The Solution

After the uprising of the 2nd of March The DUP member for Lagan Valley Had leaflets distributed in Paisley Park Stating that the people Had forfeited the confidence of the the Union And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier In that case for the Party To dissolve the people And elect another? with thanks to Bertolt Brecht and Gerry Lynch Brendan Headingcentre-leftish waffler working in IT and living in Belfast Alliance, but writing in a strictly personal …

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Direct rule is not a solution – or even an option

At the end of last night’s Slugger Punt event (which could have easily gone on for another hour, thanks to an engaging, well-informed panel and Alan’s role as compere!) there was a brief discussion on the talks process after the election and how long it would take. There was no broad consensus for a timescale, other than that there would be no all-encompassing solution within the three week deadline specified in legislation;  some speculating 2-3 years of deadlock; others speculating a …

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A border poll can be held at any time

There’s widespread misunderstanding of the legal provision around holding a border poll which seems to rear its head not only on social media, but sometimes within the print media and even among the ranks of senior politicians. It’s an innocent enough situation, but it could become important in the period ahead as we start coming to terms with brexit and Northern Ireland’s relationship with Europe. The misunderstanding holds that, following the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, a border poll cannot be held unless there …

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Electric cars in Northern Ireland – another perspective

On Friday just past, Slugger contributor Patrick Murdoch had an interesting article about his experiment with electric vehicle ownership. Patrick’s principal observation – that the electric car charging network in Northern Ireland is not the greatest – is not entirely inaccurate, but I disagree with his implication that this makes owning an EV practically impossible. As an EV driver myself – I’ve had a Nissan Leaf 30kWh for just under a year now – I thought it would be useful to …

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Fixed-Term Parliaments Act – on the chopping block ?

One or two eagle-eyed observers on social media noted a development in the House of Lords which has apparently escaped the notice of the media – a new bill which, if enacted, would abolish the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. It’s worth a quick recap on the background. Until 2011, the power to dissolve Parliament was by the Queen’s prerogative, exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. It has always been significant as it is, in effect, the power to choose a strategically optimal time to hold …

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Tread lightly as you pass St Patrick’s

It’s a long time since I was a practicing Catholic, and almost as long since I defined myself as a believer of any kind. I haven’t properly attended Mass, outside of baptisms, weddings or funerals, since my mid-teens. If I was ever going back to religion, I think I’d be a Quaker. Or at the very most a high church Anglican. But a part of me stirred a few years back, when the footage emerged of a band playing the Famine …

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The British government must seek a mandate to negotiate brexit

As the shock of the brexit result continues to reverberate (and will for quite some time) there has been quite a bit of chat, in the mainstream and online media, and among friends, about how this decision could potentially be reversed. At the outset it should be clear that there can be no political prospect of the referendum being re-run. The campaign was long, there was no shortage of reading material or debating time, and there can be no attempt …

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The potential impact of #brexit upon the Totality of Relationships

Recently, in a conversation with an old school friend, who is very much a nationalist and supports a united Ireland, told me that while he was voting for remain, if he were of a more cynical bent he’d be voting tactically for Leave, and speculated that there would be nationalists who would do so. I’ve noticed a lot of other people making similar comments, here on Slugger, on social media and in social circles. This led me to do something I …

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Where now for the Department of Justice ?

As I write, the Alliance Party’s council, the representative body which appoints and holds to account the party Executive (among other functions), is meeting to discuss the party’s decision not to field a candidate for the role of the Minister of Justice. I have to confess that, having written by my earlier article on this matter as the heat from the election was beginning to die down, I was reconciling myself to the possibility that the party would have some success …

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Why Alliance must pass on the Department of Justice

The election is over, the results are in, and the signal being sent by the electorate in Northern Ireland is clear and unambiguous. The DUP’s position as the dominant party within a socially and economically conservative administration has been comprehensively re-endorsed, alongside their coalition partner, Sinn Féin. There has, fundamentally, been no change at all in the balance of power in Northern Ireland. No reasonable person could deny that the DUP victory is a remarkable accomplishment on many levels, the work …

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Corporation Tax : a day late and a dollar short

Not for the first time, the vexed issue of the plan to reduce corporation tax in Northern Ireland is  in the news again in the midst of ongoing controversy about how much it will cost to implement the tax cut, and to what extent it will benefit the economy here. Corporation tax is a rare example of a headline economic policy that enjoys public support across the respective leaderships of both the DUP and Sinn Féin. While Sammy Wilson, particularly during his time as …

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Paying Teachers 33million Not To Teach – O’Dowd’s Teacher Scrappage Scheme

Recently the Minister of Education announced a proposal, which apparently has Executive approval, to spend £33m on a scheme to allow senior schoolteachers to retire five years early, allowing 500 newly trained teachers to take up posts. This is equivalent to £13,200 per teacher, per additional year of retirement. The Department indicates that 2,350 teachers qualify in principle, which means that there will be a process to decide who will be entitled. It also notes that 1,414 graduate teachers do …

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