The DUP should withdraw its MPs from Westminster…

Big Ben, London

The political stalemate at Stormont isn’t anything new; nor are the strategic blunders that the DUP has and seems to be continuing to pursue. That said, the NI Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris MP is seemingly, going to plough ahead with an election that no party wants, will stop any negotiation dead in its tracks (arguably putting it into reverse) and lead to the same electoral outcome, albeit with minimal expected MLA seat changes. The upshot is basically that by …

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The British and Irish governments mustn’t mess about. Time for Direct Rule by whatever name with Dublin support to tackle the cost of living crisis and move on to Assembly reform

We are teetering on a cliff edge of absurdity about calling an Assembly election “ nobody wants. ” From the DUP viewpoint Peter Robinson brilliantly  describes the contradictions in every party’s position except his own. He might have added that it was Chris Heaton Harris and his cronies in the ERG  who more than any other faction  got us into this trouble in the first place by championing a Withdrawal Agreement with the Protocol attached  under frankly false pretences. The …

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Steve Baker tells the DUP to get on with it…

You'll get it eventually neon sign on wall

The DUP were hoping for a change of Secretary of State to buy them more time, but Chris Heaton-Harris is staying put. They need to agree to go back to the Assembly by tomorrow night, or he is calling a Christmas election. With many Councils cancelling their Halloween Fireworks displays due to budget restrictions blowing 6 million on an unnecessary election is going to be a bad look for the DUP. Meanwhile, Steve Baker is clear in his message to …

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Ho Ho Ho! Stormont election by Christmas if executive not restored…

Old senior man with grey hair and long beard wearing santa claus costume holding glasses afraid and shocked with surprise and amazed expression, fear and excited face.

The Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has decided to play hardball with the DUP – form an executive, or there will be a new election. Possible dates are 8 or 15 December. The Electoral Office has told the Stormont parties the Assembly election is likely to be on December 15 — Gareth Gordon (@BBCGarethG) October 18, 2022 It was only May when we had the last election, but a lot has changed in that short period. The cost of living …

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DUP Conference – smaller event enthusiastically embraces new leader #dup22

“We have cause for optimism” said Stephen Dunne, North Down MLA in his mid-morning speech. He was referring to the party’s “strength and the determination to defend Northern Ireland’s place in the Union”. But walking into the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Shaws Bridge, I wondered if “optimism” was on the minds of DUP delegates returning to the scene of leadership challenges and fractious votes over the last 18 months. Today was their first conference since the pandemic, and the first …

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DUP Conference 2022: Where unionism is and where it might go…

red and blue arrow sign surrounded by brown trees

The Three Kingdoms of Unionism The DUP will be holding its annual conference this weekend. I can remember in August 2021, the DUP was at its lowest point in LucidTalk’s opinion poll at 13% with its rivals the UUP and TUV at 16% and 14% respectively. Now, one year on, as of August 2022, the DUP sits at 24%; the UUP at 11%; and TUV at 6% according to LucidTalk’s opinion poll. This time last year, it was believed the …

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Houses of sand: Unionism has a problem with younger voters. A huge one.

Whither the union. I find myself becoming weary as I write this. Articles about the demise of the union, about unionist malaise and mistakes, are so common these days that they all sound the same. I stopped writing them at one point because I had nothing new to add. Even now, people write these pieces with a weird air of arrogance. They want you to know that they and they alone have figured out that unionism is in a difficult …

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After the funeral of the age, back to the reality of today

The greatest public obsequies in history are over. The hangover begins now. The death of the Queen allowed millions to think of the nation as a big family which could unite at such a time.  Every nation or a distinct component of it needs an identity to survive.  For a large majority, the Queen was at the heart of it. Whether the unity survives both for the nation and- come to think of it- even the royal family- are quite …

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The voice of sanity over the Protocol is drowned in Tory leadership Brexit frenzy

  Although by instinct I prefer to hunt for the substance behind political attitudes however perverse they seem, I’m reduced to calling the latest on the Protocol –   bonkers, plain and not so simple. The Tory leadership fight has tipped it into the surreal. First in a dash to complete his legacy, Johnson rushed to complete the Protocol Bill’s early Commons stages on the last full day on Thursday. Then it’s over to Lords in September and a new government. …

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Slugger TV looks at the political year ahead

Slugger TV 01/07/22 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. This months guest as Alan Meban and Allison Morris David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

There are great dangers in Northern Ireland’s entanglement in the Tory Brexit mess. They must extricate themselves fast

From his analysis of the Protocol bill, I want to pull out Rafael Behr’s comments on how little Northern Ireland registers  in the wider media as itself, on merit . You can almost hear the groans from TV viewers,” Not Northern Ireland again”  in a situation even more incomprehensible to them than  the Troubles It isn’t every day that former prime ministers set old party enmities aside to deliver a unified message on a matter of national urgency. When John …

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Johnson sends an ultimatum to the DUP : return to the Assembly or we won’t proceed with the Protocol bill. Is the threat credible?

Political gaming  has intensified as the Times and the FT report that the UK government will not proceed with the Protocol Bill unless the DUP promises to return to the Assembly. As the bill will at best take a year to pass Parliament are the DUP being invited to buy a pig in a poke? Can this ultimatum over ride the DUP’s demands for “action not words?.  Is the briefing to the papers credible anyway except as short term pressure …

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How wise is it to play Protocol poker with a weak hand everybody can see?

What do you suppose Boris Johnson is up to with his on the face of it, kamikaze tactics over the Protocol Bill?  By pursuing the most aggressive line he seems determined to court a confrontation with the EU.  Can he be serious, even as a survival strategy? As Peston points out, where Johnson is on shaky ground is that within the Protocol there is explicit provision to suspend it, where there are ‘societal difficulties… liable to persist’ via its Article …

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Update: Tory civil war breaks out over the Protocol as reports say Johnson is backing an even harder line defying the EU

Larne Harbour 

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Slugger TV looks at the main parties after #AE22

Slugger TV is five years old! This month Anna Mercer from Stratagem and Chris Donnelly look at the state of the parties following the Assembly Election. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

The UK government must do better than this wretched legacy bill. But an amnesty is still inevitable

Last week the Bishop of Derry dedicated a garden to the memory of a 15 year old Derry boy Manus Deery, shot dead by the British Army in the Bogside on the 50th anniversary of his death. As the Derry Now website reported: Manus had just started working after leaving St Joseph’s Secondary School and was eating a bag of chips and carrying a comic in his back pocket which he had bought with his first wage packet… At the …

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It’s still worth taking a punt on Boris. This time it’s in his own interest to compromise with the EU

In my last post, I was a lonely outlier when I argued that we had nothing to lose by giving Boris Johnson a chance to see what he can deliver.  I did so in full knowledge of his record and reputation.  I am unrepentant. At least equally irritating as Boris is the solipsism that assumes Northern Ireland is centre of world attention and reduces outsiders like the prime minister to bit players  in what Churchill called “the fearful integrity” of …

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Day light robbery of our democracy: the trap of the Anti-Protocol rhetoric…

Stairs going down.

Has there ever been a more ironically named political party across the UK and Ireland than the Democratic Unionist Party? The party, enabled by our broken political infrastructure, has graduated from padlocking swings in Ballymena on Sundays to effectively padlocking the doors to our democracy. It is currently holding the existence of democracy in Northern Ireland hostage, at the behest of an issue which they themselves have no idea what the issue being resolved looks like. Not only that: its …

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Choyaa: Unionism continues to decline and decay…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

On February 28th, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was dominating the news and any segments left on the schedules were being devoted to the cost-of-living crisis that was gripping the world. At this time in Northern Ireland, the main item on Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show was a 60 minutes interview with UUP leader Doug Beattie about a failed attempt to get Jeffery Donaldson to re-join the party in May of 2021. The initial story broke on February 23rd when …

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Give Boris Johnson a fresh chance to prove his sincerity and commitment. We have nothing to lose and much to gain

Ahead of his day in Northern Ireland, much media comment is focusing on Boris Johnson’s announcement of draft legislation later this week to unilaterally amend parts of the Protocol. This is both inevitable and regrettable.  Northern Ireland’s welfare is far more important than the abstruse game of higher politics. Boris Johnson’s article in the Belfast Telegraph deserves to be cautiously welcomed. It suggests a new level of engagement in all level of NI affairs even encroaching on  Stormont’s competences. Much …

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