Abstentionism lends itself to British involvement in Irish affairs

Colin McGrath is the SDLP Chief Whip and MLA for South Down Sinn Fein’s abstentionist policy, no matter the size of its mandate, like all party policy positions, is not above criticism. The catastrophe that is Brexit has awoken a new era in political history. Its implications will be far-reaching and its affects will be felt long after we exit the European Union. Any political party that has the power to change the course of this impending shipwreck should, and … Read more

Perspectives on Change from a Dublin-dwelling northern Prod

I am a Northern Irish Protestant who has lived in Dublin for the past twenty five years. I am proud to be from the Protestant community and proud to be from Northern Ireland. But I have never been so proud to be part of a society, as I have been to be part of the Republic of Ireland in recent years. A society that voted, myself included, in favour of marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. I have a friend … Read more

Reflecting on motherhood and transgenerational trauma…

Today I’m preparing for my 11th meeting with the World Mental Health Survey initiative, in Harvard. At my first meeting in 2005, Professor Brendan Bunting, Dr Sam Murphy and myself were planning the NI study of Health and Stress (NISHS), the largest study of mental health in NI, and part of an incredible initiative, which studied the rates of mental illness, treated and hidden, in countries all over the world. In 2005, we were having discussed whether people here would … Read more

Theresa May claims to be a proponent of gay rights, and no doubt she is, in other parts of the UK. In Northern Ireland, however, she is countenance to their denial

By Eoin Tennyson A British Government survey of 108,000 LGBT individuals has affirmed that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is still alive and kicking across the UK. Two-thirds of those surveyed fear holding their partner’s hand in public while five percent have been offered controversial “conversion” therapy. These results may shock some in England, Scotland and Wales; but they are all too recognisable for those of us here in Northern Ireland. The Tories’ LGBT Action Plan … Read more

SOAPBOX: A Cry from the Heart

232 Presbyterian ministers and elders respond to decisions taken at June 2018’s General Assembly with a statement – ’A Cry from the Heart‘: As teaching and ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, we acknowledge, and indeed share, the profound sense of hurt, dismay and anger currently being expressed in the wake of decisions taken at our 2018 General Assembly. This level of feeling is unprecedented in our pastoral experience …

C’mon Arlene – Take action and start the journey of reconciliation with our community

Malachái O’Hara is the Green party rep for north Belfast, and LGBTQ activist. He was the vice chair of the equal marriage campaign and sits on the board of a suicide prevention charity.  On Monday 18th June, the Belfast Telegraph carried a front page headline that Former First Minister and current DUP leader Arlene Foster would attend an LGBT event. Despite repeated years of invitations by local LGBTQ groups, Arlene, as part of her continuing charm offensive (a well received visit … Read more

Young People Not Immune to Political Deadlock

Paul McCusker is the SDLP Councillor for Oldpark Twenty years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the ceasefire generation – for the most part – live a peaceful and prosperous life, free from the violence and the heartache of the past. There is however a forgotten generation; a generation who still feel the weight of living in areas controlled by paramilitaries, whose parents and grandparents lost their lives in the conflict, who live in communities barricaded by “peace” walls, who … Read more

Soapbox: Connal Parr on Mythmaking, Identity and Ulster Protestant Cultures

Dr Connal Parr is Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the Humanities at Northumbria University. His research emphasises the interconnectedness of history, politics, and culture. His book ‘Inventing the Myth’ viewed local political developments and recent history through the prism of dramatists and writers and was inspired by his doctoral research. On the evening of Tuesday 22 May, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs generously sponsored an event on the themes of my book Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the … Read more

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future

Carla Lockhart, DUP MLA for Upper Bann, argues in favour of retaining the 8th amendment.  In recent weeks and months a passionate debate has been taking place right across Ireland on the subject of abortion. This Friday, a referendum will take place in the Republic of Ireland on whether or not the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution, which upholds the value and worth of both mothers and unborn babies, should be removed. In Northern Ireland, three councils have recently debated … Read more

Unionism’s “inclusiveness” must have passed me by

Born in November 1998, I am technically a “post-Troubles” baby, a child of the “new Northern Ireland”. I have never known the routine bomb scares and checkpoints that my parents knew; unlike their generation, I am unaccustomed to seeing a soldier in uniform. I became aware of politics around the beginning of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness’ time as first ministers; those halcyon days. Still somewhat on a high from the Chuckle Brothers era of Paisley/McGuinness, there was an air … Read more

Soapbox: Jorja, her rare condition and a pressing need to legalise medicinal cannabis…

Robin Emerson is father to Jorja Emerson and keen activists for rare diseases and the legalisation of medicinal cannabis. Jorja Emerson was born on 26th February 2016, a beautiful baby girl weighing just 5lbs. After a number of months, we started noticing that Jorja was not developing like a typical baby her age, and in December we discovered that Jorja had a rare 1q43q44 chromosome deletion, and was most likely the only baby in Ireland with this specific chromosome deletion. … Read more

Soapbox: Housing Then and Now – Conference on 15 June in Dungannon, 50 years on from Caledon sit-in

HOUSING THEN AND NOW – one day free conference in Dungannon on Friday 15 June examines the housing allocation system in the 1960s, civil rights marches, the formation of the NI Housing Executive, and the present day challenge of how to provide social housing which is not divided on religious grounds with input from activists, academics and the students of today.

Northern Ireland’s 1968 at the epicentre of the French ‘Maydays’

As the 50th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s 1968 approaches, we can be hopeful that the accompanying commemorative interest will provide the necessary platform to enable a long-overdue and detailed reflection of what was an unquestionably seminal moment in our recent past. One particular area that requires a more comprehensive examination is how the events in Northern Ireland are to be understood within the broader (and rather exceptional) international context of the time. The term ‘1968’ has become a byword for … Read more

A Yes Vote is the Only Way to Legislate for FFA and Rape Cases

Ivana Bacik is leader of the Labour Party in the Senead. In a recent essay on this site, high-profile No campaigner John McGuirk wrote about the difficulties of having to make a Yes or No choice in the forthcoming referendum. While I disagree with how McGuirk represented the nature of that choice, with less than a fortnight to go until 25th May, he was certainly correct in saying that many voters remain undecided. Over recent weeks, I have been out canvassing … Read more

Those ready for a modest change to Ireland’s abortion laws are confronted with a more radical proposition

John McGuirk is the Communications Director of the Save the 8th Campaign. In the first of a series of essays on the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution John shares his experience of the campaign and what’s at stake. Nothing has struck me more in this referendum debate than the comment made by a man on RTE Radio One’s “Joe Duffy” show last week. Joe had decided to find out what was happening out there beyond the … Read more

‘The Slow Genocide’ of the Rohingya People

Dr Maung Zarni, the Burmese human rights activist, chillingly described how the slow burning genocide of the Rohingya community in Burma has been ongoing for four decades at a talk on the plight of the Royhinga in the Junction on Friday 13 April 2018. The event was organised jointly by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Commemoration Committee. Dr Maung Zarni a scholar educator and regular on BBC World Service has been a … Read more

Tell me how Alex. Please

John MacManus is a History Teacher in Northern Ireland “So, the continuing ‘rise and rise’ of Sinn Fein is not unstoppable. Irish unity is not inevitable. That won’t, of course, stop Sinn Fein’s relentless propaganda and repositioning. And nor should it stop unionism from relentless deconstruction of Sinn Fein’s arguments; or of kick-starting their own major, thought-through, broad-based, pro-Union campaign. Put bluntly, stop whingeing about Sinn Fein and, instead, counter their various strategies, policies and narratives.” So concludes Alex Kane … Read more

Will our protections for threatened species fall off a cliff edge come Brexit?

Christopher McAteer, Nature Matters NI The potential effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland are so overwhelmingly varied – and often alarming – that it may seem a touch masochistic to consider yet more concerns. But if worries over tariffs, the fledgling economy, and a hard border aren’t enough for you, then the cliff edge facing our environment might be just up your street. A whopping 80% of the UK’s environmental laws originate from the EU, which will now have to … Read more

Two “Communities” demographics: Don’t mention the Others

Roy Fisher does a deep dive into the census data, showing how it is almost impossible to opt out of the two communities model… “When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, ‘Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?’” – from The Wit and Wisdom of Quentin Crisp (1984) When the quotation above … Read more

We can acknowledge Powell as a significant historical figure, without resurrecting his politics…

The decision by the BBC to broadcast Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech on Saturday was always going to be controversial. The speech, made by Powell 50 years ago on 20th April, had a long-term impact on British politics, and transformed the climate on race relations in Britain. In the speech, Powell spoke out against Britain’s liberal immigration laws, predicting dire consequences for the country if immigration was to continue unchecked. He also attacked the race relations legislation that the … Read more