Slugger TV-Brian Rowan talking about Political Purgatory

In this months Slugger TV I chat with the author of the new book Political Purgatory, Brian Rowan. – – – Added by Alan Meban … Throughout his reporting on the peace process, ceasefires and agreements, Rowan kept fastidious notes, filing away original copies of statements and creating a rich archive that he can dip back into. The passing of time – and often the death of actors from all sides of the Troubles – means that the publication of …

Read more…

Considering Grace: An invitation to listen

Considering Grace: An invitation to listen by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News 5 November 2019 Considering Grace, by Gladys Ganiel and Jamie Yohanis, is a new book that explores how Presbyterians responded to the Troubles, through a series of narratives from 120 people who tell their stories of how they coped with trauma and tests of their faith. The book was launched with a set of readings and short presentations at Assembly Buildings, Belfast, to an audience of several …

Read more…

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan by Allan LEONARD 3 October 2019 Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending. The book, Sheelagh Murnaghan, was commissioned by the Albert McElroy Memorial Fund, which was established to commemorate the …

Read more…

Country before Party? A UUP book launch discussion

Image source: (c) Allan LEONARD @MrUlster

At the launch event for “The Ulster Unionist Party: Country before Party?” there was a roundtable discussion former-leader Mike Nesbitt, press officer Lauren Kerr and Alex Kane (its former director of communications). They discussed the party‘s performance, policies and appeal as well as its future role in Northern Ireland politics. Read about what was said and watch back the conversation.

Henry McDonald in conversation about his book – Martin McGuinness: A Life Remembered #feile18

Watch back journalist and author Henry McDonald in conversation about his photo essay book – Martin McGuinness: A Life Remembered – which was published by Blackstaff Press. The discussion examined the genesis of the book, the changing face of Martin McGuiness, and reflected on some key moments in the Troubles on which McDonald had reported.

An evening with Alastair Campbell #belfastbook

Once described as the third most powerful person in Britain, the still formidable Alastair Campbell was in Belfast on as part of the Belfast Book Festival to talk about his new novel Saturday Bloody Saturday. During the Q&A he confirmed his support for the Iraq War and talked about The Thick Of It.

Soapbox: Connal Parr on Mythmaking, Identity and Ulster Protestant Cultures

Dr Connal Parr is Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the Humanities at Northumbria University. His research emphasises the interconnectedness of history, politics, and culture. His book ‘Inventing the Myth’ viewed local political developments and recent history through the prism of dramatists and writers and was inspired by his doctoral research. On the evening of Tuesday 22 May, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs generously sponsored an event on the themes of my book Inventing the Myth: Political Passions and the …

Read more…

Wanted: NI artefacts and memorabilia from 1998 onwards

James Ashe is a final year Graphic Communication student at Norwich University of the Arts. He’s a freelance designer and photographer with an interest in brands, print and visual identity projects. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which changed the landscape of Northern Ireland. As I approach the conclusion of my studies in Norwich, I am putting together a book that is a reflection of growing up in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It’s entitled You Can’t …

Read more…

Election Notebook (Nick Robinson) – a humble & honest recollection of #ge2015 – and a reminder that NI politics don’t matter at a UK national level

Nick Robinson’s premise was to document the twelve month run up to the May 2015’s General Election. Between the Scottish independence referendum, UKIP’s rise and wobbles, and early polling that couldn’t predict the next government at Westminster, it was sure to be volatile period on which to report. The diary format of Election Notebook: The Inside Story Of The Battle Over Britain’s Future And My Personal Battle To Report It reveals that the BBC’s political editor inhabits an ever-revolving hamster …

Read more…

Danny Morrison’s “West Belfast”: a coming of age novel set against the backdrop of a city in conflict

I grew up hearing Danny Morrison’s name on the radio at breakfast time as Sinn Féin’s Director of Publicity. More recently I’ve known him as chair of Féile an Phobail and spotted his attendance at many of the festival’s events in St Mary’s and the annual West Belfast Talks Back debate. But I’d never realised he was an author until his book (re)launch earlier this year at the end of January. Spread over a decade, West Belfast is a coming …

Read more…

“We, Too, Sing Belfast” … perhaps subtitled “We, Too, Snap @NewBelfast!”

364 days, an estimated 2,000 engagements, thousands of handshakes, around 25,000 tweets, and goodness knows how many selfies … that was a year in the life of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir as Lord Mayor of Belfast. I’m sure many people rolled their eyes or tutted when they heard that the Lord Mayor had agreed to allow a professional photographer to follow him around. From August 2013 through to June 2014, Donal McCann captured images wherever Máirtín Ó Muilleoir went, including travelling …

Read more…

A is for Activist

From an early age, children are introduced to animals, right and wrong, concepts of fulfilment and disappointment, fear and joy, all through chewed hardback books. Princesses are in need of rescue, dogs misbehave and talk, mice covet strawberries. Wealth is equated with happiness, poverty with sorrow. How do you introduce the concepts of social justice, gender equality, caring for the environment, and the responsibility for citizens to fight for each other’s rights? Innosanto Nagara wrote A is for Activist. Originally …

Read more…

Alternative Ulsters: Conversations on Identity (Mark Carruthers)

Mark Carruthers describes his new book Alternative Ulsters as a “collection of conversations” and “an attempt to take the notional temperature of a place where identity tends to inform a great deal of the day-to-day civic debate”. The book has a simple structure: three and a half pages of introduction followed by thirty six interviews, arranged in alphabetical order, with public figures connected with Ulster from the world of arts, journalism, politics and sport. Each is quizzed on their connection …

Read more…

Belfast 400: People, Place and History (Sean Connolly, editor)

Ten days ago I finished reading Belfast 400: People, Place and History, a book published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the city’s charter. In the light of last week’s reawakened community tensions and violence, it is interesting to look back at the roots of the city and its journey into the twenty first century. Belfast 400’s chapters are written by a series of experts and edited by Prof Sean Connolly from QUB School of History and Anthropology. The …

Read more…

Children of the Revolution (Bill Rolston)

Children of the Revolution by Bill Rolston

What was life like for children of political activists during the Troubles? A new book by Bill Rolston and published by Guildhall Press during the summer has collected together the stories of twenty Children of the Revolution whose parents’ activities – and in many cases, imprisonment – had a significant affect on childhoods and life choices. For me, this summer’s reading has been dominated by people telling their stories. Evangelical Journeys collated together ninety five interviews with evangelicals and ex-evangelicals …

Read more…

The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (Neil MacFarquhar)

Bookcover of The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday by Neil MacFarquhar

With perhaps the longest title of any book I’ve read this year, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East gives an insight into the lives of people living in Middle East through the eyes of journalist Neil MacFarquhar. MacFarquhar’s father was a chemical engineer who supervised an Esso refinery and a water desalination plant. His family lived on the Libyan coast in Marsa Brega alongside a community of other …

Read more…

Turas, by Colin Neill – a story of strangers in a strange land

book cover of Turas, by Colin Neill

Colin Neill’s first novel Turas peeks into a world in which many Ulster Protestants feel uncomfortable. It’s 2020 and the Irish unification that unionists and loyalists confidently predicted would never happen has become a reality. President Adams is ensconced in Phoenix Park. The newsreader reported that … a short ceremony at Stormont had confirmed the passing of Northern Ireland, and had officially confirmed the birth of a now 32 county Republic of Ireland. The Union Jack had been lowered and …

Read more…

Book-Token

It seems we will be saying goodbye to many political faces as the Assembly and needlessly delayed council elections approach. The latest to fall is the unelected MLA for East Derry, former lots of things, Cllr Billy Leonard. The declared reason from the 55yr old for leaving political life is the time required to write a book (he clearly doesn’t have the stamina of an older, prolific SF author) Blank