Behind the Paddy’s Day rituals, how deep is the Stormont crisis?

With so much guff, bluff and ritual about it, St Patrick’s Day is a poor bellwether for judging the state of affairs in Ireland remotely – and perhaps no better on the spot either. One glance at privileged youff crowding Botanic Gardens in defiance of lockdown, you might have groaned with me: “ Not the Holylands again. “ However BBCNI’s news story was encouraging. St Patrick's Day: Police clear crowds at Belfast's Botanic Gardens https://t.co/Fp6LvjTOC8 — Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) March …

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“As explained in detail to Sinn Féin and previously…”

News that the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland is to canvass all households this summer, for the first time since 2013 and a year later than planned, in order to update the electoral register  – unlike the rest of the UK which has an annual canvass process – has the Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast, Paul Maskey, reaching for a page from the Donald Trump electioneering playbook.   From the BBC report The canvass is legally required by the UK …

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Real world pressures are complicating neat arguments over unification

I begin with  more inexplicable partitionism from Dublin, as discussed by Newton who has a hawkeye for this subject “Genuine mystery surrounds the Irish Government’s lengthy refusal to share Covid passenger data with Northern Ireland. The Government will not explain it and nobody else can see what the issue might be. There is increasing urgency for a solution as Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland introduce negative Covid test requirements for travellers, with varying sets of self-isolation periods that cannot be …

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When are the DUP going to ditch the Tories?

“What did we do to members on those benches over there, to be screwed over by this protocol,” Ian Paisley asked in Parliament yesterday, “ask your hearts, what did we do?” Oh Ian. It’s a cliché at this point to quote Edward Carson’s “What a fool I was…” speech. It’s boring. We all know it by now. I prefer the bit after that famous line: “And of all the men in my experience that I think are the most loathsome it …

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Irish unity : going nowhere fast

So how’s the Irish reunification campaign coming along ? According to Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald, there doesn’t need to be one, because it’s already been won. A few days ago, speaking to Owen Jones, McDonald said of a United Ireland : ‘We’ll do it in the next decade. We’ll do it in this decade, actually.’  This is an example of the nationalist equivalent of the ‘inevitability doctrine’ I wrote about a few months back. In my previous article, …

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Sinn Féin’s historical revisionism has nowhere to hide

Trying to rewrite history is never a good idea. So when Sinn Féin’s official social media account claimed at the weekend that “On this day in 1905 Sinn Féin was founded” and proceeded to say that on that day “we outlined our position”, it naturally raised a few eyebrows within the historian community. The thing is with historians, they are fact-based people, so if you lie about something in history they will ruthlessly expose you for it. The backlash to …

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New Decade, Same Nonsense

With the four-week circuit breaker due to expire on Friday, people across Northern Ireland are looking for certainty. Businesses need to know if they can re-open at the weekend. Workers want to know if they’ll get an income over the next few weeks. All the while, six of Northern Ireland’s hospitals are at full capacity. As of this morning, the Executive still hasn’t agreed a way forward.  Robin Swann proposed a two-week extension of the circuit breaker but this was …

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Elisha McCallion resigns from the Seanad and McDonald apologises.

The Sinn Fein President, Mary-Lou McDonald has accepted the resignations of party officials, the most senior being former Foyle MP and Senator, Elisha McCallion. This is the statement below; “Over the course of Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Sinn Féin leadership established that three party offices incorrectly received lodgements of £10,000 under the Small Business Grant scheme established by the Department of Economy in March 2020. “The payments were not applied for and were automatically received as part …

Read more…Elisha McCallion resigns from the Seanad and McDonald apologises.

What is a shared island?

I am but a mere local political commentator who occasionally gets asked to do TV and radio. Occasionally I regurgitate my annoying opinions in written form. Thanks to my involvement with an upcoming Institute of Irish Studies project, I got the opportunity to ask the Taoiseach about the new Shared Island Unit. There were scenes on Whatsapp when I told my mum what I was doing. “Martin or Wee Higgins?” she texted, getting mixed up. In his speech, Micheál Martin …

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United pressure on Sinn Féin may be needed to break the legacy payments deadlock. Their own will benefit

dFM Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin Has Martina Anderson’s outburst distracted attention away from the substantive issue of the legacy payments deadlock, or given a boost to resolving it, following the court case requiring Michelle O’Neill in effect to remove her veto or exercise her option to resign? The scheme covers violence related to the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1966 and 2010, including incidents in Great Britain and Europe.. . People will get between £2,000 and £10,000 a year for the …

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NI Executive Office acting unlawfully in delaying introduction of victims compensation scheme

Not unexpectedly, given Mr Justice McAlinden’s comments during the two-day hearing, Belfast High Court has ruled that the NI Executive Office is, indeed, acting unlawfully in failing to implement the victims payment scheme.  Or, rather, the NI deputy First Minister is acting unlawfully… From the summary of judgement [pdf file] It is incumbent upon the Executive Office to forthwith designate a Department under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 1 to the Victims’ Payments Regulations 2020 to exercise the administrative functions of …

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NI deputy First Minister “choosing to ignore the requirement to comply with the rule of law to express a political advantage”

Worth noting the comments of Mr Justice McAlinden in Belfast High Court today, having read the arguments put forward in an application for a judicial review of the NI Executive Office’s failure to introduce the victims payments scheme.  Or, rather, Sinn Féin’s refusal to implement the scheme…  From the BBC report “I see it as one element within the Executive Office deliberately choosing to ignore the requirement to comply with the rule of law to express a political advantage,” Mr …

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Northern Ireland Centenary: This country

This is about the centenary of Northern Ireland. But first, a slight detour. In Lucy Caldwell’s, ‘Multitudes,’ one of her characters describes the heartache of watching her teenage school friend move from Northern Ireland to England. “They’ve had enough is what Susan’s mum says. She just can’t take it anymore. ‘This country,’ she says to my mum. ‘This country,’ my mum says back to her, and neither of them says anything else.” The scene has always stuck with me because …

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John Hume: A Story Not Yet Fully Told

John Hume chose to live with purpose. He was steadfast in his determination to see peace and a better life, not only for those from his own community, but for all people across the island of Ireland. Elected a Member of the European Parliament in 1979, he would go on to serve as MP for Foyle from 1983 to 2005, and member of the Legislative Assembly for the same constituency between 1998 and 2000. He defined future generations opportunities when …

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Occasionally political decisions give observers a glimpse into the heart of a political party…

George Osborne’s decision to cut the higher rate of tax while cutting welfare benefits in a time of austerity betrayed a heartlessness that the Tory party has struggled to disown. Sinn Fein’s decision to turn Bobby Storey’s funeral into a mass celebration of Republicanism in a time of global pandemic lockdown was very revealing. The party which lead the way in calling for lockdown and was most opposed to relaxing restrictions; the party which opposed the opening of cemeteries to …

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Spinners and Losers: Sinn Fein cool the heat…

As ‘crematorium-[side]gate’ moves into its second week, and the legislature bit its gums into a non-legally binding motion, it appears as though the heat is shifting. The media are now fixating on two Belfast city council big hitters (BBC): The Belfast Telegraph is reporting the council’s chief executive Suzanne Wylie and director Nigel Grimshaw have lodged a formal grievance with a solicitor. They are said to have warned they may resign if “concerns are not resolved”. What I find remarkable …

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“This decision is directly, but not solely, related to the issues which arose around the Bobby Storey cremation.”

As BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said a few days ago, there is “No prospect of Stormont falling.”  That doesn’t mean there might not be casualties elsewhere… Having apologised in public for “operational decisions” around the Bobby Storey cremation at Roselawn Cemetery, the Belfast Telegraph reports that Belfast City Council Chief Executive, Suzanne Wylie, and director of city and neighbourhood services, Nigel Grimshaw, have lodged a formal grievance with the city solicitor, and have threatened to resign “if [their] …

Read more…“This decision is directly, but not solely, related to the issues which arose around the Bobby Storey cremation.”

Loyalism must succeed where Sinn Fein has failed…

Moore Holmes is a Loyalist from East Belfast. You can find him on Twitter I have a fond memory of my dad telling me how foolish he thought the phrase, “learn from your mistakes.” Each time it came up in a conversation, he’d half-chuckle and half-scoff, provocatively asking, “why not learn from someone else’s mistakes and save yourself the hassle?” Although my dad would be at pains to point out that I’ve sung “Fathers Advice” far more than I’ve ever …

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The obligatory post about the latest Stormont crisis…

ANOTHER crisis at Stormont? I suppose it’s another sign that we are getting back to normality. Plus ça change… I can’t think of anything to say on the issue that you have not heard a million times before, so I will leave it up to you to give your take in the comments. In other news, I see Paddy Raff has gotten himself a new show with the BBC, well done to him. The first post-lockdown pint didn’t go quite …

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Social Distancing Hasn’t Gone Away, You Know…

The Health Minister comes across as an extremely likeable fellow. Standing atop his podium, like an experienced but weary plumber, the civil and utterly decent Robin Swann is ever ready to plug any leaks in the flow of public compliance and adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. Despite having his feathers ruffled at the beginning of April, Swann took a dignified stance yesterday and opted not to weigh in with his own personal criticism of a certain someone’s attendance at a certain …

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