Friday, 17 May 2013

Eye on the Hill

The ‘Glorioius’ Twelfth
PARADING is a contentious issue in Northern Ireland – yes that may come as a surprise to some of you who thought it was just the associated protests and recreational rioting that was the issue.

In preparation for the marching season, interested parties are being brought to neutral Cardiff where the PSNI insist they’re not intending to solve the parading issue, but reduce tensions.
Whether the Parades Commission will be influenced by this, remains to be seen.

At the same time, the north Belfast Orange Order parade organisers are making contingency plans if their parade is prevented from passing by the Ardoyne shops on 12
July – the said plans include booking the nearby Ballysillan Playing Fields as an alternative to walking to ‘The Field’.

There is, of course, a temptation to tell the loyal orders and the protestors/community groups to just get over themselves and not seek to be offended. But that misses the point.

There is validity in terms of each side’s points, validity that is often lost in the nuances of rioting.

But we also think that Norn Iron plc is missing an opportunity – an export opportunity...

You see when the G8 meeting takes place there will be thousands of protestors gathering according to some sources. In the past such meetings have seen disorder, but more hype and hysteria than anything.

Here we only need a couple of dozen on each side to have public disorder. We should therefore be able to pack off protestors and parade organisers to various parts of the world to tell people how to be more thrifty in terms of numbers in organising civil disorder.

We would even go so far as to suggest that these trade missions take place in July and August...

Can you spoke proper Engerlish?
IT seems we have a problem called literacy. And we have a problem with numeracy too.
Spoking proper Engerlish seems like a wee bit beyond the reach of some of us’uns.

Thankfully the younger generation will be receiving help to move away from text speech and social media posts like ‘rofl’ (roll on floor laughing) ‘OMG’ (Oh My God) and similar...

And the same younger generation is also being supported in counting so that they know how to spend their dole money wisely, which given levels of youth unemployment is perhaps just as well.

The reason for hope is that last year’s promise to recruit extra teachers to address poor literacy and numeracy in Northern Ireland is coming to fruition with 230 new posts being advertised shortly.

While this represents a positive step in addressing the issue of literacy and numeracy, one must question why it has been left so long? After all we have known for some time that the literacy and numeracy strategy has not met the challenges.

However, we must be thankful that positive action is being taken  and look forward to all the other education issues being resolved in this spirit...well we are eternal optimists.

Don’t be poor – it’s bad for your health
ONE of the overlooked statistics published this week is that being poor is bad for your health.

Whilst we have heard lots about us all living longer, it seems that poverty leads to you dying quicker than the mystical average.

While various parties get their knickers in a knot over a percentage here or a percentage there when it comes to religious or cultural identity, a comprehensive approach to dealing with ill-health and poverty has not as yet not been addressed.

To paraphrase Mr Blair, it is time to get tough on ill-health and the causes of ill-health.

Much public health intervention work has been undertaken in terms of targeting smokers and trying to get us all to drink responsibly and eat more Ulster fries as hangover cures apparently...

But this is a complex problem. The culture – no not the Orange and Green culture – of Northern Ireland, and indeed Scotland and our southern neighbours has been based around hard drinking – despite temperance efforts – smoking and eating plenty when you can.

While the Executive has been encouraging entrepreneurship many have been taking up the challenges with a proliferation of chip shops and takeaways around and near the ‘working class’ estates. In one area we counted five such establishments within a few hundred yards of each other.

Education on healthy eating is maybe one course, but we suggest that the Executive focuses on attracting a swathe of takeaways who serve healthy food.

Meanwhile the middle class enjoy the coffee culture and a more balanced diet...

Maybe that’s the problem; members of the middle class are living longer, thereby costing the health service a fortune. We should be encouraging these people to eat fatty food and smoke like a dock worker, thereby ending this culture of living too long! Think of the tax revenues and the training our doctors would get in the diseases of obesity, liver damage and respiratory illness, making us global leaders in fattiness and doctors!

UKIP slip up?
WITH Nigel Farage seemingly unable to put a foot wrong he did make one slip-up, which was not just trying to have a pint in Scotland...

He said that Sinn Féin would campaign for a united Ireland leaving the EU. Sinn Féin responded with a statement which was the equivalent of the sarcastic response, “aye, dead on!”

With UKIP having one MLA in the shape of David McNarry, it does suggest that Mr Farage needs to refine his pronouncements in terms of Northern Ireland – after all as an ostensibly UK and unionist party, drawing favourable comparisons about Sinn Féin being “logical” will not endear unionist voters here...

Or maybe he has a cunning plan we have missed out on appreciating.