RTE have just screened a documentary In the Name of Peace; John Hume in America by Maurice Fitzpatrick which the film maker has kindly drawn to my attention. Being in London I cannot access it yet nor have I read his accompanying book. But from the YouTube trail, this is a major celebration of John Hume’s life and work. Anybody who was anybody is in it, led by Clinton and Blair, although Jimmy Carter was not quite so dazzled. As … Read more
Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”
One single buff-coloured file, three or four inches thick, contains the stapled minutes of NIO meetings with political parties in May 1991 as they negotiated about the strand one, two and three talks. While perhaps the single most frustrating file I’ve flicked through in PRONI over the last couple of years, the level of detail in the civil service minutes of meetings is incredible, and the retention of humorous asides provides a lot of colour about the characters involved and their relationships.
SEAMUS MALLON called for people to “be good ancestors as opposed to being good rememberers” in order to move forward. He was speaking on a political panel on the opening day of the John Hewitt International Summer School along with Naomi Long, Steven Agnew and Doug Beattie, chaired by Peter Osborne.
Following the tributes to John Hume on his 80th birthday, the venerable SDLP deputy leader and the initial deputy first minster Seamus Mallon has given a fascinating interview to the Irish News for his own 80th. In passing I can’t help noticing the comparisons and contrasts with Sinn Fein. What are yours? On working with David Trimble, Ulster unionist leader and the first FM Mallon says his permanent secretary, civil servant Billy Gamble – “an absolute gem” – regularly had … Read more
RELATIONSHIP COUNSELLING – Reading through two newly released files documenting “Political Developments in NI” from 1989 and 1990, you get a feel for the sheer number of documented conversations between senior SDLP figures and officials in the NIO about the tensions in the leadership around the talks process.
Seamus Mallon has been speaking to Talkback (interview to be played later today on Radio Ulster) where he reflects on his career and comments on his views about his then party leader, John Hume. Speaking to William Crawley, the BBC reports; John Hume was “no fool” but that Sinn Féin leaders played him “like a 3lb trout”. Mr Hume’s presence gave republicans a status almost validating what they did in the previous 30 years, he said. Mr Mallon reiterated previous … Read more
From John Manley in today’s Irish News; Just over two weeks out from the crucial leadership vote, the one-time Newry and Armagh MP said he believed the Foyle MLA could unite the SDLP and end the “stagnation and negativity” that he believes has beset the party in recent years. Mr Eastwood (32) launched his bid to unseat SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell last month. In the wake of May’s general election a host of party grandees and current representatives called for … Read more
Séamus Mallon has a speech transcript in the Sindo today. In it he takes his usual stance on the counterproductive futility of armed republicanism. But one fundamental contradiction sticks out like a sore thumb. Early on he says: In that spirit let me say I applaud current efforts to make 1916 commemorations truly inclusive. In the event, the men and women of 1916 received a retrospective democratic endorsement which more recent violence including against this State has never obtained. But … Read more
John Manley has a great scoop in today’s Irish News with comments from the former Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon on the leadership of Alasdair McDonnell. It is no secret that some party members are unhappy with McDonnell but now one of the big beasts of the party has came out to call on him to go. Speaking to Manley he said that McDonnell should resign “as soon as possible” adding that if he acted decisively it would be good … Read more
Tom Kelly in the Irish News today makes a point worth re-iterating in the case of Seamus Mallon: Mallon is an erudite, eloquent but earthy politician. Listeners immediately get what he is saying. There’s no gobbledegook peace-nik speak, no motherhood and apple pie sweet nothings and certainly no pan European fudge eulogising about Franco-German love ins. Mallon like Seamus Heaney does his digging with language. And he did it in spades on the aptly named programme “For the record- Seamus … Read more
Marian Finucane caught up with Seamus Mallon when he was in Dublin recently with David Trimble to pick up their honorary degrees from Dublin City University. She did not pussy foot around, and began by asking the SDLP’s former Deputy First Minister, what he thought [in his own words] ‘needs to be said’: Stop this interminable failure to deal with issues, to them put them on the long finger, to treat them as though they didn’t exist. To run your … Read more