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.

  • John East Belfast

    “The conventional history of government in Northern Ireland describes the demise of a tired and discredited Unionist administration at Stormont in 1969, an administration unable to break with the past and adapt to changes in society. The Unionist government had struggled and ultimately failed to bridge the transition from single-party rule to cross-party governance, from Unionist hegemony to governance that had genuine support from both communities. It was this political system that young nationalists such as John Hume and Paddy Devlin sought to challenge and reform.”

    Well that is off to a good start ! – nothing like alienating at least half of the people you might want to address.

    Conventional History according to who ? – The SDLP and Alliance party ?

    No thank you

  • Any movement/website/group which encourages understanding and co-operation between the British and Irish has to be a good idea. Although like all of these things, they need to be careful not to be accused of bias.

    It will happen you know!

  • John East Belfast

    yes Tommy – even sooner than you think !

  • Rory Carr

    It needs a slogan to really catch the public eye.


    That sums them up very nicely dontcha think?

    Another bunch of bloody suits with a sense of entitlement. Who needs ’em?

  • Anything which feels the need to state its self-righteous credentials as ‘politically unaligned’ and ‘non-sectarian’ at the outset is poor – and the first speaker panel does not inspire confidence. Rory and John’s skepticism seem reasonable. How many groups have we seen? What is the point? Where is the need?

  • rupertpupkin

    It looks like a ‘series’ of events. Wonder what they plan next?

    I wish i could get to it. could be a good chance to get a voice in.

    Anyone going along?

  • rupertpupkin

    Haha. dissenter… if they didn’t state that you’d rip ’em apart still.

    I reckon wait and see what comes of it.

  • Gary Kent

    Me a loony leftie? It makes a pleasant change from normally being described as a running dog of neocon imperialism. I’m not involved as it happens though I may become so.

  • Thomas Lowe

    Everyone has their own view as to what happened in Northern Ireland after the Government of Ireland Act 1920. In fact, people have their own view as to what has happened in Northern Ireland since before the Reformation.

    For the avoidance of doubt, the whole point of this forum is to allow discussion of the many issues affecting Northern Ireland for those based in or around London. We have aimed to get a mixture of speakers from different backgrounds to ensure a wide range of points of view.

    Those attending in the audience will hopefully bring an even broader persective!

  • Thomas,

    Where did you get that awful name. I thought UCUNF was the worst possible, but you beat them.

  • fair_deal

    “We have aimed to get a mixture of speakers from different backgrounds”

    Looking at the first panel aimed and missed but time will tell

  • The Truth

    “In fact, people have their own view as to what has happened in Northern Ireland since before the Reformation.”

    Complete and utter tripe, around the time of the Reformation there was no such thing as N.Ireland until the sectarian headcount created this artificial statelet of occupied Éire.

  • Well, that’s a nice sprinking of good, unbiased views so far.

    There are several, worthy bodies floating around the London scene, some more established, more formalised than others. There’s even the Irish Club in Blackfriars, trying desperately to pull us all under the umbrella — but, obviously the five-letter word there will make it unacceptable to those who deny their island home.

    I have one further caveat: was BUIF the best they could manage? Both leading spirits have a politics background, but seem a bit iffy on past political history (circa 1932-40). After all, if it’s a “broad and non-sectarian basis” at least one of those words is otiose. For, if not, the dog-whistle suggests they have something against Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan … and other elements from elsewhere in the Province.

  • LabourNIman

    I’m all for the ‘normalisation’ of NI politics but this site and it’s events look like toff’s patting each other on the back.

  • Greenflag

    When I looked at the title of this thread my first thought was oh no not another one . And then I brightened up when I re read it and saw the word Launch. For a brief second or two I imagined the ‘assembled ‘ suits being launched to the far side of the planet Saturn or perhaps to some nearby galaxy -but then I saw that they were assembling at Westminster and alas not Cape Canaverale 🙁

  • Rory Carr

    I love the billing for tonight’s event:


    Chris Ruane MP (Labour)

    Alasdair McDonnell MP, MLA (Deputy Leader, SDLP)

    Cllr Ian Parsley (Conservative nominee to the New Force Joint Committee as Candidate for North Down).

    Do you get the impression that these Forum geezers might just have a sneaking feeling that Parsley’s nomination as a potential Tory/New Force candidate ranks much more highly than either Ruane or McDonnell’s actual position as MP and MLA respectively? They do seem to have overdone themselves somewhat in their zeal to share with us their excitement at the potential for the New Force. An excitement, alas, that I find myself unable to share, already taken up as I am with all the excitement to be had from observing the autumnal raindrops meander down the windowpanes of my study.

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    Such TITular verbiage ought to be considered abuse of the language and the UCUNFers should be arraigned before the Royal English Language Academy on charges of linguistic vandalism 😉


    I put all the words together as in the above in the hope that it might be mistaken for Welsh and or German, both languages being famed for extra long words , in order to give the BIUF an even more international feel . But alas no joy -Not even a single L much less several together and no Y’s or CH’s and only one W .

    Some advice for the aspiring UCUNFER MP –

    Keep it short . Tory is fine . People understand that moniker -many fear it and not a few support it .

    And good luck with the talk talk talk of the BIUF. I’d have thought 35 years of talks about talks followed by nothing else but talking for a further five years would have been sufficent unto the day sorry century .

    Rumour has it there are some who believe that one of the reasons for the present lack of talking in the Executive is the poor sods have worn out their tongues 😉 and have nothing left to say of any consequence that has not already been said 45, 763 times during the past 40 years .

  • rupertpupkin

    I went along to their event. Have to say it was surprisingly good. They say they are following up with a security one and they gave a convincing speech prompted by the exec of Fed of Irish Societies (had to google them am afraid)- not sure about the security event, but have to admit i was surprised. decent turnout and discussion was pretty broad and v open. Anyone heard Ruane speak bout NI before? Not heard of him before bt he was v sharp/

    anyone else attend?

  • IJP

    Greenflag – much though I enjoyed the event, I have to say I had no say over how I was described in the promotion of it!