The EU needs to face up to the truth that the GFA is being undermined in spirit and context.

In referring with regularity to the fact that a majority of voters in Northern Ireland did not vote in favour of Brexit, the European Union, including the Republic of Ireland, never seems to have understood that whilst an estimated 35% of the pro-Union constituency in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, they did not vote to be treated differently to the rest of the United Kingdom or, excluded as a contrived special case within a final deal. No …

Read more…The EU needs to face up to the truth that the GFA is being undermined in spirit and context.

If this is a crisis, it’s a manageable one that requires statesmanship, not panic.

You have to root to the bottom of a News Letter article to get a real sense of what the Loyalist Communities Council’s letter to Boris UK PM Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin says about the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement: …the letter warned that the protocol undermines the “basis on which the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) agreed their 1994 ceasefire and subsequent support for the Belfast Agreement”. That’s a little bit different to how it has been …

Read more…If this is a crisis, it’s a manageable one that requires statesmanship, not panic.

If the media has figured how to deal with political lying in the US, what can we learn?

At the weekend, the Sunday Times reprinted an article from the academic journal The British Journalism Review by Roy Greenslade. His rather folksy confession to a once closeted Irish Republicanism, precipitated a mini avalanche of outrage. First I heard of it was on Sunday afternoon when a Liverpool mate sent me a droll response to this ‘revelation’ by text. It wasn’t news, as it’s been in the public domain since Nick Davies revealed the matter in Flat Earth News in 2009. …

Read more…If the media has figured how to deal with political lying in the US, what can we learn?

Stormont’s economic forecasts and the 2022 Assembly election provide the opportunity for a different approach.

By Philip Wilson Amid the furore of recent weeks, a recent Finance Committee slipped under the radar with some interesting facts about the future of Northern Ireland’s economy. Stormont’s financial settlement for this financial year is something of an aberration as overall expenditure has risen from last year’s £24 million to £28 million for this year. Much of this must be credited to the willingness of the Treasury and Bank of England to go above and beyond in their COVID-related …

Read more…Stormont’s economic forecasts and the 2022 Assembly election provide the opportunity for a different approach.

Stray thoughts on the passing of the great spy writer, John Le Carre.

One of my all-time favourite novelists John Le Carré passed away in December of last year; he was 89 years old and had written some of the most telling insider tales of British identity formation in the post-WW2 period. During lock-down I have been rereading his novels, addictively, along with his memoir The Pigeon Tunnel. Anyways, I was a little miffed to discover that this most diligent of researchers, who went to serious lengths to get his landscapes correct, his …

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So what about hosting an “all islands” World Cup tournament (with up to 12 games in Ireland)?

This looks to me like a good idea… Spoke to British PM Boris Johnson this morning on the proposed joint bid to host the #WorldCup It's early days – but all sides will cooperate closely on what would be a wonderful opportunity for these islands. https://t.co/7HZ9cIy5RQ — Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) March 2, 2021 The Irish Times reports: Minister for Arts, Tourism and Sport Catherine Martin said: “This is an exciting possibility, but we are still in the very early stages …

Read more…So what about hosting an “all islands” World Cup tournament (with up to 12 games in Ireland)?

Perception of the UK Covid performance rises as public confidence in the Republic drops…

Fascinating comparison of the legal basis on which the two entities effectively competed over limited supplies for their respective populations, which effectively in Ireland has lead to two very different timetables and regimes on the one island. One core difference has been the way the respective contracts with AstraZenica were written up …the starkest example of difference is a clause in the U.K. contract stating that if any party tries to force or persuade AstraZeneca or its subcontractors to do anything …

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Where are we with mental health stigma?

On March 24th 2015, the world was hit by the news that a German aircraft had crashed into the French Alps, killing 150 people. Information quickly started to circulate about an apparently ‘suicidal pilot’ who had deliberately caused the crash. He would later be named as 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz: he had co-piloted the flight and locked himself into the cockpit while the principle pilot was in the bathroom. Prior to any formal investigation, news outlets reported that Lubitz had been …

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Urban North Belfast – free webinar series today and tomorrow…

Today and tomorrow there are 3 online webinars around improving the urban environment in North Belfast. If you are free they should be an interesting watch. Reconnecting North Belfast to the river Tuesday 2nd March 2-4 pm   The webinar introduces the alternative urban solution evolved for North Belfast and the road interchange.   Tony Fretton – architect London Terri McKeown – Sailortown Regeneration Mary Black – CBE – Public Health professional Michael McGarry – architect Professor QUB Ken Sterrett – retired QUB planner Intro …

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Why Anti-Lockdown Protests Should Be Banned

The unsavoury and despicable scenes during an anti-lockdown protest on Saturday brought shame to our capital. Fuelled by conspiracy theories that are rampant across social media, brought a violent edge to an already misguided protest in the middle of a pandemic. There are genuine frustrations for many people regarding lockdowns but protesting in this current climate, while breaking public health guidelines undermines so much. Anti-lockdown protests should be banned. There is a fine line being played here with the right …

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Health cannot continue to be dealt a poor hand behind more populist projects at the Executive table

After his sharp riposte to being called a poodle, we can at least see that the Minister of Health has had the better ‘house-training’ but is this the best political representatives have to offer a few hours prior to an announcement that waiting lists have increased? If anything, the NHS needs a watchdog. Figures provide a picture of increases with small decreases that make uncomfortable reading for the 323,174 waiting for a first consultant-led appointment, the 13,043 waiting for a …

Read more…Health cannot continue to be dealt a poor hand behind more populist projects at the Executive table

Unionism needs to step out from the shadows on the Unity referendum question…

It’s difficult to avoid the reality that discussions about a referendum on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland are gaining momentum. For better or for worse it has become part of our daily lexicon in which every problem within Northern Ireland that arises is a result of partition which can easily be rectified if only the island was united. It also means that every mistake Unionism makes (and there are innumerable) make the demands for a referendum louder. The conversations …

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My personal experience of our ever increasing health waiting lists….

A few months from now I will be able to call myself an octogenarian! I am lucky to have reached this moniker in comparatively good health as I take only vitamin pills and, if I bend my knees, can still touch my toes. My experience of the National Health Service in N.I. had been, until a few years ago, extremely good. Before, during and after the Troubles the service here was remarkable and, along with our doctors and nurses, deservedly …

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Despite its problems the Protocol puts opportunity in the hands of NI’s politicians more than ever before

The frequent gracelessness of some DUP MPs (Sammy Wilson’s charmless swipe at Robin Swann this week was typical) means their critics often experience a pleasant frisson when sinking the boot as its many petty failures rise to the surface. But I don’t really get the party’s (or indeed wider unionism’s) flirtation with nixing the Northern Irish protocol. Even as tactic. I do see there’s a case for arguing that some activity, at the very least, sends a signal to the base that …

Read more…Despite its problems the Protocol puts opportunity in the hands of NI’s politicians more than ever before

Helping your Head to Follow your Heart…

It’s a common conflict in life, Head vs Heart: ‘appropriate’ vs ‘right.’ The appropriate, or ‘doing things right,’ includes actions or attitudes to deliver immediate physiological needs, like food and shelter. It also meets our security needs – good health, a roof that doesn’t leak, money in the bank. And it satisfies our social needs: love of family and friends; a sense of belonging. ‘Doing the right thing,’ though, is the stuff of astronauts and inventors, philosophers and statesmen, isn’t …

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We have short memories when it comes to remembering how we compromised with paramilitaries

The First Minister has made the “mistake” of speaking to the Loyalist Communities Council according to the BBC. Also according to the BBC, at the launch of the Loyalist Communities Council, it was… …backed by the UDA, the UVF and the Red Hand Commando. The initiative was fronted by former Downing Street Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell and has been welcomed by, among others, the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the trade unions, the Irish government and UKIP leader Nigel …

Read more…We have short memories when it comes to remembering how we compromised with paramilitaries

Ireland’s Future-Changing Narratives and Changing Language

Gerry Carlile is the CEO of Ireland’s Future  The labelling of people ‘Green’ and ‘Orange’ to describe their political outlook is becoming increasingly dated. In fact, the laziness inherent in those labels are patronising and offensive. The peace process signalled an end to such broad sweeping and blunt labels to describe an increasingly complex and nuanced spectrum of political views across the north. Even a cursory analysis of those who use these descriptors reveal a certain brand of intellectual and …

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How cold is your house?

I worked around the border for most of the past decade. I came to understand for the first time just how unnatural the border is to many people there as they go about their daily business. It gave me a very real and practical sense of their innate Irishness for the first time and I understand exactly why so many people in the border counties were so uncomfortable with Brexit. I shared their discomfort and voted to remain. But I …

Read more…How cold is your house?