#Trump v #Redacted: The Donald attacks The Denis

As if the never-ending US Presidential election campaign was not surreal enough, yesterday Donald Trump issued a statement attacking Hillary Clinton, entitled: Follow The Money: Denis O’Brien – Another Corrupt Clinton Friend. And it’s only ‘semi-exact‘ to call it a statement. It’s actually a set of news clippings all studiously referenced and hyperlinked back to their original source, each prefaced with a heading. The first half details a series of articles establishing the (not exactly secret) links between the Clintons and O’Brien. … Read more

‘Collusion’ was RUC strategy, not RUC failing: #Loughinisland

State collusion was a ‘significant feature’ in a loyalist gun attack in Loughinisland in June 1994, according to the latest report published today by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. You can read some commentary over at The Detail here, while the publication of the full report is awaited (it is now published here). The timeline of the Loughinisland investigation should be crushingly familiar at this stage. First there was a non-existent RUC investigation, then a flawed report by the Police … Read more

Entitlement to participation in the ‘official opposition’

Interesting sidebar to the issue of an ‘official opposition’. The proposed scheme is set out in Appendix F4 on page 55 of the “A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan” document (although it still requires some administrative mechanism to formalise it). The first section clearly states that: (i) “Those parties which would be entitled to ministerial positions in the Executive but choose not to take them up, to be recognised as an official opposition. Those parties which choose to … Read more

@davidmcw games one #Brexit outcome…

“Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.” Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot Interesting piece from David McWilliams on an unintended consequence of the Brexit vote. The title – ‘A nation once again? Don’t write it off’ –  neatly encapsulates his argument and commits the obvious sin of deviating from a pro-unionist consensus. The line of reasoning he follows is: The English lead the British out of Europe. The Scottish then go to the polls again, wanting to stay … Read more

Declan Kearney on reconciliation: a longer term project than #AE16

One of the benefits of an election campaign is that the political parties issue written statements reflecting where their thinking currently sits. What is revealing about the current crop is that there is still such a huge contrast in the language around peace and reconciliation from Sinn Féin and the two main unionist parties. Specifically, it is the absence of any desire for reconciliation in the messages of the DUP and UUP. This chimes with the comments made by President Michael D … Read more

The Oireachtas by-elections: #Seanad, #DSW, #RSL

The end of this week sees three Oireachtas by-elections being completed, two for the Dáil seats vacated when Brian Hayes (FG) and Luke Flanagan (Ind) were elected as MEPs, and, the third a Seanad seat vacated by Deirdre Clune (FG), after she too was elected as an MEP. Given that the two Dáil seats are in constituencies that are re-drawn for the next general election, the result of the embarrassing #McNultygate Seanad by-election is likely to attract most comment. Given that there … Read more

#uniref: what are mechanics of a border poll?

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke is reporting on an opinion poll that says that a majority of people want a referendum on a border called. David has already sketched out some ideas of what a Yes campaign might look like, but what are the actual mechanics of holding such a referendum? The calling of a referendum is described in Annex A of the Belfast Agreement text (usually called the Good Friday Agreement). In reality, the Belfast Agreement is two … Read more

…this long rumoured Assembly collapse…

Over in New York, Gerry Adams has just issued a statement on the current impasse over welfare cuts in the Assembly (as reported by Liam Clarke). According to the report, Sinn Féin will let the Assembly fall and trigger an election rather than implement the cuts and Gerry Adams said: “It isn’t that we want an election but if some of the parties in the North are going to follow this agenda, then let them bring it on to the … Read more

Lessons from #Indyref?

Ok, before the inevitable predictions poll, results debate and recriminations, what lessons can be taken from the totality of the Scottish independence referendum? Here’s a couple of suggestions. 1. The neverendum? A long campaign, or certainly what feels like a long campaign, has pros and cons. The emergence of what seemed to be widespread public engagement by polling day in voter registrations, but will be clearly measured by the actual turn out. Are we to indulge in a bit of … Read more

#Indyref and the Orange demonstration: some quick notes

With the actual poll looming, this weekend sees the Orange Order make its on-street intervention into the #Indyref debate in Scotland. What will add an extra dimension to this is keeping an eye on how the media deal with events on the day, since, as Kilsally points out, #Indyref has created some unusual bedfellows. The last few days have given a couple of stand out media moments of the campaign. At a wider level, Nick Robinson’s reporting yesterday was astonishing, not … Read more

Get a wash, boys: @paddyb_ireland and the #MNDicebucketchallenge

The latest thing to go viral on social media is the ice bucket challenge, where you post a video of yourself being drenched by a bucket of ice cold water. You also nominate someone else to complete the challenge and they have to complete it within 24 hours. While it may look like just another idiotic online stunt, like neknominate, this one has a much more serious purpose behind it as it part of campaign to raise funds and awareness about MND, … Read more

Are unionists ‘…committed to drastically lowering people’s standards of living’?

This is a quick companion piece to Mick’s on welfare reform cuts. Gerry Adams issued a longish statement last week on the issue, which presumably can be taken as the current Sinn Féin position. These are a few relevant extracts: The DUP has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to participate positively in any of the institutions. Instead it has adopted a tactical approach aimed at serving the political agenda of a fundamentalist rump in their party rather than the needs of the … Read more

Shelling UN schools and media soundbites in #Gaza

Last night yet another UN school was hit by Israeli shells, reportedly adding a further 16 dead to the ever growing number of fatalities in Gaza. That death toll has now more or less doubled since the Irish and UK governments abstained from the UN vote on Gaza last week. In the absurd media war that is taking place, varying weights of credibility are being attached to IDF spokespersons on individual incidents like this, as well as the wider context of … Read more

EU statement on abstention from #UNHRC #Gaza vote

Even with no immediate end in sight to the violent Israeli assault on Gaza, one dimension of the post-ceasefire landscape is already clear. Despite the global connectivity offered by social media and the public platitudes of political ‘leaders’ it is clear (and has been for a very long time) that the international diplomatic architecture is simply not fit for purpose. The immediateness and intimacy the internet offers produces some extraordinary dissonances. The emotional response of communities across the world coming … Read more

#OTRs: a ready made exit strategy?

So the review of the OTR scheme by a British judge has found it to be ‘not unlawful’ and not secret (pretty much how Dominic Grieve, British Attorney General, had described it before the review). Earlier on today Secretary of State Theresa Villiers made an oral statement to the House of Commons to coincide with the release of the report. The report itself is quite substantial and I’d not expect too much informed reaction to the details, beyond the executive … Read more

#Bonfires 2014

As has been blogged on here already, for good and bad, bonfires have been attracting a lot of attention over the last few years. This appears to be, in part, due to combination of the ubiquity of social media and cameras. While a number of high profile news stories are giving a significantly negative impression of bonfires and what gets placed on them, it isn’t clear how representative this is. If the attitudes evidenced in the symbols being included on bonfires are … Read more

#GazaUnderAttack and the myth of proportionality

Spare a thought for the 1.8m people who live in the Gaza strip and are currently being subjected to air strikes by the Israeli Defence Forces (e.g. see Haaretz for regular updates). If you want an idea of what conditions in Gaza are like, you can get a grasp of population density if you can imagine moving all the population of the six counties into an area from the tip of the Strangford peninsula up to about Bangor. Now think of the impact of … Read more

#GarthBrooks foregoes graduated response and cancels all five concerts

Having admitted that, despite selling 400,000 tickets at €65.45 each (on an island of 6.4m people), he didn’t ‘feel welcome’ in Ireland, Garth Brooks has now followed up with his all or nothing threat over his Dublin shows with a cancellation of all five. A reputed total of €26m in tickets had been sold. Presumably, Mr Brooks share of that money would have been small consolation for the, eh, poverty of the love he was feeling from Ireland. Even a … Read more

Robinsons withdraw legal challenge to report on day of Unionist walkout: Coincidence? Discuss…

Yesterday we had that walkout of Unionists from the current talks, choreographed to coincide, almost to the second, with the release of the Parades Commission determination for the Ardoyne return leg on the Twelfth. The assembled Unionists had an agreed statement already prepared about ‘graduated responses’ and made a call for no unlawful protests (ahem). Irony not being their strong point, this was in the context ignoring the legally binding determination of the Parades Commission. The first response was to … Read more

Unionism to make ‘graduated response’ to no Ardoyne return parade

The Parades Commission have again ruled that there will be no return parade past Ardoyne, consistent with its previous rulings in 2013 and subsequently. The unionist response has been pretty immediate. Not only have all the unionist parties walked out of the wider talks at Stormont, but there has also been an attempt to provide a unified front in a statement issued by DUP leader Peter Robinson, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, TUV leader Jim Allister, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson and … Read more