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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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

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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Sinn Féin to target four Assembly seats in West Tyrone







Sinn Féin will seek to extend their political dominance in West Tyrone in 2011 by attempting to add a fourth MLA to the three Assembly seats they already hold in the constituency.

Chairman of Omagh District Council Declan McAleer (above right) and Chairperson of Strabane District Council Michaela Boyle (above left) are the two new additions for the 2011 campaign, joining Barry McElduff and Pat Doherty (centre). Strabane based MLA Claire McGill will step down at the next Assembly election on May 5.

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Where’s Jeffrey?

The new series of Reeling in the Years has been taking us through the big news stories of the last decade (and every single reality TV show RTÉ had running that particular year apparently).

The usual fade-to-black depressing section on the North, where the latest atrocity is relived, has been replaced by mind-numbing tedium. As we are taken back through every exhausting staggering step of the process since the turn of the millennium.

Still, it isn’t all bad when you have little gems you had almost forgotten about such as at [1.46] below. With the West Side Story encounter between David Trimble, just about clinging onto his authority as the voice of Unionism versus the still outsider band of rabble-rousing DUP nay-sayers on the streets with Iris in her finery asking David the winsome question: “Where’s Jeffrey?”

The absolute best thing about this video however  is the abject horror on Eamonn Mallie’s face [2.07].

Where was Jeffrey?

They’re not going anywhere you know?

Brian Arthur’s recent Sunday Tribune interview with Suzanne Breen (October 24) has raised some eyebrows among those who aren’t in tune with on-goings in East Tyrone.

Breen claims the split among Republicans in East Tyrone was “previously unreported”, which isn’t strictly true. The following account appeared on Indymedia a year and a half ago, which I blogged about during the build up to this year’s Easter commemorations. The Provisional’s apparent loss of much of its East Tyrone grass-roots support won’t be news either to the 1,000-3,000 (depending on who you listen to) who turned up in Galbally for the Martin McCaughey/Dessie Grew commemoration last month, where Brian Arthur’s and Peter McCaughey made similar comments to those repeated to Breen in the Tribune. (McCaughey and Grew were shot dead by undercover British soldiers in 1990.)

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