Stupid cars ruin everything. Why we need to go back to the past and make our towns more people friendly…

You may have seen the photo above on social media. It shows the old entrance to Queen’s University before it was removed to make the entrance suitable for cars. Throughout the world, there are very few places that have been improved by building massive roads through them. Here are some old photos of Donegal Street, Carlisle Circus and Clifton St before somebody had the bright idea to run the Westlink through them. When you look at some of the terrible …

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#SluggerTV – The future of Belfast City Centre #TheReset

How can Belfast City Centre adapt to these changed times and thrive? Colin Neill (chief executive of Hospitality Ulster), Glyn Roberts (chief executive of Retail NI) and Suzanne Wylie (chief executive of Belfast City Council) joined David McCann in the latest episode of Slugger TV.

#TheReset – Simon Hamilton on what will Belfast be for?

Simon Hamilton is an ex DUP MLA & Finance Minister. He is currently Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce. You can follow him on Twitter Back at the beginning of 2020, I wrote a piece that appeared in the local press in which I predicted that “better times were ahead” for Belfast. The rationale for my optimistic outlook was that, with a deal struck on Brexit, a Conservative Government at Westminster with a whopping majority and the …

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Queen’s Quarter superblock – Freeing a city quarter from vehicle traffic and pedestrianising Botanic Avenue…

Following Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon’s announcement of a new Walking and Cycling Champion, to lead the emergency measures needed to immediately increase active travel space and priority, we take a closer look at one aspect of plans: superblocks. The term has been used to describe work to reduce traffic levels within areas of Barcelona, and Bikefast has proposed a superblock-style approach to re-configuring Belfast’s Linen Quarter. Coronavirus has claimed many lives and devastated families, and will continue to do so – in greater …

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Twelfth of July demonstrations cancelled

Edward Stevenson, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, has confirmed that the Orange Institution will not hold its annual Twelfth of July demonstrations this year and alternatives ways will be found to mark the occasion. With the parades cancelled, the focus will shift to communities and whether the tradition of Eleventh Night bonfires will continue given the large crowds that are attracted to view them when lit.

A (Brutally) Honest Visitor Guide to Belfast

City Hall image for Honest Visitor Guide to Belfast

A side-effect of Belfast picking up tourism awards across the world? Visitors are now shepherded from one pre-packaged tourist ‘experience’ to a generic theme bar, finishing in shoebox glass hotel with the paint still drying on the walls. In days gone by a local would tell you about a great wee pub, a gem of a ‘chippy’ or the best place to find a cheap pint any day of the week. But times have changed, the city has changed and …

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Losing Belfast City – the Unionist retreat?

Losing the City of Belfast at the forthcoming election will do massive psychological damage to unionism. After the calamity of RHI, many in my family happily told of how they would not be exercising their vote at the Assembly election held after Martin McGuinness’ dramatic resignation in 2016 and especially in the second election called the next year. When the tally had come through in the 2017 election it was like a punch in the gut to some in the …

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The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss.

The role and responsibilities of media in divided societies. Discuss. by Allan LEONARD 8 November 2019 A two-day international conference examined the role that media plays in divided societies and in creating more peaceful and stable communities. Organised by the Social Change Initiative in partnership with Conciliation Resources and the University of Edinburgh’s Political Settlements Research Programme, the event was attended by journalists from South Africa, Colombia, Myanmar, Rwanda, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, Kashmir, Somalia, Syria, Nepal, and …

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1988 Public subsidy cheaper than closure costs for Harland & Wolff which had by then “not made a profit on work carried out for over 20 years” #20yearrule

Government papers just released under the 30/20 year rule (DED/22/231) detail how officials back in the late 1980s conducted an analysis of the cost to close the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Back in 1988, 4,000 jobs would have been made redundant. Despite not having made a profit for 20 years, continued public support was calculated to be cheaper than the closure costs. (In the end, H&W was sold in 1989 to a management/employee buyout in partnership with Fred Olsen.)

The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion

The role of media in conflict: A Féile discussion by Allan LEONARD 8 August 2019 Hosted by Féile an Phobail, the campaign group Time for Truth organised an event to examine the role of the media in conflict and to listen to the account of those journalists in the front line who helped shape and influence the narrative. The panellists were Amanda Ferguson (journalist), Sean Murray (film director), Trevor Birney (film producer), and Barry McCaffery (journalist). After welcoming those attending …

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Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations

Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations by Allan LEONARD 7 August 2019 A panel discussion on how shared housing projects and the integrated education movement are contributing towards good community relations was held at St Mary’s College, Belfast, as part of the Feile Festival. The panellists were Deborah Howe (Equality Commission), Christine Davis (Housing Executive), Grainne Mullin (Radius Housing), and Jill Caskey (Integrated Education Fund). The event was chaired by Gerry McConville. After a welcome by Jessica …

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August 1969: A New Football Season…

The priority for my family in August 1969 was getting a new house. Our house in that “mixed” street in West Belfast was falling down. Literally. As you walked into the street, you could see a row of houses lean backwards. The house, like most in the street was “condemned”. Sooner or later it would be knocked down, either as slum clearance or “for the road”. Ah yes, “the road” was a big thing in 1969. There were plans to …

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Harland and Wolff to go into administration today…

It looks like the end of an era today as Harland and Wolff is due to go into administration. The company that once employed 35,000 people is now a mere shadow of its former self, employing just 130 currently. With so few jobs the economic loss is not that great, people with light engineering skills are in high demand and I imagine most workers should have no issue getting reemployed. It’s more what the shipyard represents in terms of our …

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For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation

For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation by Allan LEONARD 1 August 2019 As part of the 31st annual Féile festival, Jim Gibney (a member of the Féile Debates and Discussions Committee) welcomed the audience of a couple dozen attendees of a panel discussion on what parity of esteem, reconciliation, and mutual respect means from those who are pro-Union. The panellists were Professor Peter Shirlow (Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool), Dr James Wilson (Initiative for Civic Space), …

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‘We have lost ground in the past 20 years’, claims PUP’s John Kyle

Society in Northern Ireland has gone backwards since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, argues the former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party John Kyle, who is also a GP in Belfast. “In my view we have lost ground in the past 20 years,” he says in the latest Forward Together podcast. John believes that we need to review the progress that was achieved and consider why it has lost momentum.  He suggests three factors enabled the conflict to …

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Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place?

Is ethical journalism possible in a contested place? by Allan LEONARD 27 May 2019 At a public lecture event hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, at Queen’s University, Professor Steven Youngblood (Director, Center for Global Peace Journalism, Park University, Missouri) discussed the ethics of journalism in a contested place like Northern Ireland. Youngblood also spoke at Ulster University and held separate workshop sessions, all supported by the US Embassy. Youngblood asked the …

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Go, Prime Minister and take Karen Bradley with you

Theresa May’s voice broke as she reached the end of her resignation speech. Known as the ‘Maybot’ throughout her premiership her exterior finally cracked. She sounded close to tears as she said it had, ‘been the honour of her life’ to ‘serve the country that I love.’ She wasn’t this emotional during the Windrush scandal, a horrifying disaster of her own making. May’s resignation starts the bell ringing for the Conservative Party leadership contest. Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Jeremy Hunt …

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“Understanding irrationality to save the human race”: Lord John ALDERDICE

“Understanding irrationality to save the human race”: Lord John ALDERDICE by Allan LEONARD 15 May 2019 The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a spring conference in honour of the 10th anniversary of the awarding of an honorary degree to President Daisaku Ikeda (President, Soka Gakkai International (SGI)). The evening before the day conference was marked by the unveiling of a commemorative peace bench in the university’s quadrangle garden, as …

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Terrible news about Bombardier but the prospects aren’t hopeless

With all the phased cuts and despite winning a battle against Trump’s protectionism, this will come as a shock but not much of a surprise. Sends a chill down the spine though.  The local politicians are all running around looking for assurances, but impotent. They can’t even make the ritual promises of “everything will be done that can be done.” Brexit and the Stormont stand off all add to the impression of a difficult environment for new foreign direct investment.  …

Read more…Terrible news about Bombardier but the prospects aren’t hopeless