A few months ago The Watchman provided a pair of extremely interesting articles on Dr. Paisley and the DUP entitled “When the chuckling had to stop” and “The unbuckling of the Bible Belt”. They are well worth re-reading as they provide an excellent insight into anti agreement unionist thinking. Subsequently Fair_Deal produced what to my mind is the finest piece of unionist political analysis on this web site in his blog “Telling a new story.” It might be worth revisiting … Read more

McCartney killing: Sinn Fein and the need of a ‘virtuous act’…

All three of those accused of the Robert McCartney murder have been acquitted. The dead man’s sister Catherine noted that “we hadn’t got very high expectations. As a lay person sitting in that court listening to the evidence we have heard, would I have put someone away on that evidence? No. I wouldn’t have so I can’t expect the judge to do so.”The job of a criminal court is simple: to decide whether the accused is guilty, or not guilty. … Read more

“They believed the blast was a visitation by the god Ogdy..”

On the 30th June 1908 at around 7.17am, “a large space rock, about 120 feet across, entered the atmosphere of Siberia and then detonated in the sky” levelling approximately 80 million trees over 800 square miles. The remoteness of the site meant that few if any people died in the Tunguska event itself – but that wouldn’t have been the case if it had happened over a major city. The BBC article quotes Armagh Observatory’s Mark Bailey, “Everything within the … Read more

Mugabe swears in and jets out

Robert Mugabe was sworn in at a ceremony on Sunday at which he promised talks with the opposition; talks which the MDC seem willing to participate in but sound less than optimistic about:“Mr Mugabe has a sweet tongue but sour actions,” Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the MDC, told the BBC. “But when all is said and done, there has to be dialogue about a transitional period that would lead to a free and fair election. The politicians of this … Read more

Robinson flags up possible resolution on policing?

The Irish Times has a fascinatingly enigmatic statement from Peter Robinson. As CP Scott famously said, ‘comment is free, but facts are sacred’. It is a falsifiable fact that the 8th May was a target date, as the DUP claimed, and not, as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have, until recently contended, an enforceable deadline. Nevertheless, this looks like an agreement to take the discussion forward. Indeed, the statement harks back to a theme within Robinson’s maiden speech and points … Read more

“But I’m not holding my breath..”

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is due to go fully online in late August and, whilst legal concerns about the experiment rumble on, to celebrate that fact the Guardian has an avalanche of articles – part of a special supplement to today’s paper. They include, among others, an introduction by Steven Hawking, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees on the building blocks of the universe, Simon Singh on WIMPs, MACHOs and DUNNOs, even philospher AC Grayling has a go, and on … Read more

Unions against ‘pay per sitting’ entrance exams…

It looks like some of Catriona Ruane’s external consensus building is paying off. Both the major teaching Unions in Northern Ireland are forming up against any proposals to run Grammar School tests and charge parents for their cost. 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

Might the UK Ban the Bomb after all?

An unlikely new gang of four have just written a piece in the Times that appears to hint that the UK should go back on the decision to commission a new generation of nuclear subs. The article is by two former Conservative foreign secretaries Douglas Hurd and Matthew Rifkind, one ex-Labour ditto David Owen and Blair’s ex- Defence Secretary and former Nato Sec Gen George Robertson – none of them exactly CND. They give backing to a US initiative led … Read more

“no mandate whatsoever..”

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, and MP for Mid Ulster, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, was on the Politics Show today repeating the argument that dissenting republican paramilitary groups should stop their activities because they have “little or no support in the community” and “no mandate whatsoever”. Although, leaving aside the moral vacuity of his position, the recent CJINI report on community restorative justice schemes might suggest otherwise for some communities.. Martin McGuinness’ comments came ahead of his appearance at a … Read more

Scottish Labour meltdown prompts fears for the Union

Update The Guardian says Gordon Brown will call a snap by-election in Glasgow East next month. His premiership could be at stake says the Herald. See rewrite and more below the fold. The fall-out from Wendy Alexander’s resignation as Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament and a good SNP showing in the Westminster by-election for Glasgow East could trigger a collapse throughout GB from which Labour might never recover and even imperil the Union, warns anti Brown and fanatical Blairite … Read more

The Vikings are going!

They never did apologise.. and quite rightly so. Almost a year after they arrived, and after being on display at the National Museum of Ireland, Havhingsten fra Glendalough (The Sea Stallion from Glendalough) will set sail for Roskilde, Denmark, tomorrow from Custom House Quay, Dublin, at 11.30am tomorrow, whatever the weather. But, as they say themeselves, “The ship has spent a few days moored in the ‘finer’ part of Dublin’s harbour.” As before, you’ll be able to track their journey … Read more

“I don’t know if I would call it a witch-hunt..”

Interesting snippet from yesterday’s Irish News, although I’m not sure the Sinn Féin Bulletin can be accurately called a newspaper.. ANYhoo.. Apparently the Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, is hearing voices.. [scroll down] “Look at who controls the media and in whose interest the media works,” Ms Ruane said. “There is, and I am putting this in inverted commas, the old boys’ network and I think that is what you are seeing. “The voices that we are hearing are … Read more

[no subs req]

From Monday the Irish Times will be freely available online at their new website – current subscribers will be offered a refund for their remaining subscription. The editor Geraldine Kennedy cites, among others, the New York Times move noted here. Welcome to the conversation. The article announcing the move is, unfortunately, subs req.. Adds The announcement is now freely available online.. The changes announced today mark the start of an exciting programme of online development which, over the coming … Read more


Okay, that’s possibly an over reaction. But the Irish Times will be free online from Monday. Which means I don’t have to continue my online subscription so Slugger readers can get access to some of the best journalism on the island. And just in case madame editor is listening, no I won’t be cancelling my order for the paper version at my local shop! Here it is from the horse’s mouth: THE IRISH TIMES will publish under its own title … Read more

Scots Labour in crisis as sleaze rows reach new high

See Updates below the fold. Full statement, first reactions and another quits! BBC News are running the scoop of Wendy Alexander’s sensational decision to quit after less than a year as Scottish Labour leader over a footling error in her leader’s campaign expenses. Only a year ago Alexander was tipped to lead the pro-Union fight back against Alex Salmond’s coup in winning office for the SNP and holding onto it brilliantly. The long-running expenses row may have thrown her political … Read more

For harrassment, read surveillance too

Mission creep has also infected RIPA the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to epidemic levels. Intended as an anti-terrorist and anti serious crime measure to be used by the police and security service, its use has spread from monitoring terrorists suspects, fraudsters and stalkers to dog fouling, littering, people on the sick, and lying about addresses for schools admissions etc etc. The rot started when Home Secretary David Blunkett extended the Act’s powers to councils and the like in 2003, … Read more

The Un-Enlightenment hasn’t gone away..

Interesting article by John Waters [Really? – Ed] in today’s Irish Times [subs req]. Although, perhaps not ‘interesting’ in the way he intended. [Ah – Ed] It’s a call to arms, of sorts, to supernaturalists in an apparent attempt to change the tone of the coverage of the news that Pope Benedict XVI has announced that Dublin is to host the 50th Eucharistic Congress in 2012 – coverage which has tended to reference the 1932 Congress that a nascent Republic … Read more

Protection from Harassment Act being used to suppress dissent?

Interesting what happens when you put a story up on the net. Tim linked back to our story on the Belfast man who has been arrested twice under the above mentioned Act of Parliament. He links (via blogger Calum Carr) to an article in March by George Monbiot: The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is, on the face of it, a sensible piece of legislation defending people from stalkers. But when it was drafted, several of us warned that it … Read more

New witness intimidation law may fail to impress the judges, warns top lawyer

Jack Straw’s new law to protect witnesses from intimidation being rushed through Parliament from next week will fail to make any impact on the judges, warns leading QC and legal commentator David Pannick. Pannick’s pronouncements almost amount to law in themselves and he speaks with authority. He writes with utter certainty about this. Some local readers may smile at his reference to the Northern Ireland courts’ reluctance to admit anonymous evidence, despite paramilitary intimidation. If Pannick is correct, scores of … Read more

Power of arrest used against Belfast blogger…

Malachi O’Doherty points to a disturbing development, that could have widespread implications, not simply for bloggers, but for any journalists in their legitimate business of tracking down a story. It’s with regard to a Belfast blogger called Alan Murray, who has been using his blog Holylands Warzone to campaign against the privatisation of public housing in his local area of Belfast. Malachi notes: He is on a very important issue here and he has been writing about it more eloquently … Read more