Author Archive | Soapbox

Steven Agnew

Steven Agnew; “In putting people first the Green Party will also prioritise investment in our public services to ensure a fair and equitable society”

Steven Agnew is the Leader of the Green Party Northern Ireland. The Green Party is committed to putting people first. This means securing a referendum on the final Brexit deal, protecting our public services and ensuring that equality extends to all our citizens. “There is nothing to win in this process – and I am more…

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Time for civic society to engage more in our political process…

At the height of the stream of public revelations about RHI in December 2016, a press release on The Executive Office’s website declared the names of six appointments to the Northern Ireland ‘compact civic panel’. Arlene Foster described this news as ‘‘another example of us getting on with the work. It presents a unique opportunity more…

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Soapbox: Scappaticci, secrecy of the state and public trust

In his response to my criticism of Panorama’s programme on Freddie Scappaticci, or Steak Knife as he is probably better known, which was in essence that the programme had  failed to examine the possible role played in the running of Steak Knife by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in Whitehall – and therefore ignored possible more…

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Soapbox: Scappaticci and the importance of reporting what we know, rather than what we think we know…

Ed Moloney has produced a puzzling critique (“Did Panorama Pull Its Punches?”) of my recent programme on the army agent StakeKnife (aka Freddie Scappaticci) to which your site recently drew attention. He noted that I had made no mention of Scappaticci’s first handler Peter Jones, an army sergeant said to have recruited him. The reason more…

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A partnership between Credit Unions and Belfast City Council could make £100 million available for social investment…

John Hume once said the Credit Union movement that of “all the things I’ve been doing, it’s the thing I’m proudest of because no movement has done more good for the people of Ireland, north and south, than the credit union movement.” This is some acknowledgement from a Nobel Peace Laureate but then again he was more…

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Brexit has predictably dire effects for Northern Ireland

Forget Theresa May’s boilerplate encomium in the Commons the other day about never being ‘neutral’ about the Union. (Hardly as emphatic as Margaret Thatcher’s claim Northern Ireland was ‘as British as Finchley’). The Prime Minister is leading you up the garden path.  She surely knows by now that Brexit has big implications – dire and more…

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We Are The Legacy: The inheritance of millennials living in the post-McGuinness/Paisley age

I awoke last Tuesday morning to the unexpected news that shocked us all and experienced the odd emotions that accompany comprehending an earthly existence ending. Unsurprisingly what followed was a mixed bag of media commentary and public opinion, that spanned from the praising of a Republican freedom fighter to the condemning of a terrorist warlord. more…

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The warm welcome Arlene Foster received at the funeral of Martin McGuinness came as a surprise to many. But not to those who know Derry well.

“Of all the ‘moments’ in my 27 years of journalism, applause for Arlene Foster at the funeral of Martin McGuinness is right up there”. So remarked Sky News’s Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, after one of Northern Ireland’s most important funerals in years. Blevins wasn’t alone in being wrong-footed by this turn of events. This was, more…

Peter OSBORNE (Chair, Community Relations Council) @OsborneTweets. Conference: One Place - Many People, Community Relations Council, Stormont Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland. @NI_CRC #CRWeek15

Soapbox: Leadership that can join the dots even if others cannot

Peter Osborne has been involved in good relations, cohesion, community enablement and political engagement for over 20 years. He chairs the Community Relations Council and the regional board of Remembering Srebrenica. You can follow him on @OsborneTweets. There is no inevitable forward flow to the peace process. It is work in progress that needs careful more…

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Dr George O’Neill on the slow death of general practice…

The 2004 GP contract was the result of significant problems in English inner cities with recruitment and retention of GPs. The continuity of care the bedrock of general practice was lost when GPs no longer were required with the implementation of the new contract to provide out of hours medical services. As a consequence patient more…

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Fresh evidence from the archives: When did Martin McGuinness actually leave the PIRA?

A previously unseen archival document compiled on behalf of the Conservative Party Northern Ireland Committee, dated 3 July 1975, and located in the Julian Amery Papers, Churchill Archives Centre, University of Cambridge, reveals that despite Martin McGuinness’s repeated assurances that he left the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) in 1974, senior members of the British more…

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Families paying a high price for teen drug abuse…

I am witnessing the brutal and cruel torture of three women.  They have never met yet each tells the same painful story and each can see no way out of their problems.   If they fail to find a solution, and there is no guarantee they will, this continuing abuse will lead, slowly and inevitably, to more…

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Could the Tories Save Northern Ireland’s Squeezed Middle?

There are no two ways of looking at last week’s Assembly election results: mission accomplished for Sinn Féin. Manners have been put on Arlene Foster. Foster called the unionist faithful to rally around her to ward off the nationalist crocodile, the bastard child of Papism and the IRA, but in doing so she built a more…

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Dialogue Day – Is it time for the public to engage in dialogue?

We are what we talk. Going by what we read today in social media in Northern Ireland and everywhere else – all that commentary by ordinary people and celebrities: we are fairly outraged people and willing to let loose on each other. This is related to distance and anonymity and clearly not the case when more…