Naomi Long: Alliance still believes a positive vision, bold ideas and strong leadership is the only way to move forward and respect the spirit of the GFA

Naomi Long is the Leader of the Alliance Party, ahead of her party conference she writes for Slugger about ways to break the current deadlock at Stormont Twenty years ago, nearly three out of four people in Northern Ireland stepped forward to support the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Despite the huge challenges and deep divisions within society, and acknowledging the GFA was not perfect, it was recognised then the next steps forward could be positive for our community. People were … Read more

The spending dilemma in the NI Health Service

Nick Garbutt over on Scope NI has an excellent article on health spending and the challenges facing us in the future First to the budget. Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s written statement commits to a 5.5% uplift on last year’s allocation. This sounds terrific. But it is important to remember that the increase is based on last year’s starting position. However last year an extra £140 million was found for Health through in-year allocations – redistributing unspent monies from other … Read more

Paula Bradshaw: We need to talk about domestic violence

Alliance Party MLA, Paula Bradshaw writes for Slugger for the issue of domestic violence We need to talk about domestic violence. Specifically, we need to recognise that the failure to restore the Executive and Assembly is holding up efforts to protect women (and men) from domestic abuse, stalking, and coercive control. Judith Gillespie’s timely contribution to the debate reminds us that – regardless of the esteem in which our devolved institutions are held – they remain the forum to deliver … Read more

Has the model of the GFA itself resulted in the impasse?

Paddy Wilson is a Postgraduate student at Queens University Belfast and a member of the Workers Party.  On Monday, David McCann gave his assessment of the political impasse between the former parties of the Executive and made the pertinent point that; “when debating whether its’ a failure, let’s compare it to the alternatives, not the Almighty.” Outside the remits of any deity, the GFA is a creation of people. I don’t believe that any system or solution that we create … Read more

Why the Good Friday Agreement has a future

The Good Friday Agreement has come in for a bit of criticism over the past few days following the failure to reestablish a new Executive. It’s natural, when you are at an impasse to want to review and perhaps chart a new course. However, whilst I share a frustration with the current political situation, I don’t share this idea that we need to abandon the Good Friday Agreement as if it has failed us badly as a society. Writing in … Read more

The fallout continues………

Today’s developments, starting off with Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald (I have highlighted key bits); The DUP leader brought this phase of negotiations to a close and said “there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed”. “It is up to Arlene Foster to explain this given that the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships had achieved an accommodation across the issues involved. “In fact we had a draft agreement by the end of last … Read more

Was an Irish Language Act really a bridge too far?

What a week. The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has brought the curtain down on the current round of talks. It is commonly assumed that selling a stand alone, Irish Language Act is just something that would be a bridge too far for any Unionist leader. However, just taking a stroll down memory lane I wonder is this actually a fair representation of where Unionist voters actually are. Do I think they want an Irish Language Act? No. Would it be … Read more

Getting a functioning, lasting Executive should be the focus of the debate

Northern Ireland Executive logo

We seem to be getting close to a final deal which will likely see the reformation of the Executive after 400 days without devolved government in Northern Ireland. This is not the first time a collapse has happened, since the implementation of power-sharing in 1974 we have seen more than 4 collapses of an administration for one reason or another. The key question is now trying to make it stick. Any new Executive is going to face major challenges with … Read more

Progress made on forming new Executive but no deal

In from the Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald “Today Michelle O’Neill, our party chair Declan Kearney and I had the opportunity to meet with both An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and with British Prime Minister Theresa May and we gave them our assessment of the talks so far. “We believe an agreement is possible, an agreement is desirable. “Sinn Féin want the institutions back up and running and we have said very clearly that at this juncture what is required … Read more

Are we moving towards reform of the Petition of Concern?

The Petition of Concern has been in the news at various times over the past decade. Since 2007, only the DUP had the power to trigger one on their own, whilst Sinn Fein always needed another party to one above the required 30 MLAs. The Irish News reporter, Brendan Hughes has a nice little graphic explaining the various parties positions on this issue The issue came to the fore this week in a meeting between the DUP and the group … Read more

New thinking at Stormont doesn’t matter if it’s not backed up by new governance

Jonny McCormick has got a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and a Master’s degree in International Peacekeeping. Jonny writes about politics, business & anything else that pops into his head. Get in touch with Jonny on Twitter @jonnymccormick I recently moved back to Northern Ireland after 5 years living in England. I was delighted to be moving back. I’d be closer to family. I could afford to buy a house. I could access a more reliable public transport system and … Read more

Grassroots Campaign for Irish Language Legislation transformed political discourse, but where are we now and how can we help deliver meaningful change?

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin writes for Slugger about the upcoming talks and the Irish Language Act On Wednesday our local political parties, this time the 5 ‘main parties’ as they are described in the media, will return to the table to try and flesh out a deal which would allow for the Executive to be formed and the MLA’s to take their seats in the Assembly once more. The issues in the ‘to be resolved’ box is much the same … Read more

One Year On; Can we now have a debate on getting a “Functioning” Executive.

One year ago today, Martin McGuinness brought the curtain down on his time as Deputy First Minister and the near 10 year run of devolution in Northern Ireland. The rest is now history…… We have had two historic election results with awesome consequences. In March, Nationalism finally broke a 6 year trend of seeing their combined vote go down. Sinn Fein surged riding a wave created by the approach of the DUP towards issues such as the Irish Language and … Read more

For Westminster, Northern Ireland still isn’t a priority.

Patrick Thompson is a postgraduate student at Queen’s University, specialising in Northern Irish and Labour politics Last week a strange piece appeared on the news agency Bloomberg’s website about the Irish dimension of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. It was titled ‘Irish Border Throws Unexpected Hurdle to Brexit’. The notion that there is an open question around what Brexit means for the UK’s only land border isn’t groundbreaking. But the idea that this is a surprise most definitely is. … Read more

Michelle O’Neill “Theresa May has prioritised her own electoral survival via the Tory/DUP pact over the interest of all of the people in the North”

Michelle O’Neill remarks at the end of the talks process today;   The British Secretary of State will today move to introduce a budget to finance public services here. This is an acknowledgement by the British Government that agreement has not been possible. “The reason for this is the DUP opposition to a rights-based society. While some progress was made, the denial of rights would not be tolerated in Dublin and London and should not be tolerated here. We met … Read more

#StateofState “The billion pound deal negotiated by the DUP to support the Conservative Government was well designed”

This is the time of year Deloitte release their State of the State report which reviews the performance of the UK government and the devolved administrations. The report in its entirety can be read here. What I will focus in here is the findings from Northern Ireland. Austerity The report points out the general public tiredness with austerity by noting the following; After the June 2017 general election, Chancellor Philip Hammond reflected that voters had become “weary of the long … Read more

Time to bring the citizen back in?

As Steven Agnew of the Green Party calls for a Citizens Assembly for Northern Ireland, Robin Wilson writes about the idea which has been under development by a group of citizens and voluntary sector organisations facilitated by the Building Change Trust over the past 6 months. Northern Ireland seems once again to have reverted to a default state of political dysfunctionality, with months and potentially years of further reluctantly-assumed direct rule from Westminster looming, with its associated ‘democratic deficit’. While … Read more

Continued Devolution or Direct Rule? Some Scenarios

Since 1707, Northern Ireland has had roughly 160 years of devolution/home rule and 151 years of unitary government/direct rule. The long time perspective helps to put the current difficulties over forming an Executive into context. First the history in brief, followed by some scenarios for what might happen next for the governance of Northern Ireland. Since the 1998 Belfast Good Friday Agreement there has been one long period of ‘Direct Rule’, lasting for nearly five years, from 14 October 2002 to … Read more