Liberté, égalité, and a Secular Ireland…

In France they have a law which has its written roots in 1905 but the principles steam back to the 1790 revolution which saw ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ emblazoned into the national character and constitution of this large European nation. The law is called laïcité and it is at serious odds with Anglo-Saxon inherited concepts of what it is to be tolerant within a community. So much of our own understanding of modern Europe and modern Ireland stem from the thinking …

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“I’m not a humanitarian.” Search and rescue captain rebukes Paris’ highest honour

Pia Klemp, the search-and-rescue captain who saved migrants in the Mediterranean and is being prosecuted by Italian courts, has refused a medal from Paris Mayor Anne Hildago due to the treatment of migrants in the French capital. The Socialist Mayor prides herself on taking a more humanitarian approach to that of the French central government, and wanted to award Ms Klemp and Carole Rackete – another captain who has been pursued by Italian courts – for their search-and-rescue work. But …

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“À la Bastille!”

One more time, then… with continued apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  And with Alaphilippe in yellow again!  Play La Marseillaise!   Pete Baker

“À la Bastille!” Again!

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise!  [Any chance of a French winner on Stage 8? – Ed]  Probably not… Pete Baker

“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

The French Elections and the Macron phenomenon…

‘Brenda from Bristol’ probably summed up the mood to this year’s general election when stopped in the street by a TV reporter. ‘Oh no, not another one!’ [i] In Northern Ireland we are used to annual or even bi-annual elections but even our electoral activity pales in comparison to the poor people of France who have been called to the polls four times in three months. The French system despite its demands on the electorate has its merits. For a …

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Events of 2016 will shape the challenges of 2017

To put it mildly, 2016 has been a pretty eventful year politically with Brexit, the election of Trump, a failed coup in Turkey, the downfall of Renzi as well as slightly inconclusive elections in both Ireland and Spain. As we hurtle to the close of the year, many interested or active in politics will be hoping for some sort of respite over the festive season before what could be an even more eventful year in 2017. Whatever 2017 as in …

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Neither liberty, equality, nor fraternity

Imagine a woman on a beach on a hot day, perhaps your mother, sister, girlfriend or wife. She doesn’t take the sun well so she doesn’t wear a bathing suit and covers her head with a cloth and her shoulders with a shawl while she sleeps. Imagine four police officers approach her, waken her up, demand she uncover her head and shoulders, then fine her for not exposing enough flesh. That’s close to what happened on a French beach yesterday. …

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Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this one in its entirety and Twitter is a less-than-perfect medium for something of considerable length. It does, however, give me the chance to make a …

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French President Francois Hollande :”The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom”

With the UK Parliament sovereign, and Sinn Féin’s calls for a border poll dismissed as an unwelcome distraction, quite where the “very special place” Martin McGuinness thinks Northern Ireland is in isn’t entirely clear.  Nor whom he thinks he can press that “case” with in his attempt to ignore the UK-wide referendum result.  He should remember, however, that neither he nor his party, alone, speak for the Northern Ireland Executive. He should also pay very close attention to the responses the Scottish First Minister is …

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Turning the tide against le Pen

On Sunday evening, the Front National’s marine blue wave crashed early on the breakers. Despite holding a first round lead in six regions, the party failed to win any contests in the second round run-off. Instead, the Republicans, formerly the UMP but still led by Nicolas Sarkozy, won in seven regions and the Socialist Party of current president Francois Hollande took control of the remaining five.     Dédiabolisation Although Marine le Pen has toiled to ‘de-demonise’ the party, the …

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Terrorist attacks in Paris

PARIS ATTACKS: At least 40 people are reported to have been killed. There have been shootings at, at least, two bars or restaurants, including a Cambodian restaurant, and there have been explosions reported near the Stade de France where the French national football side were playing Germany.

“À la Bastille!” – Redux

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Sadly, no French winner in the Tour de France today.  Nor will there be in Paris.  Play La Marseillaise!   Pete Baker

Greek deal: This Is NOT a Coup

Whether the Syriza-led government of Greece survives its own domestic democratic pressures remains to be seen following the deal struck at the Eurozone summit yesterday – in the end the 28 EU leaders didn’t have to meet…  The Guardian live-blog on the Greek crisis notes one possible scenario Analysts at Eurasia Group suspect Greece could soon head towards a national unity government, if many government MPs refuse to back the bailout deal on Wednesday night. If Tsipras loses his majority and potentially even …

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Ireland has missed a glorious chance on Greece

As the Greek tragedy rumbles on France has said it will keep up efforts to reach a deal. France has also maintained that the biggest critics of Greece are the other smaller countries. This brings Ireland into the spotlight. Has the government really been politically clever in how it has handled the Greek crisis? Ireland has a strong reputation in Europe. At several junctures in the history of the EU it is Ireland that has helped to bring people around …

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“For those who can’t read Greekdebtspeak, well, you’re on your own”

With European leaders, including Syriza’s erstwhile ally the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, warning Greek voters that they will be, effectively, deciding whether or not they want to stay in the eurozone, the BBC takes a side-ways look at the wording of the controversial 5 July referendum the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras suddenly announced at the weekend.  From the BBC article Voters go to the polls for the Greek referendum. pic.twitter.com/xpp3OWEvgX — Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) June 29, 2015 Here’s the …

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On Bonaparte the Barbaric

There have not been many self-made monarchs in world history, but all of them were, without exception, to put it mildly, more than a little eccentric. As Lord Acton famously wrote, while power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the three best-known examples of politicians who started out as republican idealists and ended as self-proclaimed sovereigns are classic personifications of the dictum. The second president of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, could claim a distinguished military career …

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The Front National: Populism in Europe

The Front National will attain unprecedented support in the French departmental elections less than a month from today. Although the party, led by Marine Le Pen, received 17.9% and 24.86% of votes in recent presidential and European elections respectively, it has not yet replicated such results in local elections.

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Drawing Charlie

One of my favourite cartoonists has made one of the best cartoons, if something good can come out of all this bad. The above by Dave Brown that is, tomorrow’s cartoon in the Independent. A remix of the first post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo to be published tomorrow, whose cover I will not divulge here, but you can sneak a peek here. Normally, when a politician and person of power gets cartooned they buy it and hang it on the …

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