With the shops full – I don’t think they have thought this through…

With non-essential shops due to close this Friday the obvious is happening, everyone is hitting the high street now. Shopping centres are full and there are queues outside many car parks and shops. Now I imagine retail welcomes the boost in the trade but I don’t think it is the best way to reduce transmission. The behaviour of some people is truly bizarre. I witnessed a huge queue of traffic to get into the ASDA car park, even though supermarkets …

Read more…With the shops full – I don’t think they have thought this through…

Your lockdown political documentary/film recommendations

A few weeks ago I did this segment with William Crawley on Talkback but a few of you have been in touch with me to ask for a written copy.Here you go. The Killing Season-The Killing Season is a 2015 Australian television three-part documentary series which analyses the events of the Rudd–Gillard Government of 2007–2013, a turbulent period of Australian political history. You don’t need to have a great knowledge of Australian politics to watch this. Labour-The Wilderness Years which …

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“Where do you think Unionism is going?”

Currently unable to meet socially for coffee, conversations now take place on zoom or on the phone. Once we have shared our frustrations about Manchester United, recalled our memories of school days, in his case under the guidance of the Christian brothers and in mine, the local grammar school for a mainly unionist intake, we inevitably gravitate to politics. The question put to me was more challenging than John realised and is one unionists need to ask of themselves: ‘Where …

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OK Boomer: Trump’s Last Stand and Fantasyland, USA…

“History is seasonal, and winter is coming…Some time before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.” That grim prophecy wasn’t from the latest Qanon conspiracy drop. It was written in the 1990s, …

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We need to talk about Care Homes

Looking at the steadily rising numbers of Covid outbreaks in Care Homes through September it seemed as if ‘something’ was happening, and that ‘something’ wasn’t good. That ‘something’ is now beyond bad. There were a few learning points from the first wave of Covid earlier this year. The basic message of wash hands, face masks (sort of) and safe distance; Hands, Face, Space seemed a simple message, and the fundamentals underlying that message hold good and accepted by most that …

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Disregarding the poppy will only hinder Irish unity

It seemed the annual poppy debate, like many events in 2020, was cancelled or run with socially distanced measures in place. It was not until Taoiseach Micheál Martin appeared in Enniskillen, laying a wreath on Remembrance Day that the topic resurfaced down in the South. It is not an overly new occurrence of a Taoiseach attending such event. Enda Kenny during his time as Taoiseach, started the tradition and was followed by Leo Varadkar and now Micheál Martin.

Join us for a live Martin Luther King III talk this Thursday night at 7pm…

We are partnering with The John and Pat Hume Foundation and Politics in Action to host an online event with Martin Luther King III – the American human rights advocate and son of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr – who will be discussing the developing political situation in the United States and civil rights issues around the world. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook live, click here to register for the event for free… “MLK Peaking …

Read more…Join us for a live Martin Luther King III talk this Thursday night at 7pm…

Covid 19: Getting things wrong is a feature, not a bug in democracy, but can we keep learning from them?

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” -John Donne, via TWiV I have tried not to over comment on the progress (or lack of it) in handling the Coronavirus by any one government or administration. If there is a long term advantage to having been plunged into deep uncertainty, we can learn quicker. The Pfizer vaccine is promising (not to say astonishing), but even more …

Read more…Covid 19: Getting things wrong is a feature, not a bug in democracy, but can we keep learning from them?

What’s your wee treat?

I was up in Ballycastle during the summer and they had an open-air artisan market at the seafront. It was the usual mix of handmade crafts as well as local food products. Having a bit of a sweet tooth at the best of times my eye was drawn to a homemade banana bread with chocolate pieces. ‘How much is it?’ I asked the lady. ‘£3.50,’ she replied. I was thinking it was a bit pricey. But I had that awkward …

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Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell: Part Memoir, Part Hymn for Humanity

My eyes had already welled up with tears after the first three pages of Rob Bell’s latest book, Everything is Spiritual: Who we are and What we’re doing Here. Those early pages took me to his grandmother’s front porch on a windswept farm in central Michigan, introducing me to the grief and love that shaped him and set his life on its course. My emotional response testifies to Bell’s skill as a storyteller, which makes Everything is Spiritual a quick, …

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Do we like being distracted?

It’s sunny and I’ve just ordered at my local cafe. My fellow customers and I wait in the little socially distanced phalanx we’ve been trained to form. Business seems to have been steady for the cafe since they reopened in May. I suspect they may be selling to customers who this time last year were queuing for coffees in Belfast city centre, but now come here to break up a day spent working from their breakfast table. All of a …

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Would I Lie to ALL of You?

Fancy watching an online version of the popular BBC Show, but with a local slant? As part of the Being Human Festival 2020, the ContactVIRT project at Queen’s University will be hosting their own version of the show involving two groups comprising “Catholics” and “Protestants” in Northern Ireland who will play the game in virtual reality (VR). One team reads a story while members of the opposite team quiz them and decide whether the story is true or a lie. …

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Not so free, and not so fair elections: A look at Belarus, Egypt, and Tanzania in 2020…

Are you sick of hearing about the U.S Elections? Great! Then why don’t we take your mind off it by looking at more elections! Probably unbeknownst to most; the U.S elections haven’t been the only elections to take place recently. Places like Belarus, Egypt and Tanzania, have all recently had important elections in their country’s. Though there’s a stark difference between these elections, and the ones over in the states. Regardless of what Donald Trump would have to say on …

Read more…Not so free, and not so fair elections: A look at Belarus, Egypt, and Tanzania in 2020…

Does Biden’s nostalgic Irish nationalism and blind-spot run against the Shared Island initiative?

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? -TS Eliot Beyond the reactions of some, including Sir Iain Duncan-Smith MP and John Redwood MP, both of whom seem to have an unbridled capacity to straddle conviction and irrational sabre-rattling, the stance which the President-elect and fellow Democrats like Nancy Pelosi opted for on Brexit negotiations prior to the Presidential election, hardly reflects a nuanced understanding or respectful concern for the complexity of the issues …

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And it’s wrap on #USElections2020, but what lessons are there for NI politicians?

Here’s our wrap up session with Ruarai and Shane reflecting on the lessons that might be drawn from the US elections for politicians and political parties in Northern Ireland, particularly in the more down-ballot races where money was tighter. Why did the Democrats underperform? Ruarai highlights a split between moderates blaming poor messaging for lost seats (Shane gives the example of ‘defund the police’ which went ricocheting all over), left says bottom-up campaigning was inconsistent. What can our politicians in …

Read more…And it’s wrap on #USElections2020, but what lessons are there for NI politicians?

Watch the launch of the John and Pat Hume Foundation today at 11am…

A foundation in the name of former Nobel Peace Prize Winner, John Hume, and his wife Pat Hume, will launch today at 11am. The John and Pat Hume Foundation will seek to advance non-violent and peaceful change-making for present and future generations in divided societies and support and inspire leadership for peaceful change at home and across the world through a series of outreach and support programmes. The Foundation’s Leadership and Board is composed of people, from diverse backgrounds and communities, …

Read more…Watch the launch of the John and Pat Hume Foundation today at 11am…

Arlene and Michelle came together on sea border charges because current EU position will hit NI consumers…

From about 3.31 below you can catch my Wednesday night with Cristo on talkRadio. There’s a lot of general stuff in there (including an on the hoof description of what Slugger is) but the key point is on the distress facing retailers in Northern Ireland… In refusing derogations for what is largely B2B traffic (for local businesses, the construction industry even agrifoods) on any land border the EU has created a bottleneck at the sea border (which carries 90% of …

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BBC Report: Naomi Long considering position as Justice Minister

From BBC’s Jayne McCormack; In an interview with BBC News NI, Mrs Long said the device “shows the farce that is these structures”. “I have been reconsidering my position – it would be hard to imagine anyone around the executive table with an ounce of sanity or scruples wouldn’t have reconsidered their position, in light of the debacle that took place this week,” she said. “On balance, I still believe it is important that those of us who want to …

Read more…BBC Report: Naomi Long considering position as Justice Minister