When the new leader of the UUP talks of getting smaller, that’s the easy bit…

“We may have to get smaller before we get bigger” The words of the new UUP Leader, Doug Beattie MLA, echo those of a previous UUP leader Mike Nesbitt MLA, when speaking at a leadership hustings debate in Londonderry in 2012. His ultimately unsuccessful opponent was John McCallister at the time an MLA, a strong advocate for formal opposition at Stormont and closely associated with Basil McCrea, also an UUP MLA. Both left to form NI21. Both parties ended up …

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Who can save the DUP?

In December of 2016 when Jonathan Bell revealed to Stephen Nolan the extent of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal, Arlene Foster’s tenure as leader of the DUP was over. This was a sliding doors moment for the DUP, Unionism, and Northern Ireland as a whole, by remaining in charge Arlene Foster has undoubtedly damaged all three entities when this scenario was avoidable had she resigned at the time. This week a significant number of DUP elected representatives including over …

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Some thoughts on leadership within Unionism…

When talking about Unionism in Northern Ireland, one of the most frequent issues brought up is leadership. Looking at Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Alliance, there is an abundance of effective leadership on display with more in reserve if the need arises. Unionism, by contrast, is not experiencing similar fortunes, and this has become an issue. Never before has leadership within Unionism been so problematic, especially during a time that could eventually define Northern Ireland. With a massive appetite for …

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Integrity. It’s a dying word…

I suppose one of the definitive aspects of being a parent is the acceptance of who our grown-up children eventually choose as a partner. In an ideal world we might have in mind someone with the qualities each of us might espouse: honesty, kindness, empathy, tolerance perhaps, with a sprinkling of humour and intelligence thrown in for good measure. We can all make our own list, most of which is wishful thinking considering that realistically stuff like that is mainly …

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‘Political leadership is key to making progress’

Developing mutual respect, strengthening relationships and building proper political leadership are the basis for making progress in Northern Ireland, believes independent unionist MLA – and former justice minister – Claire Sugden.  She is interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. Talking before the announcement of renewed political talks, Claire expressed her frustration at the lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive.  “We’ve had a situation here at Stormont where we haven’t had a sitting assembly for two years.  And I …

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Dementia and the pathology of leadership…

I described previously the problem of the ‘Pathology of Leadership’ (here), with a further post mainly devoted to dementia in our leaders (here). It’s not just political leaders who have health problems. I mentioned Ferdinand Sauerbruch in the second post. It’s difficult now to overemphasise just how renowned a surgeon he was in the inter-war period. From very modest origins, he rose to be the top surgeon in the top hospital, the Charité in Berlin, in Germany. He was deservedly internationally famous …

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Donald Trump and the pathology of leadership…

Dame Iris Murdoch, the Dublin born novelist, won the Booker prize for fiction in 1978 for The Sea, The Sea. Her final novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, was published in 1995 and was met with a muted response from the critics. She was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease which was confirmed on post-mortem after her death in 1999. Subsequently, a textual examination of The Sea, The Sea, Jackson’s Dilemma and her first novel, Under The Net, showed that her vocabulary was considerably reduced and ‘commonplace’ in her final novel, but extensive …

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Lean In Belfast takes centre stage with Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was interviewed by Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy at a recent event in the British Library about her Lean In journey and latest book, Option B. “It wasn’t even on my radar that one day I would be interviewing Sheryl Sandberg,” said Nuala. “I always hoped we could ‘bring Sheryl to Belfast’, but I didn’t think she would bring Lean In Belfast to the centre stage at The British Library in London for the first community-led event …

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The Pathology of Leadership – What happens when our leaders are not fit enough to lead?

Just over a year after the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, his personal physician, Lord Moran, published Winston Churchill: the Struggle for Survival 1940 – 1960. Moran’s 800 page book was based on the diaries he had kept. Moran was vilified and excoriated for this; not only had be betrayed confidences, but he had broken the sacred bond of doctor-patient confidentiality. Some month later, when his critics had read the book, they saw that Churchill had been severely …

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Our cultural leaders have a choice about what they want to be: brokers or gatekeepers…

Globalisation, borders, migration, and the collapse of regimes feature daily in headlines as the world is reshaped politically, socially and culturally. Historians will say it has been ever thus – every few hundred years empires topple, centres of trade move.  Embrace, resent or ignore it, our worldview and ways are challenged by exchange with other views and cultures, and in turn our way of behaving as a society and a nation influences and affects others. Now is the time to …

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Soapbox: Leadership that can join the dots even if others cannot

Peter Osborne has been involved in good relations, cohesion, community enablement and political engagement for over 20 years. He chairs the Community Relations Council and the regional board of Remembering Srebrenica. You can follow him on @OsborneTweets. There is no inevitable forward flow to the peace process. It is work in progress that needs careful nurturing. It cannot be taken for granted. We must make progress when we can, consolidate when needed and hunker down when things get bleak. The …

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Since Naomi Long’s is the only hat in the Alliance party leadership ring…

Deputy leader Naomi Long MP addressing Alliance Conference 2012

And as she does so it becomes clear there are no other candidates. No long damaging and divisive leadership race, and an opportunity to reset the tone and the politics of the party which traded off the competent tenure of David Ford as Justice Minister. But whither now for NI’s middle ground party? In East Belfast she has displaced and relegated the UUPs from second rank to almost nowhere. But where does the middle ground prepare for seat crunch and …

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Arlene Foster as leader would challenge some cherished media narratives…

LADY’S DAY: Only the second major Northern Irish party leader and a former UUPer, Arlene Foster’s rise runs counter to a long favoured analysis in the NI political media that the DUP consists mostly of a few modernisers living in fear of backwoodsmen. That’s a myth that will be harder to sustain under Foster than it was under Robinson.

Nine points on the succession of Colum Eastwood to SDLP leader…

NEW BOSS: The SDLP is getting rather good at changing leaders, so that Colum Eastwood’s win flowed from disruption rather than by some kind of insider’s agreement. Being a Gen Xer may help him open doors with younger voters. And perhaps this weird and messy deal unwinding from Stormont will be his first real test?

#SluggerReport – We have to talk about the SDLP…

DROPPING THE PILOT? The SDLP remains alive. That’s pretty much its greatest achievement in the post Belfast Agreement era. Either leadership contender would face an acid test of their leadership within months. The fate of incumbent and insurgent may rest with former leader Margaret Ritchie, who could end up as king maker.

Colum Eastwood: “it’s a good time to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”

INTERVIEWED this afternoon about the timing of his challenge for SDLP leadership, Colum Eastwood defended his experience and suggested it is “a good time to change … to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”. He’s not keen on rushing into Opposition, but won’t rule it out. Making Northern Ireland work is a priority.

Cartoon – The circling of the vultures

Despite holding his South Belfast seat, there is nothing certain about the Alasdair McDonnell stewardship of the party as SDLP colleagues revolt. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

SDLP needs a real political debate and not another micromanaged succession…

After last night’s The View it’s hard to know whether to go with MacBeth’s “…art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?” for Durkan, or the Carry on Cleo, “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy…” route for Alasdair. Neither would quite be fair to either man. It’s hard, despite his protestations, to imagine Alasdair lasting for too much longer after Mallon pulled his support. Yet his reluctance to go quietly may provide the party …

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