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A PROMINENT victims' campaigner whose mother was killed during the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre has won a libel case against a former DUP Councillor.
THE partner and family of missing Belfast man Ábhristín Ó Cadhlaigh have made an emotional appeal for him to get in touch with them.
We have had an Irish Question. We have had a Scottish Question. But are we — at long last — edging towards asking the British Question?
A heritage project celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich was launched last week.
Belfast City Council has drawn criticism from the Irish language community for erecting English-only signage at its parks in the Gaeltacht Quarter. Local Irish language organisations are calling for the installation of bilingual signs at the Dunville, Falls and Willowbank Parks. Ionad Uíbh Eachach Irish Language Officer, Brian Mac An tSionnaigh, has written to officials at City Hall to raise particular concern about newly-erected monolingual signage at the Dunville Park. He said the park “acts as a community corridor” between Gaelscoil an Lonnáin and Coláiste Feirste, which cater for 1,000 local Irish speakers. “It is quite appalling that these signs were installed excluding the hundreds of Irish speakers that use our services daily, who are one of the main local users of the facilities,” he wrote.“These signs do not reflect the diverse and ever-growing Irish speaking community in which this park is situated.” Mr Mac An tSionnaigh said the English only signs were “at odds” with the Council’s own languages strategy, as well as its obligations under the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages, the Good Friday Agreement and the commitments made within New Decade, New Approach Agreement. The West Belfast man called on the Council to install “visible information on signage in the Dunville Park with new bilingual signs.” A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “Councillors have agreed to set up a working group of elected members to consider actions, policies and processes in relation to our Language Strategy, including signage at our sites.” The spokesperson added: “The Council’s Language Strategy aims to promote, protect and enhance the linguistic diversity of the city and reflect developments in international frameworks and regional strategies regarding our two indigenous languages,” the spokesperson added. “The Irish language is one of the five language strands in the council’s Language Strategy. The other strands are Ulster-Scots; New Communities’ languages; Sign Languages; and languages and communications for disabled people.”
MERCY Muroki, a young Oxford research graduate. was on TV discussing the unpopular recent race report by Dr Tony Sewell CBE for the British Government. She has been vilified for her controversial stance as a commissioner on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. Kenyan-born Muroki, at 25 years old probably the youngest of the 11 commissioners, has been speaking on behalf of the Commission at every given media opportunity to stress that Britain is not at all as institutionally racist as it used to be. Muroki believes it and says she can prove it through the statistics of the research report released in March 2021, and that some of the indices even indicate black African people do better than their Afro-Caribbean colleagues in education because of social reasons and the latter are not left behind because of official prejudice. It will be ageist to doubt the 25-year-old, but if we ignore inexperience,then we are in danger of agreeing with Muroki simply through the qualitative and quantitative survey the Commission gathered. Did the researchers gather enough people from ethnic minority and white majority in order to make a conclusive report?
The nomination of the Array Collective in Kings Street for the Turner Prize is the biggest news of the week.
AS the NI centenary euphoria courses through our veins like a shot of the purest opium at the moment, the News Letter has issued a commemorative pull-out to gladden the hearts of Ulster folk everywhere. It’s 32 pages, which is either an epic piece of trolling or an unfortunate oversight, and given that the unionist paper of record has not been renowned down through the years for its keen sense of humour, Squinter’s opting for the latter. The supplement is irrepressibly upbeat and it brought to mind the classic Johnny Mercer number: Accentuate the positive,Eliminate the negative,Latch on to the affirmative,Don’t mess with Mr In-Between. Pics of smiling 1940s mill girls, gay picnics on beaches (that’s the 1950s Enid Blyton gay, naturally), friendly coppers, royal visits – that sort of thing. And the icing on this loyal cake was an editorial beaming proudly about how blessed are those who are lucky enough to call this place home. Squinter filled up a few times reading it, he doesn’t mind admitting, but the News Letter being the News Letter, it couldn’t resist a dig at nasty nationalists and republican rebels who haven’t even the basic Presbyterian decency to say the words ‘Northern Ireland’. “Nationalists have made clear their dislike of Northern Ireland, and republicans have made clear their contempt for it – calling the Province a statelet at best.” It’s true that the use of names post-partition has been a constant source of irritation and tension for the beleaguered Unionist people. Irish republicans, red in tooth and claw, when they’re not actively trying to knock down the whatever-it-is-we-have-here variously refer to it as the North, the Six Counties (the Six Northeastern Counties if they’ve seen the Wolfe Tones), the Wee Six, the Occupied Six, Narnia. Strangely, however, the God-fearing Defenders of the Faith seem entirely to forget Matthew 7:1-5: First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shall see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother’s eye. Because if Unionism restricted itself to using the correct name of ‘Northern Ireland’ on every single occasion things would get very boring indeed – and very quickly. Because it’s regularly called ‘Ulster’, even though Ulster has nine counties; and reference is constantly made to ‘the Province’, when the same problem applies to the use of that term; and ‘the Mainland’ is frequently evoked, even though Ulster (of whatever hue) is not an island and so it therefore can’t physically have a mainland. All of which is well-known, but when – as in the example above – the News Letter chides republicans and nationalists for using terminology that insults the Precious Union© while in the same sentence using terminology – the Province – that’s not only irritating to nationalists and republicans, but is just plain wrong, well… let’s just say the irony is rather tasty.
THERE’S nothing more perfect, more beautiful, in the world than these five eggs. Even among the vast horde of treasures in the famous Louvre museum in Paris there will be nothing to match them, no jewel more spectacular. The pyramids and the Taj Mahal may be wonders of the world, but they don’t hold a candle to these wonders of nature.
FRIDAY saw the highly anticipated opening of a new state-of-the-art playground in the Falls Park. The play facilities, which opened in time for the Bank Holiday weekend, represent a £200,000 investment from Belfast City Council. With work now completed, the significantly expanded playpark has been furnished with equipment for children of all ages including several new climbing frames, slides, swings and sensory equipment. Welcoming the opening of the playpark, Sinn Féin Councillor Steven Corr said the community feedback about the facility has been “unbelievable”. “People are just overwhelmed when they come and see the size of it,” he enthused. “The actual footprint of it has been doubled in size, but we’ve also doubled the grass area because we know that kids want to run about the grass as well, so it’s a safe play area.
KATIE Taylor had a tough fight last week but managed to defend her world lightweight championship and defeat Natasha Jonas in Manchester. Arlene Foster also had a tough fight but was not so lucky.
I GREW up in church and from a very young age was sent to church and Sunday school. I was that kid who sat wide-eyed and fascinated by the stories being taught such as Moses and the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den, David and Goliath, and so on. I remember being told that I was an awful sinner and if I didn’t accept Jesus ‘into my heart’ (they call it getting ‘saved’) then I was heading for hell.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Armagh and Catholic Primate of All Ireland, has urged the public to return their Trócaire Lenten donations as soon as possible in order to maximise the return from a UK government funding initiative.
THE DUP leadership contest will take place on May 14 and in just over a week we’ll find out who’s going to be leading unionism through what’s likely to be one of the most tumultuous periods for the union since partition. The conversation about a new Ireland has not only begun – despite the Trojan efforts of the DUP and the UUP to strangle it – but it is hotting up with every day that passes. And while that observable fact in a sane place would lead unionism finally to consider how best to dial down the rhetoric and stop the haemorrhaging of voters which its continued grey conservatism is driving, it appears that the opposite has happened. While there has been deep discontent within the party over Arlene Foster’s leadership for some time, the Protocol debacle has deepened the discontent, and it was extremely telling that the straw that broke the camel’s back was Mrs Foster’s decision to abstain on an Assembly vote on banning gay conversion therapy. The fact that that was the trigger – even if it was some way down the list of the plotters’ leadership grievances – was a symbolic gesture, if you like, by the reactionary forces within the party who instigated the drawing up of the letter and the ultimate resignation of Mrs Foster. But while the heave against Mrs Foster was clearly led by elements in the party favouring the leadership of Edwin Poots – a decidedly dour and uncharismatic religious fundamentalist – the tortured politics of the party mean that a victory for Jeffrey Donaldson could not be in any way be described as a victory for moderates. Because while the Stormont and Westminster arithmetic is nowhere near being settled and the battle has only begun, Mr Donaldson has been endorsed by some of the most controversial, regressive and confrontational figures among his MP colleagues. Early speculation that the process of appointing a new leader was going to be a Poots coronation instead of a competition have dissolved as it became clear that the brash and confident thrust against Foster was most likely a bluff and/or a gamble. Because it’s clear that reports that Poots had a strong majority of MLAs behind him were in fact largely baseless. As the days after Mrs Foster’s dramatic step-down passed, it became clear that there was no rush to declare for Poots, especially when it emerged that Mr Donaldson was going to throw his hat in the ring. Beyond the leadership election, the new leader will face a difficult choice as head of a party for whom one issue now towers above all others: the Protocol. Should he call a snap Stormont election, or should he continue on until next May in the increasingly threadbare hope that the Protocol can be ditched? Both options present huge risks. A quick election could see the DUP capitalise on unionist Protocol anger – but equally it could see them badly punished for helping to put it in place. Whatever happens, Jim Allister is ready to go on the offensive. And the prospect of that battle is not something that fills those of us hoping for progress with optimism.
THE scene at Belfast’s Laganside Courts on Tuesday afternoon should be one of the most instructive moments of recent times in our peace process. A family, violently bereaved almost 50 years ago, walk out after the collapse of the trial of the two paratroopers responsible for the killing of their husband/father. They carry themselves with dignity as they explain to the media that the criminal justice system has been fixed to consistently deny them truth and justice for nearly 50 years. On the same street, a number of others huddle to celebrate the trial’s collapse. They gloatingly elbow bump with the former minister for veterans Jonny Mercer who has flown in from London to join them. It is a visible and tangible demonstration of state impunity and a skewing of the debate on historic truth and justice to vindicate the narrative of the British state and denigrate the rights and interests of the victims of state violence. The collapse of the trial of the two British paratroopers who killed Joe McCann in 1972 was possible because state violations have never been investigated properly. They were deliberately treated differently in 1972 by the Royal Military Police – as discovered by Relatives for Justice – in order to ensure that British soldiers had nothing to worry about. The same state killings, when being reinvestigated by the PSNI’s disgraced Historical Enquiries Team, were treated illegally. The objective of both processes was to secure state impunity from accountability for its role during the conflict.