Author Archive | Brian Walker

Monsoon tiger

I know it sounds callow to admit it but I’ve just spent my very first holiday in west Cork and Kerry. In spite of the monsoon conditions, I was mightily impressed. Brian Friel type memories of Donegal in the 40s and 50s can be laid to rest. There was no sign whatever of bungalow blight. more…

Human Rights on the long finger

Having just returned from a Noah’s Ark holiday in the deep south west, I reached the sight of Mount Ararat (aka Divis) just ahead of the storm that engulfed the south’s motorway network around Dublin last Saturday, before making it back to London yesterday to be greeted with similar climes. More of that later maybe. more…

United we stand- against abortion

Well, if the local parties can’t agree on much else, they’re united against abortion. Leading on this rare story of chiming unity, ( how right you are, my dear friend Gail) the Belfast Telegraph post-Troubles is reverting to a a comfortably conservative (complacent?) editorial line, homing in on commercially sensible consensus where it can find more…

Before we all get too excited…

Just the thing to distract me from packing for the holidays… I’ve decided to pull this up from a comment to a blog. After the first flush of excitement the next questions are: What impact would a Conservative/ Ulster Unionist alliance have on the politics of power sharing? The move seems likely to provoke a more…

Abortion moves far from dead

Just the day after Westminster goes off for the long hols, up pops the campaign to extend abortion to Northern Ireland with a quick ambush to keep the issue boiling and NI MPs nerves on edge all summer. Telly pundit and MP Diane Abbot told the BBC’s Today programme (see 8.42) that the cross party more…

Union futures after Glasgow East

Gloomy musings about the future of the Union on the eve of the Glasgow East by-election. What would happen if the Conservatives win England and power but fail to carry a single seat in Scotland? Tristram Hunt in the Guardian and David Goodhart in the seminal magazine Prospect are among commentators hedging their bets. P.S. more…

Raytheon coverage – draconian gag or just routine?

The Independent today prominently trailed and published a piece by Mark Steel celebrating the acquittal of Eamon McCann and other members of the “Raytheon 9” in Derry last month. The paper had withheld publication of the same article in May, while the trial was in progress. But Steel himself went ahead anyway and ran it more…

Kate Hoey under pressure

Kate Hoey under pressure

Things have come to a pretty pass when that doughty daughter of Ulster, Labour MP Kate Hoey is defended by the Conservative king of the blog Iain Dale and attacked in a Labour-looking website. Her announcement as sports adviser to the then Tory candidate for London mayor Boris Johnson can hardly have endeared her to more…

What Sarko really said

What Sarko really said

What Nicholas Sarkozy put to Brian Cowen was very different to the public back-slapping and schmoozing, according to the Irish Times, the only paper that seems to be on the inside track.. While most of the media were diverted by the row over Sarkozy’s alleged “The Irish must call a second referendum” remarks and the more…

Biffo puts Sarko to rights

Biffo puts Sarko to rights

He ducked and weaved, he charmed and wheedled, he went on and on and on, but the French coq couldn’t budge the Big Fella from Offaly from his stolid,” The Will of the Irish People Must Be Respected – and would you forever get the hell back to Paris quick before we vote ourselves out more…

A passionate Prime Minister

A passionate Prime Minister

Gordon Brown today made his first speech that really sounded like a Prime Minister’s. He was personal, he was passionate, he spoke from deep knowledge and experience. His idealism soared. He was even convincing. But he was addressing the Israeli Parliament. Why can’t he do this at home? There was a different angle to the more…

Somme memories

Somme memories

In an Irishman’s Diary this morning, my namesake Professor Brian Walker gives a very simple and moving account of the death of a young soldier badly wounded a fortnight earlier at the Battle of the Somme, and the impact it made on his family. By the standards of the time, the story of Tom McKinney more…

The Saint and the Secular – must they be in conflict?

In response to my post about Cardinal Newman’s imminent sainthood, Pete Baker referred me via several links to a post of his praising Richard Dawkins and rehearsing a favourite theme, the futility of Pope Benedict’s attempts to reconcile religion and science and in the process, making a sinister bid to undermine the Enlightenment. I agree more…

Iraq: real movement or just for home consumption?

Iraq: real movement or just for home consumption?

Adds: It’s worth adding the Independent on Sunday’s version of a joint Brown-Obama approach to shift focus to Afghanistan, but no other news source goes this far. Reports of Obama and Brown on separate trips to the troubled region although confused, are important enough to attract Slugger’s attention! But first as ever, presentation is vital more…

A new Orangeism in a Tory revival?

A cliffhanger is reported for next Thursday’s Glasgow East by-election, with the Sunday Herald reporting Labour four points ahead of the SNP and only 1,000 votes separating them. Ironically, with the SNP on the rise, the by-election climax offers yet another opportunity for London papers like the Sunday Times to eclipse the Scottish based Herald more…

Saint John Newman will affect more than Catholics

Saint John Newman will affect more than Catholics

I’m normally with those who give a slight shudder at the news of the latest saint and the inevitable miracle he or she had to perform, alive or dead, in order to make the grade. But in John Henry Newman they’ll have a saint worthy of the name. No saint in the sense of a more…

Threat to Public Service Broadcasting

Threat to Public Service Broadcasting

P.S. Worth adding that the Welsh language ( though partly bilingual) channel S4C has around £90m funding per year for an audience, hit by digital choice, of approximately 511.000 last year. Fascinating stuff from the Ofcom seminar in Belfast about the future of public service broadcasting in Northern Ireland, posted by Mick. I’ve long since more…

Alistair Darling Scoop

I know that Slugger normally follows the strange old Northern Irish custom of never talking about money- ( after all we used to have a world-class crisis to talk about). But things have come to a pretty pass when it’s news when the Chancellor states the obvious about the whatyemecall it, the turn-down, credit crunch more…

The UK and Ireland: another threat to the common home

It may be dawning on the Irish north and south that one unexpected result of making Good Friday Agreement stick is the end of the British regarding the Irish as a special case. Unhindered travel without a passport under the CTA, may not be the only link that’s about to be broken. A recent report more…