Interesting analysis piece from the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley Even though the consensus suggests the so-called accommodation was a poor deal for republicans, the level of resistance from within the DUP and broader unionism to what was in the proposals appears to have surprised Mrs Foster and her advisors. Since the talks collapsed, the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA has met the DUP’s ruling executive and she says they have backed her leadership. Arguably that confidence is justified – Mrs … Read more
In a statement regarding Allison Morris’s Irish News story of prior police knowledge and inaction of the Shankill bombing, Nigel Dodds MP, DUP deputy leader, said: “The mass sectarian murder of the Shankill Bomb was one of the most heinous acts perpetrated by the Provisional IRA. It was a premeditated slaughter of innocents, an event that stands out amongst the PIRA’s more than 1800 bloody murders. Recent newspaper claims have refocused attention on this horrific act. Some of what has … Read more
On Thursday night David Dimbleby and the Question Time Carnival rolled into Titanic Belfast… and it seems the natives expected the worst and received it. To begin with, I’m a big fan of Question Time – I think it’s a great format to engage people nationwide in issues that many people are already talking about, and with the political machinery that exists within *most* parties, they give us, the voters, a good indication of party lines without having to go into … Read more
SLUGGER INTERVIEW: Following her election as DUP leader, I sat down with Arlene Foster to talk with her about how she felt about becoming the party leader, how she views her relationships with Sinn Fein and the UUP and how she views herself becoming the first woman to lead the party. I began by asking Arlene how she felt about becoming the DUP leader so unexpectedly, when until just 10 days ago most of us thought it would be Nigel Dodds.
INSIDE THE TENT: The cloak and dagger nature of the DUP’s latest episode of leadership change provides us an excuse to revisit Hugo Young’s wonderful description of how, prior to 1965, the British Conservative Party handled the tricky process of succession. Tory leaders were, Young observed, ‘removed and replaced by the informal alchemy of a charmed circle of elders’.
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.
There were few surprises during the Saturday sessions of the DUP conference. While the next party leader and First Minister were anointed with praise, neither Nigel Dodds or Arlene Foster were taking anything for granted and second guessing the inevitable view of the elected representatives who will shortly back their formal promotion to new roles. There was a sense of “less is more” about the agenda, with many loose cannons and critical friends “being seen but not heard”. Other than … Read more
Those who heard this morning’s #SluggerReport will have noted the major item was Nigel Dodds’ extraordinarily adept intervention in the Westminster debate this morning in the Guardian. It surely cannot be a coincidence that Jim Wells’ has been dispatched so quickly (hint: it was nothing to do with our toothless Ministerial code) in order to clear the air and political space for this… Listening to Nicola Sturgeon’s progressive pan-British rhetoric, you could have thought you were listening to one of … Read more
Listening back to Radio 4’s recent Profile of Nigel Dodds is an opportunity both to find out more about the DUP’s deputy leader, and to discover what mainland Britain makes of Northern Ireland politics and politicians. It is clear that the BBC struggled to find material, and lengthy contributions from Diane Dodds and the News Letter’s Sam McBride filled in much of the background detail of the (mostly) loyal North Belfast unionist politician. And of course it was an excuse … Read more
Today Sinn Fein launched their plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in North Belfast. As pacts have dominated the headlines I caught up with the party’s sitting MLA and Westminster candidate, Gerry Kelly to get his views about deal announced on St. Patrick’s Day. I began by asking him what his initial thoughts were on the pact? Kelly told me that it whilst four constituencies were included it was really a two seat pact to … Read more
Okay, ignore the Grauniad’s misidentification of Nigel Dodds as the leader of the DUP, and focus on the subject of the Op Ed…. In contrast to most of the political mudslinging that passes for politics in Westminster these days, the tone is incredibly relaxed and polite. Before he gets to the main course, here’s the opener: It’s a pity if the two – current – main parties can’t make themselves attractive enough to most voters, but it explains where we … Read more
Tonight our esteemed elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly are due to debate driving licences. Good news – I hear you cry – at last some action may be taken to address the disparity in the cost of driving licences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Last week there was much consternation when it was revealed that learner drivers in Northern Ireland pay nearly twice the price for a provisional licence compared to elsewhere in the UK – £62.50 … Read more
Many many words will be written about the late Lord Bannside, the Revered Ian Richard Kyle Paisley. The time for debate on his legacy is later. However on a day in which the First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson said “As a leader of men, a friend of the people, a servant of the state and a voice for the truth Ian Paisley excelled and shone,” and the Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Nigel Dodds wrote “He … Read more
The Parades Commission has given its determination on the latest application by the ‘Ligoniel Combine’ to stage a parade along the section of the route that the Commission has specifically ruled out since 12th July last year. The reaction to this will, to some extent, colour the atmosphere as those summer parades that are usually contentious approach. Significantly, yesterday, First Minister Peter Robinson chose to avoid the debate on racism in the Assembly that his own comments sparked. Instead, he went with a … Read more
Sometimes it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry when dealing with NI politics. [Might be better if you’d just stick to walking the dogs? – Ed]. Ah, so. Here’s Nigel Dodds riposte to Martin (just remember, there’s a war an election on): Sinn Fein’s problem is not that they can’t reach agreements with unionists but they can’t take a decision within their own party. On the introduction of the National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland, there are … Read more
Much about the DUP conference felt very familiar. The traditional route cross country to La Mon Hotel. The full to overflowing car park. The roar of applause from party members who adore their leader. The lack of mobile coverage … and the hotel wifi that that promised much but seemed to quickly run out of DHCP addresses and left the conference isolated in its Castlereagh bubble like an episode of Under the Dome (albeit without the guns). Lunchtime was staggered … Read more
In his annual self-imposed Florida exile, Peter Robinson must be increasingly frustrated as he reads newspaper articles and blog posts on his iPad, and listens to radio clips discussing the expected end of his political career up on the hill. So far he’s shown self-control and avoided stabbing at his Twitter app to respond. It’s been a long summer for the First Minister at home in Northern Ireland, with two recalls of the Assembly, trouble flaring up in North and … Read more
Some good news! [Peter Robinson will be pleased – Ed] Possibly… According to the Office of National Statistics’ analysis of experimental subjective well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, April to September 2011, the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom. In fact the, admittedly subjective, data reveals that the people of Northern Ireland had higher average ratings than the rest of the UK on the ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happy yesterday’ questions (7.6, 7.8 and 7.5 out of … Read more
Most of the excitement regarding the DUP conference centred on Peter Robinson’s speech (or Sammy Wilson’s). In contrast Nigel Dodds’s has received less attention. The moving forward narrative was again played up with the repeated claim that the DUP are the party of Northern Ireland and the party to move Northern Ireland forward. There were swipes at the UUP and TUV as well as nationalists and republicans. Dodds’s moving forward was couched in somewhat more traditional unionist terms. His remarks … Read more