Education through The Euros

In less than two weeks, the European Championships will begin. For the first time ever, both Irish international teams will be represented in the tournament stage of an international football competition. There is nothing quite like summer football. I grew up during the Republic’s halcyon age from 1988 to 1994, when fans were spoilt due to the unprecedented success of the team, a period in which Jack Charlton led the Republic to three tournaments, including two World Cups and one … Read more

The Common Travel Area will remain after Brexit

Various politicians are participating in “project fear” over the return of border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.. To the contrary, the border will remain exactly as is including the free flow of trade. Former PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde even rolled out the falsehood that leaving the EU would mean the UK being unable to use Europol.  Although Richard Walton the former head of Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard has said: We routinely share intelligence across international boundaries … Read more

What are Irish Labour’s chances of bouncing back to 15%?

Interesting analysis/opinion from Ed Brophy, formerly Joan Burton’s chief of staff, on where Irish Labour now finds itself.  Between its entry into coalition with Fine Gael in March 2011 and the May 2014 local and European elections, Labour lost 1 per cent of its support every three months. Subsequently, under Joan Burton’s leadership, the party stalled its decline but was unable to sustainably increase support. This was particularly the case following the establishment of the Social Democrats, which attracted support from … Read more

More Brexitref alarms: could a Corbyn government deliver Irish unity?

When we’re taking about Brexit fears, Newton Emerson in the Irish Times has an outlier scenario that’s sounds plausible but is full of holes.   He imagines the possibility of an early UK election out of the post-referendum chaos regardless who wins, with the Conservatives in worse disarray than Labour. Jeremy Corbyn gets SNP support to form a government in exchange for a second referendum. Independence is won.  NI unionism is demoralised.  Corbyn reverts Labour to active support for a … Read more

If Brexit happens, Ireland may be united for the purpose of entering Great Britain

In the Brexit propaganda battle the hare is now being raised not of imposing controls on the Irish border but of geographically more convenient checks between the island or Ireland and the island of Great Britain. While the Irish Times quotes “official sources” in Dublin bringing up the issue again, the piece invokes a report by the House of Commons’ Northern Ireland Committee that discusses it. The Commons committee warned in a report entitled Northern Ireland and the EU Referendum … Read more

Open Letter to Minister Michelle O’Neill on NI’s poor treatment of mental health…

Megan Haste suffers from anxiety and depression. She shares her own experience of issues a sincere challenge to the new Health Minister to take mental health out of the third division status it currently enjoys in Northern Ireland I am a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and a friend. I am 19 years old, and for 6 years I have been living with mental illness. This year, just before my birthday, I started seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist. She is … Read more

The perfect poem for Labour’s anti-semitism row

Those following the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party will be aware of the recent suspension of Momentum vice chair, Jackie Walker. Following an investigation into comments she made on Facebook about Jews and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, she’s been reinstated into the party. The Walker incident, and similar incidents, have opened a fierce debate about the Left and anti-Semitism, and where anti-Zionism crosses the line into racism. But let’s step back from the intensity of the frontlines of this … Read more

Are the Christian Churches key to beating voter apathy?

Has the time finally come for the Christian Churches in Ireland to fully engage with the political process? And if they did get organised, what impact could they make on society? In the recent Stormont poll, only some 54 per cent of voters turned out. A key question which political parties and churches alike must pose is – how many of the 46 per cent which didn’t vote are church-attending folk? Long gone are the days when the DUP was … Read more

Ian Paisley – “We are Irish!”

    Of the DUP membership, 1.4% self-identify as Irish. Yet the founder of the DUP was 100% Irish. This is not speculation or conjecture or troublemaking, this is a statement of fact based upon unequivocal and repeated testimony from Ian Paisley. Ian paisley wrote in 2012 on the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant: “Edward Carson was a life-long Irishman, as well as being a life-long unionist, and that made all the difference… On this 28th day … Read more

Increasing reconciliation? The draft PfG’s trojan horse measure

The draft Programme for Government framework has been launched and has entered its consultation phase. Alan’s post explains how the new approach was developed while Brian has written a broadly positive piece, noting that it can be viewed “as an instrument….for building the Executive’s unity of purpose.” The aspirational and visionary setting and tone of the document can be understood if it is about steering the divided ship that is a two party coalition, composed of parties diametrically opposed on … Read more

Even watching Glentoran didn’t help!

Councillor John Kyle (PUP)

William Ennis is a member of the Progressive Unionist Party It’s probably one of those feelings which can’t really be described, such a burning disappointment that even tears seem pointless. I recall meeting a friend of mine who was an Alliance party activist in town the day after Gavin Robinson’s victory over Naomi Long. He smiled, we chatted, we had a beer, but I instantly recognised the mask he was wearing, the guy was actually a shell. This Progressive Unionist … Read more

How Christians Can ‘Learn the Language’ of Islam

Over the past 30 years or so, I’ve done a lot of travelling in Africa, the Middle East, and all around Europe. Needless to say, this necessitated navigating my way through language barriers. One of my personal habits when I was travelling was to begin by learning how to say one phrase: ‘I don’t speak (insert language).’ Over the years I learned how to say it in French, Polish, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Arabic, Hebrew, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, German, Spanish, and Catalan. … Read more

Hundredth anniversary of Jutland

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. This was one of the largest naval battles ever fought and although a confused and indecisive battle of itself in some ways marked a major turning point in the First World War. In essence it was a tactical victory for the Germans against the deeply intellectual, apparently very caring to his men, but cautions British admiral John Jellicoe: a tactical victory snatched from what could have been the jaws … Read more

To create Northern Ireland’s new programme for government, everybody can join in.

After decades of practice it’s all too easy to adopt the scepticism of the opposition parties towards the “new framework for a programme for government”. John Manley in the Irish News is but one who recognises the gaps and omissions. But these refer to decisions to come. To criticise the approach for how to take them is unfair and misses the point. Arlene Foster has promised “a new way of doing things… not working in departmental silos.” Martin McGuinness promises … Read more

Micheal Martin gives three of the Taoiseach’s nominations to independent Senators 

When it comes to the Seanad the constitution gives the Taoiseach 11 nominations to overcome any shortfall from a majority. But RTE has just learned live on air that as part of his deal with Fianna Fáil Micheal Martin got to name three of them. The three are Jane Freeman who is a founder of Pieta House and has sworn her independence, Collette Kelleher is CEO ofAlzheimer’s Ireland and Pádraig Ó’Céidigh who is a businessman. That is they are specialists … Read more

Soapbox: Brexit isn’t about cutting ourselves off from the world….

Sammy Morrison is a TUV Press Officer and an assistant to Jim Allister. Here he challenges Ferdinand Mount’s cautionary tale about the motivations of Brexiteers, and argues that Brexit could liberate the UK to fulfil its potential in the world in Europe – and beyond. Ferdinand Mount cannot hide his contempt for those campaigning for Brexit telling us that it is “tempting to regard ‘Brexosis’ as a mental disorder”. He repeats David Cameron’s warning that Brexit could lead to World … Read more

Brexit: how it would play differently for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Northern Ireland is the only area where  the Brexit referendum campaign barely figured in the recent devolved elections.  The Constitution Unit of UCL where I’m an Hon Fellow hasn’t forgotten us and devolution  generally. The Unit has just published a report based on a seminar  that brought academics together  from the three devolved areas to discuss how they’d be affected. It’s well worth reading as much for what they have in common as what makes each of them distinctive. The … Read more

Soapbox: Disability, gender and sexual orientation policies hived off to Communities

Reprinted here with permission of Brian Barrington, a former SDLP advisor from his own Facebook page this morning… One of the decisions made when the Northern Ireland Executive was first established was to keep all aspects of equality policy in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). There were two reasons for this. First, because OFMDFM was the secretariat to the Executive. Therefore, any paper from a department going to the Executive could be scrutinised on … Read more

Jim Shannon told he “still regards himself as a local councillor” and “needs to let go”…

Here’s an interesting wee story. Stormont MP Jim Shannon has been ordered to pay back £14,000 in falsely claimed travel expenses he paid out to his office staff. The BBC reports… The Strangford MP’s claims were five times greater than the second highest claiming MP and 37 times greater than the average claim by all MPs. He accounted for 26.1% of all staff constituency mileage claimed by the entire House of Commons. So what’s Jim been up to? The Independent … Read more