Water rates or hosepipe ban: why NI Water funding model needs to change…

I was on Nolan to discuss a hosepipe ban that’s imminent. In England Severn Trent has asked people to conserve water, but there’s no ban. Water services in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic have been investing massively in their systems. That’s not only brought leaks down within the system but allows them to keep up with ever rising demand as populations grow across these islands and demands shift up and down with the seasons. Meanwhile NI Water (as it …

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Provisional’s war against the NI public cannot provide a moral foundation for new constitutional order

This week’s coverage in The Economist magazine covers the amnesty proposal with just two words, Closure denied.   Sarah’s powerful polemic on the forgetting that the government now wants us all to do is already this week’s must read. In the Irish Times however, Liam Kennedy brings another, future angle to the process at a time when Sinn Féin activists are both pushing their movement’s bloody campaign and telling voters that the time for a united Ireland is, now. The President, Michael …

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Sinn Féin disowns the amnesty deal it’s been asking for incessantly for over twenty years…

One advantage of running a blog over a long time having access to the archives. Indeed, the reasons I turned to blogging software all those years ago back in 2002 was I struggled to find an article from just three years earlier in the Irish Times. Initially I used Slugger as a researcher’s pin board on which you could trace not just the day to day pulses in the newsflows (very much a feature when the number of journalists writing …

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Amnesty would deny victim’s right to know and underwrite the toxic legacy of paramilitaries

The Moral Maze programme on BBC Radio Four for last week focused on the perennial question of Northern Ireland’s legacy and gave careful consideration as to what the consequences of declaring an amnesty for past crimes might be. The legacy processes don’t really work largely because it’s a hodgepodge of negotiated pleadings from the leading protagonists in the conflict. Less aimed at truth and reconciliation and more at giving maximum comfort to those political operators who, should prosecutions ever proceed, …

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In coming to the only realistic deal on medicines the EU admits Protocol is a work in progress

Research from QUB showed last week that the protocol splits the NI population right down the middle. I suspect that’s reflection of the unreal way the negotiation process within the joint committee is being projected by both sides. Newton Emerson gives a good example of how the material reality the EU has been projecting dematerialised rapidly under pressure from harsh reality: As the year progressed, it quickly became apparent the medicines sea border was a practical and political absurdity. Private …

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Underneath the chaos of the last few months political ground is beginning to shift…

Newton is a great deal more certain than I am that neither Sinn Féin nor the DUP will bring down Stormont before the next scheduled elections. There’s nothing wrong with his logic, it’s just that in the past neither have always conformed to logic. My own gut feeling is that the overall trend is now heading towards the middle. The DUP is clearly in trouble in North Down which is why their poll topper there has jumped to independent. They’ve always …

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Finally, the Narrow Water bridge is going ahead as part of Micheál Martin’s Shared Island Initiative…

In private conversations I often reference the failure to bring this project to pass (despite offers from the EU to cover most of the cost) as a perfect metaphor for one of the key weaknesses in North South relations: a tragic unwillingness to build. Or within the wider political process that have arisen on foot of the Belfast Agreement: ie, a cataclysmic failure to understand that the core utility of bridges (metaphorical and literal) are the benefits it brings, not the …

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If the UK and EU “recognise” and “deal with” the “flaws in the protocol”…

Good spake from Newton Emerson which (like Brian Feeney’s piece on Wednesday) highlights another trapdoor in its rejectionist rhetoric around the Protocol… The cynically engineered electoral competition between Sinn Féin and the DUP ratcheted their votes up together, then down together as despairing voters deserted them in the Alliance surge, until the implosion of the DUP over Brexit suddenly left Sinn Féin polling 9 percentage points ahead. This is the “safety margin” for the nationalist electorate – the extent to …

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A chastened DUP which is willing to learn from its own mistakes might be the gift Donaldson needs. But is it?

Yesterday I was asked to do a couple of things in the media. One was on Andrew Neil’s new GB News station (which I can’t actually watch live) and the other was for The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast (starts about 33 minutes in): On both occasions I was asked to share my thoughts on the NI Protocol and the challenges facing the DUP leader elect, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. In preparing for both, a number of thoughts occurred to me …

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Fantasies of dominance are of no use in resolving Northern Ireland’s prisoner’s dilemma…

Say what you like about Brian Feeney, he is at least consistent.  Today, he futures on the options for Jeffrey Donaldson for bringing Stormont down (ie, triggering an election by doing exactly what Sinn Féin did and refusing to appoint an FM). He has grounds for speculation largely given to him by the DUP’s own rhetoric (and the odd behaviour of the East and Mid Antrim Council in seeking to open their own negotiations with the Cabinet office over Larne port) …

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Poots puts down a (removable) marker on the future improvement of the NI Protocol…

 The more cynical (and there’s been a lot of that even amongst the popcorn munchers here on Slugger) may interpret Poots’ ‘softening’ as some kind of bargaining plea from posterity, butt he’s also putting down a marker for future events. When asked about Edwin’s assertion this morning on GMU that Brandon Lewis had assured him there would be significant changes in the Northern Irish protocol he said he would not disclose the nature of private conversations. In truth, Poots himself …

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After its “double coup” tricky times lie ahead for whoever leads a divided DUP…

Well, that escalated quickly [So 2021 will be remembered for the year of three DUP leaders, at least? – Ed). Last night’s The View pretty much devoted itself to the Poots resignation, with some good commentary all round… Since it’s all gone very quiet afterwards (Gareth Gordon reports that DUP folks who have been phoning him for months now suddenly won’t return his calls), time for a few brief thoughts… Poots saw Arlene was in trouble and his opportunity to …

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Sinn Féin awarded another tribal slam dunk without actually putting a ball through any hoop…

Well, I must admit I read this morning’s announcement that a crisis last night (that nobody seems to have known about) was narrowly averted, with some surprise. Did anyone else know there had been an actual crisis over nominations today? Well, that post midnight meeting with the SoS gave Sinn Fein the perfect opportunity to run to the press and get their story out first. However, some of the early claims of what the SoS said fall very far short …

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How Sinn Féin’s multimillionaire assets buys it “the ability to ignore the will of the electorate.”

As Sinn Féin settles in as the largest single party in the Republic, here’s an interesting snippet from the Economist worth sharing on how it also became (by far) the richest… The newest income stream is the most intriguing. Two years ago the party revealed it had received £1.5m from the will of an English recluse, William E Hampton—by far the biggest donation in the history of Ulster politics. Cash from that source has continued to flow to the party, …

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#Bloomsday: Water…

What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire?

James Joyce, Ulysses

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Shakespeare, on the importance of confronting our future…

What’s past is prologue, what to come, in yours and my discharge… -William Shakespeare, The Tempest Mick FealtyMick 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

The DUP has made some surprising statements this week, but do they have what it takes to play?

When against our expectation Ed Poots won the leadership a friend and I asked what it could possibly mean. The best he could come up with was the idea that being of the right, Mr Poots might not fear to go places Mrs Foster had shrunk away from. With this thought in mind what to make of the new leadership team for the DUP? When you split a party down the middle as Poots has there are people who have …

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As members begin to leave, the deconstruction of the modern DUP (may shortly) begin…

I was on Nolan yesterday to discuss the further developments within the DUP… Two DUP councillors quit party over new leadership. Is this a crisis for Poots in his first days in the [email protected] | @mickfealty ? https://t.co/Js3CJ0mSdi pic.twitter.com/Sfu5BtPfpb — Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) June 7, 2021 Accusations of bullying is not the most novel aspect of this story, more that dissenters within the DUP (who have almost rivalled the paramilitarists in Sinn Féin for command and control politics) now speak …

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Time for nationalists and unionists to converge on the idea Northern Ireland is one community, not two

One of the most frustrating things about Northern Irish politics is how we often fall into the convenient idea (or cognitive trap) that we are somehow detached from what’s happening in the rest of the world. There’s an interesting piece in the New Statesman which I think raises an important issue for politics everywhere. It focuses on UK Labour’s difficulties in reaching what it perceives to have been it former voters in the so called Red Wall seats. But in …

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Poots’ takeover gets even messier and threatens instability both inside and outside of the DUP…

Well, The View was interesting last night. It turned upon a live outside broadcast from the inauguration of the new DUP, and it did the new DUP leader no favours since it not only documented his win, but his failure to maintain a coalition. One fascinating if minor detail probably illustrates that failure best is from this BBC report on the changeover, when it noted that Arlene Foster: …has already changed her Twitter handle from @DUPLeader to @ArleneFosterUK, taking all …

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