Unspoken rules and double standards

At the weekend there were two twitter exchanges that are worth noting for unspoken rules regarding public conduct. The first occurred on the anniversary of the killings at Loughgall in 1987. Those SAS extra-judicial killings and ambush are viewed very differently across our community spectrum, but at the heart of their legacy is a contest as to the efficacy of the police…

My World Cup Tale

The phone rang at 6am. My housemate answered it, then screamed, “Lads, some people didn’t turn up for their flight. If we go to the airport we can get to the match. Grab your passports, I’m phoning the taxi.” “Great, right behind ya. Wait, I don’t have a passport”. “Doesn’t matter, come on.” I pulled…

The sick and the dying deserve dignity not point scoring

In this pandemic previously unthinkable compromise must be well thinked, thought. Last week Robin Swann formally requested help from the British army, “to help distribute lifesaving equipment and to plan for a temporary hospital at the former Maze prison site”. There was a row because the rest of the Executive had not been consulted. However, three…

The Spirit of love in a Pandemic

There is a common thread in footage in documentaries broadcast regarding our contested past. In the old grainy photographs of the late 1960s and 1970s in scenes of pogrom, bombings, violent internment raids, protest against injusticeand discrimination of its various incarnations, this unmistakable theme is on display. Community solidarity. Lorries being driven by brave souls who drove into scenes of…

The Virus of Sexist Tropes

When Michelle O’Neill paused in her answers to the Stormont chamber this week, she reflected heartfelt concerns in these days of uncertainty. Jim Allister, a political point scorer in every weather, had asked her about his constituent, a woman of 32 years with a young child, whose treatment for cancer has been upended as the…

I was terrible at being a kid

I was terrible at being a kid. I was always serious and felt removed. I was rubbish at sport and games. Nowhere was the disadvantage of being too serious and too clumsy more pointed than the playground.   Firstly, I hated swings. It was OK going a bit but then some yahoo, like my beautiful mother would say, “do you want me to…

Plant more trees for our mental health

In all of our conversations about mental health the most wise advice is often overlooked. “Find what helps, appreciate what helps and keep reminding yourself of what helps.” Life’s events can hurt and damage in irreparable ways. After them life is altered and is never the same again. And yet somehow, we can regain a sense of wellbeing, cope…

Five Years to Border Poll??

Have you ever thought about a United Ireland and what that might mean? I am not talking about some version of Four Green Fields or A Nation Once Again in a sing song but what it means in practical terms for you and your family. There is a lot of chat that there could be…

Dept of the Economy with a Brexiteer at the helm

I realise I can’t argue for a Border Poll under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and just ignore the fact that there is a whole Strand One on local powersharing. I am a cherry picker in many things, but not in my peace agreements. But walking on the sunny side of the street doesn’t mean we don’t…