Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


“Lesson One. Never, ever, agree to take over from a legend. Someone is bound to end up disappointed.”

Wed 23 April 2014, 10:58am

Tweet So Manchester United let go their decent man manager David Moyes after just ten months in the job. And with him goes the myth that somehow United where above the petty desperation that has infected other Premiership clubs (he’s the tenth to lose his job this season). Like the idea that the club was […] more »

Scotland, “England” and the post colonial struggle for warmth and freedom between porcupines…

Thu 10 April 2014, 8:32am

Tweet Melanie McDonagh writing in London based Evening Standard thinks Michael D “…isn’t so much a foreign dignitary; more like a friendlier version of Alex Salmond”. Aha, now it would be tempting to go with the ‘well if Scotland was independent…’ line, but it’s probably better to point out that as President Michael D is […] more »

Commons [empty] threat to remove Royal Assent from Prince Charles?

Wed 26 March 2014, 12:06pm

Tweet I cannot think this is serious, except as a rhetorical warning across Prince Charles’s bows for not being good constitutional monarch in waiting… The role of the Queen and Prince of Wales in signing off new laws is “arcane and complex” and could be abolished, MPs have said. The Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform […] more »

In modest praise of… Bob Crow, RIP

Tue 11 March 2014, 10:21pm

Tweet If Bob Crow had had an Irish double in the trade union movement he would have found a way to duck any sort of social partnership that limited his capacity to negotiate for his  members, and shrug off the inevitable offence taken by his union colleagues. He kept it simple. He was out for […] more »

A parent’s love of language: “you have to take your inspiration from where you find it…”

Sun 2 March 2014, 4:36pm

Tweet Back in the 80s, I remember an elderly aunt in Beechmount telling me about the day her mother told her to fetch my grandad from the Donegal shore of their small farm, and her remarking that ‘she spoke us, as she always did, in Irish, and we replied in English’. It was only then […] more »

David Cameron’s bid to go it alone could open up the debate on the UK’s future on the EU

Tue 25 February 2014, 7:45am

Tweet NOW this is interesting. James Kirkup at the Telegraph broke the news last night that as well as having its manifesto writen by five old Etonians (and one former pupil of St Pauls, and I don’t mean the one in Beechmount!), the Tories will be going into the next election determined not go into […] more »

Green Party propose sacking climate deniers: Vegetarian Stalinism?

Sat 15 February 2014, 9:04pm

Tweet Northern Ireland may have been spared the absolute worst of the weather this year (though the last couple of days have been bad) but the South West of England and South Wales have been extremely badly affected with the Somerset Levels heavily flooded. Then more recently the Thames Valley has been affected. Whether this […] more »

David Cameron and love bombing the Scots

Fri 7 February 2014, 10:11am

Tweet The tempo is picking up at last with maybe just a hint of panic?  The BBC, the Times£, the FT, even the Sun are splashing David Cameron’s defence of the Union in the patriotic venue of the Olympic Park.  The future of the United Kingdom is up in the air, David Cameron will warn […] more »

United Ireland’s struggle against gay rights wins RTE damages

Tue 4 February 2014, 6:45pm

Tweet   Is it defamatory to accuse opponents of same sex marriage of homophobia? Or are they fairly exercising their consciences in declining to recognise equality with heterosexuals?   Irish Times columnists are on opposite sides of an argument which is part of the Republic’s slow emergence into the modern era. Sadly though the columnists haven’t gone […] more »

Road Traffic Accidents: Accidents not crimes

Sat 1 February 2014, 3:03pm

Tweet A few weeks ago I noted the slight rise in road deaths in NI during 2013. I also noted the worrying tendency to regard all accidents as someone’s fault: often criminally someone’s fault. Hence the inappropriate change in routine terminology from Road Traffic Accident to Road Traffic Collision. A couple of tragic cases have […] more »

SDLP leader’s register of interest lapse ‘due to an administrative error…’

Fri 31 January 2014, 5:09pm

Tweet So after some ribbing on Twitter for not covering this story (try Googling it guys?), John Manley reports this morning that Alasdair McDonnell is in a bit of bother again, this time over not reporting income from a rental property he bought in London in 2005 when he was first elected: The South Belfast […] more »

Merry Christmas and (barring any more mega scale bank robberies) I’ll see you in the new year…

Tue 24 December 2013, 8:59am
keep-calm-and-play-the-ball-5 (1)

Tweet So the people of the Republic contemplate the reality of post bailout Ireland (a rush at the Christmas tills will help no doubt), Scotland takes further steps towards greater political agency (regardless of the result of the IndyRef), Wales’s quiet and popular evolution of its assembly, and England’s creaks under the weight of some […] more »

HM’s rep to Prez: “…do whatever you like, they all do anyway, she’s a professional, it won’t bother her…”

Thu 19 December 2013, 4:40pm
Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 16.36.28

Tweet H/T to Jude for pointing me at a little gem for the weekend. He starts by quoting from Mary McAleese’s address to the the Royal Edinburgh Society, and he highlights this little gem: “I don’t do that. I don’t kiss bishops’ rings, I don’t curtsey to popes and I don’t curtsey to monarchs. It […] more »

“a party that does not understand for what it is fighting has no right to win…”

Thu 19 December 2013, 4:09pm

Tweet Ever since spending nine hours in the basement of Belfast central Library scouring the pages of the News Letter over the Famine periood, I’ve been a big fan of the direct style of Victorian journalism. This extract is from page 9 of The Spectator magazine in August 1891: We suppose it is not, on […] more »

Local authority control of schools: not such a bad idea?

Sat 23 November 2013, 8:39pm

Tweet We are used to rows about education in Northern Ireland. England, however, has been having its own rows over Michael Gove’s Free Schools. Free schools are free to attend and also free from the control of the local authority. This is presented as a good idea freeing schools from political control – usually the […] more »

Could new councils be more transparent from the start? Pickles, Castlereagh & a journalist ejected for tweeting

Thu 14 November 2013, 12:16pm

Tweet In England … Local government secretary Eric Pickles issued a guide in June to remind English local authorities that under The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 they must allow the public to film and record meetings. He said: Every decision a council takes has a major impact […] more »

John McCallister says Sinn Fein already have a “new Ireland” while Gerry Adams calls for “an entirely new dispensation”

Sat 19 October 2013, 9:59pm
John McCallister NI21

Tweet By coincidence, while John McCallister didn’t have the opportunity to speak at the UUP conference today, he did get an invite to address Sinn Fein’s Towards a New Ireland – A new phase of the peace process conference in London this afternoon. He started a little apologetically … If my comments at any time […] more »

Meanwhile over at what really matters…

Tue 8 October 2013, 5:14pm

Tweet Well below the big headline on the latest torrid twist with Gerry Adams’ grim mugshot  at the top, lurks the unassuming headline “NI trailing in English and Maths”. This is the local version of the big OECD report on educational performance in England and NI which concludes that today’s kids are less well educated […] more »

50,000 protesters hope Cameron’s next Act will be a disappearing one

Tue 1 October 2013, 4:22pm

Tweet While the Tory Party was preparing to open its 2013 party conference on Sunday with a tribute to Margaret Thatcher – a 10-minute video which received a standing ovation and left many with a tear in their eye – tens of thousands of protestors made their way through streets of Manchester to censure the […] more »

Is the electoral process meant to be magic? [Insert country/province/region here] can do better than this?

Tue 24 September 2013, 9:03pm

Tweet Two quick quotes from today. [Episode 12 from Season 2 of Scandal on More 4] Cyrus Beene (White House Chief of Staff) confronting crisis management guru (or “fixer”) Olivia Pope about her overwhelming guilt about agreeing to rig the presidential election and her desire to put things right: You’re willing to bring down the […] more »

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