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Monday, 28 August


Katja Kipping at DiEM25's "Next Stop 2019?" "IndyWatch Feed"

A Europe that excites people would be one that aims to be a well balanced economy rather than one that's focusing on competition. 

A Europe that excites people would be one that aims to be a well balanced economy rather than one that's focusing on competition. Because the thing about competitiveness is that we understand that - in the whole world - only a few countries can be particularly competitive. The whole world cannot be more competitive than itself.

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EU Commission White Paper Scenario Five "IndyWatch Feed"

Scenario Five: Doing Much More together

The final scenario is the most ambitious laid out in the white paper. By pursuing the fifth scenario, the EU27 would agree to do much more together across all policy areas. This would involve member states pooling together their resources, power and decision-making capacity, in every facet of governance. Consequently, decisions are made much faster, while their implementation is rapidly enforced. This would facilitate cooperation on a level that has not been seen before. Similarly, the Eurozone receives a considerable boost, as there is a joint understanding that whatever decisions benefit the members involved in the common currency, will be beneficial for all the EU27.

Looking to the future, 2025 will see a much more unified continent. The white paper describes significant advantages to following scenario five. The EU negotiates trade deals with one voice and is represented by one seat, while the European Parliament has the final say on any new trade deals. With regard to foreign policy, the scenario provides the EU with a single agreement on positions, ultimately leading to a common defence union being created, while cooperation on security issues is routine. As with scenario four, the common foreign policy produces a single migration policy in Europe.

Scenario five pays significant attention to the economic benefits of pursuing a unified EU. Increased investment in research and development results in the emergence of several silicon valleys, within the EU27. Further investment produces new economic opportunities for nations and businesses, allowing the EU to tackle unexpected or irregular crises that arise and challenge the Union. Similarly, the Single Market is strengthened and deepened to include energy and digital services.

A fully integrated finance system allows for the easy flow of capital across the EU27, completing the goal of this aspect of the Single Market. Moreover, greater cooperation on fiscal policy and taxation finally reaches the point of economic and fiscal union. This would be supported by an EU body to offer supervision of financial services for Eurozone countries and any other member state that wants to avail of the oversight. Additional EU funding would also be made available for financial support for any of the EU27 experiencing economic difficulties.

The final scenario also gives the EU greater ability to continue and potentially enhance our leadership on global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. Furthermore, decision-making at the EU level becomes quicker and more effective. Citizens enjoy more rights and in a more balanced manner, across the Union. However, this level of integration could indeed spark a backlash from nationalist parties within the EU. They would likely argue that t...


Misogyny bullying and brutal violence; what is there to worry about in the Middle East? "IndyWatch Feed"

My eldest daughter, a primary school teacher, returns to Qatar this weekend as do hundreds of young people from these shores supporting the education systems across the Middle East.  With developments over the summer I felt anxious as we said our farewells; she was sanguine as young people are.  Having left the Emirate in June just after the borders and airspace were closed, and sanctions imposed by a coalition cobbled together by Saudi Arabia, no fresh chicken or milk were her only inconveniences.  And anyway she assured me this happened before and it was quickly resolved.

While the Gulf nations slumbered in the overpowering heat of their summer, Saudi Arabias resolve to cower its smaller neighbour with thirteen demands did not diminish nor did Qatars resistance to be censured.  This is a family dispute make no mistake and it could turn nasty quickly.

In the first months of 2012 I travelled across this region.   I find travel and experiencing other cultures always exciting and exhilarating but Saudi Arabia was a shock.  It stood out starkly in its extremes and my two week stay in the Kingdom proved a lonely and dispiriting experience.

A kindly Egyptian named doctor was assigned to look after me.  From Saudi Arabia, we travelled together onto; Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and finally Qatar.  Aware that I was entering a different cultural zone I telephoned in advance to ask him what I should and should not do.   Dr Terry, he confided, do as you are and do what you want and I only give one piece of advice; do not attend Friday beheadings in Riyadh.  An American colleague had done this and two years later was still paying for the psychotherapy.

Just before our half-fully BA flight into Riyadh landed all women passengers disappeared into the toilets and came out dressed in black head to toe.  At immigration, after a considerable wait, I had my palms and finger prints recorded on a computer screen by an indifferent young soldier who avoided eye contact yet during my processing engaged in horseplay with his colleagues at one stage throwing a heavy stamper across his kiosk striking it off the wall.

I was detained without explanation in a glass cubicle and waited for two hours.  During this time an Indian worker, one of a few hundred being processed through another section, was dragged into the room and while being held by two young soldiers sustained a number of severe facial punches from a senior official.  He lay unconscious for some time on the ground bleeding from nose and mouth before being taken away by colleagues.

My handprint it seems could not be confirmed by the London Embassy as the computer server was down.  I was eventually let go; met my driver who already had my luggage and I was soon at my hotel a palatial building with a stunning inlaid marble foyer and a calm serene ambience. When I...


Show me the money: the fight for funding and accountability for womens rights "IndyWatch Feed"

Aid donors, governments and the United Nations have made many commitments to gender equality. Their actions have been less impressive.

Former UK development secretary Justine Greening with youth activists. Former UK development secretary Justine Greening with youth activists. Photo: Flickr/DFID UK Department for International Development. Creative Commons (CC by 2.0). Some rights reserved.Across United Nations programmes, gender equality is vastly underfunded. When the UN Women agency was created in 2010, activists estimated that it needed at least a $1 billion budget (for comparison, total revenue for the childrens agency UNICEF was over $4.8 billion in 2016). 

Several years on, and donors have consistently failed to meet this target. UN Womens total revenue for 2016 was under $335 million. 

Aid donors have repeatedly committed to whats called mainstreaming gender across various global development efforts (to assess all policies, at all levels, for their different impacts on women and men). But their records are disappointing.

For example: In 2013 and 2014, only 24% of international aid for economic and productive sectors (including public financial management and urban development) went to projects listing gender equality as a specific objective. Just 2% was spent on projects where womens economic empowerment was the primary goal.

Civil society organisations are receiving more money for gender-related work, but direct funding for womens rights organisations still comprises a...


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What to #20YearRule papers tell us about gender balance in public appointments? "IndyWatch Feed"

A Department of Economic Development file DED/3/466A [selective scan] now released under the 30/20 Year Rule contains its preparations for inclusion in the 1989/1990 annual report of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The figures pertain to the gender balance of the 50 public bodies for which DED was responsible.

In 1990, nine DED bodies had no members at all.

Only a quarter of those that were not dormant had 1 or more woman appointed.

In total, women accounted for just 1 in 6 of the membership (128 of the 765 appointments).

These were just the figures for DED and I couldnt quickly turn my hand to the Equal Opportunities Commission annual report for the overall picture across all departments.

The Office of First Minister and deputy First Ministers annual report for 2014/5 on public bodies and public appointments reveals that as well culling many of these bodies the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment was now responsible for just four the gender balance had improved, though had not reached parity.

Of those four bodies, women now made up 31.7% of membership, nearly double the proportion in 1990.

Looking wider than DETI, women made up 38% of the public appointments made through OFMdFM (figures for 31 March 2015) though just 22% of chairs of bodies were female....


If not here, then where? On Douglas Ross' war against the Gypsy/Traveller community in Moray "IndyWatch Feed"

The new Tory MP for Moray has long sought to crush one of the most persecuted ethnic groups in his constituency.

Douglas Ross MP and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson MSP. Image, Moray Conservatives, fair use.

If you were prime minister for the day, without any repercussions, what would you do?  I would like to see tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers [sic]. ~ Meet the MPs, Core Politics Douglas Ross    

The lexicon of solution groups is not new. As history demonstrates, solutionists have always been amongst us, always in search of problem groups to scapegoat or further a party agenda as Hitler did.  

Europes Roma and Sinti people (Gypsies) were targeted by the Nazis for total destruction. [] Upward of 200,000 Roma and Sinti were murdered or died as a result of starvation or disease. Many more were imprisoned, used as forced labour or subject to forced sterilisation and medical experimentation. [] In June 1936, a Central Office to Combat the Gypsy Nuisance opened in Munich and later that year, Berlin police were given the authority to conduct raids against Gypsies so that they would not mar the image of the city as the host of the summer Olympic Games.

Douglas Ross interview with Good Morning Scotland (25th August) did little to redeem his statement. Whilst apologising for saying that would be a number one priority as prime minister he went on to state that [roadside encampments] are a blight on our community and current laws and protections make it difficult to get get rid of them. We must assume then that calling for tougher enforcement against Gypsy/Travellers was not a slip of the tongue response during a quick fire question and answer session but rather was a topic at the forefront of his mind.                                                     &nbsp...


Border passes: MOD keen but forces in NI say its a positive asset to the IRA #20YearRule "IndyWatch Feed"

A briefing ahead of a meeting of the NI Secretary of State and the Defence Secretary on Wednesday 15 March 1989 assessed the issue of Border Passes and ID Cards. There is nothing new under the sun as the writer of Ecclesiastes might remind those considering a hard border as part of the Brexit negotiations.

The information is contained in the NIO/10/9/5 file [selective scans] recently declassified under the 30/20 Year Rule and now available to read in the Public Records Office.

The Secretary of State Tom King recognised that any attempt to introduce an ID card scheme in Northern Ireland is likely to present serious political, presentational and, even perhaps security problems. But he had yet to report these conclusions to the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The briefing explained that the Secretary of State sees no merit in a voluntary scheme as an aid to improved security in the Province and accepts that a compulsory scheme applying only in Northern Ireland might bring some security benefits but is not a practical proposition.

The ID Card scheme remained on ice. But while the lesser Border Pass scheme was a brainchild of the MOD in London, there was no enthusiasm from 3 Brigade in Northern Ireland nor from the Chief Constable who sees a pass scheme as a positive asset to the IRA.



Needham: Belfast is hobbling along in real danger of being left behind "IndyWatch Feed"

Speaking to me last night about the transformative effect of the Tall Ships visiting Belfast back in 1991, Sir Richard Needham reflected on Belfast today in 2017.

Im very worried about it now as its starting to miss out on all sorts of fantastic opportunities. He compares Belfast with Bristol (a city close to his old constituency).

Bristol now has half the number of kids on free school meals that Belfast has, so that gives you an indication of the difference in wealth between the two cities. Bristol is now one of the most exciting, forward-looking, smart cities of the 21st century and Belfast is hobbling along a long way behind. And thats not because it doesnt have people who are clever or enthusiastic within the City Council [but] it doesnt have a government.

He highlighted the layers of government MPs, Stormont, Belfast Council and the surrounding councils.

What Belfast requires in my view is it needs a metropolitan mayor, which is quite difficult because of the problems of power sharing. But you could need somebody with a cabinet who has major responsibility. Belfast should be part of the northern powerhouse. If you look now at whats happening in places like Leeds, Glasgow and Bristol and Manchester, Belfast is in real danger of being left behind.

Although having said that, it is still an incredible city. Its still got wonderful life and vitality. Its got very bright young people Belfast should be aiming to become a world class city, but if it doesnt have the right imagination and leadership its very difficult to see how thats going to happen.

But he says that Direct Rule is absolutely not the answer.

Theyd be frightened of upsetting anybody so they wouldnt do anything, I dont think thats the solution at all. I think Brexit is an utter disaster. Its a disaster more for the island of Ireland than it is for the English but the English have shot themselves in every part of their anatomy and theyre going to have to live with the consequences. It is not good news.

And the politicians in Northern Ireland are playing party politics and that does not help the economic social development of the city. Its easy for me to say that because Im not a politician in Northern Ireland, but thats the reality.


Tall Ships 1991 great spectacularity that could have turned M2 into a carpark #20YearRule "IndyWatch Feed"

The Tall Ships first visited Belfast between 23-27 July 1991, with US broadcaster Walter Cronkite sent over to cover the story as well as the BBCs Harry Secombe. The Balmoral Show and Ideal Home Exhibition were probably the largest events in Northern Ireland at that time.

The then Junior Minister, Richard Needham, saw the maritime festival as an opportunity to show the world there was another side to Belfast. It also attracted many local people back into Belfast city centre after years of avoiding it during the height of the Troubles.

A week or so ago I spent a couple of hours in the Public Records Office reading through a government file ENV/45/1 [selective scans] about preparations for the Tall Ships event while previewing the papers released last Friday under the 30/20 Year Rule. It brought back memories of being taken as a teenager to the undeveloped Belfast Harbour area for the first time and pushing through the throngs as we walked up the long quayside to look at the sailing ships.

I spoke to the former Northern Ireland Minister Sir Richard Needham last night and he described the summer 1991 Tall Ships event as the culmination of a year long programme of events to celebrate the rebirth of Belfast.

Hed inherited a regeneration plan from his predecessor Chris Patten, and the strategic concept was to redevelop Belfast and make it modern, exciting, well designed, centre. Richard Needham used to quip that the plan was to get everybody to come and work in the city centre, shop in the city centre, eat in the city centre and then go home and make love to each other.

It was to create a place of hope a...


The Native American casualties of US immigration policy "IndyWatch Feed"

The O'Odham nation lives on both sides of the US-Mexican border, and for that they are persecuted.

My name is Ophelia Rivas, but my family knows me as Ilya. You know, the place where I come from is beautiful land. We've lived there for centuries and we have a way of life that we've followed for all those years. We continue parts of it right now, but the political effects that are imposed on our people because of these borders are greatly impacting our people.

After 9/11 the world discovered that there was the O'Odham nation, which is the second largest reservation in the United States after the Navajo. These reservations are considered concentration camps of the indigenous people in the United States. Our traditional lands are divided into different political boundaries. Less than one-third of our lands are now cordoned off, like a concentration camp.

We have three main roads that exit our reservation. Each of those exits have a border patrol checkpoint. We have to declare what citizens we are, on our own lands whether we're US citizens or Mexican citizens. I have resisted throughout my life, so I always say I am O'Odham, and we're on O'Odham land. I receive different responses to that. Sometimes I'm pulled into a secondary checkpoint and held there for hours, and have a drug-sniffing dog put into my car.

They held a gun to my head and asked me to say whether I was a US citizen or Mexican citizen in front of my daughter and my grandson.

There are different attacks on our people. My young friend who's travelling with me today, I remember his mother was nursing a baby. She was laying on a mat on the floor when border patrol came into the house, and instead of looking elsewhere they were looking for undocumented people  they shined their flashlight at her breast. What kind of human does that to another human to try to degrade them, in a way that is inhuman?

One of the things that happened to me was when they held a gun to my head and asked me to say whether I was a US citizen or Mexican citizen in front of my daughter and my grandson. It had a traumatic effect on my grandson for many years. The little boy used to run around making a pistol with his fingers, because that's what he saw that day. There are different extreme acts of violence and extreme aggression that have happened to not just me, but to every single person on the reservation where I come from.

My father's community is 15 miles south of that arbitrary border. Throughout my life, I've crossed that border back and forth to my father's community and my mother's community for differen...

Humanitarian citizens: breaking the law to protect human rights "IndyWatch Feed"

When states criminalise help, is it a sign of active citizenship to disobey?

Sleeping on the streets of Paris. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.

This article draws on research that will be presented at the European International Studies Association Pan-European Conference on International Relations in September 2017.

As part of the European Unions crackdown on irregular entry and smuggling of migrants and refugees, laws criminalising actions that facilitate the irregular entry, movement, or stay of foreigners have been enforced against those providing humanitarian assistance. Ongoing research at the United Nations University Institute on Globalisation, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM) examines how citizens are expressing solidarity with migrants by violating laws that criminalise humanitarian assistance. In doing so, these citizens are actively remaking their relationship to the state, challenging the notion of citizenship as a bounded legal category based on national identity in favour of an active form of citizenship as a practice of human solidarity.

In the Roya Valley, along the French-Italian border, citizens are actively contesting these laws through actions that assist migrants, and several court cases have been brought against them. Cdric Herrou has become the most visible face of the movement Roya Citoyenne, and numerous other individuals throughout the Roya Valley have become unlikely activists because of their assistance to migrants. For them, these activities began as a moral imperative to assist people in need and have evolved into political convictions against the governments restrictive policies on migration.

Activities which began as a moral imperative to assist people in need have evolved into political convictions against the governments restrictive policies on migration.

The actions of Herrou, Roya Citoyenne, and other grassroots groups in the region have much popular support, but have also met with political resistance and legal action. Breil-sur-Roya, where Herrou has hosted over 200 migrants on his farm, is a strongly polarised part of France. In...


American idiot: rethinking anti-intellectualism in the age of Trump "IndyWatch Feed"

Trust in expert knowledge is declining, but what does that mean for democracy and social justice?

March for science in Melbourne, Australia on Earth Day, April 22 2017. Credit: By Takver from Australia, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

On my arrival in the United States I was surprised to find so much distinguished talent among the subjects, and so little among the heads of the Government. Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835.

We may fairly assume that Tocqueville, the famous French historian, would be even more surprised if he were to visit America today. The 45th President, Donald Trump, has made no secret of his disdain for learning and specialized knowledge, sneering at a campaign rally in 2016, You know, Ive always wanted to say thisIve never said this before with all the talking we all do, all of these experts, Oh we need an expertthe experts are terrible!

Such comments provide ample fodder for Tom Nichols topical and engaging new book, The Death of Expertise. For Nichols, the anti-intellectual strain in the U.S. has transmuted into an arrogant contempt for intellectual authority due to major shifts in education, journalism, and the media and political environments. Taken together, he claims, these shifts have driven American democracy to the brink of authoritarian populism.

A professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and a former political adviser, Nichols argues that the country has shifted from a healthy skepticism of accepted knowledge to a proud, self-satisfied ignorance and active hostility to the very idea of expertise. Across American society, intellectual authority is resented, resisted and disregarded, with every opinion ostensibly holding equal weight.

This leveling of viewpoints has been accelerated by digital technologies and platforms, which have further lowered the barriers to participation, opening the floodgates to those without the requisite educational backgrounds and professional credentials. As Nichols puts it...

Sunday, 27 August


#CinemaDay17 screenings of At the Edge of the Union and Death on the Rock "IndyWatch Feed"

Cinema Day runs every year on the August bank holiday Monday. FilmHubNI puts on a feast of free or greatly reduced events to tempt you in to celebrate the rich local heritage of film-making, venues and subjects. Cinema Day 2017 screenings are spread far beyond Belfast, so check the programme for something local to you.

Two controversial TV documentaries are being shown in the Black Box Green Room on Monday evening at 7.30pm.

Real Lives: At the Edge of the Union was a BBC documentary for the Real Lives strand that offered a window into the lives of two politicians: Martin McGuinness and Gregory Campbell.

Given Prime Minister Margaret Thatchers declaration only a month before that the IRA should be starved of the oxygen of publicity, Home Secretary Leon Brittan said that broadcasting the programme would be against the national interest and wrote to the BBC Chairman asking for the programme to be cancelled.

On top of attempted political censorship by the government, the BBC Governors called an emergency meeting, decided to view the programme and then ruled that it could not go out. The dominoes started to fall. BBC staff striked. The Assistant Director-General said the Governors were to the BBC what the iceberg was to the Titanic and the programme was later broadcast.

A BBC history page reminds us that as a result of this chaos, Leon Brittan was demoted, and Alasdair Milne, the BBC...


Abby Martin Exposes Zionism & Israel "IndyWatch Feed"

Ive said all Im ever going to say about Israel & their evil, brutal occupation of the Palestinians. This 25 minute clip featuring the great Abby Martin says it all. She recently went out there so its from the horses mouth. If theres any video you need to share here it is              


Call for submissions: Listening to Libya - Intervention and its aftermath "IndyWatch Feed"

NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us.

Explosive Remnants of War in post revolution Libya. Picture by United Nations Development Programme / Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved. During the month of September, North Africa West Asia (NAWA) is calling for submissions and pitches on Libya.

Since the beginning of the Libyan uprising and especially with the military intervention that led to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a ghost haunting any discussion of internationalism in Syria, and as primary evidence of western conspiracies for regime change. While much is discussed about Syria, very little has been heard from Libyans and Libya outside of the simplified dichotomy that we see in mainstream media. While indeed part of the story of Syria is located in Libya, the latters story is crucial to be told for its own sake.  

NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us. Though many foreigners have studied and written on Libya, we aim to bolster the voice and experience of Libyans for this series.

Our focus will be on the call for and the aftermath of intervention. How has the Libyan uprising altered internationalism and what is happening in Libya in the aftermath of the intervention?

You can submit your pitches or texts (50 to 100 words) and / or reading suggestions to

Country or region: 
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In this awful priest ridden country they still managed to build good houses for working people "IndyWatch Feed"

In an interview in todays Sunday Business Post the writer Roddy Doyle discusses the homeless situation in Dublin:

It is the thing I feel ashamed of, more than anything, as a citizen. Somehow or other in the 1950s and 1960s, in this awful priest ridden country that we used to live in, they still managed to build good houses for working people, and there wasnt a penny in the country. Now it seems beyond the means. We cannot supply housing to people who need it. Its appalling.

The story goes on to say:

Around 7,000 people are homeless in Ireland. Close to 30% of those are children. Almost one in five homeless people are in employment.

In related news, the Inner City Helping the Homeless launches its #mynameis campaign to highlight the issue of homeless children. In one video clip we see David a 9-year-old boy with cerebral palsy struggle to climb the stairs of his B&B accommodation.

The issue is homelessness has been a national disgrace for years. A country that cant house its own children has no moral core.


Is Labours dramatic shift on Brexit at the top of a slippery slope to remaining within the EU? "IndyWatch Feed"

Stand by for a round of attacks by the Tories on Labour for their dramatic shift to a clearer Brexit policy of remaining within the single market and the customs union for a time as short as possible, but as long as is necessary.  But behind the sound and fury, look carefully too for signs of a split or   nuances within Conservative ranks.

More than ever, Brexit will either become the clear differentiator between the two main parties or create a smash in British politics with unpredictable results. The British political system is plunged deeper into its greatest turmoil since the Peoples Budget and Home Rule crises from  1910, aggravated today by the fact that both party leaders are seen as transitional figures.

Labours shift announced today by shadow Brexit secretary Keith Starmer in the Observer has its own risk of underplaying the immigration factor said to feature strongly in some Labour heartlands.

But as short as possible but as long as necessary contains  its own constructive ambiguity. How long is that? And then there the slippery slope argument which Remainers will seize on.

Responding to Sir Keirs announcement, Labour peer and former minister Lord Adonis said on Twitter: Chances of staying in the EU just rose to nearly 50%. Rejoice, rejoice!

Starmer argues:

There is now near consensus that a transitional period is an economic and political necessity. So I want to be absolutely clear about the type of transitional deal Labour would seek to negotiate. No constructive ambiguity. No mixed messages. A credible solution to one of the most important issues facing Britains exit from the EU.

Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both.

There are a number of other significant advantages to this approach. First, it is a grown-up acknowledgement that bespoke transitional arrangements are highly unlikely to be negotiated, agreed and established in the next 18 months. Second, it provides maximum certainty for businesses and allays concerns that there will be delays or disruptions to trade when we leave the EU in March 2019. It would also ensure there will be a one-step transition to a new final relationship.

Third, it provides more time to resolve the complex question of the Northern Ireland border. Labour is clear that this extremely serious issue must no...


1991 fear of panic if IRA had threatened to detonate a nuclear or anthrax device #20YearRule "IndyWatch Feed"

I am sure you can envisage the panic which would follow an announcement by PIRA that a small(!) nuclear, device had been placed in Belfast City Centre and would be detonated at a certain time if demands were not met.

Likewise, if a terrorist group said they would release anthrax germs in some part of the Province.

Those quotes from January 1991 are from a letter memo written by C Richardson to colleagues in the NIO Emergency Planning Branch (EPB). They are contained in an inch thick orange of correspondence about Northern Irelands contingency plans for a nuclear, biological or chemical attack, gathered by William Gallagher from the EPB. His file marked NIO/28/1/12A [selective scan] has been released under the 30/20 Year Rule and is now available to read in the Public Records Office.

Back in 1991 emergency planning officials considered the possibility that the IRA could threaten to detonate a small nuclear or biological device. They had moved on from the fear that a Russian satellite would drop out of orbit and spray its nuclear core over the landscape.

C Richardson was responding to a briefing from Ms Jane Harrison (though shes referred to as Mr Harrison in some of the papers) who worked in the Home Offices Emergency Planning Division.

Her paper was neatly summarised by the NIO as addressing peace-time emergency where terrorists threatened the use of nuclear, chemical or biological means, by improvised devices, to achieve their political objectives. A scribble in the margin mentions operations codenamed SCARAB and ABSOLUTION.

This was the only discussion of paramilitary nuclear, biological or chemical attacks I found in the file.

In the event of a larger, nuclear attack on the UK from a foreign power, regional government...


Dealing with crisis: 1988 planning in case a Russian satellite landed on NI #20YearRule "IndyWatch Feed"

Sometime its a relief to know that other people are worrying about things that you didnt even know you could have been worrying about. What happens if theres another Chernobyl? What happens if theres a strike at the power station?

As you turn the pages of the NI Emergency Committee file marked CENT/1/19/44A [selective scans] which has now been released under the 30/20 Year Rule and can be read in the Public Records Office, the topics casually lurch from nuclear fallout monitoring to the correct way to sit in front of computer monitors, as well as warnings about adverse weather and a university running low on paper.

In September 1988, the then UK Home Secretary Douglas Hurd circulated a memo to Cabinet colleagues to outline how the UK should handle the 1 in 2,000 chance that radioactive debris from a falling Russian Cosmos 1900 satellite (perhaps more proper to refer to it as Kosmos 1900) would affect the UK.

Nuclear-powered satellites like the Cosmos 1900 had an in-built system that could push the nuclear core into a high orbit so that the remainder of the satellite could more safely fall to earth while the nuclear material orbited the earth for several hundred more years.

There would only be a risk to the UK if the safety devices fail and if the UK happens to be lie under the track of the final orbit.

The failure of that core ejection system on the older Cosmos 954 had resulted in radioactive debris being scattered over a 40,000 square mile area of northern Canada a decade before. Unable to predict the precise point of impact, evacuation was not an option available to the Home Secretary.

While the government could decline to offer citizens advice since the risk was low, or could suggest that if they wished they could stay inside, Hurd recommended that the government needed to give specific advice to avoid being criticised for indecisiveness whi...


Farage team calls British police officers embarrassment after heroic PCs fight off terror attackers "IndyWatch Feed"

After brave police officers fought off terrorists in London in some cases with their bare hands they were universally hailed as heroes:

Well, not quite universally.

Because when it comes to fighting terrorists, Nigel Farages team and UKIP supporters seem to think our heroic police are an embarrassment to the country.

Farages head of communications is someone called Dan Jukes.

Jukes sarcastically tweeted yesterday that British police are no match for terrorists after officers were seen dancing at a Manchester...


How did SoS Peter Brooke celebrate NIs excellence back in 1990? #20YearRule "IndyWatch Feed"

It turns out that Secretary of State Peter Brooke was 25 years ahead of Donald Trump and wanted to make NI Great Again!

1990 onwards saw a ramping up of delegations being invited to come to Northern Ireland to learn about trade opportunities including the Mayor of London, Select Committees, American politicians, Belgian diplomatic/economic representatives.

According to notes in the ENV/37/24A file [selective scan] now released under the 30/20 Year Rule and available to read in the Public Records Office, SoS Peter Brooke has it in his mind to use a speaking opportunity on 5 November [1990] to speak about those aspects of Northern Ireland which are truly excellent.

Department officials were requested to don their thinking caps to accentuate the positive and report back with examples of being best in the UK and any respects in which Northern Ireland has smaller problems than other areas. And boy oh boy did they reply!

You can read the IDB suggestions below. DENI reported back that attainment in mathematics was as much as 20 percentage points higher among NI pupils than their counterparts in England and Wales.

  • The woodwork section in the Ballynahinch Centre of Down College of Further Education undoubtedly matches the best in the UK with a weighty medal haul at the National Skill Build Competition over 30 years.
  • Levels of indoor sport participation in Belfast areas were the highest recorded in the UK.
  • Uptake on the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in 1989 was over 35% greater in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales.
  • Next to Edinburgh, the Belfast Festival at Queens was the second largest festival of its kind in the UK
  • Levels of new HIV+ and AIDS cases recorded in 1989, and rates per 100,000 were considerable lower than UK averages (a quarter), and just a shade lower than Wales.
  • Rates of infant mortality were the lowest in the UK having fallen at a faster rather than other regions.


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