News Round-Up, January 2018
- The New Year kicked off with Barry McElduff flooding the headlines after he posted a video of himself with a Kingsmill loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill Massacre. The ensuing outrage resulted in his apology, his suspension and ultimately his resignation. It also inspired a cartoon by Brian Spencer which sparked further apologies from others for sharing it.
The incident was discussed by Brendan Harkin in an article on Fly By Those Nets.
The resulting "cartoon incident" was satirised by Andrew Pope in his own artwork.
- Sinn Féin had a change in leadership after the stepping down of Gerry Adams with Mary Lou McDonald being the only candidate running for President and Michelle O'Neill the only candidate to replace Mary Lou as Vice President of the party.
- Mary Lou McDonald sparked outrage after attending a tribute to an IRA bomber killed by the premature explosion of the device he was planting.
- Sammy Wilson of the DUP called the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael, a "nutcase" and later stated he regretted the comments. Sammy then went on to accuse the Irish Government of having a "very public hissy fit" over Brexit.
- Leaked proposals for adjustments to constituency boundaries were later confirmed to be the latest proposals and gained mixed reactions with Sinn Féin supporters making accusations of gerrymandering which the Boundary Commission rejected.
- The Irish Government confirms it will hold a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution at the end of May.
- The flying of Royal Parachute Regiment flags on the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday was described as "shameful" by Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie with others echoing his condemnation.
- The DUP met with equal marriage campaigners for the first time, but the meeting was called a disappointment after it emerged that the party would still "defend the current definition of marriage".
Malachy Clarke wrote about the DUP's hypocrisy over LGBT rights in an article for Fly By Those Nets.
- The Anniversary of both Martin McGuinness' resignation and the collapse of the Stormont Assembly came and went without any progress on restoring power-sharing.
- This was accompanied by the resignation of James Brokenshire for health reasons and the arrival of Karen Bradley as the new NI Secretary of State. Whose Wikipedia page was briefly edited to suggest she was a member of the Orange Order.
Nathan Stewart wrote about the challenges facing her in an article for Fly By Those Nets.
- Karen Bradley announced the resumption of talks to take place on the 24th January with an update to be given on the 7th February. The talks resumed with the five main parties and representatives from both the British and Irish governments taking part.
- Sue Gray - once dubbed the most powerful woman in Britain - was appointed as the new Permanent Secretary in the NI Department of Finance. She is set to take up the post over the next couple of months.
Security & Justice
- The names of supposed Prison Officers were painted on a wall in the Creggan area of Derry with a message of “We only have to be lucky once - IRA”.
- A bomb was found in the toilet of a Drogheda pub and made safe by the Army disposal team.
- Óglaigh na hÉireann announced an immediate ceasefire. The Republican group has been responsible for the planting of a number of devices and attacks on PSNI officers throughout the peace process.
- Gary Haggarty, UVF supergrass, pleaded guilty to 202 offences and received a reduced sentence of 6.5 years for helping the police.
- A paramedic warned that paramilitaries are shooting through bones in order to maim victims, returning to an older tactic in punishment shootings favoured by the Provisional IRA.
- Fred Scappaticci, the infamous agent within the IRA codenamed "Stakeknife" is arrested in relation to an investigation into allegations of kidnapping, torture and murder.
- Three men are shot in paramilitary style attacks. A 41 year old in Ballymurphy, a 26 year old in New Lodge and a 39 year old in Glenalina Gardens in West Belfast.
- Justice McCloskey withdraws from hearing a legal challenge against a ruling on the Ombudsman's finding of collusion in the Loughlinisland Massacre amidst accusations of a public perception of bias.
- The Hyponatraemia inquiry into the illness related deaths of five children in Northern Ireland's hospitals found that four of them were avoidable.
- High Court judges ruled that coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC was wrong to decide that the names of the suspects in the Birmingham Pub Bombings would not be part of new inquests, the Coroner is set to appeal the decision.
- A 33 year old man is charged with the murder of Robert Flowerday, a 64 year old retired teacher who was discovered dead in his home in Crumlin.
- Engineering and infrastructure firm Carillion went into liquidation. Union GMB assured said NI workers would receive their pay until the end of January.
- The UK Government was criticised over its role in the Bombardier dispute which could've seen the loss of hundreds of jobs in NI after its submission to the ITC was just 4 pages long. Ultimately the ITC ruled in Bombardier's favour.
- The Education Authority refused to approve the budget plans submitted by 632 schools as they were shown to be unable to stay within their allocated budgets.
- The Stormont talks deadlock has blocked £19m in lottery funds being available for charities due to a lack of funding mechanism.
- Owners of Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) boilers are to lodge an appeal against a court decision which left them on reduced tariffs. This is alongside the ongoing RHI Inquiry which has been hearing evidence from various civil servants involved in DETI and the formation of the failed scheme.
- Kier Starmer warned that Labour won’t support a Brexit deal that does not work for all communities of Northern Ireland.
- Buzzfeed received the leaked Brexit impact assessments carried out by the UK Government. The assessments reportedly show the UK will be worse off in every scenario assessed however it is claimed the specific scenario the UK Government is aiming for has not been assessed.
- PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton voices concerns at a possible vulnerability caused by Brexit if the European Arrest Warrant were to be removed.