New Tories, old Tories, what’s the difference?

Everyone seems to be talking about the headline of Lord Feldman’s press release today, and no one is talking about what he actually said. Let’s be clear, there is to be no “new party” in Northern Ireland. They are not farming off their existing branch, they are attempting to tart it up a bit. And what are these momentous changes? They MIGHT get a seat on the Conservative Party board (hardly a sign of a new party is it?), they … Read more

Sarkozy: “I did not know she voted in France…”

At the Guardian’s Politics Blog, Michael White has some fun with reports that Nicolas Sarkozy has enlisted Frau Bundeskanzlerin in his French presidential re-election campaign.  Although this post’s title quote, from the Wall Street Journal blogs, suggests he may already be having second thoughts…  ANYhoo…  From Michael White’s post We can assume that pollsters have advised Sarko that the pluses of being identified positively with the much-admired German economy will outweigh the risks . Marine Le Pen, the National Front (NF) … Read more

“and it is all taking place during the 400th anniversary of the city being granted its Royal Charter…”

A UTV report acknowledging the contribution of PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin in Londonderry’s successful bid, against Sligo, to host the All-Ireland Fleadh during the UK City of Culture year notes another reason for denizens of the city to celebrate in 2013.  From the UTV report The addition of the Fleadh means 2013 is shaping up to be a year to remember for the city. It will coincide with the Derry/Londonderry UK City of Culture – and it is all … Read more

Haiti: ‘Baby Doc’ escapes justice for past abuses

Given the Slugger community’s interest in Haiti, I thought it worthwhile to note the regrettable decision by a Haitian court not to charge the country’s former dictator,  Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, over allegations of torture and murder. Duvalier returned to Haiti this time last year after 25 years in exile in France. Since then, he has been under investigation for serious human rights violations – including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions – that took place during his rule from 1971 to … Read more

Time for a closer look at what’s under the bonnet of a Scottish referendum?

1974 and 1975 were rich years for student politics at the University of St Andrews – not one, but two general elections in 1974, followed by the ‘EEC’ poll of 1975; throughout the endless debates stimulated by the miners’ strike and consequential three-day week, the narrow Labour leads in February and October, followed by a large vote in favour of remaining in the European Economic Community I can never recall the possibility of a referendum on Scotland’s future being posed … Read more

RBS bonus: Obscene or a nice piece of business?

One thing, I think, that is better, or at least more widely, understood in the Republic than in the UK is that the credit crunch is still screwing up almost every other well intentioned effort to get our economies moving again. This is because the banks still haven’t owned up to the extent of their bad debt, and they are barely lending anything to anyone. So far, the pattern seems to be that they keep the good (ie, unimpaired) investment … Read more

Yes Taoiseach, but if we’re going to have a Referendum why not have a meaningful one?

So, it’s official. The Irish people want a referendum, whether the Constitution says they need one or not? Micheal Martin thinks it’s overblown, and that the real problem is that the current treaty does not actually address any of the real problems facing the Irish (nay, the European) economy: For all of the fighting in December about the place of existing European Union treaties and institutions, existing treaty law will remain fully in force. The draft treaty explicitly states that … Read more

Has McGuinness Breached the Good Friday Agreement?

The Deputy First Minister seems to have changed the Sinn Fein position of achieving a United Ireland by 2016,  amending their pledge to that of referendum in 2016 or shortly after, in an article in today’s Irish Examiner Martin states  “It just seems to me to be a sensible timing. It would be on the question of whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a … Read more

“Last January, the vast majority of families decided that the 39th Anniversary would be the last march”

Despite the declaration by the organising committee last year following the publication of the Saville Inquiry report, and the absence of endorsement by the Bloody Sunday Trust this year, a sizeable number of people took part in the 40th anniversary Bloody Sunday march in Londonderry yesterday.  Estimates range from several hundred to almost 3000. And, although Eamonn McCann doesn’t directly cite the absence of the Trust’s endorsement of yesterday’s march among the reasons for his resignation as chairman, he does register his disagreement with that decision. … Read more

Where are the dynamic people in the Irish Border region?

Four years ago I wrote a ‘Note from the Next Door Neighbours’ called ‘Can we become the best border region in Europe?’ in which I listed some of  the distinguished people from the Irish border region over the past 20-30 years and appealed to some of them to come together to promote, develop and celebrate this peripheral and often forgotten region. I am now renewing that call, spurred on by a piece of research, a speech in Cavan, and a … Read more

The UK comprises four nations not two and its history is a lot more complicated than many seem to appreciate

Nice piece from David Torrence at the Steamie (H/T Phil) Is any of this important? I think it is, not only because the history of any state is important, but also because the story of the United Kingdom gave rise to much of the political terminology we still use today. For example the term “Unionist”, in party political terms, refers not to those wishing to preserve the Union between Scotland and England, but those who want to retain the Union … Read more

What would happen to Scotland’s EU membership post independence?

Bearing in mind this is still firmly in the realm of political science, nevertheless Roddy Thomson is a Scot embedded in the hub bub of Brussels daily life and has assembled an approximation as to how Scotland and the UK might stand postpartum… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. … Read more

The Creative Class and Northern Ireland

As part of NICVA’s series of masterclasses from its Centre for Economic Empowerment project, there was a morning seminar on the topic of the “creative class” (as popularised by Richard Florida) and its applicability to Northern Ireland. The agenda was to: Explain Richard Florida’s idea of the “creative class” and the link between economic outcomes and the ability of a region to facilitate creativity and diversity Explore the link between a successful economy and social issues, such as community division, … Read more

‘Derry is a better place’

  This little quote may not be the answer to everything but is part of a quite uplifting overview in the Guardian from a Derry women of the younger generation, Jeananne Craig, “a Derry journalist now living and working in London.” Bloody Sunday was not a talking point when I, a Catholic, moved on to my predominantly Protestant grammar school. My schoolfriends growing up in the city’s largely unionist Waterside area no doubt had a different viewpoint to the one … Read more

Referendum demands may be catching

  In that interview trailed by Pete below, the Examiner itself highlights the DPM’s soft voiced approach to an early referendum on unity. Have Alex Salmond’s  tactics found their Irish imitator? The deputy first minister believes the Democratic Unionist Party can be persuaded to agree to such a dramatic move.       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 … Read more

East Belfast Speaks Out on Thursday evening (reminder)

East Belfast Speaks Out 2012 leaflet

Quick reminder to East Belfast readers that they have a chance to put their questions to local representatives as well as the minister of education at Thursday evening’s East Belfast Speaks Out event. The general theme of the evening is still: How responsive is the Assembly to the real concerns of the electorate? John O’Dowd MLA (Sinn Féin) will be joined on the panel by Michael Copeland (UUP), Sammy Douglas MLA (DUP), John Kyle (PUP councillor) and Chris Lyttle MLA … Read more

Sandy Row drug dealers are warned

This warning notice greeted me as I entered my place of work. Plastered along Donegall Road and Sandy Row.   Allan LEONARD (Mr Ulster)Allan LEONARD is a peacebuilder. I do this through my personal and professional vocations, with learning, exploring, and reporting. My specialism is the politics of Northern Ireland, whose people and land I love and where I have made my home. I believe in the power of the arts for conflict transformation, through vision, sound, and performance. I … Read more

Retiring His Voice? Never!

Having produced illustrated commentary to slugger for over a year now I’ve decided to experiment with the idea of giving my cartoons a voice through a written accompaniment. Perhaps this is a bold move and certainly the thought of breaking out of my cartooning-comfort zone and assembly words and sentences together instead of ink, tones and colours is a little daunting, especially when some of the target audience are seasoned slugger bloggers and critics, but I’m willing and ready for … Read more

Martin McGuinness: “as far as I was concerned she apologised for her behaviour…”

That’s according to the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, in an interview to be published in the Irish Examiner tomorrow.  He’s referring to RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan and her questioning of his version of his past during a televised debate with candidates in the Irish Presidential election last year.  From the Irish Examiner report In an interview to be published in full in Monday’s Irish Examiner, Mr McGuinness says Ms O’Callaghan apologised on count night.”Miriam came … Read more