Archive | Essays

Environmental Governance Failure in Northern Ireland: High Time to Turn Over a New Leaf

By Ciara Brennan, Ray Purdy and Peter Hjerp Recent scandals including the RHI debacle and the discovery of illegal dumping on a massive scale (most notably at the Mobuoy Road ‘super-dump’) have catapulted Northern Ireland’s environmental governance failures into the public eye. The divergence from what can be considered ‘good’ environmental governance is clear and the more…

Unionists should welcome Irish Language Act with open arms

As I read the latest contributions regarding the Irish language from UUP leader Robin Swann and its echo in the Newsletter’s Morning View, it seems to me that they have tied themselves in a knot about Acht na Gaeilge.   A Gordian knot is a phrase that occurs to me.  It seems impossible to loosen more…

Lord Mayor’s dinner: but who was graceless?

Disclosure:  I’m a member of the Alliance Party.  I am also a born-again evangelical Christian. The first I heard was Naomi Long citing Matthew 6:5-6 on Facebook, concerning not praying in a manner to be seen by others.  It was later that day that I heard the full story:  Nuala McAllister had decided not to more…

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Democracy Requires Another Assembly Election

In most established democracies there is only one solution when the political parties are deadlocked and cannot come to an agreement: hold another election. In Northern Ireland, for historical reasons, there has been the suspension of ‘normal’ rules with so-called ‘direct rule’ by the government in London instead of continued regional democracy. In the rules more…

When super is better than simple in a border poll

Sometime in the future I foresee the birth of a baby fated to change the course of Irish history. At the time its nationalist parents won’t be aware of how special their child is. In fact its identity may never be known. It’s not that the young person is destined to perform some heroic action. more…

Irishness before and after nationalism

  In the early part of the seventh century a monk got out his parchment and quill and wrote a letter to the Pope about one of the theological disputes of the day. What he said about the debate need not concern us. The modern reader is more likely to be struck about how the more…

President Michael D Higgins at Cloughjordan Ecovillage on Earth Day 2017

Cloughjordan Ecovillage – Another World is Possible for Belfast

Lessons for Belfast Urban Regeneration at Féile an Phobail 2017 By Peadar Kirby & Peter Doran While Ireland was living through the most severe economic collapse of its history since independence, a group of pioneering people were sowing the seeds of a new society through founding the ecovillage of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary. Seeking to more…

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Sir Jeffrey’s cunning border plan

The other day, the Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP suggested on twitter : A country that uses electronic toll tag systems on 11 of its main roads can’t claim there isn’t a technological solution to a Brexit border Sir Jeffrey’s observation appears to be an attempt to suggest that the problems presented by a more…

Reek Sunday claims its price again

The Irish Times reports that thirteen people, including a ten year old boy, had to be rescued from Croagh Patrick yesterday during the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage. I climbed Croagh Patrick a couple of months back in aid of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, and in memory of one of my wife’s ex-colleagues who more…

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Should the Republic of Ireland Stay in the EU?

Former Irish ambassador Ray Bassett has written a detailed report for the UK think-tank Policy Exchange entitled After Brexit, Will Ireland be Next to Exit? He argues that Ireland should seriously consider whether or not it stays in the European Union, and he appears to favour an Irish exit. The issues raised by Bassett certainly deserve serious deliberation. more…

A new approach to deadlock in Northern Ireland

  A unique coincidence of events Standing back, it’s easy enough to see why the latest Assembly crisis is the longest and most intractable for over a decade. Unusually in recent times and in sharp contrast to the heady days of the Good Friday Agreement, this breakdown is set against background of momentous upheaval which more…

And so the focus shifts…

And we’re back in Belfast with the main parties and their negotiations. The final deadline is Thursday, but substantial agreement is expected today. The DUP have obtained a deal that is extremely good for infrastructure, bringing things into the possible that were recently all but pipe dreams, although you may excuse my cynicism that the money more…

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What if #AE17b happens ?

It’s been a tumultuous week, to say the least, at the end of what had been a very boring election, with a number of historic and fascinating political developments going on. There’s been plenty of analysis of the wider political configuration on Slugger for the past while, so I thought I’d have a look at more…

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Letter From America: Health Care (and why it doesn’t work…)

For the past several years, I’ve been a guest speaker in our local high school’s ‘Culture Week’, when they ask people from overseas to come in and give presentations on life in their home country- food, sport, politics, art, and history- and the student’s then write reports on what they’ve learned. A frequently recurring question more…