Is it possible that Fianna Fail has turned another one of those invisible corners?

So averting gaze from the mesmerising polling of the UK election, and to the unfixed electoral politics of the Republic, here’s a constructive question. Is Fianna Fail on the rise again? Mad, eh? Well, Jody Corcoran does not have a completely unblemished track record when it comes to predicting the future. Still, the 1400 at the party’s selection meeting in Kerry is larger than several parties’ national conferences, and 800 turned up in Sligo last week. Specifically Jody notes that… … Read more

Casement Park STG Chair: “we were being attempted to be coerced, pressurised into signing off something that we were singularly uncomfortable with…”

The BBC reports on the latest wrinkle in the on-going saga of the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast – stalled in December last year when Belfast High Court quashed the decision to grant planning approval for the redevelopment. At the start of April this year, the BBC obtained the minutes of the last meeting of the Casement Park Development Safety Technical Group (STG), in November 2014, under a Freedom of Information request.   The STG is made up of representatives … Read more

Rating female politicians’ appearance is demeaning sexism from Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland has some of the lowest levels of female participation in politics of anywhere in Western Europe. Anyone who read a copy of this morning’s morning the Belfast Telegraph can be in no doubt as to why. The newspaper has dedicated a double page spread to commenting on and rating the appearances of female election candidates in lurid detail. It reads more like the salivating sexism of a teenage boy ranking girls at school, than a piece of journalism … Read more

An Apple a day, keeps the tax man away. Unwanted windfall gains for the Irish Government?

The Apple story has reappeared, like Granny’s reheated tart. The Irish Times reports here that Apple have said that a direction to pay additional taxes due to Ireland would be “material”. The story is also covered in the Financial Times (€) here. The two pieces are based on a quarterly stock exchange filing by Apple, which can be openly accessed here . The relevant comment, causing the controversy is, “On June 11, 2014, the European Commission issued an opening decision … Read more

Progress 59: “The spacecraft is 160 miles high and travelling at more than 16,000mph…”

…and out of control…  The BBC reports on the Russian unmanned cargo ship delivering supplies to the International Space Station that mission control has lost contact with and is now in a uncontrolled spin. Or, as RTÉ says, it’s ‘plunging back to Earth’. Here’s the view from a camera on-board the spacecraft. From the BBC report The Russian news agency Tass reports that Progress M-27M is now orbiting in an uncontrolled spin. Scientists may try again to control it, but it … Read more

Could the SNP and Tories trigger a UK shift to the nationalist right?

This is interesting. I’ve made the point on the SluggerReport that even reliable national polling will be mediated by ground war efforts by various parties. However FPTP may allow the SNP to take almost all the spoils in Scotland: The latest and final Ipsos MORI poll for STV News puts support for Nicola Sturgeon’s party at 54%, up by two percentage points on the last poll, with Labour trailing on 20%, down from 24%. Support for the Conservatives has increased … Read more

How Would Rory McIlroy Vote?  And why that’s important.

Predicated as it is on avarice and greed and standing as a monument to the necessity for mandatory wealth re-distribution, the most useless supplement of the year reappeared last week. The Sunday Times Rich List likes to rank all the people in the country who have more money than you. And expects you to pay for the privilege of reading about them. Not surprisingly, a certain young County Down sports celebrity –always keen to reassert his affinity with his place … Read more

“…lifetime ban on gay men giving blood “may be justified” in certain cases”

Interesting news from Strasbourg’s European Court of Justice… The European Court of Justice ruled that member states should establish if there were not more accurate detection techniques or “less onerous” ways of ensuring that recipients of donated blood were protected, rather than banning gay men for life from giving blood. Ireland and a number of other countries maintain a lifetime ban. The law in the UK was changed in 2011 so that a one-year ban would be established instead. The … Read more

Brexit – What will be the cost if the UK exits the EU?

The German Bertelsmann Foundation with the assistance of the IFO Institute have produced a report attempting to analyse the effects of a UK exit from the European Union.  The report makes sobering reading for all, but particularly people in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The report makes a serious effort to put figures on what has to date been a very esoteric discussion. It looks at two assumptions, a “soft”exit and a “hard” exit, examining the likely GDP loss and the  … Read more

Indonesia executes eight drugs smugglers

I have blogged previously about the death penalty. It is only fair to state at the outset that I am fundamentally opposed to it. The BBC are reporting that despite a chorus of international pleas for clemency the Indonesian authorities have executed eight drugs smugglers. They included two Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (the ring leaders of the so called Bali nine) who were arrested 10 years ago as part of an operation involving the Australian police. The Australian … Read more

Election ’15: The Nationalist Contest in NI

With just over a week to polling day, I’ve decided to take a closer look at the contest between the two main nationalist parties in the north of Ireland, Sinn Fein and the SDLP. Sinn Fein’s dominance over the SDLP was established in the 2001 Westminster election, when Pat Doherty and Michelle Gildernew secured two noteworthy electoral triumphs, ensuring that Sinn Fein would outpoll the SDLP for the first time ever and also leapfrog the party of Hume and Mallon … Read more

Why the DUP is genuinely open for political business with an incoming Labour administration

Good piece from Graham Walker which if anything works a little too hard to match the DUP with a future incoming Labour government, it is nevertheless is a useful corrective to the prevailing assumption (in Britain if not NI) that their natural fit is with the Tories. In particular he notes: …social class does matter politically in Northern Ireland, contrary to what many outsiders are led to believe. The DUP draws much of its support from less well-off protestants and … Read more

#SluggerSoapbox: It’s about time women were celebrated, but we’ll have to do it for ourselves!

The following is from Orlaith Hendron, who is a lobbyist in the Women’s Sector in Northern Ireland. We all know people are struggling these days; we only have to go outside and take a look at the house next door where our friends used to live, and know that redundancy meant they couldn’t afford rent. We only have to see ads in church bulletins about food banks and know that there won’t be enough there to help everyone who needs … Read more

It’s resignation Jim, but not as we know it

So Jim Wells has tendered his resignation. There’s something in the back of my mind about Peter Robinson threatening to resign before and withdrawing the threat when the storm had passed. Maybe I’m jumping too far ahead, though… A lot of commentators and journalists are proffering the opinion that the post-dated resignation is to allow for the outcome of the Westminster election and that Jonathan Bell, the current Junior Minister in OFMDFM, is the favourite to take up the health … Read more

Marriage Equality motion fails in the Assembly

Today the Assembly narrowly rejected a Sinn Fein motion on Marriage Equality 47 votes in favour to 49 against. Three Alliance MLAs abstained and five SDLP MLAs did not turn up for the vote (I understand one had a family bereavement.) Of the 53 Unionists who voted just four supported the motion (Danny Kinahan, Basil McCrea, Claire Sugden and John McCallister). In speaking about the motion and the DUPs petition of concern,  the Sinn Fein MLA for Newry & Armagh, … Read more

On hearing of Jim Wells’ narcolepsy…

For the sake of keeping record (and via the Irish News), this from Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister* after news at the weekend that Jim Wells suffers from narcolepsy.. Wonder has @GerryKellyMLA got #narcolepsy !! Lol !! — Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) April 26, 2015 Our top tip: leave the trolling to the keyboard warriors lads, it’s really not a good look.. *Picture features SF’s parliamentary candidate for North Belfast. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written … Read more

On Jim Wells and against serving Minister’s running for election…

Between all the spin and counterspin on Jim Wells’s resignation, this from Tom Kelly makes an important point: …what constitutes good governance during an election? No serving Minister should be allowed to continue in office whilst contesting an election not associated with the Assembly and even then purdah should be strictly enforced. It is ridiculous that special advisors working in elections or contesting them have to stand aside from their posts for the duration of an election but a Minister … Read more

“We have to think really carefully before we let the police interfere in the electoral process…”

listen to ‘'Outrageous for police to be involved' – Spiked editor on Wells' remarks investigation’ on audioBoom Brendan O’Neill on the intervention of the police (though note carefully how Nolan defines it police inquiry as opposed to investigation, it’s a non trivial distinction) in elections. 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 … Read more

Dodd lays into the Tories for laying into the SNP’s mandate (and side-slaps the SNP)

Those who heard this morning’s #SluggerReport will have noted the major item was Nigel Dodds’ extraordinarily adept intervention in the Westminster debate this morning in the Guardian. It surely cannot be a coincidence that Jim Wells’ has been dispatched so quickly (hint: it was nothing to do with our toothless Ministerial code) in order to clear the air and political space for this… Listening to Nicola Sturgeon’s progressive pan-British rhetoric, you could have thought you were listening to one of … Read more

#SluggerSoapbox: Marriage Equality and the creation of families by same sex couples

Nick King is a former business man, councillor on Bournemouth Borough Council, chairman of Dorset Conservatives, member of Police Authority Board. Watching the #marref debate as an Englishman is an interesting experience. In common with so many things in Ireland it seems in part an exaggerated version of what has gone before here in England. At other times it’s like watching our own experiences through a slightly distorted mirror. And as the comments made last week in South Down by … Read more