|THE IRISH TIMES HOSTS
INANE DEFENCE OF LETHAL INSURGENT AND JIHADIST ACTIVITY IN IRAQ
these days means pro-war-pro-the-other-side
ORIGINAL ARTICLE WHICH SPARKED DEBATE IN THE IRISH
US use of Shannon 'moral compromise' - C of I prelate -
Thursday, 26th July, 2007
The Government has been accused of compromising itself
morally in allowing the US military use Shannon airport by the Church of
Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev John Neill, writes Patsy McGarry,
[Irish Times] Religious Affairs Correspondent.
The archbishop also said he found it "extraordinary"
the Green Party "were able to swallow it in the end".
In an extensive interview in the current issue of Hot
Press, the archbishop describes the HSE as "a monster that will inhibit
any Minister from making any real progress" in reforming the health
service and criticises the decision to locate a new national children's
hospital "virtually in the inner city" of Dublin.
He said "a 'Love Ulster' campaign in Dublin is asking
for trouble" and he was "very unconvinced that it should take place".
The archbishop said he was "confused, as are most
people" about the Taoiseach's finances, but didn't see "a very lavish
lifestyle" where the Taoiseach was concerned.
He felt "anybody in public life has to be very
transparent in all their dealings - and has to give clear answers when
On Shannon, Archbishop Neill said: "I feel very
strongly that economic links to America have made us very blind to the
"Many people in Irish society were questioning, and
for a while the Green Party were very much to the fore in questioning
it, but I think as a nation there has not been sufficient questioning of
these rendition flights and the link of Ireland with the war in Iraq,
whether we like it or not."
He added: "I feel that the Irish Government have
"People will say that politics always has an element
of compromise, but I believe one of the chief moral issues of today is
the issue of war."
As to the Greens going into coalition with Fianna Fáil,
considering their stance on Shannon, he said: "I am not a member of any
political party and I have never been a supporter of either of those two
political parties, but at the same time stable government is something
people are seeking.
He said the Church of Ireland had been "compromised
very seriously in the past in Northern Ireland through its links,
apparent rather than actual, with the Orange Order" and that this was
"very unfortunate and very damaging to us [members] in the Republic." He
had "very little sympathy" for the way Drumcree was not handled more
firmly in the mid 1990s.
On pre-marital sex he felt "the ideal - and right
place - is for sex within marriage but I certainly would not condemn
anybody in a loving relationship".
Abortion was "totally justifiable" in cases of rape
and incest and he believed civil partnership, but not marriage, should
be allowed where homosexual couples were concerned.
On the issue currently dividing the worldwide Anglican
Communion, the ordination of a gay bishop in the US, he said that if
such an event took place in Ireland: "I think it would split the Church
[of Ireland] from top to bottom."
ARCHBISHOP'S CRITICISM OF SHANNON ROLE IN IRAQ WAR
- 31st July 2007
Madam , - We, the Green Party
members listed below, would like to congratulate Archbishop John Neill
on his courageous and thought-provoking criticism of the US military and
CIA use of Shannon airport. The Archbishop's words have not only drawn
attention to one of the most morally unacceptable political scandals in
the history of the Irish State, but has also highlighted the deafening
silence of other churches and their failure to speak out for the victims
of war and military aggression.
The silence of the Catholic bishops on the Irish
Government's complicity in the Iraq war does a great disservice to their
congregation and the many clergy who have actively campaigned against
this illegal war. We are deeply saddened by, and feel a certain moral
responsibility for, our party's failure thus far to have one of its key
principles - opposition to war - included in the programme for
government. We believe the continued US abuse of Irish neutrality is
morally and politically wrong.
We hope the archbishop's words will encourage others,
particularly within the Catholic Church and the political establishment,
to speak out.
Why must international peace always be the first
casualty in political compromises? Peace was achieved in Northern
Ireland by political courage and by the abandonment of guns, bombs and
killing machines. The credibility and integrity of the Irish people are
at stake if we promote peace at home and wars abroad.
The Iraq war has probably caused the deaths of over
half-a-million people so far, including over a quarter-of-a-million
children. Iraqi children are dying so that Irish children can benefit
from American investment and jobs in Ireland.
Ireland is currently complicit in these crimes against
the wishes of the Irish people. We believe that in a referendum on this
issue Irish people would vote against our territory being misused for
such unjust and immoral purposes. But even if a majority supported
Ireland's participation in the Iraq war, it is still inherently wrong.
The killing of innocent people can never be in the long-term interests
of the Irish people. - Yours, etc,
PATRICIA McKENNA (former MEP), Cllr Niall
O'BROLCHAIN, Cllr CHRIS O'LEARY, Cllr BETTY DORAN, Cllr MALCOLM NOONAN,
EDWARD HORGAN, KRISTINA McELROY, ANITA CURTIS, c/o Newtown, Castletroy,
Madam, - What a pleasant surprise to read the comments
of Most Rev John Neill, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin. In very
few words he had the courage to highlight the lack of moral conscience
among our present political leaders.
I feel very let down by Messrs Gormley and Sargent. I
really thought these were the sort of people we needed to inject some
moral fibre into the Government. How stupid was that? - Yours, etc,
E JACKSON, Foulksmills, Co Wexford.
Madam, - Well done to the Archbishop of Dublin, the
Most Rev Dr Neill, on the Hot Press interview reported in last
Thursday's edition. His candour is encouraging and he certainly ticks a
lot of boxes.
It's possible - though I'm sure this was not
necessarily his intention - that it will do his church a power of good
in the long term. When you think of it, we are being constantly
bombarded in our daily lives to switch our various service providers. -
ARTHUR DUNNE, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
SHANNON'S ROLE IN IRAQ WAR -
1st August 2007
Madam, - How shocking that Green Party luminaries including former MEP
Patricia McKenna (July
31st) should hold the United Nations in such evident disdain that they
wish Ireland to cease co-operating with the implementation of one of its
most prominent resolutions. They similarly have such little regard for one
of the Arab world's few constitutional democracies that they likewise would
wish to impede its legitimate Government's desire for foreign assistance in
trying to bring security to its beleaguered people.
The multinational force in Iraq, led by the Americans, is operating in
accordance with last November's
UN Resolution 1723, valid until the end of this year, which the Security
Council approved unanimously at the request of the Iraqi prime minister.
Furthermore, critics should remind themselves that it is insurgents and
jihadists, not the Americans, who are doing their best to kill innocent
Iraqi children, women and men. The multinational forces are trying to
protect them, in light of the 72[*]
per cent of Iraqi adults who voted in December 2005 - in the face of
enormous intimidation - for a new, democratic Iraq.
Ireland should be proud of its small contribution in making Shannon
available to the brave American soldiers as they try to help the Iraqis. Ms
McKenna and her cohorts should be ashamed of their obstructionism and the
additional loss of Iraqi life this could entail were they successful in
thwarting the Americans. - Yours, etc,
there are 16,651,180 Iraqis
over the age of 14 years.
The 12m who voted
represent 72% of this.
In fact since the voting age
is 18 not 15,
the actual percentage
higher than 72%.
ROLE OF SHANNON IN IRAQ WAR
- 3rd August 2007
Madam, - Tony Allwright
(August 1st) professes to be proud that Ireland "is making Shannon
available to the brave American soldiers as they try to help the
Iraqis". Mr Allwright is an example of that weird sector of Irish
society that equates being "pro-American" with a readiness to endorse
the worst excesses of a US administration which has long since lost
credibility with its own people.
He must surely be aware that citizens of the US have
turned en masse against the occupation of Iraq. Furthermore, Americans
are usually aghast when I tell them that Ireland - despite its
international image and recent experience of the futility of violence -
is currently lending a hand to the lunatic adventurism of President
The immorality of Ireland's stance has rightly been
castigated by Archbishop Neill, as it should be by all people of
conscience. - Yours, etc,
(Fr) DECLAN DEANE, All Saints Parish, Hayward,
Madam, - Tony Allwright finds it "shocking" that a
group of Green Party members, in their criticism of the military use of
Shannon by the Bush regime in its illegal war on Iraq (July 31st), "hold
the United Nations in such evident disdain" and "have such little regard
for one of the Arab world's few constitutional democracies".
Mr Allwright speaks of this "constitutional democracy"
as if it were a long-established, fully functioning one. He also points
out that "the multinational force in Iraq, led by the Americans, is
operating in accordance with last November's UN resolution 1723."
Memories have grown short: it seems necessary to
remind supporters of the Bush regime, such as Mr Allwright, that the UN
was the very same institution so flagrantly ignored and sidelined by the
US in its illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, which amounted to an act of
aggression, defined by international law as "the use of force by one
state against another, not justified by self-defence or other legally
Mr Allwright continues by saying that "critics should
remind themselves that it is insurgents and jihadists, not the
Americans, who are doing their best to kill innocent Iraqi children,
women and men". Supporters of the Bush regime should remind themselves
that American and UN sanctions and enforcement of "no-fly zones" have
claimed the lives of men, women and in particular, children. In a recent
study Unicef found that between 1991 and 1998, 500,000 Iraqi children
above the expected death rate died from the effects of UN- and
American-enforced sanctions. The then US ambassador to the UN, Madeline
Albright, commented that "the price is worth it".
Mr Allwright blindly asserts that "Ireland should be
proud of its small contribution in making Shannon available to the brave
American soldiers as they try to help the Iraqis". It is not with pride
that future history books will record our actions, but calamity and
shame for colluding with the US in its illegal war, a war which it is
losing. If there is any pride to be felt, it is by former MEP Patricia
McKenna and her colleagues for taking a stand against the military use
of Shannon by the Bush regime. - Yours, etc,
MARTIN J. NOONE, Donaghmore, Navan, Co Meath.
ROLE OF SHANNON IN IRAQ WAR - 4th August 2007
Madam, - In their attack on my views, your correspondents Fr Declan Deane
and Martin Noone seem to have thrown logic out of the window (Letters,
Firstly, if the original invasion of Iraq was illegal and immoral because
it did not have UN support, then the current war is legal and moral because
it is scrupulously in line with a UN mandate, Resolution 1723. They cannot
have it both ways.
Secondly, even if (which I would deny) additional Iraqi civilian deaths
were the result of the pre-war America-enforced UN no-fly zones and
sanctions, rather than of Saddam's non-compliance with the numerous
mandatory UN resolutions which prompted them, where's the relevance? That
phase is long over. America today is attempting, however ineptly, to
protect innocent Iraqi civilians against insurgents and jihadists. Why
would your correspondents, and for that matter Archbishop Neill, Patricia
McKenna and other Greens feel this is somehow wrong? They seem to prefer
that the insurgents and jihadists prevail.
Thirdly, Mr Noone dismisses Iraq as a constitutional democracy merely
because it is new and struggling. How is this an argument for abandoning
it? If the war is too difficult to win, as many Americans and others
now seem to believe, then by all means run away, emulating America in
Vietnam and the USSR in Afghanistan. But don't pretend that what US and
other Coalition forces are doing today in Iraq is not in a noble cause. -
ROLE OF SHANNON IN IRAQ WAR -
9th August 2007
Madam, - Tony Allwright (August 4th) berates those who
call for an end to the misuse of Shannon to aid the US fiasco in Iraq.
He cites as justification the 72 per cent of Iraqis who voted for a
A poll carried out by the Washington Post in September
2006 showed 73 per cent of Iraqis saying they would feel safer if the US
and other foreign troops left Iraq; 65 per cent favoured an immediate
withdrawal. A poll published last week by World Public Opinion shows
that these figures remain the same. A notable addition is that nearly
half those polled favour attacks on US troops.
How many more people have to die before the Bush
apologists are convinced?
There will not be a constitutional democracy in Iraq.
There will be an Islamic state aligned with Iran. That is the reward for
this ill-considered exercise in futility. - Yours, etc,
LARRY WHITE, Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny.
Cuddly Teddy Bears
looking for a home
Click for details
Neda Agha Soltan;
shot dead in Teheran
by Basij militia
Good to report that as at
14th September 2009
he is at least
FREED AT LAST,
ON 18th OCTOBER 2011,
GAUNT BUT OTHERWISE REASONABLY HEALTHY
Atlantic Blog (defunct)
Broom of Anger
Cox and Forkum
Carey / GUBU
Thinking Man's Guide
Victor Davis Hanson
Tales from Warri
Graham's Sporting Wk
My Columns in the
What I've recently
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
Note: I wrote
my own reports on Macondo
A horrific account
how the death
penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,
the corruption of
Singapore's legal system, and
enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship
More details on my
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s
incredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF
Click for an account of this momentous,
of March 2009
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the Rugby World Cup
scores, points and rankings.
crackling, compelling, captivating games, the new World Champions are,
England get the Silver,
Argentina the Bronze. Fourth is host nation France.
No-one can argue with
the justice of the outcomes
Over the competition,
points per game = 52,
tries per game = 6.2,
minutes per try =
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