#Brexit Border Poll: Northern Ireland should vote for having its cake and eating it too

There is a simple, popular, practical, democratic solution to the Brexit border impasse. The citizens of Northern Ireland should be given the option to vote for their own future. Do you want special status for Northern Ireland to remain, uniquely, a member of the EU and the UK? Perhaps it could be phrased more colourfully. Is the need to flash a passport when crossing the Irish sea worth the benefits of continuing membership of both unions? Perhaps: Does being the … Read more

Can Theresa May learn from Arlene Foster’s folly?

Across the corridors of power in Europe few mainstream leaders are more unpopular than  Theresa May, the parochial and divisive nationalist from England’s home counties. Britain’s premier is resented by her domestic opponents for acting as Tory leader first and UK Prime Minister second. Within the EU, the perception among May’s former European partners and allies is one of reckless naivety, at best. As the countdown to formal UK- EU divorce negotiations begins to end, Britain’s leader stands alone and defiant. … Read more

Trumped by a foul and effective earned media strategy

You’re going to read lots of highfalutin’ talk about how Trump’s victory is a howl from the dispossessed, and so on. While it’s true that our new President-Elect benefited from a surge from rural voters, if you believe that Trump represents some sort of ventriloquist for the socially excluded then explain this: Let’s slam the brakes for a moment and ask a much more ‘boring’ question about marketing. Since The Donald is, above all else, a professional brand marketer, we may want to start with … Read more

Did BrExit just solve the Irish question?

  What’s done isn’t quite done. What, for example, are the terms of BrExit exit? And how will they be agreed? Brookings Fellow Tom Wright asks, “If it is right and proper for the people to have a say on EU membership, shouldn’t they also have a say on the outcome of the negotiations to determine whether they are what the Leave campaign promised?” What terms should Northern Ireland’s leaders now be seeking? Simple: Northern Ireland must stay within the … Read more

Traitorous Ed Miliband mugs Labour with xenophobic sell-out

Are you a traditional Labour –  international solidarity – sort? Ask yourself what’s better for the medium-to-long term health of the UK’s Labour party and the country at large. Is it a pathetic administration lead by anti-Blair rebound boyfriend Ed Miliband? Or a farcical but mercifully brief post-Cameron Tory fiasco led by Boris Johnson? Meanwhile, the stature of the adult no longer in the room, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, grows by the hour. RuaraiStrategic Communications … Read more

Rape prevention advice for men.

What follows is surely the best rape prevention advice ever offered. (Hat Tip: Sarah Silverman). This should be posted in every locker room in the world. The ‘rape prevention’ tips in full: 1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks. 2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone. 3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her. 4. If you are in an elevator and a woman … Read more

As Belfast’s trade unions revolt, are we finally witnessing the end of N. Ireland’s “Peace Process”?

Why is the Stormont House Agreement collapsing? Amidst the scramble to apportion blame, trade union leader Eamonn McCann’s analysis hints at the green shoots of a new dynamic in Northern Irish politics. Writing in the Irish Times, McCann rightly observes: This is the first time trade unions have opposed a Stormont deal. On every previous occasion, they have hailed the outcome as a welcome contribution to the consolidation of peace.   This is no small development. Consider, for a moment, … Read more

Will Americans succeed in outlawing kids’ soccer, as you know it?

World Cup winning striker Brandi Chastain has a new goal in mind: Saving your kid from the dangers of soccer. Chastain, once the face of Women’s Soccer, is stripping back the layers of ignorance that apparently define the relationship between kids playing football and brain injuries.* So, what type of reception is Chastain’s campaign likely to receive on European shores? Venerated Sunday Times sports journalist Hugh McIlvanney once predicted that Americans’ soccer innovations represented nothing less than an encroaching form of cultural vandalism. McIlvanney surely captured … Read more

Closing time at The Dish. How Andrew Sullivan’s blog pioneered change.

“I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’’ – British Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader, David Cameron, Oct, 2011. Following Mick’s link to Tim Montgomerie’s conservative case for gay marriage, it is well worth paying tribute to Andrew Sullivan, the Tory-American writer who literally wrote the book, Virtually Normal, on gay marriage. It’s forgotten how unpopular the idea of gay marriage was on the left, particularly the gay left, … Read more

What’s the point of Fianna Fáil entering Northern Irish politics?

Forget, for a moment, the meandering on-off speculation. Will Fianna Fáil walk its Republican talk and displace Sinn Fein’s credentials as Ireland’s only all-island political party?  It’s the wrong question. Northern Ireland already has plenty of political parties – what’s needed, urgently, is new ideas. Sure, Fianna Fáil could organize and fight elections in the wee six. But the minimum price of entry must be higher. Fianna Fáil faces a simple choice in the north: Change Northern Ireland or be changed … Read more

Conservatism, not nationalism, explains Scots’ surge towards independence

Your future is being built in San Francisco. While attending a wedding there over the weekend, of my various transportation options three competitors captured the destination we’re all heading towards – and how little politicians have to do with it. Option 1: A regulated cab driven by an angry driver disgruntled by the Big Business takeover of his work space. The company he reports to insist he takes fare payment only through their processor of choice, thereby slicing a significant cut per … Read more

Was Ireland fatally wounded in 1916?

Every July 4th Americans celebrate their independence. Tools are downed, friends and families gather, and across 50 states and my own taxed yet unrepresented district, the skies are painted with an assortment of red flairs imported from China. I’m assured that the value of viewing this spectacle from my roof deck on D.C.’s Connecticut Avenue is worth the transatlantic airfare. Ten days later Paris’ Montparnasse neighbourhood baths under a brief sea of light and fire, a show replicated in miniature … Read more

Powell: Releasing prisoners was not easier for Nationalists; it’s ignorant and offensive to suggest otherwise

Responding to the latest attempts by the DUP to take ownership and responsibility for nothing that occurred in Northern Ireland before Ian Paisley was finally crowned, as First Minister, official leader of the unionist tribe, Blair’s former right-hand, Jonathan Powell, has just claimed something extraordinarily vulgar. Releasing murderers as part of the Good Friday agreement after only two years in prison was an extraordinarily difficult thing for the government to do and an extraordinarily difficult thing for particularly the unionist … Read more

Is integrated education even possible in Northern Ireland?

Perhaps it says more about my prejudices than anyone else’s but If I had to bet, I’d wager that many Belfast Telegraph Editorial Page readers understand the concept of integrated education as both simple and agreeable. The simple part: Abolish CCMS, i.e. Catholic schools. The agreeable part: Assimilate Catholic students into the Northern Ireland’s version of British state schools and, hey presto, that’s sectarianism largely sorted. As someone who favors at least some concept of integrated education – though not … Read more

Haass failure keeps SF-DUP in driving seat

Richard Haass’ failure to facilitate a “comprehensive agreement” on Northern Ireland’s “contentious issues” represents yet another missed opportunity for would-be opponents of the SF-DUP axis. To recap, NI’s main problem is not its past, its parades, its parties or its people. Instead, it’s the structure of the current Stormont arrangement where a “battle-a-day”, to quote the SF President, plays out as a sectarian conflict. This is not the design flaw but the design; a brinkmanship contest that inevitably rewards the … Read more

“Do you know what Nelson Mandela’s jailers used to call him?”

Do you know what Nelson Mandela’s jailers used to call him, towards the later stages of his incarceration? They called him, “Mr. Mandela”. Of the many stories and reports that illustrate the extent to which this great man was a leader, a statesman, and, not least, someone who transcended his tribe – without ever abandoning it – to effectively make a new nation out of his imagination and moral integrity, that’s my favorite. My old friend Chuck Richardson explained Nelson … Read more

(UPDATED) How will the Irish Govt. respond to NSA spying?

(Update below) This would be different… The Irish govt. takes its citizens’ right to privacy extremely seriously; consequently, we have requested a full explanation from the United States… But let’s speak plainly: As a friend and partner of the US, we, like many other countries who expect and rely on the United States taking on the burden of global leadership, cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of that leadership without being more realistic about what it requires. The emerging revelation … Read more

Basil’s Stormont Creep Show is pathetic

BBC: “The Miss Ulster competition is being held at the seat of Northern Ireland’s government this weekend.” “The women in Miss Ulster, they’re not just getting judged on their looks, they’re being judged on their personality, on how capable they are of being an ambassador for Ulster.” Right, then. If I’m understanding this logic, the SDLP’s Delores Kelly and ex-UUP, ex-serious guy, Basil McCrea, will be telling some young women this: “sorry, you’ve a great personality and scored high on … Read more