Two Irelands, One Planet: Thinking Like an Eco-System Can Help Bind New Executive

While the North continues to languish as one of Western Europe’s ecological backwaters a gap has begun to open up with the Republic of Ireland when it comes to policy innovation. Two recent developments may prove to be tipping points in legislating for climate justice and environmental rights in Dublin. The most recent came just last week in the Oireachtas with the successful passage to Committee Stage of an opposition-sponsored initiative, the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) Climate Emergency Measures … Read more

“The Laws of Nature Need Not Apply Here” – Ophelia is a sign of things to come

  The Northern Ireland administration’s late and confused hurricane warning to school children and young people parallels local political attitudes to climate change. By failing to take climate change seriously even when the evidence is hitting us in the face we are disregarding the rights of our children and young people. The late, confused and inefficient warning on Sunday evening to students and parents is like a metaphor for the slow, confused and ineffective response that government has made here … Read more

Cloughjordan Ecovillage – Another World is Possible for Belfast

Lessons for Belfast Urban Regeneration at Féile an Phobail 2017 By Peadar Kirby & Peter Doran While Ireland was living through the most severe economic collapse of its history since independence, a group of pioneering people were sowing the seeds of a new society through founding the ecovillage of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary. Seeking to model sustainable living for the 21st century, the ecovillagers conceived their project during the boom years of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger in the late 1990s and … Read more

Nolan: A Public Service Broadcaster?

Yesterday, on Twitter, the trending hashtag was #BBCPay. Today it’s #BBCPaygap. The big story, yesterday, as far as I was concerned, was the squandering of licence-payer money. The paygap was a secondary story. Important, yes, but not the main story.  The BBC thought otherwise and drove the agenda in its chosen direction. The only Northern Irish broadcaster in the Top “Talent” pay-list published yesterday was Stephen Nolan. He earns over £400,000 a year for hosting his BBC Radio Ulster radio … Read more

Aiken believes that the UUP could win more seats than Sinn Fein

It was a bumpy ride for Steve Aiken on Nolan yesterday. In politics it is a good thing to go into a contest with high ambitions but they also need to be credible. For information the UUP are running 24 candidates, Sinn Fein are running 34 candidates. UUP are at roughly 13 seats in a 90 seat Assembly, Sinn Fein are at around 24 seats. As for the DUP they are running 38 candidates and are at 31 seats in … Read more

CBI: Misery Merchants

The CBI is a business membership body that supposedly represents the interests of British (and Northern Irish) business. But you could be forgiven for missing this. During the entire EU Referendum campaign, the local branch of the CBI was unrelenting it its gloom-laden assessments of the outlook for the NI economy should the UK electorate choose to leave the EU. And, despite the fact that a majority of the UK electorate chose to ignore the advice of the CBI (and the … Read more

#EURef in grave danger of setting down its own “poisonous foundations”?

I’m struck by this optimistic note from Ruth Dudley Edwards… Narrow-minded nationalism is being left behind. We have slowly evolved “a more civilised discourse” and we are much better people for it. She argues that Ireland has become a much more civilised place because it has committed itself (if not always in the slow, patient Scandinavian style) to conversation more than confrontation. The contrast with Britain just now could hardly be more stark. Of course, Britain is, as Ruth points … Read more

Is the BBC biased? (Is the Pope a Catholic?) If so, how can it speak for the nation?

Is the BBC biased? Is the Pope a Catholic? Do Bears defecate in the woods? Yes, yes, and yes. Next? Well, I only ask because media bias is a hot topic ever since the Internet enabled us to upload our views and share them with others, giving us a work-around of the voices of authority on the box. The spark was this controversy when Corbynites jumped up and down last week demanding the head of Laura Kuenssberg, the first female BBC News … Read more

‘Collusion’ was RUC strategy, not RUC failing: #Loughinisland

State collusion was a ‘significant feature’ in a loyalist gun attack in Loughinisland in June 1994, according to the latest report published today by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. You can read some commentary over at The Detail here, while the publication of the full report is awaited (it is now published here). The timeline of the Loughinisland investigation should be crushingly familiar at this stage. First there was a non-existent RUC investigation, then a flawed report by the Police … Read more

Can we finally wind up the paramilitaries by consent? The panel report has been delivered

Striking a balance between recognising where local power lies and the aim of bringing paramilitarism to an end is the fiendishly tricky approach of the report to the two governments and the Executive of the three- person panel headed by John Alderdice. In the jargon the strategy is about Demilitarisation, Disbandment and Integration (DDR). The panel set up under Fresh Start was asked  to produce a one-off report. It wasn’t  a standing body like the International Monitoring Commission (IMC), of which … Read more

However #EURef goes, parties will have to do a much better job at listening…

Okay, so now we have an election out of the way, we have a referendum (at this point, please do read Paul Evans’ widely read critique of Referendums for context here). And, sadly, if inevitably, we are already drowning in Bullshit. It is by no means a one-way street. Both sides are at it. The mere calling of a Referendum means that any subtlety and/or the normal trade-offs are out of the window. It’s a populist bonfire instrument which forces campaigns to search … Read more

Before Xchange Summer School: What quarters make your Belfast?

Next week will see the doors opening on this year’s Xchange Summer School and the start of conversations including a section of the event set aside to consider whether Belfast is a “City of Seven Quarters”. The event, through a panel discussion taking stock of the buildings around us in Belfast 2016, is likely to look at issues such as heritage versus the economic benefits of new buildings and well as the impact of conflict not to mention ask if … Read more

Unionism’s anglophobia

The slogan used to be ‘Brit’s Out’. It marked a gross misunderstanding of the people of Northern Ireland. As Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote of the Easter Rising: “Irish-Ireland wrote and talked as if it assumed that the battle would be over once Dublin with its garrison of dentists’ wives had surrendered.” The “British” of Northerm Ireland are the several hundred thousand people loyal to the Crown, not the Crown forces. While the “Brits Out” slogan is no longer daubed, the … Read more