Author Archive | Pete Baker

“Cars being stopped and searched is not going to happen”

Whilst the BBC quote, at length, the concerns about a post-Brexit border of “a former customs officer in Donegal” whom they interviewed on Radio Foyle, the Irish Revenue Commissioner’s lead official on the topic has been speaking at a conference on Brexit in Dublin organised by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.  From the Irish Times more…

“So let nobody speak of a progressive or anti-Brexit pact either…”

In Saturday’s Irish News, Newton Emerson with some impertinent points about electoral pacts in the forthcoming General Election on June 8.  From the Irish News Sinn Féin has ordered the SDLP to stand down, although sadly not to dump arms, in North Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Let nobody call this a nationalist pact, more…

Scappaticci and McGuinness

Operation Kenova and The Spy in the IRA…

John Ware’s BBC Panorama investigation on Freddie Scappaticci, The Spy in the IRA, is available online, with an accompanying article on the BBC website.  Ed Moloney has some relevant posts on his blog on the programme, including criticism of the initial response by processors in the media to Liam Clarke’s scoop when he broke the story in more…

Peter Taylor: “Gradually I got used to reporting death. But I never became insensitive to it.”

In advance of the broadcast on BBC Radio 4 tonight, 8pm, of Peter Taylor’s documentary, Fifty Years Behind the Headlines – Reflections on Terror, the renowned journalist has written an article on the subject for the BBC website.  Most revealing, on many levels, is the part in which he recounts the “interview [which] affected [him] personally above all others.” more…

Origin

What’s That Thing? “a clumsy, aggressive, cheap-looking new sculpture overlooking Belfast”

As the BBC reports, Belfast has won another award!  In association with the Architecture Foundation, the Spectator magazine has bestowed its What’s That Thing? award for bad public art on Origin – part of the Farset Project, one of “seven big, bold and ambitious cultural projects” that Belfast City Council have developed alongside the Arts Council of more…

Joint authority? “What on earth have you been smoking?”

In the Irish Times Newton Emerson takes issue with two of the talking points being promoted by the SDLP and Sinn Féin – EU ‘special status’ for Northern Ireland and ‘joint authority’.  From the Irish Times Northern nationalism has an alternative to Brexit – special status for the North within the EU. Nobody has a more…

“concepts and terms like “special status” give rise to serious concerns for other EU partners about precedents that might be set elsewhere”

A much needed, for some, lesson in the real politik of negotiations with other EU states, in regard to the UK leaving the EU, from the Irish Government Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, in a Dáil written answer last week. 457.Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the need for a special status more…

Sinn Féin’s red lines? : “So you had the Irish language act, there was a thing called the bill of rights and there was another issues.”

Launching the Sinn Féin manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly election a couple of weeks ago, the party’s appointed ‘leader in the North’, Michelle O’Neill, declared that “You’d be very aware that I won’t be drawing any red line issues…” Since then she has allowed the impression to be created that the one ‘red line’ the party more…

“is Gerry the Genius sure he has thought all this through?”

In today’s Irish News, Newton Emerson asks the impertinent question… Remarks by Mike Nesbitt about cross-community voting distracted from what should have been the major story of the week. Northern Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill has said her party will not return to the executive with Arlene Foster as first or deputy first minister until more…

SDO: Coronal hole Feb 2017

Seven years of Solar Dynamics

It seems like only yesterday that I was noting First Light on Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory [SDO], and the early hours of this morning for ‘three years in three minutes‘ and ‘SDO Year 4‘.  In fact the SDO was launched on 11 Feb 2010, with First Light in April of that year. [Seven long years… more…

“I don’t have to be a Sinn Féin republican.”

Despite the efforts of the former Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim, Daithí McKay to reinvent himself [move along now… – Ed], some of his supporters appear not to be prepared to let it lie. Having resigned from the party over its handling of the Jamie Bryson coaching scandal, and its anointing of Daithí McKay’s successor, former Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney is standing in more…

Fine Gael on Sinn Féin: “We couldn’t work with them”

Something to keep in mind when criticising others…  There was a bit of a kerfuffle following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s mid-term non-answer to a question on the potential for any future coalition involving Sinn Féin.  The Irish Examiner records Enda Kenny saying While strongly ruling out doing any deal with Fianna Fáil, Enda Kenny said “depending more…

“if Sinn Fein fails to increase its vote and share of Assembly seats under Michelle O’Neill’s leadership…”

With a stagnating vote evident in the last NI Assembly election – just 8 months ago – and a reduced number of seats available this time out, in the Belfast Telegraph Anthony McIntyre highlights a potential problem for Sinn Féin in their election gamble. There is nothing complicated about the DUP pitch: despite the democratic veneer, the more…

“we have stripped away the overgrowth of decades of ill-informed comment, half truths and deliberate misrepresentations which have all too often masqueraded as established facts.”

Given the many lurid conspiracy theories that have been constructed over the years around the abuse at the Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast, it’s worth highlighting the findings of the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995 on that issue in particular. While the BBC mentioned it in a longer more…

UK Government: “Clearly, any form of joint authority would be incompatible with the consent principle [of the Belfast Agreement].”

A short BBC report points to an interesting exchange today in the House of Lords where the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office and Scotland Office, Lord Dunlop, poured a bucket of cold water on the suggestion that “joint authority” could be an option if the relevant parties fail to form an Executive following more…

“a strategy which now views the very presence of devolved government in Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip with the Government and with the DUP.”

In the News Letter, Sam McBride provides an astute assessment of the “profound consequences” of Sinn Féin’s decision to resign Martin McGuinness from the Northern Ireland Executive Office.  From the News Letter article   Mr Adams now appears to envisage yet another round of ‘crisis talks’ in Belfast in attempt to extract further concessions from more…