‘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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‘Reaching across the divide’

Linda Ervine is a community worker in loyalist east Belfast, who is also an Irish language activist.  Her classes have attracted literally hundreds of people to study Irish at the Skainos Centre on Newtownards Road – proof that Northern Ireland must not be seen merely as a narrow concept of two communities. “We’ve got to reach across the divide,” says Linda in the latest of the ‘Forward Together’ podcast interviews.  “Sadly 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement we are …

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Synthesis

In my previous post I outlined the various models available for a sovereign Ireland – a unitary state, asymmetric devolution, federalism and a confederal union. Asymmetric devolution is unstable and inequitable, while federalism is too heavy for such a small country as Ireland. That leaves a unitary state and a confederal union as the only serious options, and each involves a different set of compromises. A unitary state is more efficient, more equitable and arguably simpler in its daily operation; …

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The escape hatch

Mike Nesbitt states plainly what should by now be painfully obvious. With Brexit, Unionism has shot itself in the foot, and many people are now quietly contemplating the previously unthinkable. But this has merely upped the ante for those who advocate constitutional change. Appealing to nationalists, he said: “If you’re going to have a border poll…don’t let it be like Brexit. Before there’s a border poll it has to be spelled out in enormous detail – and truthfully, unlike Brexit …

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The long and winding road to Irish unity

“Of its nature this is a long-term policy, requiring patience, understanding and forbearance and resolute resistance to emotionalism and opportunism. It is not the less patriotic for that” TK Whitaker, Note on North-South Border Policy, 11 November 1968 There is no denying that the idea of a United Ireland has more momentum now than ever before. Out of the Brexit chaos, and the Stormont vacuum, it tempting to ask: is the time for patience is coming to an end? And …

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The nightmare scenario

Both the British and Irish Governments have this week warned their people of the dangers (however seemingly remote) of a no-deal Brexit. No doubt there have been junior staff on both sides beavering away in basements to plan for the possibility, whether or not their superiors took them seriously. And the probability of those contingency plans being dusted off has surely increased in the last few days. But we must also entertain the even smaller chance of a perfect storm, …

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How has opinion in Northern Ireland on the border question changed since the Brexit referendum?

It is perhaps ironic that, given politics in Northern Ireland has revolved around the border question since its inception, there is a significant amount of uncertainty regarding whether the people of Northern Ireland want to stay in the United Kingdom or become part of a united Ireland. There have been a number of opinion polls and surveys on the question since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, which have yielded significantly varying results on the question of support for Irish …

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Ashcroft Poll shows a competitive Border Poll race.

Lord Ashcroft released the results of the survey he conducted which included results of how a Border Poll, North and South would go. In the South When do people think there should be a Border Poll David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

The Rorschach Test

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I argued in an earlier piece that the word “Unionism” should be handled with extreme care, because it has become overloaded with far too many overlapping yet inconsistent meanings. For slightly different reasons, we should also avoid using the phrase “United Ireland”. “Unionism” refers to a collection of existing things that can, with effort, be distinguished from each other. “United Ireland”, or its modern euphemism “New Ireland”, means nothing much at all, because it refers to a hypothetical something that …

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A united Ireland remains an uncertain unknown. If it happens, the country will need strong leaders who can lead the country into a better future

A united Ireland is such a huge issue in Northern Irish politics that it’s hard to believe Tom Elliott hasn’t really thought about it. Ulster unionism’s raison d’être is to maintain the Union, Northern Ireland and avoid a thirty two country Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland drives and haunts unionists. It is never acknowledged as a possibility, but it is always there. During Patrick Kielty’s excellent programme, ‘My Da, the Peace Deal, and me,’ Arlene Foster said that …

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Let’s stop rearranging the border deckchairs

The distracting haze of our daily media sideshow – such as a severed wheel clamp, Jamie Bryson’s travel plans or a loaf of bread – brings with it the side-effect of obscuring an otherwise glaring point about our political tug-of-war. As sure as a new day brings with it a new ‘issue’ just divisive enough to keep the airwaves full of noise and drama without the effort of digging too deeply, it will also bring more and more material in …

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Poll records another jump in support for Irish Unity

A new poll out today conducted by Ireland Thinks for the Irish Daily Mail has recorded a jump in support in voters in the South f0r Irish Unity. Ireland Thinks interviewed a random sample of 1,144 adults aged 18+ by telephone between Thursday 14th December and Friday 22nd December 2017. This group carried out a similar poll in March this year. Respondents were asked the following question; If it cost the Irish government €9 billion per annum for Northern Ireland …

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“For me to refuse to talk about these things when I’m asked a straight question almost suggests I’m ashamed to be a nationalist – and I’m not”

The Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley has a really interesting interview with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney which outlines his views on a border poll and a United Ireland. In the interview he says; “I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime – if possible, in my political lifetime,” Manley does not that Coveney was disappointed that his evidence to the Good Friday Agreement committee was focused mainly on his comments in this area. But …

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Republicanism needs to find its own civic core and make an appeal outside terms of religion.

This interesting discussion on Talkback featuring our own David McCann was sparked by Graham Gudgin’s impassioned OpEd plea in the Irish Times yesterday. Here’s the pinch-point: If I was to ask a woman to begin a relationship and then refuse to take no for an answer, week after week, year after year, it would of course count as harassment. Article after article on Irish unity, when the answer is always the same, should be seen in the same light. The …

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Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey suggests slight increase in support for Irish unity and cross-community support for abortion reform

The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey for 2016, which was carried out last year and the results of which were released today, suggests that support for a united Ireland has increased in the wake of last year’s referendum when the UK voted to leave the European Union. Support for Irish unity amongst the Catholic community was up three percentage points, from 31% to 34%. Whilst this is the highest it has been in this decade so far, it is …

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European Council guidelines argue “flexible and imaginative solutions will be required”

The European Council have published their guidelines for the Brexit negotiations that will now take place. Readers of the site will be happy to know that Northern Ireland does get a mention Then there was also this BREAKING: EU27 leaders have accepted Ireland’s declaration that in the event of unity referendum Northern Ireland wd automatically rejoin EU — Tony Connelly (@tconnellyRTE) April 29, 2017   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can …

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If no one wants a hard border, who on earth is going to give us one?

Hard to know which of Newton Emerson’s Thursday columns to blog each week, but I think the one in the Irish News carries a couple of important points that some have been (deliberately?) blinding themselves to. First, he points out that there is no party integral to these talks who wants a hard border of the sort being hyped at the moment: At the end of last week, the prospect of a hard border in Ireland suddenly receded, with the European Parliament and Council …

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What advocates of a united Ireland should learn from the Brexiteers…

Interesting note from Newton Emerson that should not go unobserved by all parties who advocate political unification of the island, and not just Sinn Fein… How much future is there in playing crisis politics with an issue that may be barely noticeable at its worst, then solved long before it is useful? Adams could simply be putting us all through disruption that will not even serve his own ends. The trick Sinn Féin is missing on Brexit and a united Ireland …

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The political capital of asking for what you will not get…

Brexit has led to increasing demands for IndyRef2 and an NI border poll, and on principle, the British Government has not exactly been slow to rule them out.  Nicola Sturgeon is making the case that Brexit is changing the opinion of a large number of people in Scotland [A major change of circumstances? – Ed] and Sinn Fein have made a similar case. However, all of this is apparently for nothing, because James Brokenshire has to be persuaded that the …

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