‘The 2010 Group.’

Another meeting of disenchanted members of the Ulster Unionist Party takes place this week-end. ‘The 2010 Group’ has already drafted the broad parameters of a constitution embracing both political and economic principles. What is emerging poses a dilemma for Tom Elliott’s leadership. He has been at pains to promote the notion of internal party discipline. The members identified with the ‘The 2010 Group’ have deliberately chosen to defy his leadership. It is difficult at this stage to evaluate the true … Read more

Elliott leadership under scrutiny.

A caucus of unsettled Ulster Unionist party members met in secret last night to take stock. The loose alliance, the names of whom I have been given is known as ‘The 2010 Group’ from across Northern Ireland. They are increasingly disenchanted with the direction in which the leadership of the party is moving. This prompted a number of people of a moderate disposition to come together to examine the possibility of realising a new bridgehead in politics the goal of … Read more

Funeral arrangements

Jim Dougal’s remains are being brought home this evening to 14 Danesfort, Malone. Strictly family. Open house for all to pay respects Saturday and Sunday. Requiem mass Derryvolgie Monday 1PM. Burial afterwards at Drumbo. Eamonn Mallie   Eamonn Mallie

Jim Dougal

It is with sadness that members of the Stormont Press Corps learned of the death of colleague Jim Dougal.We express our deepest sympathies to his wife Deirdre, family Tara, Tina Emma, James and his three grandchildren whom he adored. Jim was a widely respected journalist who covered every twist and turn of political life here for over thirty years. He was a thorough going professional who was meticulous in his pursuit of the facts. He earned immense respect among all … Read more

Tom Elliott and UUP disciplne

Dear Member, First and foremost, on behalf of the Party I would like to convey my thanks to everyone for their support throughout this period of transition. Likewise, I offer my sincere thanks to the Party for electing me as its new Leader. This is a tremendous honour, and I will not be found lacking in my determination to guide and stimulate the Ulster Unionist Party’s resurgence. One of the first challenges that we, as a Party, must face is … Read more

Martin Mc Guinness in conversation with me when he confirmed for the first time his meeting with Fr James Chesney whose name was linked to the Claudy bombing.

This is the full text of my questioning of Martin Mc Guinness about Fr James Chesney. “I know there are a lot of questions about what happened at Claudy. People have raised a lot of questions about Fr Chesney. “I never met with Fr Chesney at the time of the bombings of Claudy. I never knew Fr Chesney. He was 17/18 years older than myself. In fact I never heard of Fr Chesney until many many years after the Claudy … Read more

Exclusive Interview with Tony Blair

Interview with Tony Blair – Dublin Sept 3 ‘010. 0n publication of his autobiography ‘A Journey.” EM. Why did you write Peter Robinson out of history? He only gets two passing references in a tome of this size? TB. “When he got two references, that’s pretty good I would say.” EM: He’s our Prime Minister. Is that all you think of him? TB. “It’s not what I think of him. I think he is fantastic but it’s a book about … Read more

The fall of Paul Priestly.

To most people including journalists stories about NI Water were a big yawn. For the greater part the story of the goings on in NIW was being addressed by Jamie Delargy of UTV(who is encyclopaedic on this subject), Martina Purdy of the BBC and Mick Fealty of Slugger O Toole. For months an unknown businessman Declan Gormley who was a non executive director of NIW had been seeking to connect with journalists to highlight what he saw as an injustice … Read more

Dying for ‘the patriot game.’

Medals belonging to a member of our family on my father’s side, surfaced when he died. The young soldier from the heart of South Armagh who fought for Britain spent the rest of his life in hospital. It was always said he had not recovered because he suffered from ‘shell shock.’ Had I been brought up by different parents I too might have ended up fighting for ‘the cause’ in one or other army. An anti violence ethos obtained in … Read more

Cameron

The one thing that distinguishes a politician of substance is the capacity to say something meaningful. Few politicians are capable of this. The Dup’s Jim Wells makes sense most of the time. He can stand up and put a sensible point across fluently and not infrequently a point which is at variance with party policy. Martin Mc Guinness has come through as a big surprise probably more so to the protestant community and outside the island of Ireland. He has … Read more

Disappeared.

The family of Crossmaglen man Charlie Armstrong who went missing in 1981 has been told his remains have been located. Confirmation of the discovery of the bones of a male in County Monaghan came this afternoon. The independent commission for the location of victims said this evening that it has notified the Armstrong family, the Garda, and the state pathologist in the Republic of Ireland. Mr. Armstrong disappeared after leaving home for mass. He hasn’t been seen since. Mystery surrounded … Read more

Parity of corporation tax.

The Chancellor has ordered a full blown investigation into the implications of streamlining corporation tax North/South. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will probe this in the Autumn. The key question raised is the following: What would be the benefits of equalizing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland with that of the Republic of Ireland? George Osborne plans to reduce the main rate of corporation tax in the UK from 28% to 24% over the next four years. The corporation … Read more

Conservative/ulster unionist link to continue.

A senior Conservative close to the leadership in London has rubbished suggestions that the marriage with the Ulster Unionists is being dissolved. There are reports that Conservatives in Northern Ireland by a sizeable majority want to walk away from the relationship with Reg Empey’s team. It is now know that the leadership of the Ulster Unionist party was accessed in the past twenty four hours to the contents of a private letter from the Conservative cross party chairman Andy Feldman … Read more

Would a city hall funeral for Alex Higgins show us up as hypocrites?

There is a lot of talk about a city hall organised funeral for snooker ace Alex Higgins. George Best was afforded close to a state funeral at Parliament Buildings. Is there not a danger that as a community we expose ourselves as hypocrites? Have we not allowed this human being to whom we now want to pay homage die in abject poverty? Who stood with him when he was at his lowest ebb? I didn’t. Eamonn Mallie Eamonn Mallie

RTE’s ‘Faith in crisis: a would you believe special.’

Show me any thinking member of the Catholic Church who is not currently floundering in pursuit of a leadership to restore trust and confidence in the meaning of catholicism. The church is embroiled in a plethora of allegations of clerical scandal from the bottom up and from the top down. Apart from claims of child abuse what is even worse is the charge of cover up. Received wisdom dragging us back to our schools argued the pope is ‘infallible.’ There … Read more

Archbishop Neary’s thoughts on climbing Croagh Patrick.

Jesus had a reputation for taking to the mountains.   For many modern people this is not actually hard to understand.   He met every day with terrific and endless human need. He experienced endless demands from people in great distress looking for miracles. Day after day he would give health to the chronically ill, give sight to the blind, give life again to wasted limbs and give reassurance to those who felt broken with sin. Is it any wonder … Read more

The other side of Alex Higgins.

I am not claiming to have known Alex Higgins in any meaningful way. That said I had three or four conversations with him in the past decade born out of pure accident. He had returned to Belfast and lived in an apartment in Osborne Park at the back of Arizona cafe. He was a regular presence in the neighbourhood motioning towards the local paper shop uninhibited to fetch a newspaper. As a student I thumbed lifts from South Armagh to the South … Read more

Is anyone listening?

What can be more demoralising or debilitating than to have to sit at home with all your skills locked away because you have no work? Fortunately I am not among these people. I was prompted however to think more deeply about this recently when a sometimes unemployed man said to me “I was talking to … the other day and he told me he’d build bricks for £40 a day just to get out of the house.” At the height … Read more

Death of Ian Hill – art critic.

Leading Northern Ireland art critic Ian Hill has died suddenly. Mr Hill a noted journalist and writer on travel and the arts passed away in the company of his wife Helena at their Strangford home at 10 o’ clock this morning. He suffered a suspected heart attack. He had two grown up daughters. Ian Hill studied dentistry at Queen’s but opted for a career in the arts world writing prolifically on all manifestations of the arts, a passion engendered from … Read more

First city of culture.

Martin Mc Guinness has confirmed former DUP leader Ian Paisley phoned him to congratulate the people of his city on being named the UK’s ‘first city of culture.’ A delighted Mr Mc Guinness said “this is a precious gift for the peacemakers.” Derry was the smallest of the cities to make a bid for the coveted distinction with Birmingham, Sheffield and Norwich losing out. East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell spoke of being “very proud of the city.” The North West … Read more