Author Archive | Brian Walker

Paramilitary violence and intimidation greater than admitted – The Detail. How will the parties deal with it?

The Detail investigative website continues to create impact by laying it out facts you might suspect the main parties have an interest in playing down with an election in prospect. Paradoxically that comparative reticence may be a form of implied cohesion between the DUP and Sinn Fein.  But is it good enough? How should they more…

Do we need the “old ” IRA to contain the “new”?

Gang activity labelled “dissident republican” is spreading and is proving very difficult to check.  What is the connection between the killings in Dublin and the fatal shooting taxi driver of  Michael McGibbon? Perhaps the most chilling aspect of McGibbon “ punishment shooting “  was that, rather than go the the police – or even Gerry more…

David Beresford hunger strike journalist and historian, RIP

The best journalists are often oddballs. They can win close access to power, regardless of whether power is of the state or anti -state variety. They   lack – and often spurn – status. They tend to walk alone and barely recognise dress codes. Perhaps their greatest quality is persistence against the odds, in which courage more…

Will SDLP support for integrated education create a new consensus?

David McCann has already given his overview of the SDLP manifesto. On delivery, as is usual with these documents, the manifesto strains at being comprehensive without giving away too many hostages to fortune or burdening the reader with costings. And like all parties particularly the smaller ones, the SDLP can indulge in aspirations it knows more…

News of investment in NI may be good enough to be true

Wow! 36 deals worth £392 million secured in the first quarter of 2016 I admit I don’t really understand what the figures mean and how much accrues to people who live and work in northern Ireland. Still, it seems like good news for the professional classes in high tech. In the first quarter of 2015, more…

Time to admit the reduced role of dealing with the past

In the Sunday Times (£) a review by the historian and failed candidate for Canadian PM Michael Ignatieff of a book  lets a little air into the deadlocked subject of Dealing with the Past, “ In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies” by David Rieff presents arguments to counter our prevailing orthodoxies of more…

“This is not an abortion war, completely not”. Facebook trolls lay off

This is an exclusive interview with an Ulster woman of a very different character. Deborah McAleese’s interview in the Belfast Telegraph with a housemate of the young woman convicted of self aborting  is  searing, very hard to read. Oddly  the impact was less in voice on the Nolan show ( substitute ) because the housemate was  composed more…

The DUP manifesto: a fair start but big issues are left out

In the DUP manifesto,, buzz phrases like better service delivery and the modernisation of government  are invoked in  support of the business- like appeal of Arlene Foster  the party is relying on at the outset of their campaign. There is a marked lack of “shared future”  and united  community rhetoric. At the same time unionist/loyalist more…

The Brexit debate showed how for once, it’s not really about us.

While all involved should be congratulated for staging it, goodness knows what the public made of the streamed Brexit debate. The horrible truth is that we are required to say  yes or no to a question which admits of no clear answer.  No one knows the cost of “uncertainty,” or the advantages of going it more…

The Michaella McCollum interview: big mistake by the broadcasters

The Irish Times joins the Belfast Telegraph in criticising the soft focus treatment of drugs  smuggler Michaella McCollum. She was interviewed for RTE Features  by independent film maker Trevor Birnie of Below the Radar films, an outfit that is usually associated with investigative journalism. As the Irish Times’ Hugh Linehan points out.. Given the circumstances, more…

Gerry Adams at Easter. In full

I though it worthwhile to put on the record Gerry Adams’ Easter Centenary address, part unreconstructed old republicanism, part election address, a classic of its kind in style and content, without further comment.   On Sunday 27th March, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD addressed the Easter Rising commemoration in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery. Mr Adams more…

In defence of John Bruton

It was brave of former Taoiseach John Bruton to chose last week to return to the ultimate Irish counterfactual. He’s taken to task for it in the Irish Times by historian Dr Brian P Murphy OSB I believe,” said Bruton, “Ireland would have reached the position it is in today, an independent nation of 26 more…

With hindsight should unionism have been represented in Dublin yesterday?

It’s a fair question. Representatives of unionism would have been warmly welcomed  to the reviewing stand in O’Connell St on their own terms which would have underlined the end of the old ambivalence towards the use of violence in the North. But perhaps this was not the moment. By common consent, reconciliation has not been more…

1916 is still worth a fret or two

I’ve just finished reading my latest foray into an absorbing subject, Ruth Dudley Edwards’s magnificent The Seven, her biographical account of the main leaders of the Easter Rising, guardedly but critically reviewed by the  historian and Irish Times columnist Diarmaid Ferriter here. While Ruth may be dismissed by some as the arch revisionist, no reader more…

Gay rights campaigner Tatchell switches to support gay cake appeal

Peter Tatchell no less, who is second only  to Jeff Dudgeon as a gay rights campaigner, will have given some comfort to those who although they support gay rights have qualms about the legal finding against Asher’s the bakers. On the eve of the Asher’s appeal, Tatchell has changed his mind.  Jeff had reservations about more…

Terry Wogan made ordinary life special

If there was another Irish broadcaster who forced me to sit in the car park  and make me late for work it was Gay Byrne. Gay had a similar subversive streak and a light touch with a sting in the tail. But he did not  travel so well across the Irish Sea, nor did he more…

What will be the followup to new police move on the Birmingham bombings?

(Kieran) Conway, who is a now a solicitor in Dublin specialising in criminal defence,, voluntarily spoke to detectives in connection with his memoir of life inside the IRA “South Side Provisional”. In the book, Conway revealed certain details about the Birmingham pub bombings to which the IRA has never officially admitted. No one has ever more…

Back to the future – the only possible headline

Delorean tombstone

  Even now it’s hard to believe it ever happened. Remember the famous gull wings of the pride of Dumurry? And its big sell as the saviour of Northern Ireland with Protestant workers using one door of the factory and Catholics another? As it was written so it must be true, in the era of more…

The biggest losers in failing to come clean on the past is the reputation and authority of the state and its servants.

You don’t have to be a transitional justice zealot or a Provie fellow traveller to recognise that the heat is on the British government, the police and security authorities over dealing with the past. You can be a judge like Lord Justice Weir blasting the police and indirectly the government for  the inordinate delays in more…