March, 2015

An irony-proof letter from abroad

There’s a touching little letter in today’s Irish Times. It comes from a young woman living in The Netherlands and she’s writing to complain. She is an Irish citizen and she is allowed to vote in  Dutch local elections. On the other hand, she can’t vote in the upcoming referendum in Ireland on same-sex marriage. She […]

Continue Reading

Nelson and the arts festivals

I saw my old and deeply cultured friend, Nelson McCausland on BBC television last night. He and others were talking about the fact that Queen’s University are withdrawing their traditional financial backing for the Belfast Festival. This puts the future of the Festival at risk,  something which appeared to appal Nelson:  “It would be unthinkable that […]

Continue Reading

‘We are the Billy Boys’ : just a song, really.

I was on BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh’s Talkback on St Patrick’s Day, talking about hate speech. You wouldn’t think there was much to be said about this topic: the people who use it have nasty, twisted minds which they enjoy passing on to others. But the case in point was a Glaswegian citizen who, apparently, […]

Continue Reading

Electoral pacts and reasons to be

It’s good to see enemies become friends. The DUP and the UUP have decided to put any and all differences behind them and mount a combined challenge in the Westminster election. Well maybe not combined. I don’t think it’s going to be an Agreed Candidate, in the sense of a candidate outside both parties and […]

Continue Reading

Mitchel McLaughlin and getting the balance right

Newly-appointed Speaker at Stormont, Mitchel McLaughlin, has called for a rebalancing of symbolism at Stormont. Good luck with that one, Mitchel. Let me make a few predictions (shut up, Virginia, please). 1. There will never be a counterpart rebalancing of the Carson statue which dominates the approach to Stormont. Since Carson was a gun-runner, Sinn […]

Continue Reading

The media: they’ll do your thinking for you

How important would you say the media are? If you said ‘Very’ you were probably near the mark. ‘Extremely’ would also have qualified and so would ‘stupendously’.  Think about it. Do you know Barack Obama? Robert Mugabe? David Cameron?  Most people, even though they’ve never met or even glimpsed any of these men in the […]

Continue Reading