Emma De Souza: a solution?

As we drift through another week in lockdown, it’s hard to believe that there’s anything else to discuss apart from Coronavirus. Thankfully, Northern Ireland’s unique brand of identity politics stops for no pandemic. Cast your mind back to last year and the case of Emma De Souza. I wrote about it here. Mrs De Souza’s case concerns Article 1(vi) of the British-Irish Agreement. That section states that the two governments recognise the right of: ‘…..the people of Northern Ireland to …

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Emma DeSouza: None of us benefit from the Home Office’s position

In 2015, Emma DeSouza married her American husband, Jake, in a ceremony in Belfast. Later that year, the couple applied for an EEA residence card. Their application relied on the 2006 EEA Regulations and was grounded in Mrs DeSouza’s Irish citizenship. In September 2016, to the couple’s surprise, their application was declined. In giving its reasons for refusing Mr DeSouza’s residence card, the Home Office referred to Mrs DeSouza’s citizenship. She was born in Northern Ireland and, in the Home …

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And man created the nation in his own image

When we say we belong to a particular ethnicity or nationality, we are implicitly saying that we share traits in common with the other members of this group. Or are we saying that the other members of this group share traits in common with us? There is a subtle but important distinction. In the popular imagination, the formation of an ethnic or national identity is an objective process whereby the members of the group find commonalities amongst themselves and thereby …

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Blind spots in cultural terminology

One long-standing problem in Northern Ireland is the fact that many things have multiple names, the choice of which can be both revealing and controversial. Derry/Londonderry is the most well-known example, and the name of Northern Ireland itself (or the avoidance of it) can also cause friction. However, such problems can be glossed over by simply ignoring the speaker’s choice of terminology, as it does not introduce ambiguity into the discussion. Less obvious are those things that do not have …

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SOAPBOX: Can the economy be Irish? #ESRCfestival

SOAPBOX – The OU’s Dr Leslie Budd recalls economist George Shackle’s observation that to be an economist one has to be an anthropologist, political scientist, mathematician, philosopher, and sociologist with an interest in economics. It is these characteristics that are vital in creating a narrative and conversation about Brexit. Irish storytelling could help address the challenge facing us.

Edward Carson, ‘No one on earth is so clearly the “typical Irishman”‘

Edward Carson rose in the Lords on December 3 1929 and made a number of points about the Irish Free State and the Privy Council, the legal forum the young Irish state was seeking to do away with. Interestingly, he called the Anglo-Irish Treaty the “Treaty of surrender and betrayal”.  On the matter of his identity, he said: “I am very proud as an Irishman to be a member of the British Empire.” He also said: “I was born and …

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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 Saxon and guilt. When Americans think of Britain they think of Monty Python or Downton Abbey. When the French think of Britain they think of …

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Irish and Loyalist

In my first post in this series – looking at what it is to be Irish (as an adjoint to my blog ‘The New Irishman’) – I sought to show that Ian Paisley was 100% Irish. Ian Paisley’s Irishness was stated unequivocally by the man himself; and third party observers have testified to his quintessential Irishness. In my second post I sought to show that the protestant in Ireland has historically, and in Northern Ireland presently, been considered as illegitimate and as an inauthentic outsider – “imperialistic …

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Catholic, Erin and virtue. Protestant, Saxon and guilt.*

    Watch this video, it punched me in the sternum – ‘momondo – The DNA Journey’: We divide people in two. Native or immigrant. Authentic or blow-in. We want certainty, especially in Northern Ireland – Protestant or Catholic, us or them. Catholic is Erin and virtue. Protestant is Saxon and guilt (and “imperialistic blood-suckers” as southern Protestant Hubert Butler said). It’s not unique to Northern Ireland, but is a universal condition. Mistrust of “the other” is typeset into man’s …

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Ian Paisley – “We are Irish!”

    Of the DUP membership, 1.4% self-identify as Irish. Yet the founder of the DUP was 100% Irish. This is not speculation or conjecture or troublemaking, this is a statement of fact based upon unequivocal and repeated testimony from Ian Paisley. Ian paisley wrote in 2012 on the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant: “Edward Carson was a life-long Irishman, as well as being a life-long unionist, and that made all the difference… On this 28th day …

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The drive for independence suspected in new boost for Scots language. Sounds familiar?

The Financial Times (£ paywall) which is so good at making its limited space for non-financial themes count, reports a new boost for the Scots language which the writer Mure Dickie suspects is part of the longer term drive for independence.  In language policy, the parallels as well as contrasts  with both Irish and Ulster Scots hardly need much spelling out. But I hope you will – enjoy, is that the word? – the distortions  of  what we think of as …

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Cartoon – “Do you do big Mács”

Former Mayor of Belfast and Sinn Fein councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said not being able to place an order in Irish at McDonalds is an example of where equality of rights of Irish speakers isn’t being met. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Aaron & Brian’s Sunday View: the Census

  The Irish Times led with, ‘There are just 54,000 more people from a Protestant background than from a Catholic one in Northern Ireland’. The headline figure, that most papers and the media noticed, was that the gap between Protestants and Catholics had narrowed to 3 per cent in the recent statistics released from the 2011 census. Bringing together the information on Religion and Religion Brought up in, 45 per cent of the population were either Catholic or brought up …

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‘the Irish republican version of the Imperial War Museum’

There’s an interesting article and audio slideshow by Henry McDonald in today’s Guardian about the republican museum in north Armagh. In a garden in a quiet cul-de-sac in north Armagh, a nondescript brown shed contains the Irish republican version of the Imperial War Museum. The private collection contains the toilet-roll holder from the room where IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands died in May 1981, letters from supporters to Sands, an original rebel uniform from the 1916 Easter rising, secret communications …

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Dominic – computer says ‘kneel’

The SDLP’s main Irish language activist Doiminic O Brolcháin, Dominic Bradley on the SDLP and his own website, has clarified not a lot when it comes to filling in a census form in Irish: Initially he complained there was no Irish version of the form: In absence of an Irish version of the census form, I have asked Census 2011 if it’s legal to fill the English form in Irish. To date, I have had no response. But now Bradley …

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Setting the unionist cat amongst the cultural pigeons: Nelson McCausland on why unionists ignore culture at their peril

Nelson McCausland speaking at his session at 2010 DUP Conference on Why unionists ignore culture at their peril

The Gransha Suite at La Mon Hotel had obviously been packed with DUP Conference delegates for the previous session on Challenges in Policing when I eventually arrived earlier this evening. PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott was still giving a few interviews to the press while a Lambeg Drum was being set up on the other side of the stage. Nelson McCausland was up next, addressing DUP delegates as a dedicated follower of culture and MLA, rather than as Minister for …

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The prospects of voluntary coalition

Video: Peter Robinson on improving devolution Voluntary coalition seems to be a shibboleth connected with Jim Allister and TUV but in reality all three Unionist parties would prefer voluntary coalition with some form of qualified majority voting put in place to enable a more normal form of Assembly inline with Wales & Scotland which would include a formal opposition, compared to the mandatory coalition we currently operate where nearly all the parties are in government and will remain in government …

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