Is Your Child Green or Orange?

Children in Northern Ireland are continuing to be shoe-horned into Orange and Green identities, by the very programme set up to break down divisions. This article draws on a recent FOI request to the NI Executive, to show how children participating in ‘Together: Building a United Community’ (TBUC) Camps, ended up being designated as one community background or the other. A factor which surely makes it more difficult to break out of the cycle of polarisation in Northern Ireland, and which … Read more

“Touting” and the ethics of gathering information…

A number of years ago the Andersonstown News carried on a front page headline the phrase: “Ten Pound Touts.”  “Ten Pounds Touts” was a reference to what was perceived at the time (and indeed is still perceived by some people) as the practice by the RUC/PSNI of recruiting as informers (touts) young people involved in car crime, anti-social behaviour, or low level crime. These youths were/are given small amounts of money for doing this – allegedly as little as a … Read more

The march of the mummies and the mental health implications of maternity discrimination

On October the 31st, people are marching in cities across the UK to demand recognition, respect and change for working mothers. The well-being of mothers is important because mothers matter as human beings and citizens. However there is now a wealth of evidence showing the importance of parental mental health for the wellbeing of the child across the lifespan. We now know that many of the epigenetic processes that switch on and off DNA, and therefore programme future stress regulation … Read more

“In this awful priest ridden country they still managed to build good houses for working people…”

In an interview in today’s Sunday Business Post the writer Roddy Doyle discusses the homeless situation in Dublin: It is the thing I feel ashamed of, more than anything, as a citizen. Somehow or other in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in this awful priest ridden country that we used to live in, they still managed to build good houses for working people, and there wasn’t a penny in the country. Now it seems beyond the means. We cannot supply housing to … Read more

Explaining politics to a (nearly) five year old

It will be a good 12 years before my eldest child can vote, but already she, along with her younger sister, has come with me to the polling booth on two occasions. The third is looming large on the horizon. Quite possibly, it is only the children who get a day off due to their school transforming into a polling station who will benefit the most from this election. I certainly don’t see any benefit to it and am getting … Read more

A cold house for Roma

A week ago, Greek police searching a Roma camp discovered a child who looked as though she didn’t belong there. DNA testing proved them – at least in biological terms – correct.

An Garda Síochána were not so lucky.

Read moreA cold house for Roma

Born and live in London, brought up in Dublin, roots in East Belfast. Occasional blogging at and far more frequent tweets at

Children of the Revolution (Bill Rolston)

Children of the Revolution by Bill Rolston

What was life like for children of political activists during the Troubles? A new book by Bill Rolston and published by Guildhall Press during the summer has collected together the stories of twenty Children of the Revolution whose parents’ activities – and in many cases, imprisonment – had a significant affect on childhoods and life choices. For me, this summer’s reading has been dominated by people telling their stories. Evangelical Journeys collated together ninety five interviews with evangelicals and ex-evangelicals … Read more