“Some time I hope to get the space to reflect on my life with Brendan…”

Cartoon by Brian Mór Adams, signaling ‘Poor Gerry’ mode with his choice of blog title, ‘The ides of March?’, folksily expands on his earlier press release regarding the publication of Voices from the Grave. One wonders how the contents of the book are reduced to a schoolyardish tug-of-war over who was a better friend to the most popular kid, but Adams seems to feel the need to boast. An old friend of mine, Brendan Hughes, has been in the news … Read more

Have our parents and leaders screwed up the country?

[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] I have just returned from Malawi in southern Africa where I was with a group of Irish and Northern Irish university academics in health, education and ICT who are working with colleagues in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda on a training programme to help build their capacity to raise the research performance of … Read more

Nationalists approach to Hung Parliament

The BBC report on Plaid and the SNPs hung parliament strategy. From Ieuan Wyn: “”In their race for the keys to Number 10, the London parties have forgotten about what really matters to voters in Scotland and Wales, but the SNP and Plaid Cymru have not. With the prospect of a balanced Parliament becoming more likely by the day, we believe that an election that gives no single party an overall majority would be the best possible outcome for our … Read more

Nationalists approach to Hung Parliament

The BBC report on Plaid and the SNP’s hung parliament strategy. From Ieuan Wyn: “”In their race for the keys to Number 10, the London parties have forgotten about what really matters to voters in Scotland and Wales, but the SNP and Plaid Cymru have not. With the prospect of a balanced Parliament becoming more likely by the day, we believe that an election that gives no single party an overall majority would be the best possible outcome for our … Read more

Official contacts are closer than you may think

Good to see that the Cabinet Secretary of Ireland takes part in regular in meetings with his peers of the Westminster tradition ( I was nearly going to say the Commonwealth).. Relations have been close for many years. He will have plenty of lore to share over how to handle coalitions. Significantly, Sir Gus is flying to New Zealand next week to meet Maarten Weavers, his opposite number there, and the two are expected to discuss the UK’s new manual. … Read more

The MI5 problem is real

The role of MI5 under the catchall of “national security” could be a time bomb. After all the twists and turns of years of the peace process it risks handing an initiative to the dissidents. The Kieran Doherty affair keeps rumbling on. The pattern of events is all too familiar. Man with murky associations is murdered, local politicians pin as much of the blame on the authorities as on the group who shot him. The nightmare scenario is that the … Read more

Norman Baxter calls for new investigation into Jean McConville’s murder

Norman Baxter may not be running as the candidate for Fermanagh / South Tyrone but his article in today’s News Letter is a damning attack on Gerry Adams and the IRA over the murder of Jean McConville and the whole nature of the IRA’s campaign: Some extracts: If we are to believe the confession of the self-proclaimed Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, somewhere a group of self-appointed rulers of darkness decided to abduct, execute and hide the earthly remains of Jean … Read more

Overheard on the plane out of Belfast…

Overheard this morning: “They [the company] only tried to get me to take a hire car once. That was when I was travelling from Belfast to the Isle of Man. I said to them, ‘Are you sure? Will I not need to get the ferry? You know, its an island in the middle of the sea.’ The girl said, “Hold on, I’ll go and check.” She came back a few minutes later and said, ‘It’s okay, you can take a … Read more

Nama: “Fit for purpose? The banks or Biffo’s Government?”

More on the Nama situation later, but for now MIriam Lord caught the atmosphere in the Dail yesterday with a cracking opening to her Parliamentary sketch. Enter the principals: Then we had to endure The Head with Two Brians – not for the faint hearted. The sight of Cowen and Lenihan reassuring a nervous public that they will lead them on the path to financial salvation is not a good one. “We need an Irish banking system fit for purpose … Read more

For the Twitter election, it’s the way they tell them

Well, I only asked. What an answer I got! For the Chancellor’s debate, Channel 4 reports the Twiiter volume as follows… Channel 4 estimates that the debate generated 20,000 Tweets between 8 and 10pm last night – hitting the number one trending topic in the UK and London on Twitter, and number three worldwide. The television debate alone drew 1.8 million viewers – 750,000 more than watched last week’s Dispatches – but it was the social networking furore surrounding it … Read more

McFarland leaves UUP

The BBC are reporting that Alan McFarland has left the UUP. Apparently he is unhappy regarding the UUP / Conservative link. He stated: “With the recent confirmation of candidates, including the imposition of a Conservative candidate in my own North Down constituency, it is clear that the party is determined to continue down the Conservative road,” “I do now wish to join them. I am sorry to leave a party that contains many good friends, and greatly regret that events … Read more

BBC goes on the attack against Robinson tonight…

On Newsline tonight… This is an open thread, but please be careful in your comments not to go any further the facts… UPdate: Here’s the written up article on the BBC site… More is expected tonight on Newsline at 6.30pm on BBC1 NI… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. … Read more

Super Tuesday – NAMA & Live Links

NAMA First Loans 47% discount across the board (1st Tranche). €81bn worth of loans (in total). Cost of NAMA haircut = €38bn (estimate). Update Adding the haircut and the recapitalisation costs together doesn’t make sense, so I’ve removed that calculation. Consensus view seems to be €32-33bn recapitalisation costs. Per Philip Lane at Irish Economy. The current projection is that the State injection into the banking system will soon stand at €33 billion or so … €33 billion is about 22 … Read more

“He will be considering a civil action against the secretary of state for this illegal detention.”

The Irish News reports that yesterday “alleged Real IRA leader” Terry McCafferty was released from Maghaberry Prison after the Sentence Review Commissioners ruled his detention illegal on the basis that the case against him was unreliable. McCafferty had been released on licence in November 2008, half-way through a 12-year sentence for possesion of explosives, but, as noted at the time, in December 2008 the Secretary of State revoked his parole licence and he was re-arrested at Belfast International Airport. Since … Read more

“the hunt begins for dark matter, new forces, new dimensions and the Higgs boson”

As it turned out the Irish Times’ Dick Ahlstrom was a tad optimistic. About the time, not the end of the world… And, despite the Guardian’s live-blogging Ian Sample’s tongue-in-cheek concern that the early glitches today were due to “the Higgs particle wooing its way back in time and jinxing the machine”, again, at approximately 1300 Central European Summer Time [12pm local] the beams of protons in the Large Hadron Collider at Cern were stabilised and fully aligned and the … Read more

The route to the loot

While it has already been superseded in importance by other news, for which we even have the Sky-like marketing moniker SuperTuesday, RTE report on last night’s agreement between the Government and Public Sector Unions. It outlines how at least some of the pay cuts can be scraped back (the so called ‘route to the loot’) – Under the proposals, brokered by the LRC, unions will cooperate with extensive cost-saving measures across the public service. In spring 2011, there will be … Read more

“There is something innately toxic about a public position that demands of all of us…”

No statement yet from Cllr Dessie Ward on his resignation from Sinn Féin. [Adds – Apparently Sinn Féin “no longer reflects where [he stands] on the political spectrum”.] Meanwhile, in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole makes an important point about SF president Gerry Adams’ denial. From the Irish Times article. The problem is that Adams has gone much further than simply drawing a veil over his role in the “armed struggle”. He has created the most brazen fiction in contemporary … Read more

NAMA day at last

What a fateful day for the Republic, as Brian Lenihan bids to draw a line under the financial crisis “ once and for all.” In advance of the Dail statement, the Irish Times confirms that he’s stopping sort of full bank nationalisation. A kind of triumph has been won with an agreed package of no more public sector pay cuts to 2014 with pensions increases pegged to pre-cuts levels for the time being, and a annual review to explore the … Read more

A good launch for the Big Debates. Any role for social media yet?

For my money the Chancellor’s debate was a draw for the participants and a victory for the idea. But then I’m a political anorak. The Guardian gives the spread of reaction from a panel of committed hacks. St Vince won but he can afford to be frank; Badgerbrows didn’t lose possession of the ball and Boy George didn’t say f*** or fall down so won the Conservatives’ private game of managed low expectations. The really good idea is Channel 4’s … Read more

Baggott concentrates minds on Troubles legacy

Chief Constable Matt Baggott chose his moment carefully to announce unilaterally a three year time limit for the work of the Historic Enquiries Team. The window just before a new financial year, a general election and the transfer of Justice powers to the Assembly gives him maximum leverage to put down a big marker. It boldly cuts across the Eames Bradley recommendation for a Legacy Commission lasting five years. The decision seems to exceed his operational independence. Although he’s still … Read more