Ahern: IRA Has Begun Consultation Process

RTE reporting that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has made a statement in Warsaw to the effect that the IRA has begun its internal consulation process on the call by Gerry Adams to end paramilitarism and criminality as well as full decommissioning. What’s motivated Bertie’s statement? Could it have something to do with the rumours over the weekend? Richard Delevan

Irish Banks to Pay Cost of Army Escorts

Irish banks will pay the full costs of an Army escort for cash deliveries, under a deal secured by Irish Defence Minister Willie O’Dea last night expected to save taxpayers at least €3 million (the Irish Times, subs req, gets it right that there is no ceiling on the savings). What seems remarkable about this story are two things – that under the previous regime, the Republic’s highly profitable banks were getting a security subsidy of 58 percent of the … Read more

McCartney killers to be named in today’s EU debate?

In the runup to today’s debate (mentioned earlier here and here on Slugger, and here and here on sicNotes – and the indefatigable Balrog*) in the European Parliament on a resolution supporting the family of Robert McCartney, condemning IRA criminality and violence and calling on Sinn Fein to “insist” that witnesses speak directly to the PSNI, an MEP has threatened to reveal – under parliamentary privilege – the names of the people he believes responsible for the murder.The Times Online … Read more

Are Southern Protestants Victims?

The Irish Independendent reports (free reg req) that 23 pc of respondents to an EU-sponsored survey of Protestants in the Republic Southern border counties* said they had suffered mainly verbal abuse at work or school. More than half of those surveyed (57 pc) said they felt that Southern political institutions did not adequately represent them. However, the report says that while the Protestant community up until recently felt marginalised and isolated, there is a sense that this is changing with … Read more

New Gig for Trimble?

Blogger Nick Barlow recalls a 2001 suggestion from then-Daily Telegraph editor Charels Moore, the last time during a previous search for a Tory leader — that they entice David Trimble to take on the job. Are you thinking what we’re thinking?Barlow recalls the thinking at the time went something like this: “Sure, he’d have had to to leave his Ulster seat, and some pliant Tory MP in a safe seat would have had to take the Chiltern Hundreds to give … Read more

The Last Irish Referendum on the EU?

The Irish Times leads with a proposal by the Fianna Fail/PD Government to amend the Irish Constitution to ratify the proposed EU Constitution. But in a controversial addition, the proposal, which was shown to Labour and Fine Gael, would make it easier for the Irish Government to cede sovereignty over certain decisions to the EU: The Government’s draft, which has been seen by The Irish Times, if approved, would allow the State to agree in future to give up the … Read more

Trimble Benefits from Tactical Voting?

Sky News (for what it’s worth) reporting that Sinn Fein and SDLP activists at the count centre in Banbridge are tipping David Trimble to make it back in Upper Bann by a comfortable margin. Speculation was that SDLP voters might have gone tactically for Trimble. Richard Delevan

That’s a Wrap

Thanks to all those at home and here in Belfast who made tonight’s Slugger Goes Live a success. We hope you enjoyed it. Back in the lobby behind me there is wine being consumed that is calling me, and the chance to put some names with faces — the very pregnant Broom of Anger and the very neatly pressed Balrog gang are here, to name just two. We managed to record the first 70 minutes or so of the session … Read more

Is Fianna Fail running scared – in the North?

Question from the floor inquired as to whether the panel thought that the recent visits of Dublin politicians to the North had been because Fianna Fail was hemmoraging to Sinn Fein in areas in the South. Of course, that still wouldn’t explain the visit of, in Brian Feeney’s colourful words, “Mister 3 Percent with the Rottweiler studded collar”. Will Fianna Fail take over the SDLP? Or hang their own shingle out in the North?Chris relayed that Bertie Ahern is the … Read more

What about Gerry Adams’ statement about the IRA?

Levitas asked: Does the statement from Gerry Adams concerning the future of the IRA represent a positive development which has the potential to break the current logjam? Brian Feeney said that the logjam will only be well and truly broken when the Sinn Fein representative on the NI Policing Board is the IRA Adjutant General – because one set of cops can’t be chasing the other.Alex – Felt swapping statements between the IRA and Sinn Fein is ventroliquists’ act. “I’m … Read more

Will Paul Murphy leave after the election?

And if the Northern Secretary did, would anyone notice? Asks Brian Feeney. It leads into the question of where Blair is in all this. Dan recalls that when Paul Murphy was first appointed, the BBC reporter turned after his first appearance and said ‘that’s it – we won’t get a decent soundbite for the next few years’. Richard Delevan

“Travel Narrows the Mind”

Brian Feeney responds to Davros’ question — [with the] increasing ease of communication and travel, the arrival of the EU, and changes in the structure of Capitalism have rendered parochial political philosophies such as Nationalism and Unionism redundant? — with the above quote from Cicero. Richard Delevan

Optimism versus Pessimism

An audience member, who grew up in the Markets, asked the panel, “do they feel optimisitic or pessimistic about the future of Northern Ireland?”Dan McGinn said that they had to hedge their bets. Brian Feeney – “One thing I’m certain about – I won’t be here in 50 years’ time. This election is a necessary hurdle to get to negotiations, leading to an Assembly election that will ratify any deal reached between SF and the DUP.” “Deal’s on the table, … Read more

Is the Middle Class out playing golf?

Brian Feeney made a fascinating point – that with the rise of Sinn Fein and the DUP, Northern Ireland is likely the only polity in Western Europe whose two dominant parties are both rooted in the working class. Sparked by a question from the floor, the panel returned to this with some passion. Mick recalled a quip that middle class unionists went out to play golf in 1969 and never came back to politics. Has an apathy spread to the … Read more

“Gerry Adams’ Most Effective Opponent? Bertie Ahern”

So opines Chris Thornton, continuing a theme that has been lurking here, the possibility that Fianna Fail will open a Northern shopfront after the election is over. Brian Feeney builds on that theme, says that since December, the Irish Government has said to Sinn Fein and the IRA, come back to us when decommissioning is done. Gerry Adams, beginning with his statement at the start of the campaign, has built the whole campaign – which is stepping up to fever … Read more

Two Blocs?

Alex Kane agreed with one part of Dan McGinn’s sprawling overview of the election campaign – unlike in the past, where it might have been described as a ‘phony war’, in this election every seat is hotly contested. Kane suggested that despite Ulster Unionist Party missteps, the media and bookies’ prospects of the DUP sweeping four seats might bring out the voters. He added that whether he wins his seat or not, it’s inevitable that David Trimble exits the leadership … Read more

“Let’s see the colour of the Provos’ money”

First ripple of laughter as Dan McGinn of the PA characterised the attitude of many toward the peace process at the moment, as he set out the broad themes of the election. McGinn suggests that the stakes couldn’t be higher in the contests of the Foyle and Upper Bann seats. The voters of Foyle, “the cockpit of nationalism”, will dictate the future of nationalism for the next few years, according to McGinn.McGinn also highlights the “helluva battle” that David Trimble … Read more

…who was drunk as a rule.

While my hand is recovering from Brian Feeney’s handshake – ouch – here’s quick trivia: If you’ve been one of the 3,500 daily visitors to Slugger who were afraid to ask, Mick has reminded the audience about the nomenclature of Slugger O’Toole, from the lyrics of the Irish Rover. Now you know. Richard Delevan

Overture, hit the lights…

Welcome to Slugger Live, direct from the Institute of Governance at Queens University Belfast. Mick has sent the executive jet to pick me up from Dublin and whisked me here in style to bring to you the events as they unfold. As the panel and audience are filing in with canapes and glasses of Veuvre Cilquot, we’ll start getting down to brass tacks. Any questions yet? Add them in the comments below.Dan McGinn of PA, Alex Kane of the Newsletter, … Read more