Future Ireland / Healthcare in ‘A New Ireland’

In producing the report – now a book – ‘A New Ireland’ this year, I conducted lots of interviews asking people about the prospect of Irish reunification.  The issue of healthcare in a united Ireland was consistently cited as a major concern. Northern perceptions of the southern system are very negative.  Views within the Republic are not that positive either, for sound reasons.  But it is only fair to point out that the NHS in Northern Ireland is in crisis.  … Read more

Future Ireland / Protestants and Unity: Moving Beyond Tokenism to Deeper Engagement

“Want to write an article for Slugger about being a Protestant in an all-Ireland?” “Aye, no sweat.” What was at first a very easy ‘yes’ to what seemed a very simple question. But I sat down to write this article a few times and just had nothing to say. For the last few weeks I’ve struggled to come up with a single thought and couldn’t understand why. Then it hit me that the discourse I’d been engaging in, about ‘not … Read more

Future Ireland: Uniting people is the starting point

I was in a cafe recently when the owner, who I know from being a regular, came over and asked me, “David, clear something up between me and the Missus – was that you on the TV we saw the other night … [puzzled look] … you were part of a panel … Mike Nesbitt was there too.” To which I answered – ‘Yes, guilty! Was me!’ After a little discussion about how he didn’t realise I was interested in … Read more

Future Ireland / Unity: Telling a Different Story

“There was never any moment in our history when slavery was not a sleeping serpent. It lay coiled up under the table during the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention.  Owing to the cotton gin it was more than half awake.  Thereafter, it was on everyone’s mind though not always on his tongue.” – John Jay Chapman. THE QUESTION The ‘national question is insolvable’, according to Fintan O’Toole. What O’Toole is referring to is the prevalence of irritants and grievances, imagined … Read more

Future Ireland / Does motherhood unite or divide us?

Most mothers have more pressing things to think about than constitutional arrangements. While there are some differences in the lived experiences of mothers in the UK and Ireland, they are small. In fact, our struggles are pretty much the same across national borders. Beyond the obvious, that all mothers want the best for their children (and often disagree on what that is and how to achieve it), we are united in our systematic disadvantage by the states in which we … Read more

Future Ireland / Nation-States Are Yesterday’s Politics – Let’s Review Our Terms and Conditions 

Global trends indicate that we are graduating from ideological party politics to voting based on personal priorities such as financial security. Trump’s America is the prime example. But, like their hurricanes, everything from the US eventually crosses the water and laps our shores. Unstoppable cultural homogeneity adds to this. With lightning speed our young people adopt the same fashion, music and patois globally. The extent to which this is manipulated by media giants, arms of government and lizard overlords is … Read more

Future Ireland / Irish Unification: An Evangelical View

The Unification Agenda At the time of writing, questions about unification are more topical than ever. Brexit has polarised our population, and this in its turn has added significant impetus to the unity debate. Supporters of unification have rightly read this as an opportunity, and proposals for border polls abound. Emotions across the population run high, with most people seeming to sit on either extreme of a continuum that runs between elation and dread. So how do we pick our … Read more

Future Ireland / Economic Inequality: An emerging challenge for a New Ireland

In October last year, I attended a keynote speech delivered by President of Ireland Michael D Higgins to a packed auditorium at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The speech was anchored around Michael Davitt’s 1896 visit to New Zealand, a visit where Davitt was impressed by the then Crown Colony’s progressive policies on land, tax, pensions and the economy. Subsequently, the founder of the Irish National Land League brought a number of these innovative ideas back to Ireland, to … Read more

Future Ireland / Northern Ireland and the Humpty Dumpty World of Schrödinger’s Cats

Apparently you follow the rabbit down a hole and you emerge in a wonderland …. Ken Clarke – House of Commons “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Lewis Carrol – Alice in Wonderland The … Read more

Future Ireland: Writing Competition

This is an open call for submissions on our current featured topic – Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union You can read a little more about the aims of the project here, and the types of contributions that we’re seeking. Here are some examples.  But we suspect that you might have some even better ideas. So we’re putting out an open call for articles on this topic.  The best three articles will win a prize (tbc – … Read more

Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations About Unity and the Union

The future of Northern Ireland is deeply uncertain. Brexit, the rise of English nationalism, Scotland, Stormont deadlock and demographic change make Irish unity a realistic alternative. The polls vary greatly, but some have unity very much within sight, especially if there is a harsh Brexit and a disruptive border. People are talking about this at kitchen tables across the north. But whilst we are highly engaged about if we would like unity or the union, and many of us have … Read more

Future Ireland: Where Can The North Thrive?

For some masochistic reason, I feel umbilically connected to the soil and the soul of this island. Especially this messed up northern corner of it. But there is no point in drawing borders in the soil, and driving flags into it, when it only has 60 more years of harvests left to give. It occurred to me recently that the best case scenario for Northern Ireland, as things stand, is to have a mediocre Brexit, for Stormont to limp back, for orange … Read more

Is it “conceivable that in future Ireland would need to align itself even closer to Britain economically?”

Good interview in the Irish Post which pushes Martin McGuinness a little harder than we’ve become accustomed to in recent years within the Irish MSM. I was particularly interested in this section, because it has some pragmatic echoes of Bertie’s analysis just before he left office. Yet it also asks some real questions about the foreign policy implications of the slow economic drift between Britain (and Northern Ireland) and Europe (and the Republic) for anyone wanting to put the two … Read more

Why political precedent is no guide to the shape of Ireland’s political future…

One thing I will say for Sinn Fein is that they do sometimes learn from their mistakes. Last time round, they stayed out of the horsetrading for coalition on the rather implausible grounds that they would only negotiate from a position of strength. Now, they know very well that the political media obsesses about such things far in advance of the following election, but the message going out from Mary Lou is unambiguous this time about wanting to get into government. … Read more

A united Ireland remains an uncertain unknown. If it happens, the country will need strong leaders who can lead the country into a better future

A united Ireland is such a huge issue in Northern Irish politics that it’s hard to believe Tom Elliott hasn’t really thought about it. Ulster unionism’s raison d’être is to maintain the Union, Northern Ireland and avoid a thirty two country Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland drives and haunts unionists. It is never acknowledged as a possibility, but it is always there. During Patrick Kielty’s excellent programme, ‘My Da, the Peace Deal, and me,’ Arlene Foster said that … Read more

Time for nationalism to provide representation based on an expansion of the future for ALL the people of Northern Ireland

So Brian’s cartoon made the News Letter’s editorial yesterday. I’ve only ever cited a leading article on a handful of occasions but this is worth noting… On one hand, it’s just a statement of what ought already to be obvious. But after a year of Sinn Fein propaganda, a lot of people seem to have been convinced that the strange disappearance of the Institutions of the Good Friday Agreement has no tangible cause. Others uncritically take SF’s line that we are … Read more

What do we *need* to ensure the survival and future growth of Irish in Northern Ireland?

Anger generally offers sub-optimal agency. That’s one reason why I’m not a fan of the “dearg le fearg” (red with anger) campaign. I am, however, in favour of promoting the Irish language as a common cultural possession of the people in Northern Ireland. In view of the former, I’m not inclined to compound the error by following Ben Lowry’s advice and turn my ire on fellow Irish speakers or anyone else for that matter. The story of the revival of … Read more

Nesbitt; “Northern Ireland’s future within the United Kingdom will be best secured by maximising the number of people who are content and happy with their lot”

Yesterday Mike Nesbitt addressed the UUP Executive for the final time as party leader. In his speech he focused on his 5 year leadership and had a few shots at the DUP. His full speech is available on the News Letter website. He made some points about the general attitude of Unionism arguing; Unionism needs to engage more. There is no point complaining the White House and the USA are biased, if the only voices they hear are Irish nationalist … Read more

The UK’s act of political and economic suicide means the future for Northern Ireland is incredibly bleak…

Wow, what a week in politics. Before the vote I was getting fed up hearing about Brexit. I went to bed on Thursday night safe in the view that no one would be crazy enough to vote to leave the EU. My politics are pragmatic, I detest ideologies. As someone who has been self-employed my whole life I can see the benefit of access to a free market of one-third of the world’s wealth. As our American friends would say, ‘it’s … Read more

Foster says she wants a positive future for Northern Ireland & refuses to live in the past.

SLUGGER INTERVIEW: Following her election as DUP leader, I sat down with Arlene Foster to talk with her about how she felt about becoming the party leader, how she views her relationships with Sinn Fein and the UUP and how she views herself becoming the first woman to lead the party. I began by asking Arlene how she felt about becoming the DUP leader so unexpectedly, when until just 10 days ago most of us thought it would be Nigel Dodds.