Euro crisis: April is the cruellest month…

Apart from all the others…  And it doesn’t matter how big your umbrella is.  BBC Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, on springtime in Europe What is being exposed is a major flaw with Mrs Merkel’s fiscal pact. It is undemocratic. It ties the hands of future governments – and that, of course, was its intention but it doesn’t stop voters opposing further cuts. In the eurozone, deficits are being reduced. But debt – in many cases – is still growing. Growth … Read more

“since last February, we have facilitated the forced departure of 57 young people…”

To be filed alongside the report of the 18-year-old shot in both legs in the Creggan estate in Londonderry.  While his mother waited at the top of the lane…  According to the Irish Times headline – “Five forced to flee Derry city after death threats“.  Except…  From the report A DERRY community worker who helps young people who have been threatened by the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs, said yesterday that five young men were forced to flee the … Read more

“Truth and trust are intertwined. You can’t have one without the other.”

And Alex Kane makes a fairly pristine argument that there’s nothing stopping Martin McGuinness from going to Smithwick and telling the truth… First of all, he sets the scene: …the truth is that the UUP and DUP – the first time being December 1999 – still participates in an Executive that includes McGuinness, even though he is routinely referred to as a ‘godfather of terrorism’ and as the former officer-in-command of the IRA’s so-called army council. I doubt if there … Read more

Farewell to Education for Reconciliation

Earlier this month I attended the final teachers conference in Derry of the Education for Reconciliation project, to join them in celebrating what I believe to be one of the most important cross-border education projects of the post Belfast Agreement period. 13 years ago a visionary Dublin educationalist, Aidan Clifford, director of the Curriculum Development Unit of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, decided that he wanted to do something to support the then still young and fragile Northern Ireland … Read more

Belated admissions from both of Northern Ireland’s top politicians…

Things I thought I’d never hear in public… 1, Peter Robinson admitting that unionists were too slow on accepting power sharing; and Martin McGuinness admitting that he and his party dobbed Trimble in with those unfulfilled promises to decommission IRA weapons before the November 2003 Assembly election… Nice to hear it, finally, from the horses’ mouths… now the danger’s passed… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and … Read more

Where are our MLAs?

On a sunny Saturday over 70 young people from across the country came together to discuss transport. Many of these young people had travelled long distances to get there because they felt passionately about this issue in their area. A look at the #transportNI timeline will show the strength of feeling over the issue of Translink and access to transport The event was run by the NI Youth Forum and the British Youth Council. All 108 MLAs were invited along … Read more

Yes, Ireland can apply to the IMF for money, but…

If you want proof that SF dropped the ball on the anti case last week by putting partial quotes from Karl Whelan and two other eminent economists, it’s the fact that they have lent their own authority to an economist who is way off base from their own anti Fiscal Compact position. On Morning Ireland this morning Whelan gently debunked the idea, arising from (though strictly speaking, not contained within) a Sunday Times’ story yesterday that Ireland would be able … Read more

Mr Cameron might be well advised to do the decent thing quickly, and ‘proply’?

I’ve some sympathy with the difficult situation David Cameron now finds himself in. He didn’t make up the rules. And other leaders (Iain Martin proposes Bill Clinton and Tony Blair) seem to have got away with similarly close relations with the rich and powerful. Cameron’s Tories may have known it would be tough after the last election. But as Alistair Campbell helpfully notes, “things people ignored in good mood times suddenly gain traction in bad mood times”. Last night Tory … Read more

The End of the Northern Ireland Model of Peace Processing?

Even with the recent apparent spike in terrorist activity, including a large car bomb abandoned near Newry, and public paramilitary displays, it’s probably premature to talk of “the IRA’s resurgence”.  But that’s the reference used in this article by Michael Rubin Perhaps the most important fact I learned was that British security officials believe that their pact with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) may be unraveling.  British intelligence and counter terror officials are now tracking and interrupting more IRA terror planning that at … Read more

Ending co-terminosity

One of the less frequently used buzz-words in Northern Irish politics is “co-terminosity”, which is shorthand for the fact that members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are elected from constituencies with the same boundaries as those used for Westminster elections. It seems to me that co-terminosity has had its day, and if the long-postponed local government reforms come in, it would make a lot of sense to shift to a system where Assembly members are elected from constituencies which are … Read more

Last week at Smithwick: nothing to see here

The revelations last week from the Smithwick Enquiry that Martin McGuinness allegedly authorised the murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan as well as the use of human proxy bombs have made few enough political waves. In most western democratic societies the claim in a judicial setting that the Deputy First Minister was involved in such heinous crimes would be a scandal: here it was little more than a ripple. There are a number of possible reasons … Read more

“Pa bryd y cawn fyned i Seion” – the forgotten history of Welsh Mormonism

It’s a fairly remarkable fact that the place outside these islands with the largest percentage population of Welsh descent isn’t Scranton (from the Western Mail), Gaiman (From the Argentina Independent), or the Welsh Tract of Pennsylvania (from Wiki). The winner is Malad City in Idaho. The link is to this year’s Malad Valley Welsh Festival. Here’s Malad City’s Wiki with an explanation: Malad began largely as a Welsh Mormon settlement whose settlers brought their Welsh traditions with them. In addition to the Mormon majority, some of … Read more

Local papers well represented in the Society of Editors’ Regional Press Awards shortlists

Some local newspapers and journalists appear in the shortlists for the Society of Editors’ Regional Press Awards that celebrate the best of UK regional newspaper journalism in 2011. Good to see the local weekly The Ulster Herald making the list alongside Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and Sunday Life success. Given the entrance fee, some local publications may chose not to nominate. However, with only five names in each shortlist, Northern Ireland journalists and titles clearly dominate some of the categories … Read more

The Biggest Issues – what happens when talk radio goes awry?

One day I’ll have time to listen to the Afternoon Play Afternoon Drama live on Radio 4 while sitting on a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea in my hand. Until the mortgage is paid off, I have to settle for dipping in and out every week or two. Last Tuesday’s play – The Biggest Issues – was written by Annie McCartney, recorded and produced in Belfast. [Click on the link to listen.] Set in a fictitious – … Read more

The omni shambles and Labour’s difficulty capatilising

The omni shambles which is the current government seems to continue. I mentioned the disaster which was the budget and the spin surrounding it recently. Jeremy Hunt and his special advisor have yet again shone a spotlight on the relationship between Rupert Murdock’s media empire and politicians (though of course the Tories were far from the only political party with close links to News International – take a bow Alex Salmond). It has been suggested that Hunt is being kept … Read more

The misunderstood Lord Mayor shuffle – timing, facts & Sinn Féin tying themselves in knots over friendship

May 2012 front page An Phoblacht

Once a month, the postie delivers a bulging A5 envelope. Stuffed inside is a twice-folded copy of An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin’s 32 page monthly newspaper. The May edition’s back page is devoted to a story that broke in the Belfast Telegraph last Monday. Niall Ó Donnghaile is “leaving his post a few days early to allow a DUP Mayor to take up office in time for the Jubilee celebrations”. The newspaper story explained that the new mayor would be “elected … Read more

The need for a Bigger Picture

There is a time in life when one must stand up and be counted. A time when people cry out for a saviour to come and rescue them from their peril. A time to take your place as a leader of men. Then there are other times. Times when people are really happy enough, not too bothered and well, content with their lot. I come to Slugger as the latter hoping to inspire something of the former. I should explain. … Read more

26 / 11 = 438,000,000 – 150,000,000 / 25

On Tuesday in the assembly the Minister of Environment laid down the “ 2012 Local Government (Boundaries) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012”, why he calls it “2012” twice I don’t knows as the current proposals won’t take effect till 2015, were drawn up in 2009, based on information gathered in 2008, from a process began by Peter Hain in 2005, as part of the Review of Public Administration launched in 2002.  Tha’ts right for ten long years we have listened to … Read more

“They seek to intimidate and bully through the threat of violence…”

Given the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot’s current concern about certain communities, and confidence, the BBC report on the 18-year-old shot in both legs in the Creggan estate in Londonderry on Thursday night is worth noting.  From the BBC report His mother was told to take him to the location, and waited at the top of a lane while he was shot twice. “I know what happened was wrong but hopefully he’ll get help,” she said. The dissident group Republican … Read more

Is the Governor of the Central Bank “representative” or “independent”?

The ‘controversy’ arising over the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Patrick Honohan’s endorsement of a Yes vote, is possibly the least important aspect of his speech to the IEA. Padraig Mac Lochlainn believes Honohan should not have publicly said Yes because: “…public servants, which Governor Honahan is, are paid by the taxpayer and therefore representative and accountable to all taxpayers.” The Minister of Finance demurs: “Patrick Honohan is independent as governor of the Central Bank and is quite … Read more