“concepts of the renegade groups as something ‘other’ are too simplistic”

The BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick adds his thoughts on the University of Liverpool survey noted previously.  From Jim Fitzpatrick We also learn this week that 14% of nationalists have sympathy with the objectives of groups like the Real IRA. Again, this piece of research challenges the conventional wisdom that these people enjoy no support. It is credible work and can’t be dismissed. But it is a bit of a jump to read the research as suggesting that 14% of nationalists “support” … Read more

Great Big Political Quiz – give us your funny team names

The tickets for the Great Big Political Quiz Night are selling rapidly – get yours to avoid disappointment (form below). We’re also going to be dishing out a few spot prizes. For instance, we know that one or two of you have hilarious team names planned *clutches sides at the very thought*.There will be a prize for the best one on the night. We also know that one or two organisations are very bullish about their plans to snatch the … Read more

Just when you thought you were out…

They pull you back in.  Shaun Woodward has been named as shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland.  Nevermind, Shaun.  It could’ve been worse… [Worse?!  How? – Ed].  Could have been Wales… Pete Baker

NI Water: A serious management problem for Mr MacKenzie

Both the Irish News and the News Letter have stories on a damning staff survey at Northern Ireland Water, taken months after the Board was removed which demonstrates that a serious management problem has set in under the stewardship of Laurence MacKenzie. For example, see this data on areas which identified as’ needing improvement’ (remember 60% is considered a poor score requiring ‘considerable focus’) Some of the attitudes might be attributable to external factors. For instance some of the 22% … Read more

The Detail will launch in January…

The Guardian informs us that Bob Geldof’s media company Ten Alps will launch The Detail [added link], a Belfast-based news and current affairs website, in January. From The Guardian report The Detail will launch in January and is backed by £750,000 in grants from two bodies, Atlantic Philanthropies and Norther[n] Ireland Screen. This money is budgeted to fund the project for two years. Trevor Birney, managing director of Belfast-based independent producer Below the Radar, is to be head of The Detail. Below the … Read more

PSNI: “We will seek to make it difficult for them”.

The BBC reports that the Policing Board have been told that the PSNI are to launch “a major security operation against dissident republicans over the coming days”.  From the BBC report At the October meeting of the policing board, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said that the public may face disruption as a result of the operations. “Over the coming days you will see an increase in police activity across Northern Ireland as we continue our efforts to prevent … Read more

Images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat…

Some odd resonances around the globe this week, from Peru to Palestine via Banna Strand. Today, Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was named as the recipient of this year’s Nobel prize for literature. Vargas Llosa has travelled a pretty scenic route from supporting Fidel Castro, to an unsuccessful presidental campaign in 1990, a Cervantes Prize in 1995 and, latterly, a comfy chair among the Peruvian centre-right. In the announcement of the award, the committee cited his cartography of structures of power and … Read more

Slugger Awards: “Politics would be better if only politicians would….”

We’re never done telling politicians what they should not be doing. Here’s a chance to help define what we want them to do more of. As many of you will already know, we are relying on you to help us develop the Slugger Awards categories this year. If it works, it will be a multi-layered process: including a Dragon’s Den type breakfast event later in the Autumn. But we need to get started with as many ideas as possible. Today we … Read more

Concerted Opposition from the Devolved Institutions

Betsan points us to a pretty significant joint declaration of the three devolved institutions. “That the three devolved administrations believe the impending cuts in public spending run the risk of delivering economic and social harm shouldn’t be news to you.That the leaders of the three devolved administrations have signed a joint declaration saying so, very bluntly, is, as one senior source in Cardiff Bay put it, “massive”.” And: “They say, “We believe that promoting economic growth is the best way to … Read more

“sympathy is not the same as unequivocal support”

Pete has noted coverage of ESRC Northern Ireland 2010 Westminster Election Survey. The report came with shock and awe coverage: Newsletter: ALARMING new figures show that 14 per cent of nationalists sympathise with dissident republican terrorists. UTV: The survey by the University of Liverpool shows that 14% of the nationalist community have some “sympathy for the reasons” why groups like the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann continue their campaign of violence. BBC: Fourteen per cent of … Read more

“One of the mantras of the peace process is that ‘dissident’ republicans have no support…”

The BBC has some details of a University of Liverpool survey – The ESRC Northern Ireland 2010 Westminster Election Survey – which asked some questions about peoples attitudes towards still-violent republican paramilitaries. From the BBC report Professor Tonge said the research also highlighted the difference in perception of the scale of the threat between the two communities. “They were offered three options, major, minor or no threat. A majority of Protestants , 53 percent described the dissidents as a major threat,” he said. … Read more

Tory welfare reform, or social Blitz Krieg?

I was struck by George Osborne’s announcement on benefits cuts, but having moved out into the sticks whilst Slugger Central has a new back wall put to it, I missed the opportunity to blog it. Lee beat me to it, and made on of the points I would have made: The idea of capping the welfare levels is an interesting one that has a basis in the principle of fairness.  However, you do wonder if it is a means of … Read more

Slugger Awards (Media) Pitch: Searchlight on Government

This is one of several I have in mind. But this category would include campaigns and high quality investigations that reveal what’s going on under the surface of ministerial accountability to include the bureaucracy, quangos and watchdogs . This is particularly important in a political system without a formal opposition. Candidates would be asked to assess the role of FOI and pre-emptive government disclosure of papers in their reporting. ++++++++++++++ Slugger is now looking for pitches from people to turn the … Read more

That’s the end of that

Back in July Chris noted the CAS dismissal of the IFA case over Daniel Kearns representing the Republic. At that point only a brief press release was available. As this finally ends any doubts on player eligibility and for completeness – here, at last, is the full CAS judgement and the arguments presented. Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com

“not quite Irish enough”

The Irish Times today gives space to a perennial whinge.  Freelance journalist Darach MacDonald complains that, living in Northern Ireland, he is “now deemed by geography to be not quite Irish enough” to vote in the forthcoming Irish presidential election – even though he could stand, and take office if elected. But, rather than extending the franchise, there is a more obvious solution to the apparent contradiction. Introduce a residency requirement for the office of the President of [the Republic … Read more

Skepticism in Belfast – local group planned.

The ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ idea is a one that has been spreading globally in for a while with a growing number of regular local events including plenty in England and a well established Dublin group. A branch has now been established in Belfast and the inaugural meeting will be at the Duke of York next Tuesday (12th) at 7pm. While it’s key aim is to provide an organising hub for Rationalists and Secularists, in the case of the Westminster … Read more

The Boat Factory – launched in East Belfast last night

The Boat Factory, play by Dan Gordon, produced by Happenstance Theatre Company

Dan Gordon’s new play The Boat Factory opened in the heart of East Belfast last night. Part drama, part documentary, it plots out the development of the shipyard in Belfast, as well as charting the social history of the shipyard workers. Produced by Happenstance Theatre Company and directed by Philip Crawford, it’s the story Davy Gordon – played by Dan Gordon and based on his father – growing up and following his brothers into Harland and Wolff as an apprentice. … Read more

Photograph of the day – Metaphor of the day?

Metaphorical Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from … Read more

“It is irresponsible to make ill-informed comments about areas which are not your responsibility.”

As DC noted in the comments zone of Brian’s post on our special little pleaders, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson made an interesting pitch during the Conservative Conference fringe event on NI today. With a number of NI Executive ministers present, Owen Paterson argued that the “British taxpayer should not continue to subsidise segregation” in NI, and he highlighted segregated education here as a particular example of “a criminal waste of public money”. Speaking to UTV in Birmingham after the event NI … Read more

NI Environment Minister’s “retreat from Moscow”

I mentioned that the public inquiry into the John Lewis development at Sprucefield has been delayed due to legal concerns about comments made by the NI Environment Minister, the DUP’s Edwin Poots.  The BBC reports that Lord Justice Girvan has asked the Attorney General to consider contempt of court proceedings, despite a statement from the Minister being read out in court today.  And, it would appear, not just in regard to the Minister.  From the BBC report Lord Justice Girvan said [the Minister’s statement in court today] did not “sit … Read more