Final words from John Bowman on #ge16

A tradition in Irish election broadcasts is the final thoughts of broadcaster, John Bowman. Since there will be a lot of speculation over the coming days, here is his final analysis of Election 2016; To say this election is unique goes without saying. It’s historic, it’s seismic, it’s awesome in its consequences and as the deluge subsides what does one see? Is the integrity of the quarrel between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael intact or will it melt? Is the … Read more

Maurice Devenney has second thoughts about the UUP

On Friday, we were told another defector, former DUP MLA, Maurice Devenney had joined the UUP as Mike Nesbitt said; I am particularly pleased to welcome Maurice into the Ulster Unionist Party, given his standing in the community, his lengthy record of service for the people, and his obvious appetite for more. “Maurice joins an ever-lengthening list of elected representatives who are opting to change their party political allegiance to Ulster Unionism. He joins ex-DUP Councillors Jenny and John Palmer from … Read more

Interview with David Ford: “don’t bother summoning the men in grey suits, just tell me”

TELL ME when it’s time to go says Alliance leader David Ford. In this interview with Slugger he talks about Alliance’s electoral appeal, new parties in NI, switching to use council areas for Assembly constituencies, taking Executive meetings out on the road, the balance of funding between prison and community/probation services, joined up working across the Executive, Alliance’s approach to the Justice Ministry after May’s election, public and political support for refugees and asylum seekers in NI, and his thoughts on the Irish election and the impact of the EU referendum on the Assembly campaign.

Post #GE16 realignment: The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Pollsters do their best with a good product that is often granted a status of political reality it was never intended to carry. Polls are useful, as Janan Ganesh put it, “as contextual information, not the story itself”. The press’s polls obsession made it difficult for either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail to get past questions about vote share (historically their lowest combined total in the history of the state) with the implication they were lying if they suggested they … Read more

#GE16 – FG *will* win more seats than FF…

Another dramatic Irish election, with the exit polls proving to have underestimated the substantial fall in support for the government parties. Fianna Fáil have lurched back to within 1.2% of Fine Gael as largest party, 24.35% to 25.52%, and overnight the two were both on 28 seats. That’s the sort of margin where you can get the party with fewer votes ending up with more seats once the local factors in each constituency come into play. But I’ve crunched the … Read more

Green Party NI conference – tackling waste that holds back Northern Ireland

Over the last four or five years that I’ve been covering Green Party conferences, the number of exhibitors, the number of delegates and the confidence of the delegates has been increasing. There were a lot of new faces this year, many but not all of them young. As Green Party activists south of the border nervously awaited results from the Irish General Election, the conference agenda in the Clayton Hotel in Belfast included encouraging video messages from the Green Party … Read more

The CND and the movement trying to stop Trident’s renewal

I took a break today from RTÉ’s coverage of the general election to head down to Trafalgar Square and check out the CND’s #StopTrident rally. Here’s my report. I’m an instinctual multilateralist, but last night I had pints with a friend who passionately believes the UK should give up its nuclear weapons. So today, after a morning spin class and a light lunch, I decided to brave the freezing cold and walk down to Trafalgar Square to hear the case … Read more

UUP MP’s testimonal “crossed the line on the independence of the court”

A testimonal provided by former UUP leader, and current MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Tom Elliot, in the case of a former soldier who was caught driving while disqualified, has been criticised by a Northern Ireland District Judge, John Meehan, for having “crossed the line on the independence of the court”.  As the BBC reports [added emphasis throughout] District Judge John Meehan did not name Mr Elliott in court. However, the judge said the testimonial “crossed the line on the independence of … Read more

#GE16 Exit Polls show Government parties set for a beating

Well it’s all over and we are just waiting for the vote to be counted but two exit polls make terrible reading for the government and should make Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein happy. RTE Irish Times/MRBI Some takeaways If true this is Enda Kenny’s worst ever General Election performance as leader, he scored 27.1% in 2007 and 36.1% in 2011. Fianna Fail are back in business; in places like Munster and parts of Dublin, the party will increase its … Read more

#GE16 – ROUNDING UP THE REST – MUNSTER

Clare This constituency remains untouched by the Constituency Commission. Currently there are two Fine Gael TDs, one Labour TD and one from Fianna Fáil. Geographically the four incumbents are distributed one from the west, one from Ennis and two from the east which reflects the population distribution of the county. This county has traditionally been a Fianna Fáil stronghold up and until 2011 had returned at least two and sometimes three FF seats. The 2014 Local Elections saw Fianna Fáil … Read more

The Legal Implications of Brexit: mechanics, criminal repercussions, and perhaps enhanced protection of rights #EUDebateNI

Lawyers from across Ireland gathered in Belfast for a conference examining the Legal Implications of Brexit. The complexities of unpicking the UK from the EU were unearthed and discussed, including smuggling, extradition, and the impact on human rights protects. (The Attorney General reckons that Brexit would enhance the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.)

Where the River Bends – Considering Forgiveness in the Lives of Prisoners by Michael McRay, Book Review

What do we do with uncomfortable stories? Uncomfortable stories about ourselves? Uncomfortable stories about our ‘enemies’ or rivals? Or uncomfortable stories about people we may never think about at all – like prisoners. In Where the River Bends: Considering Forgiveness in the Lives of Prisoners (Cascade Books, 2016), Michael McRay takes us behind the walls of prisons in Tennessee to hear the uncomfortable stories of the men and women there. These are the uncomfortable stories of what they did to … Read more

…but they’ll never take our EU membership?

The debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has properly begun.  In these early days of the debate David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon have made an unusual partnership to try and add a Scottish question to the European one.  The UUP is playing a game of public angst with the Scottish claims one of the issues they list for their dither as they frantically try to assess the direction of the wind. The ability of Northern Ireland … Read more

#GE16 ROUNDING UP THE REST – DUBLIN

Dublin Fingal This 5 seat constituency replaced the old Dublin North. It is augmented by the addition of over 17,000 people from Swords who were formerly in Dublin West. Clare Daly who is closely associated with Wexford TD Mick Wallace and running under his ‘Independents for Change’ banner is a safe bet to be the first elected here. The first shoots of the rebirth of Fianna Fáil in Dublin will see Darragh O’Brien re-elected following a five year sojourn in … Read more

#GE16 ROUNDING UP THE REST – CONNACHT AND ULSTER

Cavan Monaghan The constituency redraw removed over 13,000 people from west Cavan and reduced this constituency from five to four seats.  This also had the effect of leaving the population evenly divided between Cavan and Monaghan. It is likely that each county will elect two TDs. In Monaghan, Fine Gael Minister Heather Humphries will benefit from her ministerial position and also the defection of her former party colleague Sean Conlon to the independent ranks to hold onto her seat. She … Read more

Why #GE16 has turned me off

No longer do the youth of Ireland vote for party principles, or familiar faces. We do not want our national parliamentarians working on potholes or medical cards, we want them working on making the weak in our society strong. We live in a world so much bigger than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. We have realised that the political party system is designed to bury social issues, not address them.

Imagine… the Great Big Politics Quiz is back

What a time for politics fans to be alive! RoI general election tomorrow, NI Assembly election in May, topped off by perhaps the most important poll of the year, the EU referendum on June 23rd. If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the Great Big Politics Quiz returns next month as part of the fantastic Imagine Festival of Ideas & Politics! The Festival runs from March 14-20, with the Great Big Politics Quiz taking place on Friday 18 March in its … Read more