Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland is a mad house, but at least Vladimir Putin isn't calling for an inquiry into the Stone assault on Stormont

By Lindy McDowell

Of all of the ludicrous aspects of the saga of Michael Stone's aborted assault on Stormont, one of the most farcical is a story currently going the rounds in Belfast.

Apparently the UDA, having got wind of Stone's intentions to stage a spectacular, launched an operation to hunt him down and, as James Bond might say, neutralise him.

A number of hit squads were deployed. One of these teams, it is claimed, even had a blue flashing light on their car and, as they raced to follow up a reported sighting of the suspect Stone, this was used to clear a path through traffic.


A tall tale?

Possibly. But this is Northern Ireland. So, however comical and unlikely the notion of Uncle Andy and Co hee-hawing around the streets in hot pursuit of Red Hand Luke as he hobbles down to the bus stop with his walking stick and a rucksack full of bombs, we can not discount it out of hand.

This place is a mad house. Nothing surprises any of us any more.

Not the fact that the mass murderer Stone chose to go Metro on his bombing raid.

Not the fact that he was able to walk unnoticed right up to the entrance of Stormont and casually spray it with graffiti.

Not the fact that a man whose face appears on gable walls wasn't clocked before then.

Not the fact that it was left to two unarmed and truly heroic security guards to overpower him.

And NOT even the fact that in the aftermath of this shocking near disaster, those in charge of running the show were shrugging their shoulders and assuring us that these things happen but, hey, everything is under control. Mad? To borrow a word from our chief of police, frankly, it's lunatic.

Sir Hugh wasn't the only one to suffer an irony lapse following Stone's attempt to nuke the Assembly.

Johnny Mad Dog Adair, when asked to comment, described his erstwhile comrade-in-arms as a wing-nut.

Exactly. Johnny Adair calling Michael Stone a wing nut.

The unfortunate thing is that wing-nuttery is not confined to those posing the threat.

It also permeates the thinking of those charged with protecting people from that threat.

Remind me again. What did Peter Hain say in the aftermath of this shocking incident?

That's right. Something about how President Putin had questions to answer about the death of Mr Litvinenko.

Isn't it reassuring to know that our Secretary of State appears to be more concerned about the fate of a former KGB operative than the potential blowing up of our elected Assembly?

Why else has he stuck his oar in there?

After all, Vladimir Putin isn't calling for an inquiry into the Stone assault on Stormont.

But then Mr Putin doesn't have designs on a career move to Downing Street.

Like the UDA hurtling around the streets in their pretend cop car, the entire handling of this bizarre incident has been part slapstick, part horror show.

When you attempt to explain to someone from outside this place how come a mass murderer who was sentenced to 684 years got out in 12, it underlines the lunacy we are expected to take in our stride.

It's a mad house this place.


With her marriage in meltdown, Britney Spears (above) has been out socialising again.

This week she was photographed clubbing in an outfit seemingly designed by Borat.

It consisted of a green mini dress with waist deep neckline. This was accessorised with one leg of fishnet tights. The other leg of fishnet tights was worn by her fellow reveller Paris Hilton (right), who, by comparison, looked almost sedate.

It's some trick that, Britney - making Paris Hilton look classy.

Winners .. and losers?

As a direct result of last year's I'm A Celebrity, where she infamously pee-ed on prime time telly, Carol Thatcher has been offered a starring role in an ad for a bladder control product. Jan Leeming will surely get a whole series of her own show. GRUMPY OLD WOMAN.

A Majority of Scots, it is reported, now want partition from England. A majority of the English, it is reported, would be happy to see them go. This doesn't augur too well for Gordon Brown's prospects as Prime Minister. Are the English in the present climate, going to settle for a Scottish PM? YOU WIDNAE THINK SO.

Belfast Telegraph


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