Why the Good Friday Agreement has a future

The Good Friday Agreement has come in for a bit of criticism over the past few days following the failure to reestablish a new Executive. It’s natural, when you are at an impasse to want to review and perhaps chart a new course. However, whilst I share a frustration with the current political situation, I don’t share this idea that we need to abandon the Good Friday Agreement as if it has failed us badly as a society. Writing in … Read more

The draft agreement revealed: So far but yet so near

The cats have been let out of the bag thanks to the sources of Eamonn Mallie and Barney Rowan, (Sinn Fein?). From documents of “a dozen pages or so plus annexes and separate agreements,” we pick up the story below from a week ago last Friday. The secretary of state will no doubt be questioned on the details in a statement on the talks failure  when the Commons resumes tomorrow.  The Sinn Fein leadership will meet Theresa May on Wednesday … Read more

As the 20th anniversary approaches, the contrast is glaring between the commitment and success of the Good Friday Agreement and the neglect and failures of today

Bill and Hillary Clinton may register a no-show at a conference called to commemorate  the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement on 10 April, the Sunday Times reports. Organised by the impressively branded Senator George J Mitchell Institute For Global Peace, Security And Justice at Queens University, the conference line up includes every surviving key figure from the 1998 peace settlement except the incapacitated John Hume.  If Bill and Hillary scratch, Tony Blair may follow suit. And then … Read more

London and Dublin must clear their lines for close cooperation on direct rule

Clarity rather than coyness is now needed over moves toward direct rule. Working on its  scope and duration is one more compelling reason for London and Dublin  to stick together.  On Monday at the otherwise disastrous Stormont meeting, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar pledged “to work together on a new plan on how to achieve a frictionless Irish border.” Good luck to them with that. On the continuing local stand-off, two elements are essential. Enough action must be taken to … Read more

The fallout continues………

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Today’s developments, starting off with Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald (I have highlighted key bits); The DUP leader brought this phase of negotiations to a close and said “there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed”. “It is up to Arlene Foster to explain this given that the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships had achieved an accommodation across the issues involved. “In fact we had a draft agreement by the end of last … Read more

For a political deal ever to emerge, mutual ignorance needs to faced and mutual respect observed

Mick has rightly just pointed out how tantalising easy the language issue could be to solve, were it not for the politics that expresses a far deeper  mutual ignorance ( in both senses) than is often recognised and which 20 years of supposed power sharing has failed to reduce.  Politically there must be limits to the management of the voluntary apartheid state we appear to be creating before cohesion collapses altogether.  That moment may not be as far off as … Read more

Now we see who’s ‘red (white and blue) lines’ are holding up the show!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that unionist political parties and politicians have set their opposition to an Irish Language Act and, by extension, any form of an Irish identity within ‘British’ NI as a priority ‘red line’ ahead of returning to powersharing or, even, at the most fundamental level aspiring to an equal Union between NI and the rest of the UK. The rhetoric today from Arlene Foster in which she set out what she would not countenance in response to … Read more

Getting a functioning, lasting Executive should be the focus of the debate

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We seem to be getting close to a final deal which will likely see the reformation of the Executive after 400 days without devolved government in Northern Ireland. This is not the first time a collapse has happened, since the implementation of power-sharing in 1974 we have seen more than 4 collapses of an administration for one reason or another. The key question is now trying to make it stick. Any new Executive is going to face major challenges with … Read more

Sceptical, not cynical about “the long drawn out attempt to breathe life back into the Stormont arrangement”

Whilst on Saturday Brian highlighted the question of “the prospect of Sinn Fein’s return to Stormont as Mr Adams’ parting gift”, today Ed Moloney posits another, equally plausible scenario… You know, a cynic might suspect that the whole thing, at least the long drawn out attempt to breathe life back into the Stormont arrangement, was staged or timed so that the breakthrough would happen just when Sinn Fein want to present a new, Adams-free image to the electorate down South, one … Read more

Progress made on forming new Executive but no deal

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In from the Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald “Today Michelle O’Neill, our party chair Declan Kearney and I had the opportunity to meet with both An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and with British Prime Minister Theresa May and we gave them our assessment of the talks so far. “We believe an agreement is possible, an agreement is desirable. “Sinn Féin want the institutions back up and running and we have said very clearly that at this juncture what is required … Read more

A new dawn for Sinn Féin?

The appointment of Mary Lou McDonald marks a new dawn for Sinn Féin. The baton passed on to a new generation. She received as smooth a transition as one can get in politics from her predecessor Gerry Adams. However there were never really any clear competitors to Sinn Féin’s strongest performer in the Dáil who also has a common touch that is a necessary requisite of any highly successful politician. McDonald topped the poll in the Dublin Central constituency in the … Read more

Mary Lou McDonald looks forward to working with the DUP and promises no return to the status quo at Stormont

Sinn Féin’s new party president, Uachtarán Shinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald paid tribute to her friend and mentor Gerry Adams and spoke of a desire to double the size of the party while changing how it operates. She also spoke about looking forward to working with the DUP and promised that there would be no return to the status quo at Stormont.

Michelle O’Neill predicts talks will conclude next week and calls for party cohesion

In her acceptance speech as the incoming vice president of Sinn Féin – Leas Uachtarán Shinn Féin – Michelle O’Neill anticipated that the “[Stprmont] talks will conclude next week” and “the issues which caused the collapse of Stormont can be resolved with political will and mutual respect”. Later she called for “cohesion” in the expanding party.

Could the DUP handle the return to Stormont as Gerry Adams’ parting gift?

The  papers are at one in running  the story that a Stormont deal may be imminent next week. But  “with more work to be done” the emphasis ranges from glass half full to glass half empty. The Irish News headlines “ speculation quelled as differences remain ” while  Suzanne Breen now bylined as the paper’s  political editor, sticks her neck out  with the quote from “sources” that, “we may not have an agreement within hours but we are potentially on the … Read more

“I first went to the party in Feb 2014 over this bullying and have consistently done so to try and get it stopped.”

So, as we know, there’s been a steady stream of southern SF councillors leaving the party. The latest to go is North Dublin Cllr Noeleen Reilly, this is the one most likely to do serious damage, who announced her exit of. We knew something was wrong when the local SF TD, Dessie Ellis, publicly threatened to sue the Ballymun Tidy Towns Committee over what he alleged at the time was… …a completely false allegation was made against him at the meeting … Read more

Don’t you know who I am?

As the BBC reports Sinn Féin has confirmed that one of their MLA’s has removed a clamp from the front wheel of his car, using what appears to be bolt cutters, in Belfast. In a statement, a spokesperson for the party confirmed that Gerry Kelly removed the clamp at about 07:20 GMT on Friday outside a gym. A recording of the incident has been posted on social media. The Belfast Telegraph report notes The footage was captured in the Exchange … Read more

Irish general election forecast – Fine Gael set to recover many of their 2016 losses

Fine Gael retained their status as largest party following the Irish general election of 2016, but were unable to put together a coalition after a collapse in support for their coalition partners, Labour, and an increase in the number of independent and Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil. Since then, they have required a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the second largest party, Fianna Fáil. The deal is due to be reviewed later this year, and many commentators are expecting that there … Read more

“In Kenova’s sights are also those IRA leaders on the Provisional Army Council who sanctioned the “executions” for spying…”

The BBC reports that Freddie Scappaticci has been arrested in England by the Operation Kenova team and is being questioned “in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture”. [Scappaticci is pictured above – bottom left with dark moustache at funeral of Provisional IRA member Larry Marley] The investigation team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested. The BBC understands the man being questioned is Fred Scappaticci and that he was arrested in England. The investigation … Read more

Michelle O’Neill to become Vice President of Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein’s Northern Leader, Michelle O’Neill is set to become the Vice President of the party under Mary Lou McDonald as President. The new team will take over on February 10th at the special Ard Fheis in Dublin. Her remarks below; “I am honoured to be nominated as the new Leas Uachtarán of Sinn Féin. I look forward after the Special Ard Fheis to work with our new party President Mary Lou McDonald and wider national leadership team. “We are … Read more

Arlene Foster may be called to court to defend blocking the funding of legacy inquests – a key issue between the DUP and Sinn Fein

With exquisite timing for the renewed political talks, a case of judicial review  in the High Court has resumed which alleges that “former First Minister Arlene Foster unlawfully blocked Executive discussion of a funding plan aimed at clearing a backlog of legacy inquests for purely political reasons.” The charge has lain at her door for almost two years and she may yet be called to court to defend it.   In an earlier session the judge dismissed Mrs Foster’s bid to … Read more