Slugger O'Toole

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Profile for Ruarai

Strategic Communications Consultant, located Washington DC

Latest posts from Ruarai (see all)

Ruarai has posted 80 times (0 in the last month).

Powell: Releasing prisoners was not easier for Nationalists; it’s ignorant and offensive to suggest otherwise

Thu 27 February 2014, 6:38pm

Tweet Responding to the latest attempts by the DUP to take ownership and responsibility for nothing that occurred in Northern Ireland before Ian Paisley was finally crowned, as First Minister, official leader of the unionist tribe, Blair’s former right-hand, Jonathan Powell, has just claimed something extraordinarily vulgar. Releasing murderers as part of the Good Friday […] more »

Is integrated education even possible in Northern Ireland?

Tue 4 February 2014, 4:02am

Tweet Perhaps it says more about my prejudices than anyone else’s but If I had to bet, I’d wager that many Belfast Telegraph Editorial Page readers understand the concept of integrated education as both simple and agreeable. The simple part: Abolish CCMS, i.e. Catholic schools. The agreeable part: Assimilate Catholic students into the Northern Ireland’s […] more »

Haass failure keeps SF-DUP in driving seat

Tue 31 December 2013, 12:07pm

Tweet Richard Haass’ failure to facilitate a “comprehensive agreement” on Northern Ireland’s “contentious issues” represents yet another missed opportunity for would-be opponents of the SF-DUP axis. To recap, NI’s main problem is not its past, its parades, its parties or its people. Instead, it’s the structure of the current Stormont arrangement where a “battle-a-day”, to […] more »

“Do you know what Nelson Mandela’s jailers used to call him?”

Fri 6 December 2013, 5:21am

Tweet Do you know what Nelson Mandela’s jailers used to call him, towards the later stages of his incarceration? They called him, “Mr. Mandela”. Of the many stories and reports that illustrate the extent to which this great man was a leader, a statesman, and, not least, someone who transcended his tribe – without ever […] more »

(UPDATED) How will the Irish Govt. respond to NSA spying?

Mon 28 October 2013, 5:54pm

Tweet (Update below) This would be different… The Irish govt. takes its citizens’ right to privacy extremely seriously; consequently, we have requested a full explanation from the United States… But let’s speak plainly: As a friend and partner of the US, we, like many other countries who expect and rely on the United States taking […] more »

Basil’s Stormont Creep Show is pathetic

Tue 22 October 2013, 4:41pm

Tweet BBC: “The Miss Ulster competition is being held at the seat of Northern Ireland’s government this weekend.” “The women in Miss Ulster, they’re not just getting judged on their looks, they’re being judged on their personality, on how capable they are of being an ambassador for Ulster.” Right, then. If I’m understanding this logic, […] more »

Tribute to Norm Geras

Mon 21 October 2013, 2:57pm

Tweet I was saddened to learn on Sunday evening that Norm Geras, one of my favourite writers, died last week. Norm was, for this reader, a “Sunday evening blogger”. Where many writers, journalists, and reports can be easily read while on a conference call or during a hurried droid-assisted walk through a train station, Normblog, […] more »

NI Alliance Party puts Washington to shame

Tue 8 October 2013, 3:09pm

Tweet You can conclude a lot about people’s priorities during a crisis. Take North Carolina’s Congresswoman Renne Ellmers, one of the elected representatives who has forced the shutdown of Washington’s Government. Across the Atlantic in Belfast, the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long and her staff in East Belfast spent their morning doing what might strike you […] more »

BBC Newsnight makes Greenwald’s case for him

Fri 4 October 2013, 8:36pm

Tweet Wondering why Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark has been seen in a neck brace lately? Wark is far from the first TV journalist whose head has been left spinning by Glenn Greenwald, yet they never seem to learn. It’s the routine-like nature of Greenwald’s encounters that’s most engrossing; they never get boring not only despite their […] more »

Italian lessons required for Stormont

Wed 25 September 2013, 3:10pm

Tweet From Upworthy: Mr. President (of the House of Deputies), beyond the thousands of excuses and quibbles, we’re talking here of matters of the heart, of feelings, of emotions. Because a kiss and a hug have not and will never hurt anyone. In fact, they are part of what contributes most to making us human. […] more »

Latest comments from Ruarai (see all)

Ruarai has commented 472 times (12 in the last month).

  1. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 3 April 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Tmitch – So on what basis, I ask again, do you describe the SDLP as a sectarian party? Please be specific (and serious).

    CS -Good stuff there – good exchange – I’ll get back to you after work.

    Go to comment

  2. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 4:46 pm


    Kudos to Napier on the PR-STV legacy.

    How are the SDLP a sectarian party? Can you expand on that, including your definition of sectarian?

    Until a couple of Local Councillors in Newry, whose names no one remembers, fudged that park naming relatively recently, I struggle to think even of individual members over a 40 year period who have made sectarian comments, never mind policies that were sectarian.

    Terms are important. If we throw them around too easily, they lose their force and meaning – so, please unpack that…

    Go to comment

  3. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 5:47 am


    It wasn’t simply your penultimate remark that was off.

    My contrast of the impact of Alderice versus Hume was not a real question, just a rhetorical one. I don’t even think John Alderdice himself would invest too much in pursuing that comparison.

    Perhaps you ought to dwell a little longer on why none from Alliance were ever in danger of being “clubbed over the head by the RUC”, no? It’s a revealing insight.

    Being “clubbed over the head by the RUC” should represent a basic test of credibility applicable to anyone making claims to having been on the right side of the civil rights movement.

    If you weren’t getting clubbed, what exactly where you doing?

    You’re quite right that John Alderdice and his ilk had little to fear from the reactionaries. And there’s no honor in that.

    As for whether or not the SDLP’s primary goal was a United Ireland or a consociationally based peace agreement, are you really raising this as a question?

    Do people outside of Nationalist politics really not get the basic difference between the SDLP and SF?

    There are no final settlements in politics. The people who demand them are in the wrong business. What there is, is the ability to reshape the terms of the conversation; the ability to take control of the things that can be influenced; to reset things, not to seal things. Hume’s party’s most fundamental premise was that the primary divide in Ireland is between the people, not the land, and that until the people are united – until there is broad-based consent – no notion of Irish unity is worth a tinker’s damn.

    This position still holds. Do we really have to unearth his Single Transferable Speech. He delivered it every week for over two decades for crying out loud.

    And yes, in the absence of any prospect of reaching a power-sharing agreement with unionists in the late 70s and 80s, the SDLP did pursue a number of avenues aimed at unfreezing the frozen nature of NI’s broken state and polluted political dynamics. But the idea that the party was ever going to champion some sort of ethno-nationalist coercive change down the throats of a resistant Irish state and a rebellious Protestant Ulster is ludicrous. The raison d’etre of the party was to replace that type of lunacy with a political platform designed to and capable of redressing and rebuilding the key relationships on the island and between the islands.

    The GFA is that platform. The rest is up to the next generations.

    You know all this Tmitch, why are we rehashing?

    Go to comment

  4. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 2 April 2014 at 12:57 am

    Comrade Stalin,

    “…anyone trying to fix things is sadly deluded. This is a perspective that was at its height between 1980 or so and 1998, when Hume ran the SDLP on a policy of “screw the prods, we’ll get the two govts to divide the place up and take half, and the unionists can do whatever the hell they want”.

    You shouldn’t simply make things up.

    Let’s get somethings straight here.

    1. Between 1980 and 1998 (and long before) SDLP people like John Hume were under constant physical attack from Provos precisely because they were working for a power-sharing settlement rather than a forced “United Ireland” based on screwing the views of “the Prods”, including the “Prods” within the SDLP who worked for such a vision.

    2. The SDLP, far from “wanting half the power” – i.e. the power-carving adopted the McGuninness-Robinson axis of eijits and condemned repeatedly by Mark Durkan Sr as a betrayal of the spirit of Good Friday – the SDLP initiated a policy of power-sharing and rotation on councils where they were in a majority and had the power to do so. This was giving power away in an attempt to encourage a more power-sharing atmosphere. (Yet you attack Hume while celebrating McGuinness’s “walk in the other man’s shoes” vacuous cliched guff.)

    3. The Agreement we had in 1998 could have been had in any year from Sunningdale onwards. The majority of elected Unionists were not prepared to do such a deal with the SDLP in the 70s or for decades thereafter. In the end they had to do one with both the SDLP and the Provisional instead.

    4. While people like the Alliance Party’s John Alderdice made a career making nothing of relevance (dare to list his achievements?), John Hume built an international coalition of both peace-makers and investors; people who transformed NI’s economy and its politics to the benefit, as intended, of everyone in NI.

    5. The 1998 Agreement was not some sort of retreat from SDLP goals between 1980 and 1998 – it WAS the goal.

    Go to comment

  5. Comment on So what’s a LetsGetAlongerist, and what’s not?
    on 1 April 2014 at 6:59 pm


    Ideology for those who believe that the fire engine is as guilty as the fire; that the best way to “resolve” conflict is for both antagonists to take the blame.

    Go to comment

  6. Comment on And meanwhile in Larne, the UDA enforces its imaginary paramilitary writ…
    on 1 April 2014 at 6:23 pm


    The relationship between paramilitaries, the law, and political parties (and sponsors) has been a deep-rooted crop in Ireland since before partition.

    That this crop – now undoubtedly a suffocating weed – is still being watered and fed post-GFA, is a distinction worth making and addressing.

    Before we get to post-GFA, it’s relevant to address the past that lead to it.

    Paramilitarism was essential for the creation of NI and the initial independence of the Free State – paramilitarism has a place not just in the founding romantic myths of nationalism and unionism in Ireland, but, an ongoing card-in-yer-back-pocket strategic role.

    It’s not merely tolerated, it’s cultivated.

    Since we’re talking about Larne and Loyalism in this case, I’ll stick to that case study. And let’s speak plainly here:The real reason that the condemnations of Loyalist paramilitarism are never full-throat-ed and unqualified is because both the DUP and UUP (and the Orange order) still see considerable use-value in the existence of organized groups of bully boys capable of supporting the pursuit of their political agenda via direct and extrajudicial activities.
    Such groups helped make NI a reality, helped keep it a reality, helped sink Sunningdale, flanked both parties into the GFA talks, and since then, have been actively mobalized, repeatedly and recently, as one (among several) recurring tactical response to:

    (i) various unwelcome out-workings of Good Friday
    (ii) the advance of electoral rivals in East Belfast
    (iii) the new electoral arithmetic on Belfast City Hall

    As political unionist faces the possibility of losing North and East Belfast in the years ahead to SF and the Alliance party respectively, this tiger will be mounted many more times yet.

    Additionally, Loyalist paramilitary groups provide an ever-present ‘don’t scare the horses’ role in unionist strategems: Threats are only as credible as the capacity of those making them; unionists’ ‘warnings’ about the “instability” that would follow any political and democratic developments they don’t want are made powerful only through the existence of organized Loyalism.

    So what to do?

    1. Paramilitarism must be made radioactive via the judiciary, following political leadership focused building sufficient consensus for updating the law

    2. The political costs of associating with paramilitaries must change so that the benefits are outstripped by the expenses; the governments, Unionists’ electoral rivals and the electorate themselves all have a role to play in re-calibrating that calculation.

    Go to comment

  7. Comment on And meanwhile in Larne, the UDA enforces its imaginary paramilitary writ…
    on 1 April 2014 at 5:08 pm

    It’s impossible to understand the presence, scale, role, and brazenness of Loyalist paramilitaries without understanding the public rhetoric (to say nothing of the private rhetoric) that follows their various activities.

    The key characteristic of this public rhetoric is how it contrasts with the rhetoric that follows dissident Republican paramilitaries.

    Where the later group are condemned without qualification or explanation, the rhetoric that follows Loyalists paramilitaries is a smelly brew made of one part condemnation one part explanation and, at times, one part partial justification.

    An analyses of the rhetoric will at times reveal not only the presence of these additional components but even their preponderance.

    If past patterns are to be followed, the Larne criminality will pave the way for:

    1. Calls for funding programs set up on sectarian lines
    2. Claims of “exclusion!” from the political process despite the fact that Northern Ireland provides more formal opportunities to become elected on a tiny mandate than most anywhere else in the democratic world.

    If past patterns are to be broken, someone from a major party will initiate a debate to have new legislation passed that carries a massive mandatory minimum sentence for anyone found guilty of paramilitary membership.

    Until para-militarism becomes a radioactive pursuit in NI, NI will never rid itself of para-militarism.

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  8. Comment on AFBI’s incentive scheme for scientific innovation ‘does not sit well’ with Stormont’s PAC
    on 21 March 2014 at 2:59 am

    Un burrito hablando de orejas

    I would love to see an infographic juxtaposing the productivity of the 7 members/former members of the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute whose payments are under examination here, with the Stormont Gravy Boaters doing the examining.

    Publish that one in every online edition of NI’s local papers and let the public vote for the group least useful and valuable for money.

    Go to comment

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