McCann on the IRA: defenders

Echoing Jack Holland’s interview with Moloney in the summer, McCann makes a robust distinction between the nature of Republicanism in Belfast and Derry and that of the more classic type: “Moloney rightly identifies Adams’s 1983 election to Westminster from West Belfast as one of the most significant plot points in his narrative. He might with advantage have directly quoted the new MP’s exultant first words to cheering crowds on the Falls Road: ‘Even De Valera couldn’t win the Falls.’ De … Read more

Paul Murphy: a last welcome

Danny Morrison gives a broad welcome to the new secretary of state, but finishes with typical lyricism: “If the British government allows the political process to become mired on the single issue of the IRA, then Paul Murphy is going nowhere except back to Wales to listen to classical music and cook, which is how, he says, he relaxes.”

SDLP: gloves off

The SDLP’s Alisdair McDonnell speaking at the weekend. “The loyalist violence is nasty. The unionist prevarication is difficult and trying. But the real crunch here is that Sinn Féin let us down and they have lied their way around every corner since October 4 trying to pretend they are not.”

Demoralised prods: ungovernable temprament

Kelly talks to Rev John Dunlop, minister of Rosemary Presbyterian Church in north Belfast: “‘There is a community worker I know well,’ he says, ‘who says that cross-community work for her is to get young people from the two loyalist paramilitary factions together in the same room. It’s a big move from that to then engage with the republican community further up the street, who tend to be a lot more articulate and ideologically aware.’” He describes how he sees … Read more

Irish for the Irish alone?

Roy Garland attacks the ethnic assumptions made by some when justifying the promotion of the Irish language.

City of Culture: unrealistic bid

Malachi O’Doherty with a caustic but probably accurate analysis of why Belfast wasn’t selected for the UK shortlist for European City of Culture in 2008.

Business begins again?

Trimble and Adams have their first bilateral meeting since the week of the Stormont collapse.

Not for the faint-hearted

Pictures from Daniel O’Donnell’s wedding in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal today (via the newsfeed at Irish in Britain).

McCann on the IRA: stepping away from history

McCann identifies the difference in the IRA’s premise and those of similar movements. He begins with an echo of Michael Collins: “The agreement doesn’t represent freedom, then, but freedom to achieve freedom. Not the promised land, but a stepping stone toward it. The problem is that the IRA has differed from movements that republicans have sometimes, depending on who’s within earshot, been content to compare themselves with–the Basque ETA, the African National Congress, the Palestine Liberation Organization–in that it has … Read more


The School of Journalism’s weblog at Cardiff University has given a mention of Letter to Slugger O’Toole to their MA students. They have a lot of interesting links and materials on the weblog phenomenon. If you fancy setting up your own blog, Blogger is the place to get started.

Demoralised prods: education

Kelly turns to education. He suggests: “Working-class Protestants have never had much esteem for educational qualifications, nor for much of the last century did they require them: a trade was thought best, and-given the unabashed sectarianism within the north’s major industries-it came easy. This economic prop has since been kicked away by the decline of traditional employers such as Short’s aircraft factory and the shipbuilder Harland & Woolf.” Billy Hutchinson on the effects of a shrinking heavy industry: “‘Long gone … Read more

McCann on the IRA: Adams

This has to be most intelligent and reflective review of Ed Moloney’s A Secret History of the IRA. In fact, it is more of a critical essay on the Northern Command and its natural antithesis to classic Republicanism. He starts on Adams, who has taken star billing in previous reviews (also here and here): “The shadow of Gerry Adams falls across almost every page. Moloney recounts his IRA career: joined as an 18-year-old volunteer in D Company on the Falls … Read more

Demoralised prods: interface

Kelly talks to Chris McGimpsey, who he describes as a Liberal Unionist, who voices the suspicion amongst Loyalists in North Belfast that “…that there is a Sinn Fein/IRA strategy to expel Protestants from their traditional neighbourhoods and capture Belfast by stealth.” McGimpsey cites: “…a succession of bomb scares at the Everton Day Centre on the Crumlin Road that separates Ardoyne from Glencairn and Shankill. He believes that militant republicans are responsible: ‘I think they want to get that school closed … Read more

Bloody Sunday: Ford faces tribunal

Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland at the time, is to appear in the Saville inquiry today.

Shipyard memories

The BBC are looking for people to provide memories of the Harland and Wolff, once the largest employer in Belfast.

Demoralised prods: what benefits?

Richard Kelly visited the PUP office in Stormont. “‘All Prods are clairvoyant, you know,’ Ervine said. ‘And it’s never good news.’ If David Ervine was now playing Cassandra, then the peace process was sickly indeed. After all, the PUP were the sole unionist grouping which wholeheartedly championed the Agreement-indeed, the first unionists in living memory to come up with a new idea, namely that working-class Protestants and Catholics should make common cause to challenge the long misgovernment of middle-class, ‘big … Read more

SDLP: not stooping down low

Mark Durkan in interview with Seán MacCárthaigh, refutes the old insult that it is simply offering weak compromise to the Nationalist constituency. Towards the end he speculates intriguingly about the future pattern of party politics in Ireland: “I’m open to wider realignment. But people are talking about a merger between the SDLP and an existing southern party; I see things in a more fluid context. People think the parties in the south exist as they are, in perpetuity, and I … Read more

A case for disbandment

Mark Durkan has called for all paramilitaries to disband. He clearly has the support of others in his party. Billy Mitchell in The Blanket provides a more detailed view of a problem inherited from 30 years of apparently endless conflict within the state. And even Sinn Fein seem to be sending strong messages to fringe groups.

The Cruiser's birthday

Love him or loathe him, the former politician and one time editor of The Observer Conor Cruise O’Brien was 85 yesterday. He took a break from writing to let an interesting range of folk pay him tribute.