Edward Carson, ‘No one on earth is so clearly the “typical Irishman”‘

Edward Carson rose in the Lords on December 3 1929 and made a number of points about the Irish Free State and the Privy Council, the legal forum the young Irish state was seeking to do away with. Interestingly, he called the Anglo-Irish Treaty the “Treaty of surrender and betrayal”.  On the matter of his identity, he said: “I am very proud as an Irishman to be a member of the British Empire.” He also said: “I was born and … Read more

The exclusion of Ulster, Mark II?

In the shadow of brexit, uncertainty and rancour reign. Whether or not Remain was Project Fear, the brexit lobby is definitely Project Unclear. We’re still in Europe but with a stay of execution of two years, to use a Carsonism (except we don’t know the terms or extent of severance). All sorts of figures and predictions were made, few have come true. But nobody could have envisaged the savage mortality rate of leading politicians. One thing was certain and predicted, and … Read more

Catholic, Erin and virtue. Protestant, Saxon and guilt.*

    Watch this video, it punched me in the sternum – ‘momondo – The DNA Journey’: We divide people in two. Native or immigrant. Authentic or blow-in. We want certainty, especially in Northern Ireland – Protestant or Catholic, us or them. Catholic is Erin and virtue. Protestant is Saxon and guilt (and “imperialistic blood-suckers” as southern Protestant Hubert Butler said). It’s not unique to Northern Ireland, but is a universal condition. Mistrust of “the other” is typeset into man’s … Read more

Somme: May Trench Raid – death of a great great uncle

Tonight is the one hundreth anniversary of the death of my great great uncle during a German bombardment of the trenches after a succesful trench raid by the Ulstermen – a talk was recently held in the Masonic Hall (the old Tamlaght  / St Lukes Church of Ireland Church Hall), Coagh on Private Robert Sands and other men from Coagh who died in the Great War. In this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme the tragic and brutal slaughter of the Great … Read more

Much can be learned from comparing Salmond and Redmond’s destinies

  One month away from Scotland’s Moment of Truth, it is worth reflecting how eerie the symmetries and coincidences of history can sometimes be.  Followers of Irish and Scottish affairs know this to be a bumper year for anniversaries in both countries.  A millennium ago the celebrated Battle of Clontarf was fought just north of Dublin – a crucial battle in wresting Ireland from Viking control.  Three centuries later the Scots copper-fastened their independence from the English by worsting them in the Battle of … Read more

What was the Ulster Covenant about?

What was the Ulster Covenant whose centenary is being commemorated on “Ulster Day” 29 September really about? 400,000 signed the Solemn League and Covenant and the Women’s Declaration in a vast demonstration of public opinion that still impresses today. The production of the largest Union Jack is history, 48’x25’was an example of PR sureness of touch that Unionism was never to equal although often tried to emulate. Nobody was killed. But how strong was the threat of force implicit in the … Read more

Normality and rugby

In the review of the up-and-coming Heineken Cup final, I made the observation that the sports media have been unused to writing about Ulster given the lack of success in recent times. Player profiles by sports journalists seem to fall into 3 topics; the faith of the players, the foreign players, and the faith of the foreign players. Now the social commentators have started as well, except they only have one topic – rugby and that protestant/catholic thing in the … Read more

Leinster would probably win 9 times out of 10, but…

The first ever all-Irish Heineken Cup final kicks off at 5pm, Saturday 19 May in front of a capacity 81,000 Twickenham crowd: Leinster v Ulster. Ulster? Well, yes, Ulster. The absence of Munster at the most significant game ever between two Irish provinces has left some journalists struggling for content, unaccustomed as they are writing about Ulster. However judging by Munster’s humiliating exit from the Pro12 League semi finals, the press will needs to get used to the new world … Read more

All Ireland football? No. Our wee Province.

Lets get parochial. It seems only a few weeks ago Cork took Sam back to the Rebel County – maybe because it was just a few weeks ago? However, from now on down Down fans (mourning Mournemen?) and the rest of us get to forget the defeats and look forward to next year. Provincial football draws were made tonight! As Slugger is clearly an Ulster blog, I’ll only note the fixtures for the Anglo-Celt cup: Preliminary: Donegal v Antrim 1st … Read more

McDowell takes golf’s crown

It’s a small family legend that at the age of two in 1951, I interrupted a crucial putt in the sole British Open to be played at Royal Portrush with the cry: “What’s that man doing Daddy?” Hundreds of others probably tell the same story. That’s my sole personal link with Portrush’s Graeme McDowell who has just snatched victory in the US Open. To an ingoramus like me, he seemed to come from nowhere, after years of agonising from British … Read more

The prospects of voluntary coalition

Video: Peter Robinson on improving devolution Voluntary coalition seems to be a shibboleth connected with Jim Allister and TUV but in reality all three Unionist parties would prefer voluntary coalition with some form of qualified majority voting put in place to enable a more normal form of Assembly inline with Wales & Scotland which would include a formal opposition, compared to the mandatory coalition we currently operate where nearly all the parties are in government and will remain in government … Read more