Northern Ireland becomes more intolerant

The Equality Commission today published research concerning public attitudes towards minorities in Northern Ireland.

I don't intend to write too much about the research but one thing stands out clearly. According to the research the public in Northern Ireland have become more intolerant of minorities.

In 2005 when the research was first carried out 38% of people surveyed stated that they would mind if a friend or relative entered into a relationship with a traveller. In 2008 this has risen to 51%.

Similarly, in 2005 29% of people surveyed stated that they would mind if a relative or friend entered into a relationship with a lesbian, gay or bisexual person. In 2008 this has risen to 35%.

We can debate at length why Northern Ireland has become more intolerant but it's clear to me that a lot of blame can be apportioned to the two dominant parties within Northern Ireland's Executive, namely the DUP and Sinn Fein.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have failed to take any decisive pro-active action in government to promote diversity and tackle intolerance. We are still waiting for a new Shared Future strategy after previously being told it would be published by Halloween 2008. The Executive seems to be seriously riven with divisions. As a result no meaningful decisions are being made nor is any decisive leadership being shown that is required to create a new Northern Ireland which is more tolerant of
all people, including travellers and gay people.

In this vacuum it is not surprising that public are becoming more intolerant of minorities with people such as the First Minister's Wife Iris Robinson MP MLA fanning the flames of hate after using the words "
disgusting, loathed, physical disgust, nauseous, shamefully wicked, vile, an abomination
" to refer to homosexuality in 2008.

24 June 2009

Run Andrew Run

Some people many have noticed that I have recently taken up road running and have been competing in 10k runs since March 2009 when I took part in the Between the Bridges 10k run along the Westlink in Belfast.

Between the Bridges I didn't really like running. I found it to be a painful and uncomfortable experience. When I achieved a respectable time of 47mins 49secs at Between the Bridges I guessed that I had found a sport I was actually good at. Since Between the Bridges I bought decent running shoes (Asics GT-2140) and have competed in six runs, mainly 10k apart from one 5k in Ballysillan. The new running shoes immediately eliminated the pain I had previously experienced. I joined North Down Athletics Club in late April 09 and have benefited from many useful training tips which have made running a really pleasant experience, other than when I am pushing myself to the limit over the finishing line! Membership of North Down AC is also providing me with the opportunity to share my running passion with other likeminded people.

As the weeks progressed it was apparent that I was completing 10k runs in about 42 minutes. I therefore set myself a target to run 10k in under 40 minutes by the end of the year, ideally at
Bangor 10k on 26 September 09. Never in my wildest thoughts did I feel that I would achieve this target so quickly when I completed a 10k run in 39mins 46secs at the Lisburn 10k on Wednesday 17 June 09.

I readily admit that running is fast becoming a big part of my life. I still feel a sense of elation days later after breaking the 40 minute barrier on Wednesday at the Lisburn 10k.

No sooner have I completed a 10k run am I eagerly looking forward to my next competition, running five times a week in preparation. Some people may feel that this is an unhealthy bizarre obsession but I disagree.

I deal with injuries when they arise and have managed to maintain a decent social life plus my range of voluntary commitments with community groups and The Alliance Party.

I find that running is good for my mind and body whilst also relatively cheap and less time consuming as many other sports. It is also providing me with a great sense of confidence. Every good running time is an amazing achievement for me. Running through the finishing line makes gives me a real sense of pride in myself and also
North Down AC.

When attending school I was often told by many people that I was useless at sport, defined often as football and rugby. I now feel that I have found a sport that I truly enjoy and am pretty decent at. I am really enjoying meeting the many great people within the world of running and love coming home with a real sense of personal achievement.

Hopefully as each race passes I will stop boring you with my running stories. In the meantime please bear with me. Hopefully this blog explains why I am now in love with running.

21 June 2009

North Down Alliance Insight

May 2009: North Down Alliance prepare for series of Summer events

The Executive Committee for the North Down Association of the Alliance Party met on Monday 18 May 2009 in Bangor and discussed a wide range of issues.

The Association finalised details of a number of exciting fundraising events to take place during the Summer including a Barbeque and Summer Fair.

Whilst most of the meeting focused on the forthcoming European Parliamentary Elections time was spent addressing other matters.

Alderman Marsden Fitzsimmons updated those present on the Castle Park Walled Garden with a great turnout at the recent official opening. 

The new plans for Queens Parade were given a generally positive reception with an update provided in relation to the Department for Social Development’s ongoing work to devise a Master plan for Bangor.

The recent renewable energy grant for the new leisure centre was warmly welcomed.

North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry also updated members on current developments at Stormont with all in agreement that the Executive should be taking more decisive action on important matters such as post primary transfer.

3 June 2009