“we are making further enquiries as to where the remains may be located”

The Irish News reported yesterday, picked up by the BBC, that the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains have confirmed that they are investigating a new case where it is suspected that the Provisional IRA abducted, murdered, and secretly buried someone – the 1973 disappearance of a 21 year old from St James Road, west Belfast. The missing man, Peter Wilson, was described as a vulnerable person with learning difficulties. According to the Commission’s list it would be … Read more

Republics need to think outside the box on the past…

The challenge for our politicians must be ‘do the big thing.’ The raison d’etre for this approach is to convey hope and above all to convince your former political enemy that you are genuinely part of ‘ a new dispensation.’ To state the obvious- Loyalists did their fair share of killing during the Troubles just as did the IRA. This week-end Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson are in Libya seeking compensation for victims of the IRA’s campaign of violence. They … Read more

MPs’ job is about making better laws, not local drudgery

Why do MPs require two homes anyway? In the firestorm over MPs’ expenses, attention is turning to what MPs actually do in the constituencies that eats up so much time that a second home is necessary. This goes to the heart of an MPs role. – is s/he more of the amateur social worker Matthew Taylor defends than a lawmaker? An entry in Our Kingdom puts it well. A lot of this local effort is really part of the permanent … Read more

Spotlight on Harbinson again

Mark Harbinson, has been covered in depth on Slugger and is now facing serious charges of a very different nature to those normally leveled at him. Update: taking on board concerns that my personal feelings on the subject resulted in a very heavy handed blog I have made some major amends to my text while retaining the same links. Note from Mick: I am closing commenting on this thread. Please note that we do not premoderate, but that if you … Read more

“such objects are expected to impact the Earth on average every 2 – 12 years”

A reported meteorite strike in Latvia turned out to be a publicity stunt by a telecommunications company, who are now facing some awkward questions from the Latvian government – BrandRepublic has the video. But, as the Belfast Telegraph noted, there was an unexpected celestial visitor earlier in October – a 5-10m wide asteroid exploded at a height of around 15-20 km over Indonesia on October 8th. Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program reports that the explosion was detected up to 18,000km … Read more

Nigel Dodds now looking for institutional reform as a precondition for Policing and Justice…

And here’s a little thing to think on for the weekend… It’s an extract from Good Morning Ulster earlier in the week in which Nigel Dodds appears to lay out another pre condition for the ‘downloading’ of Policing and Justice… Institutional reform… It’s a small detail (and Mr Dodds is not leader, Mr Robinson is), but it is worth noting that it eluded the entire Northern Irish press corps for the three days it took me to overcome various tech … Read more

Cry freedom for the unis and the power of ideas.

A great blast in favour of academic freedom and the power of ideas has come from Vernon Bogdanor, whose latest work The New British Constitution (here reviewed by a slightly more conservative figure, Tony King) has immediately become a classic. For those who need the assurance, Vernon is a firm believer in the efficacy of devolution for the UK which in his view has become a quasi-federal state. In this New Statesman piece, Vernon gives a powerful valedictory thrust at … Read more

Robinson accuses Kelly of snooping…

From Eamonn Mallie: Another rift has opened up between the DUP and Sinn Fein. Earlier today Gerry Kelly said a twenty million pounds ‘side deal’ had been agreed by Gordon Brown for former part time police officers. Peter Robinson said this afternoon a letter from Mr Brown to him should not have been available to Mr Kelly. He added: “For clarity it should be known that the Prime Minister’s office sent my letter to OFMDFM not knowing that Sinn Fein … Read more

The man with the cross-border knowledge in his head

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Gary McIntyre is a solicitor who works as an advice worker with Citizens Advice Northern Ireland in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. For the past six years he has been employed by Borderwise, a cross-border partnership between Citizens Advice NI and the Citizens Information Board (Republic of Ireland) which was set up with … Read more

Party mergers are not as attractive as they seem

Should the Ulster Unionists finally federate with the Conservatives and the SDLP with Fianna Fail? In each case in their present state of eclipse, the prospect of becoming part of a bigger machine must be sorely tempting. Below the surface however lurk huge problems. Unionists like Sylvia Hermon are sturdy individualists and want to remain big beasts in the local zoo. For the SDLP the attractions may at first glance be clearer, but who’s rushing to vote Fianna Fail these … Read more

Final year for 50:50 PSNI recruitment?

Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Paul Goggins, MP, has announced that The Government is to consult on the 50:50 PSNI recruitment provisions, and intends to renew this legislation in March 2010 for a further, final year. From the statement NOTES FOR EDITORS The Police (NI) Act 2000 provides for the Secretary of State to legislate to renew the temporary provisions. Before doing so, he is required to consider the progress that has been made towards achieving a police service which is … Read more

Comhairle na Gaelscolaìochta launch video campaign

Comhairle na Gaelscolaìochta, the Council for Irish medium education in the North have launched a series a videos on their website to give information on IME. (Apologies for fadas pointing left, I can do nothing about it!)The five videos are entitled … 1.What is Irish/Gaelic-medium Education? 2.What are the advantages of Irish/Gaelic-medium Education? 3.Irish/Gaelic-medium Education; Parent and pupil experiences 4.Irish/Gaelic-medium Education; Frequently asked questions 5.Irish-medium Post-primary Education They should provide a good introduction to those unfamiliar with bilingual education and … Read more

Slugger Awards 2008: Best Campaign of the Year…

Right, here’s a variation on last year’s theme. This time, although we’re asking you for nominations, it will be the politicians themselves who vote for the winner of this category. It’s the best campaign of the year. Now, for this, it can be an ad campaign, a website, good use of Facebook or Twitter or Pledgebank… And it only has to be focused on some aspect of politics or public affairs in general. It can be pretty public facing like … Read more

Big problems – small politics

With parading the new manufactured crisis on the hill you could be forgiven for believing the big two parties have the big issues of the day in hand. It doesn’t seem to be the size of the public finance deficit or the crisis in education but the smallness of partisan bickering which is dominating our regional government. Partisanship is the order of the day as narrow sectional interest is always put ahead of the shared regional one. Whilst The DUP … Read more

Blogtalk NI: Councils; Education; and the democratising effects of the Internet…

Great conversation between SDLP councillor blogger Matt McDermott, Geoff (aka Bobballs!) and Alan (from whom I picked the story up)… Really good conversation on Councils and councillors, their attitude to public information and the way they deal with citizens inquiry… Geoff plugs some of the free data stuff from Government2010 conference in London last week… My top tip there is Tom Steinberg’s excellent keynote on the freeing of data on government… And in particular, there is the www.whatdotheyknow.com/ (which publiclyaggregating … Read more

The threat is greater now than it has been for the last ten years…

Excellent piece from Newsnight the other night, in which Liz McKeen draws out some of the moral and political dilemmas facing the dissident Republicans who are backing a return to armed struggle. Gary Donnelly, formerly of Sinn Fein, now of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee: “‘It would be perfectly legitimate to target anyone who is promoting British rule in Ireland’. But when I asked him about targeting their families, after a long pause, he described that as a ‘thorny issue’”. … Read more

“obey the communal imperative”

That’s Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ advice to the DUP on the devolution of policing and justice powers. And, as well as describing the DUP leader Peter Robinson’s speech in the Commons as “not a sincere, genuine or a serious effort to resolve the issue of Orange parades”, he’s declared the linking of the parades issue to the transfer of those powers “unacceptable”. But what will you do about it, Gerry? Meanwhile, an iol report notes the DUP response The … Read more

Et tu, Brian!

Brian Cowen’s hasty switch from Blair to Bruton as the favoured Irish candidate for the presidency of the EU council is a wise move by the government leader most in need of maximum European goodwill. The unelected taoiseach would be as good as anybody else, given that the word from the Brussels summit is that they want a soft chairman from the now dominant centre right bloc and not a traffic stopper. After 10 years as PM which ended under … Read more

Down the hill, take a left and round the houses

My weekly round-up of things mainly left, republican or just off the radar is blow the fold. (a bit late due to having to get on with real life). And as usual if I missed it and you think it should have been linked that will mostly be because you didn’t take the offer to drop me an email. A discussion at the Peadar O’Donnell Weekend in Dungloe focused on ‘The Future of the Left’ in Ireland. éirígí’s Daithí Mac … Read more