Why protesters are taking over Dublin

Today is a day of action in Dublin, as protesters gather outside government buildings to demand action to a grinding housing crisis. Homelessness has hit record levels, and rents have hit such heights that even well-paid people are struggling to meet them. House prices have surpassed their Celtic Tiger levels, putting home ownership out of reach for even many in the middle class. How did the crisis reach this point? The new episode of The Irish Passport podcast explores the … Read more

The authority to speak, linquistic intolerance, anonymity and monolingual regimes

There’s a line in a poem by Seán Ó Riordáin poem called Daoirse/Captivity or Unfreedom which talks about a woman and the way she might talk to you and the impact that would have on you. Dá labhródh bean leat íseal nach ísleofá do ghuth, dá mbeadh an bean réasúnta, nach réasúnófaí thú. If a woman spoke to you quietly, wouldn’t you lower your voice, if the woman was reasonable, wouldn’t that make you reasonable too. Bernadette O’Rourke, who gave … Read more

Thousands attend #IBelieveHer Rape Trial Rallies Across Ireland

Thousands of people across Ireland came out today to protest after yesterday’s not guilty verdicts in the rugby rape trials.  Rallies were held in Belfast, Dublin, Derry, Limerick and Cork. The Belfast rally was at the Laganside Courthouse, with about 1000 people (Talkback estimate) – women and men, young and old – cohering around messages of #IBelieveHer and #Metoo. The rally at O’Connell Street in Dublin was even bigger. It’s been a harrowing 9 week trial, and it’s raised a lot … Read more

How language and culture become ‘sectarianised’

The day when we got three words of Irish from Nelson McCausland should be a red letter day for us Irish speakers but the use by Nelson of ‘An Béal Bocht’, the title the classic comic novel by Strabane’s Brian Ó Nualláín, (aka Myles na Gopaleen/Flann O’Brien), marks yet another low point in the discourse on language issues by yet another unionist politician. He was never known as Brian O’Nolan as Nelson writes, effecting to reduce this giant of Irish … Read more

Reform and Review of the Agreement is Possible – Let’s Have It

Councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, from the Progressive Unionist Party, explains the thinking behind their ‘Review and Reform’ document, published yesterday. This week the Progressive Unionist Party has published and distributed, to the Secretary of State and Northern Ireland’s political leaders, its proposals for review and reform of the institutions set out within the Good Friday Agreement. The document, which can be read in full here: http://pupni.com/assets/images/articles/Review_and_Reform.pdf, sets out our rationale for enabling a review. It cites strand one, subsection thirty-six, which reads; … Read more

#Brexit: the DUP and the Risks of Not Passing Go

The DUP torpedoed today’s sensible UK-EU compromise deal on the border because, according to an Arlene Foster tweet, the party could not accept any deal which separates Northern Ireland politically from the rest of the UK. This will come as a great surprise to campaigners for marriage equality, liberalisation of the abortion laws, and comprehensive education. There is no great Unionist point of principle against the terms of what was on the table in Brussels earlier today, except on the … Read more

Ulster Scots, Ulster Irish, Irish Scots, Ulster Gaelic, Gaeilge Uladh

As Summer rolls on and disputes rumble regarding the possibility (or not) of the enactment of an Irish Language Act – or a Languages Act – or a Culture(s) Act,  we seem to be stuck in a labyrinth of ever decreasing circles or some Byzantine entrapment from which there is no escape. As Christy Moore once sang:  For all of our languages we can’t communicate. As an Irish speaker I’m conflicted about Ulster Scots.  It’s clearly a dialect of English … Read more

Tory-DUP deal reached

Very briefly… source for all information is the Guardian as that was the first place I could find with the detailed documents! The agreement The short version is that the DUP will vote with the Government on the Queen’s Speech, the budget, all finance and money bills, supply and appropriation legislation and Estimates. In return, the Government agreed: No change to pensions triple lock and Winter Fuel Payment 2% of GDP on armed forces as per NATO commitment Implementation of … Read more

The DUP deal is nearly done. But they back a hard Brexit to thwart a customs border at the ports.

In the debate on the Queens speech Nigel Dodds, the DUP leader at Westminster gave a broad hint that a confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives will be concluded shortly.

But he also disabused us of  any notion that because the DUP favoured a “frictionless” border, it also meant they were supporting a version of a soft Brexit. The DUP is sticking with  their hard Brexit. Their reasoning is  essentially political, that the absence of customs checks in any form on the island of Ireland would mean customs barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This is  anathema to the DUP.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Donaldson has played down the  Daily Telegraph report that the DUP were demanding sweeteners of £2 Billion – or was it only £1 billion?  “Wide of the mark, ” he says.  One big problem at the Westminster end is the Barnett consequentials. If Northern Ireland gets more, more money, it follows that we raise the limits for Scotland Wales and English regions poorer than NI  to get more. more money too
The Daily Telegraph had earlier reported that the Democratic Unionist Party broke off talks with Theresa May this week as it told her to spend £2billion in Northern Ireland if she wants the party to prop up her minority Conservative Government.

The DUP demanded the cash – which works out as £1,100 per person in the Province – as talks veered dangerously close to breaking down altogether.

The talks became so strained in the past few days that the DUP negotiators in Belfast refused to pick up the phone to the Prime Minister’s team for 36 hours, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Westminster sources said they now hoped a “confidence and supply” deal could be agreed next week, days before Thursday’s key vote on the Queen’s Speech.

The £2billion demand – with £1billion spent on the National Health Service and £1billion on infrastructure – was made by the DUP this week.

The Telegraph story added the bizarre detail

It came as the DUP team decided not to answer their telephones for 36 hours to the Conservative team .

A source said: “They stopped answering their phones. It went on for 36 hours. Number 10 is putting in calls and they are not answering their phones.”

The concern is that these hard demands for cash will make it harder for the Tories and DUP to work together over the next five years.

The demand could cost the UK taxpayer billions more if any of the cash is judged to trigger spending elsewhere in the UK through the Barnett formula.

Typically £1 spent in the Province would require an additional £35 to be found for Scotland, England and Wales.

Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News, who’s a rare Westminster journalist taking an interest in Northern Ireland, said he didn’t expect the deal to be completed this week.

Read moreThe DUP deal is nearly done. But they back a hard Brexit to thwart a customs border at the ports.

How can May encourage the other parties to the Stormont talks without disclosing the DUP deal? ( new version)

So after a confusing day against a background of tragedy in which it was first reported that the DUP deal would be postponed until next week, Theresa May  is meeting the other  Assembly parties without them. Make  of that what you will. All of Westminster will be agog . The elephant will be in the room in non-corporeal form. May can hardly  afford  to answer question one, can she? Mrs O’Neill has already made it clear she will raise the issue … Read more

A deal reached: May going to the palace

Just in… from the Guardian We wait for the detail, but it’s a reasonable guess that this is a supply and confidence deal. As I noted this morning, the Conservatives and DUP share 328 seats, which is an effective majority of 3. Sinn Fein abstentionism increases it to 6. Andy BoalAndy has a very wide range of interests including Christianity, Lego, transport, music, and computers. Anything can appear in a post. Andy tweets at @andyboal http://www.andyboal.co.uk

All over bar the shouting…

As I write, the position is as follows:- Party Actual seats Expected final seats 2015-17 parliament Change Vote share Vote share change Conservatives 314 318 330 -12 42.4% +5.6% Labour 261 262 232 +30 40.2% +9.5% SNP 35 35 56 -21 3.0% -1.7% Liberal Democrats 12 12 8 +4 7.1% -0.6% DUP 10 10 8 +2 0.9% +0.3% Sinn Fein 7 7 4 +3 0.8% +0.2% Plaid Cymru 4 4 3 +1 0.5% +0.1% Green 1 1 1 – 1.6% … Read more

The Irish Language Act: Real costs revealed by Conradh na Gaeilge

It’s finally here, the bill for the proposed Irish Language Act.  This is the estimated cost from Conradh na Gaeilge, the umbrella group for Irish language speakers and organisations advocating for legislation to protect the Irish language from capricious political attacks and to promote it resolutely as per the Good Friday Agreement and The St Andrews accord. The good news is that this estimate, put together by the organisation advocating for the legislation is a fraction of the price tags … Read more

Who’s afraid of an Irish Language Act?

The publication of a report by a committee of Council of Europe experts into the failure by the Stormont Executive is the main story on the BBC NI News bulletins and website this morning.   Coming on the heels of a ‘brutal’ election campaign during which the Irish language was propelled into the centre of the political debate by the DUP leader Arlene Foster with her infamous ‘crocodile’ gaffe, perhaps it’s no surprise. The ‘crocodile’ remarks, coming on the heels … 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

Cavalier attitude to EC State Aid decision on RHI could save the day

The comedy of errors that is the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme may be about to take yet another strange twist. And at last there may be some good news for the tax payer. Earlier this week when I tweeted an alert to the EC’s decision on State Aid (SA.34140 (2012/N) for the Northern Ireland scheme I drew attention to one of the key paragraphs (Section 2.5 para 25) that sets out in very clear terms that: “Only “useful heat” … 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

David Gordon, Nolan Show and Stormont

I first met David Gordon decades ago when he and I were involved in the Campaign for Equal Citizenship (CEC) – the organisation that campaigned for Northern Ireland’s sectarian-based politics to be replaced with the politics of Left and Right. All who were involved in the campaign at that time would have been Labour or Conservative activists if we had lived elsewhere in the UK. I always assumed David was more aligned with Boyd Black’s wing of the CEC – … Read more