Northern Ireland

2 April 2023Feature

The politics of Northern Ireland today 

Its official title is ‘the Belfast Agreement’, but it is known throughout the world as ‘the Good Friday Agreement’ (GFA) because it was signed on Good Friday, 10 April 1998.

Two of its signatories, John Hume and David Trimble, then the leaders of the largest nationalist and unionist political parties, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize later that year.

Since then, it has been a rocky 25 years and the Agreement has faced a number of crises, too numerous to recount here. For…

1 June 2022News

Decision to drop prosecution 'crosse[d] the threshold of irrationality' says NI Chief Justice

A relative of a victim of Bloody Sunday has condemned what he called ‘amnesty by attrition’ after authorities in Northern Ireland appealed to the UK supreme court to try to avoid prosecuting a British soldier for murder.

‘Soldier F’ (David James Cleary) is the only soldier who has ever been charged with a crime in connection with the Bloody Sunday massacre. He was put on trial in July 2021 for the murders of William McKinney (26) and James Wray (22), as well as at least five attempted…

1 October 2021Review

Oxford University Press; 336pp; £75 [!]

Since the formal end of the Northern Ireland conflict, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, there has been an ongoing debate in Ireland and parts of academia about who ‘won’ the conflict. This is more than just a macho ‘we won, you lost’ type of contest. It goes to the heart of the role played by Britain’s intelligence services (primarily MI5 and MI6) in both fuelling the conflict and then helping to bring it to an end.

Broadly there are two camps.

The first camp…

1 October 2021Feature

The British government is trying to shield British soldiers and intelligence officials who killed civilians in Northern Ireland

Since the war began in 1970, only four British soldiers have been convicted of the offence of murder. All four were subsequently re-admitted to the army.

In Derry alone, the British army was responsible for the deaths of 35 civilians. Not one soldier was made answerable before a court of law. Not one was subject to any proper criminal investigation until after the Good Friday Agreement was signed and pressure began to mount for truth and justice

Joe McCann, a leading member of…

1 December 2019News

How Northern Ireland's 'Troubles' really began

Graph of Responsibility of Troubles deaths by year, 1969 - 2001. Created from Sutton index data at: IMAGE: IrishBriton [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

There was a trickle of dishonest and…

1 August 2019Comment

Preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland the Republic should be the peace movement's priority, argues Milan Rai

On 13 July, the new police chief in Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, warned that a hard Brexit could 'create a vacuum which becomes a rally call and recruiting ground for dissident [Irish] republicans and clearly any rise in their popularity or their capability would be very serious'.

PN has been arguing for some time that the overriding priority for the peace movement in the Brexit debate is Ireland.

Preserving the rather shaky peace process in Ireland means preventing a hard…

1 April 2019News

State killings in Northern Ireland: what you won’t read in recent Guardian coverage

Mural by the Bogside Artists, William Kelly, Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson, painted in 1997 on a wall in Rossville Street, Bogside, Derry. It shows a group of men, led by a local Catholic priest Edward Daly, carrying the body of Jack (‘Jackie’) Duddy (17) after he had been shot dead by British soldiers during a civil rights demonstration on Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972. Photo: diego_cue via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY SA 3.0]

Karen Bradley, the British government minister in charge of…

1 April 2019Comment

Our columnist takes on the lack of abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Years ago, I would on occasion have this conversation with my mother. ‘I think British troops should not be in Northern Ireland, clearly the north of Ireland is part of the island of Ireland and it should be one country’.

She would answer: ‘Ah, but you see the UK are in Northern Ireland to protect the rights of the women there to obtain divorce and contraception.’ She honestly believed that, and I didn’t know enough about it to contradict her.

I remember thinking it wasn’t…

1 February 2019Comment

There should be no time limit on the open border in Ireland

Graphic: emily johns incorporating a public domain image of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, from The Library of Congress, USA.

As PN goes to press, the British government is putting enormous pressure on the Republic of Ireland and on the European Union to weaken the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’. Peace News believes this pressure should be resisted, and the British peace movement should lend its weight to supporting the backstop.

Whether you are for leaving the EU or…

1 February 2019Feature

Brexit (and demographics) is creating plenty of future work for peace activists in Northern Ireland

An October 2015 Sinn Féin protest at Stormont, outside Belfast, against a hard border in Ireland. Photo: Sinn Féin (CC BY 2.0)

‘Norn Iron’ is a colloquial, phonetic term for ‘Northern Ireland’ and there are certainly some ‘Norn Ironies’ about.

One is that the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) have done more for a united Ireland in the last couple of years than republicans have done in decades.

Another irony is just when more Catholics and even some Protestants…

1 December 2018Feature

Robin Percial reflects on the strengths of Northern Ireland's civil rights movement

Part of a Sinn Féin march along the planned route of the 1968 civil rights demonstration, at the bottom of Shipquay Street, Derry, on 6 October. The banner refers to a UVF bombing of a pub in Belfast on 4 December 1971 which killed 15 Catholics including two children. The McGurk’s Bar Campaign for Truth is a family campaign to expose British state collusion with the loyalist attack. Photo: Robin Percival

1968 saw the beginning of what so many people euphemistically call the…

1 May 2015Blog

The Corrymeela peace centre in Northern Ireland is holding a summer peace event at the same time as Peace News Summer Camp.

Corrymeela Community, in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, is celebrating 50 years of peacemaking this year with a summer festival called Aperture – a space through which light travels (Friday 31 July to Sunday 2 August). These are almost exactly the same dates as Peace News Summer Camp (Thursday 30 July to Monday 3 August)!


28 September 2014Comment

Peace News had recently moved its main office out of London, as part of a strategy of changing the balance between its alternativist and ‘constructivist’ coverage on the one hand, and its involvement in more mainstream politics, on the other. Nevertheless, the paper found itself sucked into the defence of a group of activists – some closely connected with PN – who were facing the possibility of years in prison.

Six anti-militarists busted

Six pacifists were arrested in…

9 March 2013Letter

Pleased as I was to see a quiz about Northern Ireland in the PN February edition, your sub-editing let you down on the cover by asking ‘Ireland: do you know your facts?’. Ireland includes two political jurisdictions; the Republic and Northern Ireland, and all the questions related to the North.

If you were including the whole island of Ireland then other facts worth bringing out include big cuts in services because Irish citizens and taxpayers…

8 March 2013News

Readers’ answers to the ‘How much do you know about Northern Ireland?’ quiz in last month’s Peace News have been subjected to a searching but totally unscientific analysis (quibblers have mentioned ‘microscopic sample size’).

Our main interest was whether there was a knowledge gap between the generations who lived through the last phase of significant military conflict in the north of Ireland (the 1970s and 1980s) and those who came afterwards.

The result was: yes and no.

The one respondent under 25 (an 18-year-old) had no knowledge of the conflict at all (but sufficient cynicism to get a respectable 14 points out of a possible maximum of 35).

Much to our surprise, the next lowest-scoring…