25 July 2006

Drumcree revisited

When Pope Paul II visited Glasgow some years ago, the Strathclyde Police decided to take a softly-softly line with possible trouble makers, given that the Pontiff’s meeting with the leader of the Church of Scotland was, for some, a bridge too far.

I understand that a youth was caught inscribing the dreaded F word on a wall with special reference to the distinguished visitor. Why, asked the Police nicely, had he chosen the Pope for such rudeness? ‘Because,’ said the wee laddie, ‘there was nae room to write the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.’

Such dilemmas may soon be a thing of the past.

An article in the Glasgow Herald suggests the new Pope should pay a visit to Ibrox, the home of Glasgow Rangers. Certain battle cries have been drawn to the attention of Uefa, European football’s governing body, and, assuming that they will be able to decode the sectarian insults, they propose to take some action, as yet unspecified.

Offensive phrases directed towards those of a different branch of the Christian faith (such as the cleverly constructed gibe ‘Yer mother’s a nun’) can be universally interpreted but links with the historic Fianna may take more work.

Back home £100,000 of public money is to be allocated to Orangefest – which is not, as first thought, an Eat More Fruit campaign. On the contrary, the hills of Drumcree should soon be alive with the sound of music supplied by the True Blue Defenders Temperance Flute Band to the semi-erotic sway of bewigged Irish dancers. The scene was set in 1995 when David Trimble and Ian Paisley tripped the light fantastic down the Garvaghy Road but I am reliably informed that their relationship may have cooled since then.

Then there is the even cooler £3.3 million to be spent on paramilitary murals.

Changing the paintwork of sectarianism will not greatly undermine its existence nor deter the more resolute graffiti merchants. Can that wee Glasgow laddie’s unhappy exhortation be edited locally to something more friendly and inclusive? All suggestions welcome.

Meanwhile the paramilitaries are working on new grant-catching ideas. Some possibilities:

ULSTER SAYS MAYBE. NO SURRENDER JUST YET. OUR TIME HAS ARRIVED (formerly Tiocfaidh Ar La). FORGET 1690. BRITISH FORCES OF OPPRESSION WELCOME.

Tenders will be invited for the supply of the new eco-friendly press-button gas-fired bonfires.

But such radical thinking is by no means new.

You may recall the Government’s poster campaign a few years back to raise morale and assist with our reorientation. One suggestion was to rename Cross-gar ‘Happy-gar’.

I considered wearing a fixed grin while shopping in the village but was advised of a possible ambush by the men in white coats – who would not have been as forgiving as the Strathclyde Police.

Better to remain my old grumpy self.

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