Journalist Susan McKay discusses her new book, Northern Protestants – On Shifting Ground (Blackstaff Press 2021), which is a collection of almost 100 interviews with politicians, community workers, religious leaders, former paramilitary members, young people, business people, and other citizens of Northern Ireland from County Antrim to the city of Londonderry, McKay’s hometown. In this follow-up to her book Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People, first published 21 years ago, McKay shares that in 2021 unionists in Ireland attempted to celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland and then in 2022 they collapsed its government. Political unionism is hardening into a nostalgia for the sectarian state that the Good Friday Agreement dismantled, but McKay’s book explores the surprising diversity of thought among people from a Protestant background who are impatient with narrowness, open to new ideas, and welcoming of the potential for political change. Northern Protestants — On Shifting Ground was described by the Observer as “a fascinating and constantly thought-provoking book” and The Irish Times said it was “vital reading in all senses of the word.”
McKay’s journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, London Review of Books, the Guardian/Observer and The Irish Times. McKay is currently writer-in-residence with Sligo Libraries, working on a project about the legacies of the partition of Ireland in the North West. She is also writing a book about borders for which she received an Arts Council of Northern Ireland major individual award.
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