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

Only structural change will deliver better education

Maddy Bridgman who is the Public Affairs Officer for the Integrated Education Fund writes for Slugger about the Alternative Manifesto published today by the IEF The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) has published its Alternative Manifesto for education based on the premise that we need to change our education system. Recent research (commissioned by the IEF from independent polling company LucidTalk) found parents reporting that some schools cannot afford to employ enough staff, and many buildings are decrepit. We have many … Read more

Framing Public Memory: What if a play park was to be named after Michael Stone, Wesley Somerville or Lenny Murphy?

Growing up I was very conscious of my nationalism. It wasn’t that I came from a very political family but my grandfather had nurtured in me a love for History, especially Irish History which I retain to this very day. I grew up with pictures of James Connolly, Patrick Pearse and Robert Emmet adorning my bedroom walls. My contemporaries had the Bay City Rollers and all the regalia that with that, I’d no comparative regalia so I fastened a tricolour … Read more

Ireland and slavery, then and now, free event…

We know that Ireland like most countries in Western Europe got caught up in the 18th-century slave trade and Irish merchants could benefit from the produce of the West Indies. Belfast was not exempt. The wealthy businessman Waddell Cunningham had a plantation in the Caribbean (called Belfast !) to take just one example. However there was a formidable opposition to slavery among the citizens of the growing late-18th century town, often involving radically-minded women – and a welcome was given … Read more

Post Conference Retreat

Dominic O’Reilly is a SDLP Member and attended the party’s recent conference I am a mess of contradictions! Some years ago I took the decision to join a political party. Meanwhile for the last fifteen years I have been actively involved in youth ministry within the Church. To the extent that some eight years ago I entered studies for the diocesan priesthood. While I did not see this through to completion it was an incredibly fruitful time and period of … Read more

The Agreement. Ten Frames. Twenty Years.

There’s going to be a lot of familiar and famous talking heads, looking back pensively, giving the ‘I was there’ definitive version of ‘what really happened’ at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago. We will note the wrinkles and the grey hair and we will see how they have changed, if only in their appearance. The usual role-call will be called. But what about artistic responses? What might an artist create that could ever contain the … 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

The merits of Ancient Greek wisdom…

In 2014 I retired after forty years of university teaching, first in England and latterly at Queen’s. My subject was – is — ‘ancient’ history, defined in almost all British and Irish universities as the Mediterranean-centred world of the Greeks and the Romans. All very long ago now. In the Greeks’ case (my speciality), several centuries B.C. ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’, says the narrator-protagonist Leo at the opening of The Go-Between. “Classical” Greece … Read more

Twenty years on, the key challenge is how we can make changes that only are seen to be fair and balanced

Peter Weir is a DUP MLA for Strangford, he writes for Slugger about his thoughts of the Good Friday Agreement. On Good Friday, twenty years ago, I found myself present at a central point in our history, not just as an observer but as a participant, albeit a minor one. I was in Castle Buildings as a junior member of the Ulster Unionist talks team. I was one of the so called baby barristers, a group of younger members of … Read more

Naomi Long: Alliance still believes a positive vision, bold ideas and strong leadership is the only way to move forward and respect the spirit of the GFA

Naomi Long is the Leader of the Alliance Party, ahead of her party conference she writes for Slugger about ways to break the current deadlock at Stormont Twenty years ago, nearly three out of four people in Northern Ireland stepped forward to support the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Despite the huge challenges and deep divisions within society, and acknowledging the GFA was not perfect, it was recognised then the next steps forward could be positive for our community. People were … Read more