Unionism’s experience in NI should give Alex Salmond pause for thought on Derry’s Walls tomorrow…

When travelling outside Scotland,  Alex Salmond usually doesn’t miss an opportunity  to  characterise his Scottish National Party as ‘peaceful, civic, and inclusive’.  He did it in Bilbao in January when he was receiving the Sabino Arana award from  the authorities in the Basque Country. He is likely to bathe it in the same virtuous light this Friday when he comes to  Derry  to address the city’s Chamber of Commerce  He will be in a place where anti-British nationalism is based … Read more

#IndyRef: ‘Yes’ Calls for Revolution Find Few Takers

Last Sunday, The Irish Voice hosted a debate in Malone’s Irish bar meant to focus some attention on issues of relevance to Scots of Catholic Irish heritage. In the event just 30 people turned up and at least 3 of those were journalists, including Mark Hennessy, UK correspondent of the Irish times. I was one of the speakers for Better Together. Rather optimistically, I assumed that providing an Irish dimension to what has often been a doggedly inward-looking debate, might … Read more

Book Review: Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum

The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum. By David Torrance. London: Biteback Books 2013. pp.xiv + 370. Paperback. The nature of the policies advocated by those seeking a ‘Yes’ vote in the September 2014 referendum on whether Scotland should depart the 306-year union dominate this timely and often insightful book. Perhaps its main strength is that it conveys the cerebral side of the Scottish National Party (SNP) whose electoral victories in 2007 and 2011 enabled the Scottish Question … Read more

Paupers and Presidents

The disconsolate headline refers not to Ireland but to Bulgaria. The parliamentary republic tucked away in the south-east of the Balkan peninsula will be electing a new Head of State today 4 days ahead of Ireland (with provision for a second round if the 50% threshold is not reached by any candidate).. It is hard to say to how much of the glum Bulgarian present will turn out also to be Ireland’s future as it carries the weight of a … Read more

Alex Salmond: Cock of the North Plots His Next Move

It is hard to imagine that the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections were fought in a country which once had a reputation for being a measured and highly Presbyterian place. Intent on independence, the trans-class Scottish National party (SNP) won resounding endorsement from a business community once renounced for its caution. The serious and popular ends of the press went strongly for a party with such a news-making leader or else relapsed into incoherence (like the Mail and the Express). A … Read more

A Fractured Scotland Limps Towards Liberation

Scottish academics who have studied of inter-cultural conflict in Scotland disagree over the depth, persistence and manifestations of the phenomenon. On the basis of his Northern Ireland experience and an extensive academic survey completed a decade ago, Steve Bruce thinks the matter is taken out of proportion. Indeed, its purported exaggeration to him is Scotland’s disgrace (Comment is free 24 April) . His post attracted the biggest postbag of the day, the majority of respondents asserting that sectarianism, however loosely-based … Read more

Good Times for Alex and his Nationalist Army

Support for an independent Scotland is at its lowest for years. But Alex Salmond is riding high in the polls. The Scottish National Party which he leads stands an excellent chance of winning more seats than its lacklustre Labour opponent in the fourth election for the Scottish parliament being held on 5 May. This means that it will be entitled to form the next government, in all probability continuing to rule alone as it has done since 2007. A blizzard … Read more