And back to the facts… a reply to Professor O’Leary

yellow and black arrow sign

Colin Coulter and Peter Shirlow respond to four key points raised by Professor Brendan O’Leary in his challenge to their original paper published here on Slugger last week, along with clarification of some of the language used in both pieces.  In his response to our recent opinion piece, much of what Professor O’Leary has to say focuses not on that essay but another publication that covers some, but not all, of the same ground. We felt it might be considered discourteous …

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Changing Shared Island to Shared Ireland will invite defence, not collaboration.

brown and black violin

There was much packed into the recent Ireland’s Future event at the SSE arena but little debate. Apart from the mild rebuke of former UDA member and loyalist politician David Adams arising from comments by an unnamed member of the Irelands’ Future Board in a newspaper column, most of the panel members were of the same mind. Presumably, happy contributors to what Professor Colin Harvey referred to as “the growing coalition for constitutional change”; sharing common if narrow purpose and …

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Why facts (should) matter when it comes to discussing our political future…

a lighted star hanging from a chain in front of a sunset

Colin Coulter and Peter Shirlow interrogate the overall data to question confident predictions around the future constitutional destination of Northern Ireland and come up some challenging questions for a popular media narrative. On Saturday last, Ireland’s Future hosted the latest in a series of public events. In the Spring, the pressure group launched a document specifying 2030 as the ‘right time’ to hold a constitutional referendum. There is little discernible logic in the text as to why that might be the …

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Results suggest Sinn Féin’s ‘inflection point’ (and a UI) remain some way off

a full moon shines in the sky over the ocean

Regardless of how you cut it, one of the big stories of the southern locals was Sinn Féin’s failure to break through, again. In order to understand why more than 2o0 SF candidates failed to gain a council seat it’s worth noting the poll ratings at the start: 🚨 IREUKmedia EXIT POLL for the #LE2024: 🟢 Sinn Fein: 199 (+118)🔵 Fine Gael: 180 (-75)🟩 Fianna Fail: 142 (-137)🌱 Green Party: 28 (-21)🔴 Labour: 47 (-10)⚫️ Independents/Other: 246 (+61)🟣 Social Democrats: …

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First thoughts on Sinn Féin’s disastrous election

a person is casting a vote into a box

David Moane is retired, lives in Dublin and takes an active interest in Southern politics. Here he shares his thoughts on the lessons that need to be learned by Sinn Féin after their disappointing performance in the recent elections. The European and local elections in the RoI were a disaster for Sinn Féin and a vindication of the Government. This momentous outcome will have ramifications for both parts of the island. First, Sinn Féin. In the June 2019 European and …

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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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