The campaign always gets dirty near the end …

Sinn Fein posters mounted on top of other party posters in East Antrim

… but does it have to? This example of Sinn Fein postering in East Antrim isn’t exactly the most professional piece of campaigning … surely the early bird captures the worm lamppost while latecomers have to find their own free space? Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology … Read more

Pushing at boundaries

Great to see some politicos working outside comfort zones in their chase for votes. In the last day we’ve had Niall Ó Donnghaile out in Castlereagh helping his SF colleagues hunt those final ticks, Conall and the SDLP trying their luck in Belvoir and Mark Finlay and the UUP giving the Markets and Lower Ormeau a punt. So who else has been working an area not know for easy votes? (I’m still waiting 4 years for the APNI to canvass … Read more

Voyager: Humanity’s Farthest Journey

While waiting for Endeavour’s final voyage, you can catch up, metaphorically, with the ongoing scientific odyssey of those other still-nimble Voyagers as they head towards the vastness of interstellar space.  ( Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech) NasaTV has Thursday’s special science presentation on the mission with a panel of the Voyager team – including Ed Stone, who’s been there since 1972, and Ann Druyan, creative director of the group, led by Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, who put together the Golden Record both Voyagers carry. … Read more

Bill Craig came to his senses too late

Interesting to see that the Guardian has marked Bill Craig’sdeath at 86 with a Chris Ryder obit and touching to see that Mark follows the peculiar Irish practice of warning against speaking ill of the recently dead. Sam McBride’s” Political Giant” is infected by similar sentimentality on the unionist side.  But critical comment on Craig’s record is fully justified. In government and out of it, he fanned the flames of disorder, from the fateful  ban on the Derry Civil  Right march … Read more

You too can be a researcher for the Belfast Telegraph…

From Robert McNeill’s column in yesterday’s Tele:

Worse happened to another Manchester colleague, Darron Gibson, whose misspelling of his own first name was not a hopeful sign.

He had to delete his Twitter account after just two hours when it was inundated with allegations that he was not particularly good at his chosen profession and complaints that he’d chosen to play for the Republic rather then Northern Ireland. Many of these latter criticisms came from citizens with a strong intellectual interest in 17th century theological disputation.

Mr McNeill (who also seems to be under the impression that Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney play for a team called “Rovers”) is repeating an allegation made by his colleague Amanda Poole in Tuesday’s paper edition of the  “Northern Ireland’s Newspaper of the Year

Read moreYou too can be a researcher for the Belfast Telegraph…

A UK Unionist and also confirmed devo-sceptic.
I believe the creation of devolved “governments” in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, along with the corresponding unsolved “English Question”, has weakened that Union.

The present-day Conservative Party would be the national party which would come closest to representing my political beliefs. I have previously belonged to the “Friends of the Conservatives” and the UUP but am no longer connected with either party.

Outside of my Unionism, I consider myself as an economic libertarian, social liberal and secularist- e’g. am pro-choice, anti-schools segregated on the grounds of (parents’) religious beliefs.

Very suspicious of NI’s Human Rights’ Oligarchy (in particular the NIHRC) and hope to be writing on this topic, as well as wider UK and European political issues.

Endeavour’s Final Voyage

Following the final flight of Discovery, the next Nasa Space Shuttle to be retired, after 19 years of service, will be Endeavour. But first there’s the not insignificant matter of its 25th, and final, flight – Mission STS-134.  Lift-off is scheduled for 1547 local time (1947 GMT; 2047 BST) from the Kennedy Space Centre.  And via the NASAKennedy channel Endeavour’s final cargo, for the International Space Station, includes a 7-tonne particle physics experiment – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).  And the AMS channel … Read more

PUP leader Segways onto the wrong side of the law?

PUPs Brian Ervine on a Segway on an East Belfast pavement

Posters and Segway scooters. With less than a week to go until the election, candidates will have sore feet, lost weight and be counting the hours until polling closes on Thursday night at 10pm. The PUP is certainly pulling its weight when it comes to election gimmicks. Last week they unveiled a poster featuring Kristin Mackenzie – the American model/stock photo that both the DUP and UUP both used last year in rival posters – “to highlight the ongoing neglect … Read more

Gerry Kelly: “we’re not living in the past, we’re not living in the past”

The Belfast Telegraph has a transcript of what happened when BBC NI’s Martina Purdy asked Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly about his party’s recent “mixed messages”.  [Another ‘stupid’ question? – Ed] Indeed.  From the Belfast Telegraph report Ms Purdy ‘tweeted’ after the interview that Mr Kelly had been “exceptionally annoyed” with her, but did not want to comment further yesterday. A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “Martina Purdy chose to take this opportunity to insult Ireland’s patriot dead as republicans across the … Read more

House of Windsor can claim a role in UK’s future

Interesting commentary on the political and constitutional context for the British Royal Wedding in Westminster from Philip Stephens: “Once she [the Queen] has gone, though, the institution’s long-term survival will depend on whether it manages to adapt to straitened circumstance. Even as they cheer the newlyweds, the monarch’s subjects are contemplating the prospect of many years of economic austerity. George Osborne, the chancellor, says Britain has “maxed out on the national credit card”. It’s a silly, and economically illiterate, phrase. … Read more

Catching up with Jim Gorman and Paul Little, IRSP council candidates in Belfast #lg11 #belw #beln

IRSP logo

On Thursday afternoon I spoke to IRSP’s two candidates standing for Belfast City Council: Jim Gorman (Lower Falls) and Paul Little (Oldpark). The party has another three candidates standing in Derry and Strabane. The first part of the interview looked at their candidacy in next week’s local elections; the second part looked at the IRSP more generally, its link with the INLA, God, apologies, policing and their view on current dissident activity. I asked about where the IRSP as a … Read more

Royal Wedding

There’s a royal wedding today. How are you celebrating the day?. Me, i’m off to work… DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

“This, therefore, looks like slim pickings for Nama…”

At the Guardian’s Ireland Business blog, Lisa O’Carroll notes of Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency [NAMA] I wrote about the London trophy and landmark buildings amassed by developers for the Observer back in January and at the time, there was a view among the large property agencies in the capital that NAMA wouldn’t flood the market by offloading stock at one time because London, by definition, is “prime” stock – in other words, always sellable. As the head of investment … Read more

Uachtarán na hÉireann – SF within a whisker of nominating a Presidential candidate?

With 14 TDs and now 3 Senators elect, SF are a mere 3 Oireachtas votes away from the magically twenty that permits nomination to the 26 county Presidential election. I have no idea if SF would want to face a heavily tipped David Norris but two things do stand out; -just how much some of those close run Dail contests SF missed out on can really matter (also losing former members like Thomas Pringle TD) -just how far they’ve come … Read more

Seanad Éireann 2011 – SF triple representation

With the elimation of Brophy on the 25th count of the Seanad Industrial and Commercial Panel that by my reckoning guarantees the election of SF’s 3rd Senator, Kathryn Reilly. As one of only three ‘inside’ candidates left she joins Trevor O’Cloctaraigh and David Cullinane in tripling SF’s representation on a Seanad their party wants abolished (others share the view and it is very possible). Sinn Fein’s other candidate, Eoin O’Broin, has admitted his showing in the NUI panel was poor … Read more

Poverty programme should dominate the next Assembly

It’s great to see pressure mounting on what are misleadingly called ”  the bread and butter issues” – misleading, because of a growing shortage of ” bread and butter.”  The Social Justice Network is one of too few cross community  and interfaith bodies who  regularly lobby  the Assembly parties for their causes – on practical  stuff like their Heat and Eat campaign last Christmas, as well as policy. The chair of the network is the Head of the School of Law at … Read more

MoD apply for improved security at MI5’s NI headquarters

Increased security measures are already in place at potential terrorist targets in Londonderry.  The BBC are now reporting that the Ministry of Defence have applied for planning permission to improve security measures at the entrance to Palace Barracks in Holywood – site of MI5’s Northern Ireland headquarters. From the BBC report The application, filed earlier this month, is for a security building, the reconfiguration of site access and road layout and a search bay. Palace Barracks houses MI5’s Northern Ireland … Read more

#LG11 Open Thread: The Council contest…

If you want a more detailed piece on some of the issues at play, have look at John’s post from Monday. But this is an opportunity to flag council contests we should be keeping an especial eye on for Monday and Tuesday following the Assembly and AV counts. As an additional thought, if you are going to be at any of the counts (ie, Council, Assembly or AV referendum) and are willing to share thoughts, insights and information, drop me … Read more

Stratagem TV: Hurtling towards our uncharismatic election day…

Episode 4, the upcoming election… Not much change it seems, but Quintin’s tip towards the end (so you’ll have to watch the rest of us to get there!) that there will be big changes in the Executive make up is worth noting… Does he know something the rest of us don’t? I’d have liked to have heard more on the FM/DFM roles. I agree with Quintin that it seems not to be a big issue on the doorstep, but no … Read more

Wikileaks reminder that Obama’s still Guantánamo gaoler-in-chief

As Ireland readies itself to welcome President Obama to these shores next month, those with an interest in upholding international law have been given reason to recall how he has failed the litmus test of Guantánamo. While the President appears to have forgotten his January 2010 promise to close the internment camp within a year, a new batch of leaked government documents provides a reminder of just how iniquitous the US experiment in unlawful detention has proven. The new document … Read more

Chandra finds evidence of Tycho’s origin

Nasa’s Chandra X-ray observatory has been in orbit since 1999 and it’s still producing results.  Like this stunning image of the remnant of the Type Ia supernova first observed by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in 1572. The data for the images was collected in 283 hours of observation from 2 pointings between April 29, 2003 and May 3, 2009. (Credit: NASA/CXC/Chinese Academy of Sciences/F. Lu et al) From the text accompanying Chandra’s Tycho photo album This new image of Tycho’s supernova remnant, … Read more