Tag Archives | NI Assembly

Sam McBride Assembly screengrab

Petition of Concern status quo suits the DUP

Back in February – when we were in a different world politically – I looked at the possibility of reforming the petition of concern and whether retaining the mechanism was beneficial for nationalists. The unionist majority in the Assembly disappeared faster than many predicted. From 52% of the 108 outgoing MLAs to 44% of those elected more…

“Women in Northern Ireland continue to be discriminated against.”

With the Northern Ireland Department of Health refusing to update guidance to health professionals here regarding pregnancy terminations, despite the changes to UK policy announced earlier this year, in the Guardian Goretti Horgan, a lecturer in social policy at Ulster University and a founder member of Alliance for Choice in Northern Ireland, argues for change to more…

“it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy…”

From yesterday’s Irish News, Patrick Murphy, once again, making direct contact with the head of the nail. While the DUP’s future role in Westminster is far from predictable, it is easy to understand. Sinn Féin’s strategy, however, is less clear. Indeed it is tempting to conclude that SF has no strategy, other than to prolong more…

“six months later nothing seems to have replaced that philosophy beyond aggressively taking on the DUP…”

Ahead of the likely suspension of open party political hostilities briefings to the media for the summer, the News Letter’s Sam McBride has an interesting piece in search of a Sinn Féin strategy.  [There’s a strategy?! – Ed]  Just tactics… From the News Letter Long forgotten are the days when Martin McGuinness warmly recalled how more…

On Brexit, the Irish are caught between two opposing forces, but at least they’re showing more invention and concern about the North than the British and northerners themselves

The ritual opening shots in the Brexit campaign must leave the Republic feeling caught in a trap in a dialogue of the deaf between two opposing forces. So much, so sadly predictable, in spite of all the warm words- although the crudeness of the exchanges is perhaps surprising. It’s pretty clear that the Irish government more…

Amnesty for soldiers and police officers appears imminent after the election. And the effect on prospects for restoring the Assembly?

The government appear to be on the brink of taking the legacy of the Troubles out of the hands of the Assembly. The only  question remains if they would entertain an agreed counter proposal from the Assembly parties . You can work out for yourself  the prospects of that The Times (£) are reporting that more…

The saving grace of electoral pacts is that they’re short lived. There’s a longer and bigger game to play afterwards

One sign of changed times is leading commentators  such as  Alex Kane Tom Kelly and Newton Emerson ranging across newspapers that not so long ago  would have stuck to simple uncomplicated messages for  well  understood and stable readerships. Times have indeed changed for us all. From my remote position in London however, Alex and Tom more…

Left to themselves, the parties won’t agree. The time has come for the governments to bring forward solutions which involve the people directly

Observed from London, the political atmosphere at home is surreal.  The volume of comment on the talks is in inverse proportion to hard information. Expectations of agreement by Good Friday are so low that  the local media can barely be roused from torpor. Emergency action for feeding the Stormont cats occupied more space in the more…

Will unionists ever imagine a more generous vision than Orange culture to match Sinn Fein’s on unity?

Showing good timing and a big bunch of confidence, a warm house for Unionists in a united Ireland within the EU has been imagined once again by Matt Carthy of Sinn Fein. Political positioning, based solely on opposition to Irish unity, is unsustainable. Although he can hardly expect an immediate favourable response,  his pitch   is more…

The Assembly crisis is costing £300 million a year in Health alone

The Belfast Telegraph has an exclusive on the depth of the health crisis. It shows the real world  gap between the obsessive zero sum game that dominates politics and the practical need for regional government  of some sort. If the RHI scandal broke the Executive, will the long-term health scandal remake it? Northern Ireland’s health more…

At last! The British and Irish governments have produced an agreed plan to put to the Assembly parties from Monday 3 April

Not before time, a detailed talks plan agreed between the two governments has been presented to the Assembly parties and will form the basis of talks over a 10 day period beginning tomorrow.  Brian Rowan, former security correspondent and Assembly candidate, has got sight of it and has summarised it in EamonnMallie.com   As I’ve been more…

The political parties should not deceive themselves that the lessons from demographic change are simple and obvious

“ The morning after the Brexit vote, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party said that “the constitutional question has been reopened, and we now have people who were content in Northern Ireland thinking again about a united Ireland” Has  this development become  the new driver of politics or is it  still in the background? At more…

New powers for Stormont? That’ll get’em going!

James Brokenshire has solemnly warned that if Stormont is to receive new powers as result of Brexit, power sharing must be restored. This blatantly original statement puts him in line for a Nobel Peace Prize or a slot on Pointless. It’s just the sort of threat that will have them rushing to the conference table more…

Do tell please DUP. What’s this about a “Culture Act”?

It would be good to hear more from the DUP about the “Culture  Act”  Gerry Adams told the Dail yesterday  was “meaningless” He’s not necessarily the best conduit for the proposal.  May we decide for ourselves please DUP?  . Most of his speech was an uncanny repetition of Michelle O’Neill’s latest. From Dail Eireann debates Regrettably, more…

Should the other Dublin parties denounce Sinn Fein if they’re gaming the Stormont talks?

The Irish Times political editor Stephens Collins enjoys an unusual dual role of senior political reporter and opinionated commentator. It’s not always clear if he’s getting a bead on emerging trends of opinion in politics or simply speaking for himself.  Perhaps what Stephen thinks today,  many of the guys in Leinster House think tomorrow?  Today, more…

Sinn Fein hardens position in favour of another election, it says here

It’s an Orwellian situation when  Sinn Fein claim they “ want to achieve the full implementation of all outstanding commitments made over a 20-year period”  in  just a few more weeks ; the DUP say they would  return to the Executive “ without pre-conditions,”  implying  they won’t  address Sinn Fein’s conditions in advance; and to more…

“I’m a patient man” said Martin McGuinness in a last interview as he defended his strategy of ” making the institutions work”. But Unionists have Rubicons to cross too

So what’s the legacy?  His contribution to underlying peace not war was essential, certainly.   In the welter of well- rehearsed comment  yesterday  we can be thankful that there was no suggestion of regression, rather the opposite from the likes of Gerry Kelly.   But in politics?  To adapt Ian Paisley jnr’s tribute “It’s not how you more…

Sinn Féin’s red lines? : “So you had the Irish language act, there was a thing called the bill of rights and there was another issues.”

Launching the Sinn Féin manifesto for the Northern Ireland Assembly election a couple of weeks ago, the party’s appointed ‘leader in the North’, Michelle O’Neill, declared that “You’d be very aware that I won’t be drawing any red line issues…” Since then she has allowed the impression to be created that the one ‘red line’ the party more…