Micheal Martin: NI’s ‘establishment parties’ are failing the Belfast Agreement

So Micheal Martin’s speech last night, revisited with my own analysis appended. First the word cloud (kindly generated by John) of Micheal Martin’s speech has one word which stands far out above any other. And it’s Agreement. Not surprising perhaps since the speech was themed around the coming 15th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement. And, it seems, he came to Belfast not to bury, or even just to praise it, but remind his audience of young students at Queens last … Read more

Basil and John need a name for their New Party: Can you help?

Renegade former Ulster Unionist MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister have now publicly announced that they intend to set up a new political party for those disaffected with the political direction of the UUP under Mike Nesbitt’s leadership. At this point, the new party still needs a name. As both Basil and John lived through the fiasco of UCUNF, I can see why they aren’t rushing into a choosing a name for the party. I’m sure that SDLP activists today … Read more

EU considers the Horsemeat in the food chain…

From 6.50 in, Tonio BORG, Member of the EC in charge of Health and Consumer Policy gives an account of what the EU has done and is doing on the horsemeat crisis… 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

Newcastle feels the chill wind that may soon blow Northern Ireland’s way?

Where I live, Newcastle Upon Tyne, there are plans afoot to cull 10 of the 18 libraries. Given that it is the young and elderly who disproportionately depend on them, this is no time to cut such a vital community service. Libraries help create a sense of community; the public use them if it’s for getting books out to read or for job hunting on the computers provided. Ironically Newcastle is a Labour council. It’s leader, Nick Forbes, has proven … Read more

Italy’s Five Star Movement – is this what The End of History looks like?

In 1992, Francis Fukayama predicted in The End of History that the end of the Cold War would impend not only an era of triumphant liberal-democratic capitalism, but one where political evolution had reached its final form. Western democracy, he argued, was the best form of state organisation practically achievable by humans. The folly of such naïve Western triumphalism, already being challenged by China’s authoritarian wave of economic growth when Fukayama wrote his book, was laid bare by Mohamed Atta … Read more

Micheál Martin in Belfast: “There is nothing inevitable about peace and progress”

This evening, Micheál Martin gave the following speech to Queens University Politics Society and Ógra Fianna Fáil in the Canada Room that was by all accounts was pretty packed to the gills. It’s long and detailed, and picks out some policy areas (not least north south development) where Martin argues there has been a shortfall by what passes in Northern Ireland for the ‘political establishment’. More detailed comment will follow tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’d appreciate your own thoughts: As we … Read more

“It was a meteor strike–the most powerful since the Tunguska event of 1908”

ScienceAtNasa has a sobering video on the latest information about the visitation by the god Ogdy unexpected meteor strike in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia on 15 February.  Video credit: ScienceAtNasa. From the accompanying ScienceAtNasa press release The Russian meteor’s infrasound signal was was the strongest ever detected by the CTBTO network. The furthest station to record the sub-audible sound was 15,000km away in Antarctica. Western Ontario Professor of Physics Peter Brown analyzed the data: “The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately … Read more

#DigitalLunch: Why do politicians lie?

So, partly because of the huge success of Grillo in Italy on an anti politics ticket, and partly because its well passed the time when we ought to be asking such questions again this week’s #DigitalLunch will rather pointedly ask: Why do politicians lie? A couple of answers to that question so far: @mickfealty Voters don’t like the truth — Ryan R (@borntochoose) February 26, 2013   @mickfealty re: #DigitalLunch: political language is designed to make lies sound truthful, murder … Read more

Time to Reach Out a Southern Hand to Unionists

In a thought-provoking blog on the new 15 Years On site (http://15yearson.wordpress.com) this month, former Community Relations Council director Duncan Morrow lists all the promised reforms in Northern Ireland since 1998 which have not been realised: a Single Equality Bill, a Shared Future, the Review of Public Administration, Dealing with the Past, educational reform, youth work, parades, Irish language, flags, shared housing and cross-community development. He warns that if politicians and people in Northern Ireland ‘can’t muster the energy’ to … Read more

Do all Nationalists believe in “what’s bad for you is good for us…”

I’d be the first to point out that FitzJamesHorse is blogger, and therefore on some level not real. He’s a nice to meet, if a little prickly in his online persona. But I was struck by this post from a few days ago by the bald statement it contains… Thats the thing. The Culture Wars in the USA have been won by the Civil Rights movement and lost by the right wing racists. Likewise…as last years Olympics showed British multiculturalism … Read more

Willie Frazer detained at his home this morning…

UTV reporting that Willie Frazer has been arrested… A 52-year-old man was detained at a house in the Tandragee Road area of Markethill, Co Armagh, just before 9am on Wednesday. He is currently in police custody being questioned on suspicion of public order offences linked to the Union flags protests. 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 … Read more

Grillo’s 25% demonstrates the extent Italy’s disbelief in Politics…

So, those of you who have just finished sniggering at Gerry’s tweets, listen up to the news from Italy. Berlusconis has not gone, and the left have not arrived. In fact the big ‘clown’ is in control of the Senate. Still not laughing I hope? Well, Demos have some research that gives us some hints as to why a candidate that refused to talk to Italian journos, and had no presence anywhere but the internet took 25% of the vote. … Read more

USPCA: 90% of horses channelled through NI end up as meat..

Valerie Cox just now interviewed a spokesman for the USPCA on Pat Kenny’s show on RTE… He talked an operation which horses were found to be being channelled from the Republic through Northern Ireland and into Scotland. With them horse passports and false microchips. The cheaters kit for passing off common or garden horse as fit for the food chain. Intriguingly the horsemeat seems then to being sent to central Europe. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has … Read more

Mike Nesbitt vacillating on policy and unionist co-operation over the last twelve months

Modern politicians must sometimes read biographies of past politicians and long to have lived and worked in a world where only major speeches were reported and their every word wasn’t recorded, indexed and placed in the public filing cabinet that is the internet. Here’s a selection of what UUP Mike Nesbitt has been saying about policies and unionist co-operation over the last twelve months. 15 March 2012 – Over the weekend I was reminded that Mike Nesbitt launched his UUP … Read more

Balls should have told Osborne that MIRs are all b**** anyway..

One of the great services the credit crunch is the revelation that Market Implied Ratings (as plied by Moodys, Standard and Poors and Fitch) are a reactive instrument, followed by a wet thumb in the air before telling us what the markets already know. Not exactly a load of balls, but something Ed Balls who picked a fight with the Chancellor because, erm, he got a black mark from Moodys ought to have treated with his own professed contempt. Here’s … Read more

Italy: “Unless of course all polls and projections so far turn out to be wrong …”

They’re still counting the votes in Italy…  But the early projections are contradicting exit polls predicting, as the Guardian reported, “strong support for alliance led by Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic party and bloody nose for Mario Monti”.  Not contradicting the bloody nose for the Borg Mario Monti, that is.  But Silvio Berlusoni’s centre-right alliance seems to be edging ahead in the Senate, at least… The Guardian is live-blogging the actual results as they come in.  Here’s their latest post to date Before … Read more

Despite the rumours all parties will keep their options open till after the next election

So here, Micheal Martin had an interview in the Irish Sun last week. Caused a bit of a stir on Boards.ie and Politics.ie. As it might. Nothing stirs online chatter than future combinations of government parties (particularly at a time when the government seem to be getting some half decent press). Interestingly it’s not the one I’ve heard most about, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, which FFers themselves dismiss as cover by country FG TDs under pressure from rekindling of … Read more

Croke Park Agreement targets people over €65,000

Brendan Howlin seems at least to have struck a new CrokeParkAgreement Headline figures are: :: Salary increments will be frozen for those earning over €65,000. :: Overtime for Sunday shifts will be cut from double time to time and three quarters. :: There will be graduated pay cuts between 5-10% for people earning over €65,000. :: A longer working week of either 37 or 39 hours. :: The abolition of Twilight Pay. Howlin has stated these are adjustments to make … Read more

Collusion: Whitey Bulger and the FBI’s international trade off for domestic information

Fascinating piece by Ed Moloney on Whitey Bulger, an Irish Boston gangster who was ‘turned’ by the FBI relatively early in his long career of domestic crime, was later allowed a little international sideline: In 1975, Bulger agreed to become an FBI informer and was largely left alone by the authorities, who were mostly interested in what he knew about rival Mafia gangs. In 1994, his FBI handler tipped him off about an impending indictment and he fled Boston. For … Read more

The inequalities of same sex marriage

Gerry Lynch has had a couple of contributions recently on the subject of extending marriage to homosexual couples. The coalition’s legislation has often been called “Equal Marriage”. Historically the marriage of a man and a woman has been heavily discriminated in favour of by legislation. This has been justified by moral and religious positions, discussion of the benefits of marriage between a man and a woman as a building block for society, a platform for the bringing up of children … Read more