A PUBLIC consultation has been launched to seek views on the emerging routes for Phase 2 of the Belfast Rapid Transit Project (BRT2) to help inform the identification of a preferred route in both South and North Belfast.
FOR some time now and with great patience Vauxhall lovers have awaited the latest version of the much-loved Astra. And last week, the eighth generation of that best-selling car was announced. The success story of Vauxhall’s bestselling model began over 40 years ago, and with this all-new Astra, for the first time, the compact class model is available with electric drive, in two performance levels as a plug-in hybrid. There are of course highly efficient petrol and diesel engines in combination with six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions, and this year Vauxhall will launch a sporty five-door with a low-slung look and even more space than its predecessor.
WEST Belfast’s Islamic community gathered last week at the Iqraa Mosque in Dunmurry to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Adha and the annual Hajj pilgrimage with a family garden party and barbecue. Explaining the importance of the festival to their community, local Imam Jamal Iweida said: “This is important to us for two reasons, we celebrate the life of the prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, when he wanted to sacrifice his own son. “We believe that he was ordered to sacrifice his own son, Ishmael, and he was going to go ahead with it. His son accepted his fate but then Allah gave him a sheep instead and he made this a tradition for Muslims. “Our prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, sacrificed sheep, and this is what we do to this day. “The other celebration is for Hajj, which is our annual pilgrimage to Mecca. At this time of year Muslims travel to Mecca. Normally we would have two to three million people travelling there but this year it is limited to 60,000 people because of the pandemic. Muslims are very hurt by that and we hope that next year we can go back to worship as usual.”
WHILE some of us took up baking or knitting during lockdown, Terry Johnson decided to turn a bit of waste land at the rear of his Turf Lodge home into a paradise for butterflies and bees. Explaining how the idea for his colourful oasis came about, Terry said: “During the first lockdown I came out with a spade and planted some bulbs and they grew. I dug flower beds and then decided to build flowerbeds out of decking. “I got sixteen lengths of decking, nine tonnes of soil and now it has really taken off. My brother and myself made the flowerbeds up. It is just full of colour. With lockdown I got tore into it.”
GOOD news comes in threes, they say. Like these three birds at Dúlra’s water font – two sparrows and a greenfinch. You could say it’s nothing too unusual, but you don’t live in Dúlra’s street. Since Dúlra moved in about a decade ago it's been a sparrow-free zone. That homely tweet that many readers are so familiar with they no longer notice is absent here. While there are sparrows in all the surrounding areas, Dúlra’s street has been a sparrow desert. He knows why. It’s nothing to do with the access to food for Dúlra and his neighbours must be among the most generous bird feeders in the city. In fact, we attract so many birds that almost every day the sparrowhawk comes down from his mountain roost on a bullet-like raid, scattering terrified prey like a fighter pilot strafing the innocents. And Dúlra even put up two sets of sparrow ‘terrace’ nestboxes, which have laid empty for years. Dúlra knows the reason there are no sparrows – it's the builder’s fault for being too good at his job. Every crevice in every roof has been rigidly filled in, leaving no nooks or crannies for sparrows to nest in. A few winters back one male sparrow arrived, then last spring a pair hung about the area before disappearing to nest elsewhere. But this month, suddenly, we had not just a pair of sparrows, but an invasion. They arrived with their chicks in tow – ready-made families – about a dozen birds in total. The chicks are a sheer delight as they follow their parents’ every move, flapping their fluffy wings and begging for food.
IT’S only natural after the roaring success of Stendhal and these shattering heat waves that the festival buzz will kick in. With news of, for better or worse, England’s removal of restrictions this week, several festivals will be proceeding this summer as test events to gauge the viability of large scale outdoor music performances.
COLIN Councillor Danny Baker is set to meet with the owner of a site close to Mount Eagles that has become a hotbed of antisocial activity. The land, which houses two barns, has been the scene of a number of instances of antisocial behaviour culminating in the burning of a car last week. Speaking about the incident, Cllr Baker said: “Residents had spotted this car driving about the day beforehand then it was parked at the side of the wasteland. The residents had phoned the PSNI who came out but had no way of moving it. “Younger ones were then about the wasteland and the car was set on fire. I have spoken to the owner of the site who I will be meeting this week to try and discuss how we can secure the site better.” He added: “It is becoming a hotspot of anti-social behaviour and residents living in the Mount Eagles Close area are being tortured with the noise and fires that are being lit close to the houses. It has been hard for them over the summer months and it is something that we have to work on. We need to have a conversation about what this land could look like in the future. There are two barns which are operational but we have had issues with in the past. It was only last year that we had two girls trapped in them and a fire lit so it is concerning and needs addressed asap.”
ALL victims were cried for with tears that held an equal amount of salt. All victims missed – and were missed on – the best days in their families’ lives: the births, the marriages, the bursting-with-pride days. Every single lost life mattered. We don’t have to agree on our narratives of conflict to recognise that. While those who took lives reconciled those actions in a conflict context, for bereaved families that reconciliation was and remains impossible. That chair is never filled, that grave is always calling out, that photograph is always reminding us. It doesn’t go away, there is no line to be drawn. Since the ceasefires, families bereaved during our conflict have been told that their rights and their loved ones’ lives don’t matter. They knew that when the Good Friday Agreement didn’t pay attention to them.