Some political highlights from Féile an Phobail (31 July to 10 August)

Féile an Phobail is now underway, running until 10 August. Amongst the myriad of events – many of them free – in the 100 page programme, here’s a few politically-relevant ones. Thursday 31 July On the Journey to Peace and Reconciliation at 8pm in St Mary’s University College // Colin Parry’s 12 year old son was killed when an IRA bomb exploded in Warrington in 1993. He’ll be sharing his journey along with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Friday 1 … Read more

“Run like a huckster’s shop” – Redux

[No change since June 2009, then? – Ed]  Have there been any consequences…?  A BBC report that the DUP and Sinn Féin have, belatedly, agreed the outcome of the semi-detached polit-bureau Northern Ireland Executive’s June budget monitoring round was met with understandable criticism from the other NI Executive parties. Justice Minister David Ford, who leads the Alliance Party, described the situation as “shambolic” while the Ulster Unionists and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said they had been kept in the dark about … Read more

Live Seanad Debate on #Ukraine and #Gaza [from 2pm]…

Here’s the live feed. I’m still looking around for a sustainable live blog platform (that’s reliable and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg), but for today, I’ll update manually above and let the comments zone below to take your comments. If you want to comment you will need to register with which should let you comment, share links and video material at will… just remember the usual commenting rules apply… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He … Read more

Why is the Left so nonchalant about anti-Semitism?

The number of hate crimes against Jews living in the UK has doubled since the beginning of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. In Europe, where violence and violent rhetoric against Jews is much higher than the UK, anti-Semitic attacks have become so frequent, that they have inspired a new wave of Jewish emigration to Israel. It is estimated that in France, 5,000 Jews will emigrate to Israel this year alone. So serious is the threat to Europe’s Jewish population, that … Read more

So what can Northern Ireland offer Israel/Palestine by way of a positive example?

So Seanad Eireann is be recalled for the second summer in a row. It’s tempting to see it only in domestic terms of the battle for supremacy on the opposition benches with Sinn Fein calling for debate in the Dail (the Irish lower house) and failing, and Fianna Fail calling for it in the upper house (and succeeding). The debate itself, or the Gaza end of it will likely focus on the Irish government’s abstention (along with all eight other … Read more

Shelling UN schools and media soundbites in #Gaza

Last night yet another UN school was hit by Israeli shells, reportedly adding a further 16 dead to the ever growing number of fatalities in Gaza. That death toll has now more or less doubled since the Irish and UK governments abstained from the UN vote on Gaza last week. In the absurd media war that is taking place, varying weights of credibility are being attached to IDF spokespersons on individual incidents like this, as well as the wider context of … Read more

McGregor, an ancestor of John Kerry is labelled the Irish Moses, as US monitors persecution of Christians

  It’s amazing what the Economist picks up… the half forgotten and much missed tradition of Presbyterian liberalism, forced to emigrate to the States and often confused there with the Irish Catholic variety. Could they have possibly read Turgon? DOES the Obama administration care about religious liberty round the world? In some ways, it has no choice but to care. American administrations are mandated by law to study the performance of all governments in this sensitive area, and to denounce … Read more

Blue Plaque unveiled in Aghadowey

Yesterday the Ulster History Circle unveiled a Blue Plaque at Aghadowey Presbyterian Church in honour of Rev. James McGregor. Aghadowey Presbyterian Church was founded in 1655 making it one of the oldest congregations west of the Bann. It also has amongst the largest Presbyterian church buildings in County Londonderry. Rev. James McGregor was a veteran of the siege of Derry where he is purported by some to have been the first to see the relieving ships. He became minister of … Read more

John McTernan: For Labour hope needs to beat fear

Next up in our 2015 general election series is former advisor John McTernan on what Labour needs to do to win next year.   There is no real secret to winning elections. Be united, have popular ideas and connect to the public. As Ronald Reagan used to say, ‘It’s not easy, but it is simple.’   Against the odds, Ed Miliband has achieved the first, and done it effortlessly. After a lengthy and divisive leadership campaign – which he won … Read more

“I want to swim with the dolphins in Donegal someday…”

Great metaphor from Pól Ó Muirí: “speaking a language is like swimming – you might need assistance and a little water helps…” “And you would want to swim…?” “Every day! I want to swim every day! I like swimming. It’s fun and good for your health.” “Every day! I don’t know that the other members would be too happy with that. I don’t think we could fill the pool every day. How about once or twice a year? Maybe on … Read more

As Secretary General for Justice goes in Dublin, IRG’s recommendations are unsuitably vague

I won’t dwell on this in detail except to say that it is unusual to see a department head in either the British or Irish civil service step aside (or pushed) on foot of a report (PDF) published into their department by the Minister. The report’s summary bullets are worth ripping, since I suspect they apply right across struggling organisations across the public and private sectors… A closed, secretive and silo driven culture. Significant leadership and management problems. Ineffective management processes and … Read more

#VinB takes some time to consider the question of a United Ireland…

Normally I wouldn’t necessarily flag this up, but it is worth watching Vincent Browne programme on TV3 tonight. It starts at 23.15 BST) and amongst [planned] guests will be Sinn Fein’s Dublin MEP Lynne Boylan, Mark Cosgrove of the UUP, our own David McCann and chaired by journalist Justine McCarthy… I don’t think TV3 is available on broadcast in Northern Ireland, but you can pick it up worldwide online.. so we’ll ask the ‘Editor’ forgo his customarily juvenile ‘Partitionist!’ jibe…. … Read more

Murdo Fraser: A Federal Future? #indyref

There is nothing new about the idea of federalism in Britain. Early last century a Cabinet sub-committee was tasked with drafting a Bill for a federal UK, in an attempt to deal with the Irish question. Federalism has long been a Liberal, then Liberal Democrat, objective. In recent months the idea has attracted more interest, as a possible way forward should Scotland vote No in September’s independence referendum. At its core, federalism is the belief that sovereignty is entrenched at … Read more

Considering the Past: “Too comfortable a zone and we stop looking towards a ‘better’ future.”

we insist that politics is imagination and mind, we will learn that imagination and mind is politics, and of a kind we will not like… – Lionel Trilling John Bruton has published an interesting apologia for John Redmond and his achievements in securing the Home Rule Bill in September 1914. Considerable brinksmanship was needed, because, if the Liberals lost the election, the cause of Home Rule would also be lost. Redmond and Dillon did not have all the trump cards. … Read more

Ireland’s Media War of 1914: the Bachelors Walk lessons

Basil Fawlty was wrong: the message this year is Do Mention The War.  Just remember that there are two wars to mention: a century ago, the Great War broke out in Europe, but at the same time (to my mind) Ireland’s war of independence was temporarily postponed. Irish media outlets – then as now – were a crucial political thermometer, and in the days before radio, television, and the internet, only newspapers had this power.  We can see this power in the newspapers of the time. On Sunday 26 July 1914 … Read more

Fianna Fail to call for a recall of the Seanad to debate Gaza and eastern Ukraine…

After the failed attempt to move the government parties to grant a recall of the Dail to debate the situation in Gaza, Daragh O’Brien released a statement this afternoon: As the Taoiseach has the sole discretion to recall the Dáil during recess and it appears less and less likely that he is going to do so, Fianna Fáil has decided to take direct steps to force a recall of the Oireachtas in the Seanad. “We successfully used this mechanism during … Read more

US Congressional staffers receive a nine day ban from Wikipedia…

Just across the street from the imposing US Congress building is home to 9000 staffers servicing federal democracy in the US. Some of them have been very naughty (or very funny, depending on your political opinion) indeed… Most members and staffers of the US House of Representatives won’t be able to edit pages on Wikipedia for more than a week. Administrators of the popular Web encyclopedia have imposed a 10-day ban on the IP address connected to Congress’ lower house. … Read more

Lord Ashcroft: The Tories need to show that it matters who wins.

As we approach the general election next May, Slugger will be hosting a series of articles looking at the chances of each of the main parties next year. Writing for us on the Conservatives is the former Deputy Chairman and pollster, Lord Ashcroft. Since I stepped down as the Conservatives’ Deputy Chairman in 2010 my role has been that of the pollster, not the strategist. I set out the lie of the land as objectively as I can; what the … Read more

How might a Republican future unfold, who or what might shape it, and what can it achieve?

There’s a very good interview with Anthony McIntyre on Vice, not least because it provides rather more light than we normally get on the Boston College project. But one aspect relates to Anthony’s characteristic pessimism when it comes to the future of Irish Republicanism: To me, republicanism is over, but can I see a future for republicans if they behave in a rational manner and pursue justice and politics. Unfortunately, there are still people who think that political violence is … Read more

Sinn Fein’s habit of defection in government and the ravelling of uncivic values…

Most criticism of Sinn Fein in the south is misplaced. Jude Collins has a point when he argues that the ambush of a British army column at Kilmichael in west Cork has an equivalent to the IRA’s actions in the north. People do die (often needlessly) in war, but once there’s been a discernable commitment to peace, the lines of conflict ought naturally shift to new battlegrounds. Not least, how you’re likely to run the county, the region or the … Read more