Author Archive | Andy Pollak

I prefer good art and archaeology to bad politics

Taken from Andy Pollak’s monthly blog… Sometimes the sheer badness of politics in Northern Ireland takes my breath away (badness=bad faith, lying, incompetence, being mired in the past). Take the third week of October, for example. Peter Robinson boycotted the opening meeting of the British government initiated all-party talks he had himself called for to more…

Would Bobby Sands have agreed with cross-border teacher training?

A republican acquaintance of mine once said that Bobby Sands didn’t die for cross-border teacher training. I’m very sorry that Bobby Sands had to die at all. I don’t believe his cause, the IRA’s armed struggle (or terrorist campaign, depending on your point of view) to unite Northern Ireland with the rest of the island, more…

A Cross-Border Gun for Hire

So, after nearly 14 years, it is time to say farewell to the Centre for Cross Border Studies – although not to this blog, which is migrating to a new site (see below). We have done some good things in our small centre in Armagh during that time, and I must pay tribute to my more…

My Top 14 cross-border co-operators in Ireland

Since this is my penultimate ‘Note’ before I stand down as director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, I am going to use it to nominate my personal Top 14 cross-border co-operators, one for every year since the Centre was founded in 1999. There is no doubt that the pioneers of cross-border cooperation are more…

Time to Reach Out a Southern Hand to Unionists

In a thought-provoking blog on the new 15 Years On site (http://15yearson.wordpress.com) this month, former Community Relations Council director Duncan Morrow lists all the promised reforms in Northern Ireland since 1998 which have not been realised: a Single Equality Bill, a Shared Future, the Review of Public Administration, Dealing with the Past, educational reform, youth more…

The Centre Roars Back with New Funding and a New Shared Blog

Nearly two years ago I wrote a ‘Note’ saying that the Centre for Cross Border Studies had 15-18 months funding left, we were starting to feel a little nervous, and were appealing to our readers and supporters for some good new ideas for cross-border cooperation in Ireland. In the event we generated most of those more…

What will be the impact on the Irish border if the UK leaves the EU?

After last year’s hugely successful visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Republic and a joint communiqué of extraordinary warmth following last March’s summit between David Cameron and Enda Kenny, British-Irish relations were generally considered to have reached a closeness unprecedented in more than 90 years since Irish independence and partition. In July the Irish ambassador more…

An Essential Cross-Border Information Service

For the second month running I am unashamedly going to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. Because the Centre does not only write about cross-border cooperation in Ireland; it not only researches such cross-border cooperation – it also does practical cooperation between the two parts of this island. Last month I wrote about more…

An Incredible Achievement for Teacher Education

As a rule I try to avoid using this column as a way to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. But given the Irish and Northern Irish media’s almost total lack of interest in things cross-border, I sometimes can’t resist the temptation to tell a particular success story that the Centre is involved more…

The Challenge of Turning Goodwill into Cooperation

Regular readers of this ‘note’ will know that I have certain obsessions which keep re-surfacing: the need to upgrade the Belfast-Dublin rail line; the exhortation to Northern Irish people to fully enjoy both their identities, Irish and British; the need for more people-to-people cooperation across the border; and the imperative for the public sectors in more…

Does the South really want the North as part of Ireland?

A Note from the Next Door Neighbours (72)  August 2012 DOES THE SOUTH REALLY WANT THE NORTH AS PART OF IRELAND? It is difficult to overstate the lack of interest there is among people in the Republic these days in Northern Ireland, and in relations between North and South. As somebody who works in the more…

A Cross-Border Geopark that leads the World

A Note from the Next Door Neighbours (71)  – July 2012 Fermanagh in the 1980s didn’t have much going for it. A remote place – in European, British and Irish terms – with a declining agricultural sector and a small inflow of tourists, largely for the boating on Lough Erne, and the seemingly endless misery of more…

British-Irish relationship stronger than ever in difficult times

As we all know, sometimes newspapers overlook or underplay an important story because it doesn’t make sensational headlines. The meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in London last March – and the joint statement which came out of it  – was one such story. We in Northern Ireland, in particular, would more…

Little Community Sector Interest in North-South Cooperation

There aren’t many people who get up every workday morning and say to themselves: “What can I do today to advance practical North-South cooperation in Ireland?”  I sometimes think we in the Centre for Cross Border Studies  – along with our neighbours in the North South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat down the hill in Armagh more…

Farewell to Education for Reconciliation

Earlier this month I attended the final teachers conference in Derry of the Education for Reconciliation project, to join them in celebrating what I believe to be one of the most important cross-border education projects of the post Belfast Agreement period. 13 years ago a visionary Dublin educationalist, Aidan Clifford, director of the Curriculum Development Unit more…

Walking across the border for the good of your health

For those of us who live on this small island – and in this even smaller province of this small island – going to the occasional international conference is a good way of opening the mind to new ideas (and I defy the small-minded begrudgers who mutter about EU ‘gravy trains’ to tell me otherwise). more…

A Tribute to Eugene McCabe

Does being a border writer mean that, by definition, you are going to be marginalised?  That would certainly seem to have been the case with Eugene McCabe, the Clones-based writer of at least one great play, one masterpiece of a novel and some of the most powerful short stories to have come out of Ireland more…