Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

How gangs still glory in hit parades

Angelina Jolie

Sometimes you think you've heard it all where compilation albums are concerned . . . Love Songs, Road Anthems, Film Theme Songs, Heartbreak Hits and Motorbiking Ballads. There are cookery inspired compilations and albums to exercise to. Right now Jeremy Clarkson has even got a 'songs to drive to' compilation in the music shops.

But just when you think every conceivable genre - romance, girls' comics, reality television - has at least one CD collection to its name, it turns out that there may still be an opening in the market.

Paramilitary backing tracks. An album of balaclava ballads . . .

Remember Johnny Adair's hijacking of Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best'?

Now this week it's been revealed that on the night Ihab Shoukri was scooped in the Alexandra Bar he and his fellow goons had been planning to announce the UDA would never disband while Bon Jovi's 'Blaze of Glory' blasted out in the background.

It goes without saying of course, that like Tina Turner, Mr Bon Jovi and his band would have been unaware that their hit tune had been hijacked in this way.

They will probably also be unaware - as indeed it seems was Ihab, otherwise he'd surely have re-thought the musical accompaniment - that the band's name is Belfast slang for another paramilitary outfit.

The Provies. The Bon Jovis.

You have to hand it to the likes of Ihab though. Like all paramilitary bosses, understatement is not his thing.

"Going down in a blaze of glory?"

Being scooped in a local pub before you even get to start your pathetic little indoor march past of the Gents and peanut dispenser - it hardly qualifies does it?

Still. The UDA are not the only ones heavily into inappropriate mood music.

All this week we've been serenaded with tributes to the bridge over troubled water that was the Agreement.

Listening to some of the reviews you'd think that there is just no connection or comparison between the harmony the process is now seen to represent - and the way we were.

But how in tune is this really with reality?

If we're so sorted how come, for example that Ihab Shoukri has been appearing before court on UDA membership charges?

In the same week that is, that Jackie McDonald is described as "the UDA's leading brigadier" in media reports covering the Agreement's tenth anniversary?

Does Jackie and others like him have immunity from prosecution when it comes to UDA membership?

How come if we're so at peace these days that every single paramilitary organisation that operated before the Agreement (and a few which hadn't even been formed back then) are today still intact and functioning?

Why is there still an IRA Army Council? A UDA, a UVF and all the rest of them?

Public figures rightly point out that the level of killing in the years since the agreement has dramatically diminished. But let's not forget the savage murders which have taken place since then.

Our papers have been filled this week with distressing accounts of the horror of the Omagh bombing - that atrocity happened post-Agreement.

And another thing - if as Bill Clinton once claimed "the normal is now normal again" - isn't it a bit, well, abnormal that we still can't even agree on the running of the Victims' Commission of all things?

It is a reflection of a disquieting aspect of life here that the peace processors would rather we didn't make a song and dance about.

The sectarianism and the bitterness that still haunts this community.

With paramilitary gangs still intact, keeping their heads down and - some suspect - biding their time, there is still a potential for a return to savagery.

What are our leaders doing to redress that situation?

Too busy, I'm afraid. Singing their own praises.

The look that says 'yes'

Strange research findings of the week. . .

Apparently, most people are able to assess at a glance whether a potential partner would be interested in a one night stand.

Macho men are seen as more likely to be promiscuous.

And big eyes and a wide smile in a woman are seen as a sign that she might be up for it.

Women who look like Angelina Jolie in other words.

Or a Tellytubby . . .

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