Author Archive | Brian Walker

Theresa in the Wonderland of the Hallett review

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The plainly rushed Hallett Review and the British government response to it raise as many questions as answers. They expose not a carefully planned discreet operation but a terribly improvised muddle in which the  left hand ( the  PSNI)  did not know the full de facto amnesty effect of what the right hand ( the more…

Intercept evidence could convict terrorists, says former SoS Murphy

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As a  curtain raiser to Lady Justice Heather Hallett’s  review of OTRs’  “ administrative scheme” due out tomorrow (Thursday), the mild-mannered former Labour secretary of state Paul Murphy has told the separate  inquiry into the affair by the Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee that more convictions might have been obtained if the rules of evidence more…

Why is Irish nationalism neutral on Scottish independence?

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Martin Mansergh is a splendid relic of an old Anglo-Irish tradition, a Tipperary landlord, one of a very rare breed of Fianna Fail intellectuals, an adviser on the North to successive Fianna Fail Taoisigh, a minster who never quite fulfilled his promise possibly due to his background, a historian and son of Nicholas, one of more…

“Gay cake” case may prompt top level legal rethink

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The life story of Andrew Muir, the mayor of North Down is part of Northern Ireland’s long journey towards civilisation – including the fact that as an openly gay person he made it to mayor at all. It was his Bangor reception that sparked the Great Cake Discrimination Case. Even so, the case may not more…

Where the big arguments for devolution are heading

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This post most of which I mainly wrote for an academic blog gives anyone interested a heads up on a more sophisticated theatre of devolution – Scotland –  assuming it votes No in the referendum. A couple of points to start with. First, taxation is the big theme. How much of its own revenue should more…

Burnside bounces back with oligarchs

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  The Guardian has noted the blossoming  PR career of David Burnside since he lost his south Antrim Westminster seat in 2005. As a training ground for a career in the brutal and suspicious world of post-Soviet business, the enmity of hardline Northern Irish politics is hard to beat. That is the path trodden by more…

The governments must intervene now to press responsibility on Stormont

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Even if the Stormont institutions haven’t reached the point of existential crisis. the breakdown of interparty talks before they’d even started does not augur well for progress on any front. Can anyone imagine Stormont being able to agree on legislation to help people cross the road, never mind deal with the legacy of the Troubles?   Lack more…

Now it’s the PSNI in the dock. Chaos over the past deepens as political deadlock over Haas agenda continues

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At last the clash has come between accountability and transparency and “national security” over dealing with the past. After the unhappy period of Al Hutchinson we have a Police Ombudsman in the assertive tradition of Nuala O’Loan. Michael Maguire who was also Hutchinson’s successor as Police Oversight Commissioner probably knows where quite few bodies are buried more…

Tourism figures for 2013 bring us down to earth

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The figures for tourism to Northern Ireland in 2013 out last week show a more modest reality than the hype suggesting it’s just about the most visited place on the planet. The numbers visiting from overseas amounted to just 9,000.  Home holidays and short trips and family visits accounted for most of the rest. It’s not more…

The power of Nolan – too much of a good thing?

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It was interesting to see that there was as much comment on Nolan personally as about Pastor McConnell. I don’t see or hear Nolan that often but I thought he played a pretty straight bat on this one. I’m told he divides an already divided community, not on sectarian lines but between pro- and anti- more…

The British goverment must set a better example before the case for an amnesty is properly heard

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Adrian Guelke a  South African a  Queen’s academic and a leading authority on post-conflict resolution joins the growing list of reputable figures calling for an amnesty. He criticises the two governments for lack of involvement (although the unfortunate  Eamon Gilmore can’t be faulted for trying almost right up  to the moment of his resignation as Labour more…

Robert Porter, a humane if luckless minister of home affairs

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Sir Robert Porter, known  to all as  “Beezer” who has died aged 90 gave the lie to the image of a jack booted Unionist minister at the beginning of the Troubles. He was indeed minister of home affairs in 1969 when demonstrations gave way to riot and finally to the events of August 1969 when more…

Irish and English election results so different, so much the same

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Similar trends and outcomes are apparent when the British and Irish elections results are compared. They are of course part of a common European picture. But the immediate effect on the coalition governments  at Westminster and in Leinster House differs. The Irish coalition is rocking. The Irish Times is even speculating that pressure from Labour may more…

Personal memories of Sunningdale and the UWC strike – the lost opportunity for a generation

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Although I couldn’t attend the conferences they’ve sparked off vivid memories. This was a time when not only Northern Ireland seemed ungovernable but Britain too. At the Sunningdale civil service college in Berkshire we in the media were stuck in the conference annex for days because of the difficulty of getting taxis during the three day week, then in full more…