Building trust and policing for the present – Martin McGuinness and George Hamilton at #feile15

Around 400 people filled the assembly hall of St Mary’s University College to hear deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton discuss the challenges of dealing with the past under the eye of chair Brian Rowan. Another 100 or more stood along the pavement outside St Mary’s protesting at the presence of the Chief Constable in West Belfast and calling for an end to “British internment in Ireland”. A tannoy blasted music over the railing towards … Read more

Zero sum narratives

The recent BBC documentary on The Disappeared has been picked over in detail. It is, however an example of the continuing “War of the Past” we have been having recently in Northern Ireland. Frequently this has been described as an attempt to create a “Narrative of the Past” in which case we seem to have a Zero Sum Narrative developing. The battles over these narratives seem analogous to trench warfare with attacks on the other side’s position being variously repulsed … Read more

Victims’ Commissioner sets herself against victims

Sam McBride from the News Letter has a series of articles interviewing Kathyrn Stone the relatively new victims’ commissioner in which she has expressed views likely to undermine her role as a spokesperson for victims. Stone’s problems seem to come from refusing to state an opinion on some of the most basic of issues relating to victims. Ms Stone declined to say whether the IRA, which killed 1,706 people, or the UVF, which killed 430, were terrorists. When asked whether, … Read more

Republican Castlederg parade: the insensitivity of the impotent

West Tyrone Sinn Fein’s strategy over the 11th August parade in Castlederg has been progressing according to a fairly well worn formula. Initially the annual event was announced at the spot where the volunteers Seamus Harvey and Gerard McGlynn were killed 40 years ago on active service. (translation IRA terrorists blew themselves up with their own bomb). Then following the predictable outcry which Sinn Fein apparently without irony have blamed on unionist politicians the parade has been rerouted to avoid … Read more

David Latimer backs Sinn Fein position (again)

David Latimer is back in the news again. The minister of First Derry Presbyterian Church who previously went to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis and told us that Martin McGuinness was “one of the true great leaders of modern times” and that we were all guilty for the Troubles is back again. This time he was responding to Declan Kearney’s comments about republicans thinking about reconciliation. When Kearney first made the comments unionists comprehensively rejected Kearney’s comments as partial and … Read more

Other reasons for McArdle’s resignation?

Mick has some thoughts on Mary McArdle standing down as a special advisor below. It may have been that Sinn Fein or Ms. McArdle felt the need for her to move on and as Mick says Ann Travers may on UTV have been determined to see it as an act of reconciliation. A slightly different analysis of the situation is presented by the News Letter. Ms Travers said she thought the reason for the timing of the resignation may have … Read more

Terrorists and Forgiveness

The News Letter yesterday had an article quoting (and interviewing Ian Bothwell of the Crossfire Trust in Darkley). He suggests that some Republicans he has spoken to are “seeking forgiveness for their past.” From the News letter: He says he knows several former IRA members who would like closure on the deeds they have committed in the past. “We are talking about a number of republicans who have engaged in front-line activity,” he told the News Letter. “They would like … Read more

Twentieth anniversary of Teebane

Almost any date in Northern Ireland is the anniversary of a death from the Troubles. Often the less iconic are forgotten about. As such marking one event may be unfair to the relatives of the less well known about deaths. Sometimes, however, the anniversary is such that is should be marked. This is the 20th anniversary of the Teebane murders. 20 years ago this evening a group of workmen were returning home from working on Lisanelly army base in Omagh: … Read more

Loughgall terrorists could not have been arrested

The Belfast Telegraph and BBC are reporting the results of the HET enquiry into the Loughgall ambush in 1987 where eight members of the IRA’s est Tyrone brigade and an innocent passer-by were killed. For those who do not remember the incident the IRA gang attacked the small RUC station in the village of Loughgall; this attack being part of a pattern of attacking small rural RUC stations (previously Ballygawley and the Birches had been attacked). The terrorists arrived in … Read more

Thoughts on the death of Gusty Spence

The day after Gusty Spence died the Irish News had the story on the front page. The News Letter instead led with the story of an eighteen year old deeply religious maths student from Kilkeel who was studying at Queens and who was tragically killed in a road traffic accident. In many ways the News Letter’s position would be typical of the views of Northern Ireland’s unionist community and on this subject it picked the mood pretty accurately. Firstly lest … Read more

Mary Lynch in the Impartial: saying things that need to be said

Mary Lynch was mentioned on slugger a couple of months ago when there were complaints about her column in the Impartial Reporter. Ms. Lynch refers to those comments in her latest piece saying: “I may not say things that people want to hear but these things need to be said.” On this occasion one of the things Ms. Lynch felt the need to say was about her “illegal and inhumane treatment in 1978” (by the RUC). This treatment seems indeed … Read more

Protestant Alienation 2011

Almost 20 years ago now the academic community in Northern Ireland first began looking at the concept of Protestant Alienation. Amongst the factors they identified were the feeling that the Hume Adams talks were creating a blueprint for the defeat of unionism which the British government might acquiesce to. That feeling of alienation increased with events such as the IRA ceasefire. Looking back it is now easy to read the IRA ceasefire as a victory for unionism: the IRA had … Read more

The Belfast blitz: remembering the victims

After almost seventy years, it looks like Belfast may erect a public memorial to the victims of WWII bombing raids on the city. Most people in present-day Belfast are probably vaguely aware that it was bombed during the war, but a memorial may help to prompt more understanding of the actual scale of the devastation wreaked by the Luftwaffe’s bombs. On the night of Easter Tuesday, 15th April 1941, two hundred Nazi bombers attacked the city. With over 900 people killed, … Read more