Gerry Adams’ “illegal detention” Supreme Court ruling needs correction by Parliament to prevent hundreds of compensation claims

Gerry Adams’ victory in obtaining a Supreme Court ruling against the legality of his detention without trial followed by his escape from the Maze in 1975 has produced serious opposition within the establishment. The ruling rests on a technicality with potentially wide implications, that the interim custody order made against him hadn’t been signed personally by the secretary of state Willie Whitelaw. To a lay person this ruling seems more than slightly bonkers; but its defenders will argue that the …

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Our New Class System During The Coronavirus Pandemic…

The coronavirus pandemic has completely reordered the world as we know it. Simple, everyday things that we took for granted such as shopping or going to the gym or bars have either been taken or been severely restricted for the good of public health. In these restrictions that have become the new normal has emerged a new class system in all societies all over the world: Essential Workers and Shielders. A third group are those who fall somewhere in between. …

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Our own populism holds us back in Northern Ireland

For a part of the world that relies so heavily on compromise to literally allow public administration to function, we don’t do nuance very well. You need only look at the public outcry to the mere suggestion that we may have to pay for our own water back when the New Decade, New Approach deal was agreed as the latest evidence of our own self-defeating populism.  The uncomfortable, and unpopular, truth is that this mindset holds us back in Northern …

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While Trump plays with matches, the USA is a tinderbox…

Before the big pause, I was amazed at how Trump had managed to get through three years of his presidency without any major catastrophes. He has had an entire stream of smaller scandals that would have taken down a less shameless leader but he managed to bumble through. In a strange way, I admire Trump. To be able to look people in the eye and tell such barefaced lies is a real skill. To be caught telling over 5000 lies …

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Is authority split between the UK government and devolved “nations” helping or hindering the management of the pandemic?

Has the management of the pandemic further weakened the Union or behind the political noise, proved that Westminster and the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are essentially working well together?  No doubt an only partly suppressed competition to win credit with the voters at the end of the day is being waged. But cooperation is to an extent made more difficult because the division of responsibilities isn’t always clear. The devolved governments run for example health and education …

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What is justice anyway?

What is justice? The answer might be obvious, but in past Forward Together podcast interviews it has been noticeable that the responses to that question have been inconsistent. While parts of political unionism seem focused on the judicial process for acts going back to the Troubles, the response by some in republicanism has been that the core of justice is about creating a fair society today. Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, tells the …

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What is the evidence for and cost of lockdown?

Many are doubtlessly bored with protracted and pedantic discussions on the rights and wrongs of lockdown as a tool to mitigate Covid19 deaths. No one is dispassionate; we are either for and resistant to opening up or against and demanding our economy and our grannies back. As England moves to lessen restrictions there are concerns from SAGE advisers that now is too early accompanied by a whiff there might be protest resignations from our academic boffins if their views are …

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The COVID-19 R number in Northern Ireland has drifted back up towards 1 since the partial lifting of the lockdown restrictions

The COVID-19 basic reproduction number, or R, has become the most crucial metric for policymakers as they start to tentatively reopen the economy following the lockdown measures that were implemented in March to halt the spread of the disease. Lockdown measures will only be relaxed when the R value is below one. To attempt to calculate the R value for Northern Ireland, I used Imperial University’s EpiEstim app, which provides estimates for the reproduction number from daily case count data …

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Tiochfaidh ar Laugh – A brief history of Irish comedy…

At times like these when so many of us are simply not amused humour can often be the best medicine… After the ground-breaking Father Ted hit our screens a quarter of a century ago, Irish comedy shows tended to keep a low profile within the wider televisual world. However in recent years we’ve had something of a renaissance, now that three Irish comedies have made their mark on UK TV. The most popular of these shows (purely in ratings terms …

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Cancer and Me – A look back with candour…

It’s time. Time to look back with candour on the thirty odd years since my breast cancer diagnosis and time, too, to write it down the way I experienced it, warts and all. But let’s start by getting one thing straight – I have not been on some kind of ‘journey’ cancer or otherwise; nor have I been fighting some almighty battle that is somehow meant to define my strength as an individual. I have simply been getting on with …

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