Northern Ireland greatest challenge is the loss of the best of our next generation…

In Northern Ireland we have many problems to contend with going into the future. We have sectarian tensions and a government that now seems to be in a permanent state of paralysis when it comes to dealing with issues like parades. However there is a wider problem that has not being given enough attention and that is the increasing number of our people that are choosing to leave Northern Ireland. Since the economic crisis hit in 2008 we have been … Read more

NI Assembly Commissioner for Standards: “In these circumstances some might have concerns as to my impartiality to consider your complaint…”

I’m not entirely convinced by the reason given by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards, Douglas Bain, for his decision to recommend that the NI Assembly Committee on Standards and Privileges appoint an Acting Commissioner to consider the DUP and TUV complaints about Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly’s attendance and speech at the recent controversial Castlederg parade.  Here’s what the Commissioner told the TUV leader Jim Allister, MLA. Thank you for your letter of 12 August 2013 making a … Read more

Seamus Heaney: “But what about the river in the trees, boy?”

Seamus Heaney has died at the age of 74.  The Slugger archive has a number of Heaney-related posts, although some links may be defunct.  Among them one of my earliest posts noting Heaney writing on his fellow poet Czeslaw Milosz.  More here, here, here, here, and here.  And here’s a great montage of BBC archive clips from 2009 of “Digging”. [Photo credit: Felix Clay] And a quote noted back in 2006. Sitting comfortably at last in the country-like kitchen of his house … Read more

#SeanadRef: No one is defending the present Seanad’s toothless old assenting insiderly grin…

So the Seanad Abolition debate got underway earlier in the week on RTE’s Drivetime programme with a lively if nervous and unfocused sort of debate. There are several things to say about the odd circumstances of this latest turn in the Republic’s seemingly unending cycle of referendums. One is that the Enda Kenny’s great idea came before he used his Taoiseach’s nominations to appoint some tough and independent minded Senators who have had the effect of boosting both the quality … Read more

Jobs and Freedom for Northern Ireland

Sponsored by the US Consulate Belfast, the Washington-Ireland Programme and Politics Plus, Chris Lyttle MLA hosted a remembrance event at Parliament Buildings for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, with Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, “I have a dream”. https://soundcloud.com/mrulster/20130828-mlk-nia-01-chris-lyttle-mla Chris recalled his experience as a participant in the Washington-Ireland Programme, including a project that investigated the organisation of the 1963 March for Jobs & Freedom. He was particularly honoured to meet Walter Fauntroy … Read more

Beating ourselves up about ourselves. “Are we normal yet?”

The Oliver versus Kane #DeathMatch (Quintin’s Tigger to Alex’s Eyore) from Tuesday night’s Evening Extra… Stick with it, it starts to get interesting about half way through… 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

Time for another Church/Hall watch thread?

So a device set against the Orange Hall in Newcastle comes days after the latest attack on Clifton Street Orange Hall in what Councillor Lee Reynolds has called “a sectarian hate crime” took place in broad daylight (ie, with the certainty that whoever did it, would not be caught). These attacks are almost always low level, expression of sectarian sentiment and a near constant across Northern Ireland… As a senior Sinn Fein Councillor in Strabane Micheala Boyle (now an MLA) … Read more

Twaddell: A Camp Called Malice

Following on from the 12th July loyalist rioting in Belfast, the Orange Order and loyalists conceived of the idea of establishing a “civil rights” camp to keep the pot boiling at the most sensitive of Belfast’s interfaces: the Ardoyne-Twaddell Avenue roundabout. This decision was clearly taken with the support of unionist politicians, who have regularly attended rallies and parades at the ‘camp site.’ The sight of an array of loyalist flags and banners awkwardly positioned at the interface neatly illustrates … Read more

DUP man criticises poor DARD performance on Bovine TB…

Not trying to add to the giddy zephyrs of pure conjecture, or anything, but I was struck by a presser from Paul Frew yesterday which took the DRD to task for dithering over how to deal with Bovine TB. In it he says: There is no doubt that Bovine TB cannot be attributed to a single factor, but we cannot escape the fact either that every country which has successfully tackled this disease has put a focus on the reservoir … Read more

The record needs correcting. Britain deserves the main credit for ending the Troubles

Keeping up the legacy of history theme, The Newsletter has asked Paul Bew to develop his idea for the release of government papers on Northern Ireland earlier than the new 20 year rule. The QUB historian and peer  believes that the spate of detailed inquiry reports on what went wrong during the Troubles should be  better balanced by what went right. For that he gives more credit than has perhaps been acknowledged to the Northern Ireland Office. It’s played the … Read more

“that’s why Richard Haass needs proof – right from the start – that the will to construct a deal really does exist”

Having abandoned their first, draconian, attempt to control regulate Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests, Sinn Féin and the DUP may now face a wider variety of emboldened dissenting voices in seeking compromise on the issue.  Alex Kane has some advice for the incoming chair of the new, improved, working group on parades.  From the News Letter article If I were Mr Haass I would gather all of the parties and assorted hangers-on around the table at 9am on the first Monday morning and … Read more

“giddy zephyrs of the purest conjecture…”

In yesterday’s Irish News Newton Emerson poured cold water on some recent idle speculation – as noted by Alan.  From the Irish News Speculation is mounting that Peter Robinson plans to step down as DUP leader.  It cannot be stressed enough that this is based on giddy zephyrs of the purest conjecture.  An attempt by nationalism to convince itself the Maze U-turn indicated weak leadership was debunked by a mild response from Sinn Féin, which sees exactly how Robinson has launched … Read more

More on the trend of reconciliation in the decade of commemoration

  Stephen Collins writes in the Irish Times:   So far the decade of commemoration for the great events spanning the 1912 to 1922 period that led to Irish independence has been marked in a similar spirit or reconciliation and compromise. The tens of thousands of Irish men who fought in the first World War have finally received due recognition and the State has even given formal recognition to the Ulster Volunteers, whose entire purpose was to block independence. However, … Read more

The Maze is part of a shared past

Malachi O’Doherty is magnificently right.  The best result for the Maze project would have been/ still should be  to provide  an unsparing and comprehensive account of the Troubles, murders, conspiracies and weasel politics, including the narratives without which it is a meaningless recitation of horror. Conflict resolution could come in the last gallery just before the shop.  What a powerful statement it would be coming from the post-Agreement generation of parties and what avenues it would open for collective cognitive therapy. … Read more

Housing Equality Shouldn’t Have To Wait

Yesterday saw yet another housing inequality report, Equality Can’t Wait, published by north Belfast based Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) – the organisation which Inez McCormack founded in 2006. PPR’s systematic chronicling of successive failures to take action to eradicate the well documented religious inequality affecting the Catholic community in north Belfast is indeed impressive, if extremely depressing reading.  For those not into reading long reports, the key findings have been summarised by the PPR.  What I found … Read more

DUP illustrate unionist leadership as #RuthPatterson is in court

Yesterday Ruth Patterson attended court for her Facebook post and provided an interesting piece of optics for the television cameras. In a considered move, a variety of DUP ministers and other public representatives, including Edwin Poots, Sammy Wilson, Jonathan Bell and Guy Spence (to name a few), attended the court hearing or accompanied her to and from the court, clearly with an eye on the cameras. Other unionist glitterati in attendance included Willie Frazer and others taunting Patterson to get … Read more

Focus on the problem of corruption more useful than a political duel over housing models.

So, one of the stories during the week worth noting is the controversy that St Matthews’ Housing Association got itself embroiled in. At the centre of the controversy was the prioritisation of transfers over people on the wider waiting list. Former Belfast City Councillor, Joe O’Donnell in the thick of it (erm, again). The parallels drawn by Turgon earlier in the week were not lost on Sinn Fein’s FST MP Michelle Gildernew, who made a statement critical of her party [or … Read more

Northern Ireland’s Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism by Tony Novosel — Book Review

Northern Ireland’s Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism, is a book that has received surprisingly little attention since it was published this year (Pluto Press, 2013). Written by American Tony Novosel, a lecturer in History at the University of Pittsburgh, it is a clearly-written and provocative examination of loyalist political development from the mid-1960s. It is also a timely book, given that loyalism has been ‘in the news’ lately for all the wrong reasons: the flag protests and … Read more

“Statement needed from Gerry Adams on Sinn Féin claims re Garda Donohoe”

And five days after that extraordinary press briefing, Niall Collins of Fianna Fail says Gerry Adams needs to answer questions about what he knows of the murderers of Garda Aidan Donohoe. This literally just into Slugger’s inbox: “This media briefing is a serious development. A senior official working at the heart of the Sinn Féin political operation claims that he knows for a fact the identity of Detective Donohoe’s killers. In addition, he claims that the same individuals were behind … Read more

A tale of two constituencies, leadership & acceptance of our competing narratives

Brian Walker has picked up on articles from Dan Keenan and Steven McCaffrey which reflected a sentiment noted by others on Twitter and elsewhere: namely, why is it that Derry seems to have moved past the mid-summer street confrontations that used to be the norm there and which still define a summer in Belfast? Firstly, let us establish one incontrovertible fact: The ability of thousands of loyalists to march unchallenged through the centre of the overwhelmingly nationalist city of Derry … Read more