Panorama on collusion: Does Trevor Ringland support coverup?

Trevor Ringland’s criticism of Darragh MacIntyre’s Panorama on collusion for rewriting history with a political slant is misguided.  The documentary  gave examples of  a spectrum of collusion ranging from loose handling of informers to covering up agents who were multiple repeat killers, sometimes with the foreknowledge of their  handlers.  Much of the material is in the de Silva report, the published Stevens reports and elsewhere in the public domain. As he hinted in the programme, Denis Bradley was given brief privileged access to … Read more

Experiences of bus privatisation in GB

As threatened a number of times, I’ve finally pulled together this piece on why bus privatisation isn’t all it’s made out to be (cross-posted to my own site, where I’ve included a bibliography) I simply want to walk through the scenarios for privatisation we have seen in GB since 1986 and their pitfalls. Deregulation The main model followed in GB outside London was to deregulate bus transport.  All publicly owned bus companies, including municipal fleets, were privatised, either by sale … Read more

Nationalist Parties need to shift away from the “blame the Tories” narrative and embrace the Welfare Reform debate

Nationalism needs a new economic narrative and if you didn’t believe that before, the complete debacle over Welfare Reform is proof positive of the inability to construct a proper narrative on our current economic situation or a long term strategy for fiscal rectitude and a prosperous economy. We are faced at the moment with a budgetary crisis that puts our very institutions in jeopardy. After all the stop/starts, false dawns and talks about talks, we seemingly had broken the pattern … Read more

A Constitutionally guaranteed ‘freedom of speech’, or is the Dáil just going a bit rogue?

By far (for me anyway) the most interesting story of the week took place yesterday in the south. And it’s a real poser. Not least because it involves a clash between the common perception of parliamentary privilege in the UK and what it means under the Irish Constitution. The disclosure made in the Dail yesterday by Deputy Catherine Murphy was both partial and (unlike a similar disclosure by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald’s earlier in the year) a deliberate run … Read more

I Just Don’t Get The Troubles

I watched BBC’s Panorama on state collusion in criminality during the troubles in a state of shock. I knew this kind of thing happened, we all did… people killed, people were killed, people enabled killings and people seemed to acknowledge that killing just sort of…happened. I’m 28, I was born in May 1987 four days before the Loughgall Ambush, I was eight months old when the Milltown Cemetary attack took place, I wasn’t yet two years old when Pat Finucane was murdered, a month … Read more

Photo Gallery – West Belfast 1987 – 2003. Capture the present so those in the future can look back at the past…

The adage goes a picture is worth a thousand words and if that is true then I am looking over at at a cardboard box that contains an unseen, unwritten and unpublished 6 million word photographic document relating to life in West Belfast between 1987 – 2003. My name is Sean Allen and I’m a holistic therapist and I currently live in Waterford Ireland. Prior to this in 2003 I was a professional photographer in Belfast, covering Press, Advertising, PR, … Read more

Panorama’s exposure of greater collusion was a fine effort but it will make no difference

The BBC  are to be commended for visiting “ boring old Northern Ireland “ in a Panorama  special on the legacy issues of collusion, Britain’s Secret Deals, reported by Darragh McIntyre. To those who follow the detail there was little that was entirely new, although there was graphic fresh evidence and it was high time it was presented to the wider audience.  The bizarre detail that the rifle used in the murderous attack on Sean Graham’s bookies ended up in … Read more

Could Kate Hoey help swing Northern Ireland (and the UK) towards #Brexit?

Clever move, if it works out. Kate Hoey is not only a Labour MP (albeit a near permanently off message on), but she was one of the earliest members of the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland when she was a student PE teacher and worked closely with Michael Farrell in People’s Democracy. British rights for British citizens was her prime motivation. Kate Hoey, the former Home Office minister under Tony Blair who is one of the most prominent Eurosceptics … Read more

(Over) Prescribing for the Masses?

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. Public health strategies have focussed on the provision of safe drinking water, safe sewage disposal and mass vaccination. These have greatly reduced death and illness from infectious diseases. Preventative strategies are now being taken further; your GP will ask ‘screening’ questions, and you might get an invitation for a mammogram or for a bowel cancer check. We’ve all heard about the need to eat five portions of veggies a day (unless you are … Read more

Losing the armour after decades of hurt

Paul Francis Quinn is a singer and in this heartfelt piece he describes exactly what the recent marriage referendum result meant for him and many others. In 1986, near the end of a long, balmy and sleepless summer, a heterosexual male friend and I took the DART from the suburbs of Bray. Into the city we went and once there he promptly deposited me in a dingy, beer stained bar called “The George”. A third of the size it is … Read more

Stormont: Let’s Keep it Closed

There’s a wonderful, fascinating irony developing – for political anoraks at least – in the devolved regions of this United Kingdom. Just a few days after David Cameron’s initial talks with Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP about devo-max for Scotland it appears that devolution in Northern Ireland is about to be handed back. Devolved institutions that pander to nationalist factions rarely survive long. In Northern Ireland any administrative progress is made near-impossible given the need for cross-community agreement for anything … Read more

‘A Defeat for Humanity’

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin is reported in the media (Guardian, Irish Independent, Irish Times) today, 27 May, as saying that the ‘Yes’ vote in the recent Irish referendum on equal marriage was ‘a defeat for humanity’. He made this remark to reporters attending a conference in the Vatican. The fuller quote seems to be: This result left me feeling very sad but as the Archbishop of Dublin pointed out, the Church will have to take this … Read more

Sinn Fein – No Longer Transfer Toxic

The Carlow Kilkenny by-election has shown that Sinn Fein’s traditional transfer toxicity might be a thing of the past. Personally I had a great weekend. I burst out of my closet 27 years ago at the tender age of 19 and landed in a very cold room for gays in the conservative Ireland of 1987. Over the last 27 years I have witnessed a phenomenal social revolution with the LGBT community becoming the most recent beneficiaries. However, I must admit … Read more

Truth or Consequences: the potential impact of un-devolving welfare

One of the more idiosyncratic aspects of life in Northern Ireland is that the sort of constitutional crisis that would leave most countries in a spate of ear-to-the-radio, markets-tumbling panic, barely passes as newsworthy. The threat of dissolution of the Assembly and the end of the power-sharing Executive is regarded with the same complete lack of interest that, say, Louis Walsh threatening to leave the X Factor again might be. Indeed, such is the widely perceived ineptitude of the devolved … Read more

Not all the zombies are politicians. This is also civil society’s failure

Not so long ago, Northern Ireland  politics were conducted in a seething cauldron. Today they’re in zombieland.  Nobody seems to know what sort of situation is facing  Northern Ireland in the  forthcoming days, weeks and months. Your starter for 10. Is it bailout, surrender or just staggering on?   At home, nobody can be bothered even to do an informed analysis of the costs of continuing denial. Malachi, like myself no economist,  is no better informed but is properly  uneasy .  In … Read more

Fianna Fail’s future is the radical centre

Many voices are rushing to tell Fianna Fail what direction it needs to go. Mark Beegan is a Public Relations Consultant and Fianna Fáil activist. He specialises in political communication and media relations.  He argues that simple ideological analysis is not enough and is not what Fianna Fail was ever about.   Senator Power’s bombshell has brought forward a debate long needed in Irish politics. Where does Fianna Fáil stand and for whom? John McGuirk and Pat Leahy have both … Read more

What’s that got to do with the price of fish? The growing gap between inflation and the perception of inflation

Last week’s news that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate of UK inflation has dipped below zero for the first time since official records began in 1996, and for the first time since 1960 based on equivalent historical estimates, caused a range of reactions amongst commentators and politicians. The Chancellor, George Osborne, was keen to emphasise that this should be termed “negative inflation”, a brief spell of decreasing prices, rather than the more damaging “deflation”, implying a longer term period … Read more

Take a position or face irrelevance – The FF choice?

Fianna Fail needs to decide on its path for the future.  Most of all it needs to decide who it represents according to Communications Consultant John McGuirk.   A year ago today, two of Fianna Fáil’s biggest stars were its young, attractive, articulate Senator for North Dublin, Averil Power, and it’s poll-topping, gravity-defying MEP for Munster, Brian Crowley. In the most barren era for the party since its foundation, members could point to both as examples of the party’s continued … Read more

Whatever Sen Power says now, Fianna Fail’s Leadership took a strong stance

Averil Power’s announcement this morning that she is resigning from Fianna Fáil is bad news. It will hurt the party and hurt the many people in Fianna Fáil who have supported her over the past few years. Though I doubt Averil would have counted me as a particular friend, we did serve together as Ministerial Advisers for about six years. In that role I got to see her working up close. I saw how committed and dedicated a worker she … Read more

The Modern Management of Heart Attacks

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is an interruption of the arterial blood flow to the heart. Untreated, it will lead to the death of part of the muscle of the heart. The heart is supplied by blood from two smallish arteries, the coronary arteries; a blockage in one of these is a heart attack. The blockage is caused by a clot or ‘thrombus’ forming on a ‘plaque’ of cholesterol in the artery. Symptoms are classically pain in the centre … Read more