For the sake of future generations, we simply cannot go on like this…

I remember back in 1984 being on holiday on a Greek island and wasting an evening drinking largely on my own while a friend who hailed from the loyalist part of the Donegall Road, spent hours trying to convince a friendly English couple that he was British not Irish. After around two hours of the best persuasive arguments he could muster, the woman said, ‘But you’re Irish!’ I learned a couple of lessons that evening, one was not to waste …

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Today is the 15th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Devlin…

The bedroom light was flicked on abruptly bringing me up from a deep safe sleep.  Confused, I struggled to understand what my sixteen-year-old son was saying; there had been a fight; his friends were hurt; the police were downstairs; they wanted to speak with me.   I sharply admonish him for going out again; when I went to bed at 10.00 p.m., he and his friends were playing video games in the back bedroom.  It was August 10th 2005. A policewoman …

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The Forgotten Troubles 1920-1922: The Derry Riots 1920…

On 12th August 1969 Derry City exploded into violence and running battles that would eventually become known as the Battle of The Bogside after the Annual Relief of the City Parade held by the Apprentice Boys. This rioting lasted for three days and is widely seen as the start of the Troubles or Northern Ireland conflict. What is less well known, however, is that almost fifty years previously, in June 1920 Derry saw a far bloodier spate of communal rioting …

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The Forgotten Troubles 1920-1922: The Altnaveigh Massacre…

The violence which engulfed Northern Ireland in 1922 was possibly the most intense the region has ever seen. The massacre at Altnaveigh has become synonymous with the sectarian violence which occurred particularly in the first half of 1922. It has also become a symbol of Republican aggression in the border regions, for Unionists living along that area particularly. Altnaveigh elicits comparisons with the abhorrent Kingsmill massacre when ten Protestant workmen were taken from their bus by Republican paramilitaries and murdered …

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The Forgotten Troubles 1920-1922: The McMahon Murders…..

When one thinks about the Troubles in Northern Ireland one invariably recalls the horrors of 1969-1998 and the violence, often savage that embroiled our society. However, this was not the first vicious conflict that Northern Ireland had seen. For my new series of articles, I thought I would look at a time period which has been mostly forgotten in Northern Ireland and largely written out of the War of Independence and Civil War period of 1919-1922. Northern Ireland was borne …

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The Belfast Shipyard Expulsions and Their Aftermath, 21st July 1920…

The general election held in 1918 had completely transformed the post-war politics of Ireland, with the Sinn Féin candidates winning a majority of FPTP seats by a landslide vote. These newly elected members boycotted Westminster and established an alternative assembly in Dublin on 21st January 1919. Despite the mounting campaign of political violence that had also developed during 1919 and in early 1920, by July Robert Lynd could still accurately write, “So far as the mass of people are concerned, …

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The swing vote

In Northern Ireland it is all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that there are two sides to everything, and that neither side is capable of changing its mind on any substantial issue. This leads to the politics of eternal negotiation, where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and no change can be argued on its own merits. Instead of playing the political game to find out who will win, politicians game the rulebook in order …

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St Patrick’s Night and the Zombie Apocalypse…

Last night I had the misfortune of driving through the zombie apocalypse; or as it’s called, St Patrick’s night in the Holylands area of Belfast. Amid the broken bottles, fire trucks, police and ambulance crews I heard young zombies speaking in every accent of this land (although a Belfast accent was hard to find to be honest), stumbling from one over-crowded house of multiple party occupancy to another. Many, if not all, were bedecked in some sort of symbol of …

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Working class sectarian living is not caused by middle class bigotry, but a pervasive willingness to turn a blind eye

Newton Emerson has two good columns out today. I’ll start with the one in the Irish Times in which he takes Danny Kennedy to task for the old PUP nostrum of middle-class bigotry being harder to tackle than that of the working class. Importantly, he notes: From adolescent rioting through to active paramilitary membership, everything generally considered ‘most problematic’ about sectarianism is correlated directly with deprivation, and hence at least with perceptions of class. So how, he asks, does this …

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Paisley: Relic of the Past or Harbinger of the Future?

I recently chanced upon this 1987 review by Charles Townshend in the LRB of Steve Bruce’s God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism. It now reads as a fascinating period piece. Just the previous month, Paisley had performed the first of his major protests at the European Parliament, heckling Margaret Thatcher. She was congratulating the EEC on its expansion to Spain and Portugal when he stood up, brandishing an ‘Ulster Says No’ poster, and shouted, “I would like …

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There is nothing Loyal about Sectarianism

William Ennis, A member of the PUP, writes for us about the issues of Loyalism and Sectarianism in Northern Ireland The Loyalist activist will also be a human rights activist and will work to ensure that the rights and liberties of the people living and working within his or her community are not infringed. If the principles of civil and religious liberty are to be more than a mere slogan on a banner or an Orange Arch they must be …

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“We need to sort out a dysfunctional and deeply cynical approach by the dominant parties.”

There’s a strong sense of politicians going through the motions each time there’s a plenary debate on Northern Ireland issues. Two exceptions this afternoon were Paul Murphy of the Anti Austerity Alliance who gave a pretty blistering account of SF’s role in the signing up to the so called fantasy budget, and Micheal Martin… I’ll add Murphy’s speech when we get the text, but here’s Martin’s in full: The sad reality is that the situation in Northern Ireland is now …

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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. …

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Gerry Kelly: “The letter with the figures said it all because it dealt with anti-sectarianism and that’s the way I am…”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly is still squirming on the sectarian hook the party hoisted him on during his failed campaign in North Belfast during the UK parliamentary election. [Petard? – Ed]  Pardon you… After his party colleague, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, [Good heavens, you’re the Culture Minister?! – Ed], tried, and failed, to blame the Electoral Commission for Sinn Féin’s use of the 2011 census’ breakdown of the constituency by religion, or religion brought up in, to support the party’s claim that Gerry …

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Carál Ní Chuilín: “Electoral commission vetoed using last election figures…” – Update

David may not want to go there, although ‘idealistic’ wasn’t the first word that sprang to mind.  [Was it another word beginning with ‘i’? – Ed]  You might very well think that…  ANYhoo… Gerry Kelly’s Sinn Féin colleague in north Belfast, and the Northern Ireland Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, should, perhaps, have other things on her mind.  But, on Thursday, the Minister was on Twitter defending Sinn Féin’s use of the 2011 census’ breakdown of the constituency by religion in support of the party’s …

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Attack on Orange Hall in Convoy, Co. Donegal

Over the last decade or so there has been a modest revival in the Orange Order and associated bands in parts of the RoI. This has been seen in parts of Donegal as well as the other border counties. Many events in Fermanagh will now see small but growing bands from the RoI. This modest revival is purely religious and cultural: whatever one may think of the political positions of the Orange Order, these are not manifested in the RoI. …

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It’s not the Orange Order “coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols”

So, I was going to let this one run til the PCC had its say, but for the record here’s Colin Freeman’s offending dispatch from Baghdad in the Telegraph last week… “Ever since last week, not a day has gone past without them coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols,” said Imad Ahmed, a shopkeeper in the Sunni district of Adel in west Baghdad. “They say they will crush the Isis terrorists and anyone who …

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Quick STOP THE PRESS! Religious prejudice rediscovered in Northern Ireland…

Not sure what others make of this latest culture war controversy, but I think Jim Sheridan captures my own confusion at the broad surprise in the media and the political classes… Quick STOP THE PRESS ….Northern Irish Politicians may be prejudiced against someone of a different religion! #AnnaLo #WhatsNew — Jim Sheridan (@Jim_Sheridan) May 29, 2014 Shared space anyone? Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider …

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“Sit down and stop acting like a petulant child.”

According to the BBC’s Mark Simpson, former Provisional IRA OC in the Maze Prison, now Sinn Féin leader in Belfast City Council, Cllr Jim McVeigh, objected tonight when DUP Cllr Ruth Patterson put on a Linfield football scarf while speaking on a motion calling on the council to honour out-going Linfield manager David Jeffrey.  From the BBC report The monthly meeting of the council on Monday was held up for more than 10 minutes as a result of complaints from Mr McVeigh. …

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After Haass: US must understand it has absolutely no dog in a sectarian fight…

Interesting that although Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan appeared on Fared Zakaria’s Global Public Square on Sunday (h/t Ruarai) there was absolutely no mention of Belfast or Northern Ireland. There was, however, a fascinating contemporary analogue at play regarding the role of sectarianism in the Middle East. Richard Haass: These are societies that have never really dealt successfully with modernity. You’ve never had a clear divide between the religious and the secular. People confuse democracy and majoritarianism. There’s not a …

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