Draft CSI document contains yawning gaps. OFMdFM parties fear criticism.

Interesting snippet from Mark Devenport which says an awful lot… The layman might think that the obvious big gesture for Stormont to make would be to publish the long delayed Cohesion Sharing and Integration strategy, a draft of which the BBC obtained back in January. However, publishing the whole document might be fraught with difficulties. As the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness explained at a Stormont Castle news conference at lunchtime, the parties are still nowhere near resolving their differences … Read more

Launch Event: Youthbank International Network

At 11am this morning you can watch our digitallunch event organised for and on behalf of Youthbank, a great organisation centred and driven by Vernon Ringland in Belfast (at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland) and now operating in a wide range of countries overseas.. Those of you familiar with #DigitalLunch will know the format. It’s a short LIVE event to launch a new network promoting youth-led grant-making. Some young grant-makers will help us launch YB International on a live … Read more

Adams’s extended RTE interview on political murder turns the southern clock right back for Sinn Fein…

On Twitter last night the jury was split over Gerry Adams’ performance in a Prime Time interview with Miriam O’Callaghan. It wasn’t an elegant affair by any means. But then again, nor was the subject. No matter how well he handled it, it was always going to go badly with potential future voters and even activists to have Mr Adams interrogated for a twenty minutes on the legacy murders committed by the IRA in the Republic. That ought have been … Read more

Canning pleads guilty on 2011 Easter Monday charges

The BBC has a report on the on-going trial of one of the three Londonderry men charged, along with Marian Price, in relation to a 32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Monday parade in the city in 2011 – the charge is of managing a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, the IRA.  And we have a conclusion to the judicial process for two of the accused – including Marvin Canning, the 51-year-old brother-in-law of Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.  … Read more

Fianna Fail’s ‘new’ leader building for a ‘new era’ Fianna Fail?

So, beige says Miriam of the Fianna Fail leader’s closing speech to his party’s Ard Fheis. Not wrong, of course. Steady as she goes, the weekend’s national conference was business like and not prone to much in the way of story telling or narrative. More like a business meeting, in fact. If anything the leadership was focused as much on playing down polls and playing up the amount of work still to be done before next year’s local government elections. … Read more

Sinn Fein undermining the sanctity of marriage

A sign of the times.  Sinn Fein under attack…from Catholic Priests. “While Sinn Féin support remains high in the Catholic community, they do not, however, have the support of Catholics who are committed to the cause of life and marriage….Catholics understand therefore, that a vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for the weakening of the institution of marriage and the right to life for all the unborn.”” And the DUP being praised..by the same Catholic Priests. Fr. Owen Gorman, … Read more

Futile Border Poll campaign to launch

What is presumably a Sinn Fein border poll initiative is to launch on Friday with mock polls planned for Crossmaglen and Creggan Upper (in County Louth) We are officially launching our campaign on Friday – come along if you’re available! twitter.com/UnitedIreland/… — United Ireland(@UnitedIreland) April 28, 2013 Presumably taking a leaf out of the People`s Pledge EU Referendum Campaign who held their own polls in certain constituencies last year. Of course the credibility of holding such a border poll in … Read more

If you live in a glass house, don`t throw stones…at UKIP

Much ado about Ken Clarke`s comments on `UKIP clowns, closet racists and fruitcakes` over the weekend.  It is amazing however what turns up when you Google various configurations of the words Labour, Tory, racist, nazi & BNP. For example, BNP leader Nick Griffin’s father was a Welsh Tory aide to Ian Duncan Smith in 2001, who discussed  ‘voluntary repatriation of immigrants’ .  Add to that a raft of Labour and Tory members defecting to the BNP and vice versa, lots of … Read more

Fianna Fail’s bonds with the Republic are deeply rooted and emotional (as well as political)…

John Drennan got an interview in with Micheal Martin a few days before yesterday’s Ard Fheis. He therefore had some time to properly consider the position the leader of Fianna Fail finds himself: Others in the party may be stepping around Leinster House like fellows who have put too much ginseng in their tea. ‘Nice’ Micheal, however, is acutely aware that, like the dog that robbed the joint of bacon on Sunday and comes to the back door looking for … Read more

Iceland election result: two parties blamed for economic meltdown returned to power

Back to Iceland to look at the election result. The BBC report that: Centre-right opposition parties in Iceland are set for a return to power with nearly all votes counted after Saturday’s parliamentary election. The Independence party has 26% and the Progressive party 24%, putting them on track to win nearly 40 of the 63 seats. The ruling Social Democrats are trailing with around 13%. It is a dramatic comeback for the parties widely blamed for Iceland’s economic meltdown in … Read more

“a leadership which has lost on prisons has nowhere to go…”

Fascinating snippet from papers released by the Thatcher Foundation… Mr Atkins, in his 1981 minute, told Mrs Thatcher: “The Provisionals need to settle the prisons problem on terms they can represent as acceptable to them if they are to go on – as we know some of them wish to do – to consider an end of the current terrorist campaign. A leadership which has ‘lost’ on the prisons is in no position to do this.” The typed phrase “an … Read more

Peter Robinson: in 50 years’ time the votes of the culturally Irish will help ensure union remains safe

Peter Robinson light-heartedly suggested that DUP’s first ever spring policy conference today in Fermanagh “means that the G8 Summit has now been demoted to the second most important event in Fermanagh this year!” The full speech is available from the DUP website. The DUP leader reassured delegates that Nigel Dodds “will be back at work on Monday and happily he’s been given a clean bill of health”. He hoped that the health scare would “bring about a greater understanding of … Read more

Quote of the week…

Newton Emerson, in today’s Irish News, not for the first time gets maximum points for stating the bleeding obvious that no one will… The real danger is that the Maze will be so balanced that it becomes anodyne, although to to paraphrase Danny Morrison you only have to attract a tourist once, so you do not have to be interesting all the time. As for the doomed [I tell you!] assembly motion by the UUP, TUV and UKIP, it would … Read more

Martin opens the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis with some hints of the game ahead…

At the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, nodding through the officers on the volume of applause from delegates was new to me. Then again, Fianna Fail evidently likes its leaders to lead rather than follow polls or focus groups. But the reality of running a modern political party is rather different. As the Sussex University Professor Tim Bale told the faithful, polls may tell them they are in recovery, but they also tell them how far they still have to go … Read more

Icelandic dinosaurs, elections and the fate of their crowd-sourced constitution … and a link to equal marriage

Slugger should take a look at Iceland more often. An article in yesterday’s Guardian described intriguing democratic and constitutional processes. About a third of the North Atlantic island’s population live in the capital city of Reykjavík, another third live in the greater Reykjavík area. Apparently two thirds of the island’s population are on Facebook: Iceland can be a petri dish for democratic ideas, according to the mayor [Jón Gnarr who formed the Best party] … “Reykjavík and Iceland are perfect … Read more

Only united challenges from civil society to government and grass roots campaigns will bring about a shared future

It’s amazing isn’t it, how all the parties are now singing the praise of sharing, integration and Mammy and apple pie? And yet when it comes to agreeing what that might actually mean they stay stuck in deadlock, their real comfort zone. “A shared future”  risks  becoming debased as a piece of Orwellian double think, our equivalent of the  old Communist dictatorships’ “People’s Democracy.”  Apart from wringing our hands and scratching our heads, what can we do about it? I’m sorry, … Read more

No parallels with Ireland as a pro-union strategy in Scotland begins to emerge at last

There were risks in sending a posh English boy like George Osborne to Scotland to warn that it might be no doddle for an independent Scotland  to continue using sterling as its currency. The move  might yet backfire among thrawn Scots if  the English try to put the frighteners on them. Like pointing out the supposed difficulties of Scotland continuing more or less automatically as a member of the EU, Osborne’s sally north  was part of London’s  growing challenge to the … Read more

#Reilly legislation on abortion: It’s truly idiotic

You didn't expect this.

And the abortion debate rumbles on …. Yesterday Health Minister James Reilly denied that it was ever being proposed that the opinion of six doctors would be stipulated in legislation covering abortion where there was a risk of suicide. This morning, Fionnan Sheahan published details of the draft legislation: • “One obstetrician and two psychiatrists have jointly certified that, in their reasonable opinion, there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the pregnant woman’s life from self-destruction and … Read more

Presbyterian Church Punishes Ford for Marriage Equality Vote

The News Letter and the Antrim Guardian have both reported that Justice Minister David Ford has ‘agreed’ to step down from his duties as an elder at Second Donegore Presbyterian Church in County Antrim, as a result of his vote in favour of civil marriage equality. This seems to have been the result of what has clearly been quite serious pressure in what the News Letter describes as “months of private meetings” at the sub-regional body to which Second Donegore … Read more

Slugger live reporting from the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis…

So for the first time (I think), Slugger will be reporting live from the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis in the RDS in Dublin this weekend. I will do my no doubt imperfect best to channel our own Alan in Belfast, by recording speeches and interviews with leading politicians and ordinary activists alike inside the party. I also hope to talk to some of the non party guest speakers. The Clar, or programme, for the event is here. Topics I’m particularly … Read more