DUP, the Grand Old Dukes of York.

Peter Robinson is outraged that welfare cuts aren’t being implemented in the north. Speaking yesterday he said that: In our discussions, the Prime Minister was absolutely clear that there is no more room for manoeuvre on welfare reform. Now is the time to decide this issue. The days of republican ducking and diving are over. In brief, the Assembly doesn’t have to impose the proposed cuts the Tories want implemented as it has devolved powers and can introduce amended legislation …

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#Baggott: PSNI should *no longer* be accountable

Matt Baggott is pretty much leaving the PSNI in the same way as he joined in 2009. At that time, he was being pressed by the Coroner John Leckey to release files on shoot-to-kill cases from 1982 so that inquests could be held. His predecessor, Hugh Orde had been ignoring a similar request since 2007. At the time, the PSNI released a statement saying: The PSNI wishes to re-emphasise its willingness to co-operate fully with the coroner and continues to …

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@CaralNiChuilin on dealing with the past

Everyone is familiar with legacies of the development boom and bust, such as ghost estates or negative equity. A slightly less obvious legacy was raised in the Assembly yesterday when Carál Ní Chuilín answered a question on the preservation of archaeological collections recovered from sites being developed during the boom. Currently a working group is preparing a report on how to deal with this issue for the Environment Minister, Mark Durkan, who has the majority of responsibility in this area. …

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So… #GerryFittWASaBrit

“Gerry Fitt Is a Brit” was what used to be said about the founder member of the SDLP and former member of the Irish Labour Party and then the Republican Labour Party. Republicans in the Dock Ward who were contemporaries of Fitt used to claim, based on what they knew of him, that they would vote unionist before they would vote for Fitt. The Irish News (££) today is running a story revealing that Fitt pressed the British government in December …

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And then, the marching season was back upon us…

The Parades Commission has given its determination on the latest application by the ‘Ligoniel Combine’ to stage a parade along the section of the route that the Commission has specifically ruled out since 12th July last year. The reaction to this will, to some extent, colour the atmosphere as those summer parades that are usually contentious approach. Significantly, yesterday, First Minister Peter Robinson chose to avoid the debate on racism in the Assembly that his own comments sparked. Instead, he went with a …

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#800babies, racism, homophobia: the cancer of absolutism

This morning on Nolan, we had an insight into Peter Robinson’s worldview as the DUP, as a whole, seems to be accepting corporate responsibility for what he alone said: Breaking : DUP issue a public apology over racism row . Jonathan Bell tells Nolan show “we are sorry for the offence caused” — Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) June 3, 2014 Clearly, racism in the DUP isn’t confined to Robinson, as the words of Dineen Walker demonstrate. Paradoxically, though, while the DUP decided that, due to …

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After an all-Ireland election, where might Sinn Féin go next?

If any party are glad that the recent elections are over, it is surely Sinn Féin. Being the only major party that contests elections in all 32 counties means it is uniquely challenged when simultaneous local, European and bye-elections are held at the same time. With such an island-wide volume of electoral data, sifting through the various results and assessing their implications presents similar challenges for its strategists. But a couple of themes are pretty clear. In Wexford, Sinn Féin ran 5 …

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That “Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell” sermon

As the DUP have now entered the fray over the publicity around the anti-Islam sermon preached by Pastor McConnell, here’s a transcript of the extract that is under discussion: I know the time will come in this land, in this land, Protestant Ulster, so-called Protestant Ulster, so-called evangelical Ulster, even Billy Graham said that Northern Ireland was the last bastion of the Gospel … but … I know the time will come in this land and in this nation, to …

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@hopenothate on #UKIP and the UDA

After the UKIP debacle (and irony) of being banished from the Crown to the Europa last Wednesday, the Hope not Hate blog has done some digging into the complexion of the company Nigel Farage was keeping at the time. Farage’s companions included political allies of James Dowson of Britain First, occasionally the BNP, and, a recurring figure on the local flag protest scene. More pointedly, according to the blog, they were UDA figures who it is claimed were then involved in an attack on Friday that  was part of an internal …

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Labour in meltdown mode

Who needs negative campaigning when you have the Labour party? While opinion polling seems to have been incessant in the south since the last election, the latest Millward Brown poll published by the Irish Independent over the weekend has brought more grim reading for Labour. But not only does the party now seem to be rooted in single digits (an eye-watering 6% in the latest poll), this morning the fallout has added a new dimension with calls for the resignation of party …

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#Villiers, re-hashing Larkin and victim typologies

If nothing else, Theresa Villiers statement on power-sharing contains some odd language (see the first quote Mick has cited here).  The nuances in “…there are inherent weaknesses in a system in which it is very difficult to remove one’s rulers by voting and to choose a viable alternative…” actually jar with the mother-and-apple-pie follow-up about about consistency with power-sharing and inclusivity.  A central tenet of democracy is that voting in elections removes ‘rulers’ and replaces them with whoever gets elected …

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@LMcAtackney on #Archaeology of the Troubles at #PRONI

There is a launch tonight in PRONI’s (under-used!) building this evening for Dr Laura McAtackney‘s new book on The Archaeology of the Troubles/The dark heritage of Long Kesh/Maze prison. There are four speakers at the launch, including Laura and Professor Cahal McLaughlin of Queens’s University Belfast who will set the scene by presenting documented personal narratives of Long Kesh/Maze, recorded as part of the ‘Prisons Memory Archive’ project.A member of PRONI staff will also explore archives that illustrate some unusual historical nuances connected …

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#Smithwick: are we back full circle to an untested allegation of ‘collusion’?

So, have the Buchanan and Breen families got any closer to the truth about how their loved ones died on 20th March 1989? After lengthy hearings in front of Judge Peter Smithwick, the substantial report yesterday included a full account of the IRA operation in which they died, supplied by the IRA itself (see pages 398-411). This included that they knew from surveillance that the car driven by the two RUC men was used by senior officers liaising with Dundalk, …

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#Finucane: was Nelson a rogue or rogue agent?

The Attorney General is going to find it harder and harder to sell his no more inquiries, no more investigations proposal. Particularly so when the improvised methods of ‘investigation’ appear to have been little more than tactics for the British government to avoid decommissioning its own violent legacy. Far from finally drawing a line around the issues connected to the murder of Pat Finucane, further research has now shown that the background given by de Silva on Brian Nelson and …

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#Panorama to show absence of very good tools to critique the state

Tonight’s BBC Panorama programme will detail allegations about the operation of the Military Reaction Force, or MRF, and how it killed unarmed civilians as part of its work up until 1973. The programme has identified ten unarmed civilians it believes were shot by MRF members operating undercover. It also will include a claim that a Ministry of Defence review concluded that the MRF had “no provision for detailed command and control”. As with so much reportage about ‘the past’, they aren’t particularly new …

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Human Rights Political Policing PSNI Brutality

The Parades Commission has given its determination on the ‘Loyal Peaceful Protestors’ march on 30th November through Belfast city centre. The purpose of the parade is given on the application as ‘Human Rights Political Policing PSNI Brutality’ and the date is to coincide with anniversary of the designated days vote in Belfast city council (which is actually on the Tuesday after). Having received an application to bring 10,000 marchers and 40 bands through the city centres main streets from 1 …

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#Lethal Allies: this is not collusion.

This is much worse. The publication of Ann Cadwalladers Lethal Allies last month by Mercier Press was always going to have a relatively predictable reception. In many ways, nationalists and republicans have largely accepted that there was participation by members of the security forces in providing intelligence, weapons and targeting information to loyalist/unionist paramilitary groups from the late-1960s onwards. In some cases, it was even clear that either officially or unofficially, security force members and agents being run by the security services directly …

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High Court decides to #GivePootstheBoot

The High Court in Belfast has again ruled against the  lifetime blood ban imposed on gay and bisexual men by the Department of Health, not least on the grounds that it was irrational. The High Court found that: The minister has decided that MSM (males who have sex with other males) behaviour creates such a high risk of infection to the donor that such donors must be permanently deferred with the result that such blood cannot enter the Northern Ireland …

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@LADFLEG versus #Facebook

Have loyalists finally taken the fun out of Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD)? Here is LAD’s own brief timeline: founded in December 2012 at the height of the flag protests, it was unpublished and then republished in July 2013 in anticipation of further protests. After acquiring 6000 likes, it was then removed from Facebook amid claims of sexual content (LAD claim there has never been any). They then launched LAD 2, getting 3,000 likes in a week and were then unpublished …

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Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911-2013

The death has been announced in Hanoi of Vo Nguyen Giap, the self-taught general who drove the French out of Vietnam. His generalship at the pivotal battle of Dien Bien Phu, freeing the North from colonial rule and then later forcing the Americans to abandon their support for the various regimes in South Vietnam, was largely responsible for the eventual re-unification of the country under a communist government in Hanoi. Giap is probably not as well known as the events in …

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