“[The DUP] had come to terms with what it has done since 2003…”

So, why not. Let’s have another go at the Catholic Unionist trope that’s been doing the rounds. Gareth Gordon looks at the idea of Unionist Catholics, or unicorns as Alex Kane once put it. Of all the respondents in this piece, Steven McCaffrey of The Detail is the one that has it down pat. Robinson’s tactic is about switching nationalist voters off from voting for a united Ireland. Although according to one senior political source in the party that Slugger … Read more

Peace Process Parallels: Northern Ireland and the Middle-East

In the wake of the UN decision to recognise the state of Palestine (albeit not as a full member of the UN) it seems timely to return to the question of parallels between the peace process here and in the Middle East, most recently highlighted on Slugger in relation to remarks by former US envoy Richard Haass. The decision by many firm allies of the US to support the Palestinian bid despite US opposition was one of the most striking … Read more

BelTel Poll: UUP disappearing in the east of Northern Ireland?

So, here’s today’s poll in the BelTel: DUP 30% SF 26.4 SDLP 13.5 Alliance 11.6 UUP 11.4 Alliance, without doing very much for it, are pounding the UUP east of Bann. As one leading commentator told Slugger this morning, this would cost the UUP key seats in Belfast and North Down. In fact, what’s happening underneath the figures are that the UUP are quickly becoming a border area party, with the DUP now holding majority shares in the broader pro … Read more

Gaelscéal: An Ghaeilge in East Belfast

Tuairisc le Colm Ó Broin Tá grúpa i gceantar Dílseachta i mBéal Feirste ag smaoineamh ar ghrúpa tuismitheoirí agus páistí Gaeilge a thosú amach anseo. Má éiríonn leis tá seans ann go mbunófar naíscoil (nó naíonra mar a ghlaotar orthu ó dheas) nó fiú bunscoil lánGhaeilge san am atá le teacht. Deir Grúpa Gaeilge Mhisean Bhéal Feirste Thoir nach bhfuil plean ann naíscoil nó bunscoil a oscailt sa ghearr théarma, agus gur plé amháin atá i gceist faoi láthair. É … Read more

“The new A32 Cherrymount link road near Enniskillen will eventually be built on top of the crannog…”

The BBC reports, as do other news outlets, the Northern Ireland Environment Minister’s press release on “the first substantial, scientific excavation of a crannog in Northern Ireland”.  A “huge treasure trove of artefacts” was uncovered – potentially of “international importance” – and the crannog was occupied from at least AD 900 to AD 1600.  The ministerial press release also announced “the Drumclay Crannog Open Day on Saturday 1st December” – between 9.30 and 3.00pm.  The BBC has the DoE images in an online gallery.  … Read more

Leveson report: the self-regulation carrot with the legislative stick

It may be some time before Slugger posters finish reading the 1988 pages of Lord Justice Leveson’s report into his Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. So here’s a short post in the meantime! [48 page Executive Summary; four volume full report] He said that the press had “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” for many decades and called their behaviour (at times) “outrageous”. The report’s executive summary comments: Phone hacking is most decidedly … Read more

For what is Northern Ireland going to be known in 2013?

Our Time Our Place logo

As NI2012 Our Place Our Time comes to a halt, does Northern Ireland Tourist Board have a fight on its hands to maintain this year’s impetus? Competition comes from Tourism Ireland’s The Gathering (which Tourism Minister Arlene Foster made no mention of in her party conference speech at the weekend) not to mention VisitScotland’s three month Winter Festivals promotion. On top of a series of high profile events, The Gathering’s website has a call to action, encouraging Irish families and … Read more

Unification depends on first undertaking a journey rather than waiting for a single redemptive act…

The Irish Times series on Northern Ireland has given an refreshing focus to the viewpoints of southern nationalists. Today’s op ed by Hugo MacNeill is a good example of a line we’ve heard before, not least from former taoiseach, Brian Cowen: The ultimate destination of any political project is a matter of time working itself out. Therefore the destination is not the thing to be talking about. That will be for other people to decide in another time maybe. The … Read more

A UKIP breakthrough in 2015?

UKIP has been consistently polling in the high single digits and low double digits across Great Britain for well over a year now. This is the most significant and sustained burst of polling for a fourth party in Britain since at least the Greens’ post-Euro election surge in 1989. Arguably, the UKIP surge is more significant than that, as it has not depended on the positive publicity generated by an unexpected breakthrough in an off year election fuelled by protest … Read more

An Essential Cross-Border Information Service

For the second month running I am unashamedly going to blow the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ trumpet. Because the Centre does not only write about cross-border cooperation in Ireland; it not only researches such cross-border cooperation – it also does practical cooperation between the two parts of this island. Last month I wrote about the cooperation and exchanges it manages between teacher educators and student teachers. This month I am going to write about another unique and innovative cross-border … Read more

Tory research uncovers a politically ‘orphaned’ Catholic middle class?

Liam Clarke had an analysis piece in the BelTel yesterday (I still want to say last night) in which he cited some party polling by Lucid Talk for the Conservatives. [Nationalists, you may want to look away from the screen for a while, since this is what the Tories consider their best battleground territory]. It’s worth noting that this is both more and less than your average poll. Only the Tories could afford to put in the field a survey … Read more

A Fair US Election…

OK – the US system is flawed – FTTP in states means that only a dozen or so states matter each time. So make it fairer: You could just count all the votes ? (far too simple) Or perhaps recognise “states rights” The electoral college system gives a boost to small states by giving a minimum of two electoral votes before proportionality kicks in….first past the post awards all to the winner however. So if we keep the bias in … Read more

In the Republic Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael supporters more enthusiastic for UI than those of Sinn Fein

And before II head off to Stormont, some interesting detail from the Irish Times on southern attitudes to we now call the constitutional issue. Stephen Collins: Asked if they considered the people of Northern Ireland to be Irish, British, both or neither – 46 per cent said both, 30 per cent said Irish, 9 per cent said British, 4 per cent said neither and 10 per cent had no opinion. Younger people are markedly more inclined to have no opinion … Read more

No rhetorical slips this year now that OFMdFM is paying for #Census2011

In the Irish News Fionnuala makes an interesting point in the constitutional stakes that will follow the census figures. Unlike 2002, no one who matters in local politics is going to get blindsided like they were ten years ago, since OFMdFM is paying, they get to see the real figures first. 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 … Read more

400,000 people missing from the Electoral roll in NI…

Front page of the BelTel today, the Electoral Commission has discovered there’s been a slip in the accuracy of the electoral roll from 94% in 2008 to just 78% today. A lot of the discrepancy relates to people who no longer live here any more. It may be that some of the stricter standards introduced to hold down cases of voter fraud is making for less efficient regular data updates. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written … Read more

Spare us a new long game of political numbers

More clearly than before as Mick observes, it is Peter Robinson’s medium term strategy and perhaps his personal legacy to enlist the support of enough Catholics to preserve the Union.  But despite the superficial confidence in Peter’s leader’s speech it is loaded with insecurity.  He has been forced to recognise the likelihood of an eventual Catholic majority and with it a possible loss of unionist control.  While candour in politics is always a good thing, it is unfortunate  that he has chosen … Read more

“You see ve Germans too can have ze craic”

Sometimes #LateLate really does reward a second viewing. This is a second right from Apre Match’s character Günther Gruhn. 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. Twitter: @MickFealty

Robinson setting out the parameters for his ‘pluralist’ legacy in 2021?

So one of the big set pieces of the weekend was Peter Robinson’s claim was that a majority of Catholics now (ie, right now) would prefer to stay with Britain than take their chances in what (as Ruarai points out in the comments zone) remains a hugely undefined united Ireland. On the face of it he’s pushing further than Trimble’s famously self defeating claim that 35% of NI Catholics where unionists. Self defeating because such weak attachment did not and … Read more

Know your members: the DUP launches a significant membership survey (proposed & run by university researchers)

DUP 2012 membership survey front page

Update: A few clarifications from the DUP: “the researchers approached us and it is a funded research programme to costs party nothing”. The funding is from the Leverhulme Trust. The questions were drafted by the researchers around a year ago, building on previous work with the Orange Order. – – – Membership survey forms were being handed out to members at the DUP conference as the party works with three English universities to slice and dice and understand the make-up … Read more

Comment on the Week: Is the Church of England facing a crisis?

Following hotly in the footsteps of the BBC, we now have the Church of England facing a crisis with internal strife and problems relating to the issue of women bishops. The departing Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, argued for it as did the incoming one, Justin Welby. Two of the three houses of the Church of England’s governing synod, representing bishops and clergy, overwhelmingly voted for it, together with a large majority of the House of Laity. However, it was … Read more