The Green Ribbon review of the year

Well, it’s that time of year when journalists like to fob off the public with content from the previous twelve months. I can’t see why blogging should be any different, so here’s a look back at how the year shaped up the Green Ribbon.


Perhaps the highlight of the Green Ribbon’s first month of existence was my interview with Labour MP Tony Clarke. Although Clarke would lose his seat at the general election, he was to hit the headlines later in the year when it emerged that his researcher Leo O’Connor had received the leaked Al-Jazeera memo.


Perhaps the most notable post this month, was on the economic case for Scottish independence. The political and economic imbalances between the various parts of the UK would be an enduring theme for the rest of the year. This month also saw the inauguration of the mercenaries category.


This was the month when the Green Ribbon really hit is stride, noting Gordon Brown’s plans to raise his profile in England.

Doug Farah’s coverage of the Viktor Bout network in Iraq, gave me the opportunity to revisit some interesting connections.

This month saw the post on tuition fees in Northern Ireland that earned the Green Ribbon a place in Tim Worstall’s anthology 2005: Blogged

I also reviewed Danny Morrison’s The Wrong Man, a play about an IRA informer which would acquire a new resonance by the end of the year.


April saw the Green Ribbon gearing up for the general election, with predictions for Britain and Northern Ireland. Neither was exactly dead on, but thankfully, they were both within a respectable distance of the actual result.

This month also saw the Pentagon trying to close the book on concerns about its contract with Tim Spicer.


Following Labour’s re-election with a reduced majority, I posted The Awkward Squad, a list of potential rebels, many of whom would go on to vote against 90-day detention.


Labour’s return meant that identity cards were back on the agenda, and this month saw the Green Ribbon looking at the possibility that Ireland might also be forced to adopt a compulsory identity scheme.


This month saw a serialised interview with Dr Alexander Von Paleske, the man who has helped myself and several other journalists to get to grips with the murky world of mercenaries.

In the wake of the London bombings, the Green Ribbon paid what turned out to be too much attention to early reports that military explosives were used.

A more considered response came in the post London: the Dilemma of a World City.


This month saw the Green Ribbon looking at an interesting analysis of Irish attitudes to Scottish independence. There was also some correspondence from the Home Office on the impact of identity cards for Ireland.


The Greater London Authority hosted the launch of the End Impunity Campaign, which seeks to have human rights abusers banned from the British Army.

This month also saw indications that the Treasury was set to squeeze Northern Ireland’s budget.

Meanwhile, Heritage Oil, a company long linked to mercenaries in Africa, deepened its presence in Iraq.


October saw a more detailed look at Heritage Oil, as well as in initial reponse from the MOD to my request for information about its use of airlines linked to Viktor Bout.


This was a busy month which saw me reporting from Westminster, Downing Street and Deepcut Barracks.I was also interviewed by the Campaign for an English Parliament.

Tim Spicer’s Aegis Defence Services came under renewed scrutiny at the end of the month with the emergence of the so-called ‘trophy video.’


The year’s end saw some substantive replies to freedom of information requests: from Britain on Viktor Bout and from the US on Tim Spicer.

It also witnessed the outing of Sinn Fein’s Denis Donaldson as an informer, a revelation which raised many more questions than it answered.

That about takes us up to date. So I shall wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and say a big thankyou to everyone who has read, commented on, or linked to the Green Ribbon this year.






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