New Years Addresses by the Party Leaders

New Years Addresses are now becoming a thing that most parties here send out on New Years Eve. Here are some of the messages that our party leaders have been sending out today. (Updated with Arlene Foster address). In her first address as DUP leader, Arlene Foster says; The turning of another year is a time of reflection and hope. We reflect on what has passed.  The decisions we made. The goals we attained and those we didn’t. We also … Read more

Paying Teachers 33million Not To Teach – O’Dowd’s Teacher Scrappage Scheme

Recently the Minister of Education announced a proposal, which apparently has Executive approval, to spend £33m on a scheme to allow senior schoolteachers to retire five years early, allowing 500 newly trained teachers to take up posts. This is equivalent to £13,200 per teacher, per additional year of retirement. The Department indicates that 2,350 teachers qualify in principle, which means that there will be a process to decide who will be entitled. It also notes that 1,414 graduate teachers do … Read more

NI21 Deputy Leader And Sole Councillor Resigns Party

Jonny McCarthy, councillor on Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has resigned from NI21 as of this morning. Cllr McCarthy, also deputy leader of the party for just over a year, announced on his facebook page this morning that he was leaving NI21 as he feels he “could do the job better (if) independent of the party.” With party leader Basil McCrea now remaining as the only elected official within the party following a series of high profile party departures, John McCallister … Read more

“It will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”

RIP Lemmy, who has died, aged 70, two days after cancer diagnosis. BBC obituary here. Adds Great quote from Lemmy in 2015, from the Guardian’s Lemmy: a life in quotes. To Michael Hann, the Guardian, 2015 “In your twenties, you think you are immortal. In your thirties, you hope you are immortal. In your forties, you just pray it doesn’t hurt too much, and by the time you reach my age, you become convinced that, well, it could be just … Read more

The Political Year Gone By: What I got right & wrong in 2015

PREDICTIONS: Okay it is the end of the year and one of us typically produces a piece looking over the past year and the notable political moments that defined our year. However, I wanted to change tack and look back over some of my predictions to see what I got right, but just as important, what I got wrong.

Mallon says Sinn Fein played Hume like “3lb trout”

Seamus Mallon has been speaking to Talkback (interview to be played later today on Radio Ulster) where he reflects on his career and comments on his views about his then party leader, John Hume. Speaking to William Crawley, the BBC reports; John Hume was “no fool” but that Sinn Féin leaders played him “like a 3lb trout”. Mr Hume’s presence gave republicans a status almost validating what they did in the previous 30 years, he said. Mr Mallon reiterated previous … Read more

Lessons from working in a local newspaper (and how they can work for you)

local paper mastheads Belfast Telegraph Irish News News Letter

A long time ago in a newspaper far, far away (well, Ballymena) I was kindly taught local newspaper writing by a fellow reporter and by our bosses. The lessons from those days have stayed with me so, for something a little more light-hearted at Christmas, it made me wonder how knowing the basics and banter of a local newsroom could help us to use the pages of a local paper today to promote our cause/ business/ party/ angry mob. Almost … Read more

Consider a donation and help keep slugger lit into 2016!

  2015 was another boom year for Slugger with record amounts of visitors. So far this year we have had nearly 800,000 visitors reading 4.3 million pages of the site. It may not always be obvious but Slugger does not get core funding of any kind. All income comes from readers donations, our warmly supported events and a few non intrusive ads on the right panel.  This brings us an independence which allows us to seek out new voices without prejudice and provide … Read more

Merry Christmas to all of our readers.

Parliament Buildings, Christmas tree with Paisley's portrait glaring down over the souls in the Great Hall

Well here we go again, it’s Christmas time. For Slugger, it has been a brilliant year, more than 4.3million page views on the website so far in 2015 and we hosted two pub quiz’s with the ever brilliant Amnesty International’s Paddy Corrigan, a head to head debate between Naomi Long and Gavin Robinson (trended at No.4 in the UK on the night) with the help of Chambre Public Affairs and our year end review with MCE Public Relations. Also want to give … Read more

Almost 30% of MLAs not seeking re-election

A really interesting article by Sam McBride in the News Letter today highlight the number of MLAs standing down at the next election. In his piece McBride points out; Almost 30 per cent of MLAs elected in the last Assembly election are not even standing for election next year – and the turnover in Assembly politicians could end up being as high as 40 per cent. But goes on to say; On top of that, several MLAs who stand for … Read more

Lord Kilclooney: “I am impressed by the way Martin McGuinness has developed in recent years”

Interesting interview from Liam Clarke with former UUP Deputy Leader, Lord Kilclooney about his relationships with former UUP leaders, his views on Same Sex Marriage and how he views the current Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness. Speaking about him he said;  The people who tried to kill me were the Official IRA, not the Provos, but they are all IRA to me. However, I am impressed by the way Martin McGuinness has developed in recent years. His support for the … Read more

Cuimhní stoirmiúla agus muid ag fágáil slán le Peter, Barney agus Deasún

Is doiligh a chreidbheáil go bhfuil muid ag druidim le deireadh na bliana agus é in am dúinn súil siar a chaitheamh ar 2015. Ar a lán bealach, gidh nach bhfuil sé linn go fóill, tá 2015 faoi scáth 2016 nuair a dhéanfar ceiliúradh ar na himeachtaí móra a d’athraigh cúrsaí an oileáin bhig seo go deo. Mar atá Éirí Amach na Cásca agus slad an Somme. Ach cén sórt bliana a bhí againn abhus? Bliain chorrach ó thaobh na … Read more

Tom Elliott’s Christmas Message: No Room At The Derelict School Building

  BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme today covered a story which broke at the end of last week following the decision of UUP Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Tom Elliott, to condemn the announcement that 40 pupils from an Irish language school in Lisnaskea would be permitted to use classrooms in a derelict post-primary school for the purposes of learning. I kid you not. As an example of all that is wrong with the political leadership of Unionism, it was hard … Read more

“How deep is Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dudgale’s social democratic commitment?”

I don’t share David’s view of the Spanish election result. The most remarkable thing (apart from the low turnout increased turnout, actually) is how poorly Podemos performed compared to expectations earlier in the year. The limited returns from Syriza’s pitch in Greece perhaps coloured expectations? Scotland by contrast got its play for freedom in earlier, with a promise of radical change which set the country alight, and in the process all but burning down Labour’s Scottish mansion. In the great … Read more

What would BBC news look like if the rule book was thrown away?

BBC: We’ve come a long way from the days of finding our news from street vendors shouting ‘Sixth Tele’, leaving the Northern Ireland Teletext page running in the corner of the room or waiting for the next Radio Ulster bulletin to find out why a road was closed or a bang was heard echoing across Belfast.

The problems around an unbelievable story of rape.

UNBELIEVABLE STORY: Today I read a harrowing article about an “unbelievable story of rape”. In 2008, a young American woman reported having been raped; her foster mother was suspicious that her behaviour wasn’t befitting of someone who had gone through such an ordeal and the discrepancies in her story were noticed by the police. She knew they didn’t believe her so she changed her story. She told them she had made it all up.

Corbynism: what’s on and what’s off the table?

If straight talking, honest politics is what Jeremy Corbyn brings to the leadership of the Labour Party, then what he and those he’s promoted into senior positions have said matters. What makes moderates like me uneasy, however, and why many moderates have left the party in large numbers, is that what Corbyn and those around him have said—and what they have and have not supported—is often way outside mainstream political thinking. Support for the IRA. Opposition to intervention in Kosovo. … Read more

Spanish Electorate give a collective thumbs down to their two major parties.

SPAIN VOTES: Spain went to the polls yesterday in their tightest ever general election. The incumbent Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy was seeking a second term after his Partido Popular party swept to power in 2011. However, after a four years of high unemployment and continuing cuts more anti establishment parties such as Podemos, have began to gain traction in Spanish society, making the outcome of yesterdays election very messy indeed.

Gerry Adams on Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy’s tax evasion: Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but…

After the guilty verdict in the trial of, “key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy”, Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy on 9 charges of tax evasion, Gerry Adams, TD, declared that he had “no comment to make until the legal process has been concluded”. Following criticism of that position the Sinn Féin president has, apparently, decided that some comment would be appropriate after all. The has his initial further comment, and the Sinn Féin website has a further, further version.  From the … Read more

The Mural Hunter and The Writing on the Wall…

By my estimates, there are around 500 to 600 murals of various shapes and sizes in Northern Ireland. Between 2008 and 2015, I visited and photographed around 400 of them, with just short of 200 of these photographs featuring in my book The Writing on the Wall: A Visual History of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, published in October 2015 by Bluecoat Press. I do not claim to have laid eyes on all the murals in Ireland, but Bill Rolston, Emeritus Professor at the … Read more