“While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court..”

More fun and games in Illinois where Governor Rod Blagojevich has defied Democrat party leaders and President-elect Barack Obama by naming his appointee to replace Obama in the Senate – former Illinois comptroller and attorney-general Roland Burris [Press conference video here]. Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, has said he will refuse to certify the appointment and the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, has stated that the party will veto anyone appointed by Blagojevich – who … Read more

The people are not stupid!

I do not live in West Belfast nor am I a native of the area, though I consider that I know the area quite well. Now, at the last assembly election Sinn Féin won 69.9% in West Belfast, a considerable democratic mandate. In the context of a few conversations I have had recently with young people who are solidly anti-Sinn Féin and I have come across some attitudes which whilst understandable in terms of being anti-Sinn Féin, I find incompatible … Read more

Ag athru gneas ins na hOileáin Siar…

Mar a dúirt mé roimhe tá BBC Alba ina ‘wee gem’ de shtáisiúin Telefíse. Go hairithe mar bhíonn siad a cur ceisteanna sóisialta de mhórdheacrachtaí ar phlé. Ar Trusadh aréir, d’inis siad scéal de Raonaid NicNèill, tiománaí bus cé rugadh mar fear agus í tar éis a cuid ghnéas a athrú. Ina measc na saincheisteanna agus iad ag déileáil leo: an t-acmhainneacht do coimhthíos ag a chuid oibre; an geit a bhain sí as a chlainne leis an cinneadh; agus … Read more

The annual annoraks Christmas present

A review of the regional daily papers offers an insight not only into what the documents revealed under the thirty-year rule, but it provides an insight into the political nature and interpretation provided by the local media. From “burrowing like rats” to “systematic beatings by the ‘Goon Squad’” our local papers have got their readership all summed up.Aww … yes … asides from Father Christmas with his sack of goodies, a highlight of this time of year has to be … Read more

Might never happen..

Via the Telegraph blog, here’s a fun video to ponder as we head into another New Year.. seems to be popular too.. It’s why some people are keeping an eye on those Near Earth Objects [not to mention the potentially hazardous asteroids.. – Ed] That and those past Extinction Level Events.. Meanwhile the Professor mentions that the Yellowstone supervolcano caldera is being notably tremorous.. Adds more here. Pete Baker

Government files on Irish figures

Dr John Bew writing for the Irish Times reports that files released under the thirty-year rule reveals that the government kept files on the main figures within Ireland, to include: politicians, academics and newspaper editors. The recently deceased Connor Cruise O’Brien was said to be: “a “brilliant polemicist”, who enjoyed “considerable popularity” within the Labour Party, despite his renegade style.” Whilst Charles Haughey was described as a “powerful figure with strong republican leanings.” He was also referred to as being … Read more

“They’ll deal with anti-social behaviour..”

The announcement by the PSNI of 5 Neighbourhood Policing Teams for south and east Belfast is being seen by Máirtín as evidence that, “As an institutionally sectarian institution, the PSNI has different policing priorities from those it purports to serve in areas like North Belfast.” [Well it is in a separate District – Ed]. More likely conditions on the ground, amongst other factors, are behind the decision..From the Irish Times report The teams, in the south and east of the … Read more

Informers behind the wire.

The Newsletter is reporting that THE Government had IRA informers inside the Maze and had prior warning of republicans going “on the blanket” and the dirty protests. And the republican sources said they had been threatened by the IRA Army Council with “being shot”, if they did not participate in the campaign. Kathleen

“harsh and craggy pile of Scottish-Tudor stone”

Members of the Presbyterian Mutual Society probably have other things on their minds right now, but the not-completely-independent Northern Ireland Environment Agency has awarded the “single biggest grant award ever given under the Historic Buildings Grant Aid Scheme for repairs to listed buildings” to Church House in Belfast’s Fisherwick Place, the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, originally built in 1905, renovated in 1992 – Church awarded £1million to repair HQ. Meanwhile, the 12th Century Athassel Abbey in County … Read more

Hague defends outside interests

Much news and political debate has surrounded the outside interests of MP’s. William Hague is the latest to be thrown into the headlines as he defends his outside interests. Mr Hague is well known for after dinner speeches, charging up to £10,000 and holding a series of directorships. Should MP’s be allowed to have other interests (meaning additional jobs, roles etc) outside politics? Many of our Ulster MP’s have additional interests. AndrewLong time political hack

“beguiled by money” and “morally corrupt”

Interestingly the BBC report on the response from MPs to the Church of England Bishops’ criticisms of the UK government over family breakdown, debt and poverty brings to light the role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, and Labour MP for Middlesborough, Sir Stuart Bell, who called the bishops’ claims “nonsense” – “The Church of England should be a unifying force, since all sectors of the community will be affected by the economic downturn and must come through this together. … Read more

Stalin – national hero or tyrant? A re-writing of history.

According to the BBC one of Russia’s biggest television stations is due to announce later today the winer of a nationwide vote for the greatest Russian ever to have lived. A highly controversial figure who could win the contest is the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, one of the blood thirstiest leaders of the last century, who killed many millions of his own people. Also from the report: The official line now is that Stalin and the Soviet regime was … Read more

“History has no premeditated design..”

At OpenDemocracy Arthur Aughey, of the University of Ulster, reviews Irish Protestant Identities edited by Mervyn Busteed, Frank Neal and Jonathan Tonge, and invokes Michael Oakeshott’s “image of the dry stone wall to conjure the relation of historical.” An interesting review of what looks to be a very interesting collection of essays touching on, amongst other points, crude stereotyping, the Un-Irish and the Northern Irish identity. From Arthur Aughey’s review. The dry wall image shifts the focus from destiny to … Read more

“This negation of democracy will have to be brought to an end..”

The Irish Minister for Communication, the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan, has been predicting “root and branch reform” of the banking system in the New Year.. but not necessarily how that will be achieved.. And, as the Dáil awaits re-awakening from its traditional recess, in the Irish Times Stephen Collins picks up on murmurings of discontent with unelected “social partners”, effectively, in government at a time of economic crisis. “The point about democracy is that we are elected by the people … Read more

Two similar messages

In both Christmas messages, the more traditional Queen’s message and the not so traditional Channel Four alternative message, given by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, offered one message to viewers this Christmas – that is the importance of family and religion in the wake of troubled times. The focus of Her Majesty the Queen was very much on the family with reference also made to religion and the birth of Jesus. Addressing the difficult times felt by the nation she … Read more

Random thouchts on Ulster-Scotch

I intend make a few points on the Ulster-Scots language/dialect/speech, but first a few minor observations. My personal understanding is that much, but not all, of what we see as the Ulster-Scots movement is one reflection of how many in the unionist community see the Irish Language movement, the GAA etc. Maybe I am wrong? For example, I attended the Ulster-Scots/Irish night in the Cultúrlann last year and I took much from it. The Ulster-Scots music was sung in English … Read more

The Santa Massacre.

Santa went on a killing rampage in California over the christmas holidays. A distraught man dressed as Santa Claus opened fire at a Christmas Eve party and then set the house ablaze, killing at least eight people, authorities said. Several hours later, the shooter killed himself. Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, who had recently been divorced and is believed to have lost his job, knocked on the front door of a home owned by the parents of his ex-wife in Covina … Read more

Eartha Kitt 1927-2008

In tribute to the legendary Eartha Kitt who has died at the age of 81, here’s her 1962 live performance of I want to be evil. She was still gigging until a couple of months ago. The Guardian obituary details her extraordinary life and career and there are more clips at the Guardian blog. Pete Baker

At least Lanark way is open until 10p.m.

I got this little video from TG4, basically its a news report from the 1960’s on the role of the Irish army in the UN peacekeeping role on the island of Cyprus and the city of Jerusalem. (Theres nothing much new under the sun.) I agree with the narrator that Christmas is not a time for thinking about dissention, but wanted to ask does our soloution on this divided island offer any way forward to that other divided island, especially … Read more

The economic situation is unprecedented….John Hurley Govenor of the central bank.

Amid talk of pay cuts, cuts in general and emmigration John Hurley Govenor of the central bank in the republic speaks to RTE, and states clearly that the traditional model of banking is broken. He says there are many challenges to the Irish economy,and he expects it to shrink by 4% next year. Below is some video footage of report from RTE’s week in politics on the efforts to rescue the ailing economy in the republic. The document discussed in … Read more