Are the Sunday Mirror (and the Met) latest ‘target’ of Bangor con man, Mark Townley?

Well, here’s our old friend Mark Townley again. This time posing as a Jihadist. His story was plausible enough to have him arrested after ‘confessing’ to planning to kill Prince Harry. And to get the Sunday Mirror to cover it as real. Ashraf Islam is his latest nom de guerre. After his arrest over the Harry threat, police found evidence on Islam’s laptop that he visited terrorist and weapons websites and had searched for “kidnapping”, “guns” and “vans”. A source … Read more

SDLP’s problem: “depends too much on the force of changing winds rather than any chartered course.”

Excellent piece from Tom Kelly in the Irish News today… It’s worth reading in full, but roughly he’s hopeful the China trip will re-emphasise to the First and deputy First Ministers that economic development is not aided by domestic rows over flags and parades… But then, turning to the Spad Bill affair, he notes: The SDLP’s U Turn on the recent Spad Bill has certainly not enamoured the party to Sinn Fein, but the fact is that the SDLP has … Read more

#SpAdBill, the #GFA and the long shadow of the Boundary Commission

I have been intending to post on the SpAdBill for a while but nothing has encapsulated the shrill histrionics of any public debate involving unionism since, well, the fading #flegs crisis or whatever the issue was just before that. And don’t get me wrong, there is no doubting the sincerity of Ann Travers or others who feel they have a grievance that needs to be addressed, regardless of who is responsible for their pain or loss. It is that last … Read more

No Dogs, No Irish….No Terrorists?

Two years ago today Ann Travers, sister of IRA victim Mary, met with Peter Robinson over the appointment of Mary McCardle (one of those involved in her sister`s murder ) to a highly paid Stormont Special Adviser position. Today Twitter is awash with raging Sinn Fein activists aghast at the possibilty of discrimination being perpetrated against rapists, murderers & bombers as Jim Allister`s SPAD bill looks likely to be voted through. New SDLP political leaflet… #Stoops #SPAD #Parody… — Jamie Shaw … Read more

Lord Laird has form in ‘understanding’ the line between lobbying and representation…

It seems this is not the first time Lord Laird has fallen on the ‘complicated’ side of parliamentary rules… From February 2000, not long after his appointment as a peoples peer the Guardian reported that he and Lord Rogan had failed to declare their lobbying interest in Northern Ireland… When contacted by The Observer , Laird denied any conflict of interest. There was no difficulty with his role as chairman of a PR company which offered clients ‘public affairs’ consulting, … Read more

“His beauty was his ability for silence. He sat there and waited them out…”

Best review of transplanted Dubliner Colum McCann’s new novel Transatlantic, in which, amongst other things, he channels George Mitchell: There’s a moment in the book when the Good Friday Agreement has just been signed in Belfast, and Mitchell, who earlier compared himself to a terrorist willing to wait in a wet ditch all night (“It’s the tenacity of the fanatic that he wants to pitch himself against. There is, he knows, something akin to his own form of violence in … Read more

Lord John Laird in hot water over Fiji ‘gig’…

John Laird has a record of being somewhat indiscreet… But, this is not looking good… 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

‘The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956’: Book Review

This second volume of letters ‘having bearing on my work’ elegantly compiles Samuel Beckett’s postwar correspondence. The often pleading, imploring frustration of a struggling Irishman trying to land a publisher for his poems and tales has faded. Postwar, Beckett returns to Paris and then goes away to Ussy-sur-Marne to confront himself–and to create his breakthrough prose and drama. Easing if not replacing the acerbic, dyspeptic tone of his youthful letters, he blends his unease into a mellower, if no less … Read more

Sinn Fein possess the resources to sidestep any negative employment effect of #SpadBill…

So, just a quick tidy up on the outstanding issues around the SpAdBill, namely employment rights. Daithi McKay, who has played point on this issue over the last year or two has suggested that: “Members of staff could potentially lose their jobs, and that is not what we should be legislating for in the chamber, in the Assembly. We should be legislating for jobs, not taking away jobs.” As it happens, the narrow terms of the bill will only have … Read more

Are some victims campaigns more acceptable than others?

Never one to pull his punches, in today’s Irish News Newton Emerson gets down to asking an important question of Relatives for Justice, the director of which Mark Thompson has written: The bill is a direct consequence of the failure to independently deal with the past in an inclusive and holistic way and as such should not be progressed in isolation to a wider process of inclusive truth recovery. Ideally this issue should be the opportunity to now convene meaningful … Read more