The State of Us … Previewing the seventh annual Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics (22-28 March)

A quick rummage through the Imagine! Belfast programme coming up between 22–28 March. Under the strapline of The State of Us, there’ll be exhibitions, workshops, lectures, film, comedy, music, spoken word, lectures, theatre and quizzes. Voices from at home and abroad. The festival isn’t afraid to challenge. It doesn’t expect participants to agree with everything that is said. It’s about making people think. Widening their horizons. Broadening their understanding. Developing their empathy. Helping them figure out why – and if – they truly believe the hunches and biases they may have been living with for a lifetime.

ESRC Virtual Festival – Beyond the Touchline: Grassroots football and radical politics…

Football has always been political. Its widespread global following and the deep dedication of fans make it a platform through which socio-political issues play out. As philosopher – and avid football fan – Jacques Derrida once claimed: “Beyond the touchline, there is nothing.” In other words, the social, economic, political and cultural events of the wider world manifest in the stadium and through the game, its players and fans. Recent times have seen high profile examples of this, including Marcus …

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A Northern Ireland Rorschach test…

Tell me what do you see? TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Salthill Knocknacarra GAA Club in Galway. #RoyalVisitIreland 📸: Getty images pic.twitter.com/HF8Xzl3uok — Isa (@isaguor) March 5, 2020 Leo I’m really sorry but somebody had to do it..#GAA #RoyalVisitIreland pic.twitter.com/BtfOIMkK9Q — Jim Sheridan (@Jim_Sheridan) March 5, 2020 “(Rorschach) II” by dailyinvention is licensed under CC BY Brian O'NeillI help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background …

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Children of the Ceasefire: Reflections on the Border II

Irish. Northern Irish. A global citizen. Three ways in which I described myself in my previous blog post. In describing this, I highlighted my concerns to being constrained to one certain identity. However, as discussions on Brexit intensify, so does the issue of the border and these constraints of identity. I am a holder of an Irish passport. I play and follow Irish sports.  I have studied at an Irish university. I have been christened with an Irish name. I …

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Future Ireland / Loyalist Voices: A Conversation I’d Love To Have Someday

I like the idea of the conversation. I’ve always found conversations very useful. Arguments are too heated, always driven by aggression, and even debates always seem poised in an uncomfortable, adversarial way. But the conversation is good. A conversation is calm and much more likely to be geared toward understanding.  It was mid-morning in a nice bar in Northumberland Road, Dublin. My friend was across the road in Dublin and Wicklow’s Orange Hall. I’d been in there earlier and absolutely loved it, as any Loyalist anorak …

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Future Ireland / How will the PUL be accommodated in a United Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By ‘Danny Boy’. According to the demographics, there could be a nationalist majority within Northern Ireland in the not-too distant future, which some think will automatically lead to the re-unification of this island. So what will happen to all those people living within Northern Ireland who class themselves as being from the PUL …

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Future Ireland from a Southern Perspective

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. Éamonn Toland is a business leader and writer from Dublin. Just over a decade ago, before the crash, the then Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, called for the IFA and FAI to form an all-Ireland soccer team, so that the island could “punch its full weight internationally, something that real sports people have …

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Future Ireland / Why Include Ulster Protestants in a New Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By Dilcy, a nationalist living in Belfast. Why Include Ulster Protestants in a New Ireland? Answer 1 They’re here already and may as well stay. Answer 2 We say stay, but we really hope they will eventually leave. Answer 3 They are really Irish anyway. Answer 4 We really need their help to …

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Should the IFA adopt its own national anthem?

Recently we had the disgraceful but in some ways predictable behaviour of some fans (but at least it was a minority) at the Northern Ireland versus Republic of Ireland match during the playing of the National Anthems. I was always taught that no matter how you feel about a country, or its government’s policies, you should always respect the national anthem. However, at the same time – why do the Irish Football Association still continue to use God Save the …

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Over three days, sport will show that Ireland can divide or unite to the mutual benefit of all…

In a short three day period in sport, we’ll see how two conflicting (paradoxical) dynamics can work well on the island of Ireland. By all accounts, the atmosphere in the ground was warm in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin between the Republic and Northern Ireland last night. Neither team has been showing great form against other teams, so both are adrift of their ambitions. The internationalisation of the EPL means they’re not picking from the top. But it was a lively game …

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Future Ireland: Uniting people is the starting point

I was in a cafe recently when the owner, who I know from being a regular, came over and asked me, “David, clear something up between me and the Missus – was that you on the TV we saw the other night … [puzzled look] … you were part of a panel … Mike Nesbitt was there too.” To which I answered – ‘Yes, guilty! Was me!’ After a little discussion about how he didn’t realise I was interested in …

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Perspectives on Change from a Dublin-dwelling northern Prod

I am a Northern Irish Protestant who has lived in Dublin for the past twenty five years. I am proud to be from the Protestant community and proud to be from Northern Ireland. But I have never been so proud to be part of a society, as I have been to be part of the Republic of Ireland in recent years. A society that voted, myself included, in favour of marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. I have a friend …

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So G’wan Leinster – but can we have a different Irish ‘winner’ next year please?

As another hugely successful season draws to a close, with a grand slam in the bag, Ireland ranked 2nd in the world and 2nd favourites to win next year’s world cup  – we can still look forward to Leinster winning the European Champions Cup. Leinster play Racing 92 of Paris in Bilbao (Spain) on Saturday 12th May. Kick off 16.45, Irish time. Whilst Ulster failed to get to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, Connacht got to the quarterfinals of …

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Less than 2% of Rape Cases in Northern Ireland end in Conviction. Why the System Needs Reformed.

When the verdict came in, nobody in the women’s movement was especially surprised. There was consternation at the length of time the jury deliberated, certainly. But the verdict itself was not surprising. Rape is a serious crime and it carries a high burden of proof, requiring certainty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict. In practice, this means that convictions are hard to come by absent something like CCTV evidence or a confession of guilt. We all knew this. …

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A St Patrick’s Day Grand Slam showdown at Twickers? Probably.

Ireland last won a Grand Slam back in 2009. In odd years, like 2009, Ireland play England and France (the 2 traditional heavyweights) at home – and odd years were therefore deemed Ireland’s best chance of winning a 6 Nations Championship and particularly a grand slam. But in more recent times, France’s form has fallen off a cliff and Ireland has taken to beating them both home and away. In contrast to France, Ireland has moved up the pecking order …

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Outdoor Education Centre Closures and the death knell of outdoor education in Northern Ireland

Soapbox: Craig McCullough, Managing Director of Outdoor Concepts (NI) So why is someone who manages a private outdoor adventure business writing an article AGAINST the decision of the Education Authority to close a number of outdoor centres in Northern Ireland? The answer is threefold… Greater participation in outdoor adventure will benefit both the public and private adventure sectors. A symbiotic relationship between public and private sectors works in everyone’s best interests. Clear and accurate information will empower and increase participation, …

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Northern Ireland shows that sport can lead as well as follow…

Last year was a blast for both parts of the island at the finals of the Euros. This year, whilst the Republic faces a steep climb to get to the second place playoffs, Northern Ireland must concentrate on pushing their rankings to get higher seed status in those playoffs. Northern Ireland has come a very long way since 2002 when Neil Lennon felt compelled to retire as team captain after death threats. Strong leadership off the pitch from the IFA …

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How Ballyhaunis embraced demographic change with the simplicity of effective action

Tom Kelly is right, now the most peaceful Twelfth in Belfast for years has passed it is time for people to move on. Even the bonfires, pushed to ridiculous proportions must now have the word Grenfell echoing in the ears of the organisers. But move on to what? It’s far from clear. In absence of any sensible explanation as to why Stormont collapsed (and believe me, I’ve looked and cannot find anything that does not add up to some class …

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Is it time for a European Lions v the southern hemisphere rugby test match series?

Once every four years, the best players from the 4 rugby nations in the British isles play as a single team as the British and Irish lions. And when it is a Lions year, every week the papers revise and review their best guess as to who will be in the test team, who will be in squad and who will be captain. This year, in June, the Lions go to New Zealand to play the All Blacks, where they …

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