Unionist violence after flag vote…

AS predictably as night follows day, unionist protesters have turned to violence after tonight’s City Hall vote to restrict the flying of the Union Flag to designated days. Trouble erupted in and around the City Hall itself, but is right now spreading to other areas, noteably East Belfast. A number of police have been injured, and two female officers taken to hospital. You can leave reports of any trouble you observe below. Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

Who really leads the DUP..?

“THERE is new political space developing in Northern Ireland,” Peter Robinson told the South Antrim DUP at the weekend. “It is the DUP’s aim that unionism will own it and lead it.” But it can’t. Tonight, “the new political space” will be seen at the front of the City Hall, where I doubt those mingling in the Christmas Market will care too much about any flag flying above them. Round the back, will be the “old” political space, full of … Read more

Abortion clinic opens in Belfast…

NORTHERN Ireland is to get its first abortion clinic next week. In one of the biggest stories of our generation – and one which will unite hardline Protestants and Catholics – it’s reported that Marie Stopes will open for business in Belfast next Thursday, with the help of former PUP leader Dawn Purvis. The organisation says it will operate within the framework of the law here, but that will do little to assuage the anger of opponents, who will see … Read more

Bored with the blather…

IF you’ve ever sighed with exasperation or clenched your teeth with frustration every time you heard someone say “we are all to blame” for the Troubles, you may find Malachi O’Doherty’s latest column somewhat cathartic. The peace process patter that has evolved in our political discourse may be natural and second nature to those who wish to absolve themselves, but for the vast majority who got on with life and our neighbours, it can be uncomfortably Orwellian. For the majority … Read more

A new take on pride and prejudice…

SO fair play to Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson for being the first from the DUP to take a seat on the panel of Belfast Pride Talks Back debate. I’m sure he doesn’t feel any less straight the morning after the night before, and the move certainly upstaged the rest of the panel. Whether it actually means anything in terms of their policies remains to be seen. As a mayor for everyone, will Gavin be at the Gay Pride parade, … Read more

The legacy of Hutcheson, an Ulster Scots great…

ULSTER-SCOTS seems to me to have a tendency to cling on to the pathetic, irrational US Tea Party politics these days. But the real radicalism of Presbyterianism – with its strong anti-authoritarianism streak for fairness and equality – influenced the world. It is explored in this fascinating documentary of Saintfield’s Forgotten Revolutionary: Francis Hutcheson. In these harsh economic times, perhaps he is worth re-visiting. He might be one of the world’s leading Ulster Scots – influencing both economist Adam Smith and … Read more

McGuinness’ hero on royal visits…

JAMES Connolly is an undoubted hero of Martin McGuinness’ – the deputy First Minister even invoked him in a speech as as recently as last month. But I wonder if this icon of republicanism’s ‘patriot dead’ would have approved of McGuinness meeting the Queen? Here’s some of Connolly’s thoughts on a previous royal visitor to Ireland, King George V in 1911. Different rules for a different era? Knowing from previous experience of Royal Visits, as well as from the Coronation … Read more

Adams damning McGuinness with faint praise..?

IT would have been easy for Gerry Adams to be fulsome in his praise of Martin McGuinness’ presidential campaign. Instead, the intro to Gerry Adams’ latest blog entry seems both ambiguous and odd – although the former may be politically ingrained and the latter blamed on his a faux folksy writing style. And – for a party as single-mindedly obsessed with expansionism as SF – not a word about the size of the vote. Here’s the first par, the one … Read more

Every little helps…

I DOUBT if our Sammy has been down at Writer’s Square lately, or whether he’s been flicking through the pages of Tescopoly – but there’s little doubt he has managed to piss off one multi-national more than our tent-dwelling comrades have. And after reading Tesco director David North’s threats the other day about cutting job creation and investment here if Sammy goes ahead with plans to impose a large retailer levy, I rather sympathise with Sammy. North said last week … Read more

Fees gap to be paid by GB students…?

THE decision to freeze student fees here seems to be going down well, but it won’t come without cost. And that cost – half of it – will be borne by the Department of Employment and Learning. It would be difficult to argue that learning should come at the expense of employment services in the middle of a recession when the jobless total is almost twice what the department is budgeted to deal with. As the Minister said in June, … Read more

Last supergrass trial was, um, actually just four years ago…

JUST watching the BBC and it’s constantly reporting that today marks the start of the “first ‘supergrass’ trial in Belfast for 25 years”. It’s not. No-one seems to remember that just four years ago, this happened – and it wasn’t exactly a roaring success. Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

A Bonefire In An Empty Space…?

IF you’re stuck at the desk over lunch and need a laugh, check out PSNI West Belfast’s Facebook page. There are some gems of posts, such this possible attempt at haiku below. Profound. But fair play to the poor sod that gets lumbered with replying! Stroaking The Wood From The Bru In Andytonw. Wat Harm Is There Liting. A Bonefire In An Empty Space? Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching…

THE (restricted) Tour of the North parade gets under way in a few minutes. But if you don’t fancy getting wet, and still want to sample loyalist culture – in the safety of your own home no less – you could do worse than watch The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching. It’s one of the BBC’s Wonderland documentaries, and it’s absolutely fascinating to see the Shankill through the eyes of “Jordan, an eleven-year old aspiring drummer from one of the … Read more

A Dubliner’s Diary: The Visit…

“When The Visit was first announced, I guess most Irish people were a bit surprised that such a high-profile guest would be coming to Dublin. It’s not that they aren’t welcome, but there was a lot of animosity about stuff that happened in the past. Some people will never get past the association with the army and the violence carried out against Irish people, but times change. “So the anger was relatively muted, with only the dissidents genuinely offended. There … Read more

Dissidents win small political battle…

IF one of the aims of dissident republicanism is to disrupt normal politics here, they won a small victory on Monday. NIO minister Hugo Swire was quite explicit that the reason the identities of donors to political parties would remain secret was the threat of intimidation. It is possible he, and the unionists who called for a continuation of the status quo, could be right. After all, it wasn’t just soldiers who took bullets at Massereene – apparently Polish pizza … Read more

Leak lists Irish companies vital to US security…

WIKILEAKS’ latest instalment contains a list of facilities around the world the US believes is vital to its national security. There are just two Irish entries. The first is the Hibernia Atlantic undersea cable landing – one of a number of fast transatlantic communications links listed – while the other is Genzyme Ireland Ltd. (filling), Waterford, which supplies Thymoglobulin, a drug to help prevent donor organ rejection. Publication of the leak has been criticised, as it could be used as … Read more

DUP were first to lower Olympic expectations…

IF this contrite statement is anything to go by, DUP Sports Minster Nelson McCausland must have hauled Sport NI chief executive Eamonn McCartan over the coals for listing off on TV reasons why we weren’t attracting Olympic interest. McCartan told the BBC that no Olympic teams had committed to train here for the 2012 Games due to our violent image, the threat from dissidents, geographical location, travel costs and access to Olympics venues. His despondent forecast neatly echoes, er, fellow … Read more

Paratrooper spotted on Falls…

THE times are certainly changing. Walk into the new Sainsbury’s store on the Falls Road, and you’ll see signs in Irish, as well as… Paratroopers in the aisles! Only a matter of time before Squinter spots this toy from the ‘HM Armed Forces’ range, whinges and it’s withdrawn, so here’s a pic to prove it. But you gotta wonder how sales are doing… Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

McCausland avoids the real debate on museum…

I’M not sure what to make of the Culture Minister’s latest blog entry on the Ulster Museum controversy. After waiting patiently for Nelson McCausland to address the merits of Creationism’s place in the museum, it now appears he doesn’t want to talk about the only genuine controversy in his letter to the trustees after all. This is disappointing, because the Minister freely offered his personal defence of why Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and other fraternal organisations like the AoH, the … Read more

Good riddance to Sir Alasdair…

AND so farewell to Sir Alasdair Fraser, the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, who is to retire in September. Conveniently, this will mean that he won’t have to take any tough decisions over prosecutions after the Saville Report is published. Sir Alasdair has been criticised in the past for failing to account for his decisions and he never defined what the “public interest” was when that became his only way of making them. This satisfied neither unionist, nationalist … Read more