The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition report now available…

Commissions have a formula in Northern Ireland. They gather together the great and the good to analyse a problem in great detail. The commission spends several years and lots of cash engaging with all the key stakeholders, a final report is created and a series of recommendations are given, the report is discussed in-depth on the Nolan Show and Talkback before being ignored by the politicians. A few years go by and some crisis emerges. The solution proposed by politicians …

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The Hatch Regeneris Leaks: Department of the Environment Hoping Against Hope.

demonstration, london, demo

The appearance of the previously unpublished Hatch Regeneris Report into fracking and petroleum exploration by Extinction Rebellion on EcoLeaks raises a number of questions for government in Northern Ireland. Fundamentally, it works to highlight some contradictions between the procedural definition of democracy – where government is about the law and the process of policymaking – and a substantive one – where accountability is measured not just in election results but in the responsiveness of government to pressing needs and injustices. …

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A southern truth and reconciliation process meets with inevitable northern scepticism

A brave attempt to break the deadlock between the British government’s proposal for a Troubles  amnesty and the refusal  of all other parties and groups to contemplate it  received  an airing  in a webinar  last Friday hosted by UCD academics. (TRP) is a group of southern independent great and good.. Their webinar was chaired by an Irish High Court Judge Mr Justice Richard Humphries, so presumably  they have influence . They support the implementation of a ‘Truth Recovery and Reconciliation …

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Time for Queen’s to enable a fuller journey for its dedicated Irish speaking students…

door, toilet door, peace and quiet

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine literally means we live in each other’s shadow. In our shared Gaelic psyche this is how it is meant to be – offering each other fellowship, shelter and protection. We must ensure though that enough light is allowed through for the other to thrive for ar scáth a chéile, in each other’s shadow, to make sense.  Queen’s University Belfast has an excellent reputation as a centre of learning for the Irish language …

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John Kyle has reminded us all that there is zero appetite for a DUP Lite…

In my post last week I stated my view that “of course there’s not a great depth of understanding of the protocol among those most vocally opposing it (just as there’s no great depth of understanding of it among those most vocally endorsing it).” It was encouraging that there was no real effort in the comments section to refute that view. That’s why I was heartened by Dr John Kyle’s contribution to The View on Thursday last. Discussion on the …

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Sunday Business Post poll on attitudes to Irish Unity…

vote, poll, election

Some new polling courtesy of the Sunday Business Post on southern attitudes to the various questions around Irish Unity. Click the image below for a larger version. 60% in favour of Unity. 50/50 on if they are happy to pay more tax to pay for unity. Over 50% are not willing to consider changing the flag and anthem. Red-C poll: Attitudes towards a United Ireland (Sunday Business Post) pic.twitter.com/hrJ9J18uDC — Mike Tomlinson (@MikeTQUB) November 28, 2021 Their polling also shows Sinn …

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We are all going to die (again)…

fear, hug, voltage

Omicron is all over the media, much to the surprise of Angelique Coetzee the South African doctor who first discovered the new strain. South African Dr Angelique Coetzee first raised the alarm over the Omicron variant and says the rest of the world is over-reacting. "Patients I've seen had mild symptoms and recovered. None were admitted and no oxygen was needed. The hype makes no sense to at all."@JuliaHB1 pic.twitter.com/c14pbzveN6 — talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) November 29, 2021 Fear sells and the …

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Dear BT. I would like a little less conversation and a little more action…

home office, coffee, computer

It all began in the dim distant past a few months ago when I was struck by lightning. Well, I wasn’t but my landline telephone was and it and its extensions were rendered useless. I phoned BT to see if they could check the line for me just to confirm I was correct in my assumption. When an engineer arrived he did just that and advised I should purchase a whole new system. A few weeks later I saw on …

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Take me to the river…

Macro photography of water waves

Not just any river. In the well-known song by Al Green, the river alluded to is the Jordan, the lowest river in the world, and because of the area it flows through, it is regarded as holy to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike. The song references baptismal cleansing and what could be interpreted as less spiritual as it alludes to teenage lust. It was covered by many bands seeking to emulate the soulful voice and style of Green, and it …

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A Troubles history based on British records will not be the whole story but it’s still worth it

Irish Times columnist and distinguished historian Diarmaid Ferriter dismisses the  British government proposal for an “official” British history of the Troubles. Although it could hardly be the last word, this is a project I believe is well worth exploring if it means opening state archives to independent historians. If an amnesty of some sort is passed, greater access to state records would be part of the deal, to accompany the end of prosecutions. While such a deal  would produce furious …

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Northern Ireland showing signs of growth, expansion and quietly escaping its historic restrictions

butterflies, flowers, pollinate

An old English friend rang me the other day and asked me about a potential placement his son was considering from a software company in Belfast (neither have any real connection I know of with either part of Ireland). He was puzzled by the fact the opportunity was in Belfast, and wanted to know a bit about life over there and a bit about the context in which a large US software company would be settling in a place like …

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As Covid recedes its aftermath is witnessed in a system that is ‘beyond broken’…

surgery, hospital, medical professionals

On Nolan yesterday to talk about the latest response from the Stormont Executive to rising Covid infections. Through the various conversations it struck me how public understanding is failing to keep pace with the nature of the crisis. One lady said she was so fed up with looking at people in masks that she preferred to sit at home rather than go out. It transpired that she’d lost her husband during the crisis and still clearly suffering from the loss …

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Will Latest Revelations Tarnish Halo of Most Popular NI Secretary in Recent Years ?

Editor’s Note: this is an amended version of the original text. Apologies to those who’s comments were lost in the change.  October’s publication of a parliamentary investigation into lobbying by former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Patterson has embroiled Boris Johnson and the Government in the biggest crisis of his premiership so far. In the wake of the scandal over MPs’ second jobs, the Guardian newspaper published a report on 30 MPs who could be affected by the …

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We should make the over 60s exempt from showing vaccine passports…

covidpass, vaccine passport, vaccinated

I spent part of Sunday applying for my dad’s Vaccine Certificate. Each time I do the process I get faster, but as I have discussed before they sure do make you jump through a lot of hoops. He got the certificate today and I got it installed on his iPhone and all was well. But then I had a problem, what to do about my mum? My mum does not have a mobile phone never mind a smartphone, so how …

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“Just didn’t get around to it”. The ethics of the unvaccinated…

vaccination, doctor, patient

Amid all the debate around lockdowns, vaccine passports, rising Covid figures etc it is important to remember that every death is a tragedy. In Friday’s Irish News there was the story about a 48-year-old father of 9 from Downpatrick who has died of Covid: THE family of a father-of-nine who died following a nine-week battle with Covid have told how his passing has left them “numb”. Ivor Wilcox (48), who lived in Downpatrick, died at the Ulster Hospital on Tuesday. …

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Sectarianism or Snobbery? The impact is the same.

As is so often the case in Northern Ireland, the hyperbole around Bertie Ahern’s recent comments about the ignorance of East Belfast and “ghetto” Protestants (I paraphrase but that’s the essence of his comment) has been loud. Also, again as usual, it has missed the point and therefore let genuinely guilty parties off the hook. Of course Bertie Ahern wasn’t being sectarian. There is nothing in his political past to suggest that he would be that way minded. And of …

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Why the Circle Line is a dead end siding – but Antrim-Lisburn-Belfast trains can’t be lost

The Circle Line sounds like a great idea.  Go either direction according to your needs,  with a total journey time of 90 minutes or so, you’re no more than 45 minutes from anywhere on it. However, picking up on my comment on Jay’s article, there are certain logistical barriers that mean it is a non-starter in its proposed form. The key assumption I will make in this piece is that the line from Antrim-Monkstown is doubled, including the total reconstruction …

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Line Dancing – the phenomenen that terrified the GAA…

Light man people woman

Keith Duggan in today’s Irish Times discusses Garth Brooks’ return to Croke Park. Much like the statue in Ballinspittle a few years earlier, the sight of Garth Brooks storming the world brought out the evangelists. His music – this cannot be stressed enough – was inescapable. How you felt about the Brooks catalogue of twangy ballads and anthems was immaterial. Even Ireland’s hardcore metal purists of the early 1990s subconsciously came to know every single line of the Brooks staple …

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Stiff medicine needed to get the Protocol over the line before Christmas

The pace of Protocol negotiations is quickening.  Yesterday and earlier today The BBC nationally was giving rare prominence to this incomprehensible topic (if you’re not NI/Irish).  After today’s meeting the straws in the wind were a bit more favourable but without Lord Frost  clearly  shifting position. Technical talks ahead of Friday’s meeting had focused on guaranteeing the supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Mr Šefčovič said there had been progress in this area, adding: “We now need …

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The ‘circle line’ proposal for Greater Belfast…

Anyone familiar with the Black Mountain and Cave Hill walking trails will know that the city of Belfast is cut off from urban sprawl to its immediate west and north west. This does not mean that the communities at either side of these hills are cut off from one another. To the contrary in fact, the greater Belfast commuter belt takes in the communities from these hills to Lough Neagh in an increasingly service driven economy where Belfast has become …

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