Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Saturday, 24 July 2010
His comments were welcomed by the Orange Order and some unionist politicans while others, such as the normally sensible Nick Garbutt in the Newsletter condemned it his opinion piece yesterday 'Flags, Emblems and Ignorance' http://www.newsletter.co.uk/columnists/Flags-and-emblems-and-ignorance.6438266.jp. His argument completely by-passed the possibilities and debate opened up by McDowell's comments, focusing instead in McDowell's starting position of 'republicanism' and the fact that not all Protestant or Unionists are members of the Orange Order. On the former point I think McDowell was engaging in an attempt to reclaim republicanism from Sinn Fein (something that is to be welcomed and indeed the articulation of a 'civic republicanism' is something I support and have attempted to flesh out from a green political perspective in some of my academic writings). On the latter Nick seems to approach the debate about a more inclusive celebration and public acknowledgement of the 'orange tradition' in Ireland, determined from the outset to reduce that tradition to the Orange Order. That was not McDowell's point at all. His references to truly celebrating the 'orange panel' in the Irish Tricolour is, if one reads his speech, is about the 'non-gaelic, non-catholic' tradition on the island of Ireland i.e. that bit which is (take your pick, British, Anglo-Irish, Ulster Scots) and largely located in Northern Ireland. No one, I think, reduces the 'orange panel' to the Orange Order but the call for the celebration of the 12th opens up a debate about the Republic of Ireland becoming more mature and inclusive and living up to the spirit of a republican polity and society in the public acknowledgement of pluralism and diversity (and as indicated below, a recognition of the sectarianism suffered by the Protestant community in the Republic. But more significantly, and taking Nick's point head on, it raises the issue of what the 12th of July celebrations mean for those Protestants and Unionists who are not members of supporters of the Orange Order. It seems to me that this calls for a debate about whether there is a need for another non-Orange Order, non-12th July celebration of Britishness, Anglo-Irishness, Ulster-Scottishness etc? Because at present this public celebration is defined and confined to the 12th July. Thus it is unfair to criticise McDowell for reducing the cultural celebration and public display and acknowledgement of Unionism to the 12th celebrations since there are no other ones currently available. But the main issue is that McDowell should be congratulated not accused of ignorance for starting a long overdue debate on this issue.
My own views are that what McDowell's suggestion opens up is to be first and foremost to be welcomed. If the Republic of Ireland is to live up to its 'republican' (i.e. civic republican) not Irish nationalist character (though of course the latter has historically dominated and coopted the former) then making the 12th July a public holiday in the Republic - or failing that, providing some state-backed i.e. public recognition of it (beyond the President hosting a 'private' reception), has another (in my view) progressive advantage. And that is the acknowledgement within the Republic of Ireland that the Protestant community has suffered sectarian discrimination, marginalisation and unequal treatment since the foundation of the Irish state. That this discrimination was uneven, subtle and did not mirror the levels suffered by Catholics in Northern Ireland, does not in any way undermine the fact that there has been a wall of silence and a refusal within the Republic of Ireland to acknowledge the fact that to think that 'sectarianism' was and is something confined to Northern Ireland in general and is another term for 'anti-Catholic' in particular, was and is simply wrong.
That many within the Protestant community in the Republic quickly realised that to get by within the new state the best course was to 'keep their heads down' is itself evidence of how, to abuse that well-worn phrase and apply it to a different context, the Republic of Ireland was 'a cold house for Protestants'. It is of course for members of the Protestant community in the Republic themselves to articulate the extent to which this was and is the case, and it is good to see that in the last number of years there has been a steady stream of academic research focusing on the sectarianism and discrimination experienced by them.
If we are to build a new relationship between the two parts of the island, the two dominant political and religious traditions (which involves the active seeking to create a more pluralist set of identities upon which to base political interests and politics), then a public debate needs to begin the Republic of Ireland around the claim that it was 'a cold house for Protestants'. This has begun - fitfully - for an example see the exchange between Senator Eoghan Harris and historian John A Murphy on the extent of anti-Protestant discrimination in Cork http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/corks-bloody-secret-a-small-dispute/
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Clearly the Tories don't want any friends paid by the taxpayer (critical or otherwise) while they're running the show (as a rule Tories don't have too many friends...unless the 'market' dictates some 'optimum' number of course). The message is clear, the Tories (despite Cameron's piffle about 'being the greenest government ever') could not give a fuck about the environment, climate change, peak oil, resource depletion, soil fertility erosion or any of the other related newly categorised 'non-problems' the UK faces. Have a problem with the implications of really implementing 'sustainable development'? Well, here's a solution, simply kill the messenger. Power speaks so clearly and eloquently when it organises...in this case organises something 'out' without reason. Why should a reason be given, the fact that the government has spoken and determined that the £3 million saved from the SDC is 'the reason' is sufficient...nevermind that it was one of the few decent initiatives of the previous government in terms of preparing this country for life in the 21st century, that is life in a carbon constrained, climate changed world.
Monday, 19 July 2010
Mission statement of the new Centre
The Centre for Progressive Economics Economic exists to promote an alternative, progressive economics for Northern Ireland and beyond. A range of progressive economists, activists and social policy researchers working in universities, the labour movement and activist research organizations have come together to break the cosy neo-liberal consensus that controls the public debate and dominates economic policy. We have joined forces to ensure that a critical and alternative perspective is heard.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
a Low Carbon Future'.
One of the things we argue for is that the transition to a low carbon economy should not shy about from embracing, accepting and ultimately viewing conflict, debate and disagreement about that transition as negative or worse, to shut up, marginalise or otherwise vilify those who object to the decarbonisation of the economy in general or who raise objections to specific renewable and low carbon energy technologies or initiatives - such as most commonly objections to wind farms. Rather, from a broadly civic republican perspective (which values pluralism and agonistic/respectful democratic disagreement over 'consensus') we suggest that what is required is to move the debate away from a narrow focus on renewable or low carbon energy production (which is sadly the dominant political response). To quote from our conclusion:
"The argument we have outlined is that, by allowing a greater range of options for communities to choose how (but not whether) they ‘do their bit’, changes their incentive structure to allow a greater range of low carbon options to be negotiated in each locality. This requires moving beyond a focus on energy production to include reducing energy consumption, increasing, efficiency and adopting nonenergy carbon options such as ‘green’ waste management, food, transport, housing etc. This would require a major reformulation of the institutions in which energy and development are regulated; for example, changing land use planning to energy descent planning. Indeed, a rethink of the regulatory system is necessary in order to provide the appropriate context for the bargaining we have outlined here, with a need for a nationwide low carbon energy strategy in which communities (spatial or aspatial) know that they must achieve carbon reduction targets, but with a degree of flexibility about how they do this.
This may paradoxically) deliver more renewable energy deployment than one which narrowly focuses on the installation of renewable energy technologies. However, the greater penetration of renewable energy is not the only, or indeed the most, important consideration – it is but one among a variety of means by which the transition to a low carbon economy can be achieved. We need to take a ‘bigger view’ than renewable energy production as the only way in which we can create a sustainable energy future: allowing communities the option, for example, that a sustainable energy future may be one that uses less energy. "
Now yer appetites are whetted, go ye out and buy loads of copies!
"But as oil becomes ever more difficult to extract, and as demand for oil surges in the emerging economies, we need to recognise the dangers inherent in our history of fossil fuel addiction"
Also interesting to note his brazen appropriation of the language of the 'Green New Deal' championed by the Green Party and think tanks such as the new economics foundation.
No mention of peak oil, unlike Eamon Ryan's open acceptance of this as the policy and geological context within which we need to address energy security, and of course nothing about reducing energy consumption. It will be interesting to watch how far each - Huhne and Ryan - can get in their plans for decabonisation of the economy given the constraints each face politically as junior coalition partners in bed with right-wing, non-progressive parties.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
"The deputy leader of Rwanda's Green Party was found murdered yesterday amid a crackdown against opposition organisations before next month's presidential elections. Andre Kagwa Rwisereka's body was found in the early hours on a riverbank, a couple of miles from his abandoned pick-up truck. His head was nearly severed and a large knife was found nearby. The murder followed complaints by senior party officials of death threats, police harassment and intimidation."
Terrible, just terrible...
Thursday, 15 July 2010
On a related point I cycled into work on Monday - the 'Twelfth' as its known here, the main day for the Orange marches and met about four of the them on my 14 mile trip from Bangor to the University - no issues there. But I went to get lunch round the corner from my office in Botanic Avenue - those from norn iron will know - quite an experience...Two drunken young men out of their heads singing sectarian songs (could not make them out they were that drunk but something along the lines of "If you're....you're a taig"), groups of people squatting around drinker export larger and blue WKD, general air of menace about the place. Two PSNI landrovers cruised about, one with a touching (and large) sign which read 'Alcohol may be confiscated'...decisive policing!
Went home late ...mistake, Botanic a sea of druken men and women with the policce trying calmly to contain them, had to pass people blocking the road on Donegall pass, then the stand off at Short Strand where on the other side had to wade through crowds of people - drunk of course- and hoping they would not hear my accent. Welcome to Norn Iron!