Free Willy!

LEEDS Castle is exactly what you imagine a fairytale castle should look like – high walls and a moat, towers, a maze in the gardens and high-ranking leaders holding court inside. As the sun shone yesterday, the location for the latest political talks looked idyllic.Of course, the ramparts are equally good at keeping the media’s prying eyes at bay, and the leaders have been wandering in another maze (or maybe even Maze) for years. The journalists who huddle in a … Read more

Smoke signals or smoke and mirrors?

According to a PA report carried on UTV, the centre parties are dropping heavy hints that there may actually be progress being made at Leeds Castle.SDLP leader Mark Durkan has told the assembled press corps that “”People are running out of arguments they have had on a number of issues for holding back”, while the UUP’s David Trimble is urging the PIRA to make a new and detailed statement on weapons without delay, “the sooner we hear it and the … Read more

Flash

‘Seasonal weakness’ (?) may impact on Taser International shares but hopefully approval for the usage of stun guns in the North should lighten the load. BTW I assume it’s the cops that will be shocking us. When? How many volts?

Smoke signals or smoke and mirrors?

According to an AP report carried on UTV, the centre parties are dropping heavy hints that there may actually be progress being made at Leeds Castle. SDLP leader Mark Durkan has told the assembled press corps that “”People are running out of arguments they have had on a number of issues for holding back”, while the UUP’s David Trimble is urging the PIRA to make a new and detailed statement on weapons without delay, “the sooner we hear it and … Read more

Nothing to fear, but fear itself..?

MICK Hume argues that the target of terrorism is often not physical, but exploits our worst fears. At a time when many distrust how their government deals with threat, he writes: “As we recoil in horror from what has been happening in Russia, let us try to remember that the corrosive culture of fear poses the greatest threat to our own and our children’s future in a free society.”

Free Willy!

LEEDS Castle is exactly what you imagine a fairytale castle should look like

Writing next Tuesday’s headlines?

Whilst we’re all sitting around twiddling thumbs, I thought it might be fascinating to see what readers (and other bloggers) imagined what the headline reports will be next week when the final outcome of the Leeds Castle talks is finally revealed. No prizes, but endless glory if your most improbable scenario wins! Enjoy!!

Time is short?

The Guardian runs through some of Ian Paisley Snr’s more famous, and infamous, moments in the spotlight in its profile of the current leader of the DUP today.”The lifelong outsider now leads unionism” according to the Guardian and, echoing Malachi O’Doherty’s Belfast Telegraph piece from a few weeks ago, points out that “any agreement must carry Paisley’s stamp if it is to be sold to the unionist people”. But it’s not all soft-focus for Ian Paisley Snr. The article carries … Read more

Adams could destablise the DUP?

This fascinating op-ed in the Belfast Telegraph sees most of the negotiating cards stacked with Gerry Adams. It argues that his internal position within the party and the wider movement is unassailable.It further suggests the DUP has mismanaged its constituency’s expectations of a deal, that Adams might look in that area for further advantage over Unionism: “…should Adams decide to play for high stakes, he would either come away with a deal or he would have revealed a great weakness … Read more

Adams: a deal is inevitable

On his way into Leeds Castle this morning, Gerry Adams has told reporters that a deal is inevitable between his party and the DUP. Although clearly he was not committing to a timeline for such an accord it would, he suggested, take shape within the confines of the Belfast Agreement.

Morgan retires at 37

Martin Morgan, the SDLP’s candidate in the recent European elections and former Lord Mayor is to retire from active politics when the local elections are held in Belfast next May. It will undoubtedly be a blow for a party that in recent years has consciously tried to build the profile of its younger members.

Negotiations: the cost of further inaction

Gary Kent looks at a number of related issues in the run up to negotiations at Leeds Castle. He warns that the inability of the main political parties to come to an agreement has already had major cumulative and detrimental effects, and that these only stand to increase in the face further and prolonged inaction.By Gary Kent Northern Ireland’s peace process is moving like a glacier towards a final settlement with key talks between the major players taking place this … Read more

The aim of the game

According to the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty’s ‘dependable sources’ “The British and Irish governments want to have the Northern Executive and Assembly back in operation by next January.”As Gerry Moriarty opines “Ambitious or what? Allowing for the New Year, the return to school and getting back into shape after the Christmas festivities, their January deadline could be towards the middle or latter end of that month. That’s not bad: it gives the parties four months to accept, acquiesce to, or … Read more

Hey Ho Let’s Go!

Not, strictly speaking, within the remit of the site, but allow me a little latitude. Johnny Ramone, real name John Cummings, one of the founder members of the punk of all punk bands, The Ramones, died yesterday after a 5-year battle with prostate cancer. The Guardian leads the tributes. A moment’s silence please, followed by raucous celebration of the life and music of the man with a plan… 1-2-3-4!

Ireland most expensive in Europe

Joe Humphreys in the Irish Times reports on the latest annual statement on prices and costs from the National Competitiveness Council. Consumer price inflation in Ireland has risen at twice the rate of the Euro zone average since 1999 and the average price of Irish goods and services by 22 per cent above the EU average in the same period.Statement and full report can be found here Selected quotes from the Irish Times article “Ireland is now ‘almost on a … Read more

Books.

Frank Delaney lists his “Top 10 Irish Novels”.I was pleased to see he includes “Thy Tears might Cease “ by Michael Farrell, although less convinced by “Star Of the Sea” by Joseph O’Connor. Joyce, Edna O’Brien, McGahern, Flanagan, Bowen, William Trevor and JG Farrell are all represented. I would replace the O’Connor book by Redemption by Francis Stuart or The Informer by O’Flaherty and Finnegans wake by Colm Tóibín’s Blackwater Lightship. How do other sluggers rate his choices ?

Writing next Tuesday's headlines?

Whilst we’re all sitting around twiddling thumbs, I thought it might be fascinating to see what readers (and other bloggers) imagined what the headline reports will be next week when the final outcome of the Leeds Castle talks is finally revealed. No prizes, but endless glory if your most improbable scenario wins! Enjoy!!

Time is short?

The Guardian runs through some of Ian Paisley Snr’s more famous, and infamous, moments in the spotlight in its profile of the current leader of the DUP today. “The lifelong outsider now leads unionism” according to the Guardian and, echoing Malachi O’Doherty’s Belfast Telegraph piece from a few weeks ago, points out that “any agreement must carry Paisley’s stamp if it is to be sold to the unionist people”. But it’s not all soft-focus for Ian Paisley Snr. The article … Read more