Brian O'Neill

The leadership deficit. Who would be a politician?

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Over in the FT Janan Ganesh bemoans the quality of leadership of our political class: Rishi Sunak does politics as though he is just back from a residential course called How to Do Politics. There is something rote-learnt about the ...

Brian O'Neill

Massive increase in cross border trade…

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While a border poll may be some years off yet, economic reunification seems to be going from strength to strength. From the Guardian report: Northern Ireland and Ireland are enjoying what appears to be a €4bn (£3.4bn) boost, with inter-country trade booming in both directions post Brexit, figures reveal. Official government data released in Dublin by the Central Statistics Office showed that imports from Northern Ireland to Ireland increased 23% to €1.9bn between January and May 2022 compared with the ... Read more...

Brian O'Neill

“The harsh reality is that in the past two decades we have done too little to take up the historic opportunity of the Agreement to build understanding and cooperation on this island”

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Today’s Irish News reports on a speech by Taoiseach Micheál Martin at a commemoration event for former Taoiseach Seán Lemass yesterday in Dublin. From the article: PEOPLE making the loudest calls for Irish unity are “the most divisive” in how they treat opponents, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said. People who do not conform to a specific approach on how to achieve unity have been dismissed and abused. “It is remarkable how often it is that those who are loudest in ... Read more...

Brian O'Neill

Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

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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.

Brian Walker

If they choose anybody but Sunak, they’ll get a worse PM than Johnson

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Photo courtesy ITV News  Mick may be aiming at higher things but I’m stuck down low and dirty in the Tory leadership contest. I can’t take my eyes off it.   Unusually the written press are ahead of TV thanks to social media with lots of talk about black propaganda, stalking horses and dirty dealing behind the scenes. So the first leadership debate on Channel 4 last night came as a welcome relief. Despite   overheated claims in the press that the ... Read more...

Soapbox

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

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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 ... Read more...

Mick Fealty

What any new UK PM needs to do halt British economic decline…

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Not commenting on a party leadership race that will likely take the rest of the summer to complete, but I want to highlight some questions the new Prime Minister will have to tackle (and any successor). It’s courtesy of Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation who identifies five key metrics that will have to be confronted in order to address the UK’s current economic decline: Lesson 1: Face up to the fact that Great Britain is in relative decline. Having ... Read more...

Brian O'Neill

Is the amplification of every slight and grievance helping us?

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There is a lot of nastiness around this week. I can fully understand politicians being upset when their election posters are burned or worse they appear on bonfires as hanging effigies. But if we step back a bit the 12th has actually been fairly quiet the past few years compared to the riot fest it used to be. Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think there were any controversial parades this year. The ever-larger bonfires are a ... Read more...

Brian O'Neill

The Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway Jumpin’ Jive…

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For those of you looking for a break from the ever bleaker news cycle, I came across this excellent video. It is a restored and colourised dance segment from the 1943 film Stormy Weather. Cab Calloway and his band perform an absolutely swinging version of Jumpin’ Jive while the Nicholas Brothers perform a spectacular tap dance routine. Do give it a watch, it will put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. Amazingly the Nicholas Brothers ... Read more...

Mick Fealty

In praise of the UTV special on the 12th of July…

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The great thing about not being on Twitter is that you can’t react or be emotionally affected by the crass actions of some eejit throwing a compost bin at an Orange parade in Belfast to see how they might react. Or at least not within the nanosecond timeframe of Twitter which “demands” that you take a deeply unserious act of thuggery seriously. In doing so, we reset our standards at the lowest possible level. Clay Shirky theorises these platforms provide ... Read more...

John Moriarty

Social mobility as a silver bullet…

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Rachael Maclean was one of the more low-key members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet up until her “get a better paying job” comments made headlines in May. In case those headlines were all you read, here is the context. Maclean, who at the time was a Minister at the Home Office with responsibility for Safeguarding, was interviewed as a part of a feature Sky News were running on the cost of living. Immediately after a conversation in the home of a ... Read more...

Brian Walker

There are major implications for the N Ireland Legacy Bill in Panorama’s report on SAS killings in Afghanistan

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A practice of unlawful killings which are possibly war crimes. Faked evidence and cover ups, followed by a decision not to proceed for lack of evidence. That was the story confidently and relentlessly told by BBC Panorama about the conduct of British special forces in Afghanistan over a decade ago, in a special programme produced above the BBC Northern Ireland label.  The claims were made by former soldiers on camera with identities withheld or off camera, and by follow up ... Read more...

Terry Wright

Embedding the protocol within a constitutional/identity gridlock undermines our shared future

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Unionism cannot be boxed into one definition, however broad opinion, within the pro-Union and the middle ground Unionist constituency, beyond loyalism, the Orange Order, bonfire groups and attendees at pre-election rallies, is hardening towards the ‘Protocol’. It is now firmly rooted within constitutional and identity issues; not viewed as a destination but as a process shaped by EU rigidity that will take Unionism to a divergent and politically homeless place where it does not wish to reside. Talk of protecting ... Read more...

Matthew Spiers

Technopopulist Northern Ireland

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An obsession over what you believe in politics is often at the forefront of people’s minds but the question of how you want to achieve those beliefs appears to have taken a new precedence in the 21st century. In a world where every politician proclaims to have cookie cutter beliefs it is not surprising that the audience wants to know how the politician wants to approach change when so many before them failed to do so. The question between Sanders ... Read more...

Matthew Spiers

A Protocol of Biblical Proportions…

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It was assumed that the defining adversarial dynamic between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would be the fact that one was staunchly loyalist while the other was proudly republican. In reality, it was an extremely fruitful relationship partially due to a shared belief in Christianity, with Paisley and McGuinness reportedly praying together during their time as First and Deputy First Ministers. There we see a partially overlooked aspect of the society in which we live in. Christianity’s deep impact upon ... Read more...

Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)

Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price on Celtic working and European democracy

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Last Friday, I filmed and live-streamed a fascinating lecture by the Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, delivered in Dublin to an assembled and online hybrid audience for the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies. Fascinating for a number of reasons. I rarely hear any local discussion of devolution in Wales, other than noting that they have fewer policy areas devolved than Scotland and Northern Ireland. A talk more than a decade ago demonstrated how the Senedd was ahead of other ... Read more...

Brian O'Neill

Open Sunday – discuss what you like…

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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.

Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)

Where is Home? (John Hewitt panel in Armagh on Tuesday 26 July)

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Slugger O’Toole is delighted to be returning to the John Hewitt International Summer School later in July. Our panel on the evening of Tuesday 26 July will ask Where is Home? – inviting three guests from the world of politics to explore where home has been, where it is today, whether home can be one place or many, and what could shift that sense of belonging and identity in the future. I’ll be joined on stage in Armagh’s Market Place ... Read more...

Mick Fealty

Beware the celebrity journalist Prime Minister selling “big, blaring dramatic stories” …

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Six years ago, Nick Cohen penned the best analysis not of Brexit, but rather the public reaction of the ‘reformed’ journalists, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who fronted its clinching arguments: …they gazed at the press with coffin-lid faces and wept over the prime minister they had destroyed. David Cameron was “brave and principled”, intoned Johnson. “A great prime minister”, muttered Gove. Like Goneril and Regan competing to offer false compliments to Lear, they covered the leader they had doomed ... Read more...

Mick Fealty

Boris Johnson to resign but how can he hope to limp on until Autumn with a half empty cabinet?

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Turns out it was not just Brandon, Mr Johnson is going too, but not until the autumn…. It will bring to an end one of the shortest lived Prime Ministerships in British history (3 out of 8 from the last 20 years)… Your guess is as good anyone’s in the Conservative party as to who will follow him. After winning an 80 seat majority with an unlikely pro Brexit coalition, Johnson is now facing the exit. Phenomenally though, and it’s ... Read more...