“THIS ISN’T PERSONAL. IT’S POLITICAL.”

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The notion of a writer rewriting history isn’t particularly new. Robert Harris’ ‘Fatherland’ famously imagined what Berlin in 1964 would have been like if the Nazis had won the Second World War. However it takes a brave or foolish writer to rewrite Irish history. But that is exactly what Hugh Travers has done for the more…

Assessing The Nationalist Battle in AE16

In the aftermath of last year’s Westminster election, I wrote this piece on Slugger, outlining the statistical basis for concluding that northern nationalism had lost its electoral momentum. The figures did not lie: the combined nationalist share of the vote (ie SF and SDLP) fell in 16 of the 18 constituencies, repeating a pattern of more…

UUP Manifesto: Making It Work

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The UUP launched their 43 page manifesto three weeks ago highlighting the party’s plans for mental health, economy, agriculture and whether they will go back into the Executive. The manifesto, unlike others, does not place a huge emphasis on the party leader, Mike Nesbitt, rather it profiles other candidates throughout. Going back into the Executive more…

REJOICE NOT IN THE INIQUITY

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OK. So before I review the Colin Howell drama ‘The Secret’, which aired on ITV tonight, I have a confession to make. I have more than one connection to this programme. Deric Henderson, the journalist who wrote the book ‘Let This Be Our Secret’ on which ‘The Secret’ is based, was my boss for nine more…

How to win a Seanad seat (hint: it’s all about who you know…)

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If anyone needed a reason to reform the Seanad the inscrutable series of panel elections this week by an electorate many of the successful candidates were not even permitted to be part of was it. Noel Whelan explains how to win… They are essentially database elections. Winning a seat is not so much about a more…

#AE16 #South Belfast: Most competitive and probably the hardest to call…

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Candidates: [SDLP] Claire Hanna, Fearghal McKinney; [DUP] Emma Little Pengelly, Christopher Stalford; [Alliance] Paula Bradshaw, Duncan Morrow; [] [Sinn Fein] Máirtín Ó Muilleoir; [UUP] Rodney McCune; [Greens] Clare Bailey; [UKIP] Bob Stoker; [TUV] John Andrew Hiddleston; [PUP] Ian Shanks; [Independent] Ruth Patterson; [NI Conservatives] Ben Manton; [Workers Party] Lily Kerr; [South Belfast Unionists] Billy Dickson more…

Experienced Sinn Fein ex Minister fumbles the ball on Corporation Tax…

Just leaving this here, start from about ten minutes in… A remarkable carbon copy of Wednesday’s SDLP meltdown, here’s Conor Murphy failing to explain the figure he gives on the cost of implementing Corporation Tax, whether (wait for it) is it for one year or four? His carefully crafted answer: no one knows? [Would that more…

Paramilitary violence and intimidation greater than admitted – The Detail. How will the parties deal with it?

The Detail investigative website continues to create impact by laying it out facts you might suspect the main parties have an interest in playing down with an election in prospect. Paradoxically that comparative reticence may be a form of implied cohesion between the DUP and Sinn Fein.  But is it good enough? How should they more…

Tail wagging the dog at last? Campaigners out to change the doorstep agenda

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It was recently pointed out by Newton Emerson on The View that young people don’t vote and, when they do, they follow their parents’ lead. A necessary generalisation, of course, but it identifies one of a number of reasons why people in Northern Ireland will regularly malign their representation on The Hill but still return more…

#AE16 [Late election] announcements, for the better and the worse…

Three breaking stories, some of which deliberate some not so much… – Expansion of Magee College – a key feature of promises by both Sinn Fein at the SDLP – has seen building of a new £11 million teaching block stopped when T&A Kernoghan Limited suddenly announced they were going into administeration with the loss more…

Do we need the “old ” IRA to contain the “new”?

Gang activity labelled “dissident republican” is spreading and is proving very difficult to check.  What is the connection between the killings in Dublin and the fatal shooting taxi driver of  Michael McGibbon? Perhaps the most chilling aspect of McGibbon “ punishment shooting “  was that, rather than go the the police – or even Gerry more…

Sinn Fein Manifesto: Steady as she goes for a third term

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Sinn Fein went for the minimalist approach towards their 2016 Assembly manifesto with a list of simple pledges that they hope will be enough to secure a third term in office and remain the largest Nationalist party. The party went to Derry to launch their manifesto, with Chris Hazzard, Martin McGuinness and Maeve McLaughlin speaking more…

Rookie SDLP MLA fumbles the ball in Nolan interview…

The golden rule in Northern Irish politics is, ‘tell ’em nahm”, especially if it has anything to do with money. The SDLP were determined to try and plot a different route, and in the process gave us the most amusing/excruciating moment of the campaign so far. It’s about 19 minutes in and well worth listening more…