Never minds the pact, give the dinosaurs a vote this May

The Ulster Museum needs your support to become the first local institution to lift the prestigious Art Fund Prize. This is the most prestigious award in these islands. It has never been won by a NI museum/gallery but the experts believe this is the best chance we’ll have for many years to win it. The aim at the moment is to get on the shortlist of four which will be announced in mid May. The online poll closes on 7 … Read more

Another racist Facebook page from Belfast

Another sad racist Facebook page targeting Roma rose-sellers has already recruited 10,000 fans. The creators have have left the ‘info’ page blank but a number of the pictures and comments are from Belfast. As usual the comment zone contains pretty awful stuff. Angelo Mulvey says: “dont be so horrible those poor smelly theifing c..ts they might feel unwelcome and fuck off back home haha”. Then there is Hannah McAllister “out side egg in belfast…. in the space of a 5ish … Read more

Convicted paedophile running schools resource website

A man convicted of downloading indecent images of children ran a successful education resource website widely used here in Northern Ireland. Sparklebox is run by Samuel Kinge (formerly David Kinge) who was found guilty of making and possessing indecent images of children, including ‘abuse of babies’. He is reported to have been discovered with over 400 of these images. Samuel was sentenced on 8th January 2010 to one year in prison, of which he will serve 6 months, and restricted … Read more

Holocaust Memorial Day Belfast

I am just back from the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration in the Great Hall at Belfast City Hall with its marvellous stained glass windows dedicated to the four great provinces of Ireland. Members of all the faith communities; Christian, Jewish, Muslim and none joined in the ceremony. I counted four MLAs including myself. Naomi Long and Robin Newton were there in official capacities and Wallace Browne was in the row in front of me. There may well have been others … Read more

Everyone is here but will there be talks

All parties have turned up at Hillsborough this morning for talks but the strange thing is there is very little evidence of an inclusive process. Word from inside the building is that Sinn Fein are resisting all party talks. The SDLP will be making it clear to both government’s this morning that unless there is an inclusive process the potential for success will be serioulsy diminished. Quote of the day goes to a friend on Facebook this morning who said … Read more

All Party Talks Now!

The PM and Taoiseach are here and talking to the DUP and SF. Maybe they think a deal can be done between the big two. Unfortunately experience suggests that even if McGuinness and Robinson do shake on something the chances of it sticking are slim. Time is limited and the two premiers should move straight to an all party process. It is the only mechanism which is proven to work in this region and it is the only way of … Read more

Justice Minister must be inside the Executive and allocated by D’Hondt

We all want to see an urgent and satisfactory resolution to the deadlock over the devolution policing and justice. Some of the rumours emanating from the talks, however, are worrying. I blogged earlier in the week about how Sinn Fein seemed happy to negotiate away a nationalist seat and the executive table. Today there are rumours that the new minister may not even be a member of the executive. This is a recipe for disaster. It hands an effective veto … Read more

Are talks destined for discriminatory outcome?

Talkback is debating the ‘talks’. If the texters, twitterers and callers are anything to go by, the vast majority of people here want the devolution process completed. The DUP and Sinn Fein appear on course to produce a discriminatory outcome. Instead of rerunning D’Hondt, both parties appear determined to award the 11th executive seat to a party with no mandate to hold it. This is a dangerous precedent and will do nothing to strengthen community confidence in power – sharing … Read more

Helen Lewis RIP

Can I add my condolences to the family of Cahal Daly, a man who in my experience played an important role in bringing peace to our land. The BBC also reports today the death of Helen Lewis, one of the North’s few survivors of Auschwitz. I never met her but know many who’s lives she touched as a dancer and a living connection to the darkest period in modern European history. We have lost all too many this Christmas and … Read more

Cllr Peter O’Hagan RIP

The death was announced today of SDLP founder and Lisburn councillor Peter O’Hagan. He will be sadly missed from the party and politics. Conall

Are we reaching the end of the education crisis?

The SDLP, DUP, UUP and Alliance have agreed to establish an educator-led group to find a short-term compromise while seeking a long-term solution to the transfer crisis. The make-up of this group will be announced in early January and the group will work with the four parties to bring forward a solution to the Assembly Education Committee. This is a significant step forward and will be welcome news to parents and teachers across the region. Dominic Bradley MLA noted; “There … Read more

Blogtalk 7

In the last of the series, Geoff Mc Gimpsey (Bobballs) and Alan Meban (Alaninbelfast) join Donal Lyons on the sofa. Discussion includes social housing in East Belfast, the problems of a Deputy First Minister and where to now for the dead tree industry. Also, extended highlights of the Slugger Awards that were held in Belfast last week. Northern Visions would like to thank everyone who supported the series and will look to organising a second series in the New Year. … Read more

The remembrance too many in Ireland want to forget

Alasdair McDonnell MP, MLA writing in the current issue of the Church of Ireland Gazette shines a light on the memory of the disappeared and asks why there are still those prepared to give some legitimacy to their murders. The month of November celebrates All Souls day and the end of the church’s liturgical year. Christians from ancient times in Ireland have always remembered and revered the dead. The belief that prayers are a positive force for the departed is … Read more

New local online hate group

Have blogged over on O’Conall Street about the latest local Facebook hate group. This one has been created by what looks like a very cross community group of apparently middle class students from Belfast and targets the Romanian community. Conall

The speech Peter Robinson should give

Fair Deal, David Gordon and I wrote three short speeches we thought Peter Robinson should give to the DUP faithful tomorrow. Read them here. Conall

Blogtalk 5

This week’s show features my fellow Sluggerer Chris Donnelly, Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast) and Brian Crowe (Burke’s Corner). Blogtalk (episode 5) from Northern Visions/NvTv on Vimeo. Conall

Border Politics II

I blogged last week about Minister Edwin Poots decision to take Forestside (and all its rates) out of Belfast and give Belfast the loss making Robinson Centre and Dundonald Ice Bowl. It got me thinking about the obvious conflict between Minister Poots’ membership of Lisburn Council – soon to be merged with Castlereagh and this decision. Surely this is the sort of conduct the Ministerial Code would have something to say about? The Northern Ireland Ministerial Code states that ministers … Read more

Justice for the innocent

On Monday night in West Belfast a 70 strong audience listened to families of injustice give heart-breaking and emotional addresses to an SDLP public meeting on “Justice for the Innocent”. Catherine McCartney, sister of Robert McCartney, Breege Quinn, the mother of Paul Quinn, Raymond McCord whose son was murdered by UVF on 9th November 1997, Gerry Conlon, Guildford Four and Alan McBride, Wave joined Denis Bradley and Alex Attwood in a discussion on the need for justice for innocent and … Read more

Ritchie launches SDLP leadership bid

Today it was Margaret Ritchie’s turn to formally launch her bid for the SDLP leadership. Am told those present included Eddie McGrady, Brid Rodgers and MLAS; Tommy Gallagher, Thomas Burns, Carmel Hanna and Alex Attwood. She majors on her vision for the North and a new Ireland. Full speech below the fold. Thank you, and thanks to each of you for coming here this morning for the launch of my campaign. I want to speak to you about who I … Read more