Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

Equality has arrived but the DUP and Sinn Fein have yet to face up to what it means

“Equality” has always been a Sinn Fein buzzword. As the recanted ex- IRA man Shane Paul O’Doherty lethally today quoted Gerry Adams speaking in 2014: “The point is to actually break these bastards – that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality … That’s what we need to keep the focus on – that’s the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.” Other views are  un-cynical … Read more

The British government are contemplating an all-round amnesty, claims Denis Bradley. If so, it’a too hot to handle for the local parties and should become a big ticket item for Westminster

 Denis Bradley has been spelling out a basic home truth about dealing with the past in discussion on BBC NI’s The View with his partner in the still definitive Eames Bradley report. “Tough love” for victims is overdue.   Writing in the Irish News, he has also made some startling assertions. That families should be given truth pertains to knowing what and why a death or injury happened during the four decades of the troubles. But there is something out and … Read more

What are we to make of the expert opinion that British intelligence reports of the past are being withheld for reasons that are ” increasingly random?”

The Guardian’s expert on the history of intelligence Richard Norton Taylor writes the following in an article on intelligence withheld  or released. Documents held back this year include files relating to the Scott inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair, a file on allegations of sexual abuse at the Kincora boys’ home in Belfast which the former army information officer Colin Wallace said were covered up by MI5, and a file on the late Brian Nelson, a British army informer in Northern Ireland eventually jailed for … Read more

Continuity between Adams’ failed war and failing peace is to ‘establish the conflict as eternal and perpetual’

A powerful piece from Newton Emerson, in yesterday’s Irish Times… The first person the IRA murdered after Gerry Adams was elected Sinn Féin president was Charles Armstrong, the Ulster Unionist chair of Armagh City and District Council. Adams became president on Sunday, November 13th, 1983. The following evening, a bomb exploded under Armstrong’s car as he left a council meeting. An SDLP colleague, Pat Brannigan, risked his life by pulling Armstrong from the burning wreckage. Armstrong left a wife and eight children, who heard the explosion from … Read more

A plea to Gerry Adams from a Falls Road boy

In recent times we often hear the narrative that has been orchestrated so carefully by apologists for Sinn Fein – namely the huge personal risks that Adams and Mc Guinness took for peace. I do not believe that such an argument is credible. The people that really took the risks for peace down the years were those in the northern catholic community (and indeed outside it also) who defied the IRA and whose political and moral courage often cost them … Read more

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
2 August 2017

The Linen Hall Library has presented the first of two exhibitions of its Divided Society digitisation and outreach project. “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” contains artwork, imagery, ephemera, and oral history extracts from firsthand accounts of individual experiences.

Read moreExhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

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

Kevin McNamara RIP, champion of an old Labour approach to Ireland

The late prime minister Jim Callaghan was said to have described Kevin McNamara once as “the Fianna Fail member for Kingston upon Hull North”.  Kevin himself recalled how Tony Blair on being elected Labour leader summoned him and told him straight : “I don’t want you in my shadow cabinet.”  At which Kevin rose from his seat and walked out. Both anecdotes say a lot about of Kevin’s outlook but not the whole story. He was an unapologetic and consistent … Read more

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
25 July 2017

As part of the 30th anniversary of the John Hewitt Society international summer school, the Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) sponsored a panel discussion, “The Art of Conflict Transformation”, which explored how visual and performance art have contributed to our evolving conversation of our troubled past, with hope for dealing with legacy as well as prospects for reconciliation.

Read more“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

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

Shock horror EXCLUSIVE! MI5 had Jeremy Corbyn under surveillance into the 1990s, for “links to the IRA”

Billed as  “Exclusive, MI5”, the Daily Telegraph  splashes with a predictable twist on an ancient theme, that Jeremy Corbyn had been under surveillance for having “ links” to the IRA. This is the flip side of the super-patriotic  coin that supports army veterans in their campaign, backed by Theresa May, against prosecutions for illegal actions in Northern Ireland and now supported by the Commons Defence Select Committee. It’s so much easier than thinking to take sides and leave it at … Read more

Amnesty for soldiers and police officers appears imminent after the election. And the effect on prospects for restoring the Assembly?

The government appear to be on the brink of taking the legacy of the Troubles out of the hands of the Assembly. The only  question remains if they would entertain an agreed counter proposal from the Assembly parties . You can work out for yourself  the prospects of that The Times (£) are reporting that The British government has moved one step closer to shielding British soldiers who served during the Troubles from murder prosecutions despite concerns that it could … Read more

No side deal for soldiers, Theresa. If you can legislate for the language, you can legislate for the legacy

It  would  be hard to find an issue that  illustrates how little Northern Ireland matters to some Conservative MPs as the campaign to halt police investigations into cases of alleged army misconduct during the Troubles. It’s not so much calculated indifference as blimpish blindness. This was the question to Theresa May at PMQs today: 22 February 2017   Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con) Q9. If she will take steps to introduce legislative proposals to provide legal protection to … Read more

“…it should never be forgotten that a genuinely united Ireland must be based on a free union of those living in Ireland”

The strength of positive feeling towards the economist TK Whitaker in the Irish press was extraordinary. I want to come back to that later in the week, since there may still be important lessons to draw on from the manner in which he approached matters. But, in the context of this election to nowhere we’re enduring right now, this snippet from Eoghan Harris on Whitaker’s background role with the Irish government at the outbreak of the Troubles is worth putting into … Read more

Using art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation @DFATIrl

Using art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation: DFAT Reconciliation Networking Forum
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
14 December 2016

At the eleventh annual convening of a reconciliation network organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Ireland), an afternoon panel discussion explored the role of the arts in Northern Ireland’s reconciliation process.

Read moreUsing art to fill in gaps of our reconciliation @DFATIrl

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

Jim Prior may have been doomed to fail but he had plenty of help from the locals

It’s a  natural reflex to blame the Brits and indeed, there’s a good case to be made for it time and again.  But  the career locally of  Jim Prior, the senior Conservative  who was secretary of  state from  October 1981 to September  1984, a month before the Brighton Bomb, is stark evidence that the time for conciliation had not yet come and conventional  politics was impotent. The best Jim Prior obit  is written by the veteran Julia Landon  in the … Read more

Shame on the politicians for allowing the PSNI to become the victims of a tabloid firestorm over army prosecutions

A tabloid storm  blown up  by the Sun and the Mail with the Daily Telegraph in tow  has been set off to save  hundreds, perhaps thousands of “our boys” – the soldiers who served in the Troubles – from the “ witch hunt” of being singled out as a class for prosecution as a result of Army action in the Troubles. The surge probably owes more to  the  establishment campaign against prosecutions over Iraq – one case now being  the … Read more

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
28 November 2016

The latest incarnation of the Troubled Images project — the launch of a free downloadable iBook  — was cause for a reunion of sorts at the Linen Hall Library for the original team that compiled and published its original CD-ROM 15 years ago.

Read moreWithout fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

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

Another few words of sense about dealing with the past that the politicians refuse to face.

Chris Ryder, veteran reporter and specialist on police matters, is given space in the Irish Times to repeat the case for halting all pre- Troubles  cases and leaving them to historians. Although he is known as a critical friend of the police,  he makes a fair and balanced  case which should be considered entirely  on its merits. This was an approach I ran with to support Arkiv, a group of historians who wanted to take it on, initially encouraged by the … Read more

Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this one in its entirety and Twitter is a less-than-perfect medium for something of considerable length. It does, however, give me the chance to make a … Read more