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Latest posts from Chris Donnelly (see all)

Chris Donnelly has posted 649 times (2 in the last month).

Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’

Mon 14 April 2014, 8:58pm

Tweet Since the publication of the third Peace Monitoring Report by Paul Nolan earlier this month, the issue of the educational performance of working class protestant boys has been centre stage. Yet the two inconvenient but still overarching statistics that should define the parameters of this discussion have largely been ignored: Firstly, that the actual […] more »

Why does the reality of greater catholic socio-economic deprivation not generate dire warnings of social upheaval?

Sun 6 April 2014, 4:13pm

Tweet One very obvious issue that was largely ignored in both the summary conclusions of Paul Nolan’s 3rd Annual Peace Monitoring Report and the subsequent media headlines relating to its publication was the confirmation yet again that catholic communities predominate the lists of the most socio -economic deprived communities in the north. On all measures-from […] more »

Over half of the primary schools set in most deprived communities deemed ‘not good’ by ETI in past 3 years

Tue 18 February 2014, 11:29am

Tweet 51.4% of Primary schools set in our most deprived communities inspected during the three year period of 2011-2013 received overall ETI assessments below good, with all found to be either ‘Satisfactory’ or ‘Inadequate.’ In contrast, just 1 out of 10 schools with Free School Meal % (FSM%) of less than 20% were deemed to […] more »

An early look at the Euro Runners and Riders

Mon 17 February 2014, 7:33pm

Tweet Alex Kane in the Newsletter has had an early look at the runners and riders in this year’s European election. Alex’s primary focus is on the unionist battle, with his assumption – widely shared- being that Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson will claim a seat and leave the SDLP’s Alex Attwood battling merely for an […] more »

The Michael Sam Story: Confronting Homophobia in Sport & Society

Sat 15 February 2014, 3:06pm

Tweet The American sporting world was dominated last week by the news that a talented young American football star, Michael Sam, had announced publicly that he was gay. The University of Missouri defensive talent had declared himself eligible for the professional NFL Draft, the wonderfully communistic process in which young talent is selected in turn […] more »

Do nationalists have fears? If so, why can’t our journalists report on them?

Wed 1 January 2014, 12:03pm

Tweet 2014 has arrived, and we’ve come through yet another of our hothouse political negotiation moments. This time, a deal wasn’t struck, and indeed the mood music and content of the final Haass draft confirms that many of the key issues of division were to be pushed further down the road anyway, as opposed to […] more »

A brick in a wall etched for posterity

Sun 1 December 2013, 1:11pm

Tweet Every summer for the past fifteen years of my life, I’ve been fortunate to spend at least a week in the beautiful County Down seaside village of Killough. It remains one of our unspoilt treasures, with its picture perfect Castle Street, pier walk and bay views. Van Morrison and Terry George are amongst those […] more »

The Mary McAleese Question: Presidential Voting Rights for the North

Sat 28 September 2013, 9:59am

Tweet UPDATE: The Constitutional Convention delegates have overwhelmingly supported the motion to extend franchise to Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland (73% in favour, 20% against, 1% 7% Undecided/ No Opinion.) The question regarding all citizens resident outside the State was also passed by a margin of 78%, 21%, 1%.) Whilst Richard Haass is busy […] more »

Twaddell: A Camp Called Malice

Thu 29 August 2013, 7:35am

Tweet Following on from the 12th July loyalist rioting in Belfast, the Orange Order and loyalists conceived of the idea of establishing a “civil rights” camp to keep the pot boiling at the most sensitive of Belfast’s interfaces: the Ardoyne-Twaddell Avenue roundabout. This decision was clearly taken with the support of unionist politicians, who have […] more »

Housing Equality Shouldn’t Have To Wait

Fri 23 August 2013, 7:06pm

Tweet Yesterday saw yet another housing inequality report, Equality Can’t Wait, published by north Belfast based Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) – the organisation which Inez McCormack founded in 2006. PPR’s systematic chronicling of successive failures to take action to eradicate the well documented religious inequality affecting the Catholic community in north Belfast […] more »

Latest comments from Chris Donnelly (see all)

Chris Donnelly has commented 942 times (1 in the last month).

  1. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 8:11 am

    I don’t object to the methodology of the Nolan report. Through his approach he highlights that a higher percentage of Protestant children entitled to FSM fail to obtain the minimum qualification threshold of 5 ‘good’ GCSEs, a point which needs to be reflected and acted upon.

    What I am highlighting is that a very clear majority of boys & all pupils who fail to obtain that minimum qualification threshold are, in fact, Catholic, which also must be reflected and acted upon, and which makes a nonsense of the claim that ‘Protestants are getting left behind’- unless, of course, you mean ‘left behind’ with an even greater number of catholics…..

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  2. Comment on Community Relations in Northern Ireland after the Flags Protest – Roundtable at the Royal Irish Academy
    on 4 March 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Richard Jordan
    Enjoying reading your opinions and insights into our local politics. Always good to see new contributors willing to air their views.

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  3. Comment on Over half of the primary schools set in most deprived communities deemed ‘not good’ by ETI in past 3 years
    on 19 February 2014 at 5:08 pm

    School leadership is but one factor, but the contrasting fortunes in terms of exam results and ETI judgements of schools with similar demographic profiles illustrates that it is an important one.

    Anton is right, to a point. It certainly would be true that many teachers and school leaders balk at the prospect of gaining employment in certain working class-based schools. This is not a new thing, nor is it unique to our part of the world.

    The DSC Signature Project Initiative is interesting, and as one tasked with directing it within my own school, I can certainly attest to the advantages of having a teacher tasked with the singular objective of targeting a certain level of underachiever.

    But even that project is revealing. Schools are instructed to focus exclusively on pupils they believe capable of securing a Level 4 in Maths and English by the end of P7.

    It’s a pragmatic approach, but it also illustrates how multi-layered underachievement and low attainment are when you realise that there is a sizeable cohort of pupils below this level.

    Neil is also correct. Results are improving, and this is related to ESAGS and the more pronounced culture of accountability within education here, which Sinn Fein could also claim credit for.

    But I’m personally not interested in this being a party political matter.

    I’d like to see a number of developments which to my mind could improve the quality of the educational experience for all of our children.

    Firstly, I think CASS and ETI should function as one body to more effectively deal with the process of remedying the problems identified through inspection.

    I’d also like to see an innovative approach to addressing underachievement in working-class based schools.

    The Common Funding Formula proposal by Salisbury represented a step forward, but I’d go further and push for education zones encompassing schools in specified working-class districts, with a history of low educational achievement, in which the incentive of additional renumeration for school leaders is checked with a significantly enhanced level of accountability and expectation within fixed term contracts.

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  4. Comment on Wales gets its Barnett boost as O’Dowd’s decision on common funding formula is ‘reversed’…
    on 17 February 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I’m glad you started this thread as this is certainly a topic worth highlighting and focusing on.

    Those 77% of respondents did not declare their opposition to FSM as a marker of poverty, but rather to funding being influenced in a direct manner by poverty.

    And as well they did not as the evidence is overwhelming.

    Unfortunately, the evidence is also overwhelming as to the likely educational prospects for a child on FSM as opposed to one not on FSM- I believe the latest figures show that just 33% of FSME pupils secure 5 GCSEs as opposed to 66% of non-FSME pupils.

    There is not a single alternative being proposed by those opposing Sir Robert Salisbury’s recommendations either regarding how to identify relative poverty nor how to deal with educational underachievement and low attainment in schools and society.

    This was yet another classic case of our middle-classes rebelling, proving their ability to make the most noise in the process (’tis the same in most political entities after all.) That is a lesson worth highlighting.

    Ultimately, the Salisbury/O’Dowd proposals are likely to be implemented, albeit in a watered down form cushioning the budget loss for those schools with the highest concentration of affluent pupils.

    As I’ve stated before, on its own, extra funds will not prove the decisive factor in narrowing the achievement gap. The ETI’s verdict on a number of our schools serving some of the most deprived communities (as defined rightly by FSM figures) was less than reassuring, to say the least, suggesting that what is needed is some thinking outside of the box to ensure that the highest calibre of school leaders and teachers are incentivised to work in the schools most in need of the type of value added provided by strong and effective school leaders.

    But that’s for another day….

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  5. Comment on The Michael Sam Story: Confronting Homophobia in Sport & Society
    on 17 February 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Neil Francis’ bigoted comments are precisely why these discussions must be had. Flushing the bigots into the open is a key part of the process of building a more tolerant and respectful society.

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  6. Comment on The Michael Sam Story: Confronting Homophobia in Sport & Society
    on 16 February 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Ha! If I thought the Cubs had only a two year wait to return to even just respectability, then I’d be happy.

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  7. Comment on The Michael Sam Story: Confronting Homophobia in Sport & Society
    on 16 February 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’d be delighted for my Cardinals to take him, though I retain a somewhat forlorn hope that we can pick up one of the few quality QBs in the 1st Round as well.

    Thanks for that on PA. Fascinating character!

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  8. Comment on SF quietly axe northern political director as stance public stance on Stormont hardens
    on 11 February 2014 at 12:14 am


    ‘Widely believed’ by who exactly? Again, the inability to point to any credible evidence for such assertions highlights the dubious nature of the remarks.

    The two mayoral figures have been widely lauded- indeed, more so than any unionist figure holding the same office.

    By your criteria, I could suggest that Gavin Robinson was put on council to aggravate relations in East Belfast. After all, he signed the public letter urging loyalists to disobey the Parades Commission as Mayor and he sabre rattled noisily during and after the east Belfast riots on the 12th July last year.

    Other DUP figures like Lee Reynolds have come onto council at a time when unionism has failed to distinguish itself from the worst excesses of loyalism, with Lee and others regularly attending protests and sleeping over at the Twaddell Camp sited at a sectarian interface for the very purpose of stoking sectarian tensions.

    Now, even though there’d be considerably more substance to my charge than yours, I’d still regard it as a stretch to suggest that Gavin, Lee and others were placed on council to replace other unionists that committed the crime of liking Catholics (or, as you put it, da udder side.)

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  9. Comment on SF quietly axe northern political director as stance public stance on Stormont hardens
    on 10 February 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Taking people out who previously had had friendly relations with ‘de udder side’ is pretty much what happened in Belfast City Council.

    I know nothing of the Leo Green situation, but for credibility sake I think you need to point to even the slightest shred of evidence to justify the highly dubious assertion above.

    Really sounds like something straight out of the paranoid world of the flaggers.

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  10. Comment on Do nationalists have fears? If so, why can’t our journalists report on them?
    on 2 January 2014 at 11:31 am

    I fear you have missed the rhetorical nature of the question (pardon the pun….)

    As I stated, I don’t believe ‘fear’ is the appropriate term to be employing to depict positions regarding either the constitution, parading or flag flying.

    In any case, the failure to use it universally to depict attitudes of nationalists as well as unionists somewhat gives the game away.

    As someone said above, everybody has fears, regardless of religious or political views.

    Nationalists, like unionists, have a list of potential political outcomes which they would dislike- strongly in some cases, and these relate to all three areas under discussion at the Haass Talks.

    But the media’s failure to discuss these in the same detail as the potential outcomes which would fail to find favour with unionists (ie those unionists apparently ‘fear’ or ‘worry’ about) once again underscores the point being made regarding the default bias.

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