Brian John Spencer
GET UPDATES FROM Brian John Spencer
Brian John Spencer is a writer and artist living in Belfast, writing about being British and Irish, drawing people and politics. Brian also works and writes for veteran Irish journalist Eamonn Mallie at, writes his own blog here and tweets and tumblrs a lot. Read more about Brian on his website,

Entries by Brian John Spencer

The Northern Irish - Programmed for Discord

(0) Comments | Posted 2 June 2016 | (13:10)


How do you form a programme for government when Northern Irish people are congenitally programmed for disagreement?

While society is outwardly normal, elections tell us that people in Northern Ireland look at the world through two distinct lens. Each...

Read Post

Stormont 2016 - Changed Utterly, A Forgettable Beauty Is Born

(0) Comments | Posted 22 May 2016 | (22:40)


The dates May 12 and May 19 2016 could go down in history. The moment Northern Ireland politics were normalised or consolidated; the moment the hegemony of DUP and Sinn Fein was either secured or scuppered.

Read Post

The Stormont Reformation

(0) Comments | Posted 16 May 2016 | (10:33)


The biggest flag-flapper gets the votes. You can't eat a flag, but you can win elections with them, that is the moral hazard of Northern Ireland politics. Even DUP politicians who are alert to the image and economic downsides to flag...

Read Post

The Orange and Green State for a Protestant and Catholic People

(0) Comments | Posted 11 May 2016 | (19:20)


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a disaffected people in possession of a dysfunctional government must be in want of an alternative. A lame government is a dead government. Not in Northern Ireland.

Naomi Long said ahead of...

Read Post

The Norn Iron Lady

(0) Comments | Posted 3 May 2016 | (16:59)


She is articulate and assertive, and she can dispatch a determined opponent with a withering glance and stinging retort.

She straddles a corner of European politics and commands respect from adversaries and allies alike. This isn't Nicola Sturgeon or Angela Merkel, but...

Read Post

Save Ulster From Obloquy

(0) Comments | Posted 26 June 2015 | (09:21)


Cartoon by Ian Knox.

On May 22 2015 Ireland voted YES. Overwhelming, both as a spectacle and an act, all but one Irish county endorsed the plebiscite. Ireland won itself the affection of the world.

This is...

Read Post

Nobody Knew How Welfare Reform Was Resolved, Now Nobody Knows How It's Unravelling in Northern Ireland

(0) Comments | Posted 12 March 2015 | (18:29)


The Stormont House Agreement materialised on December 23 2015.

It was Haass 2.0 striding deep in extra time. The crowd, the press, the bookies saw no deal. The ever bullish Newton Emerson, albeit of the cynically bullish kind, was

Read Post

Save Ulster from Self-Lobotomy

(0) Comments | Posted 1 March 2015 | (23:33)


My fellow protestant Irishman George Bernard Shaw said history teaches us that we learn nothing from history.

History tells us that many practices the present considers perfectly conscionable, the past deemed profoundly unconscionable. History shows that...

Read Post

We're Not Donetsk, We're Northern Ireland

(2) Comments | Posted 16 February 2015 | (23:11)


Northern Ireland, that benighted pene-exclave, has been barraged by depredations in recent months. We got it from Paxman, Emma Bricknell, slandered by an HBO executive, Douglas Murray and we remembered Reginald...

Read Post

Journalism in the Age of Sticks and Swill Buckets

(0) Comments | Posted 13 February 2015 | (17:44)

Me mourning Sully

We're in the age of swill buckets and sticks. Advertising is not just that thing which has taken over journalism, but which aspiring journalists have taken to. Declaiming their robbed inheritance.

I scripted something along those...

Read Post

What Would Hitchens Do

(3) Comments | Posted 1 February 2015 | (22:35)

In times like this we ache in his absence. "One of the joys of living in a world filled with stupidity and hypocrisy was to see Hitch respond. That pleasure is now denied us." As Sam Harris said.

In the aftermath of the slaughter of satirists forceful...

Read Post

Brutal, Bilious, Offensive Cartooning Is What We Do and Have Done for Centuries

(1) Comments | Posted 14 January 2015 | (18:17)


#JeSuisCharlie in Belfast

Charlie Hebdo was categorically correct to publish the prophet on its front cover. To ask cartoonists not to draw Mohammed would be like cartoonists to ask Muslims to give up their prophet. That's what they do -...

Read Post

You Can't Disappear Those You Disagree With

(0) Comments | Posted 21 November 2014 | (18:52)

My cartoon: The new censor - The Sneering Metropolitan

It's a national pass-time. Laughing at Daily Mail readers. It get's me, big time. I don't read the rag; but my parents do. And lots of other people I respect dearly. There's a...

Read Post

The Union Has Changed, But Northern Ireland Remains Unchanged as the Pork-Barrel Sectarian Principality

(0) Comments | Posted 24 September 2014 | (00:14)


The Union abides. Change is afoot, utterly. Scotland gets more power. England evolves. Wales will do its thing. Change is afoot - Except in Northern Ireland.

In the pork-barrel principality of Northern Ireland unchange is coming. Monism and orthodox, religio-politics abides. Despite...

Read Post

A No, a No, Our Kingdom Needs a No!

(0) Comments | Posted 17 September 2014 | (23:56)

If it's Scotland's pound, it's the people's Scotland. There's a hidden Scotland in anyone who speaks the Northern Ireland speech. Seamus Heaney said that. Hibernia colonised Caledonia through the Scotti, then Scottish planters re-colonised Ireland. Now I'm here in Northern Ireland - a demi-Scot, an Ulster-Scot, a Scots-Irish - living...

Read Post

The Creed-Crazed Cleric that Backwardised Northern Ireland

(1) Comments | Posted 15 September 2014 | (20:51)


The Free Presbyterian Tsar Ian Paisley makes Edmund Burke's argument: that democracy is weak on the point that demagogues can seduce and co-opt the electorate. The Bannside demagogue did this. Paisley radicalised, backwardised and brutalised the unionist electorate with his brutal mob-Calvinism of...

Read Post

Peter Robinson: 'No Longer Fit for Purpose'

(0) Comments | Posted 11 September 2014 | (01:22)


It's him who's "no longer fit for purpose", not the Northern Ireland
Assembly. Peter Robinson, the Pentecostal rabble-rouser turned commander-in-chief of Britain's six counties in Ireland.

This is what Northern Ireland has to show for itself. A DUP-Sinn Fein...

Read Post

Northern Ireland Needs London and Dublin and Its Emigré

(0) Comments | Posted 16 April 2014 | (16:32)

The State Visit of Michael D. Higgins has shown that the British and Irish can get on very well. Mature politicians, British and Irish, working together and doing deals, conscious of their common values and shared destiny.

Contrast this with Northern Ireland. Backward, bickering, bigoted and niggardly little politicians,...

Read Post

Hey Irish America! Arthur Guinness was a Protestant, a Unionist and Irish and British

(0) Comments | Posted 19 March 2014 | (17:27)

The 'England get out of Ireland' banner in St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014, via Long Island Catholic Examiner, Deirdre Haggerty here.

Irish America needs to go buy a book and learn some history. They don't have a baldy notion. Here's...

Read Post

University Is Now an Ethical Question

(0) Comments | Posted 12 March 2014 | (17:37)

ONS data which shows that nearly 50% of recent graduates are in non-graduate work.

Is it ethical to let a young person go to university in the full knowledge that a degree will serve then with no hope of employment?...

Read Post