Archive | June, 2013

Another interface and another petrol bomb attack…

Another petrol bomb attack. This time in west Belfast on the small Protestant enclave of Suffolk. Sinn Fein Councillor Gerard O’Neill was quick off the mark to make a statement yesterday: “Whoever was behind the attack and for whatever motive, it is a disgrace and will not stop the good work continuing between the communities more…

#G8 and tax: “In the end, leaders are led…”

This is a rather optimistic and upbeat summation of the ‘achievements’ on Tax at the G8 in Lough Erne from Ben Phillips… In the end, leaders are led, and the power of the people is stronger than the people in power. Can one intergovernmental meeting fix it? No. But after this year of corporate scandal, more…

The Lions Test Team – how were our predictions?

Here’s the team: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales),Alex Cuthbert (Wales),  Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)  Jonathan Davies (Wales), George North (Wales), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales); Alex Corbisiero (England), Tom Youngs (England), Adam Jones (Wales), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Tom Croft (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland). Subs: Richard Hibbard (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), more…

Let’s praise David Cameron for creating a brilliant showcase

First of all there was the simple pleasure at Lough Erne looking wonderful, an English friend saying  “didn’t Enniskillen look beautiful” and even the rain staying off, mostly.  I admit I was chuffed to see Jon Snow presenting lakeside “fresh in from Iran.. on a beautiful Fermanagh evening.” And never mind Obama. Unfashionable as it more…

20130617 Obama NI square

The fate of peace: President Obama in Northern Ireland

My marriage is a transatlantic union between a Midwesterner and a Belfast-born Northern Irishwoman. Fittingly, my wife and I were delighted to receive tickets to hear another Midwesterner, President Barack Obama, at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. With DJ Pete Snodden playing music by American artists, and the 2,000+ crowd performing a Mexican wave, one could be more…

Obama - Brian John Spencer - we need you to get this right

“We need you to get this right.”

“We need you to get this right.” – Barack Obama, Belfast Waterfront Hall, Monday 17 June 2013 Thought this deserved a special illustrated note. Perhaps we can carry this alongside us.

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#G8, transparency, tax and “the soft bigotry of low expectations…”

On tax, and transparency, here’s the final communique from Lough Erne. Ten “shoulds”, all of them ‘good things’, based on self reporting. Ah, “the soft bigotry of low expectations” says Joseph Cotteril. No imminent world government then? As The Economist noted last week: …offshore centres such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey, corporate service providers have had more…

Obama’s “Peace comes dropping slow (but not necessarily *this* slow)” speech in Belfast…

So, Obama’s speech? As Fionnuala O’Connor pointed out on BBC NI yesterday comparisons with past speeches are ill-placed. When Clinton spoke in 1995, she argued there was a lot riding on it. There was virtually nothing riding on Obama’s delivery yesterday. The regular mis-pronunciations were testament to the downgrading of Northern Ireland both in the more…

“Drowning in the last hours of the day…”

Somewhat belatedly, here’s the annual excellent Bloomsday video.  It’s tradition!  Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. Enjoy!

Obama strikes a note of realism in making a cautious appeal to open a gate in the peace walls before tearing them down

While it causes a thrill to see Obama in town, lockdown  bloated security hassle and all, visits by presidents, prime ministers and even popes are now subject to the law of diminishing returns. Timed to deliver a powerful boost the fledgling peace process in 1995,  Bill Clinton’s impact at the City Hall was bound to be more…