I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Henry Patterson

Labour Titan

Ernest Bevin never knew who his father was and was orphaned aged eight. He started work as a farm labourer at eleven and later became a lay preacher and union organiser. As foreign secretary in the post-1945 Labour government he helped stiffen the Americans’ resolve to stand up to Stalin.

Defending the Union

The social democratisation of the Northern Irish state after 1945 transformed the life chances of working class children both Catholic and Protestant, yet the ruling party maintained its ethnic ethos and kowtowed to Protestant ultras on issues like the flag and the Orange Order’s right to march.

A Lick of Red Paint

The most intellectually influential journal of the British Marxist left found itself, over half a century, unable to say anything about the conflict in Ireland. Embarrassed by the sectarianism of the Provo campaign, British leftists nevertheless remained fixated on ‘the anti-imperialist struggle’.

The Limits of Empathy

A historian specialising in political violence argues that understanding terrorism requires empathetic analysis. But scepticism over the claims of the creators of victims to be ‘working for peace’ need not derive from a desire for vengeance: it could as easily signal a respect for truth.

Big and Little Lies

A new book argues that those who criticise the Good Friday Agreement for not creating a framework for dealing with the past or for not addressing the deep divide in the North, are missing the fundamental purpose of the accord, which was simply to deliver an end to violence.