July Event — Matthew Collins, 24th July, Sunflower Bar

Our speaker this month will be Matthew Collins. Matthew may be familiar to some of you as the resident geek on BBC Northern Ireland’s Great Unanswered Questions, where he inhabits the famous wicker chair with his trusty lap-top interjecting pearls of wisdom from the world wide web. Matthew is also a stand up and we are very lucky to see him preview some of the material he will be performing at this years’ Edinburgh Festival. An academic with a love of science, puzzles, beards, big words and the game of thrones. I think you’ll agree a perfect match for an audience of skeptics.

Put the date in your calendar:
Facebook Event
Wed 24th July
Sunflower Bar (65 Union Street, Belfast) [map]
8.00pm

Separate Church and State Now! Public Meeting with Sanal Edamaruku and Atheist Ireland

Atheist Ireland are hosting a public meeting on furthering the idea of separation of church and state in Ireland. The meeting is to be held in the Malone Lodge on Tuesday 27th November with author and president of the Indian Rationalist Association and Rationalist International, Sanal Edamaruku, who is facing blasphemy charges in India, instigated by the Catholic Church, for exposing a crying Catholic statue as being caused by faulty plumbing and capillary action.

Other events are being held in Cork, Galway and Belfast (Dublin event took place on Saturday 24th), to promote separation of church and state in Ireland and internationally.

Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland will speak on the need for a secular constitution, laws, government, courts, education system and healthcare system, both in Ireland and internationally.

Event: Dr. Stephen Baker — The Propaganda of Peace

McHugh’s Bar, Queens Square [map],
The Lucan Room (above the restaurant),
Thursday 1st November 7.30pm.

Facebook event page

We are very pleased to announce this month’s speaker: Dr Steven Baker, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies and author — yes, it’s on 1st Nov, but don’t let that fool you, it’s still our October event!

With the media being such an intrinsic part of our lives, understanding and deciphering the bias and uncovering the truth from the untruth can be difficult. Specifically, what impact did the media in Northern Ireland have on the peace process?

Stephen Baker is a Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Ulster. He is the co-author, with Greg McLaughlin, of The Propaganda of Peace: The role of the media and culture in the Northern Ireland Peace Process (2010) and together they are currently working on a new book entitled The British Media and Bloody Sunday (forthcoming 2013). Stephen also researches and publishes work analysing representations of class in British film and television drama.

The Propaganda of Peace considers the media and broader cultural representation of Northern Ireland during the peace process. In particular it argues that the media played a significant role in persuading the public to accept the new political dispensation. The argues that to really appreciate the cultural shift that attended Northern Ireland’s political transformation, requires us to look across a broad range of factual and fictional representations, from journalism and public museum exhibitions to film, television drama and situation comedy. Ultimately the authors ask whether the ‘propaganda of peace’ actually promotes the abandonment of a politically engaged public sphere at the very moment when public debate about neo-liberalism, financial meltdown and social and economic inequality make it most necessary.

Before enrolling as a mature student in Media Studies at the University of Ulster in the mid-1990s, Stephen made a series of ill-fated attempts at working for living; as a van driver’s mate, a shop assistant and a civil servant. For a short time he was an ineffective shop steward for the Transport and General Workers’ Union and in 1996 stood in the Northern Ireland Forum elections as a Labour Coalition candidate in the Strangford constituency. He didn’t get elected but has the consolation of being on first name terms with just about everyone who voted for him, so few were there.

Stephen is a socialist of no fixed political abode, who defies the maxim that as you get older you get more right-wing.