Pat Rabbitte has just told the Dáil that he "never believed there was a war or justification for a war" in the North.

So what did your colleagues in the Official IRA need all those guns for, Pat?
I notice that Labour abstained on the Criminal Justice Bill last night, despite the clear opposition to it of their Justice Spokesperson Joe Costello. Wonder why that was? Couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that Fine Gael voted for the bill, could it?

Bad and all as Fianna Fáil are, they do have one clear advantage for any potential coalition partner with the slightest ideological bent (and in Labour's case it really is the "slightest"): not having one themselves, FF are easily subject to the Tail-Wagging-Dog syndrome. Fine Gael may not be anyone's idea of a principled party but they do have a couple clear policies, at least. Pro-privatisation, for one. Anti-neutrality, for another. Ironic, isn't it, that on the only issues they can really be nailed down, their position differs strongly from Labour's?

Labour voters who think that these differences will all somehow work themselves out, and not to their own detriment, would be well advised to keep an eye on incidents like last night's abstention on the Criminal Justice Bill. I can virtually guarantee you there will be more of these between now and the general election - not to mention if FG and Labour do win enough seats to go into coalition together.
I'm certainly enjoying the Sunday Independent's moment of opprobrium over its disgraceful headline yesterday (no point my providing a link, since the offending piece has been removed), though I have to say I wonder why anyone would be surprised that the Sindo would sink to such depths. It's hardly the first time after all.

Earlier today, I heard the head of Independent Newspapers saying there would be an inquiry into how such a clearly unsubstantiated story made it into the paper. While they're at it maybe they can also inquire into Jim Cusack's latest bit of fantasy; namely, that the latest IMC report blames the Joseph Rafferty murder on an IRA member who's worked for Sinn Féin. The IMC report says no such thing.

On this Alec Reid business

Agreed that Father Reid's comments were over the top, insulting to the decent unionist people (of whom I have no doubt there are many), and all that. But so too is some of the reaction over the top - and hypocritical. Where was all this outrage when Michael McDowell compared Daily Ireland to the Volkischer Beobachter?

Compare and contrast

BBC: Businessman denies IRA asset link

RTÉ: Businessman admits links to alleged IRA chief

Thanks to my friend Enda for pointing this out!

ETA: It appears someone alerted RTÉ and they changed their headline. Ha, we have it on record.

Labour snub nationalist victims - again

This afternoon Kate McCaughey, the woman put out of her home of 50 years by loyalist thugs in Ahoghill, and several other North Antrim nationalists with similar stories paid a visit to Leinster House to meet with TDs and Senators about their situation.

Invitations were sent to every TD, every Senator.

Not one from Labour showed up.

This isn't the first time. Around two years ago the relatives of victims of British security force collusion visited the Dáil. Same story - not a single Labour representative there to greet them.

In fact, the only victims of violence in the Six Counties that Labour have turned up to meet were the McCartney sisters.

Can you say "agenda"?

Oh, no one from the PDs or Fine Gael turned up this time either.
It's gone largely unnoticed in the mainstream media, but the largest republican split since 1997 seems to have taken place over the past couple weeks, with substantial defections from both the Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Féin. The details of the split are disputed, and I'm not particularly interested in them anyway, but I was amused to read the statement issued by RSF in today's Daily Ireland:

"A few people have resigned from the organisation. Some of these have been ex-Provos who joined recently and who had remained with the Provisionals even after they accepted the Stormont Agreement.

"The remainder are young people without political experience who joined in the recent past and who came under the influence of these ex-Provos.

"The unsettling effect for them of Provo destruction of arms and the declared intention of the Provisional movement to support and join the PSNI/RUC forms the background to all this ..."

God love RSF. If (what they call) "the Provisional movement" didn't exist, they would have to invent it!
Today's SBP reports that clinical trials for cancer patients are being held back at some Dublin hospitals over the requirement that the women undergoing treatment use birth control.

Things like this make me so angry. More than that, they make me wonder what kind of backwater, 12th century country I'm living in where the extreme religious views of a few can place the lives of sick women at risk. If you don't believe in contraception, fine, you don't have to use it yourself. But if you're going to host medical research you have to abide by medical standards and one of those standards is that women of childbearing age use birth control while undergoing experimental treatment.

I admit that I'm nobody's idea of a good Catholic, but I'm pretty sure that the God I was raised with would give women a pass to use birth control under these circumstances (if he really cares about it at all, which I doubt). The Catholic God isn't supposed to be some kind of Puritan Sadist God who goes around forcing women to choose between cancer and thalidomide babies.

I know there was a time when Ireland was much worse for things like this, but I'd have hoped we'd moved on by now!
Is Gareth O'Connor's body being examined by the same people testing the banknotes in Cork? It seems to be taking them an awfully long time to come up with a reason for how he died.
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