Trimble's for fighting

For the ninth time since going into government, the Unionist Party will debate whether they should stay in with Sinn Fein. Trimble appears bullish. Some of Trimble’s people are treating the debate as a leadership challenge, but he told UTV that: “One of the things I was thinking of doing was actually calling a council meeting myself. Others have charged in. There is a danger they may turn what was meant to be a consultation into a confrontation – that`s … Read more

Policing drama

Ruth Dudley Edwards suggests that the whole Republican movement is caught within an intractable dilemma. “You can’t expect the Provos’ spokesmen to say: ‘Sorry, we can’t ask people to help get those RIRA bastards because they might rat on us in turn.’ But that’s what’s really stopping them helping to turn in people they hate. There is a struggle going on for the soul of republicanism in Ireland.” She also recommends the excellent Blanket online magazine (previously reviewed here), which, … Read more

Crime levels

One fifth of households in Nothern Ireland experienced crime last year, according to an official government report.

Unionist backroom

The Irish Times reports (subscription needed) on the talks in Fermanagh conclude, the Ulster Unionists hope they have an agreement for the Unionist Council meeting on the 21st September. Clearly they will be keeping the detail under wraps until the meeting itself: “‘We are determined as an officer team to make sure that the meeting is constructive, that it is on a positive note, and I feel that we can have a successful meeting and reach a consensus that will … Read more

Waning priesthood

Even though there is still a high attendence level at Catholic churches in Ireland, there is certainly a serious crisis looming in terms of recruiting preists with many serving through illness and extreme old age. There are only two seminaries left in Ireland – in Maynooth and St Malachy’s in Belfast with a handful of novices beginning at the Irish College in Rome.

Unionist backroom

Now we know the DUP election campaign’s begun in earnest! Courtesy of a previous article written by Steven King (reported here), Peter Robinson finally breaks cover and reveals some of the internal thinking of the DUP. He finishes by asking: “The question for others – pro-Agreement unionists and nationalists – is whether they are going to cling to a failed process that offers nothing but continued instability and a bleak future or whether they can respond positively to a new … Read more

The Agreement and demography

Newton Emerson freshens up the debate, on the agreement with a vigourous moral defence of the Belfast agreement against the purist line take by both Republicans and Unionists. The dreaded 2001 census figures are expected come in a month behind schedule. Some believe the proportion of Catholics will have risen to 46/47%. However, as mentioned before, it is unlikely to translate directly into a similar level vote for a united Ireland in any future border poll . As one Catholic … Read more

Police drama continues.

The outgoing acting Chief Constable claims the PSNI stopped another attempt at a major bombing on the anniversary of Omagh. More on Fred Cobain’s threat to leave the Policing Board.

Unionist backroom

Peter Weir is hitting the campaign trail earlier than most. Last week he was spotted on the streets of Holywood with a number of young DUP worthies preparing to leaflet unsuspecting constituents of a key area in the relatively affluent North Down constituency. Today he is turning his attention to his former UUP colleagues, Burnside and Donaldson. The Belfast Telegraph suggests four options the Ulster Unionists might take. Durkan warns Trimble not to mess with the devolved institutions. Update: Pre … Read more

A few improvements

Thanks to my friend and colleague Abi, we have a couple of improvements.. The archives are up and working – at last! Just go to the archive and click on a date. For instance if you want to know want the letter was saying around the 12th of July, click on the week beginning 7 Jul 2002 and it’ll take you to that page. To webloggers, the permalinks are now working – just hit the time of the post and … Read more

Fair play to the boy

Ulster jockey Tony McCoy has spent the last 7 years breaking all time records on the UK horse racing circuit, with very few of us taking much notice. And he’s only 28!

Minister's not for turning?

David Trimble, presumably refreshed from holidays, has fed a media hungry for ‘real’ stories with plenty of copy. He is categorically not quitting, according to Alan Erwin. And according to Chris Thornton: “The heart seems to have gone out of the No struggle. Several of the most passionate anti-Agreement members have left for pastures oranger, joining the DUP. Many of those who remain prefer to be called Agreement sceptics rather than opponents. South Antrim MP David Burnside, so far the … Read more

Police drama

After yesterday’s statement on policing, Mitchel McLaughlin turns his attention to the Mark Durkan speech in Co Cork, while in turn Unionist Fred Cobain threatens to walk out if Sinn Fein try ‘to ‘creep in the back door’. Durkan’s speech gets a more sympathetic hearing from Eric Waugh.

Spain and Ireland

Since the Spanish government banned Batasuna, there has been a lot of coverage in British newspapers. The line taken by the Daily Telegraph (also taken says that that Blair should follow Aznar. However Unionist commentator Stephen King, suggests caution to hardliners, pointing to the fact that in the whilst the left in Spain is behind the ban, not much support is likely to come from the British left. David McKitterick in the Independent offers the Northern Ireland experience as an … Read more

Trimble's back

The First Minister is due to meet police chiefs today – the first sign that he is back from Europe and back the saddle. The question is, for how long? Update: For those who thought he might give up with a whimper, it looks like he’s not planning to go just yet.

Sa Ghaeilge i mi Lunasa

Aincheist mhorálta do Trimble, ‘s do chach. Loiteadh cuid de thaispeántas i Learpholl agus creidtear gur dílseoirí a rinne an damáiste. Chomdháil dhomhanda ar chúrsaí timpeallachta i Johannesburg in Afraic Theas.

NI's 'green' agenda non-existent

The First Minister will attend the Earth Summit at Johannesburg for the last three days of the Summit. Mark Devenport compares Northern Ireland’s performance on the environment with Scotland and the Republic; and finds it badly wanting.

Crisis in Unionism…

Although David Trimble’s warning of a nightmare for Ulster has yet to come to fruition, David Burnside is one senior party member has backed the calling of another meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, effectively the only decision making body within the UUP. There is some speculation within Unionist circles that Burnside may first in line to succeed Trimble as party leader, were the crisis to precipitate a resignation. Meanwhile Trimble spells it out for many of his Unionist opponents, … Read more

Sinn Fein coming in?

Perhaps in an attempt to cool the waters before the crisis within Unionism recommences this Autumn, Mitchel McLaughlan told Radio Ulster this morning that Sinn Fein will join the policing board, when Tony Blair implements promised changes to current legislation. The policing board has been the subject of controversy ever since the publication of the blueprint document last year, with only the SDLP initially taking op their seats on it. After a summer in which the party has largely avoided … Read more

Transcending sectarianism?

Despite all the coverage of recent weeks, it is hard to find anyone willing to sort out where the basic ground lies. There’s an interesting offering in the pipeline from the Cheif Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs, Jonathan Freedland reports in the Guardian. “The latest challenge is to construct a way for different cultures to get along in a globalised world. The old mechanisms were fine in their day, says Sacks: the principles of religious tolerance or separation of church and state … Read more