By engaging with the rage farmers, we merely add fuel to the fire of polarisation…

white and black cat sketch

Peter Lockhart is a law student at Queens A term which has recently entered common parlance is ‘rage farming’ – broadly defined as a manipulative tactic by bloggers or journalists to elicit outrage with the goal of increasing internet traffic, online engagement, revenue and support. Originating in the US, once one recognises this tactic, it becomes difficult to ignore its prevalence. Imagine that one individual who, when they appear on your timeline or tv screen, creates an instantaneous feeling of …

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Childcare is in crisis and parents are paying the price. There is no time to waste.

Sinead McLaughlin is an SDLP MLA in Foyle Tune into the radio most mornings and chances are that you will hear a debate underway on access to some of the most vital elements of our public services. From patients struggling to access GP surgeries to commuters facing the latest delay to progress on crucial road and rail projects, these stories are unacceptably common. Yet, one element of our social infrastructure is discussed far less on our airwaves, the early years …

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 A review of How Civil Wars Start by Dr Barbara Walters…

Arnold Carton is a former teacher, is a moderate unionist who has had a lifelong interest in politics. Too often political discussion within NI politics becomes a repetitive battle over competing identities and about who is to blame for the conflict. Our people are bored with the lack of progress. Sometimes it can be useful and refreshing to put aside our narcissistic tendency to assume that our conflict is historically unique and see if we can learn from the experience of …

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The Gaping Hole in Irish Political Thinking

By Billy Lawless, Emma DeSouza & Kevin J. Sullivan . The authors are all members of the Executive Committee of www.votingrights.ie Two themes currently dominate political thought regarding the future of the Irish Nation: the concept of a shared Ireland, promoted by Micheal Martin while he was Taoiseach and the quest for a United Ireland, promoted by Future Ireland and Sinn Fein. Both of these approaches ignore the fact that two large groups of Irish citizens, just under a million– …

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It is about identifying the best future for all citizens who live across the island of Ireland…

Ben Collins has worked in political communications across the UK and Ireland for two decades. I was raised as a Presbyterian in a strongly pro-British and unionist household, so I understand the attachment to country and crown that many unionists feel. Good friends of mine and family members voted for Brexit in the genuine belief that it would make things better. There is no pleasure in seeing the dysfunction unfold at Westminster since the surprise vote to leave the European …

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The poppy. Not a celebration of war but as an expression of sympathy for those who were wounded or who lost their lives in a tragic and unnecessary conflict…

red flowers in tilt shift lens

Arnold Carton is a retired schoolteacher from Belfast. The controversy over the wearing of the Poppy in Ireland, with vandals throwing paint at the door of the Royal British Legion office in Dublin, got me thinking about my community’s reasons for wearing the poppy. Approximately 50 years ago, I was a Year 10 (Form 3) pupil in a North Antrim school. Like most of my peer group, I was wearing a poppy, and my school had made an effort to …

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The other divide separates those who are willing to commit to civilised debate and listen to the other side from those who are not…

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Peter Lockhart is a law student at Queens The traditional cleavage within politics here has never gone away, though it would be reasonable to assert its salience has steadily increased in the last six years since the Brexit referendum. It has been during these years that a debate over the constitutional future of Northern Ireland has developed genuine consideration, as the UK’s status in the so-called ‘premier league’ of nations appears to be under threat from its own sustained self-sabotage. …

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Hallowe’en – it never went away you know…

 Keith Williamson is a History and Politics teacher in County Down Hallowe’en is a seasonal reminder that the older gods confound the new. To win souls for Christ, the Early Medieval Church expropriated some of the popular festivals of the Gauls and the Celts. Given that conversion was mostly a top-down affair, preachers courted the favour of kings and accommodations were hatched. Ancient polytheistic rites based on the sun’s cyclic light were thereby conjoined with a 4th century Christian tradition …

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So much more to small rural schools than pupil numbers…

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By Dr Montserrat Fargas-Malet and Professor Carl Bagley QUB Small rural primary schools have been repeatedly in the news as they are being earmarked for closure, with the Education Authority (EA) draft area plan for the next five years stating that there are too many small schools that are not economically sustainable. However, what do we really know about these schools? The last policy report on small rural schools in Northern Ireland was published 20 years ago. We are hosting …

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A personal tribute to Baroness May Blood…

Peter Weil is the founder of Politics in Action The first time I met May was six years ago when I was preparing a Living History course for Stranmillis University College to mark the 50th anniversary of 1968. We wanted to invite as wide a range as possible of different speakers who had lived through the events of half a century ago. Unlike many of our other contributors, May didn’t sound remotely like a politician. And although May achieved far more …

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The Steel Shutter Revisited 50th Anniversary Conference…

In 1972 at the height of the violent Troubles in Northern Ireland a group of people believed that they could make a difference by simply getting people to listen to one another. Taking great risks for all involved they flew nine stakeholders (5 Protestants and 4 Catholics) from Ireland to Pittsburgh and filmed a three-day encounter group. The famous psychologist Carl Rogers, and colleagues, attempted something radical. For the majority, it was the first time they had any real interaction with …

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Who Killed Patricia Curran?

Kieran Fagan is an ex-journalist living in Dublin My new book Who Killed Patricia Curran? identifies her mother Lady Doris Curran, wife of Northern Ireland high court judge, Lance Curran, as the murderer.  Patricia was. 19 years old, in her first year at Queen’s University in Belfast, in November 1952.  Seventy years ago around midnight on 12 November  12, 1952, her parents reported that she had failed to return to the family home at Whiteabbey on the northern shore of Belfast …

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A view on the Northern Ireland Protocol from Germany…

Berlin lighted free standing signage during night time

Susanne Ditzen (SDfromBerlin in the comments), is a German fan of Slugger O’Toole. She has no formal qualifications to comment on Northern Ireland except for knowing what it means to cross an international border in order to visit Grandma… To me personally, the most remarkable thing about the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (NIP) is still that exists at all, that 28 countries negotiated and agreed on an arrangement so unusual in rights and obligations with respect to handling an international …

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Act Now? Celtic languages in Ireland and the UK…

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Now mostly retired, Terry McClatchey has worked in health and social care services across various locations in Ireland and Britain. Many words have been traded on the topic of an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland but they mostly generate more heat than light. I want to propose that the debate could be greatly helped by moving away from the binary rhetoric of “Act Now” versus “Never, never, never…” and working towards reaching an agreement on a fair and sustainable …

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Should Unionists engage with Ireland’s Future?

Arnold Carton is a retired schoolteacher from Belfast. I was one of the minority of unionists who ignored the advice and abuse from Sammy Wilson and attended Ireland’s Future in Dublin on 1st October, so was the €10 ticket, money well spent? What was the event for, and what did I or anyone else gain from going? We must accept that the perception of a unionist attending this event will probably be different from that of a nationalist, but Ireland’s …

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We are not moving forward. We are not moving back. We are simply standing in the middle of the road…

Colin McGrath is an SDLP MLA for South Down  The creation of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948 was the first time, anywhere in the world, that completely free healthcare was made available based on citizenship. It was and remains for many, a radical ideal. The Minister for Health in the UK’s Labour government at the time, Aneurin Bevan, aware that many people saw its inception as radical responded with typical post-war Labour zeal, “We know what happens …

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

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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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