Future Ireland: Writing Competition

This is an open call for submissions on our current featured topic – Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union You can read a little more about the aims of the project here, and the types of contributions that we’re seeking. Here are some examples.  But we suspect that you might have some even better ideas. So we’re putting out an open call for articles on this topic.  The best three articles will win a prize (tbc – … Read more

Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations About Unity and the Union

The future of Northern Ireland is deeply uncertain. Brexit, the rise of English nationalism, Scotland, Stormont deadlock and demographic change make Irish unity a realistic alternative. The polls vary greatly, but some have unity very much within sight, especially if there is a harsh Brexit and a disruptive border. People are talking about this at kitchen tables across the north. But whilst we are highly engaged about if we would like unity or the union, and many of us have … Read more

The bizarre story of banknotes in the United Kingdom

Over the past while we’ve been debating a number of things around “special status” for Northern Ireland. Coincident with this debate was the announcement from Ulster Bank of a plan to issue new, verticially-oriented banknotes. I found myself in rare agreement with North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, who suggested on twitter that we could look at a move to Bank of England notes. I noted again this morning that the topic on discussion on the Nolan Show, where the proprietor … Read more

Social progress is an important part of ensuring the Union is a more attractive proposition…

While I personally do not support abortion, I do support a woman’s right to have one if she chooses. I think it would be wrong for anyone to think that the referendum held in Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment will not have an effect in Northern Ireland. Of course, it will in the same way the decision to allow women from Northern Ireland to access abortions on the NHS England had an effect. I sometimes sense that some believe … Read more

Meet the Box-Setts: the Demographic that Will Decide Britain’s Future

David Box gives his partner Seema Sett the dorky, Mr Bean-ish look, with the back of his tongue poking out of his gob that he knows always makes her smile when she’s had a rough day. The kids are asleep and they’re in bed too, sprawled on top of the duvet. The tablet is streaming one of their favourite series: Babylon 5. Season 2, the episode where the Technomages first appear. Pure nostalgia for their student days. They’re both a … Read more

“And we come back to the fundamental absurdity of having a referendum in the parliamentary state….”

Pulling back a wee bit from the madness that is local Republicans quoting the Northern Ireland Office as though it was some kind of Holy Writ, someone shared this on my FB stream tonight… Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband: https://t.co/fmhcfTunbm — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 4, 2015 Then there’s this from Peter Hitchens on why despite being a dedicated Eurosceptic, he refused to take part in … Read more

The Future of Referendums: What Role Should They Play and How Should They Be Conducted?

Referendums are now established as part of the UK’s political landscape.  They are widely seen as necessary before some fundamental constitutional changes are made.  Politicians will continue from time to time to find it useful to manage conflicts by proposing to put certain decisions to the people. Yet, despite their importance, there has been little concerted thinking recently about how referendums should be conducted.  Two inquiries conducted in the 1990s – by the Nairne Commission and the Committee on Standards … Read more

Thousands attend #IBelieveHer Rape Trial Rallies Across Ireland

Thousands of people across Ireland came out today to protest after yesterday’s not guilty verdicts in the rugby rape trials.  Rallies were held in Belfast, Dublin, Derry, Limerick and Cork. The Belfast rally was at the Laganside Courthouse, with about 1000 people (Talkback estimate) – women and men, young and old – cohering around messages of #IBelieveHer and #Metoo. The rally at O’Connell Street in Dublin was even bigger. It’s been a harrowing 9 week trial, and it’s raised a lot … Read more

BIPA and the ramping up of Anglo-Irish relations

This weekend fifty parliamentarians from Ireland, Britain and other parts of the archipelago are meeting in a hotel in Sligo for the 56th plenary of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. The BIPA rarely attracts much media attention except by accident such as when a geographically challenged MP drove to Newcastle, County Down rather than Newcastle upon Tyne for a plenary. But the BIPA is assuming greater importance thanks to Brexit, although the assembly plays no formal role. One of our most … Read more

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 … Read more

“In Kenova’s sights are also those IRA leaders on the Provisional Army Council who sanctioned the “executions” for spying…”

The BBC reports that Freddie Scappaticci has been arrested in England by the Operation Kenova team and is being questioned “in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture”. [Scappaticci is pictured above – bottom left with dark moustache at funeral of Provisional IRA member Larry Marley] The investigation team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested. The BBC understands the man being questioned is Fred Scappaticci and that he was arrested in England. The investigation … Read more

PM Tess and Good Queen Bess

Theresa May has made much of being a vicar’s daughter in seeking to build her image. Less remarked on is that she is from a particular sub-tradition within the Church of England, and so deeply formed by it that its particular take on English history will shape how she sees the UK’s relationship with mainland Europe. In thinking about Brexit, she must inevitably perceive echoes of the last time England was so bitterly riven about its identity and destiny, in … Read more

Nothing since the referendum has shifted the identities that underpinned the result…

Interesting piece from Professor Wynn Jones of Cardiff University on the role of competing identities unwriting the Brexit result in June 2017, which offers clues as to why attitudes are unlikely to change not least because cultural certainties will likely withstand economic hardship… Nothing since the referendum has shifted the identities that underpinned the result – quite the opposite. Far from seeking to manufacture what political scientists called “loser’s consent” following the close overall result, Theresa May’s administration has simply … Read more

The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters. Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their … Read more

#Brexit: A Revolution Drifting Towards Failure

It is a matter of historical fact that most attempted revolutions fail. Sometimes the ancient regime reasserts itself in a counter-revolution. In other cases, the revolution clears away a creaking old order only to be itself swept away by a third force. The two most significant revolutions of the 20th Century were of the latter type: the double revolutions in Russia in 1917 and Iran in 1978-9. It is worth giving this preamble as Brexit now looks like a revolution … Read more

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
25 July 2017

As part of the 30th anniversary of the John Hewitt Society international summer school, the Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) sponsored a panel discussion, “The Art of Conflict Transformation”, which explored how visual and performance art have contributed to our evolving conversation of our troubled past, with hope for dealing with legacy as well as prospects for reconciliation.

Read more“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

I am a peace journalist, because I believe in transforming conflict-driven narratives. I am editor of Shared Future News, which reports on peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. I am a co-founder and editor of FactCheckNI, Northern Ireland’s first fact-checking service, which works improve civic discourse. I also support the conflict resolution work of the Forum for Cities in Transition in Belfast.

My interests include Northern Ireland, peacebuilding, photography, and politics. You can also read my work at Northern Slant and Slugger O’Toole and learn more about me at Mr Ulster.

A Passport to Nationalist Insurrection?

I recently discovered Jamie Bryson, and as with the discovery of any hidden gem, I’ll confess I’m rapt. It’s not yet clear to me whether Jamie believes everything he says or whether he’s simply realised that hyperbole is a sure fire path to notoriety. But after his latest offering, I’d have to say the balance of opinion has to come down to the latter view. In my dalliance with Jamie’s pontification on all matters unionist, nationalist and fantasist, it is … Read more

“willingness of political leaders to step away at times from the tight chains of their tribe…”

Emily O’Reilly speaking at the BIPA in Kilkenny this morning with a useful reminder of how the Belfast Agreement came about: As a journalist from the early 1980s until 2003, I covered major events from the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement through to the 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement and for several years after that as the Agreement became embedded I covered its ebbs and flows. I lived in Belfast for a period in the late 1980s and witnessed too … Read more

If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower…

It has a tragic few months with the horrendous terror attacks Westminster, Manchester and London. These were shocking terror attacks. We were then all stunned by the images from Grenfell, nearly three weeks ago. – sadly this time a man-made disaster We all watched in horror as the fire engulfed so many families in their homes, we witnessed the heroism of residents who went to the aid of neighbours, and the courage of the emergency services. Today, we now the blackened building of Grenfell Tower, “the … Read more