DUP insider: “People are thinking post Assembly careers right now…”

“I just think people are losing the will to go on. This place isn’t working and won’t work. People are thinking post Assembly careers right now.” These are the stark views of a senior DUP insider. The message emanating from inside Sinn Fein is correspondingly as black. One senior figure warned: “Without a breakthrough this place will come down in the New Year.”Gregory Campbell of the DUP has really put the cat among the pigeons. Asked when the transfer of … Read more

“the court concludes that it should order the withdrawal of the Guidance”

The Northern Ireland Health Department’s guidance to health professionals on termination of pregnancy, the law and clinical practice in Northern Ireland [pdf file], only emerged after a tortuous process. Firstly the Department, after a lengthy court battle, had to be instructed by a High Court ruling to produce the guidance. Then, after taking three years to produce, the NI Assembly rejected the guidelines leaving the Department to redraft them. New draft guidelines emerged for consultation in July 2008 and were … Read more

McGuinness on the importance of contention and dialogue…

It went hard with me that the end piece on the (excellent) UTV report on the Slugger Awards last week ended on a stalled video of the deputy First Minister… I’d given him a pretty deadpan intro to the effect that we’d often given his party a hard time on Slugger but in the certainty that he had a good riposte… He did, but technical difficulties beat us on the night… There is always a danger that when you do … Read more

What happens when you shop too much and save too little…

Okay, in news from elsewhere… Willem Buiter with what we should and should learn from Dubai… In comparing Ireland the UK in a basket of other countries he identifies the greater independence of the ECB from Irish government control as a positive factor in favour of Ireland’s chances of a credible recovery: From Dubai to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Japan, France, the UK and the USA, the sovereign debt burdens have been at current levels during peacetime … Read more

“Remarkably, we are still reduced to making it up as we go along…”

Tom McGurk with a perceptive piece on the likely consequences of a collapse in the Stormont Institutions. Despite the DUP’s electoral concerns over the TUV challenge, he calculates that the consequences this time out would prove more damaging for Sinn Fein than for those in the Unionist community: To many others, devolved government just isn’t making much difference. But perhaps most worrying of all for the governments in London and Dublin, the dynamic needed to fuel genuine power-sharing appears increasingly … Read more

Ireland’s intellectual inheritance of “mental reservation”…

I really enjoyed (if enjoyed is actually the word) Gael gan Naire’s post on the crisis of belief in the Catholic Church this morning. Actually enjoyed is definitely not the word, it’s just that I think he nailed something that if Anne Maire Hourihan is right that plagues all forms of belief in Catholic Ireland, beginning, but sadly, not ending with religious belief as she riffs on a term gifted her by her estimable colleague Breda O’Brien: …the whole slippery … Read more

Sinn Fein policing and undercover soldiers

Yesterday Sinn Fein’s national chairperson Declan Kearney addressed a gathering to commemorate two IRA members Henry Hogan and Declan Martin who were killed in a gun battle by the army in Dunloy in 1984. As Jim Allister has already noted, during the course of his remarks Kearney stated: “Nor is there any acceptable role for British military forces in today’s six counties. Sinn Féin will not accept the reintroduction of any British military presence or activity; be it undercover, or … Read more

An Empire At Risk

Niall Ferguson poses a brain teaser in an article on the risks of collapse of American hegemony in Newsweek Now, who said the following? “My prediction is that politicians will eventually be tempted to resolve the [fiscal] crisis the way irresponsible governments usually do: by printing money, both to pay current bills and to inflate away debt. And as that temptation becomes obvious, interest rates will soar.” Couldn’t have been a world famous Keynesian economist, speaking about a US administration … Read more

What Slugger readers got right about our politician of the year…

The art of politics is not just about the possible, it’s also about the plausible… There was a certain amount of disgruntlement with the choice of Martin McGuinness as Slugger’s Politician of the Year (and for good reason when you consider how his party has blocked the capacity of the Executive to progress any serious legislative measure in lieu of devolution of policing and justice)… But a poll of readers by the Belfast Telegraph came to a similar conclusion to … Read more

NI Bill of Rights – the next steps

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, has announced the launch of a public consultation document on the troubled NI Bill of Rights. Consultation period to end March 1, 2010. From the summary of proposals in the document [pdf file] there seems to be a [sensible] distinction between what is proposed to be included in the Bill and what is proposed to be “considered” for inclusion – either by himself, with the Irish Government, or with the Executive… Good … Read more

Not a referendum, only a public opinion poll

Well, Scottish Nats in the 21st century are handling the politics of independence very differently from their Irish forebears in the 20th. Today, St Andrew’s Day with headline support for independence hitting new recent lows, Alex Salmond has revealed plans for a referendum on, not one, not two, not three, but four options. The cute one is devo max that would remove all powers to Scotland except – except – the monarchy, the army and foreign affairs. I’m with commentator … Read more

Politics and the Terminal Decline of the Catholic Church

Let me put my cards of the table, I am an agnostic. I have no idea about how the universe was created nor who or what created it, to me only a god could answer these questions. I think it is rather silly for humans to attempt to answer them as those who do have ‘faith’ do. I am not a Dawkinist nor an atheistic, maybe people of faith are correct. For me however these faiths are just another set … Read more

Stormont farce

History sometimes does repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. That’s what forcing a crisis over the latest Stormont stand-off amounts to. The parties became spoiled by the over-reverent attention paid to them during the Blair-Ahern era. Now we’re down to the monkey antics before the organ grinders enter the ring. The circus is hotting up. Exasperating as the cat-calls are between the DUP and Sinn Fein, somebody has to hose them down. But British and … Read more

Echoes of the case against Home Rule in the paedophile scandal

I’m right up on tiptoes to make this point, but might the Protestant case against Home Rule not seem just a little more convincing even to its critics in the light of the great paedophile cover –up? If the Roman Catholic Church retained strong authoritarian traits and clerical privilege above the law as late as the 1990s what was it like a century before? Not that I ignore the beam in Protestant eyes. This article in the New York Times … Read more

Labour’s dilemma over Goldsmith: Party or country (and the world)?

Lots of good stuff on Jeff Breslin’s blog this morning… Not least his sensible advice to Labour currently going full blast after Zac Goldsmith and his non dom status… …the key factor in this story is that Zac Goldsmith would contribute more to the UK as Environment Secretary than he would by stumping up a tax liability that doesn’t exist. Now Cameron is taking stick for his own anti AGW stance… The question facing Labour strategists is: do you take … Read more

NVTV Blogtalk NI Episode 6

On the latest edition of NVTV‘s Blogtalk NI, Belfast Media Group boss Máirtín Ó Muilleoir joins Mick Fealty and me. Máirtín commented on how the mainstream media cover Troubles-related stories, Mick spoke about Northern Ireland being treated differently by Ofcom from other parts of the UK in terms of media funding and direction and I talked about the SDLP leadership race. Blogtalk (episode 6) from Northern Visions/NvTv on Vimeo. Gary McKeownhttp://www.garymckeown.info

Bringing terrorism to an end and dealing with the past…

Hugh Orde is on Andrew Marr’s Start the Week programme on Radio 4 just now… It’s worth listening to for the extent to which one can extrapolate outwards to other conflict zone. Hugh Orde says closure is not what its about for victims families, what they want is details on how they met their end. Earlier on he noted: “The sad reality of Northern Ireland is that people know exactly who it was that murdered their loved ones, very often … Read more

“What the NIO spooks and PSNI’s political detectives have forgotten..”

As Mark mentioned, also following Martin McGuinness’ grandstanding in Tullamore, Sinn Féin passed the script back to the same little known placeman as before, the party’s national chairman Declan Kearney – this time commemorating “an unbroken chain of republican struggle” at a parade in Dunloy. The BBC report picks up on the warnings of unspecified “political consequences”, but there’s also this line from his speech. “Nor is there any acceptable role for British military forces in today’s six counties. Sinn … Read more

The boy that cries wolf

When SF want to up-the-ante on areas like the devolution of policing and justice it seems they increasingly fall back on their unelected Chairperson, Declan Kearney, to issue some hard-ball threats. Yet again he throws down the gauntlet to the DUP: “It is a train-wreck political strategy and political consequences will be inevitable.” And yet again they fail to rise to his bait: “As unionists we don’t respond to threats….” Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com