Everything is wonderful / Everything is terrible…

homeless, charity, poor

That we are living through strange times will not be news to any of you. Still, it is worthwhile considering the extreme positions Northern Ireland finds itself in. On one side we have economic hardship and food banks for some, and at nearly 30% we have the highest level of economic inactivity in the UK or Ireland. On the other side, we have full employment and massive staff shortages in many industries. We are the lowest wage region of the …

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#InConversation Podcast with Andrew Hill – What is going on in America?

Andrew Hill is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas. In this podcast, we talk about the recent race protests in America, inequality and the upcoming Presidential Election. Andy has a local connection, he worked at Corrymeela for a year and he also studied at Trinity College Dublin. The books Andy recommended were Linda Hogan’s Keeping Faith with Human Rights, and Sluggers own Gladys Ganiel’s books. You can find out more about Andy on …

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Not waving but drowning – The need to reduce inequality…

How was your lockdown? Bored by now? I feel life coming back: restaurants getting cleaned, outdoor tables appearing at cafes, more traffic on roads and a general spirit of giddy optimism rising again. We said we would get through it and we have and even before Buoyant Boris announced it, we were making small, tentative baby-steps into a new future as we test our ability to survive in a World with Covid. But we are not returning to from where …

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Fatal Distraction: Coronavirus and Low Pay in Trumps America…

Like most other countries, experts in the USA are recommending that people avoid large crowds, stockpile shelf-stable foods in case they end up quarantined, and stay home from work and contact a doctor if they are ill. Sounds sensible. But there is a big problem A lot of low-income people can’t afford to follow it. Many low-income families, who are more likely to live in smaller quarters and share bathrooms and kitchens with multiple people, simply can’t self-quarantine as effectively …

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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 / Economic Inequality: An emerging challenge for a New Ireland

In October last year, I attended a keynote speech delivered by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins to a packed auditorium at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The speech was anchored around Michael Davitt’s 1896 visit to New Zealand, a visit where Davitt was impressed by the then Crown Colony’s progressive policies on land, tax, pensions and the economy. Subsequently, the founder of the Irish National Land League brought a number of these innovative ideas back to Ireland, to …

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Nine years into a devolved Education ministry educational inequality persists…

Aha, that pesky Equality Commission is planning to dish out some more inconvenient truths about the shortcomings of Northern Ireland’s educational system. Stop me if you’ve read this before (because after seven years the news hasn’t significantly changed). From the welter of information of provided, here’s the topline findings: Males have persistently lower levels of attainment than females throughout primary and post-primary education; Protestants have persistently lower levels of attainment than Catholics at GCSE and A-Level, and that gap has …

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Confronting the challenge of poverty and inequality…

We often think that poverty is inevitable, and many people (think that they) know by itself that poverty is a cause of illness and social problems. The poor are always with us, they say, rather misreading Deuteronomy and St Matthew. Attitudes today are rather different from Victorian times, when the poor were seen as either ‘deserving’ or ‘non deserving’, groupings which were subjective and moralising. If you were ‘deserving’, you got into the workhouse; too bad if you were deemed …

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Titanic: was it all right when it left here?

Not according to metallurgists Tim Foecke and Jennifer Hooper McCarty whose research has suggested that dodgy Harland and Wolff rivets were at fault for allowing the Titanic’s hull to be ripped apart by the pressure of the iceberg impact. With six of the hull’s chambers exposed to the Atlantic waters, the “unsinkable” ship lasted less than three hours, not enough time for rescue boats to reach those (disproportionately poorer) passengers left without access to a lifeboat (the White Star line …

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