Slow creep of apartheid and permafrost

Seán Farren spoke recently at an inter-party debate at a conference in Limavady called, What Shared Future?. He argues that the collective failure to implement the Belfast Agreement leaves Northern Ireland open to what at best will be a benign apartheid, and at worse running the risk of “future explosions”.By Seán Farren Democracies everywhere face a similar challenge when it comes to accommodating diversity. The fundamental issue is that while a state recognises and respects differences in language and religion, … Read more

Sectarianism is corrosive of the Union

David Adams believes that whilst President McAleese’s and Alex Reid’s remarks on Protestants were followed up by a hasty qualifications and withdrawals, Tony Blair’s remarks, coming from the Protestant Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is not so easy for Ulster Protestants to shake off(subs needed): particularly those who are still politically committed to maintaining the Union. Not least, he argues, because the very attitudes under attack, themselves undermine the core values of both civic and religious Protestantism. Regardless of … Read more

“it’s a reality check on this situation”

As Mick noted with an earlier Daily Ireland interview with IMC Chairman John Alderdice, Jarlath Kearney appears to be channelling Jeremy Paxman in this interview with the outgoing Vice Chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley – beginning, for example, with “DI: Is Martin McGuinness’ phone currently bugged by Special Branch?” – Not that it doesn’t make for an interesting read. In this case that’s in part due to an interviewee who is acutely aware of the political implications behind … Read more

Voters don’t care what you think or say?

Here’s a snippet to conjure with. It comes through the ESRC’s Society Today website. Dr James Tilley describes a test conducted during the last European election in which respondents were tested for their responses to certain objective data: “Contrary to what one might expect, we found that only a minority of respondents changed their views on parties’ policies on European integration,” Dr Tilley explains. “And those most likely to change tended to be the least sophisticated.” Hmmm… Before we get … Read more

Police reform bill progresses in Westminster

John Laird has got his policing bill through a second reading the House of Lords with the clause getting rid of the 50/50 Catholic/Others recruitment policy for the PSNI. It returns for a third reading after Easter and will then have to run the gauntlet of the Commons, where he hopes he can muster sufficient anti Government support to get it into legislation. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet … Read more

A Northern Irish ‘citizenship’ test!

Tony throws a challenge to Slugger readers. Noting how the Dutch and Germans have devised a number of ‘tolerance tests’ of prospective immigrants, what norms would an Northern Irish test set for any would be burgher of Northern Ireland need to pass, just to fit in. Your bullet points please!! 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 … Read more

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland say C’mon England

The internal rivalries of the United Kingdom look to be set aside this summer with significant majorities of people in the other home nations happy to support England in the World Cup. The Welsh were the keenest at 83% support , 76% in Northern Ireland but the Scottish were the slightly reluctant at 67%. The survey also showed strong support for the London Olympics across the UK with Northern Ireland the happiest at 82% support. Support for maintaining a combined … Read more

Luke warm response to package

Details of the proposed package for deprived loyalist communities have begun to emerge and received a lukewarm response from the DUP and UUP. The DUP’s Nelson McCausland sees it as a start: “This is a recognition by government that there is a problem and it is another step along what will have to be a long road to equality.” While the UUP Leader, Sir Reg Empey, highlights how government cuts elsewhere weaken any package: “I think the minister is trying … Read more

Unity through bigger ghettos?

Newton Emerson assesses the Nationalist attacks on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for building homes in Unionist communities of North Belfast. Newton is unimpressed by the arguments and evidence put forward by the St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee and the slavish support by Sinn Fein of its moaning approach. Housing need in North Belfast follows different patterns across the two communities. In nationalists communities there is high demand for housing but in unionist communities the housing standard is … Read more

Poster wars in North Antrim

The Cold War continues. Apparently there’s a battle of wills about to ensue over a poster campaign to commemorate the hunger strikes of 1981 in North Antrim. 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

Dave Wood: a poet’s grave…

Some of you may remember Dave Wood, who was our first attempt to have a poet in residence on Slugger. He’s from Derbyshire but worked annually in Irish schools and colleges for about ten years. Unfortunately the virtual end of his trip back in 2004 was disrupted somewhat by server problems, though he captured some it on his own blog set up for the purpose. Now he’s made his own, very idiosyncratic video for the BBC’s Video Nation project in … Read more

So, who blinked then?

I said earlier that I was waiting to see if anyone blinked following the first briefings of the political parties on the joint proposals from the governments.. well.. if this report on the BBC is correct, it sounds like the two governments blinked.. Again. The suggestions of committees operating through the summer, or of the Assembly operating for some months without an Executive, appear to have been dropped. That doesn’t make the prospects for any talks at some stately home … Read more

Media coverage of last year’s election

Daily Ireland reports some interesting research on the coverage of the general and local election held on 5th May last year. It highlights some headline figures from research conducted by the Institute of Governance at Queen’s. Unsurprisingly Daily Ireland gave by far the largest percentage of coverage to nationalist parties of any other of the other three main papers – with an even split between the SDLP and Sinn Fein each getting 48%. However the research does not assess whether … Read more

The fall and rise of the SDLP?

The SDLP is down on its uppers. It defied those who predicted complete meltdown under the hammer blows of Sinn Fein and retained three Westminster seats. It’s often overshadowed by Sinn Fein’s superior party machine which some say has a certain military discipline, better fundraising and high profile visits to Downing Street as well as often criticised side deals to keep the party in the limelight. Yet there is a feeling that Sinn Fein have overplayed their hand and could … Read more

did they realise?

As Noel McAdam in the Belfast Telegraph points out, while we wait to see if anyone blinks before the expected visit next Thursday from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime Minster Tony Blair.. you have to wonder whether either of the two premiers were aware that some might see a conspiracy in the date currently pencilled in as the day to reveal the governments’ proposals.. 6th April just happens to be a certain Ian Paisley’s 80th birthday.. [off tinfoil hat] Pete … Read more

Hearts and Minds: education; education; education…

On Hearts and Minds tonight: “Education Minister Angela Smith debates the controversial issues with three head teachers, each with their own perspective. Academic selection, the pupil profile, the new curriculum.. everything you wanted to know about about the brave new world but were too afraid to ask”. 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, … Read more

Byrne: “Donegal drivers are lunatics”

After picking up this story about investigators from the NI Police Ombudsman’s Office going to Letterkenny to investigate a car crime, I came across this little gem from Gay Byrne, who has already cracked a few eggs within days of taking up his new post as Chair of the Road Safety Authority, when he explained that Donegal drivers are lunatics. He’s been a regular visitor for 35 years. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on … Read more

Haughey seriously ill…

RTE reports that after being taken in to hospital last night Charlie Haughey is seriously ill in hospital. 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

John McGahern 1934-2006

Via Copernicus at The Midnight Court. The accclaimed Irish writer John McGahern has died. The Irish Times report simply relates that he died suddenly today in Dublin’s Mater Hospital. As previously noted here, his second novel The Dark fell foul of the censor in 1960s Ireland, an experience he describes in this Observer extract from his auto-biographical Memoir, published last year. Still online is the RTÉ Rattlebag interview with John McGahern[RealPlayer audio] reading from Memoir and talking about his life … Read more

So, what are you doing this summer?

Ahead of the briefing by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on the joint government proposals, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has, again, clarified the party’s stance – following the apparent softer line from Mitchel McLaughlin that Gonzo noted. The Irish Times carries his latest statement – “We have made it clear in our discussions with the Irish Government that we are opposed to any dilution of the Agreement, or to the establishment of any shadow Assembly with scrutiny committees or scrutiny powers. … Read more