The problem of originality and building a movement inside a rigid political party…

Right, I’ve been away for a few days. What did I miss? Well, Jeremy Corbyn’s speech for one. Oh, and this revealing commentary from Alex Massie, in which he reveals that the new Labour leader has been reading blogs (or at least one blog), and in effect re-cycled a speech written originally for (and rejected by) Ed Milliband. It probably shows a real lack of capacity in the former back-bencher’s toolkit as much as anything else. In fact much of … Read more

Voices for the Voiceless: culture and community resistance (QUB ICRH)

EXCLUSION & MARGINALISATION: How do communities use culture to express and counter their exclusion and marginalisation? A screening of Ken Fero’s short film “Burn” looking at aftermath of 2011 English riots and killing of Mark Duggan followed by a discussion about culture and community resistance – Voices for the Voiceless on 15 October by QUB ICRH.

Knitting together: CRC annual conference

As Chair of the Communication Relations Council, Peter Osborne, welcomed delegates to their annual policy and practice conference at Stormont Hotel, Belfast, he explained the event theme, “One Place — Many People”: “All of us in this room are a minority of some sort; we are all minorities in this place we call home.” Mr Osborne added that it will be relationships between us that will dismantle bigotry and sectarianism. But that ordinary people in Northern Ireland are suffering from … Read more

Cartoon – “The Doctor will see me now…”

Following a gaff by SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell speculation arose about a leadership challenge from the Derry MLA Colum Eastwood. This has since been confirmed by the former mayor. Alasdair remains bullish and defiant, counting Fergal McKinney as a indefatigable supporter, raising the tempo for the contest ahead. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Colum Eastwood: “it’s a good time to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”

INTERVIEWED this afternoon about the timing of his challenge for SDLP leadership, Colum Eastwood defended his experience and suggested it is “a good time to change … to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”. He’s not keen on rushing into Opposition, but won’t rule it out. Making Northern Ireland work is a priority.

“in which case, may I be the first to say well done Gerry.”

Aided and abetted by the right-wing nationalists of the Independent Greeks, Alexis Tsipras has been returned to power in Greece at the head of a New Syriza “experiment” to implement the EU bail-out, and associated austerity measures, that the Old Syriza experiment was once elected to oppose.  Given the contortions Tsipras has put his party, and his country, through it was interesting to see the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, quick off the mark to congratulate Tsipras [on his chutzpah? – … Read more

Emma Pengelly replaces Jimmy Spratt as the MLA for South Belfast

Emma Pengelly former advisor to Peter Robinson will replace Jimmy Spratt as an MLA for South Belfast (worth pointing out she is taking a huge pay cut moving to the assembly). On taking up the role Emma said; It is an incredible privilege to have this opportunity to serve the people of South Belfast. I am determined to be a strong advocate for all the people of the constituency and help build on the foundation laid by Jimmy Spratt. I … Read more

Who is Colum Eastwood?

Colum Eastwood, you may not know that much about him, but he is the man set to take on the sitting SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell. If memory serves me right, I think he is the first person to challenge a sitting SDLP leader. I know Patsy McGlone was preparing to challenge Ritchie in 2011 but she stepped aside before anything got going. Eastwood has been active in elected politics for a decade now, being elected to Derry City Council in … Read more

For the AssembIy solution, it’s the Stormont House agenda, stupid!

Amid all the sterile political sparring, the most significant development in the Assembly stand- off  has been the one that has been almost totally ignored – the UK governments’ publication of a summary of measures which would form the basis of a Northern Ireland  (Stormont House Agreement ) Bill  to be included in the Queens Speech  at the beginning  of the Westminster session. With the addition of the paramilitary monitoring review , the summary confirms the obvious fact that the … Read more

It’s on: Eastwood confirms challenge against McDonnell

Just in from the Irish News political correspondent, John Manley Foyle MLA @columeastwood will confirm challenge against @AlasdairMcD_MP for @SDLPlive leadership on Monday — Irish News Politics (@politicsIN) September 27, 2015 I would imagine some backers of his push will involved Mark Durkan MP and Claire Hanna. Backers of McDonnell will include Fearghal McKinney and Alban Maginess. Some key folks to watch in terms of who they side with are the former leader Margaret Ritchie, former minister Alex Attwood and … Read more

Cork SF Cllr June Murphy: “I have found my time in the party to be an increasingly negative experience.”

Sinn Féin’s little local difficulty in East Cork continues with the resignation, from the party, of Cork county councillor June Murphy – who represents the Fermoy electoral area.  [Is the constituency organisation still suspended? – Ed]  Good question… Described in a report as “a close [ally] of [Cork East TD Sandra] McLellan’s in the party”, the Evening Echo quotes Cllr Murphy Cllr Murphy said: “As most people will be aware there have been some issues within the Sinn Fein party … Read more

Omagh and Enniskillen the happiest places in the UK, says the Office of National Statistics

A jolly piece by Zoe Williams in the Guardian which does not quite fathom the reasons but manages to avoid condescension – just about. The residents of the district of Fermanagh and Omagh are the happiest in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. This comes as no surprise to any of them. It’s a large area with three civic hubs – Enniskillen, Omagh and Dungannon – each of which claims to be happier than the other two. … Read more

Cartoon – Wouldn’t have a McDonnell about the place…

The North Belfast News caught Alasdair McDonnell saying that “they [the DUP] don’t want a taig about the place”. It’s likely that some SDLP colleagues will be saying the same of the current leader. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Colum Eastwood nominated to stand against Big Al for leader of the SDLP…

It’s all going on with the SDLP today. Here’s the UTV report: Nominations closed at 5pm on Friday and sources close to Colum Eastwood have told UTV he has yet to make a decision, but will be consulting his colleagues. It will be next week before it is known if both will accept their nomination. Meanwhile Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly and South Belfast MLA Fearghal McKinney have been put forward for deputy leader. There have been rumbles against McDonnell … Read more

Portadown Times gets pinged for not disclosing provenance of DUP commissioned poll in Upper Bann

And as the week closes, here’s an interesting wee bit of business for the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt in Upper Bann… The Portadown Times published results from what it said was an “independent” poll ahead of May’s general election. But it failed to acknowledge that the survey had actually been commissioned by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Mr Nesbitt said the article “appears to have skewed” the election result. The article suggested that the gap in support between the DUP … Read more

Perhaps the SDLP should try letting Alasdair be Alasdair for a while, and stop apologising…

Really crap morning for periscope this morning, so I had to do it in three bites, all of which break off abruptly before the end… Premise is that whether Big Al attack on SF and the SDLP was a gaffe or not, but that the North Belfast News scoop captured the real Alasdair McDonnell, blunt, forthright and intentionally revealing. As one senior nationalist strategist put it to me, “this is what I recommended to the party a few years ago … Read more

When will the Irish government bank its budget largesse?

With sentiment hardening in favour of the government parties in the south, we’re seeing a return of auction politics says Noel Whelan… …instead of offering to allocate additional resources that become available during the recovery firstly to those in greatest need the Government and the opposition parties are offering them to those sectors of the electorate most likely to vote and most able to make loud demands for attention. And… The spindoctors have been particularly busy with the weekend press. … Read more

McDonnell “they don’t want a taig about the place. I’m sorry, it’s as brutal as that.” (updated with audio)

Great scoop from the North Belfast News who have recorded comments from the SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell who was speaking at the opening of an office in Glengormley, North Belfast. The paper reports the SDLP making comments about the DUP and their attitudes to Nationalists where he said; The DUP don’t want partnership – they don’t want a taig about the place. I’m sorry, it’s as brutal as that. I’m not divisive, I don’t like to be like that but … Read more

Corbyn appeal struggling to get beyond Labour activists…

Briefly, the Corbyn wagon seems to be flagging… Corrected chart showing Corbyn's opening Ipsos MORI ratings compared with other LAB leaders. — Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) September 24, 2015 Hmmmm, my argument this morning is that his personal footprint as a local Islington MP is not translating very well to Labour’s wider base, not least some of the very personal policy obsessions he’s collected over the last thirty years… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers … Read more