A Bingo lesson in politics by emotional marketing and sleight of hand from Wales

This is just too good to bury in a tweet. For Click on Wales Richard Wyn Jones, Director of the Wales Governance Centre, brilliantly sends up the vacuousness of politics by ineffective legislation in six clauses, in Let’s All Play Welsh Legislation Bingo! Simply score 10 points for every one of the following observed: Government announces intention to legislate accompanied by rhetoric including the phrases ‘world leading’, ‘international best practice’ and ‘new rights’. Government subsequently publishes Bill that is vague, non-committal … Read more

#GarthBrooks: GAA needs to get better at being good neighbours.

So what have we learned from the Garth Brooks debacle? The most screamingly obvious thing is that with 400,000 people buying tickets, country and western is the thing for a significant proportion of the Irish people. And the other is that this cancellation is going to hurt a lot of people and a lot of ‘indigenous business’. Of course even within that most popular of genres no one else is likely to fill Croke Park for five nights in a … Read more

Local Government Bill back in the Assembly: will MLAs support a new voting method and social media use in meetings?

It may be April Fools Day, but MLAs are back in the Assembly debating 34 amendments (broken into four groups) to the Local Government Bill which reaches its Final Consideration Stage today. (115 amendments were considered over two days in the last round). The Local Government Bill is the main business in today’s plenary session with a two hour block from 10.30am to 12.30pm and then starting back at 3.30pm and continuing until everything has been debated and voted on. … Read more

Is the Catholic Church’s hard line on abortion legislation an acceptance that its influence over the Irish state is over?

There are some interesting twists in the abortion debate in the Republic. As Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic newspaper noted yesterday Armagh’s new-boy-to-be Eamonn Martin has been clear in ways his soon-to-be predecessor Sean Brady never was. As he also added, Rome will be pleased. And as Kelly rightly observes, polls can be wrong, especially if there is a referendum coming up: Ipsos MRBI told us 4pc would oppose children’s rights referendum. 42pc voted against it. #justsaying — Michael … Read more

How well does the Catholic church understand its own teaching on abortion?

This is well worth noting before it passes over us, on the question of abortion in the south. James P Mackey is visiting professor at the school of religions and theology at Trinity College. And he’s been looking back at some of his old Catholic textbooks from Maynooth: The Roman Catholic hierarchy has formally stated its position on abortion by declaring definitively that the direct and intentional killing of the unborn is immoral. Yet, my dog-eared old Maynooth textbook tells … Read more

Halappanavar Inquest: Midwife’s remarks rather than clinical mistakes beg legislation and public debate

First of two important stories in the Republic this, comes from the inquest into Savita Halappanavar’s death. Firstly: Dr Katherine Astbury said she had not seen a notation on the 31-year-old’s charts that would indicate a deterioration in her condition. She also conceded that she had not seen Ms Halappanavar’s blood results, which had changed and could have been indicative of severe sepsis. The consultant obstetrician told the inquest that had she been aware of these details she would have … Read more

How the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill divides the interests of NI’s two Irish national parties

Whatever you think of it as a bill, the proposed new legislation could be the first blow struck successfully by an opposition voice in Stormont. Although that will depend on which way the SDLP votes. Sam McBride provides the key background to the bill: The legislation introduced by TUV leader Jim Allister was drafted in response to the public outcry over the appointment of Mary McArdle as adviser to Sinn Fein culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin in 2011. The debate … Read more

Sinn Fein steps in at the last minute to call an end to the Stopes farce…

So it falls to Sinn Fein, alone of all the major parties to do the right thing on an amendment to Stormont’s Criminal Justice Bill, which as Philip Bradfield notes “would effectively forbid abortions from being carried out in Northern Ireland, except within the National Health Service (NHS)”. They alone have the power to raise a petition of concern to effectively block the move in the legislative Assembly. It certainly would have suited the SDLP if Sinn Fein had ‘come … Read more

Short roundup on the #Savita case…

With as little comment and ado as possible… – Alex Massie notes the irreducible paradox of how the law as it stands was caught out by circumstance: Clearly, doctors did not think Mrs Halapannavar’s life was in danger. Equally likely: this delay helped kill her. – In the Irish Times, James McDermott notes: It is far better for the Oireachtas to debate legislation in a calm and coherent manner rather than for courts to have to develop the law on … Read more

“Northern Ireland is the only part of these islands that does not have National Parks”

The Northern Ireland Environment Minister, the SDLP’s Alex Attwood, may have a shortlist of potential National Parks – the Mournes, the Causeway Coast and Antrim Glens, and the Fermanagh Lakelands – but he doesn’t have the required legislation in place.  As the BBC report notes The minister said he hopes to designate two of the three as National Parks. “Northern Ireland is the only part of these islands that does not have National Parks,” he said. “It is time to grasp … Read more

Official Languages Act falling into disuse in the Republic?

Just getting a language act into legislation does not necessarily help a struggling language like Irish to survive… The Irish Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin has noted that even though the legislation exists in the Republic its effectiveness or otherwise is being ignored by a large number of government bodies in the Republic where such an act does actually exist. Lorna Siggins writes: Even the Government department responsible for the language – the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – … Read more

Door now bolted, all inquiries into our past lead to a dead end…

It’s not surprising given the huge shockwaves it sent through Northern Irish society at the time that the Rosemary Nelson murder inquiry‘s (cost £46m) findings and is relatively threadbare in it’s conclusions after all such inquiries have had their teeth unceremoniously plucked out by the Inquiries Act 2005. At any rate it did not say what many wanted to it say: ie that the RUC somehow colluded in her killing. Eamonn has a lengthy post on it in which he turns … Read more

OFMDFM abandon Draft Public Assemblies Bill?

The BBC report follows the lead given by the Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, in blaming the Orange Order’s rejection of the proposals for the withdrawal of the draft Bill on Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests. But abandoning that Bill conveniently avoids the First and deputy First Ministers having to fulfill their commitment to deliver in legislation the agreed outcomes of that working group – and their special advisers… The legislation they proposed was, after all, “built on ignorance of the law, plain stupidity, arrogance, … Read more

Owen Paterson: “It is absolutely not an option to leave a [Parades Commission] hole.”

With the future of the DUP/Sinn Féin drafted Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill currently uncertain the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has told Parliament’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that if no new legislation was produced by the NI Assembly he will “reappoint a Parades Commission by January next year”. The draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill has already been consulted on and is due to go through the Northern Ireland Assembly this autumn. It was drawn up following the report … Read more

U-turn over Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill?

The Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers have published a very short summary of the responses [pdf file] to the consultation on their jointly drafted Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill [pdf file].  That’s the draft Bill “built on ignorance of the law, plain stupidity, arrogance, and worst of all, political expediency.” We’ll have to wait to see the detail of the reported amendments being proposed. But let’s be clear about one thing. When the First Minister says “The primary change … Read more

“The bill is built on ignorance of the law, plain stupidity, arrogance, and worst of all, political expediency.”

In his Irish News column this week Brian Feeney is mostly correct in his response to the, DUP/Sinn Féin drafted, contentious “Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill“. Where he’s wrong is in his assertion that “The problem to be confronted under the terms of the Hillsborough Agreement was Orange marches – and only 5 per cent of them”. As I’ve pointed out previously, the Hillsborough Agreement actually tasked the working group on parades with attempting “to create a new improved framework … Read more

“They are one and the same thing as far as we’re concerned…”

If you’re going to ban corporate donations to political parties then it is, at least, consistent to also seek to ban donations from trade unions as the Green Party are proposing. Chairman of the Greens Senator Dan Boyle said yesterday that the party recognised no distinction between political donations from a business corporation and a trade union. “They are one and the same thing as far as we’re concerned: it’s the same principle. That legislation is being prepared by the … Read more

Lord Carlile: “paramount need for continuous vigilance in Northern Ireland”

As the BBC notes, the independent reviewer of government anti-terrorist legislation, Lord Carlile, has published his latest report [pdf file].  From the BBC report The relevant [Northern Ireland] section states: “2009 and early 2010 have demonstrated that there is a paramount need for continuous vigilance in Northern Ireland, despite the progress of recent years. “The number of terrorism incidents in Northern Ireland has increased, as has the evidence of the existence of determined and dangerous groups of dissident republicans with the ability to … Read more

“Sure you know how it is…”

Before it vanishes into the ether…  Earlier this month in the Derry Journal Eamonn McCann offered, what should be, a salutary tale from the recent past In the Sunday World more than 25 years ago, I wrote some of the first pieces to appear in the Irish media about the spread of drug-abuse in Dublin and the human reality of addiction. I covered the emergence of Concerned Parents Against Drugs – and then the marginalisation of the CPAD as armed elements … Read more

“It is part of the outworking of the Hillsborough Agreement…”

Interesting comment yesterday from Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd on the end of the consultation period on the Sinn Féin/DUP drafted Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill [pdf file] – which a significant number of diverse groups are opposing.  From the SF statement “This legislation is an attempt to find a better way forward. It is part of the outworking of the Hillsborough Agreement. It is only designed to be about the issue of parades and related protests. Concerns raised by Trade … Read more