Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) – What Straight Boys Need to Learn…

person overlooking on tall trees during daytime

In the past 18 months we have seen the unpleasant side of male sexuality exposed many times. Andrew Tate was reportedly making significant money by promoting misogynistic ideas to young men through social media. Apparently, he was gaining in popularity with young men until Greta Thunberg caught him with her “[email protected]” response to his attack on her. Russell Brand is in the news again; he lost his job with the BBC back in 2008 over his shocking on-air comments about …

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Tell me what the DUP want, what they really, really want…

I once believed the DUP would go back into Stormont in the autumn and the British government would provide them with some cover to do so, but this is looking increasingly unlikely, particularly in a week when the N. Ireland minister Steve Baker (Tuesday 12th Sept) said ‘where we are with the DUP is in the final stages of them letting us know what they need’. He then claimed the DUP is being pressurised by a small number of hardliners …

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I Was Born in Ireland – So Why do I Feel British?

blue, red, and white mug filled with coffee

If we discuss politics with our nationalist neighbours, most unionists will have had their attention directed to a map of Ireland. With or without a border, we have to accept that we were born on the island of Ireland and are Irish. We are asked, why don’t we stop being stubborn and accept the logic of this? The standard of living, the level of benefits, the education system and the health system in the Irish Republic are all better than …

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Short Term Political Decisions Will Not Fix Our Heath Service…

person holding brown bear plush toy

I have always been an optimist by nature and really hoped that the NI Assembly, set up after the Good Friday Agreement, would turn away from the divisive nature of identity politics and start focussing on education, social care and health. However, the Assembly has been suspended for over 40% of the time it has existed (primarily by SF and their partners in the DUP) and shows little desire to tackle difficult but essential tasks such as reorganising the NHS …

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Is history being used as a cover for today’s paramilitaries?

Back in April 2014 the Belfast Telegraph published a letter from me that began with the paragraph: What have Sir Roger Casement, Billy Hutchinson, Gerry Adams and the Orange Order got in common? They all share a belief that importing guns and using the threat of violence to influence British policy in Ireland is something to be celebrated. At that time, I was concerned that the celebration of the UVF gun-running of 1914 through Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee that was …

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Barbie – More than Just a Doll?

blonde-haitred Barbie doll photo

My 20-year-old daughter became quite indignant listing in the car to radio discussions about the new Barbie film. Did the doll create image problems for young girls? Should it promote feminism? Was the film accepting Chinese control of the South China Sea? As I listened, I could see her point. Are culture-war-obsessed adults in danger of drowning out the joy and creativity children can have playing with dolls, or that young adults can have in remembering their childhoods? I fully …

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What are the Birds Singing About?

bird singing on tree

We hear them every morning, birds singing cheerfully, calling out across the gardens to welcoming the sun each morning – or at least that is what I was told they were doing when I was in primary school. The truth is a little less pleasant. The tunes those birds sing each morning are a warning to other birds of the same species to stay away, that this piece of territory is owned and that trespass will probably be met with …

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Don’t Let Dead People Haunt Our Future…

man and woman holding hands

The veneration of the dead is common across humanity, in some societies even to the extent of praying to dead ancestors. Most countries do not go to that extreme but it is common for nation states to venerate leaders from the past. In the USA politicians even now talk about what the ‘founding fathers’ of their nation meant when they wrote the constitution over 200 years ago. Are we correct to place such trust in guidance from the past? What …

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Does a symbiotic relationship suit the DUP and Sinn Féin?

brown rock formation under white sky during daytime

Symbiosis – A symbiotic relationship more or less means a mutually beneficial relationship between different species or groups. You will have seen examples of this on nature programs with birds such as oxpeckers perched on the backs of large grazing mammals such as wildebeest, rhinos and zebras. The grazing animals tolerate the birds because they eat parasites on the mammal’s body, including ticks and blood-sucking flies. The zebra or wildebeast have annoying parasites removed while the birds get an easy meal. Similarly, …

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More Equal than Others?

Doug Beattie’s predicted on Radio Ulster that the DUP will return to Stormont after September. I think his prediction is correct, the DUP gain an electoral advantage by appearing to stand firm during the May elections and certainly will not want to concede anything during the marching season. There will be no change before September but no-one will be surprised if one final concession from the UK government in the autumn is used to allow the DUP to return ‘victorious’ …

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We need to better educate people on the Irish language origins of many of our town names…

brown and green mountain beside body of water during daytime

As a school teacher in the mainly Protestant and Unionist sector I always believed it was common sense that our pupils understood the Irish language origins of many of our town names, seeing this as a way to desensitise our population from the divide over language. While explaining that so many of our towns begin with ‘Bally’ because the Irish word ‘Baile’ means town I had many interesting conversations with our GCSE pupils about geography and nationality. I argued more …

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6 Weeks with the NHS…

black and gray stethoscope

Criticising the NHS and promoting private health care as the answer has been in the news recently. According to the chair of the Royal College of GPs in Northern Ireland there has been a “significant rise” in patients having their “health needs met in the private sector”. Considering how bad the queues are for some treatments by the NHS, this is not surprising. When you see a relative in significant pain for well over a year with no end in …

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Stop confusing Consent with Cross-Community Consent…

rainbow

Much of the confusion and concern around the NI Protocol is due to the fact that some within unionism are confused about the difference between Consent vs Cross-Community Consent, and I suspect others may be deliberately keeping this confusion going. The Good Friday Agreement guarantees Cross-Community Consent for devolved issues, internal to N. Ireland and controlled by the assembly; this is dealt with in Strand One of the Agreement. This was designed to ensure that our Stormont government would take …

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We should not be surprised when some kids give up and achieve lower results than those children not damaged by the transfer test labelling system… 

boy in black hoodie sitting on chair

Do you believe that intelligence is fixed, that you are born clever, or not clever?  If so, you are in agreement with many 11-year-old boys. Some girls share this belief as well, but boys in particular are keen to find out where they rank in comparison with others. It helps them decide whether or not more effort is worthwhile.  They believe that if you are intelligent then more effort might possibly mean higher achievement, but if you are not intelligent …

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