From the London broadsheets, rare interest in Irish developing positions is to be welcomed

The criticism  is well made that  British  interest in Irish positions is generally self serving and fails to recognise their independent validity. Any slight shift in this is to be welcomed. The London broadsheets  have paid Sinn Fein the rare compliment of taking seriously the party’s think-in at Cavan. It’s worth noting that they have yet to broach the notion that a  Brexit solution would  be so much easier if Northern Ireland were to join the Republic.  Quite apart from … Read more

A Further Shore (Lyric Theatre) #GFA20

A nuanced and at times moving medley of spoken word and song remembrance of past times, incidents and ways of living during the Troubles, gradually working up to the negotiations and the 1998 Agreement. Not so balanced to become boring, but carefully seeded with surprise and honesty in the many perspectives it opened up.

“As with the hardest essay questions, there is no right answer but many wrong ones.”

Writing in the Guardian, “former Downing Street Brexit spokesperson”, Matthew O’Toole [no relation – Ed] has some intelligent, and interesting, things to say about “the psychology of imagined identity” here, and the task facing the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, as well as the UK Prime Minister in the next phase of the Brexit negotiations. [Definitely no relation! – Ed] From the Guardian article As Bradley will discover, Brexit has unsettled one of the most intangible but … Read more

Tony Blair assures EU that May is sincere about a frictionless border; sees need for small amendment to the GFA

Am I on my own in becoming weary of  yet another of the great and  good  speaking in general terms about the future of the Border?  Tony Blair, addressing a European People’s Party gathering in Co Wicklow  was at pains to  declare his confidence in Theresa May’s sincerity over wanting a “ frictionless “border, even though  by rejecting  continuing membership of the single market and free movement   she has made it the  problem without a solution so far. “I … Read more

DUP illustrate unionist leadership as #RuthPatterson is in court

Yesterday Ruth Patterson attended court for her Facebook post and provided an interesting piece of optics for the television cameras. In a considered move, a variety of DUP ministers and other public representatives, including Edwin Poots, Sammy Wilson, Jonathan Bell and Guy Spence (to name a few), attended the court hearing or accompanied her to and from the court, clearly with an eye on the cameras. Other unionist glitterati in attendance included Willie Frazer and others taunting Patterson to get … Read more

Cameron’s occasional summitry replaces Blair’s swing door…

When the First and deputy First Minister arrived at 10 Downing Street last month, they had to wait outside for ‘the magic door’ to open. Inadvertent no doubt, but the downgrade it implies chimes with David Cameron’s determination to signal to all parties in Northern Ireland that all messes are their messes and it is they rather than the UK government to clear it up. But as Mark Hennessy notes, there is a sense that much of the senior human … Read more

Good Friday Agreement at 15: The dour fatalism of our political Calvinists…

Maybe it’s because it took place in the last Millenium that our memories of that fateful day seem so quickly dated and fading so quickly. The freshest piece writing from that time is Danny Morrison’s great piece of gonzo journalism: Then, at 7.10 am Mitchell McLaughlin arrives to read out a short statement but not to answer questions. In confident tones he declares that Sinn Fein has, during negotiations, clawed back a considerable amount of ground which it believed had … Read more