The Slugger Awards 2008: Political bloggers

Today we announce the category of political blogger of the year. Anyone who blogs consistently on Northern Irish poltiics – Slugger will not be included in the running. One of the great advantages of the blogosphere is it’s capacity to generate the kind of high level (and sometimes low level) discourse that virtually impossible to to generate by older more traditional media.It constitutes, as Jeff Jarvis points out in his blog today, a new creative class of citizen writer/citizen reporter/citizen photographer that has the capacity to shake up old assumptions, turn them over and offer new and diverse views of old problems.

It’s still the case that far beyond the shores/borders of Northern Ireland, no nation’s political class has yet found a convincing way to meet the challenges of that new, disaggregated and difficult to control class of political commenters (how do you control a photographer whom you don’t even know is a photographer.

In the last year, there has been a slow flowering of new bloggers from right across the political spectrum. And some older ones who are clearly beginning to find the measure of their own stride. People like Mairtin O’Muilleoir, Jenny from South Belfast, Three Thousands Versts of Lonliness, Burke’s Corner, Will Crawley, A Tangled Web, El BLogador, O’Conall Street or Belfast Stoop.

The key to this award will be to make sure that we cast out net widely and bring any new bloggers who are quietly plying their trade out there. If you have your own blog, pass on the word. Ask your readers to tell us why they think your blog should win it. All the nomination threads will be kept open until judging concludes around mid September.

Usual Slugger Award rules here – negativity gets deleted on sight.


  • Garibaldy

    Splintered Sunrise Mick?

  • Mark McGregor

    Splintered Sunrise should be a runaway winner, an eye for detail, humour and history. I want to be him. Only a bunch of rightwing judges could possibly stop him – that’s him screwed then ;0)

  • A toss up between ElBlogadoor or OConallStreet.

  • Mick

    Reasons guys, reasons? Same politics as me won’t necessarily cut it. 😉

  • slug

    I would like to nominate two, both for their stylish use of english, which makes them enjoyable to read.


    I would like to nominate yourfriendinthenorth for its unusual socialist outlook on Northern Ireland (and wider) politics. His is the perspective of someone who feels (not unreasonably) that the present party political system leaves his left wing views unrepresented. As such he stands aside from the traditional NI partisan discussions. A refreshing, interesting, and nicely written blog.


    Like yourfriendinthenorth, 3000 versts is written with a certain amount of linquistic flair. This is a blogger who clearly enjoys his English. He also enjoys reading and gives us book reviews and cultural pieces. His political position is self-described as liberal unionist, but his views are not entirely predictable and the items rather eclectic, including a fascination with and dislike for ethnic nationalism in its East European manifestations.

  • I’d second slug’s nomination for 3000 versts, for all the same reasons. Chekov really has a penchant for writing in a way that really grasps the reader.

    Also Unionist Lite for highlighting a lot of nationalist-related issues from (slightly) further afield that might otherwise slip under the radar.

  • Mark McGregor


    Well I thought detail, humour and history would be acceptable reasons but I’ll add diverse search terms leading readers to his blog:

    Top that Mr Fealty!

    (Bring it back SS)

  • Damian O’Loan

    I’ve recently started blogging on Our Kingdom, and if anyone has any positive feedback, feel free to post here, or for negative points to email me, according to the rules here.

    You can find the posts to date here:

    Thanks in advance.

    Regarding nominations, I would suggest Belfast Stoop for the fact that he is in public office and combines Council business and interesting outlooks generally, and Three Thousand Versts for its broad outlook, good analysis and varied links.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Or alternatively, you can find the latest post and, at the bottom, link to ‘Damian O’Loan’s Blog’.

  • dewi

    I hate to say it but Chekov does write well.

  • Mark McGregor

    Slugger will not be included in the running

    Also known as pulling a TUV.

  • Although I’m delighted to get a mention, I have to say it’s Splintered Sunrise for me. Depth, variety and regular posts. And a bit of politics too!

  • ‘Splintered Sunrise’ and ‘Your Friend in the North’ are definitely contenders from either side of the ‘decent left’ divide. But though I’d place myself on YFITN’s side of that argument (and I like the blog as well), SS is very well written and an original voice – which I suspect is a major part of the criteria here?

    ElBlogador is definitely worth thinking of as well though – a group blog fairly closely associated with an identifiable political party is quite a good thing as it provides a picture of that party’s ‘id’ as well as a space for them to develop their thinking about issues that they will (sometimes) have to answer for their stance on soonish. The same can be said for Balrog, but it seems to have gone off the boil a bit lately.

    Also, I’d want a ruling from the judges about Tangled Web – is it a Norn Irn blog? David Vance really out-posts the other contributors and he’s from the north, though I’d say that his focus is a good deal wider, but his stuff on NI is quite astute.

    That ‘searches’ post at Splintered Sunrise is, I would suggest, a good exercise in creative writing rather that a list of real search terms, I think? Surely…..

  • Mark McGregor


    Is it just to be politics or will the ‘cultural’ aspect be getting a slot?

    I’d love to see the work of Nelly’s Garden (can give you tears of joy and sorrow in the same blog) and WellDoneFillet (wetting yourself funny Belfast restaurant tales) getting recognition for reflecting life in Ireland isn’t all politics and Nevin over at NALIL is serving up an interesting mix of investigative journalism and local interest.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’d be for recommending Elblogador too but only since Pol came on board, since then it has moved beyond a party political platform to something more considered and interesting.

    (you may want to delete the following section as non-constructive)

    But I’d not recommend either Balrog or ATW for their increasing drift into venom and anger over interesting or informed comment – both had potential both lost it IMHO.

  • slug

    Now, Mark, remember. No negative comments.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’m a proud dissident. I can’t see how it’ll be an informed process on things like chairs, councils, blogs etc. if only positive comment is permitted and Mick has already ensured me of his intention to move beyond the pure mainstream/establishment panel to include the ‘little folks’ so maybe he’ll listen to reason on informed rebuttal of potential nominees? After all that’s what it is all about isn’t it? An exchange of views? Not a controlled environment where only the positive is promoted and the negative suppressed?

    (btw: this is an extension of a an offline discussion and I’m pushing Mick’s buttons but sure that’s part of the fun)

  • DAMMIT !

    17 posts and ner a mention 🙁 …..
    OK – here goes : I wish to nominate a wee part of the blogosphere where I can be found (see link) and I shamelessly do so because it will permit me to state that the blog in question has been nominated FOUR times in ‘Political Blog’ categories.
    And lost FOUR times….
    (Yes , even a sympathy vote is now acceptable…)

  • Garibaldy

    Splintered Sunrise is a brilliant mix of humour, politics, and insightful analysis, not just of NI but of British left politics and beyond. Where else do you get postings in (what I assume is) Serbo-Croat beside Gail Walker Watch? And the photos attaching to the stories are usually hilarious. Although a disappointing absence of Girls Aloud as naughty schoolgirls of late.

  • Roy Jenkersley

    Slugger will not be included in the running

    Also known as pulling a TUV.

    Or a Thomas Hogg!

  • Wow! I feel rather humbled by all the kind comments. Thanks guys!

    Without meaning to turn this into an exercise in mutual appreciation, I’d like to give mentions to the following, whilst reserving the right to flag up some more later.

    A Pint of Unionist Lite – Passionate unionism epitomising the pan-UK unionist approach. O’Neill synthesises an incredible amount of material for this blog. A blogger with a genuine grasp of his subject.

    Everything Ulster – Diverse articles and lively commenting zones. Beano writes with a tone of barely contained exasperation which I find hugely entertaining.

    Redemption’s Son – Ignited has a grasp of the nuts and bolts of politics which I envy. Reading his pieces always make me view my own stuff as a bit conceptual and airy fairy. A blog which is in touch with the unionist grass roots.

    Our Kingdom – Fair Deal is one of the very few bloggers delivering a DUP standpoint in a thoughtful manner. I rarely agree with what he says, but he’s always worth reading. Damian O’Loan is an excellent new addition, writing coherent and temperate analysis from a liberal nationalist perspective. An encouraging indication that moderation is not dead.

    El Blogador and Misanthropy Abroad are always worth a look and Belfast Stoop is becoming a regular morning read for me also.

    I must mention three blogs that only occasionally mention Northern Ireland politics, but always in a thought provoking manner. Mick will be able to judge whether they are eligible or not.

    Burke’s Corner – Almost intimidating erudition from Brian Crowe as he examines the world from communitarian conservative perspective. Where language, literature and politics intersect. Some thoughtful musings on identity in relation to Northern Ireland from an Irish ex-pat. A Tyrone ex pat’s whimsical blog where politics is viewed through the filters of sport, travel, identity and more recently, fiction.

  • Garibaldy

    I should also mention

    This is a new collaborative venture by a number of bloggers braodly on the left. It deals in political, social and cultural issues, as well as some humour.


    which is funny and left-wing, but not updated regularly enough.

    Cedar Lounge Revolution is possibly the most impressive blog. There are serious and thoughtful pieces virtually every day, on a huge range of topics.

  • Sam

    As a regular reader of slugger and other sites I would like to nominate the 1169 and counting blog as I agree with its tone and attitude regarding the North of Ireland situation.It’s a refreshingly straight forward blog – what you get is what you’d expect from a republican point of view.

  • oneill

    All of my main recommendations re sites (Three Thousand, Splintered Sunrise, Everything Ulster, Belfast Stoop have been already mentioned and praised quite enough!

    But it’s not clear from Mick’s introduction whether he’s just after sites or individuals. If the latter, I’d like to second and enlargen Chekov’s comment re those blogging on affairs at Our Kingdom:

    Fair Deal, Damian O’Loan, Tom Griffin, Patrick Corrigan and (very occasionally) Ian Parsley all are delivering thoughtful and coherent articles analysing different areas of political life here.

  • I was delighted to see NALIL mentioned by Mark McGregor @ 08:54 PM.

    I regard Nev as semper fidelis: pertinent, precise, well-written, immaculately-researched and therefore an opinion-leader. His deserves credit for any one of his greatest hits: the Causeway and Runkerry House saga(s), the Paisley premises empires, the continuing Rathlin Island ferry shambles …

    And that’s only the activist side of an all-round site.

    A good man, doing good deeds, in a decent way, in a tight little corner of a naughty world.

  • Ciaran at Draw Breath deserves a mention also. His analysis is always well thought out and remains studiously calm.

  • Dewi

    Second all that Malcolm (Where have you been btw – America?)

  • Dewi @ 02:31 PM:

    Thanks for the concurrence: much as I appreciate and applaud most of the other nominations, my admiration for Nevin is that he has been ground-breaking, especially over the last year, creatively campaigning without being factional. There, that’s two bites at the cherry.

    As for the appended personal question: three weeks around NYC and Boston, then a week between Nice (for a wedding) and Piedmont (in part to look at railway trains). Hence the neglect of my own site, and failure to troll the likes of Iain Dale. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, or when spleen is restored to operating temperature and pressure: gripes likely to include airports, airlines, Blasted Boris and the all-pervading bloody Olympics.

  • Is docha nach mbeidh rannóg ann do bhlaganna Gaeilge an iarraidh seo ach ba mhór an trua mura mbeadh leitheidí An Druma MóriGaeilge [mo bhlag féin] san áireamh.

    Basically. presumably Irish language blogs are not going to be included in this competition but if they were, I would recommend An Druma Mór – see above link – and iGaeilge, my own blog.

  • As seen as we are nominating our own blogs I nominate mine:

  • I hope the blogs below don’t mind being categorised and nominated for a political blogger award, but I reckon they shouldn’t be overlooked.

    I’ve noticed that blogs which are termed as ‘political blogs ‘are a very small percentage of the blogs now being posted regularly from and about Northern Ireland. It’s good to see the Northern Irish blogosphere growing though now that I’ve over 100 on my Google Reader list I might have to miss commenting on some of them soon.There are also new blogs being added regularly to which if your a blogger and fit the criteria you are welcome to join.

  • Many thanks for the plaudits, folks. NALIL blog is the public face of a group that is mainly interested in family history. I discovered about a year ago that it was very easy to put a blog together and was invited to take charge.

    The current affairs dimension arose at the time of the Ian ‘I know of him’ Paisley jnr affair and in no time at all I became part of the story as well as one of its researchers.

    The Rathlin Island ferry saga could well be part of a much more significant story as it involves two Stormont ministries and, apparently, Ministers and officials from Edinburgh and Dublin too. I’m intrigued by the studied disinterest of most of the main stream media 🙂

  • comfortablynumb

    Nevin I have seen you latest add to the blog.Are you perhaps suggesting that Moyle District Council pushed Mr O Driscolls lease through, without the normal procedures?
    It does seem odd though that Calmca would tender for something if they were not going to be “allowed to”.
    Were they aware of the extra funding available? as per Conor Murphy’s written answers of 24th June?
    All seems rather bizarre!

  • CN, I suspect that Moyle Councillors were not properly briefed about the lease.

    There’s something very iffy about the whole tendering process. I’m heard that two of the tenderers weren’t even asked to take part in the second tender. I understand the second tender was advertised in the widely read (not) local newspapers 🙂

    The tenders asserted that there would be no capital spending so the £7.5m mentioned in the MIP document would have been a massive unexpected bonus. Perhaps Minister Murphy will make a statement about this and other contradictions.

  • I look forward to when you add a N.I.B.L.E. (Norn Irish Blogger Living Elsewhere) category for those of us who occasionally blog about politics back in the homeland.

  • o’malley

    what about Mark Davenport’s diaries? or are corporate blogs ruled out? if so, O’Conall Street’s link to PR giant Weber Shanwick excludes it

  • RG Cuan

    Eoghan Ó Néill over at

    Concubhar Ó Liatháin at

  • slaintejoe

    I’ve just come across a blog belonging to Daithi McKay. I don’t agree with his politics one bit and am not nominating him but are there any other folks on the hill who have set up a blog?

  • ggn

    Eoghan Ó Néill Uí 1.

    Caighdeán an-ard.

  • sms

    the up & coming politician award?? really, is this a piss take?

  • Political bloggers are coming more and more relevant as the media control prevents many “real” stories from coming out.

  • Citizen journalism and political blogging a revolution for people who got it in them but do not get the platform.