Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Maria Laoise writes:

How many news articles, opinion pieces, or editorials in the Dublin-based media addressed the anti-Catholic, anti-Nationalist & anti-Irish 11th Night bonfires that took place in the 6C at the weekend?


Bonfire banners ‘sectarian and offensive’, says Foster (BBC)

From top: railings at the Jellicoe Avenue entrance of Grove Park in north Belfast; Colm Dore

Among the statues of supremacists which have fallen in recent days, that of King Leopold of Belgium points to the lie that people in the past didn’t understand supremacism.

Roger Casement became famous for his exposure of injustice in colonial Congo under Leopold. He also lived the maxim that all politics is local, as his concern for justice fed his interest in Irish culture as it, too, struggled to emerge from a long history of colonial subordination.

The GAA’s promotion of Irish sports was part of that emergence. Casement was one of the organisers of the inaugural Feis na Gleann in his home place, County Antrim,

in 1904. A tenant farmer offered to host the playing of Gaelic games but this angered his Unionist landlord whose threats meant that the only available field was overgrown with weeds. There is a metaphor-ready photograph of Casement taking a scythe to it in order to enable its use.

The statue protests articulate the view that there has been, and remains, a denial of power relations: a denial of present-day disparity and its historical roots. To borrow an expression from James Baldwina failure to corroborate the reality people are living.

June 15 saw the display of an exclusionary, supremacist, banner and graffiti at Belfast City Council’s Grove park in north Belfast. They threatened users of the public park who might be identified with Irish sports.

This was a crude expression of an ugly reality which is both denied and enabled by mainstream discourse which perpetuates the very disparity which prompted the creation of the GAA in the first place.

This is the disparity which treats Irish culture as though it doesn’t belong in the north-east of Ireland. It’s the politics which deems the visibility of the indigenous language to be “divisive” there. Like an iceberg, this politics is visible to some extent, but below the surface to a large extent.

It’s uninterrogated in the framing of discussions which accept – as a starting premise – that the political acceptability of inclusivity in the north (e.g. bilingual signage to include the indigenous language) has to be looked at by presenting “both sides”.

Inclusion and rejection of inclusion are presented as equivalent positions, with the purportedly neutral position favouring the status quo by “not taking sides”.

Angela Davis has said that neutrality on disparity is siding with disparity. That presents a challenge for purported centrists in the north who (with the support of Dublin establishment parties) stand to benefit from “both sides” false equivalence.

Discourse in the north-east has these characteristics because it wasn’t arrived at in a vacuum. It’s a product of unequal, historically-rooted, power relations.

On foot of a complaint from the Unionist Stormont regime, BBC radio simply stopped reporting GAA results.

The embedded longevity of that culture was such that BBCNI didn’t broadcast any GAA on television until the ‘90s, even though Ulster championship matches routinely attracted attendances larger than the populations of County towns like Omagh, Armagh, and Enniskillen.

BBCNI has never broadcast a camogie or hurling match. These cannot be dismissed as matters of broadcasting rights.

In 2018, that station’s drivetime radio programme featured an extended discussion of what winning the Superbowl meant to the people of Philadelphia. It has never had such a discussion about what reaching the hurling summit has meant in Galway and Limerick. Such discussions don’t require broadcasting rights.

In the north, the historically dominant traditions main daily newspaper continually gives credence to Unionist “concerns” about University students wearing GAA tops in lecture theatres. What politics does that feed?

Meanwhile, there are calls for leadership, for conspicuous opposition to the sort of supremacist hatred that catapulted Holy Cross primary school girls into global consciousness twenty years ago.

Even in that case, the existence of supremacism was equivocated about by respectable voices in Ireland, north and south, while instantly recognised by global audiences who saw powerful resonance with the ordeal of little Ruby Bridges in 1960s New Orleans.

This, too, points to a challenge for centrists who decry “our local squabble”, yet simultaneously reduce it to a mere provincial matter by refusing to characterise it in terms with which they would immediately characterise expressions of supremacist exclusion abroad.

The problem that Casement had, the problem cultivated under the old Stormont regime, still stands. Denial of its existence makes it difficult to address.

Colm Dore is a Belfast-based political commentator who has appeared on BBCNI radio and television programmes. Follow Colm on Twitter: @ColmDore

Top pic via Twitter

This afternoon.

Via BBC:

The {British] government has confirmed there will be new checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK as part of the Brexit deal.

It will expand infrastructure at Northern Ireland’s ports to carry out checks on animals and food products.

The details are contained in UK proposals for implementing the NI part of the Brexit deal.

Northern Ireland will continue to follow some EU rules on agricultural and manufactured goods.

Brexit: Government confirms new checks on goods entering NI from GB (BBC)


According to an eagerly awaited paper on how the UK will implement the Protocol, seen by RTÉ News, London has also said there will be no tariffs on any goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so long as they remain in the UK’s customs territory.

The paper also says there will be no new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland.

The document is certain to prompt further disagreements between the EU and UK over the requirements of the Protocol.

The Irish Protocol is not “codified” as a permanent solution, the paper says.

“It is designed to solve a particular set of problems and it can only do this in practice as long as it has the consent of the people of Northern Ireland,” it says.

UK publishes Brexit paper on Northern Ireland (RTÉ)


Department of Health’s Covid-19 Health Surveillance Monitor as of yesterday; Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan giving his nightly Covid-19 briefing yesterday evening

Yesterday evening.

The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan gave his nightly Covid-19 briefing to journalists, saying:

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, again thank you for being with us.

“Today we’re reporting to you that we have diagnosed an additional 500 – five, zero, zero – cases of Covid-19 bringing the number confirmed in this country to 6,574. And there have been an addition 28 deaths, bringing our total number of deaths to 263.

“Of those 28 deaths, 13 of them were males, 15 of them are females, and 19 of them, we have reports of an underlying medical condition.”

How are Covid-19 deaths in the Republic of Ireland calculated and recorded?

A Department of Health spokeswoman said:

“We count any death that involves a positive COVID-19 test, and we also include post-mortem positive COVID-19 tests.”

Separately, a spokeswoman from the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, when asked the same question, said:

Deaths are recorded of patients who have died within 28 days of a positive test result, whether or not COVID-19 was the cause of death. By definition therefore, deaths where tests were not taken will not be included.

“The deaths may have taken place in a hospital setting, or in the community or a care home, but must have been reported to PHA by the Health and Social Care Trust to be included in the report.

“This reporting process allows a “real time” daily update of trends in COVID -19 deaths within each trust area. In this pandemic, public health professionals, policy makers and the public value an up to date, daily record of the number of deaths associated with COVID 19.”

The spokeswoman also confirmed that, like the Republic of Ireland, Northern Irish authorities also include the deaths of people whose remains test positive in a post-mortem.

View the Department of Healths’ Covid-19 dashboard here

Related: Coronavirus: Why death and mortality rates differ (BBC)

From top: Dr Gabriel Scally; front page of this morning’s Irish News; in this morning’s Irish Times

This morning.

In both the Irish Times and the Belfast-based Irish News newspaper.

Dr Gabriel Scally called for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to harmonise its approach to Covid-19 and said the “inconsistencies” between the two jurisdictions “are not trivial”.

Speaking to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ this morning, Dr Scally repeated his call. He explained that a person who develops symptoms in Dundalk, Co Louth, would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days while a person in the same situation in Newry would be asked to self-isolate for seven days.

He added that the Northern Irish authorities “are fighting this fire blind”. He also said it would be “nonsense” to implement restrictions on people flying into Dublin and not have the same restrictions on people flying into Belfast.

Dr Scally said by not taking a unified approach the jurisdictions are “squandering” the advantage that the island could use against the virus.

He added:

“The advice from Whitehall, in my view and in the view of many other senior public health people, is seriously flawed, they are ignoring the very strong advice they’re getting from their experts and the World Health Organisation, they’re ignoring the European Central Communicable Disease Control and they’re going there own way, which they’re perfectly entitled to do.

“But there’s no reason in my view why the same advice should apply in the North, the health is a devolved power in the North, and they could make up their own minds and it should be a meeting of minds.”

Leading doctor warns north must ‘harmonise’ with south to win coronavirus battle (Seanín Graham, The Irish News)

Gabriel Scally: North and Republic must harmonise Covid-19 response (The Irish Times)

Listen back to Today with Seán O’Rourke in full here.

At top: The Øresund – that connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö – transitions from a bridge into a tunnel 


Boris Johnson is completely serious about building a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland to boost the union.

The PM has ordered officials in Whitehall to look at the project and whether it’s possible.

An artificial island around 2.5 miles long and 500 yards wide is likely to link the bridge to the tunnel.

Under one version of Boris’ plan, the bridge would run from the Scottish coast over the trench, before becoming a tunnel for the final stretch to Northern Ireland.

Local geography might even dictate the need for two artificial islands to span the North Channel.

A Whitehall source told The Sun:

“There were some people who thought the Channel Tunnel was a mad idea at the time. “We are looking at the feasibility of a bridge and if it could be made to work.”

Boris Johnson ramps up plans for £20bn bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland to boost union (The Irish Sun)

Government officials working on plans for bridge linking Scotland to Northern Ireland, No 10 confirms – live news (The Guardian)

Graphic; The Sun

This afternoon.


From left: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill Michelle O’Neill, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster  Arlene Foster and UK NI Secrertary Julian Smith

This morning/afternoon

Stormont, Northern Ireland.

Ahead of his meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar later today

Boris Johnson is preparing to hand over up to £2billion as part of a deal to get Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive up and running, according to reports.

Sinn Fein and the DUP have finally agreed a deal which ends the three-year impasse but it has involved compromise on both sides and a huge financial settlement for the region.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith pledged major investment to alleviate problems in the region’s struggling public services.

Boris Johnson preparing to hand ‘up to £2billion’ to Northern Ireland in deal (The Mirror)


Earlier: Derek Mooney: It’s On…Well, Almost

Top pic: getty

Sinn Féin’s John Finucane (top centre) celebrates his win over DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds (above centre) this morning

This afternoon.

Via RTÉ:

Unionists will not have a majority of the 18 seats in Westminster for the first time…

its deputy leader was ousted by Sinn Féin and the party lost out to the Alliance Party in North Down…SDLP leader Colum Eastwood won in Foyle and Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry took the North Down seat vacated by Sylvia Hermon.

The results will be seen as potential evidence of a shift towards more centre-ground politics in the region – a trend that appears to be borne out by another positive showing for the cross-community Alliance Party.


Nigel Dodds loses North Belfast seat to SF’s Finucane (RTÉ)


Via Irish Political Maps

For the first time ever, Northern Ireland has returned a majority of nationalist MPs with a total of 9 (7 SF, 2 SDLP) compared to 8 unionist MPs (all DUP).

Whatever your political inclination, there’s no denying this is historic.

Pics: AP/Getty

The cheese choice is yours.

This morning.

Fergus Lenehan tweetz:

Was in Lidl in Leipzig [Germany] today. They had both British and Irish cheddar cheese on the shelves. Turn the packages over & you can see they’re the same cheese, from Cookstown in County Tyrone…Northern Irish identities in action, dominating British & Irish branding?