Mary Kelly: We're in zombies-land and it's in your head, Jim

TUV leader Jim Allister has started to always apply alliteration when talking about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Windsor Framework

I don't know if rugby crowds sing The Cranberries' hit Zombie for any ideological reasons, but the song's title surely sums up the current state of Northern Ireland.

When journalist Sam McBride talks of an "end of days" feel to the place, it's hard to disagree. Failed government, failing health service where people are dying on waiting lists, a floundering police service with no-one in charge and, perhaps worst of all, failed environmental policies, with our drinking water coming from Lough Neagh, which has been turned into a dank, polluted swamp.

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Meanwhile Rishi Sunak gives an absurd interview to the BBC's Enda McClafferty, defending the iniquitous legacy bill as "better than what went before", in the face of universal opposition from victims and all shades of political opinion.

He pointedly refused to say if the government had a plan B if the DUP rejected its proposals. That's because there is no plan B, and Sir Jeffrey knows that too.

A new 'trusted trader' scheme has come into force with new green and red lanes at NI ports. It's the inevitable consequence of the post-Brexit landscape which sees products arriving here from the rest of the UK made subject to checks and controls.

Little wonder Jimbo Allister spun into a fury of alliterative rage. Addressing a rally in Markethill to mark the anniversary of the Ulster Covenant, since nobody sent him a card, he railed at "venomous Varadkar", and warned against operating the "Windsor whitewash" which would make Stormont the "rubicon to the Republic".

It's in your head, Jim.


I'd never thought much about whether there were enough journos from a working class background in the local media, because most of those I'd worked with over the past 40 years were mostly not particularly well heeled.

We didn't have much in the way of private education, grammar schools were free, so there was no need. Entry into journalism did not require a degree back then. If you could get on to the industry's approved course, or get a start on a country newspaper, you were on your way.

Frankly, nobody goes into journalism for the money. But the press was thriving, advertising revenues were solid and there were enough jobs to absorb those who had a real interest.

But in my latter days at the BBC, they introduced an apprenticeship scheme for school-leavers because their normal intake of graduates was becoming increasingly middle-class.

At a Women in Media event in Belfast last week, the testimony of young journalists proved the point. Several told how they'd struggled with the debts of their primary degree only to find another hurdle: how could they fund the Master's in broadcast journalism that was now necessary to get a foot in the door?

One young woman told of how she'd had to work in bars and cafes, saving her tips in a biscuit tin, to fund her course. There must be many others who give up the fight.

Those who struggle on will then be offered short-term contracts – maybe one or two days a week, with extra shifts, which they are afraid to turn down, so they often work every weekend, until they're ready to drop.

Times change. But in the media industry, it doesn't feel like progress.


Home Secretary Suella Braverman made a much-criticised speech on migration during a visit to the US. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA


Suella Braverman's speech to a half-empty room in Washington has been seen as her pitch to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, following its predicted loss of the next general election.

Bring it on. Cruella as leader should ensure at least two terms for Labour.

The daughter of Indian immigrants to the UK, who wouldn't have been allowed in under her rules, she works with a PM of Indian heritage and cabinet colleagues of African descent, she told her audience that multi-culturalism hasn't worked.

How Enoch 'Rivers of Blood' Powell would have rejoiced.