Belfast City Council, after conducting a consultation survey (at what cost?), has agreed that it is now ready to proceed with plans to install bilingual street signs in the city.
We are told that all it will take is for one landlord or Belfast City Council member to offer to place such signs on such and such a street, and then another local consultation study (at what cost?) will be carried out.
And if the number of polled residents who are in favor exceeds a certain percentage, then the bilingual writing will be on the wall.
Good for Belfast City Council members. Never take the easy route if you can make a roundabout or two.
What happened to common sense? Why not just put things (in places where they are clearly needed) and be done with it?
We all know (as do the members of the Belfast City Council) that there are parts of the city where the consensus for these signs will be almost unanimous and they will be greeted with pride. There are other areas where they will be welcomed by a clear majority. And other areas where they will cause friction, separation and spoilage. You don’t need a consultation survey to decide this.
The continuing absurdity is that our elected representatives seem to be more focused on street signs than what is actually happening on the streets.
So, to paraphrase Ralph McTell, let me take them by the hand and lead them through the streets of Belfast.
I will start this journey along Dublin Road. I’m going there in the city a few weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon.
A middle-aged woman approaches me. There is an expression of utter anguish on her face – even the thought of it now brings tears to my eyes.
She holds a young man (maybe a son) and drags him along. He leaned towards her, his eyes looking forward but focused on nothing.
What shocks me the most is the color of his face; I have never seen anyone so deathly pale as this one outside of a coffin.
You don’t have to ask what’s going on. Drugs. Another victim of the rats that flooded the center of Belfast and poured poison on the desperate.
Even on the main streets of the city you see how they do it openly, boldly, unquestioningly. Where are the police? This suggests that on a short walk through the city center on any given day, you are likely to spot more drug dealers than officers.
On some streets you will see a car pull up, a window rolled down, a quick deal. Not all of these clients sleep well. But you don’t have to go too far to find some poor girl lying in the doorway, completely out of her mind.
As far as is known, there have been 34 reported drug-related deaths in the Greater Belfast area since 2022 to date. At least 15 people have died from drugs in the city in the last couple of months.
Family members told this newspaper about the human cost behind these statistics – what it is like to lose a beloved young man or woman, someone good, kind, decent and valuable, whose future has been stolen by addiction and vultures that prey on the vulnerable.
Belfast is in the grip of a crisis that is perilously close to spiraling out of control. This is emergency. So why is he not treated as one?
One of the most disturbing realities is that the people who are most concerned about this emergency do not seem to be the authorities with influence and funding, but the charities and volunteers who do so much to protect and support and, in many cases, rescue the lives of the homeless.
The authorities, for their part, draw the right conclusions – they are doing this, they are doing that, they are looking for solutions, a difficult situation.
And, yes, of course, it’s one that won’t change overnight. But the emergency requires concerted emergency action by all departments, not fancy words—and action now, not after the end of the summer vacation period.
Belfast City Council held a “special meeting” with the PSNI and other stakeholders to discuss the matter. So where is the strategy? Moreover, why has nothing been done so far?
How many more special meetings will be required? How many more deaths? For the signs on the streets of a new heartbreaking tragedy are, unfortunately, all too easy to read.
There are no winners in the Wagatha Christie Challenge
Before the judge revealed the denouement of the Wagata Christie case, in which Rebecca Vardy lost her libel case against Colleen Rooney, Colleen was reported to have told friends that “whatever happened, I won.” No no. From the point of view of regular players struggling with cost-of-living restrictions, neither side looks worthy or worthy. The only winners were the lawyers. The only display of dignity was Peter Andre, drawn into it because of the disdain for his masculinity. The other couple looked like two weirdos gossiping about gossip worth millions. Judge Rinder would have dealt with this for free.
Trimble deserves to be in the history books
The death of Lord David Trimble was rightfully marked by countless honors praising his role as the architect of the Good Friday Agreement. Not all who opposed it were extremists; many were victims of the Troubles who simply couldn’t stomach the idea of the killers going free. This will put pressure on a person as hard as any threat to his life. Like other great men, John Hume and Seamus Mallon, David Trimble’s name is now inscribed in the history books. His courage was exceptional. And his wife Daphne, his daughters and sons also responded to these threats. We all owe it to David Trimble. We also owe it to his family.
Cross the fine line…
The police car was spotted overseas in County Tyrone. Does Mary Lou know something we don’t? As DUP politicians concerned noted, after a couple of miles, passengers would have noticed that they were in Northern Ireland. Maybe they have heard of a good chippie in the area. I don’t think we’re dealing with a major international diplomatic incident, but I’d be concerned about the detective skills of the officers involved. If you can’t defend a cop in another jurisdiction, you’re not the makings of a new Colombo.