Ireland’s Future-Changing Narratives and Changing Language

Gerry Carlile is the CEO of Ireland’s Future  The labelling of people ‘Green’ and ‘Orange’ to describe their political outlook is becoming increasingly dated. In fact, the laziness inherent in those labels are patronising and offensive. The peace process signalled an end to such broad sweeping and blunt labels to describe an increasingly complex and nuanced spectrum of political views across the north. Even a cursory analysis of those who use these descriptors reveal a certain brand of intellectual and …

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How cold is your house?

I worked around the border for most of the past decade. I came to understand for the first time just how unnatural the border is to many people there as they go about their daily business. It gave me a very real and practical sense of their innate Irishness for the first time and I understand exactly why so many people in the border counties were so uncomfortable with Brexit. I shared their discomfort and voted to remain. But I …

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As public rhetoric around Brexit subsides, it seems the DUP does want a ‘dynamic alignment with the EU’

Isn’t it funny what comes out in the wash? John Manley in the Irish News today has an interesting snippet on how Ed Poots privately lobbied the UK Agriculture Secretary for a Swiss style associate membership… In a letter to agriculture secretary George Eustice last June, Stormont minister Edwin Poots described alignment with EU rules on food and agricultural products as a “key ask” in reducing the impact of the Irish Sea border. “This could be achieved, for example, by …

Read more…As public rhetoric around Brexit subsides, it seems the DUP does want a ‘dynamic alignment with the EU’

Bloodlands, the latest Belfast noir they’re calling it. Please don’t all swarm to Strangford Lough

Are you hooked on Bloodlands? (Sundays 9 p.m. BBC 1, iPlayer top slot).  If you haven’t it seen it yet  I won’t spoil the Goliath reference.  Jimmy Nesbitt is a grizzled PSNI detective Tom Brannick  bridging  a Disappeared angle  with  an Ulster Line of Duty. It’s the latest in the product line of creator Jed Mecurio’s love affair with making gripping TV series in Northern Ireland. Not quite as gripping as Line of Duty yet or as menacing and sophisticated …

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In any future border poll the depth of Republic’s prosperity will come under rigorous scrutiny

‘Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty urged people to take it with “a ton of salt” and said the number was a “nonsense”. “It is irrelevant. It does not reflect any sort of reality’. When the Irish government stated in 2016 that Ireland’s economy had a 26% growth spurt economists in the south stated that was ‘farcical’, claiming that while growth was strong, the government figure was radically overinflated. That inflation was driven by the activities of Ireland’s foreign investors and …

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“Working on things that aren’t prestigious doesn’t guarantee you’re on the right track…”

Slugger will be 19 this year and starting its twentieth from early June. It’s an understatement to say that I did not expect it to last this long. Here’s tech writer Paul Graham putting into words, why I think we’re still here operating on our (albeit shoestring) reader generated budget… It’s not that unprestigious types of work are good per se. But when you find yourself drawn to some kind of work despite its current lack of prestige, it’s a sign …

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NI Protocol vs Act of Union : another Unionist strategic misstep looms

Today’s Sunday Telegraph notes : [..] The Sunday Telegraph can also disclose that Ben Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP, cross-bench peer Baroness Hoey, and Jim Allister, the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party, are threatening a legal challenge against the Government to try to overturn [the NI Protocol].. There has been a persistent story, promulgated chiefly, it appears, by Jim Allister, that the NI Protocol could be a breach of the Act of Union. As a legal matter, …

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Don’t blame it on the good times. Blame it on the Buckie!

Even if you’ve never been to Lurgan, you’ll know us by our legendary drouth for the mighty Buckfast Tonic Wine! The Breakfast of Champions has been fuelling Spade Town for generations. Sure didn’t we even train Master McGrath – history’s most famous greyhound – wi’ a drap o’ Buckfast in his bowl! Mere mention of my beloved hometown might make some think of tiresome social-media polls soliciting views on Northern Ireland’s “worst town”. Alas, Lurgan is often lumped in with …

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Boris’s burrow? Boring in more ways than one.

I do not promise an absence of any further puns in this piece. So last Sunday the big news was: we can’t put a bridge over the top of the Beaufort’s Dyke, so sure we’ll just build a tunnel round it.  It’ll only be 25 miles long. Except… The Channel Tunnel is 37.92km (23.57 miles) from the English coast under Shakespeare cliff to the French coast at Sangatte.  It takes a further 9.14km (5.68 miles) to reach the tunnel mouth …

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Reframing the past in order to live out a better future ought to be non negotiable…

‘History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived; but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.’ Whilst they seem much in keeping with his thoughts, the words of American novelist, poet and activist Maya Angelou may not have been in the mind of Irish President Michael D Higgins when, in December 2020, he launched the first of a series of Machnamh 100 Conferences, the central aim of which he stated as: “encapsulating meditation, reflection, consideration and thought’’ Continuing in …

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It Wasn’t A Sin

One of this country’s top television hits this year arrived in America last night.  Arguably the most powerful televisual way in a long time of conveying the message ‘Some people are gay.  Get over it‘, Channel 4’s It’s A Sin premiered on the channel HBO Max yesterday evening, and the show’s considerably high ratings (Channel 4 say that it has been their biggest-ever drama launch on their All 4 streaming service) and favourable critical acclaim (Rotten Tomatoes have given it a …

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Catalan independence parties win majority of votes

The Catalan elections took place at the weekend and it proved to be both a good day for the pro-independence parties as well as the Socialists who are in power in Madrid. The election was called after the Catalan President Quim Torra was disqualified from holding office after he refused to remove a banner in support of imprisoned and exiled Catalan leaders. The independence bloc took 51% of the vote (up 3.5% on 2017) and retain the majority of seats …

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Do not let your loyalty become slavery

Seven weeks. That is the number of weeks since Christmas Eve 2020. Remember the day? The UK celebrated the “oven-ready” Brexit deal brokered with the European Union. A deal heralded by the British Government as the perfect Christmas present for all those within the UK. Seven weeks. That is the number of weeks it took for some members of the British Government to start murmuring discontent at their prestigious deal of leaving one union to solidify their own. “Teething issues” …

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Tales from the Crypto: The world of digital money is exciting, strange, and full of risk…

I’m sitting on the toilet at 3am every night, doom scrolling on my phone. I am constantly refreshing and gorging on graphs. I must have the latest numbers… do I buy more, or sell? Am I a diamond-handed alpha, or a paper-handed cuck? Dogecoin – a novelty cryptocurrency – is surging, and the wider world of digital money has seen a remarkable boom in amateur investors recently, driven by online forums such as Reddit. These people are on a hiding …

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Loyalism’s Response to the Northern Ireland Protocol…

We have seen media coverage of the banners, posters and murals being put up rejecting the Irish Sea Border, the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and even in some cases withdrawing support from the Good Friday Agreement and calling for the collapse of Stormont. However, behind this disapproval and anger, we have not seen analysis of why specifically loyalists are rejecting the Northern Ireland Protocol; their understanding of recent political events relating to it and what they propose to …

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In learning from what’s gone right for Northern Ireland, there’s a lot more than you think

I’m working on a new paper at the moment. It won’t be as long or detailed as the future of Unionism paper that kicked off Slugger in the first place, it should draw on its key lessons and some of the exciting material being published in just now. The title of the 2003 piece was a deliberate inversion of the old guerrilla idea of the long war. The key question being what do we can do differently amongst sides which have …

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The EU will not welcome the sort of ambiguity that is the foundation of our shaky peace process

Today, Fintan O’Toole recommends that the EU and the UK get back to living with ambiguity in regards to Northern Ireland. This is the creative ambiguity that allowed the Belfast Agreement to mean different things to different people. Yet, as we know from a bunch of legal cases over Brexit, the EU is pretty much a stranger to the weird political physics of the Northern Irish Peace Process. It played a far greater role inside the minds of nationalists than …

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Where are the checks and balances in the UK?

In every discussion, including now in England, about the union of ‘four nations’ there is an acceptance that to deal with political reality the constitution of the UK needs changed and perhaps some tweaks to fiscal transfer just to sweeten the deal. But what is always missing in these discussions is an assessment of something which has always been missing in the English then British system, accountability. It’s easy to see why the uncodified mass of medieval convention that the …

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Learning to live in harmony with the legacies of Empire. Different experiences in Great Britain and Ireland

In the culture wars over shifting national identities it’s striking how nationalist Ireland is further along the road to reconciliation with its troubled past than a UK has reached in its troubled present. That is a journey that feels as if it has barely begun. Perhaps all that righteous victimhood has become easier to cope than all that tortured guilt.  BLM –  Gladstone and Churchill off their pedestals    The focus is turned on the role of Empire and in …

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A grim milestone reached as NI Covid 19 related deaths hit 2000…

It means the total number of deaths has doubled since December. This is quite an increase in such a short time period. Was it Christmas that did the damage or is it just these illnesses tend to be worse at this time of year? Like everything it is probably a mix of a lot of factors. The total number of positive cases in NI is now 109,147. I am curious what the multiplier is with C19. For example, for every …

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