The most fundamental rule of politics

Elections are won by the party (or coalition of parties) which can attract the most support and agree a common programme.  This applies whether you have a two-party state or a multi-party state. Sinn Fein have faced this in the Dail where they have been the equal-largest party, but Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would rather set aside their historic differences and work together than form a coalition with Sinn Fein. In US politics, where the bell curve of left …

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In Defence of Donaldson

Jeffrey Donaldson has been getting a bad press for what seems like his eternal dithering over devolution and failure to move the process forward. It is said that the party officers are split and that he can’t carry his Executive with him. Even if he does succeed in persuading a narrow majority to support his deal there is a risk of a hugely damaging party split with the anti-Protocol or Windsor Framework faction defecting to the TUV or some other …

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Last Call for Jeffrey? Step up and play.

Over the course of 2023 I had 4 pieces published by Slugger on the challenges facing Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in getting his party back into government in Stormont. To recap, my line on all 3 was that he needed to face down the old Paisleyites in the DUP by claiming victory from his negotiations with HMG and using that claimed victory to lead a realignment of mainstream unionism into something currently lapsed voters can embrace. I seriously hope this is …

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The Hope of Possibility

My Dad died two days before Christmas. I was on my way up to see him when I got a missed call and a text from my brother telling me he’d passed away. He had pancreatic cancer. The time between diagnosis and death is often short. Before you’ve had time to wrap your head around the fact that your loved one is ill, they are gone.  The shock of the loss is as sharp and painful as the grief. How …

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Is Jeffrey ready to hit his home run?

This is the fourth piece I’ve submitted to Slugger in 2023 on the challenges facing Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in getting his party back into government in Stormont. The essence of the previous 3 was that Jeffrey needed to face down the old (literally and figuratively) Paisleyite rump of his party by claiming victory from his negotiations with HMG and using that claimed victory to lead a realignment of mainstream unionism into something currently lapsed voters can embrace. It certainly hasn’t …

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Slugger Podcast: Looking at the boundaries for #GE24

David McCann and Peter Donaghy look at how the proposed new constituency boundaries could impact the next election results in Northern Ireland David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

DUP Conference report #DUP23

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s speech to conference (YouTube) in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in south Belfast was long and steady. (At five thousand words, it had a higher word count than any of the last six addresses by leaders to their main annual conference.) It was subtle in how it underlined certain issues, but avoided saying anything incendiary, or taking any serious potshots at other parties. This was not a speech that intended to light any fires. Instead it was about …

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Slugger TV looks at #LE23

Slugger TV 26th May 2023 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Slugger TV looks at LE23 with Brendan Hughes and Sarah Creighton David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

And the winner is………….Slugger reviews the PEBs of #LE23

We are back! The Slugger Party Election Broadcast Review has returned to give its assessment of the party election broadcasts of the 2023 local elections. A valuable public service to election nerds and people who have devoted hours and days of effort to create these three minute wonders. A bit like the Eurovision Song Contest, high scores aren’t any indication of likely success at the ballot box. It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the aesthetics and impact of one aspect …

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#BBCRedlines looks at Unionism ahead of #LE23

Sam McBride, Gareth Gordon, Mark Carruthers and myself looked at the battle within Unionism for the upcoming Local Elections. You can watch the segment from The View last night but to listen to the full thing visit the BBC Red Lines website.  David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

DUP form eight-member party panel to examine Windsor Framework

From UTV The DUP has created an eight member panel to examine the Windsor Framework. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, in an exclusive interview with UTV said the panel would report back to the party this month and that will inform its decision making process on the deal agreed between the EU and UK. The panel includes former leaders of the party, current MLAs, MPs and former executive ministers. It is expected to report back at the end of March. David McCannDavid …

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“There comes a time to seal the deal”: a DUP member’s take on the Windsor Framework…

black metal fence in front of mansion

Matthew Allen is a DUP member from Lagan Valley ‘THIS AGREEMENT IS ABOUT YOUR FUTURE.’ That was the message on the 1998 Belfast Agreement – delivered en masse to Northern Ireland homes, my parents’ and grandparents’ included, that Spring. I was born in October the year after the vote: a peace baby. Though there will be no ’98-style plebiscite on the Windsor Framework, I still feel a civic obligation to digest it and offer some thoughts. Almost everyone who voted …

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The DUP are struggling to find reasons of principle for continuing their Assembly boycott

Photo; The Irish Sea  Many unionists are doing what unionists do, poring over a legal text. Not all of them may be clear in their own minds why they’re doing so. Looking for fresh evidence of betrayal or points that need improving?  For one, Sam McBride has delivered a glass half empty exposure of Rishi Sunak’s bouncy oversell.   The border in the Irish Sea may have been replaced by the green channel but it is alive and well in the …

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The real choices emerging: implement a Protocol deal without unionist consent; or accept a DUP veto on the UK resetting its relations with the EU

24 hours on, the chances of success for Rishi Sunak’s mission are no clearer.  Optimism however has the edge on the EU stage.  As its cheerleader the FT describes it solving the Protocol quandary presages an entire reset of the UK’s future relations with the EU, quoting for instance the veteran diplomat Kim Darroch: It will make a real, positive, difference in Northern Ireland. It will stand up Sumac’s claim to be a problem solver. It will get us back …

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The Act of Disunion?

The latest ruling from the Supreme Court should surprise no-one. The justices affirmed previous precedent and confirmed what was obvious: the Protocol was lawfully implemented. Since the ruling, there have been calls to ditch the Good Friday Agreement. Anti- Agreement unionists say the consent principle isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because it didn’t stop the Protocol If the Agreement should go because it’s useless, what does that say about the Act of Union? In its ruling, the Supreme …

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Rebuilding Unionist Support for the Belfast Agreement…

A Book Full of Hope book

I read the recent LucidTalk poll published in the Belfast Telegraph that showed only 35% of unionists polled would still support the Belfast Agreement “if there was a vote on it today.” A majority of unionists at 54% would not vote for it today, with 11% saying that they “Don’t Know” or are “Not Sure” or have “No Opinion.” As a pro-Agreement unionist, I am saddened by the results but I accept them. It’s been clear to me for many …

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The seven deadly sins of the DUP…

low-light photo of pink-haired woman

When I saw the headline to Brian Walker’s piece, Rather than keep slagging off the DUP over the Protocol, let’s recognise their better points, I expected to see a forensic analysis of the DUP’s 7 tests for determining whether the Protocol had been adequately reformed to meet their requirements for re-entering the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. I was looking forward to seeing what better elements might be extracted from them that could be congruent with the EU and its …

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The Protocol Bill: the DUP’s last great hope…

silhouette of lighthouse on hill near body of water during daytime

The DUP has been reassured that the UK Government is committed to getting the NI Protocol Bill (the Bill) through Parliament. The Bill is designed to provide for unilateral UK power to disapply elements of the NI Protocol itself in certain conditions. Currently in the Report Stage in the Lords, it is approaching the end of its journey through Parliament before it’s indeterminate ping pong between Houses. The DUP has had reassurances that the current government’s leadership intends to pick …

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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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