Watch back the Leaders Debate from Feile and Phobail. 

Some thoughts In a 90 minute debate there was a very interesting dialogue between the representatives of the parties. It was on the whole, a respectful exchange of views. Simon Hamilton and Robin Swann deserve credit for how they approached this debate. They handled an audience that was far from being on their side well and I think it beneficial having that Unionist voice on the panel to remind all of us that not everyone thinks the same way on … Read more

Joint statement by party leaders on rights after Brexit

The following is a joint statement from the leaders of Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and Green parties. We are at a crucial point in the Brexit negotiations. Guarantees were given in the Joint Report between the British government and the EU in December that there would be no diminution of rights as a result of Brexit, on the rights of people resident here and that the Good Friday Agreement would be protected. “These guarantees have yet to be fully translated … Read more

Political leaders unite to appeal for calm and condemn violence

The following has been issued by the leaders of Sinn Fein, DUP, UUP, SDLP, Alliance and Green parties. “Attacks on the police have been on-going for a number of days alongside other violence including sectarian attacks on houses, petrol bombs thrown at the police, intimidation of contractors, vehicles hi-jacked and attacks on sheltered accommodation. “The shots fired last night were a clear and obvious attempt to murder police officers. There must be a strong, clear and united voice against those … Read more

SluggerTV looks at the smaller parties, West Tyrone & the SDLP special conference

This month we debate the West Tyrone by-election, the SDLP special conference and the other smaller parties with Brendan Mulgrew from MWA Advocate, Andree Murphy who is an Andersonstown News Columnist and the Irish News reporter, Brendan Hughes. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Four parties issue a joint statement on Brexit.

Four party leaders representing 49 MLAs have penned a joint statement on Brexit. On 23rd June 2016 citizens voted to remain within the European Union. Despite this, the British Government intend to exit the EU in March 2019. Sinn Féin, Green Party, Alliance and the Social Democratic and Labour Party all share the common position that we should stay within both the single market and customs union and that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland … Read more

For me and my mum, Belfast was a sanctuary. And we have the Good Friday Agreement to thank for that

Last night, as I sat with my fellow council colleagues listening to President Clinton and Senator Mitchell being awarded the Freedom of the City for their part in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, I thought of my mum. Seventeen years ago in Zimbabwe, we were down to just two (my brother, sister and father all living in different countries) and I was at boarding school. My mum had heard rumours that after weeks of shortages there was petrol arriving in … Read more

Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

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