‘Let Me Tell You,’ with David McCann

It was a local treasure and we all miss it. The If You Ask Me segment that ran on BBC Hearts and Minds for 16 years. It’s never coming back and many would say it’s best to leave it that way. Well David McCann and I have decided to run our own little experiment, paying homage and borrowing in good measure from the original If You Ask Me to bring you back some of that Thursday night magic with the … Read more

#Lethal Allies: this is not collusion.

This is much worse. The publication of Ann Cadwalladers Lethal Allies last month by Mercier Press was always going to have a relatively predictable reception. In many ways, nationalists and republicans have largely accepted that there was participation by members of the security forces in providing intelligence, weapons and targeting information to loyalist/unionist paramilitary groups from the late-1960s onwards. In some cases, it was even clear that either officially or unofficially, security force members and agents being run by the security services directly … Read more

From Arkiv to Haaas. A way out of the deadlock for dealing with the past

  It’s heart warming to find  some of the ideas I’ve been grappling with being taken forward with real authority and integrity. As reported in the Newsletter  a  firm and positive set of  proposals for dealing with the past has been submitted to the Haass talks by a group of historians calling themselves Arkiv. The idea that dealing with the past is a task that can be agreed and dispatched within a given period is not simply an insult to the … Read more

Loyalist terrorists and this summer’s mayhem

Summer in Northern Ireland has for a very long time been associated with heightening of sectarian problems and criminality. This year has been as bad as many for some time. Throughout this summer the media and others have held a number of organisations and individuals to account over this. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with this holding to account tends to depend on one’s social / political / sectarian position. So far we have had Ruth Patterson repeatedly criticised for … Read more

“culture wars and shared futures make very uneasy bedfellows”

This final post in this series about last week’s PSA/Fellowship of Messines workshop – Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process? – looks at the fourth session of the day which asked about the place of the PUL community in a shared future. Once again, the opening remarks by the two speakers have been embedded below, but the follow-up discussion remains unattributed. listen to ‘Prof Jim McAuley addressing @PolStudiesAssoc workshop on Protestant working class #psaprods’ on … Read more

The PUL Community and the Peace Process: An Audit

The third session of the all day PSA/Fellowship of Messines workshop – Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process? – looked at the peace process through the eyes of two loyalist leaders and an academic. Strong views on the Social Investment Fund, how paramilitary actions gave unionists confidence in the peace process, loyalism being equated with criminality, loyalists’ sacrifices for peace, the tsunami of hate and bigotry that came out of the flag protests, and the … Read more

Stormont needs to raise itself above the level of events

If nothing else the flags trouble has exposed the dearth of genuine engagement over  grievances that are the expressions of low morale. They’re not all about making  excuses for rioting and grabbing fifteen minutes of fame with egregious and calculated exercises of disinformation and distortion. I’ve listed below two sets of grievances carried in separate Newsletter reports arising out of the disturbances.  Whatever you may think of them and their spokespersons, it has to be admitted that they have remained in the … Read more

Caption Competition

Your captions please! Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

UVF campaign of ‘flying riots’ leaves Unionists isolated…

All’s far in love and war. Sammy Wilson’s intemperate allusion on UTV last night to his own Justice Minister being carried around in a police landrover might have landed more squarely if there wasn’t a series of ‘flying riots’  going on around the place. Today there’s talk of more disruption, yet to be confirmed, in Glengormley. In the meantime, it seems the only paramilitary organisation yet identified by the PSNI are the UVF, whose own political party the PUP at … Read more

Thoughts on the death of Gusty Spence

The day after Gusty Spence died the Irish News had the story on the front page. The News Letter instead led with the story of an eighteen year old deeply religious maths student from Kilkeel who was studying at Queens and who was tragically killed in a road traffic accident. In many ways the News Letter’s position would be typical of the views of Northern Ireland’s unionist community and on this subject it picked the mood pretty accurately. Firstly lest … Read more

Healing Through Remembering (new chair Dawn Purvis) refused PEACE III Funding

When Dawn Purvis was defeated at the Stormont elections, a number of commentators on slugger including myself predicted that she would end up with a job in the quango / do-gooder industry. Indeed I suggested that far from helping those whom she claimed to represent (working class unionists in East Belfast) her time especially since she left the PUP had been more directed towards increasing her profile amongst what are sometimes known as the liberal dissidents. Many members of the … Read more

Brian Ervine resigns as PUP leader

After the PUP’s failure at the Stormont assembly elections Brain Ervine the leader of the PUP has announced that he is going to stand down. This will be the third leader the PUP has lost in little over two years. Dawn Purvis of course resigned over the murder of Bobby Moffett after having become a member about the time of the Loughinisland murders and remained a member and subsequently leader for some two dozen murders following the ceasefire. After Purvis’s … Read more

“what now on those big questions on arms and on the past?”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowan with a reminder of some unfinished business.   The publication of the two reports he mentions was postponed, before the elections, until “a date to be agreed by both Governments”.  From the Belfast Telegraph article At an event at Queen’s University recently, I said there won’t be a truth process here. There may be something dressed up as such a process, but it won’t be about truth and the many hidden secrets of war. Governments don’t want it, the security … Read more