“this triumvirate of party aristocrats..”

From today’s Politics Show, Jim Fitzpatrick introduces Dublin correspondent Shane Harrison’s regular short report on the political fortunes of Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Fianna Fáil, noting the “triumvirate of party aristocrats” in whose hands power now lies in Ireland. Pete Baker

Met Commissioner job is now mixed up in Tory arrest constitutional row

Adds Dec 1 Acting Met chief could step aside in Damian Green leak row. I often relish the moment when someone stands out against the crowd, even in a cause I don’t agree with. Thus in the amazing case of the arrest of Tory home affairs spokesman Damian Green, the great constitutional authority Vernon Bogdanor whom I know and greatly respect and who was once David Cameron’s tutor has pointed out that parliamentary privilege applies only to MPs’ speeches in … Read more

“Perdido ROV Visitor, What Is It?”

A different sort of extra-curricular post tonight, rather than looking to the skies this one involves looking into the ocean depths.. a mile and a half down in the Gulf of Mexico, where there still be monsters.. Like this giant elbowed squid, the rarely-seen Magnapinna. This is a still from a short video clip on the National Geographic website, as noted by the Professor. Pete Baker

Labour live streaming from Kilkenny…

Irish Labour is webcasting its annual conference, so even if you cannot pick up the RTE feed you can get it from their website. They have the same company doing it as the European Commission in Ireland’s blogger’s conference did. So the quality should be good. Nice little snippets too from the party’s Twitter feed should give you some hints on what you’ve already missed… Smart stuff… They’re looking for questions through their website for leading party spokesmen, the responses … Read more

Willie Frazer, Conor Murphy and fantasies

The Newsletter is reporting that Willie Frazer claims to have been the victim of an attempted kidnap in South Armagh; his own website also contains details of this episode, including the suggestion that this episode might have been in preparation for the murder of Mr. Frazer. Conor Murphy has described Mr. Frazer as “….a well-known fantastist.” Jim Allister seems less than convinced by this explanation. TurgonThis author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.

On Parliamentary freedoms and Trojan Horses…

Two critical matters, it seems to me, arise from Tory MP Damian Green’s arrest. The apparent abandonment, by the Speaker, of his critical role protecting parliamentary privilege; for which there is only one logical outcome. And what exactly is going on with the supposedly neutral Civil Service? Several top Ministries now seem to be capable of providing the Opposition with significant amounts of private information. But what if the Opposition were running several politicised moles inside the so-called neutral Civil … Read more

“The Department is therefore under a statutory duty..”

When the Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, rescinded Lisnaragh’s designation as an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) a departmental spokesman emerged to claim that – “Given that the decision to confirm or rescind the declaration had to be made by 30 October and that there was insufficient time to discuss the committee’s concerns with the Minister, the decision was taken to rescind the declaration.” Now, after re-designating Lisnaragh as an ASSI, the Belfast Telegraph reports that the Minister … Read more

“I may sound strangely medieval..”

Do our local MPs fully comprehend the implications of this particular controversy?The benchmark for Mr Speaker.. In January 1642, Charles, accompanied by over 300 swordsmen, entered St Stephen’s in a foolhardy attempt to arrest five of his principal opponents in the Commons on a charge of treason. The members, however, had been warned of Charles’s intention and escaped. When asked where the members could be found, the Speaker, William Lenthall, fell to his knees before the King and said: “May … Read more

“continue to explore opportunities to draw in additional private-sector finance..”

Having noted the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to increase funding for the Titanic Signature Project I should, I guess, also note the progression of the bus-based Belfast rapid transport system.. except it’s the same pilot scheme revealed in April, which I noted then – it’s still estimated to cost £150million and the Department of Regional Development, having previously secured £111million of public funding, “will continue to explore opportunities to draw in additional private-sector finance”. It’s just taken this long to … Read more

Titanic Signature Project refloated..

Pending the [failed] bid for £25million of lottery funding, in May 2007 the Northern Ireland Executive had agreed to provide £32.5million of the then £90million Titanic Quarter Signature Project [pictured above]. But nevermind, the NI Executive have just upped their our contribution to £43.5million of the now £97million cost.. From the BBC report The rest of the £53m funding will come from the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Belfast City Council and private developers. Adds According to the Titanic Quarter Development website … Read more

‘why are major variations in professional decision-making being found across Northern Ireland?’

With several high profile child abuse cases drawing attention to standards in child Health and Social Care services in England, Queen’s University, has a timely report from the Institute of Child Care Research, ‘From Care to Where?’. It highlights some inconsistencies and problems across local Care Services. The booklet is the first of three to be produced as part of the Care Pathways and Outcomes study, which examines outcomes for 374 children under 5 years old who were in care … Read more

Northern Ireland winner with Vat cut as shopping war ecalates

Opinion in GB may turn up its collective nose at the Vat cut but the one part of these islands where it really matters is – guess where? In an open letter to Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan yesterday, the (Drogheda) chamber called on them to “act urgently” to assist the commercial and retail sectors in the State to “stem the flow of income and sales North to the jurisdiction of the UK government”. Peter Robinson … Read more

“committed to upholding the rule of law even if he disagrees with it in a particular instance..”

It’s some way from a final decision but interesting to note that DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr may ultimately face a charge of civil contempt for not revealing the identity of a senior prison officer who, in relation to the Wright Inquiry, “told of an alleged policy within the Northern Ireland Prison Service to destroy a large number of files as an emergency due to data protection legislation”. During a preliminary debate over how to characterise the proceedings John Larkin … Read more

“better understanding cultural and historical aspects of parading and protest in Northern Ireland..”

Bizarre short report in the Irish Times on the Northern Ireland Parades Commission and their apparent self-education programme – “Six members of the commission have been on a three-day visit [to Dublin] ending today to sites associated with the Easter Rising in 1916.” Dr [Michael] Boyle [director of programmes and policy at the commission] said it was useful for the commission to increase its knowledge of the background to historical events. Dr Boyle said there were no plans at this … Read more

Will you be having ‘soup’ for starters?

Sorry, I just could not resist it. Gary‘s picked up what is no doubt a well intentioned, but unfortunately named Presbyterian Youth conference. Spud is an attempt by the Presbyterian church in Ireland to reach out and give its young people a say in Church affairs, which is just the kind of good stuff you’d expect from Ireland’s original democrats… Until you come to the poster, and the strapline they’ve chosen… “The Famine is over”… We’re pretty sure we know … Read more

“Irishness Incompatible With Britishness”

Mary McAleese, President of the Occupied Twenty-Six Counties© (OTSC), today made a historic visit to Brakey Orange Hall at Bailieborough in Co. Cavan. She quoted as being; delighted to be in the presence of “a good Cavan man, a good Irishman and a good Orangeman.” A view disputed by RSF with their statement that as usual is not in any linkable format anywhere: Claims by 26-County President Mary McAleese during a visit to an Orange Hall in County Cavan that … Read more

“My attendance proves my commitment to this new political force..”

Now that the “electoral pact” is settled [for now.. – Ed] the Conservative Party leader David Cameron confirms he will attend the postponed UUP conference. From the BBC report “My attendance proves my commitment to this new political force,” [David Cameron] said. The Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg Empey, said he was “delighted” that Mr Cameron was attending the conference. “It is a very clear signal that the relationship between our parties is improving and that the campaign to promote … Read more

Time for Sinn Fein to work out what it stands for now the Armed Struggle is over…

I’m not sure what kind of subliminal message Mairtin is trying to send with his latest post (Pete Baker was right about Policing and Justice all along – ed?), if it’s an intimation of some serious reviewing of Sinn Fein’s forward strategy, so much the better for the party. Below the fold, Eoin O’Broin points out in no uncertain terms that even after the good showing in the Lisbon Referendum, the party is holed and listing in the polls… First … Read more

Henry McDonald’s Gunsmoke and Mirrors

Four years ago (I think) I turned up at St Johns College in Oxford to hear Danny Morrison and Anthony McIntyre speak on the ‘Future of Republicanism’. Inevitably, perhaps, it very quickly turned into a big struggle over the past. Since henry Patterson’s seminal 1989 Politics of Illusion, the air has been thick, it seems, with contending histories and pathologies of Sinn Fein, the IRA and the Republican movement. There are two out at the moment, and one more to … Read more