Carpet stain comes within terms of NI peace deal
The cost of cleaning a living-room carpet is to be borne by the office of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, despite the beef curry stains between a hearth rug and couch dating from after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mrs Margaret 'Mags' Hamilton, who had threatened to bring her case to the European Court of Justice, praised the decision by the Northern Secretary as "a victory for common sense".
The damage was caused on September 12th 1998, three months after the Agreement was signed. Her son, Michael, and his friends had been celebrating the successful carjacking of a Ford Fiesta, which they would later use in an unsuccessful ram-raid on a Catholic jeweller's shop, with take-away food and cans of Tennent's LA 'beer' when, Michael told the court, "my mate Dave made a joke about John Hume, I laughed, and the curry just went everywhere".
"My son and his pals were involved in bona fide paramilitary activity at the time of the stain," said Mrs Hamilton "and what's more, it was a joke about the Fenians that made him spill the curry. The Good Friday agreement should be seen to cover everything. Even flooring".
Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein condemned the ruling, pointing out that a post-agreement food fight in the canteen of the Maze Prison had been disallowed by the same court only two weeks ago. He said he and his party would have no control over what he called "a probable increase in dessert-related incidents" in republican prison wings in the province due to the ruling. "Things could get very messy over the next few weeks" he warned.