Ann Allan: Why So Much Hate?

I’ve lived in Northern Ireland all my life and as yet I’ve not figured out how some people are the salt of the earth and some are downright thugs with only badness and violence in their hearts.

How does this happen? Christians believe that God made humans in his likeness so if that’s the case did he make a mistake or did he put these nasty individuals here to make life unpleasant for the rest of us. 

Wouldn’t you think that it would be a desire of everyone to live a peaceful and as far as possible a happy life, to look after family and friends and to fulfil ambitions that are open to us all.

But no there is a section of our society and not just in NI that are hell bent on making life as miserable as possible for their fellow human beings on their short  journey through life and it is short I can assure you.

We encounter the nasty people every day.  Do they get out of bed in the morning with the sole intention of hurting someone and with evil intentions on their minds? 

What makes someone lift a petrol bomb or even a gun and attack someones house? What makes someone attack and beat a man into inches of his like because he was born into a different religion? 

Do they watch from a distance as a distraught resident stands crying outside their pride and joy, their home, their safe place. Do they look on the bruised and battered face of their victim and think that’s a good days work. Do they relish in hurting someone?

Why would you go out of your way to hurt those who have had love ones killed in the troubles by thinking ‘Ok, they’ve lost a loved one so let us throw it in their face by constantly reminding them of those that killed them’ It requires a lot of hate to do that to fellow citizens.  

We all have the freedom to respect our dead but is it really necessary to turn it into a glorification of killers.  But it seems it’s more important to respect the dead than to respect the living. Can’t you do it quietly without publicity, and think about the living. Why perpetuate their suffering?

Those who aren’t brazen enough to physically attack their fellow citizens resort to being cyber bullies. Sitting behind a keyboard with anonymity they target those with whom they disagree.  

Why do people act like this?  How do we deal with it? Does it start in childhood? Will the class bully end up being one of those thugs ? Should we be trying to target these children and put resources into counselling and anger management control.

And then we have the bully who is President of the USA. Ignorant, racist and lacking any morals while professing to be Christian and supported by evangelicals. What a role model? I fear for the future of America and the rise of the far right. We have evidence of this here in our own country. Hateful videos regarding the immigrants who live here having fled from persecution only to face it here again. Trump needs ousted in 2020 and with a huge majority by the decent people of America.

To those who have any influence on others, be it your friends or family, if you witness that anger or hear anything that suggests someone may carry out a violent act, nip it in the bud, get them help and maybe we could make this world a better place.

Democracy Games :Ann Allan

On Friday I attended the Democracy Games at Stormont. Now I’m sure you’re asking what are Democracy Games and aren’t you a bit old to be taking part in any sort of games. I was in fact there to host on behalf of the Open Government NI Network along with David McBurney and Sean Kelly. (NIEL)

Children from three schools in NI made the journey to Stormont to learn about democracy though interactive exercises. Kellie Armstrong MLA welcomed the students and encouraged them to take an interest in politics.

A warm up session involved identifying politicians and slogans. Amazing how many recognised Trump.

They then started the hard work forming policies, chosing party names, manifestos and party slogans. After they delivered their manifestos to the other groups it was time to vote via the ballot box for the party with the most popular policies. They were all very enthusiastic and their policies were well thought out and obviously important to them. The environment was a common thread as was more access for those with disabilities.

It is important that children know how the voting system works and how important it is to vote. 

I then had the pleasure of announcing the joint winners.

Schools taking part were Parkway Lisburn, Ard-na-Shee Derry/Londonderry and Knockevin Special School, Downpatrick.

 

An enjoyable morning all round and one which will be repeated again in June. 

Ann Allan: Episode 24: Moving back to Belfast in 1976

 

 1976 was an eventful year in my life and another terrible year for violence. I was astounded when I checked out my usual source at CAIN and discovered just how violent it was.  1976 was the year that the young Maguire children and their mother were mowed down and killed by a car driven by an IRA member, when the car he was driving went out of control after he had been shot. This lead to the setting up of the women’s peace movement.

 

 

Sunday 4 January 1976

Six Catholic civilians from two families died as a result of two separate gun attacks by Loyalist paramilitaries.  Three members of the same family, John Reavey (24), Brian Reavey (22) and Anthony Reavey (17) were shot at their home in Greyhillan, Whitecross, County Armagh. [Anthony Reavey died on 30 January 1976.]  

 

Louise was now 18 months and the idea of a brother or sister was being mooted. I guess there must have been another of those Christmas parties in 1975 because around the end of January 1976 I discovered that I was pregnant again.   I didn’t feel like I had felt with Louise but every pregnancy is different and so I put it down to that. 

 Around the end of February beginning of March I realised that’s things weren’t going too well. I was advised by my consultant to carry on as usual as it would make no difference to my losing or keeping the baby.  Gordon’s mum had been summoned to look after Louise as I had a good idea what was about to happen. However it got so bad that I was soon back in casualty where I was told that I had already lost the baby. As it was very early in the pregnancy, it wasn’t as traumatic this time as I had Louise and I hadn’t felt pregnant from the start. After a small op I was home the next day and back to normal fairly quickly. 

I don’t think I have mentioned in much detail that Gordon was studying. He had left school to follow me to Belfast and as a result never completed his A levels. Being eligible for day release in the Civil Service he had completed his HNC and was now studying for a degree. This entailed two nights travelling to the Ulster university. It was hard for both of us. I had long days and long evenings. He worked long days and then had to study. So a decision was made that we should start looking for a house back in Belfast where I would be nearer friends and he’d have a shorter distance to travel.

One of my neighbours had moved to East Belfast. One day while visiting her, we went for a walk along the Upper Newtownards Rd. We passed by parks, gardens and avenues all with period style houses build in the late twenties and I knew this was were I wanted to live .

My friend also had a daughter slightly older than Louise and as a result we got the hand me downs. I wasn’t proud as we were living on one salary and every little bit helped. A visit to my friend resulted in a new wardrobe for Louise.

I found out I was pregnant again in July. On a lovely summer day in the garden of my home in Rostrevor I told my mum. I told her I was very apprehensive after what had happened and hadn’t said anything to the family. But it was out now and everyone seemed happy. 

Compared to my pregnancy with Louise, this one was a doddle. Thanks Paul.  No morning sickness and he was the right way up. 1976 was one of the hottest summers on record. Days of glorious sunshine with no rain

 

Friday 2 July 1976


item mark Six civilians, five Protestant and one Catholic, died as a result of a Loyalist paramilitary attack on the Ramble Inn, near Antrim, County Antrim. The attack was carried out because the public house was owned by Catholics.

In the meantime I was following up on houses in Belfast and in September of 76 saw a house that looked promising in East Belfast. We went to visit and though it needed a lot of work we could see the potential and the proximity to Gordon’s work at Veterinary Research made it ideal.  As I knew quite a lot of people in Comber at that time it quickly went round that we were thinking of moving. Lo and behold a knock on the door and we were offered the price we were going to put it on sale for and the deal was completed without estate agents involved. We were able to proceed with our dream house knowing that our own was sold.

I woke up on the morning of the move. It was early December. The temperature outside was -10 and the frost was thick on the ground. I was 6 months pregnant and I thought to myself I don’t want to go. I was warm and cosy and I knew what the day had in prospect. However I roused myself and got on with the move. 

With the help of my brothers we got moved. To say say the new house was freezing was an understatement. There was no heating and only a coal fire which took a lot of coaxing to light.  The kitchen was sparse with a sink and draining board at one end. It was filthy into the bargain and though heavily pregnant I got down to a deep clean. Bear in mind that the temperature was still hovering around -10.

We had bought 3 storage heaters from an advert in the Bel Tel. They were in Ballymena. I don’t think we realised how heavy they were. The ice actually helped as they slid across it. However they didn’t work. It was weeks before they worked. Christmas was cold that year. A year of very contrasting temperatures.

 

Saturday 25 December 1976

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) held a three day ceasefire over the Christmas period (25 to 27 December 1976).

 

References : https://cain.ulster.ac.uk 

 

 

Ann Allan: Memories 23

0A53743C-D669-49A5-B59C-9284B2B06421Christmas and New Year had passed quietly because of the ceasefire. It was such a great feeling to know that for a few days at least the New Year could be celebrated without fear of violence

We enjoyed Christmas in front of the television and enjoyed Some Mother’s do ‘ave em; The Generation Game with Brucie and the Mike Yarwood show.  It was a more innocent time and the programmes could be enjoyed by the whole family.

Friday 17 January 1975:

 The Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) ceasefire came to an end. Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that he would not be influenced by arguments supported by the bomb and the bullet.

Tuesday 21 January 1975:

There was a series of bomb explosions in Belfast. The attacks were carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

 Two members of the IRA were killed when a bomb they were transporting by car exploded in Victoria Street, Belfast.

I was gradually getting used to my life as a stay at home mum.  I have to be honest and admit that I found it quite tough. As an outgoing person who had thrived in the work place and enjoyed the camaraderie of coworkers it was tough.  Gordon was working in Belfast and doing night classes two nights a week so days were long.  He also worked overtime every Saturday to help us survive financially. I relished the company of my neighbours. We only had one car and we lived about a two-mile walk to the village. I was definitely fit in those days. Every afternoon the baby was wrapped up and pushed in a large ‘Princess’ pram into Comber. As well as being fit I also had a face like a beetroot. The walk in was against the wind and as soon as I got into the heat again I beamed like a Belisha beacon.  Very attractive. 

Being at that time a wishy-washy Catholic we still decided to have Louise baptised. More so that we could have a family do, than the religious aspect.  She was christened in the same robes as my mother had been baptised in.  No hotels after, just back to the house for sandwiches, mushroom patties and sausage rolls.   After that church going waned and I was a Catholic in name only. Since my treatment by the church re my wedding venue, I was very sceptical about the church and was also beginning to doubt my faith. After years of saying rosaries, attending mass and being made to go to confession, I was again questioning the hold the church had over us. I can never understand how people I know have respect for the Catholic Church. I had seen enough bowing and scraping to priests. I refuse to be one of them.

Around February I was introduced to a girl who lived in the next street. She too was breastfeeding and was a member of La Leche league.  We became friendly and to cut a long story short we ended up on Radio Ulster on the Gloria Hunniford show doing a

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Portrait of British television presenter Gloria Hunniford, circa 1975. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

phone-in on the subject. A great experience. I just wish we had mobile phones in those days so that we could have recorded it. It was such a pleasure to meet Gloria before she left N.I. and became a big star. As a result of the show, we did the rounds of Ante- natal clinics encouraging other young mums to have a go. It was a great success.

In June, the local Presbyterian church advertised a beautiful baby competition.  We couldn’t resist it. We entered Louise and she won. A £5 voucher for the local chemist was the prize. We moved rather quickly when we saw the minister coming to congratulate us and to no doubt check out what services we attended.  Felt a bit guilty. No I’m lying we didn’t. I think the cute little mop cap helped.0C0BFD28-66BB-4BA4-A3C2-FE441F8D5863

In July we headed to Bunbeg for a week’s holiday. We stayed at the Ostan Gweedore in Bunbeg.  Not the most glamourous of buildings but the view and the food compensated.  It was one of George Best’s favourite hang outs though I have to say I never saw him there 43B09EF9-C2AF-4E5C-8329-D42465E3DAC8on my many visits. The Boyle family ran it as a family hotel and the beach with its wrecked boat became an iconic place to have a photo taken. My family was there, so we had some built in baby sitters – a luxury for us. Louise was in a baby walker and had a great time pushing herself along the corridors. She preferred that to walking. The views from the hotel were wonderful and as we strolled up the road to the village we were met by the smell of burning turf fires.4ACE3A68-2E4D-4164-A46E-BD41E150B0B3

One night after settling Louise we went down to the bar to find John Hume and his wife along with Paddy Devlin and Phil Coulter.  A sing-song ensued and I will always remember John Hume singing The Town I Loved So Well with Phil Coulter playing the piano. A memorable night. Again, a pity there were no mobile phones. It’s so sad to see that the hotel is lying derelict waiting for a buyer to restore it.

 Thursday 31 July 1975:

photograph of Miami Showband membersThe Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun and bomb attack on the members of the Miami Showband. Three members of the band were killed and one seriously injured during the attack.

The holiday turned out to be more expensive than we thought and on return we received a letter from the bank saying we were overdrawn and the bank manager would like to see us.  Yikes!  We got a warning about being overdrawn and the need to be more careful.  So I took on a part-time job with the local newsagent, Miskellys. Every Sunday morning for 3 hours I sold the Sunday papers and got £3.00. I actually enjoyed it and felt more like a part of the community. People would now recognise me on the street and stop for a chat.  The wage from this together with my ‘dole ‘ money helped to keep us solvent.

Saturday 22 November 1975:

Three British soldiers were shot dead in a gun attack on a British Army observation post near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

Around November I got a letter to say that I had an interview to return to my job in the Civil Service. I had to go and hoped I wouldn’t be offered it but I couldn’t resist putting my best foot forward and as a result I got a letter offering me the job. I had to decide to either turn down the job or make child care arrangements and return to work. I couldn’t envisage leaving our daughter with someone I didn’t know and so I turned down the job and said goodbye to my £6.00 a week.  A few extra shifts at the newsagent helped us get through Christmas.

Christmas 1975 and Laurel and Hardy were No 2 in the Christmas charts! We were entertained on Christmas night by Christmas Day with the Stars starring Cilla Black. We headed to Warrenpoint to have Christmas dinner with the in -laws. We hoped for a quiet New Year but it was not to be.

Wednesday 31 December 1975:

item mark Three Protestant civilians were killed in a bomb attack, carried out the People’s Republican Army (PRA), a covername used by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), on the Central Bar, Gilford 

Another horrific deed to end the year!

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Ann Allan: Stormont Square

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It was a foggy night in Stormont Square. Arlene the landlady was about to open up and she was worried. The boiler wasn’t firing properly and she’d called in her Special Plumber ADrian, Spad for short. 

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He suggested that they replace the boiler with a domestic heating incentive available to landlords or RHI as it became to be known. When Spad suggested that for every £1 they invested they could recoup £1.60 Arlene was convinced. It will work well in the pub she thought. Keep the heat up and the punters will drink more.

She hadn’t counted however on there being a backlash from the residents of the square. When they found out about the plan they boycotted the pub. Arlene had been unkind in the past forbidding Cockney to be spoken in the pub and only allowing Adam and Eve to drink there while barring Adam and Steve. One of her customers Big balls Jonny had recorded Arlene and the guy who ran the vegetable stall, planning to deceive the locals with help of a couple of guys Nelson Redsky and Paisley Og. They had been up to no good. Paisley the younger had been holidaying in foreign parts and conning the governments into paying for it. Redsky was dabbling in dodgy windows. There was no transparency.

When Arlene found out she was raging. I need a holiday more than you she cried. Haven’t you heard that takings are down. My salary has been cut and I’m having to count on the RHI scheme working.

Her first customer that morning was Big balls Jonny.

I need a word he said. I’m behind the RHI scheme and even I have realised that it’s not working. So I’m stopping it.

No you can’t do that Arlene shouted. Here have a drink.

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I don’t drink the devils porridge Big balls Jonny replied.

Ok so have a glass of wine instead.

After a couple of sips he began to relax. Give me a bottle of that my good lady he said.

Arlene’s plot to get him tipsy was working.

I’ll try a Guinness he said sleepily.

His tongue was beginning to loosen.

Did you hear the gossip he asked. A couple of senior duper’s are involved in an extra marital affair. I was disgusted listening to all the gory details but I told this guy who works for me, at least  I think he works for me that it was important that he told me every little detail. So I could pray for them, you understand.

At this stage Arlene signalled to a couple of bystanders Big Pete and Simple Simon. Time to take him for a little ride.  You get it boys? Big balls Jonny was last seen singing a song from Breakfast at Tiffany’s as he was dragged out of the pub.

Now get outa ma pub and don’t come back Arlene was heard to shout. 

Cue Eastenders theme.

Ann Allan: Transparency for Accountability -Conference 13 September Riddel Hall

IS TRUMP STRONGER THAN THE FREE PRESS OR IS THE FREE PRESS STRONGER THAN TRUMP?  ( Ann Allan)

I hope they don’t impeach President Trump before the 13 September. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know my feelings about the President and his ‘fake news ‘ may be wondering why? Well I have to confess, with no assembly and the 06F03B11-F52D-485F-B745-732B2AA2AAF6disaster that is Brexit I have been intrigued by the goings on in the White House.  I know more about the judicial system in the USA than I do in the UK and can name most Republican and Democratic senators and of course Trump’s ex wives and ex-lovers. I was horrified when he won the election. I know now that there is a good chance it was won for him by Russia with which he has an affinity.

So when the Open Government  Network NI of which I am a member were planning their conference Transparency for Accountability and were looking for ideas for sessions I suggested that we look at the influence Trump has had on transparency and openness in his own government and in others around the world. He befriends dictators like Putin, Erdogan and Duerte to whom transparency is an anathema.

So we are putting Trump On Trial on 13 September. And although I want him impeached or for him to resign I hope he stays just a little longer.

Other sessions will look at how the ongoing enquiry into the flawed RHI energy scheme and the effect on our democracy. In Beyond RHI:  How to Restore Democratic accountability at Stormont.   Many flaws in our democratic system have come to light. The question is how do we fix it?

The Magic Money Tree.  I’m sure we’ve  all heard from our parents at some stage that money doesn’t grow on trees. That is unless of course you are a bank that can create money out of nothing. But who is in charge of that tree?

Social media, instantly alerting us to events around the world such as terrorist attacks, social upheaval and natural disasters reminds us that our way of life is vulnerable and that we could face destruction and possible extinction. We will discuss how we face this dilemma in our session The  (Post) Truth about Saving the World.

The final session will discuss How a Citizen’s Assembly  would work in NI.  What topic will it address? Could it provide a voice for civil society in the absence of an assembly ?

So if you haven’t already signed up, you need to do now as places are filling up quickly. Riddell Hall is a beautiful venue. And just look at the line up of speakers.  Lunch and refreshments provided. What more could you ask for? Click on the link below to book and to see all the details including speakers at the event.

NI Open Government Conference: Transparency for Accountability Tickets, Thu, 13 Sep 2018 at 09:45 | Eventbrite

Ann Allan: Dear Arlene, Michelle and SOS

I’m so disappointed in the woman who are not running NI, a job that they have been elected to and are being paid for and in whom we had put our hopes into solving the problems in Northern Ireland.

Women will be more empathetic, we thought. They’ll want to solve the waiting lists, they’ll realise how distressing it is for parents, especially mothers watching their children in pain while being told they may have to wait up until three years for surgery. They’ll want to help partners who they see losing the will to live as they cope with pain and they will see their family members who because of the waiting lists in the NHS no longer have any quality of life. We thought they would see the problem with the lack of places for children in our local schools. We thought they might be more conciliatory to the other side and sit down together and try to work through it. 

But no, like a pair of school girls they adopted the he said / she said mind-set and the Ulster attitude of ‘not an inch’ and ‘No surrender’

Hard to believe that this is happening because some want to speak Irish and insist that this right be enshrined in an ILA and some who see speaking Irish as another step to a United Ireland. Please tell me we are better than this. Improve life for our citizens or hold out for an ILA or reject an ILA . I just can’t square the two. I personally speak little Irish other than what I learnt at school and I’m delighted that others do but if one of my family becomes ill and needs treatment that isn’t there, I assure you the Irish language will be the furthest thing from my mind as will any other language other than bad.

The three ladies in question will not read this but let me say to you anyway, your self righteous attitudes in the case of Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill and the couldn’t care less attitude of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland need to change and soon. When they look back on their lives will they be able to say ‘ I did a great job in the role the people trusted me to do ‘ or will it be ‘ Look at the numbers who suffered or died on my watch when I could have done something but speaking or not speaking Irish was much more important to me.’

We’ve blamed the men in the past but so far the women aren’t proving much better.

Your woman from Westminster ( blink and you’ll miss her) can’t take a decision to save her life and constantly deflects any questions replying ‘It’s a devolved matter’ Do what’s right even if the DUP don’t approve.  Your conscience must tell you that what’s going on here at the moment is not right in a democratic society. We pay our taxes and are entitled to our politicians working for us and not against us. If you are not up to doing the job, resign and let someone who’ll be at least an honest broker, take over, because time is running out and we in Northern Ireland are living in Limbo.