A very Happy Christmas to all Slugger’s readers, fans (and grumpy old detractors…)

I was thinking of letting the headline from Brian’s Stormont House post from yesterday be the last post from Slugger before Christmas, not least because its warm and generous sentiments are probably the best way to finish off a less than optimal year for Northern Irish politics. All government business saved to the end provides warm sense of promise for the new year.

2014 has been an unexpectedly good year for Slugger. With the addition to the team of David McCann as deputy editor and Brian O’Neill looking after technical issues and helping us develop a more sustainable business plan the site has begun to transform with new voices from across the political piste.

In the coming year we will intensify our efforts to bring more of a public female voice to the Northern Irish commentariat and continue to encourage more and more unionists to join a debate they have been too willing to abandon to Nationalists and Republicans.

At the same time, we’ll continue to bring you new features from home and abroad, with more individual profiles of politicians, business leaders, journalists, bloggers and tweeters. We also hope to expand the #SluggerTalks brand of video conversations into a regular series of conversations between myself and Shane Greer in Washington.

With the help of Chris and Paul at MCE our review of the year was a resounding success both on the night and as a way of raising revenue to keep Slugger lit. You can expect more events like these (including a revitalised Slugger Awards) as the year progresses, always with the same agenda, ie to increase the quality of public discourse in Northern Ireland both online and offline.

We are always looking for new and ambitious partners to help us scale up that work. The first public event is in association with the Building Change Trust and is an evening DigitalLunch asking what OpenGovernment in Northern Ireland would look like?

Finally, I have to thank all of our bloggers, old and new, for their steadfast work, patience and in many cases, courage in putting their own views forward to what is often a tough audience.

Thanks too to all our supporters, especially to those of you who have regularly dipped into your pockets (you know who you are!)  just to keep the old bird afloat.

Personally I will mostly be keeping quiet over Christmas and spending it with my ever expanding family. Others may well venture out in the digital snow to keep you entertained.

Wishing you the peace to enjoy your holidays (or at least a break from the fray), wherever, whatever and whoever you are.

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