Tag Archives | UK

Stargazing the 20 March 2015 Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse Belfast UK 2015 Mar 20

The BBC’s Stargazing Live returns tonight, 8pm BBC 2, with three consecutive nights of live programmes to coincide with the total solar eclipse on Friday 20 March 2015.  [It is an annual series! – Ed].  Stargazing Live is, yes.  Not necessarily total solar eclipses, though.  And this solar eclipse is the only one, total or otherwise, to be more…

“Now it seems that Sinn Fein is realising how badly exposed its negotiators left it to accusations of a sell-out.”

In today’s Irish News John Manley does everyone a favour by identifying Sinn Fein’s problem with the agreement they signed up to in December. The nub of the problem appears to lie in the figures contained in the Stormont Castle Agreement, an agreement within an agreement negotiated between the five parties days before the final more…

“it looks like they were repeatedly blocked from accessing vital pieces of evidence or pursuing certain suspects…”

The Guardian and Observer’s Berlin correspondent, Kate Connolly, reports on the campaign for justice by the family of Heidi Hazell, the 26-year-old German wife of a British army sergeant, murdered by the Provisional IRA outside her married quarters in Unna-Massen, a Dortmund suburb, on 7 September 1989.  From the Guardian report The following day the IRA claimed more…

O’Loan calls Stormont House Agreement ” an insult” as Labour promises a Pat Finucane inquiry

Amnesty International are not alone in finding the resources allocated in the Stormont house Agreement inadequate for dealing with the past. At a meeting of RightsWatch  in Westminster last night,  the first Police Ombudsman  Baroness Nuala O’Loan  was scathing, describing the allocation of £150 million over 5 years to deal with all the issues of more…

Sinn Féin Cllr Anne Brolly: “I thought the British Army had all gone home.”

The six-foot sculpture of supposed Celtic sea-god, Manannán Mac Lir, that was ‘stolen’ from Binevenagh Mountain, near Limavady, in County Londonderry, has been found – some 300 metres from its original location… [Good initial search, Batman! – Ed]. The sculpture was apparently discovered by local ramblers, who “advised members of A company 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment more…

“By standing firm against the London-Dublin Tory axis, Sinn Féin achieved a welfare system better than the one in Britain…”

According to Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney, [Don’t mention the Dark Side! – Ed] …Sinn Féin from 2011 onwards opposed the proposed welfare cuts and insisted welfare protection was absolutely fundamental for all citizens. “That is why Sinn Féin politically campaigned against welfare cuts alongside trade unions and grassroots communities. “This principle guided our more…

Gordon Brown, the lone voice in defence of the Union

In his latest interventions on the future of the Union, Gordon Brown proposes wider devolution for Scotland than the Conservative-led UK government proposes but less power than the Conservatives recommend for English MPs to vote on English laws, which he seems to believe could be fatal for the future of the Union. Brown has drawn more…

Is no DUP in the TV debates good for Northern Ireland’s image?

If I understand him rightly, Newton Emerson in the Sunday Times (£) regrets the absence (subject to expensive  legal action if it happens, which I doubt) of the Northern Ireland parties from the UK national TV election debates – if they finally happen. What Newton regrets tongue in cheek is the absence of a national airing 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…

Lessons from Chilcott apply to dealing with the past

Why is it when the search is on for instructive examples, that Ireland is seldom looked at by British movers and shakers?  Over  the behaviour of militantly anti-austerity parties when the focus is on Greece, an alternatively financed  health service, the behaviour of coalition governments, what a constitutional convention might achieve, Ireland  has a wealth of more…

It’s the economy, stupid. Not a federal Ireland

In the Irish Times Paul Gillespie floats the idea that the North might benefit by a federal deal with the south. He invokes the useful hand played by the Republic in the recent Stormont House agreement. Certainly Charlie Flanagan waxed more eloquently than Theresa Villiers but that isn’t saying much. I discern a much bigger more…

“The brinkmanship that seems inescapable on such occasions has become self-indulgent and self-important too”

The Guardian’s editorial on the Stormont House Agreement has some pertinent things to note about Northern Ireland’s latest deal.  Although, if, as they claim, “the glass is half-full” it is also, by definition, half-empty.  From the Guardian editorial The talks came very close, after 11 weeks of discussion, to falling apart, as earlier efforts under the more…

The star of wonder shines through the Christmas Agreement

In Northern Ireland God seems to work in mysterious ways  his wonders  to perform  at peak moments in the Christian calendar. Sixteen years after the Good Friday ( or Belfast ) Agreement, we have the Christmas ( or Stormont House) Agreement. Behind the details the main features are: Apparently genuine efforts by the parties to end deadlock by more…

On Welfare and the Budget, reality for Stormont is acceptable

Only the rashest observer would claim that s/he has a complete understanding of the complexities of welfare payments and reform and the  other details of the negotiations that are said to be reaching a climax. My feeling is that they are less about negotiations and more about accepting realities they can live with. On welfare more…

Outsourcing solutions may be the secret of dealing with more than the past

Well, perhaps amid the encircling gloom the political parties have seen some light at last. The details of the agreement on welfare reform are awaited but it looks as if any new money will come from Westminster mainly to deal with the past which is surely fair. Adds: United Executive request for a total of £2.1 billion over 10 more…

Time for other parties to break Executive ranks as Sinn Fein sacrifices northern interests for southern ambitions

Following on from Mick, let’s  begin by making the best possible case for Sinn Fein, the party which seems the most intransigent in the inter- party talks. The Conservatives’ strategy for the next five years to a produce budget surplus of £23 billion by 2019-20 is probably unsustainable, unless the rate of growth picks up more…

What Stormont must do to convince Cameron to up his offer

Are the political parties still hoping that David Cameron will turn into a White Knight and Save Ulster from Austerity?  What does Stormont have to do to persuade him to answer  their pleas to up his offer? Among the elements are: devising a proper three year  plan for the first time so as the world more…