Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland bloggers shed some light

By Geoff McGimpsey

Having reviewed the blogosphere this week, one thing is clear to me – both literally and figuratively, local bloggers are shining light into the darkness.

Consider this: Saturday night was Earth Hour . That’s where people across the globe switch off the lights for an hour to highlight the issue of energy conservation. Sure that’s a great message, but Gerard O’Neill at Turbulence Ahead found an even better message to promote .

For ‘ Human Achievement Hour ’ occurs at the same as Earth Hour... and it urges people across the globe to switch on the lights for an hour to highlight human ingenuity. Personally I’m still in Team Earth Hour, but I’m open to persuasion.

Elsewhere on the blog, Gerard (an economist) notes the considerable energy the population in the South has been putting into making babies. He’s got a theory that more babies means increased consumer confidence. So how is consumer confidence in the north? Not so good it seems.

Research at Ulster’s Doomed! has revealed that the birth rate in Northern Ireland is slipping off. Is there a broader reason for this? The blog reckons: ‘(cultural) Catholic fertility is similar north and south, and thus that the lower birth rate in the north may be due to a lower fertility amongst (cultural) Protestants’. Oh. I see.

Meanwhile O'Neill at A Pint of Unionist Lite took a look at the Top 20 Political Songs of all time as voted for by readers of The New Statesman .

Ireland’s very own U2 came in at No6 . Though the greatest political song of all time, for me, remains Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On?' But this was good only for No.15. Just No.15? What's going on? Seriously though...

No1 was Woody Guthrie's 'This land is your land' . While not his cup of tea, O'Neill posts up the Springstein version.

This wasn’t the only noteworthy musical list doing the rounds this week. The guys at BBC’s Across the Line blog have compiled a list of great debut records. It’s definitely worth looking at.

Talking of debuts of sorts, how are things faring with the UUP-Tory pact (UCUNF) this week?

As in the mainstream media, so it is on the blogs – North Down is the political story of the week. (Which may not have pleased the DUP too much as they launched their campaign on the same day and had to compete with Sylvia for media space.)

A Tangled Web , the blog run by TUV candidate David Vance, is enjoying the disharmony in the UUP . David asks: 'Is the Empey leadership going to end in abject failure without so much as ONE MP for "the natural party of Government"?'

At my own blog Bobballs , I reflected that – despite warm-ish words from Sir Reg – the departure of Hermon from the UUP ‘won’t be met with profound sadness in the UUP’. The rift had caused months of negative headlines for the UUP.

Elsewhere, the Orange Order issued a statement this week called on Orangemen to ‘demonstrate their opposition to the Pope's visit to England and Scotland, and to oppose any future invitation to visit Northern Ireland’. Naturally, this generated a huge volume of comment . According to the blog of the BBC’s Will Crawley most comment passing his way on Talkback tended to be negative.

Of all the contributions made across all media, the standout contribution came from the blogosphere. Burke’s Corner produced thoughtful analysis of the Orange Order’s position here and here . (Sure The Irish Blog Awards announced the 2010 winner of best post at the weekend, but I think Burke’s Corner has already got a couple of entries for next year’s shortlist.)

On to cultural matters, Martin Lynch’s adaption of ‘Over the Bridge’ is winning plaudits . But Jude Collins wonders whether we’ve moved on so far from the 1950s Northern Ireland in which the play is set. East Belfast Diary also praises this powerful drama, adding: ‘I hope the new Signature Project ‘visitor experience’ includes information about the trade union tradition of the yards, and about the periodic sectarian incidents, along with presenting technological achievements past and present.’

At ‘From the Balcony’ Mairtin O’Muilleior has posted up a video on Rith 2010 – what he describes as the most important Irish Language initiative for a century. I see there’s something similar happening in Wales . Perhaps the latter will be of interest to our own UTV. The local franchise, says Dewi at Slugger O’Toole , is ‘poised’ to scoop the contract to produce news on Welsh TV. Pob Iwc lads!

And finally, lest we forget that other giant of the local broadcasting landscape... Happy Birthday Uncle Hugo ! And yes, just like the Phone Room girls, I love you too.

Geoff McGimpsey blogs on Northern Ireland politics and current affairs at

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