Reconciliation is alive and well and living in Monaghan

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] It is easy to be cynical about the inevitable inefficiencies and occasional examples of waste when well over a billion euros of EU money are spent, as they have been in Northern Ireland and the Irish border region over the past decade. The media in Belfast and Dublin are only too … Read more

Undercover Diplomat – “addicted to negotiations”

Jonathan Powell’s surprisingly interesting TV version of his diary, the hour long The Undercover Diplomat, is still available on the BBC’s iPlayer – but not for long. But, courtesy of Typhoo, I can post a few clips of interest. The first one is Powell’s record of hearing about the Northern Bank robbery in 2004 whilst on his way to a meeting with Adams and McGuinness – and subsequent events. Pete Baker

The chairman blows the Centre’s trumpet (a little)

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Some 35 years ago I went to work in Dublin for a large British company and over the next two decades witnessed the remarkable changes which the Republic of Ireland underwent during that period. Returning to work in Northern Ireland for an Irish company in 1993, I have been privileged once … Read more

“following the robbery of the Northern Bank..”

It’s three years since the discovery of £2.3million in sterling in a bin at his home in Cork and, as noted in this report, two years since the submission of a file to the DPP. Today Ted Cunningham has been arrested again and is reportedly due to be charged with money-laundering. A second man is also facing charges. From the BBC report A garda spokesman said the two men would be facing separate charges, with only one charged with money … Read more

Armagh goes to Africa

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] We in Northern Ireland have become used to people – usually outsiders – telling us how narrow, inward and backward-looking we are, obsessed with our own supposedly unique little devil’s brew of history, religion and nationality. Get off the island, they say. See how the rest of the world lives, and … Read more

Can we become the best border region in Europe?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] The Irish border gets a bad press. For nearly 30 years places like South Armagh, East Tyrone and West Fermanagh were bywords for murder and mayhem. The names of border region villages and towns are still redolent of terrible happenings: Kingsmill and Darkley and Loughgall and Omagh and Enniskillen. Since the … Read more

A united archipelago..

With the number of countries implementing the Schengen agreement now increased to 24, the Irish Times tries, once again, to start a reasoned debate on whether the Republic of Ireland should also join. From Monday’s editorial [subs req] “On the map of the Schengen area Ireland and Britain are conspicuous absentees on the west of the continent, along with the main Balkan states, Turkey, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldova and Russia to the east. New lines are being drawn. Asked recently whether … Read more

The town that came in from the cold

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Clones is a pretty town. Anyone who has sat in the Diamond on a summer?s day and looked out over the small green hillsides of County Monaghan stretching away to the south and east will attest to that. It is also a sociable town. The Lennard Arms Hotel during the Clones … Read more

“a celebration of outside influence”

I missed the news of the 11 October launch of a new anthology of contemporary Irish poetry (both in English and in Irish) – Our Shared Japan – as mentioned on the Dedalus Press blog. It’s been published to mark the 50th year of Ireland’s and Japan’s establishment of diplomatic relations. Today’s Guardian prints Seamus Heaney’s afterword from the anthology where he considers the outside influence of poetry on poetry and points to some similarities from the past.. although I’d … Read more

Why don’t students cross the border any more?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] One column leads to another. Responding to my colleague Patricia Clarke’s Note from the Next Door Neighbours last month on the row about cross-border pupils using their grannies’ addresses to obtain school places in Derry, an irate parent has contacted us about his daughter’s cross-border higher education disappointment. This man is … Read more

So sign up to Schengen…

The most interesting point to emerge from today’s optically orientated 9th meeting of the British Irish Council wasn’t the quibbling about the financial package – it ain’t going to change significantly – it was the mention of gaps in security, which Dermot Ahern stated was referring to the Schengen Agreement.. and Gordon Brown agrees. The Alliance Party have previously made mention of this Agreement but the focus appears to be on different proposals than those presented by that party. [It … Read more

Sinn Fein’s failure an intellectual embodiment of partition…

Anthony McIntrye, writing just after the Republic’s election, argues that partition was the key to Sinn Fein’s poor performance in last month’s election. Not least in the sheer unfamiliarity with the political economy of the south of the party leader: …he more resembled a luminary of the 1850s American Know Nothing Movement than a serious modern European political leader. His awareness of the issues in the Republic has improved little since attention was first drawn to this handicap by Paul … Read more

Sinn Fein’s delay tactics in north cost it bounce in south…

So much of what occured after the Belfast Agreement is so hidden from open scrutiny that it is often a case of paying your money and take your choice of who was responsible for who ultimately collapsed the outworking of that deal. Republicans blame unionists, and vice versa. However, much as it looked as though David Trimble paid the political price at the Assembly election of November 2003, Ed Moloney speculates that last Thursday Sinn Fein may just have antied … Read more

Sinn Fein on the way back up?

So, that Irish Times Poll. The core vote for the parties when the undecided voters are included is: Fianna Fáil 35 per cent (down three points); Fine Gael 19 per cent (down one point); Labour 8 per cent (no change); Sinn Féin 7 per cent (up two points); Green Party 6 per cent (up three points); PDs 1 per cent (down one point); Independents/others 6 per cent (down one point); undecided 18 per cent (up one point). From a Sinn … Read more

An unhappy anniversary

Well, it’ll be two years on Wednesday since the Northern Bank heist. In the Sunday Tribune, Suzanne Breen gives a very detailed and explicit account of the robbers, the robbery and the divvying up of the dosh. There probably isn’t much new in what she writes, but I was a bit surprised at how confident she feels in alluding to the alleged bank robber. The Irish Examiner throws a little something new into the mix. They quote Justice Minister Michael … Read more

Bobby on the beat…

WHO’DA thunk (apart from Brian Rowan) that the man the police blame for the Northern Bank robbery would now be touring the statelet telling republicans to support the police? Speaking of the Northern job, the Garda Commissioner today revealed how the Irish police linked cash seized in the Irish Republic to the IRA’s £26.5 million raid – forensics and witnesses – although how they are “indicating” that “without doubt” is another question. Just as well the IRA has completely abandoned … Read more

Balrog on Daily Ireland…

At Balrog, November Rain gives his/her view on the demise of Daily Ireland. As I told the SBP this weekend, the paper’s management believed it could do to the Irish News what SF had done to the SDLP. But product for product, it never matched it’s own lofty ambitions. In the end, as is apparent from NR’s comment, it struggled to get even hard core Republicans to buy it. It also didn’t help that it launched in the turbulent wake … Read more

Phil Flynn tells his story…

Given the giddy way stories emerge and then seem to disappear from view in Northern Ireland, the Village has a useful interview with one of the public figures who popped out of the media scrum around early police investigations into the follow-up to the Northern Bank robbery. Phil Flynn tells his side of the story. Though, presumably for ‘legal reasons’ he won’t be drawn on any of the potentially interesting detail surrounding Ted Cunningham and the Bulgarian brothers who featured … Read more

How we squandered our peace dividend

There is little doubt that in many respects Northern Ireland has never had it so good: unemployment rates are 4.5% (pdf), just below the UK’s average of 5.1%. The sense of settled well-being arising is most palpable in areas of traditional high unemployment like the Bogside in Derry. Disputes erupt every so often about the trend of higher Catholic unemployment, but we’re in a different territory from the 80% unemployed heads of households that held for some considerable time in the … Read more

Fallout from the Dublin riot…

HENRY McDonald thinks Saturday’s riot in Dublin will mean the postponement of the British monarch’s first visit to the Irish capital since partition, which could have happened this summer. Meanwhile, RTE reports that the Irish Justice Minister has just briefed Ministers that “gardaí had no reason to expect the violence that erupted in protest at Saturday’s Love Ulster march in Dublin”. Michael McDowell will lead a special debate in the Irish parliament later this afternoon. Interestingly, when pointing the finger, … Read more