Right thing, Right time, Wrong Spokesperson

October 16, 2010

I’m delighted to see that Peter Robinson has tackled the Catholic Church’s hold on education in Northern Ireland  (story).  Not because I’m a bigot, but because I believe the system produces bigots.

Indeed, a true bigot would surely want the system to stay the same with Catholic children educated in Catholic schools and Protestant children educated in state (but by default Protestant) schools.

There are a number of problems with the current system.  Robinson has correctly pointed out, as I have been harping on about for years, that the current system creates segregated education which, as he terms it ‘benign apartheid’.  I’ve always wondered if we would believe America was past racism if children of different colour were educated in different schools, and yet in NI we expect to transcend sectarianism while children of different religious backgrounds are educated separately.

Indeed it isn’t until a child is 16 and entering the workplace, or 18 and entering third level education, that they are exposed to significant numbers of the religious community which they have had minimal contact with.  By that time the opinions of their peers and their parents have taken root, and, if not sectarianism then certainly suspicion has taken root.  I’ve seen it, I’ve been a part of it, and I want nothing to do with a system which educates children separately based on their religion.

It is especially dangerous for this generation who are not offered the same opportunities for cross community projects that children were ten years ago.

There’s also the problem of what is being taught – I remember a teacher in my state/protestant school teaching Irish history with a certain bias, knowing she had a certain audience.

Robinson has said the right thing, and whilst it holds power coming from the First Minister, the Catholic community need to hear it from one of their own, otherwise it might justbe spun by nationalists as a bigoted diatribe or a hypocritical ideal (like here, for example)

The SDLP need to really think about their beliefs on this one.  SF won’t back it, but Ritchie et al need to reflect the ethos of a party that did so much for NI in moving towards a shared community.


A slimmer Executive?

May 22, 2009

On Monday, a debate was had in Private Members’ Business to restructure the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, essentially to reduce the disproportionate number of representatives that Northern Ireland has.  The UUP motion (following Cameron’s example of reform?) was supported by Alliance and the DUP, an ammendment was propsed by the SDLP and it was rejected by SF. 

The motion:

That this Assembly supports, in principle, the restructuring of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government; and calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to update the Assembly on the proposals for the creation of an Efficiency Review Panel, as announced on 9 April 2009, and to agree to implement a review and produce a report on the issue of the number of MLAs and government Departments in the next Assembly, within the next six months.

You can read the transcript of the debate here

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.

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…