SDLP to hold special conference on abortion in private

From John Manley in the Irish News; The SDLP has confirmed that next month’s special conference to review abortion policy will be held behind closed doors. The party will hold a conference on Saturday May19 dedicated entirely to abortion policy after it was decided that there would not have been adequate time to discuss the contentious issue at last weekend’s annual conference in Belfast. An hour had intially been earmarked to debate a number of motions relating to abortion at … Read more

UUP Advisor recalls how the party eventually backed the Good Friday Agreement

Final word on the Agreement 20th anniversary.The highlight of the week.An eyewitness account told to @MarkCarruthers7 on @bbctheview about exactly what happened inside the UUP room on Good Friday 1998. pic.twitter.com/PIltKjVdL7 — Mark Simpson (@BBCMarkSimpson) April 12, 2018 More here After Tuesday night’s appearance on @bbctheview I thought I would share a personal letter I wrote to Ken Maginnis after his untimely departure from the UUP in 2012. It relates back to Good Friday 1998 and I meant every word … Read more

Peter Robinson speaks to Nolan about Jim Wells comments

Just a quick catch up on this story; Mr Wells accused party leader Arlene Foster of not standing by him. “Peter Robinson made the commitment that I would return,” the South Down MLA said. “Then Arlene took over as leader and Arlene, as leader of the party officers, ignored my two written requests for that commitment to be honoured,” he added. Former DUP Leader Peter Robinson spoke to Nolan today about the topic which is worth a listen and analysis … Read more

SDLP Leadership team delivers on stage but can the party turn the corner?

The SDLP gathered for the first time in over two years for their conference at Titanic Belfast. In what has been a political year of many highs of lows for the party it was a relatively low key affair for most of the morning. Delegates (those who turned up) debated a steady stream of motions on welfare reform, environment and policing. The only potentially controversial motion that was up for debate was one regarding the naming of parks after actors … Read more

GFA 20 Years On: A Community Reflects

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD will be in West Belfast next Tuesday, 10th April, to deliver a keynote opening address at a Féile an Phobail event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The event, titled ‘The Good Friday Agreement 20 Years On: A Community Reflects’ will take place in St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road beginning at 8.45am, and will also feature keynote speeches and contributions by former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, … Read more

SDLP’s future direction…

Interesting story from the Belfast Telegraph Political Editor, Suzanne Breen this morning about the potential of an arrangement between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. She writes; SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has refused to rule out “a realignment in Irish politics” that would see his party standing aside and Fianna Fail organising in Northern Ireland. Senior SDLP sources told the Belfast Telegraph that around 80% of the party supported it “leaving the stage” to make way for Fianna Fail. They want … Read more

Swann seeks an agreed candidate for West Tyrone by-election

The UUP Leader, Robin Swann had reiterated his comments for an agreed candidate to stand in the West Tyrone by-election on May 3rd; It is clear that Sinn Fein has learnt nothing from the appalling disrespect shown by Barry McElduff. Only last week they failed to condemn the banner put on display in Newry describing one of the IRA’s most ruthless terrorists caught in possession of one of the murder weapons used at Kingsmills ‘our hero’. Given that McElduff resigned … Read more

Conor McGinn introduces bill to bring Marriage Equality to NI

The Labour MP, Conor McGinn is introducing a Private Members Bill that would bring Marriage Equality to Northern Ireland. Writing in the Guardian he says; Same-sex couples should not have to wait any more for this long overdue change and to enjoy the same rights as my constituents in St Helens, or people in Dublin, London, Cardiff or Edinburgh. The UK government has a moral duty to act and bring in legislation to finally end this discrimination. And, while I … Read more

Mark Durkan suggests renewal review of Good Friday Agreement

Former SDLP Leader, Mark Durkan speaking in Dublin tonight has suggested a renewal review of the Good Friday Agreement. He told his audience; “As the Brexit negotiations intensify, it’s welcome that the EU27 have continued to voice a strong commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts. It’s critical, however, that such a commitment extends to protecting it in its promise and potential as well. “The full potential and flexibility of Strands Two and Three must be … Read more

Northern Ireland vs East German states in the 21st century

The Northern Ireland peace dividend has not been as great as Germany’s unification dividend. In 2000 Northern Ireland’s estimated GDP per capita was greater than all the regions that made up East Germany. Now every East German region has a GDP greater than NI. Though all below EU28 average. https://t.co/OAu26USeuKpic.twitter.com/2drQfxE9Ge — John O’Brien (@jlpobrien) March 20, 2018 If you want to learn more about the cost of German unification you can do so here     David McCannDavid McCann holds … Read more

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis moved to June

The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis will be moved from November to June in order to amend the party policy around abortion rights to back the recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee. The Sinn Fein President, Mary Loy McDonald said; “Today I put two proposals to the the Ard Chomhairle.  The first was to move the party’s 2018 Ard Fheis from November to June.  The second was a motion to go to that Ard Fheis, which would amend party policy in line with … Read more

The spending dilemma in the NI Health Service

Nick Garbutt over on Scope NI has an excellent article on health spending and the challenges facing us in the future First to the budget. Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s written statement commits to a 5.5% uplift on last year’s allocation. This sounds terrific. But it is important to remember that the increase is based on last year’s starting position. However last year an extra £140 million was found for Health through in-year allocations – redistributing unspent monies from other … Read more

Towards a Respectful Future report launched

The DUP, UUP and PUP groups on Belfast City Council launched the Towards a Respectful Future document this morning in Belfast City Hall. The Councillors present were Lee Reynolds, John Kyle, Billy Hutchinson, George Dorrian and Jim Rodgers. The full report is available here but some of the key findings were •The vast majority of bonfires and associated activities are well organised and managed. These include events which are part of and separate from the Belfast City Council Bonfire and … Read more

DUP Mayor Paul Hamill speaking Irish ahead of an event.

Amid all the political wrangling over the Irish language -DUP mayor Paul Hamill practises his Irish ahead of event in Newtownabbey @UTVNews pic.twitter.com/EnCxSc2iEf — Judith Hill (@JudeHill_utv) March 14, 2018   Paul Hamill is the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and just in a contentious debate about the Irish language is refreshing to see this engagement. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Lee Reynolds in a race to win beard of Ireland

Remember Lee Reynolds? He used to blog on this site before he went off to work for the DUP. He’s now the DUP Group Leader on Belfast City Council and Director of Policy for the party. On Slugger, we don’t give endorsements to any politicians but we thought since he is leading in the race to win the beard of Ireland that you should give him a vote. The idea of a DUPer winning an all island award is something … Read more

Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

£410 million from DUP Deal to come to Northern Ireland

A substantive portion of the DUP Deal agreed with the Conservative government is to arrive. From the BBC; The secretary of state said the allocation from the confidence and supply money includes £80m for health and education pressures. There will also be £30m to support programmes to address issues of mental health and severe deprivation. A further £100m goes to the long-term transformation of the health service. Capital spending for key infrastructure projects will receive a £200m boost. The budget … Read more

Mrs Foster is in the car but it’s being driven by Nigel Dodds

Interesting analysis piece from the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley Even though the consensus suggests the so-called accommodation was a poor deal for republicans, the level of resistance from within the DUP and broader unionism to what was in the proposals appears to have surprised Mrs Foster and her advisors. Since the talks collapsed, the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA has met the DUP’s ruling executive and she says they have backed her leadership. Arguably that confidence is justified – Mrs … Read more