A Wonderful Wander Through Belfast

Belfast’s tenth annual 4 Corners Festival (30 January-6 February), begins in a week’s time. One of the aims of the inter-church festival is to inspire people to visit and explore all four corners of the city, especially areas they have not ventured before. The festival’s popular ‘Wonderful Wander’, which takes place this year on 5 February, is a guided walk that encourages people to see Belfast in a new light. Caroline Clarke from Belfast shares her experiences of last year’s …

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As You Were! Party support static in latest Lucid Talk poll…

feedback, survey, nps

That must be the least exciting headline you will read today. But with the poll showing Sinn Féin still sitting on a very healthy lead; the TUV retaining the lumps it carved out of the DUP in a three horse race to be biggest unionist party; and Alliance still poised for significant gains, the pattern is very much the same as it has been throughout most of last year. The full results in today’s Belfast Telegraph are: Sinn Féin 25% …

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Scores on the doors: 2022 Assembly Election lay of the land

We are 104 days away from the Assembly Election. Set for Thursday 5th May, we will be able to decide who we want to take Northern Ireland forward for the next few years. Where will the parties be targeting and defending? I have put together a list of where is under threat for each of the main parties and where could they make some gains. These things are moveable feasts and dynamics can change throughout the campaign. Sinn Fein-Currently holds …

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Sooooo is it all over?

halloween, retro, scared woman

The Republic has agreed to lift almost all Covid restrictions from 6am tomorrow. Similar relaxations of the rules are happening in Northern Ireland. So does this mean it is over? Do we have to go back to the office? Can we start licking each other again? Not sure how to react to the news. I feel like I should quote a poem or something profound, but my mind is blank. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

Rock star Meat Loaf dies at 74…

Sad news for music fans with the announcement of Meat Loaf’s death. Most famous for the 1977 album Bat Out of Hell, he would go on to sell over 100 million albums. He was also known as an actor, he appeared in several cult movies like Fight Club, Wayne’s World and most famously as Eddie in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell was released in 1979 and hit No 15 in the UK charts. Written …

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A thought experiment for Northern Ireland: Part I. Are the Tories in for a historical bashing?

london, westminster, bridge

While the late Noel Whelan was already seen as a formidable commentator on political matters in the South for quite some time, the warning he gave to the political establishment in the run-up to the February 2011 general election did much to cement his reputation as Ireland’s leading political pundit. While hardly anyone was expecting Fianna Fáil to receive anything other than a drubbing in the lead-up to that election, given that the party had almost single-handedly killed the Celtic …

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A new constitution for a reunified Ireland? It already exists (more or less)…

ireland, sea, ocean

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. “Ireland is too small to be divided forever. Reunification is inevitable. It won’t be in my lifetime but it will happen” Sir James Craig to a senior Irish civil servant in 1938. Since the political hand-grenade that is Brexit was set off nearly five years ago, there’s been a lot of debate in Northern Irish nationalist circles about a …

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Plug the gap in NI’s rail network – Seven requests for the West…

When Northern Ireland was founded a century ago, an intricate network of railway lines knitted every town and city together across the jurisdiction. It was an important economic and social inheritance from the Victorian era, at a time when all transport was ‘public transport’. Within less than 50 years, however, all that had changed. In 1949 the multitude of private companies that ran individual railway lines across NI was nationalised under the Stormont-controlled ‘Ulster Transport Authority’ (UTA). The UTA was …

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The Belfast Agreement (well, the St Andrews Agreement) is close to breaking down…

David Ford is a past leader of the Alliance Party. Here he lays out a number of scenarios which could arise in this year’s Assembly elections which suggest that the “ugly scaffolding” of St Andrews is getting close to a final nervous breakdown. Cast your mind forward three months or so.  Forget about the Protocol, Article 16, collapsing the institutions.  It is the afternoon of Saturday 7 May 2022.  Across a few constituencies the final seats in #AE22 have still …

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Maybe Jeffrey has a point? Dual mandates could even benefit those leading the charge against it?

sherlock holmes, brexit, london

Not hard to see the motivation of those politicians Brian documented lamming into the DUP for (using their influence with London) to change the rules on double jobbing. The DUP’s embarrassment is everyone else’s opportunity, it seems. It is an odd arrangement, the temporary nature of which seems to be doing a favour for the DUP leader… The details of the move are outlined in a letter from Northern Ireland Office junior minister Lord Caine to members of the House …

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Irish army came within minutes of invading the north…

From a report by Connla Young in today’s Irish News: A CO Tyrone man has claimed the Irish army came within minutes of invading the north to highlight the plight of nationalists faced with a sectarian onslaught in the late 1960s. Killian McNicholl (82) from Dungannon has broken his silence on secret plans by the Dublin government to force an international crisis more than 50 years ago. While it was already known that the Irish government had drawn up a …

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Nostalgia – the double-edged sword…

photos, hands, hold

The nostalgia industry has become something of a lucrative business. There are now entire TV channels dedicated to repeats of old shows where (if you have time on your hands) you can spend all day watching the likes of Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Kojak, Starsky & Hutch or The Sweeney. There are radio stations which only play golden oldies. Ageing rock bands re-form (sometimes with less than half their original line-up) and go on tour thereby cashing in on the …

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The Birthday Lunch…

restaurant, street cafe, loaf

She was waiting for me, sitting at a picnic table in the dappled shade of a silver birch, its leaves delicately coloured the new green of spring that we’d both come to value and love. Gravel crackled and scrunched beneath the soles of my shoes as I walked the final few yards along the path to meet her and I could feel the first real warmth of a May sun seeping through my jacket and deep into my back. It …

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Government accused of #JeffreyMandering by changing the rules to let MPs also be MLAs…

The government is proposing the temporary return of dual mandates, MPs can also run as MLAs. This is being widely seen as a move to enable Jeffrey Donaldson to become an MLA but he can also maintain his MP status. His Lagan Valley seat is seen as vulnerable to Alliance so the DUP are doing all they can to avoid a by-election. Blatant Jeffrey Mandering and *all* politicians should call it for what it is. Democracy cannot be à la …

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What is Plan B in the event of the collapse of government in Northern Ireland?

time, plan b, alternative

Dympna McGlade is a Slugger reader from Glengormley As we enter 2022, the threats to collapse the Northern Ireland Government leaves us with uncertainty about the future. We may have differing views about the whys and wherefores of this action, and we can only guess at what governance arrangements will be set in place in the event of it happening. The one common denominator in this scenario is that we have been here before – five times before! The last …

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In our democracy recourse to the law exists to afford protection of its citizens (and the Belfast Agreement)

legal, illegal, choose

Jamie Bryson is editor of UnionistVoice.com and head of law and public policy research within Unionist Voice Policy Studies. Here he takes on Brian Walker’s assertion that he’s agitating but trying to protect the consent principle in the GFA. In a recent article on Slugger, Brian Walker referred to me- in the context of the legal case brought against DAERA regarding the implementation of the Protocol- as an “agitator” and informed readers I had “incited” Edwin Poots. In the first …

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After fifty years of improvement and reform in Northern Ireland isn’t it time we gently surrendered to a vision larger than our old sectarian selves?

Who recognises the profound shift towards fairness and equality in the last fifty years in Northern Ireland? Historical facts may not change, but as the world transitions and power shifts, our perspectives should also adjust. Otherwise we may be condemned to an interminable cycle of Groundhog Days.

Next 100 years: Ethical foundations are a prerequisite not an afterthought for a better future…

resilience, victory, force

Hugo MacNeill, at an Irish Association meeting in December, answered a question put to him by old teammate Trevor Ringland: how do we get relationships on the island right over the next 100 years that we got so wrong over the last 100? There has been much talk recently about the topic of a Border Poll on Irish unity. Reference is always made to the Good Friday Agreement and the specific point (on page 4) relating to the ability of the …

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Maybe January would be better spent having an honest conversation about how we got to a place we seem to want to escape…

drinks, alcohol, cocktails

“Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only disease you can get yelled at for having.” Mitch Hedberg 2022 is the tenth year of the official Dry January campaign. Last year, 130,000 people signed up with Alcohol Change UK, who provide a choice of daily coaching emails or a steady stream of encouragement via their phone app, all aimed at helping people get through the longest month of the year without assistance from drink. This 2021 figure was up 30% …

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Echo chamber politics in the US is also now in the Republic too…

art gallery, paintings, fantasy

In the US Republic determined anti constitutionalism (better here) has never been more popular. But one price of ignoring the rules that bind as Donald Trump did on 6th January last year, is a burgeoning ignorance of what those rules actually are. A large chunk of the US Republican Party flipped in one day from being the traditional (at least in recent times) party of States rights to many of their senators demanding that the federal legislature quash the right of states to …

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