Derry’s politicians should stop playing the victim and make more friends and influence people

Steve Bradley’s chastening post on  Derry part 1 is remarkable for its detailed analysis and the volume  of  comment in response -greater I think than for any of the usual subjects I’ve seen in a long time.   Certainly it touches a nerve with me. I left my Derry home to go to school in Coleraine and never lived there again after the fateful year of 1969 when the old order quite suddenly and easily fell apart, an arresting fact its … Read more

Equality has arrived but the DUP and Sinn Fein have yet to face up to what it means

“Equality” has always been a Sinn Fein buzzword. As the recanted ex- IRA man Shane Paul O’Doherty lethally today quoted Gerry Adams speaking in 2014: “The point is to actually break these bastards – that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality … That’s what we need to keep the focus on – that’s the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.” Other views are  un-cynical … Read more

Next time, the governments must not leave it entirely to the DUP and Sinn Fein in secret

It would have been a remarkable feat if the DUP and Sinn Fein could have  struck a deal  in secret, alone and unaided.  Secrecy may be essential for last moves to reach a compromise. But over a year none of the ground had been prepared with the public and it showed. The background was too noisy – RHI, the sudden illness and death of McGuinness, minority governments in London and Dublin with other fish to fry, including monumentally,  the throwback … Read more

For a political deal ever to emerge, mutual ignorance needs to faced and mutual respect observed

Mick has rightly just pointed out how tantalising easy the language issue could be to solve, were it not for the politics that expresses a far deeper  mutual ignorance ( in both senses) than is often recognised and which 20 years of supposed power sharing has failed to reduce.  Politically there must be limits to the management of the voluntary apartheid state we appear to be creating before cohesion collapses altogether.  That moment may not be as far off as … Read more

The Post – surefooted newspaper drama with obvious modern parallels

The parallels with 2018 are immense. The on-screen battle between politicians and the fourth estate may remind local audiences of politicians boycotting interviews with certain mainstream news outlets and harassed questioning the veracity and reporting of stories which are embarrassing. After nearly two hours, I also learnt that if you’re ever near the NY Times office, be careful crossing the road: nearly everyone in this film narrowly escapes being run over!

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

Robert Peston’s radical solutions for Brexit and for halting the decline of Britain

In the Guardian, do turn up  the trenchant and sweary encounter  between ace newspaper interviewer Decca Aitkenhead and Robert Peston, economics guru- cum- eccentric political interviewer, on  Brexit and the future of the nation. Peston is an acquired taste, a formerly buttoned -up guy who literally as we can see, has let his hair down since he went on TV late in life and longs to come across as spontaneously ordinary but can’t find quite the right notes. (that cringing-making … Read more

Catalonia – “Propaganda thrives in a crisis.”

Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède is hoping for a Pedro Almodóvar inspired ending to the wild, dark comedy that characterises the current impasse between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.  From the Guardian article However, the 1 October referendum was hardly a model of sound, democratic expression. Only a minority of Catalans took part (turnout was 43%), and its organisation ran counter to Catalonia’s own legislation. The two laws that led to it were voted through without the two-thirds majority the Catalan charter (the Estatut) requires for … Read more

“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

More than a wider vision of unionism is needed to take us through Brexit

This article in the Belfast Telegraph by John Wilson Foster is an honourable fret about unionist identity in the light of Brexit.  Foster’s answer to the problems of Brexit appears to lie in the creation of  a wider unionism closer to British norms. So far so good, but only so far.  In his own terms Foster poses the familiar question that has puzzled unionists forever: why is Irish nationalism viewed as   “good” and Ulster “nationalism” bad? One sentiment is permissible, … 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

In praise of Ulster’s heartbeat – the Lambeg drum

  I don’t think anything better defines the Twelfth for me than the sight and the sound of a well-played Lambeg drum. Pun intended, but the oul Lambeg is hard to beat. I’ll be honest, though. The first time I heard a Lambeg as a child – at a Twelfth parade in Moira if I recall correctly – I must have jumped so high out of my skin that I could have touched the top of arch. But gradually, as … Read more

Why has the liberal Protestant tradition all but disappeared with the onset of “peace”?

Living in London, I miss a lot of stuff from the substrata; that’s only to be expected . But today I read something from the superstructure  that left me gobsmacked. You might find it unremarkable when you’ve  far more exciting things to attract your attention like the doings of Emma Little Pengelly. It’s been too long since I had a browse in the Church Notes in the Bel Tel, now in the hands of the estimable Alf McCreary.  Whereas in … 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

The English, with an identity problem to die for

As a little Bank Holiday sidebar, I nick part of Libby Purves’ meditation on Identity in the Times (£) today which laments a lack of the English variety and compares it mournfully  with the rosiest possible version of the Irish kind.  Being English, she actually thinks north and south are much the same – imagine! Libby, a broadcaster and journalist of my slight acquaintance is also a keen yachtswoman. She put into Schull in west Cork for the Fastnet film … Read more

“at the collective level, something funny is going on in terms of our reality testing…”

Some interesting thoughts [as ever! – Ed] from the writer and novelist Will Self in an interview in the Irish Times today. If Self was concerned about the impact of technology seven years ago, what about now, when the overwhelming impression for many people is that the world is spinning faster and faster? Or is that just another technological illusion? “Oh no, I don’t think it is. It is absolutely not an illusion. Anybody smart – no, let’s not get … Read more

“…if you want trouble again in the north play that game. It’s a dangerous game”

There’s been some focus on the comments at the weekend by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warning about any attempt to “force” a border poll in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  His remarks are placed in a wider context by the fuller quote in the Belfast Telegraph. Speaking on Newstalk radio, the former Irish prime minister said: “The idea of a border poll… was put there when when I was conceding Articles two and three of the constitution and we were giving … Read more

Support – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…”

Since moving to the US, I’ve been working as a supply teacher; in the US, it’s referred to as a ‘substitute teacher’ or simply a ‘sub’. Basically, I’m there if the regular teacher isn’t, taking the class, teaching the lessons, and making sure the work gets done. I don’t mind the work; it can be challenging but also quite rewarding. In the best instances, I can be a pleasant break in continuity, which gives me the opportunity to speak into … Read more