“separate continents..”

A reminder that BBC NI’s natural history series Blueprint starts tonight, BBC 1 9pm, and it’ll be available on iPlayer too [Has anyone told Edwin? – Ed]. And, perhaps as a result of the pressure from the young-Earthers, TalkBack today discussed their opposition to a scientific approach to natural history [the audio file is available for now, RealPlayer file]. Blueprint presenter, Will Crawley, posts a reminder too, and on his Sunday Sequence programme this week held a round-table discussion of … Read more

Beware strange animals.. again..

Just in case you didn’t know, tomorrow is the first of April [it is? – Ed] aka April Fool’s Day. So, by way of a public information announcement, and in particular if you were fooled by Panorama’s Swiss spaghetti harvest [ahem – Ed] or the more recent Google Lunar Base, Slate have helpfully produced an updated “Defense Kit” with numerous links to keep you busy informed. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.. again. Pete Baker

“What has been produced does not even come close to representing that..”

The Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum completed its weekend deliberations and delivered its final report [pdf file] today – there’s a correction to the report too [pdf file]. The BBC report points to both the DUP and the Catholic Church’s boycott of the launch of the report [pdf file] at the Hilton Hotel, linking that boycott to an issue which the Assembly has already debated.. but the UTV report indicates that the DUP’s criticism of the report is based … Read more

Speaking truth unto power gets awkward…

A free press is not exactly a prerequisite for a free society, but it’s absence is (or should be) extremely worrying. In all of the comment in the MSN last week, this aspect of the climbdown of the Andersonstown News after pressure was applied over an article the paper published from its erstwhile columnist/humourist, Squinter seemed largely to be missed. It’s all the more puzzling since Gerry Adams is sitting on the fourth safest majority in the House of Commons … Read more

The chairman blows the Centre’s trumpet (a little)

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Some 35 years ago I went to work in Dublin for a large British company and over the next two decades witnessed the remarkable changes which the Republic of Ireland underwent during that period. Returning to work in Northern Ireland for an Irish company in 1993, I have been privileged once … Read more

“designed to operate independent of human control..”

Some science news [as we don’t get enough.. – Ed]. With the Space Shuttle Endeavour safely on the ground at Kennedy Space Centre – video here – the European Space Agency’s Jules Verne ATV is finally approaching the International Space Station – the dot below the edge of the Earth in the image is the Jules Verne viewed from the ISS. And it’s not that the residents of the Space Station don’t trust HAL 9000 the automated docking system on-board … Read more

Zimbabwe waits

The general elections have now been held in Zimbabwe. I have previously predicted Mr. Mugabe’s re election, though I hoped to be wrong. Now maybe just maybe I will be (and I will be delighted). The MDC are claiming victory but the results have still not been released and there is concern regarding electoral fraud. To be honest Morgan Tsvangirai is also a relatively divisive figure. In addition leading figures in the army have previously said they would not accept … Read more

“about to embark on what amounts to a lap of honour..”

Interesting to note that, according to this RTÉ report, Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Ian Paisley, will be otherwise engaged when some, but not all, of those involved at the time memorialise the 1998 Agreement. The report doesn’t mention whether any other NI Executive ministers will be accompanying the “businessman of God..” From the RTÉ report Dr Paisley is about to embark on what amounts to a lap of honour before he steps down as First Minister and DUP … Read more

“a small price to pay..”

Via Newshound. Interesting view-point from Kevin Myers on The Process™ and the ‘price of peace’. Room too for some archival links – on Gerry Adams, “armed struggle” was “necessary”, MI5 and the back-channel, and the US government’s role in the latter part of that Process™. Read the whole thing. For the peace process was solely about ensuring the IRA never bombed London again; and as far as MI5 – the prime movers of the peace process – was concerned, the … Read more

Just a note…

Sunday Sequence should have an interview I did with them recently on the effects of new media on politics in the context of the US election. That’s an hour earlier than you may have thought since the clocks go forward tonight – so it is really a quarter to one, and not a quarter to midnight as I type this post. Adds: it obviously didn’t make the cut! Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on … Read more

“only thing the prime minister has to concern himself with..”

Mick has pointed to the actual debate to be had around Gordon Brown’s defence of the Union. But, rather than looking for complicated reasons and strategies behind Brown’s apparent playing down of Northern Ireland’s role in the United Kingdom, sometimes, as Henry McDonald suggests here, there’s a simpler reason for these things. In his promotion of the union, not only in relation to Scotland but also Wales, the prime minister failed to mention Northern Ireland, which drew a wave of … Read more

Bill of Rights proposals leaked to Newsletter

The Human Rights Forum tends to provoke significant reactions from many. The Newsletter is reporting a leak of the draft document outlining current ideas for the Bill of Rights. According to the Newsletter the following may be being proposed: -Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 – meaning that rapists, murderers and other criminals under that age could not be prosecuted; -Defining victims as those who have survived “violent, conflict-related incidents” with no distinction between those responsible for atrocities … Read more

Belfast Monopoly

The Belfast Telegraph and BBC are reporting that representatives of the Winning Moves (the makers of Monopoly) were in Belfast yesterday to launch the Belfast edition and indeed to canvass opinion as to which places should be included. There is of course already a Northern Ireland edition of Monopoly. I wonder if they could make a special politically controversial version (or maybe two versions) with various places being worthless or valuable dependent on the appropriate market. We could call it … Read more

“We need to make an example of this particular incident..”

Interesting interjection by DUP MLA Jim Wells, and one I entirely agree with, on the felling of a number of protected trees in a private estate on the outskirts of Newcastle, County Down. One for the Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, to ponder.. As the Woodland Trust spokesman says, Patrick Craig from the Woodland Trust said: “We’re just absolutely appalled that yet again some more native trees have been destroyed. “The legislation is very, very … Read more

Flag wars in Kilrea

I was brought up quite near Kilrea which contrary to some people’s views is not actually noted for particularly good community relations. The latest problem has been the “tit for tat” flying of flags. Apparently this episode began when the Irish tricolour was raised over the St Patrick’s Church of Ireland church on Easter Sunday. As some form of “retaliation” the Union flag was then raised over the Marion Hall in the town. This unpleasant silliness has been condemned by … Read more

DUP to support mandatory coalition in councils?

Jim Allister has made a speech tonight at a meeting in Portrush. He is claiming that part of the deal between the DUP and SF over the 11 councils will include a D’Hondt style mandatory coalition in the councils. This is odd considering that the DUP claim to be aiming to end the mandatory coalition at Stormont. If so surely this will weaken their negotiating position on such matters or maybe agreeing to D’Hondt was part of the price along … Read more

O’Rawe’s account confirmed: Hunger Strikers Allowed To Die

Eamon McCann verifies Richard O’Rawe’s account of the 1981 hunger strike in which he alleges that six of the hunger strikers need not have died as the prisoners had agreed to accept an offer from the Mountainclimber, only to be over-ruled by Gerry Adams. Evidence which has now become available helps clarify a dispute sparked three years ago by the assertion of former IRA prisoner Richard O’Rawe that terms for ending the strike, accepted by the prisoners’ leadership in the … Read more

Weekend work-in on a Bill of Rights

Before heading over to Mark Devenport’s blog to see the draft Bill of Rights, delivered by Chris Sidoti for discussion at the Bill of Rights Forum, it is worth reminding people what the remit given the Forum was in the first place: “To advise on the scope for defining, in Westminster legislation, rights supplementary to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, drawing as appropriate on international instruments and experience. These … Read more

Police act on bebo fights

Bebo has become the source of much difficulty in interface areas with the site being used to organise peace-line confrontations between young people. However, this phenomenon is not unique to Northern Ireland and in Derby police have acted on information from the site to tackle gang fights. One for the PSNI to watch. Lee Reynolds

Waggling the registration stick

The electoral office is planning to make an example of 50 people for not registering to vote. Vote registration is now a legal requirement and failure to do so is punishable by a £1000 fine. Lee Reynolds