No side deal for soldiers, Theresa. If you can legislate for the language, you can legislate for the legacy

It  would  be hard to find an issue that  illustrates how little Northern Ireland matters to some Conservative MPs as the campaign to halt police investigations into cases of alleged army misconduct during the Troubles. It’s not so much calculated indifference as blimpish blindness. This was the question to Theresa May at PMQs today: 22 more…

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The Belfast Gaeltacht, fifty years a growing…

This subtitled documentary on the setting up of the west Belfast Gaeltacht should be compulsory viewing for almost everyone in Northern Ireland (and beyond). It’s a real antidote to the cheap rhetoric currently being indulged in about the language, its speakers and what drives them. As a personal aside, this project, its extraordinary mission and more…

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For UK Labour to lose the Copeland by-election would be historic…

Given how fixed things appear to be in Northern Irish politics, here’s an extraordinary piece of research from Matt Singh on what the precedents might be for Labour to lose the Copeland seat as a mid term opposition party: Maybe it won’t happen then? They’ve won other by-elections they were expected to be run close more…

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“Two balloons”? And the Facebook age finally strikes the Alliance party.

Looks like someone sneaked into the Alliance Party’s closed Facebook group and came out telling tales. Or maybe it was just someone inside the party who wasn’t too chuffed at the nature of some of the offline online chatter: In an exchange with supporters in the ‘Alliance Party Activists and Volunteers’ group about councillors Geraldine more…

Bangor SF agent has car destroyed in a petrol bomb attack…

This time, Sinn Fein in Bangor has got some local resource and something of a party presence. We know that in part because of the wilder elements of loyalism have been issuing threats for the party daring to show its democratic face in the town. Now they’ve gone a step further and have petrol bombed more…

Is there an election coming up?

I took the end of last week for half term. That meant minimal social media, no newspapers and not watching or listening to the news. It was a happy couple of days in a little bubble known as the real world. In that world, there is very little inkling that there is an election coming more…

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A few thoughts on Upper Bann, and its battle royale for the final seat

The Upper Bann Constituency on the southern shores of Lough Neagh is a sublime blend of village and rural life alongside the three main towns of Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown. Banbridge and Portadown – in the main – are largely protestant with a unionist electorate with Lurgan being mixed, with approx 55% protestant/unionist electorate and more…

Arlene keeps mum as she bangs the drum

The DUP launched its manifesto today in a breathtaking example of the cynical manner with which the party has treated the electorate since the RHI scandal unfolded before our eyes. The party leader, Arlene Foster, declared that she would not answer any questions at the launch due to suffering from a case of “man flu” more…

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DUP set out their battle lines in a question less manifesto launch

The DUP launched their manifesto at Stormont Hotel today. The document which is basically an appendix to their 2016 Manifesto sets out some of the party’s approach towards the negotiations that are likely to follow this election. Arlene Foster set out 10 principles; 1. We will work to avoid Direct Rule and get local government more…

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Arlene says ‘it’s dangerous to transfer to nationalists’, but without cross community transfering it’s just another standoff…

I can only assume from the demeanour of DUP friends that this latest statement comes in reaction to wisdom distilled from the doorsteps… “It is dangerous to advocate supporting candidates who are Pro-United Ireland above preferences for fellow unionists. The greater the number of nationalist MLAs elected the stronger the push will be for a Border more…

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Renegotiate the St Andrews Agreement? No thanks says Sinn Fein. (Too much of a good thing)

Michelle O’Neill said over the weekend: We are not interested in renegotiating a new deal – we don’t need one. We need the implementation of what has previously been agreed. That’s part of the problem. The DUP have failed to implement previous agreements, the British government have failed to implement previous agreements and they have more…

AE17: A High-Stakes Election for Mike Nesbitt & the UUP

Whilst much of the focus has rightly been on Arlene Foster as the unionist leader feeling the heat in this election campaign on account of the RHI context and her leading role in delivering that catastrophic initiative, Mike Nesbitt could actually be the unionist political leader under the more severe pressure to step aside if more…

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Crime and punishment (beatings)…

It was a hellish scene. The shaky video taken on someone’s phone showed a stolen car speeding up and down the Falls Road, doing hand brake turns at brake neck speed. Tyres and onlookers squealed; smoke filled the air. Terrified road users attempted to make it by without getting written off and pedestrians fled from more…

“is Gerry the Genius sure he has thought all this through?”

In today’s Irish News, Newton Emerson asks the impertinent question… Remarks by Mike Nesbitt about cross-community voting distracted from what should have been the major story of the week. Northern Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill has said her party will not return to the executive with Arlene Foster as first or deputy first minister until more…