A passion for social justice: Tribute to Anne MOORE

Anne Moore will be remembered for her passion for social justice. I met Anne during my employment as a policy officer for the Alliance Party as I sought out the views of a valued stakeholder, NICVA, where she served as public affairs officer. Anne and I had plenty of enjoyable conversations and discussions on official as well as unofficial business matters—we would frequently diverge to global and philosophical perspectives. I regret that we didn’t continue such conversations as our careers …

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Seamus Close (1947-2019)

Growing up in Lisburn, with James Molyneaux’s victory a certainty in any General Election race, the interesting number to find was how well runner-up Alliance candidate Seamus Close polled this time. He was first elected to Lisburn Borough Council back in 1973, becoming the first non-unionist mayor in 1993 …

Martin McGuinness (1950-2017)

OBITUARY – Kathryn Johnston co-authored the biography “Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government” with Liam Clarke. She reflects on the life of the former deputy First Minister who died this morning.

Jim Prior may have been doomed to fail but he had plenty of help from the locals

It’s a  natural reflex to blame the Brits and indeed, there’s a good case to be made for it time and again.  But  the career locally of  Jim Prior, the senior Conservative  who was secretary of  state from  October 1981 to September  1984, a month before the Brighton Bomb, is stark evidence that the time for conciliation had not yet come and conventional  politics was impotent. The best Jim Prior obit  is written by the veteran Julia Landon  in the …

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Terry Wogan made ordinary life special

If there was another Irish broadcaster who forced me to sit in the car park  and make me late for work it was Gay Byrne. Gay had a similar subversive streak and a light touch with a sting in the tail. But he did not  travel so well across the Irish Sea, nor did he aspire to.  Terry Wogan gave comfort  to millions by spreading the  word that  the struggles of daily life are shared far more widely than we …

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Jimmy Ellis RIP

  Is  it nearly a year  since I joined  James Ellis and a bunch of oldies for a London revival of Sam Thompson’s seminal Belfast play Over the Bridge? That night he was in fine form as he congratulated the cast for their performance and reminisced about his own experience as director  in resisting  attempts to tone down  the anti sectarian message of the play. From Z Cars on the BBC TV of the early 1960s, the first police drama …

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John Cole, a personal view

I was in Tesco this morning when I saw my friend the Guardian veteran Mike White talking on a  Sky screen with the sound turned down low. I read the captions. John Cole had died. I’d heard John was failing. I’d last met him a couple of years ago at a Lords reception for John Laird’s extraordinary memoir. John hadn’t really reported on Northern Ireland affairs for  forty years but he always kept up the old connection, through family, social contacts and …

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The dogmatically honest Northern Irish journalist John Cole dies

Sad news that the BBC’s former chief reporter John Cole has died after a long illness. A fine decent and fiercely honest man, he once issued an internal paper as a counterblast to his pugnacious editor in chief at the Observer Conor Cruise O’Brien called ‘In praise of honest dealing’. Not long after he had a blazing row with the paper’s new owner Tiny Rowland when Cole gave evidence against him at the Monopolies Commission. Personally, I always admired the way …

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Malcolm Brodie the magnificent

To a younger generation the spate of tributes to Malcolm Brodie, for a lifetime the sports editor of the Belfast Telegraph, may be a bit of a  puzzle. “One of the greats,”  a legend “ and so on may not be descriptions that you would easily associate with someone who gloried in the minutiae of  Irish League football  even in the heyday of Ireland’s Saturday Night.  Malcolm pulled it off because he was three things. As a news journalist he was as …

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Did Christopher Hitchens have a Big Idea?

Lunching with an agreeable friend last Friday -and what better way to mark Hitchens’ death? – I was momentarily stumped by my companion’s confession. He didn’t believe Hitchens had left any particular idea that helped illuminate the world in a clearer way and he challenged me to prove otherwise. David Frum’s summary of Hitchens indirectly endorses my friend’s view. “Christopher did not offer a model of what to think. He offered a model of how to think – and how …

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Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011

Writer Christopher Hitchens has died aged 62. He was as contrary as he was brilliant. Here is a brief In Memoriam from Vanity Fair (his outlet of choice since 1992) and, here, a longer tribute from his friend Christopher Buckley Stanley in The New Yorker. Better, perhaps, though to post one of Hitchens’ own writings in tribute.  I’ll make no apology for choosing one of his most remarked upon pieces of recent years — his 2008 Vanity Fair article on waterboarding, Believe …

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So long Garret: A bloggish round up…

Kicking off with Bock, who rarely has a kind word for any politician… He was naive, he was fussy.  He was occasionally pedantic to the point of idiocy.  He wasn’t always right, but he was sincere and his principles derived from careful thought, not from slogans.  In the 1980s, he articulated the almost unthinkable notion for the time that Ireland might abandon its sectarian structures and become a pluralist society, with room for all beliefs. – Ditto Anthony… – And …

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“If Herivel had not been recruited in January 1940, who would have thought of the Herivel tip?”

There’s a lovely piece of biographical detail in The Guardian‘s obituary of Belfast-born science historian, and former World War II codebreaker at Bletchley Park, John W. Herivel who died on 18 January 2011, aged 92.  From The Guardian obituary Born in Belfast, Herivel had a civil servant father and was educated at Methodist College, from where, in 1937, he won a scholarship to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He had a strong sense of humour. Unable for security reasons to tell one potential …

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Obituary: Professor Kevin Boyle

Many in Northern Ireland and much further afield will be deeply saddened to hear news of the the death of Professor Kevin Boyle, who passed away yesterday. Prof. Boyle was one of the UK and Ireland’s leading human rights academics, as founding director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway and later director of the Human Rights Centre in the University of Essex. Originally from Newry, Kevin Boyle became a civil rights leader while at Queen’s University …

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Obituary for Willie Thompson

William Thompson former MP for West Tyrone died on Sunday. Most of the great and the good of unionism turned out for his funeral. There are tributes to him here and here in the Newsletter. He was a man of firm unionist principles but more than that an utterly decent individual who also had an extremely strong and committed personal religious faith. He was heavily involved in Omagh Methodist church and also in the Faith Mission organisation. My only recollection …

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More Alex Higgins

Further to Eamonn’s tribute to Alex Higgins, David Gordon has posted this video on Facebook and I thought it deserved a wider airing here. On a weekend when so many people – bafflingly – are glued to the awful pointlessness of Formula One, this is a reminder of what a decent spectator sport looks like, thickly overlaid as it is with the emotional highs and lows that always accompanied watching Alex at his peak. Unusually for a frame of snooker, …

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The other side of Alex Higgins.

I am not claiming to have known Alex Higgins in any meaningful way. That said I had three or four conversations with him in the past decade born out of pure accident. He had returned to Belfast and lived in an apartment in Osborne Park at the back of Arizona cafe. He was a regular presence in the neighbourhood motioning towards the local paper shop uninhibited to fetch a newspaper. As a student I thumbed lifts from South Armagh to the South …

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Horseman RIP…

I was very sad to learn yesterday of the death last Monday of Horseman, the blogger behind the brilliantly named Ulster’s Doomed blog… He was tenacious, intelligent, probing and utterly committed to bringing about the end of Northern Ireland by peaceful and largely intellectual means. I never knew him personally, even though he was a very long time reader (and not always a fan!) of Slugger O’Toole. For his commitment, energy and, above all passion, he will be much missed, even …

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A young protestant genius with no talent for guff

Great piece on George Best by Eammon McCann in today’s Irish Times. He mentions two of his cohorts, Alec Higgins and Van Morrison who have also famously wore their celebrity uncomfortably. By Eammon McCann It was Van Morrison who put George Best into proper context, which was apt. “Too long in exile,” sang the Man on the title track of his hugely underrated 1993 album. “Just like George Best, baby…just like Alex Higgins.” Three of maybe half a dozen authentic …

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