Shankill welcomes visitors in 20 different languages… but not Irish

MURAL: The unveiling of the new ‘Welcome to the Shankill Road’ mural at the corner of Gardiner Street

A MURAL newly unveiled in West Belfast’s Shankill Road area has raised eyebrows for welcoming people in 20 different languages – but not Irish.

The new ‘Welcome to the Shankill Road’ mural has been painted on a gable wall at the corner of Gardiner Street.

It welcomes visitors to the mainly unionist area in a varied selection of languages including Welsh, Spanish, German, Chinese and Arabic.

Northern Ireland Alternatives, which was involved in the mural’s creation, said it was aimed at an “international audience” to convey a “positive and welcoming message”.

But the mural raised questions after it was pointed out that does not include Irish – the language from which ‘Shankill’ derives its name.

Irish-language advocate Linda Ervine today asked whether a “welcome to Irish speakers” could be added to the mural.

The unveiling of the new ‘Welcome to the Shankill Road’ mural at the corner of Gardiner Street

“I’d like to try and not be negative and hope that the Irish was overlooked and forgotten about rather than deliberately left out,” said Mrs Ervine, a sister-in-law of former PUP leader David Ervine.

“Would there be a small space on the mural where it could now be added by the artist to put out a welcome to Irish speakers?”

Many people online questioned the absence of Irish from the display, which replaced a previous ‘Welcome to the Shankill’ mural.

Sharing images of the new mural online, nationalist political commentator Chris Donnelly tweeted: “Welcome in 20 languages on this mural, omitting the language from which ‘Shankill’ takes its name.

“How utterly depressing. This is where leaders make a difference.”

One Twitter user responded to NI Alternatives asking: “Would Irish tourists be welcome?”

Another internet user described it as a “missed opportunity”.

“What a welcoming gesture it would have been to put ‘failte romhat’ to welcome your neighbour from the next street and across the border – missed opportunity,” they tweeted.

The mural was unveiled last week. Among those who attended was DUP councillor Brian Kingston, who said it was a “pleasure to attend and to help launch the new ‘Welcome to the Shankill Road’ mural”.

Billy Drummond of Greater Shankill Alternatives said the mural was designed by young people and “aimed at an international audience who don’t speak English”.

He told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme he had “no issue with the Irish language” and pointed out that the mural also does not include Ulster Scots.

“It certainly wasn’t intended to insult people for who the Irish language is important,” he added.

Alternatives RJ thanked those who attended the unveiling, but nationalist commentator Chris Donnelly described the mural’s omission of Irish as “utterly depressing”
Shankill is said to derive its name from ‘seanchill’, meaning ‘old church’.

Implementing a standalone Irish language act remains among the main areas of disagreement between Stormont’s political parties in talks to restore the devolved institutions.

Northern Ireland has not had a power-sharing government since the DUP and Sinn Féin-led executive fell apart in early 2017 in the wake of the RHI scandal.

Read more: Linda Ervine: I realised Irish belonged to me – a Protestant – and I fell in love with it

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Brendan Hughes for the original story 

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North of Ireland terror expert predicts bomb ‘spectacular’ by dissidents in Brexit run-up

Ex-RUC/PSNI officer says that New IRA upping the ante

Former RUC/PSNI officer Ken Pennington

An expert in counter-terrorism has warned that dissident republicans are planning a major bomb “spectacular” in the run-up to Brexit.

Ken Pennington also said that between now and October 31 – the UK deadline for leaving the EU – the New IRA may attempt a series of deadly attacks, like the booby-trap device that was planted under a police officer’s car earlier this month.

Mr Pennington, a former PSNI superintendent who served with police for 30 years before moving into counter-terrorism, said the likely target for a lethal explosion was a “major economic hub such as Belfast or Londonderry”.

The retired officer, who helped foil a car bomb attack at Victoria Square in Belfast city centre in 2013, said Brexit was “like the fall of the Berlin Wall on a European scale” which makes it “very significant” for the New IRA.

“The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is a truly international phenomenon,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“There will be protests on the border, which means the world’s Press will descend on Northern Ireland to cover the story, and what does terrorism want? It wants the oxygen of publicity.”

Mr Pennington said incidents like the Bishop Street car bomb in Londonderry in January, the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in the city in April and the attempted murder of a PSNI officer at the start of June show that the New IRA is upping the ante.

He also predicted “a series of attacks in the run-up to and including Brexit Day on October 31, primarily against police – but if they feel the police are too difficult a target, they will move to people associated with police”.

“Certainly over the summer we’ll see a rise in the tempo of dissident terrorist operations,” said Mr Pennington, who fronts The Last Castle, an anti-terrorism and human rights consultancy.

“Then after August, when the nights start closing in, it will be easier for them to mount their operations.”

When asked to define “spectacular”, Mr Pennington said he was talking about “a large vehicle-borne IED [improvised explosive device] in the city centre”.

“They attempted that in Derry at the courthouse at the start of the year,” Mr Pennington said.

“I’ll think they’ll go for a massive bomb in a city centre – in Belfast, Derry or wherever they can inflict the maximum economic damage.

“It’s also about the publicity. They’re going to want this to be somewhere significant. Westminster Bridge happened because it’s Westminster Bridge.”

But he said there could be no real certainty about where the next dissident terrorist strike might be because of certain factors that must be taken into account.

“A terrorist attack has three components: intention, capability and opportunity. Do they want to do it? Have they the means to do it? And is there a chance to do it?

“If you take away the opportunity they’ll move to secondary targets.

“And, of course, minds will be concentrated on the security side and they will be working to prevent something happening, as well.”

Referring to the recent failed booby-trap bomb under the car of a senior off-duty PSNI officer at Shandon Park Golf Club, Mr Pennington said that was typical of the New IRA murder gang’s modus operandi.

“That’s just a given,” he said.

“That could happen any day. That’s what they want to do.

“These people are not large in number – there are less than 400 of them – but an under-car booby trap is a very low-risk attack.

“We’re not dealing with Isis here. They’re not suicide bombers. They don’t want to hurt themselves. They’ll do their hostile reconnaissance, they’ll check if the target is security-aware or not and then they’ll place the device.”

He added: “I see a series of attempts at those from now onwards but I think they’ll be looking towards a spectacular in and around the time of Brexit.”

New fears have emerged that membership of the New IRA is on the rise. At the weekend, Irish security sources, quoted by The Sunday Times, reported that members of a group styling itself Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH) are defecting to them.

The OnH – comprising former members of the Provisional IRA – was responsible for dozens of punishment shootings and attacks on security forces, as well as a spate of terrorist attacks on police in Northern Ireland.

These include d the maiming of Catholic PSNI officer Peadar Heffron, who lost a leg in 2010 after an OnH bomb planted under his car exploded.

Asked about the threat level posed by the New IRA, Mr Pennington said they could prove to be new PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne’s “biggest headache” going forward.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Claire McNeilly for the original story

British Treasury admits it doesn’t know if the North has been in recession

MPs launch inquiry after Chancellor Philip Hammond makes the surprising admission

Chancellor Philip Hammond

The Treasury has no way of knowing whether regions of England are in a recession, Chancellor Philip Hammond has admitted.

He said the Government only collected the relevant data for the UK as a whole – even though there are huge disparities between the economic performance of different parts of the country.

MPs on the influential House of Commons Treasury Committee have now launched an inquiry looking at the failure to collect information about the economies of different regions.

They will ask whether this helps explain why the huge wealth gap between north and south has been allowed to continue.

Committee members include Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell, who said economic differences between regions “have become even clearer” in recent years.

Writing for ChronicleLive, she said: “As the Government Department responsible for increasing employment and productivity, ensuring strong growth and competitiveness across all regions of the UK, it was pretty disconcerting when the Chancellor recently told us the Treasury does not have the data required to measure whether regional economies are growing or shrinking – or perhaps in recession whilst the country as a whole is not.

“In which case, how can we possibly be sure that some parts of the country aren’t being left behind?”

With many thanks to the: Chronicle Live and Jonathan Walker for the original story

Fodor’s Travel removes so-called ‘offensive’ Belfast murals guide

The comment on murals forms part of a wider guide to Belfast

A world-renowned travel guide is to remove content about Belfast murals after it was described as “highly inaccurate and offensive”.

The content on Fodor’s Travel website and in their books on Ireland, said nationalist murals “often aspire to the heights of Sistine Chapel-lite”.

It said loyalist murals “sometimes resemble war comics without the humour”.

The content was also used by Singapore Airlines in their travel guide.

Paramilitary to pop culture- The changing face of Belfast’s murals
The artists claiming Belfast’s streets
Prof Peter Shirlow, head of Irish Studies at Liverpool University, criticised the city guide.

“I found some of the commentary to be offensive, if not sectarian,” he said.

“It plays upon sectarian myths of identity and culture in Northern Ireland and has failed in any way to deal with the murals in ways that is either balanced, appropriate or ultimately fair.”

The guide makes comparisons between murals in loyalist and nationalist areas

In a statement to BBC News NI, Fodor’s Travel said the content has been removed from their website and would be removed from the ebook version of its guide to Ireland within the week.

“We will also ensure that the content is removed and updated for the next print edition of Fodor’s Essential Ireland, which will be released on September 8.

“Fodor’s Travel is always listening to the feedback we receive about our content, and we take action when we’re notified of content that is outdated, inaccurate, or insensitive by updating and/or removing that content.”

Murals on Belfast’s Falls Road. On loyalist murals, the guide said: “Recently, Protestant murals have taken on a grimmer air and typical subjects include wall-eyed paramilitaties perpetually standing firm against increasing liberalism, nationalism and all the other-isms Protestants see eroding their stern, Bible-driven way of life.” Image copyright © PAUL FAITH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The guide described murals in nationalist areas as featuring “themes of freedom from oppression, and a rising nationalist confidence that romantically and surreally mix and match images from the Book Of Kells, the Celtic mist mock-heroic posters of the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, assorted phoenixes rising from the ashes and revolutionaries clad in splendidly idiosyncratic sombreros and bandanas from ideological battlegrounds in Mexico and South America.”

Murals on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast Image copyright © CHARLES MAQUILLAN/GETTY IMAGES

Author and commentator Fionnuala O Connor said the guide had a “republican triumphalist ring to it”, and is “patronising and sneering at loyalists”.

“The idea that loyalists are protesting in defence of a ‘stern, Bible-driven way of life’ has the ring of someone with one eye on an old social history and little to no sense of life now in loyalist districts,” she said.

“It is far from Bible-driven. This is slanted in a way which leaves a sour taste in modern Belfast.

“There’s a nasty edge. Singapore Airlines should ask the writer for their money back.”

This Belfast City centre mural depicts themes of homelessness, Suicide and drug addiction

Referring to the “grimmer air” the airline’s guide stated loyalist murals had taken on, Prof Shirlow said the “reimagining” of Protestant murals had led to fewer paramilitary themes and instead a greater focus on community celebration, gender issues, peace building and “non-sectarian identity tropes”.

“The text is, based upon the evidence that I hold, unacceptable and could potentially facilitate a sectarianised narrative,” Prof Shirlow added.

Fionnuala O Connor said Singapore Airlines should look for its money back

In a statement Singapore Airlines said: “We understand from our in-flight entertainment system providers that the content for the in-flight guide was provided by Fodor’s travel guides for use on board by airlines.

“However, we note your feedback and have gotten in touch with the agencies involved and are taking steps to review the content in the in-flight guide.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI News and Chris Lindsay for the original story

PSNI post picture of ‘bobbies on the beat’ in Creggan – Derry Journal

Loyalism and paramilitarism are two different things, says Jamie Bryson

Jamie Bryson

Loyalism is not a byword for paramilitarism, blogger and commentator Jamie Bryson has said.

And many former paramilitaries are now committed to working for peaceful change in their communities, the loyalist added.

Mr Bryson was responding to points raised by commentators in the Belfast Telegraph last weekend in reaction to his earlier comments on his Unionist Voice website suggesting that Northern Ireland was a cold house for loyalists.

Read More:
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Barrister and former UK Unionist leader Bob McCartney, PUP Belfast councillor Dr John Kyle, author Ruth Dudley Edwards, former SDLP MLA Alban Maginness, historian Philip Orr, commentator and former UUP director of communications Alex Kane, and journalist Malachi O’Doherty contributed to the debate in Saturday’s newspaper.

Writing in today’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr Bryson said: “A number of contributors raised challenges, especially around the perceived linkage with paramilitarism. I would strenuously point out loyalism is not a byword for paramilitarism. The conventional view ignores the reality that many loyalists who had active roles in proscribed groups are now wholly committed to peaceful activism, driving positive transition within their communities.

“I think the language around such transition – such as assertions that groups should ‘disappear’ – puts forward simplistic and unworkable solutions to a complex social problem. Loyalist organisations are made up of human beings who are part of loyalist communities; where is it suggested they should disappear to?

“If persons are bound by a shared history and friendships developed over many decades, how is it proposed that you forcibly decommission people’s minds to break that social cohesion?”

He said the IRA did not disappear: “They simply transitioned their military structures across to political, community and civic activism. There was no such pathway for loyalist combatants, given political parties linked to such groups enjoyed only limited success.”

He continued: “The real challenge is for former armed loyalist groups to dismantle military structures and use the social cohesion that has grown from them to effect positive change.”

Mr Bryson said he wished to challenge the “blanket criminalisation of loyalist communities by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force”. He accused it of “seeing crime and loyalism through the same lens and thus feeding the alienation within sections of the loyalist community”.

He said he supported “the pursuit of all crime” but objected to “attempts to portray loyalism corporately as little more than a criminal enterprise”.

Mr Bryson said Malachi O’Doherty and Ruth Dudley Edwards had made “valid points around internal loyalist suspicion of the media” which must be addressed “in order that we can showcase a confident and a rticulate brand of loyalism”.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story

RUC/PSNI urge NI politicians to settle their differences

The Politicians are not the problem in the occupied six counties of the North it has and always will be the RUC/PSNIJust look at how they treated the two journalists who exposed collusion in the Loughinisland massacre

Police in the North have urged politicians there to settle their differences.

Assembly members should be at Stormont fighting for increased officer numbers and better resourcing, Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said.
Stormont has failed for both sides of the Northern community

The North was left with drift and indecision following suspension of the devolved institutions, Mr Lindsay told delegates attending the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) annual conference in Co. Down. He said: “The job of repairing fences and getting back to legislating and running Northern Ireland should trump all else.

“If politicians are to rebuild public trust and confidence, then they will have to move from narrow, sectional demands and instead consider the greater societal good.

“Settle your differences inside Stormont and not outside it.

It’s time to end shrill megaphone voices for what passes as local political engagement.

“Deliver what people want and what policing and society needs.”

The number of serving police officers in Northern Ireland has declined from 7,195 full-time equivalent in March 2010 to 6,643 in November 2018, the organisation has said.

The force is under severe threat from dissident Republicans who tried to kill an off-duty police officer at a club last weekend (David Young/PA)

Mr Lindsay said the under-car bomb attack was an act worthy of contempt.

He added: “They are bankrupt, heartless, maniacs. Politically irrelevant and deserving only of our condemnation.”

With many thanks to the: Irish Examiner for the original story