Kenny addresses the nation as Ireland exits its bailout.

Only five times in Irish history has a Taoiseach taken to the airwaves to address the nation and Kenny went for his second go tonight as Ireland exits its bailout programme. Full text of the speech is available here Overall I found it a bit of a dull speech without any real coherent message or point. At many times it just seemed like Kenny was giving the address simply to tell us everything that we already knew. He did take … Read more

McCann meets….Edwin Poots MLA

 The final instalment of my series of interviews is with the Health minister, Edwin Poots. I must admit this was the interview I was most nervous about doing but when you meet him in person he is actually a very affable person. What struck me was how relaxed he was for a person in his job and the applause he received during Peter Robinson’s speech shows his popularity among the party faithful. Apparently he is a reader of the blog-so … Read more

McCann meets….Simon Hamilton MLA #dup13

In the second part of my series of interviews with DUP ministers I bring you Simon Hamilton MLA. The youngest of all the DUP ministers he has impressed a number of people with his solid performance in the Department of Finance. On a personal level I found him very impressive and well briefed on the finance file. He opted for an Ed Miliband speaking without notes speech at the DUP conference which seemed to go down well. The interview is … Read more

McCann meets….Arlene Foster MLA #dup13

I took a trip up to the DUP Conference yesterday to interview some of the key figures within the party. I spoke with several Ministers namely Simon Hamilton, Edwin Poots and Arlene Foster. Just after her conference speech I spoke with the Enterprise Minister and possible future leader, Arlene Foster. We spoke about a variety of issues from the European elections to her feud with Phil Flanagan MLA and her shift from the UUP to the DUP. Below are some … Read more

Update-When Manley met Robinson – Irish News finally gets an interview

Yesterday was a historic day (in media terms anyway) as  Peter Robinson gave his first interview in five years to the Irish News. Why Robinson decided to freeze out the provinces top selling newspaper I don’t know but the papers political reporter, John Manley said that there was nothing in the DUP Leader’s demeanour to suggest relations were frosty. So we can only assume that the fences have been mended and Robinson will be giving more interviews to the Irish News … Read more

Where have all the moderates gone?

Well he’s back; Jamie Bryson made his first appearance on Nolan this morning since his restrictions on public speaking were lifted. I listened to Jamie talk about the need for more protests (he did say they should be peaceful in fairness) and how he believed the last round of protests had actually achieved a lot. Last time I checked their number one goal of punishing the city council into submission hadn’t worked as the flag is still not up and … Read more

North-South relations and the game the Irish government wont play anymore.

The past week has not been a good one for North-South relations as the EU funding was pulled for the Narrow Water Bridge. Mick noted the general disengagement of the Irish government in an earlier post but as I sat at the NI21 Conference, I listened to the Junior Finance Minister, Brian Hayes TD, give his verdict on North-South relations which to me highlights our current problem in this area as he said; There has been too much navel gazing … Read more

The dark side of politics rears its ugly head as Alliance offices attacked.

Last night we have once again seen the ugly side of politics in Northern Ireland as the East Belfast Alliance party office was attacked with two petrol bombs. Last week, I was there doing an interview with Chris Lyttle and normally I don’t write about what I see when I’m out and about doing interviews but after last night I thought I should convey some of my impressions about the office and the people who work in it. What really … Read more

McCann meets….Chris Lyttle MLA

 Last Friday I interviewed the East Belfast Alliance MLA, Chris Lyttle. Below are some excerpts of the interview but I would recommend listening to the entire thing as it is only 16 minutes long. On Naomi Long retaining East Belfast at the next election I think we have as always worked extremely hard in the community in East Belfast. We have shown leadership on some of the key issues, taken a stand on what we believe is best for local … Read more

Local businesses as a way to a shared future?

Found this interesting piece in today’s Newsletter by the Chairman of the Antrim Road Traders Association, Paul Carlin who has been writing about his experiences as a businessman in Northern Ireland. Carlin makes some interesting points about how local businesses can play a direct role in improving within communities through creating jobs and getting people from both sides to interact with one another. He ends with an optimistic vision for the future which I find a bit refreshing as sometimes … Read more

Remembrance and @newbelfast

Normally I am on here to write about what politicians are doing wrong and why they need to do better. Today, I want to bring you something completely different as there is one politician who deserves real praise and that’s the Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O Muilleoir. This time of year is always an emotive one for Irish nationalism. I have my own views about how we need to commemorate this day and those who died. For Sinn Fein it’s … Read more

McDonnell, the conference and the SDLP’s unhappy muddle. #sdlp13

This was Alasdair McDonnell’s third speech as SDLP leader. If you watched on TV the poor audio for the first ten minutes would have forced you to switch off but when the BBC managed to sort out its technical difficulties the quick reality was that the viewer was not missing much of anything anyway. I always thought I understood what the SDLP believed in, but watching McDonnell’s speech I came away confused as I was subjected to bland statements and mixed … Read more

Who has the youngest assembly group in NI?

I had to do a bit of research during the week on the assembly and the people who work in it. On the side I thought it would be interesting to find out just how old the average MLA is and what party has the youngest assembly group. Let’s begin with the overall picture-I surveyed the ages of 106 of the 108 MLAs-I couldn’t find the date of birth for two of them but this will still give me a good sample. … Read more

The brain drain from Northern Ireland continues…

I wrote a few weeks about the increasing brain drain from our province. Typically in Northern Ireland we view emigration as a problem that mostly impacts the Irish Republic rather than us. However, today thanks to a question by Phil Flanagan to the Finance Minister, we have found that emigration from Northern Ireland now is actually worse than it was during some of the worst years of the Troubles. Now here I must put a note that emigration from Northern … Read more

When Manley met McDonnell-we now have some criteria for success or failure.

 In today’s Irish News, John Manley has an in-depth interview with the SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell. I have in an earlier piece tendered my views on the party’s future prospects and this is the part of the interview that I want to focus on in this piece but the entire interview is worth a read. In his talk with McDonnell, Manley probed the SDLP leader about his electoral ambitions are for the party under his stewardship. Either it was a … Read more

Ireland, WW1 and our great false choice.

Since independence, Ireland or more importantly Irish nationalism,  has struggled to find a way properly remember those who died during the First World War. This is largely due to how we have chosen to interpret the 1916 Easter rising. It has been written into Irish folklore that those who took part in the rising were no less than patriots of the highest order while those who fought in the trenches in France and Belgium were considered at best misguided or at … Read more

Update-Mr Allister-you don’t realise when you’ve got a good thing.

Dr Richard Haass was in Dublin this week briefing the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny about the progress he was making on talks here. Responding the TUV leader, Jim Allister questioned why the Irish government were even involved in these talks. He said How do people believe that discussions with a foreign government will help to ease Loyalist fears about their identity and sovereignty and why have the DUP and UUP agreed to such a process? I don’t actually dislike Jim Allister. … Read more

The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there #spotlightNI

If you have not watched last night’s Spotlight programme I would strongly urge you to do so. In our drive to project a modern and peaceful Northern Ireland, we sometimes forget about some of the criminality that still plagues our province. Stephen Dempster’s report leaves a lot of questions for the PSNI, politicians and the rest of civic society to answer. 15 years on from the Good Friday Agreement we still have not fully taken the gun out of our … Read more

DUP-are they really the voice of Unionism?

This piece is a bit delayed but rounding off the party analyses of the four major parties I present to you the electoral performance of the DUP over the past 15 years. Instead of focusing on gains that the party has made over the last number of years I thought I would take a look at the DUP’s constant charge that they are the true voice of Unionism. But before I go into the numbers I will briefly run through … Read more

#Onthisday 1964-The UK General Election

On this day 49 years ago, the United Kingdom went to the polls to choose a new government. The result was a narrow Labour win of just 4 seats making Harold Wilson the Prime Minister. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the election of Wilson provoked fears among some Unionists in Northern Ireland that he would be much more interventionist in the affairs of the province than some of his predecessors. A letter he had written before the election to the Campaign … Read more