Four parties issue a joint statement on Brexit.

Four party leaders representing 49 MLAs have penned a joint statement on Brexit. On 23rd June 2016 citizens voted to remain within the European Union. Despite this, the British Government intend to exit the EU in March 2019. Sinn Féin, Green Party, Alliance and the Social Democratic and Labour Party all share the common position that we should stay within both the single market and customs union and that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland … Read more

SDLP adopt a conscience policy on abortion at their special conference

At a special conference today in Maghera, the SDLP have allowed their members and representatives a conscience vote on the issue of abortion. This allows MLAs such as Claire Hanna a chance to vote for a less restrictive regime around abortion in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of the SDLP parliamentary party will likely still vote in favour of the status quo, but this does open the way for more pro-choice activitsts within the party to advance their views. The … Read more

Nationalists need to have an honest conversation about a New Ireland

Brian has already outlined the story in The Times that has been talked about today. Theresa May has been quoted as believing that a Border Poll could be winnable for the Nationalist side and I agree with her that in one attempt, Northern Ireland could be taken out of the United Kingdom via a referendum. Over the past year, Nationalism has made many gains in terms of vote share and the ability for the first time to construct an economic … Read more

Focus on the West Tyrone by-election

Tomorrow the voters of West Tyrone head back to the polls for the 7th time in 4 years (don’t worry if you are an avid voter, only one year to go until the local elections in May 2019). Usual rules apply for this by-election, polls close at 10pm with the votes counted afterwards. As you can see from the results above this is a solid Sinn Fein constituency with the party holding a double digit leads over their main rivals. … Read more

SDLP to hold special conference on abortion in private

From John Manley in the Irish News; The SDLP has confirmed that next month’s special conference to review abortion policy will be held behind closed doors. The party will hold a conference on Saturday May19 dedicated entirely to abortion policy after it was decided that there would not have been adequate time to discuss the contentious issue at last weekend’s annual conference in Belfast. An hour had intially been earmarked to debate a number of motions relating to abortion at … Read more

Post Conference Retreat

Dominic O’Reilly is a SDLP Member and attended the party’s recent conference I am a mess of contradictions! Some years ago I took the decision to join a political party. Meanwhile for the last fifteen years I have been actively involved in youth ministry within the Church. To the extent that some eight years ago I entered studies for the diocesan priesthood. While I did not see this through to completion it was an incredibly fruitful time and period of … Read more

SDLP Leadership team delivers on stage but can the party turn the corner?

The SDLP gathered for the first time in over two years for their conference at Titanic Belfast. In what has been a political year of many highs of lows for the party it was a relatively low key affair for most of the morning. Delegates (those who turned up) debated a steady stream of motions on welfare reform, environment and policing. The only potentially controversial motion that was up for debate was one regarding the naming of parks after actors … Read more

A united Ireland remains an uncertain unknown. If it happens, the country will need strong leaders who can lead the country into a better future

A united Ireland is such a huge issue in Northern Irish politics that it’s hard to believe Tom Elliott hasn’t really thought about it. Ulster unionism’s raison d’être is to maintain the Union, Northern Ireland and avoid a thirty two country Republic. The prospect of a united Ireland drives and haunts unionists. It is never acknowledged as a possibility, but it is always there. During Patrick Kielty’s excellent programme, ‘My Da, the Peace Deal, and me,’ Arlene Foster said that … Read more

SDLP’s future direction…

Interesting story from the Belfast Telegraph Political Editor, Suzanne Breen this morning about the potential of an arrangement between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. She writes; SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has refused to rule out “a realignment in Irish politics” that would see his party standing aside and Fianna Fail organising in Northern Ireland. Senior SDLP sources told the Belfast Telegraph that around 80% of the party supported it “leaving the stage” to make way for Fianna Fail. They want … Read more

Twenty years on, the key challenge is how we can make changes that only are seen to be fair and balanced

Peter Weir is a DUP MLA for Strangford, he writes for Slugger about his thoughts of the Good Friday Agreement. On Good Friday, twenty years ago, I found myself present at a central point in our history, not just as an observer but as a participant, albeit a minor one. I was in Castle Buildings as a junior member of the Ulster Unionist talks team. I was one of the so called baby barristers, a group of younger members of … Read more

Mark Durkan suggests renewal review of Good Friday Agreement

Former SDLP Leader, Mark Durkan speaking in Dublin tonight has suggested a renewal review of the Good Friday Agreement. He told his audience; “As the Brexit negotiations intensify, it’s welcome that the EU27 have continued to voice a strong commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts. It’s critical, however, that such a commitment extends to protecting it in its promise and potential as well. “The full potential and flexibility of Strands Two and Three must be … Read more

Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

Grassroots Campaign for Irish Language Legislation transformed political discourse, but where are we now and how can we help deliver meaningful change?

Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin writes for Slugger about the upcoming talks and the Irish Language Act On Wednesday our local political parties, this time the 5 ‘main parties’ as they are described in the media, will return to the table to try and flesh out a deal which would allow for the Executive to be formed and the MLA’s to take their seats in the Assembly once more. The issues in the ‘to be resolved’ box is much the same … Read more

“This isn’t an issue about the mayor, the mayor was using his democratic right to use that casting vote…”

So says the Derry and Strabane District Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley, a party colleague of the mayor in question, Sinn Féin Councillor, Maolíosa McHugh.  The Sinn Féin mayor had previously declined to meet Prince Charles when he visited County Londonderry last year to meet victims of flooding.  In his place, representing the office of the mayor, SDLP councillor John Boyle, the deputy mayor of Derry and Strabane, accompanied Prince Charles during the visit. The reason for the Sinn Féin statement defending … Read more

Where do we put Ulster’s Irish passport office?

Holding an Irish passport has become quite the statement. Since the Brexit vote applications have surged for a number of reasons including re-asserting an Irish identity in Britain and the north respectively. Also by Britons that want to hold on to their European Union citizenship. Dagmar Schiek, Professor of Law at Queen’s University Belfast said that “The British in Northern Ireland who do not also opt for Irish citizenship would be worse off after Brexit,”  Bearers of these little red books … Read more

Nationalism needs the inspiration so desperately needed in these early days of that better nation.

Aaron Murray, political researcher working in London. He is also on Twitter @aaronmurray87 Engraved on the Canongate wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood is a phrase Alasdair Gray described as ‘inspiring but not boastful’. ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’ it reads. Widely attributed to Gray, it is the creation of Canadian poet Dennis Lee from his exploration of citizenship, Civil Eligies. In recent years it became a credo of the Scottish … Read more

Colum Eastwood: Sinn Féin and the DUP are within hours of buying us all first class tickets to Direct Rule

Colum Eastwood is the Leader of the SDLP There are times when silence is golden and there are times when it is anything but. For weeks now the Stormont talks have operated under a cloud of secrecy feeding the frustration of everyone. There are only so many press releases that the NIO can put out which talk about ‘some progress’ or ‘significant gaps’. There are only so many press conferences that can be staged with everyone saying the same thing. … Read more

The DUP’s £1 billion deal looks set for a second stage of direct rule

When we’re reduced to praising James Brokenback for masterly inactivity, we’ve surely found rock bottom. One tiny flicker of life  turns out to be an illusion after all.  DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has denounced as “fake news” a  story from the new Financial Times Ireland correspondent ( and ex-Irish Times ) Arthur Beesley,  that “Theresa May’s £1 billion is on hold as to talks falter” (£) There may be less to this than meets the eye. A budget imposed by … Read more

Leaders issue a joint statement on Cantrell Close

The following is a joint statement on behalf of the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP, Alliance Party and the Green Party; We as political leaders condemn all forms of sectarianism, intolerance and threats of violence. Four families have been forced to leave their homes in South Belfast. This is wrong.  Any threat to these families should be lifted immediately. There is also an onus on the PSNI and the statutory agencies to provide immediate and appropriate support … Read more

Nichola Mallon is the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP

Nichola Mallon has become the new Deputy Leader of the SDLP, the position was vacant after the former Deputy Leader, Fearghal McKinney lost his seat at the 2016 Assembly Election. Speaking about her election she said; “This is a critical moment for our politics. “The challenge we all face is to forge a society based on a positive accommodation of difference and diversity. “That challenge is made all the more important following the Brexit Bill vote last night. “I’m delighted … Read more