Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has … Read more

Engage with the Power of Reason – #imaginebelfast festival (12-18 March)

Between 12 and 18 March, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics will host 80 free events in over 30 venues across the city to encourage people to engage with the big issues of our times, whether that be Brexit, poverty, (in)equality, gender or fake news. There’ll be talks, workshops, theatre, comedy, music, film, tours, exhibitions, dance, poetry and a video competition.

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
2 August 2017

The Linen Hall Library has presented the first of two exhibitions of its Divided Society digitisation and outreach project. “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” contains artwork, imagery, ephemera, and oral history extracts from firsthand accounts of individual experiences.

Read moreExhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

Slugger TV: Episode 4

Slugger O’Toole: Episode 4 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Latest Slugger TV looking back at the political year so far with Jamie Pow from Northern Slant and Dr. Katy Hayward from Queens University, Belfast. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

In the world of knowledge, judgement and choice we can live in a world of data, but no facts.

Whatever your sympathies are (or aren’t) for UK Labour, Tuesday’s Abbott interview on LBC was a particularly hideous event. This gladiatorial pit style of journalism is one reason why Mrs May (because she can) has ruled out meaningful engagement (aka, questions) with the press. There has, as John Lloyd put it in his seminal assay of the relations between the British press and the UK’s politicians What the media is doing to our politics, been “an evident struggle for power between media and government, … 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

Explaining politics to a (nearly) five year old

It will be a good 12 years before my eldest child can vote, but already she, along with her younger sister, has come with me to the polling booth on two occasions. The third is looming large on the horizon. Quite possibly, it is only the children who get a day off due to their school transforming into a polling station who will benefit the most from this election. I certainly don’t see any benefit to it and am getting … Read more

“If I no longer give you my judgment and simply follow your orders; I am betraying you.”

That the UK vote in favour of Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump are two outcomes I would guess not many sane elected representatives would have voted for. [What are you trying to say about the DUP? – Ed] Ssssh… Indeed it looks like both campaigns used advanced machine learning techniques to edge out the metropolitan elites (a real thing, actually) in both jurisdictions. It may also edge out deliberation of the type offered by Ken Clarke in the … Read more

Are women making their mark in political leadership?

Regardless of whether you agree with their politics or not, the appointment of Michele O’Neill as Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland should be welcomed. Northern Ireland, potentially, could have female First and Deputy First Ministers. Of course that depends on how votes are cast on 2 March, however we now have women leading our two largest parties and if nothing else, it shows that it is possible to reach the top. Combine this with the leadership of Naomi Long … Read more

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
28 November 2016

The latest incarnation of the Troubled Images project — the launch of a free downloadable iBook  — was cause for a reunion of sorts at the Linen Hall Library for the original team that compiled and published its original CD-ROM 15 years ago.

Read moreWithout fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

Seeking better patient outcomes: Music to the ears of occupational therapists #ValueofOT

Seeking better patient outcomes: Music to the ears of occupational therapists
by Allan LEONARD
11 November 2016

The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) held a launch event at the Long Gallery of Parliament Buildings, for their campaign on the value of occupational therapy, “Improving lives, saving money”.

Read moreSeeking better patient outcomes: Music to the ears of occupational therapists #ValueofOT

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

OPINION: Promote critical thinking skills for better democracy @WFDemocracy Strasbourg 2016

OPINION: Promote critical thinking skills for better democracy: World Forum for Democracy: Strasbourg 2016
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
7 November 2016

The 600 seats of the hemicycle of the Council of Europe soon filled with young activists and seasoned practitioners at the 2016 gathering of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg. I attended as part of a delegation from Northern Ireland, all beneficiaries of the Civic Activism Programme administered by Building Change Trust. Our objective was to learn and share experiences to improve democracy and equality through education.

Read moreOPINION: Promote critical thinking skills for better democracy @WFDemocracy Strasbourg 2016

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

Changing the conversation with e-petitions in Northern Ireland

As part of the Xchange Summer School, Mairaid McMahon announced the launch of e-petitions in Northern Ireland, which is scheduled to appear on the Northern Ireland Assembly website in September 2016. She described the shortcomings of the current system of petitioning politicians, which included the need for support from an MLA — making them gatekeepers to what could be submitted. There was also the matter of not know whatever happened to the physical petition documents. Mairaid was motivated by the … Read more

“The bullshitter is indifferent to the truth; he will say anything to suit his purpose…”

From Friday’s Irish Times, Brian Boyd with a timely reminder [for any number of reasons… – Ed] of a topic noted in the Slugger archive back in February 2005 – “On Bullshit“. From the Irish Times article – “Bullshit can be more dangerous than lies in politics” …as Dr Frankfurt explains himself: “Bullshit is trying to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate an impression in a way that obscures the fact of the matter.” And it’s … Read more

Ireland – The Politics of Consensus and Spoof

Is consensus politics choking the Irish system? Freelance journalist Feidhlim ó Broin makes the case Much has been written recently about the steady rise of Fine Gael in the polls, about the nascent economic recovery and the construction of a new, progressive, modern Republic. Indeed, Ireland’s political parties illustrate this new order. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party agree on practically everything from European Policy, the need for a more liberal abortion regime, to crime and … Read more

Paisley: Relic of the Past or Harbinger of the Future?

I recently chanced upon this 1987 review by Charles Townshend in the LRB of Steve Bruce’s God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism. It now reads as a fascinating period piece. Just the previous month, Paisley had performed the first of his major protests at the European Parliament, heckling Margaret Thatcher. She was congratulating the EEC on its expansion to Spain and Portugal when he stood up, brandishing an ‘Ulster Says No’ poster, and shouted, “I would like … Read more

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 … Read more

Blogging: Why I bother doing it.

Blogging, why the hell do you bother? This is the question that bloggers of all stripes get asked A LOT and in the past week I have been getting this question more often than I usually do. It’s a fair enough question I suppose. There is no secure income from it, it is generally looked down  upon from the main stream media and when most people think of a blogger a tin foil hat or a techie geek image comes … Read more

Why Enda must aim for a 2016 Election Date

Predicting elections is a tricky business. The pressure of government sees events overtake plans very quickly. Deciding when to go to the country has always been a holy grail of strategy for serving Taoisigh. There are many examples of getting it wrong and still many more of where a government collapse takes the decision away from a Taoiseach. Enda Kenny will have to try plan things though. All things going well the ultimate decision lies with him. There is one … Read more