Author Archive | Gary Kent

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BIPA and facing the difficult politics of a common history….

The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly  delved deep into history to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and to highlight the long hidden and shared contribution of soldiers – Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist – as a means of overcoming present differences. Many cite the comment by Churchill at the end of that war that “The whole map of Europe more…

Emphasis of Kurdish parties is on equality within the current borders

The House of Commons will discuss UK relations with the Kurdistan Region in a 90 minute debate on today led by Conservative MP Jason McCartney, who served as an RAF officer policing John Major’s no-fly zone in the 1990s. It saved the Kurds from extinction at the hands of Saddam Hussein. No wonder that they more…

DCC Judith Gillespie: “Policing remains one of the most visible institutions whose actions are interpreted through opposing narratives and lenses…”

One woman dominated the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly this week in London – not the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers who opened the Assembly on Monday, but Judith Gillespie OBE, Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI. She was no uninspiring plod – all proceeding northerly in strangulated officialise. She brought passion, conviction and incisiveness to the more…

Ever heard of “Operation Irish” in Wales?

The Sh!t hit the fan, literally, at the end of this week’s British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in London today. A group of Welsh and Irish parliamentarians urged the Assembly to condemn the offensive use of the term “Operation Irish” as the code for a South Wales police operation to persuade schoolchildren to clear up dog mess. more…

BIPA at 21: Has its day come?

At the end of its recent plenary in Brighton Irish Co-Chair Joe McHugh quipped that that the low profile of the Assembly had been changed by press coverage of its decision to hold the plenary in the Grand Hotel 27 years after the Provo bomb that nearly killed Mrs Thatcher. Some Conservative MPs were angered more…

BIPA: Some heat and light in Brighton…

The pebbley beaches in Brighton deprive me of using the metaphor that the tide is about to overcome a carefully constructed sand castle But there is a sense here in Brighton at the 43rd plenary of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly that the tide may soon come in on a body that has done much to more…

British Irish Assembly meets in the Grand Hotel Brighton

A smorgasbord of hot political and business issues dominates the next meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly which brings together senior parliamentarians and ministers from across these islands. Their focus is on the banking crisis but they will also hear from the Northern Ireland Police Minister David Ford in the wake of the MI5 sting more…

The position of women in Iraqi Kurdistan

The radical potential of a thriving and progressive Kurdistan Region in Iraq for the whole country and the wider Middle East was brought home to me when I sat down last week with the Women’s Committee of the provincial council in Suleimaniah, the region’s second city. It wasn’t just because I was the only bloke more…

Why we should back Brown’s moves against the fat cats

The longstanding campaign for the Tobin Tax was once compared to the futile search for the Loch Ness Monster. So it is apt that an MP from Scotland, Gordon Brown, has started to scotch the cynics and trumpet the idea of a transaction levy. The UK now joins Germany, France and other countries as keen more…

Launch today of the British Irish Ulster Forum at Westminster

A new organisation is being launched tonight in Westminster by Thomas Lowe and Chris Punch. The organisation is called the British Irish Ulster Forum (BIUF) which can be found at www.biuf.org The topic for the launch event is ‘Building bridges, breaking ties: looking ahead at Stormont’ with an interesting array of speakers Chris Ruane MP more…

It’s the way they tell them

There was a strong turn out at a grand dinner this week in the Lords to celebrate the achievements of the integrated education movement. The feed was sponsored by Frank Carson and attracted a glittering array of supporters ranging from Peter Hain, Peter Brooke, Owen Paterson, Brian Mawhinney and Jane Kennedy to stars such as more…

Orange Marches safe in a united Ireland according to Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams becomes the first Sinn Fein leader to address the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Swansea this morning. He will use rational, pragmatic and economic arguments to urge them “to join in the historic endeavour to bring about the reunification of the people of Ireland” and promises that “Orange marches will have their place in more…

Gerry Adams to address British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams becomes the first Sinn Fein leader to address the Assembly in Swansea on Tuesday morning. He is expected to make a rational case for Irish unity and seek to accommodate unionist fears and hopes. Watch this space. What do you think Gerry should say?

Questions for Gerry and Mark

Gerry Adams and Mark Durkan of Sinn Fein and the SDLP respectively will be pitching their parties’ programme and perspectives in key note addresses at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Swansea next Monday and Tuesday. The leaders will be heard by parliamentarians from across these islands including unionists and, in particular, several voluble critics of more…

Irish Greens and Red Faces

The Irish Greens have saved many red faces in these islands. If they had pulled the plug on the Fianna Fail led coalition government on Saturday the forthcoming British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Swansea next week would have gone down the tubes at great expense as it would have been too late to cancel flights and more…

An overlooked part of Irish history

The Troubles have produced a vast library but it is amazing that this is the first major history of an overlooked but influential movement: the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party. This history of the “Sticks” is a labour of love that took five years and draws on many interviews and official archives, so to more…

Time to tax global currency speculation?

Some ideas are marinated for many years before they are put on the policy menu. Maybe this could happen with the Tobin Tax, originally devised by the American Nobel Laureate James Tobin in the early 1970s to rein in short-term speculative trading and “throw sand in the wheels of global finance,” as he put it.In more…

British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly

The campaign by the families of the victims of the Omagh bomb urging ministers to disclose secret intelligence information on the suspected Real IRA perpetrators received a significant boost this week. The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in Newcastle, overwhelmingly backed a cross-party motion from Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, who described it as a “call from more…