Last Friday night was quite the occasion over here in Belfast when more than 3000 people came together from all over Northern Ireland and beyond in order to pay their respects to the big man with the once biggest voice in Northern Ireland politics, the Reverend Ian Paisley (85), who has now stood down from the full time ministry.
Whilst the big man may be an established and celebrated/hated figure over here in Ulster, the island of Ireland and in wider political circles, Ian Paisley who has shaped and defined Northern Irish politics for over half a century, may not be so well known to the regular readership of the Huffington Post UK.
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The Catholic Church’s fall from grace in recent years has been anything but low key. Revelations of clerical abuse and cover ups have shaken the church, and its congregation, to its very core. While the cases of Priests carrying out abuse on young members of their diocese is the most sickening aspect of these revelations, it is closely followed by how certain factions of the Catholic Church acted in covering up these incidents. As the world’s largest Christian faith, Catholicism is relied upon by over 1 billion people around the world, and for the most part, it offers genuine solace, reassurance, comfort and support to all its followers, playing a pivotal role in communities all over the world, not least here in Ireland. However, the actions of what are a small minority within the church have lead to worldwide scandals and disgrace.
The arrival of the summer season in Northern Ireland brings with it the high-point of another season – the ‘marching season’. Union Jacks on lampposts, kerb-stones painted red, white and blue, and enormous bonfires, often featuring the Irish tricolour at their peaks; each year throughout the end of June and the beginning of July we witness mass preparations for the 12th July celebrations. ‘The Twelfth’ is a Protestant celebration in which marching bands and Members of the Orange Order commemorate the victory of King William of Orange over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. While on one hand this annual event can be seen as a community-driven and family orientated celebration, from a nationalist point of view it is often considered to be contentious and provocative. Click here to keep reading
When I was growing up my parents always emphasised that getting a good education is what’s most important, a message that in recent times has been somewhat contradicted by our politicians. As universities in England can now charge tuition fees of up to £9000 per year, many potential students feel that they will effectively be priced out of attending the colleges at which they had previously aspired to study. However, while the Cameron-Clegg coalition has raised fee caps in England, the same measures have not yet been taken in Northern Ireland. Click here to keep reading
For many years now Sinn Fein has been intrinsically linked with the IRA. Indeed it is widely recognised that Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein MLA Martin McGuinness is a former IRA leader. Therefore the political involvement of those who once actively supported terrorist organisations is nothing new within the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, while many men and women who were once contributing to the republican armed struggle against British occupation are now fighting their cause through the medium of politics, a recent appointment within Sinn Fein has received almost unanimous condemnation. Click here to keep reading