TUV Conference lifts the DUP/Sinn Féin carpet to see what’s been swept underneath

The TUV’s election results in May were disappointing, but the party took great cheer from the EU Referendum result (and the recent US Presidential election result). Taking credit for long-time lobbying for the creation of an Opposition, Jim Allister encouraged the two opposition parties to make it sustainable and help lobby for a permanent change to voluntary rather than mandatory coalition.

“What was the basis of that belief? Where was that belief grounded?”

Máirtín says he had no knowledge of Daithi McKay’s backchannel with Jamie Bryson until it was published last week, even though the inquiry (which was supposed to be investigating Nama) has, as yet, turned out to be little more than a power play against the then First Minister, Peter Robinson. No political party worth the name mounts such a play without a substantial discussion about the hows, whys and wherefores of such a move. Odd that Sinn Fein would leave Máirtín out of … Read more

Limitations of SF’s new Deputy Speaker’s “spirit of respect, inclusivity and fairness…”

Not sure the new [Principal] Deputy Speaker really gets the basic requirements of her new office: “Jim Allister’s bluster around my appointment is nothing but the usual ranting from a leader on the back of yet another disastrous election whose only achievement has been to take his party to to the verge of political oblivion. Ms Ruane – whose period at Education was marked by recursive argument and stalement – may be  in for a fairly challenging time ahead in her … Read more

Arlene’s triumph: time for others to reconsider their pitches and where that horse is

So the results are all in. The result: nothing has changed and a bit has changed. The fall in the nationalist / republican vote and levels of seats has been analysed and will bear further analysis. The changes or lack of them on the unionist side are, however, just as interesting. Ben Lowry and Sam McBride in the News Letter have their analyses and I would demur little from either of them. Arlene Foster and the DUP’s triumph is marked. … Read more

FAPP: The difference between one MLA parties and independents is what exactly?

What’s the difference between Jim Allister & John McCallister? Between Steven Agnew or Basil McCrea & Claire Sugden? The answer is about £25,600. That’s how much the NI Assembly’s ‘Financial Assistance for Political Parties’ scheme values a party at, one with even just 1 MLA. There are currently 18 independent members of Dáil Éireann, 11% of the entire house, often providing starkly liberated representation, generally free from the concerns of party politics. There are 2 independent members of the Northern … Read more

TUV lay out vision of “voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition as path to durable devolution” #TUV2015

DURABLE DEVOLUTION through voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition was the promise of the TUV’s leader Jim Allister at his party’s annual conference in Templepatrick. 300 delegates lapped up the sharp criticism of other parties and welcomed Henry Reilly to the fold. But is the party’s hard edge and tone of voice holding back their support at the ballot box?

Cllr Henry Reilly joins the TUV

Cllr Henry Reilly (formerly of UKIP) announced today that he was joining the TUV. Speaking about his decision to join Reilly said; In joining TUV I know I am doing the right thing, because this is the only unionist party still standing unapologetically for the traditional unionist principles in which I believe. It is also a party wholly committed to re-establishing the national sovereignty of the UK by taking the essential step of leaving the EU. Thus, it is my … Read more

The dirtiest words in politics

The petition of concern was designed to protect minority rights in the Stormont Assembly. As former SDLP leader Mark Durkan explained “the petition of concern facility was put into the agreement to safeguard communal sensitivities and specifically to protect equality and human rights considerations”. Alliance MP Naomi Long pointed out that “the petition of concern was designed to offer protection to minorities within the assembly, where decisions of a sensitive nature risked being imposed upon them against their will.” Unfortunately … Read more

Gay cake row: best before 27th February

The infamous gay cake row now has a date for the court case. The legal case between the tax payer funded Quango, the Equality Commission, and Ashers Bakery is set for 26th and 27th February. The charity lobby group the Christian Institute is supporting Ashers and is to hold fundraising events in Belfast, Coleraine, Newry and the Clogher Valley. Meanwhile the Rainbow Project held rallies against Paul Girvan’s Conscience Clause Bill in Belfast, Londonderry, Newry with varying attendances. The rally … Read more

Quid pro quo in assembly speaker appointments

The DUP’s Robin Newton was today appointed as the NI assembly’s principal deputy speaker with support from Sinn Féin. The appointment was confirmed minutes after the East Belfast MLA was confirmed as a deputy speaker joining the experienced John Dallat of the SDLP and Roy Beggs of the UUP. Last week the DUP supported the appointment of Sinn Féin’s  Mitchel McLaughlin  as NI assembly speaker and both partys have been accused of a ‘carve-up’ of top positions at Stormont. The … Read more

Brimstone evasive in face of DSD questions re Red Sky and Palmer

UPDATED – Now with video DUP SPAD Stephen Brimstone had a stock answer (“I’m not prepared to answer questions in relation to internal party matters) for most questions put to him by the DSD Committee Hearing today in light of allegations made in BBCNI’s Spotlight programme into Red Sky, Nelson Mc Causland and Cllr Jenny Palmer.             Ably put on the hook by the TUV’s Jim Allister, Brimstone looked more than evasive as he paused … Read more

Jenny Palmer explicit in restating Spotlight claims

DUP Councillor Jenny Palmer appeared at today’s Committee for Social Development ‘Inquiry into allegations, arising from a BBC NI Spotlight programme aired on 3 July 2013, of impropriety or irregularity relating to NIHE managed contracts and consideration of any resulting actions’. Under oath Councillor Palmer restated her claim that Stephen Brimstone had telephoned her in an attempt to bully her to change her vote at a Housing Executive board meeting, considering the termination of a maintenance contract by the firm, … Read more

The trolling of Ann Travers

The first in a three part series exploring so-called ‘trolling’ and abuse on social media At the beginning of November 2014 it was widely reported that victims campaigner Ann Travers had closed down her Facebook and Twitter accounts following a barrage of online abuse. It’s worth reminding people of the fact that Ann’s sister, Mary, was murdered by the IRA in Belfast in 1984. The target of the ambush was their father, Tom, a resident magistrate. He survived. In 2011 … Read more

Allister on Robinson, Paisley, TUV’s Future, Irish and Opposition

As the TUV annual conference approaches this weekend, I caught up with the party leader Jim Allister. We talked about his work on the Social Development Committee, the Irish language and his relationship with other parties in the Assembly. (Note I did this interview before Gregory Campbell’s conference speech) I began by asking him how he planned to expand his party and build on the gains they made at the 2014 election. Allister told me that the 2016 Assembly election … Read more

‘Deprivation’ fund gives grant of £350,000 to Lurgan Golf Club

Another cracking exposé by the one man opposition that is Jim Allister. The Department of Social Development gave a grant of  £350,000 to Lurgan Golf Club under its ‘Neighbourhood Renewal’ scheme. It gets even better. A member of the club, who is a senior official in DSD, was involved in processing the application. But he failed to disclose his interest, contrary to departmental guidance on conflicts of interest. Jim Allister said: “The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund exists, surely, to regenerate and help deprived … Read more

Cartoon – The judge and fury

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Cartoon – Loyal to whom?

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Row over GAA tops at University of Ulster

Jim Allister recently asked the Stormont Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry to: “outline any discussions he has had with the University of Ulster regarding concerns that the proliferation of GAA tops on campus leads to an intimidating atmosphere for many students” Jim has apparently been approached by unionist students complaining about the “chill factor”. Similar concerns, though specifically related to GAA tops with the names of IRA terrorists on them, were raised by Drew Nelson last year. On that … Read more