How will the PUL be accommodated in a United Ireland?

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. By ‘Danny Boy’. According to the demographics, there could be a nationalist majority within Northern Ireland in the not-too distant future, which some think will automatically lead to the re-unification of this island. So what will happen to all those people living within Northern Ireland who class themselves as being from the PUL … Read more

In praise of Ulster’s heartbeat – the Lambeg drum

  I don’t think anything better defines the Twelfth for me than the sight and the sound of a well-played Lambeg drum. Pun intended, but the oul Lambeg is hard to beat. I’ll be honest, though. The first time I heard a Lambeg as a child – at a Twelfth parade in Moira if I recall correctly – I must have jumped so high out of my skin that I could have touched the top of arch. But gradually, as … Read more

A possible solution to the parading issue in Northern Ireland?

Lee Reynolds in transit at Belfast's Orange Parade, 12 July 2011

Alex Johnson writes for us on how he thinks the parading issue could be solved in Northern Ireland In my experience all problems have a solution. What is so often lacking in this part of the world is the understanding and guts to bring solutions into operation. I would like to suggest solutions to two of our favourite subjects (the rest of the world must laugh their heads off when they see this) – bonfires and bands – the two … Read more

How Republican intransigence drove boost in Unionist turnout (and flattened its own)

So shortly I will be wrapping the proverbial wet towel on my head for my customary post election analysis for most of the major parties in NI and GB. To keep you going in the meantime, here’s the start of my OpEd analysis for the Irish Independent on how SF’s intransigence over parades in North Belfast drove the unionist vote upwards: I’ve lost count of the number of Northern Ireland media commentators who regularly and spontaneously burst into laughter at … Read more

On Richard III of England, reputation and ceremony

Another historic day, another display of colourful if at times puzzling pageantry. The ever-present 24-hour social media revealed the English city of Leicester as having ground to a halt yesterday, as the cortege containing the remains of Richard III of England was transferred along the streets to the Cathedral. The actual burial service there is scheduled for this Thursday. It is worth purposefully giving the former king’s title a geographical suffix, as too many journalists tend still to forget that … Read more

The Complexities of Parading – Mervyn Gibson & Sean Murray – a challenging but polite seminar

A seminar on The Complexities of Parading was held on Wednesday evening by the Journey Towards Healing project of NIAMH Wellbeing (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health). Gary Mason hosted the conversation, with remarks from Mervyn Gibson (minister of Westbourne Presbyterian Community Church and assistant grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland) and Sean Murray (Sinn Féin) before opening up to the thirty or forty people present in a Belfast City Mission meeting room. Both panel members have … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “It is in the interests of everyone affected… that a way forward is found towards a local resolution.”

As the BBC’s Mark Devenport reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has proposed that a panel of “experts” be appointed with the objective of mediating “an agreed accommodation between local people in respect of Loyal Order parades in the Twaddell and Ardoyne areas of north Belfast”. The official NIO statement includes the terms of reference, key principles, and the proposed structure of the panel and its timescale. Terms of reference In order to mediate an agreed accommodation between local … Read more

12th July: A cautionary tale of the social media rumour mill

Chris wrote a brilliant piece earlier in the week about Britishness and the many bonfires around the province that had posters of Anna Lo and Sinn Fein representatives on them ready to be burned. This form of deplorable sectarianism is not just corrosive to those who legitimately want to celebrate the 12th July but all of us who want to live in an open and diverse society. However, not all of the muppetry that went on over this weekend did come … Read more

Police win flag protest appeal

As the BBC reports, the Appeals Court has overturned a High Court ruling in April that the PSNI misdirected themselves in relation to policing the flag protests in Belfast – which “led to the situation in which the police facilitated illegal and sometimes violent parades with the effect of undermining the 1998 Act, in breach of their duties under section 32 of the Police (NI) Act 2000 and in breach of the applicant’s Article 8 rights.”  From the BBC report … Read more

Kennaway: Resolving the Parading Conflict

Brian Kennaway served on the Parades Commission from 2011-13-an essay similar to this has also been published in the Newsletter POLITICS Politics in Northern Ireland does not reflect any real understanding of what it means to be a political representative in a democratic society. When any politician is elected to represent a particular parliamentary constituency they are to represent the totality of that constituency, not a sectional interest within it and certainly not only those who may have voted for … Read more

Court dismisses case because there were too few present who were likely to be offended?

Interesting judgement yesterday… A small group of around 15 nationalist protesters was said to have been gathered nearby. However, the defendants’ lawyer argued that the band was playing Sloop John B, the Beach Boys’ song which has the same tune. After hearing evidence the district judge made no ruling on whether or not it was the Famine Song being played. But it was decided that the prosecution had failed to establish there was an intention to provoke a breach of … Read more

Did the ‘UDA Night’ at Sandy Row spark the “IRA Night” in Whiterock?

After no some little searching, here’s the only reference I can find to the UDA event at Sandy Row Community Centre in An Phoblacht. Interestingly it carries a quote from a Sinn Fein councillor: Laganbank Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey has called for a full investigation into the incident. She also noted that as a council building it is open to all sections of the community and being associated with such incidents will only keep people away. Mark Moloney notes… A … Read more

Haass – Larkin unrepentant, Allister is on the attack, but where oh where is the DUP critique?

Now hold on, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.  Inevitably most early reaction to Haaas is about the overall political verdict without going  much into detail. And you know how we can’t be bothered  to go into detail if we can stick  it into them instead. But hush!  Jim Allister QC has spoken. People tend to overawed by Jim’s legal expertise. But lawyers are advocates – even when they’re not self -interested  politicians –  and so should be taken with … Read more

He’s back! Haass is returning to NI

Who said Haassmas comes but once a year? Our very own international problem solver Dr Richard Haass will be returning to get a deal that eluded him earlier in the week. Question for our posters-if you were Richard Haass how would you approach these talks and what concessions would you seek to get from the parties? If I were him, I would get the British and Irish governments more involved, Haass enters the talks with no carrots and no sticks. … Read more

“The parties were told not to bring in any phones or other communication devices, nor to leave with any copies of the draft.”

Richard Haass’ attempt to ensure confidentiality during the on-going talks between the five Northern Ireland Executive parties – on the past, parades, and flags – failed to survive first contact with Sinn Féin.  Today the Haass team presented their first, complete, draft proposals to the parties.  The BBC report notes his latest attempt at ensuring confidentiality. While the parties examined the proposals at Stormont, talks chairman Dr Haass had travelled to London to meet the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and … Read more

‘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

Cartoon – One year on

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Not British, Brutish: @brianjohnspencr guesting on the @LADFLEG blog

In a bit of departure, the Loyalists Against Democracy blog has a guest post from Brian John Spencer (regularly of this parish). Entitled, ‘They are Not British, They’re Brutish‘ and against the backdrop of the increasingly cartoonish behaviour of loyalisms curated extreme, he rages against what he variously calls ‘civilised Northern Ireland’, ‘soft-bellied multiculturalists’  and ‘ever-indulgent middle-highbrows’ and suggests they all need to wake up. He even converges upon Chris’ argument that Unionism needs to adopt the kind of leadership … Read more

Even Protestants don’t support parades and protests: #LucidTalk

More figures from LucidTalk in the Belfast Telegraph, this time on Parades. Respondents were asked which statements they agreed most closely with (results given as percentages): If you exclude don’t knows, you get the following results (results given as percentages): And, if pie-charts are your thing, here’s charts for the first three groups excluding don’t knows: … and Protestants (excluding don’t knows)…   … and Catholics (excluding don’t knows)… As to the poll itself, the stats provided state that: Our LucidTalk … Read more

Inability of OFMdFM to compromise has allowed the “No Go” politics of the street to re-occupy a central space

It’s no go your maidenheads, it’s no go your culture, All we want is a Dunlop tyre and the devil mend the puncture. Louis MacNeice – Bagpipe Music One of the optical illusions of Northern Ireland’s now regular summers of trouble is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the power sharing executive on Stormont hill. This was an actual feature of the politics that developed from the early sixties through to the outbreak of serious public disorder in … Read more