Negotiatons: options or optics?

Brian Rowan, possibly the BBC correspondent closest to some of the behind the scenes moves, gives an dim outline of what may be happening behind the various headline statements over the last few months. However he seems merely to reflect the confused state of politics on the outside.

Negotiations: 6 weeks to zero?

Bertie Ahern has announced that both governments have hammered out a work programme for the next six weeks.

Negotiations: groundhog day?

The Daily Telegraph casts a tired and somewhat jaundiced eye over the current efforts to get the Northern Ireland show back on the road, suggesting that in the end an eclipse of the UUP by the DUP may be the only end to an apparently endless cycle of familiar events.

Negotiations: a complicated choreography

Gerry Adams has suggested ‘an imaginative gesture’ may be forthcoming from the IRA. It is conditional on the British and Irish governments ‘completing’ the full terms of Belfast Agreement, as Sinn Fein see it, though the Daily Telegraph is convinced that some of these moves are already signed off and in the pipeline. For the Unionists part in all this, there is apparently not much they can do. David Trimble has told the Irish Independent’s London editor that Sinn Fein … Read more

Ervine frustrated by bias in process

Peter Kelly in the Irish World talks to David Ervine, leader of the PUP, which recently pulled out of the interparty talks. Kelly comments: “Whilst some commentators have dismissed the move as ‘a political tantrum’, others see it variously as both a tactical manoeuvre and a worrying sign that parts of the political process are unravelling, despite much hoped-for progress. Yet Mr Ervine has been keen to point out that both the UVF and Red Hand Commando paramilitary ceasefires remain … Read more

Trimble says there's not yet enough

The first reaction from David Trimble after talking to Bertie Ahern is that there is not enough on the table from the IRA to satisfy Unionist demands. On the closing timetable to find a saleable settlement he said: “The Taoiseach thought that we were looking at a period of about five or six weeks before other things crowd us off the agenda. I am hoping we will see more intensive discussions between all of the parties to try and break … Read more

1798 and all that stuff

Interesting snippets on the United Irishman rising of 1798, from the hindsight diarist at 1169 and counting…. This site gives a bit more on the context of that particular rebellion.

Principle verses pragmatism and the IRA

The Blanket carries a rather terse response from Ed Moloney to an article by Father Sean MacManus, which was critical of certain aspects of Moloney’s recent book Secret History of the IRA.

Human Rights and protestant culture

Reader Ian Parsley has written in to agree with Arlene Foster’s piece in this month’s Fortnight magazine. He elaborates further: Ulster Protestants generally are more individualistic people and less inclined to form groups behind a common, coherent goal. Here in Northern Ireland the administration was faced, in the early 70s, with the task of giving Catholics a voice for the first time. Over time it became apparent that the best way to do this was to speak to ‘community groups’ … Read more

Summit: all aspects will be discussed

As if to confirm the growing speculation that today’s meeting in Downing Street may prove something of a watershed in NI politics, Paul Murphy has told the BBC: “I think that the meeting with the prime minister and the Taoiseach is hugely important. It will be looking at the sort of principles that will underpin the next few weeks – the principles which look at why it is paramilitarism has to be tackled. We are going to look at other … Read more

Completing the Belfast Agreement

Addressing a public meeting in Westminster last night, Sinn Fein TD for Kerry North Martin Ferris outlined what, in his party’s view, acts of completion might mean. He began by calling for the creation of a Police force that all can give their support to, specifically requiring the abolition of Special Branch and assurance of greater accountablity through the full adoption guidelines from the Equality Commission. He further highlighted: – Release of political prisoners in the Irish Republic – Enactment … Read more

Women's coalition

Usually for any middle ground party, this is the third time this week the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition has hit the headlines. In response to Newt Emerson’s controversial attack on the Women’s Coalition, Monica McWilliams wrote in yesterday’s Irish News: “Women have to be at the table to contribute to solving problems, whether it’s a local issue or negotiations for an international peace agreement. I’m not talking about one or two token women, but as full participants. Yet in Northern … Read more

Two PMs meet in Downing Street today

Again John Fay at Newshound picks up what may be a prelude to the most important story of the day at the top of the most comprehensive list of NI news stories on the net! Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, says explicitly that if the government really want acts of completion as laid out in Tony Blair’s speech” in November, the IRA can deliver, though it depends upon the complete implementation of the Belfast Agreement. He described today’s meeting … Read more

Stevens inquiry extended

Detectives inquiring into the death of solicitor Pat Finucane have announced that their inquiry, headed by Sir John Stevens, will be extended to include MI5.

Book review: women and rebellion

Interesting write up of an apparently recently published book on women who fought during the Easter Rising: “Many women fought for Irish freedom because they believed things would be different, they believed they would be free. But after independence things were not so different. They were free of British oppression, only to be treated as second class citizens by their own countrymen.” “The author points to article 41.2 of the Constitution, which guarantees the special place of the women within … Read more

Human Rights and protestant culture

Arlene Foster details the background to the difference of attitude and approach to Human Rights: “Roman Catholics are good at banding together and organising themselves into groups. Protestants are light years behind. Apart from Church, sports or Orange groupings there are very few effective and sustainable groups working in the Protestant Community. Those Groups that do exist can be very effective, but I believe that most Protestants tend to be individualistic and not group orientated.”

UUP: reform plans shelved

In the face of oncoming pressure of the possible elections in May, the long awaited structural reform of the UUP has been shelved. There is an excellent background piece on this subject in this month’s print edition of Fortnight, by Chris Farrington a graduate student of poltics at Queens University.

Orde is popular in US

Niall O’Dowd on the favourable impression Hugh Orde has been making on Irish Americans in the US.

Trimble: it's about decommissioning

Speaking in Barcelona, David Trimble says emphasis should remain on decommissioning.

Belfast papers call for more openess

As if to emphasise the focus of current party talks, editorials in both of yesterday’s morning newspapers (Irish News and the Newsletter) call for a more open and comprehensive statement of intent from the IRA.