Election 2003: uncertainty is unhelpful

Brian Feeney argues that the need to have accurate representation in an Assembly, outweighs concerns over the future of a ‘liberal’ Unionist agenda: “Who comes out on top in each community is an understandable anxiety in the main parties, but there are other reasons for holding elections here. Elections are snapshots. They show the state of play at a precise moment in political history. A family photo of the current assembly members, if you could get them all together for … Read more

SDLP will not re-negotiate Agreement

Brid Rogers response to the DUP plan to re-negotiate the Belfast Agreement is to insist that they will not let it happen.

Decommissioning: a rocky road

A lot of the pressure the British government will seek to exert on Sinn Fein today will be to effectively decommission the weapons of the IRA. However, this sticking point is not uniquely peculiar to Northern Ireland. In Sri Lanka, another place where substantial progress has been made towards a post confilct state, they it seems have struck the same rock.

Dublin slips in e-commerce stakes

Despite the findings in last week’s global research, Dublin is slipping the e-commerce stakes.

2nd generation Irish identity

Brendan O’Neill resumes his vigorous criticism of the Irish 2 project at spiked-on-line. In particular he singles out the project’s criticism of the 2001 Census question in Britain: “According to the Irish 2 report, the ethnic category is too much of a ‘simple label’, which doesn’t allow for other, more diverse forms of Irishness. ‘[A] simple categorisation of “White” followed by a national identity such as “British” and “Irish”…will produce an over-identification with “British” because it is seen as a … Read more

Sinn Fein concerned about lost voters

Gerry Adams has expressed concern that the electoral authorities have failed to register as many as 80% of first-time voters.

Pepys weblog

Not strictly Northern Ireland, but here’s an interesting interview with the blogger behind the recently established site carrying Samuel Pepys’ diary.

Prisoner commisioners

Paul Murphy is to appoint a set of commissioners to represent the interests of prisoners like Johnny Adair who find their release from prison under the terms of the Belfast Agreement revoked.

Petition against Adams

A petition by Shankill residents claiming that Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams continued boycott of the House of Commons is failing them as his constituents is to be handed to the Speaker Michael Martin by West Belfast Unionist councilor Frank McCoubrey.

Orde warns of arrest campaign

Cheif Constable Hugh Orde has warned that he may use a clear the streets method of arresting large numbers of Loyalist leaders. However there were warnings from Unionist MLA and barrister Bob McCartney that the ends cannot always be seen to justify the means.

Paisley denies split opinion in party

Though Ian Paisley was robust in suggesting there was no serious difference of opinion within the DUP, one of his more senior rivals in the UUP insisted that there is a serious tension below the surface within that party.

Election 2002: rubicon for mainstream

Although the Belfast Telegraph is hopeful that the election deadline will concentrate minds enough to strike a workable deal, it fires a warning: “…in the absence of agreement, an Assembly election would set Northern Ireland on a dangerous course. Mainstream unionism and nationalism would suffer at the expense of the hardline parties. After such an acrimonious poll, it would be highly unlikely that any sort of inclusive deal could be struck.”

Portadown Mosque controversy

According to several readers living in Portadown, yesterday’s story in the Times about the Mosque at Bleary had been a controversy before Christmas, but was beginning to settle when the story broke nationally yesterday. The local Portadown Times (not to be confused with the satirical Portadown News) reported: “Alderman Fred Crowe (UUP) said he was called in by residents ‘who are objecting in the strongest terms possible’ adding ‘despite the fact that glaring deficiencies have come to light, planners are … Read more

Education debate

Unionist MPs will discuss the future of selective education tomorrow in the House of Commons. Publicly funded selective education in NI has been in doubt since the local Education minister Martin McGuinness announced that the province wide selection test, known as the 11 plus was to be abolished.

Bloody Sunday: Heath to testify

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath is due to give evidence today at the Saville inquiry into the events around the Bloody Sunday shootings. Update: Heath denies allegations that the events of Bloody Sunday were planned in advance by the British government.

Unionist opposition to Portadown Mosque

We rarely link to the Times because it requires a subscription or registration but this story seems too extraordinary to omit: “The construction of Northern Ireland’s first purpose-built mosque is being blocked by Unionist politicians who say that residents would be kept awake by ‘wailing’ and that Muslims are plotting to destroy Christianity.” Correpondent David Lister comments: “For years a small Muslim community near Portadown, Co Armagh, has observed the antics of Orangemen during the annual marching season in the … Read more

Low level violence continues

DUP MLA Jim Wells draws attention to a low level conflict in and around Downpatrick that he claims is a turf war between the Provisional and local elements of the Continuity IRA.

New logic of NI politics

As Roy Garland has suggested below, there is an overarching logic constraining the actions of many of the players in the Northern Ireland political game, which will make it difficult for some on the extreme ends of the poltical spectrum to ‘return to type’. In this piece in this week’s Sunday Business Post, Anton McCabe and Paul Colgan suggest that the DUP’s apparent willingness to speak to Sinn Fein is another aspect of a dawning new reality in NI politics.

Election 2003: hope of resurrecting the institutions?

The outcome of yesterday’s meeting between Trimble and Gerry Adams seems to have engendered some optimistic speculation that the Assembly can be resurrected, Gregory Campbell also confirms that the DUP will use their mandate in the coming elections to force a re-negotiation of the Belfast Agreement.