Do we deserve better?

The ‘We Deserve Better’ protests’ have come and gone. As I write, Northern Ireland has amassed 591 days without a government and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. In the wake of reasonably well-attended protests in 13 towns, here are 4 thoughts, in no particular order. 1. With the Belfast protest cancelled (due to the fire in Bank Buildings) I attended the protest at the McKee clock in Bangor. I was carrying the placard (see pic) with … Read more

The Trump Protests – The personal, the political, and the possible…

For the record, I didn’t travel to London to protest at Trump’s visit to the UK. But when large scale protests are taking place literally within chanting distance of your hotel room, then I wasn’t going to miss the chance to join in. The first protest, led by the Trump baby balloon (not overly impressive in the, em, plastic), had just made its way into Parliament Square as we arrived. I was immediately struck not only by the diversity of … Read more

In the Name of the Son. A book review of the new Gerry Conlon biography by Richard O’Rawe…

Gerry Conlon, arguably the most well-known of the Guildford Four, published his autobiography ‘Proved Innocent’ in 1990. It made an enormous impression on me in my early twenties, so it didn’t take much to get me to Merrion Press’s launch of Richard O’Rawe’s ‘In the Name of the Son’ in Belfast at the start of October. The forward by Johnny Depp might raise a few eyebrows, and does indicate the kind of circles Conlon moved in after his release from … Read more

You don’t have to be a nationalist to join the SDLP…

A few weeks ago, I renewed my SDLP membership for 2015. Yes, late in the year, but that way I was able to canvass for Naomi Long in May and not feel conflicting loyalties. A little pharisaic, I know, but it worked for my conscience! Seriously though, I don’t think changing loyalties should really be that surprising in this political climate. Voting or campaigning for a progressive voice has always been most important to me, and that has sometimes meant … Read more

As a Christian I would vote ‘yes’ to gay marriage…

"Rainbow flag breeze" by Benson Kua. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rainbow_flag_breeze.jpg#/media/File:Rainbow_flag_breeze.jpg

Christians in Northern Ireland haven’t had the best of press lately; ‘gay’ cakes and court cases, same sex marriage and even one would-be MP who wanted to bring back corporal punishment. Nolan (BBC1  20th May) even interviewed Joshua Feuerstein, who most right wing American Christians would consider to be far right wing. But the Christian church in Northern Ireland is changing; it is, as they say, a ‘broad church’. Over the past months, in all those stories, I have yet … Read more

Time to embrace true integrated education?

Dave Thompson has been a teacher in Forge Integrated Primary School for over 18 years.  Here are two facts about myself. I firmly believe in the importance of Integrated education. I also like irony; I frequently have a wry smile on my face. Sometimes these facts merge. For example, when local opinion polls show overwhelming support for Integrated education, yet, even when an Integrated option is available, most people don’t choose Integrated schools first. This is a little unfair, I … Read more