Consultation for Permanent Victims Commissioner

I’ve covered the Interim Victims Commissioner a couple of times in the past, and there has been some discussion on various aspects of the role. The Victims Unit announced last week that the consultation process to establish a permanent post of Victims Commissioner was beginning and would last until September 15th. This was never going to be an easy job, and having such a role raises many issues on the definition of victim in the first instance, the treatment of … Read more

Best of both worlds a.k.a. all the benefits, no political costs?

Thought for the day following a couple of conversations over the past few days. A number of potential benefits of all-island co-operation have been claimed e.g. mobile phone costs, electricity market. ASSUME all the claimed benefits are true and the practical difficulties can be overcome e.g. creating a common electricity market from a public monopoly and a private regulated industry. These benefits could come about as a result of Irish unification instead they are being offered through co-operation. The nationalist … Read more

“In politics, as elsewhere, timing is all.”

As the News Leter says, “Secretary of State Peter Hain has taken the unusual step of penning an open letter to unionism” Unusual also in that it appears to be an open letter exclusive to the News Letter. I’ve emphasised some of the more interesting lines below, but there are a couple of other references worth picking up on – “the political focus in the Republic will switch elsewhere at the turn of the year” could have been matched with … Read more

Orange in Scotland to offer ‘tolerance’ classes?

Today, page 10, The Times: The Orange Order is to hold religious tolerance classes for youngsters in the West of Scotland, in a bid to combat sectarianism. The Order, which has about 2,500 members in the region, will invite children to learn about Islam and Catholicism. Thanks to EE for the heads up! 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 … Read more

The global ‘wonderbra’ effect…

One of the things that demonstrates how far behind Northern Ireland is in terms of what’s happening in the wider world. Even if you don’t like economics, I recommend heartily that you take some time out to watch this presentation from Hans Rosling, who notes how widespread preconceptions of how the world is split into two discrete world’s of rich and poor are profoundly misleading. The data, he asserts, is way more interesting than old narratives. Hat tip to Nestor!!It’s … Read more

Press Plagiarism Award 2006

I’ll let Guido do the talking… 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

SDLP: strengths and weaknesses made public…

I had a heads up on this story last week, but by the time I looked it had been swamped by Daily Ireland’s notoriously unnavigable archiving system. But it’s a fascinating read and an excellent piece of journalism. It seems they’ve got a hold of a confidential consultant’s report suggesting to the SDLP that it was increasingly becoming an irrelevance to the Nationalist community, and that the only way it might recover ground would be in linking Sinn Fein to … Read more

GAA President participates in Hunger Strike Commemorations

The Daily Ireland reports that recently elected GAA President, Nickey Brennan offically opened a new GAA field named in honour of the IRA INLA terrorist and hunger striker, Kevin Lynch. Has the new president, the GAA clubs and members breached Rule 7A? The article says that these events were organised by “Sinn Fein and Republican Sinn Fein” and included Martin McGuinness giving an oration at St Canice GAA Hall(Update of new link). Rule 7A states: “Non-Party Political (a) The Association … Read more

Defining marriage

A human rights challenge for recognition of a Canadian gay marriage of a Yorkshire lesbian couple has been rejected in the High Court. The ruling defined marriage as “an age old institution” that was “a means to encourage monogomy and the procreation of children, to be nurtured in a family unit with both maternal and paternal influences.” Lee Reynolds

If there were an election today

Electoral Calculus says present poll trends would leave the Labour Party 20 short of an overall majority. Boundary issues and concentration of support mean the Tories would still be behind Labour despite an almost 3.5% lead in the popular vote. The Lib Dems with 32 seats would hold the balance of power. Will these trends hasten Blair’s departure? Lee Reynolds

The power of fiction

The Bangladeshi community of Brick Lane held a protest against the proposed film adaption of the award-winning novel named after their community. They object to the stereotyping of their community and believe the film will reinforce this. Plans to film scenes of the film in Brick Lane have been dropped because of the local opposition. Mass media representation of the Ulster conflict has often been accused of the same. How much do fictional representations determine external perceptions of communities and … Read more

Infrastructural boost

Secretary of State Peter Hain has announced an increase in road infrastructure investment from £1bn to £1.4bn from now to 2015. The traditional complaint of the West being ignored is (partially?) addressed with an almost even split in the new investment. Investment in infrastructure is generally considered a key plank in economic development. Lee Reynolds

Adams: we will wait and see…

Mark Devenport interviews Gerry Adams, and kicks through some of the key issues facing the parties going into 24th November. On Paisley and the Executive, “…that’s the only thing he can veto, everything else he can’t veto”. . Interestingly he does concede that it is Sinn Fein’s job to try to pursuade Unionism of its own bona fides. But given a busted November deadline, he states that, “Sensible unionism may then engage, but we can’t wait for them”. And on … Read more

Governments spreading credibility too thinly?

Eilis O’Hanlon is sceptical of current government strategy. In particular: …the ongoing attempt to detach the activities of individual members of the IRA from the IRA itself. And because it is practically impossible to prove that individual operations were ever sanctioned directly by the Army Council, it is always feasible to cast each crime committed as a private rather than a collective act. That is why Northern Secretary Peter Hain was so eager to stress that there may be “localised … Read more

Former Irish News editor direct descendant of Jesus?

It’s one of those things you dearly wish you had thought of first. American woman Kathleen McGowan has written a book about her ancestors, and has been signed by Simon and Schuster to complete a trilogy for a 7-figure sum. Oh, her ancestors were none other than Jesus and Mary Magdalene, hence the almighty international attention being bestowed on this author. On her website, it tells us that she was the Editor in Chief of Belfast’s the Irish News and … Read more

UDA on the streets.. reluctantly.. allegedly..

Several media reports on the ongoing tension within the social workers UDA and specifically in North Belfast. The BBC refers to a “public show of strength” yesterday, while the Sunday Life provides some detail on what has been going on over the last few days, and I note another mention of Brian Madden, previously spotted in discussions with the NIO. The Press Association report has the contradictory statement which was read out to a group of up to 800 men, … Read more

Islands of success in a collectivist sea

The centre-right think tank Reform has launched a report arguing the harm Labour’s greater public spending is having upon the poorer parts of the United Kingdom. This imbalance is feeding economic and demograhic changes that could become a self-perpetuating cycle of ever-growing dependency. However, it highlights how a number of cities (Leeds, Liverpoool, Manchester and Newcastle) are bucking these regional trends creating “islands of success”. It strongly advocates a dual approach of lower tax and slower public expedniture growth – … Read more

CRJ: a private deal, but is it legal?

It lseems that British Government plans to approve the running of CRJ under official auspices are running into deeper water. One Ulster Unionist insider told Slugger that the key question should not be whether CRJ should be funded or not, but whether its activities were actually legal. Former Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald lays some heavy charges at the door of CRJ:The introductory paragraph is worth quoting in full: Several years ago, Sinn Féin established “Community Restorative Justice” (CRJ). Its director of … Read more

La Haine…

HOW long before unionists adopt the language of Brian Feeney and refer to the Secretary of State as ‘proconsul’? The News Letter comes close with its description of Peter Hain as “ruling this part of the United Kingdom like a colonial-style British viceroy”, after the cost of his various jaunts to sporting events was revealed. Hain told his critics to get a life, which I’m sure will endear him to them further. Belfast Gonzo