Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

UK

Bishop John McAreavey: “Political representatives must answer for their own position on abortion…”

Thu 17 April 2014, 4:49pm

Tweet As the BBC reports, Sinn Féin’s Paul Maskey, MP for west Belfast, has apologised to the Catholic Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey, for the misrepresentation of his views on abortion in “a letter written by local party members and distributed in west Belfast”.  Here’s the quoted apology in the BBC report - not yet available on the Sinn […] more »

More evidence that the Westminster village is waking up to the threat of Scottish independence

Thu 17 April 2014, 1:07pm

Tweet John McTernan is among the shrewdest of political strategists. As quoted by David McCann, he offers  “don’t panic” advice to fellow strategists. What’s missing here are reasons for Scots to vote No. The McTernan view isn’t cutting  it with leading commentators on the centre left and right. Martin Kettle in the Guardian The psychological impact in England, […] more »

Why the No side should be looking up in Scotland-by John McTernan #indyref

Wed 16 April 2014, 5:07pm

Tweet The most important three words in any campaign are not ‘Vote For Me’, but ‘Hold Your Nerve’. The independence campaign has reached what Sir Alex Ferguson used to call ‘squeaky-bum time’. The polls are closing – we are told. The No campaign needs to be positive – opine commentators. Scotland is so different, so […] more »

“Post-nationalist Ireland has arrived.”

Sun 13 April 2014, 5:21pm

Tweet [Once more into the breach then - Ed]  In yesterday’s Irish News, Patrick Murphy posited three theories to explain what he describes as “the latest dismantling of Irish political and cultural nationalism.”  That would be Martin McGuinness, et al, at Windsor Castle in white tie and tails, and the GAA deal with Sky.  From the […] more »

After the Visit, the greater epiphany?

Sat 12 April 2014, 12:28am

Tweet What we saw in Windsor Castle this week was a delayed act of official reconciliation that should have taken place fifty years ago but was held up by the Troubles. It was in reality the unfinished business of closing a sequence of turmoil that began over a century ago, whose shadow is finally lifting […] more »

“the electoral prospects of individuals are not strictly a relevant factor when weighing the public interest in the disclosure of information…”

Wed 2 April 2014, 3:29pm

Tweet Another week, another ruling by the Information Commissioner that the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers acted against the public interest in refusing to disclose information in response to a FoI request.  The request, from the News Letter, was for disclosure of OFMDFM’s corporate risk register – a list of the issues “causing […] more »

Belfast City Council: “what happened on Saturday evening is a clear breach of our terms and conditions of hire.”

Tue 1 April 2014, 4:16pm

Tweet The News Letter has an updated comment from the spokeswoman for Belfast City Council about the (Provisional) IRA commemoration at Whiterock Leisure Centre on Saturday night.  From the News Letter report Belfast City Council says a republican event in one of its leisure centres was clearly in breach of terms and conditions, after critics […] more »

“Unlike Gerry Adams & Mary Lou McDonald…”

Sun 30 March 2014, 8:56pm

Tweet In a follow-up to a previous post on his Broken Elbow blog, as noted here, Ed Moloney has “an answer to Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and other critics of the Boston archive“. Aside from myself and Anthony McIntyre there is only one other person who has read all of the interviews lodged in the Belfast […] more »

The Scottish referendum. The British identity that dare not speak its name

Sun 30 March 2014, 7:42pm

Tweet   The best article I’ve seen about the dearth of a cultural identity debate in Scotland by Alex Linklater, son of the great Magnus. Could Scots learn a thing or two from the Irish? Or maybe not?  You’d have thought the Scottish cultural air would be thrumming with an accrued history of intellectual fighting […] more »

“when a major political leader tells such an obvious falsehood about a defining part of his life…”

Tue 25 March 2014, 9:42pm

Tweet Also for the record, Ed Moloney has responded to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’ attack on the Boston College oral history project.  From Ed Moloney’s blog I don’t intend to spill a lot of ink responding to Gerry Adams’ recent statement taking yet another swipe at the motives of those who were interviewed and […] more »

Talking of shifts of opinion, what’s happening in Scotland?

Wed 19 March 2014, 11:14am

Tweet Even after several visits to Scotland to talk to political elites I confess I never quite twigged what the core appeal of Scottish independence actually was.  Now from reports like this  by Severin Carrell, I’m beginning  to get it. The Yes campaign would say all that wouldn’t they,  but all the same.. Margie Maxwell is […] more »

Faint echoes from Ukraine reach home

Wed 19 March 2014, 10:25am

Tweet From Timothy Garton Ash’s piercing analysis in the Guardian. Start by abandoning the labels “ethnic Ukrainians” and “ethnic Russians”. They mean almost nothing. What you have here is a fluid, complex mix of national, linguistic, civic and political identities. There are people who think of themselves as Russians. There are those who live their […] more »

OTR scheme review judge named, and NI Affairs Committee launches inquiry

Tue 11 March 2014, 10:01pm

Tweet Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey might well think “it would’ve been better to have left the issue alone”  [I couldn't possibly comment... -Ed].  But that’s not happening.  Today the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, informed the House of Commons that “the Rt Hon Lady Justice Hallett DBE has been appointed to conduct an independent review of […] more »

Jimmy Ellis RIP

Tue 11 March 2014, 6:15pm

Tweet   Is  it nearly a year  since I joined  James Ellis and a bunch of oldies for a London revival of Sam Thompson’s seminal Belfast play Over the Bridge? That night he was in fine form as he congratulated the cast for their performance and reminisced about his own experience as director  in resisting […] more »

“Just to confuse matters, some elements of the tale of the On The Runs appear to have been hidden in plain sight.”

Sat 1 March 2014, 4:26pm

Tweet BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport with, perhaps, the best description of the mechanism used to address the issue of on-the-runs.  From Mark Devenport’s BBC blog While republicans insist unionists knew all about what was happening to the On The Runs, that is not strictly true. Senior PSNI officers answered some questions posed by Northern Ireland […] more »

“a challenging project for which there is no agreed international framework…”

Mon 24 February 2014, 3:43pm

Tweet Despite having agreed “a detailed timetable” at a North South Ministerial Council in October 2012 “to bring in new laws for the mutual recognition of penalty points in both jurisdictions” The Ministers agreed the detailed timetable for the drafting, passage and enactment of parallel legislation, north and south, by 31st December 2014 to allow the mutual […] more »

Cunningham changes plea on Northern Bank robbery money-laundering charges

Tue 18 February 2014, 4:48pm

Tweet 65-year-old Cork-based financier Ted Cunningham has re-joined the list of those convicted as a result of “Operation Phoenix”, a huge cross-border investigation into the December 2004 Northern Bank robbery - “involving anti-terrorist units, fraud squads and the Criminal Assets Bureau.”  His original 2009 convictions, and his 10 year sentence, were overturned on appeal in 2012, after the […] more »

NI Justice Minister: “It is important to note that, in setting some minimum standards, I am not prohibiting the Board from adding to these minimum criteria…”

Tue 28 January 2014, 2:39pm

Tweet Whilst Brian may regard them as “surely sensible” changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, and they may well be, as I mentioned in updates to a previous post, no sooner had the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, announced those changes than the NI First and deputy First […] more »

UK Prime Minister: “Let me reassure the right hon. Gentleman that there is absolutely no question of an imposed solution.”

Wed 22 January 2014, 3:13pm

Tweet As the Belfast Telegraph reports, and followed up by the BBC.  For the benefit of the more excitable commenters [and politicians! - Ed] among us, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, spelt out the political realité on the Haass proposals during PMQs in the Commons today [Added Permanent link]. Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) […] more »

Scottish unionism is finding an idealistic voice. There are lessons for their “Ulster” cousins

Thu 16 January 2014, 10:40am

Tweet This comment piece in the Guardian by  Chris Deerin, a former Daily Telegraph journalist who has moved back home to Scotland is just about the first I’ve come across that the celebrates  historic Britishness as an argument against separation. Amazing when you think about it that we’ve had to wait all this time.  I […] more »

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