Essay: Gough Whitlam and the fragility of parliamentary democracy

Carl Zahle (1866-1946), Danish Prime Minister 1909-10, 1913-20

However over-quoted a historical figure he may be, Winston Churchill certainly gave his global audience plenty to ponder over whenever he opened his mouth or put pen to paper.  His dictum that ‘democracy is the worst form of government, except for the all the other forms that have been tried’ still strikes ringing chords, five more…

The Lords held the wrong debate

There was quite a lot of noble handwringing in that Lords debate that needs unpicking. Dealing with the past was confused with dealing with the present impasse. There is of course a link but they are really two clean different things.  It was odd to hear Paul Bew, a historian who has dedicated much of more…

British government claims “We do not own the past.”

In recent submissions to the Council of Europe, the British government suggests that human rights violations in the north of Ireland which occurred under direct rule should be the responsibility of the devolved administration to clean up. A number of cases had been brought to the European Court of Human Rights by families whose loved more…

“Assertion in blog is shameful and cruel” – McDonald

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Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has posted a twitter response to a blog circulating on social media which describes Maíria Cahill’s alleged rape ordeal as “a year long sexual liaison”. The blog describes the alleged rapist as a man “whom many a 16-year-old would likely fancy”. The blog prompted a twitter question from  more…

Lord Bew on the Prospects for Dealing with the Past

Yesterday’s House of Lords debate on the Haass-O’Sullivan Talks raised questions about the responsibility of the British and Irish governments, as well as the Northern Ireland parties, in moving forward on addressing the legacy of the past. Lord Bew’s remarks on the unlikeliness of ‘a shared process of recovery from the past’ were particularly sobering more…

Photo of the day – Autumn leaves in Lurgan Park

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Photo by  Mark Ferguson, Taken on October 18, 2014  As the nights darken and the temperature drops we ready ourselves for winter. Mark’s lovely photo shows the leaves changing to brown, but also the simple pleasure of walking the dog.      

For Scotland today, idealism like Ireland 1916, or be careful of what you wish for?

Guardian columnist Martin Kettle makes a bold comparison between the generational change in Ireland 1916 and the “energising “ impact of the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. He’s inspired by Roy Foster’s marvellous new book which I’m only just into: “Vivid Faces.” In his review Maurice Hayes quotes Holywood’s Bulmer Hobson who faced house  arrest more…

More Than A Flag – East Belfast bandsmen poignantly look back at WW1 as the audience see potential #BelFest

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Twelve young guys who couldn’t be much older than twenty. Most with no acting experience. Some haven’t been in a theatre never mind standing on a stage. Bandsmen. Proud of their community, proud of their culture and their flag. Often derided, stereotyped, and written off. Over the last couple of months, Dan Gordon has realised more…

Madden and Finucane on the ending of the #Cahill court case…

Source: thejournal.ie

Madden and Finucane Solicitors, acting on behalf of Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Maura McCrory have issued a letter stating their opposition to Mairia Cahill‘s version of events: It states that those accused have been subject to a lengthy police investigation and that Cahill has been “afforded every resource the state could offer”. The letter more…

Mr Ó Muilleoir goes to Stormont, Mr Maskey goes to the West.

From the Anderstown News Twitter feed tonight The former Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir will replace Alex Maskey as the Sinn Fein MLA for South Belfast, with Maskey moving over to West Belfast to take over from Sue Ramsey. It is also reported that Ó Muilleoir will stand for the South Belfast seat in 2015, more…

Do you love Larne?

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On Monday night the BBC broadcast ‘True North – I Love Larne’ and it is fair to say the good people of Larne are not best pleased at how the show depicted them. The Larne Times Facebook post about it has over a 100 comments so far with gems like this: “Surely someone in council more…

Photo of the day – The Crown Bar

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I found myself on the 12th floor of the Europa Hotel the other day, and I must say you get a great view of Belfast. For the tourists they have helpfully marked out relevant sites on the windows.

Electoral Pacts: Just a Sectarian Headcount?

Have we lost a sense of perspective on the meaning of sectarianism? Both an electoral pact between the DUP and UUP and a students’ union referendum on a United Ireland have been labelled sectarian in recent days. It seems that increasingly entirely legitimate political actions by Nationalists and Unionists are written off as sectarian. (more…)

BIPA and facing the difficult politics of a common history….

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The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly  delved deep into history to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and to highlight the long hidden and shared contribution of soldiers – Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist – as a means of overcoming present differences. Many cite the comment by Churchill at the end of that war that “The whole map of Europe more…

Amnesty release poll showing majority in NI back abortion law reforms in DOJ consultation

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The Department of Justice have opened the public consultation on three specific changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion. Northern Ireland’s legislation in this area is very restricted with compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and for a long time there has been little political enthusiasm to change it. Public sentiment has softened over the more…

“Adams’s claim… is worthy of the most cynical bishop”

From today’s editorial in the Irish Times Adams’s claim that there was “absolutely no cover up by Sinn Féin at any level”, is worthy of the most cynical bishop. It appears to be based on the fact that the IRA came to accept that she had indeed been abused. But its response was not to more…