Northern Ireland sleepwalking to an off-script unification…

Northern Ireland is sleepwalking into an off-script unification, which commands a majority in the north but not in the south, or one which Dublin has failed to prepare for. A late Aug poll says Brexit creates a 52-39% majority for unification in NI. If no Brexit, 52-35% favours stay. However, only 31% of voters to the south favour unification if this increases taxes. (This compares with 63% if taxes remain the same – 2015 BBC/RTÉ poll.) NI would lose or … Read more

The Persecution of Stephen Fry, and Ireland’s need for a new constitution

Ireland – a country lately undergoing a thoroughgoing, much-needed update in the eyes of the world – now has been in the curious position of investigating Stephen Fry for the eminently modern crime of blasphemy. Fry, whose previous visits to Ireland include a good-spirited turn as an English tourist in the Irish-language soap Ros na Rún, made a 2015 appearance on RTÉ’s religion programme The Meaning of Life. Fry, we might have noticed, tends to speak his mind, and on this … Read more

How To Write It: A Brexit Breakup Note

The Prime Minister sits at her desk, which fits awkwardly, not like when she peered over it to banish Osborne. She’s put it off till now, but really, she’s got to write it: her Brexit Breakup Note. Larry, sensing the moment is not good, cowers from the leopard-print shoes with which he’s had his own ill-starred romance. He looks for somewhere to jump, but she banished all the sofas. Jean-Claude, It’s not EU, it’s US: Fine far as it goes, … Read more

Down for the count…

Something interesting is afoot in Northern Ireland. Voting turnout is up sharply, at 64.78% the highest since 1998 and Good Friday, for yesterday’s second Assembly election in ten months. (This yielding the hash-tag #votetilliboak–the last a local synonym for the act of retching orally). We won’t know until Saturday, but for the DUP this cannot be good news. Voting systems with transfers, of which the north and south are both fond, take fiendishly long to work out. The Brits think … Read more

Irish Post Awards – Watch Them Live Here

If you fancy giving the Irish Post’s 2016 Awards a quick gander, there’s an online webcast here. The Irish Post tells us that the late Sir Terry Wogan will be posthumously honoured with a lifetime achievement award.  London’s mayor Sadiq Khan will give the keynote. Other awards will go to Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill (Outstanding Contribution to Sport in Britain), Shane Richie (Entertainment Legend Award), and Leicester City FC CEO Susan Whelan (Outstanding Contribution to Business in Britain … Read more

Apple-EU tax bill open thread…

So the European Commission has ruled that Apple must pay Ireland €13bn in unpaid taxes, which Dublin will appeal and likely will have broader consequences for Irish-EU relations. I’d be keen for your thoughts. I only have two or three, so far. The fracas between the EU and Ireland over Apple’s tax bill—what we here locally might term a ballyhoo—has a little to do with taxes and computers, and a very great deal to do with the EU Competition Commissioner, … Read more

The cautionary tale of Pat Hickey: How the Olympics Got Seduced by Money, and Lost its Way

Ireland and Europe’s most senior Olympic official sits arrested in Rio, on charges of ticket scalping.   Meanwhile, pizza restaurants and small clothing shops receive threatening letters from the Olympics, telling them not to tweet the Games That Must Not Be Named.  (Lawyers say ‘I don’t think that’s what the law says’.) It’s all a sign of an Olympic movement which has lost its way, its officials seduced by big money. See Forbes for more (it’s by me) . Pádraig Belton30 year old journalist … Read more

Corbyn, the man who can’t even find a properly busy train in the UK:

CCTV photographs show Corbyn’s photograph sitting on the floor of a ‘ram-packed’ train actually was staged on a train full of unreserved seats – including the one he went back to sit in after.  Virgin’s press release: ‘Seats were available on the train in which Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was filmed sitting on the floor, Virgin Trains has found.’ ‘CCTV footage taken from the train on August 11 shows Mr Corbyn and his team walked past empty, unreserved seats in … Read more

Funny Olympic Facts

Whatever your views on the monarchy and Ireland, I think we can all be united by a brief pause of mathematical surprise that HM Queen Elizabeth’s 2016 personal medal tally is precisely 50 golds, 50 silvers, and 50 bronzes. Pádraig Belton30 year old journalist thing. Buys loo roll on eBay.

Barbers, Car Dealers, Printers: The “Olympic” Small Businesses Around Ireland and the World, and How They’re Watching Rio

DUBLIN.  When Farrell O’Boy launched his Olympic Cars in Maynooth, Co. Kildare, he thought he’d chosen ‘a strong name, and people would remember it’, says Danny McCabe, today its sales manager. Across the Irish Sea, Antonio Leto had emigrated from Sicily and worked as a barber when he set up his own shop, Olympic Barbers, in 1982. ‘He just wanted it to be an international barbershop—multinational, a barber for everyone‘, says his son, Ross, who now runs the shop, cutting … Read more

Way forward, redux.

Put Chilcott in charge of letter triggering Article 50. Then go to pub. Pádraig Belton30 year old journalist thing. Buys loo roll on eBay.

Five quick Brexit observations

1. I’m increasingly willing to see the split verdict as wise: offered stay in EU as-it-is versus get out utterly, the GB public says: make another option. 2. Overheard yesterday in Dublin: ‘So the English are knocked out of Europe twice in one week. Once by Iceland, once by people who shop there.’ 3. #CelticPride: This was found pinned to the door of the Welsh Polish Association in Llanelli, South Wales yesterday morning. 4. Overheard: ‘I’ve just realised I’ve never seen a news … Read more

BREXIT: A possible way forward

This is something of a work in progress, for which I’m extremely grateful for thoughts. A fantasy PM would use Thursday’s result to get a programme for savage EU reform and a two-circle Europe, get a UK political mandate for that, then use it to checkmate both Juncker and Nicola.  Here’s how: First, we need to keep mind of our friends abroad. Spoilers:  Angela’s one. Besides her, the head of the German Greens has just come out today (here, at 3.15), and made a case … Read more


Just the very quickest of thought experiments:  So, I’d be grateful for help in thinking this through. Namely, whether a pro-Remain party (maybe Labour under Jarvis or Chuka, or maybe a reborn Libs), or two, might find themselves with the seat balance after an Autumn snap election.  Standing, say, on a ‘Let’s Not Leave’ platform. Or, for that matter, even in the next General Election. I would imagine the three possible circumstances then are these: (1) If Article 50 hasn’t been triggered … Read more

#DemDebate Live Blog – (Kicking off at 2am BST)

My good friend Ollie has been kind enough to offer to live-blog this evening’s US Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders, from New York City where he will be attending it for us. The debate starts at 9 pm, 2 am for many of our British and Irish readers. He’ll introduce himself here in a little bit, but I’d just wanted to say a warm word of welcome, and to tip off all of you who might happen to … Read more

Easter ’16, Once Again

DUBLIN—Here in Ireland, this weekend, Yeats’s terrible beauty becomes a centenarian. It might have had a letter from the Queen, were history different. It is a pleasing sign of recent Irish social change that 1916 is not being commemorated as a good-and-evil struggle, one with Ireland on the side of the angels—and evil Britain receiving its due comeuppance and ouster. Call this the Wind That Shakes The Barley view of Irish historiography. Consider halfway back, 1966, for something less nuanced … Read more

Slugger on the roads

Strabane – where I’m running through next week – has had its local ‘Strabansky’ amend the de rigueur ‘Join the IRA’ scrawl…. (I owe this to Emma Walsh.) And this may be as good a moment as any to point out that I’m running the length of Ireland, 1st-12th October, for cancer charities – if you’re on my route, please do come along and either jog with me for a bit, or pour gin on me! My route is on … Read more

Alderaan reasons

Fair play this chap, outside Leinster House dressed as a Stormtrooper, whose placard reads ‘Abolishing the Senate did not work out well for Alderaan.’ Pádraig Belton30 year old journalist thing. Buys loo roll on eBay.