Pressure on Cowen mounts, as the case is made for an election

Now that the depth of Anglo’s pit has been divined (though have AIB and Irish Nationwide been stress tested enough?) the Irish Economy blog makes a cogent case for a November election before the budget. The question of whether the government had a mandate to introduce unpopular measures would disappear. And despite regular claims from journalists that the opposition are irresponsible and have no policies, both Fine Gael and Labour did produce plans last year detailing how they would implement … Read more

Enda caught in the middle between Eamon and Brian…

Despite the poor showing in the polls, Fianna Fail have one secret, get-out-of-jail-free card they can play against both Labour (soaring ahead at 33% in the latest Ipso-MRBI poll) and Fine Gael (now level pegging at 24% with Fianna Fail). They’ve been in government for so long, they have acquired the knack of being plausible. Very much an underestimated quality in Irish politics. A normally talented performer in Dail, even Joan Burton was tempted to jump the shark with her … Read more

Brian Lenihan: “It is an urgent and immediate priority to reinforce international market confidence…”

With, as Robert Peston put it, the Irish economy “hideously and perilously balanced between recovery and Armageddon” the Irish Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, has confirmed that the Anglo Irish Bank bailout will cost between €29.3 billion and €34.3 billion. Additionally AIB and Irish Nationwide will also require more money from the State. The development will push Ireland’s deficit to 32% for this year, according to the Minister for Finance. AIB will need a further €3bn on top of existing State funds being converted … Read more

Service announcement: Minor Facebook / Twitter-related tweaks to Slugger

At the top of this post, there’s a lovely new ‘Facebook Like’ button and a ‘Tweetmeme’ link on the left. These are designed to help you flag up anything you read and like to your followers as well as giving our contributors a bit of feedback. These things only work, of course, if you’re on Facebook / Twitter. Looking at the poor quality of spelling and punctuation in the comments thread, we know that you are all crying out for … Read more

South Belfast UUP dump another of their Westminster candidates…

UUP banner logo - slightly cropped

I cannot think of another political party that would spend the money and effort on a candidate in one election, only to dump them in the next. And Paula Bradshaw could be forgiven for wondering whether Reg Empey meant it when he promised the Ulster Unionist party would prioritise bringing women into the Assembly party. To be fair to Sir Reg he is no longer leader. And by all accounts he will shortly be giving up his ministerial post. But … Read more

Photograph of the Day – Where in Belfast City Centre is this?

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

Killing Joe O’Connor

Ten years have passed since the Provisional IRA murdered RIRA Volunteer Joseph O’Connor in Ballymurphy. It was 1999 that Mo Mowlam gave a green light for the Provos to maim and murder their own people, when she classified the murder of young Charles Bennett – alleged to have been killed to keep him from exposing corruption – as “internal housekeeping”; the Provos routinely kidnapped and threatened other republicans, justified as necessary action to keep the movement from splitting, in order … Read more

Croeso i Montgomerieshire…

Things hotting up nicely for the weekend. Catherine and Katherine introduced golfers, wives and 13,000 others to Welsh song at a gala last night. Tiger has been here before – not sure he enjoyed it much though… – Nice quote from his caddie for that week in 1995, when beset by food poisoning he tried to help him out – “In fairness to Woods, Griffiths reveals he saw the illness close up. “He was pretty rough and I gave him a … Read more

Bill Clinton’s Big [Economic] Ideas for NI…

Or, as I think I heard it described on the fawning UTV report, his “special insight” on developing the local Northern Ireland economy, ahead of next month’s one-day US economic forum on NI.  According to the BBC report Mr Clinton said new jobs could be created through greater investment in renewable energy and rebranding the local fishing industry [as “organic”]. The second is hardly a unique selling point. And I’m sure I’ve seen the first suggested somewhere else before… But we, including … Read more

IFA: Court case for Irish, ‘understanding’ for English

One thing Slugger loves is a blog on football allegiances, so here you go… Today English teenager Adam Barton withdrew from the northern ireland football squad facing Italy and the Faroe Islands in the European qualifiers. Yesterday the north’s manager had declared: If players don’t want to represent Northern Ireland, it doesn’t matter how good or how bad they are, that’s up to them and good luck to them. It’s not a problem for Northern Ireland. “I focus on the … Read more

NAMA takes on £3.35bn (€4bn) loans linked to NI assets

The BBC notes that “Nama, the bad bank agency set up by the Irish government, is to take over loans originally worth around £3.3bn linked to assets in Northern Ireland.”   RTÉ gives the figure revealed today by Peter Stewart, the head of Nama’s advisory committee on Northern Ireland, as a “qualified estimate” of £3.35billion [pdf file] (€4billion) and adds Mr Stewart estimated that around €2.4bn of the loans were linked to undeveloped land, €1.2bn to investment properties and €400m to projects which … Read more

PUP to debate cutting paramilitary ties this evening (Update – and didn’t)

PUP interim leader, Dr John Kyle

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowen previews tonight’s meeting of the PUP. Dawn Purvis resigned as leader and member of the PUP in the immediate aftermath of Shankill loyalist Bobby Moffett’s murder in May – “a public execution sanctioned by [UVF] paramilitary leaders”. Dr John Kyle stepped in as interim leader, a bit like a pilot with the aim of stabilising the damaged PUP aeroplane and bringing it down to land in a controlled way at the Harbour Airport, ensuring … Read more

Slugger Awards: Call for media category pitches…

Right, so now we’re going to get serious about crunching down the new categories for this year’s Slugger Awards. Unlike previous years we want you to set down what makes a good politician/good journalist/member of civil society. We already have a long list of qualities people think would make politics better. But as our resident wit, FitzJamesHorse, notes it would be “hard to get all of that engraved on the plinth of the award.” So now – to make things … Read more

Learning from a green town on the Irish border

I’d like to return to the theme of energy cooperation in Ireland. This month’s belated row over the purchase (announced in July) of Northern Ireland Electricity by the Irish government-owned Electricity Supply Board – which, interestingly, saw Peter Robinson and his DUP Minister for Industry Arlene Foster take different positions – is a small storm in a unionist teacup and will pass. The great majority of people in politics and business in Northern Ireland agree that the single electricity market … Read more

Parading, the Hillsborough Agreement and the return of the Clever Device

The Hillsborough Agreement seems much longer than seven months ago. For months the DUP had stalled in accepting the devolution of policing and justice and Lord Morrow and Gregory Campbell gloated over Sinn Fein suggesting that P&J would not be devolved in the lifetime of the current assembly and that it might take six years. Then despite the rows behind closed doors and the supposed threatened resignations the DUP accepted P&J devolution. At the time in the wake of the … Read more

Gerry Adams, memory man

Danny Morrison dilates on failing memories and sportingly includes his old mucker. Can the sharp witted Danny have forgotten the elephant in the room? Don’t all shout at once.. “I have known Gerry for almost forty years and there is no way would I ever enter him for a ‘Memory Man’ competition Adams said: “It isn’t a sin, a crime or an offence to forget about something”, and he reminded unionists that they had done a lot of forgetting about … Read more

A flawed start for Ed, as David’s mask slips

It maybe an oldie’s prejudice but I just can’t warm to him. Why is that although we’ve overturned old taboos about gays and women, Ed Miliband seems a bit of a shit for upsetting the natural order of things by taking on and besting big brother? Because I think he still seems defined by his opposition to David and the heavier weight of ministerial office he bore. Also by the fact that David was slightly damaged goods for rightly opting … Read more

Garda Commissioner agrees with MI5 assessment

As RTÉ reports  Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has said that he believes an attack by dissident republicans in Britain is a strong possibility. Commissioner Murphy said he agreed with the assessment of the British Home Secretary and the head of MI5 in the UK that the level of threat from dissident republicans was now moderate to substantial. He also said that while the intent has always been there, the capability within groups such as the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA … Read more