Friday, 31 May 2019

When is a QUB professor a 'nationalist' professor?

Yesterday I was invited on to the Talkback programme on Radio Ulster to discuss Nicola Sturgeon's call for another independence referendum in Scotland.  

The other person in the studio, apart from the presenter, William Crawley, was Colin Harvey, who is a Professor of Law at Queen's University.

I was introduced as a 'unionist analyst' and Colin was introduced as a Queen's University law professor.

I have no objection at all to being described as a 'unionist analyst' because I am a unionist.  However I did wonder why Colin was not described as a 'nationalist law professor' from Queen's.

I didn't raise the point at the start of the programme but it arose fairly naturally during the discussion in the context of some remarks he made about Scotland and the Irish Republic.  Here's the exchange:

Nelson McCausland: I listened carefully to what was said there by Colin and Colin is indeed an academic but I put in front of it the word nationalist.  He is a nationalist academic, because he is a civic nationalist.  I'm sure you'd agree with that Colin?

Colin Harvey: I have a very clear view about debates about the constitutional future of this island.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

Colin Harvey: I am an academic.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

William Crawley: But you want a border poll.

Colin Harvey: I've put out a rational evidence-based case why that should happen.

William Crawley: Would you campaign?  Would you champion voting for a United Ireland in the context of a border poll?

Colin Harvey: I think ultimately that the best constitutional outcome for the island of Ireland in the longer term is the unification of the island.  

It took some time and a series of questions to get there but eventually Colin Harvey confirmed that he is indeed an Irish nationalist who wants a border poll and would campaign for a United Ireland.

Now Professor Colin Harvey has previously self-identified as a 'nationalist' by signing two 'open letters' sent by 'civic nationalists' to Leo Varadkar and by his association with Think32, which promotes the 'reunification of Ireland'.  He has spoken at their events and written for their blog.

Colin Harvey was keen to say, 'I am an academic' but he is surely a 'nationalist academic'.

Fairness and transparency are values to which the BBC aspires and in the era of the 'academic activist' it is important that listeners and viewers are made aware of the particular position of  academic contributors who are also political activists.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

'A human being with potential'

Related imageIn the Daily Telegraph today (21 May) there was an article on abortion by the journalist Tim Stanley.  

He was writing in the context of the recent vote by the Alabama legislature to introduce a law prohibiting abortion, except in the situation where the mother's life is in danger.  It was an interesting article in which he made a number of good points and demolished some of the myths that have been peddled by the pro-abortionists.

Moreover I was particularly taken by his observation that the pre-born child is not a clump of cells but 'a human being with potential'.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Australian prime minister and the book of Jeremiah

Scott Morrison 2014 (cropped).jpg

So the opinion polls were wrong in the Australian federal election and even the exit polls got it wrong.

They predicted a win for Labour but with 70% of the votes counted the Liberal-National coalition has won or is ahead in 74 seats, looking for 76 to give it a majority.  Meanwhile Labour is on just 65.  

This should see the Liberal leader Scott Morrison back into office as prime minister.

Morrison is a Christian and in his maiden speech in February 2008 he said:
Australia is not a secular country - it is a free country.  This is a nation where you have the freedom to follow any belief system you choose.  Secularism is just one.  It has no greater claim than any other on our society.  As US Senator Joe Lieberman said, the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion not freedom from religion.  I believe the same is true in this country.

So what values do I derive from my faith?  My answer comes from Jeremiah chapter 9:24, 'I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.'

During the debate on 'same-sex marriage' in Australia he spoke out in favour of traditional marriage and voted against 'same-sex marriage'.

I was struck be his reference to the Word of God as shaping his world-view and setting his values.  We need more Christian politicians with the courage to express their faith in the 'public square', and we need our churches to be with them, alongside them, speaking the truth in love.

Monday, 13 May 2019

In April and May of 2016, articles were posted on the defendant's Facebook page and a blog maintained by him which were seriously defamatory of the plaintiff. These posts alleged that the plaintiff had been guilty of inappropriate conduct of both a personal and professional nature. Whilst the defendant did not post these articles, he did provide a link to one of them on his Facebook page. He accepts that there was no truth in any of the allegations and imputations contained in them and regrets that they were ever posted. Accordingly, the defendant apologies unreservedly to the plaintiff for the fact that such articles were posted on his Facebook page and blog and, as a mark of his regret, shall be making an agreed donation to a mutually agreed charity.’