20 years since the Good Friday Agreement – It’s time the value of women’s peace building work is recognised

In the latest part of our sHERed Future series, Kellie Turtle (Feminist Activist and WRDA’s Women’s Sector Lobbyist) writes about the role of women in peace building in Northern Ireland In any discussion of women’s participation in building peace in Northern Ireland it is important to say that women have always been politically active agents of change here; from the suffragettes who were the first hunger strikers in our prisons, to the trade unionists who fought child labour and exploitation … Read more

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

The Potential Leaders of the Post-Merkel Era

Leon Kohl is a graduate student in EU Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The German Social Democrats’ ratification of the coalition agreement with the Christian Democrats paved the way for Angela Merkel’s fourth term in office. Her time as chancellor has overlapped with four British prime ministers and four Taoisigh. However, her conservative CDU’s poor performance in the September general elections and the length of coalition negotiations have weakened her authority, leading to calls for … Read more

Alternative Ulster – five women who shaped Northern Ireland…

Jenny McEneaney is a sHERed Future Co-Producer she writes for Slugger today about some of the women who have an important impact on local politics and society. Presenting five women who shaped the Northern Ireland of today Happy International Women’s Day! This year’s theme is Press for Progress in recognition of how far we (men, women, society) still have to strive before realising gender equality. This year’s International Women’s Day provides a degree of poignancy for Northern Ireland as we … Read more

Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has … Read more

DUP Councillor refuses to engage with Pro-Choice Group

Emma Gallen is an activist for Alliance for Choice. Alliance for Choice had planned to be at several different International Women’s Day events last week. But the snow meant that many were postponed. As a result, a well meaning campaign, asking councillors at Belfast City Council to support Kate Nicholl’s motion to support the decriminalisation of abortion, gained more traction than expected. The debate at City Council was due to be on Thursday March 1st, but was also postponed due … Read more

The case for Kilroot International Airport…

You might not realise it, but Northern Ireland’s air transportation links with the rest of the world are controlled by what amounts to a cartel. Cartels in the world of aviation are practically as old as flight itself. This cartel relies on regulation, restriction and operational inflexibility of aircraft type and the ability of airports to set uncompetitive rates. It is for example £28.99 per ton of aircraft and £20.30 per passenger plus security charges to leave from the City … Read more

Paula Bradshaw: We need to talk about domestic violence

Alliance Party MLA, Paula Bradshaw writes for Slugger for the issue of domestic violence We need to talk about domestic violence. Specifically, we need to recognise that the failure to restore the Executive and Assembly is holding up efforts to protect women (and men) from domestic abuse, stalking, and coercive control. Judith Gillespie’s timely contribution to the debate reminds us that – regardless of the esteem in which our devolved institutions are held – they remain the forum to deliver … Read more

If Sinn Féin weaponised the Irish language, the DUP had the power to change that…

The DUP have accused Sinn Féin of weaponising the Irish language. They have used this ‘weaponising’ of the language as one excuse for their refusal to accept the terms of the proposed Irish Language Act and therefore also the reinstating of Northern Ireland’s devolved government. If Sinn Fein have weaponised the Irish language, the DUP had the power to change that. Instead, it remains a Trojan horse that will continue to destroy unionism. With the signing of the Good Friday … Read more


William Ennis, an east Belfast loyalist and PUP member, pays tribute to sex worker, rights campaigner and activist, Laura Lee. It was just before midnight when my phone rang. It was a dear friend. As soon as she spoke, I knew something was wrong.  Her voice was broken, and she demanded to know if I was seated. I assured her I was. “Laura’s gone”, she wept. “Laura’s gone.” My voice simply failed me, and I could only listen to her sobs. When I finally could make a sound, I … Read more

Has the model of the GFA itself resulted in the impasse?

Paddy Wilson is a Postgraduate student at Queens University Belfast and a member of the Workers Party.  On Monday, David McCann gave his assessment of the political impasse between the former parties of the Executive and made the pertinent point that; “when debating whether its’ a failure, let’s compare it to the alternatives, not the Almighty.” Outside the remits of any deity, the GFA is a creation of people. I don’t believe that any system or solution that we create … Read more

Is it time for the churches to become more Christian?

Cathal O’Hagan is a Monaghan native and law graduate, currently doing an MA in Conflict Transformation at QUB. Just like there isn’t momentum for a re-prohibition on contraception; or mood for re-implementing a ban on divorce, the penny will soon finally drop that debates over marriage equality and abortion are not the way for churches to regain influence in Ireland. Churches can either continue with the prominence they give to so-called “moral” issues, or they can refocus on the core … Read more

Reform and Review of the Agreement is Possible – Let’s Have It

Councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, from the Progressive Unionist Party, explains the thinking behind their ‘Review and Reform’ document, published yesterday. This week the Progressive Unionist Party has published and distributed, to the Secretary of State and Northern Ireland’s political leaders, its proposals for review and reform of the institutions set out within the Good Friday Agreement. The document, which can be read in full here: http://pupni.com/assets/images/articles/Review_and_Reform.pdf, sets out our rationale for enabling a review. It cites strand one, subsection thirty-six, which reads; … Read more

Threats and opportunities: Unionism, and a strategic consideration of Gaelic language legislation…

Another contribution from long time commenter Willow on why unionism should develop a strategic view of its relationship with the Irish language.. Assuming that nationalists are not going to back down on their demand for an ‘Irish language act’, unionism appears to be at a crossroads whereby it has to decide which is strategically more important: restoring devolution or avoiding Gaelic legislation. The seriousness of this situation appears to have dawned neither on the unionist electorate nor (at least publicly) … Read more

Wanted: NI artefacts and memorabilia from 1998 onwards

James Ashe is a final year Graphic Communication student at Norwich University of the Arts. He’s a freelance designer and photographer with an interest in brands, print and visual identity projects. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which changed the landscape of Northern Ireland. As I approach the conclusion of my studies in Norwich, I am putting together a book that is a reflection of growing up in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It’s entitled You Can’t … Read more

Our licensing laws need to be more flexible to allow smaller premises to compete…

Recently I stumbled across a liquor license for sale in the Coleraine area. It costs £80 000. Yes. £80 000. Good for the person selling it but what is the bigger picture and how does this affect our pub tradition? First of all, what size of premises would be required to have the turnover to pay off the £80k loan for such a licence? I’m sure many of us have entertained the notion of semi-retiring to a country pub someday … Read more

Unionists remember, the Belfast Agreement IS an ‘agreed Ireland’?

When will a unionist stand up for the Good Friday Agreement in response to what appears to be a creeping rejection of it by nationalists north and south? The refusal of Sinn Fein, spurred on by the nationalist electorate, to form an Executive and thus allow the Assembly to function, is a rejection of the Agreement. And the reasons given for the refusal are matters beyond the Good Friday Agreement, There is no provision in the Agreement for an Irish … Read more

Professor Paul Arthur on Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the NI Civil Rights Campaign…

Commemorations should carry their own health warning. Fintan O’Toole supplies one relevant to the current context. Writing in the Irish Times in January 2005 on the extremist tradition in Ireland he warned that ‘what matters is not what happened but how it is remembered. And that precisely is what the IRA is now fighting for. Its struggle is for the control of the memory of the Northern Ireland conflict’. I was reminded of this reading Declan Kearney’s piece of 29 … Read more

Colum Eastwood: The real choice is whether we want to take up power in this corner of Ireland.

The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood writes for Slugger about the current round of talks that are ongoing at Stormont I’ve always thought that one of the great attractions of politics is found in its ever evolving nature. Many of those who are active or take an interest in political life are drawn to the fact that each day brings with it a different story, a different opportunity and a different challenge. That constant change is driven by a combination of … Read more