Conviction of John Proctor’s murderer eloquent riposte to John Larkin’s proposals

Two weeks ago to almost universal revulsion Attorney General John Larkin proposed an effective amnesty for the crimes of the Troubles. Now the legal process has provided the most eloquent rebuttal to his suggestions. The facts of the murder of RUC reservist John Proctor were as loathsome as so many of the Troubles. Mr. Proctor had just left visiting his wife and newborn son in the Mid Ulster Hospital when he was murdered with an assault rifle by Seamus Martin … Read more

Little support for the phrase “Peace journalism” & different ways of seeing facts, justice & public interest

The phrase “peace journalism” was found wanting by organisers and delegates alike at today’s workshop in Belfast. Partly because the journalistic ethics that apply to conflict equally apply to peace (and every other situation), and also because Northern Ireland may be on a transition between conflict and peace, but it’s definitely not yet altogether post-conflict. The main speakers (Deaglan de Breadun, Mike Gilson, Jane Morrice and Malachi O’Doherty) and panellists (Laura Haydon, Alex Kane, Lyra McKee and Julia Paul) all … Read more

Tough messages for the SDLP: Open up policy gaps and start speaking human again.

Nice work from Stephen Walker to get his hands on a confidential report based on focus groups across Northern Ireland. The leaker, no doubt, will be keeping his/her head down low (there’s a pun there if you dig not too deeply). It’s hardly the best way to communicate tough home truths to: one, do it in the public domain first; or two have a journalist do it through access to a leaked confidential document, rather than your own leader. Clearly … Read more

On Ireland’s strange romance with ‘Euronationalism’….

Ever wondered why nearly all our Northern Ireland MEPs have been Eurosceptic (with the exception of the SDLP) whilst those in the south have been almost universally Europhile? John Coakley on the remarkably protean nature of Irish identity, and it’s willingness to engage with wider notions of European identity… It may well be the case that the pillars on which Irish nationalism has relied in the past – such as its ancestral language, a perceived link to the Catholic tradition, … Read more

“Everyone has a human right to his or her memories…”

I see Arkiv are going for the Economist model of naming the writing staff (or founding team) but eschewing bylines… Anyhoo, I suspect, given the thoughtfulness of the output on their blog, their submission to Haass is well worth the time to read. In the meantime, with the vexed issue of local troubles related historiography in mind, this quote from the German sociologist Aleida Assmann in particular caught my eye… …nothing is gained by discarding lived experiences merely because they … Read more

After Liam Adams’ sentencing the Attorney General is still to decide on Gerry…

With the Attorney General still to decide on a previous decision by the DPP not to prosecute Gerry Adams for withholding information in light of his testimony earlier this year, Katie Varvos asks: Does [Gerry Adams] deserve a sentence, or was he really doing his best in a dark situation? 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 … Read more

Cartoon – A leader is born

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Micheal Martin claims Sinn Fein’s cover up of sexual abuse goes beyond the Adams case

And on the day Liam Adams was sentenced to 16 years for the child rape of his daughter, and Gerry Adams odd insouciance on the matter of what he actually did in response to finding out over 20 years ago, this from Sinn Fein… Ms McDonald is furious (apparently) with Micheal Martin for claiming that: From information we have picked up, and we have talked to other people, this may have been a broader trend in the republican movement. Just … Read more

Social attitudes within the DUP beginning to drift towards social liberalism?

Now this is interesting. Eamonn McCann picks out some telling indicators from Lucid Talks conference poll at the DUP meet up at the weekend: In relation to more earthly issues, the attitudes were markedly more progressive than the DUP is generally given credit for. One in eight believed that, ‘Abortion should be available to any woman who chooses it after being counselled on alternatives’ – the exact position of Alliance for Choice and other pro-choice campaigners. Almost two out of … Read more

East Belfast Speaks Out – a low key audience asked politicians about a wide range of issues #ebso

Back for the fourth time, the hustings event in East Belfast offered the local community (and hangers on from further afield) the opportunity to stick up their hand and put any question to the political panel. Stephen Farry (Alliance, standing in for David Ford); Alex Attwood (SDLP); Deirdre Heenan (UU); Mark Devenport (chair); Mike Nesbitt (UUP); Theresa Villiers (Conservative, NI Secretary of State) There was an expectation that the Ashfield Boys School assembly hall would be flooded with flag protesters. … Read more

McCann meets….Edwin Poots MLA

 The final instalment of my series of interviews is with the Health minister, Edwin Poots. I must admit this was the interview I was most nervous about doing but when you meet him in person he is actually a very affable person. What struck me was how relaxed he was for a person in his job and the applause he received during Peter Robinson’s speech shows his popularity among the party faithful. Apparently he is a reader of the blog-so … Read more

Is there a viable single political life for Sinn Fein beyond Gerry Adams?

Another good piece of political analysis from Jennifer O’Leary on Spotlight last night. I’ve roughly clipped what I think are the most telling pieces of analysis, which will be available later. But you should try to watch the whole lot. There’s an disjunct between those who feel betrayed by Gerry Adams like Marie McKee, and his constituents in Louth who seem more than willing to set aside the inconvenient truths of his troubled and troubling past. It’s also interesting that … Read more

Scotland’s Future … an introductory guide (that shouldn’t be ignored by NI)

The Scottish Government’s 670 page long white paper Scotland’s Future was published today. The document reads like a cross between a party manifesto and a giant FAQ. It’s tone is of modernity and a progressive Scotland. Issues around independence are opportunities not challenges – and derivations of “opportunity” appear four times more often than “challenge”. It makes an independent Scotland seem like a more tangible possibility while simultaneously supplying just enough information to spark hundreds of questions in your head … Read more

A touch of state collusion with the Provisionals for the greater good?

Useful insight from Ed Moloney who discloses one of no doubt many secrets of the clandestine peace process. This one concerns the late Father Alec Reid, on the day the two corporals were murdered at Casement Park, and an interesting take on the collusion of the state in the ‘interests of the peace process’: Knowing that the police would want to question him and that he if told the truth and identified the soldiers’ assailants his usefulness as an intermediary … Read more

Workers Party NI Conference – The Left Response #wp13

Workers Party SECT ARIA NISM election poster

The smaller party conferences are often more unpredictable and less stage managed. Contributions from the platform and the floor tend to be much more forthright. The social scene at many of the party conferences – particularly the SDLP – trumps the business in the hall. With the smaller groups, the social and political are combined, with banter and the odd heckle accompanying the serious business of the day. On Saturday afternoon the Workers Party held their Northern Ireland conference in … Read more

Franchise bump for Seanad a step one reform? Or taping up the box on further reform?

Well, the government’s first response to defeat in the last referendum is to bring forward a broadening of the university franchise which gives the votes to all graduates of third level education in the Republic. So if you graduated at the Institute of Technology in Letterkenny, congratulations, you now have a vote. Erm, that is if the College still knows where you live. Minister for Agriculture has said this morning that ‘more fundamental reform’ is needed, and certainly given the damning … Read more

“must at the very least include a mechanism that makes the broadcasting companies accountable and answerable to this Assembly…”

Speaking of making the media accountable…  The Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín, has declared that she is “considering options such as appointing a panel of experts to review broadcasting in the North and devolution of responsibility locally with a view to bringing proposals forward for cross-party support”.  Here’s a couple of lines from the minister’s press release [NI Culture Minister, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín] “I am considering options such as appointing a panel of experts … Read more

East Belfast Speaks Out – Wednesday evening at 7.30pm in Ashfield Boys School

Reminder that East Belfast Speaks Out is back again in Ashfield Boys School on Wednesday evening. An audience of 400 is again expected to hold local and national politicians to account. This year the largest executive bedfellows are being rested and other parties given a chance. Alex Attwood (SDLP) David Ford (Alliance) has pulled out Stephen Farry (Alliance) Deirdre Heenan (University of Ulster) Mike Nesbitt (UUP) Theresa Villiers (Conservative NI Secretary of State) Mark Devenport is back in the chair … Read more

Peter Robinson, keeping the press accountable – Caption Competition

Never mind the “unpleasant odour” rising from Northern Ireland’s libel law (and the urge to censor), there’s something a little stinky coming from Peter Robinson’s call for the media to show more support for Stormont. As Orwell said, “journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” Surely we don’t need more photos of politicians standing around with cheesy grins, Stormont’s main output? I look forward to seeing your captions for the empty speech … Read more