All posts by Rebekah Wilson

No Petition of Concern? What Does This Mean for Same-Sex Marriage?

 

The recent UK general elections has sparked interest nationwide over the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. (DUP)

Since the Conservative Party won the general election but did not win enough seats to meet an overall majority. Therefore, Theresa May’s options were limited to making a deal with another party to form a minority government. May chose the DUP, who won 10 seats in the general election.

The DUP are a renowned centre-right wing unionist political party in Northern Ireland. Much of their beliefs have been addressed in national news, especially that of their views on Same-Sex Marriage.

Northern Ireland is the only country in the United Kingdom that does not acknowledge same-sex marriage (it is treated as a civil partnership) and it is illegal. The most interesting fact about this is, prior to the March 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections, First Minister and Leader of the DUP Arlene Foster stated that the Democratic Unionist Party would continue to use a petition of concern to block any bill which would legalise same-sex marriage. So, the petition of concern is being used in Northern Ireland by political parties to allow their ideologies to take shape in law and onto the people of Northern Ireland.

The DUP are the leading party of Northern Ireland, although since the March Elections they were unable to keep their overall majority of 30 seats, only reaching 28. Therefore, they can no longer use the petition of concern to block anything they find noxious.

Same-sex marriage, in Northern Ireland, has been debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly five times, since 2012. The first four times, it was a minority that voted for the legalisation of same-sex marriages. But, in the most recent vote (November 2015) a majority of MLA’s voted in favour of same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is clear that Northern Ireland, as a whole, were and are ready to legalise this.

Alliance Party’s North Down representative Mr Andrew Muir MLA was the first openly gay mayor in Northern Ireland, and he believes that same-sex marriage is needed to build a better future for Northern Ireland. He stated that civil marriage “helps build a modern, inclusive, open and welcoming society which values everyone.

 

When Muir was asked how he felt about the way in which the petition of concern was used, he commented, “I am extremely frustrated to see the Petition of Concern abused to stop Equal Marriage becoming law in Northern Ireland…The Petition of Concern was designed to protect minorities but is instead being used to deny a minority right to Civil Marriage which threatens no-one.”

In contrast there are many people in Northern Ireland who do not agree with Andrew Muir, and believe same-sex marriage is still wrong. In an attempt to get a comment from any Unionist Party representatives, nothing came of it. So, we spoke to a DUP voter, Patricia Agnew (71) from Bangor. She remarked that same-sex marriage was “un-holy and unnecessary in Northern Ireland”. She added, “There are more important things to worry about than if a man and another man can put rings on their fingers, it’s a disgrace that so much time has been wasted trying to make something of this nonsense.”

With regards to Mrs Agnew’s comments, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin have apparently stated that a ban on same-sex marriage is a ‘red line’ in the country’s ongoing power-sharing talks. Highlighting that same-sex marriage is one of the main reasons why Northern Ireland cannot structure a functioning government in a fair time period.

Now, in light of the recent general elections more people are understanding, or claiming to understand why Northern Ireland cannot legalise same-sex marriage in line with the rest of the United Kingdom. This has sparked a new match on the issues faced in this country and members of LGBTQ communities are starting to come together and fight for their rights. On July 1st, a protest march will be held in Belfast by Love Equality Coalition, a campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. The campaign is led by Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, The Rainbow Project, NUS-USI and HereNI. The march has been organised in the wake of the general elections and the likely parliamentary deal with the minority Tory government, as they seek to put pressure on the DUP to change its views now that they are being scrutinised by the rest of the UK.

The DUP still believe in a “traditional” marriage that does not include same-sex marriage, but are they living in the past? Like Muir said, “civil marriage…threatens no-one.” Or are the Democratic Unionist Party doing the right thing as Mrs Agnew stated, “There are more important things to be worrying about”?

But, now that the DUP have no political power to veto same-sex marriage there is a chance that Northern Ireland will follow the lead of every other country in the United Kingdom and make same-sex marriage legal, that is, if the DUP do not find another way to stop this.

For more information visit:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/06/unionists-could-make-pact-to-keep-blocking-equal-marriage-in-northern-ireland/

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/survey-shows-70-support-for-samesex-marriages-in-northern-ireland-34842125.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_Kingdom

 

Puppies Visit Ulster University Coleraine Campus to Calm Students During Exam Season.

The Causeway Coast Dog Rescue Service visited Ulster University’s Coleraine Campus to offer up some stress relief with a bundle of puppies for the students to cuddle. The idea was thought up by Ulster University Student’s Union where similar events are happening across the campuses. This is the second time the puppy’s have come for a visit and it is one of the most popular events on the University’s calendar.

The students are able to come to a room in the campus to talk to the rescue team and meet the wonderful puppy’s from the rescue centre. The aim is to show young people how important it is to be responsible when adopting or buying a dog. As all of the puppies brought to the Coleraine Campus have been rescued by the Causeway Team. The team are hoping that these event’s will help people to see how major an issue animal abuse is in Northern Ireland.

The Young Offenders (2016)

Review – The Young Offenders (2016) .

Two unfortunate Irish teenagers devise a criminal plan in this funny and genuinely sweet Irish comedy-drama.

In 2016 writer-director Peter Foott made his debut on-screen with this witty comedy, and it deserves a round of applause. This film is hilarious but more than that it pulls at your heart strings in a genuinely heart-warming fashion.

Loosely based on a real event in 2007 when there was a seizure off the West Coast of Cork coast of a record €440 million worth of cocaine. This Irish coming-of-age story follows two 15 year old West Cork boys, Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley) cycling 100 miles to Three Castle Head desperately dreaming of finding a bale of cocaine worth €7 million washed up from a captured trawler.

Jock and Conor are an opportunistic but unfortunate duo, who are bored with their regular, monotonous daily routines. Jock being a bike stealer and Conor working at a fish stall run by his single mother Mairead. (Hilary Rose).

But, once Jock finds out about the bale of cocaine he runs to Conor offering up a ludicrous plan to retrieve the loot. For the rest of the film it plays out absurdly funny situations that the duo get themselves caught up in, like when they retrieve the cocaine and strap it to the back of their bikes not realising the bag is ripped, allowing the white dust to trail along the road behind them. Only to figure it all out when all the cocaine was gone. From the very beginning of the film the sharp and witty script portrays a spot-on depiction of adolescent boys, similar to that of The Inbetweeners.

As far as comedy is concerned Foott manages to keep the amusing tone whilst introducing darker elements. Predominantly in the most heart-wrenching scene of the film when Jock is found covered in bruises from the abuse by his alcoholic father. This theme of abuse and neglect follows Jock all the way through the duo’s journey as he only wants the bale of cocaine to get away from his abusive father. It is heart-breaking but Jock’s ideas on how to save himself are so dim it renders a comedic overtone on the darkness.

As low-cost Irish Film’s go this is one to watch. If you want to laugh and cry all in the space of 1 hour and 25 minutes, this will be your best bet.