Unionists. Be careful what you wish for.

With all the recent furore about the Assembly I think it’s about time that unionists (particularly the DUP) should take a moment to reflect on a few facts.

David Cameron did not bow to threats from Peter Robinson and the DUP. No doubt this is a shock to Peter, the DUP and unionism in general but here’s the rub. David Cameron offered the Scottish people a referendum on whether or not they wanted to remain part of the UK. Scotland generates billions of pounds for the British exchequer, billions. Northern Ireland on the other hand creates bills, problems and costs billions to maintain. One of the first things that David Cameron crowed about on the day of the Scottish referendum result was English votes for English laws. Whilst the DUP et al might have secured a postponement back in July the dynamic has now shifted.

There is nothing to stop Cameron laying the ground for an English referendum on the future of Northern Ireland – the Scottish referendum was a shot across the bow, if you like.

It’s an easy sell. He only has to pitch that the money spent on NI could keep English fathers, mothers, sons and daughters in gainful waged employment for life. That he could use it to build affordable social housing, that he could invest it in infrastructure throughout England, that cutting loose NI would do away with a sizeable security threat, that the antics of it’s citizenry each July would no longer be a source of international embarrassment and shame etc.

It’s a “no brainer”.

The DUP and Sinn Fein are playing fast and loose with the Assembly but it is the DUP who have more to lose than Sinn Fein in the event that direct rule is adopted. Do they really think that the rather convenient imposition / legislation for welfare reform will be the only thing that  will be imposed that they and Sinn Fein can cry “Well, it wasn’t us who imposed it”?

In the event that the Assembly is driven to suspension as a result of the DUP antics they will be paving the way for equal rights as far as gay marriage goes and the right of gay people to donate blood – to name but two pieces of UK legislation they have stymied and denied the electorate on the basis of their fundamentalist christian beliefs. Whilst any such legislation is to be welcomed it will leave the DUP as a marginalised spent force in a cap in hand handout charity basket case backwater that the English would happily offload if encouraged to do so.

They might want to think about that.

Posted in Bigotry, Bollocks, Cameron, First minister, History of Ireland, Loyalist riots, Northern Ireland Assembly, Peter Robinson., Political views, Rioting, Sinn Fein | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The battle of the Boyne 1690.

Everyone knows that each year on the twelfth of July Northern Ireland is portrayed across the world as a backward, inward looking cess pit of sectarian hatred. The world peers in on our tribal differences and shakes its head in collective disapproval and disbelief.

The reputational damage that this yearly period of rioting and upheaval causes internationally is immense. And in the name of what, exactly?

It’s a curious thing that a “battle” should have taken place and not a single solitary artefact with any proven provenance exists. Why are there no remains, no uniforms or ordnance at the site, or elsewhere, that prove a battle took place? Why is everything “Believed to have been used at the battle of the Boyne” or “Similar to weapons that would have been in use at the time of the battle of the Boyne” (as stated by the Battle of the Boyne Visitors Centre)? 

Any other battle in history has clear irrefutable evidence of it having taken place and material evidence to corroborate the fact, but not the battle of the Boyne. As far as I am aware there is one cannonball, a musket and several musket balls alleged (there is no provenance to any of these items) to have been fired at the “battle” of the Boyne. That’s a bizarrely small collection, don’t you think?

Other notable battles in Irish history have been studied and, where appropriate, historically revised to reflect fact rather than fiction. Most recently the Battle of the ford of biscuit is a case in point. Why then can we not revisit the issue of the supposed “battle” of the Boyne?

The reason is clear. To contemplate that there was no physical battle, or to even countenance an investigation of same whereby proof would be required to establish the veracity of claims of such, would undermine over three hundred years of protestant triumphalism.

Is it not time that we thoroughly investigated this mysterious lack of artefacts and provenance? 

Posted in History of Ireland, holiday Ireland, Irish history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simpsons “Case” pure badger shaving brush. Avoid.

 It’s a sad state of affairs when an industry stalwart like Simpson lets their quality control slip to the point that their products, quite literally, fall apart in your hands. Sadly that has been the case (no pun intended) with my most recently bought “Case” pure badger shaving brush.

As you can see from this photo (taken after my shave this morning) it is shedding bristles like a badger with alopecia. Interestingly a lot of the bristles appear to have snapped broken.

  
I’ve been a user of Simpson brushes for the past twenty plus years (the Eagle &  Case being two of my favourite regular use brushes) and I’ve never encountered bristle shedding like this in all those years. All of my past experience has been extremely positive but I have to admit I’m very disappointed by the lack of interest shown by Simpson when I communicated with them on this very same issue previously. Essentially the Managing Director Mark Watterson stated that many of their brushes splay in different ways and that I should simply put up with the fact.

Having been accustomed to excellent goods from Simpson in the past I can only assume that something has gone seriously awry with their quality control since the involvement of Vulfix who appear to have taken over Simpson.

In short, if you are thinking of buying a Simpson pure badger shaving brush my advice is to think again. There are many alternatives on the market for much less than the £25.00 the “Case” brush will cost you. For example you could pick up four synthetic brushes from Wilkinson which will last you four lifetimes without shedding or splaying.

It’s a real shame to see a company like Simpson adopt this type of couldn’t care less approach but in the long run it will be they who lose out as another iconic brand fades into obscurity.

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Lisburn “and Castlereagh” city – they don’t want a fenian about the place.

Having recently divested themselves of several tens of thousands of catholic residents under the terms of the new super councils Lisburn was giddy with the prospect of, once again, asserting itself a city not “For everyone” as their blurb says, but for a predominantly protestant population.

The ink had hardly dried on the new borough and district council maps when Lisburn rather hastily, and questionably, rebranded itself “Lisburn and Castlereagh city”. New welcome signs were erected at city boundaries proclaiming “Welcome to Lisburn and Castlereagh city”.

This, quite understandably, caused some raised eyebrows and questions to be asked.

According to an unnamed spokeswoman for the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council speaking with the Irish News the position was that “Leading up to local government reform, Local Government (Transitional, Incidental and Consequential and Supplemental Provisions) Regulations (NI) 2015 allowed new councils, of which Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council is one, to take decisions in relation to charters, status and names. As per the regulations the legislation permitted the application of the borough charter to all of the new area, incorporating part of Castlereagh”.

The problem with this statement is that it doesn’t appear to be true. Nowhere in that particular  legislation is a right conferred to change the name of a city. The legislation is specific to councils and boroughs, not cities.

An astute observer had already highlighted this to Lisburn and Castlereagh City council and is awaiting a reply. Other questions have also been raised by the same individual both here and here.

Clearly, from their answer,  transportNI are of the opinion that there is no city called “Lisburn and Castlereagh city” for they continue to treat them as two separate entities.

Hopefully Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council will reply in a full, honest and transparent manner otherwise people might conclude that this renaming is in effect a celebration of what amounts to little more than religious ethnic cleansing where having offloaded a very considerable  number of their catholic residents (almost 21% of Lisburn’s total population) and in the course of doing so acquiring 62% of a borough council consisting of almost 68% protestant residents they are seeking to reassert some sort of sectarian or puritanical garrison town “We don’t want a fenian about the place” mentality.

It’s sad in this day and age that we apparently still have to endure this type of blatant sectarian bigotry.

Posted in Bigotry, Castlereagh, Dunmurry, Gerrymandering, Lisburn, Lisburn and Castlereagh city, Religious ethnic cleansing, West Belfast | Leave a comment

Greys / Hardy Greys “Unconditional lifetime guarantee” and customer services – update.

Well, further to my earlier post here after eight (8) days I’ve received a reply from Greys Customer Services. They tell me that the Missionary 10′ 3″ #7/8 is no longer in production so they cannot replace the broken tip section. They are suggesting a replacement rod at a 50% discounted price.

Some readers might find that type of deal acceptable but I have to say I have an issue with the offer.

My rod at the time of purchase was covered by a heavily advertized “Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee”, a fact that influenced my original purchase and subsequent purchases of Greys Missionary Rods. That “Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee” stated “Greys provide on all their rods an unconditional warranty good for the lifetime of the original owner. This is given in addition to your statutory rights, and covers fault or damage from any cause” Yes, that’s right, “Good for the lifetime of the original owner”, not for the lifetime of the rod itself.

Trading Standards give a fairly comprehensive synopsis of what a Guarantee is. It certainly doesn’t mention, nor does the original unconditional lifetime guarantee from Greys to which I subscribed, customers having to pay for a replacement item where they, as a result of their own actions, are unable to meet the terms of their own guarantee.

If Greys make a commercial decision to discontinue production of certain rods (and not carry parts) that is entirely their right. They do not however, as a result of any such decision, have the right to charge me for their failure to honour their responsibilities to me as defined under their unconditional lifetime guarantee terms which we entered into at the time of my purchase.

There is much speculation in angling circles about the quality of Greys rods having reduced somewhat since production was moved abroad and perhaps that is why they have tightened up on the terms of their current unconditional lifetime guarantee.

I have gone back to Greys seeking clarification on several points, including those above, and will post an update in the event that they reply.

In the meantime, tight lines.

Posted in Customer services, Greys, Hardy Greys | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greys / Hardy Greys fishing tackle. Their “unconditional lifetime guarantee” & “customer service”.

“Don’t”.

That’s the first piece of advice I’d give anyone contemplating buying anything of these two companies. Their supposed “Unconditional lifetime guarantee” is useless (little more than a con) and their “customer service” is atrocious.

Over the past few years I’ve spent in excess of £1000 on rods, reels, lines and other sundry items from Greys – in part due to the supposed reassurance offered by their unconditional lifetime guarantee – only to find this past week that they couldn’t care less about me as a customer or their reputation as a manufacturer.

My fly rod broke during set up a week ago today and I emailed then via their site under the terms of the lifetime guarantee afforded to their rods. To date, despite emails to sales@hardygreys.com and other approaches via their poorly (if at all) maintained social media “presence”, I have heard nothing whatsoever apart from the automated acknowledgement to my initial email via their site.

Their site is another joke. For the past seven days the “contact us” page reads as follows (even on weekends when they are closed).

fly.greysfishing.com 2014-8-11 12 30 43Clearly this is a company who once they’ve got your cash couldn’t care less about you.

I for one will never buy another Greys product and I will do my level best to ensure that other anglers I meet on the river bank, lakeside, fisheries, beaches and piers (and socially) don’t fall for their sales bluster and are made fully aware of their blatant disregard for anglers who face issues with items covered by their supposed “lifetime unconditional guarantee”.

I’ll be advising each and every one of them to research the market rather than going with a company who appear professional on the surface but engage in bait and switch once they have you hooked.

Goodbye Greys.

Posted in Poor customer service | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s been a complete fucking disHaasster.

.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Julian Cope cancels Belfast show due to security concerns.

The social media networks are ablaze with acrimony and accusations over the decision by Julian Cope to cancel his scheduled appearance at the “Out to lunch” festival due to take place in Belfast on January 16th 2014. Cope emailed the organisers saying:

‘It is with regret that I feel obliged to cancel my forthcoming Belfast show of January 16th due to the current security situation there and the logistics involved.
I’m very sorry about this.’

Given the recent spate of terrorist / dissident activity it’s entirely understandable that someone might fear for their safety in Belfast – understandable except where your continued funding depends on they and their ilk appearing in Belfast that is. You see there is a bigger picture here. The main complainant who described Cope’s decision as “an utter disgrace” was himself absent from Belfast for most of the troubles™ and returned on a permanent basis only after peace broke out. The fact is that nobody can guarantee the safety of Julian Cope (or any other person) from terrorist activities here in Northern Ireland and his concerns ought to be respected, not derided.

Indeed here is the MI5 terrorist risk assessment as of todays date;26-12-2013 17-04-20No so funny now, is it?

Another fact is that the “Out to Lunch” festival is in its ninth year of operation post troubles™ and is funded handsomely by various organisations and Government bodies due, in no small part, to the work they purport to do to “promote” cross community activities, peace, tourism, culture and any other buzz word that gets them a couple of hundred thousand pounds of taxpayer money to play with every few years.

26-12-2013 16-26-13

26-12-2013 17-18-23When someone like Julian Cope comes along and states a rather uncomfortable but corroborated truth (which might well have a detrimental effect on future funding for such activities) it’s little wonder that those whose livelihoods depend almost entirely upon sucking at the taxpayer teat in order to sustain their businesses knee jerk in such a fashion.

Fair play to anyone who can figure out a way to have their primary business funded with tax payers money but when you build a business on the ever shifting sands of peace and social stability as your foundation you really are in a precarious position.

That aside, Julian Cope has genuine, and according to security service sources clearly well founded, concerns about his safety from terrorist attacks during any planned appearance in Belfast. If you cannot guarantee his safety, which you can’t, then at least afford him the right to take measures to do so himself without lambasting him in public for doing so.

Perhaps he’s not as desperate for the money as his would be detractors are?

Posted in Dissident attacks, Fear | Tagged , | Leave a comment

NI Civil service sick absence, let’s do some real cost comparisons.

Nobody working in the pubic sector in Northern Ireland can have failed to be utterly offended by the highly offensive and selective vitriol spewed forth by failed East Belfast TUV candidate David Vance on the Nolan Show on the night of October 30th.

Mr Vance is no stranger to spewing vitriol. Back in 2010 he ended up having to withdraw comments he posted online after his then hosting provider advised him “We have received several complaints regarding hate speech on your website. Per our terms, “Content with the sole purpose of causing harm or inciting hate, or content that could be reasonably considered as slanderous or libelous.” is not permitted”.

Mr Vance never misses an opportunity to push his own particular brand of divisional über loyalism and he rarely, if ever, lets the facts get in the way of an opportunity to do so.

He used the public funded BBC platform to launch a withering attack on public sector workers by selectively quoting a report that sick absence within the Northern Ireland Civil Service for the 2012 – 2013 period had accounted for £30.8m in lost productivity. The reasons for sick leave in the public sector, like any other, are many and varied and yes there certainly is room for improvement. The current “lip service” to the wellbeing (and safety) of public sector workers must come to an end. Any improvement will involve employers, employees and trade unions working to improve upon the current situation. It will involve a genuine, demonstrable and quantifiable committment by all parties to affect improvement.

I’m not going to get into the minutiae of why these people are off work sick nor do I want to have to explain the fact that private sector workers really ought to be demanding the same hard-fought for rights and protections that their public sector colleagues have, rather than demanding parity of a lower calibre, but I’d like to highlight a thing or two if I may.

The bottom line is that these people are off work ill. “Work” is the key word here. The report references “lost productivity” which acknowledges that under normal circumstances where they are not ill and at work they are productive in their role. Both work and productivity cost money in exchange for a service provided. Let me ask Mr Vance what productivity is there in the ongoing flag protests?

At just three months in (we are now 11 months in) the flag protests had already at that stage cost the tax payer £20m in policing costs and in excess of £15m pounds in lost business to Belfast traders within just three weeks of their having started. That’s a £35m (absolute minimum) cost to the taxpayer in just two cost areas in just three months brought about by people whose actions and behaviours do nothing to administer or deliver productivity, support or services to the people of Northern Ireland. A cost incurred, by and large, by people who do not work and who contribute little or nothing fiscally to society as a whole.

Were Mr Vance genuinely interested in or concerned about how Treasury money is spent then he’d do well to collate and consider the figures for policing, lost trade, lost tourism revenue and the costs to the legal system as a result of the actions (or real work inaction) of those people whose job of work is to create havoc and destabilization in Northern Ireland rather than having a cheap pop at people whose job of work is the exact opposite but who happen, from time to time as we as humans are predisposed by nature to do, to fall ill and require time off work to recuperate in order to return to work.

He’s not though, is he?

He actually supports and encourages the flag protests (apologies for exposing you to his bad grammar) whilst seeking to point an accusatory finger of blame at over worked public servants.

He’s a self-proclaimed “social commentator” who either cannot see the irony of his position or is in denial of the biggest social issue facing Northern Ireland at this current time.

He is blinded by his own hatred for public sector workers of whatever hue or religion to the extent that he’d rather spew vitriol at / about them than drag himself into the democratic 21st century and address real world problems.

He’s a has been, a political dinosaur lost in a wilderness. A largely failed “politician” whose only role is to foment hatred, suspicion and division between workers.

He’s part of the problem, not part of any solution.

Posted in BBC, Civil Service Sick Absence, I'm alright jack, Loyalist riots, Northern Ireland Assembly, Northern Ireland tourism, Orange, Political views, PSNI, Rioting, Sick absence, signing on., The Nolan show, TUV | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Satire. For the people and by the people.

It’s no coincidence that every time a satirical outlet that gains popularity shines an uncomfortable light on the bigotry, incompetence and general fuckwittery of what passes for politics™ in Northern Ireland that outlet ends up marginalized, maligned and suppressed.

The Portadown News (PDN) was perhaps the original satirical inward looking but outward facing observation of the madness that is Northern Ireland. Daily many thousands flocked to its messageboard to read the latest postings of the there gathered commentators who poked relentless (and unforgiving) fun at those who were up their own holes with self (deluded) importance. Nobody was safe from the satire. Politicians, terrorists (one and the same in some cases) were all fair game. Until, that is, someone realized that through the very existence of the Portadown News the world became aware that tribal politics, sectarianism and bigotry were the holy trinity of what made Northern Ireland tick. It’s an uncomfortable truth that our politicians need these three things to forment in order to justify their own existence. A world looking in on the antics and inaction of our politicians is just a bit too much for them and the tribal status quo to handle so they do what they always do – they oppress it.

Newton Emerson was eventually unceremoniously and intentionally “outed” by a columnist at the Andersonstown News (a “newspaper” which supposedly supports free speech) and thus came to an end a platform where people could, largely unfettered, comment on life in Northern Ireland without the traditional Government spin being applied and for all the world to see.

Fast forward several years and we see a facebook entity Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD) make a similar stand on foot of the violence which erupted (and continues) after the “Fleg protests”. Social media and the internet have changed a lot in the intervening years since the sad demise of PDN and the following of the LAD page on Facebook quickly grew as word spread that, once again, there was an outlet for people to report on and expose the bigotry, sectarianism and ineptitude of not just elements of the population but large swathes of the political elite.

Politicians, Government Departments and political leaders were horrified that someone armed with access to the internet, a camera phone and the wherewithal to record with it could show the world that contrary to all the millions (if not billions) spent on press, spin and inward investment there are elements of Northern Ireland society that are stuck several hundred years ago in a triumphalist past who are unable to “move on” from that mindset or work towards a proper shared future.

Just as previously was the case with PDN those who stood to lose the most from being exposed as hate mongers and exponents of whataboutery sought to have LAD suppressed and removed from Facebook. As per usual they have succeeded in suppressing what are, ultimately, the valid opinions of many thousands of Northern Ireland’s citizenry because to deal with what they were exposing would have been a step too far.

The LAD site has now been removed by facebook for what I understand to be the sixth time. Thankfully the admin team are maintaining their blog here http://loyalistsagainstdemocracy.blogspot.co.uk/ and they seem resolute in their determination to keep on exposing to the outside world what passes for politics and political leadership™ here in Northern Ireland.

I would urge everyone to support their efforts otherwise we are doomed to allow our political elite to repeat the cyclical sectarian mistakes and injustices of the past in order to keep people like us downtrodden at heel and beholden to their thinly veiled bigotry.

Time for change.

As LAD say (tongue somewhat in cheek) “WE are the people”.

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