32 counties of Ireland in 32 days: Armagh

‘In this difficult moment we have seen something special arise. And as Eamonn Mallie tweeted: “How does one harness forever the extraordinary ecumenical spirit of hope emanating from St Columba’s during Martin McGuinness’s Requiem Mass?” I reflected on the meaning of yesterday and felt that drawing the landscape of Armagh City would be fitting. I focused on the two Cathedrals, each breaking the skyline. On the left, the Catholic place of worship, and on the right, the Protestant house of … Read more

Learning to live with Difference – the John Hewitt Summer School (27-31 July, Armagh)

David Steel (Lord Steel of Aikwood) talking about a federal United Kingdom: “The received wisdom that federal countries need uniform size among the constituent parts, or equal powers among them, is not the case. Nor would it be the case for a federal United Kingdom.” A discussion with CL Dallat, Yasmin Alibhai Brown and Hannah Lowe about shifting demographics in the UK and Ireland and whether we’re stuck in a binary oppositions of 1690 and 1916, of Paisley versus the … Read more

NI Tourism Minister: “I recently had discussions with the chief executive of Tourism Ireland and expressed my disappointment about how the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way stops at the border.”

Without wishing to undermine historian Hiram Morgan’s call for Irish Government action to preserve the cultural heritage in the seas off the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s worth noting the stated objective of that tourism initiative… The overall aim of the project is to develop a route that will achieve greater visibility for the west coast of Ireland in overseas tourist markets. Also worth pointing out that one of the armada wrecks he mentioned, La Girona, isn’t on the Wild Atlantic Way, having … Read more

Maybe SDLP leadership “got in wrong” Alban?

The SDLP is in a bit of a pickle at the moment with its council members in Newry and Mourne appearing to have refused the party whip over the naming of a park after local man and IRA Hunger Striker Raymond McCreesh. The history of the park, the SDLP’s original support for its naming and the reaction to it has been well-documented elsewhere and I do not intend to revisit those issues in this column. What is interesting in this … Read more

SDLP conference – a party ill at ease with itself over opposition & strategy #sdlp13

Over half the motions at the SDLP policy-making annual conference were addressed on Friday afternoon and evening. Participation in debate was sporadic and the numbers of delegates in the hall were low compared to the number catching up in the hotel corridors and social areas. One observer recalled that not much more than 50 people were in the hall for Friday’s health debate, and a fifth of them were lobbyists! That was a large attendance compared with mid-morning on Saturday. … Read more

“This is [partitionist] provocation in the extreme…”

The sensitive souls at the Armagh GAA County Board have, apparently, issued a statement of complaint in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat to Laois – when their captain was sent-off for allegedly kicking a Laois player during the half-time interval.  The RTÉ report notes A statement from the Armagh County Board has claimed that its players were subjected to “racist and personal abuse” during the Allianz NFL game with Laois on Sunday last. The board are angry that the “partitionist provocation” … Read more

Spirit of St Patrick deserts Armagh for Rio de Janeiro?

In the digital start up, Newry Times there’s a good quote from Conor Murphy on Saturday’s Band Parade on Inside Politics… in which he points to the economic cost of the band parade… Although this seems to have been largely attributable to the bomb hoax left on College Street in the city by person or persons unknown on the band parade route itself presumably facilitating the evacuation and closure of several business that the parade alone would not have effected… … Read more

The first Armagh St Patrick’s Day’s Ulster band parade…

Armagh City will be the centre of St Patrick’s day celebrations, with scout parades in the morning, a cross community parade through out the day and Irish music sessions in many of the city centre pubs. And this year, for the first time, when all the daytime celebrations are over, the city will host a band parade around the commercial centre of town. The parade is being organised by Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band, a local band who … Read more

Tom Elliott’s speech to #uupconf and a quick interview

UUP gavel

Tom Elliott walked into the hall to begin his leader’s speech to strains of Arcade Fire’s Ready to Start. A fine sentiment, though the song’s first line may not be UUP policy! Businessmen drink my blood / Like the kids in art school said they would / And I guess I’ll just begin again / You say can we still be friends … All the kids have always known / That the emperor wears no clothes / But to bow … Read more

UUP Conference … short, sweet, Secretary of State spoke, an Orange Lodge scolded

UUP gavel

Any UUP delegates scanning Saturday morning’s papers over breakfast might have choked on their cornflakes when they realised that the Irish News had devoted the best part of a page to UUP conference news, while there was absolutely no mention in the Newsletter! And the date wasn’t 1st April. The UUP Conference kicked off about 10.15am in Armagh City Hotel. In the absence of the (Anglican) Archbishop of Armagh, Rev Andrew Forster opened in prayer. The local constituency chairman, Councillor … Read more

UUP conference preview – #uupconf (and a preview of what Tom won’t say in his speech!)

2011 UUP logo

What do you think Tom Elliott should say in his UUP conference speech on Saturday? I began last year’s UUP conference preview post with a fantastical vision of a Barcamp-style UUP ‘un-conference’, complete with delegate-suggested sessions. I also imagined the delegates writing Tom Elliott’s speech by scribbling suggested sentences on post-it notes and then knitting the fragments together in a “sensible and compelling order” to produce his address. This year I tried to go further and asked attendees and panellists … Read more

‘the Irish republican version of the Imperial War Museum’

There’s an interesting article and audio slideshow by Henry McDonald in today’s Guardian about the republican museum in north Armagh. In a garden in a quiet cul-de-sac in north Armagh, a nondescript brown shed contains the Irish republican version of the Imperial War Museum. The private collection contains the toilet-roll holder from the room where IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands died in May 1981, letters from supporters to Sands, an original rebel uniform from the 1916 Easter rising, secret communications … Read more

“encouraged by a small number of people opposed to the peace process…”

Twenty-six people were arrested during last night’s rioting in nationalist areas of north and south Belfast and Londonderry.  There were also reports of public disorder in Armagh, and the Dunclug estate in Ballymena.  RTÉ lists Strabane, Newry, Ballymena and Armagh city, as well as Belfast and Londonderry. In Londonderry, we are told Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson said the violence was “orchestrated” and described it as “an orgy of destruction”. “Let’s be clear the vandalism and wanton destruction in … Read more

POTD – Armagh memorial

to the fallen soldiers of Princess Victoria’s Royal Irish Fusiliers during the South African Campaign 1899-1902 Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international … Read more

Taoiseach to open new Fianna Fail office in Crossmaglen…

Slugger hears that tomorrow night the Taoiseach will host a £50 a head dinner for about 120 people in the hotel in Crossmaglen to celebrate the opening of a party office in the town square. This same fund raiser has been in play for a number of years and indicates the party is interested in getting more involved in politics north of the border. However, it would be a mistake to interpret this as a sign that the party will … Read more