R.A.A.D. all about it!

Republican Action Against Drugs have been engaging in something of a PR drive in Strabane of late. The group, which claims to target drug dealers in republican areas has been mainly active in the north-west (i.e. Derry and Strabane) since last year, but have also claimed responsibility for a recent shooting in Newry. During election week at the start of May, the group released this photo to Strabane Chronicle journalist Conor Sharkey. It shows gunmen saluting dead RAAD member Roger … Read more

Police attacked by crowd in north Belfast

In contrast to the successful musical approach, reports from UTV and the Belfast Telegraph highlight the reality of policing on the streets of [north] Belfast. From the UTV report Two police officers have been taken to hospital following a disturbance in north Belfast.They sustained cuts and bruising to their faces and hands when they were attacked by a crowd at Ballysillan Road on Monday afternoon. It happened as they spoke to three men they had stopped in the course of their patrol, shortly … Read more

Israeli-Turkish relations irrevocably damaged

The actions of the Israeli military against the civilian flotilla of aid into Gaza has provoked widespread international reaction. Israel is bracing itself for a wave of diplomatic repercussions in the aftermath of the interception of the small crafts where at least nine people have been killed. Perhaps the gravest consequences from the killings will be the effect on Israeli-Turkish relations, which have taken a disastrous hit. Al Jazerra reports the claims of a Turkish charity that the majority of … Read more

SDLP: I swear they are real republicans

On May 12th I posted a mocked up version of SDLP MPs making their solemn declaration/affirmation of allegiance to ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors’ It was variously described by pro-SDLP contributors as a ‘new low’ for Slugger (x4), ‘inane’, ‘masturbatory, a ‘steaming log’, ‘lowering the tone’ and even resulted in one claim of a commenter leaving the site. So I apologise in advance for directly linking Margaret Ritchie actually taking that affirmation to her Queen: And the … Read more

Does the South now have a better welfare state than the North?

Growing up as a Northern Irish and British boy in the 1950s and 1960s, it was an article of faith that the wealthy United Kingdom had the best welfare state in the world and the Republic of Ireland was a backward and impoverished place that couldn’t afford such a socially advanced system. Even after nearly 40 years of living off and on in Dublin, I find it difficult to rid myself of the notion that  – despite all the Republic’s … Read more

Four arrested in Laois in counterfeit cash investigation

Not much detail on this one yet, but the iol report notes that four men, in their 40s and 50s, were arrested in County Laois this morning “after an extensive operation, which has been ongoing for several months”.  RTÉ adds  What is believed to be a sophisticated counterfeit operation and underground bunker has been uncovered by gardaí in Co Laois. Four men in their 40s and 50s have been arrested; two are being detained in Tullamore and two in Portlaoise Garda … Read more

Memorial to murdered soldiers dedicated

The News Letter has a report of Sunday’s formal dedication of a memorial at Ballysillan Avenue to three young Scottish soldiers: Dougald McCaughey, 23, from Glasgow along with brothers John and Joseph McCaig, aged 17 and 18, from Ayr. The three were lured from the city centre and murdered at the isolated White Brae off the Ligionel Road on March 9, 1971. On Saturday the families of the murdered soldiers held a private service at the site of the atrocity … Read more

International Piracy?

Whilst reports at the moment are little sketchy it appears that an aid convoy to Gaza has been attacked by Israeli commandos and that there are a number of deaths. It seems that the attack also happened in International waters which would make this attack on a flotilla of boats travelling from Cypress piracy. edited to add Live reporting from the Guardian further edit a couple of photos from yesterdays vigil/protest at City hall. I’d estimate that there were around … Read more

Photograph of the Day – Old and new

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the … Read more

Local politicians are obstacle to better health care – troubleshooter Robinson

Why has more attention not been given to a great expose of the NI health service shown on BBCNI last week? I’ve just been watching the programme on BBC iPlayer that’s taught me a lot about the strengths and weaknesses about how Northern Ireland is run today. Multimillionaire Raphoe resident and NHS troubleshooter Sir Gerry Robinson has homed in on the new Belfast Health Trust, employer of 22,000 with an annual budget of over £1 billion a year and  the UK’s … Read more

NI Fire Service wrong to remove Enniskillen tribute

The News Letter has a report of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the removal of a plaque commemorating the victims of the Enniskillen war memorial bombing. The commemorative plaque, a photographic montage of the people murdered, was placed in Enniskillen fire station where it remained for 19 years until September 2007. Then after an anonymous telephone complaint the fire service removed the tribute apparently within an hour. Arlene Foster asked the Equality Commission (via an FoI request) whether the Northern Ireland … Read more

Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

Actor, film-maker, photographer and artist, Dennis Hopper has died at the age of 74.  There’s a good obituary at the BBC site, and the Guardian has, or had, a selection of clips from a long career in films which began with a minor role alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause [1955].  Image credit: Dennis Hopper photographed in June 2008 by Antje Verena. The Guardian’s Film section also has an uncredited Peter Bradshaw’s assessment of the film roles of “Hollywood’s Uneasy Rider” … Read more

Money over sex every time is the judgement call, Mr Laws

Something new’s been emerging in the reaction to the outing and resignation of Treasury Chief Secretary David Laws. It’s the progressives who are slating him, not for once  the usual expenses crusaders of the commentariat – although it was the Daily Telegraph digging into their old CDs, who exposed him. ( Not the first of another spate of scoops surely).   Thus Ben Summerskill of Stonewall says it was the money wot done it, not the sex. Regrettably it’s not the rules, or … Read more

But what about the boundaries, Minister?

In the two weeks grace the Northern Ireland Executive has given itself to decide the issue of local government reform, the NI Environment Minister is apparently seeking agreement from the existing 26 councils to fund the cost of that reform.  That’s an estimated £138million, according to the BBC report. But even if those councils did all agree, by Friday, to foot the bill, what’s happened to the issue that has actually been the sticking point within the NI Executive dysfunctional semi-detached polit-bureau – local government … Read more

Photograph of the Day – finishing touches

www.friendsofstgeorgesmarket.com Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from … Read more

ECB : There are no alternatives

European Central Bank executive member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi outlined the fiscal and monetary constraints facing EU states at the Group of 30 conference in Rabat. In it he warns of a US of future crisis, and perhaps controversially denounces Keynesianism as inappropriate. European states can’t rely on inflation to reduce their debts, fiscal austerity is the only course available to them, but Americans may be deluding themselves that they will be able to impose an ‘inflation tax’ on investors in … Read more

Republican prisoners – meeting and protest clash but no clash

As a meeting was held on republican prisoners in the Conway Mill (chaired by Maura McCrory with contributions from Peter Corrigan, Fr Raymond Murray, Carál Ní Chuilín,  Maura Fitzsimmons, Gerard Hodgins and Brenda Downes), Republican Sinn Féin gathered for a protest march from Dunville Park to Castle Street on the same issue. RSF in their tradition of not engaging with broad fronts did not attend or officially contact the organisers of the much larger meeting in Conway Mill and I … Read more

Mortar bomb caused security alert at Londonderry police station

Police have said that the explosion reported at Strand Road police station in Londonderry last night was caused by a mortar bomb fired from a parked car.  From the BBC report Police said they believe it was launched from the rear of a red Vauxhall Cavalier car that was parked in Queen Street at about 0015 BST. The device struck a wall but did not explode. Police are investigating a link with dissident republicans. A Fold for the elderly and … Read more

Paisley’s peerage is not the final verdict

Most journalists are either too young or too indifferent by now to do other than nod towards  Ian Paisley’s long-trailed elevation to the red benches of the House of Lords. At 84 becoming a life peer is more of an honour than a job. With all the charm and civility they can both deploy, he and Eileen will become the Upper House’s perfect chuckle couple. Journalist Ed Moloney has produced two views of Paisley at different times; one with Andy Pollak … Read more

Photograph of the Day – As far as i know you can’t get a ticket for that

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the … Read more