Vigil “Je suis Charlie”

Belfast shows support for the victims of the Paris shooting. Whilst some of the cartoons may be of dubious taste, and in my view not a particularly worthwhile piece of satire, nobody deserves to die for expressing their views. To quote James O’Malley (@psythor)

Ultimately every other right – whether it is to “bear arms”, own property or have religious beliefs of our choosing (and so on) stem from the right to speak freely, and express new ideas. Which is why, on balance, free speech deserves our priority over everything else.

Read his full piece here.

Chris Steadman also has an interesting piece here where he explores the idea that you don’t have to support Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons to support free expression.

Belfast Peace Gathering

Another protest in Belfast — how very Northern Irish. Whether it’s a protest against government cuts, fighting for abortion legislation, the killing of a police officer, we do love a good protest — but despite what some say, such gatherings are vital. Sure, creating hashtags on Twitter, shouting about how awful it is on Facebook, and creating memes are a large part of what it is to show disapproval, physically rallying in the centre of town shows that the people are serious about taking a stand. Armchair activism is vital for getting movements off the ground, but it needs to be taken to the streets.

Over 1,000 people gathered at the City Hall for an hour. Then at 11.55 whistles, horns and drums came out. Screams could be heard all around and the clapping was contagious. The atmosphere was electric. There was no tension in the air. Everyone was happy to be out. If anything, it made us simply feel better about the people who live here. As one placard said: “It’s a piece of land, and we all have to live on it.”

This was a non-political event. Organised on the ground by a very small number of individuals, which rapidly spread over the course of just a few days, this is the way in which our society will continue to move forward. This is about more than a flag, this is about informing the small, violent, minorities that we do not want violence. The very fact that many did not turn up today due to fears for their (and their childrens’) safety from a counter-protest, is a sad fact in itself. However, today was peaceful, and we can only hope that tomorrow will be peaceful.

The next step is ensuring that the positive attitude that everyone went away with can be shown in the party policies, that our government leaders can lead us away from violence. That the fight for peace can resonate in the minds of those who continue to disrupt the peace. Whatever the outcome, we came together and showed our support. For peace. For no violence.

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

belfast peace gathering 16th december 2012

Well Done Belfast — No Surrender

After the vote on Monday in the City Council to remove the Union Flag as a permanent fixture on the City Hall, instead having it fly on certain days in the year, riots broke out at the city hall, and since then across Belfast by loyalist thugs.

On the upside, the “No Surrender Woman” meme to come out of it has brought much needed laughter in the face of the terrible destruction and violence taking place.

Some original footage

Equal Marriage NI Survey Shows 75% For Marriage Equality

This afternoon some members of the Equal Marriage NI campaign team carried out a small poll of random people in South Belfast on same-sex marriage. The survey, although small in number, showed overwhelming support for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, which is about giving the right to all people to marry, no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation.

The results were:

220 polled in total between 10:30am and 12:30pm 20th July 2012

164 polled in favour of full marriage equality
70 of those in favour were male
94 of those in favour were female

3 polled as undecided on the issue
2 of those undedicded were male
1 of those undecided were female

53 polled against full marriage equality
20 of those against were male
33 of those against were female

All those polled were randomly selected out on the street or within various coffee shops in the areas of Botanic, Queen’s University Belfast, Stranmillis, Lisburn Road, Sandy Row and the Holylands area.

This data, though small in number, and taken from a very small area of the city, show that a large majority, 74.5% are for, while 24.1% are against same-sex marriage. While only 1% are undecided.

Equal Marriage NI said that the majority of those who are against marriage equality do so on “religious grounds due to the doctrine that a marriage before God is between a Man and Woman.” This reasoning is unexpected, though undoubtedly saddening that it is still such a widely held opinion.

Equal Marriage NI plan to conduct a more comprehensive survey in the future.