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?

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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”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arts Council NI funding and fuelling bigotry in the name of “Kulture”?

Why has nobody, particularly within the Arts, raised the issue of tax payers money having been allocated to some of these sectarian bands who are holding the greater public to ransom?

One only has to look at the Arts Council NI accounts and reports to see that very considerable amounts of tax payers money has been squandered to equip these bigots with the tools to harass, intimidate and insult the public at large and hold large swathes of society and business to ransom citing an erosion of their culture.

I understand completely the reticence of those in the pay of or heavily dependant upon Arts Council funding to speak out but, Christ on a bike, it’s obvious that something needs to be done to stop this. Those who laud and worship at the fiscal altar of the Arts Council simper into their lattes cursing all and sundry for the negative impression being created by these bigots and those who fund and encourage them yet no one, as far as I can see, is prepared to call for the cutting off  of their lifeblood – funding.

We can no longer willy nilly continue to fund bigots dressed as bandsmen (from either “side”), it is entirely unacceptable. Aside from the fear that such behaviours invoke lets take a second to look at the damage these neanderthal bigots are causing to local businesses, tourism and the international reputation of Northern Ireland.

Art it is not. Stop pretending this is “culture” and call it for what it is, naked sectarian aggression. It has to stop for all of our sakes and those who proactively finance it from public coffers need to stop doing so.


Posted in Loyalist riots, Northern Ireland inward investment, Northern Ireland tourism, Orange | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HMRC, ebay and tax avoidance / evasion.

Ebay is surely the ultimate haven for tax avoidance in the UK.

Not only does it itself  play rough and ready when it comes to taxes and tax avoidance but it also enables many, many thousands of individuals to run extremely profitable businesses selling goods without declaring earnings and without paying appropriate tax to the Exchequer.

Take for example this seller “sa011081”. How many individuals not operating as a business happen to have 100+ new broadband modems of varying makes and descriptions lying around their house that they might want  to get rid of? That’s right, none.

Is it not time that the Government called ebay to account and addressed this laughable situation? After all, this manifest greed which ebay encourages its sellers to practice lines their coffers.

Tax evasion (as opposed to avoidance) is a crime. People who commit such crimes do so at a cost to society as a whole. Ebay is openly and wilfully profiteering from crime as it conducts no discernible checks on its sellers who whilst running businesses claim to be individuals selling on their platform. In short I believe they (ebay) are profiting from the proceeds of crime (tax evasion) and as such they ought to be dealt with as such.

This loss to the exchequer causes cuts in other areas including vital services. These people, operating with the tacit support of ebay who provide the platform, ought to be brought to book.

You can do the work of HMRC for them and report them here.

You can also do your bit by not buying from sellers, like the individual above, who represent themselves as individuals as opposed to a business.

Posted in Business sellers, ebay, tax evasion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An open letter to Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.

Dear Queen,

Can you please have a wee word with those of your loyal subjects here in Northern Ireland who think that they are, in your name & with the blessing of your house and flag, engaging in the wanton destruction of  Belfast (both structurally and reputationally) by rioting, physically and verbally attacking your forces of law and order and threatening elected representatives to your parliament with assault and indeed death?

I’m not asking for a full on Christmas Day speech, just a wee pre recorded thirty second “Not in my name” type snippet that might be broadcast on all of the news networks until the message gets through that their burning of buildings, attacking police officers, destroying businesses and creating a palpable atmosphere of fear in an attempt to assert their British culture is neither acceptable, condoned nor endorsed by your good self.

Celebrating Britishness...the aftermath.

Affirming Britishness…the aftermath.

Our elected representatives are too busy trying to score political points to do anything constructive on these matters. Indeed there are those in our Assembly who secretly, and some not so secretly, relish the thought of ongoing sectarian strife for that is what keeps them in jobs / power.

The greater majority of the population of Northern Ireland, from whatever nationality or religion, are sick sore and tired of this minority of neanderthals on both sides of the political and religious divide dragging us back to the dark days of the Troubles™ and having our collective reputation sullied in the eyes of the world by the actions / inaction and firebrand rhetoric of those who cling to the past with such fervor.

Please, do us all a favour and set the record straight. Are you content for those who assert that they are carrying out such actions in the name of the British crown to be doing so?

If not would you please be so good as to tell them so?


Angrytown News

Posted in Loyalist riots, Northern Ireland inward investment, Northern Ireland tourism, Police injured, Queen Elizabeth, Rioting, Tourism initiative, Trouble in Belfast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vodafone Ireland, get your shit together.

What is it about Vodafone Ireland that they appear hell bent on driving away customers (existing and potential)  who are visiting the Republic of Ireland  using their Vodafone Pay as You Go service?

Rip off Vodafone Ireland

Vodafone Ireland. Unlikely to be a fan of this particular post.

As one such (soon to be ex) customer I find it incredibly frustrating that I can no longer top up my phone or mobile broadband using a V0dafone voucher bought in the North of Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter). The cessation of this facility wasn’t communicated to their customer base yet it is still offered as an option in the voice menus when you phone customer services. Why is that? If you select the option you are immediately redirected to a voice inviting you to pay by credit card. That’s fine except past experience tells me that Vodafone Ireland doesn’t always accept payment by credit cards issued by Northern Irish banks!

Perhaps I should open an AIB or Bank of Ireland bank account solely to enable me to avail of their bank ATM top up service? Open a bank account to pay banking charges and fees just to top up my phone? I don’t think so.

Then there is the issue of having to jump through various hoops to have your SIM reactivated after they have deactivated it (and stolen any remaining credit) because you either haven’t used it or have neglected to top it up for a certain period of time.

The bottom line appears to be that if you want to use Vodafone Pay as You Go then you are expected to use the phone regularly just to keep it active (and their coffers full) and in order to be absolutely sure that you can top up to avoid having your SIM deactivated you ought to drive whatever distance it might take to a retailer in the Republic to buy a top up voucher.

Well played Vodafone Ireland.

Take note readers, there are other airtime and mobile broadband providers out there who don’t treat their customers like cash cows in such a blatant manner. I suggest you engage with them.

Posted in Customer services, Rip off, Vodafone | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment