“One of the things the independence movement hates most is that left-leaning people are against them…”

With the separatist Catalan government claiming that 90%, of 43% of the electorate, voted for independence, and ahead of a week of further uncertainty for all of Spain, the BBC’s Patrick Jackson gives a voice to some young Catalan Spaniards – some of whose views may, or may not, sound familiar…  ANYhoo… Here’s a lengthy excerpt from the BBC report. “We feel Catalan and Spanish and I’m not going to allow independence supporters to take my culture away,” says David. … Read more

Bombardier’s CSeries US crisis gives NI an early taste of “Free Market” realities..?

I’m not sure there’s much an Executive could do in these circumstances, but the significance of the US threat to highly skilled jobs in Bombardier in Belfast was for once not lost on the news in the rest of the UK. It even made the headlines on Radio 6 Music this morning. The US Department of Commerce has clobbered 220% after it ruled that a $1 billion investment from Quebec and nearly half that amount in loans from the Federal government was used … Read more

Where do Syria and Assad go from here?

The war in Syria has been drawing to a slow, violent end for almost two years now. Since Russia started to increase its military support for the Assad regime in September 2015, there has almost been an inevitability that the government forces would hold out and eventually reclaim most of the country. This was accentuated by the deafening silence from most Western nations as rebel held Eastern Aleppo was levelled by the Russian air force. To the ‘moderate’ rebels groups, … Read more

Misogyny bullying and brutal violence; what is there to worry about in the Middle East?  

My eldest daughter, a primary school teacher, returns to Qatar this weekend as do hundreds of young people from these shores supporting the education systems across the Middle East.  With developments over the summer I felt anxious as we said our farewells; she was sanguine as young people are.  Having left the Emirate in June just after the borders and airspace were closed, and sanctions imposed by a coalition cobbled together by Saudi Arabia, no fresh chicken or milk were … Read more

An EPIC View of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Wondrous images, from a million miles out in space, from NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) of the shadow of the moon crossing over North America on Aug. 21, 2017.  EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), photographing the full sunlit side of Earth every day.  [Image credit: NASA EPIC Team. Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katy Mersmann] Pete Baker

Antibiotics are such a fragile resource why do we continue to abuse them?

It’s now OK, according to a paper in BMJ not to finish a course of antibiotics.  It is merely a myth according to researchers who can find no evidence that stopping your antibiotics when you feel well, does not lead to bug-resistance as we have always believed.   Doctors, however, in spite of this finding are still suggesting that you should continue to take antibiotics as instructed and that means completing the course.  It’s all a bit confusing and what’s the … Read more

Pressure on Sinn Fein to return to the Assembly was the message from the Dublin establishment at the Magill

As the John Hewitt gets under way today, the summer school season had already been launched in Glenties. I spent a few days in the area the previous week so I missed out on this year’s Magill summer school which was as usual these days, highly political. On Brexit you can have  too much of a good thing especially when Narin strand and Nancy’s bar down the road in Ardara are beckoning. The School will publish speakers’ papers shortly but … Read more

How Ballyhaunis embraced demographic change with the simplicity of effective action

Tom Kelly is right, now the most peaceful Twelfth in Belfast for years has passed it is time for people to move on. Even the bonfires, pushed to ridiculous proportions must now have the word Grenfell echoing in the ears of the organisers. But move on to what? It’s far from clear. In absence of any sensible explanation as to why Stormont collapsed (and believe me, I’ve looked and cannot find anything that does not add up to some class … Read more

Now might be a good time to start a ‘slow journalism’ movement…?

Interesting spat over the media and politics, between Denis Bradley and Stephen Nolan. My own thoughts fall into two parts: one, this is not new nor specific to Northern Ireland; and two, in insisting Nolan carry the can, the abject nature of the general news cycle gets off the hook. Any opportunity to reference John Lloyd’s seminal essay, What the Media Are Doing to Our Politics is a good day. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’ll just quickly crib from … Read more

“À la Bastille!”

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise! Adds  And a French winner on Le Tour on Bastille Day! Pete Baker

Charlie Gard: a life worth a legacy…

Charlie Gard will probably die in the next few days. His death I hope will be private, peaceful and dignified and my sincere sympathy to his parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard and I truly hope they can move on with their lives after the torture of the last few months. Charlie’s short, tragic life has been lived too much in the glare of publicity, and as a result many will know of his case and the legal wranglings surrounding … Read more

Can Warren Gatland see off his tribal critics with an historic Lions NZ win for only the second time in history?

When Warren Gatland announced his Lions squad for the tour to New Zealand there was considerable disgruntlement in Scotland that only two of their kith and kin and had been selected. Former Scottish internationals lined up to criticise the selection that also saw 16 players from England and 12 players from Wales even though they had finished below Scotland in the 6 Nations. Jim Telfer, himself a former Lions (and Scotland) coach stated: “Scottish Rugby should really feel as if … Read more

Happy Bloomsday, intolerable Joyceans everywhere!

If you don’t know by now, it’s tradition!  [We know… – Ed]. Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, once again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. And a reminder of a brief history of the day, from the Guardian last year, which includes this great 1924 quote from Joyce on Ulysses – “I have to convince myself that I wrote that book. I used to be able to talk intelligently about it.” In June of … Read more

Taking on the thankless job of admiring President Donald Trump…

We all know he bends rules and the truth, he tweets faster than he thinks and lacks that smooth veneer that we have all come to expect from the political class (the lies always seem nicer when delivered in the correct polished manner). What is being missed is that many of Trumps negative impacts are likely to be short lived, or to endure within his administrative term (whatever that may be), but that many of his positive contributions will endure … Read more

Letter From America- Christianity without ‘Jesus’: American Religion in the Age of Trump

Since the inception of a distinctly right-wing Evangelical Christian spirituality and politics in the 70s and 80s- and particularly now in the wake of Donald Trump’s rise to power, with unwavering support from so many on the Christian Right- many have pointed out how little of that movement’s beliefs and practices have to do with the actual words and actions of the person of Jesus; Jesus, they point out, was a Middle Eastern man, when Evangelicals look with distain and … Read more

Trading Partners Wanted: Looking at South Korea…

As it stands, Ireland’s most important trading and investment partner is the United Kingdom. This has been the case since Independence although the balance has shifted greatly since Ireland entered the EEC in 1973 with the UK no longer wholly dominant despite our reliance on the UK in certain sectors such as beef, timber, pork and much more. As Ireland’s reliance on the UK as a partner has diminished, it has been able to look to a wider market largely … Read more

Why now is the time for voting rights outside the Irish state in Presidential Elections

Áras an Uachtaráin - residence of the Irish President, and soon to be home to Northern Irish bees

Professor Colin Harvey is professor of human rights at the school of law in Queens University Belfast. Mark Bassett is a barrister in independent practice. They made a joint presentation to the Oireachtas GFA committee on the 18th May 2017. 1. Non-resident voting rights raise important questions concerning equal citizenship. This includes Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. The relatively modest proposal of an extended franchise for Presidential elections received overwhelming support at the Constitutional Convention in 2013. There also appears … Read more

They will have to shed cherished illusions about how to deal with jihadist terrorism. We were different, but we know the feeling

Since the Manchester atrocity a lifetime ago on Monday night, we can hear echoes of the Troubles every day.   The elevation of suicide into martyrdom is a common theme but very differently enacted and  very differently received; passively- aggressively by  hunger strike  thirty five  years ago  and bitterly dividing opinion to this day: aggressively only  by the IED of militant jihad today; generally condemned except by their own but probably secretly admired by more than we care  to acknowledge. The … Read more