A freelance election poster maker from out the Tattyreagh Road, who has managed to monopolise the election poster business across all parties since 2007, has become the richest man in Ireland according to a list released on Easter Sunday by an English newspaper.
John McMahon (56) is reportedly ‘flat out’ making new posters as we go to print, having today been given the nod by Stormont politicians for another polling session. In addition, the Dungannon Campus in the South West College has already started enrolling students for ‘Poster-Making’ Diplomas starting in September 2017.
Taking a break from making a set of new posters for the SDLP, McMahon was unwilling to talk about how much he’d actually made in the last 12 months:
“Let’s just say I can now afford to go to the pictures and buy food there without having to take out a Credit Union loan. I’ve an exclusive agreement with the DUP, TUV, UUP, SF, SDLP, Greens, Alliance and a couple of others. And they all pay well, especially if I touch up a few of them using Photoshop.”
McMahon also confessed that the business also almost cost him his marriage after he was accused of spending ‘too long touching up’ a couple of the new Sinn Fein MLAs’ posters.
McMahon denied he was involved in a turf war when a rival election poster business had to close down due to a series of defaced posters from the new company appeared in Mid-Ulster, with crude drawings of male genitalia appearing on the posters of several prominent DUP politicians.
“I can categorically state that was NOT me”
he said before walking back into his shed, laughing his head off.
McMahon’s business is reportedly raking in over £3m a year with many unused posters being sold on the black market to bonfire builders.
Close friends of West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff confirmed that the Carrickmore man was putting a brave face on it tonight after he arrived at Stormont dressed as a panto dame due to a misunderstanding by text.
McElduff, whose book Keep ‘Er Lit was narrowly overlooked for the Booker Prize last year, reportedly received a message to his phone from a Sinn Fein MLA stating that it was ‘well and truly panto season in Stormont today’, in reality referring to the Arlene Foster/HRI scheme debacle played out in Belfast this morning.
Omagh fancy dress shop owner Leo Kelly revealed how an excited McElduff arrived on his doorstep at 10am:
“We all had a fair idea that Barry likes dressing up and is game for anything. But I underestimated his desire to become an established panto dame. He tried on about a dozen different dresses and already had the make-up on him before he arrived. He was jumping about like a child on Christmas morning, bless him.”
Stormont officials admitted they feared the worst when they saw a small man in a dress, wearing heavy lipstick come tearing up Stormont lane shouting things like ‘oh no he’s not’ and ‘she’s behind you’.
Doorman Billy Bateson described the heartbreak:
“Ah you had to see his wee face. He was hyped up and it took a good ten minutes before he accepted that it was just a big misunderstanding. After the penny dropped we let him try a joke anyway. I said to him ‘I hear eggs are going up’ and he gleefully replied ‘that’ll surprise a few chickens’. He laughed for a few seconds, we all did, before the reality of the situation hit us again.”
As McElduff’s taxi pulled out, Gerry Adams was seen shaking his head from an upstairs window.
Stormont was today said to be awash with pride after four of its members, one from each of the four main political parties, graduated with BA Honours First Class in ‘Scratchin Yer Hole’ at the prestigious Belfast university, Queen’s.
The new degree, which offers modules in ‘Looking Interested But Really Completely Zoned Out‘ and ‘Seemingly Talking Intelligently About Nonsense‘ initially had over 20 students at the start of the year, with 15 dropping out after two months due to their inability to keep up with the the MLA’s expertise in the area.
Professor Miles McGopling revealed afterwards that the final module ‘Paying Yourself More Money & Scratching Your Hole‘ saw the four MLAs really prove their remarkable talent in this discipline:
“I’ll never have a cohort like it. Two of the MLAs even managed the triple whammy of finding a way to take money off thousands of nurses and teachers, pay themselves more and scratch their holes all at the same time. It was quite remarkable. Next year they’ve even agreed to teach how they did it to a new batch of undergraduates. They’ll go far.”
All four graduates have shown interest in furthering their educational journey by taking a Masters in the subject which will include studying ‘Falling Asleep Undetected In Front Of TV Cameras‘ and ‘Hiding In Your Office‘.
The only non-MLA to graduate was a PE teacher.
Following the news that MLAs spend an average of £32’000 a year between them on refreshments, an independent audit has revealed that over £10’000 was spent on Custard Creams.
Further to that, all bar one MLA revealed they never once saw a Custard Cream at a meeting, leaving all fingers pointing in the direction of Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff who was often spotted with crumbs on his jacket and around his lower lip.
In a more sinister move, MI5 admitted to raiding McElduff’s offices for evidence of his mass biscuit consumption only to find nothing incriminating bar a poster of Peter Canavan being fouled by Conor Gormley and a CD of Philomena Begley’s ‘Songs From The Ramparts and other stuff’.
Independent Audit spokesperson Julie McPhearson added:
“It’s quite obvious that McElduff is addicted to Custard Creams and is using the offices in Stormont to feed this addiction. Catching him at it is another thing, as he appears to have a sound knowledge of the security camera black spots. But if you look closely at any photographs or video footage, you can see crumbs on his lapels and even sometimes chewing really slowly.”
McElduff, when questioned on the mysterious Custard Creamgate, remained nonchalant:
“These people have nothing better to be at. I haven’t had a Custard Cream since the 1990s although I’m partial to the Gypsy Creams at the wekend but they’re harder to get now. They can search the place all they want. They’d be better looking around Alex Maskey’s office and count the amount of empty Penguin biscuit wrappers.”
The audit also revealed that in 2016 alone, £5600 has already been spent on cocktail sausages, made exclusively by Cookstown Meats, firmly pointing the finger of suspicion at the SDLP’s Patsy McGlone.
Following a day of turmoil in Stormont, things appeared to go from bad to worse after dinner when apparently Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff accused UUP leader Mike Nesbitt of using the last of the HP Sauce, in badness, and threatened to get Alex Maskey if he did it again.
With tensions running high after Peter Robinson stepped aside as First Minister, Arlene Foster reportedly told Nesbitt that there was another full bottle of HP Sauce in the cupboard and to go ahead and use the last of the brown sauce on the table.
McElduff, who had been sitting at a different table finishing his soup, reportedly ‘went clean mad‘ when he searched for the brown sauce to complement his sausages, champ and beans only to find an empty bottle on its side and Nesbitt slurping on his lasagne drenched in his favourite condiment. Tempers were calmed initially after Foster admitted she was to blame for the mistake, only for things to hot up in the chamber when they retook their seats.
Politics student Lennie Rafferty, on work experience with the SDLP, described how it kicked off:
“There was a tension in the air when they recommenced the day’s agenda after dinner but it all boiled over after Mike Nesbitt started licking his lips and rubbing his belly in front of Barry McElduff. McElduff lost it and there was a free-for-all with the two of them having to be separated by a rake of minor MLAs. Several punches were thrown. Even Arlene got a dig at Alban Maginness.”
Rafferty explained how the ruckus ended when McElduff shouted “I’ll phone Maskey now“.
“You could see Nesbitt’s face go all white and he looked nervous enough as he straightened his suit and made his way to his seat.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein issued a statement tonight apologising for McElduff’s outburst but said they understood how eating sausages and beans without HP could send any man, woman or beast over the edge.
The bar manager at Bar 15 in Belfast confirmed this morning, with the aid of CCTV footage, that a group of co-workers from Cookstown managed to break the 2-hour barrier for non-verbal communication on their annual night out in the big city.
The 5 workers from ‘That IT Shower’ on Molesworth Street all managed to ‘check in’ on Facebook, post a combined 45 pictures of their cocktails on Instagram and browse the latest developments on the Strictly Come Dancing potential line-up on Twitter for two hours and five minutes before a Team Leader asked the rest of the group if anyone wanted another drink.
Waitress Abba Edberg from Sweden added:
“It was a quite remarkable feat. When they all took an individual selfie within the first five minutes I knew we could be onto a new world record here as they spent the next 25 minutes checking to see who liked their picture. Then the Instagramming started and it was all downhill from there. They are a resilient bunch. Oh how we cheered behind the bar when they reached the 2-hour mark.”
One of ‘That IT Shower’ workers told us this morning that it was the best staff night out ever. Billy Sheehy (40) remarked:
“It was deadly craic. I got 210 likes for my selfie, 44 likes for an Instagram of my Margarita with sepia filter and how I laughed at some of the comments on Twitter about Daniel O’Donnell’s appearance on SCD. We’re just a mad bunch of lads and I cannot wait personally until next year’s do. I’m suffering today though…my battery’s dead.”
The previous record for staff night out non-verbal communication occured in 1998 at the joint Sinn Fein and DUP fancy dress party at Stormont which lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes, ending when Martin McGuinness told a dirty joke about a woman in Portrush.
Political and religious leaders were today said to be on red alert on the eve of a near-total solar eclipse after rumours began circulating that a repeat of the 1999 solar eclipse activities around Brackaville and the greater Coalisland area may be on the cards.
Back then, over 200 residents were lifted by police for public nudity, burning of pagan symbols, shouting at clergy and general wrecking about for the entirety of the eclipse. 45 year old lorry mechanic Kevin Carland made the international headlines when he was videoed panicking at the semi-darkness, removing his clothes and running down the Brackaville Road shouting ‘we’re all going to die’ before ordering two pints of stout in the Canal End Bar and kissing women he secretly liked.
Local Independent Councillor Patricia Maguire spent the day reminding people in Brackaville that what happens tomorrow can be explained by studying astronomy and is not a sign from God:
“People need to calm down. Surely everyone can remember from 16 years ago that it passes over in an hour or so. Every time this happens here, people forget themselves and lose their heads completely. It like as if folk here are just looking for any excuse to strip off and go mad, going right back to 1344.”
Maguire’s plea is likely to fall on deaf ears as shopkeepers in the area reported a spike in soap and Vosene shampoo, suggesting many locals are showering tonight in anticipation of baring all tomorrow. Priests, who often bear the brunt of unwarranted abuse during the eclipse, have been advised to stay indoors and not to look directly at lay people.
Meanwhile, Stormont has confirmed there’ll be no claims processed for a loss in solar power during the eclipse for houses using alternative energy.
Following 62 calls to emergency services since 8am this morning, there have been calls for a Pancake Tossing Bill in order to prevent excited fathers showing off and scalding half the family as well as causing irreparable damage to ceilings and tiles.
The South Tyrone Ambulance Services revealed they spent £300 on diesel today dealing with incidents with their first call-out a 8:01 calamity in Clonoe when plumber Caoimhim Taggart lost all his hair after excitedly tossing a boiling pancake with too much cooking oil on it on top of his head, burning what was once ‘a striking shock of ginger curls’ according to his laughing wife.
Local Independent politician Leo Kennedy confirmed he will bring this up in Stormont the next time he’s allowed to talk:
“I was called out to a house in Brocagh where a man refused to stop tossing even through he’s burned 9 holes in the ceiling. His 9 starving children were all crying and begging him to stop but the male ego is a forceful phenomenon. I think there should be a licence for men to toss pancakes, only granted after a 6-week intensive course.”
44 of the calls were for piping hot pancakes straight into the face.
Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday as the elderly call it, dates back to 1933 when the parish priest of Galbally Fr Johnson told parishioners he had a vision one night that God appeared to him to say that eating pancakes before Lent was a sure-fire way of entering the gates of heaven as long as you gave up something like cursing or winking at married women for the duration of the 40-day fasting period.
It later emerged that Fr Johnson was a shareholder in Irwin’s Bread.
West Tyrone based clothing company TAL is facing accusations of ‘over-equality’ policies following complaints by employees based at its Strabane premises. The firm has raised eyebrows after it posted a position for shop floor line manager, noting that a black Vietnamese protestant gay male worker would be given first preference to fill the role.
In seeking to promote positive discrimination (similar to that used by the PSNI to balance the religious representation on its force when first introduced, by giving Roman Catholic applicants an advantage with regards to filling posts), company director Martin King has tried to apply the same logic with his operations.
“It came to me in a dream while I was on a surf holiday in Bali. What our wee country needs is racial, religious and sexual equality across the board. We hope to set a new standard here. If this place is to move forward with the rest of the world we all need to be equals, just like at the beginning of that book Animal Farm” he said.
What is more apparent than the fact that Mr King did not read all of Animal Farm, is his employees have had enough. Miss Rose Parkes, from East Belfast, recently quit TAL and had some scathing words regarding Mr Kings attempts to promote a new ‘big’ society.
“He is mad in the head mate. First off he came back from his hippy adventure round the world with dreadlocks and all and just announced that all toilets were to be unisex. So, here’s me to myself – I’m not using them toilets no more. I’m gonna wait till I get home, or go to the wee bakery next door. I was never in them toilets since. He’s a sky rocket. I’d rather be waiting on a giro than put up with that muck”
Mr King told us about how Stormont could take a leaf from his book in leading the way with equal opportunity strategy, however he does concede that costs involved in implementing such procedures and policies are high.
“We had our prayer room constructed late last year, and unfortunately after we took on two great Muslim embroiderers we had to have them taken down and re-built to face the Kaaba in Mecca. That was sore on us but it’s all a learning curve for us. I introduced 9 months paternity leave to balance the male to female rights to time off following childbirth. Also, we now do not accept either man flu or period pains as a reason to stay off work. AIDS is fine though as it effects both sexes equally.”
King has had all religious holidays banned and all his workers must work Good Friday and Christmas. The company’s new range of clothing, aptly named ‘peacekeepers’, to be released next July just ahead of the marching season include “Feinhun” versatile wooly hats and poppy-lilly t-shirts; although there is still an ongoing debate as to which flower gets to be positioned on the front of the garment.
Against all the odds, Moygashel have successfully applied to become part of the GAA landscape after their club ‘True Blues GFC’ were finally affiliated as an operating GAA club as of July 12th 2014.
Moygashel, who have suffered from unwanted publicity recently, will play their first friendly against Carrickmore on the 11th night, followed by games against Coalisland Fianna, Ardboe O’Donovan Rossa and Galbally Pearses to get them acclimatised to the Tyrone county scene. The move comes after Stormont agreed a multi-million pound investment in new facilities in Moygashel including a floodlit pitch and changing rooms with individual showers.
Manager Wesley Frazer was hopeful of a positive start to life in the GAA arena:
“I know we’d have a reputation for being a bit on the Loyalist/Unionist side of the Ulster political divide but we want True Blues GFC to be the start of folk forgetting these silly tags people place on certain enclaves in the province. We have a few good ballers who are sick of the way soccer is almost now non-contact so we’re going to try our hand at the GAA and get wired into some fenians in a nice friendly way. The Carrickmore game will be explosive. I suppose I shouldn’t use that word.”
True Blues GFC will use the motto Fidelitate et honore, terra et mare which means ‘loyalty and honour on land and sea’ and their crest will have elements of the culture from the area including the Queen’s face, a bonfire and graffiti.
Frazer, who recently served time in Maghaberry for tobacco smuggling, predicts a great 11th night festival and has offered Carrickmore supporters a safe and warm welcome:
“This could be Northern Ireland turning a corner. We’ll provide crisps and mineral for the Carrickmore lads and if they want they can stay on and watch the bonfire, singing and the odd military show of strength.”
There has been a mixed reception in Carrickmore to the news of the upcoming fixture. Captain Cathal Gormley admitted:
“I’m crapping myself, and I’ve been to Ardboe.”
New rules introduced by the EU via Stormont will see the village of Fivemiletown in Tyrone renamed Eightkilometretown from next Monday.
Council workers were today hard at work changing signage in and around the town to ensure that the Ulster councils do not fall foul of a new
EU directive designed to ensure consistency and transparency across European members, which includes the standardisation from imperial measures to metric.
Fivemiletown is not the only location in Tyrone affected. Sixmilecross village today similarly becomes Ninekilometrecross, whilst one of the county’s best-known visitor attractions, the Beaghmore Stone Circles, a site of significant archaeological interest, becomes the Beaghmore Kilo Circles. Retail outlets are also affected, with Poundland in Dungannon’s Scotch Street changing to Gramland from next week.
Other plans which may be introduced over the next twelve months include driving on the right hand side of the road, horsemeat being sold throughout the county, again, and compulsory three-hour siestas on any day the sun comes out.
Local Tyrone councillor Enda McMann confirmed the changes:
“It makes sense. Sort of. If we’re trying to encourage Johnny Foreigner to come and visit the county we don’t want him all confused with the inches and the miles and driving on the wrong side of the road and suchlike. We want him thinking it’s just an extension of his own country. That’s why this time next year places like Cappagh and Galbally will have pavement cafes, street artists, and a branch of Harrods. A bit like Donaghmore really”.
“Imagine walking through Greencastle up to your arse in Michelin-starred restaurants. That’s what it’ll be like. And the Garvaghey complex will probably get bulldozed and turned into a big marina with million pound yachts and pedalo boats and things. Yep, we’re going the whole nine yards. Sorry, metres”.
As part of the re-naming programme, all possible racial references will be removed to ensure that no-one can take the slightest offence, with plans already under way for the River Blackwater to be re-named the River-Of-Non-Defined-Origin-Water from October.
In a move which has been described as ‘draconian’ and ‘pure mad’, Stormont officials have moved to ban anyone from photo-bombing in county Tyrone.
Photo-bombing, the modern phenomenon of unexpectedly dropping in behind someone being photographed, has been on the rise in the county ever since mobile phones replaced Polaroid instant cameras in 2008 as the most popular camera device in homes.
A government insider informed us today:
“Photo-bombing is a throwback to the bad old days. Our many communities don’t need this and that’s why from today anyone caught photo-bombing will be gathered up in unmarked jeeps and interned indefinitely. We want these people off the streets and Tyrone is a good place to start off as there seems to be a rash of photo-bombers all over that land. Ireland says NO to photo-bombers. We might need to re-word the Good Friday Agreement just.”
Initial reports gathered from Twitter and Facebook suggests there have already been three photo-bombers arrested – in Ardboe, Galbally and Loughmacrory, sparking outrage and spontaneous bonfires in all three regions. Galbally tourism director Jill Maguire is adamant there will be resistance to the government’s latest initiative. Using a voice-warp microphone she told us:
“Them boys sitting up in Belfast are out of order. I can’t believe Martin McGuinness has sanctioned this move, and him a serial photo-bomber at football matches and christenings. We’re sending this message out loud and clear – we will not be moved. We’ll be photo-bombing like mad tonight all over the county.”
Although rumours of a continuity photo-bombing group forming in Brocagh are wide of the mark, there has been a rash of digital cameras and balaclavas bought in Dungannon, Cookstown and Omagh today in an obvious show of defiance. PSNI have drafted in 40 UN troops to help monitor the situation. A county holds its breath.
An announcement was made yesterday in Stormont confirming plans that Hugo Duncan, one of Ulster’s most celebrated performers and presenters, is likely to be privatised.
Following the successful privatisation of the Post Office just last week, proponents of the hare-brained scheme are now keen to move forward as quickly as possible.
“Thon Hugo Duncan is an institution in Northern Ireland, same as the Post Office is”, said local Tyrone councillor Enda McMann. “So let’s get the wee man from Strabane privatised and be done with. He’s a national treasure, so he’ll be worth a lock of pounds. We’ll make a buckin’ fortune”.
McMann believes there are substantial gains to be made for those willing to invest, and in particular those interested in sponsorship.
“Aye, we expect to get as much as £10m from corporate sponsors, although he might have to make a few tiny concessions. Like changing his name. If we can get some big brands interested he might have to get rid of the Uncle Hugo and change it to something like Ikea Hugo or Moy Park Hugo or Femfresh Hugo or Springisland Duncan. But it’s a small price to pay. When Hugo sees the cheque he’ll be riding the pig’s back hi. A big ‘Tayto’ tattoo plastered all over his forehead won’t be a problem”.
However, opponents of the proposal were far from happy. 46-year old velcro-fastener Kevin Doris from Clogher, said,
“Hugo’s Strabane’s answer to Tony Blackburn. There’s no-one like him. He belongs to the people. Take him into private ownership and in no time we’ll be listening to hophip music and disco rap and suchlike”.
The Strabane-born singer and broadcaster has already attracted interest from potential investors who have indicated they may be willing to invest as much as £1,000 for every ‘skiddly dee’, or up to £4m for a year’s sponsorship of ‘die diddly’.
If a sell-off were to be successful, discussions are already underway on whether Lynette Fay could be floated on the Stock Exchange.
Chaotic scenes outside parliament buildings at Stormont this morning are being pinned on a group of Moy pensioners who boarded the 8:20 bus to Belfast in order to protest against proposed government taxes on shortbread. A visiting American delegate told CNN he just witnessed the ‘most savage group of elderly people he has ever encountered’ after being caught up in the crossfire as walking sticks, colostomy bags, false teeth and commodes were hurled at politicans from all parties as they made their way to work. Chad Hogan told CNN:
“Aw men, this was epic. I heard a group of yahooing elderly people coming up over the mound. Some were using motorized vehicles to help mobility, travelling at speeds of up to 7mph. They got up as far as the parliament front door before hurling all sorts of archaic instruments at anyone they saw who wore a suit or frock. Urine crashed against the vehicle carrying the First Minister. Awesome. They weren’t streetwise down-town pensioners either. These were real country hicks. They must’ve been aged between 77-90 and I’m told they were wearing Tyrone or Moy vests. One female threw a bag of boiled sweets and a ham sandwich at an SDLP delegation. You know what, they won me over. Lower taxes on shortbread, dudes.”
The First Minister and his Deputy are currently locked in a cupboard just inside the foyer after the Moy terror gang stormed the building, looking for a nice cup of tea and a Rich Tea after their long journey from the Moy. Robinson and McGuinness are said to be contemplating staying in there for the forseeable future or until a few of the rioting elderly keel over. 86-year old Moy woman Henrietta Jordan says they’re going nowhere:
“This is part of a systematic attack on the elderly in and around the Moy. Take shortbread out of our daily lives and all we have is Hugo during the week and Gay Byrne on a Sunday. We’re not in much of a rush home as the bingo isn’t til Wednesday. We will get what we want as soon as one of us remembers why we are here again. You’re a nice young man. What’s my name?”
The PSNI are said to be attempting to lure the aged Moy protesters out of the buildings with the prospect of scones, Christmas cake and a copy of the Ireland’s Own.