Launch today of the British Irish Ulster Forum at Westminster

A new organisation is being launched tonight in Westminster by Thomas Lowe and Chris Punch. The organisation is called the British Irish Ulster Forum (BIUF) which can be found at

The topic for the launch event is ‘Building bridges, breaking ties: looking ahead at Stormont’ with an interesting array of speakers Chris Ruane MP (Labour), Alasdair McDonnell MP, MLA (Deputy Leader, SDLP) and Cllr Ian Parsley (Conservative nominee to the New Force Joint Committee as Candidate for North Down).

It’s chaired by Margaret Gilmore (Senior Research Fellow, RUSI, and former BBC Senior Home Affairs Correspondent).

This will be the first in a series of events organised on a broad and non-sectarian basis and aims to play a positive role as Northern Ireland’s polity faces fresh challenges in this next chapter of its troubled history.

It asks if “we seeing the rise of a modern, more mature politician, well-versed in policy, and seeking to appeal to the mainstream? Or are we seeing the rise of ‘normal’ politicians?”

No doubt Slugger readers will have their views.

Gary Kent is a graduate of international relations. After spells in management in British Rail and the Co-Op he began work in parliament in 1987 where he was active for two decades on Anglo-Irish peace activity against terrorism and now as secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which he has visited 27 times since 2006. He used to be a columnist for Fortnight Magazine and writes a regular column for the Kurdish Rudaw outlet and many other publications.