Will genuine reconciliation ever be possible?

Alex Kane is never short of opinions; after all, that is his job. One of his latest tweets has gotten people talking: I’ve spent many, many years, reflecting on the possibility of genuine reconciliation between unionism and republicanism (either in NI in UK, or in a united Ireland). My conclusion: it will never be possible. The chasms are now unbridgeable. — Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) July 6, 2020 Alex does get stick for being a pessimist, but I prefer to think of …

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The swing vote

In Northern Ireland it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that there are two sides to everything, and that neither side is capable of changing its mind on any substantial issue. This leads to the politics of eternal negotiation, where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and no change can be argued on its own merits. Instead of playing the political game to find out who will win, politicians game the rulebook in order …

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Future Ireland / Children of the Ceasefire / 1

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By Matthew Redmond – hailing …

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Future Ireland / Children of the Ceasefire / 3

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By William Clarence – from …

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After Colombian Peace Accord rejected at the polls, whither Santos, and FARC?

As noted by Paul at some length here, Referendums are turning out to be something of a game of Russian Roulette for ruling political elites (and in the case of Colombia, political insurgents). Colombia has by the narrowest of margins voted to reject a peace deal ratified by the President and the leader of the FARC rebels just last week. The BBC were reporting on Saturday that Colombia has never rejected any motion put to them in a referendum (including one …

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Why Colombia faces a much stiffer Referendum test than Northern Ireland in 1998…

The Constitutional Court of Colombia has given President Santos four months to complete his four years of Havana Talks with the FARC and put the deal to the people in a referendum. Remind you of Senator George Mitchell in 1998, musing: ‘I’m fed up with these Stormont Castle Buildings, I’m having a child soon, I’m outta here by Easter, unless you guys get off the pot’? There are eight other uncanny similarities in the upcoming plebiscite across Colombia, with ours …

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Jonathan Powell blasts Brexit

On The View on the day the former PMs Major and Blair warned of the threat of Brexit to the Union and stability, Eamonn McCann erupted. It wasn’t “Blair,  that man steeped in the blood of Iraq that brought peace”, he thundered (I quote him freely) “but the people of Northern Ireland who don’t want to fight each other. They are the peace process.” As a champion of the people en masse and in  the abstract, Eamonn is surely right …

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“as head of British intelligence, you would be derelict in your duty if you did not do everything in your power to assist that process…”

Via the Pensive Quill.  In this transcript of a discussion on Radio Free Éireann in New York, with John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG), veteran journalist Ed Moloney (EM) has some “stupid” questions for the leadership of Sinn Féin, British Intelligence Services, and the local media.  From the transcript EM: There’s a whole untold story of the peace process in the latter years of the IRA’s existence in relation to the influence of British intelligence – to what extent that was …

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John Hume: Irish peacemaker. Discuss.

John Hume: Irish peacemaker. Discuss. by Allan Leonard for Northern Ireland Foundation 15 December 2015 Sean Farren and Denis Haughey have edited a new book, John Hume: Irish Peacemaker, published by Four Courts Press. As part of this book launch, there is a series of panel discussions, for which this event took place at the Canada Room, Queen’s University Belfast. Moderated by Jim Fitzpatrick, the panellists were Arthur Aughey, Marianne Elliott, Maurice Hayes and Eamon Phoenix. After a welcome by …

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Galvanising the Peace

Peter Osborne writes about the need to galvanize the peace process Building the peace is not just a laudable aim; it is one of the most complex and toughest too. There needs to be systemic and structural change, tackling the causes of division and the reasons why sectional and sectarian attitudes continue to prevail. Beyond that, relationship building work is critical for the trust which is a key component of a shared and reconciled society. We need a vision that …

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After the McGuigan murder: The Provisionals *really* haven’t gone away, you know….

As I noted some time ago, the biggest problem Sinn Fein pose to society  is their settled policy of partial disclosure. Do you believe Detective Superintendent Geddes’ assessment or Sinn Fein’s local representatives? On one level that’s matter of political choice. But as we have seen over the Cahill allegations, the party only ever says what’s good for it, even if it turns out to be a lie. [When it gets serious, of course you have to lie! – Ed] …

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National reconciliation: “Patriotism is not enough”

In the second of a series of seminars organised by Niamh Mental Wellbing, Reverend Dr Gary Mason facilitated a civic engagement in a packed room at Skainos on the Newtownards Road, Belfast. The discussants were Declan Kearney (Sinn Féin), Reverend Harold Good (former President, Methodist Church in Ireland) and Nelson McCausland MLA (substituting for Jeffrey Donaldson MP). For Mr Kearney, national reconciliation is for Protestant, Catholic, Dissenter and those of no religious affiliation and beyond. His concern is that the journey …

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“How Chilcot made that mistake is not known…”

So, Sir John Chilcot is shelving his inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War until after the general election (still five months away). Interestingly, Chilcot also features as a player in the very early stages of the NI Peace Process. In a long detailed piece by Owen Bennett-Jones for the London Review of Books which discusses the origins of the claim that it was the Provisionals who led with a communication suggesting that ‘the conflict is over.’ His argument is that …

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Young people want civic education in Northern Ireland schools

Young people want civic education in Northern Ireland schools #CoffeeClub at #SDLP14 conference by Allan Leonard for Northern Ireland Foundation 15 November 2014 Stratagem organised another set of sidebar coffee club conversations at the SDLP annual conference, Ramada Inn, Belfast. For the second time, I had two flipcharts with blank sheets to fill out the good, the bad and the ugly lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process. I commenced the discussion uncertain whether or not the responses would be …

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More channels for civic voices demanded

More channels for civic voices demanded #CoffeeClub at Ulster Unionist Party conference by Allan Leonard for Northern Ireland Foundation 18 October 2014  At a sidebar coffee club session, organised by lobby firm Stratagem, I asked a room full of Ulster Unionist Party attendees what was the good, the bad and the ugly lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process. With marker in my hand, I stood at the ready in front of two flip charts. The item emphasised repeatedly by …

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Jonathan Powell: The Lessons of Northern Ireland

Following the launch of his new book ‘Talking to Terrorists,” former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, writes exclusively for Slugger about the lessions he learned from his time working on the Northern Ireland peace process The Northern Ireland negotiations were the most difficult and frustrating challenge I faced in my life, but also, at least in retrospect, my most important and satisfying achievement. Since leaving government I have set up an NGO, Inter Mediate, to …

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On Jonathan Powell – a vision is needed for talking to terrorists

I haven’t yet managed to read Jonathan Powell’s new book: Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts”,  but potted  versions like this one in Prospect magazine  delivers his thesis with his usual crispness. “In democracies we cannot kill all the terrorists, so we will have to talk to them at some stage! And just in case you think  he has been seduced by his own experience, he anticipates  the obvious criticism. I am not suggesting that there is a Northern …

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Ceasefires and moving on from the political beachheads of 1994…

The trick is to keep moving. If you stop, if you start thinking, you lose your focus. You lose your concentration. You’ll be a casualty. The idea, the perfect idea, is to keep moving. – Dwight D Eisenhower, June 1944 The primary locus of last night’s documentary was the IRA‘s ceasefire of September 1994. Although it only lasted 18 months or so, it’s hard to gainsay Gerry’s observation that ‘it is still the most logical point at which to divide recent history into a …

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Pink is the colour, not orange or green

                      I plead guilty. The question buried somewhere in earlier comments strikes home:  “Why do you keep banging on about Gerry Adams so much when the Giro is on? “  Now I could give an apples and pears answer, the two being in different categories.  But the question is better than the reply.In the week of the Adams interrogation the Editor the Belfast Telegraph   was moved to display his cool in …

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Why spoil two parties by rowing about a royal invitation in 1916 that doesn’t exist?

There is a very peculiar little controversy going on in Dublin over inviting the “royals “ to 1916 commemorations. It involves catty exchanges between Maurice Manning, NUI chancellor, one of several former nearly men in Irish politics  and a part time historian, and the equally learned professional modern historian Diarmaid Ferriter.  In his latest  blast in the Irish Times, Ferriter opposes the idea which the newspaper itself seems to approve.  It would be too much to say that this is a re-run of the …

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