Choyaa: Unionism and the Unity Debates…

brown concrete bridge besides green plants during daytime

Irish Unity forums are not a new phenomenon, they have existed for many years but in recent times calls for Unionists to attend these events have started to amplify. These calls were made again this week at an “Ireland’s Future” future event held at Westminster; however, the calls came from an unusual source. Stephen Farry from the Alliance party used his platform at the event to outline how his party would help “shape the conversation” and warned Unionists that they …

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Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

open sunday sign, signage, open

The idea for Open Sunday is to let you discuss what you like. News events we have missed, an interesting article you have read, recommendations for a good podcast, book or tv show. Just two rules. Keep it civil and no man/woman playing.

Labor Party seizes power in Australia…

sydney opera house near body of water during daytime

From the BBC: Australia has elected its first Labor government in almost a decade and Anthony Albanese as prime minister, ousting Scott Morrison’s coalition. Mr Albanese told jubilant supporters that Australians had “voted for change”. However it is still unclear whether he can secure a majority. The centre-left leader vowed to bring people together, invest in social services and “end the climate wars”. In perhaps the election’s greatest twist, support also surged for Greens and independent candidates running on climate …

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An Dream Dearg and the continued power of activism

by Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin from An Dream Dearg Who would have predicated, when the draft programme for Government was published by the Executive in October 2016, what the following years would bring? For Irish language activists, the autumn of 2016 signalled a significant low point: no reference to the St Andrews commitment to introduce an Irish language act, a DUP Education Minister following through on pre-election commitments to ‘end the preferential treatment of Irish-medium education’ and open derision of …

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What’s with the Accent?

Twins

Having lived in England for several years if I had a pound for every time someone on hearing my accent asked me “what part of Scotland are you from?” I’d certainly have a few extra quid in the bank. Now I’d understand this if I spoke with a strong north Antrim accent which clearly has a strong Scottish influence due to both geographical proximity and centuries (if not millennia) of inter-mingling – but I don’t. I then usually try to …

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Solution to protocol stand off could be an extension of grace periods and experimentation before local consent in 2024…

laptop, office, hand

One of many, Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, has talked of a ‘landing zone.’ Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie has referred to there being a solution if we can find one, or words to that effect. Hardly a confidence builder? In Northern Ireland, recently elected MLAs, reflecting the intensity of politics in a small place, are digging themselves deeper into the rutted terrain of blame, counter blame and limited concession on ideological preferences. Arguing themselves into institutionalised confrontation. Reports from London and …

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Calls for clarity on border poll criteria…

green grass near the gray road

From the Irish News: The public should be given clarity on the criteria for calling a poll on Irish unification, Michelle O’Neill has said. The Sinn Féin vice president said there was a need to fill in the “grey” area of the Good Friday Agreement on the circumstances for holding a referendum on constitutional change. Her comments come after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also called for clarity on the mechanism for calling a poll. Under the terms of the 1998 Good …

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Come back, Ireland needs her sons!

brown building

My favourite family story concerns my uncle Frank. In the 1960s Frank swapped grey Belfast for life in sunshine-filled Jersey in the Channel Islands. At the time Jersey was a popular tourist destination and as a good looking single guy it would be fair to say he had a good time courting young ladies who came to the island looking for a holiday romance. In the family album, we have photos of him looking tanned and relaxed, invariably accompanied by …

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Bypass Stormont and empower Councils to help those most in need…

https://breakyourboundaries.tv/seeking-human-kindness-print - Prints Available - 25 % proceeds goes to supporting homelessness - I met Michael in a Boston subway station. I told him I liked his sign. “What matters is what it means to you,” he told me.I asked what it meant to him. “Doing a deed or expressing kindness to another person without expecting anything in return,” Michael said.I love approaching strangers wherever I go. Listening and talking to them teaches you about people and how similar we all are to one another. Just like Michael, we’re all seeking human kindness.

Despite Liz Truss’s announcement that the UK government will introduce a new bill to change the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland, there is absolutely no certainty about how long the current disruption and chaos at Stormont will last. As our devolved government lurches from one crisis to the next there is a necessity to reform the Assembly but there is also a need to keep the wheels on the track and deliver for those most in need. On Monday …

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The Last Hurrah

And so this is it. One last outing for ‘Derry Girls’… and what a final outing! Lisa McGee set her final episode of the sitcom one year on from the events of the previous night’s heartwrenching episode. It began with a montage of images from previous episodes, playing to the sound of the bells of the Angelus. Donna Traynor – who else? – was on TV screens asking the question on every ‘Derry Girls’ fan’s lips: “Could this be the …

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It’s still worth taking a punt on Boris. This time it’s in his own interest to compromise with the EU

In my last post, I was a lonely outlier when I argued that we had nothing to lose by giving Boris Johnson a chance to see what he can deliver.  I did so in full knowledge of his record and reputation.  I am unrepentant. At least equally irritating as Boris is the solipsism that assumes Northern Ireland is centre of world attention and reduces outsiders like the prime minister to bit players  in what Churchill called “the fearful integrity” of …

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Unionism Continuing to Slide: the 2022 Assembly Election and Longer Electoral Trends…

A serene gradient from red to smoky blue-gray seems to mask a chaotic scene underneath, expressing a wide range of emotion. Looking like a NASA closeup of Jupiter, this image reveals sediment in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.

After the 1997 Westminster election, unionists held 13/18 Westminster MPs, 61/110 1996 Forum seats, and were about 10% ahead of nationalist bloc votes. Now they have 8/18 Westminster seats, 37/90 Assembly seats and were about 0.5% ahead of the nationalist bloc vote in the 2022 Assembly election. Unionism has become a minority in all election types and looks close to losing its vote-plurality status. There are always variations of turnout and tactical voting depending on the type and significance of …

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We’ve Come A Long, Long Way Together…

When is a series finale not a finale? When Lisa McGee concocts a bonus episode of ‘Derry Girls’. Up until a few weeks ago, many of us had been expecting May 17 to be the night when we finally said goodbye to McGee’s hugely successful Channel 4 sitcom. But then she revealed there would be an additional climactic episode set against the backdrop of the Good Friday Agreement. That hour long episode will air tonight. But that meant last night’s …

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How the ghosts of faith past haunt the future of Ireland’s new National Maternity Hospital

doctor, op, medicine

“There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates and the glare that obscures.” -James Thurber One thing that’s puzzled me in the last three weeks has been what’s at the base of the controversy in the south over the terms of the lease for the building of a new National Maternity Hospital (NMH). Strong and genuine emotions have surfaced in the Catholic Church’s decision to retain ownership of the land that reflect how church dominated southern life …

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Day light robbery of our democracy: the trap of the Anti-Protocol rhetoric…

Stairs going down.

Has there ever been a more ironically named political party across the UK and Ireland than the Democratic Unionist Party? The party, enabled by our broken political infrastructure, has graduated from padlocking swings in Ballymena on Sundays to effectively padlocking the doors to our democracy. It is currently holding the existence of democracy in Northern Ireland hostage, at the behest of an issue which they themselves have no idea what the issue being resolved looks like. Not only that: its …

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Choyaa: Unionism continues to decline and decay…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

On February 28th, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was dominating the news and any segments left on the schedules were being devoted to the cost-of-living crisis that was gripping the world. At this time in Northern Ireland, the main item on Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show was a 60 minutes interview with UUP leader Doug Beattie about a failed attempt to get Jeffery Donaldson to re-join the party in May of 2021. The initial story broke on February 23rd when …

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Futureproofing our schools…

person holding red and white pen

David Bell is a member of the Alliance Party and Humanists UK, but is writing in an entirely personal capacity While the constitutional question appears to have been consigned to the back burner for now, it’s an issue that cannot be avoided indefinitely. A recent Slugger article reflected on the question of pension provision following some future unification of north and south. The integration of State benefits and of services such as housing and health would undoubtedly be challenging, however, …

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Give Boris Johnson a fresh chance to prove his sincerity and commitment. We have nothing to lose and much to gain

Ahead of his day in Northern Ireland, much media comment is focusing on Boris Johnson’s announcement of draft legislation later this week to unilaterally amend parts of the Protocol. This is both inevitable and regrettable.  Northern Ireland’s welfare is far more important than the abstruse game of higher politics. Boris Johnson’s article in the Belfast Telegraph deserves to be cautiously welcomed. It suggests a new level of engagement in all level of NI affairs even encroaching on  Stormont’s competences. Much …

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A Window of Opportunity?

It’s important to head this up by stating clearly that I’m completely indifferent to which of our First Ministers gets to speak first at press conferences. It’s meaningless. Certainly, I would rather we didn’t have the optics of a Sinn Fein First Minister who spends selected weekends attending commemorations of Provo killers, but equally I think it’s a fitting punishment for the DUP’s party before country chicanery in the St Andrews carve up. Michelle O’Neill does not represent my outlook …

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Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

open sunday sign, signage, open

The idea for Open Sunday is to let you discuss what you like. News events we have missed, an interesting article you have read, recommendations for a good podcast, book or tv show. Just two rules. Keep it civil and no man/woman playing.