Arms find in Magherafelt

I cannot find much about this apart from in the Mid Ulster Mail and the TUV’s comment on the issue but there appears to have been an arms find in Magherafelt last Friday. Jim Allister is claiming that these weapons appear to be linked to the IRA. The lack of mention of all this in the rest of the media is a little odd. TurgonThis author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.

Old wine in a new bottle: more on the Supreme Court

Some other thoughts about the new UK Supreme Court which takes over from the Law Lords in October. It’s basically the same lot with the same powers, but now formally separate from the legislature, which is the case in most countries. The modernising Blair government made the historic change almost casually because they felt the UK’s ( or rather England’s) historic concentration of the powers in Parliament was oudated and open to serious challenge on grounds of unfairness and incompatibility … Read more

The Antikythera Mechanism

The Guardian’s James Randerson has a satisfyingly link-full update on the research into the Antikythera Mechanism – as previously noted here and also here. Apparently it’s older than previously thought. Possibly from around the time of Archimedes.. And here’s part 1 of a fascinating Nature video on the 2000-year-old “box of intricate gearwork”. Part 2 below the fold along with a stunning animation of the mechanism by Massimo Mogi Vicentini of the Civico Planetario di Milano. Part 2 of the … Read more

“cast out the beam of thine own eye (before) the mote of thy brother’s eye”.

Gerry Adams has responded to the Orange Order’s refusal to meet with Sinn Fein at a leadership level with an open letter to the Order carried in the Belfast Telegraph (though currently access only to the related story.) In the letter, he quotes from the King James Version of the New Testament whilst making the obvious hypocrisy charge regarding the Order’s stance on refusing to talk to republicans ahead of an apology for Order members killed during the conflict. As … Read more

DUP should take part in Belfast Pride parade…

Interesting blog post from Patrick over Belfast and Beyond, suggesting that the DUP should send a representative to the Pride event in Belfast… Not as off the wall as it may seem at first glance… if anything the fierce relations between the party and Northern Ireland’s gay community was underlined by the activism surrounding the Paul Butler Berry affair… If the DUP is serious about creating a pluralist future, this is one bridge that is long overdue repair…

US Secretary of State doesn’t “see the need for someone fulltime”

Despite the suggestion in the Belfast Telegraph report, the statement by Assistant Secretary of State, J P Crowley, that “She is the Secretary of State, not a special envoy”, is not contradicted by the quotes from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. From the Belfast Telegraph Mrs Clinton said that the progress made since the Good Friday Agreement was forged means that the special envoy role has changed dramatically from the days when her husband first appointed George Mitchell to … Read more

What’s your preferred image?

Due sensitivity has been observed over the thorny problem of how to symbolise Northern Ireland in new UK projects. The controversial ID card has already been discussed exhaustively in Slugger, where you can just about make out the shamrock ( for Irish citizens, you see). For the new Supreme Court which is more territorial, they opted for a flax plant, not that we have many left outside the Folk museum. From the BBC slide show ( sorry I can’t reproduce … Read more

A provisional line up of our top Irish blogs…

When we move to the new site, all manner of things will change, not least our capacity to change update and red out old or broken links in the blogroll… I’ve taken up some of the suggestions for the best Irish blogs from yesterday and put them onto a dynamic Netvibes page which we should be able to import into the new wordpress site… You’ll not be able to see this for a while, since the offline development will take … Read more

“However, even if it is passed by the Assembly..”

Some of our commenters, you know who you are, are getting exercised about this BBC report following yesterday’s Northern Ireland Executive’s discussion of draft legislation for a Department of Justice. There’s an iol report which notes the need for caution. The legislation is a key part of the long-delayed process to transfer policing and justice powers from London to Stormont. However, even if it is passed by the Assembly, it will still require a further resolution asking the British government … Read more

“For me, this totally clinched the case that this was an impact”

Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL] has launched a new website, “a centralized resource for information on near-Earth objects” – Asteroid Watch. One of the topics there is the new Great Black Spot [of Jupiter] and senior research scientist at JPL, Glenn Orton, has the lowdown on observing Jupiter’s black eye after it was first spotted by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley. Pete Baker

What does £1,148,992 get you these days?

Beyond the eye-catching figure, from the official accounts for 2008 lodged with the Electoral Commission, that in Northern Ireland Sinn Féin topped the political parties total expenditure list at £1,148,992 – compared to the DUP’s roughly £440,000 across 4 accounts, the UUP’s £397,734, and the SDLP’s £290,169 – there are some interesting details. Sinn Féin’s largest single expenditure noted in the 2008 accounts [pdf file], their “Wages and related costs” bill, rose to £444,637 in 2008 from 2007’s £266,946 – … Read more

Does Whitehall think the Irish are stupid…

Interesting the BBC have the news that UK ID Cards (if they ever see the light of day) will offer Irish nationals in Northern Ireland a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘national’ ID card… One key difference as Pete points out below is that the national card at least has the utility of being a travel document, whereas a personal card does not. Travel cards can only be issued by the citizen’s own government. Straightforward enough? You’d think so. Except, that … Read more

“cardholders will still be registered on the British ID national database”

UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson has unveiled the design of the UK’s national, but not yet mandatory, identity card. According to the BBC report, we’re a special case. That means Irish nationals living in NI will be issued with a “personal ID card” rather than a national ID card. The personal card will not record an individual’s nationality and so cannot be used as a travel document. Only the Irish Government can issue an official travel document to Irish citizens. … Read more

The sound of a toothless tiger roaring at the banks…

JOHN Manley notes how our MLAs and ministers are keen to appear as though they are fighting our corner against the banks during the recession. The key word is ‘appear’, as the engagements between bankers and politicians are just for the optics, Manley argues. The semi-desperate and aspirational tone of this recent OFMDFM press release is revealing about how much control politicians here have over financial matters that really matter – close to zero. And Ian Paisley Jr’s tough-talking press … Read more

What makes a blog politically important?

You can probably tell I am obsessing on a single subject, so apologies to those of you who will take this as a bit of a bore… Just picked up this nice story about a dismissal of a Tory blogger by a Tory Press officer as ‘not important’… who’s no doubt got him/herself into some hot water. Either he did not get the memo, or the Press Officer in question’s not been drinking enough of the ‘bloggers are important’ Kool-Aid: … Read more

“She is the Secretary of State, not a special envoy”

Let’s see if this gets as wide an airing as Niall O’Dowd’s determined mis-briefings on the subject. Via Newshound, here’s the Irish Echo’s report of the official statement from the spokesman for the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is not going to be the special envoy to Northern Ireland. “She is the Secretary of State, not a special envoy,” State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, told the Echo. And Secretary Clinton does not have … Read more

Which political blogs do you read these days?

Today I’ll mostly be working on my yearly review of the Irish blogosphere for Total Politics magazine… I’m going to focus primarily on the way the political classes have taken (or rather not taken) to engaging with net conversations… With a mind to contrasting progress in Northern Ireland with that of the Republic… In terms of political blogs, I have my own favoured round of regulars but I’d like to hear who, other than Slugger of course, you are reading … Read more

Outrage in Ballymoney…

Last year we tried (and failed) to get to the Oul Lammas Fair in Ballycastle (Oh!)… This year we may not even bother trying… Why? The Ballymoney Times brings the shocking news that there will be No sandwiches and tea at Quay Hall this Lammas Fair… Bobballs has the shocking details of life in Ballymoney according to its local newspaper… What was that about good news and bad news domains JP? Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has … Read more

How Pastor McConnell came to destroy his Church’s own orphanage in Romania..

I mentioned Will Crawley’s blog on Pastor Jim McConnell in the blogburst… Malachi put his sound segment up on his blog and the conversation has fairly taken off… Much of the piece is about how the pastor of the Whitewell Metropolitian Church‘s reveals an amazing story about how he personally destroyed a children’s home he had established in Romania last year… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics … Read more

What’s sauce for the goose…?

Sir Paul Stephenson backs down in row over Union Jack badges. Will commenters high mindedly ignore this too predictable thread or take up the cudgels? Just a test! Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London