Bertie in the Dragon’s Den

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

Will mutual backscratching be postponed?

Mick had noted the prospect of Bertie Ahern addressing both Houses of Parliament.. in what is now to be the week before the Irish General Election. But some of the political parties contesting that election are not enthusiatic about it, for obvious enough reasons. Interestingly the BBC political editor, Mark Devenport seems to be suggesting that the event might be postponed. Pete Baker

Of microscopes and men..

Over at The Guardian there’s a CiF post which is inviting suggestions as to what is the greatest human innovation? It’s been sparked by Spiked-online’s rolling discussion of the same – as detailed in this article. Personally I’m taken by the suggestion, from biologist Lewis Wolpert, of the microscope, but since Robert Hooke was one of Those [Royal Society] Guys that won’t be much of a surprise. My own suggestion is the telescope – as utilised by, but not invented … Read more

“part of a package of sweeteners from the Government to get terrorists to abandon criminality..”

We’ll find out later in the week whether or not Alan Murray’s prediction is correct – “NIO minister David Hanson is expected to announce employment legislation changes on Wednesday which will prevent employers from lawfully refusing to consider convicted paramilitaries for jobs on security grounds” – although it doesn’t sound as if those criminal records would actually be wiped.. just ignored. And whilst Alan Murray links it directly to other events, and David Hanson has today been making familiar noises … Read more

Discrimination claim over NIHRC Chief Commissioner

The abandonment of a recruitment exercise for the NIHRC Chief Commissioner and a new process that led to the appointment of Monica McWilliams is to be scrutinised by an Industrial Tribunal. John Cushnahan, the former Alliance Party leader and Fine Gael MEP, was the best candidate in the abandoned process and he has alleged discrimination in the appointment. Lee Reynolds

Blogging and the importance of the individual…

The question of the media and politics is a vexed one. Too often the debate is closed down in ad hominem badinage before it gets properly going. Over at Comment is Free today, amongst other things, I have argued that there should be proper separation between the two. Politicians should be allowed govern, and the media be allowed report. Blogs, however, throw another layer of complexity into the mix. The principle Slugger is built on is that of the individual’s … Read more

Rights and Equality: A job done or never-ending story?

Tom Geoghegan examines the impact of gay rights campaigning in the context of the introduction of the Equality Act in England and Wales. However the article raises a question applicable to all equality and rights campaigning, when is the job done? If strong legislation is in place with regulatory bodies to enforce is it time to think success has been achieved? Time to shift from campaigning to monitoring? Or new sources of complaint to be found and raised? Lee Reynolds

When “agreed truth becomes accepted, the real truth becomes a lie”

If the reported comments by Bernadette McAliskey and Gary Mitchell in the Irish Times [subs req], from the 22nd Cúirt Literature Festival at the weekend, are anything to go by they’ll likely empathise with the previously noted views of Peter Shirlow.. the Guardian’s Peter Preston.. and Davy Adams for that matter.. but probably not so much with the well-behaved witnesses, whether they ask ‘stupid’ questions or not. Both Ms McAliskey and Mr Mitchell were highly critical of the “overwhelming” power … Read more

MCGuinness on Paisley…

Looks like Sinn Fein is talking to the Tribune again. Suzanne Breen interviews Martin McGuinness, who talks about his upcoming gig with Ian Paisley at Stormont next week. 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

Constitutional challenge still hanging over the election…

There’s a number of questions hanging nastily open as the Republic begins it’s electioneering in earnest (a lot faster out of the gates than our little practice run a month or two ago – ed). One, is the question of what Judge Alan Mahon will do this morning about the Quarryville Two section of its enquiry, said to involve further questions about the taoiseach’s personal finances. But as Darragh O’Brien notes, the question of the validity of the electoral boundaries … Read more

How the British are consuming French politics…

The way thing stand at the moment it looks like the Sego/Sarko stand off is only likely to finish one way, a victory for the hyperactive, ambitious, workaholic Nicolas Sarkozy over the Socialist Party’s hopeful Ségolène Royal (in French). French Election 2007 reports on the latest TNS-Sofres poll: According to the poll, 8% of voters are still deciding between the two candidates, and another 7% are deciding whether or not to abstain. The poll also reaffirms the rapid shift of … Read more

Washington Times engineers “constitutional re-Union”?

Many moons ago, I was asked to write an analysis piece for UPI, the press agency behind this (now hastily reworded) article on the constitutional niceties of the Republic’s election law. The original words are preserved for posterity by this poster on BELFAST, Northern Ireland — The President of Northern Ireland, Mary McAleese dissolved parliament Sunday as Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced an election next month. The move came after Ahern met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in … Read more

A revolving door to the UK?

Alex Salmond has suggested that Scotland going independent is not a one way street but reversible. In what is seen as an attempt to ease concerns about the SNP ahead of the Scottish elections he has suggested that a vote for independence could be overturned by a later referendum. Lee Reynolds

What’s normal is normal, whatever the norms elsewhere

Elsewhere on Slugger today and yesterday, there has been some speculation as to whether we have reached the end of Northern Irish history/Slugger O’Toole (even Fukuyama doesn’t believe it literally comes to an end). Jane Jenny, who writes South Belfast Diary believes our politics will not stop, but we may be in for some unpredictable changes. I suspect those who talk about the ‘normalisation’ of NI politics mean one of two things by it (i) politics like England – in … Read more

Election sidebar…

We’ve got up out election sidebar fairly sharpish this time. It’s not comprehensive, but it should give readers an easy short cut to some best online comment on the Republic’s election. We retain our focus on things northern, but we hope to bring you a fair amount of the themes affecting all the parties in the south over the next three weeks or so, as well as our own busy schedule north of the border. If you hear of/know of/write … Read more

“The criminals must be dealt with by the PSNI.”

In the Sunday Life, Alan Murray has the latest developments in the attempts to rebrand the UDA and the disagreement between Tommy Kirkham, an elected independent councillor who supported the ‘not-so-good’ South East Antrim UDA’s Beyond Conflict £8miilion plan – which didn’t get the NIO’s approval – and Frankie Gallagher, an unelected representative of the UPRG, who supports the ‘good’ UDA’s plan, costing £1.2million – which did get the NIO’s approval.From the Sunday Life Kirkham said that for nine months … Read more

Irish-medium education and casual nationalism

Unsurprisingly, Catriona Ruane has expressed her support for the expansion of the Irish-medium education sector in Northern Ireland. Her comments come ahead of her attendace at a fundraising event in Downpatrick for the local Irish nursery school. Among the items for sale are a Bobby Sands biography signed by the survivng hunger strikers, a copy of the Belfast Agreement signed by John Hume and a two bottles of whiskey – one to commemorate Mary McAleese’s election as RoI president and … Read more

And they’re off..

The Irish Times confirms the speculation – “The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has set Thursday May 24th as the date for the general election.” He went to Áras an Uachtaráin this morning to seek the dissolution of the 29th dail from the President Mary McAleese. The President then left the Aras for a week-long trip to the US. Adds Before leaving, President Mary McAleese had just enough time to update the official website. Pete Baker

Sinn Fein working harder, and better…

Given Slugger’s predominantly (but not entirely) Northern Irish perspective, it is natural that our coverage is likely to focus on the most significant northern player in the southern elections, Sinn Fein. If you want decent flavour of what it’s doing on the ground, Ben, at Irish Election, has an excellent analysis on its campaign in Wexford. Sinn Féin is gaining votes because, like Sunderland under Keane, it works bloody hard for them. It establishes branches and creates political activists. It … Read more

Ahern to call election for 24th May…

After some toing and froing on, it sounds like Bertie Ahern is going to call a general election for 24th May later today. We await official confirmation, that Bertie is going to Mary McAleese to ask her to dissolve the 29th Dail. Now might be a good time to remind people that the Irish Elections Flickr Group is still open for photos of the southern elections too… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on … Read more