Horror at the school gate…

A man was gunned down and killed in the community where I live yesterday. He was in a parked car outside his son’s school on the Glen Road at hometime, waiting to give his son a lift. While he did so a man walked up to his car and shot him 5 or 6 times. He died immediately. To put this horror in context you’d need to know the area where this murder took place. That part of the Glen … Read more

How should we redevelop Belfast City Centre?

This question was the focal point of the evening’s conversations at the Dark Horse. Considering a response begs further questioning. Perhaps most fundamentally, who is the city centre for? Answering from observation and evidence, Belfast, it seems, is for consumers. The city was so starved of investment that any development was considered good development. As such, retail and commerce became the de facto form of city regeneration. The limited housing that exists, is being built or has been approved is aimed at students and … Read more

Phoenix from the flames. How should we redevelop Belfast City Centre? Free event: Tue 30th October 2018…

The recent fire at Primark has caused a reported 30% fall in shoppers in Belfast City Centre. Many people are asking how do we revitalise our city centre? Where is the place for smaller retailers? How do you encourage people to live in the city centre? What about services like schools, doctors, parks etc? How do you make a city centre that is livable and attractive to visit? To discuss these and other questions we will have a panel of … Read more

Belfast’s feminist film festival to host 4 days of films, discussions, panels across the city

“We want these important films to reach a new audience in Belfast and promote discussion about the things that affect women’s lives here and around the world every day.” Belfast’s feminist film festival – WANDA – proudly presents a second edition of exciting, diverse, new and retrospective films directed by women. Over four days the festival will feature films, panels, and a quiz at locations across the city such as Queen’s Film Theatre, Black Box, Beanbag Cinema, and the Accidental … Read more

The Agreement can only be amended with cross-community support

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Eyebrows were raised on the 2nd October when Arlene Foster commented that the Good Friday Agreement wasn’t sacrosanct, hinting that she would like to amend it to accommodate Brexit. Her words been praised but also widely condemned. Leo Varadkar responded by saying that “the Good Friday Agreement is not up for renegotiation” in the Dail. Anyone paying close attention will notice that Foster’s comments are very similar to statements made by her party colleagues, Jim Allister and Jamie Bryson over the … Read more

Bear witness for peace #PeaceDay #GRWeek18

Bear witness for peace #PeaceDay #GRWeek18 by Allan LEONARD 21 September 2018 In support for International Peace Day and in conjunction with Good Relations Week and Culture Night Belfast, Belfast City Council hosted an event that featured a keynote speech by Rev. Trevor Williams, addresses by Councillor Tim Attwood, Susan Picken, Jennifer Skillen, and Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey, and a music performance by Ciaran Lavery. Councillor Attwood, who is vice chair of the council’s Shared City Partnership, welcomed all. He … Read more

Now, this is your chance to share your ideas for a better Belfast.

#MyBelfastIdea by Ciarán Fox, Director of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects Three weeks after the fire which gutted the Bank Buildings owned by Primark the people of Belfast are starting to galvanise in support of the city’s traders and retail core. As a profession, architects immediately recognised not only the devastating damage to a listed building but also crucially the risk to our thriving city. Today RSUA, as the voice of architecture in Northern Ireland, is launching a public … Read more

Belfast’s Historic Bank Buildings gutted by fire #Primark

One of Belfast most iconic buildings, commonly known as ‘the Bank Buildings’ at Castle Street, now operating as a Primark store, faces an uncertain future after being gutted by a fire which started at approximately 11.00 a.m. this morning. According to the BBC: About 100 firefighters are at the scene and the roof and some floors have collapsed There are no reports of any injuries and it is not yet clear how the fire started. The fire service said the … Read more

I don’t want a shared future, I want a shared now

You know summer is on the way in Northern Ireland, when we get 3 straight days of sunshine, prompting an outbreak of ‘taps aff’. Anyone unfortunate to witness the sight of some local men wandering the streets half naked, knows that a row about flags is just around the corner. A few weeks ago, just off the Ravenhill Road, a part of the world I call my home, four loyalist paramilitary flags went up on lampposts overnight, near a shared … Read more

Clinton: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.” #GFA20

Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”

The Agreement. Ten Frames. Twenty Years.

There’s going to be a lot of familiar and famous talking heads, looking back pensively, giving the ‘I was there’ definitive version of ‘what really happened’ at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago. We will note the wrinkles and the grey hair and we will see how they have changed, if only in their appearance. The usual role-call will be called. But what about artistic responses? What might an artist create that could ever contain the … Read more

Angry nationalist reaction to plans to rename Europa Station to Britannia Station following Brexit…

Nationalist politicians have reacted angrily to plans to change the name of Europa Bus Station in Belfast to Britannia Station. The new transport hub is due to open in 2020, at a cost of £175 million. The project comprising: station concourse, 26 bus stands, 8 railway platforms, bus maintenance and parking, car parking and a new public square. The remaining land is proposed for phased commercial development. When we asked a Dept Of Infrastructure spokesperson about the new name they … Read more

Belfast’s Titanic Quarter is a soulless hole of a place. Discuss.

On St Patrick’s Day morning I found myself in what felt like the arctic tundra but was actually Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The occasion was to cheer on some friends who were running the Craic 10k race. The biting wind and snow just added to the desolate gloom of the place. Now to be fair it was bad weather in most places, but I have been to the Titanic Quarter in July and the wind would cut you. The whole area just has … Read more

Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has … Read more

Lord Mayor of Belfast: “I would not stand for an assembly that is not functioning”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nuala McAllister visited an A level Politics class last week to ask students how they viewed Belfast and, in line with her theme for her year as Lord Mayor of ‘Global Belfast’, how the city could be more welcoming. The Alliance Party politician expressed her dismay at the rise of hate crime in Belfast and explained to the students that she believed that sectarian attitudes were still prevalent in Northern Ireland. She drew a contrast between … Read more

Could Spanish “Superblocks” make Belfast Greener, Quieter and a Nicer Place to be?

So much of our modern city space is dedicated to cars, the needs of the automobile take priority in almost every city’s layout. This causes pedestrians and cyclists to be pushed to narrow pavements and cycles lanes, both having to navigate through traffic as they go. One alternative to this norm is the “Superblock” scheme currently being implemented across cities in Spain. You take an area of blocks and close off the inside to ‘through’ traffic i.e buses and big … Read more