Archive | July, 2013

Republican Castlederg parade: the insensitivity of the impotent

West Tyrone Sinn Fein’s strategy over the 11th August parade in Castlederg has been progressing according to a fairly well worn formula. Initially the annual event was announced at the spot where the volunteers Seamus Harvey and Gerard McGlynn were killed 40 years ago on active service. (translation IRA terrorists blew themselves up with their more…

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Seanad Referendum: It’s about the economy, stupid!

Here Patricia MacBride responds to an emerging debate over the future of Seanad Eireann that was in full flow at the MacGill Summer School last night. Now that the Seanad Referendum Bill has been signed by the Minister, it’s all about balance in the debate from here on in, right? Well no – not really. more…

An Ynys Môn by-election – a psephologist’s dream.

Tomorrow sees an Assembly by-election in Ynys Môn as Ieuan Wyn Jones seeks pastures new. (from the BBC). I won’t dream of predicting the result as Anglesey people taught thrawn to you lot… There’s only one rule that the islanders follow. Once elected you only lose by retiring, dying or being thrown in clink…. Here’s more…

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Vision for Belfast unveiled by Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who promises to “remain relentlessly positive” about the city this year

When Máirtín Ó Muilleoir returned to Belfast City Council after an absence of fourteen years he must have hoped that it would be a changed place. His book – Belfast’s Dome of Delight – documents his journey as the “novice ambassador from the independent republic of Anderstown” to the council chamber as the nationalist (and more…

10 things that political unionists get wrong…

From our good friend and diligent commenter, Am Gobsmacht… Choosing ramdonly, here’s number four on the list, living in denial… Everyone knows that Northern Ireland needs the Catholic vote to survive. But the people who can make a difference such as the Loyalist bands, the Orange Order and indeed the IFA (see above) do nothing more…

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Caption Competition

Alex Kane quoted a Sinn Fein associate in the News Letter: We can always rely on unionist disarray or paranoia to help us out. And then we can remember Mitchel McLaughlin’s “faux pas of the month” back in 2006: … asked to explain exactly what Sinn Féin had achieved for its supporters, media-disaster Mitchel spluttered more…

How Stands the Republic? Grim verdicts at the MacGill summer school

  During a visit to tropical Donegal a couple of weeks ago I picked up from Johnny Boyle in the Highlands Hotel this year’s programme for the Patrick MacGill summer school in Glenties, now just under way.  Instead of the usual summer school  diet of history, literature and nostalgia, for several years now,  in the more…

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TDs that tweet – who, when and how

In an unexpected follow-up to last night’s post about tweeting MPs and MLAs … When they’re not in the Dáil or attending wake houses working on constituency issues, many TDs are busy twiddling their thumbs tweeting. Earlier today Eamonn Bell published an infographic that summarises the messaging habits of TDs. Eamonn’s number crunching (at the more…

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Party funding: NI Parties still making it up as they go along?

Party donations, eh? We have an exception to the general rule in Northern Ireland. The logic of a recent debate in the Commons was to bring NI into line with the rest of the UK such that donors of more than £7,500 are made publicly available. It failed, much to the apparent puzzlement of some English more…

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MPs with a slim majority are more likely to tweet: crunching numbers of tweeting elected representatives

Democratic Audit UK today posted a summary of results of research by James Donald who has been looking at the tweeting characteristics of Westminster MPs. It made me wonder about our local politicians. But first, the highlights from the UK-wide findings. Nearly 63% of MPs (408) had Twitter accounts in January 2013, while 37% were more…

What’s driving this animus against Suffolk Protestants?

Interesting developments at the Suffolk/Lenadoon interface, where a crowd of up 100 Catholic youths was reported to have attacked the tiny Protestant enclave in west Belfast. This follows a petrol bomb attack in June on the same community. The incident brought this from local Sinn Féin councillor Matt Garrett: “There are people working hard at more…

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First the Independent and now the i withdraws from Ireland, north and south

Exactly thirteen months after The Independent withdrew from the island it will be the turn of its baby sister, the i. The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade reported this afternoon what the Irish News reported earlier: Independent Print has decided to stop distributing copies of The Independent’s little sister, i, in Ireland. Newsagents have been told that more…

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When Alex met Nigel – interview with UKIP leader

Alex Kane interviewed Nigel Farage a couple of weeks ago when he was over meeting the UKIP faithful in the Stormont Hotel. There’s a lot of background noise, but the interview – broadcast today on Lisburn’s 98FM On the Record politics show – will give you a flavour of the David McNarry’s boss and his more…

“Is sectarianism a problem? Yes. Does it cripple Scotland? No.”

Alex Massie at Think Scotland, has doubts about how Scotland’s government is trying to tackle sectarianism. Not the least the ushering in of a new invasive form of ‘thought policing’… It is right and proper and necessary that religiously-motivated discrimination be outlawed in the public realm but government lacks either the means or the right more…

Cassini image of Earth in Saturn's rings

“There’s no place like home…”

I didn’t ‘Wave at Saturn’ on 19 July when the Cassini probe, orbiting the gas giant, was taking a high-definition image of the view back home.  I don’t think it encouraged a proper sense of perspective…  But the resultant image is stunning. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute] It’s not the first time Cassini has looked home.  Nor more…