Theresa May’s new assurances on the border and consultation raise more questions than provide answers

In advance of the Conservative party conference and with speculation running about a hard Brexit, Theresa May has given an interview to  BBC  Scotland and BBC Northern Ireland to try to assure  their  governments  that they won’t be ignored in formulating  the UK Brexit strategy. This is in spite of the UK government’s insistence in court that Brexit is a matter reserved to Westminster and there is no legal  requirement to consult them. Politics however is a different matter. I … Read more

In stymying opposition the DUP/SF coalition looks weak, even when they aren’t.

“It’s an example of fiddling while Rome burns” was Naomi Long’s rather direct and caustic response on The View last night (about 29.40) to the latest controversy to emerge between Sinn Fein and the DUP over, wait for it, the naming of a boat. The more serious matter, however, concerns the current state of the Opposition. The Opposition day debate (one of only four in the whole parliamentary year allowed by the new DUP/SF administration) was pretty lacklustre. The SDLP’s … Read more

600 English lawyers so far have registered in the Republic in the wake of the Brexit vote

 From the Times’ The Brief Post-Brexit rush for qualification in Ireland gathers pace Slaughter and May – arguably the most pukka of English law firms – is leading a pack of City of London practices in rushing to Dublin to qualify its lawyers in the republic. It is understood that the blue blood firm has already funded ten lawyers to apply with the Law Society of Ireland to transfer to that profession and retain practice rights in the EU once … Read more

Post Brexit, there may be many technological fixes to prevent serious rifts in border life…

There is a lot fanciful nonsense being talked about what will happen to the Irish border post Brexit. Newton Emerson leads with one of the more fanciful ideas in the deployment of drones (which in terms of security are already here) to regulate customs. But he uses that to make a critically important point about how technology is already making the sort of grand projets that have marked the recent history of the EU unnecessary, if not redundant… Over the … Read more

How Much Does it Cost to Buy an Election?

The Electoral Commission today published the expenditure returns for the Assembly elections in May 2016. They make for interesting reading. Topping the poll in terms of spend was the Ulster Unionist Party with a declared spend of £95,855. Not surprising perhaps that a party led by a former television presenter and PR person would spend on what we can assume is primarily publicity and posters. The next highest spends came from the DUP and Sinn Féin with declared expenditure of … Read more

#Trump v #Redacted: The Donald attacks The Denis

As if the never-ending US Presidential election campaign was not surreal enough, yesterday Donald Trump issued a statement attacking Hillary Clinton, entitled: Follow The Money: Denis O’Brien – Another Corrupt Clinton Friend. And it’s only ‘semi-exact‘ to call it a statement. It’s actually a set of news clippings all studiously referenced and hyperlinked back to their original source, each prefaced with a heading. The first half details a series of articles establishing the (not exactly secret) links between the Clintons and O’Brien. … Read more

An Irish “conversation” is one thing, but what role for Stormont in the British conversation?

The Institute for Government is a think tank that works closely with government. It reports that turf wars are already costing tens of millions. Its expert on devolution Akash Paun blogs that Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont should get their act together to pool  their influence at the centre. Following exchanges over an Irish “conversation,” is Stormont up to it where it matters most? It is unlikely the UK’s four governments will come together as equal partners, with parity of … Read more

Towards a politics of emergence: Can wellbeing shift the political conversation?

The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust (CUKT) convened a high-level Conference at the Girdwood Community Hub in Belfast Wednesday to take stock of the Trust’s joint work with QUB School of Law on advancing the case for a wellbeing outcomes framework in the Programme for Government. A feature of the conversation at the packed venue was the blend of local and global themes and speakers. We heard from Rolf Alter, Director for Public Governance and Territorial Development at the influential inter-governmental think-tank, … Read more

Leave granted for a judicial review of Lord Morrow’s Prostitution law…

Another legal case, this time it’s the granting of a judicial review of Lord Maurice Morrow’s private members bill criminalising payment for sex. As our own Siobhan Fenton (writing here for the London Independent) notes: In an unprecedented case, a sex worker has taken launched a legal challenge against the laws, saying they expose sex workers to greater danger as it means they are more likely to have to operate alone. Laura Lee, a sex worker and Dublin-born law graduate, … Read more

The strategically important A6 or the immortalised landscape of south Co Derry?

Now, I don’t have a strong view on this issue. But the latest proposal for to build a four-lane dual carriageway, linking the main Derry to Belfast road at Toome with the M2, will cut close to Lough Beg and Mossbawn near the late poet’s former home. Arguably the link between Derry and Belfast, left hanging in the area for nearly 40 years, is one of Northern Ireland’s most strategically important roads in terms of linking Northern Ireland’s two largest … Read more

Unionists have to be nudged to talk, with the incentives of common citizenship and other common interests

Enda Kenny is surely right to be cautious about setting up an “all-Ireland forum” Better to have a “conversation” at least to start with in November.  Even so its ability to speak for all Ireland would be seriously weakened  by the absence of  unionists,  just as it would be counter- productive  for the unionists not to take part eventually .  As things stand, Northern Ireland’s regional government is therefore neither formally or informally to be represented. A fully fledged forum … Read more

Tom Watson reminds @UKLabour that it has a record it can defend rather than just destroy…

“Trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won’t elections like that, and we need to win elections” @tom_watson — DailySunday Politics (@daily_politics) September 27, 2016 He reminded his Conference audience that the single-minded denunciation of its own government record (for the last six years, ie it is not simply a Corbyn problem) is no way to win in the future… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts … Read more

National Conversation: “This is why in respect of Northern Ireland we need the voice of Ireland…”

At Leaders’ Questions in the Dail, Gerry Adams used his time to bring up the Taoiseach’s ‘plan’ to “bring forward about an all-Ireland forum”. An unfortunate term to use at the time since it was interpreted as a formal political proposition and easily repelled by the DUP. But Kenny’s response today indicates that he has been doing some thinking over the summer (transcript here): I recognise the vote of Northern Ireland, as I recognise the votes of Scotland, Wales and England. While, as … Read more

Brexit secrecy may have “breached ministerial code”. So is the Executive’s line only to wait for Theresa?

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt’s charge that  a briefing paper on the negative implications of Brexit apparently withheld from the  former multiparty Executive  by  the FM and dFM in May 2015  may have been in  breach of the ministerial code, is a neat move  by a party now in formal opposition.  It is also a small coup by The Detail which has just published  the document after an FoI request. Was it a breach of the ministerial code as Nesbitt claims? … Read more

Since Corbynistas joined @UKLabour digitally, it looks like they prefer to fight their battles that way too.

Strong piece from Polly Toynbee at the Labour Party conference today, where she’s been fielding puzzled inquiries from fervent Corbyn-ites as to why she’s anti-Jeremy Corbyn when both she and he stand for roughly the same things. It’s more than a decent and comprehensive response. Corbyn could apply a little balm to the great gash in his party. If he meant peace and unity, he could stop dead all talk of deselecting MPs, and protect MPs such as Walthamstow’s Stella Creasy and … Read more

Creator of LAD takes to the boards…

The originator of LAD John-Paul Whearty, has outed himself, just in time to publicise his upcoming production Adventures in Ulster… He comments to the Irish News… “I would describe LAD as like being in a band. We have had a really successful first album and now it’s time to go from there. I see myself working in comedy across different mediums but perhaps leaving LAD behind and creating something else.” Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written … Read more

Stormont Holds Its First Ever Opposition Day

Stormont Today will be worth a watch to see a little bit of history. The Assembly held its first ever opposition day which meant that for around four hours MLAs debated topics selected by the opposition namely rural bank closures, public confidence after the NAMA revelations and Impact on Women of Changes to the State Pension. Often critiqued for a lack of cooperation, the SDLP and UUP released a joint statement on the latter topic; The first Opposition Day saw a … Read more

Rory Finds Form to Win FedEx Cup

By winning the Tour Championship yesterday in Atlanta, and with it the FedEx Cup for the first-time, Rory McIlroy has turned a decent, if disappointing by his high standards, season into a great one.  Until the FedEx play-offs began his only win this year was the Irish Open.  The new FedEd Cup winner now heads to the Ryder Cup before focussing on next year’s majors, starting with the US Masters in April. To be fair, it was only his putting that has … Read more

Is it coming to the end of the line for Enda?

Interesting report in today’s Irish Times about the rumblings within Fine Gael The intermittent rumblings about Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s leadership are preparing Fine Gael for the choice it will have to make. “It’s now the time to start getting organised,” said one of those who will be centrally involved in preparing a leadership hopeful. The three main contenders are Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald.Varadkar is seen as streets ahead of his rivals in terms of parliamentary party support. As … Read more