The 70th anniversary of the 1947 Education Act has lessons for the DUP

On a different tack the Bel Tel recently published a second article showing unionists in government in a more favourable light. This time it’s an article by Prof Graham  Walker of QUB  on the 70th anniversary of the the passage of the 1947 Education Act.  Would that today’s Stormont could agree on effective measures to replace that Act’s 11 plus and advance the cause of genuinely secular integrated education. But in its time the ’47 Act was a real advance …

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#Onthisday 1964-The UK General Election

On this day 49 years ago, the United Kingdom went to the polls to choose a new government. The result was a narrow Labour win of just 4 seats making Harold Wilson the Prime Minister. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the election of Wilson provoked fears among some Unionists in Northern Ireland that he would be much more interventionist in the affairs of the province than some of his predecessors. A letter he had written before the election to the Campaign …

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Apologise, apologise. Who me?

Two interesting letters in the Irish Times (flagged up to me by Jeff Dudgeon) on the “apology” front worth printing out rather than only hyperlinking to.  Michael Lillis whom I knew and liked had the courage to engage frankly with unionists and thus represented a new departure. In his time it was unionist obduracy that contributed to the Anglo -Irish Agreement, for me the slowburn creative shock treatment that brought them slowly into reality. Others will disagree. Philip Flynn a …

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A poem for the day – Launching the Whaler Juan Peron

A Belfast epic, and one of my oldest poems, the opener of my first collection, Grub. The gist of the story was found in Moss & Hume’s Shipbuilders to the World: 125 Years of Harland and Wolff, Belfast, 1861-1986, which tells how Eva Peron was due to launch a huge whaling vessel in Belfast, built for and named after her husband. Unfortunately, her ill-health and political and economic turmoil in Argentina forced her to cancel, though the story goes that …

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A tragically missed opportunity

The newly digitised public archives for the early years of the Troubles now available on a special CAIN-PRONI site are a gold mine. Straight away my heart aches at the what-might- have- been in the official papers about setting up a new university in 1964 –5. This was Derry’s great rebuff when the city lost out to a green field site on the banks of the Bann outside Coleraine. Often recalled as a unionist plot to keep down Catholics it …

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