Mo bhliain

Well, 2014 is just about gone.

So how was it for you?

As ever with these end of year look backs I am unashamedly subjective in my treatment of the past 12 months.

What follows here does not make any claim to be anything other than my own perspective.

As with previous attempts at a look back, it is usually a mixture of the personal, the political, the Fitba and the familial.

It is usually the longest piece of the year that I publish on here; it’s no surprise that this one is feature length.

Therefore it is suitable for a sit down and cuppa when you’ve the time.

Firstly, the most important aspect of 2014, as with any year, was the health and happiness of my brood.

We were all together this Christmas and the house had a soundtrack of chilled out contentment.

Two of the clan have now flown the nest which makes their seasonal return all the more special for their mother and me.

This time next year Little Missy will be in the same situation as the other two.

However for now we have her under our roof and we’re grateful for every minute she is here.

Her mother and I recently attended our final parent teachers night.

It was a bit of a milestone.

Our babies are suddenly all growed up.

We’ve sent them out into a world that could be in better shape and this fragile planet remains a bad neighbourhood.

The image that sums up 2014 for me in that regard is the ISIS beheading video.

This marketing campaign for the Caliphate chaps was unspeakably cruel and married the highest production values to medieval Wahhabist barbarism.

The ongoing Syrian civil war is yet another consequence of the insanity of the illegal and ill-conceived invasion of Iraq which destabilised an already dangerous region.

As the year drew to a close, there was a lot of the fighting around the town of Kobane.

I was reminded of a dinner with some young Fine Gael Eurocrats back in 2009 when I was speaking at a health conference.

They were appalled that I did not support the admission of Turkey into the European Union.

I noted that the border of the EU would be, in a north-east to south-west sweep, with Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Those little Brussels sprogs didn’t see a problem with that.

I did.

Here in Europe, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was revisiting an old expansionist agenda in 2014.

Crimea is now effectively annexed and Eastern Ukraine is a warzone.

Putin has denied any direct involvement in the latter conflict and apparently Russian paratroopers go on vacation fully armed with all of their equipment.

Of course, with the price of oil plummeting his economy is in crisis, but this makes him more dangerous.

He might think he has got away with it, but the Donegal Eagle will continue to keep his eye on Moscow.

In the summer the Israeli Defence Forces (sic) battered the defenceless folk of Gaza.

The world looked on in impotent anger, me included.

I marched behind my union branch banner in Derry as did people all over Ireland and around the world to say that these war crimes should stop.

As we entered the city walls some of The People turned up.

One of them had a flag of Israel and an elderly lady with a union jack shopping bag hurled insults at the marchers.

My son accompanied me that day.

It was his idea.

He seems to have acquired a sense of justice along the way.

He’ll do fine, just fine.

In the USA it looked as if Jim Crow was dating Robocop as the images from Ferguson Missouri looked deceptively like a racially motivated police state in action.

In West Africa the Ebola virus left many dead and continues to kill the infected.

The international effort appeared half hearted.

Here in Ireland it was the year of the Great Irish Water Rebellion and it felt great!

The joke in the Mayo of my boyhood was that we had a Famine Ireland, but we would never have a drought.

We are a small island in the North Atlantic; there is very rarely a shortage of the wet stuff falling from the sky.

Since the Troika imposed their will on the Irish state in late 2010 many commentators drew parallels with the anger on the streets of Athens with the docile passivity of the Irish.

The Irish people had been the epitome of passivity as the Troika ripped lumps out of the welfare safety net here.

In in the first half of the year it would have  seemed to tany outsider that the only thing that could stir the Irish nation was the cancelling of  Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park.

However, anyone with any knowledge of this country would have known that we tend to be slow burn when it comes to rising up against those in power.

First, the government created a horrible quango called ‘Irish water’. The salaries and bonus arrangements would embarrass Mr Super.

Then shit got serious.

Water meters began being installed in homes and local groups set themselves up to oppose it.

The mainstream media warned of ‘sinister elements’. This was shorthand for Sinn Féin or, even worse, Dissident Republicans working behind the scenes.

In the main though it was Mr and Mrs Average who were pissed off about this rather than rent mob politicos.

Neighbours of mine here in Donegal who have never evidenced any penchant for political activism were taking to the streets in demonstrations where, ironically, it pissed down from the heavens.

The Fine Gael Labour coalition stared into the headlights of an oncoming Sinn Féin juggernaut that is fuelled by the anger of ordinary people who have simply had enough of paying for the craziness of bankers and the incompetence of their political cronies.

The mainstream media, especially the Sunday Independent, churned out a nonstop stream of scare stories about Sinn Féin in government.

Despite this, the party continued to do well in the opinion polls.

The Mairia Cahill scandal seemed heaven sent for the enemies of Sinn Féin.

She is the grandniece of Republican icon Joe Cahill and she alleged that she had been abused and raped by a senior IRA man in Belfast.

Moreover, she then stated that the Movement had interrogated her for months when she had made the allegations.

She also alleged that the IRA expelled a number of abusers out of the Six Counties and into the Republic without informing the Gardaí.

The ‘Sindo’ in particular gleefully devoted huge space to the story.

The reality is that for over three decades in nationalist areas in the Six Counties the IRA were the de facto civil power.

That the Republican Movement handled this badly is beyond dispute.

However, IRA volunteers were placed in a situation by the British state that was entirely abnormal.

Criminals, including paedophiles, in nationalist areas were given protection by the RUC to continue their offending, but only if they became informers for the British state.

What is different about the Cahill story was that the alleged offender was a senior Republican.

For the leader, Gerry Adams TD, it was the second major crisis of his leadership in 2014.

In April, he was arrested by the PSNI in connection with the inquiry into the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

He was released without charge.

As the year ends, Sinn Féin is stronger in the polls than it was when the year started.

The ordinary people in the 26 counties, rightly or wrongly, see both the McConville and Cahill cases as legacy issues in the North.

If there was an election next week, Sinn Féin would have a significantly higher number of Dáil Deputies than they have now.

On the other hand the Labour Party, founded by James Connolly, is toast.

The cause of death was that they forgot why they had been founded.

In this coalition government they have carried out the orders of the IMF and Chancellor Merkel.

The damage to the fabric of Irish society has been huge and the Irish Water debacle was the final straw for many people here.

Meanwhile in the North the Fleg Folk continued on their Sisyphusian odyssey.

Some of them are still camped at Twaddell Avenue waiting for the historical tide to come in and float their badly riveted boat.

That day has gone and the new dispensation will be a cold house for their laughably out of place Herrenvolk hubris.

Their project is doomed to failure, but there seems no escape for them from themselves.

They appear to be locked into a cycle of ignorance and social failure because they cling to the old certainties.

Indeed, the only thing they would probably want to find out about Albert Camus was whether or not he was a Taig.

As the klan gathered at their… ahem… civil rights camp, I thought it more Out Cider than L’Étranger.

I hope that future generations of people in the North East of this country will look back on them with head shaking incredulity at how they missed the big picture in the age of London-imposed austerity.

As the year closed the folks on the hill were in crisis conclave about what to do with the cuts being imposed by Westminster.

That, not flegs, is the real stuff of politics.

In my home town it was a tumultuous year. Firstly, Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games and made a marvellous job of it. Then the city gave birth to ‘Independence Square’ in August as the independence referendum campaign kicked up the gears.

For a few amazing weeks into early September it seemed as if victory was within the grasp of the Yes side.

In the end, ‘Project Fear’ frightened enough of the Scottish people into thinking that they truly were better together with the Dark Star on the Thames.

The mainstream media played a shameful role and the Daily Record came up with ‘the vow’.

In terms of pish it was up there with Craig Whyte being a billionaire.

As with the Ibrox shambles, the Fifth Estate stepped up and Bella Caledonia, the Common Weal and Wings Over Scotland attracted a huge readership.

In the end though it wasn’t enough.

On the night of the victory for the No side, we saw the klan in all their fascist viciousness turn Independence Square in the corner of a Scottish city into the Shankill Road.

Prime Minister David Cameron was caught unawares as he told the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the unelected head of state had “purred down the line” when he told her that the Scots voted against independence.

The arithmetic of Indyref was singular though.

1.6m people in Scotland said they wanted to leave the United Kingdom – that was 45 per cent of the vote.

Dundee and Glasgow voted for secession.

This is not insignificant, dear reader.

Since then, the losers of Indyref have been victorious and the SNP’s membership has gone through the roof together with their confidence that, down the road, they can deliver.

The new image of Scotland is of Nicola Sturgeon, an assured First Minister, taking her first steps along the road to turning Scotland from a province of London into a fully independent country.

Alex Salmond stepped down with no little grace. I look forward to him being a thorn in the side of the Westminster elite as he sits on the opposition benches flanked by an enlarged SNP group after May.

The winners in Indyref have behaved like losers.

Their victory, brought about by fear and lies, may well prove Pyrrhic.

The Labour Party in Scotland, if opinion polls are to be believed,  is heading for a hiding at the polls in the UK general election in May next year.

They remain the only political bulwark in Scotland against the country becoming entirely disconnected from the body politic of Britain.

In England the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is setting the agenda on the future of that polity’s place in the world.

They want to leave the European Union and they have a very clear view of what should happen to people who want to make the UK their home.

UKIP are, in part, fuelled by a secessionist impulse in England apropos the EU.

The Times of London made Nigel Farage their ‘Briton of the year’.

It is undeniable that there is now a separatist movement in Scotland with a substantial proportion of the people aligned to it.

I hope that they prosper and grow.

Broken Britain created UKIP.

The United Kingdom is a geo-political creation that has had its day.

I hope that Scotland’s time is yet to come.

I felt that in Independence Square last summer, and it felt real.

I know that part of the city very well and I liked looking at it with fresh eyes.

George Square was also the scene of tragedy a few days before Christmas when a bin lorry left the road and killed six people including several members of one family.

It was unspeakably horrible and cruel.

As with the Clutha tragedy a year ago, the ordinary folk of Glasgow stepped up. They always do.

It was in Glasgow that I fell in love with the stage again.

A chance meeting involved me with the Sweet For Addicts theatre group.

They put on my play ‘Flight of the Earls’ last June in the Shed in Glasgow.

It was wonderful to see those old friends come alive again after so many years.

Now I have a deadline to provide them with Act Two of ‘Hame’, my new play about a Glasgow Irish family during the events of the Indyref campaign.

The play will be premiered at the Shed next March as part of the Saint Patrick’s festival in the city.

The director currently has Act One and the first reading reassured him and myself that this project has merit.

Meanwhile on Planet Fitba, 2014 was another year in the Sevco shambles.

This year the scriptwriters made it an everyday tale of emergency loans, a season ticket strike and the convicted King across the water trying to dictate events.

The final episode of the year saw many of the main characters huddled inside a tent while The People booed them.

In January a podcasting chap  from called David Francis Limond was sent to prison for six months.

He used the “Rangers chat” podcast to threaten journalist Angela Haggerty.

As with much of his output it was laced with anti-Irish racism.

This was particularly referenced by sheriff Scott Pattison.

Ms Haggerty’s  ‘crime’ was to have edited my book ‘Downfall’  which was about the death of his football club.

As he was led away to prison it was a good day for journalism.

Ms Haggerty is now the editor of an innovative media project in Scotland.

The future does not belong to Mr Limond.

It was a good start to the year.

Then in  February the Sevco clientele were told to ignore a blogger in Ireland.

I think they were referring to me.

I said they were skint and in need of emergency finances or they would face an insolvency event.

Then, three weeks later, came the first proof that all was not well in their finances.

The Laxey/Easdale loan was the only thing that staved off insolvency.

Since then it has been one crisis after another.

Dave King turned up in April without a pen and then in October with, he claimed, £16m.

In the same month that the South African-based entrepreneur asked for a writing implement in the Blue room the prestigious Press Gazette had me in the top 10 journalists in the UK using Twitter and social media.

It was very pleasing to be in such excellent company as Alex Thomson and Faisal Islam.

The digital space allows me to bypass the mainstream media and reach out to my readership and it would appear that my work here attracts a large readership.

Throughout all of the Sevco shenanigans, The People were revolting.

The year closed with the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) of RIFC.

It was wonderful entertainment and the putative owner Mike Ashley looks to be heading for a show down with the SFA in the New Year.

Big Mike has his guys in the Big House and, finally, austerity has arrived at Edmiston Drive.

As regular readers here will be aware, I have tried to provide a lamb-free news service on matters Ibrox.

There is so much in the national game in Scotland that is now good and laudable, but while The People harbour their entitlement issues then the running sore that is “The Rangers” will continue.

As the year drew to a close the two year old club put their ridiculously well paid manager on gardening leave.

Right to the end, the stenographers in the mainstream had Super Ally’s back when in fact they should have been reporting the truth without fear or favour.

The nightmare on Edmiston Drive continues to damage the reputation of Scottish football furth of Scotland.

However there is much that is healthy on Planet Fitba.

The ‘slow lingering death’ that was predicted in 2012 by the suits at Hampden has only really applied to Sevco.

That works for me.

As I was preparing this piece for publication the stenographers breathlessly told of another consortium of ‘Rangers men’ ready to step in with a whopping £6.5m.

Well, right away three of that belongs to Mike Ashley.

The remainder might get the operation to March, but no further.

Across the city the man from Lurgan finally called it a day and Neil Francis Lennon is now the manager of Bolton.

The people there only care if he wins football matches.

His life will be safer and less eventful.

So far I have not heard of anyone attacking him in the technical area in England or of him being sent bombs or bullets.

The mainstream media played a shameful role in demonising the Irishman who managed Celtic and when Aiden McGeady turned out in the green of Ireland in Glasgow once more the hacks in the city seemed overly keen to dress up anti-Irish racism as ‘banter’.

Modern Scotland still harbours those with a bad attitude towards the Irish.

My film of the year was The Imitation Game.

Benedict Cumberbatch was suitably enigmatic as Alan Turing, the genius who broke the Third Reich’s unbreakable encryption machine.

The film, directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore, really is a triumph in every sense of the word.

On the small screen my 2014 was all about the demise of Stuart Carolan’s sociopathic creation ‘Nidge’.

His death in the final scene of Love Hate was grubbily Shakespearean.

The nemesis chosen by Carolan was the only character with decent motive for offing the drug dealing Iago who was hypnotically played by the brilliant Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Across the pond Homeland, having seriously jumped the shark in the last series, returned to earth when it took Carrie and Saul to Islamabad and Kabul.

My book of the year was not newly published but was new to my kindle – “white Cargo” by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh.

I had been aware of the title, but it was only this year that I got into it and fully appreciated the significance of the research contained within it.

If you think you know about slavery in the New World and you’re convinced that it was a black and white issue then think again.

At the start of the year a hero from my boyhood passed away.

I think Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was the first black person I ever saw that wasn’t on a screen or in a book.

Thankfully my native city is much more diverse now.

I can still see him breathing the winter air at the old Celtic Park in November 1969 as he turned out for his beloved Benfica.

I was 11 and yet even with this African superman they couldn’t beat Bertie Auld and Jinky.

It is the nature of a life lived that your heroes of childhood pass away.

On the same day that Eusébio died in January this year my trade lost one of the finest within these islands.

I always admired the style and breadth of Simon Hoggart’s journalism.

He will be missed.

However, the death that impacted on me most in 2014 was the tragic passing of actor Robin Williams.

The world is much the poorer without his flawed, fragile genius.

It is established that he took his own life and when I learned of the circumstances of his death I just sat there quietly sobbing, mugged by the emotion of it.

Someone in your life, dear reader, might be in bad shape right now.

Be there for them.


Overall I have had a good one in 2014 and I hope you have too.

I hope you have enjoyed coming onto this blog to be informed and entertained.

There are certainly a lot of you out there.

The number of page views on this site throughout the year was eye popping.

At time of writing there have been 7,176,990 pages views on this site in 2014.

Yeah, over seven million.

Monday December 15th was the best day ever on this site with 70,822 views.

The year started slowly with only 277,694 views in January.

This month was the busiest ever with 1,079,266 page views.

Some people somewhere seem to like this blog.

My special thanks are due to those of you who have hit the donate button throughout the year.

The costs of this site and the expenses incurred by working on these stories are not insignificant.

So my gratitude is due to all of you out there for your continued support.

See you in 2015.

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