Breaking: Gerry Adams arrested at ‘meeting’ with the PSNI….

So, It seems Gerry Adams has been arrested. Arrested mind, not charged. It’s in the historic McConville case, for which there have already been a spate of arrests. Mr Adams took the precaution of letting people know he had agreed to be interviewed, but it seems that when he met the PSNI they decided to arrest him. Here’s his statement from earlier… Statement from Gerry Adams about PSNI meeting this evening over murder of Jean McConville – PSNI says 65yo … Read more

Dealing with the past. Inquiries are over. The politicians must come clean. It’s time to stop paying lip service to victims.

You can’t say she’s not even handed . Theresa Villiers will not allow case reviews or inquiries into the Ballymurphy massacre and the la Mon atrocity. She says sorry to the victims but it’s not in the public interest. That’s it. It’s about time the penny dropped. After the de Silva review which exposed a long catalogue  of collusion, there will be no further inquiries or reviews in the lifetime of this coalition government. Mrs Finucane will continue legal process as far … Read more

Killing me softly

At the start it is only fair to state that I am opposed to the death penalty. I respect those with a different opinion but I am clear that I do not support capital punishment. No one directly connected to me has ever been murdered so maybe I am naive and could change my mind but currently I think that would be unlikely. The USA has had another problem with an execution. In this case an inmate in Oklahoma started … Read more

If there’s any drama in the #EP14 election it’s going to be the battle for the last seat…

So, courtesy of Alex Kane, here’s the latest poll survey for the #EP14… From today’s @BelTel. Very similar to polling stuff I tweeted on Saturday morning. Could be an interesting battle. pic.twitter.com/VgH11RY4rm — Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) April 30, 2014 Adds: This was a survey of an expert panel of 220, not as I wrongly suggested a poll. So treat it as an intelligent guess rather than an opinion poll. Apologies. Three things stand out for me: One, the small shift between the … Read more

Alliance Party Offices in East Belfast attacked again

At around 11pm the PSNI have confirmed that three devices where thrown at the Alliance party offices on the Newtownards Rd in East Belfast. When this happened last November I wrote a piece about the members of staff who work in that office and most of the same people are still there. Nearly 18 months after the flag vote, members of staff having to work under dire conditions and constituents are being denied access to their local MP. Politicians offices being … Read more

Sanctifying dead Popes with miracles is a basic error

  In our island John XXIII stands for Vatican 2, a dramatic moment of liberalisation that was never wholly fulfilled.  John Paul II  is an altogether more ambiguous figure who softened through his charisma the image of authoritarian Catholicism while it beat a retreat he was unable to stem. You can easily see how they jointly appeal to Pope Francis as he makes a new appeal to the fundamentals of his faith to redress the sense of horror and disillusionment … Read more

[Positive] attitudes in the Republic towards immigration are plummetting

One of the markers of the rise of the extreme right across Europe has been a concomitant drop in positive attitudes towards immigration. And, according to a new study of 12 European countries from the University of Limerick, the Republic has seen the most dramatic change: Ireland, with Greece, experienced the largest decrease in positive attitudes to allowing immigrants into their countries during the time [2002-2010]. Alongside this change, Ireland had the highest proportion of respondents (49 per cent) who … Read more

Mr Justice Treacy: “It is evident that ACC Kerr was labouring under a material misapprehension as to the proper scope of police powers…”

The Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, has reportedly said that the police will appeal the High Court decision allowing “an application for a judicial review of the PSNI’s policing of the flag protests in Belfast between 8 December 2012 and 14 February 2013.” From the reported ruling Mr Justice Treacy was less than impressed by Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr’s interpretation of the legal position.  As the summary of the judgment notes [added emphasis] The Court heard evidence from [Assistant] Chief Constable Will … Read more

Cartoon – Fighting the marriage equality tidal wave

  Earlier, David McCann laid out the conservative case for marriage equality. Fellow conservative Andrew Sullivan has written for a number of years on the question and recently called the current situation “The Marriage Equality End Game” and spoke of “The Tidal Wave For Marriage Equality“. Looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer. Andrew Sullivan also recently shared a quaint anecdote from his visit to Belfast in 1995, have a read. Enjoy the cartoon. Brian SpencerBrian is a … Read more

“Most politics is necessary drudgery. Populists who damn the whole spectacle are the decadent ones…”

Nice opener from Janan Ganesh in tomorrow’s FT, “The UK Independence party does not represent the start of a revolt but the culmination of it.” It’s an intriguing piece which calls to attention, amongst other things the retraction of the political class into “self-loathing” and fear of its own shadow: The measure of a politician’s worth is how much he is like “us” and not like “them”. Mr Farage’s real achievement is not electoral – his party has no MPs … Read more

Sinn Féin to make new councils work for you

In our latest installment of our series from the various political parties, Sinn Fein tell us why they deserve your vote in the upcoming elections On May 22nd we will elect people to 11 new super councils in what is the biggest shake-up in local government for over 40 years. Powers will be devolved to councils on planning, the environment, the development of local tourism and the regeneration of deprived communities. These changes will enable local representatives to allocate resources … Read more

“These are the very elections were one could shoot the messenger to get a message to the authors”

Tom Kelly makes an important point in today’s Irish News about voting, not least the historic precident of not having it and the contemporary consequence (as he sees it) of not doing it… Proportional representation was enshrined in the legislation on both parts of Ireland at partition to maintain if possible the broadest reach of representation. That the north abandoned it for 50 years is a travesty of historical proportions, which allowed militant republicans to propagate and exaggerate a myth … Read more

Equal Marriage-An issue for liberals and conservatives to rally behind.

There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation Those words came from the Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, when he introduced a bill in Canada decriminalising homosexuality. While yes, three thousand miles away I think those words should matter to the issue that our MLAs are debating this week. I am typically a conservative minded person, like most conservatives I like incremental, organic change. Over the past few years the lobbying for marriage equality has … Read more

Labour in meltdown mode

Who needs negative campaigning when you have the Labour party? While opinion polling seems to have been incessant in the south since the last election, the latest Millward Brown poll published by the Irish Independent over the weekend has brought more grim reading for Labour. But not only does the party now seem to be rooted in single digits (an eye-watering 6% in the latest poll), this morning the fallout has added a new dimension with calls for the resignation of party … Read more

The twin problems of socialised debt and the rise and rise of populism

Professor Tim Bale makes an argument quoted by Harry Wallop in the Telegraph on the rise and rise of UKIP (despite some pretty grim gaffes): …they are articulating a wider feeling that politics has become disconnected from ordinary people. The key to understanding them is their populism rather than their policies. Ukip’s appeal is that they are outside that Westminster elite. Both European integration and the immigration we saw under the Labour government play into that feeling, because those are … Read more

#OSBelfast sessions on Thursday 1 May: election surgery & brainstorm at noon; election observing at 1pm

Want to know about becoming an election observer? Have ideas about how the upcoming elections and results could be covered online in novel ways? Open Source Belfast runs annually in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and offers a performance space, music venue and workshop hub. For eleven days, every hour something new happens, between noon and 6pm (2-7pm at weekends and bank holidays) in an otherwise vacant building. It’s free and open to the public, both to attend and to volunteer to … Read more

May could be the most meaningful local election in forty years

  Meet NILGA’s Derek McCallan, a rare political optimist in Northern Ireland who argues that the coming election in May offers extraordinary opportunities for change in local communities. He tells me that councillors are the most public spirited people you can get and that May could turn out to be the most meaningful local election in forty years. After a week of gloomy debate about the efficacy of voting and the state of party politics in Northern Ireland last week, … Read more

Negative Campaigning-Does it work?

You got to go negative Lee Atwater, Advisor to President George HW Bush Those words from Atwater came in the summer of 1988 when Bush trailed his Democratic opponent Governor, Mike Dukakis. The Bush campaign developed some famous negative ads in election history with the ‘revolving door prison’ ad being the most remembered. Closer to home the Conservatives in 1992 fighting a tough election came up with a very clever ad called Labour’s tax bombshell. Like Bush in 88, the … Read more

Scotland Essays: The pro-Union cause has four months to unite, learn identity politics and make a new devolution pact now!

The difference between before and after the Scottish referendum is as fundamental and unknowable as the black hole between life and death. Yet the fate of the Union may depend on what people believe now about what may happen then, in that currently unknowable state.  With the polls narrowing near the point of cross over, London- based   politicians and commentators are at last stirring themselves, the Conservative commentator and ex-MP Matthew Parris in the Times (£) being the latest in assuming a torrid fall-out from … Read more

“I don’t want to photograph politicians any more, I don’t believe them any more…”

Two engaging interviews from The Arts Show, this first is with the Portrait photographer Bobby Hanvey, and the other with the Irish News cartoonist of twenty five years, Ian Knox… Last word to Rowel Friars, a cartoonist who began his career before the Troubles started, speaking in a 1994 interview with the BBC… “When I started out it was general humour. But once the Troubles broke out we were in hell and I had to turn to the political scene, … Read more