“We don’t go in for political knee-cappings..”

SDLP MLA, and European candidate, Alban Magennis, with a valiant defence of the comments after the Fermanagh by-election by his party colleague, and political assistant, Cllr Niall Kelly aka blogger The Belfast Stoop. Of course, the party faces other problems. There’s also an interesting, if brief, point made about blogging and political discussion [approx 3mins in].

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  • slug

    Niall Kelly has a good blog and deserves credit for discussing this online.

    Blogs are there to launch discussion and debate and it would be BORING if they just trotted out party line. I think the point of a blog is to say uncomfortable things and get people interested.

    A Belfast Stoop makes interesting reading for exactly this reason.

    And, for me, it also makes his brand of politics more interesting, makes the SDLP more interesting, even though I won’t be voting SDLP first preference anytime soon.

    Alban does indeed make interesting points about blogging and the need to engage people in debate.

  • I absolutely defend Niall’s right to express himself online. Politics is all the stronger for honest an open debate and Niall is a breath of fresh air in the SDLP.

    Obama is revolutionising politics in th US by being open and involving ordinary people in debates about issues that affect them. I for one believe there are many SDLP supporters who are not members of the party very interested in its future. Blogs like Niall’s offer them a means to participate in that debate.

  • Big Bird

    I suppose the blogging of a discussion of whether the SDLP is dead or just sleeping is a healthly debate in itself, but, the BelfastStoop, as a council rep, has incurred the wrath of SDLP HQ, because he may actually be right, that the SDLP is dead and the SDLP is becoming irrelevant. If he believes that the SDLP is irrelevant, then he may have a tough job to convince the electorate to vote for him, come next election.

  • DC

    The SDLP just like the UUP failed to dictate the pace of their own agreement by failing to back the transfer of policing, they negotiated themselves out of the impasse rather than being counted in and as a way round it.

    The UUP and SDLP should have backed it by resorting to a progressive narrative of peaceful politics and taking ownership of a post-98 feel-good political atmosphere.

    UUP in particular could have forced pressure on the DUP by being pro-deal and pressing for advancements to bed down devolution and the SDLP should have realised the necessity to devolve policing and sold itself as a more effective party in bringing that about. Even if it wasn’t the party that brought in the triple lock deal.

    I find the SDLP concerns over ‘triple lock’ baffling in that it seems to me to be a good way to ensure that all parties of the majority bulk of the blocs are in agreement when devolving. Rather than mock it work to unlock it. With that in mind the SDLP-UUP should have positioned themselves so to act as the democratic key that helps to unlock it all, if they only backed a positive approach perhaps the concerns over confidence would rest only in a minority cohort of a now more progressive-thinking DUP.

    Rather than outflanking the lead parties they have been left out of the debate, somewhat baffling given both parties have been well accustomed to the narratives of peace processing politics. Political selfishness at being left out in influencing St Andrews in Scotland may amount to a political suicide, as this thumbing of the nose seems disconnected from the wider gains of a stability they helped to create if not instigate. It now leaves the DUP-SF to close the deal on their own terms, protracted or not.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Far from doing the SDLP any harm, in the short-term he has done it a favour by hopefully shaking all those in the party who are complacent and believe that they can still be successful on the back of the GFA without adapting to the changing politics in the North. Niall’s blog is a great and independent voice and it is great to see a young councillor taking the initiative to challenge his party constructively.

  • Carson’s Cat

    “We don’t go in for political knee-cappings..”

    The old phrase… would be like getting knee-capped by a dead sheep….

  • “Obama is revolutionising politics in the US by being open and involving ordinary people in debates about issues that affect them”

    Holy Christ where do I begin? The only thing “revolutionary” about Obama is that his dad was African and he’s running for president. Yes he’s turned younger people and minorities onto politics, but so did Dean and Edwards at various points. His views on Jerusalem are not only un-revolutionary but also contrary to International Law (shh don’t tell Samantha Powers) and he even admits that his campaigning in the primaries regarding Free Trade agreements was basically bullshit. Obama may be many things but revolutionary is not one of them. Other than the fact that he’ll be a new singer it will be the same old song. And I say this as an ordinary person who longs for meaningful and substanative change in my country.

  • Mairseail Ui Neill

    I think Cllr Kelly’s ‘revelation’ is indeed an open and honest expression of where his party is currently at in the overal state of things, increasingly irrelevant and increasingly whiney!

    I do read Niall Kelly’s blog fairly often as I do am a big fan of the West Wing, not so much of reading boring minutes from BCC enviromental committee though.

    Blogs are vital important in the current media age and I believe key for political parties to be involved in. The cold facts however are that not in a million years will it get anyone elected in the Balmoral area; what Cllr Kelly needs to focus on is getting away from teh computer screen and out onto the doorsteps of his constituency.

    And yes I do accept that mush of his blog offer an interesting insight into the current US Presidential elections and he is a very engaging writer at times, again though this isn’t a great asset for someone looking to get elected, what Niall needs to focus on as opposed to his writing is his ability to engage with people, just look at this car wreck…….



  • StarHound

    And yet, Niall Kelly has no answers on how to halt the seemingly terminal decline of the SDLP.

    I think he is actually part of the problem:

    ‘If Sinn Fein and the DUP are trying to cook up a deal with David Ford to cheat the SDLP out of the policing and justice ministry we should be shouting it from every rooftop’

    ‘Cheat the SDLP out of’? He is labouring under the illusion that the SDLP’s past means that it desrves a future. It doesn’t. It is going nowhere, it has no direction. It has a leader whose only significant speech or appearance in months served only to scare off even more nationalist voters. It’s only minister is increasingly being shown to be smoke and mirrors – led into endless PR opportunities by civil servants while threatening funding to a range of projects.

    It’s sad that Tim Attwood recently supported Mark Durkan’s position – this has already caused mutterings in Attwood’s West Belfast council constituency and shows the extent of the gulf between what’s left of the SDLP and what it assumes is it’e electorate.

    What will it take for someone to tap Durkan on the shoulder? Niall Keely id right to say that If nothing changes the SDLP is finished. It will be going the way of the Nationalist Party, the IIP etc etc

  • RedMole

    Starhound, I think Niall is making the point that under this wee little thing called the D’Hondt method its the SDLP’s turn to get a ministry.

  • DC

    Redmole it seems totally bizarre in logic to argue in favour of d’Hondt to then use a ‘keynote’ speech that was arguably against it in content.

    It’s called sectarian opportunism, whereby the SDLP says we might think about removing the sectarian system, as we know SF thinks along sectarian lines, unless you resort to the very sectarian system we created to ensure we get that justice post.

    It’s pathetic if it wasn’t so politically corrupt. The confusion in that very message is dissolving its own sectarian vote base and removing too the more moderate thinkers.

    It has turned out to be classic isolationist stuff.

  • nineteensixtyseven


    The speech was not against D’Hondt and it wasn’t even against designation in the short term. D’Hondt is a key part of GFA and St Andrews and the only way to fairly distribute ministerial positions. Sinn Fein’s suggestion of a vote in the Assembly will politicise the appointment process and hand the DUP yet another veto.