A brief look back at the week that was

Academic Selection: The real discussion this week on Transfer Tests should not have been about whether they went ahead as planned or were postponed – it should have been about why, 11 years after the end of the 11 Plus, academic selection continues to reinforce privilege and disadvantage .

It was obvious that Education Minister Peter Weir’s original insistence that they take place , was a clear case of prioritising academic selection over public health protection.


Street Signs: The decision by Belfast City Council to proceed with a scheme to erect multi lingual street signs beggars belief. It has not been adopted to help make Belfast a more  inclusive and cosmopolitan city. Its intention and its consequences will be to further consolidate sectarian division, demarcate ‘territory’ and prop up the myth of ‘two communities’.  The four parties supporting the scheme Sinn Fein, SDLP,  People Before Profit and the Alliance party are looking to their narrow constituencies and ‘liberal credentials’ respectively – not the consequences of their actions.

Those who are genuinely interested in promoting the Irish language as an inclusive cultural project, which is to be commended, should look to integrated community based initiatives rather than antagonistic gimmicks likely to hinder the development and growth of a language open to all those who wish to learn and speak it.

Covid 19: Lockdown is a difficult time for many, many, people. From the disruption to schooling for young children, to parents coping with child minding issues, people working from home, people of furlough, the many thousands trying to cope with lockdown on benefits, right through to the elderly, the lonely and the vulnerable. But Lockdown is essential if we are to buy sufficient time for the C19 vaccines to be administered and take effect.
Too many people, including a number of mainstream media outlets, seem more determined to spend their time and efforts looking for loopholes, exceptions, and get out clauses than in supporting the measures necessary to overcome this virus. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all those  who have been keeping society functioning throughout this pandemic – ignoring public health guidelines is no way of showing it.

Supermarkets, trade and EU regulations: Stories of food shortages, trade crises and delays have dominated this week – however, many of them have been difficult  to substantiate. Nevertheless, the mainstream media and spokespersons for pro-EU parties  blame the act of leaving the European Union rather than the terms and conditions which EU negotiators set as part of the withdrawal agreement. The real source of any problems lies with the inability of two competing economies to harmonise their working relationships and of the failure of many private companies to cope with change.

Capitol Hill: One of the many ironies of the events in Washington DC this week was that the politics and mindsets of many of those who tried to storm the US Congress mirror exactly many of the ‘opposition forces’ which the US has supported, financed and armed across the world as they orchestrated the overthrow of democratically elected governments and engineered intervention, both covert and military, in the affairs of sovereign states.

This policy is not restricted to US Republicans. It has also been an integral part of the Democrats’ approach as well. Remember Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, to name but a few.

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