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Friday 15 December 2017

Gerry O'Carroll: 'Love Ulster' is coming back? Well, I predict another riot

'Love/Ulster' riots in 2006
'Love/Ulster' riots in 2006
Willie Walsh
Roz Purcell
Dr Ciara Kelly

Remember the 'Love/Ulster' march in 2006? You'd hardly forget it. Loyalist activist Willie Frazer and his band of men staged a demo which led to some of the worst rioting seen in Dublin in recent times.

'Love Ulster' became more 'love throwing bricks and setting fire to cars' as protestors opposing the march rioted.

During the height of the disturbances O'Connell Street was turned into a warzone, with thugs attacking gardai who had been deployed to ensure that the event passed off peacefuilly.

Cars were set alight, shops looted, premises attacked, bricks thrown and the city centre effectively shut down.

Shoppers and tourists ran for their lives as things threatened to spiral out of control.

To make matters worse, O'Connell Street was undergoing a works programme at the time and the rioters used raw materials from a building site to attack gardai.

There were a number of people injured in the disturbances and a large number of arrests as gardai got to grips with the situation.

Needless to say retail business in the city centre was brought to a standstill.

The violent scenes of mayhem and disorder tarnished the image of our capital city as a peaceful, safe and welcoming place.

On that occasion it appeared that gardai were outnumbered at times, if not under-resourced outright. Their intelligence reports also appear to have been found wanting.

What occurred in 2006 was reminiscent of the rioting that took place in the North during the darkest days of the Troubles.

Almost nine years on, Willie Frazer now wants to hold another 'Love Ulster' event in Dublin.

That he would even consider such a move after the violence of the last event beggars belief. Mr Frazer is entitled to walk around wherever he wants, but the rest of us are entitled to a enjoy a peaceful city - and another 'Love Ulster' march risks yet more violent opposition.

But I suspect Mr Frazer relishes his role as an agitator.

After the violent rioting associated with the 2006 event the authorities here should not allow any further 'Love Ulster' marches in Dublin.

I agree with Dublin city councillor Jim O'Callaghan, who put a motion before the City Council to oppose this march.

Our capital city is progressive, modern and forward looking. Keep your march away Mr Frazer, it's not welcome here - and neither are the goons who'll no doubt try to oppose you.

Aer Lingus is more than an airline ... don't sell it

THE Willie Walsh-led bid for the takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG is doomed to failure - or should be.

Even if IAG increases its bid from €2.55 to €3 a share and there is a ever-lasting commitment on the Heathrow slots, I believe the scheme is dead in the water.

Government TDs are rightly apprehensive about the potential loss of Aer Lingus routes.

They're also concerned about job losses and the status of our regional airports should a takeover go ahead.

But the sale of Aer Lingus goes beyond bottom-line concerns, and I'm not alone in feeling this.

It is no longer the national airline, but the average Irishman and woman has an extraordinary attachment to it.

The airline's green livery and its iconic shamrock logo remains an Irish institution - even if the State owns just 25pc of the company since its 2006 privatisation.

Aer Lingus was one of the first success stories of the fledgling Irish state. It remains a source of national pride and identity.

Despite the proliferation in recent times of budget airlines, many of us still prefer to fly with our one-time national carrier - as Aer Lingus passenger numbers indicate.

On a more pragmatic note, any assurances given by IAG on the future of Aer Lingus, however well meaning, cannot be wholly relied on in the long term. Profit decides all and profit has no room for sentimentality.

For that reason the proposed sale should not proceed.

Roz has the right recipe on fad diets

II was encouraged to see model Roz Purcell speak out this week to condemn fad or extreme dieting. Apparently she felt under pressure to engage in such diets when she was working as a model in New York.     

It's hardly my area of expertise but from what I can see, some elements of the fashion industry have, over the past decade, encouraged dangerous dieting regimes.      

In some cases these diets have reduced models to stick insects on the catwalk.

Hero

Dublin woman Maura Lennon has worked for overseas aid agency GOAL for the past 30 years. Maura was motivated, on watching a TV report in 1984 on the famine in Ethiopia, to go to Africa to work for the charity.

This Walkinstown woman in a quiet hero and her story is an inspiration. How many of us could do such a big-hearted thing? Fair play to her.

Zero

Dr Ciara Kelly, the medic on Operation Transformation, was hugely critical of leader Eilish Kavanagh last week. Eilish drank 11 units of alcohol during a day at the races. This was not a good move, but the reaction from Dr Kelly was way over the top. She had no right to say she was "disgusted" to witness Eilish's behaviour. Dr Kelly needs a better bedside manner.

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