Irish Times on Slugger, Eastwoods and betting the election…

Hmmm… interesting to be described by the Irish Times as ‘a Northern political fetishist… still excited by affairs of the Northern Ireland state…’ I’ll take it as a complement Gerry!! He also notes that we provide “a good mix of analysis, commentary, and observation, and also bytimes venom and insult from its multitude of subscribers, some of it occasionally directed at Irish Times and other journalists whose views are considered ill-informed, or just plain annoying”. I suspect it’s more the latter, than the former: we generally don’t link bad journalism! The piece goes on:

You can also bet on politics, although you’d imagine that the first three home in the 3.40 at Lingfield today, rather than the first six home in north Belfast on March 7th, would be of more interest to Eastwood’s regular punters.

This of course explains why the company has taken out an advertisement on the Slugger O’ Toole website. Those of you who are computer literate can Google Slugger O’Toole and you’ll find the site. And there, on the top right hand corner, you have a picture of Stormont – with shots of Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, Reg Empey and Mark Durkan, and an enticing invitation to: “Bet the Election”.

Slugger O’Toole is run by blogger Mick Fealty who, as a former Irish Times news editor used to say, is one of those band of “Northern political fetishists” who are still excited by affairs of the Northern Ireland state. Slugger, by the way, was a sailor on the ill-fated Irish Rover. Remember the Pogues and Ronnie singing: “There was Slugger O’Toole, who was drunk as a rule . . .”. It’s a lively site. You get a good mix of analysis, commentary, and observation, and also bytimes venom and insult from its multitude of subscribers, some of it occasionally directed at Irish Times and other journalists whose views are considered ill-informed, or just plain annoying.

Eastwood also approves of Slugger and figure that it provides a captive, target audience of political mugs who will help in swelling even further the coffers of Barney and his family. Now the Eastwoods, like every bookie’s, are a shrewd outfit and try to shape the odds in the company’s rather than the punter’s favour.

The Eastwoods advert is a significant step forward not simply for Slugger but for blogging in general. It suggests that the Pro Ams of the internet are capable of realising value as well as providing an intelligent take on chosen subjects. This grounded commercial arrangement is a recognition of Slugger’s high level, politically engaged audience.

Along with a generous advertising and event sponsorship deal with Stratagem, it will make a vital contribution to Slugger’s coverage of the election. And when the election is over we hope that others, from right across the political spectrum and beyond, will also begin to see the value of advertising with (the largely sober these days) Slugger O’Toole…


  • The blogging community have an odd relationship with the longer-established traditional media.

    On the whole, they enjoy treating us as curiosities.

    Commenting and alanysing on our motivation and impact.

    But also seeing us as a shortcut to getting their normal work done.

    I suspect I’m not alone in getting emails requesting contributions to radio’s Days Like This, an upcoming programme about blogging, someone from Canadian TV looking an interview, and people wanting to advertise charity film tickets.

  • bpower

    Yeah you only link to bad journalism when you want to make sure slugger is not leanin too far to the left, heaven forbid if a few right wing authoritarians accused you of liberal bias. Isn’t that the way Mick?

  • Mick Fealty


    To be honest, I can think of only about 3 occasions when I knowingly blogged poor work. I included them because I judged them to be important for what they said about the source.

    And none of them were from the ‘right’ (it’s a moot point about what that actually means these days).

  • bpower

    Come on now, in the past you have worried about “leaning to the left”. It reminded me of the effects of the right’s bleating about liberal bias in the media. To see you falling for the tactic was a bummer and it stuck in my mind (yes, im that sad).

    I agree with you that the right/left labels have become too vague to be useful. Right wing authoritarian is a better description. Its just a bit unwieldy for common usage.

  • Mick Fealty


    I do have a fairly light overall concern about getting a spread of opinion, but none of the occasions mentioned above came about because of that concern.

    I notice that the election wiki has a page asking people to make educated guesses as to who is where on a broader political compass

  • bpower

    Yeah, fair enough, I don’t think you say to yourself “hmm, we’ve gone pinko again, better link to some nutter”.

    Thanks for the link, I love that stuff. The graph showing the trend in the UK is fascinating.

    Where are you on that graph, down with Ghandi and the rest of the good guys I presume? 😉

  • Aislingeach

    As an American observer of the “Northern political fetish”, I agree that Slugger has a good mix–a little heavy on the venom at times (but NI seems awash in the stuff), but you do try to keep that somewhat limited, Mick.
    “Left-right” has long ceased to be a useful description; the authoritarian-libertarian divide seems more important in modern politics.

  • a little heavy on the venom at times

    I think we’re quite civilised, actually, but maybe that says more about Northern Ireland politics than anything else. But seriously, I read a lot of the US blogosphere and I couldn’t see a site with such an ecclectic mix of political views surviving long there.

  • The Devil

    “a little heavy on the venom at times”


  • Aislingeach

    Sammy, yes, I think it is about the nature of NI politics (as an aside, that may also relate to the topic of why NI women aren’t as involved in the process). Too much seeing the other side as enemy to be destroyed instead of opponent to be worked with.

    And I would agree that American blogs are usually one-sided and partisan, with a strong tendency to succumb to one side’s domination or the other, no matter how they start. Same sort of problem as above. (insert sigh and head shake here) Kudos again to Mick for doing so well.

  • The Devil


    Better than the dreary anemic views all to often expressed by commentors like yourself.

    Touchy feely accomodating only serves to uphold those already empowered and challenges nothing!

    I would rather be damned by someone who had colour and passion and with whom I shared a mutual hatered, than praised forever by an anemic characterless member of the great and the good who never saw a trench let alone wallowed in one

  • Aislingeach

    Ah, yer satanic misery…

    Who said anything about “touchy feely accomodating” but yourself? And when does damning anyone lead to decent governance? Or is it all just about point scoring and power for the sake of power?

    That sort of politics makes for good theater (in the Macbeth mode, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing), but a lousy way to run a city, a state or a country.
    Good for war, bad for peace.
    But then, you know that.