Festival of Fools/Election remedy (and it’s all free)

Aside from the The 11th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival , which runs to Sunday the 9th  there is also the Festival of Fools (now in it’s 7th year) which brings local and international street theatre and performers to the city centre  . Though i didn’t manage to see the opening night show from Mr Pejo’s wandering Dolls (from Russia) i did catch a few shows today. So here’s a selection of photographs of the shows i saw today which i hope give you a … Read more

Sinn Féin’s hidden crisis? *updated*

In the comments on Pete’s entry covering Padraig McShane’s resignation from Sinn Féin I noted the following list (now substantially updated) of Councillors that have resigned recently (this list is confined to those that have left during the current council terms north and south – those that left in previous terms are excluded): Dessie Ward Padraig McShane Briege Meehan Domhnall O’Cobhthaigh Gerry McHugh Bernice Swift Barry Monteith Gerard Foley Michael Tallon Poilin Ui Cathain Killian Ford Christy Burke John Dwyer … Read more

Slugger reader predictions – latest

We’ve had 49 replies to our Prediction Competition so far*. Averaging the results, we’re collectively predicting a turnout of 61.8%, and the votes cast divide up as follows (rounded up to one decimal place): SF: 25.6% DUP: 23.5% UCUNF: 17.9% SDLP: 16.2% Alliance: 5.2% TUV: 7.3% Others: 4.2% What does this tell us? It isn’t polling evidence, and there’s no weighting (bookies have the benefit of knowing a bit about strength of sentiment because it’s hard-earned cash backing predictions). But … Read more

Poorly spun electoral yarn

I like a bit of spinning and manipulation during an election, it’s a dirty business and most parties are up for some deceit and/or dishonesty. Though Alliance are pushing their luck a bit with the claim ‘It’s Naomi or Robinson’ in their election cartoon – the claim is supported with the essentially correct statistic that only 52 votes separated them in 2007. Though it completely masks the fact that the total DUP vote of 11,155 dwarfed Alliance’s 5,583 and even the UUP were … Read more

Another Sinn Féin councillor resigns from party

The BBC reports that Moyle District Councillor Padraig McShane has resigned from Sinn Féin. From the report In a statement on Friday, he said he was leaving Sinn Fein. But he remained tight lipped about the reason why. He said that his decision followed “certain allegations” which might be taken up by “certain hostile media elements”. “My adjudication on this matter leads me to believe that those hostile elements within the media would use any allegation to attack my party and … Read more

47.4% drop in postal/proxy votes issued

The BBC report notes the headline figure but, below the fold, the breakdown by constituency shows massive variations in the reduction in postal and proxy votes issued this year compared to 2005. As the Electoral Office Northern Ireland statement says [pdf file] Almost 1.17 million people will be able to vote at the general election the Electoral Office has announced. Figures published today by the Office also show that the number of people applying for a postal or proxy vote … Read more

What next for our North-South postal and train services?

[This is taken from A Note from the Next Door Neighbours, the monthly e-bulletin of Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh and Dublin] Here is some good news. The postal service between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland works well. A report in February by Consumer Focus Post, the consumer ‘quango’ which looks after the interests of users of the UK postal system, found that nearly four in five Northern Ireland individual users … Read more

Northern Ireland parties give verdicts on PM debate

Most of them…  From the BBC report The DUP, the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance gave a mixed reaction to the debate. TUV and the Green Party also gave their view. Sinn Fein declined to comment. Well, it was a debate about the economy… Pete Baker

Derry Essays 4: We are the greatest…

I have written many times about Derry’s importance as a European cultural capital [1], and every time I’ve met with relentless patronising from subjects of much-lesser cities whose only notable attribute is size. There’s a small snigger, accompanied by an oh-so-clever remark about “chips on his shoulder” as they slope back to their generic lattes, in generic cafés in Blandland. I’ve lived in, worked in, or visited every Irish city – and quite a few in Britain besides. And let … Read more

Election prediction comp: The West Belfast error?

We’re nearly up to fifty entries for the election prediction competition, and there is one common answer that is coming in that suggests to me that many entrants haven’t understood one of the questions. For this reason, if any of you want to go back in and have another go, we’ll de-duplicate when we’re doing the scoring and remove one older answer from the same e-mail address. You will have to answer all of the questions again though. You will … Read more

de Juana Chaos jumps bail

The BBC reports that convicted ETA killer, Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, has jumped bail and may have left Northern Ireland.  He had been contesting the Spanish authorities’ attempt to extradite him on a charge of glorifying terrorism. From the BBC report De Juana Chaos, who had been living in west Belfast, was out on bail ahead of an appeal against his extradition. On Thurdsay, High Court judges were told he has not reported to police in Belfast or been … Read more

You’ve gotta fight for the right

As previously noted (SF and DUP seek to restrict right of Public Assembly) proposed legislation (not approved by Justice Minister) could seriously undermine the right to Public Assembly. This theme has been picked from two very different angles. The News Letter reports, Rev Brian McClung, minister of Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church has serious concerns on the impact to open air religious meetings: Freedom of peaceful assembly, which our forefathers fought and died for, instead of being a fundamental right will now become … Read more

Sinn Féin’s politics of delusion

Sinn Féin’s response to criticism of their refusal to sit at Westminster in the face of proposed cuts post-election has been to call on all the other parties “to unite with us against the cuts”, and even to press for an increase in the block grant.  At the same time the party’s manifesto, along with others, wants fiscal powers devolved and corporation tax reduced – whilst also refusing to agree to the introduction of water charges.  Balance those books. The example Gerry Adams … Read more

Quality of education at Gaelscoil na Daroige “inadequate”

The Irish News education correspondent, Simon Doyle, notes that a Northern Ireland Education and Training Inspectorate report has stated that the “quality of provision in Irish and English was inadequate” at a Londonderry Irish-medium primary school which the NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, has twice awarded funding to against the advice of her departmental officials.  From the Irish News Ms Ruane approved the first proposal in 2007, but the school never met the necessary intake numbers and was forced to re-apply. The second proposal … Read more

How free is ‘Free Derry’?

There’s a fascinating story on the front page of the Derry Journal this morning. It goes to the heart of one the issues raised by the public meet up at the Cafe del Mondo yesterday: just how free is Free Derry? In fact Journal story is something of bureaucratic row over the siting of a poster just behind Free Derry Corner. The miscreant, according to Sinn Fein, is Eamonn McCann and his People Before Profit organisation who whacked his posters … Read more

Election Predictor

As mentioned on Slugger on Saturday, Stratagem are running a General Election Predictor over at www.stratagem-ni.com/election (personal interest declared, given that I commissioned it). When the results are announced, the magic of computers will sort the predictions out into those who guessed all 18 constituencies correctly, those who got 17 right, and so on. Out of those that get the most right, we’ll be picking a winner at random who’ll get an original Ian Knox cartoon. There’s also some analysis … Read more

Ford tries to ‘bump’ Long over the line?

I’ve not been able to take politicians forecasts of their own fortunes seriously since Mitchel McLaughlin told me in all seriousness that he was going to win the Foyle seat in 2005. Now David Ford is pushing his candidate in East Belfast as a real possibility for taking a seat, without quite saying that. With Sammy Morse’s warnings against any party (including his own presumably) who relies on canvass returns ringing in my ears, I would say the Alliance party … Read more

FST’s ‘shotgun marriage’ may not cut it for Unionist electorate…

Last week Ben Lowry was asking whether those behind the Unionist unity campaign had taken account of its natural response: nationalist unity? The publication of the High Court’s judgement against Fermanagh District Council won’t help the unity candidate down there. Toals already have the incumbent Michelle Gildernew fractionally ahead of the council’s former CEO Rodney Connor, even though, theoretically, the numbers should add up to slight unionist majority. As I argued back in January, some of form of unionist unity … Read more

Fermanagh Council: “at best prima facie discriminatory and certainly unedifying”

A BBC report notes the publication, one month after the ruling was made, of a High Court judgement which orders that Fermanagh District Council must pay the Local Government Auditor’s bill of £38,178 for an investigation into the controversial appointment of Rodney Connor as Chief Executive of the Council in 2000.  From the BBC report In his ruling [Mr Justice Higgins] emphasised that the proceedings reflect in no way upon the ability or integrity of Mr Connor who “all parties acknowledged to be a … Read more

Baggott outlines police response to security threat

A BBC report notes the NI Police Federation’s concerns about “insufficient resources” being available to PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott as an emergency meeting of the Policing Board discussed the increasing activities of still-violent republican groups.  UTV has the quotes from Matt Baggott, and others, following the meeting  “We’ll be doing vehicle checkpoints throughout the next couple of weeks and probably beyond that”, Mr Baggott said. “I know they are a huge inconvenience to the public but let’s be very clear the responsibility … Read more