Mr Justice Treacy: “It is evident that ACC Kerr was labouring under a material misapprehension as to the proper scope of police powers…”

The Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, has reportedly said that the police will appeal the High Court decision allowing “an application for a judicial review of the PSNI’s policing of the flag protests in Belfast between 8 December 2012 and 14 February 2013.” From the reported ruling Mr Justice Treacy was less than impressed by Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr’s interpretation of the legal position.  As the summary of the judgment notes [added emphasis] The Court heard evidence from [Assistant] Chief Constable Will …

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Permanent revolution by facebook is replacing ideology

Why are demos and riots breaking out all over? It’s the economy stupid. But Newsnight’s Paul Mason has a contemporary twist, writing in the Independent to give a taster for his book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions’ Velocity of information matters as much as action itself. It is striking how badly the incumbent elites in each case totally lose the information war. Whether it’s Greece, Turkey, Egypt or Brazil the unspoken truth is it is hard …

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Chief Justice offers dialogue with politicians on bail decisions

The Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan has given a rare broadcast interview addressing head on the alleged “perception “of partiality in recent bail decisions.     The interview opens a dialogue with the aim of educating politicians – in particular the DUP leadership – in the complexities of bail decisions on the Assembly’s own ground, the Justice Committee. The offer is also open for Peter Robinson to talk to him. The chief justice says nothing new of substance. But he …

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Stormont needs to raise itself above the level of events

If nothing else the flags trouble has exposed the dearth of genuine engagement over  grievances that are the expressions of low morale. They’re not all about making  excuses for rioting and grabbing fifteen minutes of fame with egregious and calculated exercises of disinformation and distortion. I’ve listed below two sets of grievances carried in separate Newsletter reports arising out of the disturbances.  Whatever you may think of them and their spokespersons, it has to be admitted that they have remained in the …

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Now here’s a thought. The Union Jack is not the flag of Unionism

The raising of the Union Jack for a day over the City Hall (not “City Hall”, BBC) creates a welcome moment of reflection for the political parties.  Looking around them, they can surely see that the protests do not have the oxygen to ignite a real crisis, as Eamonn has reported. The persistence of disorder and protest is of course damaging but recoverable. The already narrow ground of serious disaffection has been exposed as getting narrower. Everyone understands that escalation that can …

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On the lack of unionist leadership – what would Paisley in his prime made of it?

As Paul Bew has pointed out in the Times(£),  with the NIO a rump and now lacking historic memory in depth, there’s not much Theresa Villiers can do to affect the flags disturbances directly, with day to-day responsibility for law and order devolved to Stormont.  Unless that is, the protests gain wider political traction as a result of Willie Frazer’s exercise in protest tourism and other spasms.  This seems unlikely as the “People’s Forum “ seems as rickety as the unionist …

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