Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

Grassroots Campaign for Irish Language Legislation transformed political discourse, but where are we now and how can we help deliver meaningful change?

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin writes for Slugger about the upcoming talks and the Irish Language Act On Wednesday our local political parties, this time the 5 ‘main parties’ as they are described in the media, will return to the table to try and flesh out a deal which would allow for the Executive to be formed and the MLA’s to take their seats in the Assembly once more. The issues in the ‘to be resolved’ box is much the same … Read more

“This isn’t an issue about the mayor, the mayor was using his democratic right to use that casting vote…”

So says the Derry and Strabane District Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley, a party colleague of the mayor in question, Sinn Féin Councillor, Maolíosa McHugh.  The Sinn Féin mayor had previously declined to meet Prince Charles when he visited County Londonderry last year to meet victims of flooding.  In his place, representing the office of the mayor, SDLP councillor John Boyle, the deputy mayor of Derry and Strabane, accompanied Prince Charles during the visit. The reason for the Sinn Féin statement defending … Read more

Where do we put Ulster’s Irish passport office?

Holding an Irish passport has become quite the statement. Since the Brexit vote applications have surged for a number of reasons including re-asserting an Irish identity in Britain and the north respectively. Also by Britons that want to hold on to their European Union citizenship. Dagmar Schiek, Professor of Law at Queen’s University Belfast said that “The British in Northern Ireland who do not also opt for Irish citizenship would be worse off after Brexit,”  Bearers of these little red books … Read more

Nationalism needs the inspiration so desperately needed in these early days of that better nation.

Aaron Murray, political researcher working in London. He is also on Twitter @aaronmurray87 Engraved on the Canongate wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood is a phrase Alasdair Gray described as ‘inspiring but not boastful’. ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’ it reads. Widely attributed to Gray, it is the creation of Canadian poet Dennis Lee from his exploration of citizenship, Civil Eligies. In recent years it became a credo of the Scottish … Read more

Colum Eastwood: Sinn Féin and the DUP are within hours of buying us all first class tickets to Direct Rule

Colum Eastwood is the Leader of the SDLP There are times when silence is golden and there are times when it is anything but. For weeks now the Stormont talks have operated under a cloud of secrecy feeding the frustration of everyone. There are only so many press releases that the NIO can put out which talk about ‘some progress’ or ‘significant gaps’. There are only so many press conferences that can be staged with everyone saying the same thing. … Read more

The DUP’s £1 billion deal looks set for a second stage of direct rule

When we’re reduced to praising James Brokenback for masterly inactivity, we’ve surely found rock bottom. One tiny flicker of life  turns out to be an illusion after all.  DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has denounced as “fake news” a  story from the new Financial Times Ireland correspondent ( and ex-Irish Times ) Arthur Beesley,  that “Theresa May’s £1 billion is on hold as to talks falter” (£) There may be less to this than meets the eye. A budget imposed by … Read more

Leaders issue a joint statement on Cantrell Close

The following is a joint statement on behalf of the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party and the Green Party; We as political leaders condemn all forms of sectarianism, intolerance and threats of violence. Four families have been forced to leave their homes in South Belfast. This is wrong.  Any threat to these families should be lifted immediately. There is also an onus on the PSNI and the statutory agencies to provide immediate and appropriate support … Read more

Nichola Mallon is the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP

Nichola Mallon has become the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP, the position was vacant after the former Deputy Leader, Fearghal McKinney lost his seat at the 2016 Assembly Election. Speaking about her election she said; “This is a critical moment for our politics. “The challenge we all face is to forge a society based on a positive accommodation of difference and diversity. “That challenge is made all the more important following the Brexit Bill vote last night. “I’m delighted … Read more

How new is the Foster offer?

There has been some debate doing the rounds about how new the proposal from the DUP Leader was last night about a parallel process.  Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill argued this morning that such an offer is not new from the DUP and had been proposed before. On the core of the proposal, she is actually right as the lead negotiator for the party Edwin Poots proposed in June the following Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday evening, Edwin Poots, the … Read more

Eastwood “I still know that the constitutional position will not be changed overnight even in with the upheaval caused by Brexit”

SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood gave an address to the D’Arcy McGee Summer School on Brexit and he made some interesting comments about how Unionist parties view comments on this subject from Nationalist leaders; I am conscious that unionism’s kneejerk reaction to this kind of language will be naturally defensive and some will automatically assume that I am speaking about some sort of sudden re-unification to avoid Brexit. Let me be clear – I am not. Of course my view as an … Read more

3 SDLP Councillors quit the party

In this mornings Belfast Telegraph, Suzanne Breen reports trouble in the SDLP’s ranks as three of their councillors on Belfast City Council have quit the party. Cllrs, Pat Convery, Declan Boyle and Kate Mullan were suspended after they abstained on a motion dealing with harassment outside reproductive health facilities. Breen reports; The three who abstained told the Belfast Telegraph that they were quitting the party with “profoundly heavy hearts”. They said they would not resign their seats but would continue … Read more

Time for unity among those advocating Unity

Matt Carthy is a Sinn Fein MEP for the Ireland Midlands-North West constituency  Something big is happening. Brexit has simply accelerated a debate on Irish Unity that was inevitably going to happen anyway. Irish Unity featured during the recent Westminster election campaign in a way in which it hasn’t in living memory. That is simply a reflection of what is occurring in communities, within civic society and among members and supporters of all the main political parties North & South … Read more

SDLP’s ‘unprecedented’ conversations begin

The Belfast Telegraph today reports on the first of what will presumably be a number of “unprecedented” conversations within the SDLP. The SDLP’s Mid Ulster constituency council will discuss a possible merger with Fianna Fáil at a meeting in Maghera. Local Councillor Martin Kearney said “These are normal discussions which happen after every election, “We’ve a great variety of old members and the young SDLP branch in Maghera is very active. “We want to listen to them, there’s been such … Read more

The End of (Westminster) Nationalism

The Tory Chief Whip was in Belfast this weekend to meet the DUP leadership. It is believed that they were discussing all options for co-operation at Westminster, from coalition to confidence and supply . The outcome is the outline of a Confidence and Supply arrangement. “Who are the DUP?” is being googled on laptops across Britain. The former Chancellor George Osbourne’s Evening Standard newspaper published a cartoon of a large dour Orangeman with Theresa May tucked into his breast pocket.If … Read more

“Politics in NI is dead, has descended into sectarian mud-wrestling” – Alban Maginness

Speaking on today’s BBC TalkBack show former SDLP MLA  Alban Maginness declared that “Politics in NI is dead, has descended into sectarian mud-wrestling”. Is he right? As the voters abandon the middle ground is our political system now just a straight sectarian headcount? People were quick to accuse the SDLP of sour grapes: It's the egotism behind that comment that reveals the flaw in the SDLP psyche – their divine right to lead the nationalist people. — Danny Morrison (@molloy1916) June … Read more

SDLP and UUP wiped out as Sinn Fein and DUP take 17 seats…

It was a bad night for the moderate parties as the SDLP have lost all three of its Westminster seats and the UUP lost all two of theirs.  The DUP and Sinn Fein grabbed 17 out of 18 seats with Independent Lady Sylvia Hermon being re-elected in North Down. This will be a major blow for the new UUP leader Robin Swann as for the first time they lose all representation at Westminster. The SDLP will feel particularly aggrieved losing … Read more

What to look out for tonight

It’s nearly all over as one of the quietest campaigns comes to an end but turnout is reported to be doing well in many places across Northern Ireland at 5pm. What should you look out for; For the UK wide picture as soon as it hits 10pm the main networks BBC, ITV and SKY News will publish the results of their exit poll, be cautious about other polls out there! Some folks got other polls mixed up in 2015 and … Read more

Slugger TV debuts on NVTV looking at key constituencies of #GE2017

Slugger O’Toole: Episode 1 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Slugger TV debuted on NVTV  last night with a panel of the Irish News Security Correspondent, Allison Morris and our own Alan Meban. We looked at the key constituencies of the campaign and some of the moments of the election campaign.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Brokenshire’s line on a border poll won’t do. Straight after next week’s election, it will be incumbent to spell out terms and conditions for holding a unity referendum. And Dublin cannot be left out

In their manifesto,  the SDLP have now joined Sinn Fein in calling for a unity referendum, albeit on slightly different terms. Both are linking it to Brexit. If the combined nationalist share of the vote next week reaches 40+% which is highly manageable, can a unity referendum or border poll, reasonably be denied?  If not, what is reasonable?  By one reckoning a 50% threshold would seem unreasonably high for our divided community. By another, a referendum should wait until nationalists have … Read more