McCann meets…..Michael Copeland MLA

Last week, I sat down with East Belfast UUP MLA, Michael Copeland. We talked about his entry into politics, the flags protests and the performance of the PSNI. I want to apologise first for the audio but here are some quotes that I thought were interesting On the Executive’s performance in tackling underachievement; Thus far in my view they’ve failed and they will quote figures of many millions of pounds invested in things like the Skainos project. To the average … Read more

Rangers’ Armed Services Day descends into an undisciplined act of self undoing…

So Scotland [Deep breath!]? Well, I did try to get ‘the other side’ of this story, but since there’s no one in the press office at Ibrox today, and there’s no mobile number for the press officer they do have available (which is unusual in my experience), I’m going on what’s already out there. Adds: This story broken here by Phil at An Phoblacht. On Saturday, Rangers (or Sevco as they are known to their rivals throughout Scottish football) thumped … Read more

Pictures of Northern Ireland in new passport prove to be just whispers in the ear…

This is more curio thanhard news. On the 26th September, BBC NI carried this piece of ahem, news regarding the new design of Irish passports: …it is not yet known if landscapes from Northern Ireland, such as the Giant’s Causeway, will appear. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs would not say if any images from the north will be on the new document. The department commissioned the landscape pictures and images that reflected aspects of culture and heritage. Irish Foreign … Read more

More #Twaddell: DUP, dupes and duplicity.

The onus is now upon nationalism to show leadership and to respond positively to this genuine attempt to reach accommodation. They must face down the elements in their community who wish to drag Northern Ireland back. So says DUP ‘leader’ Peter Robinson, but presumably not in reference to his party members who were advocating burning tricolours, defacing religious statues, indulging in murder fantasies, okay with assaults on the mayor or happy to be seen at UVF parades. Robinson was actually … Read more

The Robinson Allister spat in the context of the Hass talks

Last week’s spat between Peter Robinson and Jim Allister has been analysed in some detail. One of the best contributions has been by Sam McBride pointing to how it demonstrates the difference that it makes allowing ministers to be questioned without knowing the questions in advance. Prior to that as McBride says: “For years, question time at Stormont has been a fairly turgid affair, with questions submitted weeks in advance so that civil servants could draft vast replies for ministers … Read more

A little bit of politics at the Belfast Festival – turning a theatre into a parliament

A few events touching on politics from the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s which runs from Thursday 17 to Sunday 27 October. Pending Vote is the Irish première where the theatre becomes a parliament and the audience have remote controls to vote to decide the future of our community and the evening’s performance. Lyric Theatre – Naughton Studio, 8pm, Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October. £12. Voting on relevant issues for the Northern Ireland public without avoiding topics such … Read more

PUP-Is there anyway back in from the cold?

The PUP has not had a very happy post-Good Friday Agreement existence. Since 1998, they have suffered an electoral decline that would make David Trimble blush. Yes, Northern Ireland’s voice of Loyalism has been out of sorts and out of political influence since it lost its last remaining assembly seat in 2010 when Dawn Purvis left the party. In addition to this, the party has lost a staggering 88% of its vote over the last 15 years. The party now … Read more

The Mary McAleese Question: Presidential Voting Rights for the North

UPDATE: The Constitutional Convention delegates have overwhelmingly supported the motion to extend franchise to Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland (73% in favour, 20% against, 1% 7% Undecided/ No Opinion.) The question regarding all citizens resident outside the State was also passed by a margin of 78%, 21%, 1%.) Whilst Richard Haass is busy meeting politicians and interested parties to explore issues kicked to touch during the Good Friday Agreement discussions 15 years ago, the Constitutional Convention in Dublin will … Read more

#SeanadRef: Gerry Adams’ cogent and eloquent argument against his own party’s official position…

I’ll be doing a round up of today’s #DigitalLunch with Joe McHugh TD and Derek Mooney of DemocracyMatters on Monday. But I have to say after that long detailed and highly civil debate, I was a bit taken aback to read this on Gerry Adams’ own blog. It’s a cogent and concise argument against the abolition of the Seanad from the leader of Sinn Fein on the day the Referendum bill was introduced in the Dail. A position which was … Read more

#WillieFrazer dresses as Abu Hamza for court

                                      Sometimes, there just aren’t words (and no, I’ve no idea who Jamie Bryson is dressed as). Certainly, Newt thinks he has a point:   As usual, the real problem with Willie Frazer is that he has a point. — Newton Emerson (@NewtonEmerson) September 27, 2013   This is Willie’s own take on his motives for the ‘protest’ (as reported by UTV). … Read more

#DigitalLunch returns to consider the merits and otherwise of abolishing Seanad Eireann

Live from 1pm… We are looking for your questions?? Tomorrow our DigitalLunch series returns after a long break from the Autumn. You can pick up the detail and live feed here from 1pm. In a Seanad Referendum special, we hope to have two people each from the Yes and No camps. To be honest I am as interested in the process as the result. Either way there will be more to do if we want to improve the quality of … Read more

McCann meets….Belfast Mayor, Mairtin O’Muilleoir

 On Tuesday I sat down with the Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O’Muilleoir. We discussed a variety of issues from why he joined Sinn Fein to his view of the recent flag disturbances. Here are some key quotes; On his business background; While I have enjoyed creating businesses and being involved in business….I think it has affected some of my outlook, I don’t think it has affected my outlook on matters economic. But I think it’s affected my outlook on matters … Read more

Slugger on the roads

Strabane – where I’m running through next week – has had its local ‘Strabansky’ amend the de rigueur ‘Join the IRA’ scrawl…. (I owe this to Emma Walsh.) And this may be as good a moment as any to point out that I’m running the length of Ireland, 1st-12th October, for cancer charities – if you’re on my route, please do come along and either jog with me for a bit, or pour gin on me! My route is on … Read more

Shock horror! Independent publishes its own Irish language news supplement

If you told me ten or five years ago that the only Irish language newspaper of any description would be provided by the Irish Independent, I would have ended up spending the rest of the day in intensive care.   Independent News and Media have long been regarded as one of the arch enemies of the Irish language, and not without cause.  Derision of the Irish language has been a default position, it seems, of nearly all the columnists – … Read more

Are young people getting a fair go politically in Northern Ireland? #bbcnolan

The Nolan show discussed Gerry Kelly’s comments about the crisis that power-sharing in Northern Ireland is facing. The show touched upon some young people’s attitudes towards governance in Northern Ireland. So I thought I would put some meat on the bones of this argument and pose the simple question; are we giving young people a fair go in Northern Ireland? Let’s start with some facts about just how interested young people in Northern Ireland are in politics. The last Young … Read more

Italian lessons required for Stormont

From Upworthy: Mr. President (of the House of Deputies), beyond the thousands of excuses and quibbles, we’re talking here of matters of the heart, of feelings, of emotions. Because a kiss and a hug have not and will never hurt anyone. In fact, they are part of what contributes most to making us human. We want to make that clear. And so we’re going to pull back the veil and to demonstrate that there is truly nothing to be afraid … Read more

Robinson’s land ‘remarks’ part of a general decline in tone and substance in Northern Irish politics

If Peter Robinson thought he was snuffing out incessant criticism from that turbulent preacher from the unionist back benches, Jim Allister, he was surely misguided. Not least in his follow up remarks in a point of order to the effect that: …it was “particularly sad that a member of the family wanted to buy the land and was turned down because the family decided to sell it to a republican”. Two major aspects come immediately to mind: One, his partners … Read more

Accepting Northern Ireland is part of the UK is what nationalists signed up for…

It’s worth noting Vernon Coaker’s intervention, which is a reminder to both sets of ‘leaders’ in Northern Ireland of the basis of the Belfast Agreement back in 1998:  “I can’t help but think that to overcome the setbacks, we almost need to establish first principles again, the sort that were enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. “Nationalists and republicans need to show that they accept Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom while the majority of people who live … Read more

‘To the winds our sails: Irish writers translate Galician poetry’: Book Review

This 2010 anthology collects five poems each from ten Galician women. Irish poets translate four per poet from an English-language crib, with the remaining one rendered into Irish itself. The results reveal some of the revived enthusiasm and energy emanating from this northwestern corner of Iberia, with its alleged ancient ties to the Celtic lands, as the legendary homeland of the Irish themselves. How such expression cross over linguistic expanses, co-editor Mary O’Donnell observes, raise questions. ‘It remains one of … Read more

Scotland’s Commissioner to investigate Gerry Kelly’s attendance and speech at Castlederg parade

With the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards, Douglas Bain, having recused himself from the investigation of the complaints that Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly’s attendance and speech at the controversial Castlederg Parade in August this year was in breach of the code of conduct for MLAs “by glorifying terrorism and damaging community relations”  [Is he washing his hair? – Ed]  He’s a member of the Parades Commission…  ANYhoo…  As the BBC report, the NI Assembly today agreed to appoint Scotland’s Commissioner for Ethical Standards in … Read more