Category Archives: Belfast

How socially-prejudiced is that?

Yesterday our local political discourse was enhanced by an otherwise-unremarkable Tory back-bencher [*]

A Conservative MP has been suspended from the party after it emerged she used a racist expression during a public discussion about Brexit.

Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot, used the phrase at an event in London to describe the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

She told the BBC: “The comment was totally unintentional. I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

The Conservative Party later confirmed she had had the whip withdrawn.

Announcing the suspension, Theresa May said she was “shocked” by the “completely unacceptable” language.

“I immediately asked the chief whip to suspend the party whip,” she said in a statement.

I was much taken by Stephen Bush (of the New Statesman) instantly producing a 26-point check-list, notably this bit:

10. How on earth do you become an MP while being so stupid as to use the N-word at a public event?
11. I mean, surely, even if you are an honest-to-God, white sheet-wearing KKK racist, your basic self-preservation instinct kicks in and goes “Hmm. Wait a second. I wonder if this might possibly backfire?”
12. I mean, come on, aren’t these the same people who go on about political correctness gone mad?
13. Anne Marie Morris presumably had to defeat at least one other person to be selected as the Conservative candidate.
14.Imagine how rubbish you must be to lose to someone who uses the word “n****r” at a meeting in 2017.
15. Anne Marie Morris is 60.

Some of the follow-ups have come close to that. There was Paul Waugh’s Waugh Zone for HuffPo, which deserves repetition:

Given the damage done, it’s hard to see how Morris can regain the Tory whip, no matter what the ‘investigation’ by Tory campaigns HQ concludes. Which raises the issue of whether she will be booted out for good, and whether she would quit to trigger a by-election. Her majority in her west country seat is 17,000.  But as this year has taught everyone, electoral norms can be upended.

Morris had already been forced to distance herself from her electoral agent and partner Roger Kendrick last month, after he claimed “that the crisis in education was due entirely to non-British born immigrants and their high birth rates’.” Kemi Badenoch, the Tory MP for Saffron Walden, told the Telegraph she spoke to the Chief Whip “to express my dismay, and I am pleased that decisive action has been taken”. Maidstone MP Helen Grant said she was “so ashamed” that a fellow Tory could use the phrase without knowing its history (and it’s an awful history) or impact.

[*] Lest we forget, Matt Chorley, for The Times Red Box categorised the lady:

Anne Marie Morris – who until this point was best known in the Commons for waving a sling around while wearing Deirdre Barlow’s glasses – used the n-word yesterday at a public meeting.

All of which stirred the Redfellow Hippocampus to two thoughts:

1. How far we have come in my lifetime.

I became politically active in the 1960s — by which I mean I discarded the political attitudes I inherited, and adopted an alternative set. Whether that also means I “started to think for myself” is more debatable.

What did shock was what happened in the 1964 General Election for the Smethwick constituency. It wasn’t that the Tory — against the national swing — took the previously Labour seat. It was how it was achieved. There have been any number of re-drafts of that bit of unpleasantness. At the time it was generally accepted that

  • there was effectively a colour-bar being operated for social housing in the borough, in pubs, youth clubs and social centres;
  • that, officially or not, the Tory campaign was sustained by propaganda such as the leaflet (right) — note that it comes without the “imprint” required by electoral law;
  • that Harold Wilson was entirely justified in declaring the elected Tory a parliamentary leper. Many Tories were deeply uncomfortable about the elected MP as a fellow: even Enoch Powell (whose “rivers of blood” speech came two years later) refused to campaign with him.
  • that the local Trade Union branches and whatever were not beyond reproach.

In our innocence, we — and I include myself explicitly — believed such horrors had gone away. As if …

2. Just how racist is our language?

Put the woodpile (above) aside.

We could quibble about “nitty-gritty” (and many have done). Indeed, almost any use of “black” and “white” could be construed as a racist offence, if one was so determined.

And then there is (sharp intake of breath) “calling a spade a spade”. However that one dates from 1542, and Nicholas Udall translating Erasmus Apophthegmes ii. f. 167:

Philippus aunswered, yt the Macedonians wer feloes of no fyne witte in their termes but altogether grosse, clubbyshe, and rusticall, as they whiche had not the witte to calle a spade by any other name then a spade.

Erasmus, in turn, was translating Plutarch’s Greek into Latin, and hesitated over a literal rendering of to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough, which some ascribe to Aristophanes. His hesitation might plausibly because “fig”, as the Oxford English Dictionary has as the second meaning:

Obs.
A contemptuous gesture which consisted in thrusting the thumb between two of the closed fingers or into the mouth. Also, fig of Spain, and to give (a person) the fig.

Which Shakespeare puts in the mouth of Pistol (Henry V, Act III, scene vi):

Pistol: Die and be damn’d! and figo for thy friendship!
Fluellen: It is well.
Pistol: The fig of Spain!
Exit

Preferring the epicene, Udall goes for the horticultural reference. The racial slur dates only from the 1920s, and apparently from New York, and specifically Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1927).

And one more to finish

What about “beyond the Pale”?

Note the capital “P’. Any delineated space could be a “pale”. In Ireland it had a specific connotation:

The area of Ireland under English jurisdiction (varying in extent at different times between the late 12th and 16th centuries, but including parts of modern Dublin, Louth, Meath, and Kildare).

By implication, anything “beyond the Pale” would be among the wild Irish. As one who has frequently been called a “West Brit”, I know we have our archipelagic variant of Crow Jim.  Now consider all those places with a district “Irishtown” or even “Irish Street”. Without exception, they will be less favoured, and more down-market. In medieval Dublin, Irishtown was the bit outside the city walls, down to the slob-lands of the River Dodder. Only last week, the Irish Times had this:

A plague of flies of “biblical proportions” has descended upon the Dublin 4 suburbs of Sandymount, Ringsend and Irishtown, according to residents and local businesspeople.

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys said he had received “hundreds” of complaints from locals in recent days over the fly infestation, which has forced people to keep their windows shut and resulted in the closure of some businesses.

Tony “Deke” McDonald, who runs Deke’s Diner at the Sean Moore Road roundabout in Ringsend, said the infestation was the worst he had ever seen.

“It started around four or five days ago with a swarm of biblical proportions. People would be used to flies in the summer, but I’ve been running the diner 17 years next week, and I’m 30 odd years in the area, and I’ve never seen the like of it. There [were] hundreds of them.”

It didn’t take more than moments for Dublin wit to crack in, saying Ringsend and Irishtown deserved all they got, for social-climbing and pretension to post-code D4.

Then there’s Louis MacNeice describing:

…. Smoky Carrick in County Antrim
Where the bottle-neck harbour collects the mud which jams

The little boats beneath the Norman castle,
   The pier shining with lumps of crystal salt;
The Scots Quarter was a line of residential houses
   But the Irish Quarter was a slum for the blind and halt. […]

I was the rector’s son, born to the anglican order,
   Banned for ever from the candles of the Irish poor;
The Chichesters knelt in marble at the end of a transept
   With ruffs about their necks, their portion sure.

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Filed under Belfast, bigotry, Britain, Conservative family values, culture, Dublin., Ireland, Irish Times, New Statesman, Northern Ireland, Paul Waugh, politics, prejudice, Quotations, Racists, Tories., underclass

I am the door …

9781473511040-large… by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. [John: 10,9]

Let there be no misunderstanding here:

I am no poet.

There are a number of good reasons for that:

  • I lack the talent;
  • I lack the patience;DOOR
  • Over fifty years ago, the editors of TCD’s undergraduate literary magazine, Icarus, made my inadequacies abundantly clear.

The editors of Icarus of that era were two names better known now than they were then: Michael Longley and Derek Mahon. I recall it was the latter who initialled my first rejection slip.

-—o0O0o—-

Scanning Kate Kellaway’s pre-publication review of Longley’s latest collection, The Stairwell, I felt I had just had the kind of momentary domestic revelation of which Longley is master.

Lunchtime, Saturday, my autistic grandson had been in the house. Once inside, I noticed him fingering the panels inside the front door, touching each one, in turn, all sixteen.

As he ate his pizza, and drank his soda, he was drawing. It was a remarkably accurate diagram of those sixteen panels, including the shape of the top pairs.

In that moment I found the solace of a pasture, if not a poem.

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Filed under Belfast, Dublin, Ireland, Literature, Observer, Trinity College Dublin

The Joy of FreeSat

Yes, much of the time it’s Bruce’s count overwhelmed by cyber-shopping:

Then again …

Switch on.

Get the last quarter at Ravenhill: Glasgow Warriors heroically taking Ulster, 13-12. On BBC Alba (should have tried further down the numbers for BBC2 Northern Ireland — possibly got it in Ulster Scots).

Fine camera-work.

Very nice passing and ball-in-hand.

Terrific three-quarter co-ordination.

A last twitch try and conversion Marvellous stuff.

Then to discover that the Gaelic for “try” seems to be “try”.

As for a “major position” is  …

 

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Filed under BBC, Belfast, Rugby, Scotland

The sky is falling! (selectively)

Murdoch’s Times not only went tabloid, it has acquired some down-market degeneracies with it.

A couple of posts back, Malcolm was whining about the comic’s fullest fluffy Murdochian populism. He now bemoans a parallel ghoulish, blood-chilling, thrill-seeking sensationalism.

The Melanie Phillips memorial meme

What provoked this was the third Comment article in yesterday’s fish-n-chip wrapper. After Finkelstein (a contract artist, so comes with the fixtures and fittings) on the holocaust, and the German Foreign Minister soft-soaping the chasm between Cameron and Merkel, comes Maajid Nawaz:

Muslim patrols are s sign of things to come

We should worry that battle-hardened fanatics could impose their dogma on Britain’s streets

Then — yawn! — his opening tries to draw straight-lines across a very uneven surface:

On the streets of Greece supporters of the far-Right Golden Dawn party patrol neighbourhoods, attacking anyone who looks like an immigrant. In Denmark a group calling itself Call to Islam has declared parts of the country to be “sharia-controlled zones” and its “morality police” confront drinkers and partygoers. In France right-wing vigilantes ran Roma families out of a Marseilles estate and burnt down their camp. In Spain nine Islamist extremists recently kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery under sharia and attempted to execute her before she managed to escape. And here English Defence League thugs march in towns and cities “reclaiming” the streets from Muslims.

Something very worrying is spreading across Europe. Fascist and and Islamist extremists alike are copying what Hitler’s Brownshirts excelled at — enforcing with threats and violence their version of the law in neighbourhoods, And the moderate middle is left gawping.

Well, well: if that had appeared in any inter chat chat-room, Mike Godwin would be invoked:

It was back in 1990 that I set out on a project in memetic engineering. The Nazi-comparison meme, I’d decided, had gotten out of hand – in countless Usenet newsgroups, in many conferences on the Well, and on every BBS that I frequented, the labeling of posters or their ideas as “similar to the Nazis” or “Hitler-like” was a recurrent and often predictable event. It was the kind of thing that made you wonder how debates had ever occurred without having that handy rhetorical hammer…

I developed Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Then there’s the other matter: proportion. The European Union embraces a population of nigh on half-a-billion. Let’s be generous to Maajid Nawaz: he has identified, at most, a few hundred ne’er-do-wells. His nine Spanish Islamists amount to 0.00000019% of the people of Spain. Similarly, there’s a Grand Canyon of difference between the hysterical:

The complete Islamification of Tower Hamlets continues, as anyone who dares to “look like a fag” or drink alcohol in their declared republic now risks harassment walking in the street.

and the factual:

A small group of individuals were recently seen harassing members of the public in East London, and the council is proactively working with partners in the community and police to monitor for further incidents and take appropriate action.

And the marauding Muslim hordes of E1 amounted to precisely

A fifth person has been detained after a video of a ‘vigilante Muslim gang’ tormenting members of the public in east London was released on YouTube.

The 17-year-old boy was questioned at a police station in Walthamstow in relation to incidents that were posted on the video sharing website on January 12 and 13.

The pillars of bourgeois society have not even been vibrated. The events Maajid Nawaz wants to daisy-chain are, taken one by one, not insignificant — but on a continental scale do not register on the Richter Scale of earth-shakers.

Another small country about which we know nothing

Curiously, though, Maajid Nawaz omitted one obvious civil disruption.

We have had some eight weeks of continuing street riots in East Belfast, orchestrated by the local UVF. Arson-attempts, especially on Roman Catholic targets, are regular events. The Police Service have reported dozen of officers injured, truing to contain the almost-nightly excursions. Numerous arrests have been made. The cost is now running towards eight figures. And the machinators are known to all:

A small number of senior UVF men are directing the riots in east Belfast that have brought shame on Northern Ireland.

Two senior henchmen of the UVF chief in east Belfast have ignored warnings from the organisation’s leadership to bring an end to the violence which has left dozens of PSNI officers injured and cost millions of pounds.

And while the UVF’s leader in the east of the city — as the ‘Beast from the East’ — could end the rioting immediately, he has failed to bring his men under control.

Even Andrew Gillian, at the [London] Daily Telegraph knows where to go calling:

What East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey do have in common, however, are maverick factions of the Loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force.

“We’ve got no doubt whatever that this is coming from the UVF,” says Terry Spence, leader of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland.

The East Belfast leader of the UVF – the so-called “Beast from the East” – was not at home to callers when The Telegraph dropped in to his small terraced house in a quiet side street.

His white reinforced front door doesn’t have a knocker or a bell, but there are five CCTV cameras just in case anyone tries to murder him again.

Two of his lieutenants have been spotted in the background helping direct the main East Belfast riots.

Security sources say they are acting with the Beast’s consent, if not the UVF leadership’s active involvement, and he could end the trouble in the area whenever he wanted.

Ugly Doris

If you go to those-in-the-know, you’ll hear a lot about this reclusive figure. Here’s an Analysis from the Irish Times, eighteen months ago:

THE SO-CALLED “Beast from the East” took over the Ulster Volunteer Force in east Belfast about six years ago and has strengthened his power base since then, according to well-placed loyalist sources. He and some of his senior lieutenants are chiefly responsible for the violence in east Belfast over recent days, they say.

He makes his money mainly from “gangster-on-gangster or bad-on-bad crime”, which is chiefly about drug dealing and extorting other criminals – while also managing to maintain some distance from these activities to keep him, so far, out of prison. How to clip his wings is the challenge for the police and also for other members of the UVF…

… what is happening in Short Strand and on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast these past dangerous nights is not about the dissidents. It is about the UVF, which is fomenting the disturbances. And it is primarily about the UVF leader in east Belfast nicknamed the Beast from the East or “Ugly Doris”. The first nom de guerre relates to his east Belfast bailiwick and the second refers to the late Jim Gray, the UDA east Belfast leader or “brigadier” murdered by his own people. He was called Doris Day because of his blond hair and his fondness for Hawaiian shirts, pink jumpers and gold jewellery. The UVF leader is said to resemble Gray only in his strands of blond hair – hence Ugly Doris.

According to senior loyalist sources, the new man, who is in his 40s, has “lost the run of himself” and is becoming increasingly dangerous and, some fear, almost unstable. “He is creating a little empire for himself in east Belfast and is now flexing his muscles,” said one loyalist insider. “He is also partial to cocaine and likes to party . . . He believes he is untouchable.”

The Belfast Telegraph identified the East Belfast UVF as:

… the most powerful paramilitary faction in Northern Ireland.

With a fiefdom stretching from the Lagan’s edge on the Newtownards Road to Millisle, Donaghadee and beyond, it struts a swathe of territory no other loyalist element can match.

It has dwarfed the UDA in east Belfast and the Ards Peninsula to the point where seasoned paramilitaries declare a ‘no contest’ between the two loyalist terror groups.

Note that didn’t say most powerful Loyalist paramilitary faction in Northern Ireland. Nor are we considering a handful of self-advertisers in Brick Lane, or even a tight little gang of perverts in Malaga. This is something far bigger, far nearer to the dystopia with which Maajid Nawaz would wish to chill us.

What you don’t find in those columns, usually, is a given name for the Beast a.k.a. Ugly Doris. He is (pace Susanne Breen) A former prisoner from a well-known loyalist family. His code-title is “S” [the UVF just lurve these Ian Flemingesque touches]. Look a bit further and you’ll find the name of Stephen Matthews.

Now there’s a candidate for Maajid Nawaz’s little black book.

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Filed under Belfast, bigotry, broken society, crime, Irish Times, Northern Ireland, Religious division, Times

… and one Englishman to sink it.

The punchline, of course, to that bitter Belfast gybe about the building of the Titanic.

Factor one: a tradition

Belfast was building ships as early as 1663. By the mid-nineteenth century the business was big, and getting bigger. When Anvil Point was launched (1st April 2003) she was keel number 1742 (and last) of the vessels to come off the Harland and Woolf slips.

Yet only one gets popularly remembered — and she was probably the shortest-lived of the lot.

Factor two: an image (bad)

Belfast hasn’t had a lot positively going for the city these last few decades.

The Europa was, after all, not just the place where the world’s press bedded down. And rarely ventured forth. And talked. And broadcast therefrom. And drank each other under tables. It was also, famously, the most bombed hotel in the world. Which included Beirut. For the record: twenty-eight, and hopefully not counting. For that reason, NBC news includes the Europa in its Ten hotels that made history — so consider the others for comparison:

  • the Ritz, Paris: Diana Spenser Windsor’s nookie joint before Pillar Thirteen, but more worthily the resort of Ernest Hemingway;
  • the Crillon, Paris, notoriously the Gestapo’s favourite watering-hole in occupied Paris;
  • the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where James Earl Ray did for Martin Luther King;
  • the Greenbriar, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, which was the Congressional nuclear bunker and Cold War funk hole, a.k.a. ‘Project Greek Island’;
  • the Berchtesgaden Resort, built on the site of Hitler’s Bavarian pad;
  • etc., etc.

To be truthful, Belfast is, was and always will be a long, long way from being a ‘beautiful’ city. Nobody is likely to croon that they left their heart in Belfast City, though it has its television transmitter high on a hill, and The morning fog may chill the air (and on occasion, not clear all day) — admittedly the sea is rarely blue, but it can certainly be windy.

The place can certainly do with a golden sun to shine for anyone.

OK: it’s irrelevant to the main argument here; but let’s do it:

Potential

By the millennium the two main cities of Northern Ireland, Belfast and Derry (let’s leave the wasteland of ‘Craigavon’ out of this), were both in positions to exploit their considerable waterfront potentials. Both did so, though — as Northern Irish politics go — the main money stayed east of the Bann.

In Belfast, with the demise of Harland and Woolf, there was one of the largest inner-city brown sites in Europe: though London’s King’s Cross ought to have beaten it for  the funny moolah (but that industrial desert had been hanging around, unexploited, for decades). Some smartass promptly designated the old H&W acres the ‘Titanic Quarter’ — and a legend was born:

Gosh: how Mediterranean! All we need now is the little cable cars.

Bayeux Tapestry — phooey!

Yes, Malcolm has seen it. And preferred the booklet version with added colouring. Apart from anything else, the dog-Latin makes more sense when it’s highlighted and not faded into oblivion. Nor, last August, were Malcolm’s grandsons greatly impressed either. Once seen, noted, included in school projects, soon forgotten.

But this is different:

The most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia sold at auction – the 33-feet long design plan – is coming back to Belfast.

The 100-year-old scale drawing was sold last year in England for almost a quarter of a million pounds, but the anonymous buyer has agreed for it to go on show at the new Titanic visitor centre in Belfast.

The huge plan, regarded as the Holy Grail of Titanic memorabilia, shows the intricate detail of the ship – from the location of the squash court, to the Turkish baths to the first-class lavatories.

That omits a few crucial details:

  • why is such an artefact worth only a couple of hundred grand at auction?
  • how was it abstracted from the H&W plans office, except to be an exhibit at the official enquiry (still has the chalk markings drawn on it in 1912 to show where the iceberg struck — which must surely be ‘Crown copyright)?
  • how genuine is the ‘provenance’ of ownership, and can we be told it, please?
  • why, for heaven’s sake, is such an object not in public ownership, one way or another?

If this major piece of naval architecture arrives back at the Drawing Office (there, to the left of the picture), overlooking the Thompson Graving Dock, and is put on public view (admission will of course be charged), we have a feature which, so far, has been seriously missing from the whole Titanic farrago.

Except …

One important element in the legend has already been returned to Belfast.

The three great behemoths — the Olympic, the Titanic and the Gigantic (rapidly renamed Britannic) — were too big to enter Cherbourg harbour. Cherbourg was a major port for accepting passengers, both of the haut-ton and those rough, but profitable steerage emigrants. So a pair of tenders was commissioned, also from H&W: the Nomadic for the quality, and the Traffic for the plebs. Now aren’t those evocative, telling names? As with everything else in the Titanic story, we are not all in this together:

When that ship left England it was making for the shore,
The rich refused to ‘sociate with the poor,
So they put the poor below,
They were the first to go.
It was sad when that great ship went down.

The Nomadic is the noble vestige of the great days of Belfast shipbuilding, and likely now to be a permanent resident.

She has a heroic history, serving in two World Wars: first as a minesweeper and a ferry for American dough-boys arriving at Brest, then — in the second Unpleasantness — evacuating refugees from Cherbourg in 1940, then requisitioned by the Royal Navy as a minelayer and general transport. Back in post-war France Nomadic was again a tender to the great liners,until air-travel made that a memory, then a Parisian floating restaurant and night-club.At her lowest ebb, she was seized for debts, and bound for the breakers, so in 2006 the Northern Irish  Department for Social Development divvied up €250,001 to bring her home to Belfast, where is being conserved and restored.

Perhaps the best is yet to come.

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Filed under Belfast, folk music, History, Northern Ireland, travel, Troubles

No road through Knockmore

Here’s an awful warning:

That’s from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch web-site. The RAIB is — finally — being allowed into the secret, two months on.

Yesterday evening, the BBC News website had picked up the story and published this:

More than 100 people escaped injury after a train ran over a section of damaged railway in County Antrim.
However, the full incident, which took place on 28 June, was not reported to an investigation team for two months.
The driver was unable to stop before the first of six carriages had run onto an unsupported section of track.
The train was bound for the Irish open golf tournament, over a line not normally used for passenger services.
The train did not derail and was reversed away.
The Rail Accident investigation Branch (RAIB) is looking into the incident at Knockmore, outside Lisburn at 07:05 on 28 June.

So that’s all right, then?

Not really.

At first sight this looks like a repeat of another near disaster when the Broadmeadow Viaduct, near Malahide, north of Dublin, was washed away. That was on the main Dublin-Belfast line (and on a major commuter route). Iarnród Éireann hadn’t inspected the viaduct, which was known from previous erosion to have stability problems, for three days.

The Knockmore line, of course, does not have that strategic importance — though, arguably, it has considerable potential:

It could provide a corridor through Antrim to the north coast and to Derry. Currently the intention remains to upgrade the A5 trunk road  from Derry to the south. This involves a total cost of at least £850 million — that estimate is already three years old. And only last week, the lead constructor, Mouchel, went bust. Meanwhile the fragile rail link along the spectacular coastline of County Londonderry is closed for many months — while the grand and long-overdue sum of £75 million is spent on it. Do the comparisons.

Beyond that, Belfast has two under-used airports (City of Derry is NI’s unsatisfactory and even more under-used third — it is right on the rail line, too): the Westminster Northern Ireland committee is taking minutes and lasting months chewing on all this. Dublin airport, by comparison, is heavily patronised, and — until recent cut-backs — was going to get a second runway, long enough for direct flights to the Far East. The Knockmore branch runs immediately behind the terminal at Belfast International: it could easily connect with central Belfast, and Dublin (particularly so, if and when the Metro North plan were implemented).

Politics. Politics. Politics.

The old Unionist regime at Stormont disgracefully ripped up the Ulster rail network. There may have been an economic case for retrenchment and “rationalisation”; but the main issue was to break unnatural connections with those damnable Fenians in the Free State. So a whole swathe of natural links were abruptly severed. Anyway, the motor car was the future.

From that, notice how , when the Malahide viaduct went down, so did any north-south link. Any rolling stock north was stuck there.

That map is unfair in that it omits the real improvements in the Dublin commuter belt — unlike Belfast which is liable to a daily tail-back along every arterial route. North of the Dublin commuter lines there isn’t a millimetre of electrified track; and any mass transport system to alleviate the Belfast photochemical smog — an airport tram, for one obvious example — is systematically rubbished. The present “dynamic” pie-in-the-sky is a “rapid-transit”, based — believe it or not — on Las Vegas. It amounts to a bendy-bus.

Knockmore is a symptom of wilful neglect

In this climate, the rail sector in Northern Ireland will continue to decline and decay.

Malcolm is left bemused left bemused by the bizarre insouciance evident in the Knockmore incident:

  • A span of some fifteen sleepers and tracks was unsupported. A train was seemingly sent down that track, which is usually-unauthorised for passenger service, apparently without proper inspection. For heaven’s sake, were there any doubt s over the security of the line, why not run a pilot loco along it? That (and proper daily inspection by linesmen) was the Victorian approach — and still (linesmen apart) the norm for many lines.
  • The collapse and a near calamity has gone two months without being reported or (apparently) investigated.

Questions (as they say) must be asked.

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Filed under Belfast, City of Derry Airport, Dublin., History, Ireland, Irish Railways, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, railways

Spot the deliberate mistake

From the BBC  News Northern Ireland website:

The Red Arrows have performed a fly-past over Belfast to mark the start of the Olympic Games.

Earlier, the bells on Londonderry’s two cathedrals and those at two venues in Belfast rang out in harmony in celebration of London 2012.

Well, “harmony” is either a clue — or a second invention.

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Filed under BBC, Belfast, City of Derry, Northern Ireland