Sinn Féin’s historical revisionism has nowhere to hide

Trying to rewrite history is never a good idea. So when Sinn Féin’s official social media account claimed at the weekend that “On this day in 1905 Sinn Féin was founded” and proceeded to say that on that day “we outlined our position”, it naturally raised a few eyebrows within the historian community. The thing is with historians, they are fact-based people, so if you lie about something in history they will ruthlessly expose you for it. The backlash to …

Read more…

In the absence of real deterrents, you’ll catch more students with honey than with vinegar

It would be difficult to look at the scenes from the Holylands of Belfast in the last number of days and not be very concerned. Scores of students partying until the early hours of the morning caused understandable frustration and fury among residents and a media furore. Either the young people in question do not fully understand the risk to themselves and others around them, or, the public awareness campaign is not persuading them sufficiently, or, they both understand and …

Read more…

Happy Birthday Emmanuel Goldstein

Scapegoating is always so helpful in politics, is it not?  It’s so cost-effective, and saves so much trouble.  Rather than admit to your audience that there are no easy solutions to the problems facing your people, and that things are a lot more complicated than was previously thought, all you need to do is affect some fake moral outrage and point the finger at [insert identifiable target here].  The practice has been used as long as politics has existed, of …

Read more…

A passion for social justice: Tribute to Anne MOORE

Anne Moore will be remembered for her passion for social justice. I met Anne during my employment as a policy officer for the Alliance Party as I sought out the views of a valued stakeholder, NICVA, where she served as public affairs officer. Anne and I had plenty of enjoyable conversations and discussions on official as well as unofficial business matters—we would frequently diverge to global and philosophical perspectives. I regret that we didn’t continue such conversations as our careers …

Read more…

The new normal is an opportunity for Northern Ireland’s centre ground

The centre ground in Northern Ireland has been a tough road for the last fifteen years. Rightly or wrongly, the truth is that our own version of it has been a somewhat half-hearted attempt to be brave enough to say that elections, as opposed to a border poll if and when there is one, need not necessarily be about securing the most nationalist or unionist votes.  Recently, Irish economist David McWilliams when describing how Churchill had won the war but …

Read more…

Asking the right questions for a better-informed public

Asking the right questions for a better-informed public by Allan LEONARD 28 January 2020 Representing FactCheckNI and as part of a four-person panel, I was invited to give evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies. Fellow witnesses were Ed Humpherson (Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR)), Will Moy (Chief Executive, Full Fact), and Jenni Sargent (Managing Director, First Draft). This was an extension of the committee’s previous call for written …

Read more…

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers? by Allan LEONARD 6 December 2019 As part of the annual general meeting of NICVA, the umbrella body of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, there was a panel discussion on the topics of truth, trust, and how everyone engages with a bombardment of information. Entitled, “Lies and Democracy: The Fight for the Truth”, BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Seamus McKee, moderated the discussion with panellists Amanda Ferguson, John Barry, and …

Read more…

Ye are many – they are few (Part 2)

Early November is traditionally a time for people all over Britain to remember, through fire and socializing, a man who risked everything to mount a determined challenge to the authority of Parliament. In south east Wales, however, it isn’t just Guy Fawkes who is on popular minds round about this time. This year is the third straight year that people in Newport have been remembering the Chartist Uprising of 1839. They’ve been doing it in style: each year it has …

Read more…

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan by Allan LEONARD 3 October 2019 Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending. The book, Sheelagh Murnaghan, was commissioned by the Albert McElroy Memorial Fund, which was established to commemorate the …

Read more…

For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation

For Northern Ireland: Parity of esteem and reconciliation by Allan LEONARD 1 August 2019 As part of the 31st annual Féile festival, Jim Gibney (a member of the Féile Debates and Discussions Committee) welcomed the audience of a couple dozen attendees of a panel discussion on what parity of esteem, reconciliation, and mutual respect means from those who are pro-Union. The panellists were Professor Peter Shirlow (Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool), Dr James Wilson (Initiative for Civic Space), …

Read more…

Country before Party? A UUP book launch discussion

Image source: (c) Allan LEONARD @MrUlster

At the launch event for “The Ulster Unionist Party: Country before Party?” there was a roundtable discussion former-leader Mike Nesbitt, press officer Lauren Kerr and Alex Kane (its former director of communications). They discussed the party‘s performance, policies and appeal as well as its future role in Northern Ireland politics. Read about what was said and watch back the conversation.

Is it possible to be friends with someone who has opposing political views?

I have watched John McDonnell’s interview on Newsnight and the question of being friends with a member of the Conservative Party. Now it’s important to point out this exists across politics and not just here. Surveys in the United States have shown some people who are Republicans wouldn’t marry a Democrat and vice versa. In the age of politics becoming more polarised between differing factions it’s disheartening to see such tribalism. Why, I hear you ask? Because in the same …

Read more…

Why do we need a government anyway?

In 7 days we will overtake Belguim for the record of longest time without a government. Now putting aside the whole debate of do we have a government or regional assembly the big issue is no one seems to care. People are not exactly taking to the streets demanding the restoration of Stormont, so it is fair to conclude the general population could not give a monkies if it ever comes back. There is the wedeservebetter campaign but really what is …

Read more…

“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20

“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
8 May 2018

Political and legal scholars, peacemakers and peacebuilders convened at the Royal Irish Academy to review and discuss potential constitutional relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom, especially vis-a-vis Northern Ireland and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the import of Brexit.

Read more…

Engage with the Power of Reason

Peter O’Neill is the director and founder of the Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas. Politics in Northern Ireland has had a tough year. With no Executive since January 2017, an election that changed little just over a year ago and the prospect of our departure from the EU firmly on the horizon, you could be forgiven for thinking that ideas on how to overcome these challenges are in short supply. One of the victims of the political impasse has …

Read more…

Engage with the Power of Reason – #imaginebelfast festival (12-18 March)

Between 12 and 18 March, Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics will host 80 free events in over 30 venues across the city to encourage people to engage with the big issues of our times, whether that be Brexit, poverty, (in)equality, gender or fake news. There’ll be talks, workshops, theatre, comedy, music, film, tours, exhibitions, dance, poetry and a video competition.

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall

Exhibition launch: “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” @TheLinenHall
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
2 August 2017

The Linen Hall Library has presented the first of two exhibitions of its Divided Society digitisation and outreach project. “We Lived It: The Social Impact of the Troubles” contains artwork, imagery, ephemera, and oral history extracts from firsthand accounts of individual experiences.

Read more…

Slugger TV: Episode 4

Slugger O’Toole: Episode 4 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Latest Slugger TV looking back at the political year so far with Jamie Pow from Northern Slant and Dr. Katy Hayward from Queens University, Belfast. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

In the world of knowledge, judgement and choice we can live in a world of data, but no facts.

Whatever your sympathies are (or aren’t) for UK Labour, Tuesday’s Abbott interview on LBC was a particularly hideous event. This gladiatorial pit style of journalism is one reason why Mrs May (because she can) has ruled out meaningful engagement (aka, questions) with the press. There has, as John Lloyd put it in his seminal assay of the relations between the British press and the UK’s politicians What the media is doing to our politics, been “an evident struggle for power between media and government, …

Read more…

Support – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…”

Since moving to the US, I’ve been working as a supply teacher; in the US, it’s referred to as a ‘substitute teacher’ or simply a ‘sub’. Basically, I’m there if the regular teacher isn’t, taking the class, teaching the lessons, and making sure the work gets done. I don’t mind the work; it can be challenging but also quite rewarding. In the best instances, I can be a pleasant break in continuity, which gives me the opportunity to speak into …

Read more…