Focus on the West Tyrone by-election

Tomorrow the voters of West Tyrone head back to the polls for the 7th time in 4 years (don’t worry if you are an avid voter, only one year to go until the local elections in May 2019). Usual rules apply for this by-election, polls close at 10pm with the votes counted afterwards. As you can see from the results above this is a solid Sinn Fein constituency with the party holding a double digit leads over their main rivals. … Read more

UUP Advisor recalls how the party eventually backed the Good Friday Agreement

Final word on the Agreement 20th anniversary.The highlight of the week.An eyewitness account told to @MarkCarruthers7 on @bbctheview about exactly what happened inside the UUP room on Good Friday 1998. pic.twitter.com/PIltKjVdL7 — Mark Simpson (@BBCMarkSimpson) April 12, 2018 More here After Tuesday night’s appearance on @bbctheview I thought I would share a personal letter I wrote to Ken Maginnis after his untimely departure from the UUP in 2012. It relates back to Good Friday 1998 and I meant every word … Read more

Political ferment is reflected in the GFA junketings, but no sign of a breakthrough

Will the DUP and Sinn Fein pay any attention to the eloquent pleas of the elder statesmen to return to the Executive?  On the surface the answer appears to be no, unless something is going on behind the scenes we don’t know about. Local politics suffers from elder statesperson fatigue. This generation has learned how to take in their stride the high sounding generalities from popes, presidents and prime ministers past and present.  The shock of the new wore off … Read more

A united Ireland remains an uncertain unknown. If it happens, the country will need strong leaders who can lead the country into a better future

A united Ireland is such a huge issue in Northern Irish politics that it’s hard to believe Tom Elliott hasn’t really thought about it. Ulster unionism’s raison d’être is to maintain the Union, Northern Ireland and avoid a thirty two country Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland drives and haunts unionists. It is never acknowledged as a possibility, but it is always there. During Patrick Kielty’s excellent programme, ‘My Da, the Peace Deal, and me,’ Arlene Foster said that … Read more

Swann seeks an agreed candidate for West Tyrone by-election

The UUP Leader, Robin Swann had reiterated his comments for an agreed candidate to stand in the West Tyrone by-election on May 3rd; It is clear that Sinn Fein has learnt nothing from the appalling disrespect shown by Barry McElduff. Only last week they failed to condemn the banner put on display in Newry describing one of the IRA’s most ruthless terrorists caught in possession of one of the murder weapons used at Kingsmills ‘our hero’. Given that McElduff resigned … Read more

Twenty years on, the key challenge is how we can make changes that only are seen to be fair and balanced

Peter Weir is a DUP MLA for Strangford, he writes for Slugger about his thoughts of the Good Friday Agreement. On Good Friday, twenty years ago, I found myself present at a central point in our history, not just as an observer but as a participant, albeit a minor one. I was in Castle Buildings as a junior member of the Ulster Unionist talks team. I was one of the so called baby barristers, a group of younger members of … Read more

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