Your Predictions for Northern Ireland Politics in 2013?

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The thing about Northern Irish Politics is that it is both easier to predict than southern politics and more difficult. Who really, hand on heart, saw the flag protest coming? Perhaps we should have, since every year the Ardoyne troubles seem, if not to get worse, then to have no visible or political solution.

Jason O’Mahony gives the next year south some caustic treatment, and comes up with a list of suitably pessimistic (and therefore plausible) bullet points… But, with a blank canvas to draw upon, what are your main predictions for Northern Irish politics over the next year?

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  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    MF Since it’s not an election year, I’m not sure it will throw up any real shifts in the fates of the two sides here. The flag protesters will soon have to make a call on whether further organised gatherings, whether peaceful or not, is doing them any good or simply making them look ridiculous. I’d say it is more tending to the latter. I expect the summer will see more scenes similar to the last one and which world leader is going to be the first to ask Cameron for a new venue, as things will be hotting up in the month they are to arrive in fermanagh. I wonder if a Stormont assembly election delayed until 2016 would be palatable to unionist parties after all as it’s still more than four years away which is just halfway to the next census take. “015 might be more kind as an option for Peter to take the FM post.

  • galloglaigh

    I would love Basil McCrea and John McAllister to form a new unionist party, with perhaps a link to Alliance. It would also be good for Norn Iron if Robbo finally put some manners on his party colleagues, who seem to ignore him at every opportunity. With Sinn Fein making representations for a border poll early this year, and the possible arrest of former Paras and Branch men, can Robbo keep his troops on the path of peace and democracy? Or will he allow them to be part and parcel of street protests, some violent and often aimed at the very state their supposed to be loyal to?

    One prediction which I think will happen, is the downfall of Mike Nesbitt. The man has no more political kop-on than my cocker spaniel. How he was elected over Basil McCrea is beyond me? It shows though the intent of the party as a collective, when they won’t elect a progressive, perhaps the most progressive unionist for a century, but instead elect a two-bit news reader who appears at times to be nothing more that Peter Robinson’s poodle.

    The SDLP could (should?) also be in for a change of leader, as the current leader has shown little leadership. Colm Eastwood would make a great leader for that party.

  • BarneyT

    Firstly, happy New Year Mick
    It’s hard to see how the flag events won’t contribute towards summer marching tensions. I think the recent “identify stripping” will be interpreted as additional license to further ignore the parades commission rulings, so I expect more exuberance, and a more direct and intrusive expression of British identity.

    I can’t see Baggot lasting as chief cop

    I don’t know how long the Assembly can continue in its current state, with the DUP and SF failing to rattle respective cages. Something has to give.

    I’d like to see a move towards government and opposition particularly as we have more balance in society, so I am going to predict a move in that direction.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Im pessimstic.
    We will be overtaken by some events.
    We have been “lucky” (apologies for using the word) that there have not been more deaths thru dissident republican activity……and I fear that there WILL be deaths in 2013, though not necessarily from one dissident community. The loyalist sabre rattling will also produce death.
    And it could well be the year in which the whole Process starts to unravel.

    The “dark horse” is arrests possibly to be made by PSNI investigating 1970s 1980s.
    Sorry………I see few signs that are good.

  • keano10

    Least Likely Scenarios in 2013:

    1. McCrea or McAllister challenging for the UUP leaders. A different path awaits…

    2. The “Fleg” protest having any success whatsoever

    3. A Border Poll (or the announcement of)

    4. Orange Parades taking a blind bit of notice of anyone whatsoever

    5. Cliftonville being caught at the top of The Irish League (Glory awaits lads… :)

  • Mc Slaggart

    BarneyT

    “I’d like to see a move towards government and opposition particularly as we have more balance in society, so I am going to predict a move in that direction.”

    I see no sign of any balance in society. The flag issue has shown if anything a greater flux in society that i have every seen. Not so much the protesters but in peoples reactions to it. Nationalists/republicans trying to keep a straight face and with even OO members embarrassed.

  • http://savethemid.weebly.com/blog.html hfmccloy

    15th Jan will see what health service(s) hospital’s will be lost around the country and the biggest change will come in health commissioning, they are already commissioning more to private health so expect more of that.

    Former hospitals will be turned into health centres and rented out, statutory residential homes will be shut and or sold.

    Will Jim Wells take over from Poots? of course he will and say he is playing the hand he is dealt, when is the next election as big change always take place mid term.

    All this and more shortly followed with the reconfiguration of post primary schools to rattle the public once again Mid Term.

    Changes in legal aid but as DFP is controlled by the law society for civil law I doubt this will be to the common mans benefit.

    The flags issue will be allowed to rattle on as it causes a nice wee distraction, but then we have seen this before have we not.

    The government creating unrest, no stormont off to St Andrews and let all the big changes take place and come back saying its ok we sorted out our differences. And take another year in office to coincide with boundary changes to boot

  • 241934 john brennan

    It probably won’t happen – but there is room, both north and south, for a new centre ground party, which is not, hung up on outdated orange/ green /republican/unionist issues. A middle of the road, broad church, Christian Democrat type party, concentrating on bread and butter politics, with social justice as its main priority.
    That would get my vote

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    I just making my predictions for 2013 for international politics. They can be seen at http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogspot.com/

    Only two relate to NI: Alliance will marginally benefit from the flag protests as middle class nationalists and unionists vote for it in reaction to the loyalist protests.

    The other is that the UUP and SDLP will continue to lose support to the ruling dyarchy. I could predict that Nesbitt will go this year, but he may hang on to 2014.

    @John Breenan,
    NI doesn’t really have room for two centrist parties as the middle is so narrow. Alliance is already established and includes a number of viewpoints on economic affairs. During apartheid in South Africa the opposition Progressive Federal Party also included many different economic viewpoints from social democratic to liberal lassez faire. Since you say a party that would almost by default make it a green nationalist party as it would be operating in both states. That kind of contradicts what you said about not supporting orange/green issues. You can have two separate center parties in the two states but the moment one organizes in both jurisdictions it is by its existence arguing for unity.

  • carl marks

    Happy new year to everyone,
    Alliance gaining support among unionist lite, and perhaps even some unicorns going their way because of the stand they have taken.
    UUP disintegrating into a series of cliques fighting it out in public.
    Peter facing a serious challenge to his leadership ( he will hold but will be fatally weakened)
    Some rank and file members, MLAs and councillors will either defect to the TUV or form another party.
    The Pup will shrink, a large section of its core support is seduced by the BNP, perhaps we will see the first BNP councillors.
    The marching season will be notable for violence as many unionists and loyalist try to assert their dominance over the nationalist community and over those in their own community who don’t support them.
    Dissident republicans will try to have a spectacular, lets hope the PSNI stops them.
    Loyalists will fall back on their old modus operandi and start killing Catholics.
    Willie Frazer will picket an Italian restaurant in Dublin thinking he’s is at the Dail.

  • iluvni

    “The SDLP could (should?) also be in for a change of leader, as the current leader has shown little leadership. Colm Eastwood would make a great leader for that party”

    Given the recent decisions of that party, being lead a man who happily carried the coffin of a terrorist wouldnt be a surprise to anyone.
    http://tinyurl.com/avl5hvg

  • 241934 john brennan

    Tmitch57
    No. The Alliance party is a unionist party with a small u.
    The constitutional issue both north and south was settled by the 1998 referendum. The border remains in place until a north/south majority decides otherwise. So we already have an agreed Ireland. So there is presently no barrier to any all-Ireland party, which would be willing to work, on a separate or collective basis, as present needs/laws dictate within the UK, Irish and European context.

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    I’m optimistic.
    Wish list for 2013:
    Emergence of a centre left Unionist party with broad support led by Basil, the leader Unionism has but hasn’t copped onto yet.
    SDLP developing from a letsgetalongarist wish list into a confident nationalist central party with policies and an agenda.
    DUP Ditching its fundamentalist wing and developing policy.
    UUP Finally facing up to reality and realising it’s a dead parrot.
    SF. Developing a Unionist outreach policy, just for fun. After all Peter tried that. (Actually SF don’t have to do anything, Unionism keeps making the running for them)
    The only movement I can actually see is Basil making a move to be honest and good luck to him.

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    Actually, the more I see of the present leader of the UUP the more I see how badly they missed out by not electing Basil

  • Alias

    My prediction is that the biggest ‘breakthrough’ towards engineering a unified Northern Irish society from 2012 (the census) will begin to be manifest in 2013. Namingly, the realisation that although 45% of the population are Catholic or brought up Catholic, only 25% of the population had “Irish only” national identity whereas 21% of the population had “Northern Irish only” national identity.

    This shows that the percentage of the population who consider themselves to be Irish (and who therefore might be expected to be sympathetic to the promotion of Irish national rights and nationalism) has collapsed to the point where they offer no challenge at all to the constitutional status quo.

    The other interesting dynamic is that Irish has become the third identity in Northern Ireland, changing the old dynamic from a two horse race (Irish or British) to a three horse race, with 29% including Northern Irish as a national identity compared to just 28% including Irish as a national identity.

    This will have a profound effect on NI politics, and it’ll be hammered home (most likely by Peter Robinson) in 2013.

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    Alias,
    I refer you to my post yesterday which demonstrates the close correllation between voting and community background. It is votes that matter, nothing else, as certain people in Belfast have recently discovered.
    http://bangordub.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/2011-balance-sheet/comment-page-1/#comment-1322

  • Gopher

    A border poll to run at the next assembly election

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch:

    Only two relate to NI: Alliance will marginally benefit from the flag protests as middle class nationalists and unionists vote for it in reaction to the loyalist protests.

    There aren’t going to be any elections in 2013 though.

    john brennan,

    In what way exactly does this new centre party need to be different from Alliance ? What exactly would Alliance have to do, in your view, for it to cease being “unionist with a small u” ?

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    Prediciting politics in a non-election year is too difficult for me.

    Can we have a blog on Slugger about predicting who will succeed in sporting competition in 2013?

    That would be much more fun and less frivolous.

  • Mark

    The Northern Ireland Soccer Team continues it’s progression towards qualification for Rio 2014 .

  • Mark

    2016 …I think

  • Mark

    No it’s 2014 …..

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Sorry: I’m writing off the above as wishful thinkings.

    What might change in NI this twelve month? Not a lot. Which, despite the gore, the pain, the cost and the angst of the last umpteen years decades, is Standard Operational Practice for our own wee land.

    Ironically, this could and should be the year of the Great European Recovery. But, for many, that’s all of a county border away.

    As long as religiosity=political posture, what hope is there for us?

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    Malcolm,
    With respect, could you sum that up in a sentence?

  • 241934 john brennan

    Michael McDowell, former Tánaiste and Justice Minister in the South is presently hinting that there is room for a non-aligned, non-ideological, but pragmatic party in the South – to replace old, tired, stale and failed existing parties in the Dail. The electorate would probably go for that – and the evidence is there, e.g. The combined independents group have the second highest poll ratings, after Fine Gael

    In the North the electorate is similarly detached from the main parties. Just look at the declining trend in election turn-out figures. The biggest winner is apathy.
    So there is a big gap in the electoral market, north and south, for a non aligned party with sensible economic policies and which can connect with disillusioned electors.

    The Alliance Party cannot fill the gap. Its core vote is too small. It only survives on the PR system, where second to fifth preference votes, are cast by those wishing to ‘keep the other side out’

  • Glenn B

    Predictions of Guru-Glenn:
    a) Elements of the greener than green strand of patriot Irish Republicanism will continue to wage TUAS against elements of Loyalism, antagonizing an already frustrated, impoverished, inward looking minority.
    b) Elements of Sinn Fein ‘mind control department’ will continue to lie denying the facts of PIRA atrocities sticking to the mantra “it was the Brits, the RUC, the Brit Army and oh agh them awful death squads who did it all”.
    c) Sinn Fein will continue it’s ‘friendly lets all hold hands outreach’ while insulting the silent majority of victims with increasing lobbying and support for groups demanding inquiries by this HMG regarding the questionable past of other HMGs as such demands create a hierarchy of victim-hood & at the same time demean, devalue and ridicule the majority of lives which where lost to PIRA action.
    d) The IG will continue to hold ‘NI’ at an arms distance smiling & cajoling when they must. They’ll continue to deny their role in promoting violent Irish Republicanism and bleat loudly about a united Ireland while inwardly thinking”parasites”.
    e) HMG will continue to roll it’s eyes at ‘NI’ and demand ‘get real’ on inquiries as the recession continues and funding reduces, reduces & oh yeah, reduces.
    f) FM will continue to wallow in his ‘superior air’. It doesn’t matter that only 38% of Unionism is voting as long as that 38% is voting DUP. The riff-raff that cannot be arsed voting are not part of his plan to see the DUP through 2015 elections then 2016 commemorations as he zeroes on 2021 and his retirement on the anniversary of the Orange State creation.
    g) dFM will continue to play the ‘bearings of office’ well while wishing the ‘dissidents’ would go away, you know. He’d love to evolve Sinn Fein further but the street play keeps him having to sometimes play at ‘wee Marty the Hawk’ thus points (a) through (c) above
    h) Unless he pulls a rabbit out of a hat, Mike The Ego Nesbitt will go.
    i) Political Unionism will not reach out to those disenfranchised in their communities increasing alienation and rage that will lead to street play especially come the Marching Season (thank god the holidays are booked).
    j) Those in ‘Unionist or Nationalist Politics’ as a business will continue to do well from the gravy train.
    k) The G8 summit will happen and ‘wee Seamie’ from the ‘New IRA’ will make a load of hoax telephone bomb warnings and possibly a few UVBTs just to say to dFM and the West Belfast TD “we haven’t gone away, ya know”
    l) Derry will have a fantastic 2013 in all ways and ‘wee Billy’ will continue to demand “it’s Londonderry, say it or your denying us our rights” while ‘wee Seamie’ from the ‘New IRA’ will make a load of hoax telephone bomb warnings and possibly a few UVBTs just to say to dFM and the West Belfast TD “we haven’t gone away, ya know”
    That’s all for now, folks.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Predictions are fun, I didn’t predict a stay at the RVH coming up to Christmas, but unpredictable things happen.

    Sticking to predicable events, sadly on the evidence I would fear other families will suffer along side the Carroll, Kerr and Black families. All paries need to keep that in their focus.

    I personally dont see either the flags or parades issues escalating, although flare up may well occur. However I don’t understand urban loyalism that well either.

    In pure politics although the three smaller executive parties will probably continue to provide the entertainment, the first moves for sucession power plays within the big two will have to start to unfold. Gerry’s cull of many of his northern rivals has bought him time, but also enemies. Whereas Robbo has kept his peers at bay, his next generation are just about ready to build power bases for themselves, and I doubt he has the heat to make them melt as quick as the Snowmen. No big moves from either camps in 2013, but look out for the signs.

    Finally, maybe they should have assembly elections in 2014, the Super Council ones are running out of time once again.

  • http://ardoynerepublican.blogspot.com/ Ardoyne Republican

    As Ardoyne was mentioned by Mick opening this particular debate, I’d like to add a few points..

    It’s high time that the Loyal Orders & Unionist residents had a proper talk with Greater Ardoyne residents in an attempt to find a way out of this terrible situation..

    Dialogue between both sides can only help end what is a blot on all our jotters…

    GARC have repeatedly called for dialogue but to no avail?

    Why is such a meeting not possible? As it is abundantly clear that GARC hold the key to a better way forward..

    After all, other groups like CARA & SF have repeatedly failed to end unwelcome parades!

  • galloglaigh

    Glenn B

    reduces, reduces & oh yeah, reduces

    All but defence (or offence since most of the defence budget is spent on invasion and occupation).

    If the UK government pulled the troops back, and scaled down the military, the public purse would be a lot heavier. But sure that’s common sense, and the Tories aren’t commoners.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we try to focus on predictions rather than debate?

  • JimboJones

    —————————————-

    SDLP:

    – Continued tensions in the SDLP around the leader, and continued confusion as to whether they are Sinn Fein lite, or something distinct. McDonnell will stay as leader but credibility will continue to decline with Attwood, McDevitt and D Kelly jostling in the shadows for position. McDevitt to join Kelly in calling for opposition to be looked at.

    ——————————————————–

    UUP:

    – The Basil Mcrea and John McCallister saga to continue. Political theory would suggest if their viewpoints and outlook are irreconcilable with the Party Leader and membership they should consider setting up their own party e.g. “The Civic Unionist Party”. However, I’m sure both are wary of failed ventures in this area before. I think the umming and ahhing may continue such that the opportunity is ultimately lost. John is the more able, thoughtful, articulate, consistent and courageous of the two however, and this will begin to grow more apparent to the public.

    ——————————————–

    DUP:

    – Tensions within the party to emerge as the fallout from flegs continue. Robinson will still try to demonstrate statesmanship and leadership qualities, while the party dafties like McCauseland, Campbell, Patterson et al will respond to the tribal drumbeat and up the ante on shrill rhetoric and empty “no surrender”ism. Seeds to be sewn for a Post-Robinson rupture (and potential reamalgamation of unionism more generally).

    —————————————————

    Sinn Fein:

    Continued windbaggery.

    No particularly useful answers to be offered to the problems of unemployment and deprivation in their West Belfast, Mid Ulster and Newry fiefdoms. However, wonderful speeches will be given in graveyards and other martyr shrine events about the percipience and foresight of the Republican “struggle”.

    Let them eat Gerry’s autobiographies etc.

    “The strategy” continues.

    ——————————–

    In the midst of all this guff, bluster and non-delivery, residual support for dissidents and Willie Frazer will very sadly increase, probably revealing itself in tragic manners by the end of the year.

    ——————————

    Kelvin Mackenzie to call for UK to withdraw from Northern Ireland on grounds of cost.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Prediction: A new political party in the Irish Republic. Led by Michael McDowell former justice minister and Sean Gallagher, runner-up to Michael D Higgins for Irish presidency.
    This party will also start with branches in South Belfast, South Down and Foyle – and to show it is not just targeting SDLP it will also have branches in Larne and mid-Ulster

  • between the bridges

    McMG to attend the 12th July in recognition of the 100+ million the cultural walking season pumps into the N.I economy…

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Essential, and safe predictions for 2013:

    1. NI will continue to have little or no real “politics”. The term will continue to be applied to and dignify, loosely, the tribal skirmishing carried on by one means or another.

    2. Whatever one is viscerally “against” will remain far, far more important than anything one is intellectually “for”.

    3. That means total and unquestioning trust in:
    — on one side, the Daily Express view that a royal concubine who has never done a real job, but ventures out as a clothes horse a couple of times a week, to cut ribbons and receive bouquets, is “hard-working”;
    — on the other, that the griefs and grievances of bar-room ballads constitute the essence of “history”.

    4. People will continue to buy into the cult of personality (see above in this thread), in the same way as they proliferate viral pictures of fetching kittens, And to the same greater good.

    5. Hence, in NI at least, we seem to have reached “the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives”, which Fukuyama (“Crazee name! craze guy!”, © Glenda Slagg) reckoned was The End of History.

    6. NI will still be short of half-a-university, and any properly-integrated transport system, skills training, credible land-use management. There will be a surfeit of golf-courses (most underused) and a shortage of other leisure facilities. As for libraries and “culture” (Derry not excluded) …

    7. We shall never be short of “agencies”, which “facilitate” oh-so-much.

    8. [Specially for Bangordub @t 10:27 pm]: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  • BarneyT

    Quote from Rory following his claim that he may skip Brasil 2016…..

    “I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the UK……If I could and there was a Northern Irish team I’d play for Northern Ireland”

    So, maybe, if Robbo has anything to do with it, Northern Ireland as a devolved entity may be pushed. Perhaps feeling that a United Ireland is in evitable within the next 20 years, it may serve current day unionists to cement themselves in the British Commonwealth as Northern Irish in their own right as opposed to citizens of an Irish Republic

    ok….far fetched :-)

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    BarneyT [5.07]
    The point about the complaints about ‘identity stripping’ is that in the case of unionist insisting on these flags symbols etc an ‘in your face’ gesture to the other lot for it’s own sake while not having any genuine reaspect for the Union flag or the monarchy anyway. It’s all spite and malaevolence towards nationalists, which they see for what it is, hence all the union flags will go over the next decade or two.

  • babyface finlayson

    carl marks
    “Alliance gaining support among unionist lite, and perhaps even some unicorns going their way because of the stand they have taken.”
    If it was an election year I would agree, and welcome it, but I think events may have moved on by the time people are offered the chance to express any opinion on the flags fiasco.
    I predict the protests will dwindle as people get tired of standing in the road on wet winter evenings with no outcome.
    There will be province wide protests every so often
    and a desultory crowd at the City Hall on Saturdays.
    And just for the hell of it I predict the overthrow of Alasdair McDonnell.

  • BarneyT

    The weather could play a factor (cold snap) but I’d feel safer predicting Northern Irelands future than the weather

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    BarneyT[2.48] As for Rory skipping Brasil to ‘avoiding offending anyone’ the damage was already done with the self-inflicted hit with the Daily mail interview. He’s brought all this on himself needlessly and is now in damage control mode. Just as well he has the golf to make his fortune as he doesn’t seem all that bright.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Babyface finlayson. I see the loyal subjects were attacking the police again on the n’ards rd, and silence from unionist parties about this. In fact we haven’t heard much from the DUP about those alleged death threats to Jeffrey and edwin. Could it be they were announced to muddy the waters about the threats to alliance mlas? Why have the PSNI done nothing about the mob attack on cars in the Waterside in Derry last month? Is that it when it comes to dealing with their own side criminal activity? SS RUC alive and kicking as usual.

  • BarneyT

    Yes…the horse has bolted for Rory. He could have done with some direction i.e. “Son, just be true to yourself”. It puts a whole new complexion on changing his swing :-)
    ?

  • babyface finlayson

    danielsmoran
    I can’t answer your questions about the PSNI.
    I agree we need to hear unequivocal condemnation of this criminal behaviour from Unionist leaders.
    Personally I do want to see the PSNI now clearing the roads,although I am concerned that doing so might be playing into the hands of those who want a confrontation,
    On topic,I stick with my prediction that they will dwindle in size and frequency.

  • Mick Fealty

    I also see we’re abandoning predictions… ;-)

  • BarneyT

    Flag protesters to spearhead a campaign to establish an all-Ireland soccer team as recompence for their separatist behaviour and recognition of the Irish endulging in what is essentially a British game.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    OK: I admit I’ve been more than a bit snippy about this thread.

    A serious offering, not quite a prediction:

    Could the great paedophlile/child molestation hoo-ha boil over, even in NI, over the next few months?

    Obviously, thanks to the parade of “names” that have been put (and apparently continue to be put) in the frames — I hesitate to say “frame-ups” — the nastiness will not be going away from the MSM for some while. So far, a lot of the synthetic fury has been fuelled by Murdoch and Mail BBC-bashing. The story still has legs. The Met and other police forces need to affirm/redeem themselves. Many of the political and society “names” are conveniently dead or getting there, which could provide cheap, sensational gutter journalism.

    Beneath that again there is another, more sinister, suggestion: that there is a wholesale whitewash of all nastinesses. So, one doesn’t have to google very far to find the conspiracy merchants drawing lines between the Duncroft girls’ boarding school (well frequented, it seems, by the unspeakable Savile), Haut de la Garenne, Bryn Alyn, all the way back to Kincora … and more.

    And, if you can’t draw the connecting lines yourself, the likes of John Ward will do it for you.

    Now, do I see a “yellow card” in the offing?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    On another note:

    2 Feb 2013: Ireland to lose, even decisively, at the Millennium Stadium;
    10 Feb: a close run thing against England at Lansdowne Road the Aviva Stadium — on the basis of the Autumn series, it depends which England team turns up;
    24 Feb: Ireland to win at Murrayfield;
    9 March: Another hard one, but on a good day the lads might do it, at home, against France;
    16 March: ought to be the easy one away, at the Stadio Olympico — but no betting on Italy finishing bottom of the table?

    The key to the championship: Wales away to France on 9 Feb.

    No Grand Slam, even for Wales.

    Oh, and if the England-France game goes sour (either way), what chances for Katharina Fritsch’s bright blue Cock on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth? That could well be another Boris Johnson cock-up. All police leave cancelled?

  • Mick Fealty

    Why not a win against Wales?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Mick Fealty @ 7:04 pm:

    A win, away, against the putative champions! Mine’s a Green Bush, double!

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    BF It’s a pity the assemnbly and westminster elections are so far off[barring a fit of head staggers from libs or tories] asthe DUP could have taken a serious hit while this atmosphere prevails, and it would be richly desrved after their dirty tricks against alliance. I agree that the protests will fade slowly away but they’ll carry on as the UVF have trials conming up and they arwe behind the rioting. It could well merge into the marching season and this is what they’re at in the dead of winter, it doesn’t auger too bright for the summer.

  • babyface finlayson

    danielsmoran
    I’m not an Alliance supporter, but if there were any elections in the offing I would certainly have given them my vote after the disgraceful treatment of their representatives. I suspect others would have done so too.
    If the protests continue till the marching season I agree it could be potentiallly disastrous.
    However I think people will get fed up and return to their humdrum lives before then. There is many a cold wet evening between now and June.

  • babyface finlayson

    I predict a reminder from Mick that this is a thread about predictions.

  • DC

    Naomi Long to resign her seat to test the credibility of her position?

    Would be interesting, hard to call if I’m honest.

  • DC

    As someone who lives in a unionist/loyalist area, the roadblocks don’t appeal to me, could the community turn?

    Has it turned against the wack wacks on the street?

    Only one way to find out – now that’s what i call democracy!

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    BF As to whether sanity will return due to apathy or plain boredom with the promotests, isuppose it depends on whether the UVF is really behind them or not.If so, they should peter out by the summer assuming the trials are behind us. if it’s a spontaneous uprising about the erosion of identity symbols and the demographic shift, i don’t think civil war is to be ruled out.as a catholic majority becomes ever closer.

  • streetlegal

    Peter Robinson will face direct challenge to his leadership from Belfast DUP sectarian hardliners supporting the flag protest. Mike Nesbitt will face a challenge to his leadership from the ‘shared future’ wing of the UUP. The Orange Order will continue pressing for an end to power-sharing with Sinn Fein. Choppy waters indeed for 2013…

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The Assembly will collapse. The Ulster Forum will field candidates in a new election and will win all “unionist ” seats. N.I. will then become a desolate wilderness after people with an I.Q. of 100 or greater emigrate.

  • derrydave

    Ever the optimist:

    1. ‘Dissident republicanism’ will continue to be completely and absolutely infiltrated – no fatal attacks in 2013 as the various groups effectively dissapear.
    2. The much-feared re-emergence of the various loyalist paramilitary groups will not happen. There will be no murders in 2013 by these groups as they become more and more irrelevant.
    3. The ‘fleg’ protests will go the way of the protest at Drumcree – by the end of january all that will be left will be a handful of wasters standing outside City Hall every Saturday.
    4. The marching season will be one of the most peaceful on record. The Ardoyne trouble will be less serious than recent years.
    5. With no elections in 2013 there will be no significant shift in party politics in NI, apart from potential leadership changes in the UUP and SDLP. Politics will continue to move ever so slightly away from the tribal matters and towards real bread and butter issues.
    6. 2013 will see growth return to the economy both north and south of the border, unemployment will reduce in both jurisdictions, and optimism will return once again.
    7. Derry will be alive with energy, ambition, and success and will be the place to be in Ireland in 2013 !