“THIS ISN’T PERSONAL. IT’S POLITICAL.”

The notion of a writer rewriting history isn’t particularly new. Robert Harris’ ‘Fatherland’ famously imagined what Berlin in 1964 would have been like if the Nazis had won the Second World War. However it takes a brave or foolish writer to rewrite Irish history. But that is exactly what Hugh Travers has done for the Irish television station TV3 in its 1916 drama ‘Trial of the Century’ which aired tonight. The premise is simple. Instead of court-martialling and executing the … Read more

On The Doors: Sinn Fein Manifesto, Diver Interview & the Catholic Church

The next weekly instalment of On The Doors with Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley and this week we were joined by Security Correspondent, Allison Morris. This week we talked about the Sinn Fein manifesto, Labour and the Catholic Church.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Assessing The Nationalist Battle in AE16

In the aftermath of last year’s Westminster election, I wrote this piece on Slugger, outlining the statistical basis for concluding that northern nationalism had lost its electoral momentum. The figures did not lie: the combined nationalist share of the vote (ie SF and SDLP) fell in 16 of the 18 constituencies, repeating a pattern of declining nationalist turnout which had been noted in the European and Local government elections in 2014 and at the 2011 Assembly election. Last year, that … Read more

UUP Manifesto: Making It Work

The UUP launched their 43 page manifesto three weeks ago highlighting the party’s plans for mental health, economy, agriculture and whether they will go back into the Executive. The manifesto, unlike others, does not place a huge emphasis on the party leader, Mike Nesbitt, rather it profiles other candidates throughout. Going back into the Executive Like all parties the UUP say they are running for government in this election. However, it places two caveats that the prospective Programme for Government must … Read more

REJOICE NOT IN THE INIQUITY

OK. So before I review the Colin Howell drama ‘The Secret’, which aired on ITV tonight, I have a confession to make. I have more than one connection to this programme. Deric Henderson, the journalist who wrote the book ‘Let This Be Our Secret’ on which ‘The Secret’ is based, was my boss for nine years at the Press Association. James Nesbitt also became the Chancellor of the University of Ulster when I was the Director of Media and Corporate … Read more

[Updated] Deal reached for a FG led Minority Irish Government after agreement with FF…

Synchronised pressers from both parties as there have been throughout this period. Tonight it reads… Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have reached a political agreement to facilitate a Fine Gael led minority government. Both party leaders are now being briefed, extensive drafting has to be done and then both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will hold separate parliamentary party meetings to outline the details of the confidence and supply arrangement. Update: Details suggest the document agreeing a confidence and … Read more

#SluggerReport: #AE16 is likely to be transitional rather a transformational election…

It’s been my view from the very start of this election campaign that it would be of very little consequence. The stop-start first nine years of Stormont have been little more than a throat-clearing exercise which its proudest boast is that it didn’t fall down. In preparing my constituency report on East Londonderry, one of the UUP candidates Aaron Callan suggested that whilst this election would not be transformational, it would prove to be transitional. Indeed whilst tribal politics is … Read more

“New leader Colum Eastwood has taken pains to say he wants Northern Ireland to work….”

Newton Emerson, with a great comment on an issue raised rather pointed by President Obama [a man now liberated from the burdens of power, and uncommonly free with his views on many thing] which appears to have eluded several other commenters. [Though not our Pete! – Ed] : Integrated education was the example he praised of progress towards a Northern Ireland identity, though many nationalists see that as precisely integration’s problem. Some of this fear is misplaced ignorance. A common … Read more

How to win a Seanad seat (hint: it’s all about who you know…)

If anyone needed a reason to reform the Seanad the inscrutable series of panel elections this week by an electorate many of the successful candidates were not even permitted to be part of was it. Noel Whelan explains how to win… They are essentially database elections. Winning a seat is not so much about a candidate’s policy or even profile but about their capacity to mine the list of graduates registered to vote for the relevant colleges and find a … Read more

#AE16 #South Belfast: Most competitive and probably the hardest to call…

Candidates: [SDLP] Claire Hanna, Fearghal McKinney; [DUP] Emma Little Pengelly, Christopher Stalford; [Alliance] Paula Bradshaw, Duncan Morrow; [] [Sinn Fein] Máirtín Ó Muilleoir; [UUP] Rodney McCune; [Greens] Clare Bailey; [UKIP] Bob Stoker; [TUV] John Andrew Hiddleston; [PUP] Ian Shanks; [Independent] Ruth Patterson; [NI Conservatives] Ben Manton; [Workers Party] Lily Kerr; [South Belfast Unionists] Billy Dickson [NIRC] Brigitte ‘Gitty’ Anton; [Cross-Community Labour Alternative] Sean Burns. NI’s third largest constituency South Belfast sprawls from M1 right out to Carryduff. 44.0% of its … Read more

Experienced Sinn Fein ex Minister fumbles the ball on Corporation Tax…

Just leaving this here, start from about ten minutes in… A remarkable carbon copy of Wednesday’s SDLP meltdown, here’s Conor Murphy failing to explain the figure he gives on the cost of implementing Corporation Tax, whether (wait for it) is it for one year or four? His carefully crafted answer: no one knows? [Would that be because – unlike the SDLP’s manifesto – absolutely none of Mr Murphy’s SF manifesto is costed in any accountable way? – Ed] Cue journalistic … Read more

Paramilitary violence and intimidation greater than admitted – The Detail. How will the parties deal with it?

The Detail investigative website continues to create impact by laying it out facts you might suspect the main parties have an interest in playing down with an election in prospect. Paradoxically that comparative reticence may be a form of implied cohesion between the DUP and Sinn Fein.  But is it good enough? How should they respond? In their latest report following an inevitably rough audit of the last Assembly mandate the Detail gives a stark account of the level of … Read more

Tail wagging the dog at last? Campaigners out to change the doorstep agenda

It was recently pointed out by Newton Emerson on The View that young people don’t vote and, when they do, they follow their parents’ lead. A necessary generalisation, of course, but it identifies one of a number of reasons why people in Northern Ireland will regularly malign their representation on The Hill but still return the same parties time and again. This is especially true in cases of a tactical vote against a particular party or when strength of feeling … Read more

The common thread between Ken Livingstone on the IRA and on Jews and Israel

It looks as if Ken Livingstone faces a tougher time with the Labour party over his “Hitler was a Zionist” remarks than he did over consorting with Gerry Adams when the IRA campaign had ten years to run to the first  ceasefire. What was the charge against him in 1983-4?  That he gave comfort to the IRA by supporting  their key demand of “Brits Out,” without demanding an IRA ceasefire.  The evenhandedness of his call for an end to violence … Read more

#AE16 #SluggerReport: SDLP, too many eggs to make a simple omelette…?

This morning’s #SluggerReport was on the SDLP slip-up from yesterday, which shows just how hard it is: one to make a slip against Stephen Nolan; and two, get impact on budget costings where any savings that can be got out of out the block grant are marginal. It was a harsh lesson in the cracking of eggs to make – what was in the end – should have been a simple political omelette in order to highlight the deficit of … Read more

#AE16 [Late election] announcements, for the better and the worse…

Three breaking stories, some of which deliberate some not so much… – Expansion of Magee College – a key feature of promises by both Sinn Fein at the SDLP – has seen building of a new £11 million teaching block stopped when T&A Kernoghan Limited suddenly announced they were going into administeration with the loss of fifty jobs. – Concrete plans for a new Casement Park have yet to emerge. According to Stephen McGeehan of the Ulster GAA, there is … Read more

Do we need the “old ” IRA to contain the “new”?

Gang activity labelled “dissident republican” is spreading and is proving very difficult to check.  What is the connection between the killings in Dublin and the fatal shooting taxi driver of  Michael McGibbon? Perhaps the most chilling aspect of McGibbon “ punishment shooting “  was that, rather than go the the police – or even Gerry Kelly –   he went to take his punishment, just as in the worst of the bad old days. The 33-year-old had gone to meet … Read more

Sinn Fein Manifesto: Steady as she goes for a third term

Sinn Fein went for the minimalist approach towards their 2016 Assembly manifesto with a list of simple pledges that they hope will be enough to secure a third term in office and remain the largest Nationalist party. The party went to Derry to launch their manifesto, with Chris Hazzard, Martin McGuinness and Maeve McLaughlin speaking to the media and party supporters. Some interesting points that grab the reader, the manifesto is equally divided between what Sinn Fein has done in … Read more

Rookie SDLP MLA fumbles the ball in Nolan interview…

The golden rule in Northern Irish politics is, ‘tell ’em nahm”, especially if it has anything to do with money. The SDLP were determined to try and plot a different route, and in the process gave us the most amusing/excruciating moment of the campaign so far. It’s about 19 minutes in and well worth listening to very carefully. It’s clear that Diver mistakes the party costings as covering one year when in fact it covers four. And since the party … Read more