Into the void: Marching for hearts and minds

In a follow up to yesterday’s ‘culture wars’ post in Derry, I noted with interest the (mainstream media and citizen journalist) coverage of the 40th anniversary Bloody Sunday ‘march in the city.

The committee of the Bloody Sunday Trust’s announcement last year  that (post-Saville) 2011 would represent the final march, suggested the end of the annual fixture in the city.

However a number of relatives, including Jim Keys left the committee before last year’s announcement. Ten days ago he wrote in the Derry Journal:

“What is suddenly wrong with a march commemorating Bloody Sunday? And particularly when this year’s theme is ‘March for Justice’? Is it not essential that we march given there is as yet not a hint of prosecutions, even for perjury, let alone murder, of any of the 10 soldiers the Saville Report asks us to believe were the only ones responsible for the whole thing?

“And essential too given there’s no ongoing legal or political outcry at its bamboozling conclusions that the nail bombs were not planted on Gerard Donaghy’s body and that there was no high-level conspiracy or cover up. Such conclusions fly in the face of the evidence.”

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Culture wars

Pic by Charlie McMenamin

‘Over 1,000 attended a Uniting Ireland conference in Derry’ will read the Sinn Fein press release after yesterday’s event in the Millennium Forum.

The conference (coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday), comes just days after the Sinn Fein led lobby for bringing the 2013 All Ireland Fleadh to Derry successfully won over the Comhaltas organisers (after much wrangling). The internal unease within the north/south split in Comhaltas in Derry and the reversal of the Ulster council’s initial decision, has somewhat tarnished the campaign to bring the Irish music festival into the six counties for the first time.

The stuttered process has provided oxygen for those unhappy with the UK City of Culture title and those opposed to Sinn Fein and the entire political process, including the Real IRA, who are most likely behind the bomb attacks on the City of Culture office (which brought plenty of negative coverage) and Derry City Council’s tourist HQ just last week.

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MLA Twitter list

With more MLAs than ever embracing Twitter, I have compiled a list of the 50 Assembly members to date who have created accounts.

While the 50 accounts may represent less than half of Stormont’s 108 MLAs, it shows an increasing acknowledgement from the political establishment of Twitter as a potentially useful, even powerful means of communication. Particularly in light of the use of the NI Executive Twitter account for releasing the results of the D’Hondt process for the new Executive.

Follow the list here.

Best of frenemies – thoughts on the last four years

I wrote the following after spending the day in Stormont on the last day of term. I intended posting it earlier but after the week that was, it didn’t feel appropriate.

There was a distinct feeling of summer last week as I passed Carson on my way up the long symmetrical road to Parliament Buildings on Stormont’s hill.

It wasn’t just the blue skies, blinding sunshine or the freshly cut green grass, but the distinct atmosphere bouncing around the marble floors and pillars of Stormont’s Great Hall that rang; last day of school. For all intents and purposes March 23 was the end of term at the Assembly, albeit not a school term, but the final sitting of the four year session of the latest incarnation of our local devolved government.

Although for many observers, school is an appropriate enough analogy for Stormont, given the prevailing political immaturity and on the job learning that many MLAs have been cast into. Read more of this post

Fear and loathing once more

It’s difficult to put into words the anger and distress that is emanating from Omagh and the surrounding areas this week.

On Wednesday evening I attended a significant victims conference held in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh that featured Terry Waite, Richard Moore and Baroness May Blood. It was organised by the Omagh Support & Self Help Group (OSSHG), founded in the wake of the Omagh bomb and which has within its membership, 170 victims of the August ’98 atrocity.

Among them is Michael Gallagher, father of Aidan Gallagher, one of the 29 victims. As he took me around the exhibition entitled ‘Remembering the past – Looking to the future ‘, he pointed to the 43 banners on display. Each one carrying the story of 43 people from the last 43 years of our history. I began to read a few.

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Twitter list for the Assembly Election 2011 #ae11

I’ve been working on a comprehensive twitter list as a resource for the upcoming May elections. You can access it here.

Although I’ve called it ‘Assembly Election 2011‘, to keep things straight-forward, I’ve also included local election (#le11) candidates in the list as well.

The list generally includes candidates, party feeds, political staff, commentators and bloggers, but I’m continually adding to the list all the time. Feel free to include your suggestions.

http://twitter.com/AldousDuke/assembly-election-2011

Deeny stands down

West Tyrone’s independent MLA Kieran Deeny is to stand down at the next Assembly election.

Citing “family reasons” and the demanding time schedule he faced performing the role of a practicing GP and Assembly member Dr Deeny said, “It has become increasingly difficult to work even part-time as a GP and as an MLA and do the jobs properly.”

However in announcing his decision, Dr Deeny fired a parting shot at the four main political parties for not backing the hospital campaign in Omagh. While he enjoyed support from individual MLAs, he claimed there was no desire at a leadership level from either Sinn Féin, the DUP, the SDLP or the UUP to back his Tyrone County Health Coalition:

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