Big Bird enters Maze controversy…

AFTER reading Pete’s post below about muppets in Northern Ireland, I emailed Big Bird to get his opinion on the big issues of the day. Since feathers make it hard to type, our yellow friend simply emailed this picture back to me when I asked for his position on where the new national stadium should be. With such illustrious backing for the Maze, Minister Poots can surely sleep more soundly tonight. Belfast Gonzo

Two new muppets for Northern Ireland

As noted some time ago, Sesame Street Workshops, with $1 million from the American Ireland Fund are producing 26 shows to teach tolerance to children in Northern Ireland [toilet training for ursine mammals? – Ed]. The latest news on the project is that there are to be two new muppets added to the cast list specifically for here.. Could they have anyone in particular in mind.. [“Pity about the mountain”, indeed – Ed]btw, in case you missed the memo.. apparently … Read more

Leaving the China shop, quietly…

Just reading back around the circumstances under which British troops landed on the streets of Northern Ireland, what strikes you is the number of tragic incidents that had happened in the run up to their arrival. Lost Lives records that of the nineteen fatalities of that year, eight of them (almost a fifth of the total fatalities attributed to the force over the following thirty years) had been killed by a tiny ‘peacetime’ RUC, you get a measure of why … Read more

Cultural confusion in Benidorm…

THIS is quite bizarre, as well as offensive – what appears to be a bar in Benidorm that goes out of its way to make visiting loyalists welcome. Not for those easily put off by sectarianism, but certainly an odd (to say the least) clash of cultures. Is ‘Ali the Paki loyalist’ for real? Or is it a piss-take? Belfast Gonzo

“We hope that it won’t be necessary..”

In the Belfast Telegraph Chris Thornton quotes Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch on the “definite irony” of the end of Operation Banner co-inciding with the extension of powers to the Army, with similar powers to the police, “to stop and question anyone about their movements – and hold them indefinitely until they answer.” Those moves come via a NI Order in Council, specifically the Police and Criminal Evidence (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, which also extends powers granted … Read more

British troop levels return to peace time levels…

At long last the British troop numbers here will drop to the ‘peacetime’ levels they were at before being called onto the streets of Belfast in 1969. Already the battles are beginning over what it means. It clearly means different things to different people:The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson: Referring to the 763 members of the forces who were killed, he said: “This is a difficult time for the families of those who were killed. This was an immense sacrifice and we … Read more

The Falls Curfew….

It only lasted for a single weekend in July 1970, but it had a lasting (and catastrophic) effect on relations between the Falls Road and the British army. This five minutes of raw footage taken whilst journalists were shown around the eerily quiet streets of the Falls, is weirdly evocative of the chill that subsequently descended on the area…Here’s the CAIN archive for the week leading up to the Curfew: Friday 26 June 1970 Bernadette Devlin, Member of Parliament (MP), … Read more

“There is no worth in a half-truth process” – redux

As Fintan O’Toole recently argued “In the Irish experience, both nationalists and unionists have been all too adept at constructing versions of the past in which they feature only as victims, never as victimisers.” And, as noted in previous posts, for the Eames/Bradley committee to “take the bull by the horns” – which they should – it will require “a belief that truth is a value in itself”. So when a political party’s leader announces a “March for Truth” it’s … Read more

Difference of opinion in Derry.. might have been suggested previously.. where representatives of those republican micro-organisations are being openly critical of Sinn Féin – in this case on the end of Operation Banner. Pete Baker

Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Having recently mentioned the “the northern Protestant miserablist” *ahem* I thought I’d note the news today of the death of legendary film-maker Ingmar Bergman and pull together some of the links out there – starting with the Ingmar Berman Foundation. Slate has a good compilation and the Guardian, natch, has a series of articles and Film Blog posts including a collection of links to film clips and, in particular, the critic David Thomson. And to The Seventh Seal.. And from … Read more

Your top twenty favourite UK politics blogs?

Iain Dale is trying to sift through what are perceived to be the UK’s Top 20 political blogs. He wants your help, and is prepared to pay for it (in a roundabout, competitionyish sort of way). If you submit your own personal top twenty, you will be in with a chance to win £100 worth of political DVDs! So get them in by the 17th August and you could be in with a chance, and you get to promote your … Read more

A military success

Andrew McCann celebrates the success of Operation Banner this morning. When looking about for some information, I came across this website, which looks interesting. Michael ShillidayI used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t. Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

BBC: purveyors of ‘shrink wrap’ narrative?

After nearly forty years of deployment, the British Army is finally to reduced to the old garrison force of 5,000 troops in Northern Ireland. But reader Aidan reckons this BBC report is an attempt to shrink wrap a complex narrative, down to a single grabbable story. The passage he highlights is: “British troops were sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 after violent clashes between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic civil rights marchers were met by counter-protests by Protestant loyalists and the … Read more

And from last year’s news…

Missed this little gem from last year’s marching season, which features accusations that the SDLP had “drifted from a nationalist agenda”, simply because a survey showed that amongst Orangemen “5% were ‘likely’ to vote SDLP and that 13.5% said it was ‘possible’ they’d give the SDLP a second preference”. Ach, it was all so much simpler then! Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media … Read more

On the co-option of King Billy into the ‘RA…

Flickr fan Gary has spotted what looks like an unintentional mistake… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

“the good guys in Carrickfergus..”

Thanks to commenter Dewi for this link to the Economist’s take on the unfolding saga of the ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ UDA.. or as David Ford put it recently, “the notion that there is somehow one baddie faction of the UDA and one goodie faction of the UDA seems to me to be absolute rubbish.” According to the Economist, where “stupid” questions are apparently off the menu, “The UDA’s attempt to be the good guys in Carrickfergus may be … Read more

Bernadette working for a shared future…

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey has had a chequered political career, ever since winning the Mid Ulster seat April 1969 as the youngest ever MP. Even then, her politics defied easy categorisation, going against traditional Republican abstentionism, she called herself and independent socialist, on occasions she lit up the Commons, not least with a physical attack on the then Home Secretary Reggie Maudling. Older, though, she says, just as awkward, McAliskey is involved in what she calls a bottom peace process, that … Read more

A little problem with Brown’s Maginot Line?

Mark Devenport throws up a question that should be of interest both to Gordon Brown and to his Tory party opponents. If Britain is to have a new Border Guard force, where exactly is the border?Our north/south border is virtually non existent, as is the east west. This would leave Brown with something like an Maginot Line , in which Britain’s coast, ports and airports are heavily defended, whilst leaving the Republic’s lighter security and tiny navy to guard it’s … Read more

Memories of Fred Daly…

Martyn Turner, the Irish Times cartoonist relates some fond memories of the only Irishman before Padraig Harrington to win the British Open in today’s Irishman’s Diary. Here’s a snippet: …even in his late sixties, he could work magic on the ball. I saw him bend a medium iron right to left around a tree and land the ball 10 feet from the hole. When I said it was a wonderful shot, he said he had not been quite sure which … Read more

Pretty in Pink

The famous Free Derry Corner gable wall has been painted pink in solidarity with the city’s Gay community ahead of the Gay Pride Festival. Jim Collins, spokesman for the Gasyard Feile in Derry, said, “The feile decided they wanted to do something for the gay community and we thought this was a good public, creative and visual way of celebrating Gay Pride.” Chris Donnelly