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Maj Gen Corran Purdon obituary

War hero who won an MC for his part in the famous St Nazaire raid of 1942 and was later sent to Colditz

Maj Gen Corran Purdon, who has died aged 97, commanded a demolition team in an audacious raid on the French port of St Nazaire in the spring of 1942, after which he was taken prisoner, finishing the war in Colditz, the camp for incorrigible allied officers who made repeated escape attempts.

The raid, widely regarded as the greatest of its kind in the second world war, was an intricate assault involving 621 sailors and soldiers in 18 small vessels, sailing brazenly into the estuary of the Loire. Their objective was the huge lock at St Nazaire, built for the great French liner SS Normandie.

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Published on 16 July 2018 | 3:01 pm

Gerry Adams calls for meeting with people who attacked house

Ex-Sinn Féin leader says he wants to know why explosive devices thrown at Belfast home

The former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has called on those who attacked his home to meet him and explain their actions.

Explosive devices were thrown at the homes of Adams and another prominent republican figure, Bobby Storey, on Friday night.

All well here. No one hurt. Thanks 4 all the texts & phone calls. Thanks 2 all the great neighbours, the Neighbourhood Watch & Sinn Féin reps who were here very quickly.

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Published on 14 July 2018 | 4:31 pm

Northern Ireland police chief blames Derry violence on 'New IRA'

Man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after night of dissent in Bogside area

Northern Ireland’s chief of police has blamed a so-called “New IRA” for six successive nights of violence in Derry that culminated in explosive devices being thrown at officers.

The PSNI’s chief constable, George Hamilton, condemned the attacks which he said could easily lead to a death. “We believe violent dissident republican groups are behind this, they will use whatever excuse they can to bring about unrest and to have young people involve themselves in violence against the police,” he said.

Related: Vehicles torched amid tension over loyalist bonfires in Northern Ireland

Related: Orange Order parades take place amid violence in Northern Ireland

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Published on 13 July 2018 | 6:16 pm

Girl given long-term cannabis oil licence in Northern Ireland

Sophia Gibson, who has severe epilepsy, can use oil to be prescribed through NHS

A girl from Northern Ireland has been granted a long-term licence for the use of medicinal cannabis.

Sophia Gibson, seven, from Newtownards, Co Down, has a genetic condition which causes what her family describe as “frequent and dangerous fits”.

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Published on 13 July 2018 | 6:00 pm

Orange Order parades take place amid violence in Northern Ireland

Vehicles set on fire in Belfast and petrol bombs thrown at police in Derry before 12 July

Thousands of Orange Order members have taken part in 12 July parades across Northern Ireland after a night of sporadic violence in the region.

Masked men hijacked and set 13 vehicles on fire in and around Belfast, while young republicans threw petrol bombs at police during a fifth night of disorder in the Bogside area of Derry.

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Published on 12 July 2018 | 12:05 pm

Vehicles torched amid tension over loyalist bonfires in Northern Ireland

Incidents come after the clearing of two bonfire sites by contractors escorted by police

Cars and a bus have been stolen and torched in Northern Ireland in violence linked to loyalist bonfires.

The incidents on the outskirts of Belfast and in nearby Newtownards came as police warned that loyalist paramilitaries were planning to “orchestrate and participate in serious disorder” in east Belfast through Wednesday night.

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Published on 12 July 2018 | 4:36 am

Whitehall’s ‘potty’ plan to keep NI lights on if no Brexit deal

Flotilla of barges with energy generators would be sent to Northern Ireland if UK crashes out of the EU

A flotilla of barges would be sent to the coast of Northern Ireland with energy generators after Brexit to keep the region’s lights on in the event of no deal, according to reports on Wednesday.

The scheme, which has been described as “potty” by business leaders in Northern Ireland, is said to be part of contingency planning by Whitehall mandarins in case the UK crashes out of the EU, smashing Ireland’s all-island electricity supply in its wake.

Related: Part of M20 to be used as lorry park to counter Brexit jams at Channel

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Published on 11 July 2018 | 7:06 pm

Northern Irish girl waiting for cannabis oil licence hospitalised

Seven-year-old Sophia Gibson is in an induced coma following a severe seizure

A seven-year-old from Northern Ireland, waiting to hear if she will be granted a licence to be treated with medicinal cannabis oil, has been admitted to hospital after suffering a severe seizure.

Sophia Gibson, from Newtownards in Co Down, has an extreme form of epilepsy which can lead to frequent fits. Her parents, Danielle and Darren Gibson, have applied for a licence to use cannabis oil to help her condition but have yet to hear a response from the Home Office, which is reviewing the benefits of the oil for medical use.

Related: Billy Caldwell licensed for cannabis oil use in Northern Ireland

Related: MPs condemn UK cannabis laws after epileptic boy's medication seized

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Published on 11 July 2018 | 4:45 pm

Coming home: St George's Cross to return to Big Ben

Victorian clock tower will also revert to its original Prussian blue and gold palette

The Cross of St George is coming home to one of the most prominent and best-loved landmarks in England. When Big Ben strikes again, after a £61m restoration of the mechanism, clock faces and tower, it will once again bear the emblem, so joyfully ubiquitous this summer, on six shields above each of its four faces.

The clock and its chimes have been such a part of life in central London that there was a public outcry and questions in parliament when it fell silent last summer and it emerged it would remain so for the entire period of the restoration. The House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the work, relented and the bells rang in the new year and signalled the start of the two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday. It will ring again, the commission promises, for other events “of national significance”.

Related: Big bill for Big Ben: cost of renovating Elizabeth Tower rises to £61m

Related: Is Big Ben London’s most disappointing tourist attraction?

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Published on 11 July 2018 | 11:55 am

Lord Laird obituary

Ulster Unionist politician forced to resign from the party over a lobbying scandal who was a great defender of Ulster Scots culture

John Laird, Lord Laird, who has died aged 74, was pitched into a political career as the youngest MP at Stormont in 1970, at the age of 26. His father, Norman, the Ulster Unionist MP for St Anne’s, Belfast, died in April that year and John won the seat in the consequent byelection. He was catapulted out of politics in 2013 after being caught by reporters from the BBC Panorama programme, the Telegraph and the Sunday Times, offering to lobby for cash.

He referred himself to the House of Lords’ standards committee, which suspended him for four months. He then resigned the Ulster Unionist party (UUP) whip at the demand of the party leader, Mike Nesbitt, after Nesbitt watched recordings of meetings with the fake lobbyists – undercover reporters who had trapped Laird – which he found “not edifying”. Laird returned to the Lords in 2014 but under a strict injunction from the UUP to rein in his behaviour. He had previously used Lords’ privilege repeatedly to name those he claimed were IRA killers, criticised Ireland for failing to support Ulster Scots, and in 2008/09 had claimed £73,000 in expenses, which made him the most expensive peer that year.

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Published on 11 July 2018 | 11:09 am

Brexiters seem to forget that ‘no deal’ is not legally an option | Brendan Howlin

The Irish border is not just an irritation – we won’t pay the price for Brexit
• Brendan Howlin is the leader of the Irish Labour party

At a time when Theresa May has enough problems keeping her government intact, Ireland may be regarded as an annoyance in British government circles.

The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is an inconvenience as she attempts the incredible political balancing act of reconciling her cabinet around a deal that might plausibly satisfy the remaining 27 governments of the European Union. The commitment by the British government to uphold the Belfast Good Friday agreement limits the kind of economic model the UK can pursue to just those models that are compatible with having an open land border with the EU on the island of Ireland.

Related: A hard border would be a disaster for Northern Ireland. So let’s avoid it | Naomi Long

Related: Ireland’s open border is more than a symbol. It ensures people can eat | Felicity Lawrence

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Published on 9 July 2018 | 3:22 pm

Motorcycle racer William Dunlop dies after crash in Skerries 100 practice

• 32-year-old dies after ‘tragic accident’ in County Dublin
• Dunlop’s father and uncle also died in racing accidents

The Northern Ireland road racer William Dunlop has died after a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 in County Dublin.

The 32-year-old rider from Ballymoney, County Antrim, was a member of the Dunlop dynasty of racing greats and a repeat winner of the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.

Related: Michael Dunlop: ‘Once you’re on a bike you’ve got freedom’

Related: Superbike rider Dan Kneen dies in crash at Isle of Man TT

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Published on 7 July 2018 | 11:22 pm

Our Brexit solution will enable us to take back control | David Lidington

The Chequers cabinet deal means that parliament will again be truly sovereign, with the freedom to accept or reject new rules

Making sure Brexit works for the whole United Kingdom has been a priority for the government from the very start. It is why we made strengthening the Union one of our objectives for the negotiations. It is also why we have been assiduous in sharing and discussing our plans with the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

While the EU Withdrawal Act ensures that Brexit will work for all the devolved nations and our UK devolution settlements, the special requirements of Northern Ireland, which uniquely shares a land border with another EU member state, present a more formidable challenge.

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Published on 7 July 2018 | 8:00 pm

Soft Brexit proposal welcomed on both sides of Irish border

Dublin says free trade area plan ‘deserves consideration’ as DUP endorses deal

The Irish government says Theresa May’s proposals for Brexit “deserve consideration” but has warned that much work needs to be done to get to a deal.

Echoing the chief EU Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, the country’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said it needs to see the white paper before it can progress to negotiations.

Statement by British Govt on #Brexit last night needs and deserves detailed consideration. We look forward to publication of white paper next week so that the EU task force can examine new UK approach. Lots of work ahead.

Related: Theresa May faces Tory anger over soft Brexit proposal

Some quick thoughts on #chequers outcome...
1. There is more realism in it than we’ve seen before from UK government (though that’s not saying much!) - so, to that extent, hopefully a step forward. However...

Related: What the cabinet has agreed at Chequers Brexit meeting

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Published on 7 July 2018 | 11:17 am

German students reveal exam answers to key Brexit questions

Pupils who sat Brexit test say decision to leave EU ‘sounds naive’ and Northern Ireland should vote again

How can the Brexit negotiations move on from the deadlock over the Irish border? According to a group of German students who have sat the first school exam on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the answer could be straightforward: give Northern Ireland a referendum on whether to stay in the UK or the EU.

In April, students of English in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg were asked as part of their school-leaving exams to write about the differences between the hopes connected to Britain’s EU referendum and the reality of Brexit so far.

Related: Project Fantasy? German exam question debates Brexit reality

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Published on 6 July 2018 | 10:00 am

Woman with diabetes awarded £2,000 after gig staff took her drink

Kayla Hanna had her Lucozade confiscated on way into Belfast Red Hot Chili Peppers concert

A woman with diabetes has been awarded £2,000 after staff at a concert confiscated her fizzy drink.

Kayla Hanna, 20, had been walking into a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Belfast in August 2016 when the incident happened.

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Published on 6 July 2018 | 9:49 am

Cannabis oil row: Billy Caldwell 'under hospital arrest', says mother

Conditions imposed by health authorities anger mother of boy with epilepsy and autism

Billy Caldwell, the autistic boy with epilepsy whose family was granted a licence for cannabis oil to treat his illness, has been “placed under hospital arrest”, according to his mother, due to conditions imposed by the Northern Irish authorities.

On Thursday, it was announced that the 12-year-old was heading home to Co Tyrone where he could be legally treated with a cannabis-based medicine.

Related: Sajid Javid looks into easing rules on medical cannabis prescription

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Published on 5 July 2018 | 7:27 pm

Billy Caldwell licensed for cannabis oil use in Northern Ireland

Boy heads home as authorities grant emergency permission for epilepsy medication

The 12-year-old boy with epilepsy whose condition sparked a national conversation on the UK’s drugs policy is heading home to County Tyrone, where he will be legally treated with a cannabis-based medicine.

After public outrage over the confiscation of Billy Caldwell’s medicine at Heathrow airport, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, granted a licence for cannabis oil to be administered to the boy at home.

Related: Britain’s drug laws are in the dark ages. Billy Caldwell’s case proves it | Simon Jenkins

Related: Sajid Javid looks into easing rules on medical cannabis prescription

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Published on 5 July 2018 | 1:23 pm

Brexit to have greatest negative impact on regions outside London

Price rises will disproportionately affect people in Northern Ireland, Wales, the Midlands and the north-east, reports say

Brexit will make people outside London worse off, two reports have found.

Household bills will rise by between £245 and £1,961 a year after Brexit, with a disproportionately adverse impact on lower-income groups and people in Northern Ireland, Wales, the Midlands and the north-east, they say.

Related: Northern Ireland beef farmers call for five-year Brexit transition

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Published on 3 July 2018 | 11:01 pm

DUP may be unable to block gay marriage bill, party leader says

Arlene Foster said at an Orange Order march in Scotland she supported greater tolerance

Arlene Foster has indicated her Unionist party may be unable to block a gay marriage bill in Northern Ireland as she attended an Orange Order march in Scotland.

The Democratic Unionist party leader said her party did not have enough votes to veto laws supporting equal marriage in the province by tabling a so-called petition of concern at Stormont.

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Published on 30 June 2018 | 1:51 pm

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