Tag Archives: Belfast

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Queen’s University, Belfast this morning

This morning.

At Queen’s University in Belfast.

Leo Varadkar gave a speech during his first official visit to Northern Ireland since becoming Taoiseach.

After giving a speech he agreed to take questions from the floor.

One woman (second from the right pictured above) asked Mr Varadkar:

“Taoiseach, on the topic of North/South relations, we know that students from the Republic of Ireland study here and vice versa. Students have a very proud history of advocating social justice issues, as seen in the marriage equality referendum on May 22, 2015 – something you are a strong advocate for north and south of the border and we thank you for your solidarity  at Belfast Pride tomorrow.

“Recently you announced your intention to run various referenda over the next 18 months beginning in June or July. The referendum on the 8th amendment is especially pertinent for students north and south of the border.

“As we all know a high percentage of students travel or work abroad over the summer. Do you agree with us that, in order to fully engage students, this referendum should be held outside of the summer months?”

Mr Varadkar replied:

“Thanks very much. It’s a good question, I haven’t been asked that one yet. It is, we have a process that we’ve agreed involving a Citizens’ Assembly, involving a Oireachtas all-party parliamentary committee but what we’re planning for is a referendum probably May or June of next year.

“It’s not as straightforward as just having a referendum, we have to have wording legislation, a referendum commission and a campaign. So, if we don’t have it before the summer then it’ll probably not happen until the latter part of the year.

“So we haven’t set a date yet. We have had referendums in June before. I think the Good Friday Agreement was a June referendum, if I remember correctly. So was the Fiscal Treaty and we’ve had elections in June as well.

“But I definitely take the point and get the message that younger people would like to have the referendum happen at a time when they’re in the country so that they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”

Watch back in full here

Pic via Queen’s University

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Hot CopsBelfast indie/alternative

What you may need to know…

01. Washed-out, jaded Americana-esque alt-rock? Right this way, please, to Belfast poster boys Hot Cops.

02. They’ve been busy in the last year or so, with a pair of 7″ releases via Paper Trail Records, enroute to more touring and releases in 2017.

03. Streaming above is new single Dumbbo, with b-side Auto, available for download and on pink 7″ from their Bandcamp.

04. Catch them next in Cork on the 22nd of April, in a free show at the Crane Lane Theatre. 8.30pm, with support from fellow Northy noisemakers Junk Drawer. An Alliance Promotions™ production.

Thoughts: A contemporary, disengaged, wonderfully bleary-eyed take on the old slacker tropes.

Hot Cops

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Nomadic Ritualsgravestone-heavy doom metal from Belfast

What you may need to know…

01. Purveyors of downtrodden, doomy, slow-crawling filth are Belfast trio Nomadic Rituals.

02. Second full-length album Marking the Day releases next month, on handmade CD (with art-cards) and digital download. An ambitious piece, the LP is a concept record taking on the birth, life and death of the Cosmos, as well as the purpose of humanity. Perfect for summer barbecues.

03. The album is streaming in its entirety in the widget above, and available for digital and physical pre-order via their Bandcamp.

04. The record launches on the day of release, February 17th, with a gig at the Voodoo in Belfast, with support from Cork’s Soothsayer, War Iron, and MAW.

Thoughts: An hour-long odyssey whose heaviness and heft is matched by its scale.

Nomadic Rituals

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StrangefishIrish hip-hop superteam from the archives

What you may need to know…

01. Strangefish was/is a collaborative effort between Northern emcee Jee4ce, Belfast beatmaker SertOne, and Limrock cutman(s) Deviant & Naive Ted, operational between 2012 and 2013.

02. This self-titled E.P. was assembled inbetween shiftwork and fits of existential crisis in bedrooms in Liverpool, Dublin and Edinburgh, with ideas and bits flung back and forth over the interwebs.

03. It’s streaming and available for download in the widget above, releasing via Liverpudlian label Fly High Society.

04. The blurb/copy accompanying this record states that this is the “first compilation” from the outfit, implying either more archive material or fresh cuts down the road.

Thoughts: With the recognisable sonic fingerprint of each participant evident, this extended-player provides plenty for Irish hip-hop heads to dig into, while the EP’s digs into psychedelia and playfulness ought to appeal to first-timers.

Strangefish

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TUSKSDoom-metal from Belfast

What you may need to know…

01. Emerging from a rich scene for various amounts of musical heft, TUSKS fall somewhere between Sabbathesque riff worship and spiky punk noisemaking.

02. The band’s debut album Embers, released in August of last year, on Larne-based metal label Freak Flag Recordings.

03. Streaming above in its entirety, it’s available for download, and on limited 12″ green/”beer” vinyl.

04. Next seen live at the Eglantine in Belfast next Thursday, with support from Elder Druid and Black Market Thieves.

VERDICT: TUSKS have a lash off doom-metal’s tropes and rituals without directly aping same, adding a bit of piss and vinegar to proceedings.

TUSKS

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Mares of DiomedesBelfast sludge/doom metal

What you may need to know…

01. Brothers Shea and Jordan make up both halves of Belfast sludge/doom-metal duo Mares of Diomedes.

02. Fuzzed-out, apocalyptic doom is the order of the day, with the band’s debut extended-player emerging midsummer of last year.

03. Streaming above is the band’s new split 12″ release alongside Danish doomlords Dreich. Available for streaming, download and physical purchase from the band’s Bandcamp.

04. On the road next weekend: Thursday December 1st in Belfast’s Voodoo, Friday December 2nd as part of promoters Burning Metal’s launch at Fredz in Cork, and on Saturday 3rd at the Roisín Dubh in Galway.

Verdict: Good, thick guitar tones and suitably substantial riffs. That’s the one.

Mares of Diomedes

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Robocobra Quartetjazzy hardcore from Belfast

What you may need to know…

01. Despite their designation as a quartet, sax-laden spoken-word hardcore outfit Robocobra Quartet call on any of fourteen members for their incendiary live excursions.

02. Having gigged on the regular since 2014, the collective have done the festival grind, including Electric Picnic and Brilliant Corners Jazz fest, as well as having released a limited lathe-cut 7″ via Smalltown America.

03. Streaming above is the band’s debut album in its entirety, Music for All Occasions, recorded in studios and venues around Belfast city.

04. Available now in various formats from their Bandcamp. Having finished the UK/NI swing of their album launch, more UK/IE dates are likely for next year.

Verdict: Dour, downtuned, swaggering post-hardcore as a framework for world-weary spoken word broadsides.

Robocobra Quartet

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Malojian – Belfast singer-songwriter

What you may need to know…

01. Malojian is the brainchild of Belfast man Stevie Scullion, aided on occasion by collaborators Mike Mormecha and Joe McGurgan.

02. New album This Is Nowhere finds Scullion ruminating on middle-life, from parenthood, to marriage to grief, and was overseen by none other than Steve Albini, he of Big Black/Shellac, and the DIY recording gatekeeper behind some of Nirvana, the Breeders, and the Pixies’ finest work.

03. Streaming above is the video for I’ll Be Alright, taken from the record. Video directed by Colm Laverty.

04. Catch him on the road at Whelan’s in Dublin on the 26th, DeBarra’s in Clonakilty on the 27th, Coughlan’s in Cork on the 4th of December, and on the 9th at the Washerwoman in Ballina. Full tour details and more dates here.

Verdict: Scullion’s dichotomy of wringing sunny tunes from sober situations has seemingly met its match in Albini’s barebones recording work.

Malojian

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With their silky skills.

Ahmed Soda (top), age 11, and his family moved to Belfast late last year, fleeing the war in Syria.

In January, Ahmed tried out for football at local club Patrick Sarsfields, and despite some early jitters, has settled into the game helping the club break a dry spell in local under-12 silverware.

Ahmed, from the besieged city of Aleppo, also picked up a hurley for the first time in June, and is a natural, according to coaches.

Send him back.

Earlier: Dan Boyle: Who Are We And Who Are They?