Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


#IndyRef: “Nationalism breaks things and they are things not easy to fix.”

Wed 23 April 2014, 2:03pm

Tweet On the subject of Scotland and the clear failings of the No campaign (such as it is) Hugo Riftkind’s column in yesterday’s London Times is worth looking at (if you have a subscription). He deals with the impossibility clause currently being pushed by Labour, up front… …as we all know really, an independent Scotland, […] more »

“Poll: Scotland on the brink of independence” Time to panic?

Tue 22 April 2014, 11:55am

Tweet For Scotland on Sunday to strike such a headline shows it’s time to panic says the Speccie. “Mr Darling and his allies in Better Together have to wake up to the fact that they have managed to blow a 20-point lead in a few months and the gap between the two sides looks like […] 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 »

Scotland, “England” and the post colonial struggle for warmth and freedom between porcupines…

Thu 10 April 2014, 8:32am

Tweet Melanie McDonagh writing in London based Evening Standard thinks Michael D “…isn’t so much a foreign dignitary; more like a friendlier version of Alex Salmond”. Aha, now it would be tempting to go with the ‘well if Scotland was independent…’ line, but it’s probably better to point out that as President Michael D is […] more »

TUV European Selection Convention- Jim Allister is the candidate

Thu 3 April 2014, 8:39pm

Tweet So, I wandered over to the Park Ave Hotel in East Belfast tonight to see the TUV announce as their candidate for the European election. The party room meeting was comprised of around 170 people. The evening began with a speech by the party leader Jim Allister, followed by a Q&A were delegates got the […] more »

Alliance is diversity in action by Lauren Mulvenny

Thu 27 March 2014, 7:54am

Tweet After the recent debate about the make up of Alliance’s party membership, Lauren Mulvenny-a party staffer writes for Slugger that its candidates in the upcoming elections have a diverse range of backgrounds. On the back of the Party’s 44th successful Conference, Alliance champions the individuality of its membership base, proving it is the only […] 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 »

Robinson threatens to quit over Hyde Park

Wed 26 February 2014, 1:13pm

Tweet Following on from Nigel Dodds very annoyed performance during  Prime Ministers Questions, his boss Peter Robinson is now threatening to bring down the whole show telling the BBC that he is not prepared to continue leading an administration that is being kept in the dark about these type of issues. He is now insisting that […] more »

Talking without listening and victory without annihilation

Sun 2 February 2014, 3:40pm

Tweet Mick has covered the criminalisation of users of prostitution debate and the spat between Dr. Graham Ellison and Jim Wells ain the Stormont committee below. I thought there might be some merit in looking at what this shows about the DUP’s view of itself, others views of it and how the DUP deals with […] 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 »

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 »

So, just what would it take to gain Unionist confidence? #Haass

Sat 4 January 2014, 6:50pm

Tweet The SDLP have accepted the Haass proposals with Sinn Fein likely to formally follow suit this week. We have seen editorials and a lot of critical comments blaming the failure to get an agreement on the Unionist parties unwillingness to compromise. I raise this question today as we mark the 40th anniversary of the […] 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 »

Book Review: Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum

Thu 12 December 2013, 1:01pm
Battle for Britain and Scotland

Tweet The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum. By David Torrance. London: Biteback Books 2013. pp.xiv + 370. Paperback. The nature of the policies advocated by those seeking a ‘Yes’ vote in the September 2014 referendum on whether Scotland should depart the 306-year union dominate this timely and often insightful book. Perhaps its […] 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 »

DUP-are they really the voice of Unionism?

Sun 27 October 2013, 12:04pm

Tweet This piece is a bit delayed but rounding off the party analyses of the four major parties I present to you the electoral performance of the DUP over the past 15 years. Instead of focusing on gains that the party has made over the last number of years I thought I would take a […] more »

Peter Robinson: “We must learn to communicate better…”

Fri 18 October 2013, 12:35am

Tweet Interesting comments reported by the BBC from the Northern Ireland First Minister, DUP leader Peter Robinson, speaking at a Co-Operation Ireland dinner at Queen’s University in Belfast on Thursday night.  From the BBC report Mr Robinson said that while it is easier and more comfortable for politicians and people in wider society to retreat […] more »

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