Conn O’Neill Festival – 400th Anniversary, Starts August 29, East Belfast…

The second Conn O’Neill Festival will take place over two weekends in August and September 2019. It marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Conn, the last Gaelic Lord of east Belfast. His legacy endures in local place names and lore. The festival, organised by the Turas project in east Belfast, includes talks, tours, exhibitions and a family fun day. The programme is centred at the Skainos building, 239 Newtownards Road and includes: Thursday August 29: Festival Launch. 7pm. …

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#AE16 East Belfast: DUP to come home with three courtesy of a splitting PUP base…

Candidates: [DUP] Joanne Bunting, Sammy Douglas, Robin Newton; [Alliance] Naomi Long, Chris Lyttle, Tim Morrow; [UUP] Andy Allen, Chris McGimpsey; [PUP] John Kyle; [TUV] Andrew Girvin; [UKIP] Jonny Lavery; [Greens] Ross Brown; [Sinn Fein] Niall Ó Donnghaile; [SDLP] Amy Doherty; [NI Conservatives] Neil Wilson; [Cross-Community Labour Alternative] Courtney Robinson; [NILRC] Erskine Holmes; [Independent] Maggie Hutton. East Belfast has the fifth-lowest population of any constituency in Northern Ireland, and the most Protestant. It also has the lowest proportion of school leavers …

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East Belfast: where the progressives met their Waterloo

It is the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. These days, however, the French seem to celebrate it as a victory rather than a defeat. So finally we can celebrate after five horrible years as the bastion of awfulness finally fell: oh yes and it was VE day as well. Excitement amongst unionists over the defeat of Naomi Long is tempered by the fact that she was hardly a terrorist cheerleader in chief. Rather much of the pleasure …

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The message for unionists: pacts work

One of the critical points in this election for unionists was in March 2013. That was when Martin McGuinness stood down as MP and in the ensuing election Francie Molloy was elected. Nigel Lutton (whose father Frederick had been murdered by the IRA and Molloy connected with that murder in the House of Commons by the DUP’s David Simpson) stood as a united unionist candidate. That resulted in a modest increase in the unionist vote which Mike Nesbitt claimed as …

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Gavin Robinson accused of ‘ungracious’ acceptance speech…

Gavin Robinson is getting a lot of flak for his acceptance speech. Watch it below: Here is an extract: The last 5 long years are over. A new day has dawned in East Belfast. when people were offered the choice to go forward or back, they choose forward. And they choose to go forward with someone they can trust. The comments did not go down well on twitter: https://twitter.com/NewtonEmerson/status/596505194357207040 https://twitter.com/neildalzell/status/596496073885122561 Even more damning is this tweet from Naomi Long: @tomfromireland …

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Jim Wells: Has he damaged the DUP? UPDATED

Any hopes that the DUP had that last night’s ill-judged comments by Health Minister Jim Wells would be quickly forgotten appear to be fast receding. If anything the ‘apology’ by Mr. Wells betrays ignorance on the part of the Health Minister more than anything else. Sadly the PSNI have now confirmed that they are now investigating comments made by Mr. Wells’  –  perhaps the new laws suggested by the Ulster Fry would be more appropriate. UPDATE: Tonight (Sunday April 26th, 2015) …

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Slugger presents the East Belfast Hustings….

The East Belfast seat is one of the most contested in Northern Ireland. Come and watch Gavin Robinson and Naomi Long debate the key issues for the upcoming Westminster Election. Sam McBride from the Newsletter, Allison Morris from the Irish News and columnist Alex Kane will also be in attendance to pose questions to the candidates. This event is brought to you by sluggerotoole.com and our partners Chambré Public Affairs & Lucid Talk. Tickets are free but you do need to book. …

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Unionist Pact still possible

The saga of whether or not there will be a unionist pact continues with Mike Nesbitt suggesting that he may still be open to an agreement. He stated: “Without a deal, without an understanding there is a real prospect there could be no unionist representing the capital city of Northern Ireland in Westminster on the 8th May,” he said. “With a deal, who knows? Maybe three of the four could be unionist but they can’t all be DUP.” The seats …

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Mike Nesbitt should sit down with Peter Robinson and extract a win-win deal for political unionism

Many will be aware of the Belfast Telegraph’s interesting take on East Belfast this week alongside the excellent work of Bill White and Lucid Talk.  The results of this poll are not unexpected. Naomi won in 2010 by 1533 and according to today’s poll there is approximately 1500 votes between the two, meaning this seat is still a marginal. Turning to the key battlegrounds, Gilnahirk/Cherryvalley/Tullycarnet/Knock is 3 to 1 in support of Alliance over the DUP, with Ballyhackamore/Belmont/Stormont 2 to …

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Robinson: Ready for the election, planning a positive campaign and plans to end five frustratingly Long years in East Belfast.

At the next election one of most hotly contested battles will be East Belfast as the DUP attempt to take back the seat that they lost to Naomi Long in 2010. At the DUP conference, the party named their candidate to take on Long this May and he is former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Gavin Robinson. As we prepare for the election, I caught up with the newly minted DUP candidate to get his views on the campaign ahead and …

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#GE15: Will religion (or no religion) help decide the East Belfast race?

Belfast East is expected to be one of the most hotly contested seats in the upcoming General Election next May, but actually what are the chances that Naomi Long will be able to hold on to her seat after snatching it off Peter Robinson in 2010? The DUP conference has just passed and anyone who tuned in could be forgiven for thinking that they plan to pummel an almighty amount of resources into taking back east Belfast from Naomi Long, …

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More Than A Flag – East Belfast bandsmen poignantly look back at WW1 as the audience see potential #BelFest

Twelve young guys who couldn’t be much older than twenty. Most with no acting experience. Some haven’t been in a theatre never mind standing on a stage. Bandsmen. Proud of their community, proud of their culture and their flag. Often derided, stereotyped, and written off. Over the last couple of months, Dan Gordon has realised a long held dream and produced More Than A Flag, a powerful piece of community arts by Happenstance Theatre that will be premièred in the …

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Wilfred Mitchell: We need to expand Belfast City Airport

A RECENT snap poll conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses for Northern Ireland (FSB NI) has confirmed that the majority of local small businesses would like to see an increase in destination routes, as well as airline providers, from George Best Belfast City Airport, conveying evident support for expansion at the airport. Due to its relatively isolated position on the periphery of Europe, air connectivity is vital in connecting Northern Ireland to the rest the UK, Europe and beyond. …

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First a pink horse, then pink sheep … and now, cycling embraced by East Belfast bandsmen and comics

There’s a cycle race in town and everyone a lot of people want a piece of it. In some ways it’s surprising Gerry Adams didn’t cycle out the back gate of Antrim Police Station on Sunday evening! Perhaps his zeitgeist radar was dulled by the poor cuisine (though the Irish News this morning reveals that “arrangements were made for Mr Adams to get food from the staff canteen”). Over in East Belfast, bandsmen, politicians, and comedians [Ed – those groups …

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Alliance Party Offices in East Belfast attacked again

At around 11pm the PSNI have confirmed that three devices where thrown at the Alliance party offices on the Newtownards Rd in East Belfast. When this happened last November I wrote a piece about the members of staff who work in that office and most of the same people are still there. Nearly 18 months after the flag vote, members of staff having to work under dire conditions and constituents are being denied access to their local MP. Politicians offices being …

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The dark side of politics rears its ugly head as Alliance offices attacked.

Last night we have once again seen the ugly side of politics in Northern Ireland as the East Belfast Alliance party office was attacked with two petrol bombs. Last week, I was there doing an interview with Chris Lyttle and normally I don’t write about what I see when I’m out and about doing interviews but after last night I thought I should convey some of my impressions about the office and the people who work in it. What really …

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UVF mural replaces ‘aspirational’ George Best mural in east Belfast…

So, now you see it. Now you don’t. Here’s the George Best mural in Inverwood Court in Sydenham, as it was. Paid for under Peace III funding. Now it seems, things are going back to business as usual, as the PUP gear up for future elections, back come the UVF murals. It’s not the first time the reimagining project has reverted to paramilitary imagery either. Though the removal of what was intended to be an aspirational image has a certain …

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Thoughts on the Flag protests

The flag protests have now been going on for a month. During that time we have heard assorted apportioning of blame, descriptions of the events as marking a disintegration in loyalism (and by extension then unionism), calls on various people to display “leadership” and much merriment and contempt directed at the flag protest leadership: often vitriolic here on slugger. The protests are at core a political issue. The riots are clearly criminality and some of those attacking the police may …

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Marching on a pin head as Belfast District LOL No 6 squares up to the Parades Commission (updated)

This morning, I headed across to the Orange Hall on the Albertbridge Road. The 31 Orange lodges that make up Belfast District LOL No 6 were converging to start their parade down Templemore Avenue, turning onto the Newtownards Road, and later joining up with the main Belfast parade (made up of 9 districts). (You can catch the video of their 25 minute parade through East Belfast down below.) There was much banging, tooting and just a little accordion heaving as …

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