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

Blind spots in cultural terminology

One long-standing problem in Northern Ireland is the fact that many things have multiple names, the choice of which can be both revealing and controversial. Derry/Londonderry is the most well-known example, and the name of Northern Ireland itself (or the avoidance of it) can also cause friction. However, such problems can be glossed over by simply ignoring the speaker’s choice of terminology, as it does not introduce ambiguity into the discussion. Less obvious are those things that do not have … Read more

Some People Just Want To Watch The World Burn

One of these images is a view from my apartment block on bonfire night 2014… one of these is a scene from 2004 zombie-flick Dawn of the Dead…   The entire area becomes uninhabitable for the night, you physically cannot leave your house unless you’re willing to navigate your way through crowds of overly-intoxicated, often threatening bonfire attendees, if a resident was to have a medical emergency, the consequence doesn’t bear thinking about. This isn’t culture. This is a riot. … Read more

Caption Competition

Alex Kane quoted a Sinn Fein associate in the News Letter: We can always rely on unionist disarray or paranoia to help us out. And then we can remember Mitchel McLaughlin’s “faux pas of the month” back in 2006: … asked to explain exactly what Sinn Féin had achieved for its supporters, media-disaster Mitchel spluttered for a moment before blurting out: “The degree of uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the unionist community!” Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, … Read more

Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation. A book about how things are changing.

Book cover - Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland by Lee Smithey

Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland is a new academic tome by lecturer and researcher Lee Smithey. In the book the Pennsylvania academic outlines his findings based on 67 interviews over eighteen months with grassroots activists in unionist and loyalist communities and organisations. This is largely a book about men, even though they make up less than half of Northern Ireland’s population. Surely conflict transformation, as a process that includes broad-based cultural change, must involve both men and … Read more

Educational underachievement and disadvantaged PUL males

One subject which didn’t get raised on Slugger last week was the publication of the report into educational underachievement and disadvantaged protestant males by Dawn Purvis and her independent working group. Protestant educational underachievement has been a much talked about situation over the years: generational unemployment, last of aspiration, lack of positive role models on top of the Troubles legacy, poverty, deprivation and family breakdown. Statistics bounce around the media about the low number of boys on the Shankill Road … Read more