Are young people getting a fair go politically in Northern Ireland? #bbcnolan

The Nolan show discussed Gerry Kelly’s comments about the crisis that power-sharing in Northern Ireland is facing. The show touched upon some young people’s attitudes towards governance in Northern Ireland. So I thought I would put some meat on the bones of this argument and pose the simple question; are we giving young people a fair go in Northern Ireland? Let’s start with some facts about just how interested young people in Northern Ireland are in politics. The last Young … Read more

Alliance party-Is it really the Belfast party?

I often think of the Alliance party as the Helen Lovejoy of Northern Ireland politics. They are well intentioned but have suffered from a ‘do gooder’ image that they at times project out. In my last piece on the SDLP and UUP, I was very pessimistic about the future of those parties going forward. However, with the Alliance party, I would not make the same assessment as I think they do occupy a space in Northern Ireland politics that very few … Read more

New Australian PM swears an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.

Tony Abbott was officially sworn in as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia on Wednesday. While he grabbed headlines for appointing just one woman to his cabinet, there was another subtle change that caught my eye as he was sworn in. Under Prime Minister’s Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, the oath of allegience for ministers was changed from swearing an oath to Queen Elizabeth to; I, (Insert name), do swear that I will well and truly serve the … Read more

McCann meets… Phil Flanagan MLA

Many of you know that I put out a call on twitter for suggestions on which politicians they would like to see interviewed for Slugger. Today I bring you the first interview with Stormont’s No.1 tweeter, Sinn Fein MLA, Phil Flanagan. This was aired earlier on Lisburns 98FM. I met Phil on Tuesday in Stormont and we conducted this 40 minute interview. We covered a broad range of subjects from his background to his recent twitter war with Tom Elliott. … Read more

So we dislike our politicians-but what are we going to do about it?

In an earlier post I cited the latest Lucid Talk poll which showed Stormont’s approval rating at an abysmal 9%. This low approval rating while perhaps overstated does mirror a sense of disillusionment among the wider general public about the direction that we are heading under this current assembly. We have falling turnout at elections, gridlock in Stormont and a stagnant economy. When you consider all this it is little wonder that we have an apathetic electorate. However, I would … Read more

Stormont facing a crisis of confidence.

Today’s Lucid Talk poll in the Belfast Telegraph should be a wake up call for all politicians in Northern Ireland to up their game. When asked the question, compared to direct rule from Westminster, how would you rate the performance of the NI assembly? Just 9.4% said it was either excellent or good and that falls to 7.4% when you exclude undecideds. This compares badly to the 66.3% who rated the assembly’s performance as not very good or bad. The … Read more

Henry Patterson on ‘Could Dublin have done more to stop the IRA’

Professor Henry Patterson had this interesting article in the Irish Times on Friday about the Irish government’s failure to tackle the Provisional IRA from 1970 onwards. Here I must declare an interest, Henry Patterson is my supervisor, but this is something I have written about myself. Patterson has recently written a book on this subject called Ireland’s Violent Frontier which looks at the border security policies of the British and Irish governments during the Troubles. In his book and in … Read more

UUP-Has Northern Ireland’s ‘grand old party’ finally past its sell by date?

Last week I did an analysis of the decline in the SDLP’s electoral support since 1998. In the piece, I questioned whether the party had a future if it continued losing voters. A lot of these same problems affect the Ulster Unionist Party. This party which founded the Northern Ireland state had led every single government that the province had until 2007. Indeed, it is hard to the think that Ian Paisley was the first leader of our provincial administration who did … Read more

Where NI leads, England follows…..well in plastic bags anyway.

The BBC is reporting, that the Deputy PM, Nick Clegg is set to announce at the Lib Dem conference that the government plans to introduce a 5p plastic bag levy to begin after the next election. We have had the same charge since April of this year which has achieved a remarkable 80 per cent reduction in the number of plastic bags that are used in Northern Ireland. However the levy that is set to be implemented in England will be weaker … Read more

UPDATE-Hanna v McKinney-SDLP new MLA Fearghal McKinney!

Well the battle is on as Balmoral councillor Claire Hanna will face off against former UTV journalist Fearghal McKinney in a bid to replace Conall McDevitt. Around 300 members of the South Belfast branch of the SDLP will gather to choose one of these two people to represent the constituency for the next three years. My money is still on Claire Hanna to win the ballot. She brings everything that the SDLP wants going forward, youth, hard work, ideas and … Read more

The assembly is back-is some minor surgery required?

Stormont sprung to life this week as MLAs returned from their summer holidays. Like children who couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom our MLAs submitted motions that allowed themselves to get stuck in to each other. While I was watching Stormont Today last night, I heard tales from the DUP of ‘Connolly House propaganda’ over the recent trouble during the marching season. While on the other side Sinn Fein condemned the DUP for not acknowledging that republicans suffered any hurt … Read more

Wither the SDLP-Have they a future?

Conall McDevitt’s resignation from the assembly this week has provoked some debate about the future direction of the SDLP. With this in mind, I thought I would take this issue head on and ask the crucial question do the SDLP even have a future? When you take a look at the figures of every assembly election since 1998, you can sum up the SDLP’s fortunes in one word; decline. In 1998, the party took more first preference votes than any … Read more

Update-#Ausvotes Tomorrow is election day in Australia-ABC projects Coalition Victory!

We are sending enough our people there, so I thought I’d do up a blog post on the election that is happening tomorrow. Australia came to the attention of people here back in June when Kevin Rudd ousted Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. Well actually she ousted him first in June 2010 but anyway I shall not bore you with the intrigues of Australian Labor politics. Rudd was brought back to help raise Labor’s dire position in the polls. Under … Read more

UPDATE-Conall McDevitt leaves a huge void for the SDLP to fill…

Today brought the curtain down on Conall Mc Devitt’s short three and a half year run as an MLA. Always controversial and never boring McDevitt made a real impact on the political life of Northern Ireland. The derision he endured over his southern roots were constantly used against him with labels like ‘the mouth from the south’ and the infamous moment on the Nolan Show when a woman told him to ‘keep his nose’ out of our business ignoring the … Read more

Our wee culture….any chance we could stop losing money from it?

If it didn’t need said already this years 12th July celebrations were a much greater success in Derry than they were in Belfast. A new report released today by Belfast City Centre Management highlights how the Orange Order still have some work to do in making ‘Orangefest’ an attractive event. Let’s take a look at facts 60% of businesses in the city centre opened on 12th July. This is a huge improvement on just a few years ago. HOWEVER- Just 7% … Read more

More decline in North-South relations?

Today’s article by Simon Doyle in The Irish News highlights again the continuing decline in everyday interaction between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. A new taskforce set up the the Department of Employment and Learning has revealed that less than 1 per cent of students at universities south of the border are from Northern Ireland. This trend has continued a decline that has been going on since 2004 despite the fact that it is cheaper to study in the … Read more

Northern Ireland greatest challenge is the loss of the best of our next generation…

In Northern Ireland we have many problems to contend with going into the future. We have sectarian tensions and a government that now seems to be in a permanent state of paralysis when it comes to dealing with issues like parades. However there is a wider problem that has not being given enough attention and that is the increasing number of our people that are choosing to leave Northern Ireland. Since the economic crisis hit in 2008 we have been … Read more