March 31, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Mark Neale

Mark was born in Larne but grew up mainly in Ballymoney, educated at the genuinely, non-contrived, integrated grammar school of Dalriada. His father is from the Cavan and his mother County Down. His father has a very poor view of the “Free State” into which he was born and brought up, while his mother being a Presbyterian from the Ards, although staunchly unionist, has a romantic view of the men of 1798, interspersed with her father’s my grandfather's role in the 1912-14 period. In his own words: "So my popular history is unionist with a recognition that my forefathers were probably not always that way inclined." Having studied and lived in England for 6 years Mark returned in 1990 and joined the UUP, was elected a councillor in 1997 and has subsequently moved out of politics and now works in public affairs.

March 30, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - David McCann

David McCann is a political pundit and deputy-editor of Slugger O'Toole. He is from Belfast and was educated at Ulster University where he was awarded as PhD in politics. Read David's political testimony, '1916 Rising and how it inspired me 78 years later'.

March 29, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Olwen Dawe

Olwen Dawe is a businesswoman and economics student, undertaking an MEconScience in Policy. She is based between Westport, Co. Mayo and Dublin City. She is a feminist, arts enthusiast, music obsessive and politics junkie.

Olwen was the former Project Director of Yeats2015 and President of Network Ireland. She is a graduate of the National College of Industrial Relations and is an advisor to economic and social development agencies, including cross-border projects.

March 28, 2016

The Redmondisation of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness


We're all Redmondites now. We live in an age of gradualism and evolution, not revolution; an age of realism, not radicalism. The Provisionals, once terrorists wedded to British withdrawal, have entered a new phase that we should call The New Departure, with an alliance of separatists and constitutionalists. 

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Peter M

Born and bred in Belfast, Peter M was schooled at RBAI before studying at Durham University. He now works in investment in London.

March 27, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Ian Acheson

Ian Acheson is married, is 48 years old and is living in south west England. He is a "council house culchie made good via amazing parents and grammar school." Born in Enniskillen he was educated at Portora. He is a former senior civil servant with the Home Office, now living off his wits in the private sector with the odd diversion into troubles poetry you can see here in a collection called '51% British: writing the Troubles out of my head'.

March 26, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - David McElfatrick

David's full name David McElfatrick. He wasn't given a middle name because my second name was considered long enough already. David grew up in Coleraine and attended a staunchly protestant primary school in Millburn, then a staunchly catholic grammar school in Portstewart. After that, he attended the University Of Ulster, studying Computing Science. Whilst studying, a creative side project of his called Cyanide & Happiness started to take off, and that eventually became a full-time gig/business. David is currently living in Dallas, Texas where he now co-runs an animation studio and creative lab. So he's a cartoonist, animator, writer and amateur musician by trade!

March 25, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Dr Ian Malcolm

Dr Ian Malcolm is Portadown-born, Lurgan-raised and is still there. His background is Protestant and firmly Unionist. He was educated at King’s Park Primary School, Lurgan Junior High, Lurgan College and Lurgan Tech. He only took an interest in education after leaving school.

His Further Education includes a BA Hons and PhD at Queen’s University Belfast. Ian now works as an Irish language lecturer, writer, broadcaster and author.

March 24, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Chelley McLear

Shelley was born in England. She grew up in Surrey, went to Ulster University at Coleraine in 1992 and has been here ever since. She now lives in Belfast and works as a freelance writer, facilitator and arts co-ordinator.  Most of her work is with Community Arts Partnership for whom she co-ordinates the Literature and Verbal Arts Projects.

March 23, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Conor Houston

Conor Houston is a 32 year old who lives in Holywood, Co. Down. Conor is a social entrepreneur, influencer, lawyer, change agent and active citizen. 

Conor born in Holywood but moved with his family to Surrey, England at the age of 3 where he spent 10 years of his childhood. Conor returned to Northern Ireland in 1996 and attended Our Lady & St Patrick's College, Knock.

March 22, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Ruth Dudley Edwards

The name on her passport is Ruth Edwards, but the men of the family had Dudley as a second name so it became the family name and she couldn't escape it.  Ruth was born Dublin 1944 and brought up there, though parts of summers were often spent with maternal relatives in rural north Cork.   

March 21, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Brian Todd, RBAI

Brian Todd was born in Drogheda in the early 1950s of northern Presbyterian parents. He lived in Dundalk until 1965 when he and his family moved back to Northern Ireland. Educated in both the secondary and grammar spheres before Queen’s University, Belfast. He "did one or two unmentionable things before settling to teaching in the late 1970s." He Taught history at Inst for over thirty years, taking the position of vice Principal 2001-2011, before retirement. In retirement Brian discovered running.

March 20, 2016

W.B. Yeats describes the Easter Rising

Yeats by Tom Lalor

W.B. Yeats was in Gloucestershire when he first heard about the Dublin rebellion. He wrote a letter to Lady Gregory, May 11 1916:
"If the English conservative party had made a declaration that they did not intend to rescind the Home Rule Bill there would have been no rebellion. I had no idea that any public event could so deeply move me—and I am very despondent about the future. At this moment I feel that all the work of years has been overturned, all the bringing together of classes, all the freeing of Irish literature and criticism from politics… I do not yet know what [Maud Gonne] feels about her husband’s death. Her letter was written before she heard of it. Her main thought seems to be ‘tragic dignity has returned to Ireland’. She had been told by two members of he Irish Party that ‘Home Rule was betrayed’. She thinks now that the sacrifice has made it safe… ‘I am trying to write a poem on the men executed—‘‘terrible beauty has been born’’."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Willis McBriar

Willis was raised on a farm in Mid-Down. After studying at QUB he worked for BBC as an engineer/trainer. Willis is now a trainer in Creative Digital Media living in Belfast.

March 19, 2016

The eloquence of the scripted impromptu

Henry Grattan by James Gillray
It was said of Henry Grattan:
"Like his friend Henry Flood, Grattan worked on his natural eloquence and oratory skills by studying models such as Bolingbroke and Junius."
To speech in prose, practice. Moliere said:
"For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Brendan Heading

Brendan is from North Belfast and was educated at St Therese of Lisieux primary school, for the first five years, on the old site at 65 Somerton Road, and latterly at the "new" school at its present site
on the Antrim Road. Brendan passed the 11+ and studied at St Malachy's between 89 and 97. He graduated in Computer Science at QUB in 2001. He is currently a software engineer living and working in the greater Belfast area.

March 18, 2016

The German and Russian sympathies of Connolly and Pearse

As by the Paris Review if he could speak German to his German captors in the Second World War, Kurt Vonnegut said:
"I had heard my parents speak it a lot. They hadn’t taught me how to do it, since there had been such bitterness in America against all things German during the First World War. I tried a few words I knew on our captors, and they asked me if I was of German ancestry, and I said, “Yes.” They wanted to know why I was making war against my brothers. 
I honestly found the question ignorant and comical. My parents had separated me so thoroughly from my Germanic past that my captors might as well have been Bolivians or Tibetans, for all they meant to me."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Ed Henderson

Ed Henderson was born and raised in South Belfast by his mother, a talented nurse and his father, a local journalist, turned author who focussed on reporting the Troubles through the 70s to present day. Ed studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Istitution until he turned 21 when he moved to England to study marketing and advertising in Newcastle Upon Tyne. On finishing his degree in 2007 he moved to London to work in advertising until 2014 when he decided to return home and set-up back in Belfast. He is currently an account director working at an advertising agency in South Belfast.

March 17, 2016

Would Unionism allow a Sinn Fein First Minister?

Cartoon by Ian Knox
Alex Kane said on BBC Hearts and Minds:
"And what happens when unionism is in trouble? It harks back to the mantra of united we stand, divided we allow McGuinness to become First Minister. 
So up pops Nigel Dodds to insist that unity is the answer to unionist prayers, then up springs David McNarry to say that unity must embrace the TUV, Orange Order, Conservatives and anyone who has a red, white or blue shirt in their wardrobe. 
The reality, of course, is that unionist unity won’t work, because unionist unity is merely a euphemism for a sectarian headcount: and sectarian headcounts will, sooner rather than later, kill off devolution. 
What unionism needs to do is promote a coherent and attractive argument in favour of the Union: an argument that presents the Union as valuable in its own right rather than as merely the next-best-option to Irish unity."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Stephen Hillis

Stephen Hillis is a 40 year old married man with 2 young children. He was brought up in Belfast and Newtownards.  He then studied at UUC and attempted to leave Northern Ireland twice, firstly to the US and then London. "But I always felt the call to home," he said. Stephen has settled in County Antrim to bring up a family, working in Belfast. He said:

March 16, 2016

Nora Connolly, daughter of James Connolly, on Easter 1916

Read 'The Unbroken Tradition' by Nora Connolly, published 1918, in full here
The writer and activist Nora Connolly (born 1893), daughter of James Connolly, wrote ‘The unbroken tradition’ an account of the Irish rebellion of 1916, published in 1918. Nora wrote about the her experience of Easter Week 1916 and the aftermath of the rebellion, with general commentary on the movement, its leaders and events.

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Aaron Callan

Aaron is from Limavady where He went to primary school and secondary school. From there He went to Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast. He is currently an Ulster Unionist Councillor for Limavady on the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

March 15, 2016

'The [Easter Rising] as I saw it' - By Mrs. Hamilton Norway

'The Sinn Fein rebellion as I saw it' was written by Mrs. Mary Louisa Hamilton Norway (Mary L.G. Norway) (wife of the secretary for the Post Office in Ireland). The 100 page book, formed of three letters originally intended for friends and family, give an account of Easter Week 1916 as she experienced it from the Royal Hibernian Hotel, Dawson Street, Dublin. Original text, via, in full here, and in PDF here.

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Susan Irvine Russam

Susan Irvine Russam is 60 and lives in Holywood, County Down. She was at Holywood High School (now Priory College) Queen's University Belfast, University of Glasgow and Ulster University. She has been Chief Executive of GEMS NI since 2001. 

March 14, 2016

'Six Days of the Irish Republic' - By L.G. Redmond-Howard

The front cover - the great Greek portico of the GPO circled in flames like "a prairie fire"
L.G. Redmond-Howard, nephew and biographer of John Redmond, wrote 'Six Days of the Irish Republic - A Narrative And Critical Account of the Latest Phase of Irish Politics', published in 1916.

The book was an account of the Rising at its aftermath. On Monday when the fighting broke out Redmond-Howard was installed at the “Metropole” hotel, situated alongside the Post Office. From here he could not get any direct view of what was the centre of the battle, so he moved across to the “Imperial,” which, situated vis-à-vis the Post Office on the top of Clery’s Stores, commanded the fullest view of the rebel headquarters.

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Patrick McKeating

Patrick is from Belfast and was educated at Rathmore Grammar School. In 2004 he moved to Dublin to study History in Trinity College. Six years ago he moved to England to teach and am currently Head of History in a London academy.

March 13, 2016

Ireland - Most Oppressed People Ever?

By Andre Carrilho

Professor Bew said that those who see the role of Britain in the history of the world as singularly negative represent an "infantilised version of the past". Fintan O'Toole wrote in ‘After the Ball’ (2003) that Ireland’s history is not at all unique:
"Irish people like to see ireland as an exceptional place. Our suffering throughout history is unparalleled… Our struggle for freedom inspired the people of the world… The complexity of our dilemmas is unsurpassed… And because Ireland occupies a place in the world grossly disproportionate to its population, this sense of our uniqueness is often reflected back on us from the outside. 
All of this is, of course, an illusion. Many countries, even in Europe, have similar experiences of struggling to secure their independence against larger neighbours in the 20th century. Many cultures have been shaped by the same broadly nationalist cultural revivals of the 19th century."

Gerald Dawe speaks to the #NorthernIreland2016 Interview Project

Gerald was born in north Belfast. He grew up there with his mother, grandmother and sister in the 1950s. He went to school in Orangefield and studied at Ulster University before moving to Galway in 1974 under a major state award where he wrote a thesis on William Carleton. Gerald lived and worked in Galway for twenty years before moving to Trinity College where he have taught since 1988. Gerald now lives on the coast a few miles south of Dublin. He published his first book of poems, Sheltering Places, in 1978 and his most recent, Mickey Finn's Air, in 2014. He has also published several books of literary and cultural studies and edited various anthologies including Earth Voices Whispering: irish poetry of war 1914-1945.

March 12, 2016

Leaving rugby

Irish prop Cian Healy has found time for art during his rugby career. It will be great to see his art when he has more time after his life in rugby
Jim O’Callaghan is a Dublin city councillor and former Leinster rugby player, he wrote an article in the Village Magazine decrying the change in grassroots rugby: ‘Rugby surrendered its social benefit’. Irish rugby is now about achievement and excellence rather than participation and enjoyment he said. He wrote that sociologists and social historians of the future will examine the change in participation in rugby in Ireland over the past twenty years.

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Jenny McCartney

Jenny McCartney is 44 and was born in Belfast. She was Educated at Methodist College, Belfast and later Keble College, Oxford. Jenny is currently living and working as a journalist in London.

March 11, 2016

Revolution and perpetual oppression

George Orwell wrote:
"One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship."
Andrew Sullivan observed:
"Just as the English Civil War ended with a dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell, and the French Revolution gave us Napoleon Bonaparte, and the unstable chaos of Russian democracy yielded to Vladimir Putin, and the most recent burst of Egyptian democracy set the conditions for General el-Sisi’s coup."
Revolution is a mentality, not an actuality. W.B. Yeats wrote:
"Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again, The beggars have changed places but the lash goes on."
It was explained like this:
"Yeats cynically dismisses armed revolutions as merely perpetuating cycles of oppression. The new ruling class then oppresses the others with the same vehemence with which it was once oppressed."
Yeats also said:
"Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man: Ireland shall get her freedom and you will still break stone."
Kevin O’Higgins the Irish Minister for Justice was assassinated by IRA for signing death warrants of 77 republicans during the Civil War. An Phoblacht described O’Higgins as “one of the most blood-guilty Irishmen of our generation”.

Ian Paisley said in 1993:

"We often hear from republicans about the treatment meted out to Irish people by the United Kingdom, but we are apt to forget that the bloodiest deeds ever carried out in Ireland took place when Irishman fought Irishman in the civil war, led by De Valera. De Valera was however defeated, and the settlement was established and stood."

Examples of revolutions include the French Revolution — largely orchestrated by the bourgeoisie (middle class professionals) against the nobility, and the Russian Revolution — in which socialist urban workers ultimately triumphed. In both cases, the winners viciously persecuted the vanquished, and ruthlessly dominated.

The Algerian FLN went on to impose a military dictatorship on Algeria vastly more repressive and blood thirsty than the French colonial regime ever was. It continued to persecute ethnic minorities like the Berbers. And more to the point, it ethnically cleansed Algeria of Jews – the vast majority of whom were not only indigenous but belonged to a community that pre-dated Islam in Algeria.

Read about Fethardism, the religious boycott, in Ireland here.

Oliver Cromwell when dissolving parliament in January 1655 exclaimed:
"What greater hypocrisy than for those who were oppressed by the bishops to become the greatest oppressors themselves, so soon as their yoke was removed."
Patrick Kavanagh wrote in 'The Green Fool':
"The Black and Tans were gentlemen when compared with the Free Staters."
An anonymous Irishman is reported to have said via ‘Is Ulster Right?’ (1913):
"Roman Catholics who fled from the tyranny of the penal laws at home [in Ireland] had no scruple, when they reached the Continent, in taking part in persecutions far more terrible than anything they had seen in Ireland. During the dragonnades in Languedoc, Louis XIV’s Irish brigade joined eagerly in the butchery of old men, women and children and the burning of whole villages. The same heroes distinguished themselves by destroying everything they could find in remote Alpine valleys so that the unfortunate Waldenses might die of starvation."
Sean T O'Kelly said in Geneva in 1933:
"The Free State Government was inspired in its every administrative action by Catholic principles and doctrine."

Kevin Myers speaks to the #NorthernIreland2016 Interview Project

Kevin Myers is a veteran journalist of the Troubles and Irish politics. He is a respected polemicist and historian. He was heavily responsible for bringing  the Irishmen who fought in the First World War back into the consciousness of modern Ireland. He writes a fortnightly column for the Sunday Times.

March 10, 2016

William Brodrick, Leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance, responds in the House of Lords to the Easter Rising

Viscount Midleton (William Brodrick), Leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance (1910-1919)

William O'Brien wrote about Lord Midleton in ‘The Irish Revolution and how it came about’ (1923), writing:
"Lord Midleton and the Irish nobles and country gentlemen, who were afterwards to follow him into the Anti-Partition League were not yet heard of."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Kathryn Johnston

Kathryn Johnston is a freelance journalist and researcher. She was born in Ballymena. Together with her late husband Liam Clarke she wrote the unauthorised biography of 'Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government'.  She is also the outgoing Women’s Officer of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

March 09, 2016

True Irish republicanism is anti-imperialist and anti-EU

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh speaking into a microphone

Ed Moloney wrote:
"The peace process was… A massive ideological compromise by Provisional leaders which would, inevitably, lead to IRA decommissioning and the transformation of Sinn Fein into a constitutional Nationalist party, not terribly different from the SDLP."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie MC is a soldier and UUP councillor aged 50. His father served in the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Ulster Defence Regiment. He grew up in a working class community in Edgarstown, Portadown. He left school at the age of 16 with no academic qualifications and joined the military - The Royal Irish Rangers. In his own words, his career:

March 08, 2016

The Good Old Provisional IRA

In 1991, on the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, Gerry Adams pointed to the Proclamation in the Sinn Fein Press centre, and declared to journalist Suzanne Breen: 
"Would any of the men who signed that document have signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Would Tom Clarke have extradited Dessie Ellis?
No way would those people be involved in talks about talks, rolling devolution, Atkins’ round-table conferences and the whole litany of Sunningdale-Darlington."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Catherine Molloy

Catherine Molloy was a primary school principal until she retired in December 2013. Originally from Derry, she was a member of the SDLP until 2012 and represented the Balmoral area of South Belfast as a City Councillor from 1997 to 2005. She has served on several statutory boards and committees and is currently a Trustee of National Museums NI. She is also now enjoying “studying and filling the gaps in her education” i.e. history, the appreciation of Art and the Latin language.

March 07, 2016

Edwardian Ireland was a religiously apartheid island

Irish politicians and jurists effectively enshrined Roman Catholic canon law into Irish statute and jurisprudence

Conor Cruise O'Brien wrote in his famous book, 'States of Ireland' (p. 109):
"After my father's death, the pressure on my mother to withdraw me from this school must have been strong. Another widow, in a similar position, had withdrawn her boy not long from Sandford. She had been told that by keeping the boy at a Protestant school she was prolonging her late hushand's suffering in purgatory."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Kyle Paisley

Kyle Paisley was born in Belfast in 1966. He was educated at Greenwood and Strandtown Primary schools and Shaftesbury House. Then later educated at Whitefield College of the Bible, Lawrencetown. Kyle now lives in Oulton, Suffolk. He is the minister of Oulton Broad Free Presbyterian Church.

March 06, 2016

Ireland's social revolution

John Stuart Mill wrote in ‘Chapters and speeches on the Irish land question’ that while Britain ruled cruelly in Ireland, today's generation cannot be held responsible or atone for past misconduct. He wrote in his publication from 1870:
"The Irish were taught that feeling [disaffection] by Englishmen. England has only even professed to treat the Irish people as part of the same nation with ourselves, since 1800. How did we treat them before that time? I will not go into the subject of the penal laws, because it may be said that those laws affected the Irish not as Irish but as Catholics. I will only mention the manner in which they were treated merely as Irish. I grant that, for these things, no man now living has any share of the blame; we are all ashamed of them; but “the evil that men do lives after them”."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - A 57 year old male

Edward Pearse works as an independent consultant. He has lived happily in both jurisdictions. His name is a pseudonym due to the nature of his work, his insights are informative nonetheless.

March 05, 2016

The two worlds of Northern Ireland, Ctd

Gerald Dawe said:
"I come from a Protestant background, but as a young fellow I had lots of Catholic and Jewish friends, and non-religious friends. We all used to hang out together, and we used to go to dances together, we used to party together, we used to go on holidays together. It was a very mixed group. But by the early ’70s all that changed. I used to walk girls home over to west Belfast and it never was a problem, but when The Troubles really started to dig in, that kind of freedom disappeared. I mean you’d take your life in your hands… Belfast became a very dark and dangerous city. People didn’t go out after 7 or 8 o’clock at night. It was pretty grim … It wasn’t the same city that I had known growing up."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Gerry McCullough

Gerry McCullough considers herself to be Irish, British and Northern Irish. She was born and brought up in Belfast and now lives in Conlig, just outside Bangor. She went to Belfast High School and then to Queen’s University where she took an honours degree in English Literature and Philosophy, followed by an MA in Eng Lit. She is married to singer-songwriter, writer, radio presenter and publisher Raymond McCullough, and has four children.

March 04, 2016

The south of Ireland is no longer backward

David McWilliams said in 2014 at the Xchange Summer School:
"If you look back 150 years, Northern Ireland was the Silicon Valley of the world."
"Sometime in the past century, [Northern Ireland’s] Protestant majority swapped Max Weber for Karl Marx."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Dr Paul Reilly

Dr Paul Reilly is a Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society at the University of Sheffield. He was born and spent his child and youth in Northern Ireland.

March 03, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - 28 year old exile in London

Our latest interviewee is an exile from East Belfast now domiciled in London. He is 28 and works in finance. For the purposes of this interview he will have a synonym, Lewis Strandtown.

March 02, 2016

Unhappy when working. Unhappy when workless.

Fritz Kreisler by Paolo Garretto, which looks remarkably like George Orwell

George Orwell said in an essay on Oscar Wilde:
"Even in the most highly-mechanised countries, an enormous amount of dull and exhausting work has to be done by unwilling human muscles."

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - Matt Johnston

Matt is 43 and is a dad among other things. While his parents would have a long history with Northern Ireland they met in England and Matt was born there. They returned to Northern Ireland with little Matt in 1974 believing that the growing Troubles would blow over soon. Matt inherited such optimism.

Matt is confidently Northern Irish, "I don’t pretend to be English or Irish."
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