Why does nationalism run away from Irish Unity at election time ?

Shortly after the announcement of the general election, I noted over in Scotland that both the SNP and Alba (Alex Salmond’s hardline pro-independence breakaway) were straight out of the blocks, seeking a mandate for Scottish independence. SNP leader John Swinney characterised polling day, July 4th, as “Independence Day”. In a press release which mentions the word “independence” seven times, he said : .. So let’s unite to win the powers of independence to strengthen our economy, tackle the cost of …

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Is it time to give up on power sharing as a bad job ?

A couple of weeks back I wrote about whether or not the time had come for Alliance to adopt a constitutional position (TL;DR – it hasn’t). As is typical of articles that touch on the constitutional issue, there were quite a few comments, most of which spectacularly avoided the point and tended to rehash boring talking points and clichés from the 1970s. But there were several fair remarks which merit further discussion, so I thought I’d start with the most …

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Alliance : time to get off the fence ? 

Some weeks ago I noted with interest the outcome of the University of Liverpool survey into the makeup of the Alliance Party membership base and their views on constitutional matters, finding that a larger number of members believe that Irish unity should occur in the future.  The title of this piece refers to an old cliché, which I’ve heard since 1994, that the party are a bunch of fence-sitters. More recently I’ve been hearing “constitutional change is coming and Alliance …

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Gaza – A Wound in the World…

The parallels between the history of the island of Ireland, and the history of Palestine and Israel, has led many here to take a side on the Middle East that best matches their own experiences and, frankly, use it as a proxy for our own division. A visitor to our shores from the region, upon seeing the serried ranks of Israeli and Palestinian flags in various parts of Belfast, commented that such vicarious conflict amounted to ‘pissing through another man’s …

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Eamonn Mallie in conversation about his book: Eyewitness to War and Peace #imaginebelfast

As part of Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics, Mark Simpson grilled journalist Eamonn Mallie about his recently published book “Eyewitness to War and Peace“. The conversation was recorded on Tuesday 19 March 2024 in Queen’s University, Belfast’s Great Hall by Alan Meban. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. …

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After Donaldson the question remains: how do we feed future generations of those who live in Northern Ireland?

aerial view of boat on water

As a Manchester City fan of many years standing (myself and just two others in Primary went blue when everyone else was going red) I know a rapid change in managers is not a sign of good health. After many years of stability at the top the DUP is experiencing that sort of bewilderment you get when nothing you try quite sticks. It’s been a rough ride since Peter Robinson stepped down. In spite of the drastic reasons for the …

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Power of the People

a view of the clouds from a plane

Lost amidst the hullaballoo of recent days was an article from Rory Carroll in the Guardian marking 20 years since Ireland, in a world-first, introduced a smoking ban in workplaces, pubs and restaurants. Journalists from all over the world descended onto the Republic to see this novel social experiment in action and to see whether it would stick. To the surprise of many, stick it did, and similar legislation has been adopted by multiple other countries in the years since. …

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VIDEO: Ulster Workers’ Council Strike: 50 Years On #imaginebelfast

Freeze frame from video of Ulster Workers’ Council Strike: 50 Years On event in Crescent Arts Centre - Connal Parr is standing at the podium - seated near him are Dawn Purvis, Carmel Gates, Harry Donaghy, Jackie Redpath and Jackie McDonald.

Last Saturday, an Imagine! Belfast Festival event looked back at the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike: 50 Years On. A decade on from his 40th anniversary conference at Queen’s University – you can still listen back to my recordings on Slugger – Dr Connal Parr was joined on the Crescent Arts Centre stage by panellists Dawn Purvis, Carmel Gates, Harry Donaghy, Jackie Redpath and Jackie McDonald. The video of this year’s event can now be viewed. Filmed and edited by Alan …

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The Social Democrats, the Labour Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

text

David McCann of this parish posted an interesting article yesterday in the Irish News noting that Irish Labour at their weekend conference called for the next government to establish a department to begin planning for Irish unity. While welcoming this as part of the ‘growing interest in the conversation regarding the constitutional future of Ireland’, David does pose the killer question…   ‘Yet, as was pointed out on social media, will Labour be in any position to deliver any of …

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Should reconcilation happen before or after any potential reunification?

Together sign

Interesting articles from Chris Donnelly in the Irish News, from the article: In case you missed the memo, reconciliation is the new supermajority. Just as 50 per cent-plus-one is not enough for Irish unity, and in fact would be downright dangerous, so it is the case that unity must now only be considered in the event of the north of Ireland being transformed into the land of milk and honey, a Shangri-La from the Foyle to the Lagan where peace …

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Political stability? Keep it a secret…

grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand sign

The media coverage – and some political reaction – to the DUP’s vote on the extension of a new EU law to Northern Ireland was very telling, if predictable. Overall the vote and its implications were no big deal. The importance was but it was part of the agreement between HMG and Jeffrey Donaldson that got Stormont back in action. Therefore it was important that the DUP used the opportunity it presented to weaken the destructive and flat earth pronouncements …

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A Unionist Response To Frank’s ‘United Ireland’ Article

brown wooden blocks on white surface

Having read Mr Schnittger’s recent article, I thought I’d chip in with a few thoughts from a Unionist perspective, although this op-ed will not assert that unionist concerns should be the primary factor in the event of a pro-unity result in any future border poll, but only that it behooves both traditions on this island that men and women of goodwill and best intentions put ideology aside and strive for an acceptable new state where everyone can feel comfortable, and …

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The Art of Political Speechmaking – a dying art or still a vital talent? #imaginebelfast

https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/the-democracy-unit

Has the art of writing and delivering a political speech fallen by the wayside of a media landscape that vacuums up soundbites rather than valuing passionate prose? Next Thursday evening, some local politicians will recite elements of other people’s speeches which have influenced their own political journeys and discuss the importance of speechmaking in the current political climate. It’s part of the Imagine! Festival, and Claire Hanna (SDLP), Deirdre Hargey (Sinn Féin), Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP) and Kate Nicholl (Alliance) are …

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Making Sense of the NI Subvention and the Economics of Reunification…

5 pieces of banknotes on yellow and white textile

An excellent podcast on the NI subvention and the economics of reunification has just been made available by RIA/ARINS (Royal Irish Academy / Analysing and Researching Ireland North and South). The participants are: Host Rory Montgomery (former Irish Ambassador to the EU and member of the Irish negotiating team for the BGFA). Dr. Esmond Birnie (senior economist, UU, and former UUP MLA for South Belfast 1998-2007), who argues that the subvention does matter. Professor John Doyle (VP for research at …

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Remembering Baroness May Blood #NBF24

One panel event at the recent Look North! The North Belfast Festival reflected on the legacy and impact of Baroness May Blood’s life and work. Remembering May Blood – with Betty Carlisle, Paul Caskey, Eileen Weir and Duncan Morrow (chair). Filmed by Alan Meban on Sunday 25 February 2024. Photo credit: Allan Leonard @MrUlster Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, …

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Looming Elections & Political Futures – Slugger’s event on 22 March at #ImagineBelfast

DUP's Ian Paisley (Junior) trying to tally the European election ballot papers (which must be placed upside down after verification) back in 2009 - photo by Alan Meban @alaninbelfast

The next 12 months will be fertile ground for election nerds. So we’re convening a panel of experts on Friday 22 March to discuss which way the political wind is blowing as part of this month’s Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics. The next United Kingdom general election must be held no later than 28 January 2025. The deadline for the next Irish general election is 22 March 2025. Both polls are likely to see big political swings and will …

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The past, present and future of cross-border rail

Enterprise crossing Craigmore Viaduct near Bessbrook

Recently, to great fanfare, the Irish government announced an €800m funding package in support of its Shared Island strategy aimed at funding public spending on projects in Northern Ireland. The lion’s share of the spend is on the A5 project, and that, together with Casement, is where most of the media attention went. However, there is also an allocation aimed at increasing the frequency of cross border rail services. Before looking at this in detail we should talk a little …

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Two very different leaders call for a dumping of old ways to bring a more inclusive Northern Ireland into being…

maps lying on the floor

I don’t usually post at weekends, but the chatter about Jeffrey Donaldson’s interview on TalkBack in which he talked about “unionism shaping political change going forward”, combined with Micheál Martin’s remarks to the Alliance Party there is definitely something interesting afoot. The Donaldson piece is not a fade or tactical manoeuvre, although Kevin Meagher made a good point yesterday on Nolan when we were both on together, that Donaldson’s rhetoric repeated a note of reconciliation from Robinson in 2011 (and …

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Beware the Clickbait: Navigating a Media Landscape of Manufactured Hype…

blue LED Hype sign

I’ve expressed before on Slugger my concerns about our indigenous media’s insatiable appetite for political instability to fill its programmes or pages. This dates back to 1994 when those in authority failed to make any meaningful effort to adapt to the coming post Troubles lifestyle here. So ever since then we’ve had numerous efforts from withing the media to destabilise the fragile DUP/SF partnership. Sometimes its just snide use of terms like “Chuckle Brothers” or “Marlene” but on other times …

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“a striking manifestation of the confidence and optimism of the shared island initiative…”

bridge, autumn, nature

As recently as November Irish News columnist Brian Feeney wrote a column under the heading to the effect that “The Irish government and Fianna Fáil have no policy at all on the north”. [Ahem – Ed] Well, the secret of politics is in the timing. In a year that will see elections on both island’s Micheál Martin’s brainchild the Shared Island Initiative has finally made people sit up and take notice. The initiative was launched in 202o and by the …

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