“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to Fly by those nets.” 
James Joyce

Year in Review 2017

Year in Review 2017

Fly By Those Nets has had a great 2017, with some fantastic writing from across Northern Ireland and beyond.

We've put together this Newsletter to share some of our favourite articles from the year and to showcase some of the submissions you may have missed.

If you want to write for us in 2018 please get in touch!
We particularly encourage people who feel like their experiences are underrepresented in the media.

New website

As you can see, we've updated our website and have moved (most of) the old content across. So if you're looking to link to something you or someone you know wrote, it'll be on here!

We'll be adding new features in the new year, so if you have any feedback let us know.

Our old site is still archived here if you're curious.


Throughout the 28 days of February, we got people from all over Northern Ireland to contribute personal essays in the run up to the assembly elections on March 2nd. We had people of all ages and backgrounds, with chosen topics as varied as migrating from Zambia, teaching NI history in Hong Kong and writing sci-fi fantasy set in Belfast. Read them all here.

A Dismayed Unionist's View From Across The Irish Sea

Still our most read piece of all time, Phil Hill describes being a Unionist in London, and his problems with the DUP.

Coming Back To Go Forward

SDLP candidate Naomh Gallagher wrote about the need for hope and optimism to attract young people back to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's Not So Bad Now The Whole World's Gone To Shit

We were sent this crazy huge cartoon by Andrew Pope, along with an even more impressive fever dream of an article. If you click anything in this review, click this.

Curry My Crocodile

Sara Houston explained how her culture and identity are fluid and contradictory, and how we should all remember that our own identities aren't stuck in place.

Read the rest of #28daysNI here


The Brexit vote itself may have dominated 2016, but it was this year that the reality started to sink in. The Irish border question finally got the headlines it deserved, and as usual we had some great analysis submitted to us. Read all our Brexit coverage here.

Ireland Can't Join the Brexit Civil War

Gabe Doran has worked in Brussels and Dublin and has been our expert on Brexit. He pretty much predicted the whole mess surrounding the negotiations way back in June.

Hard Borders, Harder Questions

This guest post from Josh Hamilton, editor of The Jist, dove straight into the Brexit negotiations and the tricky questions being ignored by all sides.

Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness died on March 21st, and the news dominated headlines at home and abroad. For some, he was remembered as a symbol of Northern Ireland's hard-won peace and the importance of setting aside old divisions. For others, his obituaries brought up unresolved questions about the legacy of the Troubles.

All Changed, Changed Utterly

Republican activist Liam Duggan wrote about about how Martin McGuinness' death was yet another momentous change for the North in recent years.

The Pivotal Moments Are The Quiet Ones

After listening to Eileen Paisley grieve on the radio, Matt Gillespie wrote about the importance of bridging the divide through quiet, small and normal moments.

Our Reactions to Martin McGuinness' Death Reveal Everything

Nathan Stewart noticed that our reactions to Martin McGuinness' death reveal how we really think about the Troubles in 2017.

Gender, Sexuality and Health

Northern Ireland has long had a difficult relationship with issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive health, and our writing often referenced the inequality that persists in 2017. The ongoing marriage equality and abortion reform campaigns were given an unexpected attention from the rest of the UK with the news of the DUP joining the Conservatives in Westminster, but we're still a long way from lasting change.


We were sent this powerful piece anonymously, written by a young Northern Irish woman about her experiences getting an abortion in Scotland and how she wishes women at home could have the same rights.

Writing LGBTQIA+ Fantasy In Northern Ireland

Writer Ziv Gray shared what it's like to write queer fiction in Lisburn, and what it fantasy genre can do to break down predjudices.

The Entitled Men Of Northern Ireland

Men in Northern Ireland need to keep quiet and listen if we ever want to move forward, writes Robbie Best.


We produced our own podcast in February in the midst of the RHI scandal and election campaign, and after getting some new mics for Christmas were looking forward to upping the quality in the new year!

The FBTN team were also invited onto The Jist's podcast, Chatter, in October and appeared on the season finale of The Irish Passport in December. They're both excellent shows and definitely worth checking out.

FBTN: Episode One

The first Fly By Those Nets podcast was recorded live on a terrace in central Paris and discusses RHI, the upcoming elections and what an ideal Northern Ireland would look like.

The Irish Passport

Nathan, Gabe and Kieran were on The Irish Passport, discussing the British attitudes to Northern Ireland in the midst of the Brexit negotiations. (We're on at about 24 mins in.)

The Jist

Nathan and Brendan joined Josh Hamilton from The Jist to discuss the future of Northern Irish politics.


We generally don't put many restrictions on what people can submit to us, and it makes for some really interesting reading. Just so long as you have some relationship to Northern Ireland you can write for Fly By Those Nets. Here is a selection of some of more popular articles from this year that don't quite fit into any particular category.

The National Debt

This fascinating piece by Kieran Pradeep explains how our cultural identity and history are leveraged as a form of debt, the political metaphor that links the RHI scandal to abortion laws and more.

The Post-Troubles Generation

Aíne Maguire submitted a thoughtful piece written from the perspective of the generation born towards the end of The Troubles, and the role they will play in our future.

Unionists Deserve Better Than A Dead Cat With "IRA" Stamped On It

Another of our most popular posts from this year, Brendan Harkin challenged the DUP to actually start offering their voters more than just scare-tactics.

Calling a SPAD a SPAD

Kicking off our #28daysNI project properly, Christine Carlin wondered whether Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill actually smashed the glass ceiling and criticised the lack of infrastructure west of the Bann.

To write for Fly By Those Nets you just have to have a relationship to Northern Ireland.

Some of our writers live in Northern Ireland, some live abroad.
Some were born here and some moved over later.

We particularly encourage people who feel like their experiences are underrepresented in the media to get in touch.

We'll help you develop your voice and share your stories.

The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats

FBTN appear on The Irish Passport podcast

FBTN appear on The Irish Passport podcast