Urgent Reform of Race Relations Legislation Required

The rise in racial incidents and crimes in Northern Ireland has been well documented.  Our last Racial Equality Strategy expired in 2010; and although work on the latest strategy started in 2007, the result—entitled A Sense of Belonging—was not launched by OFMDFM until June of this year.  Despite clear evidence that racism is affecting many communities, OFMDFM has neglected its responsibility to promote equality and protect individuals from discrimination by delaying the strategy’s publication. To succeed, any Racial Equality Strategy must clearly identify the steps that local and central government must take … Read more

And then there were just two candidates left standing for the Seanad byelection…

So John McNulty has gone. That just leaves Sinn Fein’s Lurgan based candidate Cat Seeley and independent candidate Gerald Craughwell, … That McNulty sure seems qualified. Board member of IMMA…impressive. pic.twitter.com/vdMNVr8hkU — Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) September 29, 2014 He cannot by law withdraw from his official candidacy but he’s indicated that people should not vote for him [eek, that’s bit messy – Ed]… That leaves a lot of FGers with a bit of a problem. The Seanad was getting unruly enough … Read more

Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties Report Published

The Open University’s ‘Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties’ Report has been published, and is available in full. OU’s Prof John Wolffe and Dr Gavin Moorhead are the principal authors of the report, which has been crafted through a series of interviews and roundtable discussions with academics, MPs, public policy officers, journalists, church minsters, school head teachers and representatives of faith communities, local community organisations and NGOs between October 2013 and January 2014. There also are two short films about the … Read more

Adams and McGuinness: hard cop, soft cop routine

What are we to make of this?  Who calls the shots? Gerry Adams 24 September ( party leader but unelected in the jurisdiction he’s pronouncing on) Sinn Féin would be willing to allow the Northern Ireland Executive fall and new elections called if the parties cave in to the British government imposing budget cuts of up to 6 per cent, Gerry Adams has said.. The Executive must find £200 million (€256 million) of cuts, amounting to 4 per cent of departmental budgets … Read more

Spanish court blocks Catalan Independence Referendum #indyref

A few days ago the Catalan President, Artur Mas signed a decree for a independence vote to be held on November 9th 2014. Speaking about holding the vote Mas said; Our roots are deep, as is the strength of our feelings and our will to survive in the future. We want to decide, we want to decide our future for ourselves, and we now have the legal framework and are at the right moment to do it. Obviously given heart … Read more

Lessons from the past

Last week I spied an interesting fact in the New Statesman’s piece on Richard Nixon. “By March 1970 the US was dropping 130,000 tonnes of bombs every month on North Vietnam, eastern Cambodia and Laos with the aim of disrupting the safe havens used by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Vietcong, and holding back the Khmer Rouge.” And we all know how well that worked out. The lessons of the past hang like a spectre over the present. … Read more

After #IndyRef 4: Credulous Bayesians and the importance of maintaining diversity of thought

Earlier today I was asked to speak on the business of shared space and the political effects of social media in Northern Ireland at an event in Liverpool in the new year. Not long afterwards I came across this paper which was written in 2007 by Edward Glaeser and Cass Sunstein. In the wake of the largest and in many ways most successful social media campaign we’ve ever seen in Scotland I think it explains some of the unmet expectations involved: The information of … Read more

Photo of the day – Puppy Love…

Here is a photo to melt the heart of even the most cynical slugger commenter. Rodney Harrison took this lovely photo last Sunday on the East Strand in Portrush. Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff. My day job is creating websites and software. My personal site is: Freshideas.ie http://freshideas.ie

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan)

A fairly desperate argument from lawyers for the Northern Ireland Planning Service in Belfast High Court today, during the judicial review of the planned £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  As the BBC reports The judge heard that DCAL have contributed £62.5m of the £77m cost of rebuilding the stadium as part of a project involving the development of Windsor Park football stadium and Ravenhill rugby ground. A Planning Service lawyer said that if the funds are not spent in time, … Read more

Time to call Sinn Fein’s bluff over welfare

John Simpson, an economist who deserves to be trusted, dismissed the Great Welfare  Crisis as essentially bogus months  ago – yet his analysis seems to have failed to pass into political  debate and comment from the Business pages.   It might help if  critics of Sinn Fein’s grandstanding spoke on the basis  of an agreed analysis. OFFICIAL Treasury figures show that spending on welfare-related topics in Northern Ireland is still increasing and, significantly, will continue to increase in the immediate years ahead. That … Read more

Photo of the day – The Duke of York Bar

This is a new feature from Slugger where we will be showcasing the best in local photography.  This is a lovely photo of one of Belfast’s most famous watering holes. Gerry Adams once pulled pints here as a barman, and many a journalist, student and politicians have propped up the bar over the years. The owner Willie Jack made it through the bad times and now he is getting his reward, the place is rammed every weekend. Willie has expanded his … Read more

Sinn Fein cannot protect people on benefits by magnifying the harm of the original cuts

So Cameron has said, no. Nick Clegg has said no. And David Ed Miliband has said no. In the meantime, Sinn Fein stayed well clear of last Thursday’s The View when Simon Hamilton dished the dirt on their avoidance of the question of a governmental budget which is crumbling: And after three days of ‘thinking’, John O’Dowd (the guy who always gets to clear up the party’s mess) struggled to explain his party’s refusal to discuss the matter at the Executive … Read more

Talks on the past, no talks on the welfare deadlock, a border poll? No prizes for guessing what they amount to.

 Government by tweet is a curse as it fends off searching inquiry. Twitter is a blessing for the non-information strategies of government by politburo. I’ve never known a time when it’s been more difficult for political correspondents to do their jobs.  Is Liam Clarke of the Belfast Telegraph right when he fears a slow slide to a snap election? What would that change?  What about a border poll? Yet another ridiculous distraction. At best it’s a sign that  the public would … Read more

#uniref: what are mechanics of a border poll?

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke is reporting on an opinion poll that says that a majority of people want a referendum on a border called. David has already sketched out some ideas of what a Yes campaign might look like, but what are the actual mechanics of holding such a referendum? The calling of a referendum is described in Annex A of the Belfast Agreement text (usually called the Good Friday Agreement). In reality, the Belfast Agreement is two … Read more

The “what ifs? ” of our past play a part in dealing with it today

The row over former taioseach John Bruton’s regret that the Easter Rising ever happened goes on. Will historian Diarmaid Ferriter have the very last word? In his latest sally in the Irish Times, Ferriter attacks the exaggerated use of the counterfactual, the “what if” school of history. His argument to  Bruton is basically simple –look, the Rising had the obvious effect of radicalising nationalist Ireland. It happened, get over it, stop regretting it.  In an important sense Ferriter the historian … Read more

Schaubühne’s “An Enemy of the People” – an incredible political thriller coming to Belfast Festival #BelFest

Dirty politics, abandoned loyalties, live music, paint thrown around and questions about the role of individuals and the state … The plot of An Enemy of the People could be a big screen thriller in the cinema. Instead this is probably the best of a new generation of theatre that will play on the island of Ireland this year, courtesy of the Belfast Festival. It’s also the only time you’ll ever see a paint fight in the Grand Opera House. … Read more

Biggest threat to Robinson is that there is nobody left who can say to him, ‘don’t do that’

Still image grab from Peter Robinson talking before DUP's 2011 Assembly Election launch

Cathy Gormley Heenan (author of Political Leadership and the Northern Ireland Peace Process) and columnist Newton Emerson on last Thursday’s The View with some useful insights into last week’s controversy over the DUP’s wobble… …a long term threat to Peter Robinson’s leadership is that there is nobody left who can say to him, ‘don’t do that’, he has surrounded himself, apparently with terrified yes men who won’t prevent him from making these ridiculous media performances. He’s done himself more damage … Read more

More political therapy sessions for the ‘folks on the hill’ ahead…

One of the stand out quotes in tonight’s BBC documentary is that conceit from Jonathan Powell to the effect that… The thing about extremes is that it is very difficult to be extreme when you are worrying about water rates than when you are waving a gun. And yet, sixteen years on from the Belfast Agreement, you might hardly know we even had a government. From an Agriculture Minister who reputedly has difficulty telling a charolais from a friesian, to a … Read more

So, if there is a border poll, what might a Yes Ireland campaign look like?

On this morning’s Sunday Politics, the Bel Tel Political Editor, Liam Clarke said that a poll will appear in tomorrow’s newspaper stating that a majority of those surveyed would like to see a border poll. Clarke did not go into who would win such a poll if it is held, but I thought I would pen some thoughts I have been developing over the past few months. Last week I was in Scotland to live blog the referendum as the … Read more

Lemmings, Icarus, and that dish best served chilled

The rumours of discontent within the usually closed ranks of the DUP spilled into the public domain in sensational manner with the latest intemperate outburst of party leader Peter Robinson this week. The identity of the lemmings has since been the source of much speculation, with The Irish News’ John Manley listing as the “core dissenters” the trio of Edwin Poots, Paul Givan (not Girvan) and Paul Frew- all suffering demotions in this week’s reshuffle. To this list, add Lord … Read more