Northern Ireland at 100: Unionism failing; Nationalism stuck; Moderates thriving…

One hundred years after Partition, Northern Ireland is still in existence. It would surely come as a big surprise to many who thronged the streets of Belfast on June 22nd 1921 – the date King George V opened the first NI Parliament in City Hall – that unionism is now a minority in Stormont. It would also surely come as a big surprise to many nationalists in 1972 that the state set up to guarantee unionist rule in north-east Ireland …

Read more…

Wanted: NI artefacts and memorabilia from 1998 onwards

James Ashe is a final year Graphic Communication student at Norwich University of the Arts. He’s a freelance designer and photographer with an interest in brands, print and visual identity projects. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which changed the landscape of Northern Ireland. As I approach the conclusion of my studies in Norwich, I am putting together a book that is a reflection of growing up in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It’s entitled You Can’t …

Read more…

Burying bad news: the defeat of People’s Democracy

The elections have proved a good day to bury bad news. Not the minor issue of a government U turn on the decision to make all English schools become academies but rather the scandalous decision to defy the democratically expressed will of the British people. I refer of course to the scandal of the naming of the new Polar Research Ship. This is going to be named RRS (Royal Research Ship) Sir David Attenborough. Previous ships have been named after …

Read more…

The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power #dupbook launch

After much trailing in the Belfast Telegraph, five academics launched their book based around two years of research with DUP members and interviews with DUP elected representatives and staff. The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power looks at the origins of the DUP and its rise to power, the changing discourses that shifted the party from being anti-agreement to in government post St Andrews, as well as slicing and dicing the membership, the role of religion, faith and women …

Read more…

Book launches: Everyday Life After the Irish Conflict and Belfast 400

Two books were launched tonight in Belfast. A reception was held at the City Hall to mark the book commissioned to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the city’s charter. I reviewed Belfast 400: People, Place and History (edited by Sean Connolly) back in December. It tells the story of the city that “emerged as the capital of Irish Unionism” yet was also “the birthplace of a United Irish movement committed to the establishment of an independent Irish republic”. Industrialisation, …

Read more…

Why (and how) smart people can prove thicker than the rest of us…

[Cough] Not looking at anyone in particular, but I’ve just come across this nice piece of research on the YouGov-Cambridge site. It’s just one reason why most of us are more than just a little suspicious of smart people. On the whole, it seems, they are thicker than the rest of us. Over to Stefan Shakespeare: Psychologists use the term ‘the bias blind spot’ to describe our ability to see the thinking errors of other people while not recognizing the …

Read more…

Northern Ireland youth and the critical importance of mobility…

There’s an interesting longitudinal research just published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the problems faced by 18 young people growing up in Northern Ireland. Each were interviewed up to seven times since the research began back in 1997. They’re all now aged 25 to 33. It tells a series of stories (without pretending it is the real and definitive story) about the first generation to grow up in a largely trouble free society. But it’s work in trying to …

Read more…

In terms of post-recession employment, the young and the vulnerable are suffering the most – but what will we do about it?

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland logo

In many ways the Equality Commission’s 115 report confirmed my shallow understanding of the recession. People who’ve never worked – eg, the young – are struggling to get jobs. People who have lost jobs are struggling to regain employment. Vulnerable groups are finding it tough. And blue collar has so far been worse than white collar.