Scotland’s Choice: Reshaping Relationships #qubindyref … and a Federal UK pitch from Tory MSP Murdo Fraser

Whatever the outcome, the referendum on Scottish independence on 18 September will have a profound significance for relationships spanning Britain and Ireland. That was the assertion at a one-day conference organised through the Political Studies Association and Queen’s University Belfast today. In his opening lecture “Tangled Histories” Prof Graham Walker (QUB) unravelled some of the historical narrative and timeline of the British Isles and Scotland’s place within the Union. Irish partition and Ulster unionism had a major impact on Scotland. … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 6) – Enhancing understanding in NI civil society – concluding plenary

The last of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast. – – – The symposium was brought to a close with a lively and passionate plenary provided by some of the leading actors shaping debates about culture and identity in Northern Ireland. The session was chaired by Dr. Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Director of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences at the University … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 5) – Youth, Education & Social Change panel with Siobhán McAlister & John Peto

The fifth of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast. – – – This year President Obama addressed an audience of young people in Belfast in a positive upbeat speech, telling them that, “you are the first generation in this land to inherit more than just the hardened attitudes and the bitter prejudices of the past… you now live in a thoroughly … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 4) – Culture, Politics & Society panel with Jon Tonge, Marisa McGlinchey, Catherine McGlynn & Gavin Hart

The fourth of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast. – – – Cultural contestation has been the inevitable outworking of the parking of the constitutional question in Northern Ireland. This has significant implications for how political parties use culture as a means of pursuing their ideological aims and placating their support bases. listen to ‘.@JonTonge (Univ Liverpool) The unionist party politics … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 3) – Memory and Cuture with Dom Bryan, Orla Muldoon & Jim McAuley

The third of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast. – – – History, memory and commemoration play a central cultural role in societies throughout the world. Acts of collective remembrance are often important for nation building and the generation of shared senses of identity. However, in post-conflict or transitional societies, the role of history, memory and commemoration is often hotly contested. … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 2) – Social Change and the Culture Wars panel with Fiona Bloomer & John O’Doherty

The second of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast. – – – ‘Culture wars’ have been a persistent feature of public debate in many Western states since the 1960s including the US and the UK. The ‘frontlines’ for the culture wars have usually been defined by groups and individuals promoting both traditionalist/conservative or progressive/liberal values and ideals. Debates between these groups … Read more

Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 1) – Paul Burgess on the battleground in contemporary NI

Back on Friday 22 November, a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” was held at the University of Ulster, Belfast. The organisers are sharing the day’s talks on Slugger, and there’ll be a post each day covering the programme. – – – The theme of culture wars was chosen because of the on-going (sometimes violent) role which debates about culture often play in contemporary Northern Ireland society, evidenced by sporadic outbursts of violence centred on flag protests, parades and … 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

Challenges for Protestants in “Dealing with the Past”

The second session at the all day PSA/Fellowship of Messines workshop – Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process? – looked back at some of the events and experiences that shaped loyalism. It didn’t particularly address “dealing with the past” in terms of societal remembering, truth commissions etc. (Yesterday’s post documented the first session which covered the history, culture and politics of the Protestant working class – it’s good to see that it attracted an on … Read more

Has the Protestant Working Class lost out in the Peace Process?

That’s the title of a workshop that brought together working class loyalist representatives with some peers from other communities, interested academics and a small number of journalists. The day long event was organised by Dr Aaron Edwards and supported by the Political Studies Association’s Irish Politics Specialist Group and the Fellowship of Messines Association. In an earlier post I posted an interview with PUP leader Billy Hutchinson at the close of the workshop. With four sessions looking at different aspects … Read more

Billy Hutchinson: talking at rallies and protests doesn’t necessarily make you a leader

Billy Hutchinson – leader of the PUP – said during a workshop on Thursday that the media often used the word “loyalist” as a shortcut to mean “criminal”. He quoted the example of a DUP councillor up in court for some misdemeanour who was described in a newspaper as a “loyalist” rather than a “member of the DUP”. I asked him afterwards whether there is much the PUP can do to address the media’s perception of loyalism? One of the … Read more