Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


More than ever, the “crisis” shows the need to face up honestly to the end of Troubles prosecutions

Thu 27 February 2014, 11:40am

Tweet Fair enough. There are genuine grounds for shock and anger but there is a good deal of grandstanding too. The pity of it is, the growing recognition among unionists of the case for limited immunity tied to truth recovery will be set back. Taking the optimistic view (somebody has to), the full extent of […] more »

Ian Paisley: a word in favour of a fading patriarch

Tue 21 January 2014, 2:22pm

Tweet Eamonn Mallie has always preferred the bludgeon to the rapier. In Episode One he confronted Ian Paisley with some the most unsavoury quotes of an agitator’s past.  Did you really mean it, Mr Paisley?  In episode two he faced him with other people’s hesitant mutterings of rejection. How did you feel Mr Paisley?  What did  […] more »

Haass’s challenge to Stormont’s consociational security system doomed to fail…

Wed 15 January 2014, 2:09pm

Tweet Confused? You will be. Yesterday’s debate about an agreement that was never reached ended in a narrow vote against Haass. Two odd things about that vote. One, the leaders of the two major parties were still to have their post Haass talks. Two, a vote against would not have amounted in any concrete statutory […] more »

Meghan O’Sullivan: “how do we make it possible for the others to deliver on the agreement? . . . I don’t know if there was enough of that in the room this time.”

Sat 11 January 2014, 4:58pm

Tweet Whilst the Northern Ireland media continue to obsess over digest the parting shot from Richard Haass on the political parties’ failure to agree to his proposals (version 7), the co-chair of those talks, Meghan O’Sullivan, appears to have been delegated the task of addressing the media south of the border.  [Partitionists! - Ed]  ANYhoo.. […] more »

Arkiv: “in the real world pre-existing themes will skew the integrity of investigation, putting ideology before history”

Mon 6 January 2014, 2:45pm

Tweet In an early critique of the Haass proposals (version 7), Brian identified, as a potential problem, the “role [] envisaged for academics and experts especially historians”. A great role is envisaged for academics and experts especially historians, reporting to an Implementation and Reconciliation Group of political nominees .  However the academics are  naively treated as an […] more »

Haass – Larkin unrepentant, Allister is on the attack, but where oh where is the DUP critique?

Fri 3 January 2014, 5:47pm

Tweet Now hold on, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.  Inevitably most early reaction to Haaas is about the overall political verdict without going  much into detail. And you know how we can’t be bothered  to go into detail if we can stick  it into them instead. But hush!  Jim Allister QC has spoken. People […] more »

There are grounds for hope in the Haass document, even the outline of modest solutions

Wed 1 January 2014, 4:17pm

Tweet Here’s an early critique without benefit of interpretation. From the language of the paper it’s more difficult than I thought to spot the precise causes of breakdown. That awaits the parties’ own accounts which hopefully will be better than spin. It’s quite true that there’s a great deal in it that can usefully be worked […] more »

Haass had basic flaws. It’s time for the two governments to step up to the plate

Tue 31 December 2013, 4:29pm

Tweet It was in its way encouraging that the Assembly parties themselves launched the Haass process but they seem to have bitten off more than they could chew. They appear to have gone into the high pressure phase without clear ideas of how to reach goals other than muddling through. So far we haven’t heard of any back channels or […] more »

Despite the Haass setback we are not the prisoners of the past but masters of our own fate

Tue 31 December 2013, 10:22am

Tweet The issues of the Haass process are only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed it might be said that the talks were unlikely to succeed without rigorous challenge and examination of the beliefs and assumptions the parties brought to the table.  Behind the tortuous details of flags, parades and the past are the competing […] more »

“The parties were told not to bring in any phones or other communication devices, nor to leave with any copies of the draft.”

Mon 16 December 2013, 11:48pm

Tweet Richard Haass’ attempt to ensure confidentiality during the on-going talks between the five Northern Ireland Executive parties – on the past, parades, and flags - failed to survive first contact with Sinn Féin.  Today the Haass team presented their first, complete, draft proposals to the parties.  The BBC report notes his latest attempt at ensuring […] more »

Northern Ireland reflections on the “real” Mandela, man and myth

Wed 11 December 2013, 12:21pm

Tweet Hooray. There is still a role for newspapers. The Guardian proves it with their balancing coverage of the early obsequies for Nelson Mandela who it might be thought is one of their natural heroes.   Restoring a human dimension after the hours of adulation and longueurs of 24/7 TV news is Simon Jenkins’ column and […] more »

White vans of Sri Lanka, and the lessons of failing to make political agreements stick…

Thu 14 November 2013, 9:06am

Tweet Leena Manimekalai, director of White Van Stories talked the Jon Snow last night about the full scale abductions currently ongoing in Sri Lanka, despite a much lauded ‘peace process’… Of the film she notes, the social instability it gives rise to “there is so much of hope, [in spite] of despair, there’s waiting, and […] more »

A brave new orthodoxy. Whatever you say, say nothing.

Sat 7 September 2013, 12:22am

Tweet Eamonn McCann’s class war may be a touch whiskery these days but it still helps him  punch a big hole in one of our brave new orthodoxies. A little while ago, a friend attended a session of non-sectarian training sponsored by her employer. Each must respect the “culture” of the other side, it was […] more »

Haass “asked the parties for confidentiality and to put forward their best team of negotiators…”

Wed 4 September 2013, 6:42pm

Tweet The BBC reports that “it has emerged” Richard Haass has written to the Northern Ireland Executive parties ahead of the up-coming talks on parades, and other matters. Dr Haass, who is due to chair talks later this month, sent the letter after his mid-July visit to Belfast. He asked the parties for confidentiality and […] more »

Robinson U turn shows the urgent need for mediation

Sun 18 August 2013, 12:18pm

Tweet   They must have put up Chinese walls inside Stormont Castle since I was there last.  The sudden collapse of Peter Robinson’s position over the Maze peace centre strongly suggests that the joint leaders haven’t even managed to have  frank exchanges about the past, much less wrestled with how actually to deal with it. But the […] more »

Trimble on Trimble: “Adams and McGuinness were deciding that they would prefer to have Paisley and Robinson as their interlocutors…”

Tue 6 August 2013, 11:23am

Tweet If you can, it’s worth listening to BBC Radio Four’s Archive on 4 extended interview with David Trimble. But it is particularly worth listening to the last ten minutes or so, in which he provides an important analysis of how he was dispatched to the boundary by some neat footwork by the Sinn Fein […] more »

The modest case for the Assembly in 2013

Wed 19 December 2012, 11:54pm

Tweet Later.. I’ve now made it to 20 points by adding a couple on managing the economy ( how could I have left them out?). These create a dialogue with Mick, although not quite along the same lines. Working with the available material and far away from Nirvana.   To adapt Mario Cuomo, you rebel in poetry but […] more »

“Let’s just start building in a business-like, decent-minded way.”

Wed 19 December 2012, 5:09pm

Tweet Jude Collins with what looks like good advice to me… If we all wanted to be friends, we might all consider joining the same political party… Or you might say, a little more extremism, less fanaticism? more »

The danger of an impotent Assembly

Mon 10 December 2012, 11:53pm

Tweet The litany of ritual condemnation in  yesterday’s Assembly debate could have been spoken any time during direct rule.   There is no hint here of a responsible government trying to get on top of events. Just a wringing of hands in an Assembly, impotent, riddled with its own contradictions, waiting for the trouble to burn itself […] more »

“But today, identity seems more central to politics than ever before.”

Thu 22 November 2012, 5:17pm

Tweet Brian’s noting of the advice from Richard Haass to the Israeli government reminded me that there are other places, and administrations, who have received similar ‘lessons’ from The Process™ here.  Afghanistan, for example.  Of course, it always helps to have well-placed friends [writing your speeches! - Ed].  And it’s worth noting that Richard Haass’ role […] more »

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