Horror at the school gate…

A man was gunned down and killed in the community where I live yesterday. He was in a parked car outside his son’s school on the Glen Road at hometime, waiting to give his son a lift. While he did so a man walked up to his car and shot him 5 or 6 times. He died immediately. To put this horror in context you’d need to know the area where this murder took place. That part of the Glen … Read more

Happy birthday Agreement. May you be brought back to health and may you take us all on the road to peace and reconciliation once again…

Twenty years ago this month my wife and I had a child- our first child. As all parents are, we were absolutely jubilant at the birth of our son. Wow! We had created this wonderful, if fragile, thing together! We adored (and still adore) him. A year or so later, I got a call to my work to say that my son was ill. He had a tummy bug and was vomiting. I was asked to come and get him … Read more

That day in 1983 when they bombed Andersonstown RUC Station…

Our Primary 7 classroom shook silently for a second before the noise reached our ears. When it did, it was a low thud followed by a deafening grumble. We all knew what it was; we’d heard many explosions before. After the blast I turned towards the window of the classroom which looked out onto the Glen Road. Someone shouted, ‘That’ll be the barracks again.’ The Andersonstown RUC Station, known locally as ‘the barracks’ would become one of the most bombed … Read more

Non-life-threatening injuries and the scandal of shooting children…

I couldn’t sleep last Thursday night. I live in West Belfast and there was a helicopter hovering right above our house. The noise always reminds me of older times when military helicopters were so common that we almost didn’t hear them anymore. Yes, times have changed…. Except, it seems that I was not the only one not sleeping that night. Around 11 pm a child (we still recognise those under 18 as children, right?) was taken up a side street … Read more

St Patrick’s Night and the Zombie Apocalypse…

Last night I had the misfortune of driving through the zombie apocalypse; or as it’s called, St Patrick’s night in the Holylands area of Belfast. Amid the broken bottles, fire trucks, police and ambulance crews I heard young zombies speaking in every accent of this land (although a Belfast accent was hard to find to be honest), stumbling from one over-crowded house of multiple party occupancy to another. Many, if not all, were bedecked in some sort of symbol of … Read more

Advice for our politicians wandering in the desert…

Just as Lent gets underway and Christians reflect on Jesus spending 40 day and 40 nights in the desert (I believe the number 40 represented ‘a very long time’ to the Jewish people of the day), Northern Ireland will go to the polls again. Political parties will hold their breath and once the votes are counted they will begin their journey into the unknown. Some will be returned, some will not. Some will be voted in for the first time, … Read more

It’s time to decommission words…

I remember walking past graffiti on a wall on the Falls Road around the turn of the millennium. In thick white scrawl it read, “NOT A BULLET, NOT AN OUNCE”. These words were a defiant prediction that there would be no decommissioning of weapons as part of the peace process. By 2010, however, all major paramilitary groupings had put their weapons beyond use. Some weapons were destroyed publicly and many more were buried in concrete bunkers. These acts of decommissioning … Read more