Incidentally, I see that Jeffrey Donaldson is now criticising the IRA's plans to decommission - on the grounds that vital evidence will be destroyed! Really, you couldn't make this stuff up.

Further proof (as if any were needed) that no matter what republicans do, it will never be enough.
Last night, Cork City FC drew 0-0 against Sweden's Djurgarden to progress on aggregate to the first round of the UEFA Cup. It was an immense performance, far more exciting and confident than any I've seen from an Irish club in Europe lately. You could be forgiven for not knowing though, because every Irish news outlet is more interested with the fact that two teams from the same nearby foreign country will be in the same group for the Champions League.

Don't get me wrong; I've nothing against Irish fans supporting foreign clubs. I do it myself after all (yes, Celtic are a foreign club, their obvious close links to this country notwithstanding). But there is no reason whatsoever that fans of a club in Britain, or wherever, cannot also support their local club. Sure it's not as glamorous, but that doesn't have to make it less exciting; I defy most EPL games to match two of the recent Bohs games I've attended for tension, atmosphere and passion - both on the pitch and in the stands and terraces (yes, terraces, remember them?). The standard of football may be lower but there are still Irish people who support Leeds United and Wolverhampton despite those teams playing in a league that is, by any objective measure, crap. I tend toward thinking that these are just excuses that some Irish people make up in order to justify what is really no more than a (possibly unconscious) expression of the same inferiority complex that nearly wiped out the native language.

So, support your local club, Irish men and women*! It's the patriotic thing to do.

I'm not laying all the blame on the fans, incidentally; I also believe that the football association and the clubs themselves are not doing all they should be to promote the league (I'm speaking here primarily about the 26 County league because I simply don't know enough about the IFA). One thing that particularly annoys me every time a major international competition comes around, such as now, is that there is very little advantage to club supporters in obtaining tickets for Ireland's key matches. While the clubs do get some tickets, there are inevitably a lot of club fans unable to attend these games, while Lansdowne is filled with barstoolers who couldn't even find their way to Tolka Park. I'm not denying that most of these barstoolers are genuine fans of the "national" team, but don't those of us who support Irish football at all levels deserve this sort of thank you? It stands to reason also that the number of club supporters might increase if such a benefit was made available to them - surely it's worth the effort anyway.

I will be thinking about all this tonight from the stands at Dalymount as I watch the Super Bohs take on South Dublin minnows Wayside Celtic in their march toward the FAI Cup Final.

*Note: Special dispensation can be granted to some of our northern comrades, who at least have a good reason not to.

Online Petition

On Friday 22nd July 2005 members of the London Metropolitan police shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes in a shoot-to-kill operation.

Throughout the recent period of conflict in Ireland the British government operated a shoot-to-kill policy which claimed hundreds of lives. The British Government has not been held accountable for these killings.

At this dangerous time for human rights and civil liberties we offer our condolences and support to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes in the hope that justice is delivered and other such atrocities are avoided, and remember the families of the victims of British shoot-to-kill policy in Ireland.

Go here to sign.

Back from the jungle

So there I was - deep in the forest, no access to a television, newspaper or any radio station broadcasting in a language I could understand - in other words, pretty much incommunicado for a week. Suddenly a few cryptic texts started appearing on my mobile. "Welcome home to the 3". "Hope they are safe". Whaa???? The mobile networks are a bit unreliable out there, so it took another day or so to confirm what I hoped I was reading. Well, you know the rest.

As I write, the Colombia 3 are in various police stations in Dublin. Niall Connolly has been arrested and may face charges for using a false Irish passport (the other two used false British passports and thus could only be charged by the British Government).

I am reliably informed (not by a Shinner btw) of at least one occasion on which the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a false passport to one of its citizens who was also travelling to a country controlled by right-wing maniacs. I doubt that was the first time, or the last. Will the Irish Government arrest itself?
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