Topic Archives: Society and Culture

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

Kelly v Dodds

  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…

Living and Dying Well – three reflections on assisted dying

Church in the Public Square Jan 2014 PCI

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…

“Sunday’s election could be a significant day for Europe…”

EU flag

The campaign may have resembled a “political circus”, but Sunday’s general election in Greece could see the leftist Syriza, led by former communist Alexis Tsipras, emerge as the leading party – but in search of a partner-in-government [We’ve been there before! – Ed].  Indeed.  Although, they could still achieve a majority… In the meantime, the Irish Times highlights a more…

Theft of Binevenagh Sea god

The removal of the statue of a celtic sea god Manannán Mac Lir has been covered by a number of the news outlets. The large heavy statue was placed at a view point on Binevenagh Mountain about a year ago. According to John Sutton its sculptor it would have been difficult to remove and required more…

Is the Stormont House Agreement really providing for an Opposition?

Here’s Stephen Walker’s segment from last night’s The View on the prospect of Stormont of having an opposition. The fact that there seem to be very few takers (bar Jim Allister, who has prospered greatly from being the only recognisable ‘opposition’ MLA). Allister in fact is a good example of how Opportunism can have positive more…

Lord Mayor Launches 4 Corners Festival at Belfast City Hall

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Belfast’s Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon today launched the third annual 4 Corners Festival (29 January – 8 February) at City Hall. Mallon said that her tenure as Lord Mayor has so far taken her into the ‘four corners’ of the city, giving her experiences and insights that she had not had previously. The 4 Corners more…

#FreeRaif

Free Raif poster

Around 30-40 people attended this evening’s silent vigil outside Belfast City Hall organised by Amnesty to mark the treatment of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was recently “sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes [50 a week], a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal (over a quarter of a million US dollars), and prevented more…

Ed Miliband in Belfast – no gaffs, little charisma, but a definite listening ear at the Heenan-Anderson Commission

Ed-Miliband at Heenan-Anderson Commission at Ulster University

When it comes to visiting English political party leaders, the people of Northern Ireland are unexcited. The hand of history is wobbling over the shoulder of Labour’s Ed Miliband and few really expect the DUP to hold the balance of power after the May 2015 election. However, it has been many years since Ed Miliband more…

“How Chilcot made that mistake is not known…”

So, Sir John Chilcot is shelving his inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War until after the general election (still five months away). Interestingly, Chilcot also features as a player in the very early stages of the NI Peace Process. In a long detailed piece by Owen Bennett-Jones for the London Review of Books which discusses more…

Another ‘Flaw’ in the plan for an Historical Inquiries Unit…

Cillian McGrattan made a good point in yesterday’s Newsletter… The latest attempt at providing a policy programme for dealing with the past, flags, parades and welfare reform, the Stormont House Agreement (SHA), is an ambiguous document that contains many unanswered questions. One critically important grey area concerns the role of the Irish government in any more…

Michael Mansfield QC to deliver the first Gerry Conlon Memorial lecture this Friday on the theme of “Democratic Bankruptcy”

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An annual memorial lecture has been established by SDLP West Belfast to mark the memory of Gerry Conlon who died last year. The first lecture is this Friday 23rd January 2015 at 7pm in St. Mary’s University, Falls Road, Belfast. The “Democratic Bankruptcy” lecture will be delivered by Michael Mansfield QC, who worked on the more…

Can the next EU regulation guarantee data protection for all?

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream One of the points made by Tim Hughes in our OpenGovNI DigitalLunch was the need for protection of data for citizens. This discussion on European Data Rights, goes live shortly… You can joinin the NI Open Government Network at tinyurl.com/OpenGovNI

The Mirror Image-Minoritarianism

This is part two of my analysis of the Haass talks and Unionist thinking. This article also appeared on my blog Haass begins with: …there was a feeling that change would disadvantage them. First, Haass fails to notice the change that had occurred in the immediate run up to his talks had disadvantaged them. The more…

“Rangers has become a magnet for every chancer in town….”

Great piece from John McDermott in the FT (worth the registration)… The club, like the nation, had a comfortable dual identity as both Scottish and British. At its most famous game, the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup victory over FC Dynamo Moscow, fans sporting kilts and Robert Burns T-shirts waved the Union Jack alongside the more…

Hamilton balances the budget but 20,000 jobs destined for the scrapheap

So the NI budget? How was it for you? John Campbell of the BBC NI has most of the readings against Simon Hamilton’s draft budget… Mr Hamilton’s own account only references additions and neglects the subtractions.. Meanwhile Michael McHugh notes the eye-wateringly high number of public sector jobs expected to go… Around 20,000 jobs are more…

Open Government: Opening out what is already there?

Three clips from the three opening speakers at last Wednesday’s late DigitalLunch on “Open Government is a big umbrella term for all kinds of reforms, but the common thread amongst all of them is that it increases transparency, participation and/or accountability” – Tim Hughes, Involve “We already have people involved in policy-making, mostly the lobbyists. more…