Help needed: write to your TD!

This is an urgent and serious call for help – especially those of you with techie experience – to help build a faxyourmp style website for the Republic. John Handelaar has signed up ten volunteers and needs just five more to reach his pledgebank target by tomorrow! The UK version has done some marvellous work in getting MPs, MSPs and AMs to respond to their constituents. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts … Read more

A parallel dilemma: to govern or to fight?

Although it is always dangerous to make too simplistic a comparison between Northern Ireland and anywhere else in the world Mark Devenport puts his finger on one very precise parallel: the internal challenge of overwhelming electoral success of a fundamentalist political project. Of the important caveats he mentions, another couple could be added. That is: Hamas is the undisputed leader of opinion in their own polity; and two, it is walking straight into a position where it will immediately be … Read more

Misery caused by the policing retreat…

It may be a truism that no one likes the cops, but it’s almost certainly true that most people take the benefits that policing brings entirely for granted. In this week’s column for the Newsletter, Alex Kane examines the damage he believes has been done by what he sees as reactive policing. The answer he argues is “the visible and regular presence of the ‘bobby on the beat’”.By Alex Kane Here is an extract from a report in Thursday’s Times: … Read more

Dermot Ahern and naivety

More pre-empting of the response to the IMC report, this time from the Irish government minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, as reported by Dan Keenan and Jamie Smyth in the Irish Times[subs req] – “You can’t expect that when you turn on a light that everything will be rosy in the garden. It would be naive to think that you can do that after 35 years of violence.” Also in the report, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claims he hasn’t seen … Read more

Northern Ireland’s comfort days over?

Peter Hain points to the huge public expenditure in Northern Ireland and suggests his government mantra in relation to Northern Ireland is ‘Bureacracy, bureacracy, bureacracy!”: “Reform is vital. “By the 2007/08 financial year, we will be spending in excess of £16bn (€23.4bn) in regional public services in Northern Ireland. “That is 50% greater in real terms than when our Government came to power in May 1997, with health spending up by around 80 per cent and education by more than … Read more

50% of Northern Ireland’s fuel is illegal

Fuel laundering is so rife in Northern Ireland that three of the big fuel companies have pulled out. That’s the remarkable claim made by Ray Holloway of the Petrol Retailers’ Association. “Government figures in 1998 showed that around 50 per cent of expected fuel tax revenues were missing and it has still not recovered today,” he said. “That is why the fuel companies pulled out. The reason is smuggled and laundered fuel and it is a major problem, with no … Read more

SIPTU President comes to Leviathan…

As we mentioned last week the Leviathan political cabaret takes place in Dublin on Thursday night. It has kicked off a vibrant discussion which is still rumbling on. The mix should be even more potent since Naoise has managed to get SIPTU General President Jack O’Connor to appear to discuss his union’s position on non-national workers and immigration in a special one-on-one interview on Thursday night. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts … Read more

McCartney: plenty of statements, little evidence

As Gonzo points out, yesterday marked two anniversaries: Bloody Sunday in 1972; and the murder of Robert McCartney. It seems that despite 151 witnesses statements, there is, according to the sisters, still no admissable evidence from any of the seventy odd people inside the bar. The reported threat from the killers would still appear to be in force. The family repeated its appeal for witnesses to come forward, including the British spy Denis Donaldson who they suggest “could have been … Read more

Lessons in beating bigotry…

NEWS in from Scotland, and Jack McConnell’s plans to ‘twin’ schools in Scotland to help combat sectarianism there has met with a mixed reception, though the kids and parents in one pair of schools seem to be coming round to the idea. In other efforts at reconciliation, the International Fund for Ireland has recently switched its funding focus in Northern Ireland towards greater support for cross-community schemes, bringing the IFI cash flow to an end in about five years. With … Read more

Bloody Sunday…

THE weekend saw the last Bloody Sunday march before the Saville Inquiry reports, but the first Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture to be given by someone from a unionist background. Alan McBride challenged both nationalists and unionists, while those on the march demanded the truth behind the massacre, and called for justice. Belfast Gonzo

A sticky situation…

ALLEGED Superdollar conspirator, FBI fugitive and Irish Workers Party President Sean Garland made a bizarre appearance at an Irish Labour Party conference at the weekend. Perhaps his weird way of trying to distract from the fact that the three men who put up £9,000 each to bail him have had to forfeit the lot after Sean went south of the border? I bet the court clerk is just warming up his counterfeit detector right now… Belfast Gonzo

Loyalists leaving the stage…

THE UDA and UVF are, according to reports, slowly shifting away from crime and paramilitarism. We’ll believe it when we see it, and that will take time to evaluate, but news that one of the most fascistic factions of loyalism – the UFF – is going first, is welcome. The carrot appears to have been British ‘investment’ in loyalist communities, and the stick appears to have been the crackdown on illegal loyalist assets by law enforcement agencies, such as the … Read more

First anniversary of McCartney murder…

IT’S one year on since the savage murder of Robert McCartney, and as his sisters prepare for a morning press conference, new appeals are being issued – to everyone from a British spy in Sinn Fein, to the revving driver of a blue car who has yet to come forward. Yet, McCartney’s sisters still firmly believe there is much more that Sinn Fein could do much more to help their fight for justice. Belfast Gonzo

The Granny Race begins

Birmingham defender Alex Bruce has decided to declare for the Republic of Ireland, despite being selected in the Northern Ireland under-21 side to face Israel. Bruce was born in Manchester and qualifies to play for both countries through his grandparents. His dad Steve played for Manchester United but never won a full England cap so maybe that’s part of his son’s reason to declare. Either way it seems new Republic manager Steve Staunton, who promised to dust off the Granny … Read more

It’s all a question of trust (or rather mistrust)

Eric Waugh argues that further progress is hampered by lack of trust. Without it, he argues, power sharing is simply not possible. He also believes that the governments’ attempt to push start a new round of negotiations is inviting the public papering over major cracks in the story that the IRA has no longer anything to do with major criminal enterprise: What about the 45 tons of highly toxic sludge found in a stolen container on the Armagh-Monaghan border last … Read more

Lá go laethuil ar line…

Comhardeas do Lá do a cuma nua ata ar an nuachtain laethuil. Agus anois tig leat é a leamh ar line anois. Mar a deareann sé ar an leathanach tosaigh: “ar an lá seo sa bhlain 1661, rinneadh an corp Oilibhear Cromail [chan ar gceannsa] a diadhlacadh agus ansin cuireadh chun bais é aris go foirmealta”. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and … Read more

IRA still gathering intelligence…

According to the Irish Times, IMC will report (this week?) that the IRA is still centrally organising intelligence operations, but is not clear as to whether criminal operations by its members are sanctioned by the leadership. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

On a personal note…

Back in 1999, when a close friend died, I contacted the Guardian to see if they’d take an obituary note on his life. He’d joined the RAF in 1944, just in time to be sent to Egypt and then South Africa to train as a fight sergeant on Hurricanes. But the time he was ready for combat, the war in Europe had ended, and he was spared having to fire a bullet in anger. He was part of that melee … Read more

Blog debate on ‘gay marriage’…

The UK has deftly avoided the discussion of gay marriages by tactfully giving gay couples access to civil partnerships, (hetrosexual couples still must get married if they want the same without building their own customised legal agreement). Last week an All Party Oireachtas Committee delivered its verdict that gay marriage should not affect current definitions of the family. Ahern has hinted at a UK style solution. On the blogoshere, The Dossing Times has tracked a fascinating if weighty exchange between … Read more

Only positive narratives please?

It’s not the main focus of Henry McDonald’s Observer interview with the playwright Gary Mitchell, whose family have been intimidated out of their homes, as noted here, by what are described in the article as ‘rogue [Loyalist] paramilitaries’, that’s more his puzzlement at the lack of outrage at his family’s plight. But two pieces of information stand out, firstly, while Channel4 have commissioned two screenplays, he relates why BBC NI won’t be receiving anything soon, BBC Northern Ireland told me … Read more