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

Crowd sourcing candidate info

It might be interesting to detail how many of our parliamentary candidates actually live in the constituency they seek to represent. Let us know if candidates are local, parachutes, former locals or now connected/living in the area. We can then compile some nice wee charts. Thats 108 names – local, ‘outsider’, connected or former local? *note – if candidates have chosen to use an alternate address on their registration form please respect that and do not give anything other than … Read more

Derry Essay 3: Sharing our Past, Sharing our Future

A couple of years ago at an event to promote the Walled City cultural tourism attractions at Stormont, Martin McGuinness talked about ‘Derry’ and ‘Londonderry’. With those two words he gave explicit recognition to the multiple narratives that are required to tell Northern Ireland’s story. The story that Derry/Londonderry wishes to tell entwines Colmcille, Plantation, 1689, and Free Derry with a cultural story that brings us into the present day.  What was impressive about that event was how this rich … Read more

Gerry McGeough confronts Gerry Adams

The Irish News reports that Gerry McGeough took the opportunity to have a quiet word with his former comrade-in-arms associate, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, when the latter was canvassing at the gates of St Patrick’s Church in Eglish, County Tyrone.  Gerry McGeough is currently being tried on charges of attempted murder, possession of two revolvers and being in the IRA between 1975 and 1981.  From the Irish News report It is understood that after the exchange, Mr Adams leaned against the church … Read more

Elections now mean power sharing within parties

The one sure outcome of this election is the end of a system that produced the phenomenon of the Swish family Robinson. By that I mean not the personal dramas, (although there’s a connection of course), but the accumulation of personal influence and the development of politics as a small family business, all of it apparently within the rules but now about  to be greatly reduced.  Mr Robinson himself will be less affected than his colleagues.  He’s bidding to retain his … Read more

DUP kettle calling Cameron’s fiscal pot black?

Here’s a nice piece of balance to the headlines in today’s News Letter and Belfast Telegraph… It’s the first paragraph of the economy section of the 2010 DUP manifesto [Emphasis added]: Growing the private sector is the key to economic success. It will be the private sector that will lead the UK into economic recovery.We need low interest rates and must reign back public spending and invest more wisely. Spending reductions must be pursued rather than seeking to increase taxes, … Read more

Politics of the violent threat: “No claim, no blame…”

Fascinating little interview with Geraldine Taylor and Carrie Twomey, the wife of Anthony McIntyre (who conducted the interviews with Brendan Hughes for Boston College) on Radio Free Eireann (scroll down and about an hour and ten minutes in) on living with low level but serious threats. It starts about an hour in. I was struck by one line in particular from Ms Taylor, which she noted a term I’d not heard before… “No claim, no blame…” In other words, if you … Read more

Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now

Here’s something with a bit of politics for the film buffs reading Slugger. As part of Belfast Film Festival and in conjunction with Index on Censorship there’s a free session on Thursday 29th at 2pm in the QFT looking at Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now. The troubles in the North of Ireland have long been the subject of film-makers. This film-making landscape has changed over the years, as has the political landscape. Self Censorship and direct … Read more

“The Provos are giving the police information non-stop”

A Sunday Times report on efforts to counter the increasing activity of still-violent republican groups begins by noting the recent returning to prison of a man released on licence in 1992.  Pending a legal challenge, no doubt.  From the Sunday Times The Northern Ireland Office is examining intelligence information supplied by MI5 on dissident republicans who were released early under the Good Friday agreement to check if there is evidence to seek their immediate return to prison. Martin Corey, 60, who … Read more

An Cúige: Where government spending buys peace, not votes

David Cameron has let the cat out of the bag. Northern Ireland costs too much. Wikipedia puts the cost to the British exchequer at five billion quid in 2006. That’s one fifth of all economic output. Annually. Despite this, the North remains an economic basketcase. By contrast, the Republic benefited from a EU investment in infrastructure of ten billion euro after the Maastricht treaty was signed. That spend is credited with kickstarting a boom lasting close to two decades (though … Read more

NI leader’s debate: “This was politics on bromide”

In the Sunday Times Liam Clarke provides the most accurate assessment of the Northern Ireland party leaders debate so far. Dougal did put a few awkward questions about abstentionism and expenses to Adams and Robinson, but these interventions made no more than a plop on the placid surface of the leisurely discussion. This was politics on bromide. In football parlance, Ritchie, Empey, Robinson and Adams all played a closed, defensive game. There were no long balls, no fouls, and no … Read more

Sunday polls: Conservatives nose ahead in a volatile race

Still not brilliant news in Sunday’s polls for the Tories, but I would rather be in their shoes than Labour’s today: no momentum and the campaign (substance vs, erm, ‘the damned Tories’) is slowly disintegrating. Things are still holding up pretty well for the Lib Dems. And after last week’s wobble (as Clegg came into the frame) Cameron’s ratings seem to be heading north again. If I were a Labour hack, one thing (amongst many) to worry about is not the polls … Read more

Cameron was clumsy but accurate…

David Cameron has touched off something of a bush fire in his interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC2 in speaking of the dependency culture in Northern Ireland. He compared the amount of state support to that of some of the Communist Eastern bloc countries. The potential PM was clumsy in his exposition despite the accuracy of what he was actually saying. My suggestion that there was ‘a whiff’ of the infamous Harold Wilson “spongers” sobriquet about Mr Cameron’s observation, sent … Read more

Not leadership material?

Sinn Féin have large generic election posters appearing across the north, they highlight what seems to be their main theme ‘leadership’. The attached image is essentially the one from the poster, it shows all their currently elected MPs and their two hopefuls – Ruane and Kelly (no O’Dowd?). Well, when I say all – strangely SF’s ‘leadership poster’ doesn’t include Pat Doherty. Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com