Tag Archives | history

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Fresh evidence from the archives: When did Martin McGuinness actually leave the PIRA?

A previously unseen archival document compiled on behalf of the Conservative Party Northern Ireland Committee, dated 3 July 1975, and located in the Julian Amery Papers, Churchill Archives Centre, University of Cambridge, reveals that despite Martin McGuinness’s repeated assurances that he left the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) in 1974, senior members of the British more…

Now the turn of Seamus Mallon at 80. Why he and Trimble were unable to unite over arms decommissioning remains unexplained

Following the tributes to John Hume on his 80th   birthday, the venerable SDLP deputy leader and  the initial deputy first minster Seamus Mallon has given a fascinating interview to the Irish News  for his own  80th. In passing I can’t help noticing the comparisons and contrasts with Sinn Fein. What are yours? On working with more…

John Hume, a thumbnail sketch of achievement and failure

I’ve never been quite sure if we can call John Hume an unvarnished nationalist, but if we do, he was a great example of a leading nationalist who wanted to reach agreement more than attain  the goal of  Irish unity, as expressed in  his  wonderful oxymoron, “ an agreed Ireland.” While he enjoyed his hard- more…

NIFoundation 20161128 TroubledImages - 01 Exhibition 1986

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 more…

Gavin CARVILLE shows First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene FOSTER MLA ephemera

Digitising the peace process

Digitising the peace process by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation 1 September 2016 “You have to go to the archives!” an academic supervisor once advised me. At the time, this meant physically traveling to where the precious documents were stored, with your official letter requesting access permission, and spending hours transcribing (sometimes with only more…

Robin Chichester Clarke was the last of the gentry that treated government as part of the family business.

Robin Chichester -Clarke, the last of the old unionist gentry to hold office in either Stormont or Westminster,  died a fortnight ago at home in Norfolk at the age of 88.  His elder brother Jimmy, later Lord Moyola, (familiarly known as  “Chi-Chi,” after a notably  infertile panda) was Northern Ireland’s penultimate  prime minister in the darkening more…

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British Irishman, not a Black and Tan

In the Ireland of 2016 the British community (Protestant and unionists) still carry the curse of plantation, Cromwell, the famine, the Black and Tans and one-party rule Stormont. (Read ‘Being a planter‘ here.) The Protestant and unionists are the villains, by birth levied and vilified with historical wrong. Catholic is Erin and virtue, Protestant is more…

Lurgan Volunteers with pic

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 more…

Why we need more sixth century historians

“All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.”  – Battlestar Galactica Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Patrick Johnston, caused a furore this week with his comments claiming that “society does not need a 21-year-old that’s a sixth century historian”. Instead, he opined that “It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to more…

David Beresford hunger strike journalist and historian, RIP

The best journalists are often oddballs. They can win close access to power, regardless of whether power is of the state or anti -state variety. They   lack – and often spurn – status. They tend to walk alone and barely recognise dress codes. Perhaps their greatest quality is persistence against the odds, in which courage more…

Gerry Adams at Easter. In full

I though it worthwhile to put on the record Gerry Adams’ Easter Centenary address, part unreconstructed old republicanism, part election address, a classic of its kind in style and content, without further comment.   On Sunday 27th March, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD addressed the Easter Rising commemoration in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery. Mr Adams more…

In defence of John Bruton

It was brave of former Taoiseach John Bruton to chose last week to return to the ultimate Irish counterfactual. He’s taken to task for it in the Irish Times by historian Dr Brian P Murphy OSB I believe,” said Bruton, “Ireland would have reached the position it is in today, an independent nation of 26 more…

A J P Taylor (1906-1990)

Commemorating the archetypal History Man

The sub-title of a 1995 TV documentary said it all: he was an unusual kind of star. In his heyday he was capable of emptying pubs on a Friday night, simply by going on television and speaking his mind and explaining things clearly in plain, uncomplicated English. And how did this man make waves? By more…

1916 is still worth a fret or two

I’ve just finished reading my latest foray into an absorbing subject, Ruth Dudley Edwards’s magnificent The Seven, her biographical account of the main leaders of the Easter Rising, guardedly but critically reviewed by the  historian and Irish Times columnist Diarmaid Ferriter here. While Ruth may be dismissed by some as the arch revisionist, no reader more…

Delorean tombstone

Back to the future – the only possible headline

  Even now it’s hard to believe it ever happened. Remember the famous gull wings of the pride of Dumurry? And its big sell as the saviour of Northern Ireland with Protestant workers using one door of the factory and Catholics another? As it was written so it must be true, in the era of more…