“The community is totally opposed to this event..”

Echoes of St James’? The BBC report an “attack on the home of of a community worker” in the Dunclug estate in Ballymena after the “removal of bonfire material” intended to mark the anniversary of internment. Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, and SF Cllr Pádraig Mc Shane, claim to have been assaulted in the area this morning and blame “criminal and anti social elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities”, adding “The community is totally … Read more

P&J deal could harm Alliance

Noel McAdam presents a counter-argument to why taking the P&J post would be electorally good for Alliance and bad for most other parties. It would involve a volte face on Alliance’s chosen role as ‘unofficial’ opposition and when they ‘helped’ the process before by re-designating they suffered electorally in the 2003 Assembly elections with a drop to 3.7% from 6.5%. Lee Reynolds

Councillor of the Week: Roberta Dunlop

All politics is local. As the poet Patric Kavanagh once said, “while the provincial man looks to the opinion of the metropolis, the parochial is never in any doubt about the social and artistic validity of his parish” And it’s true, despite the rather cynical view some commenters here on Slugger, that the public generally retains a high opinion of the local councillors. That’s largely because they are the first call when you want to get something done. Approachability is … Read more

“The schemes being accredited today are..”

No sooner is the funding announced than those other 10 CBRJ schemes are accredited. Timing, eh? According to the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister, Paul Goggins MP “I have carefully examined all the relevant information on these schemes and share the view expressed by the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice that there is no cause for concern in the way that Community Restorative Justice (Ireland) schemes now operate.” That would be this view by the CJI. And this is how … Read more

Challenging times for Victims Commission

With one legal challenge continuing, it has emerged that there is another challenge, this time in the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals in Belfast, against the First and deputy First Ministers’ setting up of the 4-member Victims Commission. Interesting detail from the Belfast Telegraph report Dr Marie Breen-Smyth was offered one of the four jobs announced by Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in January, but she turned it down — asking what had happened to the single post she applied … Read more

“a completely astonishing revelation”

If you haven’t heard of the Antikythera Mechanism before this will probably be more startling than the revealed seabed off Rathlin Island. The “technological marvel of antiquity” was discovered by sponge divers in 1901 near Antikythera, a small island off Greece’s south coast, and has perplexed and astonished researchers ever since. The complicated gearing mechanism is believed to have been constructed between 150-100BC. In 2005 a 8-tonne X-ray machine was transported to Greece to study the mechanism and the results, … Read more

“It is entirely within the rules for Assembly members..”

The Belfast Telegraph’s “Open Stormont” campaign continues. Six months after an initial FOI request to reveal the names of landlords of Assembly politicians’ constituency offices was made, and refused, the paper has successfully challenged that refusal. We already knew about one of those landlords. But, as David Gordon reports, as well as the number of politicians claiming rental expenses for party-owned premises, there are a number of otherwise anonymous Society’s named as landlords. Pete Baker

UUP selects

Former Councillor Basil Johnston has been selected by the UUP to run for the Enniskillen by-election. The BBC says the TUV will decide later this week. There seems little talk of what is happening on the nationalist side or whether SF will face a republican challenge. CORRECTION The statistics quoted on a previous thread about Sylvia Hermon’s voting records for Labour were incorrect. Lee Reynolds

Feile An Phobail Hits 20 With An Impressive Cast

Feile an Phobail celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year with probably the most impressive line up to date, starting this Saturday and running until the 10th August. The Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Ardal O’Hanlon, Brian Kennedy, The 4 of Us, Robert Ballagh, Tom Hayden, Nuala O’Loan, Gillian Slovo, Michael Patrick McDonald, Geraldine Hughes, Kathy Sinnott and Ronan Bennett are the headlining acts and speakers, though there are many, many more impressive acts, dramas and exhibitions to cater for all. Events have … Read more

Maurice Hayes at John Hewitt summer school

The BBC’s Arts Extra was from the John Hewitt summer school on Monday. I was driving past the Armagh exit on the M1 at the time and was sorely tempted to turn south. Elenwe would have gone mad, however; ah the problems of being married. Since I did not go to it I cannot comment much on the events. The Irish Times has an article about Maurice Hayes’ lecture on the peace process; entitled “A Game of Two Halves.”Dr. Hayes … Read more

Murphy remanded on bail until the end of December

Already delayed longer than expected, the trial of Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy will be delayed further. His legal challenge to the validity of the order from Dundalk District Court sending him for trial in Special Criminal Court was previously rejected, but the “good republican” has now been granted a judicial review of the decision to try him at the non-jury court on tax evasion charges. The High Court proceedings will be heard on 18 November. [And thence to the Supreme Court? … Read more

“And that raises one of the mysteries..”

It’s certainly a fascinating discovery, although I’m not sure why the BBC are so startled by the revealed seabed off Rathlin Island. The somewhat breathless report suggested “some [unknown] cataclysmic event” was responsible. Except that there’s already evidence that, over 6000 years ago, a rapid rise in sea levels transformed the landscape elsewhere on the archipelago “in a relatively short period of time”. Surely that could account for these findings? I know there are some geologists out there, any ideas? … Read more

Creation and the TUV (and zombies)

Voltaire said that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” Politics like nature abhors a vacuum and as such I would submit that if the TUV did not exist it would be necessary to invent it. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the moves by the DUP over the last 18 months and whether or not that represents a victory or defeat for unionism, their acceptance of power sharing with SF left a group of … Read more

“A total of £600k over the next three years..”

Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins, MP, has announced a funding package of £600,000 over the next three years for accredited Community Based Restorative Justice (CBRJ) schemes. The funding will be jointly provided, on an equal basis, by the Criminal Justice Agencies and The Atlantic Philanthropies. That’s despite criticisms of the CJI report on those currently unaccredited schemes. Pete Baker

New media keeping pressure on Iris

Interesting piece from former SDLP media guru, Conall McDevitt, on the role the internet has played in sustaining the pressure on Iris Robinson over her anti-gay remarks. He notes how Facebook groups have been started in the aftermath of the comments and that many Youtube videos have been recorded highlighting the controversy. Chris Donnelly

Obama playing better abroad than at home?

Whatever you think about Barack Obama he has a certain brilliance in how he handles the media. But even after all the plaudits in Europe and an extremely tired and ropey campaign from John McCain his media qualities do not appear to be playing for him in the national polls. Think World Cup Final in 1974 (those of you who can remember that far back). 70 minutes of Dutch Total Football and one goal; twenty minutes of German precision, two … Read more

a ‘profane use of the sacramentals’

It isn’t exactly a return to the extraordinary repressiveness of the first 50 years but RTÉ are right to challenge a Broadcasting Complaints Commission ruling that the use of images of “rosary beads, a priest’s collar and a bible or breviary”, as a background to a factual report on the Ferns inquiry report, were “likely to cause offence contrary to taste and decency guidelines.” Apparently one viewer had complained about what he claimed was a ‘profane use of the sacramentals’. … Read more

The Milk Turns Sour As Sectarianism Rears Its Ugly Head

Two under age soccer teams from Dublin participating in the Milk Cup tournament have changed their accomodation following a sectarian attack on the original accomodation venue- a block of flats- of the clubs in Coleraine. A spokesperson for one of the targeted clubs, Crumlin United, said sectarian remarks were shouted. “There were bottles, cans of beer, bricks and all sorts coming over towards the kids. The kids were terrified. Some of them are 14, others are 15,” he said. Tournament … Read more

“Policing here is still very much enshrined in politics.”

De facto leader of the UDA, Jackie McDonald, has already signalled that organisation’s intention to hold onto “the peoples’ guns” even as that ‘train’ service prepares to be cancelled. Meanwhile, interesting timing for out-going Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan to be making waves with his comments in the Irish News [subs req for now]. Helpfully, the Belfast Telegraph repeats them. Naturally there’s been a certain focus on the apparent admission that police already have intelligence on the location of loyalist … Read more