The Belfast Agreement (well, the St Andrews Agreement) is close to breaking down…

David Ford is a past leader of the Alliance Party. Here he lays out a number of scenarios which could arise in this year’s Assembly elections which suggest that the “ugly scaffolding” of St Andrews is getting close to a final nervous breakdown. Cast your mind forward three months or so.  Forget about the Protocol, Article 16, collapsing the institutions.  It is the afternoon of Saturday 7 May 2022.  Across a few constituencies the final seats in #AE22 have still …

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Maybe Jeffrey has a point? Dual mandates could even benefit those leading the charge against it?

sherlock holmes, brexit, london

Not hard to see the motivation of those politicians Brian documented lamming into the DUP for (using their influence with London) to change the rules on double jobbing. The DUP’s embarrassment is everyone else’s opportunity, it seems. It is an odd arrangement, the temporary nature of which seems to be doing a favour for the DUP leader… The details of the move are outlined in a letter from Northern Ireland Office junior minister Lord Caine to members of the House …

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Irish army came within minutes of invading the north…

From a report by Connla Young in today’s Irish News: A CO Tyrone man has claimed the Irish army came within minutes of invading the north to highlight the plight of nationalists faced with a sectarian onslaught in the late 1960s. Killian McNicholl (82) from Dungannon has broken his silence on secret plans by the Dublin government to force an international crisis more than 50 years ago. While it was already known that the Irish government had drawn up a …

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Nostalgia – the double-edged sword…

photos, hands, hold

The nostalgia industry has become something of a lucrative business. There are now entire TV channels dedicated to repeats of old shows where (if you have time on your hands) you can spend all day watching the likes of Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Kojak, Starsky & Hutch or The Sweeney. There are radio stations which only play golden oldies. Ageing rock bands re-form (sometimes with less than half their original line-up) and go on tour thereby cashing in on the …

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The Birthday Lunch…

restaurant, street cafe, loaf

She was waiting for me, sitting at a picnic table in the dappled shade of a silver birch, its leaves delicately coloured the new green of spring that we’d both come to value and love. Gravel crackled and scrunched beneath the soles of my shoes as I walked the final few yards along the path to meet her and I could feel the first real warmth of a May sun seeping through my jacket and deep into my back. It …

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Government accused of #JeffreyMandering by changing the rules to let MPs also be MLAs…

The government is proposing the temporary return of dual mandates, MPs can also run as MLAs. This is being widely seen as a move to enable Jeffrey Donaldson to become an MLA but he can also maintain his MP status. His Lagan Valley seat is seen as vulnerable to Alliance so the DUP are doing all they can to avoid a by-election. Blatant Jeffrey Mandering and *all* politicians should call it for what it is. Democracy cannot be à la …

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What is Plan B in the event of the collapse of government in Northern Ireland?

time, plan b, alternative

Dympna McGlade is a Slugger reader from Glengormley As we enter 2022, the threats to collapse the Northern Ireland Government leaves us with uncertainty about the future. We may have differing views about the whys and wherefores of this action, and we can only guess at what governance arrangements will be set in place in the event of it happening. The one common denominator in this scenario is that we have been here before – five times before! The last …

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In our democracy recourse to the law exists to afford protection of its citizens (and the Belfast Agreement)

legal, illegal, choose

Jamie Bryson is editor of UnionistVoice.com and head of law and public policy research within Unionist Voice Policy Studies. Here he takes on Brian Walker’s assertion that he’s agitating but trying to protect the consent principle in the GFA. In a recent article on Slugger, Brian Walker referred to me- in the context of the legal case brought against DAERA regarding the implementation of the Protocol- as an “agitator” and informed readers I had “incited” Edwin Poots. In the first …

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After fifty years of improvement and reform in Northern Ireland isn’t it time we gently surrendered to a vision larger than our old sectarian selves?

Who recognises the profound shift towards fairness and equality in the last fifty years in Northern Ireland? Historical facts may not change, but as the world transitions and power shifts, our perspectives should also adjust. Otherwise we may be condemned to an interminable cycle of Groundhog Days.

Next 100 years: Ethical foundations are a prerequisite not an afterthought for a better future…

resilience, victory, force

Hugo MacNeill, at an Irish Association meeting in December, answered a question put to him by old teammate Trevor Ringland: how do we get relationships on the island right over the next 100 years that we got so wrong over the last 100? There has been much talk recently about the topic of a Border Poll on Irish unity. Reference is always made to the Good Friday Agreement and the specific point (on page 4) relating to the ability of the …

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Maybe January would be better spent having an honest conversation about how we got to a place we seem to want to escape…

drinks, alcohol, cocktails

“Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only disease you can get yelled at for having.” Mitch Hedberg 2022 is the tenth year of the official Dry January campaign. Last year, 130,000 people signed up with Alcohol Change UK, who provide a choice of daily coaching emails or a steady stream of encouragement via their phone app, all aimed at helping people get through the longest month of the year without assistance from drink. This 2021 figure was up 30% …

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Echo chamber politics in the US is also now in the Republic too…

art gallery, paintings, fantasy

In the US Republic determined anti constitutionalism (better here) has never been more popular. But one price of ignoring the rules that bind as Donald Trump did on 6th January last year, is a burgeoning ignorance of what those rules actually are. A large chunk of the US Republican Party flipped in one day from being the traditional (at least in recent times) party of States rights to many of their senators demanding that the federal legislature quash the right of states to …

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Two education systems divided by a common century…

notebook, hand, pen

The unification of Ireland, or is it the reunification, seems to be all over the media at the moment. While seemingly irreconcilable differences on what to call the day after Christmas Day seem to be intractable, in some quarters a United Ireland seems to be viewed as inevitable and impending. However, a recent poll in the south suggested that, while the people there wanted it, they were not happy about changing anything to accommodate their northern neighbours, even relatively simple …

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Defensive response to Hoey reveals unwelcome truths about Northern Ireland’s new establishment

opposites, thumb, positive

Jaime Hyland is critically supportive of Irish unity from his adopted home in Berlin. But he wonders whether the reaction to Kate Hoey’s remarks show an odd confidence deficit in spite of the many successes of a new generation of nationalists. The hostile nationalist response to Baroness Hoey’s recent remarks on disparities in Northern Irish professions is not surprising. Hoey’s high profile in pro-Brexit and anti-protocol circles won’t have helped, especially combined with the fact that she made her point in the …

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Blair and “Humanitarian Intervention”

Controversy has generated around the inclusion of Tony Blair on the new year’s honours list. During his time in power he devised a strategy of “humanitarian intervention” beginning in the Balkans for strong moral reasons and ending with a military quagmire in Iraq. It is important to understand the legal context of why he did this and reflect upon the complicated picture of this period of western history. Since the end of the second world war in 1945, it has …

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The fantasies of the fundamentalist Christian Right in America are stoking fears of civil war. They must not be imitated in Northern Ireland

If you think Northern Ireland is in a pretty chaotic state, just compare it with the scale of turbulence in America. President Biden at last accepted the challenge of the lies of Trump on the anniversary of the Capitol riot. He said he was “crystal clear” about the dangers facing the nation, and accused Donald Trump and his political allies of holding a “dagger at the throat of America, at American democracy”. In the course of the 21-minute speech, delivered from the …

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Can Liz Truss be trusted to deliver a Protocol solution?

Since the disasters of the UWC strike and the collapse of the first power sharing structures in 1974, I’ve never found it more difficult to discover the route to stable politics in Northern Ireland.  To be sure, the overall situation is nowhere near as fraught. A war on two fronts is not being waged. Masked paramilitaries are not barricading the streets and the power supply is not in the brink of being cut off entirely. On the contrary, despite Covid …

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Skating on Thin Ice. The lurking cracks that could open beneath the DUP…

winter, skating, ice

A close examination of the wealth of data in the recent Ashford poll reveals how the DUP could be facing the very real threat of political oblivion. Please suspend for a few minutes your instant reaction that this is either hysterical scaremongering or fanciful wishful thinking – depending on your political point of view. Before we look at the evidence it’s important to consider the Rule of Two. With only 5 seats available in each constituency, two highly adversarial voting …

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Two minute timer…

hourglass, time, hours

I was meticulously marked out with a pen seven days before, every black line and dot carefully applied to my left breast with precision accuracy. Be sure that you don’t get it wet, they warned, It will have to stay there for the next six weeks. My children would have something to say about that, I thought. And they did. ‘Mummy got her booby written on,’ remarked my daughter, without taking much of an interest. ‘Mummy got big tattoo!’ exclaimed …

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What if some of our personal data could actually help save lives?

chemist, laboratory, analysis

“It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.”  ― Oscar Wilde Information is valuable; it’s theft and misuse, a nightmare that we all fear these days. And yet so often, in this online world, we regularly sleepwalk into parting with information that can be used or even weaponised into targeted mail relating to our consumer preferences. We become suspicious when more personal information is sought, and rightly so. But what if some of our personal …

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