting.” The administration has asked the Supreme Court address the court decisions holding up Trump’s plan to bar entry temporarily of people from a half dozen Muslim-majority countries.

To make his point clear, Trump tweeted on Monday: “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!”

Trump has also suggested terrorism was at play in the London attack, sharing on Twitter an unconfirmed report to that effect, well before British authorities said so.

It remains unknown whether a Trump-style freeze on entry of foreigners from certain listed countries might have somehow prevented the violence in this case. One of the three attackers was identified Monday as a British citizen, a status that would protect him from any such exclusion, and he was born in Pakistan, a country not on Trump’s list. Another was thought to be a native of Libya, which is on Trump’s list, or Morocco, which isn’t.

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TRUMP: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’ ” — tweet Saturday night.

THE FACTS: A look at the fuller context of remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to the BBC on Sunday shows that he was telling Londoners there was “no need to be alarmed” at the heavier police presence they will see in the days ahead. He was not playing down the danger. “The threat level remains at severe,” the mayor said. “Severe means an attack across the country is still highly likely.”

But he said terrorists will not be allowed to “cower our city or Londoners.”

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TRUMP, at a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday marking his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord: “I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila. We’re closely monitoring the situation. And I will continue to give updates if anything happens during this period of time, but it is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror.”

THE FACTS: Philippine authorities said the attack that killed 37 people at a casino-hotel complex was by a lone gunman who set fire to gambling tables and fled with casino chips. They said the motive was robbery, not terrorism.

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TRUMP: “The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have 7,000 less income, and in many cases, much worse than that.” — Rose Garden ceremony Thursday announcing U.S. withdrawal from the worldwide agreement to curb emissions responsible for global warming. GDP is the gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of the economy.

THE FACTS: His claim is based on a study paid for by two groups that have long opposed environmental regulation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation. It makes worst-case assumptions that may inflate the cost of meeting U.S. targets under the Paris accord while largely ignoring the economic benefits to U.S. businesses from building and operating renewable energy projects.

Both groups behind the study get financial backing from those who profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels. The latter group has received money from foundations controlled by the Koch brothers, whose company owns refineries and more than 4,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines.

Academic studies have found that increased environmental regulation doesn’t actually have much impact on employment. Jobs lost at polluting companies tend to be offset by new jobs in green technology.

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TRUMP: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: That may be so, but Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, is not Trump country. It voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, favoring her by a margin of 56 percent to Trump’s 40 percent. The city has a climate action plan committing to boost the use of renewable energy.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, has been an outspoken supporter of the Paris accord, and tweeted after Trump’s announcement that “as the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.”

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TRUMP: Claims “absolutely tremendous economic progress since Election Day,” adding “more than a million private-sector jobs.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: The number is about right, but it in no way counts as “absolutely tremendous economic progress.” Private-sector job creation from October through April (171,000 private-sector jobs a month) actually lags just slightly behind the pace of job creation for the previous six months (172,000), which came under President Barack Obama. On Friday the government announced a lower figure for jobs added last month — 138,000.

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TRUMP: “Our attacks on terrorism are greatly stepped up, and you see that — you see it all over — from the previous administration, including getting many other countries to make major contributions to the fight against terror. Big, big contributions are being made by countries that weren’t doing so much in the form of contributions.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: Trump is recycling a misleading claim he made in April following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and it’s no truer now than it was then. NATO has not substantively changed its mission toward countering terrorism as a result of Trump’s agitating.

As evidence that NATO is heeding his call to be more aggressive on terrorism, the president has cited an alliance decision last year to establish a high-level intelligence coordinator who could make the alliance more nimble in responding to threats. But that position was in the works under Trump’s White House predecessor, and came about because of worries about Russian aggression as well as from a desire to respond more effectively to the Islamic State group.

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WHITE HOUSE: The Paris climate accord “would effectively decapitate our coal industry, which now supplies about one-third of our electric power.” — information released with Trump’s announcement.

THE FACTS: The U.S. coal industry was in decline long before the Paris accord was signed in 2015. The primary cause has been competition from cleaner-burning natural gas, which has been made cheaper and more abundant by hydraulic fracturing. Electric utilities have been replacing coal plants with gas-fired facilities because they are more efficient and less expensive to operate.

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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The Paris deal has “really put an extraordinary burden on the American economy.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: If so, it’s a burden the U.S. put on itself. Each signatory to the Paris accord was left to devise its own emission goals and how to reach them; the negotiations were not a case of the world imposing standards on the U.S. The burden the U.S. placed on itself under the Obama administration is in part a function of the country’s status as the largest source of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

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WHITE HOUSE, citing a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “If all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible,” curbing temperature rise by “less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.”

THE FACTS: The co-founder of the MIT program on climate change says the administration is citing an outdated report, taken out of context. Jake Jacoby said the actual global impact of meeting targets under the Paris accord would be to curb rising temperatures by 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

“They found a number that made the point they want to make,” Jacoby said. “It’s kind of a debate trick.”

One degree may not sound like much, but Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute in Germany, says, “Every tenth of a degree increases the number of unprecedented extreme weather events considerably.”

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TRUMP: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany … Very bad for U.S. This will change.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The U.S. has the world’s largest overall trade deficit, and has for four decades. Among trading partners, Germany’s contribution to that deficit last year was $55 billion, ranking it third on the list. For a truly massive deficit, see China, No. 1 at $347 billion.

Trump made no mention, though, of the benefits from the U.S.-German economic ties. About 600,000 people in the U.S. work for German companies such as chemical maker BASF, drug company Bayer and mobile phone provider T-Mobile USA. BMW’s auto plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was America’s largest single auto exporter, sending $9.5 billion worth of SUVs to the rest of the world.

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Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Seth Borenstein and Michael Biesecker in Washington and David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.

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Find all AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

London Knifeman Was A Gooner!

From today’s Grauniad. Wouldn’t happen in a good Jewish club like Tottenham!

The World Hates Him, But Wall Street Loves Trump…….

And that is why he is probably safe, Russia scandal or no. Here’s the evidence. Since this graph was drawn, the Dow has, just in the last two weeks, risen a further 1500 points to 21,200: