Lord Patten: “… the problem at heart is not the sausages you get from Sainsbury’s but the porkies that we all get … from Downing Street”

Chris Patten delivering inaugural Seamus Mallon Lecture for Hume Foundation over Zoom

Lord Patten delivered the inaugural Seamus Mallon Lecture this evening, organised by the The John & Pat Hume Foundation. His talk looked back at his time as a direct rule minister: “An appointment to the Northern Ireland Office was often compared with being sent by a Communist Party general secretary in the Soviet Union to manage a power station in Siberia.” He recalled some of his encounters with Seamus Mallon, wishing that there were: “more political leaders in Northern Ireland …

Read more…

David O’Sullivan: The EU at 70 – still going strong?

Watch back this evening’s Hume Foundation inaugural European Spirit of Peace Lecture, delivered by David O’Sullivan (former EU ambassador to the US) which looked at the EU 70 years on and asked whether it was going strong. He had cautionary words for those conflating the Irish constitutional issue with practical aspects of the NI Protocol which he said was “unhelpful” and could “destabilise many in the Unionist community”.

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 …

Read more…

Jim O’Callaghan interviewed on Irish Unity, SDLP and Fianna Fail #video

Yesterday I sat down with Fianna Fail TD, Jim O’Callaghan to discuss the new Shared Island Unit announced by the Irish government, Irish Unity, the relationship with the SDLP and the performance of the government during the pandemic. Analysis O’Callaghan takes a more forward line on the issues of unification and a border poll than many other TDs. In the interview he was up front in his view that not just the conversation around a border poll is happening but …

Read more…

Border Polls, Referendums and the Question of Democracy #BelfastDebate

“Unlike the moon landing of 50 years ago“, Bob Collins suggested that the current political turmoil would not land ”in the sea of Tranquillity”. Collins was speaking on the last day of the free-to-attend Debates on Europe event held in Belfast. You can watch back Sunday morning’s panel on Border Polls, Referendums and the Question of Democracy.

Trans Rights are Human Rights – Ellen Murray’s Amnesty NI lecture at Belfast Pride

Read or watch back Ellen Murray’s lecture (delivered on Tuesday 30 July as part of Belfast Pride). Under the title ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’, she examined the international context, foreign opinion on the “worrying” state of public discourse in the UK, the shared history with disabled rights struggles, as well as healthcare, welfare of children, women’s rights and her hopes for trans rights in Northern Ireland.

“À la Bastille!”

One more time, then… with continued apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  And with Alaphilippe in yellow again!  Play La Marseillaise!   Pete Baker”As explained in detail to Sinn Féin and previously…”NI Executive Office acting unlawfully in delaying introduction of victims compensation schemeNI deputy First Minister “choosing to ignore the requirement to comply with the rule of law to express a political advantage”Set your Author Custom HTML Tab Content on your Profile page

Brexit, Borders and Beyond: Marxism as a Guide in Turbulent Times (watch back)

Last night, the very room in The MAC which hosted the launch of NI21 six years ago to the day, was the venue for a panel discussion on Brexit, Borders and Beyond: Marxism as a Guide in Turbulent Times. Mary Davis, John Barry and Costas Lapavitsas contributed to the well-attended event that was organised by Ulster University’s School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences in association with Reclaim the Agenda and Slugger O’Toole.

George Hamilton: it will be the failure of our generation if we do not reinvigorate our efforts

With only seven and a half weeks left of his five year term as PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton delivered a lecture at Queen’s University this evening to “help signpost the next steps for policing with the community”. He called out those “across the political spectrum … [who] have too often defaulted to the blame game … finding it easier to blame the police without taking any responsibility for the context in which police are being asked to operate”. Hamilton …

Read more…

Reporting the Troubles: 2 Prime Ministers, 5 P O’Neills, the last death knock, and addressing legacy issues

Brian Rowan and Deric Henderson speaking about Reporting the Troubles at a Creative Holywood conversation.

Recalling working on Prime Ministerial visits, receiving IRA briefings from five different P O’Neills, collating tens of thousands of pages of notes, deciding to no longer knock the doors of bereaved relatives, and thinking out loud about how to address legacy issues, when Brian Rowan and Deric Henderson sat down on Thursday evening to discuss their contributions to the book ‘Reporting the Troubles’, they had no idea of the tragic events that would happen just a few hours later in Creggan.

A legacy process should be about why the Troubles should never happen again

Brian Rowan and Deric Henderson speaking about Reporting the Troubles at a Creative Holywood conversation.

On Thursday evening, hours before Lyra McKee was fatally shot in Creggan, Brian Rowan was speaking about Reporting the Troubles in Holywood. Throughout the event, he often pivoted away from pure reminiscence and returned to the subject of legacy, arguing for an inclusive and society-wide process that asked less about what had happened but instead focussed on why it happened and crucially why it should never happen again.

Does Political Violence Work? #imaginebelfast

QUB pro-vice-chancellor Professor Richard English delivered a 40-minute talk on the topic of Does Political Violence Work? during the recent Imagine! Belfast festival, looking at terrorism by non-state and potentially state actors as well as drawing some conclusions about the disjunction between why campaigns start, why people join up, what is achieved and how we post hoc rationalise what happens.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire: “independence is a fragile thing … you take it for granted at your peril” #ImagineBelfast

In his last public lecture as his seven-year term as Police Ombudsman draws to a close, Dr Michael Maguire reflected on what independence means for his office, and lessons that can be learned. “You cannot take independence for granted. It can be undermined in a number of different ways. Whoever holds the post of police ombudsman must keep this in mind. Be aware some entirely innocent initiatives can have unintended consequences.”

Stuck in the Past – difficult choices to be made #feile18

Three years ago, the same hall was venue to a conversation between the then deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the PSNI Chief Constable, again chaired by Brian Rowan. That night, the atmosphere was electric. This afternoon, the conversation seemed less extraordinary, certainly less unexpected. Unfortunately, the political stalemate has become as normal yet unacceptable as the stretched patience of victims and survivors who seek truth and information about incidents during the Troubles.

Ged Killen: “This is personal. Your rights are my rights. An injury to one, is an injury all.”

Watch back or read Ged Killen MP’s lecture for Amnesty NI as part of Belfast Pride, delivered on Thursday evening at Queen’s University. Speaking on ‘Marriage Equality – Winning at Westminster’ the Scottish Labour MP’s address was followed by a Q&A with William Crawley which included an update on the local legal cases surrounding marriage equality as well as discussion about efforts at Westminster and the stalled NI Assembly.

“À la Bastille!” Again!

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise!  [Any chance of a French winner on Stage 8? – Ed]  Probably not… Pete Baker”As explained in detail to Sinn Féin and previously…”NI Executive Office acting unlawfully in delaying introduction of victims compensation schemeNI deputy First Minister “choosing to ignore the requirement to comply with the rule of law to express a political advantage”Set your Author Custom HTML Tab Content on your Profile page

In true Bloomsday style, “Samuel Beckett got outrageously drunk…”

If you don’t know by now, it’s tradition!  [We know… – Ed]. Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, once again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. And another reminder of a brief history of the day, from the Guardian, which includes this great 1924 quote from Joyce on Ulysses – “I have to convince myself that I wrote that book. I used to be able to talk intelligently about it.” Joyce’s last Bloomsday would take place on 16 June 1940, when the author was …

Read more…