One Is The Loneliest Number

One Is The Loneliest Number

Writing in today’s Irish Times Fintan O’Toole attacks Gerry Adams for accurately quoting the Belfast Agreement. Fintan is concerned to emphasise that even if a majority in favour of unity emerges in the North it will still have to get past a referendum in the...

Morning Cloud, Internment Morning

Morning Cloud, Internment Morning

On this day in 1971 the British army and the RUC were preparing for tomorrow’s dawn raids into nationalist areas across the North, to make arrests, interrogate and intern hundreds of people even though all of the first fatalities and bombings of the Troubles/Conflict...

SDLP Writes Fitt Out Of Its History

SDLP Writes Fitt Out Of Its History

Last month, a new documentary film, In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, was shown at the 29th Galway Film Fleadh. Subsequent discussions resulted in some SDLP members and supporters resorting to an old refrain that Sinn Féin had written John Hume out of recent...

The Blinding Absence of Light

The Blinding Absence of Light

Found two gems in the Oxfam shop in Belfast’s Ann Street, which I’ve read before, but I bought them anyway to give to friends. John Banville’s The Book of Evidence is probably his best, in my opinion, based on a real life crime in Dublin in 1982. But the other book is...

Féile na bhFlaitheartach  26-27 August 2017

Féile na bhFlaitheartach 26-27 August 2017

Just received the clar for this August’s Féile na bhFlaitheartach 2017. The theme this year is ‘The O’Flahertys, Ireland and the Russian Revolution’. The programme has a great cover! A facsimile of the novel The Informer which was published in Moscow and Leningrad in...

Captured at Dunkirk

Captured at Dunkirk

George McCool was captured by German soldiers at Dunkirk. Twenty years ago, I interviewed the Derry man at his home in the Waterside. George, a Catholic unionist, who described himself as ‘a bit of a royalist’, incredibly, lived in Derry’s Creggan throughout the...

The Loss of David Ervine

The Loss of David Ervine

In 2002 I interviewed David Ervine about peace, identity and compromise. It was just after a biography of Ervine, Unchartered Waters by Henry Sinnerton, had been published by Brandon (which also published Gerry Adams' books). Ervine died ten years ago and the party he...

“We have to learn to think differently”

“We have to learn to think differently”

Just finished Nightmare in Berlin by Hans Fallada, written in 1946, a quasi-biographical novel about a writer Dr Doll and his wife, their experiences of the invading Russian authorities, and then their lives as morphine addicts attempting to survive a devastated...

All Fall Down

All Fall Down

Much of James Leo Herlihy’s fame is as author of Midnight Cowboy, a fine novel which was subsequently overshadowed in 1969 by John Schlesinger’s film of the book, a gritty and bleak, Oscar-winning film that featured Jon Voight (as Joe Buck) and Dustin Hoffman (as...

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit

Almost all of my media interviews in the past few months, including much of my commentary on Twitter, have been dominated by the Brexit issue. Again, this morning I was interviewed by Hayley Millar, BBC Scotland, about Brexit and the proposed pact between the DUP and...