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Sunday 4 September 2005

SF goes into bat on fist fighting

I'VE only used eBay once. It took me 45 minutes to register and describe the expensive train tickets I wanted to sell, and another 12 hours before I received a minatory message telling me the auction was cancelled because I'd contravened Section 129 of the Railways Act 1993.

Caitriona Ruane - who, in the moments she has spare from nurturing our free Colombian terrorists - is Sinn Fein spokeswoman for Equality and Human Rights, would, I'm sure, take a relaxed view of my misdemeanour.

Her insouciance about breaches of the law extended to marrying Brian McAteer, who was convicted for carrying a false passport. She is, however, so het up about the availability on eBay of DVDs of bare-knuckle Traveller fights in Ireland that I revisited the site to see what horrors were being peddled.

What could be so terrible that it so distressed the robust Caitriona, friend and associate of international terrorists, that she was calling for censorship of what she considers "racist incitement to hatred".

Were these fighters using non-PC language? Were they non-Travellers pretending to be Travellers?

Nothing so exciting. For €5.99, I learned, I could purchase a grainy video of: "90 minutes of fights plus all the talk and an insight into the Traveller community. These (boxing) matches are usually for family honour, to settle an argument, or for the most valuable commodity there is, money. These contests are held in farm yards, country lanes and building sites. These guys are as hard as nails and some just don't give up."

I strained to understand what Mrs McAteer was so steamed up about, but remained baffled. I thought she liked guys who are as hard as nails and just don't give up? Is the problem that she is against boxing? Or against bare-knuckle boxing? Or against Travellers boxing? Is she not laying herself open to a complaint that she is denigrating Traveller culture?

She has explained. Speaking for Sinn Fein, she said: "We are against the exploitation of violence in any way."

Pity the poor satirist.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards