‘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…

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…

‘My Planter’s Burden’ – by Brian Spencer

The Irish government recently published the ‘Global Irish – Ireland’s Diaspora Policy‘ . This is an important and innovative document. It poses a question and perplexes. The question is this: what can we learn and apply from Ireland’s diaspora to Northern Ireland? Here’s what perplexes. The people of this our shared archipelago are so much…

Jamie Bryson, more narcissist, less unionist

Jamie Bryson adores the Union but advocates everything against which the modern Union stands. The man from Donaghadee can call for Union Flags on every lampost, call for a return to “biblical based Protestantism” for loyalism, and call on other retrogrades, then without the slightest sense of contradiction or inconsistency, call for liberal and distant…

‘Being a middle-class suburban Protestant is a lonely vigil’ argues Brian Spencer

We read to know we’re not alone. The moment when words mirror life and lived experience is stirring and emotive, even numinous. Being a middle-class suburban Protestant is a lonely thing. You’re unionist without being “Unionist Forum”-style unionist. When pro-Union sentiment is universally bellicose, belligerent and flag-flappy you can feel like Franz Kafka’s character who…

Peak Republicanism?

Ever since the Union flag restriction sparked a carnival of reaction and Robinson reversed on the moderate vernacular, destiny swayed with nationalism, it seemed. Nationalists were confident, unionists despondent. All-Ireland Sinn fein was the insurgent and ascendent force across the island, the darling of the polls. But like the polling over-reach on Miliband’s Labour, the…

The stridently apathetic, the silently zealous

It’s an intriguing read any time a foreign journalist looks in and writes about Northern Ireland. Even the New York Times can print in error when reporting on the weird DUP/Sinn Fein Ireland. Three years on and top paper-men and women still write of the “Union jack” as though every Union flag in Northern Ireland…