Tag Archives | Government

The glimmer of light seen in Martin McGuinness’s departure can become a beacon of hope

So the  political establishment and the media are in rare unison praising Martin McGuinness. Illness and the shadow of death – ordinary decent, natural sickness and intimations of mortality  –   bring out the sentimentalist in all types of the Irish people. Let’s not be too starry eyed.  In a longish apologia for the different phases more…

UK Government: “Clearly, any form of joint authority would be incompatible with the consent principle [of the Belfast Agreement].”

A short BBC report points to an interesting exchange today in the House of Lords where the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office and Scotland Office, Lord Dunlop, poured a bucket of cold water on the suggestion that “joint authority” could be an option if the relevant parties fail to form an Executive following more…

John Hume, a thumbnail sketch of achievement and failure

I’ve never been quite sure if we can call John Hume an unvarnished nationalist, but if we do, he was a great example of a leading nationalist who wanted to reach agreement more than attain  the goal of  Irish unity, as expressed in  his  wonderful oxymoron, “ an agreed Ireland.” While he enjoyed his hard- more…

Ireland must seek EU permission to make a draft bilateral deal with Britain

Dublin reaction to Theresa May’s big Brexit speech is understandably cautious verging on the sceptical.   Is more substantial content  to be expected when Theresa meets Enda in Dublin next week,  no doubt to discuss  her hopes that an open-ish border can be achieved  through  “frictionless “ trading monitored digitally  and immigration rules enforced mainly through more…

Theresa May’s aim of free trade with the EU outside the single market is the way to avoid a hard border. The Irish should start lobbying their EU partners now.

We will put our precious Union at the heart of what we do.. We will strengthen our relationship between the four nations of the UK..   I hope for the same spirit of unity, especially in Northern Ireland and that the parties will establish a new relationship as soon as possible..  The devolved administrations will more…

Solutions are negotiable, if there’s the political will

There’s something stereotypically Irish about a battle between two parties who are not competing for the same votes, were in one sense on the same side  – i.e. the same government – and will end up more or less where we are after the Assembly election. Incisive though it is, Mick’s analysis defers the subject more…

How will Ireland square the circle of close relations with Brexit Britain and continuing loyalty to the EU?

An Irish government official said to me a few weeks ago: “ we’re with the other guys now.” That arresting comment  meant that Ireland was making a necessary shift further away from Britain and towards the continuing relationship with the EU. A binary choice  is in prospect, goes the argument, depending on the Brexit outcomes. more…

A Pointless £5m Election

Consider this. We have a coalition government that is incompetent and has fallen because it can’t govern. The leadership of both coalition parties (DUP and Sinn Fein) are calling for an Assembly election (that will cost around £5m) just a few months after the last election. The last election had a turnout of less than more…

“a strategy which now views the very presence of devolved government in Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip with the Government and with the DUP.”

In the News Letter, Sam McBride provides an astute assessment of the “profound consequences” of Sinn Féin’s decision to resign Martin McGuinness from the Northern Ireland Executive Office.  From the News Letter article   Mr Adams now appears to envisage yet another round of ‘crisis talks’ in Belfast in attempt to extract further concessions from more…

Time to fix this broken shire

The RHI scandal showed the extent of the incompetence at the heart of the Northern Ireland Executive. The cock-up, moreover, was not just the DUP’s. Not one local MLA had the gumption to inspect and raise alarms about a botched and ridiculous scheme that, in the words of John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme, more…

“The whole issue has, unfortunately, become party political…”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Conservative MP, Laurence Robertson, who chairs the House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, asks some pertinent questions about the ‘crisis’ over the RHI scheme. What would [Arlene Foster’s] resignation achieve? Who would take over? Would this stabilise the workings of the Assembly and the Executive, or throw it more…

Irish State Papers: The Anglo-Irish Agreement, Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA

In part 1 of 2 reports RTÉ’s round-up of the newly released confidential Irish State papers from 1986 includes a couple of items worth highlighting in relation to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.  First up is an account of a meeting in Belfast in April 1986 between David Barry, of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Anglo-Irish division, and solicitor PJ McGrory more…

“More important, though, is to never forget the monstrous things that can be done by apparently affable family men, who write poetry and enjoy fishing.”

With former Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay [now a Slugger contributor… – Ed], speculating elsewhere that the, as yet unspecified, illness that caused the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister to pull out of December’s NI Executive Office trip to China at the last minute may force him to step down in 2017, Eilis O’Hanlon takes a pre-emptive more…

An election would be an abuse of democracy. Knuckle down after the holiday and learn how to do modern politics.

Even with a fairer wind than we experienced since 1998 , it was always going to be difficult to reconcile  natural contention in politics with good cross community government. If all-party government worked well, the Assembly would have very little to do. If government failed, it would only amplify the differences. The select committees were more…

The Arlene factor: her abrasive personality is part of a tradition that has had its day

Anger is a factor often overlooked in politics.   Les Enragés were the militants who spoke up vituperatively  for the poor in the French Revolution. Jihad is the product of demented rage.  Dispossession  or the threat of it is often the  justification for anger.  Fear and insecurity are  close relatives.  Arrogance thinly concealing both is its more…

Cheer up for Christmas! Yesterday’s drama showed power sharing is working and is becoming more accountable.

Yesterday, the Assembly system did not make a bad situation worse.  Many will disagree but  I believe all emerged from it quite creditably.  While no doubt nervous of being outflanked on the nationalist side by the opposition SDLP,    Sinn Fein finally opted for Executive survival  despite the  trivial charge of kowtowing to the DUP. more…