National Crime Agency: What’s in a name?

The local row over the UK’s new National Crime Agency (NCA) isn’t going away.  But let’s try to address the issue in a less hysterical manner… Firstly, the body that the NCA needs to be compared with, in terms of the powers to be available to it here, is the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).  From the BBC report 28 January. Many of the policing powers being given to the NCA have been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, therefore it has … Read more

The Centre Roars Back with New Funding and a New Shared Blog

Nearly two years ago I wrote a ‘Note’ saying that the Centre for Cross Border Studies had 15-18 months funding left, we were starting to feel a little nervous, and were appealing to our readers and supporters for some good new ideas for cross-border cooperation in Ireland. In the event we generated most of those new ideas within the Centre’s four walls in Armagh, with my colleague Ruth Taillon coming up with a disproportionate share of them.  These ideas – … Read more

#Flegs Protest: Blocking the highway is only one way you can be convicted…

For me this was the most straightforward and relevant contribution on last night’s Nolan. Peaceful protest is fine this audience member says, but who is informing the young people who are getting involved about what is and what is not legal. Obstructing the highway has been a focus (because it is probably the most disruptive), but that is not all you can get a criminal record for. Covering your face, acting in an intimidating manner towards others are also grounds … Read more

Gaelscéal – It is a poor wind that blows well for no one

Is olc an ghaoth nach séideann maith do dhuine éigin Tá an PUP ag baint úsáide as conspóid an bhrataigh chun tús nua a chur le gníomhaíocht an pháirtí agus chun dul  i dtreo nua, a scríobhann Anton Mac Cába Tá na círéibeacha faoi cheist bhrat na Breataine ó Thuaidh ag tabhairt seans don Pháirtí Aontachtach Forásach (PUP) fás arís. Beidh sé seo ar bhonn difriúil ná mar a bhí ag tús an PUP ag deireadh na 90í. D’fhógair an … Read more

Paisley Junior: SF ‘content’ for paedophiles and gangsters to run writ across NI…

Oh dear. Speaking in Westminster’s Public Bill committee Ian Paisley Junior has suggested that: Most of the illegal fuel that arrives in the United Kingdom is laundered in Northern Ireland, in south Armagh. It just so happens that it is laundered by a friend of the leader of Sinn Fein, a Mr Murphy. “It just so happens that it was his party that blocked this legislation. I do not know if you are getting the coincidence here, but I am … Read more

Dolours Price and the human cost of armed revolution…

Very good piece from Kevin Myers in the Indo yesterday: Like many of their generation, they [the Price sisters] were hellbent on achieving the utterly unattainable: a united Ireland by force of arms. I knew a couple of their IRA Andersonstown colleagues, Mairead Farrell and Sean McDermott: intelligent and likeable, yet driven by a fearsome and quite lethal intensity, they did not expect to survive the struggle, and their fatalism was duly justified. He concludes: What a waste of a … Read more

US Gun Control or why policy detail matters…

P O’Neill with a great spot off Cspan on the gun control debate. It’s a snippet from the Senate Judiciary Committee: O’Neill comments: Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, thinks he has scored a massive point by showing that the Washington DC murder rate went up in the years after a gun ban was introduced. The Baltimore police chief Jim Johnson — an actual law enforcement official — points out that Northeastern cities experiencing this phenomenon were being swamped by … Read more

Northern Ireland’s modest and timid ambitions for peace

Malachi O’Doherty points of a long term pessimism that often seems to want to long tail conflict rather than tackle the heart of it. He points to the problem of Belfast’s walled interfaces, in the context of past fatalism: What was routine back then was the conviction that Northern Ireland’s problems could not be solved. Read almost any of the books about the Troubles published right up to the early 1990s and the ending is the same, a dispirited resignation … Read more

Declan Kearney on unionism, compromise, and building reconciliation as the next stage in the peace process

Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney is back in the February issue of An Phoblacht with a bit of a lecture for unionism as well as an extended call for inclusive talks to advance reconciliation as the next phase of the peace process. It’s an issue that also contains Gerry Adams response to Kilsally’s blog post on Slugger about the border poll, Adams’ concerns that Arlene Foster (along with everyone else on the island) “is not well served by partition”, as well … Read more

Police Ombudsman to re-investigate misconduct allegations in Denis Donaldson case

As far as I can tell, an inquest has yet to be held into the death of former senior Sinn Féin member, and informer, Denis Donaldson in 2006 – responsibility for which was claimed by the Real IRA.  But, despite a previous NI Police Ombudsman‘s finding that there had been no police misconduct here, the new incumbent has reportedly launched a new investigation into allegations that police officers may have contributed to the death of Denis Donaldson.  BBC NI home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney … Read more

Adams apology worse than no apology at all…

Aside from the obvious tragedy involved, it’s interesting to witness the contrast between how north and south treat the killing of a policeman on active duty, and the importance of national colours. Every official building in Dublin had the tricolour flying at half mast. By all accounts, the atmosphere in the Dail was pretty tense, when Deputy Adams finally decided to apologise for the murder (see Carlota’s correction here) of the last Guard on active duty in the Republic, Garda … Read more

Nesbitt concedes unity in a seat that no unionist can realistically win?

So, according to the News Letter, Mike Nesbitt didn’t ask his constituency party in Mid Ulster whether they wanted a Unionist unity candidate, or not. He may not have done much of the longer term math either, or calculated that the principle he’s ceding here is that his party no longer has any designs on have representation at Westminster. As Sam McBride notes, unity candidate or not, this is a nationalist seat in waiting: If the three unionist parties’ votes … Read more

Is Heaney right when he talks about us having ‘caste politics’?

I was wondering if in my absence yesterday someone on the Slugger team might have picked up the gauntlet thrown down so casually by the south Derry Nobel Lauret, Seamus Heaney. It seems not. In an interview with the Times it seems the poet doesn’t think there is going to be a united Ireland. In fact this may have been the least interesting thing he had to say. According to the Irish News, he also noted… Loyalism, or unionism, or … Read more

The Silence of Lost Worlds and the Fate of the Middle East’s Christians

Monasteries are very quiet places indeed. Garrulous as I am beyond the normal Irish capacity for such things, I am not someone obviously identifiable as a great lover of silence. At the Community of the Resurrection, even here in the heart of West Yorkshire’s network of densely populated post-industrial valleys, the daytime silence between the offices can be intense. The stillness is broken only by the occasional fall of well-shod feet along the corridor or the distant call of an … Read more

For Everyone – the main points from Alliance’s blueprint for a shared and better future

Like their last election Manifesto, the Alliance Party’s “blueprint for an Executive strategy to build a shared and better future” [PDF of Executive Summary] is not a skinny tome. So far I’ve got about a third of the way through the seventy or so pages. While I read the rest,  here’s a synopsis of some of the key points in the “For Everyone” blueprint for you to ponder and comment on. David Ford’s introduction: [Building a shared society] won’t be … Read more

“This vote now draws a line under this issue…”

Or not, as the case may be.  ANYhoo…  A Conservative Party backed proposal to redraw UK parliamentary constituency boundaries has been defeated in the House of Commons.  As the BBC reports MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by peers, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest. It was the first time Lib Dem ministers have voted against their Conservative coalition colleagues in the Commons. The two parties have been in … Read more

Empowering Communities: Live Blogging this morning…

Digital Lunch will be live in this window from about 1pm… Here’s a warmer/explainer for the seminar I’m at this morning in the beautifully renovated Crumlin Road Gaol (it really is stunning folks) from Gordon Hector of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who along with the Building Change Trust have funded and organised a sensemaking exercise on the issue of the transfer of assets from the state to community and voluntary groups. From about 10am, I’ll be live tweeting from the … Read more

Has David Ford even read the Patten Report?

Alliance Party leader David Ford must have watched last December as British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a public apology for the unchecked, extra-judicial and murderous activities of the Force Research Unit (or FRU) in Ireland. Cameron lamented at the time that, “The collusion demonstrated beyond any doubt… is totally unacceptable”. The issue with collusion was never simply that it happened but rather how it happened: how a culture of impunity emerged and was sustained; how state agents managed to … Read more

“Ireland has the potential to generate far more wind energy than we could consume domestically…”

Apparently, Ireland is to become Britain’s off-shore wind farm…  That seems to be the gist of the complaint from opponents to wind farms in the Irish Midlands, as reported in the Irish Times. Andrew Duncan, spokesman for the Lakelands Wind Information Group in Co Westmeath, said: “It seems to be an Irish solution to a British problem – politically, they don’t want turbines in the British countryside.” Last October, British energy minister John Hayes said his government would no longer have … Read more

David Ford: Ideological differences not being handled inside the SDLP…

John Manley has an interview with David Ford in today’s Irish News. Much of it what you might expect, but Mr Ford is clearly taking the opportunity to throw out a long line for nationalist voters (traditionally an area of poor returns for the party). If there was ever a time for them to go fishing for nationalist voters it is probably now when the party’s stock is relatively high after their central part in the flag vote in Belfast. … Read more