An evening with Alastair Campbell #belfastbook

Once described as the third most powerful person in Britain, the still formidable Alastair Campbell was in Belfast on as part of the Belfast Book Festival to talk about his new novel Saturday Bloody Saturday. During the Q&A he confirmed his support for the Iraq War and talked about The Thick Of It.

A revised Belfast Agreement is needed more than nostalgia for 1998

Like Magna Carta, the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement has acquired the status of icon of the constitution. This is not altogether in its favour.  A good deal of nonsense is talked about Magna Carta.  Back in 1215, no sooner had the ink dried on the vellum of the fair copy, than bad King John denounced it. But the idea of curbing the unbridled power of the monarch could not be unborn and it finally evolved into government by the rule … Read more

New book on Martin McGuinness launching this week

  Martin McGuinness’ untimely death has loomed large over the suspension of our political institutions and the collapse of trust that has defined the period since. His elevation as a statesman in the post-Good Friday Agreement era surprised many and it is no exaggeration to say that he will be remembered in time as the pre-eminent figure in the early devolution period who more than anyone else kept the institutions afloat and worked power-sharing between the most unlikely partners of … Read more

A plea to Gerry Adams from a Falls Road boy

In recent times we often hear the narrative that has been orchestrated so carefully by apologists for Sinn Fein – namely the huge personal risks that Adams and Mc Guinness took for peace. I do not believe that such an argument is credible. The people that really took the risks for peace down the years were those in the northern catholic community (and indeed outside it also) who defied the IRA and whose political and moral courage often cost them … Read more

Pressure on Sinn Fein to return to the Assembly was the message from the Dublin establishment at the Magill

As the John Hewitt gets under way today, the summer school season had already been launched in Glenties. I spent a few days in the area the previous week so I missed out on this year’s Magill summer school which was as usual these days, highly political. On Brexit you can have  too much of a good thing especially when Narin strand and Nancy’s bar down the road in Ardara are beckoning. The School will publish speakers’ papers shortly but … Read more

A new approach to deadlock in Northern Ireland

  A unique coincidence of events Standing back, it’s easy enough to see why the latest Assembly crisis is the longest and most intractable for over a decade. Unusually in recent times and in sharp contrast to the heady days of the Good Friday Agreement, this breakdown is set against background of momentous upheaval which typically, the local politicians rushed to exploit for their own causes.  For the DUP, Brexit revives the prospect of a physical border which in whatever … Read more

Election eve is hardly the time for calm consideration of the future

Say what you like about social media but the old fashioned papers are hard to beat to bring you the feel of the last minute election atmosphere. They’re  all the more frantic for the polls being all over the place and  late tragic dominance of “ keeping us safe.”   Later still, the Guardian’s monster montage of the right wing tabloids   Later, after Mail on Line posted their attack on Corbyn etc  True to form  the Daily Mail devotes … Read more

Brendan Duddy deserved a Nobel Peace Prize too

Coming soon after  so much painful reappraisal that accompanied the death and burial of Martin McGuinness, a tribute from Peter Taylor to a man who was unambiguously a peacemaker, as reported in the Irish Times.   Broadcaster Peter Taylor – who revealed Mr Duddy’s role as an intermediary between the IRA and the British government in a 2008 documentary – also said he believed the Derry businessman deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Brendan took many personal risks for peace,” Mr … Read more

Brendan Duddy RIP. A peace maker in real time

It is remarkable, in an age of sophisticated  back channels and espionage  replete with digital  and satellite communications, how a modest domestic background figured so  significantly in the moves which eventually led to the ceasefires – and all the more effectively for it. The problem was how to establish  trust when contacts had to be deniable, were often dangerous and were frequently interrupted by another  piece of violence. Key contacts were often made in Derry, presumably because the town  never … Read more

Operation Kenova and The Spy in the IRA…

John Ware’s BBC Panorama investigation on Freddie Scappaticci, The Spy in the IRA, is available online, with an accompanying article on the BBC website.  Ed Moloney has some relevant posts on his blog on the programme, including criticism of the initial response by processors in the media to Liam Clarke’s scoop when he broke the story in 1999. Not all journalists were as keen to follow the story up. Sinn Fein spread the word that Liam Clarke’s story was the work of … Read more

Gerry Adams dons the mantle of McGuinness and holds out his hand to unionists

  In an interview with Sky News on the eve of the resumed interparty talks, Gerry Adams addresses familiar charges levelled against him by more than unionists. In a move clearly designed to  win greater trust, the Sinn Fein president is  at pains to deny that  he is raising the bar so high as to guarantee that the talks will fail, with the  ulterior motive of abandoning the Assembly and exploiting Brexit to pursue a strategy of Irish unity based … Read more

“‘bad’ people can sometimes do good things, perhaps even for bad motives…”

Sorry to keep on, but I think this from Chris Dillow not only gets the balance right on McGuinness’s legacy, he also gets something right about the inscrutable nature of democratic politics that we would do well to take more account of: …a closer analogy with McGuinness’s change, is the role Lyndon Johnson played in the passage of the Civil Rights Act. LBJ was a racist – certainly by today’s standards and perhaps even by those of his time. Such … Read more

Round up on McGuinness: Steering a path between pragmatic realism and terrorism’s soft sentimentality…

Jenny McCartney makes up both for some of the more anodyne hagiography and avoids the pitfalls of some of the more un-contextualised moral outrage by rooting her analysis in the lived reality of the IRA Army Council’s (failed) Long War strategy… Belfast in the 1970s and ’80s was a grey, fortified city, compelling in many ways, but permanently charged with the unpredictable electricity of violence. Our local news steadily chronicled the shattering of families, in city streets and down winding border lanes that were … Read more

The warm welcome Arlene Foster received at the funeral of Martin McGuinness came as a surprise to many. But not to those who know Derry well.

“Of all the ‘moments’ in my 27 years of journalism, applause for Arlene Foster at the funeral of Martin McGuinness is right up there”. So remarked Sky News’s Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, after one of Northern Ireland’s most important funerals in years. Blevins wasn’t alone in being wrong-footed by this turn of events. This was, after all, the funeral of a former IRA commander – held in a staunchly nationalist city during the uncertain aftermath of a landmark and divisive … Read more

Meanwhile, up in God’s Waiting Room…

Kyle PattersonCurrently studying for a software development MSc at Queen’s University, Belfast. I also draw political cartoons. Find me on the internet: Twitter: @TheAuthority88 Facebook:

Bill Clinton’s eulogy for Martin McGuinness and NI’s epic journey…

For the record, whatever you think of Bill Clinton, Northern Ireland seems to bring out something extraordinary in him… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty