Tag Archives | Government

An Irish “conversation” is one thing, but what role for Stormont in the British conversation?

The Institute for Government is a think tank that works closely with government. It reports that turf wars are already costing tens of millions. Its expert on devolution Akash Paun blogs that Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont should get their act together to pool  their influence at the centre. Following exchanges over an Irish “conversation,” more…

Unionists have to be nudged to talk, with the incentives of common citizenship and other common interests

Enda Kenny is surely right to be cautious about setting up an “all-Ireland forum” Better to have a “conversation” at least to start with in November.  Even so its ability to speak for all Ireland would be seriously weakened  by the absence of  unionists,  just as it would be counter- productive  for the unionists not more…

The problems of Brexit are big enough without nurturing new grievances against the Brits

In his eloquent contributions to the Mount Stewart conversations, (warm thanks to Alan), Fintan O’Toole in terms stated as fact that the people had exercised an irreversible act of sovereignty in approving the Good Friday Agreement enshrined in international treaty. This had been violated by the “reckless” imposition of Brexit on the Northern Ireland.  The more…

Reflections on the British-Irish Association in Oxford

 A tale of two Unions: can circles be squared by a new devolution settlement?   This was written for the blog of the Constitution Unit of University College London. In the wake of the Brexit vote there has been much discussion about the possibility of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there were Remain majorities in more…

The Ulster Unionists and the SDLP need to form a shadow Executive. Otherwise, they face oblivion

In the tradition of political comment for decades without a government, Alex Kane’s analysis of the state of opposition at Stormont  concentrates on political positioning rather than the politics of policy. He exaggerates somewhat  the achievements of the two- party Executive. Foster and McGuinness have played a blinder in terms of standing together on difficult issues more…

Brexit is not an alibi for inertia. Executive action within its own powers is needed on the economy

The Executive must take action within its own powers to counteract the slowdown effect of Brexit. That’s the consensus among economic commentators. But as yet there’s little sign of that happening. The begging bowl strategy was already failing and bluster against “ austerity “ will have declining impact. And with the replacement of inclusive multi-party more…

A time to press for Irish unity or a time to stay cool?

In contrast with Chris Donnelly’s reasoned case and the speculation that Fianna Fail may at last organise in the North, herewith Newton Emerson’s latest in the Irish Times The Troubles generation was marked by an almost total collapse in the unionist sense of Irishness, which is usually explained as a reaction to republican violence. However, more…

Declan Kearney: “an attempt to destabilise nationalist areas in the North.”

As mentioned by Newton Emerson in Saturday’s Irish News, in an under-reported article in An Phoblacht this week, the Sinn Féin national chairperson, and MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney, doubled down on Roy Greenslade’s ‘policy of criminalisation‘ for dissident republicans to explain away the evident discontent the party is experiencing – adding further layers more…

“Giving meaning to Brexit”

The best article I’ve read so far on the UK government’s approach to Brexit has been written by Andrew Tyrie MP,  the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee for the think tank Open Europe. Problems for preserving an open border are clear if the UK leaves the customs union. But without doing so the UK more…

“rather than trying to pretend that essentially, testing does not exist”

As the BBC notes, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, the DUP’s Peter Weir, has reversed the department’s previous position prohibiting the use of academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils transfer to.  That position was set out in 2008 by then NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, and upheld by the subsequent Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd. more…

Message for the divided politicians. Read the long list. This is what really matters over Brexit.

Divisions in the Executive and the Assembly contributed to the lack of  scenario planning for the referendum outcome and are inhibiting the development of a clear Brexit strategy. These are among the conclusions in  a comprehensive briefing paper prepared for the Centre for Peace Building and Democracy ( chair Lord Alderdice) by  Queen’s academics  Professor more…

Big effort is needed to avoid polarising Brexit along Orange and Green lines

Yesterday Theresa May made it clear that while the devolved administrations will be consulted the decisions on Brexit will be taken by the UK government.  The triggering of Article 50  will not require parliamentary consent and it will happen probably in January or February next year. A Norway-type deal  looks ruled out  because it  entails more…

Poor little Ireland is squeezed in the battle of the titans

The  basic foundation for the Celtic Tiger and the best hope for its revival? Or a scam that makes Ireland no better than tax haven? The day of reckoning may have arrived – subject to appeal.The Commission insists that they money must be used to pay down Irish debt anyway.  Ireland backs away from treating more…

Martin McGuinness’s challenge should be accepted. Offer immunity in exchange for disclosure to those who took decisions on both sides of the long war

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has mounted “a stinging attack” on Martin McGuinness for saying he would have “ no difficulty “ in disclosing his own role as an IRA leader in dealing with the past. An outsider would be taken aback at the vehemence of Nesbitt’s reaction.  On the face of it, McGuinness’s offer more…

“Better to criminalise rather than politicise.”

Here’s something you might have missed last week.  In an interestingly timed, if much belated, intervention in the Guardian, professor of journalism at City University, self-declared Sinn Féin supporter and, in the late 1980s, a pseudonymous contributor to An Phoblacht, Roy Greenslade channels his inner Thatcher for a call for media [self] censorship when reporting on still violent dissident republican groups.  From the Guardian article In other more…

Former top civil servant O’Donnell has a viable vision of Remain

Former Remain supporters of the moderate tendency have gained a powerful ally in Gus O’Donnell the former UK Cabinet Secretary. The role is recognised as the fountainhead  of Making It Happen in government – or explaining to ministers why it can’t happen. It’s all the more important at such a politically volatile time.  In an more…