Our New Class System During The Coronavirus Pandemic…

The coronavirus pandemic has completely reordered the world as we know it. Simple, everyday things that we took for granted such as shopping or going to the gym or bars have either been taken or been severely restricted for the good of public health. In these restrictions that have become the new normal has emerged a new class system in all societies all over the world: Essential Workers and Shielders. A third group are those who fall somewhere in between. …

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Human rights: the Union’s best friend

The resolution of rights issues could help pave the way for a return of devolved government in 2020. What needs to be faced – by unionist parties above all others – is that Northern Ireland only has a long-term future if it can become a society that people of all backgrounds are happy to call home, knowing they and their rights will be respected. Those in favour of Northern Ireland having another 100 years, should start looking for ways to make it a beacon for human rights.

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan by Allan LEONARD 3 October 2019 Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending. The book, Sheelagh Murnaghan, was commissioned by the Albert McElroy Memorial Fund, which was established to commemorate the …

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Is the LGBT community about to be thrown under the bus again?

If any of you are like me and are a massive political nerd, then the current round of talks aimed at restoring the Northern Ireland Executive have probably been as exciting and enthralling as washing the dishes. I’m not for a moment insinuating that the talks process isn’t important. But much like washing the dishes, it’s now become routine, benign and banal. Karen Bradley continues to underwhelm and underperform at the most basic level, as both the Alliance Party and …

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Northern Ireland’s Unique Entitlement to EU Rights and Benefits: Why the 3 Million is Really 4.8 and Counting

There is a startling contrast between the EU and Westminster’s understanding of the unique status of Northern Ireland. In Strasbourg this week that was evident. A delegation including myself, Daniel Holder, Niall Murphy and Declan Fearon travelled there yesterday, to meet with a number of MEPs and senior EU staff to discuss the impact of Brexit on the rights of people in the north of Ireland. It was clear to me by the end of the trip – the EU …

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The Citizenship Rights of the Good Friday Agreement – Real or Imagined?

The Belfast Good Friday Agreement is widely championed as a success. Revered as a model of peace, it’s representative to many as a demonstration of the power of collaboration and compromise. And in a lot of ways, this is all true – “decommissioning”, the North South institutions, and power sharing have all changed the very fabric of Northern Ireland for the better. However, considering the lack of codification, the St. Andrews amendments and the current stalemate at Stormont, did we …

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Begging for bog rolls just beggars belief…

‘Pathetic games… a disgrace…it feels Victorian’ These were the words of the Principal of Maghaberry Primary School in describing the education funding system here to the NI Affairs Committee earlier this week. An impassioned Graham Gault sat alongside three other local School principals as he described how his budget had been squeezed so much he now has to ask parents for funding for sundry items such as toilet roll and pritt-stick. The group articulated a range of issues arising from …

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Future Ireland / Does motherhood unite or divide us?

Most mothers have more pressing things to think about than constitutional arrangements. While there are some differences in the lived experiences of mothers in the UK and Ireland, they are small. In fact, our struggles are pretty much the same across national borders. Beyond the obvious, that all mothers want the best for their children (and often disagree on what that is and how to achieve it), we are united in our systematic disadvantage by the states in which we …

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Women Won’t Wait: Campaigners for Women’s Rights and Equality Speak Out about the Impact of Stormont Stalemate

The results of a survey released today by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency reveal the impact of having no government at Stormont on women’s community organisations and campaign groups. 80% of those surveyed said they have continued to lobby decision makers in the 19 months since the collapse of the Executive, but the majority felt that it is now much harder to make progress on the issues that affect their organisations and communities. The 48 respondents to the survey …

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Don’t you know who I am?

As the BBC reports Sinn Féin has confirmed that one of their MLA’s has removed a clamp from the front wheel of his car, using what appears to be bolt cutters, in Belfast. In a statement, a spokesperson for the party confirmed that Gerry Kelly removed the clamp at about 07:20 GMT on Friday outside a gym. A recording of the incident has been posted on social media. The Belfast Telegraph report notes The footage was captured in the Exchange …

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“This isn’t an issue about the mayor, the mayor was using his democratic right to use that casting vote…”

So says the Derry and Strabane District Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley, a party colleague of the mayor in question, Sinn Féin Councillor, Maolíosa McHugh.  The Sinn Féin mayor had previously declined to meet Prince Charles when he visited County Londonderry last year to meet victims of flooding.  In his place, representing the office of the mayor, SDLP councillor John Boyle, the deputy mayor of Derry and Strabane, accompanied Prince Charles during the visit. The reason for the Sinn Féin statement defending …

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“Perhaps we can begin with social parity.”

Writing in the Guardian, Richard Angell, LGBT officer of the Labour Irish Society and director of Progress, has an interesting suggestion Owen Smith is right to say that if the parties of Northern Ireland cannot get their act together and restore power-sharing government then direct rule, however undesirable, must be used to make progress on LGBT and reproductive rights. But he is wrong to say that referendums are necessary to give a mandate for change. For one, thing they are not required. Unlike in the …

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“Women in Northern Ireland continue to be discriminated against.”

With the Northern Ireland Department of Health refusing to update guidance to health professionals here regarding pregnancy terminations, despite the changes to UK policy announced earlier this year, in the Guardian Goretti Horgan, a lecturer in social policy at Ulster University and a founder member of Alliance for Choice in Northern Ireland, argues for change to address the equality issue that failed to make it into anyone’s ‘red lines’. [Because that would break the bastards? – Ed] Probably…  From the Guardian …

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Question for the NI Justice Minister…

Here’s something for an incoming Northern Ireland Justice Minister to grapple with…  It’s a question that arises following the UK Government’s decision to provide access for women from Northern Ireland to abortion services in England free on the NHS. From yesterday’s written answers in Parliament. Abortion: Northern Ireland Diana Johnson: [2513]To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference to her letter of 29 June 2017 on funding for abortions for Northern Irish women in England, what assessment she …

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New Sinn Féin MLA Director of Group that Discriminated against Job Applicant because of his Political Opinion

The Irish News today highlights details of the newly-appointed Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Karen Mullan’s relevant experience for the job, mentioned in Eamonn McCann’s excellent post on the case, that illuminates David’s, somewhat limited, subsequent description of her as a “community worker in the city of Derry”. Karen Mullan is a director of Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) Ltd., Sinn Féin and the DUP’s preferred delivery mechanism for community services and funding in the area, who, earlier this year, were ordered to …

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Leaning in. The quiet revolution.

As International Women’s Day draws to a close for 2017, I’ve been reflecting on why it is necessary to have such a day. It is simple. International Women’s Day (IWD) is about acknowledging that in 2017, women still face discrimination and are under represented in many aspects of public life. Discrimination comes in many guises. For example, from the blatant sacking and sidelining of women who are pregnant, to everyday sexism, such as using derogatory language which subtly undermines women. …

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For Northern Ireland to continue to fight racism we need leadership from right across society…

Issues around race and immigration are making headlines in Northern Ireland and across the UK.  Of course, this is nothing new, it has often been alleged that Northern Ireland stands out as a racist society. The question we face is whether this is fair comment or an exaggeration of the truth? The answer, to me at least, is that, though the great majority of people here are repulsed by racist attacks, we are a society wherein there are fault-lines of …

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Soapbox: Disability, gender and sexual orientation policies hived off to Communities

Reprinted here with permission of Brian Barrington, a former SDLP advisor from his own Facebook page this morning… One of the decisions made when the Northern Ireland Executive was first established was to keep all aspects of equality policy in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). There were two reasons for this. First, because OFMDFM was the secretariat to the Executive. Therefore, any paper from a department going to the Executive could be scrutinised on …

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Who could be afraid of equality?

The News Letter has an article highlighting a further use / abuse of a Petition of Concern to block equality legislation with somewhat less outrage from the usual quarters. Sandra Overend of the UUP’s attempted to repeal Article 71 of the 1998 Fair Employment and Treatment Order. This is the article which exempts schools from Fair Employment legislation. Ms. Overend’s attempt was defeated by a Petition of Concern by Sinn Fein and the SDLP. On the UUP’s website Ms. Overend …

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The 10 most annoying political phrases in Northern Ireland

Nice wee Friday thread for you all to get your head showered from the madness of Northern Ireland politics. One thing that really bugs me is the platitudes that pass for talking points in our political system. These annoying phrases can be heard on Nolan, Talkback and the Sunday Politics most weeks and if you watch politics as much as me they can become tiresome very quickly. So, in that spirit I thought I would compile a list of the …

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