My 2018

Well, it’s that time of year again.

How was 2018 for you?

This is my review of the last 12 months.

As ever, it is entirely subjective.

Consequently, it is an eclectic mix of the familial the fitba, the personal and political.

Throughout the past year, it has been a strange experience to see our little corner of the island as the centre of complex political negotiations.

After all, “the Irish backstop” is what the Brexit impasse comes down to.

That said, the Brits never thought it would be so.

They thought that the bureaucrats in Brussels would throw little Ireland under the bus.

Thankfully, out gallant allies in Europe understand what the Border issue means here.

In the Brexit talks, the Brits were focused on trade and the Irish diplomats were talking about peace.

The European Union is, at its core, a peace project.

As the year ends the Westminster Parliament has been the scene of, well, scenes…

Prime Minister May couldn’t get her deal voted through, so she postponed the vote.

In the last year, she has lost a Foreign secretary and two Brexit secretaries.

The final chap tasked with negotiating Brexit, Dominic Raab, resigned because he wouldn’t support the deal that HE had negotiated!

When I look at these clowns, I have to pinch myself that they used to have an empire that my grandparents fought against.

The Windrush scandal was a reminder that the Brits might have lost their imperial possessions, but not their imperialist mindset.

It reminded me of the signs that my father saw in England in the 1950s;

“No blacks, no dogs, no Irish.”

Sadly, so much of the impulse to vote to Leave in 2016 was fuelled by xenophobia

Whatever unfolds with the Brexit shambles then the legacy in British politics will be toxic for a generation.

The position of the Six Counties post-Brexit will remain the Schleswig-Holstein Question of the new era.

In the northeast of this country, the DUP had been dealt a hand of some influence, but they showed that they don’t know what to do with it.

Their confidence and supply agreement with the minority Tory government gives them some clout.

Yet they are at variance with a majority of votes ibn the Si Counties who voted Remain in 2016.

In February there was a deal on the table from Sinn Féin to go back into government together.

It would have meant, finally, that the Irish language would have had respect in the north eats of this country.

However, Arlene Foster and her colleagues couldn’t go that extra distance.

The inquiry into the RHI scandal showed just how cavalier the DUP can be with the public purse.

In the 26 counties the economy has picked up, but you wouldn’t know that by the number of homeless people we have sleeping on the streets of our cities.

We had  a historic referendum in the Republic this year

The one to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution will be looked back on by future historians as a seminal event.

The uniquely divisive issue of abortion law was a barometer of the power of the Catholic church in Ireland.

Anyone in the Six Counties who think that there is now “Rome Rule” from Dublin has not been paying attention.

The untimely death of Emma Mhic Mhathúna and the whole cervical cancer scandal shames us all.

We re-elected Michael D Higgins to a second term as Uachtarán na hÉireann.

The Galwayman does the job very well indeed.

Meanwhile, the Brits saw their hereditary head of state sit in front of a gold piano and tell them that they were all in it together!

The bowing and scraping towards the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan by the Brits is truly something to behold.

I just don’t get the attraction of celebrity feudalism.

On the same day that we re-elected our head of state, we also decided to get rid of the concept of blasphemy from our constitution.

So, once the legislation is passed I’ll be in the clear, even when I say “Jehovah”!

This year Gerry Adams finally stepped down as President of Sinn Féin.

The installation of Mary Lou McDonald as his successor was well managed.

However, she has a hard act to follow.

Her prominent position in the Repeal campaign did her a lot of good with people who would not be normally well disposed of towards the Shinners.

However, the decision to run a candidate against Michael D for the Park was a serious misstep.

Across the Pond, Putin’s guy in the White House was starting to feel the heat.

His response was to shut down the government unless Congress gave him money for a border wall that he said the Mexicans would pay for.

In March of this year, Cold War 2.0 came to Salisbury with the poisoning of the Skripals.

Consequently, this probably isn’t the best time for the UK to be disconnecting from their friends in Europe.

At the time the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson looked utterly out of his depth.

2018 saw a huge milestone for me as a writer.

Although I have been a published playwright since 2005 the lack of a novel in my oeuvre did rather irk me.

Therefore, it was a special moment for me in June at the Dublin Writer’s Conference when I launched The Squad.

It was a fitting setting as the book is largely set in the capital.

Several Dubs have sent me messages that I evoked their town very well.

That’s the feedback that can keep a writer going for a long time.

So, it is done, out there and selling well.

The sequel is planned for 2020, ach sin scéal eile!

This site has been an accidental success as a samizdat on Planet Fitba.

In the year past Celtic dominated the domestic sphere.

A Double Treble was forensic proof of that.

Then a summer of discontent was delivered to the Celtic support from Heated Driveway Productions.

Brendan Rodgers was clearly unhappy as several signing targets were missed.

The start of 2019 will require that damage to be repaired.

In February Sevco had to go outside of the Blue Room for emergency finance.

The Close Brothers loan was an important waymark on their real journey.

At the end of last season, Celtic had utterly battered the six-year-old club in two back to back matches.

Then Mr David Cunningham King produced Steven Gerrard out of the hat.

Clearly, the Sevco High Comma have bet it all on the ex-Liverpool player.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Sevco if there wasn’t court action.

Their convicted criminal chairman was embroiled in on-going litigation with the Takeover Panel.

Moreover, General Ashley had his legal people in action over the retail deal.

For the avoidance of doubt, both of these stories will continue into 2019.

On the familial front, I’m incredibly fortunate.

The Bean a Tí takes it all in her stride.

If quiet wisdom was an Olympic sport, then she would have a house full of gold medals.

Number One Daughter is now a graduate and had a super job waiting for her in her preferred field.

She has tried to explain to her old dad exactly what “bio-technology” means, but I just know that she loves it.

Our youngest is still Baby Doctor, but she’s nearly a fully-fledged medic.

The Big Fella has a plan that takes him across several continents in the next 12 months.

In the summer it was the happiest day when he arrived back on our little island after a year teaching in South Korea.

Have a child, write a book.

Things that live on after you.

I’m lucky.

My book of the year was “A kind of homecoming” by my friend and comrade Eugene McEldowney.

Set in Belfast, it is a ripping good read.

It was published in the 1990s, but it had somehow escaped me until now.

My film of the year was Black 47.

A revenge western set against the backdrop of An Gorta Mór it used that genocidal crime as the backdrop to a simple enough story.

Look, just see it.

This year, Glasgow the City Council unveiled what they thought was a fitting tribute to those who arrived in Glasgow fleeing the Famine.

In response, the Irish community decided to build their own.

I think that tells its own tale.

The shameful incident at St Alphonsus church in Glasgow last July was a tipping point for many Catholics in the city.

Consequently, the “Call It Out” organisation was an entirely understandable response to last socially acceptable hatreds in nice new modern Scotland.

Anti-Irish racism and hatred of Catholics are at least being called out by the people who are on the receiving end of it.

Call It Out have all of their work in front of them and I wish them well.

So, dear reader, I hope that you had a good 2018 and that the year ahead is all that you need it to be.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion