Leaders issue a joint statement on Cantrell Close

The following is a joint statement on behalf of the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party and the Green Party; We as political leaders condemn all forms of sectarianism, intolerance and threats of violence. Four families have been forced to leave their homes in South Belfast. This is wrong.  Any threat to these families should be lifted immediately. There is also an onus on the PSNI and the statutory agencies to provide immediate and appropriate support … Read more

Slugger TV debuts on NVTV looking at key constituencies of #GE2017

Slugger O’Toole: Episode 1 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Slugger TV debuted on NVTV  last night with a panel of the Irish News Security Correspondent, Allison Morris and our own Alan Meban. We looked at the key constituencies of the campaign and some of the moments of the election campaign.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Candidates for #GE2017

Alliance Party (18 candidates) East Antrim – Stewart Dickson East Belfast – Naomi Long East Londonderry – Chris McCaw Fermanagh and South Tyrone – Noreen Campbell Foyle – John Doherty Lagan Valley – Aaron McIntyre Mid Ulster – Fay Watson Newry and Armagh – Jackie Coade North Antrim – Patricia O’Lynn North Belfast – Sam Nelson North Down – Andrew Muir South Antrim – Neil Kelly South Belfast – Paula Bradshaw South Down – Andrew McMurray Strangford – Kellie Armstrong … Read more

After #AE17, the Alliance party…

Alliance leading change banner

A few years ago, I recall Belfast based lobbyist Brendan Mulgrew describing Naomi Long as “a full colour politician in a black and white world”. And that was a few years before she took on the top job on from David Ford. Just over a year into the job, and Northern Ireland’s liberal party have their best result since 1987. That’s a very long way from the nadir of 2003, when it was lucky to retain its six seats on … Read more

#BBCNIDebate sees energetic exchanges & a broad range of issues discussed

The five main party leaders gathered at the BBC Blackstaff studio tonight to discuss issues such as RHI, Brexit, Direct Rule & cross community voting. Chaired by Noel Thompson, he very ably directed candidates and the audience through out the night. For me, the strongest performance was from Colum Eastwood. For parties like the SDLP, just letting people know that you are on the stage is an achievement and he did this in spades tonight. From the opening segment on … Read more

“Two balloons”? And the Facebook age finally strikes the Alliance party.

Looks like someone sneaked into the Alliance Party’s closed Facebook group and came out telling tales. Or maybe it was just someone inside the party who wasn’t too chuffed at the nature of some of the offline online chatter: In an exchange with supporters in the ‘Alliance Party Activists and Volunteers’ group about councillors Geraldine Rice and Vasundhara Kamble, Mrs Long wrote: “These two are complete balloons. They staged a sitdown protest when Anna Lo got a standing ovation because … Read more

Bradshaw; I trust on March 2nd votes will reject the petty divisive populism of the past

Paula Bradshaw

Paula Bradshaw is an Alliance Party candidate in South Belfast A frustration of this election campaign, like so many others, is some parties have sought to make it about things other than those which matter to people’s daily lives – jobs, education, health and others. Those are in fact the areas of policy upon which the Executive makes decisions and where Assembly members can make a real difference, yet for reasons best known to themselves, the outgoing Executive parties have … Read more

A Women’s election?

Andrée Murphy is a Columnist with the Andersonstown News Sitting in my living room on Thursday night seeing three women leaders of the local parties and two male leaders on the two fringes made me chuckle. I tweeted it was hard to believe that it was Michelle O’Neill’s first time in the spot as leader, such was her composure and capability. But then I also realised that it was also Naomi Long’s first time in that position too. I suppose … Read more

Electoral Reform Society finds little transfers between opposite blocs.

The Electoral Reform Society has today released findings from their survey of how we voted last May and the findings really blows a hole in the idea that transfers will be flowing from Unionists to Nationalists or vice versa. The study draws on data from thousands of respondents – over 4,000 – to create the largest database of voting patterns for NI. It shows that while only a small number – 4% of Catholics and 2% of Protestants – give their … Read more

Candidates for #AE17

This is not a total list but I thought I would begin with some of the main parties running across all of the 18 constituencies. DUP- (38 candidates) North Belfast-Paula Bradley, Nelson McCausland, William Humphreys West Belfast-Frank McCoubrey South Belfast-Emma Pengelly and Christopher Stalford East Belfast- Robin Newton, Joanne Bunting, David Douglas North Down- Gordon Dunne, Alex Easton Strangford- Michelle McIlveen, Simon Hamilton, Peter Weir Lagan Valley- Brenda Hale, Paul Givan, Edwin Poots Upper Bann- Jonathan Buckley, Carla Lockhart South … Read more

What would the Assembly look like if weighted majority voting had been introduced?

What would the Assembly look like if weighted majority voting had been introduced? With the present RHI scandal throwing up another problem with the system there have been some calls for a ‘public conversation’ on future reform. In the (original) Assembly & Executive Reform (Assembly Opposition) Bill John McCallister  brought forward cross-community support and the petition of concern would have been removed. He had proposed a minimum percentage of 60% as a weighted majority threshold. First lets see how the … Read more

SDLP Motion to Exclude Foster reaches 30 signatures

An SDLP motion to exclude Arlene Foster as First Minister for a period of 6 months has now reached 30 signatures and will be debated on Monday. The motion is backed by the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance Party, Green Party, People Before Profit and Traditional Unionist Voice. If all MLAs attend, that gives the motion 41 votes in favour, that is a majority over the 36 DUP MLAs.  The Speaker Robin Newton cannot vote and Bell is shaky at the moment. Some … Read more

Naomi Long officially takes over as party leader telling the public “Vote Alliance and get Alliance”

No real surprises here but Naomi Long was officially endorsed by her party colleagues tonight as the leader of the Alliance Party. Long has previously served as the party’s deputy leader under David Ford and was the MP for East Belfast from 2010-2015. She has been credited for her work in building the Alliance party in her East Belfast constituency since she was elected to the Assembly in 2003. Speaking about her vision for the party she said; I am … Read more

Amnesty NI poll displays attitudes of party voters towards abortion laws

An interesting poll conducted by Millward Brown for Amnesty International has surveyed the attitudes of voters of various parties towards abortion legislation in Northern Ireland with some noteworthy statistics Overall the poll found that attitudes in Northern Ireland as whole favour reform. Full details can be found here.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Stormont Holds Its First Ever Opposition Day

Stormont Today will be worth a watch to see a little bit of history. The Assembly held its first ever opposition day which meant that for around four hours MLAs debated topics selected by the opposition namely rural bank closures, public confidence after the NAMA revelations and Impact on Women of Changes to the State Pension. Often critiqued for a lack of cooperation, the SDLP and UUP released a joint statement on the latter topic; The first Opposition Day saw a … Read more

Cartoon – The Northern Irish Open

Rory McIlroy may have triumphed at the weekend but can Marlene win the Justice Minister Challenge?   Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Entitlement to participation in the ‘official opposition’

Interesting sidebar to the issue of an ‘official opposition’. The proposed scheme is set out in Appendix F4 on page 55 of the “A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan” document (although it still requires some administrative mechanism to formalise it). The first section clearly states that: (i) “Those parties which would be entitled to ministerial positions in the Executive but choose not to take them up, to be recognised as an official opposition. Those parties which choose to … Read more

#SluggerReport on Stormont: “Suspect too much sweet-talk, but never close your mind.”

Well, Slugger hears that the SDLP parliamentary meeting takes place today at 4pm, so it may be that Brian gets his wish in the timely manner he may be hoping for. We’ll really have to wait and see what precisely emerges. As Brian notes, Newton Emerson has a particularly useful piece in the Irish Times today, in which he notes: …yet suddenly Stormont is transformed. In a matter of days, opposition has gone from a potential mutation in mandatory coalition … Read more

Age Profile of the New Assembly

The votes are in and the new MLAs have all signed the register. Some of you will remember back in late 2013, I totaled up the ages of the parties in the last Assembly. I managed this time to get the ages of 107 of the 108 MLAs which means that this should be a more accurate reading of the current age profile of the Assembly. Parties The youngest Assembly group is the Green Party with an average age of … Read more