34 bills in four and a half years; Example of a “Do Nothing” Executive?

It is now pretty much seen as very likely that our government will fall at some point in the next few months. In this fit of pessimism I thought I would take a look back at the record of this Assembly since it was elected back in May 2011. I must confess the Irish News political correspondent, John Manley back in March 2013 did take a look at this and found that the Assembly had passed just 11 bills in … Read more

The Ulster Unionist Party are perfectly right to withdraw from the Northern Irish Executive

Irrespective of their motives for doing so, the Ulster Unionist Party are perfectly right to withdraw from the Northern Irish Executive. When the Provisional Republican Movement signed up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, it agreed that it would no longer use violence as a means of protecting or furthering its interests. The paramilitary operation which killed Kevin McGuigan violated that, because current members of the Provisional IRA took part in it. Many are criticizing the UUP for acting … Read more

A Command Democracy

Dan Boyle is a former Senator and member of the Green Party. He is the Author of ‘Without Power or Glory – The Greens in Government’. Today he gives us his take on local government and the threats to democracy posed by our current system After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Progressive Democrats used to taunt that Ireland now had become Europe’s biggest command economy outside of Albania. On the surface there was something to this. … Read more

“Martin’s uncompromising criticism of Sinn Fein put it up to the other parties to respond…”

In case you missed it, I got a mention (€) in yesterday’s Irish edition of The Sunday Times by Sarah McInerney: “Fianna Fail has spent the past three or four years building a political presence in the north, consistently critiquing Sinn Fein on the justice issue,” he said. “It’s a long game plan. Martin has been trying to build a narrative bridge between the north and south so whenever things go wrong in the north, he’s there, and he can take that … Read more

Nationalisation is always a disaster: another truism in need of challenge?

Corbynmaina has gone a little quiet recently centrally due to repetition. Personally I am still unsure whether he will win or not. However, after having looked at some of the potentially questionable truisms regarding the unelectability of Labour in 1983 and the disaster which was the 1970s, I thought, to take our minds off the current excitement of UUP politics, a look at another truism would be reasonable. Another supposed suicidal policy of Corbyn’s is nationalisation: he has specifically mentioned … Read more

A question of chairmanship

A wee Sunday thought. Under d’Hondt, and specifically section 18 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the DUP is due to be asked to nominate the new minister for Regional Development when the Assembly reconvenes after the summer break. The current chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development is Trevor Clarke, in succession to Jimmy Spratt.  Section 29(5) of the same Act says that “in making a selection under the provision made by virtue of subsection (2)(a), a nominating officer … Read more

Sinn Fein’s self interest more than pressure over the IRA, will keep the Assembly in being

So the pressure is mounting on Sinn Fein North and South to do – what exactly?  Agree to accept or at least put up with a revival of the International Monitoring Commission and  dissociate  themselves from the IRA? This would require a new  political calculus all round. Still, the Irish government may have made a move in that direction. Will the British follow?  The Sunday Times (£) reports a revival of pressure in the Shinners over the IRA’s ill gotten … Read more

More Questions Than Answers Following UUP Withdrawal

So the UUP executive met today and ratified Mike Nesbitt’s decision to leave the Northern Ireland executive, on Tuesday of this coming week Danny Kennedy will resign from his position as Minister for Regional Development – but what does this mean? I have spent today discussing this at length and have concluded that I know as much about the potential ramifications today than I knew this time last year… So what questions remain open-ended? What link is Mike Nesbitt aware of … Read more

Nesbitt: “This is not about wrecking things or pulling things down.”

The UUP Executive met in the Park Ave Hotel in East Belfast to formally decide whether to pull out of the Northern Ireland Executive. Around 90 delegates debated the issue for over an hour and unanimously voted to leave. The sole UUP minister, Danny Kennedy will tender his resignation on Tuesday and Mike Nesbitt will refuse to nominate a successor. The post will then fall to the DUP to fill the vacancy. For such an important decision there was a … Read more

Closer engagement not boycott, is the route out of crisis for the Northern Ireland Assembly

Is Jeffrey Donaldson MP offering a way out of “ crisis?” He said it would be a different situation if Sinn Féin “came clean” and said murder had been carried out by members of the Provisional IRA and said they would work to rectify the situation. He said the Sinn Féin leadership needed to “recognise they have a problem” and then work could begin to solve the crisis. The IMC issued its final report in February 2011 and Mr Donaldson … Read more

UUP leaving the executive: anti agreement unionism for slow learners

So the UUP have finally done something exciting and left the Executive (or at least will once their own party executive rubber stamps the decision). The internal unionist politics of this: both why it was a politically good idea and the potential ramifications are significant and worth a separate blog (which I may get to at some point). For the meantime, however, looking from a pan unionist point of view why this matters is also important. There have always been … Read more

A critique of the Chief Constable’s statement on alleged PIRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan

Before considering my analysis of specific excerpts from George Hamilton’s statement on alleged PIRA activity, readers – if they haven’t already – may want to read the PSNI Chief Constable’s statement in full. Moreover, while I do feel there are a number of issues with what George Hamilton says in his statement, I am conscious that the political sandwich he finds himself in is far from enviable. Few European Police Chiefs are pressured into treading so carefully. The post-power sharing … Read more

The 10 most annoying political phrases in Northern Ireland

Nice wee Friday thread for you all to get your head showered from the madness of Northern Ireland politics. One thing that really bugs me is the platitudes that pass for talking points in our political system. These annoying phrases can be heard on Nolan, Talkback and the Sunday Politics most weeks and if you watch politics as much as me they can become tiresome very quickly. So, in that spirit I thought I would compile a list of the … Read more

The peace process phase is over. A new age of political progress is what we need

I hesitate just a little to criticise Peter Osborne ‘s piece on Galvanising the Peace  as I bow respectfully to the view that dialogue and contacts are essential for peace, reconciliation and development.  But we really have to move on from this sort of generalised approach to more rigorous analysis and hard questions leading to more real solutions.  We should have learned by now that yet another appeal like Galvanising the Peace won’t crack  it. It lets the political class … Read more

“The real story is not the existence of some skeleton structure, but the sound of gunfire…”

It’s not the still-extant Provisional IRA structures that are the immediate cause for concern, although “stupid” questions could, and should, be asked about their ultimate purpose, it’s the involvement of those Provisional IRA ‘structures’ in the events leading up to, and including, the murder of Kevin McGuigan, and the continued denials [of that reality! – Ed] which have followed. As I mentioned previously …a key element in the recent events under investigation, which I noted previously, [is] the Provisional IRA investigation into … Read more

The collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly can be averted

The Ulster Unionists appear to have succumbed to the revulsion many unionists feel at the very idea of sharing power with the spawn of the IRA that most of them have suppressed every day since 1998. The danger now is that they will set off a chain reaction and take the DUP with them. The  DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson says the UUP’s move does nothing to support the DUP’s aim to exclude Sinn Fein from the Executive, even if this … Read more

Ahern: IRA allowed continue to prevent vacuum

Since he left office in 2008, Bertie Ahern rarely ventures into the spotlight or gives any real in-depth comments about Northern Ireland. However, even his most ardent critics would acknowledge his role in bringing about the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreement. Today he as spoken to Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times about the current crisis in Northern Ireland. Kelly gives his introduction; Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it was envisaged the Provisional IRA would continue to exist … Read more

Why do we price in all manner of ugly affairs but not the possibility of change?

There seems to be a presumption that the withdrawal of the UUP was purely in response to the muder of two men and the unstated relationship to those killings to the sill existing commandstructure of the IRA. Micheal Martin’s statement yesterday provides deeper context: “The decision of the UUP to withdraw its minister from the Executive is deeply regrettable. It confirms Fianna Fáil’s concerns about the seriousness of the situation facing the Northern Ireland institutions. This latest development comes following … Read more

Galvanising the Peace

Peter Osborne writes about the need to galvanize the peace process Building the peace is not just a laudable aim; it is one of the most complex and toughest too. There needs to be systemic and structural change, tackling the causes of division and the reasons why sectional and sectarian attitudes continue to prevail. Beyond that, relationship building work is critical for the trust which is a key component of a shared and reconciled society. We need a vision that … Read more

Nesbitt: “That decision is to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive, to form an Opposition and offer people an alternative, as is the way in any proper democracy.”

A confident Mike Nesbitt walked down the staircase of the Great Hall in Stormont with his parliamentary colleagues to make a significant announcement about the future of the UUP’s involvement in the Executive. Nesbitt began by speaking of the risks and political pain that his party had taken in the past to secure devolution in Northern Ireland saying; In 1998, the Ulster Unionist Party stretched itself very close to breaking point to secure the return of Devolution, because it was … Read more