Pragmatism v Ideology: Managerialism or an excuse for doing nothing at all?

Before I sign off for the weekend, Jude Collins has an interesting piece on the role of ideology, particularly with regard to education and even more specifically, education under three successive SF ministers. The real world demands either bits of a range of ideologies or no ideology at all.  The second of those two is impossible: everyone has an ideology. It might be “Responding to events as they happen, without forethought or any system of beliefs, is best” or “I … Read more

Labour’s troubles compounded with the first TD to completely depart the party…

Irish governing coalitions are notorious brittle… There are fragments of former Fianna Fail deputies from the last government still hanging on to their independent status (which is one reason we know FF are still a long way off their former glories). But the news that Patrick Nulty (who took Brian Lenihan’s Dublin West seat at the bye election in October 2011) is leaving the Labour party does nothing to allay the impression that the party is fracturing under the pressure. Nulty’s success … Read more

Another interface and another petrol bomb attack…

Another petrol bomb attack. This time in west Belfast on the small Protestant enclave of Suffolk. Sinn Fein Councillor Gerard O’Neill was quick off the mark to make a statement yesterday: “Whoever was behind the attack and for whatever motive, it is a disgrace and will not stop the good work continuing between the communities of Suffolk and Lenadoon areas. “While the circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear at this early stage any attack on people’s homes with petrol bombs … Read more

The Catholic church is behaving as if it knows it does not speak for the Irish people over abortion

Just a reflection or two on the issues of Mick’s post. When you see it written down so starkly out of the mouth of one Cardinal Burke from the real life perspective of the Roman Curia, the effect is breathtaking. Will  Catholics now rush to contradict him? I wonder. Many people seem to want to defy the Church silently. and this is mightily frustrating for the Church establishment. It’s as if they’re being ignored. More and more Irish Catholicism is becoming a private … Read more

Platform for Change asking if NI can have a coherent education system (Mon 24 June)

Back in February, Platform for Change came out of hiding and packed nine politicians onto a stage in the Belfast Holiday Inn to answer the question Can we now have a sensible conversation about flags? The Q&A format of the evening worked well, the DUP and Sinn Fein contributed (unusual for a Platform for Change event) and flag protesters along with 120 less worked up members of the public packed the room. On Monday 24 June, Platform for Change are … Read more

President Obama in trouble at home for his remarks on the desirability of Catholic schools?

A few people in Northern Ireland took notice of President Obama’s apparent dig at segregated education. But in the US quite a number on the right took it personally. As noted at the time here on Slugger, it may have been assumed by the President there were measures afoot to promote integrated schooling by the Catholic Education Minister, John O’Dowd. In fact the announcement of ten shared campuses last month may look to the untrained eye like a cross party … Read more

Upon retirement from the Assembly, Peter Robinson “might try my hand at something other than politics”

Peter Robinson was interviewed by Alex Kane recently for a piece that appeared in the News Letter. [I still don’t think the First Minister and DUP leader has “found time” yet to talk to the Irish News.] The audio of the interview was run on Lisburn’s 98FM On the Record politics programme today. You can listen to the interview in two parts and the full transcript is available on the News Letter website. listen to ‘(part 1/2) @AlexKane221b interviewing @DUPleader … Read more

The fragile balancing act of the “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill”

Right now the Dail is sitting on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. To say it has been controversial is an understatement. On Tuesday in a powerful essay (it sounded more like an address to the nation [MP3]), Olivia O’Leary called it “a distorted law” under which men and women would be far from equal. To accomodate the X case (Wikipedia), there is to be no time limit on when an abortion can take place. As Brian noted earlier: … Read more

JFK’s ‘eternal flame’ gets a business class lift ‘home’…

From the Irish Times news blog… An “eternal flame” taken from the grave of former US president John F Kennedy, has arrived in Dublin ahead of the 50th anniversary of his visit. The flame disembarked an Aer Lingus plane this morning in the steady hands of Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe. I’m as sentimental and dewy eyed as the next Irishman, but, really guys? Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers … Read more

#G8 and tax: “In the end, leaders are led…”

This is a rather optimistic and upbeat summation of the ‘achievements’ on Tax at the G8 in Lough Erne from Ben Phillips… In the end, leaders are led, and the power of the people is stronger than the people in power. Can one intergovernmental meeting fix it? No. But after this year of corporate scandal, popular mobilisation, media controversy, shuttle diplomacy, and leaders’ gatherings, no one representing a major government – no one – now says that campaigners’ ultimate aims … Read more

The Lions Test Team – how were our predictions?

Here’s the team: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales),Alex Cuthbert (Wales),  Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)  Jonathan Davies (Wales), George North (Wales), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales); Alex Corbisiero (England), Tom Youngs (England), Adam Jones (Wales), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Tom Croft (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland). Subs: Richard Hibbard (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Dan Cole (England), Geoff Parling (England), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Ben Youngs (England), Owen Farrell (England), Sean Maitland (Scotland). Astonished at Maitland as sub, very strange. … Read more

Let’s praise David Cameron for creating a brilliant showcase

First of all there was the simple pleasure at Lough Erne looking wonderful, an English friend saying  “didn’t Enniskillen look beautiful” and even the rain staying off, mostly.  I admit I was chuffed to see Jon Snow presenting lakeside “fresh in from Iran.. on a beautiful Fermanagh evening.” And never mind Obama. Unfashionable as it is to praise any British Prime Minister for anything they do on this island, let’s hear it for David Cameron whose bold and imaginative decision … Read more

The fate of peace: President Obama in Northern Ireland

My marriage is a transatlantic union between a Midwesterner and a Belfast-born Northern Irishwoman. Fittingly, my wife and I were delighted to receive tickets to hear another Midwesterner, President Barack Obama, at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. With DJ Pete Snodden playing music by American artists, and the 2,000+ crowd performing a Mexican wave, one could be forgiven for thinking a pop concert was in the works. Rather, Hannah Nelson, a 16-year-old student from Methodist College, gave an excellent speech on … Read more

“Bellwether interface” kicking off with multiple petrol bomb attacks…

This is the front page of the Irish News this morning. It makes the legitimate point that whilst David Cameron was telling the world Northern Ireland has changed, a four year old girls received minor burn injuries from a petrol bomb thrown into Bryson Street in the Short Strand. The incident brought substantive comment from Belfast’s former Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile: “I visited the young girl who was injured today and her family and spoke with the PSNI following … Read more

“We need you to get this right.”

“We need you to get this right.” – Barack Obama, Belfast Waterfront Hall, Monday 17 June 2013 Thought this deserved a special illustrated note. Perhaps we can carry this alongside us. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

#G8, transparency, tax and “the soft bigotry of low expectations…”

On tax, and transparency, here’s the final communique from Lough Erne. Ten “shoulds”, all of them ‘good things’, based on self reporting. Ah, “the soft bigotry of low expectations” says Joseph Cotteril. No imminent world government then? As The Economist noted last week: …offshore centres such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey, corporate service providers have had to collect ownership information since they first came under international pressure a decade ago, though they are sometimes slow or unwilling to turn it over … Read more

Obama’s “Peace comes dropping slow (but not necessarily *this* slow)” speech in Belfast…

So, Obama’s speech? As Fionnuala O’Connor pointed out on BBC NI yesterday comparisons with past speeches are ill-placed. When Clinton spoke in 1995, she argued there was a lot riding on it. There was virtually nothing riding on Obama’s delivery yesterday. The regular mis-pronunciations were testament to the downgrading of Northern Ireland both in the President’s own strategic hierarchy and the amount of resources set aside for it at State. As Barak headed west to Fermanagh, Michelle wasted no time … Read more

#G8: Taxation should remain focused on capital and employees not where sales are generated…

Sammy Wilson’s negative comments re the Republic’s tax regime at the weekend, just before the G8 convened, was clearly jumping on board mumbling from the US Congress, and Westminster PAC… …the British government does have some leverage on the Irish Government there, because they have a £7.5 billion loan, that is a lot of leverage. They should be saying to the government in the Republic, you cannot steal tax revenue from us in this way and that is in fact … Read more

“Drowning in the last hours of the day…”

Somewhat belatedly, here’s the annual excellent Bloomsday video.  It’s tradition!  Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. Enjoy! Pete Baker

Obama strikes a note of realism in making a cautious appeal to open a gate in the peace walls before tearing them down

While it causes a thrill to see Obama in town, lockdown  bloated security hassle and all, visits by presidents, prime ministers and even popes are now subject to the law of diminishing returns. Timed to deliver a powerful boost the fledgling peace process in 1995,  Bill Clinton’s impact at the City Hall was bound to be hard to beat. Obama had a less visionary message to deliver to the obligatory “youth,”-  that at least you have a different context to work … Read more