Are the terms civic “unionists” and civic “nationalists” an oxymoron?

  Over the past year we’ve heard many laments about the vacuum in decision taking but little specifically critical of politics from leaders of society. That’s par for the course for people who  have been keeping our  show on the road for decades. Few of them had little respect for political parties who in their view held society back. But now twenty years after the GFA and after a year – or many years by another measure – of deadlock, … Read more

A timely reminder that today’s unionists and other non-nationalists have as big a stake in human rights as nationalists. Further polarisation must therefore be avoided

The stale stereotype that nationalists are all for civil rights and unionists fight them tooth and nail is challenged in an open letter signed by over 100 “civic unionists, pluralists and other forms of civic leadership” published in the Irish Times.  It’s a riposte to similar letters from “ civic nationalism” appealing to the Dublin government “to defend the legal, human and language rights of Irish citizens in the North, and warning that the British government’s deal with the DUP … Read more

Time for civic society to engage more in our political process…

At the height of the stream of public revelations about RHI in December 2016, a press release on The Executive Office’s website declared the names of six appointments to the Northern Ireland ‘compact civic panel’. Arlene Foster described this news as ‘‘another example of us getting on with the work. It presents a unique opportunity to take a fresh approach to dealing with the strategic issues which Government deal with and which impact directly on people’s lives’’. Martin McGuinness added: … Read more

In Heaney’s land of “password, handgrip, wink and nod”, we have a problem with public appointments

A unionist friend on Twitter pinged me this the other day after my account auto-tweeted my analysis piece on the possibility (as opposed to the probability) of Fianna Fail coming north for 2019 a couple of days ago… FF the cute hoor party that ushered in the Irish banking collapse ? We seem to have enough if those types already — PJ (@JP46251093) September 14, 2016 Now all stereotypes contain more than just a modicum of truth within them, and recent … Read more

Killing unifies both Catholic and Protestant opinion

One of things you learn growing up in the Troubles is that you cannot negotiate with a man with gun or a block of Semtex (more commonly gelignite in the early days) in hand. One to one, he wins every time. As Brian argues, physical force is its own argument. Tragic though it is, the effect of the killing of Constable Kerr appears to be stiffening the resolve of the Stormont parties not to show a millimetre of space between … Read more