Memories of the October 5th 1968 Civil Rights March. The day The Troubles began…

  I’ve never spoke on a public platform before, but feel moved to break my silence and contribute to the 50th anniversary civil rights Program. I always remind my twin brother, Fionnbarra, that I am his senior, being born one hour before him at 134 Bogside, which was then known as a single street which ran from the Slaughter House to the junction of Lecky Road & Rossville Street. My mother Mary Ellen, born 1908. hailed from Ballee, Ballymagory near … Read more

Anger Over City Deal Snub, As Derry Grows Restless for Change

Fifty years ago this June, a caravan was used to block the Lecky Road in Derry’s Bogside in protest at Londonderry Corporation’s housing policy. The Unionist-run council retained control over the majority nationalist city at that time by discriminating against Catholics in housing and votes. The caravan protest represented a marked escalation in tactics by the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC), who shortly afterwards contacted the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and persuaded them to hold a demonstration in the … Read more

Six Things We Learned From Ireland’s Failed Rugby World Cup Bid…

Last week’s surprise decision to grant the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to France was a huge disappointment for the Irish, who had been bookies’ favourite throughout the process. As the dust finally settles on the five-year effort to bring one of the world’s largest sporting events to these shores, here are six key lessons we can draw from the experience : Ireland CAN hold events of global significance. The positive message for Ireland in a disappointing process was that … Read more

Long: “a battle of hope over expectation [but] good work is never wasted” #NWAP17

In her speech to the party’s autumn conference held in Derry, Alliance leader Naomi Long this afternoon called for a way to be found through the current political impasse to “[demonstrate] through words and actions, mutual respect for both British and Irish Identity and our commitment to share this space together, in co-operation rather than conflict”.

Ulster Uni’s new Belfast Campus Shows it isn’t Serious About Magee Expansion. So it’s time for Derry to Look Elsewhere

Last week’s A’Level results not only signalled the start of the annual scramble to secure a place at University. They also pointed to a worrying development for the long-promised expansion of Magee campus in Derry. Student Numbers Falling Figures from UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service) show a 4% fall this year in applications to go to University – the first such decline in five years.  All parts of the UK are reflecting this drop, and the figures also … Read more

The £400m for Infrastructure in the Conservative-DUP agreement will only exacerbate Northern Ireland’s east-west divide

Northern Ireland’s infrastructure has drawn the prize ticket from the £1bn of new money in the Conservative-DUP deal – securing £400m, or 40% of the entire fund. This has been greeted with criticism elsewhere in the UK, but can be justified on two grounds. Firstly – Northern Ireland arguably has the worst infrastructure of any region in the UK. Only significant external funding will reverse the decades-long under-investment that has caused that. Secondly – the situation is worse still within … Read more

“They’d have known from then that I couldn’t be counted on to fall into line.”

An organisation which plays a key role in distributing public money to community organisations in Derry has been found guilty of discriminating against a local man because of his opposition to what he characterised as a “Sinn Fein/DUP carve-up” of community organisation in the city. The Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) has been ordered by a Fair Employment Tribunal to pay Gary McClean £10,000 compensation for denying him a job as a Community Development Officer (CDO) in the Curryneirin area despite … Read more

Magee or not Magee – Time for for a graduate entry medical school in Derry / Londonderry?

  There is definite support in Derry for Ulster University’s proposal for a graduate entry medical school at Magee campus.  After 53 years of exasperation that the city does not have a full sized university, actual excitement for such ideas is always tempered by fear that it will not happen.  But at least the city’s response is definitely positive – unlike the apparent reactions in Belfast and Coleraine. A medical school in Derry should be a no brainer.  There are … Read more

The warm welcome Arlene Foster received at the funeral of Martin McGuinness came as a surprise to many. But not to those who know Derry well.

“Of all the ‘moments’ in my 27 years of journalism, applause for Arlene Foster at the funeral of Martin McGuinness is right up there”. So remarked Sky News’s Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, after one of Northern Ireland’s most important funerals in years. Blevins wasn’t alone in being wrong-footed by this turn of events. This was, after all, the funeral of a former IRA commander – held in a staunchly nationalist city during the uncertain aftermath of a landmark and divisive … Read more

Bill Clinton’s eulogy for Martin McGuinness and NI’s epic journey…

For the record, whatever you think of Bill Clinton, Northern Ireland seems to bring out something extraordinary in him… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

The Case for a ‘Foyle Free Trade Zone’.

Derry’s days as a regional transport hub appear to be largely behind it. In better times the city has served as a hub for shipbuilding, an international naval base, a thriving export centre and a key departure point for emigrants. Nowadays, the sole legacy of that is a small but important port facility at Lisahally.  Meanwhile, the town which bore witness to Amelia Earhart making aviation history 85 years ago contains a regional airport that survives largely through Council subsidies. … Read more

All I want for Christmas is a better road to Belfast

As a Saffron now living west of the Bann all I really want for Christmas is the upgrading of the A6. Which Christmas though? Being a heavy commuter of some years I know how hours spent in a car with just coffee and bad podcasts can affect quality of life, time spent with family and general health and wellbeing. Public transport with WiFi helps but any time that can be knocked off bus or car journey times would be a … Read more

EDUCATING ULSTER : Northern Ireland has a chronic shortage of students, whilst Belfast has too many and the west of the province has too few. The solution is obvious.

September marked the annual return of students to their term-time accommodation. And within two days residents of the Holylands had lodged over 150 complaints of anti-social behaviour with Belfast City Council. That university neighbourhood’s term-time population comprises over 90% of students/young people, amounting to an estimated 7,000 in just one square kilometre. It will probably provide little comfort to residents of the Holylands to learn that Northern Ireland (NI) has the lowest provision of university places in the UK. And … Read more

A fresh start for the A5 – but at what cost?

Disclaimer: being a strong public transport advocate does not stop me from enjoying the open road, gliding effortlessly past slower traffic [You don’t say – Ed] Indeed – but we all have too many things to do that cannot conveniently be done by bike, bus or train… Mick has already considered the opportunity cost of the £75 million promised by the Irish Government for the A5 scheme from Newbuildings to Strabane, although I think that money could buy several Narrow … Read more

A Little Perspective on the Spat at Stormont

On a day when the front page of most of the newspapers on these islands carried a heart-wrenching photograph of a little boy drowned on a Turkish beach, we really need to catch ourselves on and make sure our politicians do likewise. Like Jude Collins, I heard PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton on the news setting out that the IRA does not exist as a paramilitary organisation and that its members are pursuing their goals through exclusively peaceful means. You … Read more

Uncomfortable Conversations – the Chief Constable, Sinn Féin Chair and me

Tomorrow night in Derry, I’ll take part in an “Uncomfortable Conversation” that will include the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, Sinn Féin Chair Declan Kearney and Alan McBride, member of the NI Human Rights Commission and victims’ campaigner. The event, part of the Gasyard Féile, is one of a series of conversations around how we both deal with our past and build our future as communities, towns and cities and indeed islands seeking to emerge from conflict. These events and … Read more

Coleraine-Waterside Phase 2 contract awarded

With the controversy well recounted over the escalation of costs for the upgrade of this section of railway line, I think I should start this post with a little explanation well known to those of us who have ever been involved in procurement, whether public sector or private sector. Basically, and regardless of the skills of your Quantity Surveyor who has their ear to the ground and knows very well what the going rate is for the materials needed for … Read more

Xchange Summer School 2015: bravery in the face of challenge #xss15 (updated with audio from Jo Berry, Patrick Magee, Ann Travers conversation)

Living through the challenge of austerity mean that the Third Sector in Northern Ireland will “have to show bravery, take decisive action, be willing to change, celebrate diversity and yes, think the unthinkable” according to the organisers of the Xchange Summer School. The sofa set from the inaugural event in Enniskillen has been traded in and this year’s contributors are sitting around a kitchen table that has taken over the stage of the Great Hall in UU’s Magee campus. Introduced … Read more

Prince of Wales welcomed the prospect of “a Northern Ireland Prime (sic) Cymru!”

So Northern Ireland had a look-in in the Prince of Wales” black spider” letters. This in a bread and butter letter to the then secretary of state Paul Murphy. We discussed the issue of an Action-Learning Pilot Scheme which has remained in abeyance since last year, but which, if implemented, could help perhaps break the mould of housing “ghettoes” in Northern Ireland. You may remember that both Paul Murrain, from my Foundation, and John Thompson are ready to help with … Read more