Smithwick Tribunal: “It is understood the tribunal chairman is concerned about the deadline”

According to the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, speaking to the BBC on Thursday – about the Irish Government setting the Smithwick Tribunal a ‘deadline’ of 30 November for its final report. [Irish Justice Minister Alan] Shatter said the November deadline was not set in stone. “We’ve been informed by the tribunal chairman that he believes the tribunal will be in a position to do that, but should it emerge that there’s a difficulty in that regard, of course, we’ll revisit the matter,” he … Read more

Some unionist attempts at Kremlinology

Unionists are often correctly accused of having little insight into the political thinking of nationalists and republicans: it is a Northern Ireland version of Kremlinology. Two unionist commentators have, however, made an attempt at analysing the current position of republicans in the News Letter. Alex Kane looks at the position of republicans within government: Michelle O’Neill, their new minister of agriculture said: “We’re not career politicians. We’re republicans, we’re republican activists. That’s what we are about here. We’re not interested … Read more

The Queen’s Visit and Impact Assessment

‘The week that Anglophobia died’ was the headline on the Irish Times article by that splendid columnist Fintan O’Toole(1) at the end of the Queen’s hugely successful visit to Ireland. Citing Frank O’Connor’s poignant story of Irish volunteers in the war of independence executing captured British soldiers who a few days earlier they had been addressing as ‘chum’, O’Toole said O’Connor’s story suggested that ‘left to themselves, without the interventions of violence and power, Irish people and English people get … Read more

Euro crisis: “For all concerned, the stakes are rising rapidly”

The markets may be optimistic about reports of agreement between Greece and the EU, IMF and ECB inspectors but, as Arthur Beesley notes in the Irish Times, the cost will be “a humiliating erosion of sovereignty”. And, as he also notes in a separate report, the future remains uncertain for Greece. In view of Greece’s uncertain financing outlook over the next 12 months, the IMF is known to be threatening to refuse to release its €3 billion portion of the €12 … Read more

POTD – Dansko Gida

Dansko Gida from Vorsland in the Kaash republic, engages with a local yoof in an attempt to get him to ‘Kiss the duck’ which an old Kaash tradition. Part of the Festival of Fools ‘Sunday Treats’ at Cotton Court every Sunday through the summer at 2pm and 4pm 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 … Read more

Is FIFA about to enter a ‘black hole’ of Blatter’s own making?

Given FIFA sponsors are getting itchy over allegations of corruption amongst some of it’s highest placed officials, it’s worth asking whether this was something like the “black hole” Sepp Blatter had in mind when he argued the organisation had no alternative but to vote him back into office tomorrow: ” Nevertheless, it is worthwhile outlining what the alternative would be, i.e. none at all. “What applies for every carpenter also applies for us: the roof will only hold as long … Read more

Welsh Soccer the new Rugby…

Swansea City make the Premiership. With help from an Ulster manager..Brendan Rogers. Can they stay there? DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

ODI: Ireland v Pakistan

After a disappointing performance in the first One-Day International against Pakistan on Saturday, Ireland’s cricketers won the toss and elected to bat today at Stormont.  And they’ve set Pakistan a solid target of 239 from their 50 overs.  As the cricinfo report says, A brilliant, belligerent century by Paul Stirling gave Ireland hope of levelling the two-match RSA Series in Belfast today. An ODI win for Ireland against Pakistan, a full ICC member, could have implications for Ireland’s ICC World Cup 2015 hopes. Cricinfo scorecard … Read more

Euro crisis: “categorically there will be absolutely no bailout next year in Ireland”

A series of Irish government ministers have been clarifying their position after the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, appeared to suggest that a second bail-out could be required for Ireland next year. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan “The programme is due to run until the end of 2013 and the start of 2014 and there is sufficient money in the programme to meet all eventualities so categorically there will be absolutely no bailout next year in Ireland,” Mr Noonan stated. “The … Read more

Queen’s fears raise stakes in the Scottish game

Manoeuvres over the future of Scotland grow ever more complicated. Who leaked the story to the Sunday Times that the Queen is worrIed about the breakup of her Kingdom? (I’m referring to Scotland of course). The Prime Minister’s weekly audience is supposed to as secret as the confessional and you can bet it wasn’t her that leaked. While such leaks are almost as rare as hens’ teeth, I remember that the last one, in 1986, turned out to be completely gen. The Queen’s … Read more

“The Stormont system appears unsustainable in the long term…”

I noted previously Patrick Murphy’s concern about “how the assembly’s unchanging nature will influence future public engagement with elections and with what passes for politics here.”  In yesterday’s Irish News he posed a challenge to the post-election SDLP. From the Irish News Often in Irish history, constitutional nationalism has reaped the electoral benefits of armed insurrection.  This time the rebels cut out the middle man and collected the votes themselves.  Their political similarity to the SDLP was obvious. Entering politics required … Read more

BBC Trust is looking for your views on BBC News Channel, BBC Parliament and 5 Live/Sports Extra

BBC Trust logo

Slugger readers will be delighted to know that the BBC Trust is currently reviewing the service licences for BBC News Channel, BBC Parliament, Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra. Each service provided by the BBC is reviewed at least once every five years. You have until mid-July to provide your feedback. BBC News Channel and BBC Parliament – online survey BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra – online survey The online surveys will pick up … Read more

Euro crisis: “Politicians have become sheep, not leaders”

In today’s Irish Times Paul Gillespie returns to the topic of the political dynamics in play at European and national levels during this euro crisis.  From the Irish Times article Ireland is doubly unlucky. Not only is France prepared to play hardball, but there is also no good reason for it to calculate its interests are being damaged by Ireland’s corporation tax rate to any real extent. It is impossible to get a good explanation from any French person as … Read more

RIP Gil Scott-Heron

Woke up to hear the news of the premature death of Gil Scott Heron aged 62. He rose to fame during the early 70’s and is perhaps best remembered for his song “The Revolution will not be televised” A poet, writer, singer and author his influence cannot be underestimated. He fought drug and alcohol addiction through his brief life but retained his voice of protest. He leaves a back catalogue of 15 studio albums,11 compilations and 9 live recordings. Considering … Read more

Mainstream media should not abandon their independent judgement before the Grow NI campaign

The debate on the future of corporation tax tests the area where NI   journalism and comment is at its weakest – business and economics. It also tests of the robustness of editorial independence when commercial judgment is decisively on one side. Naturally business is rampantly in favour – how can turkeys do otherwise than vote for the permanent abolition of Christmas? Companies are clustering round the Grow NI campaign launched by the NI Chamber OF Commerce and backed by the … Read more

POTD – Draw Down the Walls

For a number of years a group called Draw Down the Walls has worked across the peace lines to produce art work related to living in the shadow of the peace walls. There are now more walls than before the Good Friday Agreement. Funded by Belfast City Council the group, who work with the Golden Thread Gallery and North Belfast Interface Network are looking to open debate about the walls and their place in our society. They work with youth … Read more

Good grief – Wales win a Soccer match..

2 – 0. Not a classic, and a crowd of 529 people, but from a Welsh viewpoint every minute that Aaron Ramsey plays as captain is good. Any positives for you? DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

Our slice of a new piece of London heritage

It seemed such a long shot, a new London double decker with a conductor and a platform you can fall off , seeming to defy the twin political correctnesses of efficiency and health and safety,  like the old days before mobile tin boxes and bendy buses took over.  Just a retro election gimmick from the nostalgia – fixated mind of mayor Boris Johnson. And even more way out, a green bus built in Ballymena. But now it has actually become reality. In … Read more

“damn, what a sky…”

[Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky] Clear skies are everything in visible-light astronomy, and they don’t come much clearer that the skies above the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope [VLT] array on top of Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert.  As this amazing time-lapse video of the VLT in operation, by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado, shows.  There’s little I can say to prepare you for these wondrous images.  Simply stunning.  Via the Professor.  And via Popsci’s Clay Dillow, who warns “it … Read more

“resulted in it being promotional for the First and Deputy First Ministers and their respective political parties.”

As the News Letter reports, the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom has ruled that an OFMDFM radio advert – part of a £20,000 advertising campaign, in February 2010, promoting the Hillsborough Castle Agreement – was “political advertising” in breach of the Communications Act 2003.  The ruling upheld a complaint made about the advertisement by the leader of the TUV, Jim Allister. It’s worth taking the time to read the details of the ruling provided by Ofcom in their broadcast bulletin [pdf file] Conclusion on “public … Read more