My life in a Banana Republic -June 2017


I have been very busy and most anxious. As the CEO of the Community Research and Action Programme, I was worried about our income. The Jeremiahs said that we would be forced to close our door, that there would be no forthcoming money. But Hey Presto! money comes from the Great Parliament on the Hill and from the Peaceful Fund , Number Four. Our bacons were saved. All staff were kept on, even Billy, whom I have yet to meet but who performs a valuable security role, I am told.

And what of the Great She Elephant? What an achievement ! It is like the book “From log cabin to White House”. Here is this humble lawyer, from a cottage on the edge of Europe, who had rarely been in Belfast, never mind London, now at the centre of power. This would not happen in my country. You need to be in the right tribe to achieve greatness. I have written to her and invited her to come to CRAP.

Dingle pointed out to me that there are three barristers in the DUP MPs plus Jim Allister in the TUV. This is because,  he says,  the Bar Library is a Cold House for Unionists. This puzzled me. In Africa , lawyers become freedom fighters and leaders of the country. Dingle says that here “the other side” prefer the Lisburn Road, Donegal, great works of art and a judicial appointment. He challenged me to name a Republican MLA/MP lawyer. This bodes unwell for the future.

Now that my income is assured for some time, I have moved from the Biblical lands and purchased a dwelling in East. This means that Emma Aardvaark Little Pengelly is not my MP but it is now Gavin Robinson. I like him. He has the bearing of a great chief. In my country there is no place at the top table for skinny persons. They smack of liberalism, sandals and veganism. Gavin surely eats like a chief and has chiefly bearing. He can also make fearsome speeches, Dingle says. My new home, a modest terrace house is not in a shared space, apparently. This means that the tribesmen erect symbols of their supremacy and challenge the native troops to interfere. They do not , because they are few in number and led by men who eat as much as Gavin.

I wrote to my Uncle, the President , about Brexit. He is a wise man. Now in his eighties, he has seen it all before. Many times in Africa, some strong man wanted to make alliances. Once we got rid of the white man, it was other persons, such as Gadafy. Soon his son will rule Libya again. But I digress. My uncle said that this Brexit thing is just a manifestation of Little Britain. I told him that this programme was funny, especially the fellow in the wheelchair. He was cross that I did not read history. He said that Britain had always tried to keep away from the Foreigner Jonny. “Splendid Isolation” he called it. I thanked him.

He said that “when Arlene visits CRAP, remind her about what Gladstone said about the Irish”.

I have not had time to consider this because I have been researching pallets. This is a puzzle. Dingle says that when he was a boy, bonfires consisted of rubbish. Old sofas, someone’s old shed, a rotten fence, and worse. Boys went out in search of material and dragged it through the streets to the site. Now the bonfire is made up of hundreds of pallets. These are not disposed of . They are perfectly useful. They cost about £10 each. I know not how many are in a bonfire. Someone is complicit in this bonfire thing.

I have gone on for too long. CRAP is  functioning well. We give money to deserving cases. Cookers, washing machines and fridge freezers. There are no tower blocks in our  bailiwick. I went out and checked.

Sometimes it is important that we immigrants look after the natives.


My life in a banana republic. Election edition


When I came to this statelet, my new friends were offended when I described it , after many of your Guinness as a “banana republic without the bananas”.

I thought this too harsh , after I recovered from my three day hangover. Was this not the land of Percy French, Seamus Heaney, Brian Moore and Jimmy Nesbitt?

Did not the citizens of this city  , many years ago, oppose slavery?

Yet something reminded me of home.

Is it politicians blaming civil servants?

Is it civil servants blaming their underlings? Is there a stench of the pork barrel again?

Is it a combination of both?

What goes on in the household of Emma Aardvaak Pengelly Little? What is their conversation at the tea time?

“How are the little people today dear?”

“They are making fun of you and your party, but I have let them have a whiff of grapeshot”

“Good for you dear. They will complain of all sorts of things, never mind death. Why can’t they live on a tenth of what we earn?  My father earns nothing, he toils not, neither does he spin, yet his life is arrayed like a multi coloured St Anne’s robe”

“Oh Emma, I love it when you talk like that”

But I transgress.

Here at CRAP we are in a turmoil. Who will pay our not inconsiderable expenses after March?

Who will rule us?

In moments like this I turn to my friend , Dingle. He has seen it all before.

“Ulster is at the cross roads “, he said .

“Did you make that up?” I asked.

He smiled enigmatically.


The trouble with god

It is indoors, the immediate scene is dark but in the background there are two spot lights.

A grey haired man is on his knees, his head down. His face is obscured. Two old men, both still wearing overcoats , despite the heat, are arched over him. They have their hands on his shoulders.

The viewer is immediately alarmed. Who are these men, why is one on his knees? What has he done? In the background is a large , heavy man, watching proceedings. Is he a godfather of crime? Are these old men his lieutenants?

Behind the fat man, a fit young man looks on. Is he a minder?

Does someone have a gun?

The man in the big overcoat speaks. His diction is ponderous, like a godfather. Is he going to tell us of the grey haired man’s crime?

No. In a voice heavy with care, he invokes the holy spirit. [for non christians, this is part of the three part god that they believe in, see shamrock for an explanation] and asks that it influence , inter alia, the interviewer.

The grey haired man leaps to his feet. He either takes something from his mouth or wipes it. He is not to be executed.

All becomes clear.This is not a Cosa Nostra punishment hearing.

It’s the Nolan Show!

So began one of the most significant  political interviews in recent times. Essentially the interviewee said that everything he was going to say was  true because his god had okayed it.

Leaving aside the question as to whether or not the BBC should have pemitted such a display [perhaps the management thought it would make good tv] the viewer was invited by the interviewee, to go along with the evidence, because it had been sanctioned by god.

I’ve watched as , over twenty years, the NIO and now the Executive try to tell the people what a great wee country we live in.

The truth is that it is inhabited by a elite ,  a big house class that by and large escaped the troubles and continue to exert huge, unseen influence. Look at the brief clip of Arlene and Bell being spoken to by David Smyth and his wife. David is a retired judge and in the past a failed Unionist candidate. His wife is the daughter of  Colonel Hall Thompson. They haven’t gone away , you know.Below them is the political class, more of that in a moment. Then there is the largely supine and stultified middle class, who are pandered to over education and health care. As long as they can get to Ravenhill on a Friday night and their wives can shop on the Lisburn Road, they are happy.Next is the elite non -working class. They are the recipients of grants, money from community initiatives, and other state sources. This is improved by hacking Sky TV for a small fee , buying stuff at the illegal Crumlin Road market, jointly controlled by the UDA and PIRA and  fiddling the electricity meter.

There is another class. Honest decent people who are aghast at what is happening. They don’t count because of the political class. It has learned that HMG will put up with anything rather than a return to bombs in GB. Accordingly the political class extracts money and concessions from HMG at will. Cameron came and was outraged, as a good Tory Boy, at the attitude of this class. He is gone and May will be more pragmatic. This class , with their bloated expenses, their SpAds , and their misguided belief in their own abilities [fostered by HMG] considers that hardship is for the little people. The big money is for their supporters, in farming and  business.

But where is god in all of this?

Almost every DUP politician likes to tell us about their christian faith. Wee Jeffrey likes to tells us of it while trying to sell arms to a muslim regime that fails to protect Copts.

It’s OK to get  divorced, like Emma Aardvark Little Pengelly, despite biblical teaching, but don’t try the same trick with same sex marriage.

Arlene, in recent days has been filmed at church and at a nativity play [for non-believers this is a story about how a god impregnated a virgin]

The sad fact is that there are still sufficient people who have an imaginary friend that ensures  the DUP or/or  Bell will get away with this mumbo jumbo, which keeps poor people in their place.

So , who is god backing in this one?

I tried to get him to speak to me but without success.

St Peter referred me to Paul Tweed.

My life in a banana Republic, April

Jambo, Jambo!

You know that I live in the Religious Quarter of Belfast?

I have just emerged after much tribulation. On the day of Saint Patrick , all the nation’s leaders go to America and leave the streets to young people, the next generation of leaders. They are drinking  too much alcohol and eat fast food , then they vomit it all over my area. This is called a rite of passage. In my country a rite of passage is like hunting a lion or spending a weekend on top of a scary mountain. This may well be the reason your leaders are soft and the vomiters get jobs in call centres at minimum wage.

On Friday my friend, Dingle, took me to see the opening of a mural about the Battle of Jutland. In Belfast these things are known as “muriels” and sometimes have hidden meanings.

The Royal Navy got a fat lip from the Kreigsmarine at Jutland but it pretends that it won.

Anyway, I met the Great She Elephant, who was unveiling the plaque to the dead. She is a fine woman. Dingle  says that he would. I don’t know what he means by this and I’m afraid to ask. He says that she will pretend that she is not in government with terrorists, “for political reasons”. This is puzzling. In my country , everyone has been a terrorist at some time and jolly good say the people. The next day , Dingle pointed out Danny Kinahan canvassing on the Ballygomartin Road. I asked if he was part of the Dublin gang , involved in many shootings. Dingle said that he outranked him , so he could not say.

I have been reading that the Small Prosecutor has failed to nail a man who was charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft. When I first read of this , I imagined a crazy man. Running up and down the aisle, hammering on the cockpit door, striking hostesses, shouting at passengers. Perhaps I watch too many DVDs. This chap was an American, who was hungry and asked for a snack.


The flight attendants, who come from humble backgrounds, are able to act out their fantasies while at work. Mavis , from Michigan can be placed to save the Free World by bringing down a terrorist. Declan, from Delaware [all male hosties are gay, in my country this is illegal] would like it if a passenger was handcuffed and bound. None of these things happened on this flight. Instead , the captain sprayed the country with tons of aviation fuel , then landed at Aldergrove. Somebody had to pay. The Diminutive Director decided it was this man.  Your sensible countrymen and women saw through this ruse and acquitted him. Adding up the cost of fuel and the prosecution could have paid for many hip operations for your overweight people.

The moral of the story is that if you do not want to spend a year in a foreign country, do not upset the cabin crew. They have enough to do, worrying about their next stopover.

As what you call “Summer” approaches, my mind turns to finishing my dissertation and going outdoors.

Dingle suggested that we see one of the Great Wonders of the World. I thought he meant Martin McGuinness but he meant the Causeway for the Giants. This is a silly piece of rock , sticking out into the sea. Many otherwise intelligent people think that this was created just a few years ago, like the Orange Order. To keep them happy the National Trust has a bit about this. It’s like having a poster at Belsen saying that there is an argument that Hitler knew nothing about the Jews.

It was a nice day out. We dodged the excessive charge by walking through the right of way. I’m always impressed by your Common Law, it saves many pounds.

Now the students are back , so I’m minding my Ps and Qs. Elections are looming. Two good reasons for staying indoors. A woman called the other night. She was buxom and had big eyes. In my village she would have belonged to the Head Man. I was confused by her name. It was a selection of Little, Aardvark, Emma and Pengelly. Perhaps she has had many fathers. She said that she was the best candidate because other women were less effective. I wished to engage her in jovial banter but she was quickly gone to the next door, when she learned that I had no vote. Dingle says that my assessment of her “is not far off the mark”. Dingle often speaks in riddles.

Talking of handsome men, I watched the celebration of the Rising at Easter 1916. The Irish Government got a chap from central casting to read the Proclamation. He looked just like Liam Neeson, who looked just like Collins. Not Tim, the other one. I thought it was a fine display of the military. In my country we do this every year but usually before, not after the elections. Once all those tanks have trundled down the street, the election is a done deal, as they say in New York.

This is all for now. I must be polishing my dissertation. The Dingle is taking me to the Thompson Bridge in Victoria Park. It commemorates Belfast’s only socialist playwright.

Jambo Jambo!

Markethill, a town devoted to charity

Go to Markethill, on a Sunday, about noon , as I did today and only the ungodly will be abroad.

Outside the many churches and gospel halls from Ahorey, scene of a brutal murder twelve years ago, to downtown Markethill the rows of German cars and four by fours are testament to how good God has been to those who were on their knees praying with or on their neighbours.

But there may be  something charitable in the air in this town.

On the Mowhan Road , behind expensive wooden gates, and signposted by tasteful signs, nestles FAIR, in a large house. This is William Frazer’s flagship.

Back in the town centre FRPU is to be found, partly financed by the Victims and Survivors Service. [you and me]

When I first sighted it, two large men were standing outside. Later, when I approached on foot, they had disappeared. FRPU inhabits two unused shops with plate glass fronts. On display are drums, army uniforms, photographs relating to Loyalism, a copy of the RUC memorial photograph of those officers who died on duty. If my father’s photograph had been displayed, I would have been angry at this nonsense.   Other loyalist bric-a-brac was also to be seen.

The door to this shrine to Loyalism was open but I decided not to enter. Admiral Willie was not on board the cruiser, nor it seems, were any of his shipmates.

Around the corner was a charity devoted to Eastern European refugees.

Then there was the Newry and Armagh Caring for Victims Centre. Clearly, from their window display, a Loyalist organisation. I wonder who they are? Could it be Admiral Willie’s frigate?

Up the street are the former premises of SAVER/NAVER. This company was dissolved on 21 February 2014. It collapsed in a welter of allegations about £200,000 of funding. It, too , was a victims’ organisation.

The word ‘largesse’ comes to mind. £50 million was allocated by OFMDFM, for victims and survivors  in the period 2011-2015. I wonder how much of that actually made a difference to the 3,500 families affected by the Troubles?

Aside from Willie, Emma Pengelly/Little is a native and  was a SpAd and minister at the relevant time. I’d ask her  about the £50 million but she doesn’t speak to me after I criticised her own love of largesse. Perhaps it’s in the water as well?

My life in a banana republic:March


Sex,sex, sex!

Forgive me for being shocking and for my absence. I have been writing my dissertation at the Queen’s University and being mesmerised by your sexual obsessions.

Why is it that your “wee country” , so good at soccer and peopled by so many pious people, is obsessed by sex?

Lord Morrow has stopped women selling their bodies for sex.

Now he wants the death penalty, not for having sex, I think…

The Attorney General has intervened [I like this nomenclature, does he turn up at court like Sergeant Wilson and say, “do you think that is wise Dec?”]. He has a thing or two to say about women’s bodies, I have heard. He thinks that abortion is bad.

The First and Deputy First Ministers have told him to intervene about all sorts of things. It must be hard to advise so many competing departments in so many different ways.  Mr Larkin is also exercised about gay discrimination. He has intervened. He should get out more.

As I predicted by me earlier , much money will be spent on these matters, almost as much as is spent on tea and biscuits at the Great Place on the Hill.

Catering and sex would probably pay for a cancer unit but where sex is involved you chaps spare nothing.

Basil McCrea has been cleared about being sexy. William Crawley wanted to know on BBC about the sexy goings on of a footballer. Many people got excited,  including Adrienne.

In my country sex is just a fact of life, like malaria.

Here is what I want to know. Where are your women folk? It must be that large numbers of them respect their man. Does Mrs Allister say: “I’m pretty sure that women should be in charge of their own bodies , Jim, but if you think not, that’s OK “?

I’m told that there is lots of sex on the Hill. Politicians, SpAds, officials, their wives and their children, anything goes. There are even gays in every party. That seems pretty normal to me, like Westminster , Lusaka or Washington.

But you are all in denial.

This excites me, in an academic way.

At present my PhD. dissertation is “Aspects of the diffuse narratives in respect of the disputed territories in the Indo-Tibetan Borderland”

I’m asking my supervisor if I can do “Sex on the Hill”, instead.

That should sell well in Bulawayo.

Jambo Jambo!


Emma Pengelly Part II

Readers will know that for many years I have been involved in the campaign to have the killers of my parents prosecuted and for hundreds of people to be compensated for the use of Semtex  by Martin McGuinness and his fellow terrorists, who are in government with the DUP.

I blogged about Emma Pengelly and she emailed me today to say that she finds my blog “both unfair and upsetting”. Leaving aside the DUP inactivity on either of my campaigns, I’m sure there are many politicians who share her emotions about my blogging about them.

She says that she is not a “blow in” having lived in South Belfast for about a decade. Given the size and geographic spread of the constituency, that could be said by anyone in Sandy Row, the Malone Road or Carryduff. But ask Ruth Patterson for a more intimate view.

Secondly she says that she did not support a cap on self employed barristers “in the context in which it was being discussed”. You decide, Dear Reader.

Thirdly she says that she has “a full mandate”. An extraordinary claim in the circumstances. Nobody has ever voted for her.

Fourthly she says that it is outrageous that I mention her husband’s salary. Well, is not her point to Jim Allister about the payment of money by the state?

Fifthly she objects to the use of the word “comfort”. That word  has been in the public domain for a long time.

Lastly , she suggests that I have attempted “to publicly humiliate her” and added a little note of menace, something the DUP majors in. Ask Jamie Bryson.

When she was appointed I wished her well. I hoped that she might be that ‘breath of fresh air” that we often seek in our politics.

Sadly, by her willingness to get embroiled in a spat with Jim Allister, she displayed all the weaknesses of her boss and of the party in general. Arrogance and willing to spend more time rubbishing unionists than SinnFein/IRA.

I’m disappointed by her and that’s in less than a month.

Anyway, what’s that saying about the heat and the kitchen?

An open letter to Emma Pengelly

I had thought to give you some time to settle into your new role.

Not cognisant with the nuances of DUP South  Belfast, I thought it best to let you bed down and make a fist of it.

Now I read that you want to trade punches with Jim Allister. You, who have  no mandate. You who have until lately, been earning in excess of £90,000. You , who had a completely unaccountable role. Jim Allister has been selected by the people. You have not and might be a little modest regarding that.

You, who together with your [under achieving]  permanent secretary husband , have been trousering over £200,000 per annum.

You want to criticise the Bar for its earnings. Well, they don’t steal the money and they have to be selected , unlike your role as a SpAd.

How do you think the people of South Belfast regard you?

A blow in , because, for whatever reason you were favoured by Peter Robinson, as having , according to the press, been a comfort to him during the Iris crisis.

Worse than a blow in, a well heeled one. How do you justify your combined income, ten times or more the income of a family in South Belfast?

I hope they tip you out at the election.