Tag Archives | Northern Ireland

Unionists have to be nudged to talk, with the incentives of common citizenship and other common interests

Enda Kenny is surely right to be cautious about setting up an “all-Ireland forum” Better to have a “conversation” at least to start with in November.  Even so its ability to speak for all Ireland would be seriously weakened  by the absence of  unionists,  just as it would be counter- productive  for the unionists not more…

Rory Finds Form to Win FedEx Cup

By winning the Tour Championship yesterday in Atlanta, and with it the FedEx Cup for the first-time, Rory McIlroy has turned a decent, if disappointing by his high standards, season into a great one.  Until the FedEx play-offs began his only win this year was the Irish Open.  The new FedEd Cup winner now heads to the more…

The problems of Brexit are big enough without nurturing new grievances against the Brits

In his eloquent contributions to the Mount Stewart conversations, (warm thanks to Alan), Fintan O’Toole in terms stated as fact that the people had exercised an irreversible act of sovereignty in approving the Good Friday Agreement enshrined in international treaty. This had been violated by the “reckless” imposition of Brexit on the Northern Ireland.  The more…

Reflections on the British-Irish Association in Oxford

 A tale of two Unions: can circles be squared by a new devolution settlement?   This was written for the blog of the Constitution Unit of University College London. In the wake of the Brexit vote there has been much discussion about the possibility of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there were Remain majorities in more…

A time to press for Irish unity or a time to stay cool?

In contrast with Chris Donnelly’s reasoned case and the speculation that Fianna Fail may at last organise in the North, herewith Newton Emerson’s latest in the Irish Times The Troubles generation was marked by an almost total collapse in the unionist sense of Irishness, which is usually explained as a reaction to republican violence. However, more…

Declan Kearney: “an attempt to destabilise nationalist areas in the North.”

As mentioned by Newton Emerson in Saturday’s Irish News, in an under-reported article in An Phoblacht this week, the Sinn Féin national chairperson, and MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney, doubled down on Roy Greenslade’s ‘policy of criminalisation‘ for dissident republicans to explain away the evident discontent the party is experiencing – adding further layers more…

“Giving meaning to Brexit”

The best article I’ve read so far on the UK government’s approach to Brexit has been written by Andrew Tyrie MP,  the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee for the think tank Open Europe. Problems for preserving an open border are clear if the UK leaves the customs union. But without doing so the UK more…

“rather than trying to pretend that essentially, testing does not exist”

As the BBC notes, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, the DUP’s Peter Weir, has reversed the department’s previous position prohibiting the use of academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils transfer to.  That position was set out in 2008 by then NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, and upheld by the subsequent Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd. more…

Big effort is needed to avoid polarising Brexit along Orange and Green lines

Yesterday Theresa May made it clear that while the devolved administrations will be consulted the decisions on Brexit will be taken by the UK government.  The triggering of Article 50  will not require parliamentary consent and it will happen probably in January or February next year. A Norway-type deal  looks ruled out  because it  entails more…

Martin McGuinness’s challenge should be accepted. Offer immunity in exchange for disclosure to those who took decisions on both sides of the long war

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has mounted “a stinging attack” on Martin McGuinness for saying he would have “ no difficulty “ in disclosing his own role as an IRA leader in dealing with the past. An outsider would be taken aback at the vehemence of Nesbitt’s reaction.  On the face of it, McGuinness’s offer more…

“Better to criminalise rather than politicise.”

Here’s something you might have missed last week.  In an interestingly timed, if much belated, intervention in the Guardian, professor of journalism at City University, self-declared Sinn Féin supporter and, in the late 1980s, a pseudonymous contributor to An Phoblacht, Roy Greenslade channels his inner Thatcher for a call for media [self] censorship when reporting on still violent dissident republican groups.  From the Guardian article In other more…

Robin Chichester Clarke was the last of the gentry that treated government as part of the family business.

Robin Chichester -Clarke, the last of the old unionist gentry to hold office in either Stormont or Westminster,  died a fortnight ago at home in Norfolk at the age of 88.  His elder brother Jimmy, later Lord Moyola, (familiarly known as  “Chi-Chi,” after a notably  infertile panda) was Northern Ireland’s penultimate  prime minister in the darkening more…

British Irishman, not a Black and Tan

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In the Ireland of 2016 the British community (Protestant and unionists) still carry the curse of plantation, Cromwell, the famine, the Black and Tans and one-party rule Stormont. (Read ‘Being a planter‘ here.) The Protestant and unionists are the villains, by birth levied and vilified with historical wrong. Catholic is Erin and virtue, Protestant is more…

An answer to Rentoul. Referendums like terrorism can shape events, but not always in the ways expected

Alerted by Mick on the thoughts on referendums by the Independent’s political commentator John Rentoul, I took in his part 2 “Should Referendums be banned?” This is a rhetorical question which is really in  support of Rentoul’s  contention  that they make very little difference to the course of political  events. His pieces prompted my following more…

Well Mairtin it’s a start!

 From the Irish Times. EU structural and investment projects in Northern Ireland signed before the British chancellor of the exchequer’s autumn statement will be guaranteed after Brexit, the Treasury in London has said. The current level of agricultural backing, which underpins the farming industry, will also be matched by the British government until 2020. Europe’s more…

Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

Lurgan Volunteers with pic

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this more…

With Brexit fever, lies,lies and damned polls

Lucid Talk have been conducting a curious self selecting exercise in the  Belfast Telegraph and finding that, as Lucid Talk’s Bill White explains, “The poll is currently running at 75% Yes to a border poll, and 70% Yes to a United Ireland, and I don’t need to tell you that common sense, and history, tells more…

Immigration less of a problem, trade and customs more so, as Liam Fox rules out a customs Union with the EU. But Theresa and Enda think they see how to keep the border open

One of the leading authorities on EU affairs Charles Grant, the director of the centre for European Reform has issued  this warning: When it comes to economic ties, the 27 will be much tougher than many Britons expect. European leaders have an interest in ensuring that the EU maintains a close economic relationship with the more…