Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


John Barry: “We need legislators, not negotiators…”

Wed 9 April 2014, 7:24am

Tweet I had an interesting chat today with John Barry. A fellow Dubliner but a far more interesting and indeed public character than that may suggest. John is a Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Council elections standing in the Abbey ward of the new North Down and Ards Council. He was co-opted onto the existing […] 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 »

Why exactly have we got devolved administration? And what are we doing with it?

Wed 19 February 2014, 1:37pm

Tweet Robin Wilson in the BelTel today: It is not practicable for Northern Ireland, Scotland and/or Wales to elaborate distinctive welfare systems, though the Executive should at least have taken a passing interest in the profound debates which have taken place in Scotland and Wales about enhanced fiscal autonomy. And it is utterly pointless to […] more »

Wales gets its Barnett boost as O’Dowd’s decision on common funding formula is ‘reversed’…

Mon 17 February 2014, 4:41pm

Tweet So, here’s John O’Dowd trying to explain why the money he threatened to take away from schools will no longer be taken away. He explains that he knew all along that he had an extra set of contingency cash of up to £15.8 million to fill the hole his proposals make. There were 15,000 […] 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 »

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 »

Silk Commission, Sammy Wilson and the DUP’s impromptu dismissal of tax varying powers…

Thu 7 November 2013, 6:08pm

Tweet Newton Emerson today usefully points at Wales and the recent work of the Silk Commission on the devolution of further powers to raise and lower taxes. It’s worth looking more closely at Wales. For a country that only just squeaked devolution (there was about 7k votes majority in favour in a voting electorate of […] more »

Is the UK government serious about the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly?

Wed 23 October 2013, 10:34am

Tweet There have been 47 plenary sessions of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and its predecessor body since 1990. They usually take place in Ireland or GB. Many Taoisigh have addressed the meeting and underlined their support for its work. But never has a British Prime Minister done the same. Being in London it would have […] more »

Ever heard of “Operation Irish” in Wales?

Tue 22 October 2013, 4:30pm

Tweet The Sh!t hit the fan, literally, at the end of this week’s British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in London today. A group of Welsh and Irish parliamentarians urged the Assembly to condemn the offensive use of the term “Operation Irish” as the code for a South Wales police operation to persuade schoolchildren to clear up dog […] more »

The decline of traditional patriotism in Britain and Ireland

Sat 21 September 2013, 10:17pm

Tweet Remember the great closing episode of Blackadder from the trenches of the Great War where the artful dodger meets his nemesis at last   : “ We need a futile gesture?” The “futile gesture” being that he was to lead his men over the top to be mown down by the German machine guns.  But […] more »

DUP man criticises poor DARD performance on Bovine TB…

Wed 28 August 2013, 8:50am

Tweet Not trying to add to the giddy zephyrs of pure conjecture, or anything, but I was struck by a presser from Paul Frew yesterday which took the DRD to task for dithering over how to deal with Bovine TB. In it he says: There is no doubt that Bovine TB cannot be attributed to […] more »

England and Scotland – growing farther apart anyway?

Wed 21 August 2013, 11:11am

Tweet Good to see some real debate emerging over the Scottish independence at last.  But is this happening to late, when the result is all over bar the shouting, with the No vote 20 points ahead, as American polling guru Nate Silver has been telling them at the Edinburgh Festival? Not so with 44 % registering […] more »

The population continues to rise but so does the brain drain

Thu 8 August 2013, 6:26pm

Tweet The UK is experiencing a baby boom as the number of births hits the highest level in 40 years, according to mid year figures just out.  Only a small fraction of the country’s higher population is now due to foreign immigration.  In Northern Ireland where the population has continued to increase, more people left […] more »

An Ynys Môn by-election – a psephologist’s dream.

Wed 31 July 2013, 12:17pm

Tweet Tomorrow sees an Assembly by-election in Ynys Môn as Ieuan Wyn Jones seeks pastures new. (from the BBC). I won’t dream of predicting the result as Anglesey people taught thrawn to you lot… There’s only one rule that the islanders follow. Once elected you only lose by retiring, dying or being thrown in clink…. […] more »

MPs with a slim majority are more likely to tweet: crunching numbers of tweeting elected representatives

Mon 29 July 2013, 10:05pm

Tweet Democratic Audit UK today posted a summary of results of research by James Donald who has been looking at the tweeting characteristics of Westminster MPs. It made me wonder about our local politicians. But first, the highlights from the UK-wide findings. Nearly 63% of MPs (408) had Twitter accounts in January 2013, while 37% […] more »

Local party finances revealed as Electoral Commission publish statement of accounts

Thu 25 July 2013, 9:30pm
Electoral Commission logo

Tweet The Electoral Commission have now published details about the 2012 accounts for all local political parties. Smaller parties with income and expenditure less than £250k were released in May and the larger parties today. This is a quick post to highlight the numbers with a variety of charts. I’ll leave it to others to […] more »

“Human Rights and Human Wrongs” – Rt Hon John Bercow delivers Amnesty International Pride Lecture in Belfast

Fri 5 July 2013, 3:45pm
John Bercow William Crawley Grainne Teggart

Tweet As Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow has taken on the external roles of being an ambassador for Parliament and an advocate for democratic politics. A frequent speaker around the world, last night’s delivery of the annual Amnesty international lecture at Belfast Pride was his third visit to the […] more »

Comprehensive Spending Review offers to cut Northern Ireland’s budget by a mere 2%…

Wed 26 June 2013, 2:15pm

Tweet Odd things Comprehensive Spending Reviews. They are more a statement of intent, than a finalised corporate plan. Thus it is an entirely political decision as to when they are timed. From the Guardian’s round up of George Osborne’s Review (applicable in the first term of the next government, if the coalition are re-elected), here’s […] more »


Sat 22 June 2013, 4:27pm

Tweet Crikey that Israel bloke on the wing looks tasty… we won that I really don’t know….. more »

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