Northern Irish homophobic ban stopped

This video says about itself:

No Gay Marriage Here: The Northern Ireland Story | BBC Newsbeat

14 June 2015

Declan Harvey investigates why Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to not allow same-sex couples to marry. With the recent ‘yes’ vote in the Republic of Ireland in favour of gay marriage and many other countries across Europe changing their laws to allow it, why is Northern Ireland different? We meet young gay people who say they’re embarrassed and frustrated at their country’s lack of progress and hear the strongly held arguments against change from the governing Democratic Unionist Party.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Stormont ends gay blood ban

Thursday 1st September 2016

NORTHERN IRELAND: An insulting lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in the six counties was lifted yesterday.

Stormont Health Minister Michelle O’Neill’s decision came after a long campaign by gay rights activists and a series of court battles.

A similar ban in Britain was replaced in 2011 with rules that allowed gay men to give blood 12 months after their last sexual encounter with another man. Northern Ireland has now adopted the same policy.

Northern Ireland 2-Ukraine 0, celebration with bird videos

This video is called Ukraine vs Northern Ireland 0-2 All Goals & EXTENDED Highlights (EURO 2016).

Today, at the European football championship in France, Northern Ireland, where only 1,8 million people live, beat the favourite Ukrainian team two goals to zero.

To celebrate, these two videos about bird life in Northern Ireland.

This March 2013 video is called Birds in my North Antrim garden.

This July 2015 video is called Birds at Kiltonga Wildlife Reserve, Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

MI5 death squads in northern Ireland, inquiry

This video says about itself:

MI5 accused of covering up abuse of boys in Northern Ireland in 1970s

16 February 2015

The abuse victims will take legal action on Tuesday to force a full independent probe into the alleged cover-up of British state involvement in the abuses. They want an inquiry with the power to force witnesses to testify, and the security service to hand over documents. The children allegedly suffered sustained sexual abuse. Lawyers say evidence show the security services were aware of the abuse, permitted it, and colluded in protecting the individuals involved. Amnesty International has referred to the incidents as one of the biggest scandals of this age.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 11 June 2016


AN INVESTIGATION is being launched which will examine the activities of an MI5 agent known as ‘Stakeknife’ who has been linked to 50 murders during the war against Sinn Fein in the north of Ireland.

The investigation will be led by the chief constable of Bedfordshire Police. The chief constable said the team would consist of between 50 and 70 investigators. The investigation will also examine crimes carried out by other MI5 agents, the army and police handlers.

‘Stakeknife’ is believed to have been one of the highest ranking secret agents embedded within the IRA. The undercover MI5 agent is believed to have led the IRA’s internal security unit, known as ‘the nutting squad’, which was responsible for identifying, interrogating, and executing suspected informers.

The media identified ‘Stakeknife’ as Freddie Scappaticci in 2003 after which he fled West Belfast, where he lived. During a press briefing yesterday, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton said the investigation team would not include any current or former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), PSNI, Ministry of Defence or MI5.

Hamilton also introduced chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher. Boutcher said: ‘My principal aim in taking responsibility for this investigation is to bring those responsible for these awful crimes, in whatever capacity they were involved, to justice.

‘As soon as officers and staff are in place, the investigation team will begin reaching out to victims, victims’ families and all interested parties to receive information.’ The new investigation was forced on the authorities after an official report on Thursday confirmed collusion between police and loyalist gunmen in the massacre of six men in a County Down pub in 1994.

The report carried out by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman said police knew the names of suspects within 24 hours of the attacks but delayed making arrests. The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said: ‘I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.’

Dr Maguire confirmed that an assault rifle used in the attack was part of a huge consignment of South African weapons brought into Northern Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s. Other weapons from the shipment were used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders.

The report raised questions about why all the weapons were not intercepted as police ‘informants were at the most senior levels within loyalist paramilitary organisations’. For the past 22 years, the families of the victims have alleged that the police failed to investigate the killings properly because they were protecting informers.

The first person to arrive at the scene of the massacre, Kevin Gordon has said he is still having counselling after what he saw. Speaking from the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, where loyalist gunmen carried out the murders, Kevin Gordon said what he found ‘never leaves you’.

The Catholic victims were in the bar watching the Republic of Ireland play a World Cup football match against Italy on 18 June that year, when two Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members walked in and opened fire indiscriminately. The six men who died were Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Green, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39.

Emma Rogan, daughter of Adrian Rogan, said: ‘I’m thinking of my daddy and all those others who died. This report has vindicated our long-held suspicions.’ She told the BBC ‘Today’ programme the collusion ‘goes right to the top of the British government’.

• Undercover police spies from the London Metropolitan Police operated in the north of Ireland in the 1990s without the knowledge of local police, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed.

The undercover unit, called the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), infiltrated protest groups. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Policing Board nobody in the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the PSNI was aware of them. He said they were ‘completely blind to their activities’ and their presence.

‘In October last year, the Metropolitan Police advised us that there was a potential that the SDS, as it was then known, had operated in Northern Ireland, unknown to us,’ said Hamilton.

‘We can’t find any record that anybody in the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the PSNI were aware of the presence of these officers in Northern Ireland. Nor were we aware of any information gathered being passed back to us for our use. We appear to be entirely blind to this.’

One of the undercover officers for whom Scotland Yard apologised for tricking women into sexual relationships carried out surveillance in Northern Ireland, say environmental campaigners. Campaigner Kim Bryan said one of the officers spent some time in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

She said she went to Belfast in 2005 with Mark Kennedy at his suggestion. ”Mark Kennedy organised the travel, he paid for the trip and we went in his vehicle so he drove us around Ireland when he came to visit,’ she said.

‘We did three events in total when we were in Belfast. I don’t know exactly what he was doing, but I suspect he used the opportunity to spy on activists in Ireland – in Belfast and Dublin and in County Clare where we were.’

It is only now 18 years after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that the UK ruling class’ murder machine in the north of Ireland has begun to be unmasked.

LGBTQ rights and homophobia in Northern Ireland

This video says about itself:

Thousands of revelers lined the route of the 2012 Gay Pride Parade in Belfast on Saturday, August 4, as floats featuring performers of all kinds brought a party atmosphere to the Northern Irish capital. The sun, surprisingly, also made an appearance.

By Annette Pryce:

Hard won LGBT+ rights missing in Northern Ireland

Monday 28th March 2016

A National Union of Teachers delegation to the six counties in February was shocked by the state of affairs, writes Annette Pryce

EQUAL marriage, the repeal of Section 28, adoption, equal age of consent, the Equality Act are all things we as LGBT+ people, as trade unionists, fought long and hard for and feel very proud of. The LGBT+ legislative strategy seems all but complete if you ignore survivor pensions, (don’t ignore that), and a few other important things.

But while we’ve won these rights in Britain, in Northern Irealnd they’re almost totally absent.

When our delegation of 14 NUT LGBT+ teachers arrived in Belfast for our four-day trip we didn’t know what to expect. Growing up hearing about “the Troubles” doesn’t make for a lived experience or a good understanding about what Northern Ireland is like.

Our first meeting with the LGBT+ organisation the Rainbow Project was a crash course in Northern Ireland politics.

Delegates, with their mouths gaping open in shock, demonstrated that our ignorance was just as shocking as the terrible, fragile reality being laid before us.

Despite a clear majority of parties agreeing on equal marriage — and let’s face it, a public that isn’t opposed to the idea — the Democratic Unionist Party use what are supposed to be exceptional veto powers to prevent equal marriage proposals and anything progressively LGBT+ from happening.

Civil partnerships are legal in Northern Ireland — because the Assembly was suspended when the 2004 Civil Partnership Act was passed in Westminster — but there are no equal marriage rights and if you and a same-sex partner got married in Britain, it would not be recognised in Northern Ireland.

But marriage isn’t the most important recognition a state can give you and our delegation wanted to understand what the experience was like for LGBT+ children, teenagers and adults.

With the highest rate of LGBT suicide in the UK, the Rainbow Project told us that 40 per cent of their young service-users had attempted suicide. It was a startling statistic that even with my years of activism and teaching stunned me. “Isolation” was cited as one of the key elements to the statistics as well as school-based bullying.

We headed over to Stormont’s Department of Education to better understand what was being done to protect young LGBT+ people and teachers and received yet more bad news. The department is powerless to intervene in school provision of sex and relationship education and given that every school in Northern Ireland is a faith-based school that often means such education is utterly inadequate, making LGBT+ people invisible.

When we asked the department about protections for LGBT+ teachers we were told that they “didn’t look at the teacher element.” Given this was a room full of LGBT+ teachers you can imagine the cold reception.

There is no Equality Act and therefore no employment protections for LGBT+ teachers except for the vague section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act. And as for school governors, they have one member of the local clergy on each board and an appointments commission that openly LGBT+ people would have zero faith in.

There was some good movement on bullying in schools and it was demonstrated that recording and intervention programmes were being prioritised and promoted by the Education Minister.

We met our sister unions the Ulster Teachers Union and the Irish National Teachers Organisation to show some solidarity and to hear their take and what their organisations were doing in terms of organising LGBT+ teachers.

It was fantastic and inspiring to hear their efforts to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the education system. We provided messages of support and promised to keep a channel open to work together and exchange best practice on organising LGBT+ teachers.

One beacon of hope was former Communication Workers Union official Chris Hudson, now a reverend at the Unitarian All Souls Church in Belfast. Chris’s church not just openly welcomes LGBT+ people of faith and refugees, it campaigns publicly for their rights. The church hosted us for an evening and lesbian congregation members performed music for us. It was a special moment after a bleak day for our delegation.

There is of course hope in Northern Ireland, with organisations like the Rainbow Project, teachers’ unions, churches like All Souls and the supportive and active spaces that are emerging for LGBT+ people. But the one hope that blew us all away was the irrefutable fact that out of all the parade marches that take place in Northern Ireland, the LGBT+ Pride parade was the largest.

Imagine, a place that has structural segregation and limited protections for LGBT+ people, the largest unifying demonstration is an LGBT+ rights march. That gives us all hope and that’s why our continuing support and solidarity towards our fellow LGBT+ teachers in Northern Ireland means so much.

Annette Pryce is the NUT LGBT executive member.

What is wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime

This picture is part of a governmental publication in Northern Ireland; about what they consider to be wildlife crime.

Breeding shorebirds in Northern Ireland, new study

This video is called Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) (with northern lapwings in the background).

From Bird Study:

Population estimates and changes in abundance of breeding waders in Northern Ireland up to 2013

3 July 2015


Capsule: The third survey of breeding waders in Northern Ireland showed large declines in the abundance of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe since 1987.

Aims: To estimate the size of the breeding populations of selected breeding wader species in Northern Ireland in 2013 and population changes since previous surveys in 1987 and 1999.

Methods: Complete surveys of all potentially suitable breeding habitats were undertaken in randomly selected 2 km squares in each of 146 land-dominated 10 km squares across Northern Ireland. Square selection and a two-visit field method replicated previous surveys conducted in 1987 and 1999.

Results: Northern Ireland breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe were estimated to be 526 (±95% CI: 252–783), 860 (277–1545) and 1123 pairs (527–1782), respectively. These estimates represent significant declines in abundance of 82%, 89% and 78% respectively since 1987.

Conclusion: Breeding populations of Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing and Common Snipe have declined dramatically since 1987 and the distributions of all species are becoming increasingly fragmented and restricted towards the western counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh. Urgent conservation action is needed to prevent the disappearance of these species from the wider countryside.