herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Time to celebrate our world class tr oops ... not our neutrality

Very few people know of the Irish Army - 44th Infantry Group. We should.

The reason we don't is our delusion about Irish neutrality. For generations we have taught ourselves that neutrality is a transcendent form of bravery - courage so pure that it gives us the fortitude to turn our faces away from conflict.

When in reality neutrality is mostly just craven cowardice, dressed in posh ideology.

In the second world war, we as a state did nothing while millions were slaughtered. We try to fool ourselves into believing that it was only after the war that we understood the awfulness of Nazism, but that's baloney - Hitler's Mein Kampf might as well have been titled '1,001 reasons why I'm an anti-Semitic, megalomaniacal, genocidal fruit-bat who must be stopped at all costs'.

So we knew. Yet we did nothing. In fact, we were so scrupulous about doing nothing that this nation, alone among western democracies, paid formal condolences when Hitler shot himself.

He also shot his wife and poisoned his dog, but history doesn't record if we offered sympathies about them.

Now we are again faced with something the world may have to act on - reports indicate that as much as 35,000 square kilometres of the Middle East is being taken over by people who use decapitation, dismemberment, violence and subjugation to control their people.

There's a limit to how much of that the world can ignore. The EU is big enough, and has enough military muscle to do something.

And we should be pushing to be part of that something, because the 44th Infantry Group has proven we can be of real use.

Some 130 members of the 44th are stationed at Camp Faourar on the border between Israel and Syria. Last week they were deployed to rescue a number of Filipino UN peacekeepers.

They cleared a path to the soldiers, came under fire, shot back and got everyone out without a single casualty.

This is something we should celebrate. Irish soldiers risked their lives for a good cause, and showed themselves to be courageous, professional and well-equipped.

Our misplaced love of neutrality sees us mute our pride in our troops because it's ingrained in us to believe that anything militaristic is bad. It isn't. Ask the Filipino peacekeepers.

A Lidl more organic?

CHEF Heston Blumenthal has a dish called 'sound of the sea'. It comes with a pair of head-phones so you can hear waves lapping and gulls squawking. Yes, it's a bit odd.

But the principle is correct - context, sound, appearance and presentation make a difference to how people perceive food.

It's only logical then that restaurant suppliers would cotton on to this. Like the enterprising chap in Cork's English Market who was spotted flogging Lidl veg at a significant mark-up. Now, that's not illegal - he wasn't saying it was local or organic, just selling it in market environment.

So here's the thing that will be debated in philosophy classes for years to come. If you paid double for a Lidl potato, and because you thought it was a hand-plucked spud and tasted twice as good - have you actually been ripped off?

Bank move is really just cat

A Russian bank is lending out cats with every mortgage. Apparently it's good luck to have a cat in a new home. C'mon AIB and Bank Of Ireland, get with the programme. I'll gladly move house if you hook me up with a Manx.

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