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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Time of My Life


Ray McAreavey • 19 September 2006

Last week the Fair Rates Campaign held a meeting in a church in University Avenue.

Because I had been invited to discuss the issue on Talkback, I was able to tell the public that MLAs and our present MP Alaistar McDonnell would be there.

I provided a small PA system and Anne Monaghan chaired the meeting, as she had been asked to chair the first meeting 13 days before.

Now, I hold no brief for property speculators or landlords or indeed millionaires. We have plenty of them in South Belfast. Indeed, we have plenty of them in West Belfast as well, if truth be known.

My grudge was simple. I am asset rich and cash poor. I bought my house at a time when it was just about affordable for me. I left a much larger house in Coolnasilla because I was fed up chasing death-riders and hoods. I was the one who decided. My wife had urged me to move for many years and I had refused.

That is the background, plus the fact that I told the South Belfast News that I wasn't paying triple my rates next April. The response from ordinary people was terrific. As usual, it didn't come from the rich or comfortable, but from people who had pensioners or bereaved people living next to them.

We listened to Alaistar McDonnell kick off. He thought he was talking to a P2 class.

Alex Maskey came next, unprepared and not at all sure of what to say. He was hooked, unfairly I thought, by Anne Monaghan.

Next Stelford of the DUP. Not bad, but again nothing of substance.

Esmond Birnie, a decent chap, and Sir Reg Empey were mercifully brief, with again little to say.

Now came Mr McCartney, QC. He and I would have plenty of idealogical differences, and I would have thought, little in common.

He tore them to pieces. All this bunch had actually voted this in, the exception being Seamus Close of Alliance who had as his assistant an economics graduate from America called Alan Leonard.

The MP's, Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell, Alaistar McDonnell, and Lady Sylvia Hermon had sat for over 2 years previously in Westminster in the Northern Ireland committee and said sweet FA.

It gets even better. All of them would welcome PFI—that's where you get someone to build a hospital/school or whatever, then pay the maintenance and upkeep plus original costs, let this run for 40 or 50 years or until it falls down, and then give it back to the original builder.

We have already an example here with Balmoral High School. Have a look at that sometime.

All the parties here are responsible for this, excepting the Alliance.

Now we have Peter Hain telling us, along with Hanson (Dear Tone's PPS for 4 years—the wages of sin is the appointment as a minister in the NIO) that we WILL do it.

It gets better.

You will now pay partly for the running of the RUC/PSNI (take your pick).

Who got us into this mess?

Our dear elected DUP, Sinn Fein (by the way, no rates on a second home in the South—not that I begrudge it, you understand), UUP and the dear old SDLP.

The final insult came last Friday, when the SDLP had themselves photographed coming out of Stormont Castle complete with placards decrying the inequity of all this. Chief among them was Sean Ferran, who, more than most, was responsible for this.

They have no shame or sense of it.

Then neither have any of the rest, so they are in good company.









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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

25 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

DNA and Diplock: A Recipe for Injustice
Martin Galvin

Carrots and Sticks
Dr John Coulter

The Time of My Life
Ray McAreavey

Hunger Strikers for Sale on Ebay
Breandán Ó Muirthile

Strange Logic
Anthony McIntyre

Digging Up the Past
John Kennedy

The History of the Belfast Anti War Movement
Davy Carlin

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 11 & 12
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 13 & 14
Michael Gillespie

Lights Out
Anthony McIntyre

Papal in Glass Houses
Derick Perry

The GFA and Islam
Roy Johnston

Muhammad's Sword
Uri Avnery

We Are Not As Evolved As We Think
David Adams

Stone Me
John Kennedy

18 September 2006

Kick the Pope
Anthony McIntyre

When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
David Adams

"The third camp is about real lives": Interview with Hamid Taqvaee
Maryam Namazie

John Kennedy

Sympathy for the Victims
Mick Hall

For The Victims of Britain's Holocaust in Ireland
Brian Halpin

Dreary Eden
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Legalize the Irish
Frank [Name Supplied]

Careful What You Wish For
Dr John Coulter

The Peace Process — A Children's Fantasy
Tom Luby

John Kennedy

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