Peppa Pig is a very naughty girl and won't belt up


The BBC have done a nice wee piece on Peppa Pig being a naughty girl and not belting up when in the Pig family big red car.

Parents have raised concerns over thier own children following Peppa's example of NOT wearing her seatbelt. It is something i have been concerned about, having a 3 year old and a 2 year old, who love Peppa Pig (the Christmas presents can attest to that!!).

The way we get around this is to concentrate on Dora the Explorer, who has a catchphrase
'We put on our seatbelts so we can be safe'
It sounds a bit namby pamby but having a couple wee bairns that depend on you so much, you want to instil good examples in them as they grow up, and being safe in the car is one of them. And how quickly they pick up the things you don't want them to is scary.

The animators of Peppa Pig, Astley Baker Davies have replied the the BBC saying that Peppa Pig will be seen wearing a seatbelt in future episodes and that the first and second series will also re-animated scenes to reflect the new policy.

Good. We don't want Daddy Pig to get points on his licence now do we?? He has enough trouble from Mummy Pig!

Now, who is next?? Ah, Noddy! PC Plod could really bring in the dough with the amount of traffic infringements Noddy keeps committing. With the powers the PSNI are looking for in Northern Ireland, Noddy could soon be walking around Toytown AND see his little car either auctioned or crushed. And we wouldn't want our kids to see that. Or would we? :)

Happy Birthday Simpsons


Happy 20th Birthday to the Simpsons.

What a wonderful family they are too. All that Homer does and says, yet Mardge is still with him.

There are lessons in that.

The BBC have a nice page with memorable quotes and blackboard writings.

The blond bombshell set to sit in Craigavon (Update)


From all indications, it looks like that Jo-Anne Dobson, the UUP blond bombshell (i hope she doesn't slap me for that!), will be the newest elected politician in Northern Ireland as Councillor in Craigavon Borough Council.

It is being reported in the Newsletter that Jo-Anne has around 2,600 votes to David Calvert's 830. Roughly about 64% of the vote. I also used some of my sources (makes me look important. Doesn't it?) just to make sure.

UPDATE (12.30): Final results of voting declared

UUP 2494
TUV 752
SF 401
SDLP 256
spoiled 33

This will be a bit of a boost to the UUP/Conservative morale and shows the level of support for the TUV (David Calvert) in the area.

Though in the end how much can it really be seen as a barometer?
  • The DUP did not run a candidate, and in the current climate it would have been a very for a DUP candidate.
  • There was a very low turnout of around 23% (just under 4,000 voters) out of the 16,403 electorate.
  • Jo-Anne Dobson is better looking than David Calvert.
However, it is a Unionist stronghold and the most worrying thing for Unionists of any hew is ensuring the same apathy does not continue into the upcoming 2010 Westminster or 2011 NI Assembly elections.

Upper Bann is most likely to stay in Unionist hands for Westminster, but that should not be taken for granted.

There are now three Unionist parties in the mix. The big damage could be done to the DUP from this, with David Simpson (DUP) being the sitting MP, as the TUV would cut into their vote more than the UUP. But the biggest issue is as ever is unionist voter apathy.

The UUP candidate front runner for Westminster seems to be 'Flash' Harry Hamilton (who puts on a fantastic Queen tribute show - seen him a couple of times), but even that is not guaranteed with the UUP/Conservative link up. Maybe David Cameron will not push a Conservative candidate if Harry gives David a VIP ticket to his next concert!

There is a 'Hammer to Fall', but on whom will it fall?

Lurgan spades or broad smiles - The Craigavon By-election


Today (13 Jan 2010) is by-election day in Lurgan for Craigavon Borough Council. The electorate is 16,403.

The runners are
  • Jo-Anne Dobson (UUP)
  • David Calvert (TUV)
  • Liam Mackle (Sinn Fein)
  • Pat McDade (SDLP)
The DUP did not put forward a candidate.

From what I hear the main contenders for the post will be the UUP and the TUV. Though under the voting system of Proportional Representation - Single Transferable Vote (PR-STV), it might be interesting to see where the Sinn Fein and SDLP votes go, if they are eliminated.

As the DUP do not have a candidate then there will be no possibility of a Dromore by-election result, per se. But it would bolster the UUP if they won.

It will be interesting to see the number of first preference votes for the TUV, whether they win or not. It would begin to show the lay of the land for the other Unionist parties on what to expect from Unionist grassroots.

The DUP will be looking on in interest, whatever the result. The strength of the TUV vote could be a sounding board for David Simpson MP (DUP) on the strength of feeling in the Lurgan area of the Upper Bann constituency.

The count will take place tomorrow, Thursday 14 January. A source (yup, i do indeed have some. I feel like a journalist now!!) has told me that the expected turnout is around 30%, and that to count should be over in the early morning (or at least a good idea of who will win the council seat.)

Stop yer drinkin' n' drivin', ya clamppet!! - Shock call by ACC McCausland for capital punishment


Just to discuss something other than Robinsongate, I note that the BBC reports a piece on drink-driving.

The BBC notes that out of 5780 tests, there were 414 drink-drivers caught over the limit during Christmas. Three were PSNI officers. The officers, off-duty when they were caught (thank goodness for small mercies!) have been suspended and could be fast-tracked for dismissal as the PSNI considers drink-driving as a severe breach of its code of ethics and a sackable offence.

A really interesting part to the article was the call by Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland for new powers to seize and destroy the cars of convicted drink-drivers. Under current Scottish law, people's cars can be taken to be crushed or auctioned if they are repeat offenders.

Not sure though if ACC McCausland quite grasped what he was saying when he gave out his warning to drink-drivers on radio, and repeated in the BBC piece
"You lose your licence, you lose your car, you could lose your liberty and also sadly, you could lose your life"
You heard it here folks. ACC McCausland is calling for capital punishment for drink-drivers!

He threatens that if you are caught you will lose your licence, car, liberty and life (even though, it seems, this last bit is with a heavy heart).

OK, OK - I know what he is getting at, but his use of grammar in this instance is a bit ..... off.

I have to say though I would support this power for the police, once the drink-driving incident has been proven through the normal procedures. However, I would not be in favour of crushing the car - much better to send it to auction and recoup some money for our public services.

What was slightly disconcerting as well was that the youngest offender during Christmas was 16. Yup, that's right 16! Methinks, he or she may have been breaking a few other laws, like not having a licence for instance. Then again he, or she, could have been a drunken screwball in charge of an Mowing machine or a Moped - yes thats right a 16 year old can be on the road driving a mowing machine or on a moped. I hope for his or her own credibility it was a moped.

A week is a long time in politics, er... a day, hour?


Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, Part III, Section 16 (5)

The holder of the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister may by notice in writing to the Presiding Officer designate a Northern Ireland Minister to exercise the functions of that office—
(a)during any absence or incapacity of the holder; or
(b)during any vacancy in that office arising otherwise than under subsection (7)(a);
but a person shall not have power to act by virtue of paragraph (a) for a continuous period exceeding 6 weeks

This has been enacted today by Peter Robinson to designate Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, to exercise the functions of the office of the First Minister.

In relation to this Arlene, not Peter, is responding to the urgent oral question from Caral Ní Chuilín,
To ask the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to outline to the Assembly any possible implications for the OFMDFM in respect of allegations relating to financial matters made by the BBC Spotlight programme

Things are moving apace in our wee province.

Making a statement


Caral Ní Chuilín MLA, Sinn Fein, has tabled a question for an urgent oral answer today (MONDAY 11 January 2010).
To ask the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to outline to the Assembly any possible implications for the OFMDFM in respect of allegations relating to financial matters made by the BBC Spotlight programme.
Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland, is due to give an oral answer in the Assembly in reply to Ms Ní Chuilín at around 3.30pm today.

Having a bit of a cheeky wee go at the whole issue, Danny Kennedy MLA, UUP Deputy Leader, raised a point of order on whether the First Minister would be making the statement and if any resignations had been given. In retort, William Hay, Speaker of the Assembly, confirmed the First Minister will speak at 3.30pm and that he has received no resignations from any MLAs at the present time. He also stated that he does not want things like this dealt through Points of Order in future.

I don't think today will be the day when Peter resigns.

However, this whole saga, in combination with the Policing and Justice debate, is leaving Northern Ireland in a devolution predicament. Whatever the outcome for Peter, the matter of our current devolved government seems to be skating on thin ice (see what i did there? What with all the cold weather and all?? Oh forget it.)

If Policing & Justice can not be agreed, we could be going into a period of either suspension and/or elections earlier than the stated 2011. The Westminster government may wish to see the strength of feeling of the electorate, especially within unionism, and allow any logjam to precipitate an early election.

With regards to Peter's position, the DUP MLAs have just pledged their "unanimous" support for him as party leader and First Minister at a press conference in Parliament Buildings. This is a bit of good news for Peter, but for how long? With Ministers from the Free Presbyterian church calling for him to go, and Gregory Campbell saying in the Derry Journal that Peter should be given seven days to prove that he did not breach any rules over his wife's financial affairs, Peter may not be out of the woods just yet.

Though, any investigation that finds him innocent of misconduct will be a big, big boost to his stance of not backing down.

'Let him who has no sin, cast the first stone'


There have been a number of scandals rocking the political world in Northern Ireland and the UK in general.

Who will forget the 2009 kick in the teeth MPs got over the expenses issue. Gordon Brown is constantly getting smacked in the face by his own party members.

Closer to home, and in addition to the above, we have had the alleged child abuse case surrounding the Adams family and whether or not Liam was more involved in Sinn Fein than his brother has been telling everyone. Then the Robinsongate/Irisgate hit big time.

As Natahaniel Hawthorne wrote in his novel 'The Scarlet Letter',
"no man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."
My mum always said 'always tell the truth, its easier to remember'.

These episodes in our political echelons have shown the common man that elected representatives are also human. They are not Nietzschian Ubermensch, where to be in politics, and de facto in the public domain, one must see oneself in the vein of "man is something which ought to be overcome". A politician has to be more than just an ordinary man of the street - they have to be more.

This is reflected in the different codes of conduct for elected representatives, and these codes contain the personal attributes every elected representative must embody.

We must all answer for what we do. Actions have consequences. but do we expect too much of our elected representatives?

For all that is coming out about Iris and the inherent conjoined liability with Peter, why are we so shocked? Why are we transfixed with the difficult questions still to be asked and answered in the case of Liam Adams?

We can all look to people within our own families and see plotlines being acted out that would never make Coronation Street or Eastenders as they would be branded too far fetched. Should we be so heavy handed with our criticism? Can our politicians not legitimately turn back on us and say

"If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? "
The most cynical view is that politics is ruthless. There are no friends, only interests. So every politican must lift themselves up from the masses and become more than what they are. yes, they must still talk to the masses. But they must be untouchable, an exemplar of intelligence, cunning, uprightness, moral fibre and fortitude. there must be no weakness, nor any sign of weakness. One politician's downfall is viewed as an opportunity by another.

The troubles of Iris has pulled Peter into the eye of the storm. He has been transported into the likes of 'The man who would be King' and has been shown to the multitude to be able to bleed. Like avaricious hyenas, the media, the public, and all the political parties close in because they have smelt blood. This may help Gerry Adams for a week, but once the carcases have been picked over it will once again be his turn, especially with so many Sinn Fein elected representatives resigning from the party.

Is it fair? Maybe. Maybe not.

So, who can cast the first stone? While everyone philosophises the end result, in my own opinion, is that no one cares. Here are stories that can instigate a change in the political world of Northern Ireland, scores can be settled and attention can be diverted away from personal failings of others. What is more, they are being played out in the print media, broadcasts media, on Twitter, on blogs, Facebook and more social media platforms than you can shake a stick at, like at no time previously. Barak Obama maybe has more to be credited for than previously thought in encouraging us plebeians to participate in political discussion.


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