History of the Belfast Agreement

The BBC has a useful and bang up to the minute timeline of the Belfast Agreement, ominously entitled Northern Ireland: 1998 – 2002.

Save our Stormont

This piece by Anthony McIntyre, was written about a week ago, but raises issues that are very pertainent to the current crisis. He outlines the ‘double stalemate’ situation both communities find themselves in: “…the nationalist electorate want Sinn Fein in government regardless of unionist concerns. And who are the unionists to tell that electorate otherwise? Do they expect a double veto, firstly over the constitutional question – which they have already – and also over the form in which partition … Read more


To a slightly depressed Kieran Healy, mildly exhausted British Spin and time-pressed Shamrockshire Eagle for their mentions of the Letter.

Irish battle for Hollywood

Just to lighten the political fare on offer in reams and reams from Stormon today; a story about Hollywood’s tendency to put non-Irish actors in Irish roles. I particularly liked this line describing Tom Hanks’ inability to take on such a role: “Hanks, who does not seem to have a nasty bone in his body, simply cannot convey the ability of the clannish, vindictive Irish-American male to transform one’s closest friend into one’s worst enemy.” Thanks to Tim Blair for … Read more

Stormont crisis; DUP walks

The DUP has pulled out of the Executive. Presumably this is stage one in the process towards suspension. Tony Blair calls for calm. David Trimble tells Donaldson to be quiet: “Mr Trimble also said his anti-Agreement party colleague, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, was not helping and a period of silence from him would be welcome.”

Stormont crisis; Alliance calls for suspension

Looks like the party is all but over. Alliance, one of the most steadfast supporters of the Stormont institutions have come out in favour of suspending them. As there are several possible scenarios to how suspension might be managed, it will be interesting to see how that will pan out.

Stand down the IRA once and for all

Is today’s front page editorial on today’s Irish News. It opens the case succinctly: “Essentially, unionists are concentrating on what they see as the potential threat from the IRA while nationalists have to deal, on practically a daily basis, with the reality of loyalist violence. Although there are clearly radically different perspectives involved, logic firmly suggests that the level of trust between the two traditions necessary to sustain our new political structures is unlikely to be achieved while paramilitary organisations … Read more

Danny Morrison interviews David Ervine

This is a conversation between two men who both share a very direct style of communication. It’s interesting too because it represents countless other conversations that have abounded since the Belfast Agreement. He talks about the proposed exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive “When I view the potential for January I’’m saying to myself, ‘”what is it Trimble wants”? How many hoops have people to jump through?’ What I am clear on is what the Republican Movement and loyalists need … Read more

American Irish history

Geoffrety Ward on a new novel, Paradise Alley, set at the time the New York riots of 1863, which followed the imposition of the National Conscription Act.

Stormont crisis; ways ahead

The Times calls for caution in ending the local institutions, but says that in the end: “There may be no alternative to Dr Reid assuming full powers, acting much as a proconsul, cracking down on republican and loyalist terrorism with full force and pursuing as enlightened a political agenda as is practical. Matters may have to get much worse before they can conceivably become better.” The Scotsman agrees: “We may require another bout of direct rule to cool the Unionist … Read more

Stormont crisis; embarassing details

The BBC’s Mark Davenport says Friday’s search of Sinn Fein’s offices at Stormont “appears to represent if not the end of the Agreement then certainly the end of this phase of the peace process.” Today’s Daily Telegraph editorialises along classic Anti- Belfast Agreement lines: “It is clear that Gerry Adams and his colleagues have looked Mr Blair and Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach, in the eye and seen that the maintenance of the process has become for them an end in … Read more

The raid and its consequences

An article in the paper version of today’s Sunday Independent, the Assembly is likely to be suspended this Thursday, when David Trimble will cite this intelligence gathering activity at Stormont by Sinn Fein as sufficient reason for withdrawing from the Executive. Henry McDonald describes how it would happen. Though it seems clear that Tony Blair will not allow that to happen, without a major initiative coming before then. David Lister provides more detail on the raid in and those arrested. … Read more

Several views…

For one Republican view, see Paul Dunne’s verdict. And Gerry Adams. For the other side: a purely anti terrorist operation!

The Raid on Sinn Fein

A man was arrested this morning, as the plot thickens. Sinn Fein themselves clearly believe this is a politically motivated move to support the First Minister David Trimble. Gerry Kelly: “It’s about blackening Sinn Fein to let David Trimble off the hook – it is politically unbelievable.” The First Minister himslef did little to dispel such a notion: “David Trimble said it would have ‘grave implications’ for the future of the power-sharing government at Stormont. He said he suspected IRA … Read more

IRA linked to Castlereagh breakin

Ananova reports Police believe they have evidence of a link. There’s more detail from UTV. Police deny this was connected to a raid on Sinn Fein’s Stormont office this morning. But the heat is being turned up on both Sinn Fein and the IRA. Jude Collins reacts to the conjecture around this and the Colombian story from a Nationalist point of veiw.

Weblogs captured by the Right

Interesting article by James Crabtree of Vox Politics on the phenomenon of blogging which suggests that commentators of the right have cornered the market in the US, creating large networks of compelling knowledge, which by and large goes poltically unchallenged. I’m not sure Letter to Slugger O’Toole actually fits into neat categories of Left and Right, any more than the politics of Ulster in general does (see here and here for context). But there is a wider world of weblogging … Read more

Colombia coming to a head

Three men, believed to be intimately connected with the IRA, face the judge today in Colombia charged with giving aid to the leftist guerilla organisation FARC. Apparent inconsistencies in two separate forensic tests will be at the heart of the three men’s defence. Rosie Cowan outlines the evidence for and against: Prosecution: evidence of explosives residue on the three men’s clothing; a Farc defector, the former driver of one of the Marxist guerrilla group’s leaders, says that the three were … Read more


David Gordon has been running a series of articles this week, focused on the Loyalist paramilitaries. On Wednesday he focused on the charismatic figure of Johnny Adair. Newshound reproduces an article from last Sunday’s People newspaper suggesting that Adair is planning to move his operations over to Glasgow.

Political compass

This may have nothing much to do with Northern Ireland politics but it’s an interesting exercise, even if you have done it before.

Real IRA Split over ceasefire

The Real IRA may be preparing to declare a ceasefire, though it’s not likely to happen without some serious internal dissention. Tom Brady reports: “The ceasefire option is being strongly mooted by Michael McKevitt, who is due to face trial next January on charges of directing a terrorist organisation. Opponents to the plan are led by the group’s director of operations, Liam Campbell, who has now been forced out of the Real IRA wing at Portlaoise prison.” “Prison authorities were … Read more