Easter is Easter. Christianity ruins it for everyone

Easter is Easter. Christianity ruins it for everyone

Everyone has their thing, their “if I was Prime Minister I would…”, mine is Easter Licensing. Except it’s more than that, it’s institutionalising one faith over that of another, enshrining the rights of the few to be of more importance than the rights of the rest. Yes, I have worked in the hospitality industry for a long time and it affects me and “us” but I can’t foresee a time where it doesn’t bother me so much that I have to do what I can to highlight it and hope that some day, enact change.   Alcohol, that’s what it tends to come down to, when discussing this issue with a pro-restriction supporter, reducing such an expansive issue to its lowest common denominator, is that enough of an argument to make, that alcohol is bad, it’s controlled, it’s addictive etc etc. No, of course it isn’t, if that was the case then alcohol would be banned, instead of having an arbitrary restriction placed on it for a particular religiously significant period. So, for those who aren’t aware, here are the restrictions.     Thursday (Before Easter Friday) Alcohol can be sold as normal throughout the day, but must cease by 11pm, unless a late extension license exists, when it must not be sold after midnight. (Many bars and all nightclubs have this extension, generally speaking, if a bar opens until 1am or later at a weekend, it has a late extension of their license)     Good Friday   ON-SALES (for consumption on premises)   Alcohol can ONLY be sold between 5pm and 11pm. There are no late licenses...
Will Ashers Make Me A Cake…? A Sinful Post

Will Ashers Make Me A Cake…? A Sinful Post

A thought experiment…   I woke up yesterday with a bit of a hangover, I had a lot to drink the night before and was fairly drunk <strong>(SIN)</strong>, I was at a friends partying <strong>(SIN)</strong> for their birthday. We played a drinking game, you might have heard of it, truth or dare? I was asked when I lost my virginity, I said 16 when it was actually 15<strong> (SIN)</strong>.  To be honest, we were doing some fairly weird shots, one of them…I don’t even know what it was, but 5 of us drank them, the other 4 threw up straight away but I kept it down, I was really quite drunkenly proud <strong>(SIN)</strong>. Anyway, yesterday morning I needed 1 thing…an Ulster Fry, so I went to a café and ordered the biggest, meatiest, greasiest fry they sold, it. Was. Amazing. The bacon was perfectly crispy <strong>(SIN)</strong>, I particularly love the crispy fat on the edges<strong> (SIN)</strong>, but the café also did black pudding <strong>(SIN)</strong> which, I know some people dislike, but if it’s cooked right, it’s delicious. After breakfast, I went to church, I was suffering and I really needed divine intervention to take the hangover away! To be honest, it was a bit touch and go at communion, drinking the wine in church<strong> (SIN)</strong> wasn’t what the doctor ordered, an old teacher of mine from primary school, Mrs Watson gave a very powerful reading from psalms <strong>(SIN)</strong>, she had a baby boy 3 weeks ago and still felt up for going to church <strong>(SIN)</strong>, her sister was with her too, she used to teach in the same school...
Knockout Brewing – Insert Boxing Craft Beer Cliché Here

Knockout Brewing – Insert Boxing Craft Beer Cliché Here

Earlier in 2015 I met up with Joseph McMullan, founder of Knock Out Brewing, which proudly claims to be “Belfast’s only independent one-man microbrewery.” There was none of the guff that can come along with meeting a beer head, no dick-measuring contest on who can handle the highest IBU’s (I would lose…), he has a simple passion for what he does. That shouldn’t be confused with simplistic, the beer puts that to rest. Launching with 2 core beers, Middleweight IPA & Irish Red Ale, it isn’t exactly daring, which means quality needs to be of the utmost importance, and Joseph did just that. The IPA to me, is still slightly too high in the IBU range for my palate, I don’t know the exact figure but I would estimate it in the mid 40-50 IBU’s, I struggle to enjoy anything much above 30, it just dulls my tastebuds, I look for rich malts, mature grain processing, someone who knows what to do with beer ingredients OTHER than hops. The Irish Red Ale sits impeccably well in my wheel house. The sweetness coming through isn’t overpowering like some can be, it isn’t trying to push boundaries of the category nor does it need to. My top beer is an Irish Red Ale from another Northern Irish brewery, this doesn’t come up too short of it, and considering Joseph only began working on the brewery in November 2013, with the equipment installation only being completed in august 2014…that’s some swift progress! Setting up in an East Belfast industrial estate not far from the Castlereagh Road, licensing must have been a challenge,...
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Northern Ireland

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Northern Ireland

“I like the idea of democracy. You have to have someone everyone distrusts” – Terry Pratchett   Election pacts, who wants ’em, who needs ’em, who gets ’em? That seems to be the name of the game this week, I’m sure not everybody got what they wanted, but if nothing else, a few party higher-ups have added quite a lot of chapters to their autobiographies. Every cloud and all that jazz… I don’t get election pacts, it makes no sense to me to potentially give your rivals a helping hand. I’m aware of the phrase “my enemies enemy is my friend” but we are neither dealing with enemies, or friends…half the time in the assembly, the DUP/SF “friendship” seems more stable against the UUP/SDLP enemy. Choose your battles I suppose. Are they undemocratic? No more or less so than some other political methodologies. Naomi Long said “The DUP clearly now know that Gavin Robinson cannot win against Alliance in a fair fight, so they have resorted to this anti-democratic move in a desperate attempt to strengthen their position” I don’t think that on the face of it, not running in an electoral area, is undemocratic. Is it undemocratic that the legalize cannabis alliance don’t run in every ward? What about the people before profit alliance? You do what you can with what you have, in these days of continued (infinite?) austerity, spending money on an election you absolutely know you cannot win, is somewhat wasteful. There are a number of electoral constituencies that are realistically, not going to be changed. Paul Maskey (Belfast West – Sinn Fein) 57.1% of...
BBC Spotlight – Shining a spotlight on homelessness

BBC Spotlight – Shining a spotlight on homelessness

Spotlight has built a reputation over the years as a hard-hitting investigation programme, highlighting wrong-doings of citizens and elected representatives alike, on Tuesday 17th March it tackles a hidden issue in society, that of homelessness. The dichotomy of Northern Ireland is such that the incomparable can often become synonymous with each other, whilst MLA’s argue about the hundreds of millions of the welfare bill and whether or not northern irish citizens could become taxed for the luxury of a spare bedroom, there are people that you and I walk passed on a daily basis in our town centres who don’t have the luxury of a bedroom…or 4 walls, that a shop door way might be their safest retreat for the evening. Reporter Mandy McAuley, who in her previous Spotlight investigations shone a light upon the dodgy dealings of MLA’s who were claiming unfair expenses and in some cases, having properties paid for by the taxpayer where they shouldn’t have, spent some considerable time on the streets with outreach organizations like The Welcome Organization. From chasing stormont ministers expenses receipts for a custom made desk or faux-historical societies claiming rent inappropriately to interviewing people who have nothing but a kerbstone for a pillow, it is for reasons like this that there are so many in our province who look to Stormont with disgust and cast a disdainful net over the whole political infrastructure. I approached the spotlight team after the initial rush of attention died down as a result of my BBC Radio Ulster Stephen Nolan interview about my experience/Slugger article & the Homeless Pod had been taken off the...