June 28, 2022

Patrick Kielty: Borderline review – cautionary Northern Irish tales

Soho theatre, LondonAt a crisis point for his country, Kielty’s ‘module on borders’ is warm and engaging, though his even-handedness dims some of the laughter“A comedian shouldn’t be getting on stage unless they’ve got something to say,” according to Patrick Kielty – and his new set Borderline is accordingly substantial. The TV presenter and comic was moved to make this first show in six years by political developments concerning his native Northern Ireland. This “module on borders”, as he deprecatingly introduces it, recounts his youth in the country, and its journey to fragile stability – at least until Boris Johnson entered the scene.What this could be, then, is a tirade by a man who grew up during the Troubles, and whose father was murdered by paramilitaries, against the current government’s high-handed recklessness towards the region. But Kielty isn’t that kind of comic. His father’s killing is touched but not dwelt upon. He makes clear his dismay at recent developments, but strives for a consensual – and light-hearted – way of expressing it.At Soho theatre, London, until 2 July Continue reading...
June 28, 2022

Tigers review – teen star gets vulnerable in real-life footballing crisis drama

Fictionalised account of Inter Milan’s Martin Bengtsson, who quit after struggling with suicidal thoughts, can’t decide if the problem is with the footballing system or notThis oddly unsatisfying and misfiring sports drama was Sweden’s Oscar submission last year; it fictionalises the real-life case of teen Swedish footballing prodigy Martin Bengtsson who was on the verge of the big time when he signed for Inter Milan in 2003, but quit soon afterwards, suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. He was put under the extraordinary pressure of being treated like a kid at the club’s youth academy, yet showered with the kind of money that buys sports cars while being subject to the needling suspicion that he could get dropped at any time.Erik Enge plays Bengtsson, Alfred Enoch plays his friend Ryan and Frida Gustavsson plays his model girlfriend Vibeke; writer-director Ronnie Sandahl (who scripted Borg McEnroe in 2017) can’t quite decide if the problem is with the footballing system generally or with Bengtsson himself as someone with his own mental health vulnerabilities. We get scenes with Bengtsson out clubbing with his mercurial, jealous teammates – though he is shyly and watchfully apart from the real bad behaviour.In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email or In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at Continue reading...
June 28, 2022

Scrapping the NI protocol is just the start. Johnson’s trade wars are Trumpism in action | Simon Jenkins

Brexit has left Britain out on a limb. Yet the PM seems hellbent on alienating our trading partners to boost his own positionBritain’s foreign policy is now at the mercy of Boris Johnson’s reckless quest for survival. At home he grasps for votes with Irish border controls, protectionist tariffs and immigrant quotas. Abroad, he tours Europe demanding total victory in someone else’s war while promoting the most intense economic disruption in the continent’s peacetime history. Every visit is treated as a photo opportunity. An absurd “bromance” is even staged with the equally embattled French leader, Emmanuel Macron. Never was machismo so synthetic.Yesterday’s Commons vote on a bill which would allow him to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol was a classic. It was motivated by a desire to appease the province’s fast-disintegrating Unionist majority. The price is to be a predictable standup row with the EU, but one that Johnson thinks will bolster him with his party’s Brexiter right wing. The government’s suggestions for a “soft” border with Ireland are actually quite sensible. But Downing Street’s three years of anti-EU rhetoric have exhausted any wish in Brussels to be co-operative.Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist Continue reading...
June 28, 2022

The Breakdown | Rugby’s battle of the hemispheres: south can turn the tide in July Tests

The north won bragging rights in 2021 but with 12 Tests over the next three weekends things could soon look very differentWelcome to The Breakdown, the Guardian’s weekly (and free) rugby union newsletter. Here’s an extract from this week’s edition. To receive the full version every Tuesday, just pop your email in below:Back at the end of November the evidence seemed pretty conclusive. France and Ireland had just beaten New Zealand on successive weekends, England had knocked over South Africa and Australia while Scotland and Wales had also defeated the Wallabies. Looking down the list of results it felt as if the “battle of the hemispheres” had swung decisively towards the north. Continue reading...
June 27, 2022

Boris Johnson says Tory confidence vote gave him ‘new mandate’ for his reform agenda – UK politics live

Prime ministers says party leadership was settled ‘weeks ago’ as David Davis urges Tories not to change no-confidence vote rulesBoris Johnson urges world leaders to hold firm on UkrainePM defends Northern Ireland protocol bill ahead of Commons voteBoris Johnson restated his commitment to levelling up this morning. (See 12.03pm.) But a new report from the Resolution Foundation underlines quite what a challenge this will be. Using data showing how average incomes at local authority level have changed since 1997, it says inequalities have been persistent and that over the last 25 years overall change has been limited. It says:We begin by showing that income differences at the local authority level are substantial. In 2019, before housing costs income per person in the richest local authority – Kensington and Chelsea (£52,451) – was 4.5 times that of the poorest – Nottingham (£11,708). These outliers clearly paint an extreme picture, but even when we compare incomes at the 75th and the 25th percentiles the differences remain significant. In 2019, for example, Oxford had an average per person income that was more than 20 per cent higher than Torbay (£18,700, compared with £15,372). More critically, the income gaps between places are enduring: the differences we observe in 1997 explain 80 per cent of the variation in average local authority income per person 22 years on. This means, for example, that the average income per person in Hammersmith and Fulham has stubbornly been two-to-three times higher than in Burnley for more than two decades.Britain is beset by huge economic gaps between different parts of the country, and has been for many decades. While progress has been made in reducing employment gaps, this been offset by a surge in investment income among better-off families in London and the south-east.People care about these gaps and want them closed, as does the government via its ‘levelling up’ strategy. The key to closing these gaps is to boost the productivity of our major cities outside London, which will also lead to stronger growth overall.Driving a massive, massive agenda for change is a huge, huge privilege to do. And nobody abandons a privilege like that. The mandate that the electorate gave us in 2019, there hasn’t been a mandate like it for the Conservative party for 40 years, it’s a mandate to change the country, to unite and to level up, and that’s what we’re going to do.I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted with … it’s done.I think the job of government is to get on with governing, and to resist the blandishments of the media, no matter how brilliant, to talk about politics, to talk about ourselves.I think most fair minded people, looking at how the UK came through Covid, around the world most people would say, actually fair play to them. They got the first vaccine into people’s arms, and they had the fastest vaccine rollout. Actually, they’ve got pretty low unemployment. They’ve got investment flooding into their country, they have got a lot of things going for them. Continue reading...
June 27, 2022

Lost Irish history reclaimed in immersive 3D experience

Beyond 2022 project recreates documents and maps lost during 1922 Four Courts battleWhen the Public Record Office of Ireland was reduced to rubble and ashes in the Irish civil war, seven centuries of precious historical documents were lost.Exactly 100 years later, the public will be able to step back in time into the six-storey Victorian building in Dublin to experience it as it was on the eve of its destruction in June 1922 via an immersive 3D experience, and access many of those records thanks to a pioneering global project reclaiming Irish history. Continue reading...
June 27, 2022

Stories of children killed in the Troubles to be told to MPs

Relatives and friends of the six victims will narrate their stories in a committee room at Portcullis HouseRelatives and friends of six children who died in Northern Ireland’s Troubles are to share their stories in a special presentation to MPs at Westminster.They will relate testimonies in storytelling form about how the children were killed by the British army, the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries between 1971 and 1981. Continue reading...
June 26, 2022

Sajid Javid tells of heartache over brother’s suicide

Health secretary urges men to discuss mental health and to ‘seek help’ when they need toSajid Javid has urged men to speak out about their mental health as he spoke publicly for the first time about the loss of his brother, who took his own life.The health secretary said he still wonders if he could have acted to prevent his brother’s death, and spoke of his “deeply personal” mission to prevent suicides. Javid’s brother, Tariq, 51, took his own life in a hotel in Horsham, West Sussex, in July 2018.In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or email or In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at Continue reading...
June 23, 2022

Putin is not yet ready to end the Ukraine war. When he is, we must be prepared | Jonathan Powell

It’s vital to avoid a false choice between peace and justice: that only helps the Kremlin. We need terms both sides might acceptWe are setting up an entirely false choice over Ukraine that, if pursued, could unnecessarily undermine European unity. Last week a poll for the European Council on Foreign Relations showed two camps in European public opinion emerging: a larger peace camp (35%) that wants to cut and run now, and a smaller justice camp (22%) that wants to push ahead until victory. In fact, if you look at the detail, there are three groups, with the biggest single group (43%) choosing both peace and justice.This divide between peace and justice is reflected in public polemic, too. At one extreme there is Henry Kissinger, arguing at Davos that Ukraine should concede territory now to secure a ceasefire and warning us to avoid humiliating Vladimir Putin. Not surprisingly, this provoked a sharp reaction from those who correctly point out that Putin shows no sign of being ready to negotiate seriously or respond to concessions. More likely, a pre-emptive cringe would not only fail to secure a lasting peace, but would also leave Putin in a position to return and grab more of Ukraine once he regroups his forces.Jonathan Powell was Tony Blair’s chief negotiator on Northern Ireland while chief of staff to the prime minister, 1997-2007, and is the chief executive and founder of Inter Mediate, a charity devoted to helping end armed conflicts Continue reading...
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