Topic Archives: Government

Should MLAs merely serve the pure technology of the law, or seek to change it?

Ashers Bakery

Following on from yesterday’s, here’s some additional thoughts, in which I argue that we all may be getting a little too comfortable with letting judges frame law instead of our elected “Lawmakers” at Stormont… listen to ‘Is law taking primacy over democracy in NI?’ on audioBoom Most recently there has been the recent Asher’s cake row, of more…

Government of Ireland’s Plans for 2016 Commemorations

easterproclamation

The School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s and the Community Relations Council, in conjunction with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Community relations, today hosted a briefing on the Government of Ireland’s plans for commemorations in 2016:  Ireland 2016: Centenary Programme, presented by John Concannon, Director of the 2016 Programme. The programme, which more…

Ashers verdict: ‘To do otherwise would be to allow a religious belief to dictate what the law is’

1cake

The County Court in Belfast has ruled that Ashers Baking Company and its directors discriminated against a gay customer, Gareth Lee, by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The judgment was a resounding vindication of the Equality Commission (response here), which backed Mr Lee’s case. It became the latest in a long more…

The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants, edited by Burgess and Mulvenna – Book Review

contested identities

Edited academic collections are often technical and specialized – appealing to academics, but offering little to other readers interested in the topic. The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants (Palgrave 2015), edited by Thomas Paul Burgess (UCC) and Gareth Mulvenna (Queen’s) is an exception to this trend, as it draws in an eclectic range of contributors more…

Gerry Kelly: “The letter with the figures said it all because it dealt with anti-sectarianism and that’s the way I am…”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly is still squirming on the sectarian hook the party hoisted him on during his failed campaign in North Belfast during the UK parliamentary election. [Petard? – Ed]  Pardon you… After his party colleague, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, [Good heavens, you’re the Culture Minister?! – Ed], tried, and failed, to blame the Electoral more…

Why the old Protestant/Catholic atheist gag isn’t funny anymore

A lot of us don't do church

A couple of evenings ago I attended a discussion in the Old Chelsea Town Hall in London. It was an ‘election dissection’ debate with four panelists representing left and right opinions. They tried to answer why the outcome of the UK election was so surprising. They discussed the failure of Labour. They discussed the success more…

Brian Kennaway and Dominic Bryan on ‘The Historical and Social Impact of Flags and Symbols on our Society’

brian-dominic

The Irish Association and the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s hosted a seminar on ‘The Historical and Social Impact of Flags and Symbols on our Society’ on Tuesday. Kennaway is a Presbyterian minister, past president of the Irish Association, and author of The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed. Bryan is director of the Institute of more…

The voice at the parlour door and the looming NI cuts

My dad tells the story of a TV or radio drama broadcast decades ago while he was living in Dublin.  The protagonist’s wife gave him some of the food – special “party bread” – she had prepared for a gathering of some friends, on condition that he kept out of the way and didn’t embarrass more…

Voting systems in the UK

We’re used in the UK to the first past the post system (FPTP) for elections to the Westminster parliament; and in N Ireland we’re used to the single transferable vote (STV) for our local elections. There are a surprising number of other voting systems used for official business in the UK. Six systems are used more…

#DUPshuffle …the new ministerial line up

DUP Nigel Dodds shadow

The departure of Jim Wells as Health Minister has given the First Minister an opportunity to conduct a more wide ranging reshuffle of the DUP ministers in the Executive: Department of Finance: Arlene Foster Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Jonathan Bell Department of Health: Simon Hamilton Department of Social Development: Mervyn Storey Junior Minister more…

Why Unionism and Nationalism are Feckless

bagpipes-215549_1280

The SNP is on the crest of a wave. But it really has nowhere to go and, ultimately, will wane. Here’s why. The SNP is essentially a single issue pressure group pretending to be a real political party. In this respect it’s like Sinn Fein, the DUP/UUP, Plaid Cymru. Now, I hear you say, the more…

Now Westminster is settled, here’s all the other unsettling business NI politicians need to get back to

NI Assembly logo

It’s back to work on Monday for our local politicians. There’ll be no commission on the union (though David Cameron should now outright reject the idea), no extra £1 billion of cash, and no immediate possibility of bargaining for the 45 ideas in the DUP’s plan. Though over the next parliamentary term there are sure more…

Why Danny Kinahan MP Should Take the Conservative Whip

There were only three interesting stories emerging from the local election results following Thursday’s general election. One was the toppling of the Sinn Fein majority in Fermanagh South Tyrone (the result of a sectarian Unionist pact). The second was the toppling of Naomi Long in East Belfast (the result of a sectarian Unionist pact). The more…

Reflecting on the numbers behind NI’s General Election results #ge2015ni (updated with individual party analysis)

Deposits kept and lost in 2015

For some the 2015 Westminster campaign in Northern Ireland was a vision of normalisation, with non-sectarian issues such as homophobia, women’s reproductive rights and austerity at the heart of many political argument. Yet the old us-versus-them crept in late in the day with the use of religious affiliation census data to encourage voters, and anonymous more…

Carál Ní Chuilín: “What is clear to me is that there has been an anti-GAA element throughout…”

Having had to apologise for “an error” in claiming that the “Electoral commission vetoed using last election figures” in defence of Sinn Féin’s sectarian leaflet campaign in North Belfast, the Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, might have been better advised to be more cautious in her public utterances more…

Same-Sex Marriage Referendum in the Republic: Review of ‘Who Owns Marriage?’

who owns marriage

As the date for the Republic’s same-sex marriage referendum draws closer (22 May), various parties have weighed in on the debate. Unsurprisingly, official representatives of the four largest Christian churches are opposed to same-sex marriage, and have urged the faithful to vote ‘no.’ At the same time, Christian activist groups like ‘Faith in Marriage Equality’ more…

One year on, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi remains behind bars

raif-yellow

Today marks a year since Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail. Raif Badawi received the sentence, along with a fine of 1 million riyals, from Jeddah’s criminal court on 7 May 2014 for setting up an online forum for public debate. He is an Amnesty International prisoner more…