To check Sinn Fein winning the propaganda war, a general amnesty should replace prosecutions in exchange for official disclosure, say unionist legal experts, arguing for the scrapping of the government’s Legacy Bill

“Transitional justice has facilitated republicans turning what ought to have been a hostile environment (namely, the historical record of over 2,000 attributable deaths, almost 60 percent of the total murder count, in a sectarian campaign of assassination and bombings – not to mention the accompanying litany of bloodshed, unblinking cruelty and lives destroyed) into a fertile soil allowing them to sustain a campaign of commemoration on ‘an industrial scale.  (The approach has) saturated thinking about the past to such an … Read more

Lee Reynolds in a race to win beard of Ireland

Remember Lee Reynolds? He used to blog on this site before he went off to work for the DUP. He’s now the DUP Group Leader on Belfast City Council and Director of Policy for the party. On Slugger, we don’t give endorsements to any politicians but we thought since he is leading in the race to win the beard of Ireland that you should give him a vote. The idea of a DUPer winning an all island award is something … Read more

Direct Rule in action: “In the light of the ongoing absence of an Executive…”

Northern Ireland Assembly Legislative Consent Motions, required by the UK Parliament to legislate on devolved matters, may have been devalued by the absence of a protest by the then NI Assembly Speaker in March 2015, but the UK Government could at least pretend that one had been passed at that time.  Yesterday there was no such pretence by Steve Brine (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health).  Welcome to Direct Rule… My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O’Shaughnessy) … Read more

Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

Derry’s politicians should stop playing the victim and make more friends and influence people

Steve Bradley’s chastening post on  Derry part 1 is remarkable for its detailed analysis and the volume  of  comment in response -greater I think than for any of the usual subjects I’ve seen in a long time.   Certainly it touches a nerve with me. I left my Derry home to go to school in Coleraine and never lived there again after the fateful year of 1969 when the old order quite suddenly and easily fell apart, an arresting fact its … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would … Read more

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

Resurrection Man, one of Northern Ireland’s most controversial films, is 20 this year.

Just as the Good Friday Agreement celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year so too does one of the most important Troubles-related films. Spring 1998 saw the release of Resurrection Man, a film directed by Marc Evans, written by Eoin McNamee and based on his novel of the same name. The portrayal of loyalism and extreme violence caused Resurrection Man to receive a significant amount of criticism upon its release. The film provoked protest in Northern Ireland and caused some British … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern … Read more

£410 million from DUP Deal to come to Northern Ireland

A substantive portion of the DUP Deal agreed with the Conservative government is to arrive. From the BBC; The secretary of state said the allocation from the confidence and supply money includes £80m for health and education pressures. There will also be £30m to support programmes to address issues of mental health and severe deprivation. A further £100m goes to the long-term transformation of the health service. Capital spending for key infrastructure projects will receive a £200m boost. The budget … Read more

Did Religious Leaders Contribute to Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland? Review of Nukhet Sandal’s New Book

Did religious leaders contribute to conflict transformation in Northern Ireland? It’s a question posed in a new book by Nukhet Sandal, assistant professor of political science at Ohio University, USA – and answered with a resounding ‘yes.’ In Religious Leaders and Conflict Transformation: Northern Ireland and Beyond (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Sandal paints an overwhelmingly positive picture of religious leaders’ efforts to contribute to peacebuilding during the Troubles and after the Good Friday Agreement. Sandal argues that religious leaders articulated … Read more

Fewer east-west economic restrictions is more far important than an open border.

Ah, Brexit. My own thoughts have been from the start is that it represents a real and material threat to the economy of the Republic far more than any threat it poses to peace in Northern Ireland. Guardian picture editors may love the agitprop of 1960s style Irish customs, but a good deal on trade and one that offers the UK access to the single market (albeit at a price) would send such lurid scenarios back where they belong: the … Read more

Article 50 one year one – where are we now?

Boats with EU, UK flags sailing in opposite directions

It’s almost a year since Theresa May triggered Article 50 and the past year has been a veritable rollercoaster of ups and downs in the Brexit negotiation process – admittedly more ups than downs! But where exactly are we in the process and what are the implications for Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland? Will the next phase of the negotiations culminate in Downing Street’s end goal of a “a smooth and orderly Brexit?” Join the Queen’s on Brexit … Read more

More than the leadership of Arlene Foster it’s about what the DUP under unprecedented pressure, is for

In “Arlene Foster’s authority is ebbing away“, Newton assesses the pressure on  her  in the Irish Times.  His fascinating analysis is  the latest example of local Kremlinology  peering into the suffocatingly tight networks that dominate these little parties.   But new outside elements are at play as never before to supplement rapid change at home , like the unpredictable fallout of Brexit and pressures for social change from London and Dublin. But for these pressures to have full effect, they must … Read more

The Brexit Border in 4 key slides

Recently I decided that what is needed right now are some slides that attempt to put the Brexit border issue as simply as possible. This is a pared-back and simplified overview of complex matters, but it’s my attempt to provide an outline of what border controls could mean for different types of border with the EU after Brexit. It is the second draft of a work in progress and any corrections, comments and suggestions are welcome. Slide 1 shows the different … Read more

A way forward – let’s legislate for the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages

As I watched the Nolan show last night, my heart went out to Linda Ervine – a courageous woman pitted against an all male panel and an audience full, it seemed, of antagonistic loyalists who appeared fearful of an Irish language act and what they thought it might do to their identity. It reminded me of the famous Seán Ó Riordáin poem which contained the lines: Dá labhródh bean leat íseal, nach n-ísleofá do ghuth, dá mbeadh an bean réasúnta … Read more

Alternative Ulster – five women who shaped Northern Ireland…

Jenny McEneaney is a sHERed Future Co-Producer she writes for Slugger today about some of the women who have an important impact on local politics and society. Presenting five women who shaped the Northern Ireland of today Happy International Women’s Day! This year’s theme is Press for Progress in recognition of how far we (men, women, society) still have to strive before realising gender equality. This year’s International Women’s Day provides a degree of poignancy for Northern Ireland as we … Read more

Mrs Foster is in the car but it’s being driven by Nigel Dodds

Interesting analysis piece from the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley Even though the consensus suggests the so-called accommodation was a poor deal for republicans, the level of resistance from within the DUP and broader unionism to what was in the proposals appears to have surprised Mrs Foster and her advisors. Since the talks collapsed, the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA has met the DUP’s ruling executive and she says they have backed her leadership. Arguably that confidence is justified – Mrs … Read more

Parties join forces on Neighbourhood Renewal Programme.

Nice piece of cross party cooperation here. Below is a letter from representatives of all parties the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. The following MLAs on an all party basis, have requested a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities Mr Leo O’Reilly, to discuss our concerns about proposed cuts to the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. All parties agreed it remains our priority to have a functioning Executive and Assembly re-established to provide accountability, ministerial direction and democratic decision making … Read more

Brexit battle lines drawn up, or the storm before the calm and other cliches

On the face of it,  the prospects are looking grim again but it may only mean that they’re getting down to business – at last- again. The BBC headlines “Brexit trade talks battle lines drawn.”  And the FT reports  that  the EU –  the  authoritative  Council of the nation states and not just the Commission of bureaucrats –  are taking a hard line for future negotiations with the UK –  slapping down Theresa May’s  supposedly emollient  attempt last week as … Read more