A petition, which started in Carrickmore, has now over 8000 county-wide signatures asking for schools to remain open over the summer holidays to make up for lost time over the last few years.
Organisers have denied the accusation that it is a petition motivated by revenge due to long periods of homeschooling and general presence of children in the house for far longer than normal during the past 24 months.
Margaret Tynan, a mother of 9 from Plumbridge, explained:
“Now that schools are nearly back to normal, we think it’s only right that children stay in for 2 months to make up for lost time. Let’s be honest, they did nothing during remote learning. And as for the teachers, don’t start me. I heard one teacher say ‘for f**k sake’ when my son showed up for his online class, thinking no one would. Get them all into work.”
Schools have been using an open-window policy during the height of the pandemic and will be advised to keep them open during the scorching heat of July if the petition is successful.
Teaching Unions are expected to challenge the petition.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR INTEREST IN GAA
Well I fell in love with the sport when I happened upon a Periscope video of Tattyreagh playing Loughmacrory. Ever since then I’ve been a Tatts fanatic and have ordered 12 Tattyreagh football tops over the last three years on eBay (chuckles). It’s ironic because Brad Pitt is a massive Loughmacrory fan.
HOW DO YOU THINK THEY’LL GO THE YEAR?
I wouldn’t have high hopes. I thought they’d take Moortown but them East Tyrone lads are hardy fellas. They remind me a bit of Joey in Friends who had a steely determination about him when it came to learning lines and stuff. They should beat Augher though.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO TYRONE OFTEN?
Yes I try to get over as much as possible, maybe three times a month. Last week I flew over to Belfast and stayed for two nights in Plumbridge just wandering the fields and loanans. I like The Plum. It reminds me a bit of LA with the way people completely ignore you on the roads. I was driving down the Glenelly Road recently and a fella in a Davy Brown moreorless drove straight over me. I like that about Plumbridge.
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY PROJECTS AT THE MINUTE?
Oh wouldn’t you love to know! (chuckles). Yes, I’ve three films on the go and I’m also learning how to make soda bread on the griddle. I saw it in action in a house near Gortin and thought I’d give it a go. So far I’ve had no success but it doesn’t work as well over an electric hob. You really need a fire going but that’s illegal here in Malibu.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE LOGAN AND DOOHER FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR AHEAD?
To be honest, I’m more of a baseball girl but I’ll say one thing. Tyrone need to bring back thuggery and shithousery. It’s why I fell in love with the Tatts (crying).
A 36 year old man from Plumbridge will have to attend a one-hour detention in his local school after telling his daughter the answer to the square root of 121.
Johnny Lavery, who is working from home, was heard by over 20 pupils as well as the teacher whispering the answer three times before his daughter heard him. It has been reported that the teacher made Mr Lavery stand in front of the camera and admit what he did.
“Aye I’m mortified. I even denied saying it a few times even though the lesson was being recorded and I’d be badly exposed. I was shaking and felt I was going to wet myself with fear. Miss McAllister really tore strips off me.”
Lavery will do the detention on Friday 15th January which will consist of writing out the 11 times tables 200 times.
Lavery also attended the same school 20 years ago and was only given a detention once for talking during communion.
Plumbridge Man Who Tried To Raise Spirits By Singing Wagon Wheel From Doorstep Told To ‘Shut The F**k Up’ By Neighbours
Inspired by scene from balconies in Italy, a Plumbridge tree surgeon was cut down in his tracks by angry neighbours after trying to sing ‘Wagon Wheel’ to cheer people up.
Scenes soon deteriorated as more neighbours came out to tell the other neighbours to shut up themselves. Within 20 mins, police were called to the village as over 200 people were shouting bad words at each other to the backdrop of an out-of-tune Wagon Wheel.
Jackie Coyle (46) admitted he was overwhelmed with emotion when he witnessed various Italian communities come together in song and music and thought it would do The Plum good to try the same.
“I didn’t think I’d have received the reaction I did. I had hardly finished ‘Rock Me Mama’ when someone shouted ‘shut the f**k up’ and fired what looked like a tricycle in my direction. Soon he was joined by others as I continued to sing. Then loads came out to tell the first crowd to shut up, only using worse language”.
Coyle maintains that he will be undeterred and promises to do a rendition of Johnny Logan’s ‘What’s Another Year?’ on Easter Sunday but will wear protective clothing such as a helmet and some kind of body shield.
48 hours on, Brocagh pipe-mender Jody Robinson is still pondering where he parked his car after popping in to Springisland supermarket in Coalisland to buy cheap toilet rolls and a chicken in a bag.
Robinson, who has been standing in the outside foyer, thinking, since Monday, thought he’d parked it on the left hand side as you come out but isn’t totally sure. He refuses to walk any further in case people laugh at him walking around looking for it.
Mrs Robsinson, speaking from her home on the loughshore, maintains he’s too proud to ask for help:
“Jody is stubborn. But he’d need to hurry up as there has been no toilet roll for two days now and the children are growing weary of docken leaves. The chicken will be bucked too.”
Meanwhile, an entrepreneur from Aghyaran claims he has a method to cure car-parking forgetfulness. He has invented a car key which, when pressed in an emergency, shouts ‘I’m over here’ in an accent of your choosing. So far, the most popular accents have been Gortin and Plumbridge.
Graham (61) maintains that spreading cow dung can reduce immediate temperatures by over 5 degrees within 10 minutes. He went on to suggest that it will eventually be used as moisturiser for anyone wishing to keep cool during sticky summer months.
“If my plans are heeded, I project that global warming will be halted for millions of years and might even recede. I covered my car in cow dung and never had to turn on the air conditioning once, helping the environment in doing so. People need to embrace cow dung and save the planet.”
Already, thousands of Tyronnies have been stocking up on cow dung for any imminent heat waves this summer, with many local pharmecuticals vying for the rights to patent new cow dung facial cooling sprays.
Gortin sauna-user Patricia McGrady (44) confirmed that she often uses cow dung on her face during sauna sessions:
“It definitely makes you cooler. When I use it in the sauna three times a week, it feels like I’m just sitting in a normal room. I hate saunas so this is great news.”
Meanwhile the pot hole on the Plumridge main street has been filled in with grass.
A Plumbridge housewife has admitted she might take one more skite to the Spar to pick up a few more eggs despite already amassing over 60 of them since the start of April.
Mary Best (61) revealed she has three children and nine great-grand children but that she couldn’t be sure everyone was catered for as children have big appetites these days:
“I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about it. 62 eggs sounds like a lot but children are a lot bigger these days compared to 20 years ago. I have 27 Wispa eggs so I’m hoping they go down well. If not, there’s going to be Rice Krispie buns til Halloween, so all good.”
Best has a long way to go to break the Irish record for Easter egg gathering. In 2013, a Ballygawley pensioner bought over 400 eggs after panicking the day before Easter, despite having no living relatives.
After only off-loading three of them, Frances McGill ended up melting the eggs and making an erotic sculpture of her hero, Mickey Harte.
The various current O’Neill family nicknames within the county are to be phased out and replaced with sub-clan names based on general physical characteristics.
The O’Neill Lineage and Genealogy Society have agreed that many of the current nicknames are either outdated or clouded in mystery as to their origin. They are to be re-classified on the 1st of October, categorised by location. O’Neill households are to receive official documentation within a fortnight, adding that there will be no appeal procedure for any disgruntled recipients.
The following list summarises the main changes:
O’Neills from Omagh, Plumbridge, Strabane, Dromore, Gortin and Fintona and any towns and villages west of these: The big-boned O’Neills. These O’Neills have a remarkably consistent characteristic across all families – they all have large behinds. We considered calling these clans ‘The Big-Arsed O’Neills‘ but considered that to be too crude for general consumption.
O’Neills from Carrickmore, Pomeroy, Greencastle, Galbally, Aughnacloy, Ballygawley and surrounding area: The Long-Nosed O’Neills. This breed have long, pointy faces and a matching oblong noses which makes them excellent tax-collectors or traffic wardens.
O’Neills from Dungannon, Donaghmore, Brackaville, Cookstown and Coalisland: The Square-Headed O’Neills. The O’Neills from this area have distinctive square heads, often causing difficult childbirths for O’Neill mothers. They are not to be confused with the oblong O’Neills just west of this area.
O’Neills from Ardboe, Moortown, Clonoe Parish, Moy: The Yellow O’Neills. These clans have a natural tanning during the summer, often caused by their tendency to sunbathe at the Lough shore. However, over the winter, their skin turns a remarkable yellow colour and are often wrongly diagnosed with jaundice despite being perfectly healthy. We considered naming them the Banana O’Neills but that threw up too many opportunities for people to poke fun at.
Any other O’Neills not covered by the above areas are to contact the O’Neill Society for re-classification as well as providing a photo for the same purpose.
Director Rian Johnson has refused to confirm or deny that some of the scenes for the upcoming instalment of the Star Wars series may be filmed in Balix Hill near Plumbridge despite rumours that the new film will be named ‘Star Wars 8 – The Battle of the Balixes’.
Balix, sometimes named Belix or Ballix, has long been touted as the perfect location for a Star Wars film such is the out-of-this-world atmosphere and the remarkable number of natural C-P3O and Chewbacca look-a-likes in the area.
Set designer Harry Devlin is confident that the Star Wars production van will be pulling into Plumbridge within a month:
“We need to get in there now before the holiday season begins and the throngs of tourists start to flood The Plum, Cranagh and Glenelly. We’ve already done a few runs to the area and are pleased to see hundreds of natural Chewbaccas to choose from at short notice, from both sexes. And in Balix Hill we have the ideal location for inter-galactic battles.”
This is not the first time that Balix Hill has captured the imagination of the world’s top film directors. In 1966, Sergio Leone apparently filmed over 400 hours of footage in the area for his masterpiece The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. He admitted years later that he was forced to abandon filming and head to Rome and Madrid after failing to find anyone to play The Good despite hundreds of the other two roles readily available in the area.
Clint Eastwood however fell in love with the area and is often spotted during the winter months roaming about Glencoppogagh on his own with his trusty dog, Dog.
Despite filming 10 episodes over a period of three months, a BBC NI spokesman confirmed that they’ll not be airing the ‘Tyrone Apprentice’ series over concerns regarding their twist on the iconic ‘You’re Fired’ hand gesture.
Desperate not to simply mimic the successful Alan Sugar version which sees the millionaire point at the unlucky contested each week, the Tyrone Apprentice, filmed in an unused boiler room in Powerscreen, sees local millionaire Giuseppe Morgan fire a potential business partner every episode by raising his middle finger and shouting ‘You’re Fired, Lad’.
BBC NI reality TV spokesman John Corr admitted they were always troubled over the use of the offensive gesture:
“People today are still a bit PC up this part of the world. The middle finger on NI TV is maybe ahead of its time but we can’t afford to take the chance. We thought about using a tranquillizer dart or pellet gun but that brings up all matter of hurdles we’d have to jump, from appeasing the decommissioning crowd to medical cover. We’ve decide to scrap the show and show a rerun of Grimes and McKee Tractor Tour Show.”
Corr added that a couple of apprentice candidates reacted badly to the firing middle-finger gesture and clambered over the table to take swipes at Morgan, although simultaneously admitting it was excellent TV.
The middle finger has a long and illustrious history, dating back to Ancient times when the Greeks used it as a sign of intimidation. In the Red Hand county it is often observed as a term of affection, with many motorists and GAA umpires using it.
For the record, an aspiring business man from Pomeroy won the outright final after his business plan of a gay strip bar in Plumbridge earned Giuseppe Morgan’s financial affections.
The Castlederg Met Office have issued a BROWN warning tonight which indicates housewives and modern househusbands should get the clothes on the line overnight as it’ll be a deadly night for drying with Hurricane Abigail approaching.
Farmers are also urged to cut any overlooked hay as it’ll be bone dry in the morning and ready for lifting.
Strabane woman Nuala McIlhinney revealed she’ll have everything on the line tonight:
“I’d be a woman who doesn’t buy new undergarments that much so the stuff I wear wouldn’t be in great shape. I wouldn’t be seen dead hanging them out normally. But in pure darkness I can dry the whole lot in the West Tyrone air without a care in the world.”
Strabane Council have reminded people that the 10-pieces-of-underwear rule which exists in the town is now suspended following the BROWN warning.
Old people have been urged to stay indoors after five pensioners were reportedly spotted sailing through the air over Plumbridge around 6pm after coming out of bingo. One has landed already near Lissan.
Young people have also been warned not to make faces into the wind as they might stay like that.
To tumultuous applause and four wolf whistles, Greencastle man Dermie Devlins won his home club’s talent contest for the ninth consecutive year with his ‘Deadly Stare’ act which sees him stare at the judges for 4 minutes solid without blinking.
Despite stiff competition from a man from Plumbridge who can spin on his backside using a broom handle for manoeuvring and a woman with a moustache from Glenelly, Devlins took 98% of the vote from the audience in attendance, a new record despite no change in his act since his first victory in 2007.
Chief judge Jilly Kincon explained the result:
“Everyone knew who the class act in the field was. Devlins’ Deadly Stare really is deadly. He just stares like, for 4 minutes and doesn’t blink at all. It’s like a goat or the devil himself. Staring is not something any Tom, Dick or Harry can do. Well Dermie can.”
A small protest outside the clubrooms caused some disruption around midnight when friends and family of the Kildress entry refused to allow cars to leave until the judges were replaced and a new competition held. Their man, Kieran Molloy, who sang ‘Do You Want Yer Oul Lobby Washed Down‘ in Ulster Scots, received no votes.
Traffic was eventually allowed past when organisers agreed to buy a round for all Kildress supporters at the show.
An 88-year old Glenelly man, who claims to be the loneliest man on the planet, revealed that he hasn’t spoken to anyone since 1986 until this interview today.
As I made my may to the quaint ramshackle home of Peader Kearney’s under the shadow of Slieve McCreesh, I couldn’t help but notice how the temperature dramatically dropped the closer we got to the Sperrin Mountains. From a balmy 12 degrees in Plumbridge, we were now negotiating temperatures of minus 14 as the truck carely weaved its way up Kearney’s loanan in the heart of Glenelly.
Although we had arranged the meeting by phone the previous day, we had to knock on his door for 20 minutes before he opened it and greeted my cameraman and I with
‘What the fcuk do ye want?’
I was now face to face with ‘Glenelly Man’. Once inside, I was reminded of the pictures we looked at in our History books at the Christian Brothers’ School in Omagh of old shebeens in West Mayo around the turn of the 19th century. Some sticks were burning in the middle of the bare room as Peader delicately placed himself on a decrepid rocking chair, using a blunt pen knife to cut a small branch into what would surely be a sharp weapon. I asked him what he was doing, knowing full well he was preparing himself for catching some live food later in the day, maybe a salmon or small bear:
“Mind yer own fcukin business and I won’t be makin ye anything to ate either.”
Taking the opportunity to explore his surroundings as he worked on his spear-like killing machine, I couldn’t help but admire the idyllic lifestyle Kearney had embraced – away from electronic devices from mobile phones to microwaves.
A small stream quietly rippled along behind his back yard, its hushed tones in keeping with this little piece of paradise Kearney had embraced as his own. The unmistakeable sound of a corncrake warbled in the distance as rabbits and hares danced in unison on the north Tyrone horizon.
On returning to the house, Kearney was still in the same spot, still chipping away at the piece of wood which now resembled a small but lethal steel-sharp spear. Trying to find out what makes the man tick, I asked him if he missed talking and interacting with others – sharing experiences and deliberating over current affairs.
He looked me straight in the eye, grimaced slightly, scratched his beard and said:
“Shut the dur on the way out.”
As I pulled out of Kearney’s loanan, I knew I’d probably never see this great man again, a man at one with nature and himself. This instinct was confirmed when I saw Peader in the rear view mirror giving me the middle finger and shouting something before firing one of his tiny spears with pin-point accuracy at my tyre, bursting it instantly. I saw him smirk, offer another more modern hand gesture and slam his door shut.
I just drove on, smiling to myself that Peader Kearney had it all.
Following his high-profile departures from various soccer teams as a player or manager, as well as some media outlets, Roy Keane has added the 10am Mass at St Malachy’s in Woodbridge to his quitting list, labelling the Tyrone born priest Fr Quinn ‘a clown’.
Worshippers who sat near Keane during the service claim to have heard him muttering stuff throughout the readings and throw piercing stares at a 13-year old boy who sneezed three times during the Gospel.
Daily mass-goer Harold Burkin, who normally sits behind Keane on a Sunday, maintained the warning signs were there from the opening Introductory Rites:
“His stubble was unusually haggard and he had that deep furrowed brow look from the moment he knelt down for a few pre-mass prayers as he normally does. Two women were whispering away about last night’s X-Factor to his left and I heard him muttering something about the ‘blue-rinse brigade’ and ‘a pack of feckin donuts’. I knew something was going to blow.”
Keane appears to have walked out just after the Sign of Peace which involves worshippers shaking hands with anyone sitting close to them. Fr Quinn, who originally hails from Plumbridge in Co Tyrone, decided to shake hands with the first five rows as it was the first Sunday of Advent:
“He just stared at me but I continued to hold out my hand. But then he said ‘how are you in effing close proximity to me you effing clown – get back on your pulpit and do your job, clampit’. I admit I was sort of shaken by the incident and made a few mistakes thereafter. I’d completely forgot about the Prayers of the Faithful earlier and so tried to squeeze them in before Communion.’
Members of the congregation maintain Keane soon got up and mumbled something about ‘a bunch of amateurs’ and used the ‘effin clown’ words again.
The NI Anger Hotline have confirmed they received 492 calls from chastised husbands since Sunday after George Clooney confirmed he is to marry in Venice in a couple of weeks.
The 53-year old actor, who rivals Pope Francis, JFK and Paddy Heaney for room space on the mantelpieces in living rooms, was still considered an eligible bachelor by the majority of hopeful women in the county.
Tom Quinn, a Derrylaughan window fitter, fumed:
“Herself has been a bear since Clooney announced his intention to marry a girl in a fortnight. She’s snapping at everything and giving me dog’s abuse for even breathing. It’s a bit humiliating like. We’ve been married 14 years and she still thought she’d win him over by taking him to Derrylaughan for a feed and a few pints.”
Clooney, who once described Plumbridge as comparable to ‘roasting delicious white marshmallows‘, has been asked to reconsider his proposal by a couple of sisters in Clady:
“George’s head is cut. He’s marrying some oul blade who’s probably after his dough. What’s wrong with Clady women? Too good for them, Clooney? If he goes ahead with this then he’s just another selfish man and I’m destroying all my copies of ER and the Oceans films.”
PSNI have urged a bus load of Dungannon women not to travel to Venice to protest outside the ceremony. The 22-strong crowd have already booked a Chambers bus and plan to set out tomorrow with placards reading ‘Clooney, You’re Acting The Dick This Time’, ‘Don’t Do It George’ and ‘No Fracking Here’.
One of Tyrone’s most cherished songs has come under attack from other villages desperate to put their own mark in the music world.
The village of Pomeroy is facing increasing resentment that not only do they have their own special Diamond, but they also have their own song, renowned throughout the world. Other villages are now promoting songs about their villages and townlands, including the mournful ballad, ‘The Street Signs of Plumbridge’, a song about unrequited love and clear, unambiguous traffic signage.
Mickey Daly of Derbrough Road in Plumbridge told us,
“That Pomeroy song’s mince. What’s so special about their mountains, eh? Sure, do we not have a whole clatter of them in Tyrone? That’s why we’re promoting ‘The Street Signs of Plumbridge’. It’s an instant classic”.
He went on,
“It’s about a pair of two young star-crossed dreamers who meet by the river in Plumbridge for a romantic tryst, surrounded by
roads with excellent traffic calming measures. Once this gets out the recording studios’ll be fighting off Nathan and Malachi and Andrea and all that lot with a sharp stick. This is going to be the next ‘Fields of Athenry’”.
Daly said that an extract of two of the verses of the song relate to the timeless dance of young love, yet set in a modern and contemporary
We met upon Glenelly bridge where cars reduce their power
They’re not allow’d to travel more than twenty miles an hour.
With stars above I begged for love, your embrace I did beseech
You updated Facebook, texted friends and soft did slur your speech.
With golden hair and winsome glance, your gentle form divine
You kiss’d me whilst the curlews sang beneath the Give Way sign.
My eyes did close in sweet delight when your lips on mine did linger
And only open’d in surprise at where you’d put your finger.
The final verse reflects on the sorrow of loneliness and of unreciprocated desire: –
We parted by the traffic lights and true I shed a tear
I’d had my heart so pierced with love, you’d had four cans of beer.
You captivated all my heart, my soul you did bewitch
Tho’ none can hold a candle to the street signs of Plumbridge.
Rumours surfaced last night that Hugo Duncan may have agreed to record another new local song, entitled, ‘The Pawn Shops of Strabane’.
Plumbridge clergyman Fr Butler, nicknamed ‘The Plum’s Prosperous Priest’, has admitted he can’t go past a shop without buying something shiny or golden but has vowed to say longer masses to make up for his lavish spending.
Parish accountant Jack Spratt reckons Fr Butler, who boasts a fleet of Citroen Dyanes and three Saudi Abrabian crowns, has spent almost £1.2m in the last 15 years, mostly the takings from Sunday collections and tenners given to him at weddings or christenings. Also amongst his possessions is a private plane with a Lithuanian pilot and two chairs made from Indian horses.
Butler admitted he might seek treatment for his monetary addiction:
“It’s a terrible affliction. When I was being handed a fiver or tenner after a funeral all I could think about was going into Omagh and buying something shiny like a chain for around me neck or maybe golden tips for my laces. Then ten pounds would lead to me taking the whole of the weekend’s collections and going out to an auction in Cookstown and buying all manner of second-hand shiny stuff like hefty medallions or golden chalices for the house. I was out of control.”
Concerns were raised about Fr Butler’s spending when a school trip to his house revealed the extent of his shopping habits. Master McGrath, principal of Plumbridge Academy, told us:
“I was dumbstruck. House? More like a 5-star hotel. On entering his abode I noticed all the door knobs were made of solid African gold and hanging from the ceilings were the most extravagant Brazilian chandeliers you’ll ever see. It was like a scene out of Dynasty. What came next was a real eye-opener. Fr Butler was sitting at a golden table, wearing a shiny crown made of sparkling jewels as well as a sparkling cloak and his maid was feeding him Jamaican grapes from a massive glittery silver spoon. All he gave the children was a packet of crisps and a Tip Top mineral with straw.”
The shamed clergyman has vowed to make it up to his flock by saying extra long masses and handing out shorter penances after confessions.
A new restaurant recently opened in Dungannon has denied accusations that it has been serving up animals killed by traffic on the nearby motorway.
‘McGlone’s Dead-Tasty Restaurant’ in Irish Street, which was opened only two weeks ago by former slaughterhouse worker Eugene McGlone with the slogan, ‘Fresh Meat, Straight From The Grill’, prompted a series of complaints to the Foods Standards Agency about the source of many of the ingredients.
Angry diner Damian Gormley from Plumbridge fumed:
“It says on their website, ‘Come in and enjoy our great food, just off the M1’. Now I know exactly what it means. Scraped off the bloody M1, that’s what. The hoors. I wouldn’t go back in there if you paid me. The menu’s a disgrace. Shepherd’s Pie my arse. More like German Shepherd’s Pie”.
Diners became suspicious after finding that nearly all the main course dishes were peculiarly flat, including, ‘Eugene’s Four-Meat Omelette’, ‘Protein Pizza Platter’, and ‘Begley’s Big Meaty Pancake’, a dish comprising what appeared to be a number of different types of unspecified meat.
Another unhappy customer Liz McGee from Ballygawley said,
“Jays, you could practically smell the engine oil off the food. It gave me the heave. If that McGlone thinks I’m going to put his ‘Meaty Waffles’ anywhere my mouth, he can think on. Anyone who seems to take Toad In The Hole literally is in the wrong game. I tried complaining, but the music was so loud you couldn’t hear a thing. The menu said that they serve up ‘bumper portions’. Now I know what it means”.
McGlone however refused to be drawn about the source of his food.
“All I’ll say is that we’re very aware of the importance of sustainability and the environment and suchlike. That’s why all of our food is local, from within 10 miles. Or 20 if you go as far as the M12 to Cookstown. Some of them lorries are going deadly fast”.
McGlone also denied that the background music was turned up loud to drown out the sound of diners retching.
Rumours also surfaced that McGlone was spotted last Thursday night standing on the side of the M1 near Moygashel with a pepper grinder, a spade, and a hopeful look on his face.
The thieving community across the county last night said it was in crisis as the ever-increasing demands of health and safety tookits toll on the criminal fraternity.
Gang leaders claim that they are getting so many compensation claims in from gang members who have injured themselves that they have no alternative but to insist on taking adequate health and safety measures.
“It’s tara boys”, said Kieran, a crook from Fintona. “In the olden days you could steal a whole lock of cattle in a couple of hours and still be in time for last orders. Now I’m not allowed to do it unless I’ve done a two-week course in feckin’ animal husbandry. What’s that all about? It’s almost enough to force you into an honest living”.
But master-thieves were quick to point out they were merely reacting to changes in society. Bill Fagin, the head villain of a gang of thieves from ‘somewhere near the Dooish mountain’, said,
“It’s not our fault. It’s the claims culture. I’m getting demands for compensation left, right and centre. I’ve one boy who’s claiming five grand for having made him ‘allergic to the dark’, and another claiming the same amount after the eejit swallowed nearly a litre of red diesel when he was siphoning it out of a digger near Glenelly, and had to have his stomach pumped. That’s why we now give them manual handling training on how to lift a stolen plasma TV. They might hurt their backs and make a claim. Some handlin’. Literally”.
He went on,
“We can’t have them boys stumbling about in the dark on a remote farm in Killyman or somewhere when they’re trying to steal a lorry. They might bump into something and injure themselves. That’s why they need to wear the hi-viz jackets. And put up floodlighting. Or even better, come back and do it in the daylight. Safety first boys, safety first”.
But most thieves have condemned the actions as being over the top, and for compromising their chances of a clean getaway.
“We had one boy breaking in through the first floor window of a factory in Lissan last week”, confided Hugh, a swindler from Tattyreagh. “But he took so long filling out his ‘Working at Height’ form and putting up scaffolding that he got caught. Jaysus, in the good old days we just climbed up the drainpipe”.
Fully-qualified thief Declan from Plumbridge, was resigned to the changes.
“Aye, I suppose now I’m all trained up I won’t injure myself. I was breaking and entering into a big house in Donaghmore last month and although the risk assessments took over an hour to complete, at least I knew I’d be safe”,
he said, before being led back to his prison cell to complete a two-year sentence.
Figures released by the PSNI last week confirmed that despite over 300 cattle have been stolen from the South Tyrone area since 2012, no arrests have been made.
Defending their record, DI Sean Robertson said,
“Listen. We’re up to our necks giving out parking tickets, and we’ve all this cattle theft to sort out as well. We’ve been told there’s 300 cattle been stolen. Well, we’ve not found a single one. Maybe they’ve got it wrong. Do they mean kettles?”
Robertson also explained the challenges some of his officers have had identifying cattle.
“Understand that some of these officers come from huge towns like Aughnacloy or Moygashel. They’ve rarely been out in the country, poor lads. Some of them don’t know what a cow looks like. And it’s easy. Cows is the ones that look like wee fluffy white clouds. Aren’t they? Or is that pigs?”
Responding to the criticism, Constable Ivor McDowell said,
“Where do you hide 300 cows? We’ve seen pictures and they’re enormous. We’ve been sent to butcher shops to see if we can find what might have happened to them, but it’s a waste of time. The only thing in them butcher shops is massive big pieces of meat and stuff. There’s no way you could hide a cow in there. It’s pointless. And anyway, you’d need an awful lot of milk for them to drink, wouldn’t you?”
Officers are also working on a theory that the cattle weren’t stolen at all, but instead that the cows might be playing a game of hide and seek with police.
“If that’s the case, wasting police time is a grave offence and can come with a custodial sentence”, said a stern Robertson. “If we find out that these cow things are deliberately giving us the run around, Jaysus, we’ll take the legs out from under them. Both of them. Or have they got four legs?”
In a separate incident, three cows were arrested last night in a field near Plumbridge for ‘urinating in a public place’.