Less than 2% of Rape Cases in Northern Ireland end in Conviction. Why the System Needs Reformed.

When the verdict came in, nobody in the women’s movement was especially surprised. There was consternation at the length of time the jury deliberated, certainly. But the verdict itself was not surprising. Rape is a serious crime and it carries a high burden of proof, requiring certainty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict. In practice, this means that convictions are hard to come by absent something like CCTV evidence or a confession of guilt. We all knew this. … Read more

The need for an agreed history…

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”. Oh Mr. Daedalus, if only you had been in Northern Ireland in 2018. History is everywhere in our political reality, and also somehow nowhere. It is slippery and vague, not unlike the content of a nightmare the moment the dreamer jolts awake. I turned 18 a few weeks before I voted for the first time, and that vote was on the Belfast Agreement. It was, to me, … Read more

Brexit and the British Empire

A spectre is haunting Europe. No, not that one. An uglier, messier one by far; the spectre of Empire. And if Europe is the haunted house in this metaphor, the UK is the creaking stairway where the spectre appears, Northern Ireland where you fancy you can hear it whisper in your ear. Brexit has shone a light on a lot of long hidden corners of the British psyche, none so alarming as the anti-Irish sentiment that has appeared since Taoiseach … Read more

George Hook, Rape Culture and the Irish Media…

Last week broadcaster George Hook made some comments during his radio show about a recent rape case that have been almost universally condemned. Although he has since apologised, his words ring hollow, not least because he apologised for causing offence rather than retracting his central thesis; that a victim is partially responsible for what happens to them if they are insufficiently careful (1). He has form for this, too, having previously argued, while discussing a case where a man routinely … Read more

Yes, Corbyn condemned the IRA. And the rest

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn allegedly refused to condemn the IRA when pressed multiple times during a television interview. This sent various media into a frothing overdrive, delighted Conservatives, and apparently set off the whataboutery alarm at DUP headquarters, who immediately and predictably declared Corbyn “beyond the political pale”. Except, of course, he did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Rather, he insisted on condemning the IRA and any other perpetrator of violence by condemning “violence on all sides”. James Brokenshire, who … Read more

The Citizens’ Assembly has spoken: We must repeal the 8th Amendment.

  Over the past weekend the Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland finished hearing testimony and voted on the issue of abortion. The results were surprisingly and emphatically pro-choice, and they represent a resounding success for this experiment with deliberative democracy. Democracy was meant to be deliberative. The idea was that citizens, motivated not by selfish or sectarian drives but by civic duty, would discuss the issues facing their society with a view to arriving at the best possible outcome for everybody. … Read more

The poor have chosen their poverty, only the lazy are poor, work always pays handsomely and that life is predictable if one applies oneself…

As of last Wednesday, new rules for benefits claimants have come into practice, announced back when George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer. They target the most vulnerable – as per standard Conservative Party practice – including the disabled, the long-term ill and the working poor. Also in characteristic Tory fashion, the changes will hurt women and children most via the new cap on the number of children eligible for child tax credits – and there is an extra sting … Read more

Belfast City Council sexism row/anti-street harassment

This week is anti-street harassment week, a week of action by activists worldwide to draw attention to the problem of street harassment (1). Notice I don’t use the word ”cat-calling”. Too cutesy and toothless, it is seen as mildly naughty but basically harmless, a bit of a laugh. A bit like a Councillor commenting on the pleasure he derives from the sight of the Council’s CEO cycling about the city she basically manages. All in good fun, right? Certainly that … Read more