What simple, imaginative elisions might suffice a genuine reconciliation for Northern Ireland?

Yesterday, Martin McGuinness (and a cohort of SF politicians from north and south) was at Messines, where thousands of Irishmen died in the Battle of the Somme.  An important gesture, no doubt. But in 2016, how is that decade of centenaries coming along in real Northern Ireland? In Derry the council has ordered the halting of work on the war memorial in the city’s Diamond. And in Magherafelt there’s an out of the blue proposal for a statue of Pádraig …

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Justice Minister declines Dublin rebellion commemoration invite, citing lack of reflection

After Friday’s Newsletter frontpage I was prompted to purchase a copy of Peter Lynas’ recently published “100 Days 100 Years” – a magazine format read that contains prayerful reflections on 1916 from a diverse range of personalities with a public presence in the main in Northern Ireland. The striking thing for me so far is the almost understanding each participant has to the concept of the ‘other’ – those parallel chronologies whose intersections and tangents together form the totality of our …

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To truly remember, we must let war die. We must let the war dead rest in peace…

In this country of ours, we have a story and a history that is very sad. It is very traumatic for many people. I think today of those who have lost family, friends or comrades to the violent times here. In doing so, I am not judging one death or suffering family as any less or more deserving than another. To remember something, it must, by definition, be in the past. If it is not in the past, we need …

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To remember or not to remember…

Last year on Remembrance Sunday I called into Joanmount Methodist Church in North Belfast a short time before the service was to start.  The church was filling up with most of the congregation wearing poppies.   After a brief conversation with the minister, I then drove less than a mile to the nearest Catholic Church which is in Sacred Heart Parish where I am the parish priest.  The contrast on that particular day could not have been more startling. The congregation …

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The complex issue of how we remember ALL those who died in conflict…

The issue of remembering those who died as a result of war or conflict is a very complex one.  John Hewitt, one of our local poets even cautions using the word “remember.” “For the people of my province and the rest of Ireland Bear in mind these dead: I can find no plainer words. I dare not risk using that loaded word, Remember, for your memory is a cruel web threaded from thorn to thorn across a hedge of dead …

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1916 Rising and getting beyond the commodification of remembrance [Redux]…

So the decade of commemorations? Remember that? So far it has turned out to be little more than a damp squib. The reason for that may lie in the fact that it was originally framed by an Irish government which is no longer in power, and at a time when money and resources were less of an object than in these times of austerity. One of the governing ideas of this decade was to begin to look for island wide …

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Remembrance: Could we ‘hack’ a common purpose from our shared and bloody history?

‘Traditions’ which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented. Eric Hobsbawm In his introduction to a 1983 collection of essays Eric Hobsbawm notes not only that traditions are by definition ‘unchanging and invariant’, but that they are themselves created or invented as a response to rapid technological and social change in wider society. A solid fixed point in a modern urbanised society that has less time for the transmission of immutable custom. …

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Shankill bomb: As the fog of war lifts welcome to the hall of smoke and mirrors

In all the understandable controlled angry over destruction the Shankill bomb wrought, both on the day and the weeks after, Anthony McIntyre, then an IRA volunteer, reminds people his organisation was on a war footing at the time, and no amount of hindsight can change the circumstances under which Kelly and Begley planted that ill fated bomb: Wax ethical and sigh at the terrible loss of life, as we might today, three quarters of we who came through the ranks …

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On Monday remember Loughinisland and all those killed on June 18th…

Trevor Ringland has a letter in today’s Irish Times: In common with many others on this island, I remember well June 18th, 1994. The Republic of Ireland’s win over Italy in the World Cup was fantastic and gave all of us a tremendous boost. All of us that is, except those who walked into the Heights Bar in Loughinisland and sprayed it with bullets killing six people and seriously wounding five others. As news of this terrible atrocity filtered out, …

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Dealing with the past: Conflicting schools of thought…

Political Studies Association

Fascinating and genuinely insightful paper from Dr Cillian McGrattan of the University of the West of Scotland and Dr Maíre Braniff of the University of Ulster which was presented at the PSA’s Annual Conference today… It’s particularly enlightening with regard to a much discussed topic on Slugger, i.e. Dealing with the Past… Whilst I would urge you to read the whole thing, I was particularly intrigued in their identification of the endogenous factors in how the past has been dealt …

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Culture After Conflict: Between Remembrance and Reconciliation.

Ulster Museum 23rd March …Sponsored by Instiute of British-Irish Studies (IBIS) at UCD. Following closely on “Remembering the Future” a CRC event, IBIS held a related event at the Ulster Museum. There were about 200, mostly pre-registered, “attendees” but I noted that many of the well known names on the list did not actually show up. Against a background of upcoming centenaries what exactly can or should the Cultural Community do to foster a positive approach to it all. Chairing …

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Photograph of the day – found

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the …

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An Irishman reasons why not to wear a Poppy…

Fergus O’Rourke on his non fanatical reasoning as to why he won’t be wearing a poppy this or in any other year… What was Britain’s purpose in WW1? That is a question routinely evaded, but whatever it was, it did not include granting self-determination to Ireland. We had been duped. (Two decades later, it was entirely understandable that we should have been resistant to a reprise of the dupe rôle.) Why should we “honour” as a body of men those …

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