Reflecting on motherhood and transgenerational trauma…

Today I’m preparing for my 11th meeting with the World Mental Health Survey initiative, in Harvard. At my first meeting in 2005, Professor Brendan Bunting, Dr Sam Murphy and myself were planning the NI study of Health and Stress (NISHS), the largest study of mental health in NI, and part of an incredible initiative, which studied the rates of mental illness, treated and hidden, in countries all over the world. In 2005, we were having discussed whether people here would … Read more

Memories of the October 5th 1968 Civil Rights March. The day The Troubles began…

  I’ve never spoke on a public platform before, but feel moved to break my silence and contribute to the 50th anniversary civil rights Program. I always remind my twin brother, Fionnbarra, that I am his senior, being born one hour before him at 134 Bogside, which was then known as a single street which ran from the Slaughter House to the junction of Lecky Road & Rossville Street. My mother Mary Ellen, born 1908. hailed from Ballee, Ballymagory near … Read more

That day in 1983 when they bombed Andersonstown RUC Station…

Our Primary 7 classroom shook silently for a second before the noise reached our ears. When it did, it was a low thud followed by a deafening grumble. We all knew what it was; we’d heard many explosions before. After the blast I turned towards the window of the classroom which looked out onto the Glen Road. Someone shouted, ‘That’ll be the barracks again.’ The Andersonstown RUC Station, known locally as ‘the barracks’ would become one of the most bombed … Read more

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

Without fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images
by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation
28 November 2016

The latest incarnation of the Troubled Images project — the launch of a free downloadable iBook  — was cause for a reunion of sorts at the Linen Hall Library for the original team that compiled and published its original CD-ROM 15 years ago.

Read moreWithout fear or favour: 30 years of Troubled Images

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • •

Digitising the peace process

Digitising the peace process by Allan LEONARD for Northern Ireland Foundation 1 September 2016 “You have to go to the archives!” an academic supervisor once advised me. At the time, this meant physically traveling to where the precious documents were stored, with your official letter requesting access permission, and spending hours transcribing (sometimes with only a pencil allowed). You were thankful if the items were available on microfilm or microfiche, because it took less time to review more material. And … Read more

A surprising mutual appreciation for Pink Floyd at the end of a gun…

Funny the things you notice when someone is standing in front of you with a gun. On this particular occasion (because there were many) I noticed three things. Firstly, this person was about the same age as me. Secondly, he looked really pissed off. Thirdly, and I don’t know why I looked at his hands-oh yeah, he was carrying a gun that was pointed kinda in my direction in his hands- I noticed that he had tattoos across his knuckles. … Read more

DLA, mental health, and the legacy of the Troubles

The debate surrounding welfare reform in Northern Ireland has gradually seen opinion divide into one of two camps; those who decry any reform of the system as “ruthless Tory cuts”, and those on the other hand who see the swelling ranks of those claiming DLA as evidence that the feckless and workshy are gaining a free ride. The truth is, as ever, somewhat more complex. There is no doubt that the numbers in Northern Ireland claiming DLA are vastly higher … Read more

“I don’t want to photograph politicians any more, I don’t believe them any more…”

Two engaging interviews from The Arts Show, this first is with the Portrait photographer Bobby Hanvey, and the other with the Irish News cartoonist of twenty five years, Ian Knox… Last word to Rowel Friars, a cartoonist who began his career before the Troubles started, speaking in a 1994 interview with the BBC… “When I started out it was general humour. But once the Troubles broke out we were in hell and I had to turn to the political scene, … Read more

Forget ethnic thematics: a straightforward response to Billy Hutchinson

Billy Hutchinson’s explanation for his sectarian murders has been covered below by David McCann. Unfortunately they degenerate into concepts like “Truth recovery”, “ethnic thematics” and such like. The News Letter have provided somewhat more direct responses. From the News Letter: Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said that Mr Hutchinson’s attempted justification of his murders “bore all the hallmarks of the same sick delusional thinking that is prevalent within the republican movement”. Referring to the UVF slogan ‘For God and … Read more

Cartoon – #Paisleydoc

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

An English Guinness?

This time of year is always interesting for the release of state papers under the thirty year rule. The release of these papers bring fresh light on a period of our past and often reveal tensions we thought were there as well as unearthing stories we didn’t even expect.The one story that struck me and made the front page of the Newsletter was the fact that the Guinness family considered moving the brand from Dublin to their English base. The … Read more

Apologise, apologise. Who me?

Two interesting letters in the Irish Times (flagged up to me by Jeff Dudgeon) on the “apology” front worth printing out rather than only hyperlinking to.  Michael Lillis whom I knew and liked had the courage to engage frankly with unionists and thus represented a new departure. In his time it was unionist obduracy that contributed to the Anglo -Irish Agreement, for me the slowburn creative shock treatment that brought them slowly into reality. Others will disagree. Philip Flynn a … Read more