“in the meantime, mood swings are really all there is to report.”

Newton Emerson is one of the few political commentators who puts real sweat into his columns. So in their case I sympathise over the sheer tedium of waiting for SF and the DUP to find the most propitious moment to announce they’re going back to work:

Stormont talks reconvened in the first week of September in an upbeat mood, crashed the following week to a downbeat mood and have returned this week to an upbeat mood, according to reports. Green Party MLA and former deputy leader Clare Bailey has criticised the media for a lack of substance in this coverage of the deadlock, noting there has been no substantive change in what Sinn Féin and the DUP are actually saying – but that criticism misses the point. Both parties have clearly known the outline of a deal since March. It will be forced, as usual, by an October budget deadline stretched out to Christmas. So in the meantime, mood swings are really all there is report.


  • Brian Kann

    “Newton Emerson is one of the few political commentators who puts real sweat into his columns.”

    Not sure if this means he puts real thought and work into his stuff more than others, but I am always surprised by how Emerson is generally seen as a moderate, conciliatory voice from Unionism. It seems to be based primarily on writing for a leading Dublin paper and giving it’s readers a vision of a dysfunctional NI that they want to hear, whilst criticising the DUP every now and then to balance out the anti SF line that pervades every piece. I regularly read his stuff and it just seems just more and more one-sided – even on more general topics like Brexit. That’s fair enough and useful to understand that particular side but I wouldn’t go much further than that. Personally I always learn more from Alex Kane who seem capable of trying to understand the non-unionist view point and his stuff is more rewarding and enlightening in that sense.

    Appreciate this is very much man not ball, but hoping there is room for comment on the political commentators as well 🙂

  • aquifer

    Journos have been put on a diet, and without their daily sustenance of accidents incidents and arguments they begin to imagine the scent, and their heads start spinning. But spinning with the same two songs played on their sectarian press button accordions.

    Speculation is no bad thing, but local journos seem to be bad at speculating about the bigger picture, or even into personal motives, perhaps out of deference to their political sources.

    I see no deal in prospect.

    The DUP have wagered too much and may lose the farms, and even if they lose only a little, this gives SF a relative gain. Meanwhile the Tories and Brexit will ensure that everybody in NI loses, a long run win for the idea of Irish unity, especially if the local opposition, with no help from the redundant Orange UUP, cannot pin the blame on SFDUP.

    Two more assembly elections and suspending salaries could flush this.

  • the rich get richer

    This stuff is boring .

    Northern Irelands Demographic Future is far more interesting .

  • Mike the First

    I’m not sure this is the right site for you.

    Wouldn’t you be better off finding a site where you can discuss that ad nauseum (or even starting your own) rather than repeatedly trying to shoehorn it into unrelated discussions here.

  • the rich get richer

    Its the Elephant in the room .

    Its why CNRs can wait and make sure Dupers and fellow travellers are allowed to show themselves as they are .

  • Brendan Heading

    Newton has described himself as a moderate unionist a couple of times, but aside from that I see his contributions are fact-based and insightful.

    This idea that unionism and nationalism are entirely equivalent and have to be written about in entirely equal terms to avoid accusations of bias is ridiculous. SF do a lot of ridiculous stuff and they should be called on it.

  • james

    It really isn’t, though, since Catholics are free to want a UI, continuing in the UK, or any other constitutional arrangement. As is everybody else.

    It’s rather hopelessly naiive of you to insist that everyone who is born into a Catholic household will vote the way you want them to.

  • notimetoshine

    I actually feel sorry for journalists covering NI politics at the moment. All they can do is rehash the same tired tropes for the current round of talks and regurgitate the same tired sound bites from the parties. The negotiations are at an impasse and there really is nothing more to be said.

    However, there may soon be some blessed relief for our journalists. This current impasse is having a disasterous impact on public services. Whether that is because budgets haven’t been set or because there has been no leadership in a department, I think it is becoming increasingly clear that certain services are in real trouble, whether it is the health service (dreading a rough winter especially with quite a virulent seasonal flu strain this year), roads (no money to provide winter services) or education (redundancies delayed and no money to pay those who should have already left).

    I wonder how long our politicians can stay out of the firing line, given the pressure public services are under?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Or, James, that everyone born into a Unionist background will wish to follow the mistakes of partition to the bitter empoverished endgame. We are all free to decide our futures as you say, and just as soon as those currently committed to “standing order” voting (of any variety!!!) catch themselves on that thinking about how their vote may purchase more useful futures and is a way they can actually influence their life opportunities, interesting things may begin to happen at last…….

  • Easóg

    What magic do you think the MLAs are going to work? And what about the elusive, evasive 1.5 billion?

  • Easóg

    Not insist but hope they will vote UI. Things can only get worser.

  • Easóg

    Why do sensible people keep voting for them and not for the dAlliance Party? I mean, how stupid can the bstrds get?

  • Brendan Heading

    This is the sort of thing I’m talking about. All I did was suggest that SF often do ridiculous things. In response, anonymous accounts pipe up and round on the person making the accusation.

  • Croiteir

    Why not do conjecture such as the View withtheir FF SDLP merger story? We all know it is made up but if it comes off makes you look as if you were very clever

  • notimetoshine

    Don’t get me wrong, I hold our elected officials in contempt as a rule, but at least with the executive up and running a budget could be passed and certain priorities addressed. And of course that money the DUP squeezed from the Tories might be useful as well. But it all depends on the Assembly getting its act together.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Who else can we merge … UKIP and the DUP?

  • Oggins

    Alex Kane is a fantastic writer. Love reading him, even if I don’t always agree

  • Brian Kann

    I second that. He is the only one who has clearly explained – by fairly simple means – the unionist view point on identity for the benefit of nationalists. I also enjoy his stuff, even if I don’t always agree either but I can still respect him for it.

  • Brian Kann

    Agreed Brendan. Mine was really a sideways point I suppose. It’s just he gets a weekly slot on here and tends to get a lot of credit (especially on this site) for what he essentially isnt (I.e moderate). I have no truck with reading him and of course for having a different viewpoint, that’s not really my point. Appreciate it that maybe others don’t see it that way; its just something I’ve always been curious about.

  • john millar

    I to not regard a Neolithic attitude to birth control as a cause celebre

  • james

    And if they don’t vote for a UI? Where do you go then?

  • 1729torus

    Demographics fatally weaken the ability of NI to preserve itself in the long run. On a long enough timescale, NI will be absorbed into RoI without active effort to preserve it. Examples of active effort might include annual cash infusions from London.

  • NewerSouthernMan


    Last week I posted some comments along the same lines about Stephen Collins, a political commentator for the IT. I was promptly banned from Slugger (under my previous avatar of NewSouthernMan). I would point you to the actual exchange but it was deleted from this site.

    But you seem to get a pass. Go figure.

    Good luck to you and I hope you dont get banned. And I agree with your comments re Emerson.

  • wild turkey

    well Clare & Newt, fair enough

    but if it is now down to mood swings, there are a range of therapeutic interventions, pharmacological and otherwise, that have been validated and are widely known. And used.

    Wanna restore governance with responsibility? try this on for size.

    have another election….. exempting, barring, all those individuals and/or parties that are fundamentally in it for profoundly therapeutic reasons.

    yeah, i know, it will never happen. here or anywhere. but then again… WTA?

  • William Kinmont

    Even they aren’t stupid enough to come back to this mess and take the blame

  • William Kinmont

    All sorts of political change is occuring and evolving much faster than demographics. Who knows where brexit , a potential federalist EU an independent Catalonia or p osibly Scotland may have us in 5 or 10 years. Will Ireland have much of the semblance of old Catholic Ireland left ? Will it be a region of a United States of Europe. Will a European Army, police force and brexit economics cause Ireland to drop out ofEU and form closer links to UK. Will there be a UK.
    Nobody knows I can see the ideas of borders and nationalism become a bit more fluid over time as the pragmatic solution to future problems.

  • Easóg

    Continue living lives of quiet desperation?

  • Easóg

    No,Brendan. You asserted/stated that SF do ridiculous things and I observed that the majority of non unionist still vote for them. Are you moping?

  • james

    “Continue living lives of quiet desperation?”

    Oh my…you make it sound almost noble. Would that it were quiet – if current habits really do indicate future trends then (far from the selflessness implied in ‘quiet desperation’) we can presumably expect a daily dose of the sort of bleating self-pity and ‘dog in the manger’ petty obstructionism that Irish Republicans are known throughout the world for. In the aftermath of the inevitable landslide defeat of a border poll.

    Same old, same old.

  • Brian Kann

    NSM – I have never been banned but have had comments put in the Sin Bin for moderation as apparently this happens automatically when someone reports them. Each time I had about a dozen likes so it seems an easy way for someone who doesn’t like that so many people agree with you to have you removed from the field of play!

  • Easóg

    I can assure you that our obstructionism will not be petty.

  • james


  • Reader

    the rich get richer : Its why CNRs can wait and make sure Dupers and fellow travellers are allowed to show themselves as they are .
    That plan has been in operation for 95 years so far, with intermittent recourse to violence and/or appealing over the heads of unionists to outside powers.
    Have you considered a plan ‘D’? Winning over unionists to support a united Ireland?

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Or, James, that everyone born into a Unionist background will wish to follow the mistakes of partition to the bitter empoverished endgame.
    Or – each new generation of unionists could retain their identity without endorsing or repeating the mistakes of the past.
    And, as a separate remark, your personal journey has carried you so far that we can’t hear you any more.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nothing new in this deafness, Reader! My own cousins within Unionism were not hearing me in 1968 when I was in the PD. Thats the tragedy of this place, that they were finally repeating much of what I’d told them about pluralism in 1968 back to me as some sort of political epiphany post 1998!

    Simply because Unionism does not hear my own very timely Jeremiads until the baby is well down the sewer does not in any sense invalidate what I’m saying, although it does say a lot about how myopically self destructive Unionism has always inherently been.

    I’m amused by your suggestion that Unionists could retain their identity “without endorsing or repeating the mistakes of the past”! What is identity but a thing constructed from the materials of the past, be this long or short term? Without deploying some form of memory there is no material from which identity can be constructed, and an identity without the forms of the past is an entirely new paper thin identity as is evident when a person suffers from amnesia. What you are perhaps suggesting is a position which articulates the political idea of the Union without the baggage, something I’ve long suggested on Slugger, but it would not in any recognisable sense be what has been meant by Unionism up until this point. I simply cannot even begin to imagine the sort of union position which Ruth Davidson, say, represents gaining any purchase on the voters here who have been preparing to dig their last ditches for a very long time. Any future is going to lie well outside of such labelling. We are waiting for the demographic shift to 50+1 to show that those who will not answer to the rudder will answer to the rock. The one sure fire bet is not will the Union need to move with the times, but how soon will it become a thing of the past. I would have ever wished the harshness of this otherwise, but do not imagine our people are so lacking in pragmatism as to not survive this inevitability.