“The panel [] is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm that Mr McCartney be confined.”

The Irish News reports today that the Life Sentence Review Commission has released Máirtín’s mate, Ronald McCartney, despite the then Secretary of State Shaun Woodward having revoked his release licence in 2008 “as a result of information received from police that he presented a serious risk to the public.” The Irish News report includes references from Maghaberry Prison governor Fred Caulfield of his “very positive view” of McCartney’s relationship with loyalist and republican prisoners in Maghaberry as well as former trade union chief … Read more

Up Down!

It’s out with the old order, in with the new as the perennial post-millenium powerhouses, Kerry and Tyrone, were both sent packing in surprise quarter-finals today. Whilst the Dubs deserve praise for their defeat of Tyrone, it is the Down men that will be taking centre stage after a fantastic performance saw them see off the champions from the Kingdom. Down will meet the winners of tomorrow’s all-Leinster clash between Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare and Meath in the semi-final, whilst Dublin … Read more

Facing future energy challenges on an all-Island basis

It is perhaps a significant pointer for the future that one of the most successful examples of North-South cooperation over the past decade has been in a vital area which is not even covered by the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Energy cooperation has seen the extension of the South’s natural gas pipeline network to the North in 2005, and the establishment of both an all-island (wholesale) electricity market  in 2007 and an all-island electricity grid in 2008. The latter came … Read more

Photograph of the Day – Early morning catch

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the … Read more

Big Day for Capital Stadia

We’ve reached the business end of the Senior Football Championship, with both remaining Ulster sides featuring in a crunch double-header in Croke this afternoon. Tyrone enter as favourites to see off the Dubs whilst Down are underdogs in their encounter with Kerry. Meanwhile, across the city at the Lansdowne Road Aviva Stadium, history will be made as the first game is played in the impressive new ground as two Development teams composed of players from the four provinces play off in … Read more

“who pull down statues, who deny the history of any place”

With Londonderry keen to capitalise on its 2013 UK City of Culture title, despite the apparent confusion of some, Mark Devenport notes a singular failure of irony by Northern Ireland junior Minister, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly. Rejecting TUV calls for the historic buildings at the Maze to be demolished, Gerry Kelly told reporters in North Belfast this afternoon that the people calling for the bulldozers to be sent in were the kind of people “who pull down statues, who deny the history … Read more

Decency vs. necessity and that big river in Africa

With the discovery of what seem to be the remaims of Charlie Armstrong almost 30 years after his disappearance,  Gerry Adams has persisted with a claim the IRA had no involvement in his death. Well, there’s no evidence to suggest that the IRA was involved Of course Adams and the IRA have form for denying involvement in ‘disappearing’ people. Despite (very belatedly) admitting other killings and disposal of bodies, until recently they denied anything to do with Joe Lynskey’s disappearance … Read more

NI Water: Board prevented from acting on contents of Internal Audit?

The Coalition government at Westminster clearly attach great public importance to Non Executive Directors on Departmental Boards. On his appointment as lead Non Executive Director to the Government, Lord Browne of Madingley laid out this description of the role of NEDs to departmental boards: “This is a role within Government but also independent of it. Its purpose is to assist in the delivery of policy using relevant experience from business. There is a great need for the best of the … Read more

CAS case to be concluded today- Update: Ruling in Favour of FAI

The protracted dispute over the elibigility of northerners to represent the Republic of Ireland should finally be resolved today, with the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issuing its ruling later today. This comes after the Irish Football Association took a case against west Belfast youth, Daniel Kearns, objecting to the rules which deemed him eligible to represent the Republic. This one’s been covered on Slugger for years and quite a few Sluggerites have become experts on the FIFA … Read more

“if you’re willing to put aside the conspiracy theories for a moment we will move on”

The publication of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate in 2009 report, with analysis by the Met Office, prompts the Daily Telegraph‘s Tom Chivers to produce the most sensible piece I’ve seen for some time on the subject. As Dan Gardner says in his wonderful book Risk: the science and politics of fear, to which I will be returning, the phrase “very likely” is about as strong as scientific language gets, and a 95 per cent confidence level … Read more

Photograph of the Day – McMaster Street

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the … Read more


The one thing that distinguishes a politician of substance is the capacity to say something meaningful. Few politicians are capable of this. The Dup’s Jim Wells makes sense most of the time. He can stand up and put a sensible point across fluently and not infrequently a point which is at variance with party policy. Martin Mc Guinness has come through as a big surprise probably more so to the protestant community and outside the island of Ireland. He has … Read more

“We’re here to give you your area back…”

There was an attempted punishment shooting in the Falls Road area of west Belfast last Thursday – 4 men and a 16 year old boy have been charged.  Yesterday an 18 year old was shot in both legs after he was abducted by four masked men, also in the Falls Road area. Meanwhile the Irish News reported today that More than 40 members of dissident republican group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) are believed to have been involved in attacks in the troubled St James’s area … Read more

Maze development (complete with shrine / conflict transformation centre) moves forward

Pete has mentioned this below but there are now a few more details available: The BBC are reporting that an agreement has been reached on the Maze site (as trailed by Martin McGuinness when the Newry bypass was closed to allow for its official opening). According to the BBC: a board will be appointed to oversee the facility. It will comprise of ex military personnel, former prison officers, and police officers along with victims, politicians and former republican and loyalist … Read more


The family of Crossmaglen man Charlie Armstrong who went missing in 1981 has been told his remains have been located. Confirmation of the discovery of the bones of a male in County Monaghan came this afternoon. The independent commission for the location of victims said this evening that it has notified the Armstrong family, the Garda, and the state pathologist in the Republic of Ireland. Mr. Armstrong disappeared after leaving home for mass. He hasn’t been seen since. Mystery surrounded … Read more

We’ll All Pay for Devolved Administrations’ Budget Cuts

The reality of massive public spending cuts has finally hit the devolved administrations (if not all their politicians). As Mick highlighted in his recent essay, NICVA’s report suggests that Stormont will have to make budget cuts of (at least) £1.2 billion in the next five years. Earlier today, the Independent Budget Review in Scotland recommended a fall in public sector employment of between 5.7% and 10% by 2014-15. In both Scotland and Northern Ireland, the debate about ring fencing health spending (which … Read more

Paisley was at the helm when TUV peaked…

It would be true to say that Dr Paisley’s jibe at his successor record against Sinn Fein has gone down a little sourly in certain sections of the DUP.  But it does not, as David Gordon hints, mean that the DUP is about to be pipped at the post by Sinn Fein: The Paisley article is presumably referring to the 2009 European Election result, when Sinn Fein topped the poll. That was not due to a surge in support for … Read more

The semi-detached polit-bureau in action

They just can’t help themselves… Mr McGuinness was speaking at the official opening of the first high-speed road link between Belfast and Dublin. He said: “I think Peter Robinson and I will have more good news to announce in regard to the development of the Maze/Long Kesh site. “We have actually reached agreement and we will publicly announce how we intend to take that forward over the next very short while.” As both the BBC and UTV Press Association note … Read more

Why intelligent criticism is good for government (and politicians)

I was uncharacteristically lost for words when I discovered, through Mark Devenport’s latest post, that a senior and highly capable Sinn Fein MLA was using material gleaned from a UK based right wing ginger group (funded so far as we can tell, by non taxpaying British expats) with a known record of rolling together own brand ‘dodgy dossiers’ (see Pete’s post for the detailed links). Adds: Just had one reader contact us to point out that this could be interpreted … Read more

Ruane commissions four new Irish language schools…

The reason Caitriona Ruane has been struggling to fulfil her party brief to end selection in schools is that she lacks the power to do so.  However she does have carte blanche in allocating budgets, which is one reason why she has decided (albeit conditionally) to fund four new Irish language schools in Magherafelt, Kilkeel, Limavady and Ballymena. Yet as the Belfast Telegraph noted yesterday, there is a 27% vacancy rate in that sector already. In fact there are some … Read more