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The Manchester drama seen with the eyes of a journalist who wrote of IRA in the 70s

In his 1975 book about Irish nationalism the Parisian writer Maurice Goldring wrote about the void which can too easily be concealed behind the noise of battle. ‘To substitute a “spectacle” for the participation of the masses is to hide a wasteland behind gaudy coloured hoardings. The emptier the political arena becomes, the more vivid the colours must be, the most garish tints are those associated with explosives. White, black, the ochre of the explosion, the redness of the blood.’ When the absence of mass participation is rationalised, Goldring observes, forms of popular struggle are sacrificed for the sake of guerilla exploits. Easier to find candidates for armed heroism than to find a

On Sunday I reported a Tory to the police for hate speech

On Sunday afternoon, I reported a Tory Councillor to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for anti-Irish pro-Brexit hate speech. Ironically, his words came after the Irish Republic gave no points to the UK in Saturday night’s Eurovision contest. It’s been quite a week for Ireland. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: to have one VIP visit in a week may be regarded as a misfortune; to have three looks like a stampede. You’re spoiling us, Mr Ambassador… And to hear the reaction from Irish politicians to Michel Barnier’s speech to the Irish Parliament last week, you’d be nearly tempted to believe it. One government senator told the Financial Times that delivering his speech to both houses of the Oire

Radio Interview

I was on Talkback today, here's the link. Talking about preparing for death. Cheerful huh? I'm on with Tara Mills and Corinna Grimes from the PHA, who have just published a great book available to download from their website. Here's a link to TB - we're on just after half twelve.

Informers 'sacrificed' by state, IRA infiltrator to tell Stakeknife probe

This is a fine piece by Suzanne Breen in Belfast Telegraph. How long will my friend Martin 'Marty' McGartland have to wait before his testimony is accepted at last? How long will victims, survivors and their families have to wait before we finally have a comprehensive truth recovery process? And yes, that includes the state, too.

Today, We Are All Europeans

‘April is the cruelest month’ is the first line of T S Eliot’s 1922 poem The Waste Land – his searing indictment of the global desolation that followed the end of World War I. April 2017 shows every sign of following in its path. On Easter Sunday, Turkey voted by a narrow majority (51%) to hand draconian powers to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In effect, Erdogan had created himself a dictator, a contemporary Sultan, with sweeping powers to appoint judges, dissolve parliament, declare a state of emergency and make laws by decree. World leaders were swift to support Erdogan. Trump called him on Easter Monday to offer his fawning congratulations. Not to be outdone, so did Russian Presid

The EU view – England’s difficulty and Ireland’s opportunity?

The EU view – England’s difficulty and Ireland’s opportunity? Just after the start of the First World War in 1914, a group of Irish separatists took the decision to launch a rebellion before the war ended. Their key belief was the credo that ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’. In other words, the British state would be weaker when it was distracted by war. The failed Easter Rising in Ireland began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. With much greater numbers and heavier weapons, the British Army swiftly suppressed the Rising, taking around 3,500 people prisoner, many of whom had played no part in the Rising. 1,800 of them were sent to internment camps or

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