Question Time: Gay Cake

On a day when the Republic of Ireland goes to the polls on marriage equality, interesting to see cross party support for the Ashers ‘gay cake’ verdict from the major parties in Great Britain. On the panel for last night’s BBC Question Time were Nicky Morgan (Conservative), Stella Creasy (Labour), Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat), columnist Owen Jones and businesswoman Hilary Devey. Take note DUP. [twitter_follow username=”” language=”en”]     The Firemen

Jenny Palmer: Betrayed by the DUP

Yesterday was not a good day for the DUP. First was the verdict on the Ashers ‘gay cake’ case – an issue that seems to have become inextricably linked to the DUP thanks to the support from figures within the party. Paul Givan appeared on television shortly afterwards to give his ‘verdict‘ on the actual verdict. Mr. Givan also committed to pursue his doomed conscience clause. Then came last night’s compelling BBC NI Spotlight programme on Jenny Palmer; the ‘whistleblower’ who … Read more

Jim Wells: Has he damaged the DUP? UPDATED

Any hopes that the DUP had that last night’s ill-judged comments by Health Minister Jim Wells would be quickly forgotten appear to be fast receding. If anything the ‘apology’ by Mr. Wells betrays ignorance on the part of the Health Minister more than anything else. Sadly the PSNI have now confirmed that they are now investigating comments made by Mr. Wells’  –  perhaps the new laws suggested by the Ulster Fry would be more appropriate. UPDATE: Tonight (Sunday April 26th, 2015) … Read more

LGBT issues: Northern Ireland party views – UPDATED

(Updated to include responses from the Ulster Unionist Party and People Before Profit) Research conducted by Ruth McCarthy highlights some stark differences between the parties contesting this years Westminster elections in Northern Ireland on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. A series of questions were asked: 1a Does your party visibly support LGBTQ equality issues in your party manifesto, on your website and in election campaigning materials? If YES, please give examples. If NO, please state why. 1b Please give … Read more

Kincora: The heart of darkness

Last night’s powerful Channel 4 news report has led to fresh calls for Kincora to be included in the Westminster paedophile inquiry. Richard Kerr, a victim of abuse at Kincora told Channel 4 News that he was taken from the east Belfast home to London where he was molested by members of a VIP paedophile ring. Mr. Kerr alleges that he was abused by “very powerful people” at Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square – locations at the centre of the ongoing inquiry … Read more

#LeadersDebate: Blame it on the boogie

UPDATED A depressingly accurate piece on politics in Northern Ireland from Chris Buckler has been played repeatedly on the BBC news channel during the course of today. It comes on a day when seven party leaders in Great Britain fought it out in a televised debate /gameshow tonight . Despite protestations the DUP were NOT included in the debate. Peter Robinson tweeted his outrage last month: Perhaps after viewing the BBC piece we should be grateful for small mercies. The otherwise depressing report … Read more

Adams and child abuse: “if you keep telling a lie often enough, sometimes people believe it”

An exclusive story in today’s Sunday Independent features an interview with the son of IRA murder victim Brian Stack. Speaking to Mairia Cahill,  the woman who first exposed the cover up of sexual abuse within the Republican Movement, Austin Stack details a host of horrific revelations. Austin Stack claims that Gerry Adams does not “grasp the reality, or the gravity” of the abuse cover up issue, and that the Sinn Fein president referred in conversations with Mr Stack of the court proceedings … Read more

Punk’s not dead

Back in the day in Belfast many people didn’t give a shit (language – ED) what ‘side’ or ‘community’ you were from. If you had the attitude, could (kinda) sing, had a guitar or a drum-kit (or the means to get one on HP from Session Music) you were in the band. The Stiffs for example: Last night the BBC broadcast two fantastic documentaries The Irish Rock Story:  A Tale of Two Cities and Irish Rock at the BBC (both available for those … Read more

“It would be somewhat hypocritical to turn round and support strike action…”

listen to ‘Sinn Fein Flip Flop ’ on audioBoom On Talkback today, Will Crawley played this recording of Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd to remind Declan Kearney of his party’s disapproving stance of the strikes today, just last week: But this [strike] is part of an opposition to the Stormont House Agreement, and I think that’s a mistake. There is a fundamental mistake in the strategy of the unions that are being opposed to the Stormont House Agreement. I … Read more

Gerry Adams: Guidelines or Rules? What rules?

As the Gardaí confirm that a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to the alleged sexual assault of Paudie McGahon and another male in the 1990s, further questions are being asked of Sinn Fein’s handling of the issue. Gerry Adams, and his party, accept that both Maíria Cahill and Paudie McGahon were raped. Both allege they were assaulted by senior figures in the republican movement. As Miriam Lord in today’s Irish Times reports: Broadcaster Pat Kenny … Read more

Running out of tricks?

By very kind permission of Niall O’Loughlin [twitter_follow username=”” language=”en”] The Firemen

Mairia Cahill honoured with James Larkin award

UPDATED – WITH VIDEO Mairia Cahill was last night presented with the ‘Larkin Thirst for Justice Award’ at the Labour Party’s National Conference in Killarney. The award, named after the trade union leader and founder member of the Labour Party James Larkin, is awarded to a person who, in their personal and/or professional life has made an outstanding contribution in the area of human rights and justice. Speaking at the INEC in Killarney minutes before Joan Burton’s keynote address Ms. … Read more

The dirtiest words in politics

The petition of concern was designed to protect minority rights in the Stormont Assembly. As former SDLP leader Mark Durkan explained “the petition of concern facility was put into the agreement to safeguard communal sensitivities and specifically to protect equality and human rights considerations”. Alliance MP Naomi Long pointed out that “the petition of concern was designed to offer protection to minorities within the assembly, where decisions of a sensitive nature risked being imposed upon them against their will.” Unfortunately … Read more

The price of cancer for children in the Republic

More than 70% of the population in the Republic of Ireland have to pay to see their GP, as well as prescription charges and Health Care Costs. More than one in four sick people are deterred from visiting their GP as a result. Costs to see a GP range from anywhere between €45 – €75, to call out an ambulance can cost anywhere from €100, as can a hospital stay. Add to that prescription charges and illness can be a … Read more

A history lesson from Ruth Patterson

During this week’s Belfast City Council debate on the placing of the Union Flag on driving licences (something that the council has absolutely no control over), firebrand DUP Councillor Ruth Patterson decided to enlighten all those present with her interpretation of history and how it relates to the vexed subject of ‘flegs’. Scholars may be somewhat alarmed by Councillor Patterson’s interpretation of history as indeed may some of her creationist colleagues in the DUP who subscribe to the view that … Read more

Do we really need another debate about flags?

Tonight our esteemed elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly are due to debate driving licences. Good news – I hear you cry – at last some action may be taken to address the disparity in the cost of driving licences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Last week there was much consternation when it was revealed that learner drivers in Northern Ireland pay nearly twice the price for a provisional licence compared to elsewhere in the UK – £62.50 … Read more

A loss of Respect for Amjad Bashir?

UPDATED The defection of MEP Amjad Bashir from UKIP to the Conservative Party took an amazing new twist this afternoon when George Galloway’s Respect Party claimed on their website that Bashir was selected as the Respect candidate in Bradford Moor for the May 2012 council elections but was deselected “after local residents raised serious concerns about his fitness to stand.” He subsequently left Respect, joined UKIP and was placed second on the UKIP list of candidates for the Yorkshire and … Read more

Quid pro quo in assembly speaker appointments

The DUP’s Robin Newton was today appointed as the NI assembly’s principal deputy speaker with support from Sinn Féin. The appointment was confirmed minutes after the East Belfast MLA was confirmed as a deputy speaker joining the experienced John Dallat of the SDLP and Roy Beggs of the UUP. Last week the DUP supported the appointment of Sinn Féin’s  Mitchel McLaughlin  as NI assembly speaker and both partys have been accused of a ‘carve-up’ of top positions at Stormont. The … Read more

Brimstone evasive in face of DSD questions re Red Sky and Palmer

UPDATED – Now with video DUP SPAD Stephen Brimstone had a stock answer (“I’m not prepared to answer questions in relation to internal party matters) for most questions put to him by the DSD Committee Hearing today in light of allegations made in BBCNI’s Spotlight programme into Red Sky, Nelson Mc Causland and Cllr Jenny Palmer.             Ably put on the hook by the TUV’s Jim Allister, Brimstone looked more than evasive as he paused … Read more

Jenny Palmer explicit in restating Spotlight claims

DUP Councillor Jenny Palmer appeared at today’s Committee for Social Development ‘Inquiry into allegations, arising from a BBC NI Spotlight programme aired on 3 July 2013, of impropriety or irregularity relating to NIHE managed contracts and consideration of any resulting actions’. Under oath Councillor Palmer restated her claim that Stephen Brimstone had telephoned her in an attempt to bully her to change her vote at a Housing Executive board meeting, considering the termination of a maintenance contract by the firm, … Read more