Reactions to WWDC: What Was Announced and What are My Views?

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, often shortened to WWDC, took place from Monday 6 – 10th June, with the keynote lasting for nearly 2 hours.

Many videos were released throughout the days following the conference, but in today’s blog, I’m going to outline everything that Apple announced, and give my thoughts on how accessible the next version of iOS is going to be.

iOS 16

The next instalment of iOS will include a redesigned, customisable Lock Screen, as well as improvements to the Messages, Maps and Home apps, new sharing and personalisation capabilities, and more.

The Lock Screen, Notifications, and Focus

The new, fully customisable Lock Screen allows users to edit numerous design elements, including type styles, colours, and whether or not you want to include emojis. As well as this, you’re also able to create multiple Lock Screens, which you can easily switch between by swiping.

The Notifications in the next version of iOS will roll up from the bottom of the screen, but they also come with another new feature. To make room for your new customised Lock Screen, Apple now allows its users to hide their notifications, allowing more space for further customisations.

Focus has been a big hit since it was released by Apple in 2021, and I’ve personally found it useful when working. 

In iOS 16, Apple plans to enhance Focus even more, with users now able to tie specific Focus modes to your customised Lock Screens, as well as applying Focus filters to get less notifications from distracting apps, such as Messages, Twitter and Calendar.

New Features for Messages

The new version of Messages will now include the ability to edit or delete sent messages, as well as allowing users to mark a message as unread.

As well as this, you’ll also be able to send SharePlay sessions (put simply, links that let you watch / listen to the same content as friends in different locations), directly in the Messages app, which will be activated right away.

Dictation, Siri, and Live Text

The new dictation experience keeps the keyboard open when speaking, allowing those who use it to use a combination of speech and typing, while also automatically adding punctuation and emojis into your messages, which you can also use with Siri.

IOS 16 will also see Live Text expanding to video, allowing users to select the text in playing videos. And as well that, Live Text will also be making its way to the Apple Watch, so all the WatchOS users will have an extra way of calling numbers if they need to.

There’s also been improvements made in relation to Visual Lookup, with users now able to pull out subjects and to drag them elsewhere.

Apple Pay and Wallet

Numerous features have been added to the Apple Pay and Wallet app, starting with the ability for you to share virtual keys via message.

As well as this, Apple also announced their Apple Pay Later service, which allows users to pay for purchases in four instalments over six weeks, with zero interest and no fees.

And we’re also getting an Apple Pay Order Tracking feature, making it easier to track purchases from retailers.

Enhanced Changes to Apple Maps

More and more countries and cities have already been added into the Maps app in recent years, which has seen a 2D and 3D design being added, and even more are to be added in the coming months.

But adding to Apple’s support for multitasking, they’re now adding Multistop Routing, which will allow users to plan up to fifteen stops ahead of time. You can start your plans on Mac and continue it across other iOS devices, as well as having the option to add other stops using Siri.

The included Transit feature also allows Apple users to see the costs of a journey while you are planning, with Transit Cards being even heavily integrated into the Wallet app.

Sports

Sports fans will be in for a treat, because the Apple TV app can now display information about sport games via live activities.

Family Sharing

Although Apple has made Family Sharing and kids accounts easy to manage in the past, they will be introducing a couple of new features.

The next version of iOS will include quicker ways to set age appropriate restrictions, from Quick Start, to Screen Time requests in messages, a Family Checklist feature and more.

Safety Check

The new Safety Check feature will be available in settings, and allows its users to quickly turn off the access that others have to your location and information, which will be a welcomed feature for many people.

Home App

The Home App has been completely redesigned in the next version of iOS, with a new main tab view to see your entire home in one place.

As well this, we’re also getting access to new dedicated categories such as Climate, security and more, and distinctions tiles which will make accessories more recognisable.

Other Announcements

Apple also announced improvements for Spatial Audio with AirPods, QuickNote coming to the iPhone, new Mail features, Rapid Security Response, Spotlight in the dock, additional Memoji customisations, the Fitness App coming to iPhone without the need for an Apple Watch, MacOS Ventura, and more.

I’m not going to be able to cover all of these in this blog, but tell me if you’ll like me to do some posts about any of them in future, and I’ll see what I can do.

M2 Macs

Along with all the features in iOS 16, Apple also announced the move from the Mac’s M1 Chip to the M2 Chip.

The M2 Chip features an 18% faster CPU, a 35% more powerful GPU, and a 40% Neural Engine compared to the M1 Chip.

Supporting up to 24GB of LPDDR5 Unified Memory, and featuring four performance and four efficiency cores, it also supports 100GB of unified memory bandwidth, which is up by 50% compared to the M1.

As well as all these features, the M2s come with 10-core GPU, with two more cores compared to the M1. The peak performance is 87% of what you get from a 12-core PC, and you’ll also get an improved media engine that supports 8K, a ProRes video engine to playback streams of 4K and 8K video, Apple’s newest security technology, and a new image signal processor that delivers better image noise reduction.

The models of M2 Macs that were announced was the new 13-inch MacBook Air and a 13-inch MacBook Pro. You’ll be able to Preorder them starting tomorrow.

Final Thoughts

So what are my final thoughts on what Apple Announced at WWDC, and is iOS 16 the most accessible yet, or do the developers at Apple need to try harder?

While I find the customisable Lock Screen an interesting new feature, Apple will have to make sure that moving the elements you want to add around is easy for everyone to do, even if they are disabled and can only use one finger.

Likewise, I feel that the new Dictation features were a good thought on paper, but it does raise questions over whether or not physically disabled people could use it as well. But I don’t really use dictation for everything I do anyway, so I can’t really comment any further.

But as far as all the other features go, I think the next version of iOS is going to be incredibly useful, although it would be useful if Apple could bring back the ability to talk to Siri via a voice command for those who can’t double click the side buttons on the iPhone and iPad, and the same should apply for paying for and downloading apps, as the older ‘Confirm Using Face ID or Passcode’ option was just a lot more accessible, compared to the ‘Confirm Using Assistive Touch’ feature.

Turning to the M2 MacBooks, however, I think the MacBook Air is going to be extremely popular for production, but I have to admit, I would have preferred seeing it released in a bigger model, like the rumoured 15-inch.

As far as built-in cameras go, I just don’t see how the MacBook Pro on offer comes anywhere close to the M2 MacBook Air, although I’d be interested to see what happens as more of them come out.

Should E-Gaming Be Considered an Equivalent for Disabled Sport?

Before you start reading this blog, I just want to say that this was an article that I had in the County Down Spectator last week, and I have been given permission to publish it on here, to showcase more of the articles I’ve done.

THE Commonwealth Games will run from July 28th – August 8th in Birmingham, making it the fourth time that England has hosted the games. Having first been held in 1930, the Games has changed its name over the years, reflecting the change from Empire to Commonwealth.

Its format has also changed a lot as well, with 2002 marking the first year disabled sport was included.

But since the beginning of this year, there have been discussions around the possibility of E-sports being added into the Commonwealth Games — which has also been discussed as a possibility for other sporting tournaments as well, such as the Olympics.

I would like to add my voice into the debate, suggesting how it might be a good idea to consider adding the platform into disabled sports.

While there are many points around the debate concerning whether or not video games should be included in the Commonwealth Games, the one point people against it would make is that it isn’t actually a sport. However, for people like myself who are very severely disabled (I am paralysed from the neck down, meaning I can’t move anything other than my head) you could make a case for Para Sports in general to include them, if we consider how many disabled people could take part if the right technology was provided, but can’t at the minute because their disability is too high.

The UK has the biggest video game market in all of Europe (though let’s admit it, our relationship with Europe is set at the ‘it’s complicated’ status), and we are also the sixth-largest gaming market worldwide. In recent years, gaming has become an increasingly enjoyable pastime — especially for the 16-45 age bracket — and was known for being a big mental health helper throughout the pandemic, when we all had to find ways of communicating with each other through remote means.

AbleGaming has also become a massive phenomenon in the last few years — with releases such as the Xbox Adaptive Controller and the Hori Flex for the Nintendo Switch and PCs — meaning disabled people can now play games with their peers.

So how could all of these technological advances apply to disabled sport, and why would some argue that e-games should at least be considered as a way of including more disabled people?

There are 14.6 million disabled people in the UK, and although representation has got a lot better for disabled people across the media — thanks to the nearly 10 years since the 2012 Paralympics coverage — there are still problems that will need to be overcome by the gaming and disabled sports industry before any decision is made.

One of the sports that this applies to is racing, but also the likes of wheelchair basketball, wheelchair football and wheelchair rugby, where the disabled person in question has to move around a lot. But what about disabled people with higher level disabilities — some who are unable to move their hands and legs, and others unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator and tracheotomy tube, which would raise a health risk for anyone who wanted to take part in the sport.

Electric / Powered wheelchair technology also isn’t fast enough, so disabled people taking part in any of these games would still be disadvantaged, without even adding in the fact that they might have to pull over every time their ventilator comes off, and might require their carers coming round with them.

There may, however, be a solution for more severely disabled people to take part in a version of disabled sports if the concept of e-gaming was adopted.

Yes, video game developers and designers would have to brainstorm ways to create games that let you play all the games that I’ve previously mentioned, and whether or not they should include options for what they can choose their avatar to be, even to the point of adding in accessories such as a tracheostomy tube and ventilator.

This would also apply to other sports such as wheelchair archery and others, where it wouldn’t realistically be safe enough for someone to fire an arrow using their mouth, but with the use of accessible technology and game design, there would be a way for people with higher level disabilities to take part in such a sport, even through the likes of touch screens and AI.

So overall, the technology does exist that will allow severely disabled people to get involved with the Commonwealth Games and other famous sporting tournaments, but there needs to be massive discussions about how things will be run as well. We’ll need to discuss how sporting tournaments find out if an actual person with a severe disability is behind an avatar, as well as ways that different disabilities are showcased in avatar form, and how this should translate to the actual sport.

But I wholeheartedly believe that if e-games are to be considered to be part of any sport in the near future, disabled sports are a good starting point, so that disabled people of even higher injuries can still feel like they are part of the wider superhuman message in sport that continues to go on.

Anlan Neck Massager Review

The Anlan Neck Massager is a massager by the company, Anlan. This was another one of the Christmas presents I got last year, which I was hoping to review quicker than now, but for various reasons between work and other coverage I’ve wanted to get out elsewhere, I haven’t been able to get it out until now, so apologies for the lateness of this review.

The Anlan neck massager comes with 5 massaging modes, 16 levels of intensity, 2 heating modes, and a 15 minute timer mode.

The massager is made out of ABS, it is about 154 x 149 x 37mm, and the weight is approximately 146g. It has the Rated Power of 1.85 Watts, and the battery power is 700 Milliamps.

And for those who care about economics with geography, it is made in China.

But when it comes to what I think of it (I tried using it at some point in February when I was hoping to get this out), I have to admit that I wasn’t overly impressed.

For those who don’t know, I’ve had a very bad pain in one side of my neck for years, which everyone has put down to being caused by how much I use my head as a hand. For a couple of years now, I’ve taken advantage of the Physio vest I was given to help get my secretions up – even though it has actually made my muscles feel better as well. Compared to that, this massager doesn’t feel like it helps my muscles as much, which will make more sense to everyone once you see the vlog version of this blog.

So overall, I would give the Anlan Neck Massager three stars, based on how it doesn’t give as strong of a massage in comparison to my physio vest. The heat level is also relaxing, for anyone who loves heat, and it’s also small enough that you should be able to take it everywhere. However, there isn’t anything else that would mean I could bring it up to five stars, especially giving how good the Libra Physio Vest is.

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My Experience Trying to Vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2022

Welcome back everyone to my personal website, and for some more news. This is something that I wasn’t planning to upload but have just decided to so the story can get out there, and so something can be improved in the future. Since this took place however, I have discovered that more people were affected other than only me, so I am going to investigate into it, and you might hear a lot more on it depending on how my investigation goes.

So as everyone who has viewed my other posts on here will know, there was an Assembly Election held in Northern Ireland on Thursday the 5th of May 2022.

I went down to vote on the day, with hope of doing what many other disabled people across the world, and also throughout history didn’t / don’t have the right to do, only to be denied my vote on the grounds of suitable ID being changed, which I had no idea about beforehand. I was aware that there might be a problem if I tried to use my Proof Of Age Citizenscard, as that has changed in recent years, but when I said I could go home and get my Blue Badge, I was told that it wasn’t acceptable ID, despite the fact that it was considered appropriate for disabled people getting their Covid-19 vaccines in 2020/2021.

So in the end, I had to put up with the fact that I’ve been discriminated against.

The reason I am uploading this and publicising this story is because there is likely to be a lot of disabled people who have went through this same problem, but I am the only one so far who is happy to speak out. If disabled people let themselves get walked over by those who are powerful in society, what stops it happening again? And how will the powerful be held accountable?

Also, before I get any more into what has happened in the days following the 5th of May, I would also like to point out that I ordered my passport back in February, and it still hasn’t arrived.

So as my loyal readers across both my sites will know, I am paralysed from the neck down. This means that I can’t move anything other than my head, and I am tracheostomy and ventilator dependent. I use two wheelchairs — one electric and one manual — to get around.

In the days that have followed May the 5th, I have since found out that at least 2 disabled people were affected, but this is something I am going to investigate into further.

I have also discovered that 50% less was spent on advertising, and that all advertising was aimed towards getting registered to vote — which I did — but not for explaining the ID required to vote.

In previous elections, around 40% of the budget was put towards ID.

I have also discovered that it was a government led decision for Blue Badges to be removed from the list of voter IDs — due to the Elections Act of 2021 — which is why I will be sending in interview requests to Westminster and Stormont, inviting them to be interviewed on the podcast.

The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland has also said that — after getting advice from the NIO — the reason Blue Badges were removed was because there’s no date of birth. But who would have the power to order that date of births are added onto Blue Badges? The government?

Politics Made Simple Part 8: What are the Biggest Issues People will be Voting for in the 5th of May Northern Ireland Assembly Election?

Northern Ireland has a habit of voting for Parties that stand for Green and Orange issues, which has worked for every Party, especially the DUP and Sinn Féin. There’s been signs that might be changing, however, as both Parties lost votes after the 2019 General Election, but still, there’s signs that this might still be the way the public will vote.

You could also say that the Northern Ireland Protocol is also getting mixed into orange politics, as one Unionist Party say they’re interested in dealing with the Protocol through negotiations, while the others think it’s better to collapse the government to sort it.

But what are the other big issues that people will be voting for in the Northern Ireland Assembly Election? In this blog, I’m going to lie out the big issues people will be voting for tomorrow.

1: The Northern Ireland Protocol

Although it may prove not to be the most important issue, the NI Protocol is still a big issue, especially in the Unionist / Loyalist community.

For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, the Protocol is part of the Brexit deal that has been signed by Westminster, which has caused a lot of division since it was negotiated and signed into law in 2020.

This means that those who see themselves as Unionist / Loyalist see themselves being separated from their own country — though Northern Ireland is still part of the UK — which they expect there would be uproar over if the same border was put down the island of Ireland.

2: Cost of Living Crisis

2022 has seen the cost of living go up in the UK, with petrol prices, the cost of heating, the cost of food and more going up.

With no one being in power in Stormont, there is no one making the decisions required to lead people through the difficult times where they can’t afford the basic needs, which those who aren’t rich will definitely feel.

3: Fixes for the Health Service

Like every other country in the world, Northern Ireland is on its way out of a global pandemic.

Every country is facing the same problems in how they can return to a new form of “normal”, but the difference is that the NHS has been struggling in the UK for years, with the Northern Ireland Health Service being especially underfunded.

Although Robin Swann has been relevantly successful as Health Minister throughout the pandemic, cracks have been noticeable since the beginning of the year.

There’s been problems in patients and their families being able to get through to emergency services over the phone, as well as with availability of ambulances, a shortage of beds, and more.

As well as this, there’s also been a move to take a house’s ownership out of an elderly person’s mortgage when they move into a nursing home, although this has been slightly more controversial.

4: Climate Change

The world is in a climate emergency, which governments are in a hurry to get sorted.

Yes; there are problems with various issues to do with Climate Change, from electric cars being expensive for a lot of people, to making sure Climate Change is accessible for disabled people, and making sure that no one is left behind in the discussions.

5. Employment in a Post-Pandemic World

The Coronavirus Pandemic meant non emergency sectors starting to work from home, which some sectors have now decided to keep in place, while others plan to return to working as they normally would.

However, the pandemic also saw a rise of people who were made redundant, who have remained unemployed, and also stopped the employment of young people who wanted to get started in the industry of their choice, especially in the disability community.

6: Making Northern Ireland More Accessible

The Disability Discrimination Act has been in place for over 25 years, but despite how much the lives of disabled people have got mainly better since the 1990s, they still aren’t completely without discrimination.

While legislation was passed to get disabled changing places in all public buildings, there are still a number of places that don’t have them, noticeably, the Grand Opera House in Belfast.

But it isn’t even just changing places facilities that would make Northern Ireland more accessible.

There has to be a big discussion around how cars can become accessible — especially giving how we are talking about how the Climate Debate can become more accessible for disabled people and there are signs that — if an electric car is bought by someone in the disabled community — it would also have to have a ‘charges while driving’ feature.

I’d also be interested in having a debate on whether or not every day technology should be added into the Disability Discrimination Act, so no technology company can tell a disabled child that they aren’t allowed to use the same technology as their siblings and their friends.

7: The Single-Sex Toilets, Sports and Communities Debate

Trans people of course have the right to use the toilet, as they do when it comes to them feeling like they want to join sports teams, and everything else they want to be part of.

But likewise, women have the right to have female only spaces, sports teams and groups that they get involved with, as do men.

As this topic is an ongoing one, it will obviously be a part of what might win or loose Parties the vote, with some even deciding to vote for the Party who decides that maybe having a mixed bathroom and a mixed team or group is the best way to move forward, without changing as well the ones which stay single sex.

Politics Made Simple (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election) Part 7: What is the Difference Between Loyalism, Unionism, Republicanism and Nationalism

It has surprised me how well this blog has been taken since I started this series, explaining each of the Northern Ireland political parties in a way that is simple to understand for the election next week, and I do look forward to seeing what all I can continue bringing to it in the weeks and months that come.

There’s been a couple of terms I’ve used to describe each party as well, however, and in this blog, I’m going to go through each of the belief sets that have been included in the title of the blog, with included charts on which parties belong to which set.

PS; some descriptions that have been given to these beliefs could belong to both of the groups, but the areas on which they disagree with each other could also be disagreed on by the people who identify themselves as each term.

What is Loyalism?

Loyalism is a branch of Unionism which — as the name suggests — is loyal to the idea of Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

While every Unionist party does have the belief in their name, it is questionable in the modern day which ones can be described as Loyalists, and which can be seen as Unionists, because there are major differences between the two.

While they do agree on the end goal of keeping Northern Ireland in the UK, Loyalists tend to believe that they are happy to go to any extent to make sure this happens, even to the extent of turning to paramilitaries.

On the other issues that exist and which have been covered in my previous posts, there are some Loyalists who would back some of those political issues, and others who would disagree, so the extent to which they are willing to fight for the every day issues can differ.

The Parties running in this election that belong to the Loyalist stance are the TUV, PUP and the DUP, but they don’t support the paramilitaries, though some of their supporters do.

What is Unionism?

Unionism is the name given to the overall belief that Northern Ireland should remain in the UK, but what differentiates a large percentage of this group from Loyalists is that they are committed to their main belief remaining in a way that is peaceful, and who see The Good Friday Agreement as the best way forward for achieving this.

As of May 2022, the only Unionist Party who you could say are solely aligning themselves to this perspective are the Ulster Unionist Party, who have also called for tempers to be calmed down, though the DUP would also count themselves as Unionists (hence, another area where the Party seem to be facing problems).

What is Republicanism?

Republicanism is the name given to the belief that Northern Ireland should be reunited with the Republic of Ireland, but who’s followers have historically been happy to force people into it — and who therefore are happy to go to any extent to achieve it.

However, they can still have fairly liberal views towards

As of May 2022, the only Party which can be described as Republican is Sinn Féin.

What is Nationalism?

Similar to Republicanism, Nationalists agree that they want to see all of Ireland reunified under one political system, preferably outside of the UK.

However, unlike Republicans, they want to see this happen through peaceful negotiations in a way that works for everyone, and have said they’d be interested in adopting what some describe as ‘British Policies’ into a ‘New Ireland’, whether that means having a version of the NHS in a United Ireland, whether that would mean part of the New Ireland becoming part of The Commonwealth, whether we continue having a free education system, the existence of Stormont, etc.

While the two political parties who belong to this belief set do disagree with each other in ways, the two who you would describe as Nationalist are the SDLP and People Before Profit.

What Do People Mean By Neither?

But even at this point, there are people who don’t believe in any of the four belief sets, and that’s where the parties who are supported by those who describe themselves as neither come in.

The Parties who brand themselves as being Neither are Alliance, the Green Party of Northern Ireland, and the NI Independents — though the last has candidates that campaign as not belonging to any party.

The problems that these Parties generally have is that when Northern Ireland is eventually asked the question of whether or not it want to to stay in the UK, they run the risk of upsetting one community overall, even if they only publicise how they voted after a result is announced.

Only one of these parties wouldn’t run this risk.

I hope all of these terms have been described in a way that is easy to understand, and I will see you for one last blog on the Eve of Election Day.

Politics Made Simple Part 6 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): Who Are The Other Political Parties?

Welcome back to Part 6 of my Politics Made Simple series, where I’m covering everything you need to know about the Northern Ireland Political Parties in a way that is simple to understand.

In today’s blog, I’m going to go through all the other political parties standing in this year’s election (these are the parties who don’t normally get a lot of the vote, but may or may not achieve more in this election, so they can be seen as being jealous of their big brothers’ — DUP, UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP’s success, and really want the spotlight to be given to them).

Traditional Unionist Voice (The TUV)

The TUV was formed in December 2007, and are a Loyalist Party, which was founded by their current leader, Jim Allister.

They are opposed to the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement — which they view as a betrayal by the British government of the Unionist cause, in regards that it lets those who it calls “unrepentant terrorists at the heart of government”.

Through this, they have until recently been opposed to the DUP — who they hold accountable for “sacrificing their principles” and agreeing to go into power sharing with Sinn Féin — and also oppose the UUP — who they basically view as being to blame for all the rubbish we’ve had since 1998.

Turning to their opinions on other issues (which have been largely seen through controversy), they are opposed to the Irish Language Act, which they described in 2009 on their website as “Leprechaun Language”, but they did later remove it.

They fundamentally placed themselves in opposition to the Gay Marriage / Abortion Reform, and called for the DUP to force the government to back down on gay marriage and abortion reforms in July 2019.

Lastly, in August 2016 Referendum, Jim Allister counted Brexit as the best case scenario for Northern Ireland.

As of April 2022, the TUV now counts the Brexit Deal that was signed as a betrayal of the Act of Union, and their main political view — if their manifesto is anything to go by — is scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol. (They wouldn’t go into the Assembly if this one issue wasn’t scrapped).

So to summarise what the TUV is:

  • They are one of the newest Unionist Parties which was founded in 2007, by a group of former DUP members, who rejected the DUP going into government with Sinn Féin.
  • They are opposed to the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, based on some of the points it currently stands for.
  • They are against the Irish Language Act.
  • They were against Gay Marriage and Abortion Reform in Northern Ireland before the British government passed both issues.
  • They supported Brexit — which they counted as the best case scenario for Northern Ireland — but wanted a different deal than what has been delivered.
  • They are fundamentally opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, and support not returning to the Executive until the issue is scrapped.

What is the PUP?

The Progressive Unionist Party — or as they are known, ‘the PUP’ — are a political party that was founded in 1979 to represent working class loyalists, and who’s sole commitment is strengthening Northern Ireland’s political marriage with Great Britain in the UK. Their original founding leader was the late David Ervine, who demanded a place at the negotiating table during the Peace Process. To many people’s surprise he was a great politician who won respect across the political divide. His untimely death left everyone stunned, although his sister-in-law, Linda has come to prominence recently as an advocate for Irish Language schools in the heart of Loyalism. Under Ervine the PUP were a real threat to the DUP in the Loyalist heartlands and were taking votes from them.

Billy Hutchinson is the current leader of the PUPs.

They believe in doing this through a cordial Union made up of diverse people from multiple cultures and faiths, as a way of achieving social and political harmony.

Other issues the PUP cares about are on promoting citizenship as part of the United Kingdom, which they believe should draw from a range of cultures and traditions.

They support helping Working Class families — which in fairness to them, other Parties support as well — but are subscribed to the political ideology laid out by them Ulster Covenant in 1912.

As well as this, they also support implementing progressive policies and initiatives that promote supporting full and equal citizenship, entitlements and responsibilities, that will develop the social and economic well being of citizens and religious / political freedoms.

But what positions has the party recently taken regarding political issues?

In recent months between late 2021 – early 2022, the PUP has faced many of the same problems as other Unionist Parties have faced.

In November 2021, the former PUP councillor, John Kyle — who has since jumped over to the UUP — said that there could be advantages to the NI Protocol (a few days after his party had previously said there was no bases for Unionists continuing to back the Good Friday Agreement).

As of April 2022, they have been among four political parties attending rallies to collapse the Northern Ireland Protocol, and have been critical of Doug Beattie — the UUP’s leader — for not attending.

It can therefore be believed that they are in support of keeping the Executive down until the Protocol is abandoned.

Their opinions on the other political issues mentioned in this blog have historically differed as well.

So to Summarise what the PUP is:

  • They are a Unionist Party who were founded in 1979, and who describe themselves as Working Class.
  • They are committed fundamentally to Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK, and believe the Union should be made up of a mix of people from different cultures and faiths.
  • They support progressive politics, and subscribe to the 1912 Ulster Convent.
  • They caused controversy recently when one of their councillors, John Kyle, left to join the UUP, after making claims that there are advantages to the NI Protocol, a couple of days after they said there was no more need for Unionists to back the Good Friday Agreement.
  • They are happy for Unionists to walk away from the Good Friday Agreement, if it means that the NI Protocol will no longer exist.

What is the Green Party of Northern Ireland?

The Green Party of Northern Ireland was founded in the 1980s, and is currently led by Clare Bailey.

Like many Green Parties around the world, the Green Party of NI wants to see movement on Climate Change legislation.

They support LGBT+, are pro Abortion in certain circumstances, and also support an Irish Language Act.

While some of their members have sympathised with the idea of a United Ireland in the past, they don’t believe it is the right time to consider a Border Poll.

But they are in support of creating fair employment, a fair education system and a fair health system.

What is People Before Profit?

People Before Profit is a socialist party founded in October 2005, and which has started building momentum in Northern Ireland throughout the last couple of years. And while they would generally like to see all of Ireland under one political system, they would like it to come about in a way that generally works for everyone.

Until recently the best known member of the PBP was Eamonn McCann, a well known Marxist. Although he his not standing for election in May.

But turning towards some of their other policies, they would like to see an agriculture policy that promotes the establishment of small local processors, and of cooperative farm ownership, among others.

When it comes to Brexit and the current circumstances that surrounds it, People Before Profit has always rejected what it sees as the DUP’s attempt to use the Protocol for sectarian electioneering, and are against any attempts to recreate a hard border on the island of Ireland. They’re against any moves to weaken economic links between Northern and Southern Ireland, and also oppose the neoliberalism and imperialism that they see coming from London and Brussels.

So to summarise what People Before Profit is:

  • They are a socialist party founded in 2005, and which exists in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • While they generally support the idea of the entirety of Ireland being under one political system, they want it to come about in a way that works for everyone.
  • They support agriculture policies that promote the establishment of small local processors, of cooperative farm ownership, and are willing to help farmers who are struggling in the aftermath of Brexit.
  • They reject the DUP’s attempts to use the Protocol for sectarian electioneering purposes, and are also against any hard border returning to the island of Ireland, and any attempts to weaken the economic links before North and South.
  • They also oppose the neoliberalism and imperialism they see coming from London and Brussels, as well as the creation of a European Army.

What are the Northern Ireland Independents?

But even with the number of parties we do have a choice over, some people choose not to identify with any of them.

And that’s when the Northern Ireland Independents come in.

An Independent can have any belief set they want, but what they all have in common is that they don’t belong to any of the parties.

But unlike other Independent candidates from other countries around the world, we have had quite a number of Independent candidates who have been very successful and taken on impressive roles within the government, so they can still be influential. With our system of Proportional Representation, a popular local candidate stands a good chance of election. Unlike the first past the post system for the Westminster elections.

Politics Made Simple Episode 5: What Is The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland?

The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland is the 5th biggest party in the Northern Ireland Executive, and have gained a large percentage of votes in the other elections held over recent years. Having been founded in April 1970 by people who had previously been part of the New Ulster Movement, they were set up as a group to promote moderate and non-sectarian policies, which they do technically still stand by today — although it has been debated in recent years that they’ve started backing more Nationalist and Republican issues over Unionist and Loyalist ones.

So basically, they want to make everyone happy.

This has convinced people who would describe themselves as Small Unionists, Small Nationalists and Neither into giving them their vote in recent years — but this might change given that one Unionist party has finally recovered from their 17 year concussion and fancies stealing back some of their lost voters.

As of April 2022, the Alliance Party is led by Naomi Long — the ‘Ginga Ninja’. But what are their main policies, and what would you be voting for if you vote for them on the 5th of May? In this blog, I am going to get into all their policies, so you know what to do on the day of the election.

The Alliance party of today is meant to be neutral on whether we stay part of the UK or if there should be Irish Reunification, although this has become a problem for them since calls for a United Ireland have been publicised more since the 2016 Brexit Referendum.

They supported Remain in the 2016 Referendum, but went along with Sinn Féin, the SDLP and other Remain supporting parties after in campaigning for a Second Referendum — instead of accepting the result — and view the Northern Ireland Protocol as the best case scenario, although they are up to changing some of the problems with it through negotiations, instead of pulling the entire Executive down.

They haven’t publicised which side they would back if there was a Border Poll held tomorrow, or if they would even pick a side until after a result was given — hence, they would rather stay on the fence.

But looking now at the issues that they actually aren’t afraid to talk about, the Alliance Party believes in delivering better Public Services, that will help everyone who uses them, and that won’t depend on green and orange politics.

They believe in a green economy that is fair for all, are in support of progressive climate legislation — which they believe will only be secured by the creation of high-paid, high-quality green new jobs — and also support investment into agriculture and an ambitious anti-poverty agenda, but they haven’t said publicly yet what they would take money away from, although they have admitted they will need a responsible approach to these plans, that will involve recognising limited revenue-raising powers.

True to the stepping stones of the party, they champion a shared future for society, where everyone in the country comes together, where society is peaceful, and where politics is defined by socioeconomic issues.

Lastly, they also respect the rights for all citizens regardless of race, religion, sex, gender, age, or place of origin — although I haven’t seen anything where they’ve outlined their views on disabled issues — and are Pro-Abortion in certain circumstances.

They joined with other parties when calling for Michelle O’Neill to resign over breaching Covid guidance to attend the Bobby Storey funeral, but caused controversy when their leader (who was Justice Minister at the time) saw no vationel to probe any further investigations, and also after some of their party councillors’ tweets were deemed to be offensive as well.

So to summarise what the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland is:

  • They are a Liberal Party, founded in 1970 out of the New Ulster Movement, and which has been led since 2016 by Naomi Long.
  • They were against Brexit, and backed calls for a Second Referendum instead of accepting the result.
  • They are pro LGBT+, Pro Abortion in certain circumstances and Pro Irish Language Act
  • They support better action for Climate Change
  • They believe Public Services should be easily accessible by everyone
  • They caused controversy after the Justice Department saw no more vationel to probe any other investigations into the Bobby Storey funeral which Sinn Féin breached Covid Guidance in by attending, and when some of their councillors’ tweets proved offensive as well.

Sources

History of the Alliance Party: https://www.allianceparty.org/our_history

Our Visions: https://www.allianceparty.org/our_vision

Naomi Long Officially Becomes Leader of The Alliance Party: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-37782400

16. Reactions to WWDC22: Is iOS16 Accessible Enough and What Are My Thoughts About Apple’s M2 Macs? The Phoebs Lyle Podcast

Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference – often referred to as WWDC – took place from 6th until the 10th of June 2022, and which featured sneak peaks of iOS 16, as well as the first M2 Macs.But what are my thoughts, and is the next version of iOS the most accessible? And are the new M2 Macs really worth upgrading?TO FOLLOWMy Technology Reviews Website: https://technologyreviews.co.ukMy Journalism / Film Production Website: https://phoebelyle.comMy Personal Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhoebslyleMy Personal Instagram: https://Instagram.com/therealphoebslyle/The PL Tech Reviews YouTube Channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCN3KXB2-z8iisuS1PspjwIAThe Phoebs Lyle Journalism YouTube Channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCbPQAzDKcmFLwg_m9BAlwgASupport this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/the-phoebs-lyle-podcast1645/donations
  1. 16. Reactions to WWDC22: Is iOS16 Accessible Enough and What Are My Thoughts About Apple’s M2 Macs?
  2. 15. Should E-Games Be Considered as an Equivalent for Disabled Sport?
  3. 14. Blue Badges Removed as Acceptable Voting ID / Anlan Neck Massager Review
  4. 13. Politics Made Simple Part 8: What are the Top Issues People Will Be Voting for in Northern Ireland’s #AE22?
  5. 12: What is the Difference Between Loyalism, Unionism, Republicanism, Nationalism and Neither?

Politics Made Simple Episode 4 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): What Is The UUP?

The Ulster Unionist Party (better known to all the normal folk as the UUP) is the second largest Unionist party in Northern Ireland — though you could say they are plotting to become the biggest again. Evolving from the Ulster Unionist Council which was founded in 1905, they were the biggest Unionist Party from the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 until direct rule was called for in 1972, although they stayed important enough from then up until 2005, when it lost the title of biggest party to their now big brother, the DUP, and has been wondering how to grab the spotlight back ever since.

In recent years, the UUP has probably been best known for going from leader, to another leader, to another leader — making them the Katie Price or Angelina Jolie of Northern Ireland political parties — who at times, also decided to try and copy what their big brother was doing.

But after witnessing their big brother face a… ‘car crash’ in 2021, they dashed towards another chance to pick another leader, and this time picked who they hope is going to be their saviour: the former Army Captain, Doug Beattie (or as he became when a storm blew down part of his constituency sign, ‘Dougamorous’).

In the last year, they’ve changed a lot of their views from what was normally its historical stance, which they hope will go well with the voters.

So what are their beliefs, and what is it that makes them different from the DUP? In this blog, I’m going to outline everything there is to know about the UUP’s beliefs, so you can make the right decision come May the 5th.

So as mentioned, the UUP is the second biggest Unionist Party, so they are convinced that Northern Ireland is fundamentally better off inside the United Kingdom.

They were one of the main political parties who agreed the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement — which they compromised with their ex-partner, the SDLP — and are fully committed to it as a way of lasting peace.

During the 2016 Brexit Referendum, they supported Remain, but after the result was delivered said they were Democrats and accepted the result, while most other Remain Parties supported calls for a second referendum.

The party of the Health Minister, Robin Swann, they have a vision to restore the NHS to the potential where it can support the population to live as healthy people.

They support Integrated Education — where all children should be educated together regardless of religion.

Some other issues they’re committed to is to find a solution for Climate Change. They are also in support of having a thriving economy.

While they are against the Northern Ireland Protocol, they believe it can change more through negotiations instead of collapsing the house, which every other Unionist Party opposes.

So to summarise what the UUP is:

  • They are a Party which has derives from the Ulster Unionist Council, which was founded in the early 20th Century.
  • They are Unionist, so they believe Northern Ireland is better off inside the UK, but are against violence to help secure the Union.
  • They supported Remain in the 2016 Referendum, but decided to accept the result after the outcome was announced.
  • They historically counted LGBT+ issues as a matter of conscience, but are now in support of banning conversion therapy in Northern Ireland, ensuring information can be accessed by the transgender community and those questioning, and implementing zero intolerance approaches to hate crimes such groups might face.
  • They support the introduction of Changing Places Toilet facilities, and are also in support of setting up a £5million Accessibility fund to help improve accessibility for disabled people.
  • Their leader has faced criticism recently over offensive tweets he sent out between 2011-2014, although he has apologised now.

Sources

Ulster Unionist Party (Political Party, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom): https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ulster-Unionist-Party

I Will Not Be Intimidated vows UUP Leader, Doug Beattie, after ’Cowardly Attack’: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/crime/i-will-not-be-intimidated-vows-uup-leader-doug-beattie-after-cowardly-attack-3629437

Ulster Unionist Party Policy Papers: https://www.uup.org/policy_papers

UUP Manifesto(s): https://www.uup.org/manifestos, https://assets.nationbuilder.com/uup/pages/40/attachments/original/1649258439/UUP_Manifesto_2022-_web.pdf?1649258439

Politics Made Simple part 3 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): What Is The SDLP?

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (or as they will be referred to in this opening paragraph, “The Simply and Desperately trying to Live Party”) are currently the third biggest party in the NI Executive, although that could all change by May the 5th. They were founded in the 1970s, and they were one of the two main parties in 1998 when the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement (whatever you want to call it), was signed (you know that thing which everyone born that year in Northern Ireland is only remembered for). Although the agreement has some good parts, it also had some bad parts, that might have proven to have been the cause of the car crash elections that have taken place since 2005/07 onwards, between the SDLP and their once marriage partner (yes, I mean the UUP).

But what are their main political beliefs, and what is it that differentiates between them and the second biggest party, Sinn Fein? In this episode, I’m going to be going through all their beliefs, so you know what you’ll be voting for on the 5th of May.

So as mentioned, the SDLP was founded as a nonsectarian political movement in the 1970s, and its first leader was Gerry Fitt, though it is John Hume who has been known as one of its more recognisable leaders, thanks to his greatest political achievement which was the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which he also got a Nobel Peace Prize for. Having joined the Northern Ireland civil rights movement in the late ’60s, Hume saw nationalism as a declining force in the new Europe, and thought Northern Ireland needed extended self-government, with powers reasonably divided between the population groups.

Though not one of the largest parties, the SDLP of today is led by Colum Eastwood, and as were the stepping stones of the party in its early days, their sole political aim is a United Ireland, though they want to achieve it by peaceful means.

They supported the UK adopting the euro during the Single Currency debate, and also supported Remain in the 2016 Brexit Referendum.

Some of their other stances on issues are that they support legislation involving the Irish Language Act, they support abortion in certain circumstances, and they also support Gay Marriage.

But they caused controversy last year when a bill dodged all mentions of girls and women, and pointed instead at “persons who have periods”.

They are supportive of the NHS, and are believed to have a plan for what they would like to keep in a United Ireland.

So to summarise what the SDLP is:

  • They are an Irish Nationalist party, who’s sole political aim is a United Ireland, but in a way that is brought around simply.
  • They are Pro-EU, Pro-Irish Language, Pro LGBT+ and Pro abortion in certain circumstances
  • They are Pro NHS
  • They were in support of the UK adopting the Euro
  • They have caused controversy recently over so called inclusionary language

Sources

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