A united archipelago..

With the number of countries implementing the Schengen agreement now increased to 24, the Irish Times tries, once again, to start a reasoned debate on whether the Republic of Ireland should also join. From Monday’s editorial [subs req] “On the map of the Schengen area Ireland and Britain are conspicuous absentees on the west of the continent, along with the main Balkan states, Turkey, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldova and Russia to the east. New lines are being drawn. Asked recently whether … Read more

So sign up to Schengen…

The most interesting point to emerge from today’s optically orientated 9th meeting of the British Irish Council wasn’t the quibbling about the financial package – it ain’t going to change significantly – it was the mention of gaps in security, which Dermot Ahern stated was referring to the Schengen Agreement.. and Gordon Brown agrees. The Alliance Party have previously made mention of this Agreement but the focus appears to be on different proposals than those presented by that party. [It … Read more

On the importance of melancholy [in political journalism]…

“Cheeky” Piers Morgan’s acerbic interviewing style misses only one of the qualities recommended by Ken Tynan (and lauded in the leader page of the Guardian on Monday). It was light, certainly. Stinging yes. Insolent, without a doubt. But the part he left out of his interrogation of that paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, was melancholy. I have to admit that when I first read Tynan’s recipe for good review writing (in Monday’s leader, as it happens), it was that word which … Read more

About that Daily Mail interview…

This article appeared in the Daily Mail last week… It’s an interview with Peter Hain, as you may never have seen him before… with one Petronella Wyatt… (I’d be scared in the unlikely event she asked me for an interview)… Much to the delight of one blogging supporter of one his rivals for the Deputy Prime Minister’s job, he accepted the invitation… Particularly with the Vice Roy comment, you have to wonder if she is a closet Brian Feeney fan…By … Read more

Political cryonics anyone?

As the BBC have reported, the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has made his “the future of Northern Ireland” statement to the House of Commons. Announcing his intention to bring forward an emergency Bill on 20 April, with only a half a dozen clauses, to recall the Assembly on 15 May, as previously announced. He repeatedly references devolution in Scotland and Wales as role-models, but there’s not a great deal of detail so far except … Read more

London shuts down…

Given I was in London only yesterday (thus the pacity of blogging from me) this morning’s news has a greater shock value. Now it seems the tube network is effectively closing down. The death toll is likely to rise during the day, but current estimates are about 20. It appears at least one bus has been ripped apart in Russell Square. It looks like a co-ordinated attack on London’s transport infrastructure. Up-date: We’re hearing via the BBC that all public … Read more

US election: the net changed politics if not the president

Last Tuesday night the Grand Committee Room in Westminster played host to an impressive range of speakers, each reflecting on the role of the Internet in the recent US Presidential campaign. Slugger was there to cover it… Who uses the net for politics? Professor Stephen Coleman of the Oxford Internet Institute, drew from research he’d commissioned from YouGov. Days before the US poll, a sample of 3,500 Internet users, was asked to rank the importance of various sources using a … Read more

Robinson’s plan:summary

In conversation with Frank Millar, Peter Robinson outlined the conditions for his party’s willing engagement with the peace process. He outlined what he believes to be fundamental flaws of the current Agreement. He returned to a theme his colleague Sammy Wilson outlined in more detail a few weeks back – the unaccountability of the institutions. He did not rule out working with Sinn Fein, but this would entail (amongst other things) finding a system that would allow all players to … Read more

Blair speech: Completion

This may be the sound bite that outlasts the rest when the time and the place of this speech are long forgotten. Blair calls for decisive action: It’s time for acts of completion. We will do our best to carry on implementing the Agreement in any event. But, should real change occur, we can implement the rest of the Agreement, including on normalisation, in its entirety and not in stages but together. And we are prepared to do what is … Read more

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

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

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