Brexit: Unionists and nationalists deeply split on idea of second referendum
Unionists and nationalists are deeply divided on whether there should be a second Brexit referendum.
Unionists and nationalists are deeply divided on whether there should be a second Brexit referendum.
Genuine question: how do men learn what it means to be a man? From their fathers, brothers, teachers? From their peers, first at school and later at work? Becoming a man is no longer a straightforward acceptance of inherited power and privilege. It's a complicated, difficult, contested process. Nobody, not least men themselves, are sure what being a man even means any more.
During much of the 20th century, the two dominant political parties in Great Britain were the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. It seemed, to many people, that this would always be the case, with two fairly cohesive and stable parties, but all that has changed and we are now in uncharted waters.
When the DUP fought the 2017 Westminster election, it could not in its wildest dreams have hoped to be in the staggeringly powerful position it currently occupies.
The fact that one of the most underwhelming Prime Ministers in British history has just entered the record books sums up the extraordinary nature of our political times.
Next Monday, January 21, sees the 100th anniversary of the sitting of the first Dail in the Mansion House in Dublin. Having triumphed over the Home Rulers of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the famous 1918 General Election, Sinn Fein, as promised, boycotted the Westminster parliament and set up a new Irish parliament, the first such parliament since the abolition of the old Irish parliament by the Act of Union in 1800.
Theresa May made a last minute plea to MPs to give her Brexit plan a second look - but despite putting on a brave face even she knows that victory is next to impossible.
Last week I watched about an hour of the Belfast City Council webcast, which at various times made me laugh, fume, plunged me into gloom and gave me some hope.
Tantrum Number One of the Week: the hissy fit thrown by Sinn Fein representatives on Belfast City Council, who have objected to allowing cartoonist/artist Brian John Spencer to sketch the council in session, doesn't exactly paint these self-styled torch-bearers for inclusivity in a flattering light.
I'm not surprised Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP, objects to being called a Nazi. It's not very pleasant, but it's hardly a shock - use of the word 'Nazi' or 'fascist' has become commonplace in the debased arena of thuggish tribalism that passes for politics these days.
In a timely reminder before the Christmas holidays, Victim Support NI urged the public, especially those directly affected by serious sexual crime, to heed the call by Sir John Gillen to respond by January 18, 2019, to his interim report that outlined a series of draft recommendations to reform the way in which our courts deal with serious sexual crime.
Who knows what a new year will bring? Who knows what the future will bring? No one can foretell because nothing turns out quite as predicted.
When did well-meaning people here concerned about everyone's human rights appear to allow the organisations they supported to become dominated by nationalists and leftists?
After the rout comes the purge. If we needed proof of society's increasingly disordered relationship with food, pleasure and health, it's in the screeching hand-brake turn from the gluttony of the festive season to the abject self-denial of the new year.
Is there no limit to the double standards and inconsistency of Sinn Fein? And yet, time after time, they don't seem to see it. Most political parties use Facebook and other social media to communicate their message and announce events and Sinn Fein are no exception.
New Year statements from business leaders are usually anodyne affairs that don't make political news, but we're living in extraordinary times.
Stalemate at Stormont won't be disappearing anytime soon, but 2019 will still be an intriguing political year in Northern Ireland on numerous fronts.
I had a bit of a tidy-up of my bedroom recently, and realised that I owned (at least) 47 lipsticks: in addition to all the other unguents, potions, skin creams, moisturisers and assorted cosmetics.A monument to vanity? Or a modern woman's entitlement to make the best of herself and present a cheerful face to the world? Lipstick, especially, is hugely cheering and a small luxury that goes a long way.
Annually, after wide consultation, I provide a list of people I think Northern Ireland would be better off without. Since the object of this exercise is not to depopulate the place dangerously, I've had to rule out such sweeping suggestions as "all Stormont MLAs and their Spads", "anyone with more than one woodchip boiler", "all rude anti-Brexiteers" and "anyone who begins a sentence on the radio with the word 'So'".
It will come as a surprise to no one that the poet Michael Longley, a man whose building blocks are words, should relish and respect language. In an interview on Radio Ulster's Talkback this week, the great man spoke of his regret that he'd never learned to speak Irish - he says he envies fellow poets who are bilingual.
The days between Christmas and New Year have a curious, other-worldly quality all of their own. The wild excess of gift-giving and feasting is over, but most people are still off work. If you venture outside you find the roads are almost empty, apart from die-hard spenders rushing to the post-Christmas sales - as if there hasn't been enough spending already. There's nothing much to do except eat leftover turkey sandwiches or sip another glass of Baileys, if you still have the stomach for it.
There is always a plethora of Christmas messages from religious and political leaders, with most of the media focus in the United Kingdom on those delivered by the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister and the Pope.
Like Bob Cratchit's family in Charles Dickens' brilliant fairy tale A Christmas Carol, we happily tucked into our Christmas dinner at home, oblivious to the cares of the gloomy world outside. But in the real world of Christmas Present there was a ghostly feeling of unease and doom in the realpolitik of hard economics and financial truth.
In our era of multiculturalism, perhaps the image of The Adoration of the Magi is quite apt: the three wise men who bring gifts to the infant Jesus are depicted as representing three different ethnicities. King Gaspar of Godolie hails from the region we now call the Yemen; Melchoir, King of Tarsis, is from a province of Turkey, and Balthazar, King of Nubia, would have travelled from Egypt-Sudan.
There was a bizarre sequence of events last week at a bungalow near Strokestown in Roscommon that has got the Republic in a bit of an uproar, not least because it has stirred the tribal pot.
Rosamond Bennett is married to Karl, a part-time primary school teacher and a musician. They have three children, Louis (18), Judy (17) and 13-year-old Reuben and live in Whitehead. Rosamond, who turned 50 this year but jokes she prefers 42, became CEO of Christian Aid Ireland earlier this year after 22 years in the corporate world. She is an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
I was going to do a jokey piece based on a Christmas pantomime this week. But the House of Commons beat me to it. In particular I'm referring to the controversy over Jeremy Corbyn and whether or not he called Theresa May "a stupid woman".
Last week, I returned to Queen’s University to watch my son graduate. I say returned because in some ways I feel I’ve never left my alma mater: the vital things that I learned there, and the men and women who taught me them, stay with me always. So, it was very special to see my son become one of the fortunate people who have passed through its halls.
Given the momentous event that was the 1918 general election in Ireland, it is strange that its commemoration is so low-key. But, as President Michael D Higgins has rightly said, the election was a "milestone in Irish history".
Outside the air is crisp as snowflakes fall from a darkening sky, prettily frosting the lattice panes while inside the fire roars merrily in the grate. Lit by the glow of the flames and tasteful candlelight, the expectant upturned faces of cherubic children. Who can that be, coming up the garden path? Why, ’tis none other than old Mr Fezziwig and — ’pon my soul — he has brought some revellers with him, to sing no doubt rousing renditions of appropriately seasonal songs and revels.
There's a theory going around that social media has made people more intolerant of others, their opinions and values. Facebook users sometimes 'unfriend' each other, and people on Twitter quite commonly block other contributors, if they dislike their views or consider them hostile.
Matthew Parris on Saturday in his latest despairing Times column about Theresa May asked: "At what point does tenacity become rigidity become mulishness become a frozen panic?"
As if working mothers don't have enough plates to juggle in the run-up to Christmas, the BBC has decided to fire a shamelessly sentimental broadside of guilt at them, in the form of its promotional Christmas advert for BBC One.
One of the notable features of the ongoing Brexit debate is the scrutiny of the organisations and individuals who campaigned for Brexit. I have not seen anything like the same level of scrutiny with those who campaign for Remain and for a second referendum.
The fate of Theresa May has hung in the balance for what seems like forever, but in the end it took just a single minute for us to hear the verdict of the jury last night.
If MPs say what they mean and mean what they say, Theresa May is on course to win tonight’s no confidence vote.
Do lost lives count for less in Northern Ireland? It was reported this week that the average minimum term handed down by our courts in life sentences for murder was almost 10 years lower than in England and Wales last year. That's quite a disparity. The difference of an entire decade, in the average length of time that killers are recommended to serve, on each side of the Irish Sea.
James Nesbitt is not just a successful actor who has deservedly won the affection of the public, but a great humanitarian who is not afraid to speak out and act as an advocate for the voiceless and marginalised in our society.
On the morning of Saturday, July 28 this year, I opened my laptop as usual, and something seemed rather weird about the screen. It wasn't quite in focus: it was as though I was wearing the wrong glasses.
A tweet last week after I'd had an altercation with James Wilson of the Loyalist Communities Council said: "I must say... you are without doubt the rudest person i've heard on The Nolan Show... shockingly ignorant and rude."
The conventional wisdom is that a significant chunk of those who voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum here regret it, given the predicted catastrophic effects on Northern Ireland.
The murder at the school gates in west Belfast reveals, yet again, the brutal violence and lawlessness that lies just below the surface in Northern Ireland. This is not a normal place, and we are not a normal people.
You know the old saying? You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family? In the case of in-laws it's more complex still.
When anyone mentions Europe, the focus is almost always on the UK and Brexit. That is true whether it be in day-to-day conversation, on television and radio programmes, or in newspapers. It has been true since the people’s vote in 2016 and it is certainly true today, with Parliament debating Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Now, let me see if I have this right. A small, cash-strapped bookshop in north Belfast, which most people have never heard of, has announced - to great fanfare and controversy - that it has decided to ban DUP elected representatives.
In July, Lord Adonis, a former Education Secretary under Tony Blair, visited Queen's University to campaign for a second referendum on Brexit. At the time, it seemed like a fanciful idea, doomed to inevitable failure.
It was far from an ideal opening round for Theresa May as she took to her feet to deliver the most important speech of her political career.
A Cleveland, Ohio, Christmas radio station has banned the old chestnut Baby, It's Cold Outside because it is not in tune with these #MeToo times. Yes, that Baby, It's Cold Outside, the Frank Loesser classic covered by all and sundry, from Dolly and Rod, Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bette Midler and James Caan, to Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews and (blimey) Willie Nelson and Norah Jones.
I see loyalist ex-paramilitaries are unhappy with Mrs May's deal. We are told by the chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), which is supported by the Red Hand Commando, the UDA and the UFF, that recently they met the Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office to explain their objections.
Richard Clarke (69) was born in Dublin and ordained as a curate, working in Holywood, Co Down, in 1975.
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