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The Irish language hasn’t gone away you know

I’m back at work though suffering with a cold, flu or ‘man-flu’.   I don’t like feeling congested at the best of times.  Being back at work at the start of a cold and wet January doesn’t brighten my mood. This is all put in perspective by Martin McGuinness who has serious health issues, it more…

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Ireland Post-Brexit: A Conference

Since the people of the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union there has been a lot of discussion about what the decision means for UK/Irish relations…and for Ireland itself.  I’ve asked some of Ireland’s most prominent Europhile and Eurosceptic speakers to discuss whether Ireland’s future should be inside or outside the EU. The more…

Will this Drag Draghi Down?

Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank, was previously Governor of the Bank of Italy. He served in that role from December 2005 to October 2011. He assumed his role at the ECB in November 2011. During his tenure at the Italian Central Bank he will have been aware of some ‘issues’ at more…

William III as a Roman Emperor

“Rumours of its death are greatly exaggerated…”

It is the 11th of July, and tomorrow is not just the 12th; it’s the ‘Twelfth’. And with the Twelfth comes the annual reams of highly predictable media and social media commentary. The world will be told that the entire occasion is a sectarian hate fest. A ‘throw back’. An anachronism whose participants are nothing more…

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BREXIT: A possible way forward

This is something of a work in progress, for which I’m extremely grateful for thoughts. A fantasy PM would use Thursday’s result to get a programme for savage EU reform and a two-circle Europe, get a UK political mandate for that, then use it to checkmate both Juncker and Nicola.  Here’s how: First, we need to keep mind more…

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REVERSE, REVERSE

Just the very quickest of thought experiments:  So, I’d be grateful for help in thinking this through. Namely, whether a pro-Remain party (maybe Labour under Jarvis or Chuka, or maybe a reborn Libs), or two, might find themselves with the seat balance after an Autumn snap election.  Standing, say, on a ‘Let’s Not Leave’ platform. Or, for more…

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#DemDebate Live Blog – (Kicking off at 2am BST)

My good friend Ollie has been kind enough to offer to live-blog this evening’s US Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders, from New York City where he will be attending it for us. The debate starts at 9 pm, 2 am for many of our British and Irish readers. He’ll introduce himself here in more…

#GE16 – FG *will* win more seats than FF…

Another dramatic Irish election, with the exit polls proving to have underestimated the substantial fall in support for the government parties. Fianna Fáil have lurched back to within 1.2% of Fine Gael as largest party, 24.35% to 25.52%, and overnight the two were both on 28 seats. That’s the sort of margin where you can more…

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Money and (Better) Public Services?

I was on the Nolan Show this morning, performing my usual role as defender of the idea of small state/low tax economy. The discussion was to have focused on whether it might be a good idea for us to collectively pay more tax to fund ‘better public services’. You can listen to the debate by more…

Will they toe the line together?

Referendum & devolution: 3 different pictures

The elections this May are almost certain to see the return of familiar faces of both nationalism and unionism. Of course I’m referring to the elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, whose electorates will go to the polls on 5 May and then again most likely later in the year for the more…

HEBDO

Suck it up!!!!

‘Suck it up!!!’ That’s what us evil Orangemen have been once again told over the past few days. “Suck it up. Yes the painting does indeed show Orangemen be-decked in Ku Klux Klan garb. Yes it does indeed impose a direct connection and all the connotations of the ‘Klan’ onto the Orange Order with no more…

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On DUP Petitions of Concern (and one possible judicious use of Tippex)… [UPDATED WITH TIPPEXED MARRIAGE EQUALITY POC]

Much attention has been expended on the DUP use of Petition of Concerns (POC).  Unsurprising since they’ve had a good run of appearances recently, including: the blocking of a bill for Rates Relief for Sports Clubs; (almost) every amendment to a welfare reform bill in February; a same sex Marriage bill in April; and it is expected another will more…

Stormont

‘The whole truth and nothing but the truth’: Non-disclosure and national security in dealing with the past in Northern Ireland

Dealing with past in Northern Ireland was never going to be an easy complete deal made before last Christmas. Although nearly a year has passed since the Stormont House Agreement, the actual hard negotiations of the legal intricacies are only now being hammered out. While the draft legislation itself is very technical and abstruse, it more…

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Coming out. For equality.

Fergal McFerran is the President of NUS-USI, the organisation which represents around 200,000 students in Higher and Further education across Northern Ireland. He tweets @FergalMcFerran. This weekend I did something I was never sure that I’d be able to do. I got on a train and I went home to see my family. This journey more…

MuttiAngie

Mother Angela & her Children

Addressing a special event in Brussels yesterday evening to mark a quarter century of German re-unification at he German President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz criticised Hungary’s government for their miserly role in Europe’s current refugee crisis and for re-erecting some of the border fences which most Germans had hoped had come-down with the more…

Change coming?

Conservatives to start governing Northern Ireland?

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy. The most important decisions are taken by an elected government that may, or may not, have an electoral mandate from all regions and all constituencies of the United Kingdom. That’s why the Conservative government’s policies are applied in East Ham – a constituency where the Labour MP polled more…

How do we decide who forms the next UK government?

We in the Constitution Unit of University College London have produced  guidance on the arrangements for forming the next UK government, assuming there is a hung parliament. The short  answer first is:  it’s complicated and great fun for anoraks but it shouldn’t mean a constitutional crisis. David Cameron stays in office on a caretaker basis. Under more…

Jim Wells resigns as Health Minister

The BBC are reporting that Jim Wells has resigned as health minister following his remarks at the canvassing event in South Down and a further bizarre episode whilst canvassing in Rathfriland. Wells has issued a statement on the DUP website explaining the stress his wife’s illness has caused and explaining his resignation.

Ukraine Crisis: the folly of false historical analogies

The ceasefire in Ukraine seems to be sort of holding. No one, however, seems terribly optimistic that peace is going to come. Certainly there is no sign of the displaced refugees returning home. The conflict has repeatedly been portrayed as a binary good vs. bad situation analogous to the most simplistic of cowboy films by more…

Acht na Gaeilge: Time for a mature discussion

The Stormont House Agreement arrived at as Christmas dawned was supposed to have heralded a new dispensation for Northern Ireland and yet here we are in early January with the same old theatrics. A Sinn Féin Minister proposes a consultation process on the long promised Irish Language Act (2006, St Andrews) and up pops that more…