#Census2021: A first look shows new waves of identity innovation and an ageing society…

usa, business, new

Dr Paul Nolan is an independent researcher based in Belfast. He writes on conflict societies, social trends and demography. The first thing to be said about the census results published today is that it is a miracle of sorts that we have them at all.  At the beginning of the 2021 the pandemic seemed to make it too difficult for a census to be conducted.  The Irish census was pushed back to 2022 and so too was the Scottish census. …

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Unionism`s strength lies in its diversity rather than reliance on narrow bases…

gears, metal, industry

By Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA They say it is always darkest before dawn, but for unionism dawn is still quite some way off. The reliance on narrow bases, rather than focusing on growing support for the broader pro-union message is a flawed tactic born out of frustration rather than the strategic vision unionism needs right now. Unionism’s strength lies in its diversity. Conservative and liberal views can be catered for by a broad range of parties …

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Doug Beattie – The only path for unionism is for it to come in from the cold…

Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA The stark reality about politics here in Northern Ireland was exposed by Michelle O’Neill`s comments last week that attempted to justify the IRA`s indefensible terrorist campaign. This is a slap in the face for victims, survivors and those who lived through those dark years. Selective condemnation and glorification of past atrocities really does stop Northern Ireland, and its people, from moving forward. In fact it fortifies the division that has blighted this …

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Despite the problems it faces Ulster-Scots endures…

man in black jacket standing beside body of water during sunset

Thoughts on Ulster-Scots Certain things come with the territory if you publicly admit to an interest in Ulster-Scots. It’s likely that people nearby will suddenly become linguistic experts, with strong opinions on what is a “proper language” and what isn’t. You may be told that Ulster-Scots is a recent invention, possibly concocted by Unionists in the 1990s. You might be expected to laugh at a recycled joke about a Ballymena accent, or talking like a farmer. You might have to …

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It’s grim up north. The architectural despair of the North Coast…

David Michell is Assistant Professor in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at Trinity College Dublin at Belfast. You can follow him on Twitter. I’d always assumed it was the weather, or the fact that for large parts of the year in Portstewart and Portrush, there are simply no people. But the truth was staring me in the face: it’s the buildings. I began to suspect this, funnily enough, not in one of the Ports, but in Iceland, where I discovered terrible …

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Loyalists assert themselves through controversial bonfires…

Night photo of a bonfire with sparks. Bright flame against a dark background. High resolution photo of a bonfire.

Dr Amanda Hall is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading. You can follow her on Twitter. Each year, hundreds of bonfires are lit across Northern Ireland on 11 July – Eleventh Night – by Protestants, Unionists, and Loyalists commemorating the Battle of the Boyne. The vast majority pass without incident, drawing only curious attention about the reasons for the celebration or due to some unique qualities. This year’s castle-shaped structure in Portadown is drawing …

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What can the 2022 Australian elections tell us about the future of U.K, and Northern Irish politics?

opera house vivid sydney 2017

From seismic political shifts to the fall of traditional party allegiance, do Australia's election results foreshadow the future of politics for Western Europe? Joshua Smith writes… The 2022 Australian elections appeared to paint a picture of a more environmentally focused future for the country. Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition was replaced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labour party, suggesting a national shift to the political left. However, the truth may not be as simple as that. Much of the Labour party’s electoral success resulted from …

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A tribute to Jim Fitzpatrick…

Thank you Slugger O’Toole for inviting me to write something about Jim Fitzpatrick RIP. My first thoughts today are with Jim’s family, with Anne, Bríd, Bernard, Eileen, Dominic, Clare, Jim (Junior) and Andrew and his other loved ones. And with the Irish News family who are also grieving a revered patriarchal figure and beginning to come to terms with his loss. I extend to all of them my sympathy and prayerful solidarity at this sad time. However, it is also …

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SOAPBOX: The Presbyterian Church in Ireland – reforms needed

Steven Smyrl is a professional genealogist, lecturer, author, and former elder in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. This week’s meeting in Belfast of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) prompts me to reflect on my experience at the hands of the church since the momentous decision at the 2018 General Assembly to exclude gay couples from full membership and their children from baptism. That decision culminated in a highly public controversy about my same-sex marriage, and …

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Why small rural schools facing closure should consider local amalgamation…

Twins

After the passing of an integrated education bill at Stormont, Peter Osborne, a former chair of the Community Relations Council and Parades Commission, and Board member of the Integrated Education Fund, reflects on the burden of history. Integrated education is not the final and only answer to the illness that is sectarianism in a region that has lived with segregation for decades and centuries.  Since the mid-19th century those vested interests that drove a segregated education system have contributed to …

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The risky sport of road racing…

motorbike, racing, motorcycle

The TT races are well underway in the Isle of Man and sadly there have been three fatalities one of whom, Davy Morgan, was from Northern Ireland. Being from NI his passing was widely reported and commented on in the local media and inevitably questions were asked about the safety of the racing and the wisdom of running such events which carried such a high risk of fatalities. I have heard these questions being asked many times over the years …

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A reply to Mick’s Stormont reform article…

Stormont Estate, Belfast, N. Ireland

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. I read with interest Mick’s recent article on possible reform of Stormont, and while it was rather short on possible ideas and suggestions over how to overhaul our clearly-dysfunctional political institutions whilst simultaneously staying within the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, it nonetheless echoed much of what I’ve been thinking about for a while… and to it’s …

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The frustration of GPs leaving us hanging on the telephone…

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Philip O’Neill is a retired Civil Servant from Belfast. I am a big supporter of our doctors, nurses and health care staff and I am very aware of them having to make do with fewer and fewer resources. However, I was not fully aware of the implications of recent decisions on phone preferences rather than face to face consultations. This did not hit home until I had cause to call my local surgery. I had an ongoing issue for which …

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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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If we put women on the ballot the electorate will vote for them…

Aoife Clements is the Founder of 50:50 NI The results of the 2022 Assembly election represent many steps forward for Northern Ireland. For nationalists, a Sinn Feín majority represents a step towards a united Ireland. For progressives, this majority and accompanying surge in popularity of Alliance is a step towards a less divided, more socially liberal Northern Ireland. For women, the record-breaking number of women elected to the assembly represents a step towards better gender balance within our political institutions. …

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A Step Change in Sinn Féin Strategy: Lessons Learned from the SNP Playbook?

By Dr Adam Fusco, Lecturer in Politics, University of York The results of 2022 Assembly election demonstrated remarkable successes for Alliance and Sinn Féin. One of the more remarkable features of the campaign, however, was how un-Sinn Féin-like the argumentative strategy of Sinn Féin was as it contested seats at Stormont. Traditional republican and nationalist themes, such as the Irish language and even unity, were not at the forefront of the campaign, but rather the party choose to emphasise the …

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The election results are more about DUP failure than Sinn Fein success…

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. With the dust starting to settle on the [*checks notes*] “seismic” Assembly election, and with Connolly House no doubt in a jubilant mood, it’s worth taking a breath and analyzing just how it came to be that Sinn Fein finds itself with the most seats at the (formerly) unionist bastion of Parliament Buildings. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route …

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“Unionism can not be treated as an underclass or our political voice ignored…”

trees, avenue, road

Jamie Bryson is editor of UnionistVoice.com and head of law and public policy research within Unionist Voice Policy Studies. The DUP, TUV and PUP each stood on some shared constitutional manifesto commitments, which can be summarised as the following two key issues; (i) that in the absence of the removal of the Protocol (which is to be measured as the restoration of the Act of Union) there is no basis for power sharing; (ii) that legislation was required to ensure …

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Thoughts on the Civil Service Vet scandal…

ireland, sheep, lambs

The NICS Code of Ethics outlines the core values of the Civil Service: Integrity; Honesty; Objectivity; Impartiality. It describes the standards of behaviour expected of existing civil servants against each of these four values. As a retired Civil Servant I know that this is a Code that applies to everyone, however it applies more to the senior ranks than it does to others, they are the ones regularly in the spotlight, the ones responsible for leadership and those who are the …

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Belfast, St Patrick and the winds of Change…

europe, northern ireland, belfast

Since seeing Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” seems like many people of a certain age have been riding a wave of nostalgia. For what it is worth I thought the film was a good show and what would have made it great was perhaps a little more edginess or darkness to firmly reflect my memories of those days. It’s crazy that 1969 is now over 50 years ago. With the film in the forefront of my mind the next event to arrive …

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