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Letter From America: Health Care (and why it doesn’t work…)

For the past several years, I’ve been a guest speaker in our local high school’s ‘Culture Week’, when they ask people from overseas to come in and give presentations on life in their home country- food, sport, politics, art, and history- and the student’s then write reports on what they’ve learned. A frequently recurring question more…

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Letters From America: My Life Among the Trump Supporters…

‘Trump’s America’, day 103… People back in Ireland and Northern Ireland ask me a lot of questions about Trump’s supporters, in a tone that’s similar to what they might ask someone who’s seen African elephants- incredible creatures they’ve seen on TV, but still wonder what they’re like close up. Talk to any political scientist or more…

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Who is Donald Trump?

[Donald John, or Dòmnall Iain is one of the most common names on the Isle of Lewis, the birthplace of Donald Trump’s ancestors. It translates, from the Latin and Norse roots, as dom and val, as The Ruler of the World] In a wide-ranging interview, the writer, activist and ecologist, Alastair McIntosh, has raised an more…

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Border-o-meter

There has been a lot of talk about trying to avoid a “hard” border post-Brexit, and to preserve the open, free movement of people in the Common Travel Area. So I thought I’d look for some kind of scale of border “hardness”, which really means what degree of openness exists between two countries. The World Economic more…

What Reward for Gibraltar’s “Loyalty”?

On page 8 of the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines, Gibraltar is mentioned as follows: ‘After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.’ A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said more…

Special Status for the ROI in the EU?

In my post on whether Northern Ireland could stay in or have “special status” in the EU, I concluded that at the very least Northern Ireland does already have special status because everyone has the option of taking up an EU (Irish) passport. I’m now considering whether Brexit may also result in EU “special status” for the more…

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Article 50: Will Northern Ireland feature?

There can be little doubt that any of the political theatre surrounding this week’s delivery of Article 50 was intended for a domestic British audience. However  EU Council President Donald Tusk was moved to remark that it was “a sad day”, a sentiment, no doubt with resonance elsewhere, which went beyond his rather dry tweet more…

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How To Write It: A Brexit Breakup Note

The Prime Minister sits at her desk, which fits awkwardly, not like when she peered over it to banish Osborne. She’s put it off till now, but really, she’s got to write it: her Brexit Breakup Note. Larry, sensing the moment is not good, cowers from the leopard-print shoes with which he’s had his own more…

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Leaning in. The quiet revolution.

As International Women’s Day draws to a close for 2017, I’ve been reflecting on why it is necessary to have such a day. It is simple. International Women’s Day (IWD) is about acknowledging that in 2017, women still face discrimination and are under represented in many aspects of public life. Discrimination comes in many guises. more…

Observe the sons of Ulster, marching towards the bin

It was the best of campaigns, it was the worst of campaigns. Arlene’s decision to meet the three letter problem of RHI with the three letter solution of IRA worked masterfully in terms of holding the DUP’s vote together; despite three months of unremitting negative publicity and a collapsed government, DUP losses were kept to more…

Overseen on automobiles parked by Queens University Belfast, by @SophieLong01

Down for the count…

Something interesting is afoot in Northern Ireland. Voting turnout is up sharply, at 64.78% the highest since 1998 and Good Friday, for yesterday’s second Assembly election in ten months. (This yielding the hash-tag #votetilliboak–the last a local synonym for the act of retching orally). We won’t know until Saturday, but for the DUP this cannot more…

Have [or how] the DUP made a United Ireland more likely?

Fintan O’Toole seems to think so. He argues in his column in the Irish Times that the party’s shady dealings – the Iris Robinson affair, the NAMA scandal and the Cash for Ash debacle – make the DUP look like Fianna Fáíl’s northern branch. While the ‘Brexit spree’ gambled the future of NI within the more…

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Are women making their mark in political leadership?

Regardless of whether you agree with their politics or not, the appointment of Michele O’Neill as Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland should be welcomed. Northern Ireland, potentially, could have female First and Deputy First Ministers. Of course that depends on how votes are cast on 2 March, however we now have women leading our more…

Light not heat should come as a result of RHI scandal

As the clamour increases for the rolling of heads, even from those who find themselves within the proverbial glasshouse, it’s important to see what can be salvaged from the mess which is rapidly escalating on the Hill of Stormont.    The disintegration is underlined by the bellicose line from Arlene Foster who is trying to more…

Cavalier attitude to EC State Aid decision on RHI could save the day

The comedy of errors that is the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme may be about to take yet another strange twist. And at last there may be some good news for the tax payer. Earlier this week when I tweeted an alert to the EC’s decision on State Aid (SA.34140 (2012/N) for the Northern Ireland more…

Local Environmentalists Celebrate Activism to Mark International Human Rights Day

An emergent network of environmentalists gathered at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast Saturday to mark International Human Rights Day. Four stories of activist achievement, focused on the human right to safe drinking water, were shared by activists engaged in campaigns to: “Save Our Sperrins” (SOS) from plans by the Canadian Gold-mining company, Dalradian Resources, more…