“Sinn Fein’s Arder Carson said that it was his democratic right to choose not to be painted…”

Or, indeed, not to wear clothes…  ANYhoo…  On Thursday The Belfast Telegraph reported Sinn Féin’s ‘farcical’ attempt to prevent Belfast City Council granting permission for local artist and political cartoonist Brian John Spencer to “sketch the Council Chamber and the Council meeting in January”.  At a Council Strategic Policy and Resources Committee meeting in December 2018 a Sinn Féin motion rejecting the request – which “would involve Mr Spencer being allowed access to the Chamber for a couple of hours … Read more

Richard Moore on Forgiveness – Launch of the 2019 4 Corners Festival

The 2019 edition of the 4 Corners Festival (30 Jan-10 Feb) was launched on Friday, with Derry man Richard Moore addressing a prayer breakfast at the Holy Family parish centre in North Belfast. The 2019 Festival theme is ‘scandalous forgiveness’ – something which has characterised Moore’s life. When he was ten-years-old, Moore was walking home from school when he was struck and blinded by a plastic bullet fired by a British soldier. He never regained his sight. But he has … Read more

Death to charity shops…

Forgive the OTT headline but such are my tabloid depths. I don’t actually want to get rid of charity shops. However. In an article on here by MurdockP it was highlighted how many there are on the Northern Irish high street as was their current rate-free status. From the outset this is no bad thing: empty shops, not being used and someone somewhere is benefiting from their kind deeds. So what’s the downside to this? Well, let us examine the … Read more

Plan for a border poll certainly, but as part of new British- Irish and North-South relationships

Deep in the last ditch before Tuesday’s meaningful vote, the UK government are warning that the DUP’s refusal to back Mrs May’s deal brings a border poll nearer. The warning was put into the mouth of Karen Bradley who political anoraks may just remember is the minister with nominal responsibility for Northern Ireland affairs. No 10 put out one of their coy little  briefings to say that she  “told the Cabinet” that a border poll on the reunification of Ireland … Read more

Children of the Ceasefire / 2

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By Seanín Little Growing up … Read more

Children of the Ceasefire / 3

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By William Clarence – from … Read more

“Brexit will sort itself out eventually, but its more lasting impact will be on what it did to Ireland…”

Acute observation from Patrick Murphy in last Saturday’s Irish News… A more far-reaching change has occurred in Irish foreign affairs. The Dublin government failed to recognise that Ireland’s relationship with Britain is different from any other EU state, because of historic, economic and cultural connections. When Britain decided to leave the EU, Dublin might have used those connections to become a bridge between Brussels and London. Leo Varadkar could have followed Reynolds, Ahern and Kenny to enter dialogue with unionism and … Read more

Uniting our Shared Island by Professor Colin Harvey…

The discussion of Irish unity is gaining momentum; Brexit has altered the nature of this conversation, as more people now reflect on the constitutional future.  The debate is already happening, and has been ongoing for some time. That does not mean Irish unity is any closer; it simply suggests a willingness to contemplate this option and to think through the implications. Work by, for example, Claire Mitchell, Andrée Murphy, Paul Gosling, Fintan O’Toole, David McWilliams, Mark Daly, Richard Humphreys, and … Read more

How will the PUL be accommodated in a United Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By ‘Danny Boy’. According to the demographics, there could be a nationalist majority within Northern Ireland in the not-too distant future, which some think will automatically lead to the re-unification of this island. So what will happen to all those people living within Northern Ireland who class themselves as being from the PUL … Read more

Future Ireland from a Southern Perspective

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. Éamonn Toland is a business leader and writer from Dublin. Just over a decade ago, before the crash, the then Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, called for the IFA and FAI to form an all-Ireland soccer team, so that the island could “punch its full weight internationally, something that real sports people have … Read more

Fifth NI Peace Monitoring Report shows a Northern Ireland stuck in neutral, sometimes in reverse #NIPMR

A look through the fifth NI Peace Monitoring Report, written by a team of academics at Ulster University and published today by the Community Relations Council. The answers in the 200 page report are not all positive as the team make their assessment of the state of the economy; political progress; the sense of safety; wealth, poverty and inequality; and cohesion and sharing.

Soapbox: The challenge to keep the peace process flowing forward

Peter Osborne is chair of the Community Relations Council and a member of the Peace Monitoring Report advisory group. He can be followed on Twitter at @OsborneTweets. The latest Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report [PDF] speaks into a space that hasn’t been as uncertain in a generation. While there were two steps forward and only one step back, a sense of confidence, hope and ambition defined the process; and confidence empowered progress no matter how slow at times. In recent … Read more

The shape of the final deal actually looks promising- if only we can get over the hump of the backstop. London now needs Dublin’s help to get there

 “Cosmetic and meaningless.” On behalf of the DUP, Nigel Dodds’ rejection of the government’s latest bunch of concessions and clarifications is entirely predictable. The legal text containing the backstop of the Ireland/ Northern Ireland Protocol has indeed not been changed as everybody knew it wouldn’t be and won’t be.  Many will shrug and say that’s that. But it’s nothing of the sort. If there’s to be any middle way between No Deal and No Brexit, it’s hard to see how … Read more

Teachers inspire, educate, and shape us all. We should honour them.

In Belfast, the highest honour that can be bestowed on any group or individual is the Freedom of the City.  Since 1898 we’ve given it to a wide range of people – presidents, actors, musicians, industrialists – people who contribute to life in our great city and we give it in recognition of their work and the pride that the people of Belfast have in them.  Teachers, therefore, are worthy recipients of this civic honour. In their profession they are under-rewarded, working … Read more

Party Leaders reflect on two years without Stormont

Two years ago today, Martin McGuinness announced his resignation as Deputy First Minister and the rest is history as they say. Fast forward and the various party leaders have been reflecting on the collapse of Stormont. Had the Assembly continued it would have been in the third year of its mandate. Michelle O’Neill from Sinn Fein; Through all the political breakdown and rancour of the past two years, it can be tempting to believe that the prospects of restoring the … Read more

Building an Ireland of Communities

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By T.R. Neill. Nationalism is an increasingly confident movement on the island of Ireland. As a nationalist myself, I see this as a good thing. However, I have always viewed nationalism’s challenge in the terms elucidated by John Hume, that we must not just remove the physical borders on this island but also … Read more

Why Include Ulster Protestants in a New Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By Dilcy, a nationalist living in Belfast. Why Include Ulster Protestants in a New Ireland? Answer 1 They’re here already and may as well stay. Answer 2 We say stay, but we really hope they will eventually leave. Answer 3 They are really Irish anyway. Answer 4 We really need their help to … Read more

The DUP are the crucial “dominoes” in May’s bid to win a second meaningful vote

Theresa May’s strategy to try to win MPs’ endorsement of the withdrawal agreement is a little clearer, arising out of hints she gave to Andrew Marr yesterday. The strategy  is classic if conventional  politics, before a fundamentally divided, incoherent opposition, however formidable it now seems. It involves  narrowing  the gaps, wearing down opposition by a mixture of  project Fear (miles of traffic jams and English police on Ulster streets ) and project Farce (the shipping company with no ships), and … Read more

What Unionists Should Strive For

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. Alan Robinson is an Orangeman hailing from Carrickfergus. I’m an Orangeman, play in a flute band and support the Northern Ireland football team. If you only knew those three things about me, the stereotype of a loyalist skinhead would probably be conjured from the subconscious.  Dig a little deeper and see what you find: … Read more

SDLP/Fianna Fail talks coming to a conclusion.

In today’s Irish News, Claire Simpson reports a message from the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood and the Deputy Leader, Nichola Mallon to the party membership about discussions with Fianna Fail.  It says; “Our discussions have been based on how best to meet the challenges of Brexit, how best to restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and how best to ensure that our values of reconciliation and the unity of our people can once again enter into the lifeblood … Read more