Jim Murphy suspends his #IndyRef tour for 72 hours pending a response from #YesScotland…

I was going to call it a night and go to bed when I picked this up from a reader though the Slugger Facebook page (give us a ‘Like’ if you don’t want to miss any of the good stuff here on Slugger). I think its worth sharing before the weekend properly kicks in and long before we can realistically figure whether it’s likely to go viral… Fascinating stuff, not least because it tells us more about the nature of politics … Read more

Success for a #IndyRef Yes needs a large push for conversions (or a low turnout)…

I must admit that I struggle to see the dynamic middle ground in the debate over Scotland’s independence. There’s little doubt which campaign is the more dynamic. Just go to Pinterest and put in Scottish Referendum as a search term and you are dedazzled with a sea of Blue Saltired Yes graphics (try searching getty images too?), some of it highly creative. #136945596 / gettyimages.com Nicola Sturgeon has been preaching to large audience from Dumfries and Galloway up to Orkney … Read more

Big Tent Conversations at Skainos this Autumn

The Skainos Centre at 239 Newtownards Road in Belfast will be hosting a series of discussions this autumn around “big issues affecting our community as we move forward.” The discussions look to get to the heart of matters around flags, victims and dealing with the past. Each discussion will be held in the Refresh Café in Skainos Square from 7.00-9.00 pm. Topics include: Tues 9 Sept: The Future of the Past Thurs 2 Oct: The Kiss of Complicity Tues 4 … Read more

Friday Thread: Where do good ideas come from…?

“They come, more often than not, in small fragments…” The inimitable David Lynch Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

On abortion: Why it should be a woman’s decision…

‘Throughout the whole Greco-Roman civilisation abortion was permitted by law. It was Christianity which revolutionised moral ideas in this matter by endowing the embryo with a soul; for then abortion became a crime against the foetus itself’. – Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex. There is one reason only a woman should have the legal right to abortion and it is not because of rape, incest, foetal abnormality or threat of suicide; but simply because she chooses to. The above are reasons … Read more

Syria: Does Ireland have the resources to deal with intra state conflict?

It’s been an article of recent considered thought in foreign policy circles that inter state war is being replaced by intra state conflict. Today there was panic when the UN announced that forty three peacekeepers had been ‘detained’ by “an armed group”. #454288150 / gettyimages.com There are an estimated 130 Irish soldiers with the 44th Infantry Group at Camp Faouar on the Syrian side of the UN ‘area of separation’, in the Golan Heights. They are part of the United … Read more

Two Ceasefires and a Coming Out: A Memoir

I’ve been thinking about coming out. There have been a few horror stories doing the rounds recently: Vicky Beeching’s harrowing life and those of Lyra McKee’s friends. It’s made me think about how it was for me, all those years ago. If I’m honest, it was a banal tale set against a bizarre backdrop. Maybe it’s just because I’m home, for the first significant amount of time since Chris died, sleeping in the room where I came out to my … Read more

Carswell defection will bolster UKIP’s bid to become a ‘serious’ Westminster player…

The calculation amongst those closest to David Cameron has been that the UKIP blip will blow over. The loss of the right winger Douglas Carswell (who true to his own strong democratic principles has resigned his Clacton seat to fight it as a UKIPer) must be worrying. #454284724 / gettyimages.com Carswell, as well as a parliamentary asset (Ladbrokes are quoting 1/3 on for him to retain his seat) is also an considered intellectual and serious thinker on national politics and … Read more

James Nesbitt (RUC) dies: An exemplary modernising cop in the chaos of 70s Belfast

James Nesbitt who was a Detective Inspector in the RUC’s C Division at Tennent Street Station in the heart of the Shankill from 1973 onwards has died. Nesbitt was and remains most famous for leading the team which effected the arrest of one of the most notorious gangs of sectarian killers in the early history of the Troubles, the Shankill Butchers. What gained them the notoriety was less the number as much as the way in which they dispatched their … Read more

Sectarian remarks said in Kildare may stay in Kildare, but in north Belfast….

Been away for a few days, so there’s a few things, I think, that are worth catching up on. Most of the summer has been quieter than we’ve become accustomed to. Indeed some of the late summer controversy has been depressingly shallow in nature. The objection to the words used by Kildare band The Druids, despite what they claim to the Leinster Leader are probably fairly commonplace with audiences of a strongly Republican bent. “As we stand here tonight in … Read more

Cheryl Lawther – Truth, Denial and Transition: Northern Ireland and the Contested Past, Book Review

Cheryl Lawther’s Truth, Denial and Transition: Northern Ireland and the Contested Past (Routledge, 2014) makes a timely contribution to debates about ‘dealing with the past’ in Northern Ireland, providing insights into why unionist political elites, loyalist ex-combatants and members of the security forces have consistently opposed truth recovery processes. Lawther is a Lecturer in Criminology at Queen’s University Belfast, and this is an academic book. It is situated in the field of ‘transitional justice’ (it is the ninth book in … Read more

John McCallister reveals links between LAD and NI21

It says something about a political party when the satirical website to which is has been linked is more important than the party. Or that the revelation of that link is more significant than an interview with its former deputy leader and a former leadership contender for a major NI political party. That it seems is the fate of NI21 and John McCallister respectively. Alex Kane has a long interview with John McCallister in the News Letter today with Sam … Read more

PEACE III Conference (2 September) – showcasing conflict storytelling @SEUPB

What has Europe ever done for us? Roads, infrastructure, trading opportunities, the annual song contest and ‘peace’ money … Next Tuesday a public conference organised by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) in The MAC will showcase some of the projects funded to the tune of €21million by the EU’s PEACE III programme over the last seven years. From 9am-2pm, the conference and associated workshops plan to use dramatic performance and film as part of the showcasing of projects which … Read more

The #indyref essential count guide.

The last major debate happened between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling last night and commentators where flying with debates about who won (yes, some poor buggars thought Darling did win). Yet, very few people seem to know just what exactly the process for the count will be and providing the public service that we do here on Slugger, I thought I would put up the guide as published by the Electoral Commission for the how the count will take place. … Read more

Thoughts on Gerry Anderson, Albert Reynolds, and Crowded Death Days

The Grim Reaper resumes his role as the ultimate great leveller: no matter who you are or how exalted your status, you have absolutely no control over exactly when It’s Your Time. For people in the public eye, however, there is an added curse: you also have absolutely no control as to the degree of media coverage your demise will elicit. There is always the risk of going at the same time as somebody else with a higher media profile. … Read more

DUP: “Did Martin McGuinness just not listen to the Chief Medical Officer in April?”

Got this presser yesterday from the DUP under the byline of their Holywood based MLA Gordon Dunne. I think it’s interesting enough replicate the whole thing here without further comment… ‘Following the question being posed on a radio show this morning, the deputy First Minister rushed out a request for a meeting with the Chief Medical Officer. This follows details emerging of the impact that Sinn Fein cuts will have on the Department of Health as a result of their … Read more

Friday Thread: How to thrive in a world where change is constant…

A few years back I got asked to judge in a fun version of the Dragons Den as part of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup at the Science Gallery in Dublin. It was pitched largely at students in the Regional Technology Colleges right across the Republic, from Letterkenny and Sligo to Waterford and Cork. It’s the nearest I’ve seen that matches what MIT Media Lab head Joi Ito is calling for in the TED talk above, which is to start utilising the … Read more

Poots to pit welfare reform against impending NHS spending ‘cuts’ in Northern Ireland?

So, relax. Despite some fevered rumours to the contrary Ed Poots is calling time on the current executive, yet. Despite, or perhaps because of, a wrap over the knuckles for a £13.1 million overspend in Health, he’s gone into overdrive to point out that a £20 million rise in the Health budget is in fact a real terms cut. #108878571 / gettyimages.com As the BelTel notes… Edwin Poots insisted the health service would not be able to function properly if a … Read more

Get a wash, boys: @paddyb_ireland and the #MNDicebucketchallenge

The latest thing to go viral on social media is the ice bucket challenge, where you post a video of yourself being drenched by a bucket of ice cold water. You also nominate someone else to complete the challenge and they have to complete it within 24 hours. While it may look like just another idiotic online stunt, like neknominate, this one has a much more serious purpose behind it as it part of campaign to raise funds and awareness about MND, … Read more

After devolution, referendums and possible succession[s], what’s happening to our politics?

Janan Ganesh is an outstanding new talent in the UK political press. His columns for the FT are fresh and sit outside the niggly media bubble of Westminster. A few days back he outlined an apparent effect within the political political system currently more pronounced on the Tory side of things, but which may also have echoes elsewhere. He argues… As the biggest parties weaken as corporate entities, individual politicians and factions within them become more powerful. So even personal patronage, the one lever … Read more