Spotlight on the Troubles – part 2


  1.  the death toll mounted steadily in Northern Ireland
  2. the UDA, a protestant paramilitary organization was not proscribed
  3. The Fascist-like Vanguard rally led by William Craig
  4. the British Govt gave in to Ulster Workers Strike, the most reactionary strike action ever
  5. Unionist extremists consigned the Sunningdale Agreement,  its power-sharing initiative and Council of Ireland   to the dustbin of history – until it made a comeback in 1998
  6. MI5 go-betweens and secret meetings between the British Government and the Republican Movement
  7. what  happened when NI Unionists and the British Govt  refused to compromise or understand the viewpoint of Catholics, Nationalists and Republicans living in Northern Ireland





Q and A – Brexit’s Curse


Dear Ben

I’m very confused as to what’s going on with Brexit, the UK Government and its Constitution at the moment.

Ben: Don’t worry. You’re  meant to be. For several reasons.

It’s just the out-playing of the Brexit Curse

1) PM Johnson’s  position is utter nonsense. We don’t know whether negotiations with the EU are on-going or not. The EU doesn’t know what the UK wants. It has just produced a series of “non-papers”  with “non-ideas” in them and told EU negotiators not to show them to the EU Heads of State.

Comment: For the series “here’s what we might want, but don’t tell anybody because we know it’s stupid. That’s why we won’t admit we want it”

Last Thursday the Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay appeared to threaten Ireland with medicine shortages and Spain with devastation to its fruit and vegetable exports, as well as its tourism and fisheries industries.

Comment:  The UK doesn’t seem to realise  that for the first time in centuries it can no longer boss the EU countries about, play one off against the other or threaten them  to get its own way

2)Brexit has shattered  the entire concensus UK governance was based on.

Risultati immagini per splintered mirror

It has split people and political parties down the middle. The Tories are floundering and flailing. The LIB-Dems want to revoke Art 50 notification of Brexit.

Labour wants to negotiate a New Deal which it may, or may not support, in a people’s Vote  Referendum.

The SNP wants no Brexit even though it could be a trigger for IndyRef2.

The DUP wants NI to be exactly the same as Great Britain – even though it’s not in so many areas – power-sharing. petition of concern, LGBT and women’s rights. language rights etc,.In trying to out-English the English, the DUP support the ERG, a No Deal Brexit and to Hell or Connaught with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

Comment: It’s just starting to dawn on the DUP  that Brexit-related unemployment, impoverishment and havoc, which the majority of people living in NI don’t want under any circumstances,  do not constitute a   vote winning strategy

3)Brexit has widened the gaps between England, Scotland N.Ireland and, to an ever-growing extent, Wales. People are starting to realise what the  negative fall-out  of Brexit will be, in whatever shape or form it takes. Non-English and non-Unionists resent being taken out of the EU at England’s decision  and being told their votes and opinions don’t count.

Comment: Support is rising for Scottish Independence, Irish Re-Unification and even Welsh Independence as they attempt to remain within the EU. The UK Government and Unionist parties have decided there will be no IndyRef2 for Scotland or Border Poll for Ireland. There’ll be no way out of Brexit Britain for them – not under any circumstances

4) Brexit has smashed the  so-called British Constitution and its Conventions to smithereens.

Risultati immagini per splintered looking glass

That was the looking-glass the UK used to tell itself and anyone who would listen how wonderfully democratic and civil it was and how its way was the only way to do things and order society.

Comment: The wonder is that so many people accepted this self-assessment and believed in the image for so long  – without ever  questioning it. 

Why was Parliament prorogued?

Ben: The Government says to prepare a Queen’s speech.

Others say to silence parliament.

The Supreme Court Judges will tell us why next week.

Agreement with the Government signifies parliament can be suspended whenever, and for as long as. any future Government may want.

Agreement with the plaintiffs means Parliament will  be re-opened and that the PM “misled” Her Majesty

Did he?

Ben: Doubt it. She knew what she was doing. If she didn’t  . .. there’s a strong argument that abdication is needed

Did the Queen know what she was doing when she  intervened in the Scottish Referendum?

Ben: What happened?

As the  Queen was leaving Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate  after the Sunday morning service, she  told a well-wisher: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.

What did that mean?

Ben: It was a warning along the lines of “Be careful about what you’re going to do”. Nobody says that if the other person is going to do what the speaker approves of

 Comment: She interfered because she could and she wanted to.

  She had to agree to set up that scene and be filmed as she spoke the (in)famous words.

Why can nobody say what they’ve spoken to the Queen about?

Ben: Because she doesn’t want them to. If nobody knows what she says or thinks she can   project the image of an impartial Sovereign who is above the fray of politics

But is she really?

Ben: She has been meeting the Prime Ministers of Her Governments every week for the past 60+ years.They regard the meetings as a privilege  because “I’m the only non-Royal that gets to see her regularly”

I doubt if their conversations have been limited to “Terrible weather we’re having! More tea? How are the children?”

Otherwise busy PM’s would have reduced the number of meetings or bowed out of them totally long ago.They would have regarded them as a tedious task, rather than a privilege

Since they haven’t, I presume she tells the PM what to do about the various issues that arise at each meeting. And s/he agrees to carry out the Sovreign’s will


The Brexit confusion has been created as the UK Government desperately flounders in a situation of its own making, flailing its arms, kicking and stamping its feet to create chaos. Brexit, besides shattering links with the EU,  risks breaking up the UK, tearing the veil of secrecy from Monarchy, and exposing how a non-codified Constitution is manipulated to suit the Monarchy and its Government.

Journalists, pundits and spokespersons are focusing on separate pieces and shards of glass

Risultati immagini per splintered looking glass

No one is making any previsions about what’ll happen in the next few hours, never mind the end of October when the latest EU extension ends.

Finally ….

The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“A curse is come upon me,” cried
The  UK’s Prime Minister.

An Taoiseach, Royal Portraits and Sectarianism in the NIO

NIO office, Stormont House

Fact 1: All Royal pictures were removed from the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) at Stormont House and replaced with landscapes   after Lee Hegarty, a senior civil servant in the NIO, with 15-20 years work experience, was paid £10,000 in compensation for being offended at having to walk past  portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Who is Lee Hegarty?

Mr Hegarty is the Secretary and Accounting Officer of the NI Parades Commission, a government body that has  angered Unionists, Loyalists and the Loyal Orders by banning and re-directing their marches and parades.

Comment: It was an out-of-court  settlement.  It was allegedly made to salve Mr Hegarty’s “hurt feelings and distress”.

Mr Hegarty was  reportedly  later promoted within the NIO.


Fact 2: A government spokesperson said on July 31st 2019:

The Northern Ireland Office takes its responsibilities very seriously and seeks to ensure a good and harmonious working environment for all staff; the requirements of which are set out in the 1989 Fair Employment Code of Practice.”

“In line with the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland’s Guide, Promoting a Good and Harmonious Working Environment, the Northern Ireland Office is sensitive to the display of ‘posters, pictures, portraits or other displays that are more closely associated with one or other of the communities’ and will consider any concerns raised by employees. I can confirm that the department takes steps to ensure no such images are displayed in Stormont House.”

Comments : To get money AND later promotion AND  removal of all royal portraits, Mr Hegarty must have brought a very strong complaint under Fair Employment legislation.

Stating that Mr Hegarty was offended by royal portraits  as the reason for the settlement suggests a strategy to minimise his complaint.

Removal of the paintings suggests Mr Hegarty may have been subjected to anti-Catholic sectarianism in the NIO.

Risultati immagini per sectarianism

What’s sectarianism?

It’s  a form of racism.

In  Northern Ireland, “sectarianism”   refers to divisions between Protestants and Catholics, mostly related to Irishness.

How is it expressed?

In  threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour or attitudes as well as in patterns of  segregation, exclusion, discrimination or violence

Queries: What about sectarianism in the workplace? Like what Mr Hegarty had to put up with in the NIO?

Sectarianism  can be located in the institution itself, its prevailing ideas, beliefs and attitudes and in individual actions

It is perpetrated by workers on fellow workers. The victim may, or may not, know who the perpetrator is

Any practical examples?

Like other victims of sectarianism in the workplace, Mr Hegarty might have:

  • seen offensive sectarian graffiti in workplace lavatories,
  • had his car or bike tyres slashed,
  • found iron filings in his coffee jar.
  • received threatening telephone calls, at work and at home, making reference to his religion.
  • found letters on his desk stating ‘Fucking Catholics’, ‘We know where you live’, and ‘UVF Taigs out’
  • had to listen to co-workers singing and whistling Orange tunes and  referring to UVF and/or the ‘Shankill Butchers’ assassination gang

He might have been

  • passed over for promotion, even though his qualifications and experience were better than the person’s appointed.
  • introduced as ‘This is Hegarty, our token Taig’, and have constantly been referred to as a ‘Taig’ and a ‘Fenian’
  • forced to say things like ‘I am a Fenian bastard’
  • obliged to watch co-workers display threatening tattoos ,  maybe something like  a dagger that said ‘Ulster – Remember 1690 – No Surrender’ or the one in the picture below

What are the effects of workplace sectarianism?

Working for  up to 20 years in such a toxic environment,

Mr Hegarty most probably  suffered ‘fear, humiliation, insult, stress and deep hurt‘.

All of which  contribute to  extremely poor mental and emotional wellbeing and worsen his quality of life.


Why didn’t  Mr Hegarty report it sooner?

Let’s assume he needed his job to earn a living.

The sectarian campaign against him did not start after he began work on the NI Parades Commission on 8 January 2018 because  the settlement  was signed off by Theresa Villiers, who was NI Secretary of State from 2012-16.

He may have endured sectarianism  because if he had reported it earlier he could have attracted unwanted attention from another section of the workforce and been  branded a “stirrer” or “trouble maker”.

He may have feared further  victimisation in the NIO  because he made a complaint of discrimination against it


Fact 3: An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar doesn’t mind royal portraits

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson supported  Mr Varadkar’s point of  view

As did Gregory Campbell of “Curry my yoghurt” fame

At Féile an Phobail he said

Twenty years ago I might not have said that but it is good. In fact, when I was on the way in there I was looking at some of the things on the walls on the way in and I took exception to some of them and I was offended by them and I was just wondering where do I get my £10,000 please? Do I send that to the organisers? We’ll park that for the moment.”


Fact 4: An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, was born in Dublin on  8th  January 1979, educated at The King’s Hospital School, a voluntary Church of Ireland co-ed secondary school and Trinity College Dublin.

He is a Fine Gael politician  and was first elected to Dáil Eireann in 2007 where he has remained ever since.

Fact 5: An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has absolutely no personal knowledge or experience of the type of sectarianism Mr Hegarty, “senior civil servant in the NIO”, must have undergone for up to 20 years to achieve £10,000 compensation, AND promotion AND removal of all royal portraits in the building in an out-of-court settlement

Remember Dr Varadkar, as Taoiseach and Ireland’s voice in the EU,  better say nothing (say nahim) than  make a comment that  looks like you are supporting anti-Catholic sectarianism and Orange bigotry in Northern Ireland.

Unless of course, that’s what you wish to do!



What is it about Leo Varadkar and his gaffe-prone trips abroad? All the times the Taoiseach made us morto