Seamus Mallon: “No gobbledegook peace-nik speak, no motherhood and apple pie…”

Tom Kelly in the Irish News today makes a point worth re-iterating in the case of Seamus Mallon: Mallon is an erudite, eloquent but earthy politician. Listeners immediately get what he is saying. There’s no gobbledegook peace-nik speak, no motherhood and apple pie sweet nothings and certainly no pan European fudge eulogising about Franco-German love ins. Mallon like Seamus Heaney does his digging with language. And he did it in spades on the aptly named programme “For the record- Seamus … Read more

And meanwhile in Larne, the UDA enforces its imaginary paramilitary writ…

You would imagine these guys are on a one way ticket to prison, but the overweening and assumptive actions of paramilitaries of all descriptions in Northern Ireland has to be the abiding failure of the culture of the Peace Process™. Over the weekend, the UDA [would that be the good or the bad ones? – Ed] ran amok in Larne: A police vehicle was damaged as officers attempted to deal with up to 100 people who had gathered in Sallagh … Read more

Belfast Politics as petulant childsplay (while Ballymurphy langours in deprivation) Redux…

Somethings only start to look truly absurd when you look at them in conjunction with some other things… Here’s one thing, a DUP councillor being barracked for temporarily donning a Linfield scarf whilst the council body was discussing a motion calling on the council to honour out-going Linfield manager David Jeffrey. And here’s another thing: Fast forward to Friday Saturday – after hours for the Leisure Centre in question. Pictures start appearing on user @patrickmul7 ‘s twitter profile. “Whiterock Leisure … Read more

Anti austerity socialists take a beating in French town hall elections…

My French isn’t great, but using translate this snippet in Le Monde strikes me as getting close to the predicament parties of centre right and centre left face in tackling an unpredictable future after the first round of France’s municipal elections: Malheureusement, je ne vois aucune personne politique capable ni d’expliquer la situation aux Français ni de conduire le bateau entre les écueils, mais je suis convaincu qu’une telle personne ne viendra ni du FN ni d’aucun parti extrême. Like … Read more

Live Drawing the Green Party conference

  The leader’s speech. Taking a firm line on developers, planners and non-disclosure of party-donations.   Current councillor John Barry (@CllrJohnBarry) and council candidate Clare Bailey (@ClareBaileyGPNI):     Green Party candidate for Balmoral Elli Kontorravdis (@EKontorravdis): And onto Ross Brown and that cartoon: Make sure you read or listen to Ross Brown’s (@voterossbrown) story via Alan. A journey from flag-totting super-Prod to green-fingered, eco-man. Fascinating, relatable-to and relevant. The Chinese proverb says that travelling a 1000 miles does more for the mind than reading … Read more

NI21 issue open call for council candidates: fresh politics or desperate measures?

Relatively few people seem to wake up in the morning and decide to be a politician. Existing party activists recognise the gifts and passion in people they see and invite them to join, and invite them to run. Time and after time at the Alliance conference, and again at the Green Party conference, speakers recounted who had approached them and got them involved. The power of the personal invitation. Stand for council and be a part of building a better … Read more

British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly: Recommendations on GFA…

This session is in Dublin at the Royal Hospital. Panel Discussion currently underway is on the theme ‘Future of Work’… Senior Vice President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce – Gerry Kindlon Science Foundation of Ireland – Ann Riordan, Chairperson IDA – Frank Ryan, Chair Of particular interest to Slugger readers is the Assembly’s recommendations on the Belfast Agreement: a formal public reporting mechanism on the implementation of the Agreements be put in place every effort be made to bring the … Read more

Green Party conference: Euro candidate Ross Brown sets out his stall and his journey #GPNI #GPNI14

The Green Party has come a long way. Over the years I’ve been popping into its annual conference, the number of delegates attending has steadily risen, their dress code has smartened and the professionalism of the organization has grown. Yet there is still an informality and an ability to crack a joke in the midst of resolutions and formal speeches. Steven Agnew spoke of targets for the May elections. The Greens are aiming for Ross Brown to receive more first … Read more

“Unlike Gerry Adams & Mary Lou McDonald…”

In a follow-up to a previous post on his Broken Elbow blog, as noted here, Ed Moloney has “an answer to Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and other critics of the Boston archive“. Aside from myself and Anthony McIntyre there is only one other person who has read all of the interviews lodged in the Belfast Project oral history archive at Boston College and that is Judge William Young of the Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts. Judge Young got to read … Read more

The Scottish referendum. The British identity that dare not speak its name

  The best article I’ve seen about the dearth of a cultural identity debate in Scotland by Alex Linklater, son of the great Magnus. Could Scots learn a thing or two from the Irish? Or maybe not?  You’d have thought the Scottish cultural air would be thrumming with an accrued history of intellectual fighting and flyting over who we are, dating back to the unions of crowns and parliaments, through the Enlightenment and into all the scientific and artistic legacies … Read more

McCann meets….Steven Agnew MLA #gpniconf14

So, last week it was Alliance, this week it was the Green party’s chance to strut their stuff on the conference stage as they gathered in East Belfast yesterday. Just before his speech I caught up the party leader Steven Agnew MLA. I began by asking him whether he believed that his European candidate, Ross Brown could do as well as he in 2009; I hope so. When I stood I trebled the Green party’s vote from the previous election, starting … Read more

Lamentation over the Boston tapes does not prevent us dealing with the past

Newton Emerson ‘s bleak assessment of how to deal with the past deserves serious attention (£). The Boston College tapes make a mockery of all high-blown talk about “dealing with the past”. The idea that a formal process of investigation, truth recovery and historical assessment into 3,700 Troubles deaths could work at all, let alone satisfy all sides, looks absurd given the saga over one 42-year-old case. As far as personal testimony is concerned the chilling effect of the use … Read more

Sinn Fein rise 5% in Red C sets them up for a surge in southern Local Elections…

The secret of politics as it is in comedy, is timing. Just over a month before the local elections in the south, it is Sinn Fein who’ve made the decisive move upwards in the polls. Today’s Red C poll sees a substantive rise in Sinn Fein’s rating: Fine Gael 26% (down 3%), Fianna Fail 22% (NC), Sinn Fein 21% (up 5%), Labour Party 9% (down 2%), Independents, Green Party and Others 22% (NC) On the face of it all the … Read more

OFMDFM: “open and transparent…” – redux

Via The Irish News.  As UUP leader Mike Nesbitt says, “We’re not North Korea…”  [Thankfully… – Ed]  ANYhoo…  The UUP leader has welcomed a recent (27 March) decision by the Information Commissioner (not yet online) that the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers were wrong to refuse to release the results of market research, that they had commissioned, into the proposed Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Centre (PbCRC) at the site of the old Maze Prison.  From the UUP press … Read more

Quote of the Day…

Anthony McIntyre speaking (from 16mins in) on Michael Read’s LMFM show this morning: The day that academics and journalists and historians discover Gerry Adams was not in the IRA, is the same day that scientists will discover that Newton’s theory of gravity was wrong: that the apple when it comes off the tree it goes up the ways rather than comes down to the ground. And for balance, here’s Gerry’s response (from 19 on) after he lauds the Garda whistleblowers … Read more

Truth or justice: Highly unlikely that most us will ever have either…

Riffing of Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe, Seamus comes up with an argument you sense has been much talked about under wraps but which no one has the political strength (rather than confidence) to ask for: The only legitimate way to end yet more years of speculation and anguish for the McConville family is for the governments of Ireland and Britain to agree a general amnesty that will allow all participants to the conflict, willing or otherwise, to give … Read more

Russia, China, Crimea, Xinjiang and Putin’s Risky Gambit

My train of thought started with with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard article in the Telegraph on the possible impact of Putin’s Crimea gambit on Sino-Russian relations entitled Putin’s Russia caught in US and Chinese double-pincer. Pritchard has his own prejudices, of course, and the headline is terrible – there is no Sino-American diplomatic co-ordination to effect a ‘double pincer’ – but the article is worth reading. China’s failure to back Russia at the UN Security Council was significant, but not surprising. It’s … Read more

Belfast Film Festival – Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Albania, Maze/Long Kesh and Belfast

The annual Belfast Film Festival starts tonight and runs for 10 days showing 121 films. I’ve blogged elsewhere about some of the festival highlights. There’s certainly plenty of local and international films to challenge, entertain or even offend. I thought I’d bring some of the international/conflict/political films to the attention of Slugger readers. Sunday 30 March at 21:00 – Noirland – Dublin Road Moviehouse – Northern Ireland’s first crime anthology from writer/director Philip Henry. Three stories following one man who … Read more

#ShinnersList: PSNI either screwed up, or deliberately closed a case that should have been left open…

This is a very powerful set of testimonies put together by Relatives For Justice. Powerful because along with the words you can palpably feel the suffering inflicted by their, mostly, direct experiences of the Troubles. It came out around the same time as the BBC Spotlight programme which highlighted a very real problem with the Downey case. Note the haste with which a Northern Ireland case in which Mr Downey had been wanted for questioning before the resumption of the … Read more

Alliance is diversity in action by Lauren Mulvenny

After the recent debate about the make up of Alliance’s party membership, Lauren Mulvenny-a party staffer writes for Slugger that its candidates in the upcoming elections have a diverse range of backgrounds. On the back of the Party’s 44th successful Conference, Alliance champions the individuality of its membership base, proving it is the only Party open for everyone If what drives Alliance was ever in question, the Party’s Conference sounded loud and clear – diversity is the heartbeat of the … Read more