Archive | December, 2007

“any future arrangements would require to leave open the option of academic selection..”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Chris Thornton picks up on the nuance in a written answer from the Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, to a question from the UUP’s Basil McCrea as education heads into the void on the back of the Northern Ireland Education minister’s ‘vision’. “The new Statutory Ministerial Code as more…

“So talking to the Taliban is nothing new..”

Interesting report in the Observer today, where Henry McDonald has been talking to Chris Hudson, who is described as having “played a pivotal role in the Ulster Volunteer Force ceasefire and set up a secret link between the loyalists and the Irish government” [Other than Martin McAleese? – Ed]. Hudson claims that his friend and more…

Paisley and the DUP - past, present and future

Paisley and the DUP – past, present and future

Since its foundation and most of its history, Paisley was the DUP and at times serious doubts if it could continue in his absence. The gains and growth of the DUP in the last decade have banished any doubts. During that period of expansion Paisley was seen as a help and hindrance to its growth, more…

2008: a year to vindicate St Andrews…

Gregory Campbell reckons the Executive has got this next year to prove the St Andrews Agreement is a significant step forward. It’s significant most for its departure from the usual upbeat tone of party colleagues rather than in content. It undoubtedly reflects some of the unease that party activist are feeling at the sight of more…

Support for monarchy steady

Despite the anti-monarchist sentiment expressed in barrel loads here, support for the British Monarchy remains high. The 80% support for the Monarchy now, and 70% when Charles becomes King is about the same as in this poll more than 18 months ago.

“It is for the parties to decide when the time is right..”

With all the coverage of the New Year message from the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, it’s worth pointing to the one key line on devolving policing and justice powers to the Assembly – full statement here “It is for the parties to decide when the time is right, but the Government more…

"In the unlikely event of an impact.."

“In the unlikely event of an impact..”

When I noted the asteroid 2007 WD5 previously the impact probability with Mars was a 1 in 75 chance, described by NASA astronomer Steve Chesley as “a very high impact probability for what we’re used to dealing with”. Yesterday NASA reported that the discovery of more data on the asteroid’s orbit has allowed them to more…

PR tail is wagging the institutional dog…

Newton Emerson notes that the art of PR as practised by some ex hacks is not condusive to growing trust in a number of institutions where the earning of public trust is crucial to both short and long term success. He singles out the PSNI press office for seriously overstepping the bounds of their remit: more…

New Years honours

Seems a couple of days early, but the honours list is out. Top of the Northern Ireland list is head of the Civil Service, as he is now Sir Nigel Hamilton. Next is Dame Nuala O’Loan followed by Elieen Bell and Evelyn Collins CBE. Duncan McCausland gets an OBE and UUP MLA Fred Cobain gets more…

“but 50 files remain closed..”

Of particular interest among the official documents released under the 30 year rule – now under review in the UK – are those discussing the 1977 strike by the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), led by Rev Ian Paisley and supported by the UDA and Ulster Workers Council. As historian Eamon Phoenix writes here, those more…

Sinn Fein, their faltering game and one big European chance for glory…

Catriona Ruane probably has the stiffest test of all Sinn Fein’s new ministers. For that reason, I’m not sure that Frank’s analysis suggesting she’s performed poorly alongside her colleagues Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew, even if that was the impression given by northern delegates at a recent ‘closed door’ meeting in Dublin. Neither have faced more…

Bertie draws the border back in…

Last time I was stopped at the border would have been by a single Garda around 1990, probably after a major attack somewhere in Northern Ireland. He was stopping most cars just before the Carrickdale hotel creating a tailback that went right back across the actual boarder. When we eventually got up to him he more…

A united archipelago..

A united archipelago..

With the number of countries implementing the Schengen agreement now increased to 24, the Irish Times tries, once again, to start a reasoned debate on whether the Republic of Ireland should also join. From Monday’s editorial [subs req] “On the map of the Schengen area Ireland and Britain are conspicuous absentees on the west of more…

Now he does do God...

Now he does do God…

FORMER prime minister Tony Blair has finally, but not unexpectedly, converted to his Donegal mother’s Catholicism. Blair, whose faith in God once found him exhanging religious literature with Ian Paisley, famously downplayed it publicly while in office, despite there having never been a Catholic PM in the UK. Many of the stories reporting the news more…

"it would be a very interesting and exciting scientific bonanza.."

“it would be a very interesting and exciting scientific bonanza..”

Near Earth Objects, such as the Geminids’ 3200 Phaethon, don’t just pose a potential risk to Earth. One NEO, 2007 WD5, was only identified on 20 November this year and, having been eliminated as a potential threat to Earth, is now heading towards Mars – ETA 30 January 2008. Interactive 3D orbit diagram here [Java more…

“He rang our house and was looking to speak to me..”

After meeting with the Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and then with Justice Minister, Brian Lenihan, and briefly with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and apparently securing some movement from their earlier statements, the parents of Paul Quinn met today with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, and they emerged to more…

“the only way we will see a successful prosecution in a criminal court..”

He may have been reading Mark Devenport’s blog, or perhaps Mick’s Comment is Free post, but Chief Constable Hugh Orde commented today on yesterday’s judgement by Mr Justice Weir and, after referring to the original investigation by the RUC as an “imperfect product”, he also made a point about the prosecution’s reliance on forensic evidence more…

A cold draught?

Shaun Woodward, the NI Secretary of State has declined to give public support to Sir Ronnie Flanagan after the damning critique in yesterday’s judgement on the Omagh bomb case. He said: “The lessons to be learned from this judgement are far and wide. It is important that we look at this very, very carefully. It more…