McDonald and O’Neill tell delegates it’s time for change

At an Ard Fheis five years ago, Gerry Adams announced he was leaving the stage. The party was polling in the mid teens at that stage, now under Mary Lou McDonald the party is consistently above 30% in poll after poll. Buoyed by their success in the recent Assembly Election and their popularity in the South, the party now looks forward with confidence. Sure footed with plans for growth in both jurisdictions. Often we look back through the gaze of …

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Houses of sand: Unionism has a problem with younger voters. A huge one.

Whither the union. I find myself becoming weary as I write this. Articles about the demise of the union, about unionist malaise and mistakes, are so common these days that they all sound the same. I stopped writing them at one point because I had nothing new to add. Even now, people write these pieces with a weird air of arrogance. They want you to know that they and they alone have figured out that unionism is in a difficult …

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After the funeral of the age, back to the reality of today

The greatest public obsequies in history are over. The hangover begins now. The death of the Queen allowed millions to think of the nation as a big family which could unite at such a time.  Every nation or a distinct component of it needs an identity to survive.  For a large majority, the Queen was at the heart of it. Whether the unity survives both for the nation and- come to think of it- even the royal family- are quite …

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Sinn Féin are winning the peace, as people forget the IRA’s war…

Sinn Fein are winning the post-1998 peace. They are now the largest party in Northern Ireland, and almost certainly will be the largest party in the Republic after the next election. A combination of internal and external events have come together to make their brand of ‘left populism’ (housing spokesman’s Eoin Ó Broin’s telling phrase) seem unstoppable. The housing crisis in the South and the chaotic aftermath of Brexit, the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis caused by the Ukraine …

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Leave futile arguments about equivalence aside. We all need to come clean about why the Troubles lasted so unforgivably long.

clock, alarm clock, watch

Belatedly I want to pick up from Mick’s treatment of Fionnuala O’ Connor’s   interesting question about origins, prompted by the inevitable controversy surrounding Michelle O’Neill. At the outset, I’m reconciled to the fact that my brief analysis, partly based like Fionnuala’s on contemporary observation, will be disputed. I want to be as fair as I can. There’s nothing more pointless than one sided polemic.   Her question relates to the present and future. To make ‘reconciliation’ possible do republicans have to …

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Slugger TV looks at the political year ahead

Slugger TV 01/07/22 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. This months guest as Alan Meban and Allison Morris David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

There are great dangers in Northern Ireland’s entanglement in the Tory Brexit mess. They must extricate themselves fast

From his analysis of the Protocol bill, I want to pull out Rafael Behr’s comments on how little Northern Ireland registers  in the wider media as itself, on merit . You can almost hear the groans from TV viewers,” Not Northern Ireland again”  in a situation even more incomprehensible to them than  the Troubles It isn’t every day that former prime ministers set old party enmities aside to deliver a unified message on a matter of national urgency. When John …

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Slugger TV looks at the main parties after #AE22

Slugger TV is five years old! This month Anna Mercer from Stratagem and Chris Donnelly look at the state of the parties following the Assembly Election. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

A Step Change in Sinn Féin Strategy: Lessons Learned from the SNP Playbook?

By Dr Adam Fusco, Lecturer in Politics, University of York The results of 2022 Assembly election demonstrated remarkable successes for Alliance and Sinn Féin. One of the more remarkable features of the campaign, however, was how un-Sinn Féin-like the argumentative strategy of Sinn Féin was as it contested seats at Stormont. Traditional republican and nationalist themes, such as the Irish language and even unity, were not at the forefront of the campaign, but rather the party choose to emphasise the …

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The election results are more about DUP failure than Sinn Fein success…

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. With the dust starting to settle on the [*checks notes*] “seismic” Assembly election, and with Connolly House no doubt in a jubilant mood, it’s worth taking a breath and analyzing just how it came to be that Sinn Fein finds itself with the most seats at the (formerly) unionist bastion of Parliament Buildings. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route …

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UTV Leaders Debate-Low key campaigns don’t drop their guards

The leaders of the five main parties gathered in South Belfast today for the UTV Leaders Debate, which is the first of two of these debates in the 2022 Assembly Election campaign. Marc Mallett as usual was the moderator and there were two new faces with Doug Beattie and Jeffrey Donaldson taking part for the first time. The experienced debaters returning from 2017 were Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long and Michelle O’Neill. The debate was divided into three main themes, Executive …

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And the winner is … ranking the PEBs: Slugger’s verdict on the party broadcasts of #AE22

It’s back! The Slugger review of the Party Election Broadcasts. Starting all the way back in 2014, we are returning to award the best party election broadcast of the 2022 Assembly campaign. This year we are assembling the same judges as in 2019 to help us decide who won the battle on TV. We have our own Alan Meban, the Belfast Telegraph Crime Correspondent, Allison Morris and Director of Brown O’Connor Communications, Chris Brown. How does it work? Each of …

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SDLP meet for the first time in four years with opportunities and battles ahead.

The SDLP met in Bellaghy for their first conference since 2018. The small crowd of around one hundred delegates gathered at the Seamus Heaney homeplace. This is the first time since 2018 that delegates have gathered together in person. Last time the conference was something akin to a wake as they reeled from a disastrous General Election in 2017. This time they meet with two MPs and a minister in government, but the party has challenges going into this election. …

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Slugger TV looks at what it’s like to be an MLA

In this episode, we are two former MLAs and Junior Ministers, Megan Fearon and Emma Little Pengelly who talk to us about what it is like to be an MLA and run an election campaign. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Unionism cannot expect Sinn Féin to keep saving the Union…

giant's causeway, northern ireland, rocks

Phelim Grant and Charles McCann were members of the IRA who died when a bomb they were placing exploded prematurely. At the beginning of February, some Republicans, including members of Sinn Féin marked their death by holding a commemorative event. During the commemoration, Sinn Féin’s ‘Unionist Outreach Officer’, Declan Kearney, gave a speech talking about the inevitability of a United Ireland, part of the speech was aimed at “Protestants and Unionists”, Kearney’s message to them was that “we want you …

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What sort of Assembly do we want?

What sort of people keep holding elections to a body they aren’t sure they even want to survive?  We’ve been doing it for ever. Since 1973 at least, as long in politics as Joe Biden.  That’s without taking account of old time Sinn Fein’s northern abstention.  As they contemplate the embarrassing cycle of abandoned fresh starts since 1998, who could blame the voters of Northern Ireland if they finally lost confidence in the very idea of the Assembly?  However the …

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Slugger TV looks at the polls and strategy for #AE22

This month Slugger TV talks to two former party strategists about what the parties will be thinking about going into the next election. We have Brendan Mulgrew (For SDLP advisor and Partner in MW Advocate) and Lee Reynolds (Former Director of Policy for the DUP and SPAD). NVTV and local broadcasting lost a very special person last week. Marilyn Hyndman very sadly passed away. She was someone who edited, checked over and supported Slugger TV. We hope you enjoy this …

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Scores on the doors: 2022 Assembly Election lay of the land

We are 104 days away from the Assembly Election. Set for Thursday 5th May, we will be able to decide who we want to take Northern Ireland forward for the next few years. Where will the parties be targeting and defending? I have put together a list of where is under threat for each of the main parties and where could they make some gains. These things are moveable feasts and dynamics can change throughout the campaign. Sinn Fein-Currently holds …

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The DUP and Sinn Fein block hunting with dogs ban…

fox, nature, animals

Thanks to the DUP and Sinn Fein the private member’s bill to ban hunting with dogs was defeated by 45 votes to 38 in the Assembly on Monday. Animal welfare charity, the USPCA, had backed the bill. It said it was “very disappointed” with the outcome. “This result is contrary to the views of the public, as outlined in the consultation response and in previous public opinion polls,” said USPCA chief executive Brendan Mullan. “Hunting wild mammals with dogs is …

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McDonald tells her party this is their moment but will they seize it?

Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald addressed her party in Dublin this evening. The Opposition Leader free from the 2019 electoral setbacks and is now a leader who could look with optimism about where the party stands in the polls and make a bid for the position of Taoiseach. The party is pitching itself as the main vehicle for change, but falls short of ruling out a potential coalition with her main rivals. For the talk about Sinn Fein being …

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