Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Peace maker John Hume 1937 - 2020



 Hume died August 2020
‘Until you agree on the problem you can’t agree the solution.’ 

 ‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’
‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘Seamus Heaney.

He was instrumental in the Irish peace process, and won 3 peace awards – The Nobel Peace prize, the Martin Luther king peace prize and the Ghandi peace award. He will be remembered with other peace makers.
He paved the foundations for the peace and the Good Friday agreement, signed in April 1998 and agreed on by two referendums in May1998, which ended the 30 years of the Troubles (1960s – 1990s) Issues relating to sovereignty, civil, and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice and policing were central to the agreement.
There are some visionaries who can see the bigger picture, join up the dots and offer new stories and hopes. John Hume was one. 
My parents were Ulster unionists and I remember well the despair and dreadful violence and indiscriminate killings every day on the news during the troubles. It was a scary time. I remember visiting my family in northern Ireland as a child and returning when I was older when there were army roadblocks and helicopters circling over head. And each day there were more killings. 

Hume saw past all that – past the old sectarian hatreds and divides. 
In the 1980s Hume gave speeches at universities around northern Ireland: at Queens university students union when he would say – 
‘I’m here to make the single transferrable speech.’
The place was packed, and Hume was heckled by both nationalists and unionists. He always had an answer though  ‘This is not a history lesson,' he’d say.’

‘Foxes and hedgehogs know one big thing, we are all different. Diversity is to be celebrated. How does that threaten anyone?’ 
You can’t eat a flag.’
On human dignity – ‘An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’
‘Spill sweat not blood.’
 ‘It not our land, its our people.’

He played better outside than inside the inward-looking, insular Northern Ireland and he knew it was more important to get the message out abroad. He spoke with US President Bill Clinton, about the political process rather than the military one. 

He got both Paisley and Thatcher to agree, he changed minds - and to see Northern Ireland not as an occupied territory, but as one day liberated. 
He asked the UK government, for civil rights and equality, how could they refuse?

It was his peace solution based on the European Union – The European Parliament, the European Commission and European Council. 
John Hume’s speech at the EU Parliament Strasburg – He speaks of the EU’s philosophy of peace and to respect difference. He asks that the EU should send not arms but their philosophy of peace to places of conflict. All conflicts is about seeing conflict, because difference is only an accident of birth. We should respect difference. 

He never held high office but he moved mountains. 
His endless persuasion worked. 
‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’

‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘ poet Seamus Heaney. 


John Hume (1937 – 2020) was an Irish nationalist politician Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland, as one of the architects of  The Northern Ireland Peace process - with the Good Friday Agreement signed April 1998. 
A native of Derry, he was a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP) and served as its second leader from 1979 to 2001. He also served as a Member of the European Parliament, and a Member of the UK Parliament, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history. 
Gerry Adams, John Hume, Bill Clinton, David Trimble

Gerry Adams, Albert Reynolds & John Hume
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement (Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles: a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had been on going since the 1960s. It served as a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s Northern Ireland present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. 
The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve   agreement in order to give effect to it.The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. 
Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble, and also a received both the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. He is the only person to receive the three major peace awards. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history.[5]

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Victimhood in a kilt


**Scottish Cringe
Historian Tom Devine talks of ‘Victimhood in a kilt” – particularly the popular John Prebble books - 
Glencoe, Highland Clearances. 

Not so long ago, and even now, we are told Scotland needs hand outs and is too wee and too poor! It’s a total lie.
But Scots must stop apologising! The Gulf stream makes our weather temperate and our weather (while it may be changeable) is actually better than many places! I lived in Chicago which in winter has15 feet snow drifts and minus 15 degrees wind chill. Some places suffer tornadoes or Tsunamis.

I grew up with the Scottish cringe. ‘Donald where’s your troosers and naff white heather club sashes. Now at Celtic Connections I see respect for our old bothy traditions and Gaelic songs – for our Scottish enlightenment and our innovations.  




We should in fact be proud!  The trouble is our history has been neglected and suppressed , especially over the past decades. In fact we’ve been told lies and disinformation. 

People in Northern Ireland know about England’s rivers but not about the rivers in Ireland. The Irish were told it was the Scots who murdered when an independence and reform uprising in Wexford in 1798. So then fifty years later Irish troops were used for the Highland Clearances when the people were chased off their lands and put on ships to Canada. 




Saturday, 5 October 2019

Bonnie Greer on Question Time spoke some Home truths!

Bonnie Greer on Question Time – spoke some Home truths! 

Bonnie Greer on BBC Question Time – spoke some Home truths! 
First of all , she said, "‘Ireland owes this country nothing, the UK doesn’t own Ireland. It is not a play thing for the UK. Ireland is Europe." 
Second. "’The US is Irish. There will be trouble with the US if the UK thinks it can mess with Ireland. I’m from Chicago, you must understand on St Patricks day the river there is green!"

She spoke a few home truths to people with closed minds – to people who really need to hear.
I often watch BBC question time each week with some trepidation, of the small minded, insular and ignorance often displayed, both by the audience and by the panel. 
What a breath of fresh air she was



She put journalist Melanie Phillips in her place too.
Bonnie Greer attended the Edinburgh book festival in 2014 – she is an American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, who has lived in the UK since 1986. She is the Chancellor of Kingston University in Kingston upon Thames, London.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Fintan O'Toole Heroic Failure, Edinburgh book festival 2019


The theme this year was – We need new stories. 
One of the most original voices I’ve read in recent years over the present political madness of Brexit, is Irish Times writer Fintan OToole. 

His event at eibf sold out instantly when tickets went on sale - so I was surprised when I joined the long queue to see him, that he was doing his talk in the small Spark tent on George street – rather than the main New York Times tent. 

I am presently reading Fintan O’Toole’s book, Heroic Failure, on the Brexit carry on, and what an excellent story teller he is in his well researched tale. 

He feels Brexit is not essentially about the EU at all, but a British existential crisis. 

Things are badly off kilter and we certainly need well researched and original new voices.


Monday, 31 December 2018

The year of Young People

This is the year of young people – so I want to include quotes from some.

Questions is Ireland – I believe a youth forum should put forward their views - why should those over 70 year olds be deciding their futures in our fast changing world?

‘I want to own my music.’

Mhairi Black
‘Westminster is a private club masquerading as a parliament.’
‘Democracy only works when there is education beside it.’

Was the 2016 Brexit vote merely an opinion poll? Yes people want change – but perhaps rather than ripping ourselves out the worlds most successful trading block
What we really need is - a new , representative voting system, a constitution, real local accountability 

‘Your story is now a part of our story.’ Ireland welcomes immigration to keep faith with home cultures and to be sure to share them with new neighbours. 


Poet James Hogg wrote of the 1707 Union, 

"Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish both sides the Tweed. "
Both Sides the Tweed

So authentically sung by traditional Scots singer Dick Gaughan. May we all learn to work together - harmony, peace, friendship, honesty ... with more informed decision making. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Year of Young People 2018

SCOTTISH YOUTH THEATRE
There will be programs and festivals to celebrate young people's voices this year.
I attend Celtic Connections festival every January in Glasgow and enjoy the diverse mix of cultures and music. One of the most interesting aspects is the platform the festival offers young emerging talent –

*The young musicians who drew attentions this year –  Talisk, Siobhan Miller, Siobhan Wilson, Friel Sisters,  Rura, Alasdair Roberts, Kathryn Joseph, Misha Macpherson. Elephant sessions, Saltfishforty.I have also been reading of the backward looking Brexit nonsense – young people did not vote for these poorer futures – 16 and17 years olds were not allowed to vote in the 2016 referendum.

It’s a tough world for young people these days. Many have no prospects of ever owning their own home or ever having a pension. I worry many are distracted by online game playing too! MEANWHILE many pensioners spend their massive drop downs on holidays and renovating homes. The UK depends on this false London housing bubble that will surely burst.

With Brexit there are very serious issues over the Northern Ireland border and Scottish rights. I read of a British/Irish Convention which sat 10 years ago, which addressed questions such as the Irish language. There is talk of holding another convention over the question of a hard border. Westminster purposes an electronic border but is this really workable?

My first thought was - bring in the teenagers, students, twenty year olds to discuss what kind of future they want. There is far too much emphasis on what the old want, and it is not their futures.

This could most certainly is not be about out dated empire building or 300 year old European religious wars. Many young people are very angry and their futures are being neglected by selfish baby boomers and their large drop downs.   
Our links to Europe – There are the great European literary traditions from Greece to Rome, to the Renaissance through the Reformations. 

The latest Brexit is that May wants to leave the EU customs union and single market – in order to join a new EU customs non -frictionless trade arrangement where the UK can make their own rules on certain things and abide by the EU rules on others? First we’re in Europe with Opt Outs now out of Europe with Opt Ins! What’s really going on. Scotland never voted for this foolish Brexit, it makes me angry and sad. 

 SAVE SCOTTISH YOUTH THEATRE - http://scottishyouththeatre.org/support-us/
Apparently the significant Scottish Youth theatre is to loose its funding., in the Year of Young People. 


‘We need to remind ourselves that,  as Europe is a whole (and still, in it progressive mutilation an disfigurement, the organism out of which any world harmony must develop) so European literature is a whole, the several members of which cannot flourish, if the same blood-stream does not circulate throughout the whole body.

The blood-stream of European literature is Latin and Greek – not as the systems of circulation, but a one, for it is through Rome that our parentage in Greece must be traced.’   TS Eliot lecture to Virgil society 1944
  

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Irelands Road to Freedom



Act of Union between Ireland and England 1801.

Easter Rising 1916, Irish Free State.

Thirty Years of Troubles Northern Ireland with a great deal of violence  - 1960s – 1990s.

Northern Irish Peace Agreement - (1998) - The Good Friday Agreement Belfast April 1998. (Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta) –  Northern Ireland system of devolved government is based on the agreement - created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and Ireland - and between the Ireland and the UK.  
It was clear to me, having Irish parents, that during the Brexit debates that no attention was paid to the Irish dilemma over the EU customs and trading union. Just like Scotland, Ireland was a mere after thought. No one in Ireland wants a return to a hard border – there are always nutters on either side just looking for an excuse. Why should Ireland give up its peace and prosperity? Ireland is crucially split on ancient religious grounds
Scotland too has opposite needs to England – our farming is mostly hill rather than arable; our fishing rather than cars is a major concern; we want to welcome young immigrant workers to grow our economy and support an older population; Scotland wants to pursue progressive socialist policies to work for a more socially inclusive nation – where England wants to be a low regulated, low wage economy like a new Singapore. (which is unacceptable for the EU).
AND on a personal note. My parents were from Co Down and Belfast and I visited there every summer from Scotland. I understand the deep divisions and problems there (unlike many London politicians). These divisions will not be easily healed. And I feel extremely angry at the thought that some feel a hard border is an answer there – just because of this crazy Brexit. Brexit is about looking backward.  While my husband's father came form Kilkenny in southern Ireland.

A hundred years ago Ireland embraced its rich heritage and culture – and developed its own identity again. Many had to die so Ireland could achieve self government. I hope Scotland can achieve this dream too – peacefully and through informed debate for a healthier partnership with its larger partner England. Scotland is often an after thought
England has pursued a policy of over-centralised government for more than a century, particularly during the wars and then complains of too many immigrants! By contrast European parliament encourages healthy regionalization and encouraging regional language. Why is wanting more local government against the national interest? In fact the UK is the most lop-sided geographically unbalanced major country in the world!

The great poet WB Yeats, was persuaded to write on the old Irish  songs, heritage and ballads, at the same time he lived in London and was before this part of the Anglo-Irish group who dominated Irish politics.
After the hangings of the Irish rebels in the Easter rising Yeats wrote -
his poem 'Easter 1916' 
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly: (YB Yeats)

The Northern Ireland peace process is often considered to cover the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army ( IRA) ceasefire and the end of the violence Troubles, and the Good Friday Agreement 1998.
Issues relating to Sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, justice and policing. The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. The British-Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999.  The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.

Ultimately between Scotland and England - a good partnership for trade, security, environment. and defence.. rather than control from Westminster

The European countries are committed firstly to Peace and Prosperity – any other consideration is secondary. Ireland exemplifies and tells us the real UK conflict. Also that harmful over centralization in the south east.
Why should Peace and Prosperity be sacrificed by Scotland, the EU or Ireland just to suit some backward looking Tory politicians we have not voted for?


Monday, 30 October 2017

Dougie MacLean at Milngavie folk club


‘Dougie captured the mood with his embracing warm and spiritual voice’

He has become something of a legend for many in Scotland and his songs have deep connections to the land. Dougie grew up in Perthshire where he now runs the MacLean Perthshire Amber festival – his grandfather was a shepherd and his father a gardener. Both his parents taught him the love of music – his mother played melodeon and his father fiddle. His family came from Mull, where they were crofters. Dougie now runs the old school both he and is father attended, as his studio.

For his first set he sang songs from his new album, 'New Tomorrow’ along with older favourites -   
‘Shadow of the Mountain’, ‘Talking with my Father’ when he spoke of his father walking over the moors to school. He spoke of his travels to gig at many far flung places. He sang of the ‘Singing Land’ (Shine on Your Singing Tree), 'Holding On', 'Feel So Near', and 'Holding Back'.

And a moving song too to his grandson ‘New Tomorrow’ with the words – If time will be our friend / I’ll help you to defend/ Your new tomorrows. If fear should enter in /You’ll find me hiding in the wings / Ever near you.

He sang ‘Broken Wings’ at the start of his second set and ‘Child of this Place.'  We all sang along to - Will you Catch me if I’m Falling ‘On This Wild and Windy Night’, Dougie enthusiastically encourages his audience to sing his choruses.His songs are often poignant and tender. And we sang his well loved 'Caledonia’, and ‘She Loves me when I’m Gone’. 

His Encore song was ‘This Love will Carry me.' 


His ’Caledonia’ has become part of Scottish culture – and is sung at weddings, major events and played at the Edinburgh Tattoo. He wrote this song while on a French beach and thinking of his Scottish homeland. He is also a passionate supporter of freedom for Scotland. One fan spoke of the emotions at Stirling castle Hogmanay event a few years ago when Dougie played Caledonia at the new year and hoped that Westminster might hear the singing!

Dougie knows the beauty of keeping things simple – with catchy choruses and also hidden depths.

the Friel Sisters
 *He was ably supported by the award-winning and talented Friel Sisters – whose roots are in Ireland’s Donegal. They included a quality guitarist from Japan.