How right Leon Uris was when he said of Ireland: “There is no future: just history repeating itself.” Brian John Spencer reflects…

George Bernard Shaw portended Northern Ireland as “an autonomous political lunatic asylum”. How right he was. I’m not sure that was the creator’s intention, however. The ideals of Easter 1916 are well known, but the ideals of Edward Carson were just as high; he wanted every Irishman to enjoy the rights and liberties enjoyed by…

Edward Carson, father of the Irish revolution? 

How can unionists condemn a rebellion when they threatened rebellion? During a recent discussion on BBC Spotlight on the Easter Rising, Jim Allister of the TUV said the Ulster Covenant was an “entirely peaceful exercise”. He was responding to David Ford who said it was a “seditious document”. Like the leader of the Alliance party,…

Time to ‘Trouble the Troubles?’ – Our Unfinished Peace and the need for Uncomfortable Conversations and why the truth may not set us free by John Barry…

It is commonly said that in Ireland the past is never over, that one of the characteristics of our troubled and troubling politics, especially within Northern Ireland is our long historical memories. As Oscar Wilde is said to have quipped in talking about the relationship between England and Ireland ‘The problem is the English can’t…

Twenty Years on by Patrick McKeating

It was a day of firsts. The visit of President Clinton was the first time I heard the phrase ‘no stone unturned’. As 9 year olds we all had to write about the visit of the most powerful man in the world to our city. A boy named Christopher wrote that the CIA would ‘leave…

Billy Hutchinson – a British Loyalist in Dublin

I’ve felt green of late. Not a political conversion, rather, the green of envy. Jealous of the energy, vision and action of the Irish unity lobby. The unionist caucus by contrast is inert and anaemic. Unionism is now the politics of Ourselves Alone, endlessly playing the grievance card. Unionism is reclusive. Unionists exhibit the traits…

‘Not knowing your place’ – by Brian John Spencer

In 1921 the founding father of Northern Ireland Edward Carson implored unionist legislators to govern the nascent state with justice and equality for the Catholic minority. Unionists opposed a Dublin parliament because they feared injustice and inequality. In the end the unionist parliament in Belfast disposed of Carson’s dictum, treating Catholics in the very manner…

Paul Gallagher – A bigger man than you or I

  Last week marked the 21st Anniversary of the Ceasefire declared by the Combined Loyalist Military Command. It was heralded as an end to decades of Loyalist violence. Earlier that year I met a handful of their colleagues who entered my home one evening and proceeded to empty the contents of a sub-machine gun into…