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Sunday 28 August 2005

Bigots savaged by a newt

THE satirical website the Portadown News announced its own demise in a shock/horror headline last week. For four-and-a-half years the website has been hilariously savaging paramilitaries, sectarianism, peace-process-speak and other Northern Irish targets: its creator, Newton Emerson, is an equal-opportunities satirist.

To give you a flavour, here's a sample from Newt's loyalist dictionary: "Police brutalitay!" (I have been prevented from starting a riot); "This cammunitay is under siege" (If I had any intention of going to work I would be unable to do so); "My nerves iz wracked, so they are" (It is not my fault that I am drunk at 10am); "I'm a cammunitay raprasantative" (I'm a bigoted old slapper with nothing to offer except hatred).

The website was a bit of fun on the side for Newt, then a technical writer with a computer company, until at the end of 2001 republican complaints about its offensiveness had it banned by its internet service provider.

(Sample piece of offensiveness: "In a historic move, Gerry Adams has asked his wife to do the dishes, but doubts remain as to exactly when she will wash them: 'I am not my wife, although I do have some influence over her decisions,' explained Mr Adams. 'She could do the dishes straight away, or she could say, Do them yourself, you beardie bastard, sure you've never done an honest day's work in your life.'")

The site carried on with a different server, so Robin Livingstone of the Andersonstown News informed Newt's employers he was working on it in company time. Newt had to quit work, but the ensuing publicity made his name and he became such a successful journalist that he no longer has time to keep the website going. I'm one of the lucky fans that has The Portadown News anthology - my most popular bathroom book.

I still laugh every time I see the photograph of a fraught and dishevelled Tony Blair staring wildly ahead of him. The bubble coming out of his mouth reads, "Christ, here come the paddies."

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards