NI Justice Minister: “This is exactly the type of news Northern Ireland needs to avoid.”

Army bomb experts have made safe a viable device containing over 40kg of homemade explosive material after a two-day security alert in Lurgan. And a second explosive device has been found inside a vehicle at the long-stay car park at Belfast International airport. Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said both devices “had the potential to cause injury and damage”. “They were left in places used by the public and with no regard for the public; it is thanks to the vigilance … Read more

The PUP, the UVF and bridges

During and after the last Ice Age it is suggested that mainland GB was not an island but was linked to continental Europe by a vast land bridge called Doggerland. Brian Ervine the recently installed leader of the Progressive Unionist Party has tried to suggest that the link between the PUP and the UVF was a “bridge” and that the UVF and PUP were related in a very limited way. (Pete has a blog on one of his recent interviews … Read more

“I want to represent their views.”

So said 18-year-old Connor Morgan as he became the first member of Sinn Féin to speak in the House of Commons.  The event was the annual sitting of the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons – Mr Morgan being a representative for County Londonderry. Speaking afterwards, Mr Morgan insisted his Sinn Fein membership was “completely irrelevant” as members of the Youth Parliament do not have party loyalties. “This event is not party political,” he said. “I’m here today just … Read more

Platform calls for rethink on cohesion and promises full programme soon

By the end of the year, a long awaited paper from the pressure group for political renewal and realignment Platform for Change will outline what a proper Programme for Government should look like, with an eye to next year’s assembly election. The paper will refresh the Platform’s core document  which itself  needs updating in the light of the cuts and many other developments. Today group supporters  published an open letter to the FM and DFM  expressing deep dissatisfaction with the poverty of … Read more

Is it good enough for David Ford only to hold the ring?

The dissident threat and the Newtownabbey riots prompts me to ask: what impact is David Ford making as Minister of Justice? The conclusion would seem to be a modest one, compared to the massive controversy over devolving the justice and policing functions. I can’t help feeling that big issues are being ducked: viz: Are the PSNI in shape to deal with the dissidents, UVF left-overs and the legacies of paramilitarism generally? Is an agreement in sight for dealing with the … Read more

Seeking asylum is not a crime. The human face of detention.

There has been much, often ill-informed, comment on the airwaves over the last couple of days on the proposed immigration (temporary) detention centre planned by the UK Borders Agency in Larne. Much has come from local residents that foreign nationals being held in secure detention might escape, might take people’s jobs, might lower property values … who knows, they might even start barbecuing swans given half the chance. Of course, the quality of the discourse was hardly helped by the BNP … Read more

Eamon Nancarrow’s misadventures in Rock…

It’s the quiet ones you have to watch, they say. When I last saw Eamonn Namcarrow, back in the mid 1980s he was a congenial, good-natured and highly sociable young lad. The next time was 26 years later, in Lavery’s Gin Palace in Bradbury Place. He’d just brought out his first book, Holywood Star about his misadventures on the way to rock and roll oblivion. In fact half of Holywood have been reading it, it seems: or at least that … Read more

“You have to ask yourself – are they (the leadership) the only ones allowed to write books?”

On Thursday the International Representative for west Belfast, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, and his party colleague the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, may have been expressing their concern at a “crisis meeting” about an apparent increasing number of suicides in the area… But they don’t yet seem to have found time to comment on the suicide of a former comrade. Former Provisional IRA member Gerard ‘Whitey’ Bradley’s body was found in a car parked at a marina near Carrickfergus Castle on Wednesday. Bradley, with the assistance … Read more

Friday thread: Remapping the past through archives…

The Belfast Telegraph has a nice little web story about a Belfast filmmaker George Clarke, who ‘thinks’ he discovered an instance of a timetraveller speaking into a mobile phone at the Hollywood Premier of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 classic, The Circus. It was featured on Chris Wild’s excellent blog a few days ago (with some pretty sceptical comments from his readers). Chris is one to watch for the future. Not least because of the way he uses original material from the past … Read more

If the administration doesn’t like a Shared Future, what then?

Peter Robinson’s attack on the funding of Catholic education was one of the rare examples of deft politicking in that it had a broad appeal to unionist voters from the most hard core to the most liberally minded. What could be more ‘shared future’ than educating all NI’s children in the same schools? Erm, well… And, as Duncan Morrow pointed out on Monday, the Shared Future strategy, launched by Des Browne in 2005 has found very little purchase with either … Read more

Two Dail seats for Sinn Fein in Donegal..?

There’s an analysis piece in the Donegal Democrat that backs some of the soundings I’ve been taking in and around Donegal in recent weeks, ie that Sinn Fein could/should take one and possibly two seats in Donegal in the next southern general election. The figures are an extrapolation from the last Red C poll, and based on an ‘independent’ analysis from Aidan Kavanagh at NUI Maynooth (who did a similar exercise in May): The national figures which were published at … Read more

Our deadly version of the pronunciation game

The British library and the Today programme were having a little innocent fun over new trends in pronunciation today.  ‘Haitch’ or ‘aitch’? How do you pronounce ‘H’? We remember with a shudder the local version. Like saacrifice, maass, AA B.C. – Your turn at compulsory Russian roulette… Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London … Read more

“The market obviously doesn’t believe the position at the moment”

Andy may fear for the children and idealists, but Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s main concern, as previously acknowledged by his Finance minister, is re-establishing lost international market confidence. And while a national consensus may prove elusive, despite the re-assurances of EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, those markets have given their initial verdict on the Irish Government’s judgement that a total cut of €15 billion is needed over four years to reduce the budget deficit to 3 per cent by 2014.  The iol report has … Read more

Can the DUP advance the cause of mixed schooling like this?

So the DUP ” will not rest” until a single schools system is created, says Mervyn Storey  He suggested four issues would require agreement: Governance — a single body representing all to encourage collaboration in planning; Policy — achieving genuine consensus rather than “whim or ideology”; Structures — meeting needs in a cost-effective way, and Choice — protecting the concept of parental choice “within an agreed framework”. The big question is – Is the DUP in any position to achieve … Read more

Photograph of the Day – David

I have seen David around and about, never managing to get his portrait for one reason or another. So when i saw him the other day i asked if i could get a portrait and he said yes…… 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 … Read more

Queen to receive apology during Dublin visit next year

Breathtaking stuff from Fine Gael’s Michael Ring yesterday during the Dail debate on the economy. Deputy Ring told the Dáil that when Queen Elizabeth II (of England) visits Ireland, possibly next year that she should be handed back control of the country. He also, helpfully, suggested that she receive an apology for the mess that has been made in the country during her absence. His exact words were: Now look at the mess we’re in, and look at the mess this country is in. Next year the queen is talking about coming … Read more

Better BBC business coverage requires more accountability from business

A plea for more and better business news from BBC Northern Ireland has come from the local arm of the Institute of Directors, via Twitter and their freshened up website NI Biz Talk. Judging from the BBC News website, this is long overdue. While the lobby is urging a write-in to the latest BBC public consultation about Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle, I suspect the case can be made for all local BBC platforms. What is “business news ” anyway? Judging … Read more

East Belfast Speaks Out on 10.11.10

If you like your politics face to face and within heckling distance and you’re living in East Belfast, last year’s popular political engagement event is returning to Ashfield Boys School on 10 November 2010. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Mark Devenport is chairing this year’s East Belfast Speaks Out panel which is in the process of being publicly announced, but safe to say that there are some heavyweights on the list to attend and respond to questions … Read more

Tax powers for Stormont, a doubtful proposition

Should the Assembly bid to Westminster to take on tax varying powers and lower corporation tax to the Republic’s level of 12.5%? Local experts appearing before the NI Select Committee were divided.  It was pretty much the magic bullet for lobbyists from the Economic Reform Group, Eamonn Donaghy of KPMG and Victor Hewitt of the Economic Research Institute.( I was relieved to see them alive and talking; for judging purely from their websites, they died  a while back- terrible PR that). Their … Read more

One rule for ‘ussuns’, another rule for ‘themmuns’?

As Martin McCauley and Stephen Barnes have noted on twitter – after 2 nights of rioting in Rathcoole the PSNI have yet to deploy a single Baton Round or roll out their water cannons. The petrol bombs, vehicle burnings and gunmen mingling within the rioters have been described as ‘different beasts’. Lucky old Rathcoole rioters. But will people in Ardoyne understand the softly, softly PSNI attitude to things just up the road when they got the iron fist? Mark McGregorBlogging … Read more