I'm still trying to put together my thoughts about the statement, and as I'm off on holiday tomorrow until the middle of August, I probably won't get a chance to post them here for some time. Suffice to say for now that I'm not sure there was really any other option - it was either this or a (permanently?) stalled process. The ball is now in others' court, and it remains to be seen what they do with it.

Have a good couple weeks everyone. Tiocfaidh ár lá.
It's official: British police murdered an innocent man.

Some things never change, eh?
This morning, I took part in a group visit to Long Kesh.

We had an official tour guide - a pleasant civil servant from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's Department - but it was the ex-prisoners in the group who really provided the flavour. It was an awesome experience, visiting the H-blocks, the cages, going up into a watchtower...and most of all, standing in the hospital room where Bobby Sands died. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to feel a chill down my spine.

Most of the compound is in an advanced state of dereliction, overrun by weeds and rabbits. As most readers will know there has been a debate over what should be done with it. That is still to be fully determined, but it is agreed that parts of it - including the hospital and at least one of the H-blocks and cages - will be preserved and a conflict transformation zone established on the premises. I think this is an appropriate use of the land, and I'm very thankful that those who wished to see the prison buildings torn down did not prevail. Like it or not, this place is a part of Irish history - in terms of recent history in particular, an important part - and it would be a disgrace to deny future generations the right to experience what I did today.
Tony Blair has vowed that Britain will hunt down those responsible for last week's attacks. And quite rightly.

It's quite a contrast with his continued refusal to order a thorough investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, not to mention his gutting of the Finucane Inquiry.
Of all the utterly stupid things I've heard lately, one of the utterly stupidest has to be the idea that Ireland would "have to" introduce ID cards if Britain does.

Er, why?

The "informed political source" quoted in today's SBP explains it on the grounds that "we have a common travel area and a land border between the two jurisdictions". Big deal. Denmark manages to get by without one despite sharing a land border with Germany and a common travel area with a lot of countries.

I suspect that the Brits are leaning on Dublin because they don't want the hassle of resident Irish telling them "I don't need a British ID card, I'm Irish" - particularly in the Six Counties. The introduction of an Irish card that northern nationalists could obtain instead would neatly resolve that problem. The British may be pressuring Dublin with the threat of dissolving the common travel arrangement. Dublin should call their bluff. In my experience most people bring their passport when they travel to Britain anyway, either because of airline requirements or because, common travel area or no common travel area, you usually wind up having to show something at one end or the other. Crossing between the north and south of Ireland is another matter but does anyone seriously believe the Brits have the appetite to start instituting border checks again, with all that would entail. Not a chance.

If the British government wants to go ahead with this silly gimmick that will do absolutely nothing to prevent further attacks, that's their prerogative, but the Irish Government should show some spine and refuse to allow themselves to be threatened into doing the same.
During yesterday's Dáil debate on Risk Equalisation, Mary Harney, referring to statistics showing that approximately 50% of people in the State have private health insurance, stated (paraphrasing): "This is a good thing. It demonstrates the rise in disposable income."

My God, woman, what planet are you on? People aren't taking out private insurance because they can afford to with all their extra dosh. They're taking it out because they are scared to death of getting sick and having to go on a long waiting list for treatment, or lie on a hospital trolley for three weeks.
  Subscribe with Bloglines