George Orwell and Twitter rage…

Interesting post over at The Idler about Twitter rage. In our current cultural climate, opinions have gotten very black and white, you need to pick a side. Nuance and shades of grey have gone out the window to be replacement by mock outrage. To quote the post: The periodic bouts of hatred directed at public figures on Twitter reminds me of Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate” in 1984. In Two Minutes Hate, the residents of Oceania watch images of the enemy on … Read more

Spain prevents Catalan independence leaders from taking office

The elections to the Catalan Parliament were just over 3 weeks ago but rather than lead to any settled political outcome in Barcelona problems look set to continue. Pro-independence parties again won an overall majority of seats but will the Spanish establishment permit all of those deputies to take up their seats and fulfil their mandate? Not likely. The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the former Deputy First Minister Oriol Junqueras must remain physically in prison on remand and may not … Read more

Archbishops and Admirals…

What do you suppose the following had in common: the American President Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, the German Emperor Frederick (Friedrich) III, the author of Household Management, Mrs Isabella Beeton, the impressionist painter Édouard Manet, the post-impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the gangster Al Capone, the composer Frederick Delius and the jazz pianist Scott Joplin, the Irish authors Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, the revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, the dictators Benito Mussolini and Idi Amin, the billionaire Howard … Read more

Courage of Kingsmills Victims Defied Sectarian Divide

Reconciliation statue Photo by Amanda Slater

Much ink has been spilled about the sorry Barry McElduff/Kingsmills loaf saga. Susan McKay’s analysis in Tuesday’s Irish Times is one of the most insightful, but bleak, contributions. It’s worth reading her full text, which brings her to this conclusion: The absence of reconciliation has never been more starkly apparent, and as usual, those most hurt in the past are hurt again. One paragraph in McKay’s article jumped out for me, because though tragic, it demonstrated for me that there … Read more

Donald Trump and the pathology of leadership…

Dame Iris Murdoch, the Dublin born novelist, won the Booker prize for fiction in 1978 for The Sea, The Sea. Her final novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, was published in 1995 and was met with a muted response from the critics. She was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease which was confirmed on post-mortem after her death in 1999. Subsequently, a textual examination of The Sea, The Sea, Jackson’s Dilemma and her first novel, Under The Net, showed that her vocabulary was considerably reduced and ‘commonplace’ in her final novel, but extensive … Read more

The death of Peter Sutherland robs us of a key bridge builder between the UK the EU and Ireland

Peter Sutherland who has died aged 71, was an Irishman  bigger internationally  than any Briton of his time.

Read moreThe death of Peter Sutherland robs us of a key bridge builder between the UK the EU and Ireland

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

Government recalcitrance over refugee resettlement in early 1990s #20YearRule

Between 1989 and 1992, local civil servants responded to two requests for Northern Ireland to offer accommodation for refugees from two regions of the world: Vietnam and the former Yugoslavia. In the second instance, the internal response lacked enthusiasm with officials unwilling to state publicly that they were willing to accept in families to NI as part of the UK-wide programme.

Sleep; wake up to the benefits…

Sleep is finally revealing its secrets and they are proving more sensational than we ever dreamt. Sleep, that part of human functioning we treat with such contempt and distain, might be a means of improving many aspects of our lives particularly our health. Sleep, of sufficient quality and quantity, is offering a panacea for a range of medical conditions plaguing modern life. But will we listen? We; fail to take enough exercise, eat too much poor quality foods; sustain bodies … Read more

On the multiple follies of insider knowledge, in praise of plural thinking…

Sometimes we have to trust experts: If a doctor sends you for a scan you should probably go. Of course you can seek alternative advice but in the absence of specialized knowledge we are rendered rather passive in the face of threats and fears. It is arguable that much of political commentary in Northern Ireland is driven by unknowability and the intercession of experts who provide light and insight. Thus we are told that a problem with Brexit is to … Read more

Surrendering the ‘War on Christmas’

‘Tis the season of war- the ‘War on Christmas’. This is the time of year when, traditionally, conservative media outlets employ that phrase to describe what they see as a supposed marginalization of Christmas and a relentless attack against Christmas symbolism, greetings, displays, and spirituality. Their goal in calling this out, they say, is to restore Christmas to its rightful position as a Christian holiday in a Christian America. They seek to do away with the secular trappings of Christmas, … Read more

The Unfreemaning of Bob Geldof from the City of Dublin…

Fascinating conversation in council last week on whether Bob Geldof should lose his Freedom the City status, because, well, he handed to them, so they calculated that they have no choice but to accept it and strike him from the record. Formally, you can see the Lord Mayor and the CEO are being procedurally correct. But Cllr Paul McAuliffe points out outside the public conversation, there is no record of the conversation between Geldof and council officials. From Bob’s point … Read more

Trump’s Election Victory One year on…

A year ago, I took a little flak in a Slugger article for suggesting Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 election might not have been won fairly and squarely. It was pointed out that Trump scored a decisive victory by the Electoral College rules, and it is fair to say, (as he did), he would have fought the campaign differently had it depended on winning the popular vote. While the story as yet to fully unravel, we know much more … Read more

Brexit and the British Empire

A spectre is haunting Europe. No, not that one. An uglier, messier one by far; the spectre of Empire. And if Europe is the haunted house in this metaphor, the UK is the creaking stairway where the spectre appears, Northern Ireland where you fancy you can hear it whisper in your ear. Brexit has shone a light on a lot of long hidden corners of the British psyche, none so alarming as the anti-Irish sentiment that has appeared since Taoiseach … Read more

Going back to Zimbabwe

The drive way was exactly as I remembered – albeit a bit overgrown. There was a hut by the gate and a woman emerged, rubbing her eyes. It was the holidays but the dilapidated buildings gave the impression the school had been closed for many years. The driver spoke to her in Shona, gesturing at me – she used to be a student here and wants to have a look. She looked at me suspiciously and the gate was opened. … Read more

You have to admire the Russians. They are the ultimate internet trolls…

Seems Theresa May is getting annoyed at Russian meddling in Western politics. From the BBC: Senior Russian politicians have dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and carried out cyber-espionage. On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”. She said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”. The Russians hit back with: #UK Prime Minister @theresa_may on @Russia: “We know what you are doing”. We … Read more

Prescription Medicines in the Dock – Who is to blame for the increasing drug deaths in our society?

Ireland bucks the UK trend in drug overdose deaths; here they are more likely to result from “prescription medicines” than “illegal drugs”. Coroners locally implicate; tramadol, oxycodone or fentanyl in overdose more frequently than in England, Scotland or Wales where deaths are mainly linked to; heroin or cocaine. One implication is that prescription medicines are more readily available and, extending this logic, doctors and pharmacists are in some way involved; if we did our jobs better drug deaths would be … Read more

To solve the Catalan crisis, pay homage to Britain

The Catalonian campaign for independence is a phenomenon of our times,  like the Scottish. They both claim they are ancient entities enjoying sufficient cohesion to go it alone and find their own balance between globalisation (the great big world now closer to all of us than ever) and self sufficiency ( provided it comes under the safety blanket of the EU).  They seem to think they deserve as of right, easy acquiescence and the blessing of a good deal from … Read more