“The organisation that deals with restorative justice in the area..”

As the CTI funding is withdrawn, and 8 men arrested in a planned police operation in connection with “dissident republican activity”, there’s a report here which raises a couple of questions. From the report In Poleglass in west Belfast, six masked and armed men broke into a house held a gun to the owner`s head and told him to leave within 48 hours. But the man they had attacked was not the man they were after. The victim though was … Read more

Who stands where?

This statement from the DUP struck me as being very odd. Power sharing was a failure before 2003, but is now a rousing success under the DUP, and it is “sour grapes” for the UUP to even think about forming an opposition. At the end of the statement, Trevor Clarke says that the current power sharing arrangement is “delivering for the community in Northern Ireland”. Does this indicate that the DUP now expressly support mandatory coalition? (UPDATE – I missed … Read more

Notice served on CTI funding

Confirmation today that the Department for Social Development has served a notice of termination on the funding of the UPRG-negotiated CTI project, as announced by the minister two weeks ago. According to one report the letter was hand-delivered to Farset yesterday. It’s not noted whether the civil servants involved needed to be officially instructed [by a ministerial directive] to serve that notice.. as they reportedly had to be instructed to put the funding in place. Pete Baker

8 arrests in planned police operation

Not much detail on this beyond the headline but it’s worth noting that police have arrested 8 men, 7 in Strabane and 1 in Londonderry, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The reports say the planned raids were in connection with “dissident republican activity”. Adds More details here Pete Baker

UUP man breaks ranks to lay into Ritchie over handling of loyalist funds…

AFTER the recent Margaret Ritchie-UUP love-in, David McNarry’s vicious attack on the Social Development Minister over her handling of the withdrawal of funds from UDA-linked projects seems curiously out of step with the rest of his party, especially as his party leader is backing her version of events in the row over the loyalist scheme. Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

New controls on party political donations seem toothless…

FROM tomorrow, donations to political parties in Northern Ireland will be ‘controlled’ for the first time. But the ‘controls’ are so slack and invisible to the public, that you wonder why the Electoral Commission bothered. Small wonder the parties back the new regime, as it looks like they got their own way. Much of the ‘control’ seems to count on good faith from the parties, and they still do not have to disclose the identity of donors (nor will the … Read more

Loyal orders present a different side…

THE News Letter highlights the irony of Dunloy Accordian Band marching in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London, although it can’t actually march through the village it is named after. The Mayor of London is hardly what you’d call sympathetic to unionism either! Elsewhere, the Orange Order continues its outreach by distributing cartoon pocket guides (pictured) on its history to 20,000 schoolchildren across Northern Ireland. David Scott, Orange Order education officer, said: “We wanted to produce in-your-pocket guides that were … Read more

Has the devolutionary ‘trap’ sprung?

Nationalist movements always face a dilemma with devolution, to reject it or work it. All the elected nationalist parties in the UK have opted for working it in the hope their good governance leads to increased support for secession. However, they run the risk of being used by voters who in an unitary state seek a ‘local hero’ against the central government but baulk at the final step e.g. Quebec. The 2007 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey shows support for independence … Read more

“to search for appropriate wording..”

It’s not clear from either this report or this one who has actually appointed them, presumably the Council, but a trio of supernaturalists, led by former Presbyterian moderator the Rev John Dunlop, are to “search for appropriate wording on a shrine to the victims of the Real IRA attack [in Omagh] in 1998.” Omagh Council has been wrangling over the proposed wording on the memorial stone for some time – as the minutes from November 2006 indicate. [Not so with … Read more

Flute band controversy continues…

THE row over the Pride of the Raven (see vid) flute band’s controversial parade planned for November 24 continued on Talk Back just now. Band spokesman ‘Nigel’, said the band’s intention to walk down Donegall Pass (after a protest at the Parades Commission’s offices) was to reach Alliance Assembly member Anna Lo‘s office. The reasons why are detailed here, but the spokesman denied the accusation that this was to intimidate the Chinese community. He also refused to comment on the … Read more

“Negotiations to end the row could go on until midnight.”

Today marks the final day of discussions on the classroom assistants dispute and, as a previous BBC report noted, a confidentiality clause had been agreed between the sides during those talks. But the BBC are also reporting that “there appears to have been little progress in the pay and job evaluation dispute.” NIPSA meanwhile have organised meetings for their members to be held tomorrow [pdf file] to discuss any new offer.. and, no doubt, whether to resume the strike. Update … Read more

“There is nothing to suggest that the security forces colluded in the brutal murders”

The Eames/Bradley consultation may be intending to pass responsibility for “the substantive task of dealing with the past” to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive… but the Police Ombudsman’s Office continues to look at some parts of that past. As reported here, and here, a statement has been released by the Ombudsman on the investigation of complaints about the police investigation into the murder of two brothers in 1993 – full statement here [pdf file] – and, as well as … Read more

Hall burning and the failure of civil society…

There’s a piece in to today’s Irish News about the police investigation into comments left on Slugger on one of the more recent threads on what increasingly looks like a campaign against property owned by the Orange Order. A spokesman for the Order said: “We are surprised that a website with such a good reputation allowed its space to be used by people supporting and encouraging the attacks and actually singling out a property to be targeted”. It seems to … Read more

Childish behaviour?

Whether it’s a reaction to the UUP’s weekend conference – and the appearance there of the NI Minister for Social Development [RealPlayer file] – or whether it’s a reaction to previous events within the Assembly and the Executive [or even somewhere else? – Ed], the statements from Sinn Féin and the DUP criticising their smaller partners in the Executive, the UUP and the SDLP, should make interesting reading for anyone contemplating the role of the opposition in this “indigenous” deal. … Read more

An answer or adding to the confusion?

Tony’s Blair’s uneveness and spasmodic nature of constitutional reform left it incomplete. Gordon Brown has stated his intention to carry on with the reforms but continues, as Blair did, to assiduously avoid answering the West Lothian question. The Conservatives seem to be toying with the idea of an English Grand Committee as an answer and Iain Dale is keen for it to be considered. However, Jack Straw argues that it is unworkable in practical terms. Straw points out similar notions … Read more

New representation new taxation?

Peter Robinson in a written answer (see below the fold) has confirmed that a Land Value Tax is one of the options being examined as part of the rates review. Other areas which apply this model include agricultural land but our present rating system does not. SDLP MLA Declan O’Loan and Ulster Famers Union have stated their opposition to the idea becuase of the potential impact on rural communities.DFP questions here. Rating of Agricultural Land Mr D O’Loan asked the … Read more

‘Can the Internet provide a deliberative space for our new politics?’

That’s the rather wordy title of a seminar I’m running tomorrow night at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queens, along with my colleague (and distinguished blogger) Ciarán O’Kelly from the School of Law. Some of things I hope to cover: – can online communication ever be more than a news/gossip space? – the difference between the ‘social networking’ approach and the ‘hyper democracy’ of online petitions – the centrality of democratic institutions, and whether online media underwrites or detracts … Read more

Benedict opening arms to disgruntled Anglicans…

An interesting adjunct to that story of three Irish churches seeking, as Malcolm as put it, “sui juris” communion with the Holy See. Damian (the ‘blood crazed ferret’) Thompson over at the Telegraph reckons that Pope Benedict partially had disgruntled Anglicans in mind when he brought in the recent liturgical changes into the Catholic Church: Benedict XVI is more sympathetic than John Paul II to Catholic-minded Anglicans. He has been talking to them unofficially for years. He understands – and … Read more

To blog or not to blog…?

There is a short piece in today’s Sunday Life which quotes a Belfast City councillor accusing Slugger of “fanning the flames of sectarian hatred”. The thread that caught the councillor’s eye concerned the continuing attacks on Orange Halls across Northern Ireland. Update: It seems I rather hastely ran to ‘print’ without checking whether or not the article was published. It was not. My apologies to all for the confusing arising In that thread, an individual commenter left remarks which could … Read more

“the damage to our society and our democracy may already be irreparable..”

An Economist report on the investigation into the killing of Paul Quinn claims that police are following a line of inquiry whereby Quinn “was involved in smuggling diesel, and was killed after unrelated quarrels with men from his village of Cullyhanna.” Not, however, the senior Garda officer quoted in the Observer report where it’s claimed that two men have already fled to England after being told to “take the rap for the Quinn murder”, and claims that all of those … Read more