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

keep-calm-and-play-the-ball-5 (1)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 Fein. I suspect there’ll be plenty of time in January to look into the result of the Haass talks (in the meantime, Newton Emerson pretty much nails the likely process in The Detail News here).

Slugger no doubt will be staying with you through the holidays, but barring big breaking news (don’t laugh, it has happened before) I’m taking a break. Just to say a big thanks to all of the hardworking blogging team, and to our commenters for, (mostly) keeping the conversation both hot and civil.

We ask more of our commenters than most sites do, including patience with a ref whose decisions may not always seems fair or well explained. I started Slugger with two things in mind.

One, I thought that if I made smart choices about what to blog and what not, I’d end up drawing in audience that knew more about the subject of Northern Ireland than I did.

And two, that what happened here would only be of value if we were able to attract a thorough diversity of view. Thus the play the ball not the man rule, for a quick and apolitical rule of thumb for judging what’s in and what’s out.

So, by and large, it has proved.

I’ve found writing for Slugger and its audience over the last year (and the ten plus years before it) tough, engaging, frustrating, challenging and on occasions great fun and good company. So before another year’s over (and a new one just about to begin), here’s an old but fallen working class hero of mine, for the day that’s in it… And as ever, if you have enjoyed or found Slugger useful over the last twelve months a little something in the paypal account (that button up on the right hand side) never goes amiss.

  • “Richard Haass struggles manfully with Northern Ireland’s politics of small differences”

    I wouldn’t have described the constitutional tug-of-war a small difference; Dr Haass refers to ‘significant differences and divisions’.

    Dr Richard: “I am not in the business of doing post mortems here because the patient is still alive.”

    Nurse Naomi said that while the process was not dead it was on “life support”. .. Newsletter source

    Unionist and nationalist partisan comments I’ll discount.

    When Newton Emerson ‘nailed’ the SDLP and lost his position at the BBC he may well have misinterpreted the position of those SDLP councillors. For a start, there was only one councillor present, not three, and those who continue to attack Cllr Brush might well give an SDLP councillor the same treatment.

    Let’s hope that no-one is killed or suffers serious injury during the course of the ongoing protests, shootings and bomb attacks – and stormy weather.

  • cynic2

    There you go again Mick reminding us of how the Republican Movement (TM) got part of its funding in the past and thereby attacking poor Saint Gerry, a man so befuddled that he doesn’t even remember that he was never a member so shouldn’t be able remember anything anyway. Roll on a Truth Commission on that one!!!

    Anyway “Keep ‘er lit” as someone once said and thank you for continuing to provide Slugger as an outlet for our rantings, bile, posturings and (in my own case of course) sage words of wisdom!

    Have a great Christmas

  • Harry Flashman

    Happy Christmas Mick and to all the other posters, have a good one and a peaceful new year.

  • cynic2

    ” there was only one Councillor present, not three”

    So how did the one who was there vote? And why were the other two absent so they couldn’t vote against a motion supporting the attempted murder of a colleague?

  • Nollaig Shona Mick….and congrats on a very good year.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Mick. Happy Christmas to you, and to the whole gang.

    (That should offend a lot of genuine gangsters.)

    I’m going out for my annual twelve-course Polish Christmas Eve dinner. It’s always explained to me that Christmas Eve is a ‘fast’, but I can never understand.

    Back to mischief in the New Year. I can think of two Americans who deserve a tray of homemade fudge right now.

    Anyway, God bless all us, as Tiny Tim says. Especially the atheists among youse.

    Must go, there’s an eejit trying to park on my roof.

  • Tip to keep her lit.
    Merry Christmas from this atheist and best to all for the new year.

  • Politico68

    Happy Christmas from Sunny California 😉

  • Red Lion

    Merry Christmas and much appreciated

  • carl marks

    A Happy mid-winter festival to the lot of ye!
    Eat drink and be safe 

  • Merry Christmas to Chris Ward too.
    I hope he got a nice present from “Santa” too when his name was cleared.

  • DC

    Yeah Joe maybe he got a new Celtic polo shirt.

  • DC,

    Merry Christmas and a happy, worry free, New Year.

  • Rory Carr

    Wishing a very happy Christmas to you and all the team, Mick and to all with whom I have the pleasure and pain of sharing thoughts throughout 2014. May you all prosper in peace and love throughout the coming year.

    My kindest thoughts are most especially with those with whom I have been most at odds on this site in the hope that they may forgive any offence or rancour on my part and know that I have valued their contributions regardless of my sometimes hurried, unthought out responses to their postings.

  • In this age of austerity and season of goodwill can anyone spare a dime for impoverished barristers?

  • Best wishes to all on Slugger, keep ‘er lit Mick !

  • son of sam

    No doubt Lionel Hutz will reply in due course on behalf of distressed colleagues!

  • Mick,
    Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas (I don’t know–do people in NI and the Republic have Merry Christmases like us in America or merely Happy Christmases like those in Britain?) and a Happy New Year! I’m afraid you’ll have to carry me on account for another year. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to drop you something by way of pen pal. For now you’ll just have to do with the following bit of verse in lieu of payment.

    Regarding the Yellow Cards, I’ve never been able to figure out the logic behind the “awarding” of these in about half the instances. I just know that for some reason I’ve never gotten any.

    Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Haass
    Not a delegate was exhibiting the least bit of class
    The demands were made with very little care
    For all knew that Poor Richard would no longer be there
    The children were tucked all snug in each claim
    Knowing that they bore not a bit of blame
    In Twaddel they were geared up for a long winter’s protest
    For with flegs none can give it a rest
    When out in the street there arose such a clatter
    And everyone instantly knew what was the matter
    For if their standard couldn’t fly throughout the year
    Then peace and quiet would never be near
    And if they couldn’t march down the Queen’s highway
    They would just have to do it my way
    With a brick through the window and a pipe bomb by the door
    This would be something that no one could ignore
    And the dissidents were back with false police calls
    Showing the Shinners that they stick had some balls
    And Richard and Margaret knew that it was time to fly
    So that they could make it across the Atlantic sky
    Fore the end of the year they would be back
    To put parades, the past and even flegs on track
    But I heard them exclaim before they drove out of sight
    Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night

  • Sorry that should read “Showing the Shinners that they still had”

  • Sorry that should read “Richard and Meghan”

  • SDLP supporter

    Nollaig Shona, Mick, you provide a great forum. And Christmas greetings to all, without exception.

  • babyface finlayson

    I understand Richard Haas popped into Longs on the afternoon before he left to sample the local spuds.
    According to the headline anyway
    Or something like that.

  • Mark

    Happy Christmas to all the staff and punters that make Slugger such an interesting site .

  • Zig70

    It’s the skill of reading between lines and focus on data that make this site a staple for us politically minded folk. Happy Christmas. Now back to hot port.

  • Neil

    Merry Christmas. Yis ballixes.

  • between the bridges

    Merry mopefest and happy whinen year to all moi’s fellow sluggerites…

  • mac tire

    Nollaig Shona, Mick and to all those who post and read the forum – hope you all have a good and safe Christmas.

  • Rory Carr

    Watch this and, I promise, all your cares will be dispelled.

    Happy New Year to all.

  • Great find, Rory. I’d encourage all to watch.
    Harry New Year to you and yours too.

  • Greenflag


    Good effort -but a couple of ‘errors ‘ 🙂

    ‘the dissidents were back with false police calls
    Showing the Shinners that they stick had some balls’

    Still not stick, and although it does’nt rhyme -no brains – instead of some balls I’d have thought.

    also ,

    “But I heard them exclaim before they drove out of sight
    Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night”

    Surely that should have been

    But I heard them cry out as they drove out of sight
    Nowhere else in the world have we heard so much sh**e .

    Happy New Year to all unionists and non unionists of NI and those who tolerate them 🙂

    Now will Liverpool draw level with Man City .Just missed a sitter 🙁

  • Greenflag

    @ Rory,

    When a country whose languae has been described by nay sayers as a ‘disease of the throat ‘ can produce a child singer like that then there’s got to be hope for the world .

    Many thanks and well said Joe 🙂

  • “Still not stick, and although it does’nt rhyme -no brains – instead of some balls I’d have thought.”


    So you noted my mistake two and a half hours after I did and self corrected. How observant.

  • Greenflag

    Too much plum pudding and brandy -It’s Christmas -I’m not just observing it 😉

  • David Crookes[5.36] Are ay of those 12 courses without fish in them? I believe the Poles are partial to fish at christmas. Any happy Xmas to you and yours.and for 2014.

  • David Crookes

    Bless you, Daniel, and sorry to be late in reply. The whole fast-dinner tends to be a set of variations on the themes of fish, cabbage, and mushrooms. Some of the dishes are entirely vegetable.

    All the very best to you and your loved ones in 2014.