Expendable Hunger Strikers?

RTE is to show a two-part documentary about the impact of the 1981 Hunger Strikes by convicted IRA and INLA terrorists. It includes an interview with Denis Bradley that has re-ignited the controversy about whether the republican leadership vetoed a deal in the middle of the protest that they later accepted with six more dying in the prison and many more outside. Lee Reynolds

Border Protestant community renews

A Fermanagh-Monaghan Church of Ireland parish marked a milestone in its renewal, the reopening of its church hall. Throughout the troubles the hall had been subject to repeated sectarian attacks. Now with border roads re-opened, new community activities and support from Rural Community Network the parish has a heart again. Lee Reynolds

On the importance of transparency…

Apparently the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act, heralded a number of courses and seminars offered to government departments on how to defeat ‘hostile’ attempts to access previously difficult to get at information. Jim Gibney demonstrates its potential, in bringing us gain access to statistics on a range of arrant behaviours of on and off duty policemen. It is precisely this transparency is key to bolstering democracy and make politicians (not to mention civil servants) answerable to the wider … Read more

“…anywhere but in Northern ireland…”

In the Sunday Times, the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission (NIFTC) has attacked the BBC Northern Ireland Drama Department for its long-running and continuing refusal to produce its dramas in Northern Ireland. This practice jars with the approach other regional BBC drama departments follow. The growth in film productions use of Northern Ireland dents any claims of a lack of local capacity to handle major productions. Lee Reynolds

April Red C poll shows more movement than expected

I’ve been sceptical of the minor shifts in party support noted previously in the monthly, Sunday Business Post commissioned, Red C polls, and I remain sceptical, but the result of the April polling are in. In first preference voting intentions the main movements are – Fianna Fail up 5 points to 38%, Fine Gael down 2 to 23% and SF down 3 to 8%.. Labour stay at 11%, the Green Party at 7%, PDs at 4%. RTÉ are in no … Read more

Saving us from the sins of Sunday football

The Irish Football Association has covered itself in glory again. It seems like the King Canute brigade in local football have won the battle to prevent Sunday football– for a while at least- after the Association’s EGM was adjourned until the Autumn on Thursday night. Chief Executive Howard Wells summed it up best when he remarked, “I never am suprised at anything that happens within the IFA…”In a perfect contrast, last night saw the latest in a line of Setanta … Read more

Orange (finally) realise it’s good to talk

The Orange Order, fresh from the hammer blow delivered by former leading light Rev. Brian Kennaway, have announced that they recently held meetings with the Irish Government. Further meetings with the SDLP are on the way- though not with Sinn Fein, apparently because of their attitude to violence….. Whilst the Order are selling the talks as part of their strategy to remove the Parades Commission, the Order may be just beginning to realise how far they will have to travel … Read more

a Faustian pact

As the BBC report, David Trimble seems to have used the launch of Reverend Brian Kennaway’s book The Orange Order – A Tradition Betrayed to try to settle a few scores, accusing his enemies within unionism of seeing “the Orange Order, Portadown District and the Drumcree issue as a battering ram that they would use to destroy the Agreement”. The DUP’s David Simpson, in response, accused Trimble of having “manipulated the institution in many ways to get the leadership of … Read more

scrap the sectarian straitjacket

Also in the Belfast Telegraph, Eric Waugh puts forward a couple of questions that a critic of the Agreement would want answers to before devolved powers were to return. He touches on the policing paradox and argues that there is a need for “a fundamental re-examination of the 1998 machinery.”From the Belfast Telegraph article – The other weakness of the Trimble years was the total absence of Ministerial solidarity in the Executive. We never had a Government which spoke like … Read more

Beyond the deadline?

I don’t think that he’s one of the optimists Henry McDonald referred to, but in the Belfast Telegraph Brian Walker produces an intriguing twist to the November 24th deadline. According to his report, “although this interim Assembly can be wound up on November 24, the Assembly suspended on October 2003 remains technically in being.” Which could leave open the possibilty of another chapter even if the book is officially closed…Briajn Walker notes that Peter Hain declined to pass on any … Read more

Still waiting?

In the Guardian Henry McDonald is less than impressed with those who favour an optimistic reading of the runes for November [btw I think he meant a 180 degree turn, not 360 – Ed]. As well as arguing that the proposed consultation by the DUP is likely to produce a negative response, he returns to a suggestion he made previously, in November 2005, as Mick noted at the time. Pete Baker

Slow blogging from me…

I’m busy tomorrow on other things, so I won’t have much time to contribute to Slugger… I’d encourage some of less frequent bloggers to come in an fill the space… In the meantime, to those of you taking it, have a great Mayday/Labour Day/Spring Bankholiday break. And don’t forget a few quid in the donation box… if you can manage it!! Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics … Read more

Hearts and Minds: why Hain’s timetable will work…

Hearts and Minds, back after the Easter break is on BBC2 NI tonight at 10pm. “And as the Commons debates the humpty dumpty legislation to put the Assembly together again, we ask Peter Hain why he thinks the November deadline will work. Can the Orange order ever regain a credible voice? A corruscating criticism of the Order by a senior member paints a picture of an organisation in disarray. We debate its claims”. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. … Read more

The IRA has gone away, you know…

Gerry Moriarty reports that whilst there are some important caveats to the IMC report and the IRA can only expect to collect on the benefits (subs needed) of its “mostly justified positive British-Irish governmental spin” if its followed by a second positive report in October. But in the meantime the important questions now shift onto the capacity of the DUP to do a deal. A maxim of this long-running peace process is that it is for Bertie Ahern to deliver … Read more

Full text of Peter Robinson address to British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body

Then formal presentation by DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson to the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body in Killarney on Monday went down very well. One member told me it was very statesmanlike. Many agreed that it was very clear and courteous. It repays full study and the entire text is here too. Gary Kent Peter Robinson address. We are unionists – by birth, by desire, by conviction – unapologetically, unflinchingly and unalterably. We are not nationalists who have lost our way. We … Read more

Mixing will lead to greater stability…

Danny Morrison recently quoted an old German military saying that no strategy survives contact with the enemy. Well according to the Young Life and Times survey (pdf) the same is true of social engagement with the enemy. Clare Regan has some of the highlights from the launch.According to its findings: n 42% of Catholics questioned who had taken part in cross-community activity said they had a favourable attitude towards Protestants. Of those who hadn’t, only 33% said they had a … Read more

Time to change economic development strategy?

As Jo has pointed out, the Belfast Telegraph reports that the Prudential initially expanded their operation in Belfast in 1998, with the assitance of £2.5million of public funds provided through the Industrial Development Board. Their subsequent decision to concentrate their operations elsewhere provides a better context for this quote from InvestNI chief executive, Leslie Morrison, announcing the expansion by Reed Managed Services – “They chose to expand their Belfast operation because of the strength of the labour market here, the … Read more

On the real nature of the DUP…

Brian Feeney wonders whether ‘the bulk of DUP voters’ has the stomach to follow where some of the leading figures wish to take it. He believes that the DUP is now the primary subject of British government pressure – though he is unconvinced that their support is ready for them to bow to it. Interestingly, pressure was a recurrent theme in the ensemble work that was the DUP’s Westminster performance yesterday. Gregory Campbell for instance: …if we are making progress … Read more

Reaching out with two fingers raised

Irish Nationalists have attacked Unionists for expressing concerns about the nature of Irish Presidential visits to Northern Ireland. Yet when the Duke of Edinburgh makes an official visit to the Republic of Ireland Sinn Fein attacks the political establishment for meeting with him. Furthermore, Dublin Councillor Daithi Doolan strikes an exclusionist pose: “The people of this island owe nothing to Britain’s Royal family…” Either he is unaware of the existence of pro-monarchists among the “people of this island” or he … Read more

One’s latest visit to the former colony…

HERE’S one Dubliner’s account of an ‘encounter’ with Phil the Greek yesterday… but paving the way for the Queen again? How 1998! Prince Philip apparently waved to the dozen or so Republican Sinn Feiners protesting against his protest. The BBC reported that “wherever Prince Philip went the cameras followed, clicking furiously and drowning out the small talk he and others were having”. That wasn’t the case elsewhere, as Philip’s verbal gaffe’s are legendary. Anyone Dubs hear any? Here’s a couple … Read more