The other day (well, a wee while ago) I saw something most peculiar. At least I found it to be peculiar as I am quite ignorant of said topic.

The topic in question being the latest turmoil in Gaza.

And the peculiarity in question was the sight of Hassidic Jews attending a pro-Palestine rally.

Regardless of your views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict you would be hard pressed to deny that this is quite a sight and gesture.

This surely is fine example of courage?

It is a very polarised topic and there must be some people on both sides of the divide that would be quite irate at such a stance.

But nonetheless they made their stand.

Hats off (or ‘shtreimels off’ in this particular case).

I’m sure someone somewhere is bandying about the label traitor/Josephus/Lundy at their actions, but they’re standing up for what they believe is right.

Imagine if in NI some of the unionist political leaders were to practise what they preach?

To have a consistent line on parades, flags, bonfires, respect and behaviour?

No doubt they’d attract the wrath of the hardliners and maybe even lose votes to begin with.

But what could the benefits be?

Would those who are more ‘pro-status quo’ rather than explicitly ‘pro-union’ finally feel that unionism is no longer an exclusive club?

Would it show the world that not all unionist leaders happily turn a blind eye to sectarianism, the minority of marches that are contentious or even ‘sashbashs’?

Would it show or that the unionists aren’t necessarily ‘the baddies’?

Rabble rousing, fear mongering and playing on the paranoia of the Protestant people is indeed an effective way of winning votes from many Protestants, much to the detriment of the Protestant community. It seems they have to be kept in a state of semi-panic so that their indignant votes can be harvested when necessary.

However, the Protestant community is in decline the Catholic community is on the increase.

Since the GFA there has also been noticeable increase (or indeed ‘sudden appearance’) of people from a Catholic background who are willing to vote pro-union.

It would seem that being a part of both Ireland and the UK holds appeal for some people.

To an outsider, this state of affairs would foster the following assumption:

 “So, obviously these unionist politicians are focusing on a potential growth market as opposed to the shrinking one?”

“Erm, not quite…”


Unionist Strategy: Illogical

From a unionist point of view, the link with the union doesn’t stand to lose. In fact, it would if anything be strengthened by the addition of fresh votes from new quarters

Yet seemingly they feel they would lose something for adopting a consistent line.

 That they would be betraying something in their heritage or ancestry (which would only start in the mid-19th century when Presbyterian Unionism appeared on the scene, before that Presbyterians were always a law unto themselves with regards to the establishment)

What exactly they would lose I don’t know; the idea of preserving culture has been exposed as nonsense time and time again, upholding Christian values certainly doesn’t come into it, ‘British’ values even less so.

Here’s an example of someone throwing fuel on the fire, the TUV’s Walter Miller, despite all the evidence of intimidation and loutish behaviour at some parades there’s always someone ready to ignore reality and offer up a fantasy version of what they think is going on:

So, let’s go through what he has to say and see what stands up under scrutiny:

The Ulster Protestant and loyalist communities, rather than looking forward to a peaceful and stress-free Twelfth of July, are yet again being subjected to intolerance, opposition and hostility by the republican community in Ardoyne who have the backing of the Parades Commission in their determination not to allow the Orange Order lodges past Ardoyne in the evening parade from the field. “

Out of all the hundreds/thousands of parades that day, it was only this one that caused any hassle. There were parades in nationalist towns that went ahead without any trouble. This might lead an outsider to think that if nationalists all over NI are willing to tolerate parades elsewhere then there may indeed be something wrong with this one. But not if you’re the TUV.

Since the time of the Reformation, Protestants not only in Ulster but throughout the British Isles have faced such opposition for standing up for their Protestant beliefs.”

 Well, yes they have. But drunken behavior and  provocative acts are NOT part of the Protestant belief system, yet this is not mentioned. It would be fair to say that they are NOT standing up for their Protestant beliefs rather Protestant beliefs have been put on hold to facilitate the rabble rousing nature of this parade.

Protestant Values: Laying a wreath to the memory of a young GAA player

NOT Protestant Values!!!

“Those republicans and their allies in political, religious and media circles who oppose us will not have to do much research or look for evidence as all they have to do is look at the various paintings on the Orange banners during the Twelfth of July and they will see the persecution faced by our Protestant forefathers throughout the centuries.

Some of the banners will have paintings of Ridley and Latimer, the two Protestant reformers who were burned at the stake in 1555 for refusing to denounce their faith and turn to Roman Catholicism.”

No one needs evidence cos no one is doubting it. So why mention  it? Oh yes, that’s right, we have to make people believe they’re being oppressed or they won’t vote for you….

“They will also see the banner paintings with the words “My Faith Looks Up To Thee” which shows the young Scottish Covenanter Margaret Wilson who, in 1685, was tied to a stake in the Solway Firth and drowned when the tide came in because she refused to acknowledge King James II as the head of the Church, or denounce her Protestant faith. “

Bad example, many historians are dubious if this took place at all and it wasn’t the Church of Rome that was intent on drowning them, it was the church of the state i.e ‘Protestants’.

The banners will also show King William III crossing the Boyne and defeating King James II, a battle which was decisive and has secured the civil and religious liberties which we now enjoy and a battle which changed the course of the history of the British Isles and Europe.”

Only a few day ago a plaque was unveiled in Aghadowey in honour of ‘the Moses of the Scots-Irish’ Rev James McGregor led his flock to the New World because of the DENIAL of ‘civil and religious liberties’ since the victory of the Williamite forces (that he had fought for):
to avoid oppression and cruel bondage, to shun persecution and designed ruin…and have an opportunity of worshiping God according to the dictates of conscience and rules of His Inspired Word”

And as for changing the course of history of Europe? Well, most of the important battles were fought in Europe itself, Ireland was a minor theatre of operations, so much so that William didn’t even hang around to see the Irish war to its end: (Yes, I know it’s Wikipedia, but ‘mon).

The banner paintings will show a century later how Protestants came together after the Battle of the Diamond and formed the Orange Institution, again to defend their Protestant religion.”

 SOME Protestants, Presbyterians very on the whole quite suspicious of the OO until Anglicanism was de-established as the state religion. Some of these Protestants teamed up with Catholic Militiamen (like the Monaghan militia) to break some Presbyterian skulls in 1798

“Other banners will show paintings of the signing of the Ulster Covenant and Lord Carson in 1912 and the sacrifice of the men of the 36th Ulster Division at the Battle of the Somme. “

This act actively encouraged other Irish militias including those who would later take part in the Easter Uprising. Oops!

“Erm, loyalty-IRA????”

“The banner paintings take us to the present generation and, sadly, many have portraits of members who have been murdered by the IRA in their terrorist campaign. “

Sad indeed, but a cheap attempt to induce sympathy for a cause that is in the wrong, the protesters have not highlighted ANY of the above points as their key gripes.

In fact, Mr Millar makes no attempt to address their key gripes, as the key gripes are un-Christian in nature and therefore don’t exist…



“Ulster Protestants and Unionists are again being subjected to an ongoing assault on our identity by those who would seek to lecture us on equality and a shared space, yet for a few minutes they cannot allow an Orange parade to go by on the Twelfth without seeking to cause disruption and tension in what should be a peaceful and enjoyable day for Ulster Protestants and unionists.”

If it is an assault then it’s a pretty feeble effort, there are as many parades now as there ever were.

He can’t even address the actual controversial points of the parade. Can’t bring himself to mention them. So he has to change the topic completely to one that isn’t even up for debate.

This does nothing to further the unionist cause, it keeps it as an exclusive club and repels people who may actually be interested in voting ‘no’.

It is all so very short term and makes the idea of maintaining the union with Britain all the less appealing on account of the actions of its advocates and ‘defenders’.

So those looking after the union are seemingly doing so in a manner akin to thon creepy mad woman in the film ‘Misery’.

“Why do you have to talk about drunk people being abusive? We all know you’re just being intolerant of a culture that you tolerate everywhere else 3500 times a year…”

When will we have our version of defiant pro-Palestine Hassidic Jews? Someone from the unionist side to stand up against the extremes of unionism?
Michael Nesbittowitz?

Saturday night in Belfast, what do you do? Hit the bars and clubs? A trip to the cinema or theatre in search of some culture?

Well last Saturday I got in my car and headed to the town of Markethill, County Armagh to attend the famous (although you may have never of heard of it) Clady Night, drumming match. An evening of culture and music awaited.

In case you are unsure, a drumming match is when a group of lambeg drum aficionados gather together to beat their monstrous musical instruments for hours and hours and in the end one is crowned the winner. The drumming season runs from February until November. Events take place each Saturday night across the province and County Armagh, it's claimed, has the strongest tradition of any county in Northern Ireland.

There was very little information available online about the evening's events so I had to rely on the word of mouth of people who had attended before. The one thing that was repeated time and again was that there would be no drumming if it rained. Rain was forecast but at five o'clock the sun was shining in Belfast so I took my chance.

Crowds gather as the drums begin to beat 

There is something very tribal about the experience I encountered, and the noise that greeted me upon parking my car was like nothing else that I had heard before. The sound was generated from banging an individual lambeg with a curved cane stick and can reach 120 decibels. There were over fifty drums in Markethill on Saturday evening, I'm sure the sound must have carried across the county.

Although allegedly named after the Co. Antrim village of Lambeg, where it is reported that the first drum was constructed after King William stopped en route to the Battle of the Boyne, the lambeg drum is deep routed in the history of Armagh. Drums have played a big part in the processions of the Orange Order, since its formation in 1795 in the home of James Sloan, Loughgall. The first recorded use of a lambeg drum and fife took place during the Co. Armagh twelfth demonstration and the historic event was recorded by Lord Gosford of Markethill in a letter he sent to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin Castle.

"I have the honour to acquaint your excellency that the meeting of Orangemen took place in different parts of this county. One party, consisting Of 30 companies with banners etc'., after parading through Portadown, Loughgall, and Richhill came towards this place. the party had one drum and each company had a fife and two or three men in front with painted wands in their hands who acted as commanders."

This combination of lambeg and fife is the traditional musical accompaniment for twelfth demonstrations but has been replaced over the years by flute bands whose numbers greatly increased during the period of the troubles. One of the reasons that the lambeg has been replaced is due to its sheer weight and size which can slow a parade down. A lambeg drum is typically three feet in diameter and two feet deep and can weigh up to twenty kilos. They are carried by a neck harness and therefore require a certain level of physical fitness and stamina as well as rhythm to play.

The mark of a quality drum head 
Arriving in Markethill around six I was greeted by a decent crowd of approximately one hundred, who were mostly male and all engrossed in the drums. As the evening went on the crowd of spectators grew in number and as far as I could see the drums kept arriving, in trailers,vans and in the back of cars. There were drums from all over, including Armagh, Antrim, and Down. The drummers assembled at the roundabout at the bottom of the main street, outside a pub called the Village Inn which appeared to be doubling as drumming headquarters for the night. It was explained to me by one onlooker that the drums needed to be kept at a consistent temperature to ensure success and the pub provided that space.

Before competing the drums were prepared, a combination of oak and goat skin held together with linen ropes, each instrument was carefully inspected by the backroom team to ensure it was ready for battle. The ropes were "pulled", little rubber mallets were used to fine tune the drum. This "knocking" of the wooden hoops which hold the head in place is carried out in order to balance the tension of the two drum heads. These guys take their craft very seriously and the process of tapping the hoops and listening to the resulting sound is greatly exaggerated at times, but always entertaining.

Getting the drum ready for inspection
There is a massive social aspect to these drumming matches. Fellow spectators greeted each other with a smile and a handshake and stories were exchanged over a burger and a pint on what turned out to be a warm Saturday evening. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and I was made to feel very welcome, people patiently answered all of my questions.

Disappointment after their head bust 
From what I could gather, the competition works on the basis of rounds. In the first round judges award a maximum of ten points to each competitor and those who fail to achieve twenty points are eliminated. The judges walk around with clipboards listening to each drum, a minute on either side and then again at the front and back. They make a quick note and move on to the next drum. Even after the drum has been judged the drummers keep drumming up and down the main street. It requires particular attention to figure out when one round ends and another begins.

The judges at work 
The drumming never ceased and while it had all just been noise when I first arrived in the town, after being there a while I could differentiate between the individual sounds of the drums and soon realised that they didn’t all sound the same. The look of determination on the faces of those wielding the beast drums, as they displayed their skill, strength and endurance. In competition unaccompanied by the fife, these drummers, drum double time, a style that allows for improvisation and embellishment of the rhythm which would have no place in a traditional Twelfth of July parade.

Fine tuning, with a mallet 
While the drums take pride of place within their respective Orange halls, the drums tend to be owned by individual lodge members and the drummers tend to be family members as the tradition is passed down through the generations.

I asked one drummer how often he practiced during the week, he laughed, and said that this was his practice, these matches on a Saturday evening during the season was where he honed his craft. Years of attending and listening to other drummers replaced any need for formal tuition. I wasn’t brave enough to ask if I may try and have a go, feeling competition time was the wrong time to seek an introduction, but I found the constant drum beat totally hypnotic and would love to try in the future.

As I continued to make my way through the crowd I couldn't help but notice the care and attention that was given to the drums, some were painted with representations of the associated lodge, others were not, I was even shown one that had been the subject of a court case.

He bangs his drum 

Then, all of a sudden the rain came, first a few drops and then suddenly a downpour. Within seconds there wasn’t a person to be seen on the main street, they having all ran as fast as they could to protect their prized lambeg drums from the rain followed by the spectators.

It was a this point that I decided to leave and head back to Belfast having forgotten to bring a coat I got soaked in the rain. I don't know which drum won on the night or even if they got to finish the match. One of the rules of drumming matches states that the event must finish by eleven and failure to adhere to this rule can result in a suspension. 

It certainly wasn't at all what I was expecting but it was certainly interesting and I feel like I learned something about an aspect of the culture of our land that I had no understanding of before I went to Markethill. If you get the chance, go and experience it for yourself and who knows you may see me there. 


Today I was reliably informed by the Mayor of Craigavon, Mr Colin McCusker that the match did indeed finish and was won by a Mr. Robert Orr 

Ah July, a wonderful time of the year to live in are wee country wouldn't you agree?

As I write this blog I am aware that most of you are glad that the Twelfth is over for another year and are probably sick of hearing about it. Im also aware that there are some of you that will be counting down the days and months till next year so that you can do it all over again. Its a funny old holiday isn't it? Such a divisive time of year where those deep divisions that exist beneath the surface of our society all too often rise up and threaten to destabilise the fragile peace process. 

In the week's leading up to this years twelfth celebrations, lack of a compromise over the parade past Ardoyne shops and talk of a graduated response by the Orange Order and their Unionist p̶u̶p̶p̶e̶t̶s̶ ̶ politician supporters meant that things did not look good and there could possibly be a another year of violence surrounding the Twelfth. Of course those same leaders all appeared to suffer from a collective amnesia, conveniently forgetting the days of rioting which took place in 2013, preferring to concentrate on the republican violence of 2012. Very much a case of we cant get our own way and its themmuns fault. 

The situation in Ardoyne is not as complex as everyone would have you believe, the Orange Order want to march twice past the shops, the residents who live behind those shops don't want them to march at all, so the parades commission have ruled that only one parade shall take place which is to me a compromise, but this being Northern Ireland nobody likes to compromise. The reason for the morning parade going ahead is be because its less likely that supporters on either side will be drunk and this reduces the chance of disorder. In my opinion a common sense approach which could work quite well in common sense was applied by all involved. Unfortunately this is not the case. 

Anyway I digress, Ardoye is such a small part of what the Twelfth is about. For thousands of families its a holiday. Some of which plan their annual escape from the madness and head for Donegal. I'm sure that the uncertainty surrounding the graduated response caused by political grandstanding caused a few extra families to look for last minute deals and leave Belfast behind. 

My family were staying put, we had plans to visit Markethill, Co Armagh so that I could experience one of the flagship events organised by the Orange Order, I had heard good things about country parades and was excited to be going. You see you cant spend countless hours immersed in the running of LAD without becoming curious and over the lifetime of my involvement in the page, I have always, were possible, indulged my curiosity. 

 The Loyalist Last Supper

July 10th saw the esteemed leaders of the union gather a stone's throw from the LAD bunker to sign a pledge in front of the gathered media, a kind of low rent homage to the signing of the Ulster Covenant, although nobody was bothered enough to have ironed the fleg on which the signing took place and this added to the tackiness of the event.   

There would be no violence they said, the trouble was that nobody believed them. 

Now as it turns out there was little in the way of violence and the Twelfth was a peaceful affair, but the weather could have also played a part in that or the significant police presence. You see I don't believe that those politicians have any real power in those communities and often just do as they are told by the gate keepers.

Anyway whatever the reason we should all be happy that Belfast's reputation was spared any further damage this year. 

"So just sign on the line and its all yours for a fiver" 

July 11th or as its also known here Bonfire night, saw the alarming introduction of Irish flegs and effigies to the bonfires which youths had spend the previous months constructing in loyalist communities. I spent the morning driving around doing messages before everything shut down for the weekend, and on my way photographed a few bonfires that I happened upon. It was quite sad to see that posters of political parties had been placed along side the Irish flegs and that some even contained what can only be described as racist comments scrawled across make shift banners. For me the most depressing thing I saw were the signs hung on a railing adjacent to the bonfire at Cluan Place on the bottom of the Albertbridge Road which read, "We Stand with Israel" and "Fuck the Gaza Strip". 

For the last number of years I have heard many residents from this little street complain that they continually suffer at the hands of their bigger neighbours from the nearby short strand, I found there dismissal of the current situation in Gaza to be a little ironic. 

It should be noted that these banners were eventually removed after they began to appear on social media. 

In the LAD bunker the eleventh night was a hectic affair, the inbox was jam packed with correspondence from followers documenting the events of the night, it was rather depressing actually as images flooded in showing the worst examples of loyalist culture, leaderless loyalists burning anything that represented those that they perceived to be attacking their culture. Again the irony of attacking somebody's culture, while complaining that your own was under attack appeared to be lost on the many people responsible. 

No need for it really, is there? 

I would however like to take the time to congratulate Ian Shanks and the community at Braniel who celebrated bonfire night without burning anything that could be considered offensive, Im sure that there were other fires across are wee country where this was the case, I don't know Im presuming hoping that they were not hate filled occasions. 

The Braniel Bonfire, East Belfast - Fleg free and still fun

The bonfire at Braniel is an example of what the eleventh night could be for other communities if only they had the same leadership to teach them right from wrong. 

Another alarming thing which happened on the eleventh night were the attempts by  certain republicans (not content with the damage loyalists were doing to there own reputation), to stir things up further and fabricate stories about materials being burned on bonfires which were obviously false. LAD received a couple of images that were clearly photoshopped. It was hard to believe that people would sink so low. It would be unfair for us to be anymore specific and you will all know what I'm referring to, but we hope that the family concerned were not badly affected by these malicious lies.  

I awoke the next morning the twelfth to the sound of a blood and thunder band passing the bottom of my street and to the news I had been been dreading, the planned road trip to Markethill was called off, due to the family becoming struck down with illness. Its FAIR to say I was devastated as I'd been looking forward to enjoying William Frazer's bigoted barbecue since receiving the invitation from him some days earlier. 

You can read an excellent blog by Barton Creeth here about his adventures in Markethill although it appears he skipped the BBQ.  

Undeterred and keen to watch some bands I made my way by foot into Belfast city centre and up towards Clifton Street Orange Hall, from which the Belfast demonstration departs. Security was tight which I guess was to be expected, hundreds of PSNI officers standing around, just in case, but on a wet saturday morning at 9.30am, I reckoned there was little chance of any trouble. 

As I walked along Royal Avenue, I tweeted that the crowds were smaller than I had seen in previous years, a response from the political commentator and alleged doctor David McCann informed me that there were decent sized crowds gathered further up the route. 

Turning left on to Donegal Street, I was stopped by a rather pleasant and chirpy female constable and her male colleague who informed me that I could not proceed past the Irish News offices and would have to take a longer alternative route to arrive at my destination. For a brief second I understood how the Orange Order must feel regarding the parades commission decision at Ardoyne. Those extra meters that I was being asked to walk were after all a massive inconvenience. 

Thou shalt not pass 

I am of course being sarcastic, I respect the law and decisions made by parading bodies and after a friendly conversation with the constables I continued on my way via union street and carrick hill.

PSNI on Union Street 

As I walked past the junction of Trinity Street, I noticed a small group of residents had gathered for what is now their annual protest. I wondered if these people mostly women and children had set their alarm clocks in order to rise early on a saturday morning to register their dismay at what was about to pass the end of the street. 

"Down with that sort of thing" 

At this stage I had lost count of the numbers of police landrovers, they were everywhere and with them vast numbers of police officers, I did think to myself that it was bound to be an expensive morning for the tax payer. Still who needs hospitals and schools and all the other stuff that taxes pay for when you can live in a city where the inhabitants cant learn to get along. 

I saw Paul Clarke off the telly as he and his camera man attempted to capture the atmosphere for that evenings news. He gave me a nod, but I think he mistook me for somebody else. I always find it strange meeting TV people in real life. He looked taller than I had expected. 

The parade started and the assembled press photographers jostled for position in order to grab that picture for the next days newspapers, their cameras were fancier than mine but I was tweeting what I was taking straight away to LAD followers so in effect beating them to an audience. 

 last warning, but is it big enough for all to see?

I skipped the passing of St. Patricks Church by the parade, leaving that to the proper journalists, I had no interest in which band would break the determination set out by the parades commission, although suspected one would. I'm not a big fan of religion and was more interested in people watching. I walked to the bottom of St. Peter's hill and joined the steady stream of spectators who were not trusted to walk past a place of worship and had come into the city centre from the Shankill area. 

By this time the crowds on Royal Avenue had swelled and the street was awash with red, white and blue. There was a real party atmosphere as the spectators awaited the first glimpse of the bands. There was a lot of drinking taking place which many people have commented on, the police seemed to be ignoring it, really what could they do, that hadn't the potential to start a riot.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a drink and have been to a number of festivals around the world and have seen similar sights at those, but the one thing that did shock me was the number of young people who were clearly underage who were pissed at 10am in the morning. The rowdy behaviour that was being exhibited by these drunk kids meant I was glad I had left my own kids at home. 

Orangefest 2014 - Fun for all families? 

Continuing on my towards city hall, I stopped to take the obligatory Twelfie 

Does my head look big in this?

The parade stopped at city hall, and a small group at the front consisting mostly of DUP MLA's made their way to the cenotaph for the religious service, William Crawley was there with a documentary crew as the main body of the parade waited patiently for the others to return. At the head of the parade was a group holding a banner which read "LET THEM HOME" which they had most likely carried from their house that morning. 

   The poor displaced sons of Ligoniel - refugees in their own city

While at city hall, I bumped into Alex Kane who was out and about following the procession for an article he was writing for the Belfast Telegraph. We had a chat about LAD, the events of the previous weeks in the build up to the Twelfth and the difference between the city parades and those held in rural towns. You can read his article here

Leaving Alex I continued on past the Ulster Hall towards Shaftesbury Square, the crowds were taking up all of the footpaths which made the journey difficult, already there was quite a lot of litter on the floor and I spotted at least one paramilitary fleg on display. The mood changed too, it felt more aggressive, a little volatile. I imagine most of these people had little sleep the night before having been in attendance at the bonfires which had illuminated the night sky.   I did spot a couple of tourists in the middle of it all who looked rather bemused by what was going on. 

The twelfth is one of those things which will Im afraid always divide no matter what attempts are made to rebrand it by the Orange Order and while I accept that for some people it is the highlight of their cultural year, for others it is not so its important that those leaders who met off the Newtownards Road to sign a pledge, to bring down the parades commission learn to compromise.  

Personally I enjoy the noise and the colour of the bands although the sash tends to be over played throughout the day, I imagine I'd have a difference of opinion with the average Orange man on most subjects but I would urge them to get a handle of the amount of alcohol consumed as it takes away from the spectacle and gives their opponents a big stick with which to beat them. There is also the issue of the mess that is left behind when the parade has passed. These are important issues which need tackled. 

I have to admit that having battled my way along the footpath to the bottom of the Lisburn road, (I must have said excuse me a couple of hundred times) I gave up and headed for home. Next year perhaps I will make it to the field. 



This is a guest post by Belfast's top barber

Paul Stafford

"The random musings of a hairdresser, not a salon!"

Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStafford12

And so the ongoing saga behind the scenes at NI21 "headquarters " lingers on; bitching, backstabbing , rumours ...... and bad hair.

Can it be that NI21 leader Basil McCrea and deputy leader John McCallister have had their very public falling out over who has the better haircut  as sources very close their the "root" of the issue claim?

That Mr McCallister was said to be "hair envious" of Mr McCrea's floppy school boyish lustrous locks; so much so that he has been heard to utter the words "aye, him and his Peter Beardsley hairdo".

Basil McCrea 'lustrous'
Indeed the attacks have taken their toll on Basil's barnet as it now appears void of its former fullness and pomp and appears a little limp and tired. A reflection perhaps of his leadership itself. Mr McCallister even questioned whether Basil had abused his leadership responsibilities by appearing to over indulge himself in expensive volumising hair products so he would appear taller than his deputy in Public. Obviously Basil denies this insisting he's a wash and leave , er sorry go .... man.

But in a new twist to the hair wars Basil has hit back suggesting that it all started when they were both at home one morning watching their favourite TV programme "Mr Tumble ' and casually suggested that there was strong likeness between the children's TV Star and Mr McCallister ..... especially their similar looking cuddly child friendly haircuts. Needless to say relations have been strained ever since .

John McCallister takes a Tumble
The real question here is where do they go from here?

Obviously a "parting " of they ways is final, with few "highlights " to look back on.

But if history has taught us a thing or two about power , these two men will struggle ....

You only have to look at Mr Paisleys pristine quiff;

Elvis Paisley
Mr Adams early 70s Bee Gees Bouffant;

Bee Geesus

Even Martin McGuinness donned a Sly and the Family Stone style Afro on his road to Deputy First Minister;

Marty McSly & The Family Stone
And Peter Robinson a man who doesn't have his sorrows to seek with his wire brush barnet so often stuck in the "Evil Philip Schofield" style, still has a head of hair most men his age would envy .....

Evil Phillip Schofield
It is not bickering amongst themselves over whose "do " is "done" but to look over their shoulders at the great hair heroes of Stormont and reflect on the "condition " they now find themselves in .....

About the author:



This is a guest post by Belfast Blogger Pole in Belfast

"Big mouth, big heart. Bit confrontational when faced with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia etc. Educated, open-minded, 30 year old Polish/British/wannabe Irish :)"

Don’t bring your party politics or agendas – let’s all unite against racism, whatever our differences!

Let me start by sending a big thank you to the organisers and all who attended the anti-racism rally on Saturday May 31st - you were all great!

Messages Image(122329749)

According to PSNI sources, 4000 people attended this impromptu rally to show their disapproval of racism and ongoing hate attacks in NI. When I started campaigning for people to show their support in the fight against racism, I never expected to see the likes of Amnesty International approach me and help to organise the event we are all about to take part in this weekend.

When I first came to this country from England, the first thing that struck me was how friendly and welcoming everyone was.

Some people who’ve lived here all their lives may disagree with me but, marching seasons excluded, this place is usually a very open, but rainy patch of green land with people who are welcoming to all.

Unfortunately, the last few months have shown a large increase in hate crime all around the province. The PSNI state that 2-3 Hate Crimes are being reported daily - that’s a sharp 43% increase in such crimes.

We, migrants, have been subjected not only to real-life physical and psychological threats and violence, but on top of that many of us live in constant fear of attacks or 'retribution.

  • The entire Muslim population were described in despicable words
  • Two Pakistani men were brutally attacked on the street and in their home
  • A Spanish man was verbally abused, pushed around and followed home
  • African refugees were assaulted in the QUB area
  • A man was stabbed for not being a 'local'
  • A group of teenagers were attacked for not being local 
  • An MLA was verbally abused for the colour of her skin 
  • Polish families have had their homes and cars damaged
  • A man in Lisburn was badly beaten
  • Excrement was thrown at a Romanian cyclist
  • etc etc....            

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I know of at least 10 families who are either strongly considering leaving or have already made plans to leave the province for the South or Britain. It is heart-breaking to see my friends who work for the NHS, BELB and many other public and private companies make a hard decision to abandon their lives here because of fear and intimidation. I wish I could convince them to stay. NI/EIRE is or should be a place for everyone: migrants, locals, muslims, jews, christians and more. It shouldn’t matter if you’re straight or gay, black or white, prod or cat.

We’re all humans and we all fundamentally want to live our lives in peace and respect. This place, filled with loving and great people, can’t succumb to the noisy and dangerous few who are bent on keeping NI in the middle-ages.

It’s time to drag this province from the 50’s into the 21st century.
This sort of #lazyracism just won’t do.

A big Thank You to  everybody who will attend the march!

Spread the word.

Don’t bring your party politics or agendas – let’s all unite against racism, whatever our differences!

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On Saturday Judge Jim (I Am The Law) Allister was celebrating when his party Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) gained their first ever Councillor in Belfast, Jolene Bunting.

The TUV have a bit of previous when it comes to council candidates, case in point - the lovely Wayne Gilmour (who sadly failed to win a seat) so we decided to have a poke around Ms. Bunting's Facebook page which was open for all and sundry to see.

Guess what we found...
When asked about his newly elected candidate's online activities party leader Jim Allister was dismissive and pointed out that these posts were in "the past":

As the MLA who seems to be permanently obsessed with the past and shows no desire whatsoever to look to the future most people will be shocked by the hypocrisy of Judge Jim's support for Ms. Bunting.

The question now is what action will he and the TUV take?

The Führer of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage flew into Belfast today ostensibly to support his candidate for the European Parliament, Henry Reilly and a motley crew of wannabe UKIP councillors.

First port of call was Belfast's famous Crown Bar where Farage and his entourage were refused permission to film one of their notorious 'photo opportunities'. They found refuge in the nearby Europa hotel where Farage claimed immigrants were driving down wages and  said "Britain is becoming the cheap labour economy and I don't think that is really socially a very desirable place for us to be." He singled out Romanians and Bulgarians in particular. Two weeks ago a Romanian man had faeces thrown at him during a sickening racist attack in east Belfast and there are fears Belfast is becoming the race hate capital of the United Kingdom. So thanks for your timely intervention Nige.

After being shunned by the Crown and crawling to the Europa (oh the irony) our Nige met up with our old pals Henry Reilly, Rub McGee (aka Robert McKee) and purveyor of pirate DVDs Bill (Bollocks) Hill.

Henry Reilly, Rub McGee, Nigel Farage - pictured in The Europa NOT The Crown
Rub McGee, Farage, Bill (Bollocks) Hill
Oul Henry will be no stranger to regular readers of LAD and we very much miss his late night ramblings on Twitter where on more than one occasion it appeared that he had perhaps indulged in too much of his nightly medicine. Rumour has it that if you need a lift from Henry anywhere these days you might be out of luck.

Rub McGee and Bill Hill are altogether more worrying drinking buddies for Farage.

McKee is 'Chairman' of the so-called 'Protestant Coalition' which was set up as spin off from 'Britain First' by ex-BNP man Jim (Dodgy) Dowson and his henchman Paul Golding.

Jim Dowson, David Nicholl, Paul Golding, Alice Dowson, Bill Hill. unknown, Robert McKee, Sam McCrory, Willie Frazer

Protestant Coalition registration documents: 'Leader': Jim Dowson, 'Treasurer': Paul Golding

Britain First have been in the headlines recently for launching 'invasions' of mosques in Glasgow and Bradford. Newspapers in Scotland have called into question the source of 'army' bibles handed out during these raids. Asked where the bibles might have come from, Jim Dowson said: "I've no idea. We buy bibles all the time, sometimes about 2,000 at a time. We must have got them cheap".

The Electoral Commission have been forced to change their rules after Dowson was allowed to use the slogan 'Remember Lee Rigby' on on voting slips in next week's European Elections.

Lee Rigby's mother Lyn has spoken out on Facebook against Dowson and Britain First's cynical attempt to capitalise on the first anniversary of her son's murder:

 Meanwhile the Protestant Coalition have thrown whatever support they can muster (16 likes) behind Henry Reilly:

 and Jim (Dodgy) Dowson has wished UKIP well while talking about 'corruption'.

Oh the irony.