Féile an Phobail this week – RHI, Harold Good, unity, unionism, and drama #feile17

Féile an Phobail is well underway and this week’s remaining programme includes a rich programme of talks and drama.

Slugger’s own deputy editor David McCann is chairing a discussion about RHI and the Media in St Mary’s University College at 1pm on Tuesday 8 August. Panellists Allison Morris (Irish News) and Sam McBride (News Letter) will be stoking the wood pellets along with questions from the audience. Free.

Rev Harold Good is in conversation with journalist Brian Rowan at 3pm on Tuesday 9 in the Falls Road Library. Come along to this free event to hear about his role in peace processes and decommissioning on this island, the Basque Country and Colombia. Free.

St Mary’s University College will host a conversation around Imagining a New Ireland between Colum Eastwood (SDLP), Michelle O’Neill (Sinn Féin) and Mark Daly (Fianna Fáil) at 7pm on Tuesday 8.

Padraig Coyle’s new play Mixed Messages tells the story of Teddy Gillespie (a former Belfast Celtic player and war time radio operator) and Gunnar Nyborg (a Norwegian seaman and businessman) who struck up an unlikely friendship during WW2. Watch a selection of scenes and enjoy a pint or a glass of wine for £7 at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 in McEnaney’s Bar. (Tickets sold at the door.) Mixed Messages will also be playing in Royal Naval Association Club (79 – 81 Great Victoria Street – open to members and non-members) at 7.30pm on Wednesday 9 and in the Strand Arts Centre (Holywood Road) at 7.30pm on Thursday 10.

Laurence McKeown’s play Green & Blue [review] is back in The Felons Club on Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 at 7.30pm. Based on an oral archive, James Doran and Vincent Higgins bring to life the work of a Garda officer and an RUC officer on either side of the border during the height of the Troubles. Tickets (£10) for this thoughtful and respectful drama can be booked online.

Eamon Phoenix, Susan McKay, Sophie Long and Chris Donnelly, chaired by Andree Murphy, will dissect the notion – or reality – of A Declining Unionist Majority at 1pm on Wednesday 10 in St Mary’s University College. Free.

West Belfast Talks Back will once again be hosted by St Louise’s College from 7pm on Wednesday 10, with Noel Thompson keeping the panel in check: Ray Bassett, Alex Kane, Patricia Mac Bride, Michelle O’Neill, and a yet-to-be-announced representative from the DUP.

Author of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman will talk about grassroots movements that have been challenging the ‘establishment’ across the globe at 7pm on Friday 12 in St Mary’s University College. From the standoff at Standing Rock, to Black Lives Matter activists, those fighting for peace, climate justice, migrant rights, and LGBTQ equality.

Finally, it’s time for something completely different. Not quite how this one sneaked into the Discussions and Debates section of the programme, rather than the entertainment section!

US lobbyist Stephen Bassett devotes his time to confronting the US Government on the existence of extra-terrestrials and their presence on Earth. His aim is to end the 68-year embargo of classified information relating to alien activity while pressuring higher political authorities to disclose these findings to the public. All will be explained in his Disclosure Initiative talk … unless the men in white coats get there first! Thursday 11 at 5pm in St Mary’s University College. Free, but tinfoil hat advised.

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  • murdockp

    Imagining a new Ireland. A debate comprising sdlp, sinn Fein, and fianna fail suggests that the unionists and others don’t form part of their plans.

    A bit like organising a family dinner with out inviting any of the children.

  • Jeff

    Just like the paper that came out of Dublin last week on a united Ireland, no unuionist were asked their opinion, they are classed as on irrelevance

  • Dan2

    Will they be discussing the siting of EU customs posts?

  • Jag

    “I say this as a nationalist who acknowledges you cannot drag 800,000 people into rhe current irish republic against their will.”

    Well now, the UK will be dragging around half its population out of the EU against their will, 17m voting to remain.

    In the 1920s, around 400,000 Catholics were dragged out of Ireland when the Brits designated N Ireland a new country within the UK. Why is it a better state of affairs to keep 900,000 Catholics in N Ireland, rather than reunify with some temporary unhappiness on the part of 900,000 Protestants?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eebf3d807ff7173a3672cb6fe2b272aaa9dce40724da165a71e3198f4c83dfa4.jpg Maybe the only debate that they should be having is how has this occurred again on the streets of Belfast ?

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    As Alan seems to have missed them, I would like to take the opportunity some of the remaining highlights from the Cultúrlann programme. Ongoing art exhibitions include Barry Kerr’s ‘Ceathair’ in Dánlann Dillon Gallery and ‘Oráiste & Glas/Orange and Green by Geordie Morrow, a former loyalist prisoner and a formidable artist in the Ballaí Bána Gallery. This evening at 7pm sees a ‘Poitín’ cocktail tasting event which is to be followed by a one man show featuring Macnas founder Páraic Breathnach.
    Tomorrow evening [Wednesday] we will stage a free concert by the Hounds of Ulster, which features musicians and dancers from the unionist marching band tradition, (they will soon be seen in centrefield in Croke Park where they will be playing as interval headliner during one of the forthcoming All Ireland Footballl Semi-Finals. On Thursday – Saturday at 8pm, Apollo Community Arts will stage their production of Joyriders. And on Friday at 2pm we have a talk by Fergus Dowd about Patrick O’Connell, the former Celtic hero and Barcelona manager credited with saving Barca with extinction during the Spanish Civil War. On Sunday night we have a Céilí to bring the curtain down on another Féile.

  • Jeff

    Temporary unhappiness!! Jag sorry to say your completely divorced from reality.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Yeah, it’s more echo chamber navel gazing. At some point each of the 2 national identities will have to engage, share perspectives and explore mutual concession on this question. Otherwise it’s pure theoretical onanism, like the clichéd Irish matriarch of old who decides on her entire family’s future without consultation.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Not all Catholics in what’s now NI voted for SF in the 1918 general election. The IPP vote in the North showed that there was significant support for all Ireland home rule so I don’t think your assertion that ‘around 400,000 Catholics were dragged out or Ireland’ stands up.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    West Belfast isn’t the only area of NI that needs to have an honest dialogue with itself.
    In the interests of hands across the divide, you must acknowledge our shared propensity to riot, mob rule, disorder and destruction of others’ property. Fleg!

  • Jag

    Not an irrelevance, just 15% (max) of the population of this island partitioned less than 100 years ago.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Unionists were asked and invited.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Fair questions.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    Unionists have been invited to the New Ireland discussions.

    Re. the Commonwealth. I can’t quite get my head around why Ireland should join the Commonwealth? Is that a fair and reasonable request?

    In a New Ireland the citizens (and their descendants) of the present North should be able to retain the right to be British citizens absolutely. No one wants to take that away…but expecting others (the vast majority) of the island to change?

  • Alan N/Ards

    How long would/should this “temporary unhappiness” last for?

  • El Daddy

    The IPP vote was largely due to an electoral pact that was brokered between IPP and SF in some constituencies in Ulster – in several constituencies, only one of the parties stood, and the other party instructed their voters to vote for the party that did.

  • Jeff

    No, regrettably they were not invited, southern politicians might find some uncomfortable truths if they were.

  • Jeff

    And your point jag is?

  • Granni Trixie

    I was in the cultural centre a few times over the past week and found it a very uplifting experience. A wee gem of a place.

  • Focus on Refugees

    No slight on the events – I was just highlighting a few talks and theatre I’d circled in the programme!

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    Fair enough. Thanks – call in for a coffee if you’re around!

  • Oggins

    Seriously stay on topic and don’t allow your misgivings to cloud a post about a good festival, which is offering all our people the opportunity to go and enjoy what is on offer.

  • Oggins

    You know this as your the secretary of the Féile and it was widely debated and noted in the minutes? or are you allowing your cognitive dissonance to come into play

  • Oggins

    Well you should of went and raised this at the question and answer stage, which is currently now

  • 05OCT68

    T.E. the authorities went in to lift the bonefire mess with the support of the local representatives. SF proposed this at BCC & the first community see the results was the nationalist community. Now the reaction was appalling but that must not put off the authorities. If it has to be done for 15th boneys so be it, eventually this will end, somebody has to stand up to the “Firestarters”.

  • Zeno

    “Why is it a better state of affairs to keep 900,000 Catholics in N Ireland,”

    There are nowhere near 900,000 Catholics in NI and about half of them actually want a UI.

  • 05OCT68

    Ach Dan2 don’t ye know its gonna be a great big beautiful wall & the Mexicans are gonna pay for it.

  • Zeno

    “Imagining a new Ireland. A debate comprising sdlp, sinn Fein, and fianna fail suggests that the unionists and others don’t form part of their plans.”

    I’m an old Businessman. The first thing we do before we even try to sell a new product (A United Ireland) is market test it to establish if there is a demand that justifies the effort and money.
    That’s the simple version , but I also know that the people behind this are not stupid people ,so another motive is in play. The next question is what is it? You can work that out for yourself.

  • 05OCT68

    Zeno your a great defender of the Union & I admire your dedication and zeal but lets face it you have to accept that if unification was a real prospect & post Brexit it has becoming more real, all the polls you refer to are out the window. Catholics that regarded the South as not wanting them for example may reconsider given the overtures from Dublin. Catholicism no matter the social conservatism is rooted in the plight of the poor, excluded, the outsider. The parable of the Good Samaritan has deep resonance within Irish Catholicism (a tale of overcoming sectarianism) & tale that made them proud of Irish America for electing a Catholic & for electing a Black person President & proud of Ireland having an openly gay Taoiseach. They may view Ireland as progressive, outward looking & a country that they, their children or grandchildren (no matter the benefits of the UK) can obtain the highest office of state & view the UK post Brexit as inward looking & harking back to Empire.

  • 05OCT68

    You’ve just reduced your nationality to product status. New businessmen sell an idea.

  • Zeno
  • Zeno

    I used to be a Catholic. I’m an Atheist now. I was born in the RVH and lived my early years on the Falls. I also lived in North Belfast and West Belfast (the Catholic parts) so I know exactly what you are talking about. Every house has a picture of JFK just below the Sacred Heart. But I think we suffered from the feelgood factor because we had little else to feel good about. We, not me personally but my neighbours and friends loved JFK…… but for no logical REASON except it allowed them to feel good about being such nice people because they supported him and he was one of ours. My family didn’t have that. We had the ubiquitous Three Ducks on the wall.
    I have no love for the Union. I don’t follow their flag or support the monarchy but I do believe that the CNR people have been led up the garden path by SF.

  • 05OCT68

    Zeno I to was raised Catholic, I don’t practice anymore & I’m not as I’ve commented before a Shinner. I lived & worked in GB during the 80,s and for the most part being Irish was not an Issue. It was not lost on me that my being Irish in GB was a better experience than being Irish in parts Northern Ireland. Living in GB was an invaluable experience & London is one of my favourite citys. Living in GB also reinforced my belief on unification, I’d been given a glimpse of normal society that confirmed in me that Northern Ireland was/is not normal & that the British in Northern Ireland are a people apart. Now Zeno if you can make NI as British as Finchly & I’ve been there mind, I might be all for it.

  • Zeno

    I lived and worked in London and other parts of the UK. I have no idea how that reinforced your desire for unification, but that is your own business.
    NI is not normal, but is becoming more and more normal through mixed marriage. Almost all my friends are all married to people from the other religion. None of them are even slightly interested in UI.
    My problem with UI is the 50+1 one crowd who want to ram it down the throats of the unionists. My 2nd problem is I think we would have had it already if we had stuck with the SDLP, the Stoop Down Lows who were followed by SF the new STOOPS who achieved nothing for the CNR community and were only forced to collapse Stormont by the boys in the Felons.
    There is close to no support for UI but the people are still being mugged into thinking that SF are going to bring it when they are one of the main reasons we don’t have it.
    A United Ireland where we all came together as one would be great. But that at this time is a fantasy. neither you nor I will ever see it. SF are actively preventing it by lauding the IRA. But to be honest they are doing that because there is no chance it will happen and they know it. Note how Same Sex Marriage and an Irish Language Act are RED Lines in negotiations and a UI Border Poll is not.

  • 05OCT68

    Zeno why did the SDLP fail, & the UUP sent to the wilderness. Was it hard line Republicanism? Hard line Loyalism had no part in it? I’ll not get into whataboutery it’s pointless. Why are you angry that the SDLP ? Je$us they stooped that low that even their supporters couldn’t support them in the face of Unionist intransigence. You are anti SF as am I but why shouldn’t we have same sex marriage & an ILA, why wont your fantasy of NI ever being British as GB come to fruition.

  • 05OCT68

    Don’t you understand the mindset that Irish Nationalism is malleable but Ulster Unionism is not

  • Oggins

    I am taking you understand my point?

  • Jeff

    Nothing to do with the feile I was talking about the recent document out of Dublin. Come on oggins keep up. For the record any disusions on a UI that has unionist input is to be welcomed

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Of course I do which is why I upticked your comment even though you’re stating the bleeding obvious.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    I think my point in challenging Jag’s overblown assertion is obvious. I was only citing one historical example. There are other examples too.

  • Oggins

    Fair point read it wrong. But more to the point, why would they be invited to participate in an Irish government paper? The last time I checked they were not elected into any position within Leinster house?

    If you read the actually paper it identifies the framework for such a process; new Ireland forum.

    It think your initial comments are being contriving. The irony is like your post I didn’t read it correctly, where you have obviously not read the paper.

    All unionist input into the new Ireland forum is welcomed. The bit I don’t get, is how do you get them involved. By getting involved they are considering unity, which goes against their principles of politics. I.e. no longer unionist politicans.

    I would suggest bodies from a Protestant culture be represented, as they do not directly tie into politics of unionism or nationalism.

  • Zeno

    Nationality means nothing to me and I have both. Business principles remain the same for all ages.

  • murdockp

    And look at the mess they created when NI was formed.

    And look at the mess that is brexit.

    Imagine the hell that Ireland would become with hard core loyalists taking up arms or worse.

    We can’t even remove bonfire materials without the Pandora box lid opening slightly.

    Even more reasons why these discussions require all stakeholders to participate.

  • murdockp

    The fact we refer to the marriage of protestants and Catholics( who both believe in the same god by the way ) as being a mixed marriage tells me clearly we are not normal.

  • murdockp

    No one is expecting anyone to change. Ireland does not have to unite.

    I am asking for open debate as to how this new Ireland will look and feel. Especially if it is to be a state that is at peace.

    Ireland remaining as it is with northern Ireland joining it will only result in bombs in Dublin.

    Ironically we are actually having the debate our politicians refuse to have.

  • murdockp

    If I was in the country I would.

  • murdockp

    Backchannels I guess.

  • murdockp

    Considering none were alive when the GFA was signed one has to despair.

  • murdockp

    The whole point of the arts and culture is there are no boundaries.

    Any topic is worthy of discussion.

  • sparrow

    You’re right, the figure is about 814,000. The corresponding figure for Protestants is about 870,000.
    https://www.nisra.gov.uk/sites/nisra.gov.uk/files/publications/2011-census-results-key-statistics-northern-ireland-report-11-december-2012.pdf
    Your estimate for how many Catholics actually want a UI is plucked from the ether, or from a unionist propaganda poll, or from your own anecdotal collection. There is no way of knowing how people will vote until they actually vote.

  • Oggins

    Not sure your point?

  • Oggins

    Well actually no. As Mick tries his hardest we have a habit of going on one topic and bringing up something that has nothing to do with the article.

    If T.E want to discuss the stupidity of what happened, then write an article and we will all contribute.

    On your point above, can I start asking about the Tyrone and Dublin game? No because it’s not relevant to the article

  • Zeno

    It’s closer to 720,000 or 40.26% according to the census.
    You’re figure includes me, people who used to be Catholics.
    The “ether”. No it’s a simple calculation. The same one used by the Secretary of State. The Polls and Election Results. You could also include the Number who Identify as Irish or the Number who Identify as Nationalists. It comes out at best as about half of Catholics.
    But it’s doesn’t really matter because unless the Polls and the Election Results do something astonishing there won’t even be a referendum.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘Ireland remaining as it is with northern Ireland joining it will only result in bombs in Dublin…..’

    Well, that would probably need the close involvement of British security forces as was the case when Dublin was bombed by loyalists in the 70s. Do you think that’s likely?

  • sparrow

    My figure also includes people like me, someone who stopped being a Catholic but never stopped being a nationalist. Re election results: in the last two elections, something like 42% of people who voted did so for parties which have a UI as a central objective in their manifesto. And as I said before, you don’t know how people will vote in an actual real life vote – as opposed to some lifestyle or Belfast Telegraph poll – until it happens.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I disagree, we’re all malleable … it’s just easier for Irish nationalism to side with reform than for Ulster Unionism which in post-partition Ireland is the side of status quo where it is located.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The nature of what constitutes a majority in Ireland changes if Northern Ireland is added to the picture … one fifth of the island would be British, they would effectively be kingmakers a lot of the time, sort of like the Alliance are in the Stormont now. So when it comes to Irish unity, even cross-border decision making they are a critical section of Irish politics.

    This isn’t about social adhesion, it would be a democratic necessity to accommodate the people who are Unionist in any and all all-Ireland decision making.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ireland won’t be remaining as it is, North or South.

  • Zeno

    Do you not think that people who want a UI and would vote for a UI would identify themselves as Irish or Nationalist? The reason I ask is because those numbers correlate closely with the peak numbers in the polls and the percentage of the electorate who vote Nationalist.
    If you want to make the case that almost all Catholics would vote for a UI I’d love to hear it.

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    I tend to look at the notion of reuniting Ireland or even uniting Ireland in terms of process. I don’t know what it will look like at the end but I would hope the steps we take would be incremental improvements, steps forward rather than backward. It might be safer to talk about Uniting Ireland rather than United Ireland.

  • A Bit Left and a Bit Lost

    Suggestions:
    – 12th of July National Holiday
    – Change the Anthem and Flag – though would have to have some green
    – Schooling protection
    – Continued Dual Identity
    – Irish version of Barnett formula for certain number of years
    – Lower number of population per TD for certain number of years (protect Unionist interests)
    – New Constitution for Ireland

  • Kevin Breslin

    Surely Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the SDLP combined does not even represent the majority of voters within the whole of Ireland period these days?

  • murdockp

    Agreed. Like the national rugby teams

  • El Daddy

    This all seems very reasonable. Could we keep the same tune for the anthem though, and change the words to make them as inclusive as possible?

  • murdockp

    It is relevant given gaa like rugby is an all Ireland competition. We are imagining a new Ireland here. Would a new Ireland have a single soccer team and football league structure.

  • Oggins

    Your just grasping at straws mate. T.E post has no tie in with the Féile.

    It was whataboutery. stick to topic.

  • A Bit Left and a Bit Lost

    Potentially. The point I was trying to make is there are loads of things that can be suggested and discussed that hopefully make the Unionist side feel equal.

    A United Ireland won’t be like the Ireland of today but I think deep down most Irish people know we can do a little better anyways…

  • Alan N/Ards

    My personal opinion is that the term “United Ireland” needs to be replaced. When unionists hear it being used, it reminds them of physical force republicans and their campaign to unite Ireland, by violence.