A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.
Leading the week
Commuters and holidaymakers face the prospect of more chaos on the railways in the wake of the disruption caused by this week’s record-breaking temperatures as unions stage two major strikes on Wednesday (July 27) and Saturday (July 30). Around 40,000 staff working for Network Rail and other major operators will walk out in the latest round of industrial action organised by the RMT and Aslef unions in disputes over pay, jobs and conditions, with services set to be drastically reduced during the first national walkout for over 25 years.
Network Rail chief Andrew Haines escalated the bitter war of words between the unions, operators and politicians that has played out since the strikes began in June by suggesting the RMT leadership is operating a political campaign, while Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston accused the unions of deliberately targeting next week’s Commonwealth Games. The action will also affect fans travelling to the Women’s EURO 2022 semi-final on Wednesday evening.
RMT leader Mick Lynch continues to insist that Network Rail’s pay offer is unacceptable and will result in further strikes over the summer without an improved proposal, while his counterpart at Aslef, Mick Whelan, says that the dispute is set to rumble on due to a lack of negotiation by the operators. Public support for the strikes was reasonably strong after last month’s walkouts (and Mick Lynch’s round of talkshow diplomacy), though it’s sure to be tested over the coming weeks with more action scheduled for August.
An action-packed week of sport begins on Tuesday (July 26) with the first semi-final of the 2022 European Championships. England’s Lionesses face Sweden or Belgium for a place in the final at Wembley against the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final between Germany and either France or the Netherlands.
Thursday (July 28) sees the opening ceremony of the 22nd Commonwealth Games as Birmingham plays host for the first time. The first day’s action on Friday (July 29) sees medals awarded in events including the triathlon, para triathlon, and the team sprint cycling. Across the pond, the controversial LIV Golf series holds its latest event at Trump National in Bedminster. The PGA Tour pulled no punches in pushing back against the breakaway competition this week, stripping Henrik Stenson of Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy after the Swede confirmed his participation.
The traditional curtain-raiser to the Premier League season is then played on Saturday (July 30) as Liverpool and Manchester City meet in the FA Community Shield. The match offers the perfect warm-up for Sunday’s Euro 2022 final, where Sarina Wiegman’s charges will hope to be competing for their first European crown. The action concludes in Budapest with the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton comes to the Hungaroring gunning for his fourth straight podium finish as his Mercedes team continue their mid-season revival.
Pope Francis embarks on a ‘penitential pilgrimage’ to Canada this week aimed at healing the Church’s relationship with indigenous peoples who were victims of the country’s residential schools system. The visit was announced last year as part of reconciliation efforts after over 1,100 bodies were discovered in three months in unmarked graves at former schools, many run by the Catholic Church. Ahead of the trip, Pope Francis told crowds in St. Peter’s Square last week that some Christians and members of religious orders had ‘contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation that in the past gravely damaged native populations’. Over 150,000 children were forced into residential schools between 1831 and 1996; many faced physical or sexual abuse, and thousands are believed to have died in what the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a ‘cultural genocide’.
The Pontiff spends Monday and Tuesday (July 25-26) in Edmonton, where he meets with First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples and holds a Holy Mass at the Commonwealth Stadium, before travelling on to Quebec on Wednesday (July 27) to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Friday (July 29), the Pope heads to the northern city of Iqaluit for ‘a particularly significant moment’ in the trip, holding a private meeting with former residential school students.
But the Vatican’s hopes for a ‘healing’ visit that will help survivors move on may be premature: indigenous activists pointed out that the Pope’s formal apology in April fell short of acknowledging the Church’s institutional role in the abuses, focusing instead on individual actions. As Pope Francis continues his tour this week, he’ll come under increasing pressure to acknowledge the outstanding demands from victims, including the return of land, documents and artefacts and a large-scale investigation into Church abuses past and present.