A tribute to Jim Fitzpatrick…

Thank you Slugger O’Toole for inviting me to write something about Jim Fitzpatrick RIP. My first thoughts today are with Jim’s family, with Anne, Bríd, Bernard, Eileen, Dominic, Clare, Jim (Junior) and Andrew and his other loved ones. And with the Irish News family who are also grieving a revered patriarchal figure and beginning to come to terms with his loss. I extend to all of them my sympathy and prayerful solidarity at this sad time. However, it is also …

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Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

open sunday sign, signage, open

The idea for Open Sunday is to let you discuss what you like. News events we have missed, an interesting article you have read, recommendations for a good podcast, book or tv show. Just two rules. Keep it civil and no man/woman playing.

By-Elections are a distraction, reform is the real prize…

River Dart, Devon, England

The news came in fast that the Liberal Democrats took a seat in Devon, safe to the Tories before and the result of a massive tactical swing to the Lib Dems. Also, the government in waiting party took a seat in the North of England which was being described as a ‘red brick’ in the rebuilding of the once staunchly labour ‘red wall.’ But as a resident of a devolved ‘nation’ I cannot help but raise an eyebrow as to …

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Now we’ve got into an even bigger mess over human rights, courtesy of guess who?

If ever it needed reminding, the importance of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its court in Strasbourg was underlined by the comments of the former Lord Chief Justice to MPs the other day.  As it stands Sir Declan Morgan feared that Westminster’s latest attempt at a Legacy Bill would be struck down by the Court as  in basic violation of human rights. But there is an even more fundamental dimension to this. ECHR rights are embedded in …

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Boris Johnson clinging on to the door handle of Number 10…

Pants on fire - billboard with Boris Johnson.

So as expected the Conservatives lost both by-elections yesterday. One seat to the Libdems and the other to Labour. The losing Tiverton candidate seemed to take it well… 🔵 “She’s locked herself in a room!” Tiverton's Tory candidate barricaded herself in a room to avoid the cameras following by-election defeat#thread 👇https://t.co/9P7CW1YiUU — The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 24, 2022 This morning Sir Roger Gale Conservative MP for North Thanet was not shy about giving his view of the Prime Minister. We …

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Former chief justice’s frustrations boil over at deadlock over the Legacy Bill. He tells MPs : “people need a kick up the bottom.”

The former Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan allowed his frustrations to boil over at a hearing of the Commons NI Committee yesterday examining the government’s Legacy bill. The earlier draft Bill  dating back 12 years for a with a powerful Historical Investigations  Unit at its core which had been finally  endorsed by most local parties was abruptly scrapped by the British government and replaced by a radical new version for a de facto amnesty.   Not that they admit to …

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5.8% private sector growth in Northern Ireland in Q4 last year…

sapling, plant, growing

As a short addendum to yesterday’s post, I’m not sure these Q4 data uphold UK European Minster James Cleverly’s apparent claim that the growth spurt in the Northern Irish economy originates in the public sector… The only question I have is how would these positive figures be affected if the attempt to negotiate changes to the protocol on east west are abandoned?

Micheál Martin: there’s only one way home, and that’s back to the negotiation table. 

One of the great liberations of taking yourself off Twitter and the baleful influence of its audience driving algorithms is not so much what it leaves you read and or watch, but the hyperbole it frees you from. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Brexit is failing in execution because its architects may have felt that in just getting the decision made all the rest would follow as a matter of course. A good outcome is hard to achieve …

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David McWilliams – ‘The truth is the union has been an economic calamity for Northern Ireland…’

Three Belfast landmarks in one shot. From left to right: Titanic Belfast, a museum for all things Titanic related; the very large Harland and Wolffe ship building crane Goliath; and immediately below it, the red bricked building where the Titanic was designed by Harland and Wolff prior to its fateful end in 1912 (May, 2019).

The Economist David McWilliams is married to a Presbyterian from Belfast, so his latest article for the Irish Times might get him a frosty reception at his next dinner with the in-laws. In the article, he outlines his view that partition has been a disaster for Northern Ireland. Take, for example, emigration which has always been a good indicator of economic frailty. Between 1841 and 1951, the population of what would become the Republic’s 26 counties fell by 55 per cent …

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Turkey Teeth and Harem Hair, Is medical tourism lengthening our waiting lists?

Galata view from the Golden Horn

I had a short trip back to Istanbul this June. When I last visited in 2016 I had cause for concern. My concern was, it seems, ill-founded and poorly judged and my hopes that things would improve were granted. In 2016 there had been an attempted military coup and since then things generally have gotten worse; an economic crisis in Turkey created by the financial ignorance of its for-life president Tayyip Erdogan, the proximity to a tragic war in Ukraine …

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SOAPBOX: The Presbyterian Church in Ireland – reforms needed

Steven Smyrl is a professional genealogist, lecturer, author, and former elder in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. This week’s meeting in Belfast of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) prompts me to reflect on my experience at the hands of the church since the momentous decision at the 2018 General Assembly to exclude gay couples from full membership and their children from baptism. That decision culminated in a highly public controversy about my same-sex marriage, and …

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Dealing with the fat cats…

follow @mr.toobs for more pics

The vet thrust her hand into the cat basket to extract the angry, growling, spitting, claws-out-creature I had painfully put in, pulled out a docile lump of black fur and, after a brief assessment, plonked it on a set of scales placed handy to the examination table. “Felicity, this cat is not overweight, no, she is grossly OBESE!” This shocked me to my core. The vet’s normally pretty mouth was set in a grim line of disapproval. My cat, frozen …

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Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

open sunday sign, signage, open

The idea for Open Sunday is to let you discuss what you like. News events we have missed, an interesting article you have read, recommendations for a good podcast, book or tv show. Just two rules. Keep it civil and no man/woman playing.

The spirit of “Derry Girls” lives in Jamie-Lee O’Donnell’s “The Real Derry”

Photograph Courtesy Channel 4   The Real Derry.  Really? The first thing, Brian, is not to get too intense. The second is to resist abandoning all critical faculties. Jamie Lee is a great kid- sorry, young woman, as good a talker as her fictional self Michelle and  a little less foul mouthed. That didn’t stop her old teacher greeting her warmly.   The third is to admit I know very little about the very different home town of today. In Derry Girls …

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Choyaa: Unless the Orange Institution evolves to meet the needs of both its members and society at large, then it is finished…

The phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” has been disproven on numerous occasions, but never was this phrase less apt than when it comes to the Orange Institution, an organisation that haphazardly plods from one publicity to disaster to the next. There has never been much in the way of self-reflection within the Orange Institution on its many gaffs, the leadership prefers instead to carry on regardless whilst blaming others for its problems, an approach that has caused …

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“Everything points to a new agreement that can be spun as addressing DUP concerns…”

Am I alone in thinking much of what gets said and is purportedly done regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol sits within the BS category rather than out and out lying? There’s a very perceptive letter in the Guardian this morning from John Morrison which pretty much covers a politics which is getting thinner and thinner by the day. He writes: Our outrage about the government’s Rwanda asylum policy is just playing into the hands of ministers, who want to be …

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Empires are most often born on the battlefield, but they die in the bookstore…

St. Basil's Cathedral. This was taken during my first night in Moscow. Decided to take a stroll down the Red Square to see all the sights.

A good article by Ivan Krastev over in the FT. He discusses how Russia’s actions in Ukraine have not only fatally damaged Russia not just economically but also culturally. From the article: Rumour has it that, asked who are Vladimir Putin’s most trusted advisers, one of his inner circle replied drily: “Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great and Peter the Great.” Last week, Russia’s president openly compared himself to Peter, and the invasion of Ukraine with the tsar’s expansionist wars …

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Almost half of people now avoid the news…

After meeting up with a group of creatives in OKC, we spent the day driving around the city and capturing cool moments together.

The Reuters Institute has published its 2022 Digital News Report and it makes grim reading for news organisations. The Press Gazette has a good overview of the findings: Almost half (46%) of British people actively avoid reading the news as a result of fatigue at excessive Covid and political coverage and a drop in trust in journalism, a new report has found. While the BBC remained the most trusted and biggest news brand in the UK, the public service broadcaster …

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There are great dangers in Northern Ireland’s entanglement in the Tory Brexit mess. They must extricate themselves fast

From his analysis of the Protocol bill, I want to pull out Rafael Behr’s comments on how little Northern Ireland registers  in the wider media as itself, on merit . You can almost hear the groans from TV viewers,” Not Northern Ireland again”  in a situation even more incomprehensible to them than  the Troubles It isn’t every day that former prime ministers set old party enmities aside to deliver a unified message on a matter of national urgency. When John …

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Johnson sends an ultimatum to the DUP : return to the Assembly or we won’t proceed with the Protocol bill. Is the threat credible?

Political gaming  has intensified as the Times and the FT report that the UK government will not proceed with the Protocol Bill unless the DUP promises to return to the Assembly. As the bill will at best take a year to pass Parliament are the DUP being invited to buy a pig in a poke? Can this ultimatum over ride the DUP’s demands for “action not words?.  Is the briefing to the papers credible anyway except as short term pressure …

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