Learning restraint

We have a side board in our hall. I had wanted one in my homes for years and years because there was one in my house when I was small. My childhood Aladdin’s Cave. It was one of those old-fashioned ones of dark wood that took two adults with the sweat lashing off them to…

Belfast – a Strumpet City

It isn’t often I pay huge attention to what the main man in the Church of England has to say. But when Justin Welby spoke last week I listened as he was talking about fundamental issues that are going without enough comment and attention. He addressed the TUC congress last week and urged more action…

History being rewritten

The thing about History is that it never stays still. It is always expanding and being added to. Those of us interested in 1916 saw how the history books were expanded last year with a greater emphasis on women’s experience of the Rising and the first exploration of all of the children who were killed.…

The problem with Drew Harris

The installation of Drew Harris to the position of Garda Commissioner in the South this week is not something to be overlooked. A police officer, who comes from a traditional unionist background, now takes the most senior post in policing on the island of Ireland. In 1989 Drew Harris’ father Alwyn was killed by the…

Arlene, and another snub

I’ve been wondering how the national conversation was going to develop around the Papal visit. Would this visit be where dead babies in septic tanks, Magdalene Laundries, systemic child abuse and gross violations of every kind got formal attention? Proper attention, not meaningless apologia. Go to Google and type in Catholic Church and Apology and…

John Leonard – a friend to all

In 1996 I sat my first interview for a proper paid job. Walking from my flat in Lenadoon up the Stewartstown Road to the Dairy Farm I turned around twice to go home, not feeling I was good enough to fulfil the post of community groups advice worker. I came up with a thousand excuses…

Pride (in the name of love): Not a U2 song

50,000 souls taking to the streets to celebrate “Pride”. In Belfast. A place where LGBT rights are presented by some as contested. It was breath taking. Afterwards I met two friends, a wonderful couple, who were skipping and jumping. They kept saying “50,000”, “can you believe it”, “all the young people”, “so brilliant”. They were…

Inter-governmental meeting a missed opportunity

That inter-governmental conference last week was a disgrace. The first calls for the conference to be held were in the context of the collapse of the devolved government and the stubborn failure of the DUP or the British government to understand that implementation of previous agreements was at the core of any hope of local…

Irish Citizens need a Good Friday Agreement Backstop

We need a backstop. Not just the one promised by Theresa May and Jean Claude Junker regarding arrangements after Brexit, a backstop framed by European law. We need a backstop that is about our citizenship as Irish people living in our own country. This column has been highlighting some of the worrying possible outcomes of…