Memories of 1982, a strange year

According to what’s appeared in the papers, the archives of 1982 have produced few surprises.  Perhaps Wally Kirwan’s suggestion of cross border internment put (safely) to Garret FitzGerald comes close but it was never going to happen.  The two governments had allowed themselves to be pushed apart by the 1981 hunger strike and a key initiative had been handed to the IRA and Sinn Fein for years. I missed  an early chance of enlightenment. After snatching a TV interview with … Read more

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! Your captions are welcome. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Martin McGuinness applies to become paid officer of the Crown…

Or as the BBC faithfully report Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he has formally resigned as the MP for Mid-Ulster. “I have served formal notice of my resignation from the position of MP for Mid-Ulster with immediate effect. This is in line with my party’s commitment to end double jobbing,” he said. [Just in time, eh? – Ed]  Sadly, he’ll have to wait until he’s actually disqualified from holding his seat.  Just like his party leader was… And as we … Read more

PSNI officer’s car targeted with ‘viable device’ in East Belfast

Dissidents are believed to have again targeted the car of a PSNI officer living close to police headquarters. [BBC] The unexploded device was discovered on the Upper Newtownards Road at about 14:00 GMT on Sunday. A controlled explosion was heard across East Belfast this evening. Police and politicians have condemned the attempted murder of the officer and his family who were about to travel with him. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan … Read more

McGuinness follows Adams to become Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead

Updated with a photo of the letter. Six a half months after announcing that he would resign as MP for Mid-Ulster to concentrate on being deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness today finally announced that he’d sent his letter to the Commons to kick of the process. Back in January 2011, Gerry Adams was disqualified as a Member of Parliament when the Chancellor of the Exchequer appointed him as “Steward and Bailiff of Her Majesty’s Manor of Northstead in the county … Read more

An English Guinness?

This time of year is always interesting for the release of state papers under the thirty year rule. The release of these papers bring fresh light on a period of our past and often reveal tensions we thought were there as well as unearthing stories we didn’t even expect.The one story that struck me and made the front page of the Newsletter was the fact that the Guinness family considered moving the brand from Dublin to their English base. The … Read more

“the looming legal row, which is due to commence on 9 January, could become a defining event for Northern Ireland…”

Well, perhaps.  At the very least it might provide the basis for some actual politics, for a while…  ANYhoo…  The Observer’s Jamie Doward with a reminder of the upcoming legal battle over planning permission for the Bushmills Dunnes development – a 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, golf academy, 120-room hotel and 75 golf lodges complex, plus associated car parking facilities, at Runkerry, close to the Unesco World Heritage Centre Giants’ Causeway and Causeway Coast. In June this year the National Trust sought leave for a … Read more

Niall Collins calls for a Dail statement from Dessie Ellis…

Ah, so thirty years ago the British thought the now TD for Dublin North West Dessie Ellis had had a hand in fifty murders. It brought a flurry of defensive tweets suggesting Mr Ellis had been acquitted of conspiracy to murder, and thereby innocent of allegations. Except of course these are not allegations. They’re just private notes from thirty years ago. In any case Mr Ellis has since spoken to Niall O’Connor in the Evening Herald: …the Dublin North West … Read more

Looking back at 2012, and forward to 2013

Doing some homework before taking part in a political review of the year on Lisburn’s 98FM community radio, I looked back at posts over the last twelve months. While there were lots of other significant political events during the year, below are some of the posts that caught my eye. Back in January, the DUP and Sinn Féin agreed to drop the Department of Employment and Learning. It hasn’t gone away you know! Aged 85, Lord Bannside stepped down from … Read more

“There were, he said, no aborigines in Ireland…”

In the Irish Times, Paul Murray provides a good starting point for 2013 It would be easier for all of us if, in John Montague’s words, “old moulds are broken”; and if, like John Hewitt, we scrutinised the myths of our tribe. We would inhabit a happier island if we imbibed some of Hewitt’s gritty integrity that sought to comprehend the other tribe so that the “goat and ox may graze in the same field/and each gain something from proximity”. … Read more

4 Corners Festival & the Irish Churches Peace Project

Five minutes of prayer around Belfast City Hall was the most public Christian response to the flags issue in Belfast. With the carols about the ‘Prince of Peace’ sung at Christmas, what else should the church be doing to bring peace and stability to the situation? The church’s role in the Troubles will long be a subject of debate with accusations of a lack of leadership weighed against individual grassroots peacemaking and relationship building. Planned long before the protests began, … Read more

Happy Christmas!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the travaller back to his own fireside and quiet home! – Charles Dickens Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Flickers of Hope as churches remain in the firing line

  Another sectarian attack on a church, this time in east Antrim, where loyalists have made a concerted effort to intimidate the local catholic populace in recent times. On this occasion, the target was the catholic parishioners of Whitehead, though in the more recent past it has been the small catholic communities of Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Ballyclare who have bore the brunt of the sectarian antics of loyalists in the overwhelmingly unionist region. Catholic schools and churches in each of … Read more

Review of the Year: Top 5 stories

  President Obama’s Re-Election This has to be one of the major stories of this year, President Obama was under immense pressure from all quarters and pulled off a great victory. He now faces the long road of securing his legacy as a President, which, could be decided over the issue of the economy. He has already faced major challenges with his CIA Director resigning over an affair and his first choice for replacing Hilary Clinton pulling out. However, he … Read more

That Mayan issue…

So there we had it: the world didn’t end for us all yesterday. But is there still a figure looming large? Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

The PSNI investigation into Bloody Sunday is mistaken. Try them for perjury

Many people will say that if ever there was a suitable case for prosecution, it’s Bloody Sunday when paratroop soldiers shot 14 people  before the eyes of many of us around at time. But challenged on whether I approve  of the opening of a police inquiry into Bloody Sunday that will take four years , I’ve decided to come clean and say  I think it’s fundamentally mistaken. How disillusioning is this development for the many who deceived themselves when they thought closure had been … Read more

Further Up Yonder

Stunning views of the Earth accompany this seasonal message from the crew of the International Space Station. Pete Baker

Lord Chief Justice: “These are allegations of specific conduct. We cannot infer that the disclosure was inadequate”

Having sought, and been granted, a stay on July’s judicial review ruling for unconditional bail for Martin Corey until an appeal could be heard, the Court of Appeal has now ruled in favour of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.  From the BBC report The Court of Appeal had to decide whether the process undertaken by the panel, involving a gist of the information, was flawed. Judges carried out the assessment without access to the closed material. Delivering judgment on Friday, … Read more

Who’s up and who’s down in 2012: Micheál Martin, Rory McIlroy, Nigel Farage…

Always a dodgey thing to do, but I thought it might lend a little perspective at what is a pretty frenetic end of year. I know not everyone will agree, but rather than calling me on my bias or agenda, why not get your back by offering your own sets of winners and losers? Okay, first up in British politics it is almost impossible to work out who is up and who is down. Labour are riding high in the … Read more

OFMDFM’s sluggardly FOI performance under spotlight

This morning the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced four public bodies which will be monitored between January and March in 2013 “over concerns about the timeliness of their responses to Freedom of Information requests”. The four public bodies were selected from the thousands of public bodies across the UK that fall under the ICO’s remit for FOI: Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council; two Westminster departments, Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions; and the Office of the First Minister and … Read more