IF an artist were asked to paint the most beautiful bird they could imagine, they’d be hard pressed to rival what mother nature did with the goldfinch. Not only is it stunningly colourful with its red mask, golden belly and wings as bright as the sun, but it’s got the poise of a ballet dancer and – just to top things off – a voice which makes it sound like a creature from an enchanted kingdom. Yet it is an exotic and extraordinary bird that we have managed to tame, coaxing it into our gardens from its former mountainside haunts. It wasn’t always like that.
A GROUP representing civic society in Ireland – and which has driven the debate around constitutional change on the island – has raised "serious concerns" about an event to be held in Boston College tomorrow (Tuesday), which will feature the British Government’s Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Trevor Ringland. Ireland’s Future – which was formed in 2017 to facilitate dialogue on the growing debate on a referendum for Irish unity – says invitations to the event at the McMullen Museum at Boston College are misleading as they refer to the "Special Envoy from Northern Ireland to the United States". Boston College's Irish Institute will host the lunch for Trevor Ringland, a former Irish rugby international. The Belfast lawyer has previously been a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Conservative party. In June this year he was appointed the UK’s envoy to the US by the British Government. However, the post is independent from the Northern Ireland Executive. At the time Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill described the appointment as "arrogant and disrespectful", while Mr Ringland said he would work "for the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland".
THE devastating report on how the British government handled Covid should give pause for thought. Thought for bereaved families and a devastated health workforce, but also thought for modern political norms where accountability is no longer achievable or even sought. The report outlines the political culture of arrogant dimissal with our generation’s catastrophe. It outlines how this culture led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands. The majority of whom were the most marginalised and vulnerable. It tells us how the intentional policies of sending Covid patients into homes for the elderly cut down swathes of mothers, fathers and grandparents before their time. It is a heartbreaking and enraging read that would have shamed any other administration into resignations. But not this one. Not Boris Johnson. For the truth of this report is that it not only shines a light into decision-making, but into a way of thinking. This British administration would make Marie Antoinette blush. Boris Johnson missing five Cobra meetings to have weekends off, to make divorce arrangements, to make birth announcements, without a word of apology or even excuse, tells us everything we need to know.
LAST Thursday the relatives of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic and the Moore Street Preservation Trust launched their detailed plan for the protection of the 1916 Moore Street battlefield site and for its development as a historic cultural quarter. The commercial plan which would see much of the iconic 1916 architecture of the area demolished has the support of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and his government. Mr Martin, who met developers Hammerson and endorsed their plan before the developer published its proposal, has refused, thus far, to meet the relatives. To their shame successive Irish governments have supported the private development of Moore Street and allowed the national monument at 14-17 Moore Street, the lasting meeting place of the 1916 leaders, to fall into decay. The Moore Street Preservation Trust, the 1916 relatives and other Moore Street activists have fought a long, difficult public and legal campaign to protect and preserve this site which the National Museum of Ireland has described as “The most important site in modern Irish history.” And on Thursday the latest phase of that battle was launched with the unveiling of the scale model of Moore Street and its environs. Appropriately, the Moore Street plan was unveiled in Ionad an Phiarsaigh, the Pearse Centre, former home of the Pearse family in Dublin. James Connolly Heron, the great grandson of James Connolly, described Thursday as “A red letter day for the campaign... Today the 1916 relatives salute architects Seán Ó Muirí and James Kelly and the Trust team for the realisation of a plan that we can enthusiastically endorse and adopt as the way forward for the development of an area so close to our hearts.” Among those in attendance were Proinsias Ó Rathaille, grandson of Michael Joseph O’Rahilly – The O’Rahilly; Harry Coyle, grandson of Henry Coyle; and Brendan Mulvihill, grandson of Michael Mulvihill. Their grandfathers were killed in the Battle of Moore Street.
A challenge taken by South Belfast businessman Sean Napier against the DUP Ministers boycott of North-South Ministerial Council meetings is to return to court on Wednesday 20 October. At that stage affidavits will be filed on behalf of Mr Napier. A response from the DUP Ministers is expected by Tuesday afternoon next. Speaking after today’s High Court hearing, Paul Farrell from McIvor Farrell Solicitors, who is representing Mr Napier said: “Mr Napier has taken this case on a very careful basis and it is a step by step approach that he is taking. We wanted the DUP Ministers and the DUP leadership to realise that what they were doing was unlawful and against the principles of good governance in Northern Ireland. The court went with us on that. The next stage in the process will be for us to seek a specific order from the court if that is necessary but the ball is very clearly in the court of the DUP insofar as that is concerned." He added: “Mr Napier is determined to see this matter through so we await with interest to see what the response from the DUP leadership and Ministers are by Wednesday of next week.” Commenting on the argument from the DUP that these meetings were in fact not scheduled as the agenda had not been approved by the First Minister, Mr Farrell described their stance as “a bit of a contortion”. “It doesn’t have any rationale and I don’t understand that a meeting which takes place today with accompanying Ministers is not a meeting and I think that whatever we receive next week by way of a response from the DUP Ministers will have to explain that to my mind because I can’t understand when a meeting is not a meeting as the First Minister is indicating that they are.” Mr Farrell said that the case today built up on its own momentum. “The case goes to the heart of good governance in Northern Ireland and it goes to the heart of the DUP and their engagement with the institutions of government. It is up to them now to explain to a legal standard what they propose to do next."