In Defence of Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tina Black…

On Saturday past, the current Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black, was recorded for an interview with Press Association (PA). During the piece to camera, the PA journalist put the question to Councillor Black as to why Sinn Féin attended the Armistice commemoration at the Cenotaph, but not the service for Remembrance Sunday.  I wish to state from the outset that I don’t share the politics of Sinn Féin nor do I agree with their stance on the matter …

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Why Unionism cannot afford to divert attention from its own failings any longer.

board, write, change

The publication of the Census Statistics prompted, predictably, a flurry of party and non-party political commentary In an indication that Catholic Nationalism is alive and well, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP referred to the increase in the Catholic population as a ‘seminal moment.’ At least he spared us the ‘hand of history.’ Sinn Féin MP, John Finucane, in comments close to those of ‘Ireland’s Future’, Professor Colin Harvey, who spoke of ‘seismic change’, welcomed ‘irreversible change.’ Green peas in a pseudo …

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We are not moving forward. We are not moving back. We are simply standing in the middle of the road…

Colin McGrath is an SDLP MLA for South Down  The creation of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948 was the first time, anywhere in the world, that completely free healthcare was made available based on citizenship. It was and remains for many, a radical ideal. The Minister for Health in the UK’s Labour government at the time, Aneurin Bevan, aware that many people saw its inception as radical responded with typical post-war Labour zeal, “We know what happens …

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Fianna Fail-SDLP partnership comes to an end.

Suzanne Breen reports in today’s Belfast Telegraph that the SDLP and Fianna Fail partnership has come to an end after three years. Breen reports; The SDLP has officially ended its three-year partnership with Fianna Fail as Colum Eastwood told members that the party must move forward “standing on its own two feet”. Mr Eastwood made the announcement to 250 delegates at an extraordinary general meeting of his party to discuss the findings of an internal review into its poor Assembly election performance.   David McCannDavid …

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Houses of sand: Unionism has a problem with younger voters. A huge one.

Whither the union. I find myself becoming weary as I write this. Articles about the demise of the union, about unionist malaise and mistakes, are so common these days that they all sound the same. I stopped writing them at one point because I had nothing new to add. Even now, people write these pieces with a weird air of arrogance. They want you to know that they and they alone have figured out that unionism is in a difficult …

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Sinn Féin’s horsey metaphor on pensions does Trojan work before quickly running out of steam…

sculpture, horse, steel ross

Miriam Lord is on fire today in the Irish Times. Anyone watching RTÉ yesterday (or indeed Virgin Media One) will have noticed a big flare up over the government’s pensions. He’s the short version of how that changed in less than a day. “The cat is out of the bag,” cried Mary Lou McDonald, enjoying a hey presto! moment in the Dáil. “Let us call it what it is: a Trojan horse.” So the cat is out of the bag and …

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Is it time to perhaps end constituency-based voting for Stormont?

Regardless of the reasons behind the current deadlock at Stormont, I’ve been thinking since the Assembly elections in May about some of the more… uh, interesting results from that contest – like how the TUV vote went from over 20,000 in 2017 to nearly 66,000 in 2022 yet still returned only one seat – how is that either proportional or representative? I would consider myself a natural UUP supporter on the conservative-but-not-headbanger wing of unionism, but even I would have …

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The Assembly has been down for 40% of its history…

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_Buildings_Stormont.jpg

The local think tank Pivotal has released a new report: Governing Northern Ireland Without An Executive. From the press release: No Executive means inadequate government for Northern Ireland Northern Ireland has caretaker ministers but no government. A new report from Pivotal, the independent think tank focused on Northern Ireland, examines what Stormont ministers have been able to do since the Executive collapsed in February – and asks if this has addressed the problems facing local people. In the absence of …

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Rishi Sunak and the Science and politics of Covid19…

text

The Spectator got great publicity for its interview last week with Rishi Sunak.  The Spectator’s lockdown-sceptical editor Fraser Nelson sees his interview with Rishi as a coup being the first, in advance of a public inquiry into Covid19, to suggest that democracy wasn’t working well during Covid19 and that too few unelected scientists were alone in deciding and making policy. Superficially it all sounds as if Rishi was against lockdowns just unable to influence things even though he was the …

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Revisiting Nuclear Power : Part 3 : Can it be weaponised ?

Nuclear explosion mushroom cloud

Following on from my previous articles on how nuclear power works, and why we need to rethink the dangers posed by it, it’s time to talk about the other safety-related concerns that are often raised in the debate about the viability of nuclear power. Can a nuclear power station explode like a nuclear bomb ? What happens if a nuclear power station finds itself in the theatre of military conflict, as is currently happening in Ukraine ? To deal with …

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Five ways to scrap the protocol…

The UK has refused to engage with extensive proposals from the EU to introduce an “Express Lane” for goods intended only for consumption in N. Ireland, and to radically reduce the amount of paperwork associated with phytosanitary controls. The Joint EU UK committee to oversee the workings of the protocol hasn’t even met since last February. Instead, the UK has gone for a “maximalist” position, passing legislation in the Commons to give Ministers the power to disapply large parts of an international Treaty, …

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“We want to thank the British people…”

Big Ben

This is a great bit of viral marketing from the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, which google tells me is a trade union for workers in the transport and travel industries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This is an eye opener pic.twitter.com/PMplLC75cc — Valerie Farrington 💙 (@Valhalla51) August 17, 2022 The video does a fantastic job of exposing how much of Britain’s privatised infrastructure has been gobbled up by European State Owned companies. According to full fact: The French government …

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Looping around old tropes is a denial of service to youth who hanker for meaningful change

fire, pot, historical

Fionnuala O’Connor asks an interesting and usefully realist question in today’s Irish News: Is Michelle O’Neill expected to say IRA violence was unjustified? Fionnuala’s conclusion: history is not that simple. When you join modern Sinn Féin you conjoin with what was at the time an unpopular campaign of violence that to its many thousand victims was out of whack with any supposed provocation. It did, as Fionnuala says, no one any good. But for the purposes of the growth of Sinn …

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‘A Long Night’s Journey into Day’ — distinguishing process and progress of reconciliation in South Africa

As part of the Feile programme of events, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affair’s Reconciliation Fund, the award-winning documentary film about South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process, A Long Night’s Journey into Day, was screened at the James Connolly Visitors Centre, followed by a comprehensive discussion with Professor Brandon Hamber, who shared his experience of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Screening The film covers four stories from the over 22,000 stories submitted to the …

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Revisiting Nuclear Power : Part 2 : The Danger

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a little about how governments are reconsidering their attitude to nuclear power, and talked about the mechanics of how a reactor works and how it can solve the problems of getting us to net zero carbon emissions and securing energy supply in the long term.  But we can’t gloss over the bad reputation that nuclear power has. Can’t it blow up, like a nuclear bomb ? And haven’t there been a number of …

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What any new UK PM needs to do halt British economic decline…

decline, road sign, warning

Not commenting on a party leadership race that will likely take the rest of the summer to complete, but I want to highlight some questions the new Prime Minister will have to tackle (and any successor). It’s courtesy of Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation who identifies five key metrics that will have to be confronted in order to address the UK’s current economic decline: Lesson 1: Face up to the fact that Great Britain is in relative decline. Having …

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Embedding the protocol within a constitutional/identity gridlock undermines our shared future

hd wallpaper, nature wallpaper, red meerkat

Unionism cannot be boxed into one definition, however broad opinion, within the pro-Union and the middle ground Unionist constituency, beyond loyalism, the Orange Order, bonfire groups and attendees at pre-election rallies, is hardening towards the ‘Protocol’. It is now firmly rooted within constitutional and identity issues; not viewed as a destination but as a process shaped by EU rigidity that will take Unionism to a divergent and politically homeless place where it does not wish to reside. Talk of protecting …

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Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price on Celtic working and European democracy

Last Friday, I filmed and live-streamed a fascinating lecture by the Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, delivered in Dublin to an assembled and online hybrid audience for the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies. Fascinating for a number of reasons. I rarely hear any local discussion of devolution in Wales, other than noting that they have fewer policy areas devolved than Scotland and Northern Ireland. A talk more than a decade ago demonstrated how the Senedd was ahead of other …

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