Ten more years! Ten more years!

Having been billed in advance as ‘significant’, there’s been a noticeable absence of applause from the usual suspects for the recently re-announced, but yet to be revealed, Gerry Adams’ Sinn Féin’s 10 year plan for leadership change a “process of generational change”.  [Do those ‘suspects’ know who they are? – Ed] Probably… [And does ’10 years’ mean this generation will miss out? – Ed]  Possibly… On the other hand, properly sceptical observers have had a field day… Suzanne Breen in the … Read more

An EPIC View of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Wondrous images, from a million miles out in space, from NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) of the shadow of the moon crossing over North America on Aug. 21, 2017.  EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), photographing the full sunlit side of Earth every day.  [Image credit: NASA EPIC Team. Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katy Mersmann] Pete Baker

“Women in Northern Ireland continue to be discriminated against.”

With the Northern Ireland Department of Health refusing to update guidance to health professionals here regarding pregnancy terminations, despite the changes to UK policy announced earlier this year, in the Guardian Goretti Horgan, a lecturer in social policy at Ulster University and a founder member of Alliance for Choice in Northern Ireland, argues for change to address the equality issue that failed to make it into anyone’s ‘red lines’. [Because that would break the bastards? – Ed] Probably…  From the Guardian … Read more

“in just the same way that nationalists in Northern Ireland can’t permanently settle for their Irish/nationalist identity being simply recognised and accommodated in part of the United Kingdom…”

In yesterday’s News Letter, Alex Kane, in effect, calls ‘bullshit’ on Sinn Féin’s latest pronoucements on a new united Ireland…  and, perhaps, the political psychosis that underlies their thinking.  That’s without addressing the question of the authority to offer any such constitutional guarantees and/or the willingness, or ability, to deliver them.  [It’s ‘Blue Sky’ thinking! – Ed]  Of course it is…  From the News Letter article I was on a Féile an Phobail panel with Michelle O’Neill last Wednesday evening, … Read more

Extradited Suspect Admits Role in 1996 Provisional IRA Mortar Attack in Germany

Unencumbered by the Belfast Agreement, ‘comfort’ letters, or any proposals on legacy issues, German authorities sought and, last year, secured the extradition of  a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry, from north Belfast, had been arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, in October 2015, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. At the start of his trial today in a court in the city … Read more

“In the Autumn, Northern Ireland must have a proper Budget in place…”

As the only adult (politician) left in the room, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, has intervened, for a second time, on NI Executive business and reallocated £131 million in funding to local departments [pdf file (216kb)].  From the BBC report Health and education are the major beneficiaries of £131m in additional money for Northern Ireland. The move was announced by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, as part of a reallocation of funds known as a monitoring round. Health … Read more

“À la Bastille!”

Once again, with apologies to Pierre Ranger… [It’s a tradition, we know… – Ed]  Indeed!  Play La Marseillaise! Adds  And a French winner on Le Tour on Bastille Day! Pete Baker

Question for the NI Justice Minister…

Here’s something for an incoming Northern Ireland Justice Minister to grapple with…  It’s a question that arises following the UK Government’s decision to provide access for women from Northern Ireland to abortion services in England free on the NHS. From yesterday’s written answers in Parliament. Abortion: Northern Ireland Diana Johnson: [2513]To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference to her letter of 29 June 2017 on funding for abortions for Northern Irish women in England, what assessment she … Read more

“it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy…”

From yesterday’s Irish News, Patrick Murphy, once again, making direct contact with the head of the nail. While the DUP’s future role in Westminster is far from predictable, it is easy to understand. Sinn Féin’s strategy, however, is less clear. Indeed it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy, other than to prolong the talks and hope for a lucky break, similar to the one the DUP received in Westminster. Sinn Féin collapsed Stormont because of the RHI … Read more

“six months later nothing seems to have replaced that philosophy beyond aggressively taking on the DUP…”

Ahead of the likely suspension of open party political hostilities briefings to the media for the summer, the News Letter’s Sam McBride has an interesting piece in search of a Sinn Féin strategy.  [There’s a strategy?! – Ed]  Just tactics… From the News Letter Long forgotten are the days when Martin McGuinness warmly recalled how he and Ian Paisley had agreed that they could run their own affairs and didn’t need English ministers in Belfast. Sinn Fein is now warning … Read more

“Look, this Carthage obsession of yours. For Jupiter’s sake, let it go, man!”

With the Scottish First Minister, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, backing down, for now, from her previous strident position on indyref2 the BBC’s Scotland editor, Brian Taylor, detects the “scunner factor” at work. Voters in Scotland have thrilled to seven electoral tests in three years. They are already anxious over the uncertainty attendant upon Brexit. Are they ready for yet more eager talk from the SNP and the Scottish Government about the prospect of indyref2? Nicola Sturgeon has concluded that they … Read more

“It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be.”

In his analysis of where the £1.5 billion, over a number years, from the Conservative/DUP arrangement will be spent, the BBC’s John Campbell makes a couple of interesting points about some of the new money, and all of the old money. There is also £100m to be spent on deprived communities over five years. It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be. Stormont’s Social Investment Fund, which was also designed to help those … Read more

“Anyone for more opium?”

The empty rhetoric of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, in Downing Street last week… Speaking at Downing Street, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that the party told Mrs May “very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday Agreement” over the Conservative negotiations with the DUP. …is neatly summed up in Ed Moloney’s blog post title, “Sinn Fein Meet May, Complain And Then Go Away……Move On, No Story Here“. The party’s impotence, in relation to any arrangement … Read more

Happy Bloomsday, intolerable Joyceans everywhere!

If you don’t know by now, it’s tradition!  [We know… – Ed]. Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, once again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness. And a reminder of a brief history of the day, from the Guardian last year, which includes this great 1924 quote from Joyce on Ulysses – “I have to convince myself that I wrote that book. I used to be able to talk intelligently about it.” In June of … Read more

New Sinn Féin MLA Director of Group that Discriminated against Job Applicant because of his Political Opinion

The Irish News today highlights details of the newly-appointed Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Karen Mullan’s relevant experience for the job, mentioned in Eamonn McCann’s excellent post on the case, that illuminates David’s, somewhat limited, subsequent description of her as a “community worker in the city of Derry”. Karen Mullan is a director of Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) Ltd., Sinn Féin and the DUP’s preferred delivery mechanism for community services and funding in the area, who, earlier this year, were ordered to … Read more

“We don’t believe that any deal between the DUP here and the English Tories will be good for the people here.”

So stated the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, as he paraded his “Magnificent Seven” MPs [and Carál Ní Chuilín – Ed] in front of the media at a press conference at Stormont yesterday.  But whilst most reports focused on that line, or a variation on it, only the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty appears to have still been listening when he went on to say… [Gerry Adams] said Sinn Féin would not reject any positive deal that might emerge from these … Read more

“at the collective level, something funny is going on in terms of our reality testing…”

Some interesting thoughts [as ever! – Ed] from the writer and novelist Will Self in an interview in the Irish Times today. If Self was concerned about the impact of technology seven years ago, what about now, when the overwhelming impression for many people is that the world is spinning faster and faster? Or is that just another technological illusion? “Oh no, I don’t think it is. It is absolutely not an illusion. Anybody smart – no, let’s not get … Read more

“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 report The operation of a post-Brexit customs regime can be automated and simplified and does not need customs points with Northern Ireland, the Revenue Commissioner’s … Read 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, as that would involve reciprocation and Sinn Féin has not offered to stand down anywhere.  Sinn Féin’s stance is doubly impressive when it risks handing … Read more

“…if you want trouble again in the north play that game. It’s a dangerous game”

There’s been some focus on the comments at the weekend by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warning about any attempt to “force” a border poll in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  His remarks are placed in a wider context by the fuller quote in the Belfast Telegraph. Speaking on Newstalk radio, the former Irish prime minister said: “The idea of a border poll… was put there when when I was conceding Articles two and three of the constitution and we were giving … Read more