Will there be a united Ireland in your lifetime?

Brexit has had a big impact on the united Ireland question. It definitely won’t be simple but more and more people are seeing a chance for a united Ireland in their lifetime. Of course Northern Ireland Unionists and Protestants who consider themselves British are hugely against the idea of a United Ireland. And there are lots of Catholics in Northern and the Republic of Ireland who have their own reservations, not least due to the financial cost of a union. But when you know that 56% of the Northern Irish voted to stay in the European Union, you can see why Brexit has affected them hard.

Demographics have shifted as well as the Brexit effect. A century ago when British negotiators carved Northern Ireland from the newly independent south it was 65% Protestant, 35% Catholic, which allowed for a strong unionist majority. Now, a century later it is 48% Protestant and 45% Catholic. When this trend continues, you will see a Catholic majority in 20 years time. How things have shifted since the Troubles 1968-1998.


1994 Rwanda Genocide

The BBC drama Black Earth Rising is designed to get people talking about the events and consequence of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The drama’s write Hugo Blick says, “It doesn’t rest at the genocide. It takes genocide as its ignition point for injustices that are still outstanding on both sides of this equation. This is not just about the Hutu and Tutsi; it’s also about the west.” If you missed the first episode you can do catch-up viewing on BBC iPlayer.

africa and rwanda

The star of Black Earth Rising Michaela Coel queried why young people don’t learn about the 1994 Rwanda Genocide; but that’s not the case at every school. For years we’ve recommended GCSE students watch Hotel Rwanda to understand a recent genocide which we’ve only had time to briefly explain in class. In 1994 an estimated 800,000 civilians, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, were killed over a period of three months in Rwanda.


It was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was adopted by the United Nations after World War II which stipulated what genocide was. In Article 2 of the Convention it defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group:
(a) Killing its members;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Much has been reported at how countries like Rwanda have coped with remembering and reconciliation. It is never easy after a war or genocide for people from opposing sides to live together in harmony together. When the anniversary comes around again, some of the world continues to remember the crimes and horrors of the Rwanda Genocide.

Designs of the Year show Uncertainty

The Design Museum in London has just announced its 87 candidates for the Design of the Year Award, reports the Guardian.  The Design Museum holds this exhibition each year and is an excellent way to learn about developments in transport, architecture, fashion and graphics. This year Aric Chan who curated the exhibition says, “Designers are always very good at responding to the world around them and, if anything, the world around us is probably defined by uncertainty … things that seemed clear in our minds are no longer so. That might include what is human or natural and what is artificial, or the blurring of gender.”

The Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition runs from 12th September until 6th January. Some of this year’s highlights might be the boot made from mushrooms to be worn on Mars – created using human sweat; the costumes designed for the film Black Panther; or an activity centre and museum in southern Denmark made entirely from Lego. You will learn about environmental, social and political issues at this exhibition which fits nicely with the critical thinking needed in PSHCE.

black panther

The Design Museum in London is located near Holland Park. The exhibition referred to on this page costs £9.50 as a student, £6.50 for a child and £12 as an adult. However there is also a decent amount to see at the museum which is completely free.

McCain We are Family Advert 2017

The McCain advert from 2017 (other oven chips are available) had such a lovely sentiment about family. It popped up again on TV yesterday evening.

types of family

The advert was done by advertising agency Adam&Eve/DDB.  It celebrates families of all kinds: the grandmother that puts you to bed, the working mom, the divorced “weekend dads who pick you up and let you stay up late,” the “two daddies” and friends are really like your own blood. The voiceover is done by Ricky Tomlinson, was was in the popular ’90s family sitcom “The Royle Family”.

About a month after it was first screened the advert was cut down to 30 seconds and guess who got the chop? It was the gay dads. A McCain spokesman said: “Our campaign is all about celebrating the diversity of family life and not everybody’s a normal family. There’s only so much you can say in 30 seconds. We’re still promoting them, they’re in the posters and we’ve got them on social media.”

gay couple

The original idea for the advert arose from the insight that half of British people don’t think popular culture reflects the reality of modern families. Research showed that 84% of consumers were unable to recall seeing anything in popular culture that featured a family like their own in over the last six months. Do you see families like your own enough on TV and in film?

McCain didn’t stop with its Family advert, in 2018 they did an advert Here’s to Love.  Again it is voiced by Ricky Tomlinson and shows real couples going about their everyday lives at mealtimes.



Leading Lady Parts

A few weeks ago the BBC broadcast a comedy short , called Leading Lady Parts. It only lasts 10 minutes so is worth a watch, and is simply a satirical look at the audition process for the role of Leading Lady.  It was written and directed by Jessica Swale, and boasts an award-winning cast of  Gemma Arterton, Gemma Chan, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Tom Hiddleston, Felicity Jones, Katie Leung, Stacy Martin, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Catherine Tate and Anthony Welsh.


The British Film Institute studied over 10,000 UK movies from 1911-2017 to produce a study of gender disparity in film:


The Paradox of Tolerance

Tolerance is a self-contradictory principle. You’ve probably realised this from your everyday life and musings on world events. Basically as a principle tolerance means we  must be tolerant of everything. People can’t just pick and choose what they are going to tolerate and what they aren’t. So this all means that tolerance requires us to tolerate even intolerance. Ouch! Not so easy!

In other words, the principle of tolerance requires us to grant intolerant people the right to be intolerant. But this all a bit twisted as tolerance is supposed to be the opposite of  intolerance, and it just means that it is supporting the very thing it is supposed to be against. This might even lead you to think it makes more sense to be intolerant. The intolerant person’s simple motto is: “I like the things I like and I hate the things I hate, and I will hate the people who like the things I hate, and I will make that hate known to them in no uncertain terms.” Hold on though, this certainly isn’t going to create a friendly, open, free, democratic society as there will be no tolerance.

Let’s look to Karl Popper to make some sense out of all this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. From Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies


Karl Popper preferred a tolerant society where people are allowed freedom of speech. He said that only when intolerant ideas could not be rationally argued and society risked falling into an intolerant system should those intolerant ideas be suppressed.  To repeat things a bit, he said, “I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.” Popper’s ideas are debated today when people try to make sense of world events where ideas of tolerance and intolerance are clashing on a seemingly daily basis. A bit further back in 2011, Demos and the Open Society Institute debated diversity and solidarity. Their discussions touched upon the paradox of tolerance.

paradoxoftolerance Karl Popper

Mum and Dad get a total of 8 Years in Prison for Forced Marriage on Leeds girl in Bangladesh

It was all the way back in 2016 that a mum and dad told their children they were travelling to a Bangladesh for a holiday to visit relatives. But they arrived in the village, the victim was told she was to be married to her cousin. When she said no she was assaulted and her father threatened to slit her throat and to “chop her up”. The girl told the court that she never said yes and managed to contact the British High Commission who with the help of Bangladeshi authorities safely got her back to the UK.

Back in May when the court case happened Michael Quinn from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “She showed courage in contacting the authorities for help, and provided valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of these offences. This successful prosecution sends a clear message that forced marriage is a very serious crime and those responsible will be prosecuted.”

Well now her parents have received a total of 8 years behind bars for their horrific actions, forcing their daughter to marry someone she did not want to. Karma Nirvana are a charity which you can get in touch with if you are concerned that you or a family member or friend is about to be forced into a marriage.