The Siege of Queen’s University, October 1971

Adam McGibbon is a writer, campaigner, and a former vice president for welfare at QUB Students Union. Last year, the old Queen’s University Students’ Union building – with its decades of history – was pulled down. Few know that in 1971, 50 years ago this week, it was the site of a police and army siege, an incident which made headlines across the UK and Ireland – and involved a future British Prime Minister. BBC Rewind (login required) has preserved …

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Make Irish teaching almost impossible and then claim there’s no demand!

mind, railway, platform

Réamonn Ó Ciaráin is Director of Education with Gael Linn. Here he argues that recent downgrading of language teaching in educational priorities is having a dilatory effect on the numbers learning Irish in Northern Irish schools. There is without doubt a crisis in languages in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland. It is affecting some languages worse than others. The Irish language is traditionally only offered in half the English medium post-primary schools in this jurisdiction. This because of historical and socio-political …

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Seminar tomorrow featuring voices from NI, Libya and Somalia will honour Pat Hume’s legacy…

Pat Hume who was recently described by Monica Mc Williams ‘as the woman who never gave up’ is the inspiration behind Fire in the Belly: Lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change’ the third event planned in the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series.   On Friday 1 October 2021, Monica Mc Williams who is Emeritus Professor at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and former Chairperson of Interpeace, will chair Fire in …

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The crucial work general practice has been doing throughout the global pandemic…

stethoscope, hospital, doctor

Dr Laurence Dorman is Chair of RCGP Northern Ireland… As Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland, I wish to refute some of the comments made by Mr Terry Maguire on your website last week and to highlight the crucial work general practice has been doing throughout the global pandemic. Like Mr Maguire, all GPs want to provide the highest standard of patient care including access and timely repeat prescribing. His comments are in significant contrast …

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Masked, jabbed and LIVE! The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is back…

It’s been a while, but Belfast’s most diverse arts festival is back! Fully masked and double jabbed, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival tentatively returns from 2-12 September, with an incredible programme of live music, comedy, literature, theatre and more. Heralding a more hopeful future for the normalistion live events, organisers say the 21st Festival will be safe, secure and above all celebratory. Full health and safety precautions will also be observed at all events, including the wearing of masks to and …

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A cycle tour of the NI Border/North-South Frontier/Squiggly line…

Andy McMurray is an Alliance Councillor in Newry, Mourne and Down Council. I like cycling. I like spending nights under canvas. I am 12th generation Planter. I like to get between a Point A and a Point B without really knowing what lies in between. The squiggly line which runs across Ulster turned 100 this year. Since its inception it has managed to predominate the political discussion here. However, it is not the year’s only salient milestone. This year I …

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Climate Action Not Climate Doom

hand, world, bullet

Stevie Maginn is the Green Party NI rep for West Belfast Earlier this month, the 6th assessment report of the UN International Panel on Climate Change was published. This is the 6th report by the IPCC since 1988, reminding us that the alarm bells on climate breakdown have been going for some time, and is more stark reading for people and policymakers. It suggests that under all projection models, the Earth is now likely to reach 1.5C of warming above …

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Armagh bid to become UK City of Culture 2025…

Cllr Brian Pope is the Alliance Party Group Leader on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon should be given all the local powers necessary to win the race to become UK City of Culture 2025. It is fantastic news that Armagh and the surrounding borough have been officially listed to compete for this coveted title. We share an impressive heritage both architecturally and socially, and the area has been a centre of cultural and …

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COVID vaccinations in the age of anxiety: Fear, the great equaliser…

man, mask, covid

Shanice Atkins is Press & Policy officer/ freelance writer from Derry. “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Marie Curie It happened as I sat there on the squeaky, plastic seat. The air of anticipation gone, a giddiness still lingered. All those seated, waiting their 15 minutes smiled at one another, nodding in a silent appreciation of what we had just received. The promise of days beyond COVID seemed just within reach. Moments before …

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A life enhancing environment will help our high streets thrive, grow and develop…

shop, clothes, clothing

Cllr Brian Pope is Alliance Party Group Leader on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. Our hard-pressed retail sector has suffered sizable losses during the pandemic and therefore it is hoped that the new High Street voucher scheme will boost local commerce and give people some much needed retail therapy. It will provide individual shoppers with £100 to spend on our high streets rather than online, and comprises a significant cash injection into our local high streets. Whilst the new NI …

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Finding Ways Forward for the long awaited Bill of Rights…

Colin Harvey is Professor of Human Rights Law, Queen’s University Belfast. The prospect of comprehensive human rights legislation here appeared to have faded. The Bill of Rights process has been stuck since the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission submitted its final advice in 2008. The pattern is a familiar one. Political unionism’s objections ensured that the British Government did not legislate;  a convenient excuse to avoid adopting a Bill of Rights worth that title. Instead the region is left with …

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Planning policy vital to a greener, more prosperous Northern Ireland

Andrew Muir is the Alliance MLA for North Down  Planning policy rarely makes the national headlines but directly touches upon the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland. Whether it’s an extension in your local area, a new housing development around the corner, or a major new business development that could provide jobs for thousands, planning matters. As an MLA at the Northern Ireland Assembly, planning issues are never far from the top of my inbox. Earlier this month the Department …

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Talking about constitutional status change

Colin Harvey is Professor of Human Rights Law, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. The debate about constitutional change remains odd. Status here is intended to rest on nothing more robust than majority support. It is accepted that if Northern Ireland wants to leave the Union it can, provided the mechanisms of concurrent consent in the Good Friday Agreement are followed. This is not a radical proposition dreamed up by a subversive academic conspirator, but an accepted and agreed part …

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Ireland’s new (and febrile) intolerance bomb, and why we need to act now…

Alan Millar is originally from Donegal, now working as a journalist in North Antrim. 2021 winner of the Scots Language Society Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie, his long interest the tradition of Scots writing in Ulster reflects a Donegal minority background. I NOTED with interest the headline in the Irish Times article ‘UK was groomed: Irish writers throw book at Brexit, first run on Monday June 27 2016 and retweeted from the archives in last week’s five-year anniversary of this ill-fated and highly …

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Home Truths: A coherent case for investing in more social housing

It’s been fifty years since the establishment of the Housing Executive in 1971. Here, the organisation’s current Chairman, Professor Peter Roberts, delivers some home truths on social housing, arguing a partnership for change must be established to open the gates to a more positive future for housing in Northern Ireland. Over the past eight months, since Minister Ní Chuilín’s ambitious announcement on the future of housing and Minister Hargey’s commitment to the revitalisation of the Housing Executive, I’ve been asked …

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Will the potential deconstruction of the DUP see the beginning of the end of these monolithic political partnerships in Northern Ireland?

Cllr Brian Pope, Party Group Leader (Alliance), Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council  Whether the latest DUP upheavals will result in a fractured party is of less interest than the impact it might have on its uneasy alliance with Sinn Féin. Ever since the St Andrew’s Agreement was signed, in 2006, we have been caught in a grip of an apparently immovable object – that being the DUP / Sinn Féin coalition. Some may herald the success of this uneasy partnership, …

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SOAPBOX: As things go from bad to worse, the DUP can’t avoid the ripples of the ‘Beattie Bounce’

Dr. Clare Rice is a postdoctoral researcher at Newcastle University: a specialist in power-sharing and Northern Ireland’s politics. She tweets as @Clare_Rice_. All views expressed are the author’s own. The word ‘honeymoon’ evokes sentiments of a relaxing, happy and easy-going time. The big event is over, and in the bubble of positivity that follows, the focus shifts to the future. For Edwin Poots, this phase has been as good as non-existent since he became the new DUP Leader. The unceremonious …

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What’s in a word – why dropping ‘wellbeing’ matters

Jennifer Wallace, Carnegie UK Trust It was with great interest (probably more interest than is normal, even for policy wonks), that we at Carnegie UK opened the most recent blog from the NI Assembly research team. The briefing by RAISE comes at a critical time as Northern Ireland’s second Programme for Government is about to be published, when everywhere from New Zealand to the northeast of England, the concept of wellbeing is being cited as central to economic recovery and …

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We must stop blaming ourselves for all the negative things that have happened in the past…

Cllr Brian Pope is Party Group Leader of the Alliance party on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. No fishing. Do not slam the gate. No visiting vessels beyond this point! Sometimes it feels like we are being blamed for something we haven’t done or for something we have yet to do wrong. This was my experience on a recent family trip to the North Coast. Don’t get me wrong; we had a wonderful time and the scenery was spectacular, but …

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Why Conor Murphy’s Budget is failing our people

Sinéad McLaughlin is an SDLP MLA for Foyle and is the SDLP spokesperson for the economy For the last 14 years, Northern Ireland has been led by joint first ministers from Sinn Fein and the DUP. This leadership was supposed to deliver prosperity after the peace that was delivered by the leadership of John Hume and the SDLP. But instead of prosperity, the North continues to have some of the worst economic outcomes anywhere in Western Europe. My city of Derry …

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