Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Gerry Adams on the ‘current situation in Northern Ireland’

Wed 5 February 2014, 6:29pm

Here’s the full text of Gerry Adams speech in the Dail this afternoon in a debate entitled Statements on the current situation in Northern Ireland. Mr Adams segues from a long justification of his party’s murky past to an imagined future.

However, there’s barely a reference to the actual ‘current situation in Northern Ireland’. Indeed the party press office has handily rethemed it, Dáil statements on the North:

I welcome the fact that we are having this debate. I have been asking the Taoiseach to facilitate such a discussion for some time.
But I do believe that we need to formalize this arrangement so that a structured discussion on the north can be held on a regular basis as part of the normal business of the Dail.
Unfortunately, present arrangements do not allow for sufficient time to deal with these important and complex issues.
What is equally unacceptable is the disgraceful manner in which some TDs and parties have tended to use the north and issues arising from the recent conflict, in a shallow, juvenile way usually to attack Sinn Fein.
Regrettably some of Teachta Martin’s remarks here today reflect this approach. Maybe Deputy Martin could take me into the North some time and introduce me to this “Sinn Féin/Provisional IRA community” to which he refers.
Almost 4,000 people died in the recent conflict on this island. Countless others died in other phases of conflict over the centuries.
Is as gach pobail a tháinig said.
The victims came from all walks of life and all sections of the community. They include members of the British state forces, Gardai and Defence Forces members, members of republican organisations, unionist paramilitaries, and civilians.
The focus of political leaders and of this Dáil must be to ensure that there are no more casualties of political conflict on this island; That there are no more victims; That there are no more deaths.
This means that we must understand the errors of past in order not to repeat them.
Ní raibh cogadh maith riamh ann, nó ní raibh síocháin dona riamh ann, ach an oiread.
The democratic position, to remind the Fianna Fáil Leader, is that conflict on this island arose from the British Government’s colonial policy and its immoral and illegitimate claim to jurisdiction in Ireland.
Following the Black and Tan War, the Partition of Ireland, as James Connolly predicted, triggered a ‘carnival of reaction’ and created two conservative states administered by two elites who entrenched their own power and privilege to the detriment of ordinary citizens.
In the north, a one-party unionist regime controlled a sectarian Orange state with the aid of the RUC and infamous B-Specials, and backed up by draconian legislation and the use of pogroms.

The denial of basic civil rights and other measures, including the introduction of internment without trial, were the order of the day in both states.
Discriminated against in employment, education, housing and voting rights, the nationalist minority were treated as second-class citizens.
The Protestant working class were only marginally better off but sectarianism was utilized by the British and Unionist establishment to separate citizens.
While a republican minority, abandoned by Dublin, maintained heroic resistance at periods during intervening years, it was not until the 1960s that nationalists demanded our basic civil rights in an effective way.
The campaign of the Civil Rights Association in the late 1960s for equality in housing, education, employment and at elections, was met with a violent response by the Stormont regime.
Savage attacks by the RUC and the B Specials, backed by loyalist mobs culminated in organised pogroms in August 1969 against Catholics in Belfast and Derry.
The violence saw the biggest population movement in western Europe since the Second World War
As the Orange state began to crumble under the weight of democratic demands, British troops were deployed.
Promised reforms from London turned out to be purely cosmetic and the British Army’s guns were turned against the nationalist population.

Following the introduction of internment without trial, many nationalists who had advocated reform within the Six County state, realised the state was not reformable.

The shooting dead by British troops of 14 nationalists in Derry on Bloody Sunday, in January 1972, and the international condemnation that followed this televised event, left the Stormont regime in ruins.
And last week Taoiseach, you met another group of victims of British terrorism, from Ballymurphy and I welcome your support for their campaign.
It was this violent British state response to the democratic demands of the nationalist population that created the conditions for republican armed struggle.
It is often forgotten that Sinn Féin was banned outright in the Six Counties between 1956 and 1974. Armed resistance or support for armed resistance, was the only path that many saw open to them after the Civil Rights Movement was beaten and shot off the streets. They included members of this government.
The IRA that emerged in these years was one built by ordinary people out of sheer necessity because of the conditions in which they found themselves. In nationalist areas of the north, the IRA was from the people, not some abstract idea.
However, the British and Irish Governments used repression and firstly believed they could militarily defeat the IRA and later hoped they could isolate and criminalise it.
The abject failure of successive Irish Governments to represent Irish national interests and specifically to stand by those Irish citizens under attack, also contributed to the political conditions in which armed struggle was waged.
From the ‘we shall not stand idly by’ moment, the relationship of Irish Governments with repressive British administrations grew more and more subservient.
Militarisation of society in the north and the corruption of policing, prisons, the judiciary and public life were obvious for decades.
What was less obvious was the extent to which this adversely affected people and institutions in this state.
From the early 1970s, many areas of public life here — the prevailing political culture, revisionism, broadcasting legislation, the courts, and the Garda — were gradually subsumed into supporting British counter-insurgency efforts.
Many people here who wished to stand by their fellow citizens in the north and to stand up for justice were hounded and harried by the forces of the state. Many had their careers ruined.
While Irish governments did not ban Sinn Féin outright, they attempted to close down the party and harassed our members continuously.
Surveillance of political radicals, the abuse of detainees in Garda custody and the activities of the notorious Garda ‘Heavy Gang’ became a feature of political policing here, which only a tiny minority of journalists were prepared to question and expose.
Juryless courts and extremely anti-republican Ministers for Justice gave the green light for such abuse and malpractice. The overall effect was extremely corrosive and included serious miscarriages of justice.
The Peace Process, the fruits of which we all now enjoy, was made possible only when this failed policy of repression, censorship and political exclusion was abandoned in favour of a more enlightened approach, in response initially to Hume/Adams and the sterling work by Fr Alec Reid and others.
The Good Friday Agreement marked a historic shift in politics on this island, establishing a firm foundation from which it is now possible to continue building a future based on equality.

For the first time since partition, almost 100 years ago, there is an international agreement involving the Irish and British governments, as well as nationalist, republican and unionist parties on a way forward.

Unlike the efforts that governments had concocted before – from Sunningdale in December 1973 through to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 – the Good Friday Agreement was comprehensive, inclusive and addressed the issues previously ignored.

The Agreement tackles constitutional issues, political and institutional matters, policing, weapons, justice and equality and more.
Citizens in this State expect the Government and the Oireachtas to have a proactive involvement in the peace process. Just as importantly, citizens in the North expect the same.

As I have said to the Taoiseach previously, I want issues relating to the past conflict to be dealt with in a rational, reasoned, considered and informed way.

But I also want to see the future discussed, planned for and created in a non-threatening and inclusive way.

I want to see this Dáil breaking out of a partitionist mindset.

An Irish government that truly wants a united Ireland would understand that this means the unity of the people of this island including those who see themselves as British.

It would therefore pursue every avenue to promote greater all-Ireland co-operation and seek to build relationships on the basis of equality between all the people on this island.

This must include genuine efforts to outreach to the unionists on the basis of equality.

It also means the undoing of any ingrained partitionist thinking by policy makers. There was never a better time to plan and deliver on an all-Ireland basis without infringing on perceived unionist sensitivities and I very much welcome the work that is being done. But more needs to be done and the failure of the Government to ensure that the Narrow water Bridge was built is an opportunity missed.

There is also an urgent need to face up to the British Government’s refusal to fulfil its obligations.

Not all aspects of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements have been implemented.

The British Government has failed to act on its Weston Park commitment to hold an independent inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane as a result of collusion between British state forces and unionist paramilitaries.

Collusion, most recently detailed in a book, Lethal Allies, by Ann Cadwallader, should be a matter of concern to all TDs and every Irish Government. Many people in this state were killed as a result of this policy, including the victims of the greatest loss of life in any single incident during the conflict — the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings of 1974.

Outstanding issues like flags and emblems; the legacy of the past; parades; equality and the status of the Irish language, as well as culture and identity issues have continued to bedevil the necessary process of change.

The Government needs to continuously and forensically go through these matters with the British Government?

I have previously put it to the Taoiseach that this Government has a responsibility to educate the British Government on these issues and to get it to engage on the basis of agreements that have been made.

There is also an ongoing need to enlist the support for this necessary endeavour of our friends internationally, including and especially in the USA. It is no accident that Irish America and its representatives have often been more informed, involved and progressive that successive governments here.

I thank our friends for that and particularly welcome the ongoing interest of Bill Clinton. I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their work.

This time last year Belfast witnessed rioting as loyalists attacked the PSNI, the nationalist Short Strand area; and held illegal demonstrations demanding the right to fly the Union flag whenever and wherever they wanted.

This issue and the unacceptable, illegal violence over Orange parades allied to a lack of positive leadership, have placed a significant strain at times on relationships within the political institutions.

The recent negotiations chaired by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan with the main parties in the North provide a clear basis for progress.

Sinn Fein has endorsed them.

Issues such as a Bill of Rights, Acht Na Gaeilge and the Maze/Long Kesh site, while not advanced, are not going away and remain to be resolved in the time ahead.
Regrettably the unionist parties have not supported Haass. They are failing their constituents and ignoring the desire of the vast majority of citizens who want to see agreement.
If the British Government is not forthright in its support for the implementation of these proposals – and Mr Cameron and his Secretary of State have fudged this issue, then how can we expect unionist leaders to be positive.
The Irish and British Governments must always be clear and unambiguous in their support of the ongoing process of change. I commend the work of the Good Friday Agreement Committee of the Oireachtas.
Our country and our people have suffered hugely as a result of three decades of conflict. Huge progress has been made in recent years. There can be no going back.

Those tiny minorities who want to cling to the past must be rejected.

Sectarianism must be tackled and ended.

Many of the scandals that we have witnessed in this state are a product of the post-colonial condition. Building a real republic on this island is to the benefit of all our citizens.

The promise of the Good Friday Agreement for a new society in which all citizens are respected, and which is based on justice and equality must be advanced.

That needs to be the focus not just of political parties in the north, or even of both governments. It needs to be a major focus for every member of this Dáil.

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Comments (117)

  1. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Michael

    “1,000,000 people in Ireland who are loyal to the Crown in varying degrees of intensity.”

    For a lot of people the British royal family are as important as soap stars.

    What do you think?
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  2. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Michael, without reading your book, of course, I have no insight into your “Reformed Monarchy”. You are free to believe in whatever you wish, but to anyone who was not raised to respect hereditary titles, monarchy is intrinsically, fatally flawed, and is impervious to reform.

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  3. Michael,

    There is no abstraction. Real people live in those many palaces and are handsomely paid for their privilege. You really are barking up the wrong tree. The first condition for a new constitutional arrangement between the UK and Ireland would be for the UK to return to being a republic.

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  4. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    @Mister Joe, I think you’re on to something there. But, of course, the new English Republic would be sans Puritanical aspirations. ;o)

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  5. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Reader

    ‘Surely it was a failed state until it changed Articles 2 & 3 of its constitution after the GFA…’

    First of all, your whole line of argument here sheer pinhead-dancing, designed to somehow mitigate the completely catastrophic history of the northern state / statelet / whatever you want to call it.

    But even if one humours your absurd premise here, it still doesn’t hold true that the Dail’s inability to rule the six northereastern counties rendered the Free State / Republic a ‘failed state’, if in some purely technical, seminar-room sense. The very issue you are trying to make hay with was identified in the 1937 Bunreacht na hÉireann, and its legal and political implications were dealt with using just one elegant little phrase: ‘…pending the integration of the national territory…’

    As to whether we can call NI a state (incidentally, I do, not because it’s my settled opinion or a rigorously arrived-at conclusion, but because it would be more honest and accurate to call it a colony, and I don’t wish to be rude.)

    But if you insist, then sure, I’ll bow your argument that ‘Northern Ireland’ (sic) ISN’T EVEN a failed state. It’s a failed colony and a failed society.

    Does that make you feel better?

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  6. Michael Gillespie (profile) says:

    Mc Slaggart
    For a lot of people the British Royal family are as important as soap stars
    That is true but for a lot of people especialy in N Ireland the Royal family have an importance in their own right.
    Mister Joe
    The persons in the Royal live in palaces that is true. On the other hand the Crown as a constitutional monarchy is a state abstraction which can be reformed by Westminster. One may dislike the princess Royal as a person. There is nothing any one can do about that. However if there is a difficulty about the Crown as a constitutional monarchy Westminster can enact reform.

    The Uk returning to a Republic is of course poppy cock.The tree I am barking up is the possibility of a peaceful United Ireland with the reality that with the withdrawal of Articles 2 and3 of the Republic’s constitution the state of N Ireland and the presence of the Crown in Ireland are now both legitimate. Republicans should think again.

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  7. Reader (profile) says:

    Billy Pilgrim: First of all, your whole line of argument here sheer pinhead-dancing,
    But you provided the pinhead: “A state can be said to have ‘failed’ if it is unable to sustain its institutions of government, its monopoly of violence, and control over the full extent of its territory.”
    And the phrase in the old constitution that so reassures you – ‘…pending the re-integration of the national territory…’ [quote fixed] – simply acknowledges that the RoI didn’t have “control over the full extent of its territory”. The sentence goes on to say that the laws of the RoI don’t apply – it neither establishes control of, nor abandons, the territory that it explicitly claims in Article 2. Of course, things are different now, it no longer claims the territory it never controlled.

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  8. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Thanks for correcting the phrase from the constitution – I kicked myself for the error.

    As to the rest of it: whatever you say.

    I can assume from the absence of any argument to the contrary, that my central point – that ‘Northern Ireland’ (sic) is a failed state / statelet / entity / colony / whatever – is conceded by all?

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  9. Michael Gillespie (profile) says:

    Greenflag
    Quote: – I stand as a moderate Irish Nationalist NOT as a republican. I am however ante the institution of monarchy be it King Kaiser or Pope.
    This quote sums up the confusion that exists in the minds of most people about an Irish Nationalist and an Irish Republican. This confusion didn’t exist in the 19th century when an Irish Nationalist was known to be Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly but Republicans adopted the position that to be Ireland friendly one had to be Crown and Kingdom hostile. These distinctions existed in the 19th century in one form or another.
    The distinction is best seen in Arthur Griffiths’ attempt to form a new Sinn Fein party in 1904. Arthur Griffiths was a Republican and a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood yet he founded Sinn Fein in the idea of a dual monarchy. In this he was realistic recognising that the people of his time were largely Irish Nationalists who were Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly and he reckoned a dual monarchy would have wide appeal. In my book I call that period of Sinn Fein— Early Sinn Fein–. However De Valera ousted Griffiths from the leadership took over and made Sinn Fein Republican that is, Crown and Kingdom hostile under the Republican gunman De Valera. In my book I call De Valera’s Sinn Fein Late Sinn Fein. So there are two Sinn Feins Griffiths’ Nationalist Early Sinn which was peaceful and De Valera’s Republican Late Sinn Fein which supported the violence of 1916.
    In the 19th century Irish Nationalists supported home rule. The Nationalist John Redmond was the last exponent of the home rule ideal but his party was defeated by Late Sinn Fein in 1918 led by De Valera with a revolver in one hand and the ballot box in the other. At this juncture the confusion between Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism took hold. The Irish Tricolour a Republican flag became the flag of both. In the 19th century Irish Nationalism had its own distinctive flag — The Green Flag—a Celtic harp in gold on a green field–. This distinctive flag was abandoned after 1918 and Irish Nationalism and Irish Republicanism became a muddle after that.
    This muddle is now apparent in the quotes from Greenflag. He Says in one breath that he is a moderate Irish Nationalist and should be strictly speaking Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly and a federal home ruler but in another breath he says he is ante Monarchy be it King Kaiser or Pope so he is Crown and Kingdom hostile, that makes him a Republican. So what is he? He seems confused as to what he is.
    This confusion is also apparent in the ranks of the SDLP and Late Sinn Fein. The SDLP sit at parliament and take the Oath of Allegiance. That makes them Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly so the SDLP are genuine Irish Nationalists and in 19th century terms are federalists home rulers. Late Sinn Fein are Republican hypocrites. They refuse to take the Oath of Allegiance but at the same time pocket Parliamentary expenses. So they won’t take the Oath but they will take the Crown’s money. They now sit happily at Stormont within the kingdom propping up a right wing Union Jack Unionist state as crypto nationalist of an unspecified nature. Martin Magennis when he shook hands with the Queen dropped all pretence of being a Traditional Republican and was clearly crypto nationalist of an unspecified nature. In this guise Late Sinn Fein has stolen the votes of the genuine Irish Nationalists the SDLP. The only genuine Republicans left in Ireland are the Dissidents who are Crown and Kingdom violently hostile. That is not to condone them. Their Republican violence will fail just as all other Republican violence failed from 1798 to the Republican violence in N Ireland in our own time. If Late Sinn Fein had any shred of decency or straight dealing in the party they would drop the sham of being Republicans take their seats and the Oath at Westminster and come out honestly and courageously as genuine Irish Nationalists who are Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly and rename the party as—Federal Unionist- Early Sinn Fein—(fully explained in my book). If that sounds dogmatic it’s because the hypocrisy of Late Sinn Fein makes me puke.
    The eminent historian Dr Conor Cruise O’ Brien maintained that Republicanism is a genetic defect passed on by the mother. I will take that a stage further and say that Union Jack Unionism is another different genetic defect passed on by the father. What is now needed in both communities north and south is that they should have a transplant of a new and healthy gene to genetically modify both communities with the single healthy gene of Federal Unionism-Early Sinn Fein. The full transplant procedure is in book 4 of my profile.

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  10. tacapall (profile) says:

    Michael your watching to much Kingdom of Thrones. When you promote the Crown do you even know which one your talking about. Is it the crown that lives in Buckingham palace or the Crown that controls all those tax havens from inner city London. You suggest the Irish people were happy under the crown before republicanism came along, could you provide any evidence of that and could you provide some evidence when or did the Irish people vote for the union. Perhaps your also suggesting all those 100s of thousands of Irish men women and children who were slaughtered or forced into slavery by Cromwell welcomed their fate with open arms for the love of crown and country an all that.

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  11. Reader (profile) says:

    Billy Pilgrim: I can assume from the absence of any argument to the contrary, that my central point – that ‘Northern Ireland’ (sic) is a failed state / statelet / entity / colony / whatever – is conceded by all?
    That’s just routine nationalist name calling though. Northern Ireland still exists within its original borders, with a political settlement and a constitution, under the rule of law. People are born, get access to a health service, an education, a welfare system, several layers of elected representation and eventually a pension. Most of the above applied even during the worst of the troubles, all of them apply now. Yet you still persist in calling the place a failed (something). I have to assume it’s because the place isn’t exactly the way you want it to be. It doesn’t look like the voters are going to sort that out for you any time soon.

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  12. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ Michael Gillespie,

    “This muddle is now apparent in the quotes from Greenflag. He says in one breath that he is a moderate Irish Nationalist and should be strictly speaking Crown Kingdom and Ireland friendly and a federal home ruler”

    You might have a muddle if it was 1880 or even 1910 -1912 or 1920/22. . But it isn’t .It’s 2014 AD . The world has changed even if your interpretation of these islands constitutional history has’nt .

    ‘In another breath he says he is anti Monarchy be it King Kaiser or Pope so he is Crown and Kingdom hostile, that makes him a Republican.’

    Whats with the ‘hostile ‘ ? Anti is good enough . I view the institution of aristocracy the same way hundreds of millions do across the word -an outdated corrupt institution formerly populated by imperialistic megalomaniac inbreds which gave rise as recently as 1914-1918 to the death of 20 million plus Europeans and if you add up the total of indigenous Africans and Asians since the 1500′s not to mention the slave trades probably several hundred million lives .

    I take some comfort in the fact that as of 2014 no two democracies or republics have gone to war against their republican or democratic neighbours.

    Had I been around in 1880 I might have been a Home Ruler .That political option died in 1918 when Britain reneged on it’s promise of Home Rule . The rest as we know is history.

    There is no going back to 1880 , 1912 , 1916 or 1920/1922. Whats done is done . Any future political constitutional settlement will be decided from where people in Ireland (North & South ) stand today in 2014 and NOT where their ancestors stood in 1880 or 1912 or 1920/22.

    The confusion is entirely your own . You appear to be lost in space time and confused as to which century it is .There may well be some among the pro union who might prefer to return to the 19th century . History has moved on and we live in a very different world from that of 1880 .

    I’m an Irish nationalist -have British cousins and am a European citizen . I’m anti monarchy everywhere and pro democracy everywhere . I’m not anti British but I am anti the Unionist political position in Northern Ireland because I believe it’s untenable and not conducive to political stability and thus a normal democracy and following from that ergo not economic development friendly if thats the word .

    The Irish Republic is not a failed political entity and while Northern Ireland was a failed political entity -it has been given a chance since the GFA to raise itself to the status of a modern European democracy . The jury is still out on that one . My personal belief is it can’t be done .The political will is simply not there on all sides

    But it’ll be around a while yet but its as good as it gets and as always it could be worse .

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  13. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    Reader

    ‘Northern Ireland still exists …with a political settlement…’

    Nope.

    ‘…and a constitution…’

    Nope.

    ‘…under the rule of law.’

    Hmmm. Arguable.

    ‘…several layers of elected representation…’

    Representatives elected to positions of severely limited power and responsibility – essentially housekeeping duties farmed out by the real powers, which are external and entirely unaccountable to us.

    The most salient evidence of NI’s failure is that, after almost a century, its single biggest issue, not only political but social too, is still whether the state should even continue to exist, or have ever existed at all.

    Put simply, it has brought us misery for a century – and none are more miserable than its staunchest defenders.

    But by all means, you can dismiss this as mere ‘nationalist name-calling’ if you want.

    But it’s a (slightly narcissistic) mistake to think that nationalists criticize the NI state only because they want to be mean to unionists.

    Nationalists criticize the NI state because they really do think it’s an unmitigated disaster, that has brought and will continue to bring nothing but misery to us all.

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  14. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @Reader ,

    ‘People are born, get access to a health service, an education, a welfare system, several layers of elected representation and eventually a pension.’

    You could say that about North Korea.:(

    Northern Ireland exists -

    Indeed . LIke a patient on a gurney undergoing end of life care – being IV fed and placated with enough morphine to keep the pain down .Minus the IV (London subvention ) and it’s a goner .

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  15. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    ……..but if joined with the Republic the “patient” will don golden shoes to dance an (Irish) jig.

    Everything will miraculously become sublime overnight, those pesky Prods will cast their history aside and be reborn as staunch nationalists and will carry Gerry Adams from the Shankill to East Belfast raising tricolours on every lamppost as they go.

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  16. Greenflag (profile) says:

    @ SOS ,

    Full marks for imagination . That ‘patient ‘ will have deceased so theres no golden shoes option and Salterrello ( the Dead can dance ) is just a medieval flight of fancy.

    ‘Everything will miraculously become sublime overnight’

    It’ll probably rain overnight and it’ll be too cold pesky prods and staunch nationalists to do anything other than reflect on their good fortune that maybe Ireland will now have just one soccer team instead of two .

    Not that it’ll make it any easier to qualify for the World Cup ;) even then.

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  17. Greenflag (profile) says:

    I’m surprised that nobody mentioned the Great Leader’s new ‘nixer ‘ in Wexford where he can be seen skillfully hammering away on archaeological restoration work for the Botanic Gardens to commemorate the 1,000 year anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday (no agreement that day eh ? )1014 .

    I hope they don’t forget to invite the Danish PM to bury the hatchet( axe ) as it were ;)

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0211/503654-viking-house//

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