Watch “The divide runs deep between Protestants and Catholics of Belfast (1993)” on YouTube

The ‘Troubles’ may be over but the North of Ireland’s sectarian divides are deepening.

A peace process with no peace



The recent tragic death of Lyra McKee in the Creggan area of Derry City has raised fears that the peace in Northern Ireland is now under threat. Dissident republicans, calling themselves the ‘New IRA’ have admitted to causing her death while attacking the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

McKee came to prominence in 2015 when her blog went viral. It was a letter to her 14-year-old self who was suffering with the fact of being gay in Northern Ireland. It was later made into a short film. Her much-anticipated book, The Lost Boys, is an exploration of eight young men and boys who disappeared during the ‘Troubles’.

The sprawling Creggan Estate on the outskirts of Derry is one of the poorest working-class estates in the UK. Crime, vandalism, carjacking, joyriding, drugs, punishment shootings and heavily armed police raids against dissidents are commonplace. Because of this, the estate has become something of an attraction for journalists and filmmakers. Former BBC presenter Reggie Yates was in the area on the day McKee was shot, making a documentary for MTV about extreme and unusual places. Sinead O’Shea’s 2018 documentary A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot is set in the Creggan. It follows the life of the O’Donnell family after the mother voluntarily brings her son for a punishment shooting because he was dealing drugs.

Depictions of the Creggan paint a depressing picture of a community left behind by the peace dividend that was supposed to follow the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Commenting on police raids around this time last year, local independent councillor Gary Donnelly told Derry Now that the PSNI are ‘unreformed from the Royal Ulster Constabulary’ – the police force that was officially disbanded in 2001 as part of the peace process. ‘Their role remains the same, as they enforce British rule in Ireland’, he said. The fact that operations are ‘carried out by heavily armed officers, backed up by armoured vehicles and air support, bears testimony to this’. ‘The PSNI clearly mark themselves out in working-class republican areas as an oppressive occupying force far removed from the smiles and PR spin of their hollow “community neighbourhood policing” facade’, he added.

What, then, will the future hold for working-class nationalist communities like the Creggan, which were once a bedrock of support in the struggle for a united Ireland? Do those who are condemning the New IRA as ‘robbers and murderers who draw strength from a revolution the Irish refuse to let lie’ understand the residual tensions in Northern Ireland? Did the communities there endure all the repression and privation of the war years only to be abandoned by their own political leaders?

It was the New IRA who pulled the trigger on the PSNI and McKee. But Sinn Féin, the once-republican party, is to blame for much of the current mess and chaos in the Creggan. It sold the people a lie that the peace process would achieve a united Ireland. In truth, the GFA was nothing more than a coded ratification of the republican movement’s defeat. While there is still significant support for Sinn Féin in those communities, bitterness and disillusionment are increasingly apparent.

The dissidents of the New IRA are a symptom of Sinn Féin’s failure on many fronts. The party has also failed to address the social and economic deprivation that blights places like the Creggan, preferring to highlight issues like the Irish language, gay rights and abortion rights. It doesn’t focus on these issues just to goad Unionists. Sinn Féin believes that by concentrating on identity politics, its politicians can leave their nationalist/republican pasts behind and become ‘respectable’ political players.

Sinn Féin’s references to a united Ireland are increasingly muted, mentioned mostly at election time to retain their support in working-class communities – but only ever as a dream for a far-off future. In fact, the party might be about to take a step that would be unprecedented for an Irish republican party. Speaking at the recent Easter Rising commemoration in Belfast, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that in the continued absence of a power-sharing administration, ‘a new British-Irish partnership, a joint authority’, was needed in Northern Ireland.

In other words, Sinn Féin are openly willing to participate directly with the British government in maintaining the status quo in Northern Ireland. This can only further contribute to the bitterness felt in working-class nationalist communities, inspiring further support for dissident republicans like the New IRA. But the dissidents’ campaign is futile. There is no appetite for a renewed fight for Irish independence in the wider nationalist community. Their activity can only invite more repression for their communities and certain imprisonment for the young men who join them.

Responding to Lyra Mckee’s killing in a joint statement, party leaders said: ‘It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere.’

But what does this 20 years of progress amount to? A digital mapping project by Dr Matthew Doherty published in 2017, using government census data between 1971 and 2011, reveals that the geographical split between Catholics and Protestants remains pretty much as it was in 1971. There is little or no cross-community integration that might indicate any softening of identities. In the supposedly vital arena of education, it is evident that the integrated-schools movement has lost momentum, enrolling under seven per cent of students in 2017. Outside Belfast City Hall, tour guides and buses wait to take the tourists to see the famous Peace Walls – or ‘interface barriers’, as they are euphemistically called – which crisscross many working-class areas of the city. In 2014, the government set a target of 10 years for the removal of all barriers – there are still 60 across Northern Ireland. There has actually been an increase in wall-building since the GFA in 1998. This suggests that relations between the two communities, notwithstanding the fact that the war is long over, are deteriorating. Any optimism about the future is in short supply.

The most recent edition of the Irish Pages, a Belfast literary publication, surveyed 42 of the leading intellectuals, poets and writers on the subject of the GFA. The heading for leading literary critic Edna Longley’s contribution summed up the survey: ‘The Belfast Agreement and Other Oxymorons.’ Novelist Glen Patterson voted Yes for the GFA, but now thinks he ‘can’t overlook the fact that almost from the get-go our politicians, and therefore the electorate who voted them in, did their best to fuck the whole thing up’.

More recently, Unionist poet Jean Bleakney complained of being assailed by ‘Brexit-bashers, republicans, civic nationalists, DUP-haters, academics, rights activists, journos’, arguing that ‘more than ever, somehow, everything was the fault of the Brits’. During the 1970s and 1980s, when the war in Ireland was raging, Unionists felt that the British government and state would always be on their side – and it was. Following Brexit, many feel that their position is no longer so secure.

Historian and leading architect of the GFA Paul Bew argues that ‘the people at the top of the UK government are paralysed by imperial guilt’. This is apparent among the British intellectual and political elites, where there is a desire to escape the embarrassment of Britain’s colonial and imperial past – a past to which Unionists are wedded. This is particularly evident in the attitude of many Remain voters in the Brexit referendum. They disparage any form of British nationalism or sovereignty as racist or fascistic and prefer to look to a new European identity for salvation.

The GFA’s core principle – that all the people of Northern Ireland can by birthright identify as ‘Irish or British or both as they may so choose’ ” is now cast in a different light as Britishness (and particularly the Unionist version of it) is now considered problematic. This identity crisis, combined with the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing assembly, Brexit, and the DUP’s role in shoring up Theresa May’s government, means that Ulster Unionists and their political culture has come under a new and fearful scrutiny. Their stance on issues such as gay rights, gay marriage and abortion have been condemned, and there is a growing sense that they are an embarrassment to much of the political elite in Britain.

It’s not just the political elite who are losing interest in Unionism. A few statistics from the ongoing Future of England survey reveal that 83 per cent of Leave voters believe that the collapse of the Irish peace process is a price worth paying for Brexit. Only 25 per cent of Leave voters believe that ‘revenue raised from taxpayers in England should also be distributed to Northern Ireland to help Northern Irish public services’. The Spectator has traditionally been one of the most pro-Unionist publications in Britain, but in one of its recent podcasts, the editor Fraser Nelson discussed how the DUP’s insistence that Britain and Northern Ireland remain fully aligned had tied the British into a Soft Brexit. They chose to play out the discussion with a tune by Paul McCartney called ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’ – a song banned from UK airwaves in 1972. As the Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole worriedly pointed out, there is now a sentiment in the Tory circles which wishes that the ‘Irish (including the DUP) should bugger off and leave us to our own grand project of national liberation’.

So how is all this playing out in Unionist communities in NI? Journalist and Unionist commentator Newton Emerson summed it up when he wrote the following in the Irish Times:

‘Unionism’s largest party has consigned the UK to a zombie government, keeping Labour out of office but the Tories barely in power. The British public, having been forced to notice the DUP, has had every nationalist trope of Unionism’s awful “un-Britishness” seemingly confirmed. The same public has demonstrated its indifference, certainly at the ballot box, to the Labour leadership’s past sympathies with the IRA.’

Unionist fears are further compounded by the demographic clock. Dublin economist David McWilliams, who famously predicted the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, married into a Unionist family. His observation reveals something of the change in Northern Ireland:

‘I’ve been travelling around Ulster recently, taking in the views from rural Markethill in South Armagh to the prosperous King’s Road, Belmont and Stormont suburbs of east Belfast, and from coastal fishing villages of the Ards Peninsula to the council estates of Cookstown in Tyrone. I have seen Union Jacks and even UVF flags where I never saw them before. The anxiety of Unionism about the ticking demographic clock is captured by this “backs-to-the-wall” display of extravagant loyalist pageantry on the streets. On present trends, Catholics will be in the majority in Northern Ireland by the end of the next decade.’

Is there a future for a united Ireland? Would the Irish political class allow a referendum on it? And, more importantly, would they respect the democratic decision? Taking up his role as the spokesman for the southern Irish political elite, Fintan O’Toole thinks it will not stand: ‘The simplistic notion that a quick transition to Irish unity will solve the problem is utterly unconstitutional. The Constitution requires a profound reconciliation between diverse identities. That in turn requires people to be secure and confident in their sense of belonging.’

O’Toole is trying to put a legal cover on the reality of current political trends. The southern Irish elites did not respect the democratic decisions of their people in two referendums on EU treaties. Their British counterparts have shown the same attitude in refusing to respect the Brexit vote. Even if a border poll was demanded by the public, a united Ireland by democratic means seems an unlikely prospect.

The tide of history is turning in the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. Both nationalism and Unionism are now equally despised. The attempt to articulate a new political dispensation through culture and identity, which is central to the peace process, is producing not reconciliation, but a deeper and more dangerous personal enmity. Ireland needs a vision for a future that can prevent this slide into a repressed misanthropy.

With many thanks to: Spiked and Denis Russell for the original story

Denis Russell is a former history teacher.


Catholics will outnumber North’s Protestants by the centenary of the state of the North of Ireland.

CATHOLICS will outnumber Protestants in the North of Ireland by 2021, a leading academic has suggested.

Dr Paul Nolan speaking at a meeting of interface community workers in Belfast hosted by The Community Relations Council.

The 2011 official census figures put the Protestant population at 48 per cent, and Catholics at 45 per cent, while more recent figures from 2016 show 44 per cent of working age adults are Catholic and 40 per cent Protestant.

Paul Nolan, an Independant researcher, best known for the three North of Ireland Peace Monitoring Reports, told BBCNI news it is likely by the centenary of the fundation of the state Catholics will out-number Protestants.

“Three years from now we will end up, I think, in the ironic situation on the centenary of the state where we actually have a state that has a Catholic majority,” he said.

He said there is no need for this predicition to cause undue alarm amoung unionists as being a Catholic does not necessarily mean supporting a United Ireland.

Mr Nolan pointed out that although 45 per cent identified in the 2011 census as being from a Catholic background, only 25 per cent claimed an exclusively Irish identity.

“The future of unionism depends entirely upon one thing – and I mean unionism with a small ‘u’ – it depends on winning the support of people who do not regard themselves to be unionists with a capital ‘U’,” he said.

“In other words people who do not identify with the traditional trappings of unionism; people who would give their support for a UK government framework and that’s a sizeable proportion of Catholics provided they are not alienated by any form of triumphalism or anything that seems to be a rejection of their cultural identity as nationalists.”

He suggested it is likely debate on a future United Ireland would move to whether it might mean “two paraliaments – one in Belfast and one in Dublin”.

” I think the more that gets unpacted, the more opinion will move back and forward. It’s not going to go just in one direction,” the academic said. His analysis comes after DUP leader Arlene Foster said she would “probably” leave in the event of a United Ireland.

Party colleague Christopher Salford said while Ms Foster’s veiws were “reflective of a lot of unionists [who] feel they would effectively be pushed into the Irish sea”, he would be amoung any exodus. ” For my part though, I would never leave this island,” he said. “We need to show that you can be British and Irish at the same time.” Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said unionists “have to be at home in a new Ireland” and nothing, from the flag to the anthem would be “taboo”.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Bimpe Archer for the origional story.


Dramatic twist in McIlveen trial – Headlines – Belfast Newsletter






Dramatic twist in McIlveen trial – Headlines – Belfast Newsletter.




    • Monday, 10 September 2012
    • 22:00

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Event for Le Chéile Suicide Awareness and Healing together · By Seosamh O Bradaigh

An Irish American Activists said this morning…Remember Guiseppe Conlon. (RIP)

RELEASE THEM NOW !!!THEY knew he wasn’t political. They knew he was innocent. They knew he was sick. But they arrested him Falsified evidence. Convicted him And let him die in their prison. They haven’t changed.

As Irish-Americans our mantra now must be the words of Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey: This Was Supposed To Be Over.

For those who may have missed her recent speech from which these words come, it’s here:

We must join with her when she says: Organize! Educate! Activate!

There are 40+ million US citizens who readily identify themselves as Irish-Americans. Time to get them up and at ’em. It’s an election year. We did it in 1968. We did it in 1972. We did it in 1980. .

And we must do it again because?

This Was Supposed To Be Over

Hydebank Prison turned away the UN doctors – refused them entrance into the prison no less access to examine Marian Price

The English Bastards would be much happier knowing they killed both Gerry McGeough and Marian Price in prison.

What other excuse do they have for this blatant disregard for human rights?

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Helen McClafferty

Thoughts and Proverbs To Live By

“Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life. Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend. Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and bow to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing. For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.” ~ Crazy Horse (Tashunkewitko), Oglala
Thoughts and Proverbs To Live By ~ Spiritual Wisdom ~ American Indians

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Thoughts and Proverbs To Live By


This year 2012 is very important in Irish History as it’s the ninetieth anniversary of nineteen twenty two. That year seen the creation of Irelands Free State and a very bitter Civil War. It also indicated to some,the departure of English /British rule, since arriving here in 1169 by invitation from Leinster,s Provincial King Diarmait Mac Murchada .He was defeated and exiled by King Roary O Conner. He returned with Strongebow and anglo Norman Mercenaries. Ironically the Pope, gave King Henry of England permission on invading Ireland in 1155 to bring the Church under more disciplined rule. Anyway, the events of 1922 played a major part in present day Politics.There are also many similarities regarding current Political and Civil problems etc. Moreover an insight into how Constitutional and Militant Republicanism of which, was highlighted in the Civil and 1919/21 war. It was also the historic breaking from British/English rule to an uncertain future regarding imposed conditions by Britain. On this date 18 May 1922 , major instability existed as a result of the Treaty. A Provisional Government was formed in January,1922, to implement those terms required by the Treaty in forming an Irish Free State. Britain in effect still had control as this was their conditions of so called independence. A major split existed in Dail Eireann as Sinn Fein and the vast majority of IRA volunteers rejected it. At this time the four courts,and various Army Barrackes throughout Ireland were taken over by anti Treaty IRA Volunteers. Devalera was in favor of constitutionally resolving this split as he was not for Civil war. On 20 May an Agreement was signed by Collins and De Valera. This updated Free State Constitution became known as “Collins-De Valera Pact” but was rejected by the British Government on contradicting some issues, regarding its agreed Treaty. Griffith and Collins were forced to accept this, resulting in an unresolved Split..DeValera supported anti Treaty IRA volunteers, but soon events would bring about the Civil War. On this day 18 th of May , the handing over of Military Barrack,s to a newly formed National or Free State Army like Portobello, now called Cathal Brugha was seen in different perspectives.. This Barracks was also the one M Collins left before his death later that year.It was also here,where Francis Skeffington, an eccentric, true Pacifist, Socialist of renowned bravery was executed Easter week 1916 without trial.. He along with two other innocent locals, a Printer and his apprentice, were really murdered, by firing squad ,on orders from Psychopath British Captain Colthurst. He had his own personal agenda against all mainly suspect or non, Republicans, Catholics or whoever .Francis Skeffington ,his wife as many others are unsung heroes of those times . A good part of this Dublin Brigade were IRA Veterns who stayed loyal to Collins.
In comparison to today the Treaty left a bitter split withen Republicanism, similar as lack of confidence in Political Representatives. The unsung heroes, forgotten victims in all capacities, selfish interests etc. Media censorship against anti Treaty forces except to portray them in a bad light. British support for pro treaty allowing all sorts of injustices. Similar questions like would the 1916 leaders accept the Treaty if still alive.This is similar to would the hungerstrikers accept the GFA. All very similar to whats happening today but one famous part of Padraig Pearse,s oration at O Donovan Rossa,s graveside hasn’t been disproven. “ Ireland unfree ,shall never be at peace”. Everyone had as has their views and opinions of Irelands Civil war as both sides have credible beliefs by reasoning to which side they supported. But like the GFA today ,especially parts of its non-implementation, Britain ,is the core of all past, present conflicts. For example reneging and lying about paragraph 20 on OTR,s regarding people like Gerry McGeough etc. Britains experience of its policies and treatment of the Irish, Nationalist, Republican People, still remains oblivious to our being or nature .They have really learned little in all the years of our resistance to their brutal oppression. Their contempt, indifference, disrespectful condescending attitude towards our Faith, Race ,Culture, language and self-determination is still prevalent . Our Catholic faith was illegal and brutally suppressed as most of us were from that Religion. Through the Protestant Churches uniting on a common endorsement of Anti Catholicism, Britain used this to their advantage by oppressing our Faith.
However through our Republican ideology on equality, from WolfeTone ,Henry Joy Mc Cracken etc in 1798, United Irishmen,s Rebellion sectarianism is unacceptable. In the recent Troubles through the Protestant Churches, Govt collusion ,Sectarianism was inevitable. No Republican acts can ever be equaled to the Loyalist, Govt backed militias atrocities on our communities. Any that accept these Psychotic ,Catholic murderers or aided them in any way are enemies of the Irish, Republican, Nationalist ,Catholic people.
Even on this day, 18 of May 1922 Loyalists murdered 3 innocent Catholics .Two were Samuel McPeake (50) and James Donaghy (46), shot dead coming from work, on a Crumlin Rd tram in Belfast. Another Catholic, was 18 year old Thomas Mc Caffrey shot dead while waiting on a train at the Midland Railway terminus.
The majority here suffered in various ways and still have the physical psychological lifetime scars to endure. It can be very difficult to listen to some who glorify a period of at times unexplainable horrors. They know or seen nothing yet make judgments on those or events who have. It’s mainly a youthful ego of harmless intent, but can be easily swayed to accommodate another’s false agenda. We must never forget and commemorate where possible our people who paid the Ultimate sacrifice. Presently there are many ongoing injustices like in 1922,which, are being covered over. Its these injustices, unawareness, experience and history of the troubles that make a certain section of vulnerable chanting youth, targets for a now wrong direction. By all that’s being disclosed in the last 12 years and its implications on some, violations , betrayel regarding many others, justifies Francis Sheehy Skeffington,s observation. This forgotten 1916 Patriot of true faith in Socialisms equality and a pacifist ,by experience claimed the following ………. ‘
“ As you know I am personally in full sympathy with the fundamental objects of the Irish Volunteers. ‘ High ideals undoubtedly animate you. But has not nearly every militarist system started with the same high ideals ? You are not out to exploit or to oppress ; you are out merely to prevent exploitation and to defend. You justify no war except a war to end oppression, to establish the right. What militarism ever avowed other aims in its beginnings ? I advocate no mere servile lazy acquiescence in injustice . . . but I want to see the age-long fight against injustice clothe itself in new forms, suited to a new age. I want to see the manhood of Ireland no longer hypnotised by the glamour of ‘ the glory of arms, no longer blind to the horrors of organised murder. . . . We are on the threshold of a new era in human history. After this war nothing can be as it was before. The foundations of all things must be re-examined. . . . Formerly we could only imagine the chaos to which we were being led by the military spirit. Now we realise it. And we must never fall into that abyss again.” Power corrupts Leadership and the original genuine people of integrity are used in due course for other manipulated agendas.
His hopes in 1916 remained just that , as oppression, injustice ,harassment ,intimidation continued to create more conflicts and abuses, by Power driven so called Leaders.
Some say the fighting Irish will always find a reason, but thats a lot different than a common foe of 800 years. As Sigmund Freud quoted ‘This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
A Bheannacht Dhia libh again go leir a Chairde agus ar thaglaigh. A Thiarna dean Throcaire ar nAnamacha ar gach dthrigriocht O hEireann .A Dhia a shabhail na hEireann
Seosamh O Glacain

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Seosamh O Glacain




POLICE failed yesterday in a bid to halt a High Court action by seven men acquitted of a paramilitary attack on a joint police and British army patrol in Belfast 21 years ago.

A judge refused to dismiss the claim for damages after ruling that a delay in issuing proceedings has not prejudiced the defendant. A test case brought by Danny Petticrew, one of the so-called Ballymurphy Seven, will now proceed to a full trial. Mr Petticrew (37) is seeking compensation for wrongful detention, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over a bomb attack on an RUC and military patrol near the city’s Springfield Road in August 1991.

The West Belfast man, then aged 17, was taken to Castlereagh Holding (interrogation) Centre and, along with his co – accused, were later charged with offences including attempted murder. He was held in custody from April 1992 until September 1994 nearly two & half years. The case against him was discharged at trial on the basis that alleged admissions could not be used in evidence against him. Mr Petticrew claims his arrest was deliberately delayed and, because of his youth and vulnerability, he was unable to withstand questioning during repeated police interviews. He said that officers knew he was making false, unreliable and involuntary statements.

Lawyers for the chief constable applied to have the civil action thrown out due to the delay in bringing it. But Mr Justice Gillen yesterday refused their appeal against a decision not to grant the application. He accepted there had been ” inexcusable and inordinate delay ” in bring the case. However, the judge held that available transcripts from the original criminal trial, togeather with legal notes, meant defendant witnesses were in no more difficult a position now than if the claim had been brought in 1994.

” I am conscious that the allegations in this case amount to serious charges against persons and authorities within the state who are bound by laws publicly made and administered in the courts,” Mr Justice Gillen said. ” They amount to an assault on the rule of law if they are true and an affront to public  conscience. ” In those circumstances courts should be particularly cautious before driving from the seat of judgement those who wish to litigate such matters.”

Dismissing the police application, the judge said: ” The balance of justice lies in allowing such matters to proceed to trail if at all possible, so long of course as the defendant is not deprived of any realistic chance of defending the allegations due to the delay.” Outside the court Mr Petticrew expressed satisfaction that the actions brought by him and his six co-accused will go ahead. ” Something that happened 21 years ago is still having a massive effect on our lives today,” he said.


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