The Good Friday Agreement twenty years on – Why can’t we get over the Troubles?

Sometimes an idea for an article just comes along. I was listening to the radio last week and Dermot Nesbitt, one of the Ulster Unionist negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement, was speaking on Nolan about its 18th anniversary. He pointed out that that when he was a young man, the Second World War had ended eighteen years previously and none of his generation thought about it.  Young people were more interested in Beatlemania than the Battle of Britain and …

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A day in the life of a Northern Ireland political junkie…

  The radio alarm goes off – Sonny and Cher are singing, ‘I’ve Got You Babe’. I’ll have none of that cheery Frank Mitchell malarkey and switch the station to Radio Ulster. In Ormeau Avenue, Connor Bradford sits in bow tie and tails – reading the news for the BBC is a serious business after all – ready with some bon mots (en Français naturellement) and Latin dictums to let the Hoi Polloi know their place. With a voice full …

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Fairness and Fear in the alternate universe of the Orange Order…

I’ve heard some bizarre things on the Nolan show but the recent interview with Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, has got to be in the top five. The discussion centered round a recent Orange Order report, ‘Fairness and Fear’ that outlined the horrors Protestants face in the workplace. As an atheist I object to being called a Protestant’ but I suppose I could be termed part of the wider PUL community the Orange Order frequently claims to …

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This time next year we could have Trump in the White House, Boris in Downing Street and be on our way out of the EU…

Closer to home, the border could be reinvigorated providing a bonanza for ‘good’ Republicans to make fortunes out of fuel-smuggling and dumping toxic waste, while not-so good Republicans will celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising by blowing up as many people as possible. Some of these nightmare scenarios may be the result of self-inflicted wounds. In America, Trump has made racism respectable again. He gets an endorsement from a Kl Klux Klan leader and goes UP (yes, up) in …

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Unionists should be careful what they wish for with a Brexit…

So it’s official. Turkeys do vote for an early Christmas. Without even waiting to see what David Cameron brought back from Brussels, the DUP and TUV nailed their colours to the Brexit mast. Both explain their position primarily in monetary terms – the UK pays far more into the EU than it gets back, so we’d be better off out of it. The tax payers of England of course could say that about the UK in general and Northern Ireland …

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A wry view of the US presidential candidates….

It seems to have been going on for ever but the truth is, it hasn’t even started yet. I am of course, referring to the greatest political show on earth, the US presidential election. This year’s crop of hopefuls contains demonstrates once again the diversity of America’s millionaire class. In addition to middle-aged white guys, there is an African-American, a Jew, a Latino and a Canadian, who is also a Latino. Why there is even a woman. Let’s take a …

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From Bannisters To The Iron Harvest. 1916 and all that…

I saw an unusual tweet a few weeks ago. Someone had posted a picture of a bannister. That seemed strange until I read the caption and discovered the bannister was in a house where James Connolly had once lived. The tweeter expressed pleasure, perhaps awe, at sliding his hand along an object his hero had once used and it got me thinking about our relationship with the past and how objects and places and can make it come to life …

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The review of the review. A punter’s view of the Slugger end of year review show…

It had been a while, maybe four or five years, since I was in Hill Street after dark and what a pleasant surprise it was; bustling bars and restaurants, some totally new to me, casting a warm glow and friendly noise onto the cobbled street. I pulled my collar over to fight off the drizzle and saw the dark empty yard of a bar/restaurant specializing in al fresco drinking and dining. Smoking ban or not, it probably wasn’t the soundest …

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