New Year’s resolutions all round please.

If truth be told, at this point in time, I would happily pay off all existing MLAs (£50k each, OK £100k and not a penny more, off you go!) and be quite satisfied with 108 new Assembly members drawn purely randomly from the population at large for a fixed term of five years. Terms and conditions: no elections, no electioneering, no expenses just £40k a year and the thanks of a grateful public. If attendance and performance deemed reasonable an … Read more

A view of Sprucefield … pre-congestion #20yearrule

Hidden amongst the thousand or so government files released on Friday under the 20 Year Rule are some black and white photographs from the 1960s of the M1 motorway and its Sprucefield junction. Long before the days of early morning congestion at Junction 7! If you call into the Public Records Office and ask to see file DRD/5/1/9, you can flick through the large set of images.

Unruly politicians disrupt Assembly chamber; police remove 18 members including Ian & Eileen Paisley #20yearrule

EIGHTEEN MEMBERS were removed from the Assembly Chamber at the behest of the Speaker after anti-Sunningdale members refused to move from the Executive’s front benches and disrupted proceedings. A 1974 letter describing events from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Clerk of the Assembly has now been released.

Plain English in civil service communications: brevity combined with clarity #20yearrule

BREVITY AND CLARITY – that’s what the head of the NI Civil Service asked of government communications in a ‘Plain English’ memo circulated in May 1988. “It is an important skill to be able to present complex issues in clear and simple ways … Even in simple letters, a good short word is generally to be preferred to a mediocre longer one.”

“a symptom of a shallow and hubristic attitude towards political engagement.”

This is a fascinating insight to current goings on in UK Labour, which for me highlights the lack of real change at a governance level inside the party sufficient to make the recent inflow of new members count: The idlenesses of many Corbynites, is a symptom of a shallow and hubristic attitude towards political engagement. Where political convictions can be satisfied by a simple signal of virtue — rather than the slogging work to bring about change. It’s worth noting that many … Read more

Did Nigel Farage apply for German citizenship after the Brexit vote…?

This is just plain bizarre. No direct proof the application was made, but some evidence a police enquiry is underway into the validity of such an application within days of the Brexit vote. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Irish State Papers: The Anglo-Irish Agreement, Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA

In part 1 of 2 reports RTÉ’s round-up of the newly released confidential Irish State papers from 1986 includes a couple of items worth highlighting in relation to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.  First up is an account of a meeting in Belfast in April 1986 between David Barry, of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Anglo-Irish division, and solicitor PJ McGrory – whose son Barra McGrory, also a solicitor, has previously represented Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, and in 2011 was appointed Northern Ireland Director of … Read more

#dup89 NIO’s DUP conference report: “many of the speeches and sentiments expressed were depressingly predictable” #20yearrule

DUP ALL OUT FOR DEVOLUTION says NIO official in his report on the DUP’s 1989 conference. The DUP was seen to be relaunching itself as the main unionist. Analysis suggested the UUP were finding it difficult to maintain their position faced with the twin electoral threats of a resurgent DUP and Conservative growth.

Sinn Fein stance hardening: Arlene must walk

The DUP must have hoped that the Christmas break would help relieve the pressure facing the party’s senior figures over the RHI scandal. The latest revelations, that Arlene Foster as DETI Minister wrote to banks in early 2013 urging them to “look favourably” on approaches from businesses seeking money to install renewable technologies for the RHI scheme, has led to renewed calls for her to resign. Sinn Fein’s move to make January 16th the Decision Day was interpreted as providing … Read more

Has our government yet learnt the lessons from the De Lorean debacle? #20yearrule

DE LOREAN DEBACLE – With an eye on the Renerable Heat Incentive scheme, are there lessons for Government today? You’ll need to set aside a few hours if you visit PRONI and request file CENT/3/103. A large reinforced cardboard box will be wheeled out on a trolley to your desk. Inside it you’ll find Kenneth Bloomfield’s personal papers relating to the ill-fated De Lorean affair which reveal a project with an over-optimistic start and a very depressing finish.

Sensitivities and sensibilities around Royal Visits in the 1980s #20yearrule

ROYAL VISITS to Northern Ireland in the early 1980s were subject to much head-scratching. The file of internal correspondence and briefings between 1982 and 1984 released this morning gives an insight into the government sensitivities and sensibilities. Should a senior Royal visit a particular military unit? Why would the Ordinance Survey NI only be a suitable visit for a male VIP? How neutral would the BBC be as a potential venue? Is a school speech day sufficiently important to warrant a visit?