Posts by Hugh O'Connell
It wouldn't be unfair to say that many of the postings on this blog present politicians in a negative light or have some sort of criticism to level at our democratic representatives. But I want to write one in praise of them.
For the city of Liverpool Wednesday was a momentous day in which the truth, which many of us have known for so many years, was finally told to the world and I mean the world because news of the Hillsborough cover up made the front of the New York Times.
For years successive governments ignored the pleas of the Hillsborough families and survivors, these people were failed by the State. On Wednesday, the State apologised unequivocally, without any caveats and now the hard battle for justice moves forward.
It is almost unbelievable that in the last 12 years while Manchesters United and City, Arsenal and even the likes of Newcastle United have managed to either significantly upgrade or move to a new stadium, two of the country's biggest clubs - Liverpool and Everton - have made little or no progress on either front.
There is no argument that both sides are at a point where something has to happen for both of them in terms of their respective stadiums be it upgrading or moving elsewhere. The issue of groundshare remains thorny and, despite efforts, present (but perhaps not as much as in the days of Warren Bradley as council leader).
Everton's failed plan to move to Kirkby and Liverpool's disastrous previous ownership have set both sides back and at this stage the sad and painful truth is that it will be years before either can enjoy the fruits of either a redeveloped home ground or a new stadium.
Anyone who has followed the race rows in the Premier League football this season, most notably of course the John Terry and Anton Ferndinand (which rumbled on this week) affair and the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra controversy, will be interested to hear what Liverpool legend John Barnes has to say on the subject.
I personally found Barnes' comments during the heated debate over both incidents this season to be the most sensible of all that were made. And there were a lot of talking heads talking a lot of nonsense during the furore.
The former England winger's views are best encapsulated in this interview he did with Sky News:
My alma mater JMU Journalism has done some sterling work over the past few weeks interviewing all but three of the candidates for Liverpool Mayor.
The results of their work can be seen here but there's some interesting snippets in each interview both in terms of the candidates themselves and their ideas for the city.
For example, the interview with Joe Anderson notes the focus on the personality of the current council leader and how the campaign is seeking to build on the fact that Anderson is "100% Liverpool through and through."
"Just call me Joe," he might say.
The mayoral candidates are debating (or not) all sorts of issues and topics related to the city on the campaign trail and one includes the issues affecting Liverpool's sizeable Irish community.
One Republican group, Chairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland), posted a note on its Facebook page last month which has attracted messages from a number of the candidates.
The group urges candidates to be challenged on their views and support for issues such as meeting the welfare of the Irish community in the city including Travellers, support for Irish traditional music and language groups, and support for the provision of Gaelic games in the city.
The answer to that question is no but I did ask him last night in Dublin. I even offered to help run his campaign!
You can read more of my interview with him on his more likely job prospects here.
The former Liverpool boss was not immediately aware that there was a mayoral race in Liverpool which perhaps says something about just how much people in the area know about the impending vote.
Liverpool council has tonight voted to ditch its council leader and have an elected mayor instead.
Sixty-two councillors voted in favour of the measure, three were against, and there were 12 abstentions in the vote held in the council chamber, my colleague David Bartlett reports.
That kind of result will please the government whose pet project this is. In deciding to ditch a referendum - which 10 other cities will hold in May - and go straight to a mayoral election, the city council has reportedly secured some £130 million in extra funding.
It's been interesting to observe this little democratic (or not as the Lib Dems would have it) experiment that my former home city is undertaking right now in deciding to go for a mayoral election on 3 May...
With his apology - "if it offends anyone" - for using a term judged to be racist, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will be hoping a line has been drawn under one of the most controversial cases in English football history. And he won't be the only one.
This has been a very unsavoury affair for all involved in it and no one has emerged with much credit or without criticism. Much of the criticism has been leveled at Liverpool Football Club in the days since an FA-established independent regulatory commission published a 115-page report on its verdict in the case.
This report detailed how it had come to the conclusion that Suarez had used the word "negro" or "negros" seven times during a row with the Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. The basis for this conclusion was the unreliability of Suarez's evidence as opposed to Evra's.
Last night the FA announced it had reached a "conclusion" in the case of Luis Suarez and was fining the Liverpool striker £40,000 as well as banning him for eight games.
An Independent Regulatory Commission found that Suarez had used "insulting words" which included a reference to Manchester United full back Patrice Evra's colour.
There was little other detail other than that Liverpool had a right to appeal and 14 days in which to do so. The reasons or justification for this decision would be released in "due course" we were told.
Immediately all hell broke loose on Twitter with many Liverpool fans falling behind Suarez and crying injustice while Manchester United and other opposition supporters welcomed the ruling that, to them, clearly showed Suarez was a racist.
We've had a weekend to digest the UK's veto at the European Union summit in Brussels early on Friday morning and yet we appear no closer to determining what it means for the country and for the EU going forward.
David Cameron's decision was unprecedented. For years the UK has wielded the veto as a mere threat - Margaret Thatcher and her handbag: "No, no, no". Yet there was no great build-up to this only shock at the decision which was criticised on the left and lauded on the right. Nowhere was that more evident than in the weekend's newspapers.
To what extent was David Cameron influenced by the very right of his party, the eurosceptic-wing, in doing what he did? We may never truly know but it's a decent bet that the Prime Minister had the words of those Tory MPs in the Commons at PMQs last Wednesday ringing in his ears as he departed for Brussels.