‘If you’re sympathetic to the weak, it’s activist journalism. If you’re sympathetic to the powerful, it’s objective journalism.’

social media, social, marketing

An interesting article over at Media Lens – Gaslighting The Public: Serial Deceptions By The State-Corporate Media. It is quite a long post but sure what else would you be doing on a Sunday? The basic argument is that it accuses the state and main media companies of being unquestioning mouthpieces for the state and big business. Not asking enough hard questions and being cheerleaders for war. None of this is new but it does bring together some interesting examples. …

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The Remarkable Story of Gladys Blackburne…

In Palace Barracks Memorial Gardens there lies a memorial stone inscribed as follows: In Memory of Miss Gladys Blackburne “The Chuff Chart Lady” OP Banner She would walk into any army camp or police station Distributing her gifts and prayers She was respected with affection For her kindness and bravery This stone is dedicated to her memory By Veterans, Friends and Colleagues “Blessed in the sight of the lord Is the death of his saints” Psalm 116 v15 Who was …

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Not a great week for the police…

police, cop, police uniforms

The Sarah Everard murder is the stuff of nightmares. A serving police officer, Wayne Couzens showed a warrant card and used handcuffs as he kidnapped Ms Everard before her rape and murder. Thankfully he was caught fairly quickly and he will spend the rest of his days behind bars. But the Met has a lot to do to restore public confidence in the police, especially amongst women. If you have not watched it yet the BBC documentary Bent Coppers: Crossing …

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Kindergarten exchanges in the Dáil pit ‘aimless chatter’ against ‘planned, concerted action’.

goal, target, arrow

Interesting how in the Labour leader’s speech on Wednesday dealt with heckling from a minority of conference delegates. The stand out response was one he had clearly pre-prepared: “chanting slogans or changing lives”. It had an immediate effect on the audience in the hall, and judging by the unusually positive reviews for the UK Labour leader on some beyond, acting as a philosophical razor between ‘aimless chatter’ and ‘planned, concerted action’. Heckling plays a large part in modern politics (Twitter is …

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What does the Rise of the Non-Religious in N Ireland mean for Politics here?

candlelight, faith, candles

I was casually leafing through the British Humanists’ newsletter recently, when this headline caught my eye: Northern Ireland’s Non-religious population surges I read further: The number of non-religious people is on the rise. The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, released in June, reported that 27% of respondents said they had no religion in 2020. This is a massive increase of seven percent in just one year. The latest surge means that the overall figure has more than doubled in …

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Seminar tomorrow featuring voices from NI, Libya and Somalia will honour Pat Hume’s legacy…

Pat Hume who was recently described by Monica Mc Williams ‘as the woman who never gave up’ is the inspiration behind Fire in the Belly: Lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change’ the third event planned in the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series.   On Friday 1 October 2021, Monica Mc Williams who is Emeritus Professor at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and former Chairperson of Interpeace, will chair Fire in …

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Yesterday’s Ulster Day Declaration should signal the beginning of the end of a crisis not presage yet another drama

off road, jeep, trail

Brian (O’Neill) tells me it was Ulster Day yesterday (28th September), the anniversary of the signing the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant or the women’s Declaration, almost a foundational document for political unionism ever since. Owen Polley explains… Yesterday, Northern Ireland’s four explicitly unionist parties issued a ‘declaration’ affirming their opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol. This statement was timed to coincide with the anniversary of ‘Ulster Day’ in 1912. 109 years ago, on the 28th of September, almost half …

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We need to be doing a lot more to insulate homes…

food, drinks, people

While personally, I have no desire to superglue myself to the Westlink, I generally agree with the activists of Insulate Britain. Home heating is one of my obsessions. I have given a scary amount of mental energy to it over the years. The core principle of insulate first makes sense. It is better to ensure homes are properly insulated before you think about the heating. A well-insulated home can dramatically lower energy bills as well as being more comfortable for …

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Is Invest NI creating new jobs or just subsidising existing jobs?

fashion, clothing, shop

The online fashion retailer Asos is planning to create 184 jobs at a new tech hub in Belfast. From the BBC story: The global firm, which is popular with younger people, will recruit over the next three years with 52 of the jobs in place in the first year. The company is investing £14m in the permanent base which will be operational early in 2022. Recruitment is already underway with a range of roles including in engineering and data science. …

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Notes from the outer regions…

Having lived in London for over 20 years now I’m always careful not to bring back too much of the local currency when I return from trips home. I’m referring of course to the regional banknotes produced by Danske Bank, Ulster Bank, First Trust and Bank of Ireland. It’s a well-worn rant that most retailers and service providers in GB won’t accept such notes despite the fact that they are sterling and should (in theory) be legal currency (albeit not …

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Bike to School Week is a sick joke…

bicycle, character, bike path

Today is the start of bike to school week. Or a more realistic name for it would be watch your child die under the wheels of a car week. I am a cyclist but the last thing I would ever do is bring my child out on the roads of Belfast. The cycle lane infrastructure in Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland is absolutely pathetic. In Belfast there are only 2 miles of protected cycle lanes in the whole city. The …

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The high street voucher scheme opens…

pound, coins, currency

The pointless exercise in helicopter money that is the high street voucher scheme is now open, sort of. It seems no one in the NI public sector has ever heard of the concept of load balancing so the site immediately fell over on launch. My advice is to wait a few days and try it early morning or late at night, here is the page. The entire premise of the scheme is stupid. Many of us have never been richer. …

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The Service of Reflection & Hope: An opportunity for the Church Leaders?

Unless you’re an avid reader of the ‘Presbyterian Notes’, a bi-weekly feature on a back page of the weekend edition of the Irish Times, you probably missed it. Yesterday this brief little column, which isn’t even included in digital editions of the paper, printed an extract from an address given last week by the Moderator, Rev David Bruce. Bruce was speaking at an event marking the part played by Union Theological College in hosting the parliament of Northern Ireland 100 …

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History can light the way, but it’s what we bring to the question today that really matters… 

brushes, painter, work shop

It’s hard to believe that in the wake of their boycott of the Queen’s visit to the Republic in 2011, Sinn Féin’s First Minister Martin McGuinness petitioned to meet her on a subsequent visit to Northern Ireland. As we’ve come closer to the anniversary of partition attitudes have not just hardened, but got more slapdash and careless. As Tony Horwitz writes of the remnants of the American civil war he found in the 1990s: Everywhere, it seemed, I had to …

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Ask us anything (within reason)…

ask, who, what

There have been lots of questions about the comments policy so I thought I would give you the opportunity to ask any questions about the comments or how Slugger works generally (or does not work). Slugger has very little structure and I freely admit we make it up as we go along. We know we are not perfect so we do welcome your suggestions and ideas for improvement. We have a lot of very smart readers and I am keen …

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Gazing back 100 years will lead to a crick in the neck rather than the insights we need to grow…

highway, mountain, trees

And to finish the week, Newton Emerson throws some light on the politics of the President’s refusal to come Armagh in October as a part of the decade of centenaries… Under his Machnamh centenary programme, described as “inviting reflections on the War of Independence, the Treaty Negotiations, the Civil War and Partition”, the President has spent a year hosting academic seminars on contested commemoration, ethical remembering and, above all, on colonialism as the overriding context for the centenary. It is …

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Now is the winter of our discontent…

tree, snow, winter

Wow, things are looking bleak for poor old Blighty. Energy prices through the roof, bins not being emptied, food shortages, petrol shortages, staff shortages, [insert just about everything] shortages. Unsurprisingly when you tell people not to panic-buy they automatically go out and panic buy. Personally, I have taken matters into my own hands and I have 1000 litres of petrol stored in old plastic milk jugs in the shed. They are next to the pile of illegal fireworks I picked …

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President Biden would do better to be the measured voice for reason that his election promised.

cup, tee, porcelain

When Senator Joe Biden became American President by beating incumbent Donald Trump, his victory was welcomed by many; not just in America. The post-election behaviour of the defeated Trump served only to reinforce the image of a new President offering a different and less disruptive style of politics; with decision-making based on ethical resolve and a freshly defined global role for the USA in promoting conciliation and collaborative problem-solving. The debacle of the exit from Afghanistan, however justified by a …

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FF rebels should know there’s no home to return to, yet the journey ahead could be transformative

It’s interesting how Fianna Fáil has almost disappeared from the national consciousness in the Republic for much of the last five or six years. And despite being in office, not much gets into print about current Taoiseach Micheál Martin. However, Theresa Reidy has written thoughtfully on what may lie ahead for a party that, historically, did not have to think about its profile, its image, trajectory and story (which was pretty much one with the story of government). Fianna Fáil’s …

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Northern Ireland started as a temporary bodge but by 2021 it has become permanent fixtures

tree, log, firewood

Whatever thinking or writing we do, however we choose to couch it and whatever our explanatory ambition, we do it from the midst of things, not from above or beyond the fray. There are different ways of articulating that relationship – more remote or more immediate – but no way out of that situatedness. – Adam Tooze On Slugger we are trying to make sense of things in a world where everything screams at you to take it more seriously than …

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