“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 3…

In Part 1 & 2, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles and the Unionist movement since the Home Rule crisis. In this part he concludes by looking at the lessons loyalism and republicanism have learned from their previous campaigns of violence. What is very telling on the issue of violence is the vastly different routes that republican and loyalist groupings …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 2…

In Part 1, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles. In this part he looks at a much broader history of unionism to further argue that political violence doesn’t work. Unionism and loyalism doesn’t need to look to anyone else to justify using violence. It has its very own long history of threatening force to advance its political objectives. Prior to …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 1…

Earlier this month a few hundred people gathered in Newtonards for a public protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol. Despite the presence of a strong cast of speakers – including former-MP Kate Hoey and former-MEP Ben Habib – it wasn’t the podium soundbites that caught my eye and inspired this article. Instead, it was a very telling vox-pop that Sky News captured with one of the protestors at the event. A lady who’s grey hair, pashmina-type shawl and well-spoken North …

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Ten Ways Irish Unity Could Benefit the Republic of Ireland…

The topic of Irish unity has been propelled into the mainstream of political debate to an extent that would have been inconceivable even five years ago. And it’s not just the usual Republican voices engaged either. Most of Nationalism’s moderate mainstream, plus some elements within Unionism, are also pondering the question of what form Northern Ireland’s future could or should take in a world where Brexit has happened and demography is shifting. It still remains very early days in that …

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Tackling Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Apartheid – Part 2, The Solution…

Read part one here… It is clear that Northern Ireland has a stark east-west divide in transport infrastructure. One which fails to fully reflect its population distribution, and raises questions of sectarian policymaking and a Belfast-centric nature to governance here. It is also clear that the era of car dominance in urban areas is slowly drawing to a close worldwide, which Northern Ireland will inevitably catch up with. Climate change and a desire for more liveable towns and cities will …

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Tackling Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Apartheid – Part 1 – The Problem…

Infrastructure has become a hot topic in NI since the London government established a ‘Union Connectivity Review’ (UCR) to recommend projects to strengthen links between the UK’s constituent parts. Since then the media has been consumed by the possibility of a physical connection between NI and Scotland – first in the form of a bridge and more recently an undersea tunnel, christened the ‘Boris Bridge’ and ‘Boris Burrow’ (though I would suggest a more appropriate title should incorporate the name …

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Will the City Deal provide a “fresh start” for Derry?

The current global pandemic has put Northern Ireland’s long-standing problems firmly into context – with Coronavirus claiming more lives across the UK in a few days last month than thirty years of the Troubles did. Fortunately post-conflict NI is a very different place these days, with change perhaps nowhere more prevalent than in our economy. Current pandemic woes aside, NI entered the current decade in a much better economic condition than it has any other decade since at least the …

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Why Derry? How a City that’s continually held back became a Dissident Stronghold…

Just two hours before this year’s Good Friday – a time of year which holds clear associations with peace and progress in this part of the world – a talented young journalist was murdered on the streets of Northern Ireland by Dissident Republicans. The murder has been widely condemned, and has sent shock waves through a British and global media that had mistakenly believed this part of the world had completed its transition towards peace. Amid the intense media coverage …

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To add to Belfast International Airport’s woes, what is going on with Easyjet?

2018 has been a difficult year for Belfast International Airport. First, the facility faced criticism over its sponsorship of the DUP’s annual North Antrim dinner in February – a Brexit-themed event with Eurosceptic Tory MP Priti Patel as guest speaker (three months after she’d been forced to resign from the UK government for breaching the Ministerial Code). Curiously, Belfast International is based in Antrim South constituency, and not in Ian Paisley Jnr’s North Antrim fiefdom. Then in May came the …

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Why is Derry So Poor? Part III – The Solutions

It is clear that there are economic and social challenges facing Northern Ireland’s second city, and that little is being done to address them. So what type of solutions could be pursued to enable Derry to fulfil its potential as a key economic generator for the north west of the island ? Here are some suggestions : 1. Acknowledge the Problem The first step in dealing with any problem is to acknowledge its existence. Yet there has been no official …

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Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would …

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Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern …

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Anger Over City Deal Snub, As Derry Grows Restless for Change

Fifty years ago this June, a caravan was used to block the Lecky Road in Derry’s Bogside in protest at Londonderry Corporation’s housing policy. The Unionist-run council retained control over the majority nationalist city at that time by discriminating against Catholics in housing and votes. The caravan protest represented a marked escalation in tactics by the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC), who shortly afterwards contacted the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and persuaded them to hold a demonstration in the …

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Six Things We Learned From Ireland’s Failed Rugby World Cup Bid…

Last week’s surprise decision to grant the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to France was a huge disappointment for the Irish, who had been bookies’ favourite throughout the process. As the dust finally settles on the five-year effort to bring one of the world’s largest sporting events to these shores, here are six key lessons we can draw from the experience : Ireland CAN hold events of global significance. The positive message for Ireland in a disappointing process was that …

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Ulster Uni’s new Belfast Campus Shows it isn’t Serious About Magee Expansion. So it’s time for Derry to Look Elsewhere

Last week’s A’Level results not only signalled the start of the annual scramble to secure a place at University. They also pointed to a worrying development for the long-promised expansion of Magee campus in Derry. Student Numbers Falling Figures from UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service) show a 4% fall this year in applications to go to University – the first such decline in five years.  All parts of the UK are reflecting this drop, and the figures also …

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The £400m for Infrastructure in the Conservative-DUP agreement will only exacerbate Northern Ireland’s east-west divide

Northern Ireland’s infrastructure has drawn the prize ticket from the £1bn of new money in the Conservative-DUP deal – securing £400m, or 40% of the entire fund. This has been greeted with criticism elsewhere in the UK, but can be justified on two grounds. Firstly – Northern Ireland arguably has the worst infrastructure of any region in the UK. Only significant external funding will reverse the decades-long under-investment that has caused that. Secondly – the situation is worse still within …

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The warm welcome Arlene Foster received at the funeral of Martin McGuinness came as a surprise to many. But not to those who know Derry well.

“Of all the ‘moments’ in my 27 years of journalism, applause for Arlene Foster at the funeral of Martin McGuinness is right up there”. So remarked Sky News’s Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, after one of Northern Ireland’s most important funerals in years. Blevins wasn’t alone in being wrong-footed by this turn of events. This was, after all, the funeral of a former IRA commander – held in a staunchly nationalist city during the uncertain aftermath of a landmark and divisive …

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The Case for a ‘Foyle Free Trade Zone’.

Derry’s days as a regional transport hub appear to be largely behind it. In better times the city has served as a hub for shipbuilding, an international naval base, a thriving export centre and a key departure point for emigrants. Nowadays, the sole legacy of that is a small but important port facility at Lisahally.  Meanwhile, the town which bore witness to Amelia Earhart making aviation history 85 years ago contains a regional airport that survives largely through Council subsidies. …

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EDUCATING ULSTER : Northern Ireland has a chronic shortage of students, whilst Belfast has too many and the west of the province has too few. The solution is obvious.

September marked the annual return of students to their term-time accommodation. And within two days residents of the Holylands had lodged over 150 complaints of anti-social behaviour with Belfast City Council. That university neighbourhood’s term-time population comprises over 90% of students/young people, amounting to an estimated 7,000 in just one square kilometre. It will probably provide little comfort to residents of the Holylands to learn that Northern Ireland (NI) has the lowest provision of university places in the UK. And …

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