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‘The Orange hills of Donegal’

I have no connection to the Loyal Orders. I’m not the Green of the Gael, rather very, very pale Orange. I have a Protestant inheritance, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian, which means I watched bonfires, brethren and bands growing up, seeing no ill at all. I’m a Protestant atheist, a cultural Calvinist. This is not…

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A ‘brave heart’ ruffles Westminster’s Right and Left

The internet imploded yesterday in reaction to the powerful maiden speech by Scottish National Party MP Mhairi Black. The riveting speech lashed the “out-of-touch” Tories, austerity and called out for opposition unity with an inept Labour. In quoting her personal hero Tony Benn, she took the opportunity to challenge her fellow MPs to be “signposts”…

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‘The Tughans Conundrum’ by Eamonn Mallie

When US company Cerberus emerged as the successful bidder for Nama’s 850 strong portfolio of property loans in Northern Ireland, it appointed Brown Rudnick as one of the legal firms to act for it. That company decided to hook up with Tughans Solicitors, in Belfast. The managing partner of Tughans, Ian Coulter had worked closely…

George Hamilton, PSNI

BIG Talk on The Past – By Brian Rowan

The conversation will be on stage at Feile an Phobail – the west Belfast Festival. And the big talk – scheduled for August 6th – comes with a big thought. “The politics are too slow,” Chief Constable George Hamilton told me. Too slow he means to put in place a structured process that will at least…

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‘The march Ditch’ examined by Brian John Spencer

‘We had a break in August, theirs was in July But when one drop of rain would fall we’d all look at the sky’ – Colum Sands, ‘The March Ditch‘ You’re Protestant because your parents are Protestant, as their parents were. A placenta Protestant. Likewise for Catholics, placenta papes. You’re a unionist because your parents are…

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‘Boho Surrender’ – By Brian John Spencer

There’s a backward Belfast, and there’s a bourgeois Belfast. Two Belfasts. Two Northern Irelands. Rory McIlroy versus Bryson Belfast; unbridled optimism versus plangent wallow, nostomania and self-pity. The two young men are roughly coeval with 1998 Northern Ireland, but each is radically polarised on the modern Irish Question. Each is a strong indicator of Belfast’s…

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‘Marching in circles’ – By Jonny Byrne

The recently negotiated Stormont House Deal, which some have labelled ‘an agreement to make an agreement’ was dominated by discussions about welfare reform and the legacy of the past. According to media reports the issue of parading was sidelined, as Unionists were not prepared to enter into discussions while the parading and protest dispute in…

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John Dunlop’s Thought For the Day

On Friday 26th 2015 the Presbyterian minister John Dunlop spoke on ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio Ulster. His reflections were profound and merit being shared in full: “We are on the edge of a summer of great sporting events; like the Open Golf; tennis at Wimbledon; The Ashes Test matches between England and…

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From South Carolina to Northern Ireland: Why Flags Matter

Following the tragic shooting of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, the national focus in the US has turned to a debate about whether the Confederate flag – the symbol of the Southern slave states who lost the American Civil War – should fly atop the South Carolina State House. It may seem…

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‘SOS WALL STREET RAPES IRELAND’

These words currently sit high above Belfast laid out on the side of a mountain, aptly reflecting what some of us are thinking. One wonders if Stormont and the politicians are sleeping. I’ve heard the phones are broken on the hill,so we know they are not physically talking to anyone, let alone those in the…

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In Defence of Jamie – and Others like him: by Sophie Long

I have watched, with interest, the ongoing exchange on Eamonn Mallie’s site, between Jamie Bryson and Brian John Spencer. The two figures represent two, opposing camps, within ‘Unionism’, in its loosest sense. Spencer, the spokesman for the “silent majority”, is emblematic of liberal Unionism, or, as they are often called, ‘garden centre Prods’. Bryson, on…