Transfixed by their obsessions without progress, they ignore the real politics of the future …

Following on from Peter Donaghy’s  really interesting corrective post comparing ROI/NI household income, what about the Budget then?  How did it go down with you over the tray bake or down the pub? Yes, I’ll bet you were riveted. The frustration in veteran economic commentator John Simpson’s measured prose is clear enough.  The British government know they can spin the budget without facing direct challenge.  Punch drunk civil society reacts wearily, having made similar points for years to little avail … Read more

Direct Rule in action: “In the light of the ongoing absence of an Executive…”

Northern Ireland Assembly Legislative Consent Motions, required by the UK Parliament to legislate on devolved matters, may have been devalued by the absence of a protest by the then NI Assembly Speaker in March 2015, but the UK Government could at least pretend that one had been passed at that time.  Yesterday there was no such pretence by Steve Brine (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health).  Welcome to Direct Rule… My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O’Shaughnessy) … Read more

London and Dublin must clear their lines for close cooperation on direct rule

Clarity rather than coyness is now needed over moves toward direct rule. Working on its  scope and duration is one more compelling reason for London and Dublin  to stick together.  On Monday at the otherwise disastrous Stormont meeting, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar pledged “to work together on a new plan on how to achieve a frictionless Irish border.” Good luck to them with that. On the continuing local stand-off, two elements are essential. Enough action must be taken to … Read more

We have no Executive but we need to face electoral realities

Since January 2017, Northern Ireland has been in a process of debate about bringing down the government, who is to blame and how our politicians are failing the public. Often I have heard that the fact we have no Executive is seeing failure, which ignores the fact that when we had a devolved administration the constant refrain from most quarters was how it was too populist in its approach and not taking the “difficult decisions” in a whole host of … Read more

Stormont Talks End in Failure

The current round of Stormont talks have ended in failure today. I will leave it to the comments section below to debate the finer points but here is a summation of the parties statements and comments. NI Secretary, James Brokenshire; I am not therefore in a position to introduce the legislation necessary for an Executive to be formed this week though I must stress we are continuing to work with the parties as they proceed with ongoing talks. “As I … Read more

Colum Eastwood: Sinn Féin and the DUP are within hours of buying us all first class tickets to Direct Rule

Colum Eastwood is the Leader of the SDLP There are times when silence is golden and there are times when it is anything but. For weeks now the Stormont talks have operated under a cloud of secrecy feeding the frustration of everyone. There are only so many press releases that the NIO can put out which talk about ‘some progress’ or ‘significant gaps’. There are only so many press conferences that can be staged with everyone saying the same thing. … Read more

Brokenshire buys parties some more time

BREAKING: Statement from Northern Ireland Secretary. #Stormont pic.twitter.com/GJuI1NUR5s — David Blevins (@skydavidblevins) October 30, 2017 David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Will someone spell it out. What role for Dublin under ” direct rule? “

Patrick Murphy’s apt question in the Irish News. “ Why do we think Dublin would  be any better than running the North than London?”  prompts the even more basic question:. What sort of new Dublin “input” is wanted or even necessary? Later this month, “Direct Rule” in whatever guise would  in key respects be inevitably different from the direct rule of 1972 when the two sovereign states had barely begun to cooperate. Today, the British- Irish relationship through governments and … Read more

British Government rule out Joint Authority

This is what Simon Coveney’s predecessor, Patrick Hillery would have a called a “courteous brush off.” David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Coveney “There can be no British-only direct rule. That is the Irish Government’s position”

The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney met representatives from the main parties at Stormont today in order to resolve the current impasse between the main parties. His comments are noteworthy as the focus turns towards Direct Rule. From an RTE report; Mr Coveney said there were still grounds for optimism and direct rule should still be avoided. “There can be no British-only direct rule. That is the Irish Government’s position.” Mr Coveney added: “It would be very difficult to … Read more

Sinn Féin’s red lines? : “So you had the Irish language act, there was a thing called the bill of rights and there was another issues.”

Launching the Sinn Féin manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly election a couple of weeks ago, the party’s appointed ‘leader in the North’, Michelle O’Neill, declared that “You’d be very aware that I won’t be drawing any red line issues…” Since then she has allowed the impression to be created that the one ‘red line’ the party does have is the nomination of the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, as First, or deputy First, Minister before Judge Coughlin’s inquiry into the RHI scheme … Read more

Does Sinn Fein really prefer a ‘partnership’ with May’s Brexiting Tories over Arlene’s DUP?

I think I veer to David’s analysis rather than Brian’s on the significance of Arlene’s OpEd in the Irish News. Not that Brian’s wrong in any substantial way. In media circles, it has been noted with some bemusement that SF’s preferred nomenclature for Direct Rule (to use the terms of their last election campaign just 8 months ago, handing power back to “the other island”) is “putting Stormont in mothballs”. There appears to be a view forming within the party … Read more

“The whole issue has, unfortunately, become party political…”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Conservative MP, Laurence Robertson, who chairs the House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, asks some pertinent questions about the ‘crisis’ over the RHI scheme. What would [Arlene Foster’s] resignation achieve? Who would take over? Would this stabilise the workings of the Assembly and the Executive, or throw it into turmoil? If some parties want an inquiry held into the RHI, then fine. But by way of an analogy, if an inquiry were held … Read more

The phoney crisis over the Budget is an indictment of our politics

The brinkmanship over the budget is over. The emptiness of a threat to return to Direct Rule has been exposed. Martin McGuinness’s attempts to create a late Hallowe’en scare over the prospects of what Direct Rule might mean in reality amounted to the agenda for future Executive action that still awaits – including water charges and perhaps some hike in university tuition charges for the many who can afford them. The parties belatedly bowed to the inevitable at a cost of an unnecessary … Read more

#Villiers, re-hashing Larkin and victim typologies

If nothing else, Theresa Villiers statement on power-sharing contains some odd language (see the first quote Mick has cited here).  The nuances in “…there are inherent weaknesses in a system in which it is very difficult to remove one’s rulers by voting and to choose a viable alternative…” actually jar with the mother-and-apple-pie follow-up about about consistency with power-sharing and inclusivity.  A central tenet of democracy is that voting in elections removes ‘rulers’ and replaces them with whoever gets elected … Read more