Monday, October 10, 2016


My colleagues from the Sexual Assault Unit in Galway very kindly presented me with this 60th Birthday cake. I was gobsmacked by the baker's attention to details from my past and present (who knows what the future holds?) and really, really touched. What a great bunch of people to work with.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Rihla (The Journey) – was the short title of a 14th Century (1355 CE) book written in Fez by the Islamic legal scholar Ibn Jazayy al-Kalbi of Granada who recorded and then transcribed the dictated travelogue of the Tangerian, Ibn Battuta. The book’s full title was A Gift to Those who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling and somehow the title of Ibn Jazayy's book captures the ethos of many of the city and country journeys I have been lucky to take in past years.

This Rihla is about the passage of time.

This is a very appropriate Rihla, given that it is Number 60 in the series and the fact that my 60th birthday is fast approaching.

In late October 1969 with money I had received for my 13th birthday I bought my first ever album in a small record shop in Dublin. The record was Abbey Road, the last recording made by the Beatles as a band at the Abbey Road studios, London and released on 26 September 1969 before they broke up to go their separate ways (an earlier recorded album “Let It Be” from February 1969 was released after Abbey Road). 

The cover of the album was iconic (although at the time I was disappointed that the Beatles name was not featured as I wanted to show it off), the designer stating that as the Beatles were so famous no name was necessary. This type of hubris probably partially accounted for the band’s demise but the picture of George, Paul, Ringo and John striding across the pedestrian crossing at the end of Abbey Road has become famous. It has been a rite of passage for many Beatle fans to take those same steps and I was no different.

Abbey Road itself was the road that originally connected Marylebone and the small village of Kilburn, where a hermitage had been established beside a Holy Well by Goodwyne around 1100 CE. He enlarged the hermitage and gave it over to a Benedictine Convent under the jurisdiction of the Abbot of Westminster as a Cell to that Abbey, and dedicated to John the Baptist. A little later the Abbot Herbert, and Prior Osbert de Clare of Westminster gave the priory to three handmaidens of Maud or Matilda, the Scots-Saxon wife of Henry I of England. Godwyn was appointed their first Master or Custos. The new Abbey was freed from contributing to “making War, or supporting Bridges and Castles.” It never was a rich endowment and as an Abbey always struggled.

The map below shows the small amount of land associated with the abbey much of which was forest. It is remembered in the names of the roads of Kilburn such as Priory Road, Kilburn Priory and Abbey Road.

Map of Kilburn, London showing location of Abbey and extent of
tied Abbey lands at suppression in 1536

As with the Nuns of Kilburn Abbey in 1536 the time of the Beatles of Abbey Road in 1969 came to an end. The last song on the Medley section of the album is deliberately called “The End” as it was the last ever song recorded by all four members together although “Your Majesty” was placed last on the album. The Nuns would have approved of the very last verse!!!!! 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


The STONES rebranded!

With perhaps creativity changing direction somewhat ( there is a new "blues" album planned with Eric Clapton guesting) but procreativity definitely increasing (Ron Woods recent twins, and all being well Jagger's partner, Melanie Hamrick delivering safely his 8th child)
I thought it would be a bit of fun to rebrand (with apologies to DPM of course)
the lads to reflect these changes.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Between the 9 and 10th November 1938 a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany was perpetrated using the excuse of the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by Herschel Grynzpan, a 17 year-old Polish Jew. The night of the 9th November came to be known as Kristallnacht, from the amount of shattered window-panes in Jewish-owned shops that were attacked, and what seemed like a spontaneous civilian abreaction in the very anti-Jewish atmosphere of the times was in fact part of a carefully pre-planned and orchestrated campaign devised by Heinrich Himmler and put into operation by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Nazi party internal intelligence agency, led by Reinhard Heydrich.

Turkey is now suffering its own night of retribution, or as I would like to codename it: The Night of the Black Amber!

In 2007 President Recep Tayyip Erdoĝan (then Prime Minister) of Turkey and Fethullah Gülen, founder of the Gülen movement known as the Cemaat or Congregation, were Islamic orientated political allies in the purging of the ultra-nationalist secular movement known as Ergenekon, a purging aided by Güelenist members of the judiciary and police, and which as a consequence helped place officers, civil servants and judges who were supporters of Gülen in the higher ranks of the military and judiciary.

In a subsequent power-play for the “Islamic” political control of Turkey, Erdoĝan and Gülen’s association was shattered by the same Gülen supportive judiciary launching a corruption investigation against Erdoĝan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and members of his own family. This investigation against Erdoĝan has stalled and he has seized the opportunity afforded to plot an eradication of his former allies before they could do any more to get him.

Turkey sits astride any number of fault lines. Below its surface the Anatolian plate continues to move westwards along the North Anatolian Fault and ultimately, threatens Istanbul with destruction. Above ground level, in "international" air space as it were, the fault line is that of resolving a Middle-Eastern or European outlook for Turkey, and again this appears to be moving westwards. On ground level, however, on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara there is a more restless, a more eruptive fault line between the civilian and the soldier, between the Turk and the Kurd, and between secular and religious orthodoxy.

Where the conflict between soldier and State is concerned, in a legacy that stretches back to the unruly Janissary army units of the Ottoman Sultanate, the Turkish military officer appears to have a genetic pre-disposition to trying to throw off civilian oversight and control. In modern times this has occurred in 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997 and an alleged coup attempt named Operation Sledgehammer was also identified and countered in 2010.

It is into to this heady atmosphere of recurrent tectonic conflict that the most recent coup attempt falls and fails. History has shown that for every coup there is retribution, and that for every act of retribution there is the genesis of a future coup. It is also into this space that Efkan Ala, the Turkish Minister of the Interior strides.

To explain!

Mountain Valley north of Oltu, NE Turkey.

In October 2007 while touring the north-eastern part of Turkey with the primary intention of visiting Ani (See: the former capital of the Armenian Kingdom, I passed through the town of Oltu on my way back to the airport at Erzurum, having detoured to visit the ruins of the Georgian monastery complexes of Ishan and Osk in the valleys north of Oltu.

Oltu is famous for its Oltu Stone, a form of Jet, mined in the mountains northeast of the town. The polished gemstone is called, Oltutasi in Turkish or alternatively as Kara Kehribar“Black Amber”.

Five years later, in April 2012, having travelled by road from Konya, I visited Diyarbakir, a city on the frontline between the Turkish State and the aspirations of Kurds for an independent Kurdistan (See Rihla 45 – July 2, 2014). The tensions in the city were and are palpable and reminded me of Belfast in the 70s.

Four-Legged Minaret of Sheikh Matar Mosque
Diyarbakir, Turkey

The person that links the small town of Oltu to the city of Diyarbakir is Efkan Ala, Turkish President Recep Erdoĝan’s most trusted lieutenant and Turkish Minister of the Interior since November 2013. Efkan Ala was born in Oltu and at the time of my passing through in 2007 had just finished his stint as Governor of Diyarbakir before moving back to become Undersecretary during Erdoĝan’s second term as Prime Minister.

Efkan Ala appointed Minister of the Interior by Erdoĝan in 2013

It is my supposition that, in a career almost imitating that of Himmler as Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Nationhood and later Minister of the Interior in Nazi Germany, Efkan Ala when first appointed by Erdoĝan as Minister of the Interior without being first elected to Parliament, was almost certainly brought in and mandated by Erdoĝan to secretly establish mechanisms to deal with the Gülen Cemaat influence on the Turkish State in general, and their opposition to Erdoĝan in particular. 

I also surmise that the current highly efficient and systematic crackdown (codename "Black Amber"!) against judiciary, civil-servants, and academics associated with the Gülen Cemaat movement, which has been put into operation within one day of the badly led and supported coup of the 15th July, had been carefully pre-planned and honed by Erdoĝan and Ala over the past two years and probably has been facilitated by a newly-created, ultra-secret and Ala-controlled AKP internal intelligence agency, like the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Nazi internal intelligence agency led by Reinhard Heydrich, and drawn from loyal and perhaps fanatical Erdoĝan members of the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Bureau (JITEM).

All that was required to put “Black Amber” into operation was a pretext (like the assassination of vom Rath), and in Turkey’s case this was the recent threat to “State democracy” by the Peace at Home Council, a very small part of the armed forces (for example it did not include the Navy) whom I also further suspect were duped by counter-intelligence double agents into believing they had more support than they really had, all highly convenient for the subsequent initiation, brutality and efficiency of the subsequent pogrom. I am not implying that Erdoĝan and Ala indirectly planned the coup as a "false flag", because even they could not be entirely certain if personally confronted by coup participants as to what might happen (although coup-associated F1 jets broke off engaging with his Presidential jet!) in any given circumstance. No. In a gamble that has paid off handsomely Erdoĝan confronted the military by appealing to citizen opposition... and won. 

The similarities of the remit and intent of the current "State of Emergency" in Turkey, declared by Erdoĝan with the the Reichstag Fire Decree of the 28 February 1933 by Hitler, are as uncanny as much as they are unwelcome in a supposed democracy.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Diyarbakir 1916.

Erdoĝan will now firmly entrench the monopoly of power in his hands and nominally the hands of his AKP party. The secular vision for Turkey of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, former commander of the 2nd Army in Diyarbakir, is well and truly buried. In addition to the purges against individual military officers, 
Erdoĝan has also exploited the opportunity to suppress any journalist or any  media source who opposes him.

Efkan Ala has also prospered. Since the attempted coup the Gendarmerie have, as a consequence of its failure, now been removed from the Army command and brought under his direct control as Minister of the Interior. Ala's next task (a.k.a Heinrich Himmler) will be to develop and implement a gulag or concentration camp system to incarcerate all Erdoĝan's supposed enemies

As a final observation on the recent events in Turkey, it is also worth noting that when Oltu Stone, the gemstone Black Amber, is first mined and extracted it is soft. It is only when it is exposed to air that it becomes hard enough to be polished. A bit like the current pre-determined repression in Turkey! Having being brought to the surface above the fault line, the former buried and “soft” planning for the eradication of Gülen has now hardened enough to be polished into a pogrom of political genocide.