David Smyth

David Smyth

David Smyth is head of Northern Ireland and coordinates the Public Leader: Northern Ireland course. He is a former solicitor and represents the Evangelical Alliance on a range of government, civic and charitable forums. He serves in the space where faith, law, politics and culture intersect.

Bridging the gap

24 June 2020Many times, though, we fail to see any common ground between ourselves and our neighbours, let alone our enemies. When we do, we’re conditioned to believe it can only be entered by way of compromise. So, the idea of hosting on a shared space, or even setting foot there, requires the willingness to take a risk and build a relationship. All this frames a public conversation I hosted recently with the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Mr Les Allamby. Our…

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A perspective on the General Election from Northern Ireland

11 December 2019We are just a day away from what has been described as the most important election in a generation, though it seems to me this is how every election is described. This election is certainly unusual: it is the first December election in the UK since 1923 and has fallen outside of the normal election cycle. Moreover, it comes just seven weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU. Brexit has dominated the political landscape of these islands over the last four years, with Northern Ireland and the…

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Recall of Stormont offers slim hope abortion law could be blocked

18 October 2019Regulations will be consulted upon and implemented after the criminal law has been removed and before 31 March 2020, but this creates the potential for up to five months where there are little or no regulations or restrictions on abortion. We are very concerned that this is a bad law being implemented through a bad process and that vital protections are being removed from both women and unborn children.Since July, huge efforts by Both Lives Matter and others have seen more than 100,000…

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Public leadership: Seeking God’s kingdom first

2 September 2019A foodbank, a new business venture, mums and tots in the portacabin at church, recycling your plastic bottles. A teacher bringing knowledge to her students, a lawyer fighting for justice, a nurse compassionately binding up wounds. Kingdom seems to be used as a neat shorthand for everything we used to call church and work or even all that is good in the world. God is before all things and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17), and He is King over all the earth (Psalm 47:7). So, is it…

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Enemies no more

29 August 2019This was just a few days before traditional republican commemorations which take place every year to commemorate the Easter Rising. Public outcry following her death was swift and sincere, contrasting with the hollowness of the ‘apology’ from the IRA which “claimed responsibility” for the killing. They explained that she was “tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces” and went on to conclude that they had instructed their volunteers “to take the utmost care in future, when engaging…

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Ashers bakery case is going to European Court of Human Rights

21 August 2019Mr Lee ordered a cake with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’ from a bakery owned by a Christian family in 2014. The bakery initially accepted and then declined the order to make the cake. Mr Lee, backed by the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, sued the bakery for damages for alleged discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation, political opinion and the religious beliefs of the bakery owners. Mr Lee won his case at first instance at Belfast County Court on all three grounds in…

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A diplomatic incident

11 July 2019US President Donald Trump called the British ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, a “pompous fool” and “a very stupid guy” on Twitter. This followed the leaked publication of sensitive emails which Sir Darroch had sent back to the British government in which he called President Trump “insecure” and described his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional”. The ambassador quickly became the story as Trump said that his administration would no longer work with him while the British government…

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A right royal birth

9 May 2019Congratulations came in from Hollywood A-listers, the Obamas and people adorning Union Jack jumpsuits as they lined the streets in a show of support. The birth also prompted Prince William to welcome Harry and Meghan to the 'sleep deprivation society’. As a fellow member of this esteemed society, I’d also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome. Babies change everything. Feeding, winding, changing nappies, dressing, repeat. Caring for a newborn baby is a practical crash course…

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Fyre Festival: The boundaries of the impossible

31 January 2019The phrase ‘the boundaries of the impossible’ was part of the PR campaign for what has been dubbed the “the greatest party that never happened”. The Fyre Festival happened, or didn’t, back in April 2017 and is back in the news again this week, following the release of a new documentary on Netflix. The idea was simple: a luxury music festival on the beautiful Exuma islands. The promotional video featured private jets, yachts and lots of beautiful people. International models including Bella…

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Christmas: Presence, power, purpose and public policy

19 December 2018As public policy officer at the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, I represent the views of many Christians generally and our members more specifically to government and the media. The everyday currency in public affairs and ‘lobbying’ is influence, power and spin. I’ve observed that it’s all too easy to get drawn into the norms and systems of public affairs, or any given culture, for that matter, and as Christians we have not always navigated this space well. So, how does the incarnation…

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Be reconciled

20 November 2018Imagine a violent guerrilla war breaks out in the UK from city tower blocks to quaint country villages. Your ‘enemies’ are indistinguishable in a crowd, trust fades and communities polarise. Neighbours and work colleagues are mentally re-categorised by their perceived allegiances. The conflict dominates the political and media discourse for a generation. Meantime, most people are just trying to work and raise their family, helplessly caught between domesticity and a terrible chaos. This lasts…

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