Monday 28 July 2014

We will remember them: Introduction to an occasional series

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them
At eleven am on this day 100 years ago Austria declared war on Serbia. Due to the interconnectiveness of treaties across Europe within a week we had most of the major powers declaring they would be taking part in the Great War, the First World War.

I knew that a number of my great uncles had served in the Second World War, but all of them had survived to tell the tale. Though very few of them talked about it much. But with an interest in the family genealogy I was always wondering if any of the family had fought and died in that first world war. The earliest bits of the family tree seemed to indicate that due to a quirk of ages that none of the close to blood line relatives were involved.

But then I started to look a little further afield, up the tree for people who had married in the the family and sideways from the generations who were around at the time, looking for cousins or people from within that the family would have known I found there are names of distant relatives whose names are written upon those monuments that were erected following that conflict to mark the five and half million who had died on the Allies side. Many within my family's history had gone to serve, some had even returned from overseas as the family had emigrated to the USA or Canada and came to serve.

This series will act as a act of remembrance to those close to my family at the time who died in the service of their nation. Little did Laurence Binyon know when he wrote the words that follow (the full version) in the early months of the conflict that the way that we will remember them 100 years on in not necessarily by leafing through old, dusty, newspaper archives but through a medium that they wouldn't even have dreamed off. Radio wasn't even a mass media until after the War. Television some further years off and as for using a screen to access information from around the world in a matter of seconds, well that would have been unthinkable.

On the days that those I have discovered fell I shall writing a little bit about them and the battle in which they gave the ultimate sacrifice and the regiment or service they fought with. I shall remember them.

Ode to Remembrance

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon September 1914

Sunday 20 July 2014

Does marriage equality act contravene the Northern Ireland Act?

Something has just recently struck me that the wording in Schedule 2 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 may actually be worded in such as way that the Northern Ireland Act 1998 cannot support the wording.

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 states:

75 Statutory duty on public authorities.

(1)A public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity—

(a)between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;

(b)between men and women generally;

(c)between persons with a disability and persons without;


(d)between persons with dependants and persons without.

(2)Without prejudice to its obligations under subsection (1), a public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.

(3)In this section “public authority” means—

(a)any department, corporation or body listed in Schedule 2 to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 (departments, corporations and bodies subject to investigation) and designated for the purposes of this section by order made by the Secretary of State;

(b)any body (other than the Equality Commission) listed in Schedule 2 to the Commissioner for Complaints (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (bodies subject to investigation);

(c)any department or other authority listed in Schedule 2 to the Ombudsman (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (departments and other authorities subject to investigation);
 Yeah one of the things that a public authority (Schedule 2 includes the Government of the United Kingdom) should have due regard to promote equality of opportunity is marital status. Now besides the fact that Civil Partnerships do not include a mention (even in amendments) within the Northern Ireland Act there does seem a requirement for the Northern Ireland Assembly and UK Government to promote equality of opportunity regardless of marital status.

However, when we turn to Schedule 2 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 we find the following wording:

Northern Ireland

2(1)Under the law of Northern Ireland, a marriage of a same sex couple under the law of England and Wales is to be treated as a civil partnership formed under the law of England and Wales (and accordingly, the spouses are to be treated as civil partners).

(2)The Secretary of State may by order—

(a)provide for the treatment of a marriage as a civil partnership (by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)) to have effect subject to provision made by the order;

(b)specify cases in which a marriage is not to be treated as a civil partnership by virtue of sub-paragraph (1).

Is this equality of opportunity?


A marriage by any other name is not a marriage, even if what was carried out is a marriage and not a civil partnership, it is still a marriage and should be treated with equality of opportunity by public authorities within and pertaining to Northern Ireland.

In their bid to retain institutionalised homophobia the Unionist parties (and at Westminster mainly the DUP) appear to have fallen into breaching the Act that gives them authority to make devolved decisions. In this case it appears to fail the equality of opportunity to have such marriages called exactly what they are and limiting such a marital status to something else.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Statement from the combined NI LGBT Communities

Seeing as the combined unionist parties have this morning issued a statement (vaguely based on the words below), I think it is time for us to seek our cultural expression as LGBT British subjects living in Northern Ireland to be recognised. Hereafter follows the statement:

The combined Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender commuities in Northern Ireland call upon the First Minister to establish a time-bound commission of inquiry with the necessary legal powers and resources to examine the equal marriage, gay adoption and MSM lifetime bloodban impasses and the wider issues these represent.

This is consistent with policy in the rest of the Union he holds so dear.

"The issue of LGBT equality will not go away after the Pride parades.

"This is a further part of our graduated response strategy, and follows on from our raising issues such as bakeries revoking on contracts, The Health Minister's so-called scientific evidence of unknown blood-borne diseases in gay men's blood and the steps outlined by gay agenda (which we have still yet to see evidence of and we're gay).

"In addition, the LGBT Communities are agreed that at every level - council, assembly, Westminster and Europe - the denial of LGBT expression, resulting from Unionist denial that we are less than equal and threats of eternal damnation, will have a consequence determining how our members towards each of these levels of government will participate.

"We intend to seek an urgent and fabulous meeting with the First Minister - the response of the First Minster to the participate in Belfast Pride and this commission of inquiry will dictate the nature and timing of those actions.

"We are mindful of the strong will in the community for all elements of LGBT activism to act in a united manner and channel the rightful anger at this unjust decision.

"We reiterate our call for peaceful and lawful actions."