Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

St Patricks Day: Celebrating what it is to be Irish everywhere except NI (where we can’t agree what it means)

Tue 19 March 2013, 3:33pm

St Patricks Day is a celebration almost everywhere in the world, except, you guessed it, Northern Ireland. Each year we are entertained to our usual dour cold war over symbols and identities [at least we're not burning down Orange Halls, like the Scots - Ed].

In Downpatrick Unionists are complaining that the festivities are being held on, erm, St Patricks Day, because it’s a Sunday. Well, I know yesterday was a bank holiday and it wouldn’t take much to agree to have it on the day we actually get off, but, well, its our whinge day.

It fell to Eamonn Mac Con Midhe to, as Jude puts it, press Unionist buttons (no fleg this year, so no big dog required to discourage any would be protesters):

No flegs in Downpatrick, so no parade in Loyalist Campsie Road in Omagh (because they fly flags that would make Catholics uncomfortable). Such is the dull fun of our Cold War over culture and symbols.

No St Patricks Day Band Parade (and no local bomb scares either) this year. That’s for that same reason; it’s on a Sunday. But Slugger understands they’re hoping to come back next year.

The best news is that for the second year in a row Queens, and now the University of Ulster, seem to have tamped down the flames of passion in the Holylands, which, but for one bizarre, and yet to be fully explained, incident, was pretty trouble free.

Many of last year’s innocent first years will be doing their final stretch next year, so it may be that the habit is broken.

Good to see leadership coming from somewhere…

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Comments (133)

  1. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Alan N/Ards

    If you are truly talking about the united people of Ireland then the flag of the victor is not going to unite both sides.
    ——————————————

    What is the flag of the United States of America? What flag did the Union troops fight under in their civil war?

    What did you call that wooden fella, whose nose got longer when he told fibs?

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  2. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    “What is the flag of the United States of America? What flag did the Union troops fight under in their civil war?”

    Not to put any more irony into this exchange, but it was the flag of the Union, so called. ;o)

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  3. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    @ FDM

    “What is the flag of the United States of America? What flag did the Union troops fight under in their civil war?”

    That comparison scares me mate, it’s not like the South had much of a choice after they were crushed.

    After Bluehammer’s terrifying references to war, are you now entertaining that as well?
    Or is this just the path of least resistance to get one over Alan N/Ards?

    If X amount of people who are now unionists could be persuaded to vote for a UI (slim, I know, but bear with me) on the grounds that the soldier’s song and the tri-colour had to go, would that really be too high a price to pay?

    I’m a unionist, but, I’d certainly consider a united Ireland (after the economic fairy waves her wand) if those pre-conditions could be met.

    At least it would spare me the embarrassment of having to listen to my ‘fellow unionists’ every time they preach end of days just because a Union Flag can’t be flown 24/7 or because a parade gets rerouted.

    Pretty sure that makes me some sort of Lundy, but if that means I also get an exit ticket from a rat-infested out-post that has a statistically slim chance of survival then so be it…

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  4. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM

    Wonderful country is the good ole USA. A true example to us all. The land were everyone is equal regardless of their background. A true republic. Now back to the real world. You are living in a fantasy world to even think that the tricolour will unite the people of this island. Thankfully it will not be up to nationalists like you and SF to decide what flag will fly ( if a UI happens) and true republicans will come to the fore and genuinely reach out to unionists.

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  5. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM
    You should stop the pretence that you and SF are republicans. I believe that I have more republicanism in me than you and SF will ever have. Otto speaks a lot of sense. You and SF don’t. It’s all about domination with people like you. A bit like the DUP and extreme loyalism. Thankfully for your side there are more sensible people than you who will do a deal for a UI if the time comes. Unionism unfortunately does not have those people at the present time.

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  6. Morpheus (profile) says:

    When a UI does happen Alan then I believe that all the issues regarding flags and anthems will have been democratically resolved on an all-island basis well in advance because it has to form a key part of the voter decision making process when the referendum comes on both sides of the border. As will economics, health, justice, social security, housing, political representation etc. The voters need answers.

    Up to now I think SF/SDLP/FF/FG etc have been lazy in regards to the border poll in that they have done no visible legwork to see if it is even possible and if it was what it would look like. Politicians should be pushing for a joint British/Irish government initiative to bring in an independent body to ensure respect and equality for all and, importantly, to answer the key questions so the electorate can make an informed choice.

    The cornerstone to this whole debate for me is economics. NI generates £12.7b in taxes and it costs £23.2b to run the place. I believe savings can be made but £10.5b a year? Every man, woman and child takes £5000 more from the UK pot than they contribute – where is that going to come from?

    http://www.dfpni.gov.uk/northern-ireland-net-fiscal-balance-report-09-10-10-11.pdf

    That said I think a time will come very soon when the Chancellor will not allow NI to run on such a deficit and the 4 regions of the UK which are supporting NI will say that enough is enough. Just this week George Osborne asked Whitehall to make £2.5b cuts – how long before he takes this from the NI pot? Even if he took the whole £2.5b tomorrow would we really have room for complaint?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9940246/George-Osborne-makes-2.5-billion-more-cuts-to-Whitehall-departments.html

    One thing is for sure if I thought that my Protestant friends, family and colleagues were to be treated so badly that they needed to form their own Civil Rights Movement then I don’t want a UI.

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  7. aodon_or_laoch_dread_bonn (profile) says:

    Those people in SF think that only one person can win and if they are winner, they have to be putting down the other. That is true in much sports but not true in life.

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  8. tacapall (profile) says:

    Alan I think you and I are on different wavelengths -

    “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

    – Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

    While you are talking only in a United Ireland context I was talking in a new union context, a union where the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England can each decide individually whats best for them within that union without having to accept the concept of a monarchy being head of our religion, leader of all our armies and having the automatic right to deny or approve of any law we wish to pass. If we as Irish people accept the union jack as being the flag of that union after all the years of blood being spilled in its name, whats your problem with the tricolour being the flag of the new unified Irish republic. Lets not forget who was the prime mover in Irelands bloody past and no matter how you look at it, more terrible things have been carried out in the name of the king or queen and the union jack in Ireland and around the world than what unionists from this part of Ireland believe was carried out in the name of the tricolour.

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  9. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Am Ghobsmacht

    “After Bluehammer’s terrifying references to war, are you now entertaining that as well?”

    Backside. You know I was saying that. Merely providing an example where one side actually lost and today the flag is to be seen everywhere north and south in said country.

    I would be happy enough for both flags to be flown in the northern civics, even after reunification. People of British origin do exist in this place and their contribution to this society must be recognised. I think the point my lot are making is that isn’t it about time that our half of the population get represented as well? Christ the night Blue Hammer won’t even let us self-identify even though it doesn’t affect him a jot. How do we move forward with thinking like that?

    ————————————

    @Alan

    “The land were everyone is equal regardless of their background.”

    You are equal in America is you have the money. The USA is a terrible example of the functioning of a Republic.

    “It’s all about domination with people like you”.

    I have a very strong personal belief in governance by the people for the people. I am also very committed to social justice. In my employment practices I have always paid approaching double what the market rate was for staff because I like being able to look in the mirror and giving the guy I see a few breaks.

    I have no wish to dominate people of British origin in this region. I do get exasperated with them because frankly they been in this countries way for a long time. A block to progress. They need to get with the programme. They have held up the bus too long. Example? Sunningdale 1974. GFA 1998. 24 years delay for what was substantially very similar indeed. Who brought down Sunningdale? Not me. What resulted from its failure? A plague on both our houses.

    Get with the programme Alan. Take a seat, you are holding up the bus.

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  10. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM
    I have no intention of sitting on a bus which has a driver who is registered blind.

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  11. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Edwina Curry on Nolan proving my point when I said:

    “That said I think a time will come very soon when the Chancellor will not allow NI to run on such a deficit and the 4 regions of the UK which are supporting NI will say that enough is enough. Just this week George Osborne asked Whitehall to make £2.5b cuts – how long before he takes this from the NI pot? Even if he took the whole £2.5b tomorrow would we really have room for complaint?”

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  12. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Alan N/Ards

    “I have no intention of sitting on a bus which has a driver who is registered blind”

    Yes because “unionists” are blessed with such vision.

    They had a chance to build this place into something and had 50 unfettered years to do so.

    What did they do with that freedom?

    They built a prison for the rest of us, paid for by Essex builders and money speculators in London City.

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  13. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    FDM

    Republicanism is about having a vision (so we are told) I have met very few who are true republicans. Most people who claim to be republican are in fact nationalists. You, in my eyes, are one of these people. The only person who has come close in recent years is Conall McDevitt. Here is someone who wants to reach an agreement. I could be wrong of course.

    A word of warning. It is against the law to drive while blind. Please hand in your license before it is to late.

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  14. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Alan N/Ards

    “Please hand in your license before it is to late.”

    No backseat driving please. You had your chance. There was a very large crash and many casualties because of it.

    The UK government forcibly took away your driving license in 1974.

    You could say we are all on the Paddy wagon now. :)

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  15. tacapall (profile) says:

    Conall McDevitt a republican !! Obviously his version of republicanism is not the type widely supported by the Irish people who would be regarded as republicans. There is no room in any new republic for a monarchy, its as contradictory and hypocritical as those so called socialists within the republican movement who are private landlords. McDevitt is more a castle catholic than a republican, the type of Irishman that would be comfortable with accepting whatever title bestowed upon him by the ruling class of windsor.

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  16. Reader (profile) says:

    FDM: The UK government forcibly took away your driving license in 1974.
    What a jolly metaphor. In fact, no-one has a licence, there is no driver, the bus is going nowhere, and the passengers therefore have no need to sit down, or to shut up. We might as well do something to keep ourselves amused.

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  17. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Reader

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPQcnjlwtE4

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  18. JR (profile) says:

    Was just reading a passage from Rotha Mór an tSaoil about st Patricks day in the Klondike, Alaska in the late 1890′s.

    There was a man who had a set of pipes over there and after a few morning prayers (there was no priest within a few hundred miles) about 20 or 30 of the Irish men left their cabins and marched down the valley behind the piper towards the pub in the nearst small town. After reaching the pub they had a few drinks and acording to the writer Micí mac Gabhann, men from every corner of the world were in the pub to join the festivaties. When the Piper struck up his first tune in the pub however one particular man as the passage says (apologies for my crude translation from Irish)

    “there was a fellow in front of me with an un satisfied appeaeance. A Fierce big tall lump of a man, six foot tall if he was an inch. He had a face which was an unhealthy colour of yellow and two wild eyes in his head, and a big bent nose like the point of a spear. That as it was, when he heard the tune the piper was starting to play (called st patricks day) a light lit in his eyes as you would see in the eye of a cod thrown in a dark corner at night. He had a big lip as well and when he got angry his upper lip would fall just like the lips of a cow trying to get the last grains of oats from the bottom of a wooden bucket. I asked the man behind the bar did he know who the man was and he said he knew him well, he was one of the Orange men from the north of Ireland.

    The piper was playing on and I noticed the man was about to explode. I was keeping my eye on him and watching his ear lobes swell with a powerful mad rage. Then as the piper went up the floor past him and there was a green ribon was hanging down to the ground from his musical instrument, the man mad a sudeen lunge at the ribbon and tried to pull it from the pipes. I saw him myself and I was so taken by it I didn’t look right or left I walked straight up to him and hit him one thump on the ear with my fist and landed him on his backside on the floor.

    There was uproar in the place then and I thought this was going to be the start, but when the fellow came to himself, what did he do but rise and walk out the door placid and peaceful, without a blessing or curse on anyone. That was how it happened and no-one that was there said I had done anything wrong.”

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  19. Barnshee (profile) says:

    “Lets not forget who was the prime mover in Irelands bloody past ”
    Indeed –take careful note of the Irish invitations to the English to support local clan leaders. Examine in detail the Irish support for the enemies of the English throne succession and subsequent Severe boots up the arse these actions provoked and indeed ” Lets not forget who was the prime mover in Irelands bloody past “

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  20. tacapall (profile) says:

    Barnshee lets just blame the man who signed the papal bull giving Britain permission to invade Ireland in the first place, but I do love this line – “Examine in detail the Irish support for the enemies of the English throne” Maybe you should read up on the battle of the Boyne then and find out who actually fought and died under the union jack, and while your at it, which side was party to installing a foreign monarch on the English throne.

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  21. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    tacapall

    Most people who claim that they are republican are really nationalists. People like de Valera had no interest in having a proper republic. He was a catholic nationslist who had no vision. He was Roman Catholic first and irishmsn second. There were a number of prominent “republicans” who thought like this.

    Genuine question. Do you have to be invovled in armed struggle to be accepted as a republican?

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  22. FDM (profile) black spot says:

    @Alan N/Ards

    Genuine question. Do you have to be invovled in armed struggle to be accepted as a republican?
    —————————-

    If only George Washington was here to answer that question…

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  23. tacapall (profile) says:

    Re De Valera Alan I couldn’t agree with you more, I base my republicanism on the ideals of the United Irishmen who were both Catholic and Protestant, and I would agree that even today some of our so called leaders of republicanism in Stormont would be Catholic first and Irishmen second.

    No you dont have to be involved in armed struggle to be accepted as a republican, I was born and reared near Carlisle Circus it was a mixed area then and as children the Clifton St graveyard was where we first came into contact with republicanism.

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  24. Barnshee (profile) says:

    “just blame the man who signed the papal bull giving Britain permission to invade Ireland in the first place, but I do love this line – “Examine in detail the Irish support for the enemies of the English throne”

    A brief Summary

    1 Local thug Dermot (the poof?) INVITES Norman thug “Strongbow” to help him into pole position “Strongbow “takes a really big bite –not cricket -what

    2 Upset Irish complain to Strongbow`s boss and get another dose of Norman interference with even bigger bites tken.

    3 Cue centuries of “irish” support attempts to alter the British succession (, Philip of Spain, James II, Louis of France, Napoleon etc -( -even Old Adolph had his supporters)–in each case interference resulted in being roundly booted in the arse for such interference and then (typically ) whining about the nasty Brits blaming others for self inflicted wounds.

    (I find one of the more interesting whines the one where ” Republicans” gurn about the Republican Cromwell seeing off the Royalist in Dogheda)

    Their sheer incompetence is underlined by their attitudes in “support” when their fellow irish (prods) joined in revolution they
    1 Massacred them
    http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/docs/articles/historical/scullabogue.htm
    and
    2 Fail to turn up
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Antrim

    Indeed exam in detail the causes and effects of the English connection

    PS If you want to see a people really shafted by the Brits try the history of our next door neighbour Scotland

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  25. BarneyT (profile) says:

    Morpheus – 4 regions of the UK supporting NI? Presumably that includes NI itself or are the falklands contributing. Gibraltar?

    The UK holds on to the Falklands (FI) to stake a claim on Antarctic mineral extraction rights etc.., despite coming close pre 1982 to returning the Islands to Argentina. I understand that was on the table around this time.

    The UK fought to protect these islands to make a point, and publically their rationale conflicted with the earlier thinking of Spanish repatriation. So their position is compromised or at least confused

    I can only assume that they are keeping the islands:

    a) Because the prospects of a oil find and subsequent claim has improved

    b) To honour those that fought and died in 1982

    We know for sure it is not out of any loyalty to the FI inhabitants

    if b) is correct however, NI will remain in the UK surely on a honour basis?

    The defence budget per head for the FI is 20k per annum. Other than that I believe they are self financing.

    If NI costs the UK about £10bn, and much of the defence costs falls under the wider UK defence budget the FI folks are 4 times more expensive to the UK that those in NI. I wonder, does the NHS extend to FI? Surely note as health is more expensive than defence.

    When the UK talks about NI in terms of cost, do they also look at the cost that that north-south divide in England creates? Surely there is a massive element of subsidisation going on within England alone. So, will they dispatch Lancashire, Yorkshire?

    Why does the UK want to retain NI? I have to return to the same reason for retaining the FI i.e. face saving due to effort made and lives lost in retaining the territory.

    Maybe the FI does offer a lot of potential with respect to the Antarctic. If so, how will this ever benefit the FI in the long term? I cant’t see much being pumped in to the FI, particularly if war efforts emerge in Syria and Iran.

    Does the prospect of NI oil (Rathlin )change things? No, because the UK already holds the rights.

    NI will indeed be dumped (as soon as the oil is extracted) as there is no loyalty factor in this direction whatsoever. Ireland was always about protecting England’s interests, end of story.

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  26. tacapall (profile) says:

    Barnshee regardless of who invited who into Ireland, the truth remains that it was an invasion later and the bloodshed and injustice that followed that invasion and the British presence will be remembered for eternity.

    Cromwell was a republican what can I say a ruthless one at that, he killed as many planters as he killed natives but not as ruthless as Humphrey Gilbert. Those planters who came with a bible in one hand and sword in the other were the same people who supported and aided a foreign monarch to sit on the throne of England, the same people who march up and down streets and roads every 12th july.

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  27. Morpheus (profile) says:

    BarneyT – I have no idea where all that about the Falklands came from. In my opinion the people have spoken using their democratic right and that’s the end of that one. And good luck to them.

    Moving on to the 4 regions I mentioned then a study by Oxford Economics into the UK public finances showed that only 4 regions contributed more than they took from the UK pot. Well I say 4 but that includes Scotland who took out what they put in so really it’s 3 – Greater London, the South East and the Eastern Region.

    My point was how long that could last given the UK national debt stood £1,347.4 billion as of Q4 2012 and that rises by £2.3 billion each week. The cuts are coming

    The bottom line is NI generates £12.7b but spends £23.2b and we spend it like this:

    Expenditure
    Social protection – £7,319 million
    Health – £3,831 million
    Other – £3,652 million
    Education – £2,714 million
    General public services- £2,143 million
    Public order and safety – £1,626 million
    Defence- £1,127 million
    Accounting adjustments- £800 million
    Total – £23,212 million

    Until this issue is addressed then a UI is not attainable in my book.

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  28. tacapall (profile) says:

    “Until this issue is addressed then a UI is not attainable in my book”

    Morpheus thats one of the main reasons why there will be a unified Ireland and an historic agreement between the Irish and British peoples. There is no such thing as an unlimited purse, Britain does have a strategic interest in Ireland, but you can see from your figures how financially draining maintaining that strategic interest is. If however Britain and Ireland could come to an agreement where Britain could maintain that strategic advantage and at the same time the cost of maintaining that advantage is being shared by others, then what other logical outcome can there come about other than a unified Ireland that Britain still has an influence in and still has its foot in the door.

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  29. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Interesting tacapall – so you are saying that instead of the entire burden falling on the British you foresee an arrangement whereby the cost is distributed among the British and Irish?

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  30. tacapall (profile) says:

    Morpheus that British presence is those citizens who consider themselves as British, a bit like joint authority except one side can jump out whenever the other side is no longer needed, in other words that strategic advantage is no longer needed.

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  31. Morpheus (profile) says:

    You’ve lost me with ‘strategic advantage’. What is the strategic advantage of GB keeping NI?

    NI’s futures is dependent on getting that £23.2 billion expenditure down closer to how much we generate but NI doesn’t stand a chance when it comes to inward investment under the current system. Leaving aside the images of NI broadcast to the world if you owned a massive US company, say Paypal, would you choose to bring 1000 jobs and set up in Belfast with the UK Corporation Tax rate or Drogheda with the ROI Corporation Tax rate even though they are just 75 miles apart?

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  32. tacapall (profile) says:

    Morpheus the peace process would never have gotten off the ground if the British government had not publicly attempted to answer that question.

    “The Prime Minister, on behalf of the British Government…reiterates, on behalf of the British Government, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.” John Major.

    “Let me be clear to anyone watching in the Islamic or the Arab world. Britain has no selfish or strategic or oil-related interest in what is happening in Libya. Our interest has been to try and help save civilian life” David Cameron.

    Do you think the Joe Bloggs Libyans believe that statement on behalf of the British government by David Cameron, look at the middle east today and convince yourself that Britain has no strategic or oil related interests in the various so called uprisings. Britain has many enemies around the world both domestic and foreign and Ireland is just too close for Britain not to have a strategic interest, its Britains Cuba. Would you also believe Britain has no strategic or economic interests in the Falkland Islands.

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  33. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Am Ghobsmacht (From that spelling I’d guess that you are half Arab and half German), Kevsterino,

    “What is the flag of the United States of America? What flag did the Union troops fight under in their civil war?”

    To add further irony if one takes the Southern argument at face value than both sides were flying the flag of the Confederacy. The secessionists argued that the U.S. was a confederacy with all sovereignty residing in the states and merely loaned to the federal government, This allowed them to legally secede. So according to the South the Civil War was one between self-aware confederates and deluded confederates who thought that they were really federals.

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