Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

northern ireland assembly

If the DUP overdo their anti-OTR campaign, they risk losing more face

Sat 1 March 2014, 12:14pm

Tweet Now where are we? On the basis of Mick’s posts and other comment let’s try to find out. On the face of it the terms of the inquiry are broadly drawn. The aim of the inquiry is to: To produce a full public account of the operation and extent of the      administrative scheme for […] more »

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 »

McCann meets… Phil Flanagan MLA

Thu 19 September 2013, 6:41pm

Tweet Many of you know that I put out a call on twitter for suggestions on which politicians they would like to see interviewed for Slugger. Today I bring you the first interview with Stormont’s No.1 tweeter, Sinn Fein MLA, Phil Flanagan. This was aired earlier on Lisburns 98FM. I met Phil on Tuesday in […] more »

The Assembly shuns reform despite UK government pressure

Wed 3 July 2013, 12:21pm

Tweet The news from the Assembly and Executive Review Committee that the political parties in the Assembly have been unable to agree on reforming the political system will hardly shake the world. “No Consensus” is the mantra apart from minor concessions towards an opposition.  There is not much here to tempt the SDLP or the […] more »

Seize the opportunities opened up by the Good Relations strategy. Don’t write it off

Sat 11 May 2013, 3:51pm

Tweet Mick’s last post is probably representative of the muted reaction to the long awaited initiative. All the same I’d rather take a more positive approach and - yes!-  begin with accepting it at face value.   So I’m asking: are critics justified in  writing off  already the Cohesion Sharing and Integration statement ( not yet a strategy and […] more »

A real chance to promote Assembly reform must not be lost

Thu 14 February 2013, 11:33am

Tweet   Just a reminder if you need it -and you can hardly be blamed if you have noticed. You have until 28 March to submit your proposals to reform the politics of Northern Ireland. The Assembly and Executive Review Committee is carrying out  a review of the GFA arrangements which is required by 2015. […] more »

Stormont needs to raise itself above the level of events

Thu 10 January 2013, 4:23pm

Tweet If nothing else the flags trouble has exposed the dearth of genuine engagement over  grievances that are the expressions of low morale. They’re not all about making  excuses for rioting and grabbing fifteen minutes of fame with egregious and calculated exercises of disinformation and distortion. I’ve listed below two sets of grievances carried in separate Newsletter […] more »

After Finucane, “a new disaster waiting to happen, ” warns Justice lobby group. But why not a new inquest?

Mon 17 December 2012, 1:51pm

Tweet The de Silva report  presents a challenge to the legal establishment and others in Northern Ireland over how to proceed in the light of the UK government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry. Accountability concerns are not confined to history. They remain a live issue today since the devolution of policing and justice. One […] 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 »

Spare us a new long game of political numbers

Mon 26 November 2012, 2:38pm

Tweet More clearly than before as Mick observes, it is Peter Robinson’s medium term strategy and perhaps his personal legacy to enlist the support of enough Catholics to preserve the Union.  But despite the superficial confidence in Peter’s leader’s speech it is loaded with insecurity.  He has been forced to recognise the likelihood of an eventual […] more »

MLAs have lower salaries, but less onerous duties than anyone else in the UK…

Mon 19 November 2012, 11:14am

Tweet So the boundaries changes are stuck. Nothing to do with us, or our MLAs. Nick Clegg turned ona sixpence and decided not to play ball, after losing the AV referendum. The proposed changes would almost certainly end the UUP as a Belfast party, and severely challenge the remaining SDLP representatives. But Liam Clarke’s been […] more »

Northern powersharing is faring better than the southern version, says Emerson. Can this be right?

Sun 28 October 2012, 1:02pm

Tweet In the Sunday Times,(£) Newton Emerson, apparently unabashed at being dropped by the BBC,  strikes a counterintuitive note by offering a few words of  support to the powersharing Executive at the expense of that other coalition in Dublin. Ignoring the recent Kearney-Robinson dingdong, he bounces his critique off Micheal Martin’s Bodenstown speech deploring the southern […] more »

Kearney of Sinn Fein’s “reconcilation” pitch deserves a considered response

Thu 25 October 2012, 1:28am

Tweet  The pitch made within the precincts of Westminster last night by Declan Kearney the up and coming Sinn Fein chairperson, for “national reconciliation within Ireland through  uncomfortable conversations” was more than the usual rally cry for exiles and republican sympathisers.  It was a pull-together of the Sinn Fein package for the future, carefully and […] more »

Is the Parades issue a signal of underlying political drift in Northern Ireland?

Mon 22 October 2012, 12:54pm

Tweet So, much to the bemusement of some of the Fine Gael TDs I sat with this morning at the BIPA in Glasgow, Micheal Martin’s accusation that under Enda Kenny the southern government has taken its eye off the ball regarding Northern Ireland seems more than just a little calculated. Yet, there’s also a fairly […] more »

The Rising of the Undead

Fri 27 July 2012, 1:23pm

Tweet Disparate republican militant groups have announced a coming together under a single leadership that has breathed new life into the IRA, promising to bring murder, anarchy and terrorism back to Northern Ireland. Here’s my illustration. more »

Summer Recess Caption Competition

Thu 26 July 2012, 9:35pm

Tweet With the Northern Ireland Assembly many weeks deep into a very generous summer recess I felt compelled to capture the personal and political détente and the legislative freeze with some striking illustrative prose. I look forward to hearing what captions come up. more »

The Hain contempt case: a warning to England from Northern Ireland

Sat 19 May 2012, 11:43am

Tweet It’s worth taking a closer look at the Peter Hain contempt case before it’s written off as a straightforward free speech victory for the metropolitan Mr Punch over the paddywhackery of Northern Ireland’s appointed and politically independent Attorney General.  John Larkin QC brought the case against the former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain on the […] more »

Cross border education: lay out all the facts please

Thu 5 April 2012, 12:27pm

Tweet Is this form of cross border cooperation actually divisive? Contrast two stories about the SF led Education department’s plan for a survey of 50,000 “border families “ (i.e. families on both sides of the border) on the takeup of school places by children from the other side. Liam Clarke’s story records the objections of DUP’s […] more »

Whose junket is it anyway?

Fri 25 November 2011, 5:28pm

Tweet I’m almost despairing that high politics for us in Northern Ireland now comes down to a row about a trip to San Diego that’s scheduled, er, not scheduled, to happen until it’s been agreed/not agreed by Stormont’s Employment and Learning Committee… The proposed purpose? To examine how research and development linked to universities could […] more »

Sinn Fein’s defence of the appointments can’t be the last word

Wed 1 June 2011, 11:56am

Tweet Well which is it?  A Robinson- McGuinness-led  joint move to take over the centre ground as well as the “extremes,” or a new wave of sectarian politics? I ask genuinely because I can’t be sure but hesitantly because I fear the sound of grinding axes. The lack of cool analysis so far suggests uncertainty […] more »

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