Stomont Standoff – episode eight hundred and whatever

It’s like a really bad soap opera, the type that goes on forever with apparently the same plot. You can not watch it for a year and tune in knowing nothing much will have changed. Martin McGuinness says he is trying and the DUP say they are committed to devolution. Yet SF went on a 150 day work to rule last year and now the DUP are briefing that people need more house training for government. Another war of words … Read more

Reform in Ireland Can Start with a Yes to Lisbon…

Last year Naoise Nunn was one of a small but hard working Libertas team which basically took on and bested the Yes campaign over the first Lisbon Treaty Referendum. This year he is voting yes. The common motivation between this year and last is that he wants to see substantial political reform, both in Ireland and Europe. He explains below the fold:By Naoise Nunn I campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty last time on the basis that a better deal was … Read more

“partitionist nonsense”

Apparently a group of Sinn Féin protesters, including Councillor Tomás Sharkey, took exception to the presence of out-going SDLP leader Mark Durkan, MP, MLA, at a boisterous press conference with Irish Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, promoting a ‘Yes’ vote. From the Irish News report [subs] it would seem that Mark Durkan’s northernness was an issue.. but what does Tomás think of Gerry campaigning for a ‘No’ vote? From the Irish News [subs] However, a Sinn Féin spokesman said councillors … Read more

Lisbon Essay (26): A ‘No’ vote would show solidarity with the Charter and a social Europe

Jimmy Kelly of the Unite Union is one of the most respected figures of the No platform. His position is relatively straightforward. In Ireland workers protections lag hugely behind that of much of Europe. In particular he argues that the Charter for Fundamental Rights is being sold as a fait accomplai, when in fact there is no obligation for national governments to comply with its imperatives: “In effect, the Government is asking us to support the ‘form’ of fundamental rights … Read more

Time to give the civil service a bolder hand

At this distance in London, I’m getting mixed messages about the future of the Executive. On the one hand, I sit up and take notice when as seasoned a commentator as Ed Curran fears it may be sinking. On the other, when even Sammy Wilson declares the devolution of policing and justice to be a DUP objective , I’m not exactly comforted – there are plenty of gets-outs in that – but I chalk up a modest positive. The big … Read more

Lisbon Essay (25): As Iceland discovered the EU is the firebrigade…

Jason O’Mahoney lays out a scenario he believes the No side is studiously avoiding: what happens to Ireland’s national interest within Europe if there is a No vote and Lisbon is abandoned for a more centralised, bi or tri-lateral decision making processes in its stead. The Treaty itself is dry and technical because it is dry and technical, not because anyone is trying pull a fast one. And he believes that counter to Nigel Farage’s assertions in LE10 the “alternative … Read more

1981 Hunger Strike: Continued Coverage

The Irish News followed up Monday’s coverage of the hunger strike controversy with a further special focus in Tuesday’s edition. It contained viewpoints from the SDLP and unionists, Ruairi O Bradaigh, Brendan Duddy, Willie Gallagher and Ed Moloney, and featured an article by former hunger striker Gerard Hodgins. It also looked at the question of an Irish government mole in the prison and reviewed the FOI documents obtained by the Sunday Times earlier this year. Slugger is still sifting through … Read more

Bring Back the Border?

Hardly a day goes by south of the border without another exhortation to ‘Buy Irish’. And it isn’t just the indigenous retailers (Dunnes with ‘the difference is we’re Irish’, or Superquinn with ‘love the taste of Ireland’). Even the UK retailers are at it (e.g.: Tesco with its ‘buy me I’m Irish’, and similarly M&S). And Irish food manufacturers aren’t leaving it to the retailers: they have got together to launch ‘Love Irish Food’ – with a full monty advertising … Read more

Sun Exclusive: Sun changes its mind about the last 12 years…

Got this from the Sun last night just after midnight (ie, a couple of hours after Michael had already blogged it for us): TWELVE years ago, Britain was crying out for change from a divided, exhausted Government. Today we are there again. In 1997, “New” Labour, shorn of its destructive hard-Left doctrines and with an energetic and charismatic leader, seemed the answer. Tony Blair said things could only get better, and few doubted him. But did they get better? Then … Read more

Thoughts on Voluntary Coalition

I recently looked at what I feel is increasing confidence (with good reason) within unionism. I have also looked at the need for an increase in civility within unionism and previously on the unionist consensus for a way forward in Northern Ireland. The question is can we be civil enough to one another and can we have the confidence to think about what would be required to make the unionist consensus vision a reality? The consensus seems to be in … Read more

Don’t hold your breath waiting for economic reform

So is there any prospect of the Executive actually taking action on the recommendations of Richard Barnett’s review of economic policy? You would think they ought to manage at least to create a single department of the Economy as this appears to involve only a realignment of responsibilities and not – horrors! -the disappearance of any actual department. Barnett diplomatically makes the familiar case against the risk averse strategy of Invest NI that should have been replaced years ago when … Read more

Aiste Liospóin (24): Níl, mar tá neamhspleachas mar oidhreacht duinne…

Vótáil Concubhar i gcoinne an Chonartha an uair dheireanach, agus ní bheith sé ag athrú a vóta an uair seo.. Tá dhá cheist difriúil ann dar leis: fearg leis an Rialtas, agus na rudaí a mbaineann go díreach leis an Chonradh féin. Níl an cheist faoi rogha idir an fhoireann seo nó an ceann eile; ach is rogha polaitiúil (agus, níos tábhachtaí, bunreachtúil) é. Faoi dheireadh, tarraingíonn an dara reifreann seo ar Chonradh Liospn, tar ?is breith chomh cinnte an … Read more

Labour loses the Sun, Robinson to stand again

As the Sun backs the Conservatives on the back of Gordon Brown’s speech, Peter Robinson tells UTV he may stand again for Parliament. During the summer he commented: This is a necessary prelude to the ending of double jobbing. Several months ago I indicated that we would be phasing out dual mandates…….It is simply not possible to sustain and fully perform multiple roles whether they involve other elected positions or indeed interests outside Parliament. What happened to the three year … Read more

“and we have to have the community confidence”

As the BBC reports. Gordon Brown may have told the Labour Party Conference that “we want to see [the devolution of policing and justice to the people of Northern Ireland] happen in the next few months”, but as one of those who have to agree to that move reminded UTV’s Ken Reid [Corrected quote] The First Minister also told UTV’s Political Editor Ken Reid that he will not be pushed by a December deadline into devolving policing and justice. “I … Read more

“I think it’s very helpful to see it as a criminal enterprise”

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has been speaking at a Guardian sponsored event on the fringes of the Labour Party conference – at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. He also iterated a version of his party’s “civic” policing line – “For our part Sinn Féin has sought to develop a fully civic policing service and separate out British National Security interests.” By which he means leaving the issue of “British National Security interests”, such as the … Read more

Lisbon Essay (23): Why Ireland can’t afford the Lisbon Treaty…

Niamh Uí Bhriain of Cóir sites her anti Lisbon argument in the material crisis of the Tiger economy. Nevertheless she notes that “the Lisbon Treaty is not about providing jobs or encouraging enterprise – it’s a treaty designed to centralise political power in the European Union”. She denies there are any short term economic consequences to signing up to the EU, but that in the longer term it leaves Ireland strategically weaker inside the EU… The attraction for foreign firms … Read more

Slugger’s Daily Blogburst: The unpleasant anti Brown anti depressant cock and bull tale…

Okay, kicking off today with that question of whether a respectable journalist like Andrew Marr has the right to ask the PM about a question that’s been been a Conservative blogosphere Talking Point for a couple of years now… Now it emerges the guy who kicked off the rumour has no idea whether it was true or not…- In a bravura I am Sparticus performance, Dizzy Thinks it might have been him who started the whole bandwagon rolling, and protests … Read more

Lisbon Essay (22): Vote Yes to this unloved bastard son of the European Convention…

Another European view and another from the Yes perspective comes from Daniel Cohn-Bendit, renegade from 1968 and currently co-president of the European Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament… No one loves it, he says. Who could? It long, legalistic, and complicated. An ad man’s nightmare. But it is the shaken down product of 8 years of filtering and dispute between all the countries of Europe. It’s not as democratic as he would like, nor as democratic as that … Read more

“This Report is a major contribution to the debate..”

RTÉ reports some of the recommendations, and some of the criticisms of Invest NI, in the Independent Review of Economic Policy (IREP), chaired by the University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett – full report here [pdf file]. In yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph David Gordon asked the question for the report to answer, “Are Invest NI really up to the job?” The Northern Ireland DETI Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster has welcomed the publication and “[intends] to carry out a short … Read more