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Northern Ireland suicides outstrip Troubles death toll

4,500 people have taken their own lives since conflict ended, sparking calls to tackle crisis

More people have taken their own lives in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement than were killed in political violence during the Troubles between 1969 and 1997, the latest regional figures on suicide reveal.

The statistics on the state of mental health in the region show that since the peace deal about 4,500 suicides were registered in the region.

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Published on 20 February 2018 | 12:01 am

Irish language can be cherished by all | Letters

Support for an Irish Language Act comes against the background of a renaissance in Irish speaking and interest in the language over the last 30 years, writes John Gray

I was more than disappointed by your prejudiced editorial (The political parties must relearn the lost language of power-sharing, 16 February) in which you place the blame for the breakdown of talks to restore the Northern Ireland executive on Sinn Féin for seeking “to weaponise the language question”. All the weaponising has come from your own pen.

The compromise proposals on languages accepted by Sinn Féin came from the moderate Alliance party, and involved both an Irish Language Act and an Ulster Scots Act. You repeat scare stories about the presumed content of any Irish Language Act, referring “to fears that Irish may be made compulsory in schools, that a language qualification might become a job requirement, and that street signs would be made bilingual”. You do qualify this by accepting that these alarms “are not all well grounded”, though you insist that “bilingual road signs will take the issue into every street”. As Mary Lou McDonald, the new president of Sinn Féin, has clarified, none of this is true. In particular, street names would be a matter of local option.

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Published on 19 February 2018 | 5:29 pm

Norman Walsh obituary

My father, Norman Walsh, who has died aged 83, won the world cup at the National Honey Show twice with his bell heather honey, from the bees he transported into the Mourne mountains of Northern Ireland on a custom-built wheelbarrow.

Although he had passed his preliminary exam in beekeeping in 1953, this interest had to take a back seat while he pursued his education and a career with Unilever. When he retired in 1989, he took up beekeeping in earnest, competing, teaching, judging and travelling with his wife, Rosemary, to Apimondia, beekeeping’s international convention. He was certified as a lecturer in apiculture in 1996 and a honey judge in 2003. He was appointed MBE in 2008 for services to beekeeping in Northern Ireland.

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Published on 19 February 2018 | 4:17 pm

Saved for posterity … 40,000 memories of the Troubles

One man’s 50-year treasure trove goes on display to mark bloody era in Northern Ireland

There are “Ulster Says No” cigarette lighters, Orange Order Christmas decorations and banknotes mocked up with an image of Gerry Adams at the time of the 2004 Northern Bank heist in Belfast. In all, Peter Moloney has collected 40,000 such artefacts, all culled from decades of political turmoil and bloody strife.

Moloney, a retired London-based architect, has spent 50 years accumulating the largest array of memorabilia relating to the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland – a labour of love that began when he was just 15. And this month he finally packed up the unique historical treasure trove and sent it back to Northern Ireland, where it will go on public display. The exhibition will coincide with what is regarded as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of a bloody chapter, sparked by the Catholic civil rights movement of the late 1960s.

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Published on 18 February 2018 | 12:05 am

Through stained glass darkly: memorials to the lost McDonald boys of Belfast

Three of Margaret McDonald’s sons – my grandfather and two of my great uncles – were victims to momentous 20th-century conflicts. Yet their names live on…

As winter light from a cloudless azure sky filters through the stained-glass window of St Matthew’s Catholic church to illuminate the name of the man to whom it is dedicated, some words from DH Lawrence come to mind.

“We are bleeding at the roots,” the poet and novelist once wrote.

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Published on 18 February 2018 | 12:04 am

Northern Ireland secretary says power-sharing deal still possible

Karen Bradley pledges to ‘do all I can’ to get talks between DUP and Sinn Féin back on track

The UK government still believes a deal can be done between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist party aimed at restoring power-sharing to Stormont, the Northern Ireland secretary has said.

Karen Bradley insisted she and her colleagues in the Irish government wanted to get the talks between the two main parties represented in the deadlocked Northern Ireland assembly back on track.

Key facts about Irish and Ulster Scots

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Published on 16 February 2018 | 2:13 pm

Sinn Féin claims papers prove power-sharing deal was struck

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, rejects claim her party scuppered a Northern Ireland settlement

Sinn Féin has released documents which the party claimed proved that an agreement had been struck on power-sharing in Northern Ireland – only for the DUP to scupper the deal later.

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin’s new leader, said the papers showed that a deal was in place between the two parties that would have secured a return to a power-sharing government in Stormont.

Key facts about Irish and Ulster Scots

Related: The Guardian view on Northern Ireland talks collapsing: the lost language of power-sharing | Editorial

Related: The DUP is a party that loves power but hates responsibility | Katy Hayward

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Published on 15 February 2018 | 7:46 pm

The Guardian view on Northern Ireland talks collapsing: the lost language of power-sharing | Editorial

Party politics in Northern Ireland remains a grim zero-sum game. But the Conservatives in London have made things even more difficult

At the start of this week the British and Irish prime ministers went to Belfast. Such visits are less common than they were. So the word surrounding the meeting between Theresa May and Leo Varadkar was that they had arrived to bless a fledgling agreement between the Northern Ireland parties to restart power-sharing. Older heads warned that such optimism might be premature. The arrival of such senior figures could trigger the start of serious political battles, they said, not mark their ceremonial conclusion. And so it has now proved.

Two days on, the talks between the unionist DUP and the nationalist Sinn Féin have collapsed. The immediate reason is failure to agree on the terms of a new Irish language act, which Sinn Féin has promoted but against which much of unionist Northern Ireland is in revolt, causing the DUP to pull the plug. The danger is that both sides can now see more advantage within their own communities from failing to agree than from agreeing.

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Published on 15 February 2018 | 2:11 pm

Northern Ireland: May urged to ‘take forward equal marriage’

Labour says absence of devolution means Westminster must drive social changes

Theresa May’s government should consider imposing social changes on Northern Ireland, such as gay marriage, in the absence of a deal to restore power-sharing at Stormont, Labour has said.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Smith, said it was up to London to introduce legislation in such areas following the collapse of negotiations.

Related: Talks to restore power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapse

Related: Northern Ireland needs equal marriage and abortion rights – but no referendum | Richard Angell

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Published on 15 February 2018 | 11:04 am

The DUP is a party that loves power but hates responsibility | Katy Hayward

The party’s actions have a material, crushing effect on Northern Ireland, most particularly on its young

“In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an executive being formed.” With those words, Arlene Foster turned towards Her Majesty’s government, “to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure”.

The DUP is a party that loves power but hates responsibility. No, Sinn Féin is responsible for the collapse of the Northern Ireland executive. The British government should be responsible for the running of Northern Ireland. The EU will be responsible for a hard Irish border. Power, for the DUP, is not to be held nor shared but to be wielded. And wielded in defence of the few rather than for the good of the many.

The DUP perpetuates the idea that unionism’s position is precarious in order to bolster the rationale for its uncompromising stance

Related: Talks to restore power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapse

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Published on 15 February 2018 | 9:12 am

Talks to restore power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapse

DUP says it will not compromise with Sinn Féin and accuses May of making an ‘unhelpful’ visit

Talks to restore the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland collapsed on Wednesday, as the DUP said there was no prospect of a compromise with Sinn Féin and accused Theresa May of an unhelpful and distracting visit to Belfast earlier this week.

In an extraordinary broadside at the prime minister, whose Conservative party has a confidence deal with the DUP in parliament, the DUP negotiator Simon Hamilton said May’s visit to Stormont on Monday with the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, had given a false sense of progress and was not “entirely helpful”.

Related: The DUP is a party that loves power but hates pesky responsibility | Katy Hayward

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Published on 14 February 2018 | 7:03 pm

The Guardian view of Boris Johnson’s Brexit vision: all about me | Editorial

It was billed as a Valentine’s Day letter to remainers. But the foreign secretary’s love affair with himself got in the way

The foreign secretary Boris Johnson made a speech on Wednesday in praise of optimism, confidence and a liberal Brexit. It was rich in rhetorical flourish and almost empty of detail. It was the speech of a politician whose only credibility is as the tribune of the leave campaign, a shameless piece of oration that fell back on his old journalistic trick of describing an EU that does not exist in order to justify his determination to get out. It was billed as an overture to the 48% who wanted to stay in the EU and a definitive speech about the shape of Britain’s future relationships outside it. But it was singularly free of the kind of irksome detail needed to understand a world beyond Europe.

It was rich in what Whitehall describes as optimism bias, “an estimate for a project’s costs, benefits and duration [made] in the absence of robust primary evidence”. It was a Valentine’s Day card to himself and his ambition to be the next Tory leader, an ambition he betrayed with his incoherent answer to a question about whether he would rule out resigning this year.

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Published on 14 February 2018 | 5:37 pm

Sad disappearance of UK-owned carmakers | Brief letters

Brexit and Northern Ireland | UK carmakers | Women’s bathing | Quorn | Getting the pill

Following the resounding Labour vote that Polly Toynbee predicts will see off a hard Brexit, what are the chances of UK citizens in Northern Ireland being able to vote for the party that’s going to save them from a hard border (The roadblock hard Brexiteers can’t drive around: Ireland, 12 February)? More than 2,000 members and supporters of the Labour party here are increasingly frustrated by Labour’s refusal to stand candidates here.
Dugald McCullough
Newcastle, Co Down

• The Japanese ambassador’s warning about the impact of Brexit on Japan’s carmakers in the UK, especially in the north-east and the Midlands, is timely and alarming (Report, 9 February). But what does it say for British industry that this hugely important sector of the UK’s manufacturing is no longer UK-owned in the first place?
Jeremy Beecham
Labour, House of Lords

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Published on 14 February 2018 | 5:35 pm

Gerry Adams loses appeal over IRA prison breakout convictions

Retired Sinn Féin president was convicted over two attempts to escape internment in 1970s

Gerry Adams has lost his appeal against convictions over an IRA prison breakout in the 1970s.

The retired Sinn Féin president was among four detainees intercepted by prison officers as they tried to cut their way through perimeter fencing at the Maze/Long Kesh prison on Christmas Eve in 1973.

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Published on 14 February 2018 | 11:41 am

Man shot dead in west Belfast named

Raymond Johnston, in his late 20s, was killed in front of children on Poleglass estate

A man shot dead in front of children in west Belfast on Tuesday night has been named as Raymond Johnston.

The victim, who was in his late 20s, was killed by a shotgun wound to chest at a house on the Poleglass estate around 8pm.

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Published on 14 February 2018 | 9:27 am

Man shot dead in republican area of west Belfast

Victim, in his 20s, believed to have been hit in the chest by a shotgun blast in front of children

A man has been shot dead in a republican area of west Belfast.

The victim was fatally injured in a shotgun blast at a house on the Poleglass estate. It is believed the man, who was in his 20s, was shot in the chest as he opened the door of the property at around 8pm, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He is believed to have been shot in front of two children.

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Published on 13 February 2018 | 10:24 pm

How Derry Girls became an instant sitcom classic

Lisa McGee’s nostalgic sitcom finished its run on Channel 4 last week. Why did this tale of four schoolgirls, set against the tumult of 90s Northern Ireland, strike such a chord?

What will we do on Thursday evenings now Derry Girls has ended? There will be no more excellent swearing from Michelle, no more cynicism from Sister Michael or stress-induced rants from Clare. There will be no more English boys being forced to wee into a bin thanks to a lack of male facilities at Our Lady Immaculate College. Well, no more for now; Derry Girls has been such a hit that Channel 4 has already ordered a second series.

The comedy is set in Derry (“or Londonderry, depending on your persuasion”) at the tail end of the Troubles in the 90s. Writer Lisa McGee has created a show that somehow basks in the nostalgia of 90s pop culture while depicting the reality, and frustration, of living in a city where life can be postponed at any second thanks to bomb threats. Or, as Clare’s dad Sean puts it in the first episode: “How long does it take to defuse a fecking bomb? Don’t the wee robots do all the work?”

Related: ‘There is nothing fake about it’: real Derry Girls revel in TV show’s wit

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Published on 13 February 2018 | 6:00 am

May fails to reach deal to restore Northern Ireland power-sharing

Parties urged to make ‘final push’ as DUP and Sinn Féin remain at odds over Irish language act

Theresa May has left Northern Ireland without a deal that would have seen the restoration of power-sharing government in the region.

The prime minister and the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, had travelled to Belfast on Monday hoping that the main parties represented in the Stormont assembly would reach a compromise ending 13 months of political deadlock.

Key facts about Irish and Ulster Scots

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Published on 12 February 2018 | 8:03 pm

Brexit: Varadkar and May to work on plan for frictionless Irish border

Leaders of Ireland and UK seek deal that does not need Northern Ireland to be in single market

Theresa May and Leo Varadkar are to work together to come up with a new plan on how to achieve a frictionless Irish border after Brexit that does not involve the EU demanding Northern Ireland stays in the customs union and single market.

But speaking to reporters after bilateral talks in Belfast, the taoiseach admitted that achieving this was the “tricky bit” in Brexit talks.

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Published on 12 February 2018 | 7:31 pm

Derry woman's US-born husband free to live in UK, court rules

Tribunal finds Emma de Souza can be treated as Irish citizen under Good Friday agreement

A potential loophole in Britain’s strict immigration laws has been exposed after the Home office lost a case in Northern Ireland that hinged on the unique peace deal rights that allow citizens to identify as Irish and not British.

A Derry woman at the centre of the case has spoken of her joy after a Belfast court rejected the Home Office’s bid to appeal against a recent ruling that her American husband should be allowed to live in the UK without going through immigration procedures because she carried an Irish passport.

Related: Home Office treated couple living legally in UK 'like criminals'

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Published on 12 February 2018 | 11:26 am

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