Renewing trust, confidence and motivation to make Northern Ireland a home for all

The meeting took place in Portrush. In addition to local members, it was attended by the recently elected UUP party leader. In the course of a short speech which seemed unrehearsed and lacked emphasis on any key messaging, he said: “Unionism is always at its best when it has something to fight against.” Like ‘United We Stand ‘it maybe works as a rallying cry but, not unusual within unionist groupings, reveals a limiting view of any vision or hope for …

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Sinn Féin’s historical revisionism has nowhere to hide

Trying to rewrite history is never a good idea. So when Sinn Féin’s official social media account claimed at the weekend that “On this day in 1905 Sinn Féin was founded” and proceeded to say that on that day “we outlined our position”, it naturally raised a few eyebrows within the historian community. The thing is with historians, they are fact-based people, so if you lie about something in history they will ruthlessly expose you for it. The backlash to …

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Welcome to the Era of Vaccine Politics…

If recent developments around COVID vaccination has reminded us of anything, surely it’s that nothing is easy. Proof of anything is hard to come by. Weighing up a 90%-effective vaccine against a 70%-effective one might seem straightforward, but that’s without knowing if those numbers remain stable as more evidence comes in, and if so, who are the 10 and 30% and when and why a vaccine can be ineffective in a given instance. Then you’re straight on to, well what …

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The mechanics of a unification referendum need attention

Dr Alan Renwick is Chair of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland. He is Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, and an expert on referendums around the world. An independent group of academics has just published a report on how any future referendums on the question of Irish unification would best be designed and conducted. The group, which I chair, has no view on whether such referendums – or unification itself …

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A return to Ireland’s fundamentalist and simplifying past is to “throw yourself out of sync with history…”

So at the weekend Eoghan Harris took steady aim at one of the south’s most sacred cows. Unlike most of official Ireland, he looked at the first Bloody Sunday through the prism of a Liam Weldon song, Dark Horse on the Wind that warned how “the warriors spring from the earth to maim and kill their own”: RTÉ’s non-stop stream of nationalist necrophilia, with no balancing programmes such as Spotlight on the Troubles and Cops on the Frontline. RTÉ’s latest offering, Bloody Sunday, …

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The road safety analogy which might just get us safely through a modest Christmas…

Up to three households allowed to meet together indoors over Christmas period @mickfealty | @AmandaFBelfast | Dr Mike Tildesley | Dr Tom Black 🎧 https://t.co/mRClKWXLkr pic.twitter.com/5selkDbc4P — Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) November 25, 2020 Interesting discussion on Nolan this morning, not so much for what I said, but the quote I used from one time member of the Slugger commenting parish, and one of my oldest friends in NI politics, Ian Parsley and his excellent post on Facebook as an enabling …

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Gordon Brown ‘gets’ that “a centre that does not listen” is not sustainable…

This is an extraordinarily sharp insight (subs needed) from Gordon Brown in the New Statesman which ought not escape without mention here on Slugger. It’s about the future of the British Union, but from the point of view of power (and its increasingly narrow internal distribution within the UK): It is too early to say whether Britain will break up, but we can say already that it is breaking down. Wales, Liverpool and Manchester have been declaring their version of independence …

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Life, Lockdown and the Pursuit of Safety…

‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ – Benjamin Franklin In late July Trump posed a question to his haggle of Twitter followers. He asked if the election could be delayed, citing concerns linked to Coronavirus. Naturally, this tweet was met with furore and anger from the media and most reasonable people – even many of ‘The Donald’s’ biggest fans. The condemnations which followed the tweet were well justified, …

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[Un]Learning from Covid: For better politics, slow down and stop trying to win [every] argument.

So, we have a vaccine. Actually, we have several and possibly several more to come. Of my most pessimistic friends who have been following the granular scientific detail say that this Corona scare should be all over bar the shouting (and there’s been a lot of that) by June. There are lots of speculations about how effective a vaccine has to be to work, but as Stephen Bush on the New Statesman has pointed out, the BCG injection was only …

Read more…[Un]Learning from Covid: For better politics, slow down and stop trying to win [every] argument.

To mask or not to mask?

The recent publication of a Danish study into the efficacy of mask-wearing to prevent the wearer from becoming infected with the coronavirus has become very controversial. Some have suggested that mask-wearing confers no benefit to the wearer. The question of whether “to mask or not to mask” is now a political one. I’m going to look at the Danish study, and Prof Carl Heneghan’s response — the view that he said Facebook had censored (here). The Danish study is here: …

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Thinking, Fast and Slow about politics…

I’m sure you remember 2016. The year of the Brexit referendum, the year when Donald Trump won the presidential election. How well, how accurately, do you remember the campaigns, the slogans? I remember Take Back Control, £350 Million for the NHS, Make America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Crooked Hillary, and Lock Her Up. These were all on the winning side; there must have been slogans that the losers used, but they don’t immediately come to mind. What about …

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In a time of Covid_19 “his wake will be open to the public from 10am to 10pm…”

It’s bizarre that the head of the Republic’s Supreme Court has lost it so publicly over a golf dinner, while at the same time, as Nolan said on his programme this morning, Sinn Féin asked nationalist families to let their loved ones die alone yet then went ahead to bring thousands to Bobby Storey’s wake and funeral. Here’s Hugh O’Connell report in the Sunday Independent: The funeral of the former senior IRA figure on June 30 last now is the …

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Partition at 100: the British Problem

Northern Ireland and its history have fascinated me continuously pretty much ever since I first learned how to use an atlas when I was a kid. Looking at political maps, I would internally wonder why this corner of the island of Ireland was a different colour from the rest – though it took me a little longer to query what a “political map” was, and what a “relief map” was, and what exactly is so “relieving” about seeing the outlines …

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Writing can be immensely healing…

On Writing I’ve been digging out my old school reports in the vain hope that they might not have been as condemning as I remembered. Sad to say, it was wishful thinking and the proof could not be ignored: ‘Lynda finds it hard to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time’, or ‘she is rather ebullient (I had to look that up) in class at times’, and the very worst one in the eyes of my poor …

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With the shops full – I don’t think they have thought this through…

With non-essential shops due to close this Friday the obvious is happening, everyone is hitting the high street now. Shopping centres are full and there are queues outside many car parks and shops. Now I imagine retail welcomes the boost in the trade but I don’t think it is the best way to reduce transmission. The behaviour of some people is truly bizarre. I witnessed a huge queue of traffic to get into the ASDA car park, even though supermarkets …

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Your lockdown political documentary/film recommendations

A few weeks ago I did this segment with William Crawley on Talkback but a few of you have been in touch with me to ask for a written copy.Here you go. The Killing Season-The Killing Season is a 2015 Australian television three-part documentary series which analyses the events of the Rudd–Gillard Government of 2007–2013, a turbulent period of Australian political history. You don’t need to have a great knowledge of Australian politics to watch this. Labour-The Wilderness Years which …

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“Where do you think Unionism is going?”

Currently unable to meet socially for coffee, conversations now take place on zoom or on the phone. Once we have shared our frustrations about Manchester United, recalled our memories of school days, in his case under the guidance of the Christian brothers and in mine, the local grammar school for a mainly unionist intake, we inevitably gravitate to politics. The question put to me was more challenging than John realised and is one unionists need to ask of themselves: ‘Where …

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OK Boomer: Trump’s Last Stand and Fantasyland, USA…

“History is seasonal, and winter is coming…Some time before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.” That grim prophecy wasn’t from the latest Qanon conspiracy drop. It was written in the 1990s, …

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