Belfast Royal Academy-a new chapter?

Belfast Royal Academy , the oldest school in the city, has a new Principal.

The school has about 1,400 pupils in the grammar school, about 196 of whom are entitled to free school meals.

Its A level performance has been deteriorating over the last four years. Department statistics show that the percentage of pupils achieving three or more A levels at grades A* -C fell from 78% in 2012/13 through 70%-73%-71% in subsequent years.

This compares [although those who know more about these things, say ‘not really’] with the top performing secondary schools in Northern Ireland which achieve in the upper 80% or in some cases over 90%.

In its  2012 Annual Report, mention is made of sending three pupils to the ancient universities. Thereafter , there is sparse mention of more than one such achievement, annually. The Methodist College sent 8 pupils to OxBridge in 2013/14.

Standards have clearly fallen within the school. This is always, ultimately , the responsibility of the Board of Governors.

The Board has appointed Mrs Hilary Woods as Principal. She was , for three years, Principal of Antrim Grammar School. During that relatively short tenure , for a Head, she was also  [for some period] Assistant Principal of Craigavon Senior High School.

 

Antrim Grammar’s performance in the comparative A level statistics is 77%-76%-77%-76%. It is not 80% as claimed by the school’s website. [Read the very small print]

Mrs Woods was Head of a school half the size of BRA, with about 52 pupils on free school meals and a budget of £3 million, largely controlled by the Education Authority. She had about 46 teachers.

She now takes command of a budget of over £6 million and 80 staff.

She is the first external appointment to the position of Principal since 1943. She faces a daunting task, to restore and indeed to improve academic standards.

As the Warden said to me “a new chapter”.

Let’s hope so.

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Twenty seven years ago

On this day, twenty seven years ago , the PIRA bomb team, which I have publicly named, [ all of whom are still alive, some active in the SF/IRA election campaign in North Belfast] killed my father and so wounded my mother that she died the next day.

Let’s focus on  my mother, Ellen Sefton, aged 66, retired. Her only connection to “the conflict ” as SF/IRA now call it, was to be married to my father and to be a Protestant. No words of apology were ever uttered  by PIRA about her  death. She was the subject of a sectarian assassination involving collusion by the State, no different to those killings suggested by republicans. In all the forty years I knew her she never uttered a word against Roman Catholics. She was ahead of her time. She  befriended gays and Jews and loved the  heady atmosphere of New York. She loved its words and its freedom. She loved her family. She looked after  her mother till she died at 92.  She was full of life. She was my biggest fan. Perhaps that’s why it hurts so much.

Twenty seven years on , the State campaign of ‘forgive and forget’ is still being waged. Useful young idiots , solicitors, businessmen etc. are tapped up with promises of places on NGOs, slap up dinners, and photographs with the great and the good; if only they would embrace the “Peace Process”. The hurt and damage that these people cause  is beyond measure.

For all of these 27 years the State has lied to me, about the big stuff, its involvement  with PIRA, with Libya -and about the little stuff, who knew what about  UCBTs. The State knows who killed my parents, why would they not? They had so many informers that  by 1990 they had over run PIRA. So why don’t they come clean? What dead hand prevents disclosure? Who protects the like of Sean Maguire? To what end?

Who could believe the British Government about any security issue, old or current? A lesson that many of us have learned and many of the relatives of  the dead of Manchester and London will soon learn. Nothing is ever as it seems and the State will always lie to you.

I miss my parents every day.

I’ll continue to fight for them till my dying breath. It has cost me every material thing  I owned  but that doesn’t matter.

If I don’t do it , who will?

And I still own myself….

Is John Finucane a SF/IRA dupe?

It’ s hard to imagine [almost] the horror that John Finucane witnessed, although  he was not by any means an isolated case.

I knew, worked with and liked his father, who was a contemporary.

Since then, John has qualified and practised as a solicitor, seemingly uninterested in politics, till now.

It would be difficult for an impartial observer to conclude otherwise than he is anti-British.

He and I have a common interest . As his mother put it, who sent the gunmen? I want to know who sent the bomb team that murdered my parents. Our common suspicion is that the State was involved.

Here, the stories diverge.

The other night, John shared a platform with two IRA volunteers, Kelly and Na Chullin. Worse, he was photographed beside Sean Maguire, who was part of the operation that killed my parents. Maguire was a prominent member of PIRA in 1990 and also an informer for the State. He was with Scap when they visited the house where Sandy Lynch was held. Maguire may be managing his publicity, I don’t know. Maguire, who ‘qualified’ as a journalist after his release from prison, benefitted from the general amnesty for touts, agreed some years ago by the Army Council and now lives in the Oldpark area of Belfast.

What sort of world is John currently inhabiting? Does he really believe his own publicity about equality and  justice for all? Why does he share a platform with terrorists ? Was not his candidature agreed by the Army Council?

Is it the same old Finucane deal, Uncles John , Dermot and Seamus?

The fascinating thing that the Finucanes have in common with the Adams Family is that one  outstanding family member , Pat Finucane  and Gerry Adams never joined the IRA.

I wonder what the moderate Roman  Catholics of North Belfast think?

And for whom will they vote?

And why is John Finucane, Human Rights lawyer, sharing a platform with terrorists?

The trouble with god

It is indoors, the immediate scene is dark but in the background there are two spot lights.

A grey haired man is on his knees, his head down. His face is obscured. Two old men, both still wearing overcoats , despite the heat, are arched over him. They have their hands on his shoulders.

The viewer is immediately alarmed. Who are these men, why is one on his knees? What has he done? In the background is a large , heavy man, watching proceedings. Is he a godfather of crime? Are these old men his lieutenants?

Behind the fat man, a fit young man looks on. Is he a minder?

Does someone have a gun?

The man in the big overcoat speaks. His diction is ponderous, like a godfather. Is he going to tell us of the grey haired man’s crime?

No. In a voice heavy with care, he invokes the holy spirit. [for non christians, this is part of the three part god that they believe in, see shamrock for an explanation] and asks that it influence , inter alia, the interviewer.

The grey haired man leaps to his feet. He either takes something from his mouth or wipes it. He is not to be executed.

All becomes clear.This is not a Cosa Nostra punishment hearing.

It’s the Nolan Show!

So began one of the most significant  political interviews in recent times. Essentially the interviewee said that everything he was going to say was  true because his god had okayed it.

Leaving aside the question as to whether or not the BBC should have pemitted such a display [perhaps the management thought it would make good tv] the viewer was invited by the interviewee, to go along with the evidence, because it had been sanctioned by god.

I’ve watched as , over twenty years, the NIO and now the Executive try to tell the people what a great wee country we live in.

The truth is that it is inhabited by a elite ,  a big house class that by and large escaped the troubles and continue to exert huge, unseen influence. Look at the brief clip of Arlene and Bell being spoken to by David Smyth and his wife. David is a retired judge and in the past a failed Unionist candidate. His wife is the daughter of  Colonel Hall Thompson. They haven’t gone away , you know.Below them is the political class, more of that in a moment. Then there is the largely supine and stultified middle class, who are pandered to over education and health care. As long as they can get to Ravenhill on a Friday night and their wives can shop on the Lisburn Road, they are happy.Next is the elite non -working class. They are the recipients of grants, money from community initiatives, and other state sources. This is improved by hacking Sky TV for a small fee , buying stuff at the illegal Crumlin Road market, jointly controlled by the UDA and PIRA and  fiddling the electricity meter.

There is another class. Honest decent people who are aghast at what is happening. They don’t count because of the political class. It has learned that HMG will put up with anything rather than a return to bombs in GB. Accordingly the political class extracts money and concessions from HMG at will. Cameron came and was outraged, as a good Tory Boy, at the attitude of this class. He is gone and May will be more pragmatic. This class , with their bloated expenses, their SpAds , and their misguided belief in their own abilities [fostered by HMG] considers that hardship is for the little people. The big money is for their supporters, in farming and  business.

But where is god in all of this?

Almost every DUP politician likes to tell us about their christian faith. Wee Jeffrey likes to tells us of it while trying to sell arms to a muslim regime that fails to protect Copts.

It’s OK to get  divorced, like Emma Aardvark Little Pengelly, despite biblical teaching, but don’t try the same trick with same sex marriage.

Arlene, in recent days has been filmed at church and at a nativity play [for non-believers this is a story about how a god impregnated a virgin]

The sad fact is that there are still sufficient people who have an imaginary friend that ensures  the DUP or/or  Bell will get away with this mumbo jumbo, which keeps poor people in their place.

So , who is god backing in this one?

I tried to get him to speak to me but without success.

St Peter referred me to Paul Tweed.

My life in a Banana Republic:December.

Jambo!

I have observed the silence because, since your summer, I have been in my homeland.

A man such as myself , with many Degrees from the Queen’s University is well respected and much sought after in my country.

My Uncle, who is Prime Minister, appointed me Minister for the Environment. In this way I was able to look after our oil interests and the family coal fired power station, built on the lands of a rival tribe.

But I was restless, I sought a new challenge.

Imagine my excitement when I saw an advertisement for a CEO of the Community Research and Action Program. I leapt at the chance. There was much assessment and interviewing. I sensed that the two tribes were at war when I was asked if I knew the Great She Elephant or the President-for-Life. I said no and consequentially received the post.

It is most satisfying and my eyes have been opened wide. No procurement rules are obeyed. You can sell your land to the government for a new road, then when a judge forbids the road, the government gives you the land back and puts up the fences again. You get an incentive to burn as much wood as you like. Men roam the streets with large bags of cash. No wrongdoing goes beyond a committee, which buries it. In fact, I have learned a new word. Largesse. It is never off the lips of community workers, who are often former  or part time warriors. My friend , Dingle, says that Largesse is the new opiate of the masses.

This is certainly true. I have only met one politician who is not availing of this thing. That is Jim Allister. He is a grumpy man who is constantly revolted by sodomy. Jim would not fit in my country. He does not have fun or Largesse. That is why he frowns so much.

On the opposite hand, I saw Emma Aardvark Lyttle Pengelly in Templepatrick Evergreen on Saturday. She was munching her Greggs pasty and having fun. Maybe she gets  a lot of Largesse.

I have written to my Uncle to give him some tippings on what he calls Pork Barrel Politics. He is behind the times. Largesse is the new Pork Barrel. Northern Ireland is open for business!

And I am revelling in the CRAP.

Jambo!

Jack Straw’s Bum

Jack Straw’s bottom loomed large  [figuratively] at the House of Commons last week. Ten lines into his evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee he revealed that he had “suffered a small shard of glass in my behind” as the Old Bailey bomb exploded in 1973. In  a reversal of the Black Knight’s assurance “tis but a scratch ” Straw made much of his experience at the hands of Gerry Kelly MLA and others. [see also answer to question 490]

Some interesting evidence emerged.

He said that the issue of compensation for Semtex attacks had not been raised with the Libyans. He went on to speculate as to what the Libyan reply would have been. They would have said “we have owned up to  supplying Semtex but it was not we who planted it at the Old Bailey [that scratch again] or used it in different ways.”

He used the British lawyer’s remoteness of damage argument on behalf of an imaginary Libyan lawyer.

He said that as early as 1995 Libya had provided information to the UK about the material and financial support it had provided PIRA.

Therefore , twenty one years ago HMG was in possession of the quantities supplied and could calculate whether or not PIRA had really decommissioned. Further, no doubt the Libyans gave the names of the terrorists involved in the deals.

The real explanation for the failure of HMG to support victims of Libyan supplied Semtex is that, if asked the Libyans would have said “we supplied the Semtex, your MI6 knew that. They also knew who was picking it up and using it and many of them were British agents. So don’t blame us.” So over twenty years ago , the issue of compensation was binned, for the greater good of oil and the lesser good of the peace process.

The mildly scarred Straw’s mission was to come to the committee and waffle away the victims’ rights. Hinting that it was really all the fault of their political representatives.

A glimmer of hope was raised when he said that if it were up to him, he would try to implement any recommendation made by the committee. But then again he is retired , so he would say that.

The real flaw in his arguments is that if the Libyans are so opposed to paying compensation to the victims  of Libyan Semtex, why did they pay compensation to the non British victims, several years ago?

It’s over a year since this enquiry started and the consistent message from the Establishment is that HMG will not practically help the victims.

It’s time that the NIAC got a report out.

The scandal of children’s safety in Northern Ireland

As in the rest of the UK and probably elsewhere, the landscape is littered with organisations , some Quangos, some charities , on the face of it, concerned about children.

In Northern Ireland , to mention a few, there is Barnados, the NSPCC, the NICCY and the Safeguarding Board NI.

You might think, Dear Reader, that one body could protect our children.

Not so. All these bodies and more, receive public money , our pennies, when in the street, with the aim of protecting children from physical violence , emotional violence, sexual abuse and other discrimination.

Since I became aware of this problem, in the early 1980s, I have wondered what the government was doing to protect children.

Sadly, I have come to the view, articulated in the song “I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote”.

Some time ago , the government decided that an overarching body should protect children. The clue is in the title of this body…the Safeguarding Board for NI.

It has a chairman, three non executive directors [which means that OFMDFM appoints them] and at least 16 other members.

It has five regional panels , a case management review panel  and other panels.

It has a number of other committees, including a “policies and procedures” committee , an “interfaith sub group” [ god help us] and an “education and training” group.

Alexis Jay’s report [suppressed since February of this year] makes for shocking reading. Essentially it says that nobody has got a grip of the disparate bodies who turn up and say that they are concerned about children.

Essentially, it says that the Safeguarding  Board is fuck all use. That’s not language that is  deployed  but to the parents of affected children that’s what it amounts to.

Children continue to die and children are still abused while this hopeless organisation carries on.

You have probably heard lots of “experts” talk about children on Good Morning Ulster, Nolan and other media. Not one has raised this issue.

It begs the question, common in Northern Ireland, are they slave to the fee , the establishment or to the truth? Perhaps they will let us know, particularly where the safety of children is at stake.

Meanwhile, all these fat ladies and pale men continue to draw their gross salaries and the talking heads ignore the problem.