A spot of SDLP infighting and a #GE1992 victory in West Belfast overshadowed by voter fraud and an election petition that threatened to unseat Joe Hendron #20yearrule

Official papers released under the 30/20 year rule document government analysis of the reasons for Joe Hendron’s West Belfast victory in the 1992 General Election, record a spot of SDLP infighting as election agent Tom Kelly airs his views on Seamus Mallon and John Hume ahead of a crucial court judgement on an election petition challenging the result. Voter fraud and personation was also under the spotlight, along with a decision to continue to exclude Sinn Fein from consultations about electoral spending.

Battle lines re-drawn over new Casement Park stadium plan

The BBC reports that the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association (MORA) has said it opposes the recently unveiled revised GAA plan for a new stadium at Casement Park.  MORA campaigned successfully against the original proposal.  From the BBC report In a statement, the residents group said it supported a “suitable-sized redevelopment” that was safe, did not host concerts and was “part of the natural fabric of the community”. “The revised proposals for the redevelopment of Casement Park do not meet those requirements,” it said. …

Read more…

” Entrepreneurship is about building strong communities. It is about creating jobs and making business play its part in forming a better society for each of us to live and work in”

Gerry Carlile is a well known local businessman from West Belfast. He has written an interesting article about the need for a new generation of entrepreneurs to emerge in West Belfast to help drive the economy forward. This caught my eye as mostly it chimes with my own thinking that SME’s are Northern Ireland’s route to economic salvation in the longer term and simply we have too few policy-makers who have not been involved in running a business. Anyway the …

Read more…

Casement Park Development: Further allegations at Assembly Committee Hearing

The BBC reports that GAA official, and independent Northern Ireland Policing Board member, Ryan Feeney, has threatened “immediate [legal] action” following further allegations by the chairman of the safety technical group, Sport NI’s Paul Scott, of pressure being exerted to drop concerns about safety at the controversial proposed £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  Mr Scott was appearing again in front of the NI Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure. From the BBC report Mr Feeney later issued …

Read more…

Carál Ní Chuilín: “What is clear to me is that there has been an anti-GAA element throughout…”

Having had to apologise for “an error” in claiming that the “Electoral commission vetoed using last election figures” in defence of Sinn Féin’s sectarian leaflet campaign in North Belfast, the Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, might have been better advised to be more cautious in her public utterances in future… Despite having reportedly announced, last Thursday, a full review of the new Casement Park Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) ground redevelopment plan, on Tuesday, …

Read more…

Casement Park STG Chair: “we were being attempted to be coerced, pressurised into signing off something that we were singularly uncomfortable with…”

The BBC reports on the latest wrinkle in the on-going saga of the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast – stalled in December last year when Belfast High Court quashed the decision to grant planning approval for the redevelopment. At the start of April this year, the BBC obtained the minutes of the last meeting of the Casement Park Development Safety Technical Group (STG), in November 2014, under a Freedom of Information request.   The STG is made up of representatives …

Read more…

Danny Morrison’s “West Belfast”: a coming of age novel set against the backdrop of a city in conflict

I grew up hearing Danny Morrison’s name on the radio at breakfast time as Sinn Féin’s Director of Publicity. More recently I’ve known him as chair of Féile an Phobail and spotted his attendance at many of the festival’s events in St Mary’s and the annual West Belfast Talks Back debate. But I’d never realised he was an author until his book (re)launch earlier this year at the end of January. Spread over a decade, West Belfast is a coming …

Read more…

Which party *exactly* represents a practical challenge to the ongoing deprivations of west Belfast?

Here’s an odd little story, which may or may not tell us something about: a, the relevance of actual policy to the political discourse in Northern Ireland; or b the sheer emptiness of the political campaigning in our first fixed term Westminster elections. For a long time the SDLP has been scathing of Invest NI’s (completely understandable) reluctance to ‘break new economic ground’ with regards to its inward investment strategy. It’s an easier sell to get companies to come to …

Read more…

Happy New Year from PSNI West Belfast #tweetonthebeat

Happy New Year from your friends PSNI West Belfast who kept their 750 followers mightily … informed and entertained with their #tweetonthebeat feature, live tweeting some of the lively hi jinks they got up to on Wednesday night to see in 2015. A few choice examples:     Because having to go out to deal with “loads” of domestics – you know, intervening to stop people being abused or terrorised in their own homes – sounds like a Happy New …

Read more…

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan) – Redux

Belfast High Court has ruled that the decision to grant planning permission for the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast was “fundamentally flawed”.  However, Mr Justice Horner did not quash the decision, and will take further submissions from lawyers for the Department of the Environment, the GAA and the residents group who mounted the legal challenge before ruling on what the alternative actually is.  From the Irish Times report The overall bill for the redevelopment in west Belfast has now risen …

Read more…

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan)

A fairly desperate argument from lawyers for the Northern Ireland Planning Service in Belfast High Court today, during the judicial review of the planned £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  As the BBC reports The judge heard that DCAL have contributed £62.5m of the £77m cost of rebuilding the stadium as part of a project involving the development of Windsor Park football stadium and Ravenhill rugby ground. A Planning Service lawyer said that if the funds are not spent in time, …

Read more…

Bishop John McAreavey: “Political representatives must answer for their own position on abortion…”

As the BBC reports, Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey, MP for west Belfast, has apologised to the Catholic Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, for the misrepresentation of his views on abortion in “a letter written by local party members and distributed in west Belfast”.  Here’s the quoted apology in the BBC report – not yet available on the Sinn Féin website. [Mr Maskey said the literature was issued by local representatives in west Belfast on the issue of abortion in response to queries from constituents. …

Read more…

“Residents also protested outside the local Sinn Féin offices…”

As the BBC reports, local residents have continued their protest against the planned £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  From the UTV report Around 100 residents took part in a demonstration on Saturday afternoon. They say they are now considering taking legal action. One woman said: “The main thing is the height of it, it’s going to be about 129ft and right around the whole outskirts of the houses.” A man said: “It’s an absolute monstrosity. The residents …

Read more…

GAA: “We’ve tried now for the last 16 months to build a level of consensus around the stadium project…”

The GAA appears to be facing some more local opposition to the £70million plan to build a 38,000-seat stadium at its existing sports ground in Casement Park. [Pending planning permission… – Ed]  From the BBC report About 200 people attended the residents meeting [on Monday 18 November], at which some said that the proposed new stadium must be stopped. One resident told the meeting: “We’re not opposed to a development of the GAA in this city but we need it to …

Read more…

“it is impossible to believe that any other political leader on this island would survive…”

The guilty verdict in the retrial of Liam Adams on ten offences, including rape and gross indecency, against his daughter, Áine, leaves unanswered questions about the evolving narrative of his brother, Sinn Féin president and Louth TD, Gerry Adams, post the 2009 UTV Insight programme when the allegations were made public.  Indeed, the absence of Gerry Adams as a witness in the retrial was questioned by the jury – as UTV reports During a first trial earlier this year, which …

Read more…

What’s driving this animus against Suffolk Protestants?

Interesting developments at the Suffolk/Lenadoon interface, where a crowd of up 100 Catholic youths was reported to have attacked the tiny Protestant enclave in west Belfast. This follows a petrol bomb attack in June on the same community. The incident brought this from local Sinn Féin councillor Matt Garrett: “There are people working hard at the Blacks Road/Lenadoon/Suffolk interface to make sure that residents can get on with their lives free from this type of behaviour. It is not representative …

Read more…

“Sinn Féin controls our area…”

Here’s an interesting report from the Sunday World, transcribed on Newshound.  It starts by noting complaints from some parents in the Derrybeg Estate, Newry, that they were misled by Sinn Féin into sending their children on a PSNI sponsored trip.  A mother-of-two told Sunday World: “Sinn Féin members knocked doors asking if we wanted to send our kids on a two-day trip to Co Tyrone. They didn’t tell us the PSNI was helping fund it. “I was suspicious and refused but other parents …

Read more…

“every discussion of the experience of west Belfast there is going to be blinkered”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Malachi O’Doherty takes a critical look at that “plenty for all” Feile.  From the Belfast Telegraph article The story of what west Belfast experienced through the Troubles is complex and amazing, but it is filtered at the Feile through a determination to defend the reputation of the IRA, the organisation that brought much of that grief upon the people and to write out of history the pain and horror suffered by those – and we know them – …

Read more…