North South economic links

Junior Minister Ian Pearson highlights the importance of economic links with the Republic: “…the Belfast to Dublin corridor is potentially a major engine for growth and employment in Northern Ireland and in the Republic.”

DUP looking for inclusive deal

John Devine talks to DUP MP Gregory Campbell about what could happen after elections in May: “We are not going to dig people out of the hole they are in now. But after an election we will go to the British government and say that we have a mandate and we want changes to the agreement because we want unionists to be part of the process rather than frozen out, the way they have been. We want it based on … Read more

US fact finding group

A US fact finding delegation has arrived in Northern Ireland for a five day visit. Via Hawk Girl.

May elections to go ahead

It looks like the government are determined to press ahead with plans for elections in May. According to officials in the DUP, this was Secretary of State Paul Murphy’s clear message in their meeting with him this morning.

Irish Language: losing the Gaeltacht?

Emily O’Reilly contrasts (subscription or registration needed) the fortunes of the Irish language inside and outside the Gaeltacht areas, and suggests that state intervention with the Gaeltacht has done little to halt the decline of the language. “…as the Gaeltacht shrinks, the appetite for all-Irish schools in the so-called Galltacht, or all-English speaking part of the country, continues to increase. Gaelscoileanna open at the rate of three or four a year, while a number of Irish-speaking secondary schools, Gaelcholaiste, have … Read more

Theology and conflict

The inimitable Newton Emerson looks at the theological grounding of one Northern Ireland’s most controversial figures, the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley.

Loyalist feud: end not yet nigh

If the hope behind the arrest of Johnny Adair on Friday was to facilitate an end to an incipient Loyalist feud, the government may be disappointed, says Henry McDonald. He also has distrubing news of events behind the withdrawal of the PUP from talks earlier this week: “…the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), was forced to pull out of all-party talks following a mass meeting of the terror group last weekend. The UVF’s rank and file told the PUP it had … Read more

Trimble is still the best option?

Ruth Dudley Edwards still believes that a Trimble-led Unionist party is the best way forward and casts doubts on whether a new model DUP under the leadership of Peter Robinson can command the kind of numbers within the party to make any deal stick.

SDLP's strategic deficit

Eilis O’Hanlon criticises the leadership of Mark Durkan for not seeking to wrest the initiative for the Nationalist agenda from Sinn Fein: “He lacks concentration. He too easily allows himself to be drawn into pointless philosophical debates with Sinn Fein, such as when a Catholic majority will emerge, instead of dragging the fight constantly back to issues on which he can draw blood.” “Sinn Fein’s attitude to the SDLP, meanwhile, is to patronise and insult them when they make brave … Read more

More Ladybird history

Cork emigre, now an academic at the University of Arizona, Kieran Healey picks up on Junius’s Ladybird history theme.

The re-start talks so far

Mark Devenport with his view of the re-start talks and the recent IRA statement. Meanwhile Mark Durkan is puzzled by the strong reactions to the that statement amd calls for steady nerves.

Gaeltacht to shrink?

More detail from the Galway Advertiser on Donncha Ó hÉallaithe’s report on the falling number of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht areas. Via North Atlantic Skyline.

1972 "forcible resettlement"

Although the state papers from both Britain and the Republic were available to journalists nearly two weeks ago, some of the stories are only taking on a fuller shape now. Despite some considerable spin, this piece by Steve James goes into more detail than most accounts we’ve seen on the practicalities around the plan to redraw the border in 1972, along with a massive shift in the populations of Catholics and Protestants.

Adair arrested

Today interview with Loyalist paramilitary leader Johnny Adair appears in the print version of the Irish Times (with another due in tomorrow’s Sunday Tribune), the day after he has had his license to be out of jail revoked yesterday, and is now back in jail. He will hear today the details of why he has been arrested.

Book review: integrated education

In the subscription only Irish Times, biographer and critic Bernard Adams reviews ‘A shared childhood: the story of the integrated schools in Northern Ireland’ by Fionnuala O’Connor. Evidently O’Connor has managed to traverse some extremely problematic territory with some alacrity: “Brian Lambkin, once a teacher in the very first integrated school, Lagan College, states: “What we can say confidently now is that it can be done. You can educate Protestants and Catholics and others together, under the same roof, to … Read more

British government strategy shift

James Murray Brown in the print version of the FT goes a little further than most correspondents and suggests that the broad outline of a deal may have been settled in a series of meetings at Downing Street with Sinn Fein and the SDLP: “The UK government’s strategy has changed this year. Officials say the ‘period of reflection’ is over. They have put new emphasis on the May 1 dare for elections to the Northern Ireland assembly, shifting from the … Read more

More pressure on Sinn Fein

Far from indicating a dangerous split within the DUP, veteran Republican Tommy McKearney believes Will Hay’s recent statement that his party will be happy to meet with Sinn Fein under certain conditions only adds to the pressure building in Sinn Fein to come into line with other parties in the process. Though as this editorial in the largely supportive Andersonstown News indicates there are clearly other pressures on the party pushing it from the other direction.

PSNI: dissent within the ranks

Hugh Orde told the US National Committee on Foreign Policy that support for his leadership is not universal within the ranks of the PSNI

Practicalities of unification

Jude Collins initiates some open-ended probing of the practical questions around any future unification of Ireland, based on correspondence with a protestant reader. As this is an issue that rarely receives much consideration in the media, let us have your comments, criticisms or any links to relevant articles or research by hitting the comments field or by sending them on an e-mail, or indeed to Jude himself. Update: I’ve just established a thread on the unmoderated Friends of Slugger O’Toole … Read more

What chance decommissioning?

The Belfast Telegraph’s editorial re-iterates David Trimble’s message to the IRA yesterday by suggesting that the IRA’s betrays a lack of understanding of what is needed to get the process started again. However there are some optimistic signs after Martin McGuinness praised Tony Blair for listening careful to Sinn Fein’s input at the Downing Street talks yesterday, with Guardian again hinting at the dramatic scenario they thought might take place before Christmas is not completely dead, yet. However this editorial … Read more