Let Duffy Run

May 5, 2009

Colin Duffy, dissident republican and the man accused of the Massarene Murders, is thought to be considering standing for the upcoming European elections, held in a month’s time

Colin Duffy

 Those surrounding Duffy claim there is a 50/50 chance of him standing.  I’ve thought about it, and actually I’m in favour of such a move.   

Obviously recent actions of so-called dissident republicans are absolutely repulsive, and I wouldn’t support him as a candidate.

Yet if he runs, it’s an opportunity to expose the lack of support dissident republicans have.  It’s one thing to say they only have under 200 members, who if discovered are prone to police questioning, and potential imprisonment.  It’s another thing to say that a small percentage of the nationalist community supported them in a secret ballot.

Of course, it’s just speculation that they would get hardly any of the vote.  Duffy might present an option for dissatisfied nationalists in the same way Jim Allister presents an option for dissatisfied unionists (oh how he would despair at the link!).  If so, if a sizeable number of nationalists are so dissatisfied with the SF leadership that they would vote for active terrorists, then we will see just how deeply mired in our past we are. 

And lastly, finances.  The dissidents are not well financed, and do not have anywhere near the resources the Provisionals had throughout the Troubles.  So if they spend a significant lump of the money they have on electioneering and not on weapons and training, then bring it on.

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Regional Art Gallery for Northern Ireland?

May 4, 2009

Tommy Gallagher (SDLP) recently asked Gregory Campbell whart plans he has to invest in a regional art gallery.  Now I’m not very into my art, but I do agree that it’s a bit ridiculous Northern Ireland doesn’t have an identifiable gallery for local artists to showcase their work. 

The short exchange between the MLA and the minister which can be found at TheyWorkForYou (here) – a great website – seems to offer hope that we will have one, yet it’s obvious that with the current tortoise administration, it will drag its heels, increase to twice the budget and inexplicably get caught up on some sectarian line of divide.

Anyway, here’s the exchange:

Tommy Gallagher (Social Democratic and Labour Party)

1. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what plans he has to invest in a regional art gallery.       

Gregory Campbell (DUP)

My Department supports, in principle, a regional art gallery. I am aware that the absence of a national gallery is viewed by many as a significant gap in Northern Ireland’s cultural infrastructure. However, the necessary funding for such a facility has not been secured under investmest strategy for Northern Ireland II. Before any decision can be made in that regard, considerable preliminary work is required, including the development of a feasibility study to identify, consider and cost possible options. A business case will also have to be progressed through the approval process.

In the development of any future plans, the Department will work in partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

There is significant potential for increasing tourism and for boosting confidence among our own artists. I understand what the Minister says about funding; however, given that this is a time when those who are interested in property should be thinking seriously about it, can the Minister give us any idea about the cost implications of an original arts centre?

I thank the Member for his question. The short answer is yes. However, I hesitate to give the Member the figure for providing such a gallery, as it represents a significant investment and has been estimated at anywhere between £30 million and £70 million. A national gallery is a strategic objective of the Arts Council and is specified as such in its five-year strategic plan.

From looking at the examples of other nation states and regions, we have seen the benefits that a national or regional gallery can bring in relation not only to tourism, as the Member rightly identified, but also job creation. In considering which locality to invest in, inward investors would view as an asset a national gallery of some significance, whether that is of Guggenheim or Tate proportions or something similar. We need to think along those lines. However, as I said in my initial response, we need to develop the business case. The Arts Council has identified the need for such a gallery; the task of obtaining the resources to establish it will fall to me or to my successor.

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Given the competing pressures in his Department and the calls for funding that it faces — for example, for the development of community arts or funding for sports facilities — how much priority does the Minister allocate to the establishment of a regional arts gallery?

As I said earlier, the provision of a national gallery is a strategic objective of the Arts Council. If the Arts Council tells me, as Minister, that that is at the upper end of its priorities and it wants to see provision made for that from whatever budgetary allocations that I can obtain, it is my job to respond to that. However, speaking on a personal level and on a level of departmental responsibility, we must seek to achieve that objective in the shorter term, rather than in the longer term.

Having said that and returning to my original answer, I should say that funding for any objective for which there is currently no provision but which could require anything between £30 million and £70 million is going to be difficult to obtain. However, “difficult to obtain” is not a reason for not proceeding. It is an objective and a priority, and I intend to pursue it as such.


Greencastle-Magilligan ferry must be maintained

May 1, 2009

Providing a vital link between the tourism of Donegal and the Causeway Coast, the ferry operating between Magilligan and Greencastle must be maintained. 

Ferry

The current contract expires in June and until now there is no solution in place.  Limavady Council can’t afford to keep their side of the bargain going, nor should they since statistics show most passengers pass straight through the area and onto the Causeway.  Conor Murphy and his department won’t yet take responsibility for it, due to a legislation glitch which means it doesn’t technically come under their auspices, but action must be taken, most probably by Arlene Foster, Minister of Enterprise (including tourism). 

The Ferry saves a 49 mile journey for those who want to keep a Causeway coastal path, and without it the areas of rural Donegal and beautiful Downhill would likely be passed by by the unsuspecting tourist. 

The ludicrous security checks (which operate only on the NI side of the border) are said to cost between £80,000-£90,000 and should be scrapped immediately. 

The ferry service is economically viable, whether it makes a profit or not, as it ushers in hoardes of tourists to the Causeway area, and as such should be preserved as part of a bold strategy to attract tourists as well as Donegal residents looking to take advantage of the weak pound.

Sign the petition here to save the Greencastle – Magilligan ferry service.


Gerry the Prod?

April 27, 2009

An article in today’s BT (quoted here at the Indy) attributes some interesting quotes to Gerry Adams talking about faith with Gay Byrne as part of a series on the spiritual beliefs of public figures.

“I have formed an opinion,” he says to Byrne, “and it’s probably a Protestant thing, that the notions of having some sort of middle-man isn’t altogether necessary.” He admits he hasn’t gone to confession “in years,” preferring to speak directly with God.
When asked on the matter of Transubstantiation and whether the elements are the real body of Jesus Christ, he replied unconvincingly “Who knows?”
With these comments perhaps alienating some ardent Catholics, and McGuinness seen by many nationalists to be ‘in bed’ with the DUPers, just how are SF perceived amongst their traditional base? I’d love to see some poll data…

Student Fees – Where’s the value?

April 2, 2009

Where does £3,125 of tuition fees per year go, if you study at the University of Ulster?

Extra lecturers, or even pay rises to attract the top ones?
No, staff face pay reductions of up to £5000 per year, as the Vice Chancellor received a 25% pay increase to take him up to £212,000 per year (that’s slightly more than the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and nearly 20 grand more than Gordon Brown gets) (source)

Free printing?
No, students pay 5p per sheet which is the same as, for example, Bennett’s 1 hour photo charge. A service, or profiteering?

No, apparently the money that students pay to the University, is not reinvested back into them. Rather it pays for extortionate and rarely used equipment such as the ‘Bod Pod’.
And surveys which reveal the jaw dropping results released today, that sisters make people happy”

Wow. If that’s not value, I don’t know what is


No more

March 10, 2009

Stephen Carroll, murdered by dissident republicans

No.

No more.

We will not be dragged backwards. We will not let the good name of our Province be used as a byword for terrorism no more. We will not stand idle while bastards try to rip down our peace, we will not simply watch as they indoctrinate children and rape this country of its fragile unity. We will not be known as the generation who allowed this to return

Nor will we retaliate.

We will let these cowards know that there is no home here for their attitudes, no refuge for their methods.

We will stand, and we will let the world know what we stand for.

Stand
1pm, Wednesday
Belfast City Hall
L’Derry Guildhall Square
Newry Town Hall


An Eye for an Eye

March 9, 2009

In a quite literal manifestation of the laws given to the Hebrews in Exodus 21, an Iranian woman who was blinded and disfigured after a man threw acid in her face has welcomed the decision by a Tehran court to do the same to him. Ameneh Bahrami, 30, rejected a marriage request from the man – known only as Majid – who responded by waiting for her outside of her workplace to throw acid on her. Ms Bahrami (seen above) who is currently in Barcelona receiving medical treatment waived her right to $25,000 so that the man would be blinded in both eyes, rather than just one as was originally intended.

But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Exodus 21v23-25

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

– Jesus
Matthew 5 v 38-39

This is perceived to be one of the Bible’s great contradictions. Some reading around however sheds some light. In the time the law was given, the concept of “an eye for an eye” was not a requirement, but a limit. The purpose of the statement was not that if someone pokes out your eye, deliberately or not, then you HAVE TO poke out his eye in return. The statement’s purpose was to say that if somebody deliberately pokes out your eye, then you have the right to avenge your mistreatment, but ONLY UP TO what they’ve done to you. You could merely punch them in the nose if that satisfies justice for you, or you could go all the way up to the point of poking out his eye in return, but no more. You can’t chop of his head if he poked out your eye. In a world where blood feuds were common, meaning that one family would go to war with another family because of a series of escalating insults and violent actions. The concept of “an eye for an eye” stopped the escalation of violence. The concept was simply “if you must retaliate, then you can only go this far and no further.” Another commentator wrote that if someone killed your sheep, it was the ‘macho’ thing to go to his and kill five of his cows. Thus starting a tit-for-tat.

In Northern Ireland we know all about tit-for-tat murders.

Perhaps even now some loyalists are plotting revenge for the two British soldiers murdered in Antrim Saturday night. But where does that get us? Is that not what the dissidents want? A civil war to encourage Britain to wash its hands of us?

Justice must be sought, in that these murderers should be brought to trial and sentenced accordingly. But can we go further? Can we offer forgiveness? Mercy? Even Grace? Jesus advocates justice. But he also calls us to go further. When one considers that he calls us to offer forgiveness instead of seeking revenge, to love instead of hating and to forgo our rights, is that really a religion to use as a crutch?

What would you do if you were Ameneh Bahrami?