Blair speech: The benefits

The focus changes to the political and economic benefits the Agreement has brought: “…there is still violence, but at a far, far reduced rate – in 1972, 470 people died. This year, so far, ten. Ten too many, but let us recognise the progress made. The transformation in the economy has been enormous: unemployment at its lowest since 1975; long-term unemployment, down 65 per cent since the Agreement; manufacturing up 15 per cent, uniquely in the UK. New jobs, new … Read more

Suspension; eye witness

In the subscription only Irish News Newton Emerson, editor of the satirical website Portadown News was in Stormont on the last day of business. One thing that consistently erks the reasonable middle ground parties is the way that most commentators rarely talk to them: “The Women’s Coalition are first to brave the spotlight. Cruelly, several reporters take this opportunity to make final adjustments to their cameras and microphones. There are no questions. As they leave, the DUP arrives and the … Read more

Suspension; winners and losers

Malachi O’Doherty is the first one I’ve seen to evaluate the gains and losses made by each of four main parties through the events of the last fortnight. It’s an interesting exercise, but one that may prove misleading in a process that has become more long term, where many expected early closure. Indeed it is these parties that O’Doherty pinpoints as the main losers. The winner, he declares is the DUP, repeating his observation of last Sunday that Peter Robinson … Read more

Danny Morrison interviews David Ervine

This is a conversation between two men who both share a very direct style of communication. It’s interesting too because it represents countless other conversations that have abounded since the Belfast Agreement. He talks about the proposed exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive “When I view the potential for January I’’m saying to myself, ‘”what is it Trimble wants”? How many hoops have people to jump through?’ What I am clear on is what the Republican Movement and loyalists need … Read more

IRA linked to Castlereagh breakin

Ananova reports Police believe they have evidence of a link. There’s more detail from UTV. Police deny this was connected to a raid on Sinn Fein’s Stormont office this morning. But the heat is being turned up on both Sinn Fein and the IRA. Jude Collins reacts to the conjecture around this and the Colombian story from a Nationalist point of veiw. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on … Read more


Rumour has reached us that one of the assailants in a recent gun attack also managed to put himself into hospital by shooting himself in the ‘privates’ during the get away! For those less familiar with recent events in Belfast, there has been a low level conflict rising between rival Loyalist paramilitaries over the last few weeks. For background, see here. Anyone familiar with the plot line of Colin Bateman’s novel and subsequent film, ‘Divorcing Jack’, or Martin Lynch’s early … Read more

Short Strand protestants..

Suzanne Breen talks to protestant women in the troubled area in East Belfast, kindly reproduced by Newshound. The three women all live right on the peaceline in the Clandeboye Estate. Jean grew up in the staunchly unionist Newtownards Road area. She has five children and moved into the Short Strand 30 years ago. “Since May our homes have been under sustained attack from loyalists day and night,” she says. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers … Read more

Politician’s weblog

Interesting weblog by Westminster MP Harry Barnes. This piece is intriguingly titled; IRA plc and Loyalist Limited. Harry is a member of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty


James Kelly in the subscription only Irish News, is getting fed up with the seemingly endless series of constitutional crises, and suggests that NI Plc is being seriously neglected in all the furore. Meantime, out in the real world away from the political hothouse, voices are being heard protesting about the political stranglehold which is choking economic growth here. One such voice is that of Jim Berry, a specialist on planning and development at the University of Ulster. He is … Read more

More on the UUC meeting…

The Guardian editoralises boldly: The immediate villains of the piece are anti-agreement campaigners inside the Ulster Unionists, led by two MPs, Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside. They hold out the unacceptable and un realistic prospect of devolution without Sinn Fein. Unionists should recognise that by rejecting Mr Trimble, they would also be rejecting Northern Ireland’s opportunity to run its own affairs. By contrast, Mr Trimble’s record is commendable. He took the bold step of swinging mainstream unionist opinion behind the … Read more

Nationalist backroom

The SDLP rarely get a share of the headlines, but Mark Durkan’s visit to the Shankill has certainly bought him plenty of column inches, here, here and here. However he followed up with an attack on Jeffrey Donaldson’s article (see here), saying: If Ulster Unionists give Jeffrey Donaldson a role in Agreement politics, it “would be like trusting Sellafield with environmental safety’ Speaking of the upcoming UUC meeting, he comments: …we do know is that every single strategy that he … Read more

Unionist backroom

Public insults are part of the stock in trade of all NI political parties, with the possible exception of the SDLP the Alliance party, and the Women’s Coalition. Steven King’s extraordinary headline in last night’s Belfast Telegraph, Scumbaggery feeling squeeze, should be read within that context. In fact the message within the article is much more outreaching than the headline implies. He quotes from a recent book by Henry Patterson, to warn Unionists of the dangers of ‘hoping that the … Read more

More Catholics than Protestants support the Police

Extraordinary headline, but one borne out by this study for the BBC. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Adams: let’s hear it for the Union

Gerry Adams calls for dialogue on the advantages of the Union. It’s hard to gauge how well such a proposal has gone down with Unionists themselves, though some have suggested that this is part of a ‘good cop – bad cop’ strategy, with Adams being good and others playing it tough. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and … Read more

Unionist backroom

The public conversation within Unionism (see here) continues in the Belfast Telegraph. This time it’s Jeffrey Donaldson. He asserts, in apparent agreement with David Trimble, that this crisis is entirely of Sinn Fein’s making. Like the Trimblite academic Paul Bew yesterday, he highlights violence as a point of concern: Levels of violence on our streets are higher now than they were at the time of the Belfast Agreement over four years ago. The Assistant Chief Constable, Alan McQuillan, has declared … Read more

De Klerk speaks at Glencree Summer School

I am just back from a weekend spent at the Glencree Summer School, where a variety of speakers gave presentations to a mixed audience from both sides of the Ulster community, the Republic and the UK. The keynote address was given by the ex-President of South Africa, FW de Klerk. Though it was clear from the discussion that followed his initial address that there were few direct parallels between the circumstances in the two situations, a number of interesting points … Read more

Demographic nightmare

If both sides are to be believed then no one is to blame for the ongoing nightmare in North Belfast. Still there is something quite chilling in the latest statement from Loyalists with regard to recent violence. It is forthwrite, simple and completely unapologetic: The senior loyalist said that Mr Lawlor had been killed in retaliation for a gun attack on Sunday evening in which a Protestant teenager was seriously injured. He said: “We’re one bullet, one fatality away from … Read more

Trimble: Biography of an enigma

Just finished reading Henry McDonald’s biog of Trimble (US). One of those last minute impulse buys waiting for an early morning flight out of Aldergrove. And still Trimble largely remains the enigmatic creature he was before. However the book is a useful reference for some of the action we’ve had since April 1998 (though it cuts off when the end-game was still in it’s early stages). Several things leapt out at me: 1 The key influence that several Catholic/former Nationalist … Read more

Stop, go again

The story of the peace process post Belfast Agreement seems to have been one of deadlines. Despite the apology from the IRA the UUP still intend to stick to theirs on 24th July. But, in this ‘theatre-in-the-round’, nothing is as planned and predictable as it once was in Ulster, and the main players are more interdependent that than they would sometimes like. Meanwhile, David McKittrick applauds the change in language and tone from the IRA, but goes on to point … Read more

Census 2001: Some preliminary thoughts

There’s only weeks to go before the results of the 2001 census are announced, we’ve not heard much in recent times about the demographic timebomb that awaits the Northern Ireland electorate. Though the proportion of the electorate voting Nationalist has risen exponentially in the last 30 years, the implications are not as clear-cut as it may seem on first sight. One Unionist politician I spoke to recently was at pains to point out that everyone is behaving as though the … Read more