Joint Statement from Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and Green Party on Human Rights post Brexit

Joint Declaration on Human Rights and Equality 1. We are strongly committed to the promotion, protection and the vindication of the human rights of everyone. We believe these guarantees should apply to all who reside in NI. 2. We firmly believe in the centrality of equality to the shared society we are working together to create. 3. We share a profound concern that “Brexit” will result in further regression on equality and rights. 4. We welcome the guarantee in the … Read more

Peter Robinson was talking about much more than a border poll. The Assembly must become boycott proof

It was Peter Robinson “pulling the pin out of the grenade” and proposing  “generational” border polls that attracted most attention. But he had a good deal more to say at Queen’s that was  more important or at least more urgent.  He kept it lofty, generalised and above all brief, to avoid getting drawn into detail or appearing to lecture his successors. But his meaning is pretty clear . While he had to say he was optimistic about the future, he … Read more

Are we seeing the end of the DUP/Sinn Fein approach to the economy?

The Economy spokesperson for Sinn Fein, Conor Murphy had a platform piece in the Belfast Telegraph this morning about the under performance of the Northern Ireland economy over the past decade of devolution which has some interesting content in it. He argues; A proper Industrial Strategy requires rigor and an attention to detail. These are not qualities typically associated with the DUP’s decade in control of the main economic Department. DUP ministers comfortably talked the language of the business community … Read more

Arlene Foster challenges Sinn Fein to debate abortion reform in the Assembly, claiming SF support for DUP stance

Arlene Foster says some Sinn Fein supporters have told her they will vote DUP because of her party’s position on abortion. In her first interview since Ireland’s referendum on the issue, she told Sky News a lot of people were feeling “disenfranchised” by the result. “I have had emails from Nationalists and Republicans in Northern Ireland not quite believing what is going on and saying they will be voting for the DUP because they believe we are the only party … Read more

Senior Conservatives are willing to defy the DUP over abortion

Perhaps the abortion issue is emerging as a new category which breaks the  rules of  conventional political wisdom.  As far as Westminster is concerned, It seems the last word has not been spoken by Theresa May. This is a devolved matter. Our focus is restoring a democratically accountable devolved government in Northern Ireland so that locally accountable politicians can make decisions on behalf of the public they represent.” It is not only Stella Creasy and mainly Labour colleagues that are … Read more

The direct Westminster route to abortion reform is not the one to follow. It’s time for civil society to step up to the plate

Northern Ireland as a place apart over abortion rights has exposed many English MPs to the complexities of devolution for the first time over something they care about deeply, so much so that they seemed at first to dismiss them altogether. There is a precedent of a kind.  On Brexit Westminster is ignoring the SNP government’s refusal to assent to the terms of EU withdrawal on the grounds that this is a reserved matter for Westminster. Although  abortion rights are … Read more

SluggerTV looks at the smaller parties, West Tyrone & the SDLP special conference

This month we debate the West Tyrone by-election, the SDLP special conference and the other smaller parties with Brendan Mulgrew from MWA Advocate, Andree Murphy who is an Andersonstown News Columnist and the Irish News reporter, Brendan Hughes. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Is an initiative imminent to restore Stormont? Are DUP and Sinn Fein ready?

Jeremy Corbyn will have disappointed any unionist hoping for a distraction from the  continuing political vacuum.  Deftly skirting the traps set for him by the DUP to meet (presumably mainly unionist) victims of the Troubles and uniquely denounce the IRA, he slipped in and out of Northern Ireland unscathed.  Instead he played a straight bat, Declining to become a persuader for unity, he would  back a border poll only  “within  the terms of the Agreement”  and he deserved unionist gratitude however grudging, by rejecting  special status for Northern Ireland within the EU.    He might have uttered hints of retribution against the DUP for keeping the Conservatives in power, but if he was tempted, he forbore. The verdict of the New Statesman bears repetition.

The longer the government’s inaction continues, the less crazy the idea of welcoming a Labour government seems. The party’s 2017 manifesto, one senior figure in the Northern Irish business community told me, was “not that mad” but “almost Blairesque” on the issues that mattered. Its propositions of extra investment infrastructure and training were attractive. There is also the fact that Labour’s vision for Brexit – if it can be described as such – offers more answers for business than Theresa May’s. Contrast this if not explicitly friendly than unquestionably receptive attitude to Corbyn with the frosty reception Karen Bradley received from businesses enraged by the NIO’s sluggish, laissez-faire approach to restoring devolution then it is clear that Labour are faced with an open goal.

The less Corbyn is seen to stir memories of Northern Ireland’s troubled past and the more he is seen to offer practical solutions to the anxieties of the future on Brexit and devolution, the more credible his Labour will become as a UK-wide government in waiting. There remains the question, however, of how credible Corbyn himself can ever be. He did not offer the unequivocal and specific condemnation of IRA violence many have asked for. On Wednesday, his spokesman said he still believed in a united Ireland as a point of principle. Labour cannot normalise its relationship with unionism under Corbyn if these running sores are not cauterised. There appears to be no plan to do so.

Perhaps- but somehow healing the running sores no longer seems so

Read moreIs an initiative imminent to restore Stormont? Are DUP and Sinn Fein ready?

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

MPs urge the UK government to end “untenable” inaction over the absence of Stormont after the Bank holiday. But who believes anything will happen?

The call by the NI  select committee of MPs  to secretary of state Karen Bradley to “redouble” her efforts to restart talks aimed at restoring devolution has a ritual flavour about it. There seems no appetite for action on this front while the two governments are in  stand-off over the UK’s long awaited proposals  for exit and  backstop which are due to be submitted by the EU next month and agreed in October. The MPs also said she must outline … Read more

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

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

With all respect to concerned former soldiers, Theresa May is right to see off last minute demands for a selective amnesty

After appearing to side with her Defence Secretary on Wednesday in favouring a selective amnesty for former security forces in Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister has thought the better of it as the long delayed consultation on the Legacy Bill was launched. We are in the peculiar position of Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill broadly welcoming the Bill, while the  DUP leader Arlene Foster  contemplates a legal challenge to the High Court ruling that she wasn’t entitled to refuse to submit a … Read more

Tell me how Alex. Please

John MacManus is a History Teacher in Northern Ireland “So, the continuing ‘rise and rise’ of Sinn Fein is not unstoppable. Irish unity is not inevitable. That won’t, of course, stop Sinn Fein’s relentless propaganda and repositioning. And nor should it stop unionism from relentless deconstruction of Sinn Fein’s arguments; or of kick-starting their own major, thought-through, broad-based, pro-Union campaign. Put bluntly, stop whingeing about Sinn Fein and, instead, counter their various strategies, policies and narratives.” So concludes Alex Kane … Read more

“The third lesson of this episode stretches far beyond Israel-Palestine…”

The Palestinian leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, has been widely condemned for his anti-Semitic remarks in a televised speech addressing a meeting of the Palestinian National Council on Monday 30th April.  Among his critics, as the Belfast Telegraph notes, former US Secretary of State John Kerry Former US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote on Twitter: “These comments are wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker. No … Read more

Guardian exclusive. A home grown plan for checks at NI ports, rejected by the DUP but still in play

A backup plan to impose border checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK at ports and airports to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit has been drafted by senior civil servants. Despite the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) angrily rejecting any suggestion of a border “in the Irish Sea”, a leaked paper reveals that officials have been working on a blueprint “to be deployed as necessary in the negotiation process” While acknowledging these … 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

Is there something to be said for a British-Irish intergovernmental conference?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_Buildings_Stormont.jpg

The blame game continued in Stormont last week with arguments about who was holding progress between the DUP and Sinn Fein. We are now 14 months on without a government and we seem further away from seeing any form of functioning assembly. For both of the main parties the failure to secure agreement on some of the main outstanding issues is holding up progress in restoring devolution. Contrary to some musings that it suits both the DUP and Sinn Fein … Read more