…but they’ll never take our EU membership?

The debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has properly begun.  In these early days of the debate David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon have made an unusual partnership to try and add a Scottish question to the European one.  The UUP is playing a game of public angst with the Scottish claims one of the issues they list for their dither as they frantically try to assess the direction of the wind. The ability of Northern Ireland … Read more

The Mirror Image-Minoritarianism

This is part two of my analysis of the Haass talks and Unionist thinking. This article also appeared on my blog Haass begins with: …there was a feeling that change would disadvantage them. First, Haass fails to notice the change that had occurred in the immediate run up to his talks had disadvantaged them. The design of the agenda was a rather obvious clue e.g. parades and flags. Second, we will deal with the cliché of ‘change’. Change can be … Read more

Haass: From the other side of the table

This post originally appeared in the Ultonia blog Richard Haass has recently done another interview on the failure of the Haass process. In it he blames Unionism for the failure of the talks. This piece is to make the case that the failure of the process lay closer to home than he presents. It lay in the internal dynamics of those talks. The basis of the article is based on my personal experiences of the Haass talks. My role was … Read more

Sinn Fein Connolly House Masterplan – Tory cuts on steroids

Devolution in Northern Ireland is in the political equivalent of a hospital high dependency unit with a serious discussion about whether or not it is should head rapidly to intensive care. This deterioration in its health is as a result of the insistence by Sinn Fein to block the next steps of Welfare Reform. This will set out how this approach is a meeting of voodoo economics and crappy politics. 1)      It doesn’t stop any cuts The premise of Sinn … Read more

Unionist cause in Scotland should fight from a position of strength

Grasping defeat? The Unionist cause in Scotland fighting an independence referendum campaign should be doing so from a position of inherent strength.  Support for the Union has consistently outpolled support for independence.  In more recent years any spikes in the support for independence have been just that, unsustained for any significant period of time.  Also the natural conservatism of voters about change is on Unionism’s side. So that’s that then we can all go home? Regrettably, no.  These two factors … Read more

Debate within Unionism: Thorough, Intense and Constructive

This is a cross posting of Fair Deal’s contribution to Open Unionism’s ongoing debate on the future of unionism. He argues that all parties to the debate must resist the temptation to the shape of the solution in their own preferred image, but rather they must allow the debate be ‘thorough, intense and constructive’.

The DUP knocked to the canvas

A massive right hook was delivered by the TUV squarely on the DUP’s chin. It put the DUP on the electoral canvas so as it gets to its feet to receive its 8 count by the referee what should be going through its mind? NOTE: The following is written with hindsight at full value. Even on a worst case scenario I would have not believed a result like this possible (and managed to lose 100 notes as a result – … Read more

Euro 09 and the DUP – Part 2

The ‘Who’ question for the DUP and the European Election has been answered with Diane Dodds selected as the European Election candidate but what should the party’s message be? (H/T to those who reviewed earlier drafts/parts of this article.) Part 2 continues the examination of the main candidates and how the DUP message should be shaped. Part 1 here.The field – Jim Allister For Jim Allister and the TUV this election will determine whether or not they can become a … Read more

Euro 09 and the DUP – Part 1

The ‘Who’ question for the DUP and the European Election has been answered with Diane Dodds selected as the European Election candidate but what should the party’s message be? (H/T to those who reviewed earlier drafts/parts of this article.) Part 1 examines the broader battle and begins with an examination of the main candidates.The Unionism v Nationalism Battle The Euro 2009 election will be the first region-wide election since devolution was restored. It will be the first opportunity for the … Read more

Results to suit every position

According to Policing Board research confidence in the PSNI has never been higher. “Eighty six per cent of respondents have some, a lot or total confidence in the PSNI’s ability to provide a day-to-day policing service for everyone in Northern Ireland,” According to the ICR, confidence in the policing in working class loyalist communities is at an all-time low and there is a risk of crisis of expectation in nationalist communities. “Political events along with the policing of parades have … Read more

The new ‘decommissioning’?

Over on Our Kingdom I argue that the devolution of policing and justice in the St Andrew’s Agreement has become the equivalent of decommissioning in the Belfast Agreement with the roles of Unionism and Republicanism reversed and that the recent deal faces two tests in 2009; the reaction of republicans if it does not happen as quickly as they predict e.g. Easter 09 and the electoral test of the European election in June 2009. Lee Reynolds

A Road to Croydon conversion

A Conservative Party councillor, Maria Gatland (nee McGuire) has resigned as the Croydon Council Education Cabinet member after her past involvement in the PIRA was revealed. She detailed her involvement in a 1973 kiss and tell book about the PIRA called “To Take Arms: My Year with the IRA Provisional”. (Hat tip Guido Fawkes). Lee Reynolds

Freeze the district rate?

The one tax in the ‘control’ of local parties is rates. The DUP has put strong emphasis on the significance of freezing the regional rate and all parties have worked to hold back water charges. However, there is the matter of the district rate. At the moment discussions are beginning within councils about next year’s rate and the rumours are of above inflation rises (possibly multiple times inflation are doing the rounds) The issue of council debt has gained some … Read more

Tory UUP reflections

The sole UUP MP Sylvia Hermon is taking time to reflect on the new pact (in the present circumstances this is a topic that can afford to wait). Meanwhile UU columnists are divided with Alex Kane a fan and Roy Garland displeased (although Chekov argues his displeasure is incoherent). Ignited wants a calmer approach all round with more focus, a better message and preferably with a bit more caution from the NI Conservatives. Lee Reynolds

False political gods?

A reply to Turgon on who won last week?I personally doubt the value of anyone seeking to make a victory lap even when they have achieved something broadly positive. It is better to be focused, consistent and precise rather singing from the rooftops. There is a temptation to try and build Unionist confidence in the value of politics by over-egging positive developments. However, such a process will not be made in great leaps. Also Unionism’s view of negotiations needs to … Read more

UUP Exec to meet

With some last minute details to be ironed out, UUP sources are describing new UUP/Tory ‘partnership’ arrangements as 95% done and expect it to be put to a vote tonight. The two parties will remain separate entities but as rumoured/leaked a joint nominating committee for European and Westminster elections will be established. It will work on a “consensual basis” and this should leave scope for potential deals on South Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Lee Reynolds

One source

Some detail on policing and justice proposals (single source): Justice minister by cross-community vote with a sunset clause May 2012 (by my reckoning this potentially covers the present and next term of the assembly). It will then be part of the general review of all the assembly’s systems (which includes D’hondt). Extract from letter below. The Judicial Appointments Commission will appoint and remove judges (not OFM/DFM) A process paper on the legislation needed at Westminster and the Assembly but no … Read more

The good and the bad news

Last week £180m was confirmed for health infrastructure in the Greater Belfast area by Michael McGimpsey with the pledge that: “I will invest funds where improved health and social care services are most needed,” This morning there was a protest at Stormont after the minister confirmed that a new maternity hospital will not be built at the Royal until 2017. Lee Reynolds

A political lesson of the Troubles

Brian Feeney takes the dissident republican paramilitaries to task and argues that they should heed the lesson from the Troubles: “One axiom which the Provisional IRA did manage to demonstrate over all these years was that northern nationalists like republican politics but they don’t like republican violence.” Lee Reynolds