NI Obesity Epidemic: Media Shock Tactics

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and it seems timely to reflect on issues around obesity, media coverage and eating disorders as well. Northern Ireland is, apparently, in the grips of an “obesity epidemic“. We have a ten year obesity strategy, courtesy of Edwin Poots. The Public Health Agency launched a campaign last year to “tackle the problem”. Meanwhile, we have also seen a big rise in eating disorders, particularly among men, while our health provision to treat people with … Read more

Temple by David Best

Northern Ireland has issues: annual issues with bonfires, issues with how to best memorialise and/or address the needs of victims and survivors of the conflict, definitely issues with performance art (Michael Stone anyone?) or indeed any art that could be perceived as controversial (maybe if you really squint your eyes and are determined to be offended), whether that is The Reduced Shakespeare Company or Andrew Lloyd Webber. And let’s not even get started on that sea god statue. So what … Read more

Feminism versus Bernadette Smyth?

What does it mean to be a feminist? Not easy to define, by any means. How about a feminist in NI today? Even more complex. The women’s movement in Northern Ireland has hit some pretty difficult stumbling blocks over the last four or five decades. The divergence on the treatment of female republican prisoners and their subsequent protests in Armagh Gaol was one such stumbling block in the 1970s / 1980s. The awarding of a Nobel Prize to two NI women in 1976 was, on the other … Read more

Farewell to “Backwards Belfast”

According to Belfast Telegraph, local restaurateur Emma Bricknell is, apparently, leaving us for good. It’s not her, it’s us. We are ‘a laughing stock‘. We are ‘backwards’. She has found somewhere else, somewhere sunnier. Apparently the break up is long overdue. Bricknell is the owner of three city centre restaurants, two branches of Made in Belfast and Le Coop on Hill Street. I have been to Made in Belfast exactly twice. Personally I was not a fan. Neither was Joris … Read more

Happy New Year from PSNI West Belfast #tweetonthebeat

Happy New Year from your friends PSNI West Belfast who kept their 750 followers mightily … informed and entertained with their #tweetonthebeat feature, live tweeting some of the lively hi jinks they got up to on Wednesday night to see in 2015. A few choice examples:     Because having to go out to deal with “loads” of domestics – you know, intervening to stop people being abused or terrorised in their own homes – sounds like a Happy New … Read more

Death in Cobh and Attack in Cavan

A couple of days ago, Patricia McBride wrote on Slugger that “our political leaders north and south must become pro-woman” in light of the recent tribulations of Dawn Purvis, Director of Marie Stopes, as well as the judgement delivered by the High Court in Dublin last week regarding whether to continue life support for a pregnant woman described as clinically brain dead and, of course, the high profile case of Savita Halappanavar whose death was not prevented in an Irish … Read more

Belfast Harbour Up For Sale…

After some skirting around the issue consideration, and after having the idea of selling slammed as ‘shortsighted’ by the head of the Northern Ireland Science Park, it now appears today that Belfast Harbour Estate will be sold for £500m. The money will go to the Executive, presumably to fund the cut to NI’s corporation tax. You may remember yesterday I was having a bit of a rant about Belfast City Council’s decision to spend £105m on refurbishing / redeveloping leisure … Read more

GLL Belfast Leisure Centre Takeover

So Belfast City Council’s “outsourcing” (I love the Orwellian newspeak of this phrase) of its leisure facilities has been in the pipeline for quite a while, but the official hand over of our leisure centres to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (a ..err… “charitable social enterprise for all the community”) happens on 1st January. BBC today is running a story on sixty staff losing their jobs* and from what our local leisure staff have been telling me over the last few months, prices … Read more

Department for Employment & Learning publishes draft Departmental Savings Plan

Mr Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well in the upcoming Assembly budgets, nothing can be said to be certain except cuts, cuts and yet more cuts. The Department for Employment and Learning has published its draft Departmental Savings Plan in relation to the 2015/16 budget. Personally, I have been working in education for the last seven years, at Higher Education level, in the community, with adults and … Read more

Think Teal…

As may of you will have heard, local ovarian cancer activist, fundraiser and tireless campaigner Una Crudden died this morning. Her family have asked for donations via: www.justgiving.com/UnaCruddenBelfast in lieu of flowers / insertions. Despite having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Una fought tirelessly for greater recognition of the disease, improvements in detection and treatment and funding for local hospice services. She succeeded in hosting the first awareness event at Stormont and persuaded Belfast City Council to light up City … Read more

Northern Ireland Assembly passes parental leave bill

This one sort of went under the radar for me yesterday. In brief, parents of newborn children will enjoy shared rights to maternity, or paternity, leave and pay due to a new law passed by the assembly yesterday. On the one hand, this is a really great, positive development. Especially since the bill also includes a wide extension of the right to request flexible working patterns. On the other, I wonder if this will really address the problems facing working … Read more

And this was the best pic..

…so let’s all just pause for a minute while we consider what the reject pile looked like.   Ho ho ho Blair-y Christmas… An architect of the peace process, a war criminal, a beloved emblem of new Labour and an all round great guy? You decide. Either way I think he might have been better off with an orange penguin. Now I’m just going to leave this here for your consideration – Spotlight is starting! W[r]ite Noise

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol 4

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe all this talk about wind farms and / or Amazon Anonymous makes you long for a simpler, pre-tech era. Or perhaps you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Either way, this seasonal Slugger book club is for you. So pull up an armchair while we discuss classic NI books, past and present. This week….Kathleen … Read more

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol. 3

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Maybe Gregory’s extremely mature “joking” around about his curry yogurt lunch combo (err..yum?) in DUP-land this weekend and Gerry’s similarly enlightened response last night have inspired you to discover your own inner child, a more innocent time when you couldn’t vote for politicians and didn’t have to … Read more

Serial Podcast: What do you think?

Have you heard of Serial or are you happy over there, living under your rock? For those who fall in the latter camp, let me briefly summarise. Serial is a podcast, first released last month, which seeks to shed light on the real life case of a Baltimore teenage girl, Hae Min Lee, who was murdered in 1999. Hae’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, also a teenager at the time, was arrested and jailed for her murder but he has always maintained … Read more

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol. 2

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe just because the November weather is giving you the perfect opportunity to explore like in the Great Indoors. Perhaps you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Or maybe the dispatches from SDLP party conference have whetted your appetite for escapism. Either way, this seasonal Slugger book club is for you. So pull up an … Read more

Slugger Seasonal Book Club: Vol. 1

It’s getting to be the time of year when you have to start thinking about gifts. Bah. For others. Humbug. Or maybe just because the relentless rain and grey skies are giving you the perfect opportunity to explore like in the Great Indoors. Or perhaps you are just a bibliobibuli, c.f. someone who reads too much. Either way, this seasonal Slugger book club is for you. So pull up an armchair while we discuss classic NI books, past and present. … Read more

Mount Stewart Festival of Light

I loved the Enchanted Evening events they used to run in Botanic Gardens as part of the Belfast Festival. They were, for us, easy to get to, compact, beautiful, mysterious and fun. It has been a sore point for me that they have been absent from the Festival programme for the last couple of years, although this year’s lovely Havannas event from Catalonia did somewhat make up for it. Regardless, I decided to book tickets for the National Trust Mount … Read more

Annual Exhibition – Royal Ulster Academy

Attending the annual Royal Ulster Academy exhibition can be a very overwhelming experience. There is just so much art. Everywhere. Mixed media, sculpture, photography, painting, video installation. It takes over a pretty decent chunk of the fifth floor in the Ulster Museum and if, like me, you visit at the weekend, it is busy. That is not necessarily a problem as such. Can it ever be a bad thing that so many people want to come and look at and … Read more

Pentecost at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast

  Unpopular opinion time. I think I might like Stewart Parker’s work more than that of Brian Friel. I know. It’s basically heresy to say that. Here in Belfast where the local theatre-going populace breaks out in a cold sweat if one of the local theatres doesn’t stage Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Dancing at Lughnasa or Translations on an annual basis. Where 1 in 5 adults, having had to study Philadelphia at GCSE some years ago, can still tell you … Read more