I don’t want a shared future, I want a shared now

You know summer is on the way in Northern Ireland, when we get 3 straight days of sunshine, prompting an outbreak of ‘taps aff’. Anyone unfortunate to witness the sight of some local men wandering the streets half naked, knows that a row about flags is just around the corner. A few weeks ago, just off the Ravenhill Road, a part of the world I call my home, four loyalist paramilitary flags went up on lampposts overnight, near a shared … Read more

Clinton: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.” #GFA20

Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”

The Agreement. Ten Frames. Twenty Years.

There’s going to be a lot of familiar and famous talking heads, looking back pensively, giving the ‘I was there’ definitive version of ‘what really happened’ at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago. We will note the wrinkles and the grey hair and we will see how they have changed, if only in their appearance. The usual role-call will be called. But what about artistic responses? What might an artist create that could ever contain the … Read more

Angry nationalist reaction to plans to rename Europa Station to Britannia Station following Brexit…

Nationalist politicians have reacted angrily to plans to change the name of Europa Bus Station in Belfast to Britannia Station. The new transport hub is due to open in 2020, at a cost of £175 million. The project comprising: station concourse, 26 bus stands, 8 railway platforms, bus maintenance and parking, car parking and a new public square. The remaining land is proposed for phased commercial development. When we asked a Dept Of Infrastructure spokesperson about the new name they … Read more

Belfast’s Titanic Quarter is a soulless hole of a place. Discuss.

On St Patrick’s Day morning I found myself in what felt like the arctic tundra but was actually Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The occasion was to cheer on some friends who were running the Craic 10k race. The biting wind and snow just added to the desolate gloom of the place. Now to be fair it was bad weather in most places, but I have been to the Titanic Quarter in July and the wind would cut you. The whole area just has … Read more

Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has … Read more

Lord Mayor of Belfast: “I would not stand for an assembly that is not functioning”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nuala McAllister visited an A level Politics class last week to ask students how they viewed Belfast and, in line with her theme for her year as Lord Mayor of ‘Global Belfast’, how the city could be more welcoming. The Alliance Party politician expressed her dismay at the rise of hate crime in Belfast and explained to the students that she believed that sectarian attitudes were still prevalent in Northern Ireland. She drew a contrast between … Read more

Could Spanish “Superblocks” make Belfast Greener, Quieter and a Nicer Place to be?

So much of our modern city space is dedicated to cars, the needs of the automobile take priority in almost every city’s layout. This causes pedestrians and cyclists to be pushed to narrow pavements and cycles lanes, both having to navigate through traffic as they go. One alternative to this norm is the “Superblock” scheme currently being implemented across cities in Spain. You take an area of blocks and close off the inside to ‘through’ traffic i.e buses and big … Read more

Tall Ships 1991 – “great spectacularity” that could have turned M2 into a carpark #20YearRule

INTERVIEW WITH Sir Richard Needham about the Tall Ships which first visited Belfast back in July 1991. It was the first large-scale event expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each day. Recently released government papers show that extra car parking spaces were needed, and there was a suggestion that the M2 could be used for parking.

In praise of Ulster’s heartbeat – the Lambeg drum

  I don’t think anything better defines the Twelfth for me than the sight and the sound of a well-played Lambeg drum. Pun intended, but the oul Lambeg is hard to beat. I’ll be honest, though. The first time I heard a Lambeg as a child – at a Twelfth parade in Moira if I recall correctly – I must have jumped so high out of my skin that I could have touched the top of arch. But gradually, as … Read more

Is cannabis, a relatively safe drug in adults, more toxic in teenagers?

The mayhem an estimated 900 troubled youths impose on the West Belfast community – a community of 100,000 souls – is staggering according to a N. Ireland Assembly report which is putting in place a support programme to turn lives around.  These individuals, mostly males, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, act antisocially which is a problem yes but the real worry is that, for a small but significant number at least, self-harm and suicide is a real … Read more

The last bastion of Ulster Unionism in Belfast is teetering on the brink…

At it’s zenith – possibly due to what some might call the electoral dividends of delivering peace in Northern Ireland – the UUP polled 25,272 across the 4 Belfast Constituencies, polling 9,620 and 9,533 in East and South Belfast respectively. However, by 2007, the UUP had shed over 10,000 votes in the Belfast Area with sharp declines in East and South Belfast bringing the vote share across Belfast to 15,145. Just last May, the UUP share had fallen to it’s … Read more

Join us for our Slugger Sessions on Transforming Belfast

  Belfast has been transformed over the last decade. The once desolate Cathedral Quarter is now attracting thousands of revelers every week. The Titanic Quarter is seeing massive investment by companies overseas and local. It seems every other day a new bar or restaurant is popping up. But we can do more. Belfast city centre has one of the lowest occupancy rates of any city in the UK or Ireland. How do we attract people to live in the city … Read more

Confident. Ambitious. Prosperous. Distinctive. Launch of Successful Belfast.

Confident. Ambitious. Prosperous. Distinctive. Launch of Successful Belfast.
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
27 October 2016

Walking past the students at their tabletops, working on their assignments with mock constructions at the School of Architecture at the Ulster University Belfast campus, there was no mistaking that I found the venue for the launch event for Successful Belfast, described in an advance notice by founding director of Belfast Buildings Trust, Ms Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, as “a city-focused think-tank”.

Read moreConfident. Ambitious. Prosperous. Distinctive. Launch of Successful Belfast.

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com