Cllrs Jenny and John Palmer quit the DUP

The DUP - From Protest to Power

The Councillor at the centre of the Red Sky debacle had announced that she will leave the DUP along with her husband, John, who is also a Councillor in Lisburn. The news was broken by BBC Spotlight who will be airing an interview with Cllr Palmer tonight on BBC One at 10:45pm. Here is some more…

Antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistance

The control of infectious disease in the 20th century was very largely due to public health measures, such as vaccination programmes in the population, and to the use of antibiotics in the individual. In the past, lobar pneumonia was a major killer of otherwise healthy you adults; and the progression of this illness was often more…

Ashers verdict: ‘To do otherwise would be to allow a religious belief to dictate what the law is’

1cake

The County Court in Belfast has ruled that Ashers Baking Company and its directors discriminated against a gay customer, Gareth Lee, by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The judgment was a resounding vindication of the Equality Commission (response here), which backed Mr Lee’s case. It became the latest in a long more…

“Yes” campaign may need 70% Dublin turnout to carry referendum

I support Marriage Equality and I’d vote yes in the Referendum this week if I weren’t a disenfranchised Irish citizen simply because I live in the north of the island.  That’s a column for another day though… It’s a safe bet that both the “Yes” and “No” sides in this Friday’s Marriage Referendum will agree more…

Mike Nesbitt on Gavin Robinson, David Simpson, good grace and polls

07 Mike Nesbitt

In the aftermath of the Westminster Election the UUP are now back in the House of Commons. Writing for Slugger, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, Mike Nesbitt writes for us about election night and hits back at the DUP’s David Simpson. UK-wide, the 2015 General Election has been defined by the Conservative’s outright win, the more…

Sinn Fein reps will attend events during the visit of Prince Charles

A noteworthy announcement from the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams tonight which confirms that party representatives will attend a number of events during Prince Charles visit to Ireland. Speaking about how the party made its decision and the symbolism of it Adams said; The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle meeting in Kilkenny yesterday discussed the upcoming more…

Electors, Prisoners and the ECHR

There are complicated rules about who can and can’t vote, and who can and can’t be a candidate in UK elections. It also depends on the type of election, local, for Westminster or for the EU. I’ve put up a short and incomplete summary here—it’s already quite turgid enough, and I’m not going to repeat more…

Labour’s defeat: the future is rarely as bleak as it seems

One of the advantages of reaching middle age is that, provided one has a good memory, one can see lots of things happening again. I have never been interested in betting: partly a good Calvinist upbringing but also the fact that aged 9 or 10 on a Sunday School outing I put money into gaming more…

The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants, edited by Burgess and Mulvenna – Book Review

contested identities

Edited academic collections are often technical and specialized – appealing to academics, but offering little to other readers interested in the topic. The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants (Palgrave 2015), edited by Thomas Paul Burgess (UCC) and Gareth Mulvenna (Queen’s) is an exception to this trend, as it draws in an eclectic range of contributors more…

Bloc Rockin’ Beats – how Scandinavia became the dominant force at the Eurovision Song Contest

UK Votes Since 2009

With parties bitterly divided over Europe, a voting system widely considered unfair, and tactical voting skewing the outcome, it’s clearly that time of year again. The 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Vienna following Conchita Wurst’s victory last year in Copenhagen with Rise Like A Phoenix. This year Sweden is the favourite more…

Gerry Kelly: “The letter with the figures said it all because it dealt with anti-sectarianism and that’s the way I am…”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly is still squirming on the sectarian hook the party hoisted him on during his failed campaign in North Belfast during the UK parliamentary election. [Petard? – Ed]  Pardon you… After his party colleague, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, [Good heavens, you’re the Culture Minister?! – Ed], tried, and failed, to blame the Electoral more…

“I think [UK Government] will take the power [of welfare] back themselves, I think they will legislate for it”

Domino Cascade

Stop to draw breath in Northern Ireland politics and someone sneaks out and tinkers with the chain of teetering dominoes. To be fair the Stormont House Agreement dominoes were falling quite smoothly until the Monday morning after Sinn Féin’s ard fheis when their U-turn on welfare reform was announced and the party stuck a hand more…

#Marref Soapbox: Séamas’s story – ‘Can we talk?’

faithinmarriageequality

Séamas de Faoite writes in favour of the Marriage Referendum and relates his own experience to illustrate the ongoing anguish faced by young gay people in their decision in how and when and to whom they can ‘come out’.  ‘Can we talk?’ – it was the refrain of one of my preferred comedians, the ever polemic Joan Rivers, more…

Hear what four campaign insiders make of the #GE2015 campaign?

Ask the Campaign Insiders 2x2

Ulster University’s Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Slugger O’Toole brought together back room staff from five four of the main five parties at lunchtime in Belfast for an Ask the Campaign Insiders event to discuss the recent General Election campaign. John Moore (UUP) Lee Reynolds (DUP) Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance) Martin McAuley (SDLP) chaired more…

Bus lane cameras good news – an alternative news story

See the Tele’s editorial for why I’m writing this. Law-abiding motorists across Belfast today welcomed news that a mobile camera would be roaming Belfast to detect and fine drivers illegally using bus lanes on arterial routes across the city. City centre worker Isobel told us “I have to sit in my car in traffic queues more…

SDLP needs a real political debate and not another micromanaged succession…

SDLP Logo

After last night’s The View it’s hard to know whether to go with MacBeth’s “…art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?” for Durkan, or the Carry on Cleo, “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy…” route for Alasdair. Neither would quite be fair to either man. It’s hard, despite more…

Why the old Protestant/Catholic atheist gag isn’t funny anymore

A lot of us don't do church

A couple of evenings ago I attended a discussion in the Old Chelsea Town Hall in London. It was an ‘election dissection’ debate with four panelists representing left and right opinions. They tried to answer why the outcome of the UK election was so surprising. They discussed the failure of Labour. They discussed the success more…