Author Archives: Shayna O'Neill

Joe Brolly and Paeder Heffron

On Sunday, Joe Brolly in the Sunday Independent reported that a former PSNI  Police Service of Northern Ireland] constable was ‘ostracised’ by his GAA club after joining the force.

Paeder Heffron was left in a wheelchair following a dissident republican car bomb in 2010.

Mr Heffron said he was frozen out of games by Kickhams Creggan in County Antrim and ignored by teammates, with republicans ” approaching him in a changing room and handing him a leaflet warning of the dangers of joining the PSNI”.

Shayna O Neill writes:

The PSNI have opened recruiting as of October 23  this year. The aim of the PSNI is to have a balanced force of 50/50 Catholics/Protestants, under The Patton Report – currently it’s @15-25% Catholic,depending on which figures you are given, or believe.

Growing up, we had the RUC, who seemed to have a licence to unleash some form of justice against Catholics. I’m living back in the North of Ireland for a few years now, I have to say the PSNI seem okay.

The GAA have let one of their own down. I feel ashamed that I associate and am a member of the GAA.

Joe Brolly: Spurned, bombed and maimed by his own kind (

Pic: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Polling station at Fane Street, Primary School, Belfast this morning

Belfast-based Shayna writes:

I’ve just voted, the third time within a year. Last June 23 was the Brexit Vote, March 2 this year was Stormont Elections.

Despite the appearance of self-governing, The Top Bit of Ireland is still effectively controlled by London. 56% of voters in The North elected to remain in the EU. It seems we’re leaving, anyway. There’s no Government in seat at Stormont since voting day in March.

The 50/50 Unionist/Nationalist seems a difficult resolve. Apparently, talks at resuming Government will take place at the end of June, where no doubt there’ll be debates regarding crocodiles. [Arlene’s Foster’s reference to Líofa – funding to teaching Irish]

In 2015 – at the last British General Election, there were 11 Unionist MPs elected, the rest were Nationalist, out of a total of 18. The 11 Unionist MPs embraced their tradition, and aligned themselves with The Conservative Party and contributed to forming The Tory Government.

The Top Bit of Ireland Nationalist vote is indirectly a vote for Labour at General Elections, given that the Nationalists tend to seat with Labour, may help Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.



Shayna wdds:

I voted for Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, and South Belfast MLA. The fact that Sinn Féin don’t take a seat in Westminster is no bother for me, if they go along with Labour – that is what I was voting for.

Bigger FIGHT!

Earlier: A Limerick A Day

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 12.41.30

A still from a PSNI video as part of a campaign to raise awareness about hate crimes

The Police Service of Northern Ireland PSNI has launched a new campaign to highlight hate crimes.

They have released a series of 30-second videos, narrated by victims describing their own personal experiences.

Among them is Broadsheet contributor Shayna O’Neil, who is undergoing gender reassignment.

Shayna was asked to take part in the campaign after being assaulted and driven from her home in Tyrone.

Shayna writes:

Hate crime encompasses race, religion, sectarianism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and disabled-phobia.

I have to say that I wasn’t aware that disabled-phobia was a ‘thing’ – and frankly shocked that it exists, but apparently it does and the PSNI recorded 134 incidents of disability hate crime in the last financial year.

An instance of a sustained regime of attacks against a wheelchair-bound gentleman in West Belfast will feature in the series.

Following Brexit, it appears that a growing number of incidents of race hate crime in England have been reported. Fortunately, this has not been the case in Northern Ireland but this is a timely pro-active campaign by the PSNI.

The first video to be released was designed to coincide with the launch of the Belfast Pride Festival.

The message is designed to encourage people to think about the impact hate crime incidents have on the victim and the long-lasting physiological and emotional damage it can cause.

Superintendent Paula Hilman who is the PSNI Silver lead for hate crime said she hoped the campaign would help encourage not just victims but the wider community to report incidents of hate crime to PSNI.

Supt Hilman told me:

“We know that hate crime is an under reported crime and, as a result, we need to ensure victims have the confidence to report these incidents. We also hope that by sharing the voices of victims that we will encourage people to think about the human impact of these wholly unjustified and unacceptable attacks. There is a collective responsibility on all parts of society to protect vulnerable communities and we would encourage to report concerns or suspicious activity to the police. We need this information from communities to support arrests and make subsequent prosecutions and put an end to all forms of hate crime.”

I can only comment on my own experience and admit to being entirely tentative about contacting the PSNI following my assault.

In fact, it was three days after the incident that I finally reported it. The officers who dealt with me were sympathetic and importantly, respectful of me. They encouraged me to pursue the case to court.

The assault took place in my local store at lunchtime one Sunday. The store was very busy, but apparently with a shop full of witnesses, no-one saw anything? The whole scene was caught on the store’s CCTV, which ensured a conviction of my attacker.

Interestingly, on the day of my court case, the defendant had pleaded, “not guilty”, under advisement of his brief, in the hope that I would feel too intimidated to make an appearance – in which instance, the case would be dismissed.

The PSNI sent a car for me, to take me to court, and I was accompanied by the investigating officer. Clearly, the news of my arrival had filtered down to my attacker’s barrister, and he changed his plea to “guilty”.

I didn’t have to give testimony. He (my attacker) received a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £100 compensation.

I’m not advocating for the PSNI, merely sharing my own positive experience on how they deal with hate crime. They do take it seriously. Victim, or witness to a hate crime – it should be reported.

Hate crime reporting (PSNI)




Northern Ireland ‘sheet head Shayna O’Neill writes

It’s here!  My polling card arrived this morning for the much anticipated, will they/won’t they referendum on Britain remaining in the EU.  I’m not native to Belfast but live here, registered to vote and here it is – my opportunity to re-shape Europe? (Bit grandiose I know)  It’s pretty straightforward YES/NO, one tick in the box. Now, how should I vote?


Previously: Can You Vote In Brexit?

Meanwhile… Official Ireland has it all wrong – we could win big if UK opts for Brexit (David McWilliams,


Shane Paul O’Doherty, aged 18, on the run in London, 1972

Repentant IRA bomber Shane Paul O’Doherty went on the Ray D’arcy Show on RTÈ Radio 1 yesterday to discuss his life growing up on the ‘wrong side of the border’and why he turned to violence.

In a lengthy, compelling interview Mr O’Doherty, who took to religion in Long Kesh, addresses ‘misconceptions’ about when the Troubles began, questions the role – if any –  of the 1966 Easter Rising commemorations in luring young men to the IRA and speculates on the organisation’s most famous ‘non-member.

Grab a tay.

Ray D’Arcy: “My next guest, Shane Paul O’Doherty received 30 life sentences for his bombing campaigns with the IRA in 1975. Seeing his victims in court sent him on a journey of discovery through years of studying the Bible and corresponding with his Bishop, he found the truth he’d been looking for in the isolation of his solitary cell. Today, he’s still atoning for his actions. How’re you doing Shane?”

Shane Paul O’Doherty: “Who wrote that Ray?”

D’Arcy: “Will wrote it. You were the subject would you believe of a documentary on Sunday night?”

O’Doherty: “I accidentally emailed Roger Childs – “

D’Arcy: “…Who is the Head of Religious Programmes at RTÉ”

O’Doherty: “ – about six months ago, I said Roger, ‘Can you think outside the box, can you make a sexy, different play about Kevin Barry about his last few weeks?’ So, it worked out that we got a documentary about me writing a play about Kevin Barry and more, and more of my story than I really wished – because, I mean I’ve had this book out about donkeys years – that I’ve brought you a copy of and one for Will, there isn’t a copy for everyone in the audience.”

D’Arcy: “Thanks Shane. Well, I watched that and I watched Peter Taylor’s documentary, which was made in 1989, in which he spoke to your four brothers and your ma – it’s very fascinating and the interesting thing was that you wrote a letter when you were nine, which said, ‘When I grow up I want to fight and if necessary die for Ireland’s Freedom’. Signed Shane Paul. Well, you were nine – in 1965.”

O’Doherty: “Yeah, well I was 10. I had been reading books about Irish history for years, there was a real library at home and I somehow got stuck into books on Irish history, with you know the terrible sorrows of Irish history, and you know there was one book there – ‘Speeches from the Dock’ – an old book, I’ve still got copies of it yet. and I was fired up as a kid, you know, as someone who was reading from a very young age, my Da was a teacher in the Christian Brothers, he was a great man for reading and I had read so much about Irish history that i was overwhelmed by its tragedies and I had a notion, you know that I wanted to grow up and fight for Ireland – to die for Ireland. But the interesting thing was when I was being interrogated by the RUC much later, having been arrested during the cease-fire in ’75 – they raced in with great glee at one point in the interrogation and showed me this – and I was more embarrassed by that note…”

D’Arcy: “…that you’d written as a nine year-old.”

O’Doherty: “…than I was being embarrassed about being captured. So embarrassed by it.”

D’Arcy: “So they were using that as evidence against you?”

O’Doherty: “Ah well, I’d say it was intended to cause me embarrassment. You know, what a D Head you are – we’ve captured you, you know?” Continue reading


Dress code for the The 1916 Lost Leaders March on Good Friday in Dublin.

The march will include the Irish Volunteer Cavalry, re-enactors including the Cabra Historical Society, American Diaspora, 1916 relatives, executed leaders Guard of Honour, Women of the Revolution and marching bands. Gerry Adams will be the main speaker….

Sinn Féin Ireland


The Fenian Café, Falls Road, Belfast

While the majority of the merchandise on sale relates to historic republican figures and 1916 there are a number of items of questionable taste including ‘Union jack toilet tissue’.

“Almost everything we sell is of our own, we design almost all of it,” the staff member said.

However, he did add that while most of the items have historic significance some of the items were intended to be tongue in cheek and for the benefit of tourists.

Fenian cafe with ‘IRA’ sign defends Union flag toilet tissue (Irish News)


Is there anything we can do about the everyday and real menace of dog poo?

Not really.

Only 13 fines were issued across the whole of Dublin for dog fouling offences last year.

Bernie Lillis, Litter Prevention Officer with Dublin City Council went on Lunchtime with Jonathan healy on Newstalk.

Jonathan Healy: “Now, only 13 fines were issued across the whole of Dublin for dog-fouling offences last year -despite the fact that in 2013, there was a joint dog-fouling campaign that saw ten grand being spent by local authorities to tackle the issue – only a handful of fines have been issued by the courts. Bernie Lillis is a Litter Prevention Officer with Dublin City Council, obviously dog poo falls within litter prevention, if you’re talking to me? Good afternoon, Bernie.

Bernie Lillis:
“Good afternoon, how are you? Yes, it is an offence. under Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act.”

Healy: “Okay, so, why have so few people felt the heat of the law on this one -let me put it this way?”

“Well, to be very honest with you, it’s a very,very difficult piece of legislature to enforce. Because, what the law says is that the person in charge must remove the faeces, and dispose of it in a sanitary manner.”

Healy: “The person in charge of the dog, I presume?”

Bernie: “Yes, yes, so it’s very, very difficult then for someone – say like a Litter Warden, or a Dog Warden to come along and say, ‘Right so, I noticed that you didn’t clean up after your dog, I’m now going to issue you with a fine, please tell me your name and address’. Obviously, the person is not going to give a name and an address. So what we’re doing now is – we’re moving towards, you know, a situation where we’re going to try to encourage people and influence them, and make them aware that it’s just not acceptable behaviour.”

Healy: “Are you saying now, Bernie, that this is legislation in place that is unenforceable.

Lillis: “Yes, it’s very, very difficult to enforce – and people know that, and obviously, after this interview here, and the fact that I’m speaking about it. But, you know the good thing is about it is, after some research that we’d done in 2013, some 63% of people, always pick up after their dog – 136 dog owners interviewed. They said 63% pick up after their dog. That’s good, you know.”

Healy: “The whole point was that there was a ten grand advertising campaign that they would enforce the law, if they didn’t clean up after their dog – and now we have the person in charge of it saying, ‘Look, the law is there, but we can’t do anything about it.’ Do you need more help with this, do you need more funds, or are you just going to try and rely on public opinion to turn around and educate dog owners from leaving their stuff behind?”

“In a perfect world – obviously we would have more Litter Wardens and more Dog Wardens out there patrolling every plain square that a person walks their dog – 24/7.”



Thanks Nadine Maloney