Gerry Adams: “No one should underestimate the enormous energy and manipulation it must have required…”

Some insightful observations from Alex Kane in the Irish Times… …his most extraordinary quality has been political and psychological agility and adaptability. On a number of occasions he has triple-somersaulted Sinn Féin from previously fixed positions, taking months, sometimes years, to persuade his republican base that change was required for the sake of the “unity project”. No one should underestimate the enormous energy and manipulation it must have required to persuade the IRA army council and Sinn Féin activists that … Read more

“I first went to the party in Feb 2014 over this bullying and have consistently done so to try and get it stopped.”

So, as we know, there’s been a steady stream of southern SF councillors leaving the party. The latest to go is North Dublin Cllr Noeleen Reilly, this is the one most likely to do serious damage, who announced her exit of. We knew something was wrong when the local SF TD, Dessie Ellis, publicly threatened to sue the Ballymun Tidy Towns Committee over what he alleged at the time was… …a completely false allegation was made against him at the meeting … Read more

Repeal of the 8th isn’t Roe vs Wade but a legislative fudge could help critics paint it that way.

Gerald Howlin makes a number of perceptive points about the potential for hidden depths in the upcoming Referendum.. If what is proposed passes, I doubt it will have much effect on voting intentions in a subsequent election. For what it’s worth, I am inclined to think that we will not have an election in 2018. I may eat those words, but fundamentally, the greater distance between the referendum and a subsequent election, the less backwash that is likely. The enactment … Read more

Memories of Growing Up in Northern Ireland…

Ann Allan was born in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland in 1949. She moved to Belfast in 1966 where, in 1970 in the midst of the troubles she married across the religious divide. She serves on the #OpenGovNI steering committee. Some time ago Ann started writing a series of her ‘Memories’ for her own website ‘Chatter’. Many of these have now been converted to video and paint a vivid picture of growing up in Northern Ireland during a turbulent period.  The latest video is … Read more

Could a Museum of the Troubles release relevant, compelling, select, powerful, timely and accurate information?

Eamonn is getting a bit of stick for publishing Declan Kearney’s rather, erm, ambitious claims that Sinn Fein was an inspiration for the NI Civil Rights movement. Truth is you have to publish unconventional views help break conventional thinking. There is some truth in Declan’s account of the past. But the IRA he refers to was the pre Troubles organisation which had come to the rather conclusive view that its border campaign had been needlessly destructive of NI’s already fragile social … Read more

“It is using the memory of these men in order to hurt the Bloody Sunday families…”

UUP MLA for Upper Bann Doug Beattie, responding to the news that a couple of Parachute Regiment flags have been erected in the village of New Buildings near the City of Derry… That is totally shameful to do that, because it is only done for one reason and we all know what that reason is. As for people who say that they are putting up that flag to remember the paratroopers who were killed in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles, I … Read more

“an investment of our hopes in nationalism is counter-productive…”

Cormac Lucey, a columnist in the Irish edition of the Times of London laid out a useful analysis a week or two back, excoriating the reliance of Sinn Fein and DUP on a culture war which if not explicitly ruled out by the Belfast Agreement, was explicitly discouraged (£). The Good Friday agreement expressly stated: “All participants recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language, Ulster-Scots and the … Read more

Eastwood: We must not write the obituary of the Good Friday Agreement…

Good point here from Colum Eastwood [remember him? – Ed] SDLP Leader @columeastwood warns – we must not write the obituary of the Good Friday Agreement. “…a local, power-sharing government is the only solution that has ever worked in Northern Ireland.” 📖 Read more: — SDLP (@SDLPlive) January 29, 2018 We already know that the DUP and Sinn Féin have significantly compromised on their public positions and yet they still haven’t done the deal. People deserve to know … Read more

Loughinisland caught up in an torturous Groundhog Day repetition…

As Allison noted (6.53 in) in last Friday’s edition of Slugger TV (if you haven’t done so already, go and watch the whole thing) the Loughinisland is, along with Kingsmill and many other tragedies just one of the things maintaining polarisation. But the way that case is being fought is an extraordinary bend in what has already been a very zig-zaggy road to peace. Bearing in mind Brian’s excellent briefing on the unique status of Mr Justice McCloskey’s advisory judgement, here’s … Read more

“Allowing elected representatives to follow their consciences chimes with the public mood…”

It’s worth sharing this long form interview of Micheal Martin by Mark Carruthers. It’s detailed and Carruthers misses few major points: not least the tension between Martin’s previous pro-life and current pro-choice stance. This was a nuanced performance by Martin who laid out many lines we can expect leaders of other parties which are just as split on the matter Fianna Fail to help them rethink, recycle and/or reuse. Much of the fire in his internal opposition is already beginning … Read more

Good news for Bombardier and Belfast as ITC rules against Boeing…

Good news for the workers at Bombardier tonight, as the US government’s proposal to slap duties of nearly 300 percent on it to protect Boeing’s commercial interests with US airlines was thrown out by the U.S. International Trade Commission: The 4-0 decision is defeat for Boeing, which had argued that Bombardier’s trade practices were illegal and harmful to its business. Bombardier argued that Boeing did not have a comparable plane to offer Delta. However… The dispute may not be over. Boeing … Read more

What a Citizen’s Assembly can do for NI politics…

The Building Change Trust is funding a pilot Citizens’ Assembly initiative to take place in Northern Ireland in 2018 around a single topic. The project will be delivered by Involve – a charity that specialises in public participation.

More information on the nuts and bolts of the project can be found on the Trust’s website here. In this short video, the Trust’s Paul Braithwaite explains how he thinks a Citizens’ Assembly could play an important role in refreshing Northern Ireland’s democracy.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Michelle O’Neill, one year on from becoming ‘Leader of the North’…

There is something a bit Game of Thrones about Sinn Fein’s bespoke title for Martin McGuinness’s supposed successor Michelle O’Neill. Yesterday’s retrospective in the Irish News confirms there’s little to be learned from her first year in the “job”. Her decision to address an event in April commemorating the IRA’s ‘Loughgall Martyrs’ drew predictable criticism. Those less exercised saw it as deliberate tactic to ensure the Co Tyrone republican base was kept on board. Appearances at such events have since … Read more

Northern Ireland Dept of Infrastructure approves new North-South Interconnector

So, approval for a new north-south interconnector has gone through, without a Sinn Fein minister in charge, at the Department of Infrastructure. Robin McCormick, general manager of SONI (Northern Ireland’s equivalent of Eirgrid): “we very much welcome this positive outcome from the Department for Infrastructure. The North-South Interconnector is undoubtedly the most important infrastructure scheme on the island today and will deliver very real benefits to domestic and commercial consumers. “It has received strong support from businesses and employers because … Read more

DUP’s “rudeness, boorishness and discourtesy”, or Sinn Fein’s eternal flight from pragmatism?

So Northern Ireland’s missing democracy disappeared a year ago. So says the Economist. And it notes that this… …is partly because the negotiations have been punctuated by bouts of electoral combat. Elections to the suspended Assembly last March produced a surge in support for Sinn Fein. The general election in June saw the DUP stage a recovery, increasing its tally of MPs to ten. This proved crucial when Theresa May fell short of a majority and persuaded the DUP to … Read more

Republican paramilitary group Oglaigh na hEireann calls ceasefire..

Allison Morris breaks the news that Republican group Oglaigh an hEireann have announced a ceasefire. The group claimed the life of PSNI man Ronan Kerr and attempted to kill another Peadar Heffron. Allison also provides short analysis piece on the background… That most of the leadership originated from the IRA meant it already had possession of large amounts of weaponry held back from decommissioning by hardline elements in south Armagh, along with contacts with arms dealers in eastern Europe. However, … Read more

“Dissent is an imaginative act as well as a moral one….”

This long essay by Colin Murphy is essential reading for anyone who is even vaguely disturbed by the group mind approach to the reporting of politics and other matters of public import. He begins by focusing on Ireland’s dangerous predilection for consensuses and segues gently into how the liberal consensus is misdirecting journalist into rash and early judgements on supporters of Brexit and Trump.. Speaking truth to power is something we’re not very good at in this country and culture. … Read more

Mary Lou McDonald faces battle of margins as FG and FF set to scrap over every loose seat

IAs we await the confirmation whether or not Mary Lou McDonald was the only candidate for President of Sinn Fein, our own Patricia McBride tipped Michelle O’Neill for Vice President on RTE Drivetime last evening. So it looks like two women at the top. Or rather front of house. Power up to now has rested almost exclusively with the parties shadowy ‘leadership team’. Neither women can expect to be let too far off the party’s halter. Nor are they likely … Read more

In future struggles, unionists need to be both right and attractive…

On the day Sammy Wilson rightly apologises for his use of highly inappropriate language about An Taoiseach, Newton Emerson makes a vital point to unionism in his Irish News column… …the way City Hall operates is the way Stormont would operate without the petition of concern. Whoever could make common cause with the unaligned bloc, now including the Greens and occasional socialists as well as Alliance, would win the day. There was a timely demonstration of this last September when … Read more

Martin supports repeal of 8th: “because it has caused real harm to the quality of care available to pregnant women at critical moments”

This is going to create ructions, not simply within Fianna Fail, but within the wider polity… Cue a huge Twitter storm, and a lot of upset not least within Fianna Fail. But his lead point is the damage the Eighth Amendment has done to women. A nod there to the Halappanavar case, which I would guess represented a shift in the tide in of public opinion. Then there’s been the case of the Kerry babies, and a reminder of the … Read more