Stormont: unloved but effective in places

Graham Gudgeon, a close advisor to First Minister David Trimble, suggests that few in NI have yet learned to love the devolved institutions, but provides a useful rundown of where its impact was greatest.

Morality of agreement

Barrie Penrose’s article has kicked off a brief discussion here. It seems to raise another question that might be worth airing. Beyond the practical question of whether the piece is likely to inflame feelings and encourage people to break the boundary between press and players, there is an underlying question of morality. Most attempts at more…

The last week in NI: a summary

For new readers, particularly those arriving here from Tim Blair’s blog, a brief recap on the last week on Letter to Slugger O’Toole. The week began badly for Belfast with the news that it’s bid to become Europe’s City of Culture was stillborn. The moderate nationalist SDLP began to shift pressure onto Sinn Fein to more…

Book reveals journalist's past

Hugh Jordan, is shortly to publish a book called Milestones in Murder, which apparently discloses details of murdered journalist Martin O’Hagan’s early life as an Official IRA volunteer. Barrie Penrose reports in the Spectator – via Newshound.

Last of the Behans

Brian Behan, younger brother of the more famous playwright Brendan, has died in Brighton.

A tale of two sports

This was too hard to resist. Australia met two quite different fates at the weekend, one against Ireland rugby team, and another against England in cricket.

British voice in US

Critical reveiw of the British Information Service in the US, by Irish Voice editor Niall O’Dowd. Gerry Adams speaking in Canada.

Belfast mayorality: inconsistency

In the wake of the failure to find a Unionist to fill the post of Alex Maskey’s deputy, Barry McCaffrey pinpoints some awkward inconsistencies about the way Unionists have handled the office office of Belfast’s Mayoral position in the past. Namely the fact that they have chosen to elect protestant paramilitaries to the same office: more…

Putting NI at the centre

The poet Peter Makem suggests that the institutions established under the Belfast Agreement need to be able to grow organically rather than be pushed into boxes of others’ convenience: “In other words, Northern Ireland must work to become the centre of the new Ireland, a centre of Europe, of everywhere, and no longer a limb more…

Unification: consent or dual consent?

Interesting thoughts from Martin Mansergh on what it might take to effect a democratically determined unification of Ireland: This is largely written in reply to an article by Frank Millar a few weeks ago suggesting that such an outcome depended upon consent within both communities. Danny Morrison was one of the first to challenge this more…

Crucifixion: joyrider

It has taken most of the week for some clear background to come out on this story. Henry McDonald talks to residents, police and paramilitries to get the bottom of this gruesome case. He finds it was not simply a sectarian ‘beating’: “The UDA’s south Belfast brigadier denied that McCartan was attacked solely because he more…

Parades Commission: controversy

Sir George Quigley’s proposal to split the Parades Commission into two bodies to deal separately with adjudication and mediation is meeting with some opposition, primarily from nationalists who feel that the current body is working perfectly well. As Alex Attwood said before the publication of the proposals on Thursday, “Our position is that ‘if it more…

Blair ups the ante

Brian Walker reports Tony Blair’s current hardening stance on paramilitaries, and his continuing focus on Sinn Fein: “Let me make it clear that the activites of the loyalist paramilitaries are not just totally and completely contrary to law but contrary to any decent sense of humanity,” he said, adding, “The only difference is that that more…

Greater confusion amongst Loyalists

TENSIONS were rising in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland today after a close associate of Johnny Adair warned that the UDA was moving towards a new feud. More. Update: Rumours of a renewed feud. Adair remains defiant.

History resource

Interesting educational resource on a little recollected event of the 19th Century; the Fenian invasion of Canada. Thanks to Smoke Signals.

Spying comment

Paul Dunne at the Shamrockshire Eagle blog has a review of two articles on the Stormont spy story.

Murphy: twin track is coming to an end

Paul Murphy was reported in fairly direct terms in today’s FT: “The time is up in many ways. The transition period is over where you can get a situation where the democratic political parties work in a system and at the same time having paramilitary activity accompany it.”

UUP: the Orange link

The Belfast Telegraph has a slew of letters from various Unionists on the vexed subject of the Orange Order’s block vote with the ruling council of David Trimble’s UUP. This discussion has been in play for some time now. Indeed a seminar on the subject is to take place shortly. Three are pro- breaking the more…