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

Slugger TV reviews #UUP17 and the approach of the Unionist Parties towards a deal

Slugger TV is back for October looking at the Unionist Party conference and the approach of the UUP and DUP towards a deal. Going through all of this we have Alex Kane (Commentator), Sam McBride (Political Editor of the News Letter) & Allison Morris (Irish News Security Correspondent). David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Swann calls for a ‘new unionism’ of ‘radical moderates’ at strident conference #UUP17

Sustained anti-Irish Language Act rhetoric was an effective smokescreen that diverted attention from any focus on the UUP’s disappointing election results. Robin Swann confidently delivered his first speech to conference as party leader with a call a new unionism and the desire for radical moderates (though he was light on detail).

Unionists should welcome Irish Language Act with open arms

As I read the latest contributions regarding the Irish language from UUP leader Robin Swann and its echo in the Newsletter’s Morning View, it seems to me that they have tied themselves in a knot about Acht na Gaeilge.   A Gordian knot is a phrase that occurs to me.  It seems impossible to loosen but is easily unravelled with the judicious use of logic and good sense. Unionists like Robin Swann, Jim Allister and the writer of the Belfast … Read more

The 70th anniversary of the 1947 Education Act has lessons for the DUP

On a different tack the Bel Tel recently published a second article showing unionists in government in a more favourable light. This time it’s an article by Prof Graham  Walker of QUB  on the 70th anniversary of the the passage of the 1947 Education Act.  Would that today’s Stormont could agree on effective measures to replace that Act’s 11 plus and advance the cause of genuinely secular integrated education. But in its time the ’47 Act was a real advance … 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

“So let nobody speak of a progressive or anti-Brexit pact either…”

In Saturday’s Irish News, Newton Emerson with some impertinent points about electoral pacts in the forthcoming General Election on June 8.  From the Irish News Sinn Féin has ordered the SDLP to stand down, although sadly not to dump arms, in North Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Let nobody call this a nationalist pact, as that would involve reciprocation and Sinn Féin has not offered to stand down anywhere.  Sinn Féin’s stance is doubly impressive when it risks handing … Read more

Fake News and False Balance undermine Victims’ Human Rights

Last weekend was the second anniversary of the rightsinfo.org website. To mark the event, a panel discussion took place during which the site’s founder Adam Wagner stated that “fake news was old news in human rights” and that people “have been convinced by newspapers for years and years that human rights are a villain.” He was joined at the panel discussion by Buzzfeed Special Correspondent James Ball who said “The bigger problem is…essentially the much wider ecosystem of material which … Read more

UUP standing aside in North Down in favour of Lady Hermon

Sylvia Hermon is one of the most successful independent candidates in our local history at a Westminster Level. She won the North Down seat in 2001, held the seat against a DUP surge in 2005, crushed her UCUNF opponent by double digits in 2010 and was safely re-elected in 2015. In 2017, she will continue her record as the MP for North Down. Now the UUP are realising that it’s not worth the battle and are pulling out in favour … Read more

Candidates for #GE2017

Alliance Party (18 candidates) East Antrim – Stewart Dickson East Belfast – Naomi Long East Londonderry – Chris McCaw Fermanagh and South Tyrone – Noreen Campbell Foyle – John Doherty Lagan Valley – Aaron McIntyre Mid Ulster – Fay Watson Newry and Armagh – Jackie Coade North Antrim – Patricia O’Lynn North Belfast – Sam Nelson North Down – Andrew Muir South Antrim – Neil Kelly South Belfast – Paula Bradshaw South Down – Andrew McMurray Strangford – Kellie Armstrong … Read more

DUP and UUP fail to agree formal pact

From the BBC’S Mark Devenport; DUP leader Arlene Foster and UUP leader Robin Swann said they would continue to discuss better unionist co-operation beyond the election. But they could not agree on an overall pact, despite the parties already deciding against splitting the unionist vote in some key constituencies. The report continues quoting both leaders; “Both of our parties want to see the strongest possible vote for pro-union candidates standing in all of the 18 constituencies across Northern Ireland,” they … Read more

Pat Doherty stands down as an MP

Former Sinn Fein Vice President and MP for West Tyrone since 2001, Pat Doherty has announced he will not seek re-election. His successor will be local MLA, Barry McElduff, who will be defending a majority of 10,060 votes that the party achieved at the 2015 election. So far the confirmed candidates are, Daniel McCrossan of the SDLP and Alicia Clarke of the UUP. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him … Read more

Orange Order; We believe it is in Northern Ireland’s vital interests for as many Unionist MPs as possible be returned to our mother Parliament

The Orange Order has issue a statement today urging the Unionist parties to show “unity of purpose” The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland recognises the critical importance and huge significance of the forthcoming General Election. As the United Kingdom commences the process of exiting the European Union it is essential a purposeful and stable Government is elected to act on behalf of, and deliver the best possible deal, for its citizens. Equally, it is of the utmost importance that Northern … Read more

The Pro-Remain Coalition failing with have consequences on June 8th.

The short lived attempt to build a Pro-Remain coalition of sorts has now ended with the Greens pulling the plug and the failure of the other parties to agree on independent candidates. Alliance who were out of the traps early opposing the pact delivered an unusually strong criticism towards the Green Party over even entertaining such a prospect.  Initial Thoughts I was a supporter of some arrangement that brought together Pro-Remain forces in some shape or form. This would have … Read more

The saving grace of electoral pacts is that they’re short lived. There’s a longer and bigger game to play afterwards

One sign of changed times is leading commentators  such as  Alex Kane Tom Kelly and Newton Emerson ranging across newspapers that not so long ago  would have stuck to simple uncomplicated messages for  well  understood and stable readerships. Times have indeed changed for us all. From my remote position in London however, Alex and Tom are making very heavy weather of the issue of electoral pacts on both sides of the divide.  They’re doing so for the best of reasons, … Read more

Without an anti Brexit pact United Unionism will win this election

The move towards a DUP-UUP pact for the Westminster has already begun and, depending on how far the two parties are willing to go and the absence of any other pacts this could be a good election for unionism in terms of the total number of MPs returned. A successful unionist pact could deliver as many as 11 out of the 18 seats, their best joint return in 20 years. It could also see the return of 3 Unionist MPs … Read more