The Handshake-fest: “Ho, hum.”

In the Irish Times, Patrick Smyth rains on “this national parade, The Handshake-fest”. Don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that The Handshake was not a “good thing”. It was. Belatedly, 14 years after the genuinely “historic” Belfast Agreement was signed, marking not only Sinn Féin’s renunciation of coercion as a means of uniting Ireland but also, crucially, a new set of relationships on and between these islands, the party takes another incremental step down that road. Masters … Read more

Caption competition: ‘Brits in, hug a unionist’

After a heavy week in politics which saw Sinn Fein shifting its policies and increasing its ‘Brits in’ rhetoric (into a united Ireland that is),  I thought I would produce a light hearted illustration to round it off. I’ve gone first in the caption competition with, ‘Brits in, hug a unionist’, losing out to, ‘hug a unionie’. Anyway I’m sure there’s a lot better out there and I look forward to seeing what comes up. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. … Read more

Quinn Contempt Case: “The judge will look again on 20 July at their co-operation with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation”

In Dublin High Court, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne has delayed the issue of what penalty to impose on bankrupt Sean “I am not dishonest” Quinn snr, his son Sean, and his nephew Peter Darragh Quinn, to give them the opportunity to reverse their contempt of court in putting assets beyond the reach of the former Anglo-Irish Bank, now the state-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).  From the BBC report At the High Court in Dublin on Friday, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne warned she … Read more

At the end of the week who was up and who was down?

Here’s my pick… Up is Martin McGuinness as he stepped up the plate on behalf of his party, swallowed his Republican pride and once again did the manly thing and shook hands with the “Queen of England”. Down is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who’s latest budget seems to be losing large bits off it with every week that passes by. Down with him goes the Treasury Secretary Chloe Smith who withered under Paxman’s fire when trying to explain the … Read more

A well performing adjustment programme?

As Mick has noted, the news coming from the latest in a long line of EU economic crisis summits appears to be good for the Irish government. The rather terse statement issued at 4 am this morning is being pored over by economists as if it were some Joycean text, but it is pretty light on detail. Despite the limited information available, RTE are taking the throaty enthusiasm of An Taoiseach at face value and are fairly happy that the state … Read more

Martin McGuinness signs off from Westminster with a speech, finishing off a week of “handshake fatigue”

An Phoblacht front page for July edition

We are emerging from a conflict that resulted in lives being lost and families being devastated. I genuinely regret every single life that was lost during that conflict and today I want every family who lost a loved one to know that your pain is not being ignored and I am willing to work with others to finding a way to deal with our past so that we can complete our journey to true reconciliation. A quote from Martin McGuinness’ … Read more

Breakthrough on Ireland’s bank debt?

This looks like a breakthrough on the Republic’s bank debt problem: According to a statement issued at 4am (Irish time), eurozone leaders pledged to “examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme.” 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 … Read more

And in other news: Obamacare upheld by the Supreme Court…

This in plain English from ScotusBlog… The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using … Read more

For all the goodwill breaking out in Belfast, there was precious little of it in the Dáil…

Okay, so partitionism reigns in Leinster House. As Miriam Lord notes beyond a presser at the Plinth, there was only one mention of that handshake in the Dail yesterday… …and that was only so Enda Kenny could deliver a vicious one-liner to a flat-footed Adams. On the eve of the Brussels summit, he heaped scorn on the what he saw as the Taoiseach’s lack of negotiating ability, and accused him of supporting a federal Europe. After a lengthy reply from … Read more

Sinn Fein discrimination: Granting any institution immunity from public scrutiny can easily become a habit

It’s not entirely fair to say the whole of the southern press went to sleep on the Conor Murphy discrimination case, but Davy Adams has a point that in allowing itself to get spun into near hysteria over the “Tiocfaidh ár Lámh” PR campaign the Irish press took its eye run over yet another controversial story. And one they knew to be fit to print since most of their northern counterparts were, indeed, printing it. It’s not good enough, Adams … Read more

Parliamentary Question of the week…

Just been sent this Parliamentary Question from Westminister (though we’ll take them from anywhere)…  It’s not so much the question as the answer here… Euro 2012 Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any member of the Government is due to attend any matches that England will play following their qualification in the group stages of the European football championships. Mr Hague: The Government regrets that this question is no longer relevant. Your own … Read more

“Tiocfaidh ar Lámh” makes the front page of tomorrow’s Irish Daily Star…

Just to mark it, here’s a screen shot of tomorrow’s Irish Star… I don’t know if our Mr Angry was first with it, but he was first with it here…  Good man… Just one reason why we really appreciate the wit and occasional insight of our readers…   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 … Read more

“If the party was serious about fairness and equality…”

In today’s Irish News Brian Feeney addresses the Fair Employment Tribunal’s finding that, as Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, discriminated against a candidate for the post of chairman of NI Water on religious grounds.  That he had appointed Sean Hogan to the post “because he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the Minister and his ministerial colleagues”.  That he had added three factors to the job specification criteria … Read more

Google Plus Hangout on the Queens visit and ‘that’ handshake…

Despite the seeming slightness of the issue Martin McGuinness’s handshake with the Queen has probably inspired more political analysis in the last four days than the whole of Northern Irish politics has since the elections last May. So, for those who can, we’re inviting you to a Google Plus Hangout (a sort of a video chatroom) on the subject. There’s space for up to nine other people to take part, but you should be able to get a look if … Read more

Martin’s handshake lifts another layer of fear from the legacy of the Long War…

So there. It’s done. Not one handshake, but two. And a wee sit down and coffee, just the four of them (HMQ, HRH, FM and dFM). Interesting that after a very long vacillation within the party, Martin felt emboldened to observe that it would have been cowardly not to have the photo taken in public. A little too much of the customary ‘over processing’ in the Movement’s ‘big house’, perhaps? Apparently when the Belleek pottery basket was awarded on behalf of … Read more

Ériu protest: We’ll see your Constitutional Monarch and up you with our mythical Goddess!

There’s a little patch of the Black Mountain (or Divis, I’m never sure which) that generations of trainee nurses in the City Hospital used to call ‘the smoothing iron’. Well, yesterday it was joined by a set of large letters saying “Eriu is our Queen” and a large Irish tricolour. Seamus is keeping an eye on the situation… now that a Loyalist counter protest has emerged… The Guardian reports there was at least one injury in the fighting that ensure … Read more

To shake or not to shake: Marty dares

After much speculation Gerry Adams announced last Friday 22 June (the day after World Hand Shake Day) that Sinn Fein had decided to give the green light to the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, to meet the Queen, provoking much excitement and debate amongst journalists, politicos, unionists and nationalists and prompting in particular some real cutting sentiment from the republican old guard. Here’s my cartoon capturing the events, your comments are to be welcomed! Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political … Read more

Meeting the Queen could free up psychological space for Sinn Fein to move into Westminister…

Tonight the Telegraph have a typically sage and balanced op ed from Paul Bew on what meeting the Queen means in real political terms… …what is next for Sinn Fein, given that the most recent poll in Northern Ireland shows support for a united Ireland at a new low of 7 per cent? It is now clear that Sir Patrick Mayhew’s prediction in the early Nineties that Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom would come to a crucial test before … Read more

WHC requests UK Government “to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World Heritage property ‘Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast'”

The BBC reports that the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of Unesco has agreed to request “the state party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World Heritage property ‘Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast’ until its potential impact on the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property has been assessed”.   The WHC request comes after the National Trust’s decision to seek leave for a judicial review of the decision to grant … Read more

British-Irish relationship stronger than ever in difficult times

As we all know, sometimes newspapers overlook or underplay an important story because it doesn’t make sensational headlines. The meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in London last March – and the joint statement which came out of it  – was one such story. We in Northern Ireland, in particular, would do well to study that statement and ponder its implications closely. The statement was unusual in that it set out the parameters of a closer … Read more