In learning from the past do honesty and comprehensiveness cancel each other out?

“There must be ghosts all over the country. They lie thick as grains of sand. And we’re all so horribly afraid of the light.”  – Henrik Ibsen (1881) So the past is a foreign place after all. Nowhere more-so than in Northern Ireland. The decision to ‘plant’ the G8 in Northern Ireland is testimony to the degree which things have calmed down in the twenty years since the ceasefires. Still, we remain a battleground of sorts. There’s a steady stream …

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Victims have been promised many things ever since the GFA, but…

Just came across this this evening towards the end of the week. It’s from Newsline, on Tuesday, I think… It’s only short, but just about here Alasdair McDonnell says something well worth noting at least… Victims have been for fifteen years promised truth, promised solutions, promised reconciliation, promised hope and are not getting closure. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a …

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On the matter of uncertainty and principle…

With all due apologies to students of quantum physics out there, Brian Feeney’s ‘poetic’ use of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in today’s Irish News (£) to explain the SDLP’s apparent confusion over the last fortnight is too good to resist: The principle suggests that the closer you get to establishing the position of a particle the harder it is to work out the speed of its movement [or rather its momentum – Ed]. Conversely the closer you get to working …

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#SpAdBill controversy proves cross community politics CAN work

listen to ‘Jude Collins and Malachi ODoherty discuss the passing of the SPAD bill at Stormont last night’ on Audioboo Via Jude Collins, a fascinating spat on Nolan this morning between himself and Malachi O’Doherty. For the most part the argument was over the framing of the SpAd Bill, with Malachi confessing his belief that it was an argument better not having. Effectively, Jude sees it as a double punishment for past… …the Allister-Alasdair bill has hurled us back into …

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SpAd debate: Winners, losers and the SDLP’s tough call on the matter of victims

First and foremost was the great (by Stormont standards) opening filibuster from former Slugger Award winner Daithi McKay. He demonstrates the value of investing young parliamentary talent. A classic Boycott opener which gave his party a respectable base from which to bat. This was one of the few free ranging debates in the Assembly in six whole years of sittings. When bills travel through the House at any stage, there is no limit on contributions from Members. It was spattered …

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Alasdair McDonnell quizzed on his party’s position on the #SpAdBill

I don’t have anything particular to note about this interview other than, it’s been a very long time since the SDLP leader gave an interview to anyone. And it shows. There’s not a lot he can do about the bull in the china shop thing, but just by doing it and getting something of a pro victims party line out he may have helped to steady some nerves both inside and outside the chamber today. Jude Collins thinks (and he …

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SDLP’s problem: “depends too much on the force of changing winds rather than any chartered course.”

Excellent piece from Tom Kelly in the Irish News today… It’s worth reading in full, but roughly he’s hopeful the China trip will re-emphasise to the First and deputy First Ministers that economic development is not aided by domestic rows over flags and parades… But then, turning to the Spad Bill affair, he notes: The SDLP’s U Turn on the recent Spad Bill has certainly not enamoured the party to Sinn Fein, but the fact is that the SDLP has …

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#SpAdBill, the #GFA and the long shadow of the Boundary Commission

I have been intending to post on the SpAdBill for a while but nothing has encapsulated the shrill histrionics of any public debate involving unionism since, well, the fading #flegs crisis or whatever the issue was just before that. And don’t get me wrong, there is no doubting the sincerity of Ann Travers or others who feel they have a grievance that needs to be addressed, regardless of who is responsible for their pain or loss. It is that last …

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Sinn Fein possess the resources to sidestep any negative employment effect of #SpadBill…

So, just a quick tidy up on the outstanding issues around the SpAdBill, namely employment rights. Daithi McKay, who has played point on this issue over the last year or two has suggested that: “Members of staff could potentially lose their jobs, and that is not what we should be legislating for in the chamber, in the Assembly. We should be legislating for jobs, not taking away jobs.” As it happens, the narrow terms of the bill will only have …

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SDLP “A party not sure of where it is going or who it wants to take with it…”

When ‘talking’ by email last night, a friend who is far from unsympathetic to the SDLP remarked “you know you’ve a problem in politics and life when its your own efforts that afflict you most!” Alasdair McDonnell has just had a fortnight from hell, and for the most part the hell his party has just gone through was entirely of its own making. In short, someone on McDonnell’s front bench was trying to be just a little too clever with …

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SDLP: “Absolutely none of our MLAs will be putting their name to a petition of concern.”

There seems to have been a hardening the party line/whip in the last 24 hours. But even though Steven Agnew of the Greens has ruled out his support Sinn Fein have not given up hope of getting a backing for a petition of concern (they only need one more MLA to kill it)… The Green Party’s Steven Agnew MLA said Sinn Fein approached him about it. He opposes the bill too, but also does not approve of using petitions of …

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In praise of… Jim Allister

“..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932) The controversy over Jim Allister’s SpAd Bill has thrown a different light upon a settlement that has brought us all certain indisputable benefits. Ironically, the post GFA institutions have had one of their first real fillips from the only resolutely …

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#SpAdBill: Positive discrimination favouring the victim over the perpetrator

Ian Paisley last week opened his position on gay marriage on BBC Question Time by saying some would argue he was on the wrong side of history. In yesterday’s BelTel Maire Braniff and Cillian McGrattan made an important argument in favour of the SpAd Bill: The practice of lustration (the exclusion from public office of those associated with former abuses) has been widespread across many divided, post-conflict and post-authoritarian countries. The bill tackles the issue of political patronage and states …

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