Hain gets a new SpAd…

ACCORDING to Guido, “Robert Philpot, director of Progress and editor of their magazine has just been appointed as the new SpAd [special advisor] to Peter Hain, replacing the departed cheating Phil Taylor“. Meanwhile, Guido has been recovering from his Newsnight appearance and run-in with the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

Beware strange animals..

Just in case you didn’t know, tomorrow is the first of April [it is? – Ed] aka April Fool’s Day. So, by way of a public information announcement, and in particular if you were fooled by Panorama’s Swiss spaghetti harvest [ahem – Ed] or the more recent Google Lunar Base, Slate have helpfully produced a Defense Kit with numerous links to keep you busy informed. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.Actually that was more of a preamble to excuse another … Read more

In praise of… Peter Hain

Frank Millar has a useful end of week wash up on the lead up to this deal. It’s easy to forget that when the so-called “comprehensive agreement” collapsed, just before the Northern Bank robbery, there was little sign of any momentum. For all the moral (and legal) compromises in getting to where we now are, Hain may have played a crucial role in bringing at least one aspect of the Irish question to a close: …it would be disingenuous for … Read more

Some changes in electoral regulation…

Some interesting developments at the Electoral Commission’s post election seminar. Sammy Morse’s constituency profiles got deserved praise from the panel of party elections directors/specialists – even if, as the panel’s chair pointedly remarks, Sammy’s predictions were just as unreliable as most people’s. His work on the detail however was peerless, on or offline!The new man at the Electoral Office, Douglas Bain, had some interesting suggestions for change in future elections. Executive power to make such decisions rests with Lord Faulkener’s … Read more

Five arrested and questioned in serious crime investigation

Very little detail on this yet, so I’ll just briefly note that 5 people have now been arrested and are being questioned in relation to what is described as “dissident republican activity in Lurgan”. 4 were arrested in what seems to be a major operation when, according to eyewitness reports, up to 30 undercover and uniformed officers stopped a car [RealPlayer file] on Thursday night and the fifth was arrested in follow-up searches. From the BBC report Adds Make that … Read more

Crawley on the read/write revolution…

JUst as I was getting out of the car to go and do a short slot on Good Morning Ulster yesterday morning, I heard the trailer for Will Crawley’s documentary on blogging in Northern Ireland. It’s on at 11.30 tomorrow morning and includes some new voices from the blogosphere… Hopefully with a useful mix of ‘believers’ and ‘blog sceptics’. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the … Read more

From Army Council to…

“… a change management group”. Brian Rowan on the transformation of the IRA. We don’t see the Army Council meeting, but if we care to look, we can see the change in its thinking and its doing. All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds. The conflict is over, and the IRA is being ordered away by those it will listen to – those who led it in war and then into a developing peace. The … Read more

10% of Republic’s population now made up of non-Irish nationals

The principle demographic results from the 2006 census are out and show that Irish Republic now has a population of 4.24 million, 10% of which is made up by non-Irish nationals. In fact, 612,000 were born outside of the Republic with 438,000 coming from the EU. Could be interesting to see if this develops into an election issue.The main places of origin are: Northern Ireland 50,172 England and Wales 204,746 Scotland 16,863 Czech Republic 5,278 Estonia 2,373 France 9,307 Germany … Read more

Apologies for slow blogging…

I’ve been a little absent this week. Due to a combination of business and the power cable to my laptop packing up mid week, making connectivity more of an issue than I would have liked… 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

“no prospect at all of a differential corporation tax in Northern Ireland”

There may have been an announcement of a review of the different tax rates between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to be conducted by Sir David Varney a former chairman of HM Revenue and Customs – it was one element of that total package announced by Gordon Brown – but as the Belfast Telegraph’s Mark Hookhan reports, according to the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, corporation tax will not be affected. Speaking yesterday in Westminster, Mr Hain … Read more

Cancel any afternoon meetings..

As you’d expect there’s been a lot of media interest in today’s clash in the Cricket World Cup between Ireland and England – 2.30pm start – including some tongue-in-cheek references to Ed Joyce. As for the match itself, as well as RTÉ updates, there’s the cricinfo scoreboard, the Guardian’s usual over-by-over coverage can be followed here, and, for once, we’re promised live radio commentary. Adds Spotted by merrie, the Guardian says, “The tournament’s plucky minnows are taking on Ireland.” Heh. … Read more

Derry City to compete in next season’s Champions League

Shelbourne have decided against applying for a UEFA licence, meaning their place in next season’s Champions League will be taken by Derry City. Champions Shelbourne were relegated from the Premier League to the First Division for the coming season after an investigation by the FAI’s first instance committee into their financial problems. Shels say their decision is partly based on the fact that they don’t want damage the Eircom League’s co-efficient in Europe. George

Equality must replace Neutrality- Feeney

Brian Feeney has been articulating the need for a new political vocabulary in the aftermath of the Adams-Paisley ‘moment’ and in anticipation of the imminent return of devolved government. He argues that the NIO must be purged of its ‘Alliance mentality,’ which promoted an artificial sense of neutrality in its dealings, and substituted with a thinking more in line with the Good Friday Agreement promise of full equal rights for nationalists and unionists. While Feeney was doubtlessly thinking of more … Read more

“Although there was no issue of impropriety..”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland have been unable to find almost all of the works of art missing from the publicly owned collection. The final report on the investigation, carried out by the Arts Council themselves, is in response to the publication of a critical Audit Office report in August last year Adds As Aquifer suggests in the comments zone, publishing images of the missing works of art, rather than just the titles, would have been a good idea.According … Read more

Gerry McGeough released on bail

According to the BBC report, independent republican candidate Gerry McGeough has been released on bail of £500, surety of £2500 and was ordered to report to police three times a week. He had been arrested and charged, along with Sinn Féin party member Vincent McAnespie, with the attempted murder of a part-time UDR member in 1981. Last week Vincent McAnespie was released on bail when it was revealed that two key witnesses had withdrawn their statements in controversial circumstances.Also worth … Read more

“this decision has been made prematurely”

The Irish Times breaking news reports a joint statement from DUP MP David Simpson and MLA Stephen Moutray which criticses, at least, the timing of that “indigenous” deal Adds BBC report on Jim Wells’ comments Mr Simpson and fellow Upper Bann Assemblyman Stephen Moutray said: “We do believe and feel that it is our duty to state that this decision has been made prematurely, before the conditions were right and before the completion of a credible testing period. “It is … Read more

More paramilitary power plays

With £1.2million of public funds already promised by the Secretary of State for Wales etc, the UDA has announced it has expelled two figures in the South East Antrim area of that organisation – recently reported to have been in contact with Ihab Shoukri. Those figures are identified in the BBC report as the UDA leader in that area, Gary Fisher, and his political advisor Tommy Kirkham. As the Belfast Telegraph reminds us, it’s a by-now familiar pattern and with … Read more

Three cheers for RTE Punditry

We’ve grown so accustomed to the sight and sounds of Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy on International football night that it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that they are a collective sporting institution in Ireland. The pair have been regular fixtures on RTE’S Studio programmes for two decades now and it is to RTE’s credit that they have remained loyal to the ‘grumpy old men’ of Irish football, whose analysis, bickering and outbursts have provided the bright spots on many’s … Read more

Orde offered three more years

Not only has Hugh Orde been offered the maximum available three year extension to stay in his current job as PSNI Chief Constable, but according to the PA report. A spokeswoman for Sir Hugh confirmed that he looked set to accept the offer. She said: “It`s likely that he will stay on, but the length of time has yet to be determined.” Pete Baker

“…probably his best book so far”

It’s almost as though Andersonstown News reviewer Michael Morgan can’t quite believe Malachi O’Doherty’s written a decent book… It launches at Queens Bookshop on Thursday evening, but is already available in the shops, or indeed online. 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