PUP Conference receives internal and external advice on its image & reform – will it listen & act?

PARTY CONFERENCE season has started with the Progressive Unionist Party meeting at Corr’s Corner Hotel. Both internal and external voices critiqued the party’s perception problem and hinted at ways that it could addressed. The impact of women in the party continues to grow. Deputy leader John Kyle was honest about the disappointing election result. And party leader Billy Hutchinson called for progress on legacy issues, economic growth, welfare reform, and the persistence of poverty and deprivation.

North Belfast Parading – could the DUP/UUP find a positive way out of their current rabbit hole?

As always in Northern Ireland, a row of dominoes have found themselves in a row and are now wobbling. 1. Getting a wide range of people to agree to be appointed to make a credible panel on North Belfast parading and related protests was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Secretary of State. Given the announcement in October with no names, and not a single name – not even a chair – being publicly mooted since them … Read more

John McCallister reveals links between LAD and NI21

It says something about a political party when the satirical website to which is has been linked is more important than the party. Or that the revelation of that link is more significant than an interview with its former deputy leader and a former leadership contender for a major NI political party. That it seems is the fate of NI21 and John McCallister respectively. Alex Kane has a long interview with John McCallister in the News Letter today with Sam … Read more

Cartoon – Brits [values] OUT!

  Of all the ink and wind spilt over Pastorgate, surely Alex Kane has it best (The View, BBC, 29.5.14): “[Peter] Robinson is the leader of unionism in Northern Ireland. His primary job in that role alone is simply to promote the values of a multi-cultural, multi-national state. He makes people living here feel like they’re not quite part of the country and that’s very dangerous.” Brigid Brophy wrote in the Spectator in 1981: “The Northern Irish have indeed made … Read more

Caption Competition

Alex Kane quoted a Sinn Fein associate in the News Letter: We can always rely on unionist disarray or paranoia to help us out. And then we can remember Mitchel McLaughlin’s “faux pas of the month” back in 2006: … asked to explain exactly what Sinn Féin had achieved for its supporters, media-disaster Mitchel spluttered for a moment before blurting out: “The degree of uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the unionist community!” Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, … Read more

When Alex met Nigel – interview with UKIP leader

Alex Kane interviewed Nigel Farage a couple of weeks ago when he was over meeting the UKIP faithful in the Stormont Hotel. There’s a lot of background noise, but the interview – broadcast today on Lisburn’s 98FM On the Record politics show – will give you a flavour of the David McNarry’s boss and his party. listen to ‘Interview with @Nigel_Farage by @AlexKane221b earlier this month for @Lisburns98 community radio’ on Audioboo When asked his reaction to being described as … Read more

Alex Kane on how Unionism can learn from Sinn Féin

Are we seeing more signposts to the future of unionism today? The Newsletter’s Alex Kane has a piece out on “Unionism can learn from Sinn Féin” while it appears to suggest that, in reality, it is currently trying to learn from Fianna Fáil. Kane trots out the same line about ‘cultural war’ that was raised at the field on the Twelfth  by the Orange Order. Somewhat diminishing the point, the BBC usefully led this story with Edwin Stevenson’s comments at the … Read more

Upon retirement from the Assembly, Peter Robinson “might try my hand at something other than politics”

Peter Robinson was interviewed by Alex Kane recently for a piece that appeared in the News Letter. [I still don’t think the First Minister and DUP leader has “found time” yet to talk to the Irish News.] The audio of the interview was run on Lisburn’s 98FM On the Record politics programme today. You can listen to the interview in two parts and the full transcript is available on the News Letter website. listen to ‘(part 1/2) @AlexKane221b interviewing @DUPleader … Read more

“delivering a shared future [for] those who issued death threats [and] attacked home of colleagues”

An interesting debate on Sunday Sequence this morning. Just after the nine o’clock news, William Crawley chaired a discussion between Naomi Long, Alex Kane and Danny Morrison. [Debate starts 34 minutes into the programme.] Points raised about the kind of parties that did not emerge following the Good Friday Agreement, whether there was a lack of political imagination, what moving on can feel like. The conversation finished with Naomi Long being asked about the personal impact of the last week. … Read more

Sinn Fein’s idea of rapprochement “is a brick-cold exercise in reinvention, re-positioning and re-writing of the past”

Alex Kane has a very spirited piece on Eamonn’s site this evening. Let’s just say he’s rather unimpressed with nationalism’s idea of outreach on the subject of politically unifying the two parts of an island sundered with partition. His core challenge to the lack of thinking within nationalism is here: We are not talking about the reunification of East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This would involve the coming together of two countries on the … Read more

If history is war by other means, is truth the first casulty?

There’s a fascinating exchange on Will Crawley’s Sunday Sequence programme yesterday (begins about half way through). It talks about the Boston College oral history archive (which is still ongoing). Danny Morrison just before the end notes that history, so far as he is concerned is ‘war but by other means’. If this year’s state papers anything to go by that may be a battle Sinn Fein must brace itself for on a yearly basis. As luck would have it, history … Read more

“a shared future/shared society will require a natural, evolutionary breaking down of barriers – be they psychological or physical.”

In the News Letter Alex Kane revisits the topic of his last column, the shared future section of Peter Robinson’s speech at the DUP’s annual conference, and takes on Chris’ criticism of that speech.  From the News Letter article. What struck me most about the comment is that the writer seems to object to the fact that unionism should try and reach out to Roman Catholics at all. Indeed, he seems to believe that the only purpose of such an outreach … Read more

Unionist relations with Nationalists: “They don’t have to love us, but…”

Alex Kane argues that whilst (if we are to believe the latest NILT survey) Sinn Fein’s pitch for united Ireland is firmly in the top level percentile of the population’s 80% of optimists (this disunited kingdom is likely to remain united for some time to come), Unionist should not get complacent over their own latent forms of optimism… The next decade is littered with all sorts of anniversaries for unionism, starting next year with the centenary of the 1912 covenant … Read more

Robinson’s policy aims at robust defence via charm offensive…

cropped DUP logo

This is a good distillation of the lessons for Unionism from the NILT survey, and political reality as near as we can discern, from Alex Kane: I think the surest thing we can assume in all of this is that there is a Catholic demographic which is content enough to remain within the United Kingdom. That doesn’t mean they are unionist and it doesn’t even mean that they are, in any active or intellectual sense, pro-Union. It just means that … Read more