Lecture – Rory Montgomery: ‘The Good Friday Agreement and a United Ireland’

The former Irish ambassador to the EU, Rory Montgomery, delivered his inaugural lecture as honorary professor of practice at the QUB Mitchell Institute on Tuesday evening. His topic – The Good Friday Agreement and a United Ireland – had a contemporary feel as the civic conversation intensifies around whether to and how to hold border polls. The 45 minute lecture was followed by half an hour of questions from the audience moderated by Professor Christopher McCrudden.  While Belfast Agreement …

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Irish Political leaders building cautious consensus on a United Ireland

It was quite refreshing to see a reasonable debate on a United Ireland on Claire Byrne Live on Monday. There were pivotal moments from the get-go with Mary Lou McDonald and Leo Varadkar seeming to build a cautious consensus together in regard to the Northern Ireland question and how to go about it. It certainly felt from the outside looking in, a true start to the conversation of seeking Irish unity in the South in the modern era. For many …

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Ireland’s Future-Changing Narratives and Changing Language

Gerry Carlile is the CEO of Ireland’s Future  The labelling of people ‘Green’ and ‘Orange’ to describe their political outlook is becoming increasingly dated. In fact, the laziness inherent in those labels are patronising and offensive. The peace process signalled an end to such broad sweeping and blunt labels to describe an increasingly complex and nuanced spectrum of political views across the north. Even a cursory analysis of those who use these descriptors reveal a certain brand of intellectual and …

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Irish unity : going nowhere fast

So how’s the Irish reunification campaign coming along ? According to Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald, there doesn’t need to be one, because it’s already been won. A few days ago, speaking to Owen Jones, McDonald said of a United Ireland : ‘We’ll do it in the next decade. We’ll do it in this decade, actually.’  This is an example of the nationalist equivalent of the ‘inevitability doctrine’ I wrote about a few months back. In my previous article, …

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The mechanics of a unification referendum need attention

Dr Alan Renwick is Chair of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland. He is Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, and an expert on referendums around the world. An independent group of academics has just published a report on how any future referendums on the question of Irish unification would best be designed and conducted. The group, which I chair, has no view on whether such referendums – or unification itself …

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Copper Fastening Stormont provides the smoothest path to an agreed Island

Michael Martin has a long record in politics and is undoubtedly part of the Good Friday generation in his understanding of North-South relations. His shared Island Unit can only be the result of a thirst to implement the agreement in full without an obsession over the simplistic narrative of a border poll to fix all ills. His re-focus on local projects to lift up long forgotten border communities should be applauded by all (the detail of which has been sadly …

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‘A united Ireland that is socially liberally, tolerant, European and economically successful is attractive’

Irish unity could be an attractive option if the new nation is socially liberal, outward looking, multi-cultural, European and economically successfully, while respecting both the Irish and British cultures and traditions, believes Will Glendinning. To be economically successful it may need support from both the European Union and the United States, he adds. Will is a former chief executive of the Community Relations Council, has been an Alliance Party MLA for West Belfast and was also a member of the …

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In the brave new world outside the EU, the DUP have no survival strategy for the Union

The quivering projection of Big Ben onto the facade of Downing St accompanied by its tinny recorded chimes while the Brexit deliverer skulked inside, said it all. Boris Johnson did not want to be visibly identified with the big moment in case it all goes pear shaped.  In former times retreats on such a scale were the result of war. That’s about best thing that can be said about Brexit; the worst is that it’s heading for a bigger reverse, …

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Peter Robinson was Right: Unionism Needs a Plan B…

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson warned Unionists in 2018 that they should be preparing for a United Ireland. He used the analogy of one’s house burning and having insurance in place in case it does, commenting “I don’t expect my own house to burn down but I still insure it because it could happen”. Indeed, he doesn’t want his house to burn down, but prepares for the possibility of doing so, and is therefore prepared if it does. Peter Robinson’s analogy is telling because it demonstrates …

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Unionist concerns and fears of a united Ireland: where are the women?

Another day, another report into a united Ireland. This time Senator Mark Daly has published his findings on, ‘Unionist Concerns and fears of a United Ireland.’ The report is based on a recommendation given to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Daly’s research contains writings and submissions from unionist political figures such as Mike Nesbitt, Kyle Paisley and Trevor Ringland. Dr James Wilson, at the request of Senator Daly, also conducted focus groups with …

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‘Brexit means that Northern Ireland’s constitutional future has become an issue for Europe’, says Denis Bradley

Denis Bradley was keen to move on in the latest Forward Together podcast interview to discuss the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.  “Well that’s the one that intrigues me because I don’t know the answer!,” he says. “First of all I think something very important happened within the last couple of weeks and has not received attention. And that is that the Europeans have said if there a no deal situation we will still have to deal with the Northern …

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Unionist fears of identity loss and land grabs in a United Ireland

Senator Mark Daly has today launch a report looking at Unionist fears in a united Ireland.  The report interviewed a number of different sections of the Unionist community, although it has to be pointed out that no women seem to be included in any of the comments put forward. It summarises the main points of concern as follows; 1. Loss of Identity and the place of unionism within a united Ireland 2. Triumphalism 3. Retribution on former members of the …

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Eames-Bradley process ‘should have done more to take the Irish government with it’ – says Denis Bradley

The Eames-Bradley process should have engaged more closely with the Irish government and ensured it was on board with the recommendations, says co-chair Denis Bradley in the latest Forward Together podcast. Eames-Bradley – properly called the Consultative Group on the Past – was published more than a decade ago and was intended to provide a way of dealing with the past and the needs and concerns of victims and survivors.Denis says “I do [think the] report itself is an extremely …

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How Brexit changes a unionist to a united Irelander

Brexit is making some unionists re-evaluate their allegiance to the UK – and consider support for a united Ireland, says Philip Gilliland, a commercial lawyer and former president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve been given a gift which is called Brexit, because it’s allowed those of us who are from a Protestant background to be able to talk about the heresy of the united Ireland in a way that is not heresy,” says Philip in the latest Forward …

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‘Let’s create an all-island, integrated, health service, and let’s begin now’

There needs to be an all-island, integrated, health service, and its creation should not be dependent upon the agreement or timing of a united Ireland, argues Professor Jim Dornan – one of the architects of existing cross-border co-operation in health services.  Jim was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “In many ways Ireland is a Goldilocks sized country for health provision,” he explains.  “We can cherry pick the best of health provision throughout the world and let’s introduce it …

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‘We have a political process instead of a peace process’

Northern Ireland has “had a political process at the cost of a peace process”, believes Clare Bailey MLA, the leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland.  She is highly critical of the limited progress since the Good Friday Agreement 21 years ago and the lack of real social integration.  She was speaking in the latest Forward Together podcast. Clare questions who has benefited since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.  “Certainly within the working class and the most …

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In praise of Citizens’ Assemblies – Peter Sheridan believes they can provide solutions to some of Northern Ireland’s most intractable problems

Citizens’ assemblies should be widely used to address the problems faced by communities across Northern Ireland, argues Peter Sheridan, the chief executive of Co-operation Ireland. He was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “It works in Canada, it works in Iceland: there are examples all around the world.”  Speaking before the murder of Lyra McKee, Peter continues: “You pick an area and pick a problem, you randomly select a group of people from the electoral register and depending on …

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‘Political leadership is key to making progress’

Developing mutual respect, strengthening relationships and building proper political leadership are the basis for making progress in Northern Ireland, believes independent unionist MLA – and former justice minister – Claire Sugden.  She is interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. Talking before the announcement of renewed political talks, Claire expressed her frustration at the lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive.  “We’ve had a situation here at Stormont where we haven’t had a sitting assembly for two years.  And I …

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‘Let’s look again at the Eames-Bradley approach to the past’

The Eames-Bradley report was the best approach yet to how Northern Ireland should deal with Troubles legacy issues, argues Mark Durkan.  The former SDLP leader and deputy first minister was interviewed for the ‘Forward Together’ podcast series immediately before declaring his candidacy for Fine Gael for the Dublin constituency in the European Parliament elections. Mark argues that the proposals tabled for the 2013 talks mediated by US envoy Richard Haass were “not as good as Eames-Bradley”.  The challenge is also …

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