#Haass paper published

Folks here are the proposals from the Haass talks that has been put up on the OFM/DFM website Paper opens with ‘We in Northern Ireland have come along way. From the depths of violence we have built an impressive, albiet incomplete peace.’ It goes on to say ‘Despite these positive steps , we have further distance to travel. Many continue to await the end of sectarianism and the peace dividend that all citizens’ should be due.’ On who they met … Read more

Haass had basic flaws. It’s time for the two governments to step up to the plate

It was in its way encouraging that the Assembly parties themselves launched the Haass process but they seem to have bitten off more than they could chew. They appear to have gone into the high pressure phase without clear ideas of how to reach goals other than muddling through. So far we haven’t heard of any back channels or talks on the margin where so often  deals get done, or arm twisting from  big brothers or sisters.  Pressured negotiations worked before, on Good Friday and at St Andrews, … Read more

Your contributions to Slugger’s Old Year/New Year Playlist?

I thought it would be fun to do something playful in the wake of another difficult year in the life of Northern Ireland. So I thought we could build a notional playlist of NI related songs… So your [#OldYear] starter for ten, is Stiff Little Fingers cover of a Bob Marley song… Just post a link with a few words why and I’ll try and get in after and convert to an embed? Feel free to post more than one, … Read more

Haass failure keeps SF-DUP in driving seat

Richard Haass’ failure to facilitate a “comprehensive agreement” on Northern Ireland’s “contentious issues” represents yet another missed opportunity for would-be opponents of the SF-DUP axis. To recap, NI’s main problem is not its past, its parades, its parties or its people. Instead, it’s the structure of the current Stormont arrangement where a “battle-a-day”, to quote the SF President, plays out as a sectarian conflict. This is not the design flaw but the design; a brinkmanship contest that inevitably rewards the … Read more

Despite the Haass setback we are not the prisoners of the past but masters of our own fate

The issues of the Haass process are only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed it might be said that the talks were unlikely to succeed without rigorous challenge and examination of the beliefs and assumptions the parties brought to the table.  Behind the tortuous details of flags, parades and the past are the competing narratives which need to be challenged and explored before we can reach the point of agreement of how to live with them.  Beyond the groves of … Read more

Will the panel of parties now publish their final draft proposals?

While not a surprise, it is still disappointing that the five parties in the Executive – and in particular the big two – who arranged The Panel of Parties in the NI Executive were able to identify three problem areas but were not confident enough to compromise enough to agree a way forward. Given the distance between DUP and Sinn Fein and their nearest rivals in terms of electoral support, there was surely room for big compromise, for putting themselves … Read more

#Haass talks D-Day-No Agreement

Well it’s nearly over. After three months of talks and attempted deal Dr. Haass and Prof. O’Sullivan will end their talks on flags, parades and the past. At the moment we are looking at an announcement of a deal or failure to agree at around midnight. It may well be the latter as Tracey Magee from UTV tweeted just a moment ago these comments from Jeffrey Donaldson DUPs Jeffrey Donaldson says he’s not sure there is a basis for agreement. Leaving … Read more

Cartoon – Haass talks 2.0

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

Negative pro-Union campaign causes Tory jitters about Scottish independence

Have you noticed that here in in the news desert of Christmas to New Year which relies so much on looking back and looking ahead, Northern Ireland and Scotland barely rate a mention compared to a flooded village in Kent?  Until now perhaps in the case of   Scotland, although you have to search for the odd  largely bewildering filler on the Haaas talks about “flags, parades and dealing with the past.” As so often, Iain McWhirter in the Herald spotted … Read more

A is for Activist

From an early age, children are introduced to animals, right and wrong, concepts of fulfilment and disappointment, fear and joy, all through chewed hardback books. Princesses are in need of rescue, dogs misbehave and talk, mice covet strawberries. Wealth is equated with happiness, poverty with sorrow. How do you introduce the concepts of social justice, gender equality, caring for the environment, and the responsibility for citizens to fight for each other’s rights? Innosanto Nagara wrote A is for Activist. Originally … Read more

Cartoon – away from Home, Alone 2

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

Lord Chief Justice Morgan: “this is a case about political failure”

Not the Haass talks.  You can keep your nose pressed against the windowpane with David if you’re hoping for a scrap of comfort from that.  No, this is about the continued dysfunctional approach of the two main parties of the Northern Ireland Executive semi-detached polit-bureau to the process of government – as defined under the current administration. Sinn Féin’s pre-Christmas (23 Dec) defence of the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s unilateral decision to re-allocate €137 million of EU funding over the next six … Read more

Haass, our future and a plea form a frustrated politico

Dr.Richard Haass begins his final session of talks today to get an agreement from all of main political parties in Northern Ireland on flags, parades and dealing with the past. While his earlier efforts have failed to produce anything, he will be banking on the need for our politicians to demonstrate once again what great peacemakers they all are and not become an international laughing stock. When we look back on this weekend in a few years’ time, we could … Read more

He’s back! Haass is returning to NI

Who said Haassmas comes but once a year? Our very own international problem solver Dr Richard Haass will be returning to get a deal that eluded him earlier in the week. Question for our posters-if you were Richard Haass how would you approach these talks and what concessions would you seek to get from the parties? If I were him, I would get the British and Irish governments more involved, Haass enters the talks with no carrots and no sticks. … Read more

Cartoon – ChristmHaass carve-up

Enjoy the cartoon and have a Merry Christmas and happy new year. Full acknowledgements to James Gillray and his infamous piece, ‘The Plumb Pudding in Danger’. Martin Rowson also gaves his take on it recently here. Morten Morland has his take on it with Cameron and Osborne here. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Merry Christmas and (barring any more mega scale bank robberies) I’ll see you in the new year…

So the people of the Republic contemplate the reality of post bailout Ireland (a rush at the Christmas tills will help no doubt), Scotland takes further steps towards greater political agency (regardless of the result of the IndyRef), Wales’s quiet and popular evolution of its assembly, and England’s creaks under the weight of some pretty draconian welfare. Meanwhile,  Richard Haass struggles manfully with Northern Ireland’s politics of small differences, that exist primarily but not entirely between the two senior  DUP and Sinn … Read more

Haass Round Table talks pushed back until later this evening…

So the latest time for the convening of roundtable talks has been being put back all day. Right now, Mark Devenport says 8.30. And Tommie Gorman of RTE has suggested that Haass may be back immediately after Christmas (he’s going back to the States tomorrow) to finalise any deal before the end of the month. In the meantime, Jeffrey Donaldson gave a lot of detail on Stephen Nolan this morning on what already seems to be agreed on investigating the … Read more

“I want a society where we will have politics & not a sectarian pantomime” (Alf McCreary in 1976)

In his autobiography Behind the Headlines, Alf McCreary recalls his editor’s leading article in the Belfast Telegraph on 5 November 1968 in which Jack Sayers wrote: The threat to Northern Ireland’s future is not … the IRA or even Nationalism. It comes from Protestant Ulstermen who will not allow themselves to be liberated from the delusion that every Roman Catholic is their enemy. [Ed – some blog post readers will stop at this point and immediately jump down to the … Read more

Haass pt3-more process, little actual solutions

Stephen Walker from the BBC has managed to obtain details of Richard Haass’ third draft to the five main parties. The latest draft comes to the conlusion that most of us could have said months ago that : “We could not reach a common position on the flying of flags.” Haass does reccomend a policy of councils flying flags on designated days-something that Unionists are unlikely to adopt. He also proposes the creation of a new working group that would … Read more