Entitlement to participation in the ‘official opposition’

Interesting sidebar to the issue of an ‘official opposition’. The proposed scheme is set out in Appendix F4 on page 55 of the “A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan” document (although it still requires some administrative mechanism to formalise it). The first section clearly states that: (i) “Those parties which would be entitled more…

Fuelling ignorance – the key to success in modern politics?

One of these men is a loud, bombastic character who you can't really imagine could be President, while the other one...

We can’t say that we weren’t warned. In his 1928 book Propaganda, the pioneering Austrian-American publicist Edward Bernays unblushingly wrote: The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is more…

Why has the Mail on Sunday gone soft on Brexit?

“[I]t is clearer than ever that the Leave campaigners are losing the economic argument … Their preoccupation with immigration … can sometimes seem more like an obsession, and one that is not entirely free of a prejudice that most British people have long ago rejected.” These are excerpts from today’s editorial lead in the Mail more…

The Justice Ministry, Disillusioned Nationalists and Delivery

A significant part of the reason for the declining nationalist turnout is the growing sense that, through their political class, nationalists have failed to deliver a return at Stormont – and in the post-peace process era in general- which would match the expectations of the broad nationalist community. If unionism has suffered from a leadership more…

The Stormont Opposition – how will it work practically?

For the first time since 1972, Stormont has a formal Opposition. Author and journalist, Dr John Coulter, outlines how this will work practically and not deteriorate into a primary school playground shouting match. The Stormont Opposition will only work if it is established as a working Shadow Cabinet with Nesbitt become Shadow First Minister, not more…

Cartoon – ‘Marlene’

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It has a satisfying and even harmonious ring, and the people have really taken to it. The portmanteau and new byword for the Executive Office – ‘Marlene’. While Jim Allister bequeathed it to a popular audience on BBC The View on May 19, it’s recognised that Paul Gallagher first coined the sobriquet back in January 2016. The more…

Alliance grip tightens? Or hold hands with Sugden?

Waiting for the FA Cup Final the Newsletter has made a simple inquiry to the renamed OFMDFM. Presumably they passed the information onto the office holders who will respond accordingly. My job share suggestion won’t fly apparently. Brendan Heading is not the only one interested…But how about SF  and DUP one after the other, like Israel’s more…

“Waltzing together in time”

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Episode four of ITV’s ‘The Secret’ saw Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart (formerly Buchanan) tossed about in a sea of emotions. In the previous three weeks, we had seen the plot to murder their respective spouses hatched, the murders gruesomely recreated and the gradual drifting apart of the lovers as they seemed to get away more…

The failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to agree on the big issues is giving Alliance more leverage than they could have ever dreamt of .

Listening to Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics, little Alliance seems to have the joint leaders on a hook. It appears that the main sticking point for David Ford was Foster and McGuinness’s refusal to accept reform of the blocking mechanism of the petition of concern. Ford has been campaigning for reform for a long time, most more…

Where now for the Department of Justice ?

As I write, the Alliance Party’s council, the representative body which appoints and holds to account the party Executive (among other functions), is meeting to discuss the party’s decision not to field a candidate for the role of the Minister of Justice. I have to confess that, having written by my earlier article on this matter more…

SDLP pledge to form a “Constructive Opposition”

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The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood confirmed that his party would be leaving the Executive and joining the UUP in opposition. In a statement he said; Throughout the course of the recent election campaign the SDLP made a clear promise to the public. We vowed to fight hard to negotiate a credible and progressive Programme for more…

EU referendum & Euro 2016

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So far it’s fair to say that EU referendum debate hasn’t inspired many. Both sides have often been accused of ‘scaremongering’ over the potential impacts on everything from immigration to border controls and increased terror threats to the price of a nice bottle of wine. Meanwhile many of us across the UK and Ireland have more…

Assembly brinkmanship must end soon

In the last mandate David Ford liked to boast that the Alliance party was unique because they had been finally chosen to occupy the Justice department by the whole Assembly rather than selected by the mechanism of D’Hondt.  Because of their status they are more essential to the formation of the Executive than the SDLP more…