Trimble again…

Despite a degree of ‘ham’ rhetoric, Eoghan Harris hits several nails squarely on the head in an ‘open letter‘ to David Trimble. He offer three points for Trimble (and all unionists) to consider: Firstly, get out and sell the agreement. “…people respond badly to pessimistic politicians. Unionist leaders do not seem to understand that if a political leader wants to be bleak, he should be bleak in a positive way. That means Unionist moderates should be selling the Good Friday …

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De Klerk speaks at Glencree Summer School

I am just back from a weekend spent at the Glencree Summer School, where a variety of speakers gave presentations to a mixed audience from both sides of the Ulster community, the Republic and the UK. The keynote address was given by the ex-President of South Africa, FW de Klerk. Though it was clear from the discussion that followed his initial address that there were few direct parallels between the circumstances in the two situations, a number of interesting points …

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Nationalisms

Roderick Dunbar asks, “where have all the socialists gone?”, while Newton Emmerson rejoices in the tag of the middle class, declaring loudly that the class war is over! Billy Mitchell argues that the substance of British citizenship is more important than symbols. “It is not something that can be plucked from the heart as a plaque is torn from a wall or a flag from a flagpole. In spite of Sinn Fein’s outward show of euphoria, and the despondency that …

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Friday, August 16, 2002

James Murray Brown in the FT talks to John White, former spokesman for the now disbanded UDP, and close associate of Johnny Adair. In the course of his interview he says: “We understood that in a divided society there had to be compromise in the negotiations. But it’s anathema to think we can’t fly our national flag on public buildings. It’s anathema to see that republicans and nationalists are opposing loyalist parades in many parts of the province.” Murray Brown …

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Other unionist voices

With David Trimble on holiday, the local papers seem to be giving more space to other Unionist voices. On the front of today’s Irish News is Trevor Ringland, founding member of Unionist pressure group Re-Union, who said last night that though party colleagues were angered by the ongoing attacks at interface areas, it was essential that they condemned the “wrongs of both sides”. He went on, “if we want to advance the benefits of living in a British society then …

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Silly season?

Ray O’Hanlon reports on how serious the Ulster ‘silly season’ can get. It’s clear that this term always has grave connotations that don’t apply elsewhere. The US-based Irish Echo chooses to lead on the disturbances around Cluan Place, by the Short Strand area. How appearances deceive in Derry as a mother and daughter from Australia are attacked; though the Irish News report is full of instances of people offering the two tourists concerned free accommodation. Newshound goes back to 23rd …

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Back again

Having been out in the wilds of Donegal for the last week and a half, and far far away from even my laptop, I have missed out on a few things I will be trying to pull in over the next few posts. It is hard to maintain a sense of perspective on the news as it hits each day. Long term progressions get missed as the sensations of violence or impending political crises hit the headlines, or dominate the …

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Peace and war

With the hope surrounding meeting of John White and Alex Maskey in the Mayor’s parlour, there is a plethora of warnings about the consequences of any further violence. Sinn Fein claim that the UDA is on a sustained campaign of violence that can only end in another death. In the Irish Times Gerry Morriarty was almost upbeat about the meeting: “There is still much mutual distrust and suspicion, but at least at face value the fact that they were prepared …

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Bigotry

Julie Burchill had the chattering classes chattering, like she rarely has before with a fairly cack-handed attack on Ken Livingstone’s support for the London St Patrick’s Parade earlier this year. Malachi O’Doherty suggests some may be losing a sense of perspective in reacting so strongly. Closer to home Nelson McCausland faced criticism for his insistence that sectarianism was not solely an offence of a single community in Northern Ireland. In Derry though there seems to be a quiet and potentially …

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Calm before the storm

Though the summer has been accompanied with its share of tragedy, Kevin Connelly sees real change coming in the longer term. It’s the silly season in NI. Many politicians are away on holiday taking stock of the summers activities, and the uncertainty surrounding the ‘peace process’, or grabbing a bit of sane ‘downtime’. Sinn Fein speculate on early election strategy by the UUP. Among Unionists there seems little space for compromisers, as Duncan Shipley Dalton prepares himself for an early …

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Going to Ireland..

From Monday I will be in Ireland for three weeks. Though posting may be less regular, I hope to bring you more direct accounts of political and cultural life in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland not going to WSSD?

Tim Butcher reports that the First Minister may be blocked from representing Northern Ireland at the World Summit for Sustainable Development. Earlier this year Dermot Nebitt’s private secretary laid out the measures the Minister was taking in preparation for the conference. Northern Ireland Friends of the Earth were taken by surprise: “The local Executive has responsibility for things like trade and environment. It is going to important that all the devolved authorities have their voices heard at the Summit, without …

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Beyond fatalism?

Brian Walker quotes from an essay by Arthur Aughy from a collection called Aspects of the Belfast Agreement, suggesting that unionists need to break out of what Aughy calls “an orgy of self-pity and culture of fatalism”. Meanwhile, despite numerous protests against sectarianism, trouble continues on the ground in North Belfast.

Bomb kills one man

Several reports by BBC, RTE and Irish Times.

Trimble vs Reid?

Veteran journalist from the BBC and now the Belfast Telegraph Eric Waugh examines the relationship between the Secretary of State and the erstwhile (well this is Northern Ireland) First Minister. He comments on the difficulties of d’Hondt mechanism for deciding cabinet positions: “In a normal Cabinet, Ministers are riven by jealousies and may hate the sight of each other: they usually do. …but they are obliged to present a united front to the public eye in the over-riding interest of …

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Irish curses!

Ni fhaca me an leithid!! If you want to shortcut years of study and great summers in the Gaeltacht, just to take your neighbour down a peg or two in the ould tongue, try this. Looks like hours of fun!

Priomhoide briste as a phost

Dhearbhaigh an Foras Pátrúnachta cinneadh bhord bainistíochta Ghaelscoil Thulach na nÓg Tomás Ó Dúlaing a bhriseadh as a phost. Mar a duirt ceann den a na tuismitheoirí na scoile, i mBearla: “I feel sickened. We wanted to give our kids something different. We wanted them to learn more about religion than we ever had. Now bloody religion has come along and divided us and the school after all. What hope do those in the North have?” Dearainn Ian Malcolm, “Níl …

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Is it getting worse, or better?

Ian Paisley Senior had a reasonably polite exchange with John Reid today over figures he’d pulled together on the rise of violence since 1999, the year after the Belfast Agreement was signed which demonstrated some substantial increases. Tom Maguire of the Fire Brigade Union spoke yesterday: “We have an anti-authority ethos in some areas,’’ he said. ‘‘Part of that anti-authority ethos has been created by the 30-plus years of the Troubles. The attacks on the Fire Service occur in the …

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Education and the economy

Sammy Wilson drops his usual penchant for the one-liner and uses a recent IoD report to argue that the NI economy needs a strong vocational element within its educational system, and will suffer, if Martin McGuinness’s educational reforms go through. The four page summary makes no specific mention of Northern Ireland, but warns against the one-size fits all approach that some have accused the Minister of adopting. The issue has divided opinion down traditional lines, ever since the publication of …

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A dysfunctional agreement?

Regarding my piece of the 23rd July, political scientist Michael Hodkinson comments: “The Belfast Agreement is a consociational model. Basically, it requires political elites to reach a consensus about objectives in the hope that the followers will adopt more consensual attitudes from the lead given by their representatives. The model was developed from the Dutch experience after 1945 where the society was deeply divided between Protestants, Catholics and Secularists. It worked for Holland thru big coalition governments but is hardly …

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