A Year Without Government Series: Part III of III

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This article makes up the third part of a series that takes a satirical look back on the last year and a bit of Northern Irish Politics. The following was written entirely tongue in cheek and none of it should be taken very seriously. Find Parts I and II here:  A Year Without Government Series: Part I of III A Year Without Government Series: Part II Talk About Talks About Talks Election over, democracy enacted, job done, time to get … Read more

1991: Negotiating a Strand 2 talks venue + complaints that Paisley was locked out of his toilet #20YearRule

One single buff-coloured file, three or four inches thick, contains the stapled minutes of NIO meetings with political parties in May 1991 as they negotiated about the strand one, two and three talks. While perhaps the single most frustrating file I’ve flicked through in PRONI over the last couple of years, the level of detail in the civil service minutes of meetings is incredible, and the retention of humorous asides provides a lot of colour about the characters involved and their relationships.

Michelle O’Neill proposes a resumption of talks

Michelle O’Neill has proposed the formal resumption of talks to begin on 28th August; “With limited engagement since the talks concluded on 4th July, I am keen to formally re-engage at the earliest opportunity in order to re-establish an Executive and power sharing institutions on a proper and sustainable footing. “Moreover, I do not believe there is much public appetite, or need, for another drawn-out phase of talks. “In this context, and with an eagerness to resolve outstanding issues, I … Read more

Revealing interview with Gerry Adams on Stormont talks (includes that ‘complete tube’ comment)…

This is well worth paying attention to. It’s Gerry Adams getting a grilling from an exceptionally well informed Cormac O’hEadhra of RTE on Northern Irish matters (here), the Stormont collapse and the lack of a senior voice for Irish nationalism in Stormont. misrepresents the RHI losses from, at the very worst, a projected £500m over 20 years to £5billion (!!!!) “down the drain”. Given RHI is cited as the reason for SF collapsing the Executive, shouldn’t the President know the … Read more

New history talk series starts Thursday the 3rd November at the Duncairn Arts Centre…

On Thursday 3rd November a new talk series begins on the Antrim Road at the Duncairn arts venue, otherwise known as the 174 Trust. The series is called ‘Towards a divided island’ and it is focused on a close look at the next part of the decade of political centenaries, which is in fact the most difficult part to handle. Arguably the years leading up to 1923 saw polarisation, partition and daily violence of a kind not witnessed in Ireland … Read more

Belfast Festival preview – Casement, Cooper and Chekhov (11-29 October) #BelFest

QUICK PREVIEW of the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival which runs from 11-29 October. The life and legacy of Roger Casement is examined, along with 100 years of women’s emancipation, the refugee crisis (with a lecture by MP Yvette Cooper on how the UK should do more), Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, a new adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters by Lucy Caldwell, a play about RUC and Garda officers patrolling the border and three concerts by the flamboyant Taylor Mac.

A Deal Today?

This in from the BBC Political Editor, Mark Devenport hints that we may have a deal but not as comprehensive as some might like; Expectation that politicians may press ahead without resolving legacy issues and welfare cld be dealt with Westminster leg consent motion — Mark Devenport (@markdevenport) November 17, 2015 The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood had this to say about a possible deal today The SDLP has a high standard for any outcome in this process. After so much … Read more

Martin McGuinness: “…it is not conducive to getting a good outcome.”

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness doesn’t appear to have had much to say today about the behind-closed-doors talks at Stormont – apart from telling the BBC’s Chris Page The timeframe for a deal in Stormont’s inter-party talks is “days, not weeks”, the deputy first minister has said. Martin McGuinness said he believed a deal was “achievable” and that the talks process was “intensifying”. Still, it’s good to see Sinn Féin on the same page as the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at … Read more

Cartoon – The many uses of a clothes-peg

In a tumult of controversies (in-out resignations, ministerial pay, talks and welfare reform) Edwin Poots has pushed the hard politics to the rear and brought the vintage ad hominem politics out of the cabinet and to the foreground. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Stormont House Agreement (in full) #StormontTalks

The NIO have published the text of the Stormont House Agreement, along with the financial annex. (I’ve also summarised the key bodies, dates and funds down to 750 words [and then just 350 words] in a separate post.) STORMONT HOUSE AGREEMENT Finance and Welfare 
The participants agree: 1. Early measures are needed to address the longer term structural financial difficulties in the Northern Ireland budget. 2. In particular there is a need for measures to improve the efficiency of the … Read more

Stormont Talks: A Step in the Right Direction?

The Executive Parties have agreed a deal on welfare reform and have sent a paper to the NIO outlining an agreement. Earlier Martin McGuinness tweeted that there had been “a step change” in the atmosphere at the talks. Progress at the talks had seemed unlikely and there were suggestions that they could have drawn to a close today in the absence of signs of an agreement.

Read moreStormont Talks: A Step in the Right Direction?

Cartoon – Spencer on Tuesday

George Osborne set corporation tax on the condition that talks be resolved and fiscal responsibility be shown. A ‘Peace Fund’ sweetener is on the table too. Sinn Fein has counter-conditioned with a “shopping list” of demands. Here’s this weeks cartoon offering in response to events. Thanks to the Firemen for photoshop work. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

The reality of welfare reform: “it’s a horror show”

  At the NICVA offices along the Duncairn Gardens on Wednesday, an important conference was held to open up debate about the future of welfare reform in Northern Ireland. It was one of those crisp autumn days which one likes to think of as typical of the atmosphere of cool, reasoned thinking. After heated debate over welfare reform and the budget throughout the summer, which seemed to rock the foundations of our devolved political institutions, the conference, titled, “Welfare Reform: … Read more

More political therapy sessions for the ‘folks on the hill’ ahead…

One of the stand out quotes in tonight’s BBC documentary is that conceit from Jonathan Powell to the effect that… The thing about extremes is that it is very difficult to be extreme when you are worrying about water rates than when you are waving a gun. And yet, sixteen years on from the Belfast Agreement, you might hardly know we even had a government. From an Agriculture Minister who reputedly has difficulty telling a charolais from a friesian, to a … Read more

Cartoon – away from Home, Alone 2

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/