Why the Good Friday Agreement has a future

The Good Friday Agreement has come in for a bit of criticism over the past few days following the failure to reestablish a new Executive. It’s natural, when you are at an impasse to want to review and perhaps chart a new course. However, whilst I share a frustration with the current political situation, I don’t share this idea that we need to abandon the Good Friday Agreement as if it has failed us badly as a society. Writing in … Read more

The fallout continues………

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Today’s developments, starting off with Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald (I have highlighted key bits); The DUP leader brought this phase of negotiations to a close and said “there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed”. “It is up to Arlene Foster to explain this given that the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships had achieved an accommodation across the issues involved. “In fact we had a draft agreement by the end of last … Read more

Was an Irish Language Act really a bridge too far?

What a week. The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has brought the curtain down on the current round of talks. It is commonly assumed that selling a stand alone, Irish Language Act is just something that would be a bridge too far for any Unionist leader. However, just taking a stroll down memory lane I wonder is this actually a fair representation of where Unionist voters actually are. Do I think they want an Irish Language Act? No. Would it be … Read more

Getting a functioning, lasting Executive should be the focus of the debate

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We seem to be getting close to a final deal which will likely see the reformation of the Executive after 400 days without devolved government in Northern Ireland. This is not the first time a collapse has happened, since the implementation of power-sharing in 1974 we have seen more than 4 collapses of an administration for one reason or another. The key question is now trying to make it stick. Any new Executive is going to face major challenges with … Read more

Progress made on forming new Executive but no deal

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In from the Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald “Today Michelle O’Neill, our party chair Declan Kearney and I had the opportunity to meet with both An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and with British Prime Minister Theresa May and we gave them our assessment of the talks so far. “We believe an agreement is possible, an agreement is desirable. “Sinn Féin want the institutions back up and running and we have said very clearly that at this juncture what is required … Read more

May and Varadkar to come to Belfast

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From the BBC… Theresa May and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar are to visit Belfast later for talks with the Stormont parties. It comes amid speculation the DUP and Sinn Féin are close to agreeing a deal to restore devolved government. However, a DUP source has told the BBC a deal “is not likely” to be announced on Monday. Several previous rounds of talks between the two parties have failed to break the deadlock. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD … Read more

Belfast City Council passes a 1.89% rate increase.

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The district rate will see a 1.89% increase for 2018/19. The council says this will mean rate payers will pay on average less than £1 more per month or less than £10 per year. For businesses it will be an average increase of £12 per month or £144 per year. The impact varies by property, a Terraced House will see an increase of around £5.48 per year, were as a 4 Bed Detached House will see an increase of £18.63. … Read more

Varadkar proposes electing people from the North to the Seanad

Some news in today from Leo Varadkar’s first appearance before the Seanad as Taoiseach. The Journal.ie reports; Seanad should be allowed to elect senators from Northern Ireland – from both nationalist and unionist communities – so the Upper House of parliament has an “all-island dimension”. Addressing Seanad members today, Varadkar said having both nationalist and unionist representatives would provide “different voices on issues which concern us all”. The report continues Varadkar made the comment as he announced that a new … Read more

Are we moving towards reform of the Petition of Concern?

The Petition of Concern has been in the news at various times over the past decade. Since 2007, only the DUP had the power to trigger one on their own, whilst Sinn Fein always needed another party to one above the required 30 MLAs. The Irish News reporter, Brendan Hughes has a nice little graphic explaining the various parties positions on this issue The issue came to the fore this week in a meeting between the DUP and the group … Read more

Michelle O’Neill to become Vice President of Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein’s Northern Leader, Michelle O’Neill is set to become the Vice President of the party under Mary Lou McDonald as President. The new team will take over on February 10th at the special Ard Fheis in Dublin. Her remarks below; “I am honoured to be nominated as the new Leas Uachtarán of Sinn Féin. I look forward after the Special Ard Fheis to work with our new party President Mary Lou McDonald and wider national leadership team. “We are … Read more

Martin backs Northern representation in EU Parliament after Brexit

The Fianna Fail Leader Micheál Martin has backed post-Brexit representation for the North after Brexit in an report in the Irish News by John Manley. Manley reports; Speaking during a visit to Belfast yesterday, Mr Martin said he supported the principle of continued representation for the north. “In my view, this whole idea of respecting and ensuring that the European citizenship of people in Northern Ireland is given some manifestation and some reflection in the post-Brexit deal, is very, very … Read more

Should we consider a directly elected Mayor for Belfast?

Watching the Sunday Politics this morning, I listened to Sinn Fein Councillor Deirdre Hargey and DUP MLA, Gary Middleton discuss the benefits of respective City Deals was could be on their way to Belfast and Derry. I wanted to throw this idea out into the public sphere to find out more about the process. David Sweeting has been examining the impact of a directly elected Mayor in Bristol; Here I discuss two findings that are likely to be of interest … Read more

McDonald to become Sinn Fein President on February 10th

This morning Mary Lou McDonald officially became the next President of Sinn Fein, she officially takes over on February 10th. Below are the remarks of her speech today in Belfast; I am proud and honoured to be nominated for Uachtarán Shinn Féin. I look forward to being ratified at our special Ard Fheis on February 10th. “I know I have big shoes to fill taking on the role from Gerry Adams and I know that is impossible but I have … Read more

Barry McElduff resigns as an MP

Barry McElduff has resigned as the MP for West Tyrone; His statement The reason I am doing so is because of the consequences of the Twitter video which has caused such controversy over the last week. “But the deep and unnecessary hurt this video caused the families of the victims of Kingsmill is my greatest regret. “I again offer my profound apology to those families and to the wider victims community. “Had I been conscious of the connection to the … Read more

O’Dowd and Poots demonstrate disagreement doesn’t mean disrespect

It’s not often I have come away from a debate admiring both people taking part, even less often do I ring up asking for the entire thing to be saved.  Last night, John O’Dowd and Edwin Poots conducted a great debate. Politics should be about disagreement, not disrespect, for 20 minutes last night we got a demonstration, not class clown nonsense that seem to have gripped people. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. … Read more

One Year On; Can we now have a debate on getting a “Functioning” Executive.

One year ago today, Martin McGuinness brought the curtain down on his time as Deputy First Minister and the near 10 year run of devolution in Northern Ireland. The rest is now history…… We have had two historic election results with awesome consequences. In March, Nationalism finally broke a 6 year trend of seeing their combined vote go down. Sinn Fein surged riding a wave created by the approach of the DUP towards issues such as the Irish Language and … Read more

Sinn Fein suspends Barry McElduff for three months

The West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP, Barry McElduff met with the Sinn Fein leadership today to discuss his social media posts over the weekend. The party have suspended him for three months effective immediately. Speaking after the meeting Michelle O’Neill said; I made it clear to Barry that his tweet was ill-judged, indefensible and caused hurt and pain to the victims of Kingsmill. That it falls far short of the standard expected of Sinn Féin representatives and our members. “Barry … Read more

Foster “A return to Direct Rule would be an inferior alternative but it would be a government.”

Here’s a key bit from Arlene Foster’s New Year message; Many of us will use the New Year to make resolutions. Just as we will personally set ourselves goals as to how we hope to improve our lives, so too we should seek to bring new energy and ambition to our politics. Northern Ireland has in effect been without a government for almost a year. That is unacceptable and simply unsustainable. Every day, we are seeing the impact of having … Read more