Belfast Agreement: Ulster apartheid?

Robin Wilson, director of Northern Ireland’s first think tank Democratic Dialogue, argues in Fortnight magazine that the Belfast Agreement has set conditions for government and political discourse that have led to the equivalent of a Cold War. One of the practical outcomes, he suggests, is that: “… thinking is suffused, ironically, with the ‘group rights’ of apartheid, recruiting individual Catholics, Protestants and other- or non- believers to the ‘nationalist’ or the ‘unionist’ ‘community’” Importantly, at a time when the talks … Read more

Ireland in search of an ethos?

Interesting reaction to David Trimble from Sean McCann, a northerner, now living the South.

Derry/Londonderry: name change?

There’s a row brewing over the name of the Maiden City, in the Oak Leaf county. Confused? The BBC has more on this long running story.

Stormont talks: round-up

Though little of any sustance has emerged, there has been a plethora of comment by various papers and individuals. Marina Purdy reports on the seemingly irreconcilable agendas. Ian Paisley is angry at the presence of Sinn Fein and Brian Cowan, the Republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Andersonstown News takes the view that Nationalists should continue to back the process.

Catholics employed rising

According to figures released by the Equality Commission shows that Catholic employment is in an upward trend: “The overall rate of catholics being employed in Ulster currently stands at 39.5%. However, the Equality Commission said this was set to improve with new figures showing that 45% of people appointed to new jobs in 2001 were Catholic.” Update: Belfast Telegraph welcomes the figures as a sign of positive change. And previous figures from 1997 on CAIN.

Country in search of an ethos?

David Trimble’s remarks to the Chicago Sun-Times have been seized upon by many nationalists as proof that despite the apparent changes brought on by the Peace Process, little of substance has changed in Unionist thinking. Not everyone agrees. Eric Waugh in last night’s Belfast Telegraph believes that Trimble is wrong only insofaras he is walking away from an important debate that needs to take place. For example: “…the state defines itself overwhelmingly in terms of what it is against, not … Read more

Stormont: back to talking

Most of the Assembly parties are going back into talks. But Mark Simpson thinks it’s yet another Groundhog Day. Other views from Blair and Ervine and again. With Bertie Ahern insisting that this cannot be a renegotiation of the original agreement, it is hard to see where the DUP, who want precisely that, can be brought into the process. Update: the focus of the talks is to be the impasse.

Paulin re-invited

Ulster poet, and latterly rough-house polemicist, Tom Paulin was re-issued with the invitation that he lost a week ago to deliver the annual Morris Gray Lecture at Harvard. The issue has sent a number of academic institutions into chaos: “The University of Vermont originally scheduled a talk by Paulin on its campus for today, but canceled it some time after the lecture at Harvard was canceled, according to a receptionist for the University of Vermont’s English department.” Update: John Flemming … Read more

More on was 'Q' an Ulsterman?

In playful response to yesterday’s piece, reader Donald Matheson writes: “The Bond worlds have a curious number of connections with Irishness. There’s Brosnan (and Connery’s from not so far away across the water), Sidney Reilly, the pseudonym of the man reputedly the origin of the bond character, Kevin McClory, the Irish Bond film screenwriter, then there’s your Q reference, then (according to Google) in From Russia with Love, there’s a half-Irish psychotic out to kill Bond.” “What it probably means … Read more

Prison officers dispute

Apparently 85% of Northern Ireland’s prison officers have called in sick. Police are going in to man the prisons.

The 'power' of the Blog

A interesting description of the weblog phenomenon, from the Sydney Morning Herald. Thanks to the main subject of the piece Instapundit.

Stormont legislation diverts to Westminster

A total of 22 bills prepared at Stormont are now being prepared to be enacted at Westminster through Orders in Council. Paul Murphy: “I freely acknowledge that the Order in Council process at Westminster is not as satisfactory as scrutiny of legislation in the Assembly. It is, however, a regrettable necessity and highlights once again the importance of restoring the devolved institutions.”

Prison Officers unofficial action

Prison Officers in NI are to take a mass action in protest against the lack of government help with re-location costs after a comprehensive list of officers’ names and addresses were discovered in a security sweep in October.

Adams: IRA will not be forced

Gerry Adams flashed up a key note before heading into interparty talks suggesting that the IRA would not be forced into any response. He outlined his priorities for the discussions: “This week’s discussions must address the failure of Mr Blair`s Government to implement its commitments under the Agreement as acknowledged by him in his recent Belfast speech.”

Trimble: triggering debate

It seems that no one individual can inspire comment and debate to the extent that David Trimble can. The Newsletter calls for a wider debate, suggesting: “Opinion-shapers in the Republic and nationalists in Northern Ireland have, so far, been restrained in their reaction: their focus is on how the Stormont institutions might be restored, and they will not allow what appears to them as a party-political side-issue to generate a row with the Ulster Unionist leader.” “That is, perhaps, a … Read more

Northern Ireland: background

For those readers joining us for the first time here’s couple of briefing resources: a list of major events; and an entry in World Info. For highlights of the Letter to Slugger O’Toole itself, just hit the links in the highlights section in right hand column.

James Bond: was 'Q' an Ulsterman?

Jeffrey Dudgeon speculates in his latest book, Roger Casement: the black diaries to be launched on Thursday, that Ian Flemming based his character Q on Ulsterman Major Frank Hall. Hall became Military Secretary of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) formed to resist Home Rule for Ireland in 1912. Gudgeon’s main premise seems to be based around the fact Hall went under the codename Q when he became chief of MI5 in Belfast two years later. Update: According to reader … Read more

Paul Muldoon: poet scholar

Did you hear about the boy from Armagh, who went on to be a professor at Princeton and Oxford? Muldoon talks poetry with Dinittia Smith. However not all such poetic sons of Ulster are so well favoured by academia. Update: Paulin’s year, 2002.

Trimble: a summary

In a recent issue of Ha’aritz, David Trimble gave an extensive interview to Sharon Sadeh. He began by making the political case for the process, and then quantifying some of the gains of the transition from war to peace. He admitted his own mixed feelings about dealing with his former enemies. Identifying two issues yet to be resolved, he explained why these were crucial to moving the next stage. After giving his appraisal of Clinton’s role in the process, he … Read more