Never use memory (or lack thereof) to justify cruelty: Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

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For the Holocaust Memorial Day 2015, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, in cooperation with the Institute of Conflict Research, held a seminar event: “The Ethnics of Memory and Community Recovery”. The speakers were Daniel Greenberg and Lord Alderdice, chaired by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin. Lord Alderdice provided a distinction more…

The Election Debates and the Northern Ireland ‘Difference’

Nick Robinson: inclusion of NI politicians in the election debates a step too far?  Pic: Tom Page

Northern Ireland is politically different from the rest of the UK, according to the BBC’s Nick Robinson. That’s why, he argued this morning on the Today Programme, broadcasters are confused by the Prime Minister’s insistence that if the Scots/Welsh Nats are including in the proposed television election debates, Northern Irish parties should be included too. more…

Joan V Gerry: Who is the true leader of the left?

Labour party leader, Joan Burton with go up against Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams on Claire Byrne Live tonight on RTE 1 at 10:35pm. This will be a chance for both leaders to either cement their position or gain ground within the Irish left. What does Adams need to do? Demonstrate that Sinn Fein has more…

At last our leaders are starting to take a realistic line to cope with cuts

Credit where credit’s due, while commending Bystander’s vigilance. Simon Hamilton cuts a competent figure as minister of finance, blowing the trumpet for the financial aspects of the Stormont House Agreement. This is what a finance minister is for, rather than sniping at colleagues. Meanwhile  the Agreement has attracted the rare attention of the Economist which more…

Michael Mansfield QC gives the first Gerry Conlon Memorial Lecture

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‘You’re doing this for future generations. The next generation of politicians know this – you’re setting a democratic precedent with these inquiries. And if they won’t do it, set up people’s tribunals.’ So advised Michael Mansfield QC, the radical lawyer and defence counsel for the Birmingham Six, to a packed auditorium at St. Mary’s College more…

Homeless Pod – Belfast Council have made the Homeless, Homeless

Hipod Plaque

Never blog when angry, wise advice…I’ve sat on this all day and I’m now ready to share. I wrote yesterday about the “Hipod” or Homeless pod that had been placed by a socially minded individual at “Jubilee Gardens” Belfast (Most loose use of the word garden I’ve ever seen). Paid for and built entirely by more…

Slices of Belfast: A tour of Sandy Row

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As part of a work group, I went on a Sandy Row Tour, discovering the history and character of this neighbourhood. We began at the well-known mural site at the entrance to Linfield Gardens — a large example of a re-imaging project. The UFF “Welcome to Sandy Row” has been replaced with a more permanent, more…

Stormont House Agreement – One Month On – A Progress Report

Amidst months of wrangling and the now expected media circus and PM visits, the parties reached agreement on what we now know as the Stormont House Agreement. One month on, it may be useful to check it’s progress to date: “4. A balanced budget for 2015-16 needs to be agreed in January.” Last week saw more…

Gerry Kelly running on an aggressively ‘get themuns out’ ticket in North Belfast

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  Here’s the front of a leaflet in support of Gerry Kelly’s bid for the Westminster seat of North Belfast. The lack of party logos suggests it’s intended to reach beyond party loyalists to wavering SDLPers and dissidents by rousing sectarian tensions, tribal loyalties, erm, legitimate political grievances against the sitting MP (who just happens to be more…

From King Billy to the Glasgow Trams. A brief history of government debt…

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Governments often need more money than they can extract from their citizens or subjects. Centuries ago, the sovereign relied on loans at interest. This was called ‘usury’, but usury at that time carried no implication of extortionate rates of interest. It wasn’t until Jean Calvin decided that lending money at interest wasn’t a sin that more…

A loss of Respect for Amjad Bashir?

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UPDATED The defection of MEP Amjad Bashir from UKIP to the Conservative Party took an amazing new twist this afternoon when George Galloway’s Respect Party claimed on their website that Bashir was selected as the Respect candidate in Bradford Moor for the May 2012 council elections but was deselected “after local residents raised serious concerns more…

The PSNI’s latest move against the Boston archive is unintelligent

Henry McDonald in the Observer has picked up on the PSNI’s latest incursion into Boston tapes morass. There is a blinkered police logic to this that contradicts the stated expectations of the law officers of the low likelihood of future prosecutions.   Pursue the Bloody Sunday paras and  give Gerry Adams lousy food in Antrim more…

I Finally Used A Food Bank

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Some of you may remember that I wrote in support of food banks in December, related to my homeless teenage years. I never used a food bank back then because I didn’t know about them, I wish I did…life might have been easier to cope with. The public response to my account was far beyond more…

THE IRISH QUESTION – a review of ‘The Walworth Farce’

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The critic Terry Eagleton once observed that Irish fiction was “full of guilty secrets, divided identities. It is no wonder that there is such a rich tradition of Gothic writing in a nation so haunted by history”. If Eagleton were looking for a prime example, he could always cite ‘The Walworth Farce’ – Enda Walsh’s more…

Forecasting the 2015 UK General Election

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CON 252, LAB 231, SNP 52, LD 41, UKIP 38,  DUP 9, GRN 9, PC 8, SF 6, SDLP 2, Independent 1, Speaker 1 Required for majority: 322 (CON 70 short, LAB 91 short) The upcoming UK General Election has been called “the most unpredictable for almost a century”. There are several reasons for this; the rise of UKIP, the Greens, and the SNP, the collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who nevertheless seem to maintain highly localized popularity more…

Living and Dying Well – three reflections on assisted dying

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There is increasing debate in legislatures and civil society around end-of-life issues, terminal illness and euthanasia. While Northern Ireland is behind the curve in discussing the issues, moves in Edinburgh and Westminster are likely to eventually stimulate local debate. Union Theological College, in co-operation with The Church and Society Committee of the Presbyterian Church in more…