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'Assembly' is hologram on the hill

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Wednesday May 24, 2006 18:13author by Brian Feeney - Irish News 24 May 2006

Leaving the unionists talking to each other in this hologram on the hill is the best way to expose that their only aim is to avoid sharing power.

In case you haven't noticed, the assembly meeting up at Stormont isn't the Northern Ireland Assembly established by the Good Friday Agreement. It's 'the assembly' as the school-marmy speaker keeps telling her class.

Oh yes, the speaker. At the first gathering Bob McCartney asked why she was calling herself the speaker when she hadn't been elected by the assembly. Cos our proconsul appointed me speaker, that's why, so there.

Brian Feeney Irish News 24 May 2006
Brian Feeney Irish News 24 May 2006

It's only after a few meetings that you fully realise what a humiliating sham the whole performance is. Our proconsul appoints the speaker. He decides when the assembly meets. He decides what it can debate - not only the range of topics but he actually determines the order of business. He draws up the order paper. He decides if and when Scotland's first minister is coming over to address the assembly and indeed who else will speak to them and when and how. The assembly of course can make no laws or take any decisions.

Even if by some miracle Ian Paisley had accepted Gerry Adams's nomination on Monday and an executive had been elected, it wouldn't have been to this assembly because this assembly is a virtual assembly.

If by November 24 an executive is elected then the Northern Ireland Assembly will be restored and this assembly will vanish into the ether. Geddit? No? Nor do some of the virtual assembly members who seem quite mystified by the maze our proconsul has lured them into.

None more than the SDLP who appear intending to provide credibility for an assembly they correctly described as a 'kindergarten'. Do they not realise it is a lollipop for unionists who love any flummery which makes them believe they've got a parliament? They love having a 'speaker'. They love playing at all this nonsense of, 'Will my honourable friend agree with me that it is raining incessantly because Sinn Fein do not take their seats at Westminster?' It's the sort of stuff that would disgrace sixth-formers holding a mock parliament in some council chamber.

Sinn Fein have got it absolutely right.

They will leave the unionists to play with their toys. Here are elected representatives from this part of Ireland called together by the British administration only on days decided by the British proconsul, representatives who are not allowed to elect their own presiding officer, not allowed to determine what they want to debate or even the order of debate and who can be sent home on a date of the proconsul's choosing. Now really. Why would any self-respecting elected representative be party to such a humiliating exercise?

Yet the SDLP, after first saying they wouldn't, have now decided to cooperate with the British administration to act as bit players while unionists preen themselves.

It's a re-run of the 1996 Forum in the old Co-op building that the SDLP made the mistake of attending. Luckily for them Drumcree exploded and gave them a pretext for beating a hasty retreat. How long will it take them to realise this current pantomime is designed solely for unionists' benefit?

On the other hand, if they didn't see the abyss opening during the so-called debate on the economy last week perhaps they never will. The DUP and UUP were in their element. They simply ignored the SDLP whose members forlornly pleaded to be taken seriously.

For some reason SDLP members talk about trying to restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement as if this 'assembly' could in some way advance that aim. The plain fact is that the only way you will see movement towards restoring the GFA is when 'the assembly' is consigned to history. 'The assembly' has to be dissolved before the Northern Ireland Assembly is restored. So enhancing 'the assembly' in any way, especially by dignifying unionist-inspired debates cannot aid the restoration of the GFA's institutions. On the contrary, paying lip service to 'the assembly' distracts attention from the main business of 'the assembly' which even the British legislation setting it up says is to elect an executive.

Leaving the unionists talking to each other in this hologram on the hill is the best way to expose that their only aim is to avoid sharing power.

Comments (2 of 2)

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author by Saoirsepublication date Thu May 25, 2006 20:06author address Derry (of course!)

When I saw the headline "hologram on the hill", I knew I'd heard it before. So I googled it and sure enough, Eamonn McCann had coined the phrase in the Belfast Telegraph two weeks ago. It's a good description of the smoke and mirrors that is the Assembly - but Feeney could do the right thing and admit the phrase takes a wordsmith...and he isn't one!

author by Holly Martinspublication date Fri May 26, 2006 17:07

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Brian Feeney is one of the more astute commentators on the North – he puts words together pretty well.

In the absence of seeing McCann’s effort (always the surest basis for making the type of comparison I am about to attempt) I’m sure Feeney made better use of the phrase than McCann, who tends to go for cheap-shot humour that is politically timeless.

And, on the point of origination of the phrase in question, I wish to correct ‘Saoirse’.

The originator of the phrase ‘hologram on the hill’ was none other than Johnny Ringo, author of ’When the Devil Dances’, dealing with the ‘Posleen invasion’ of planet Earth (as if we didn’t have enough problems with the Brits already).

The invasion timeline can be viewed at
http://www.baen.com/chapters/W200204/0743435400___0.htm

Gripping stuff.

Here is the original use of the phrase. McCann is presumably an avid consumer of the works of Mr Ringo (profile below) and possibly regurgitated it unconsciously:

“Jake flipped down the bipod on the Barrett, flipped up the ladder sight and pushed an old Jack Daniel's bottle out of the way. The range to the saddle, actually to the upper edge of it where the trail was clear of obstructions, was just at eight hundred meters. Judging distance like that, downhill in the mountains, was usually tough. But Jake's AID just laid a hologram on the hill and marked various points with range markers.”

Here is a profile of this noted observer of the human condition:

John Ringo
John Ringo had visited 23 countries and attended 14 schools by the time he graduated high school. This left him with a wonderful appreciation of the oneness of humanity and a permanent aversion to foreign food. He chose to study marine biology and really liked it. Unfortunately the pay was for beans. So now he manages a quality control database and the pay is much better. He hopes to someday upgrade to SQL Server. At that point life will be complete.

Bedtime reading for Eamon McCann?
Bedtime reading for Eamon McCann?


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