Theresa May’s speech: Is the UK planning to use Ireland as a hostage in negotiations with the 27?

To be honest I haven’t wanted to add to the wall to wall commentary on a Brexit deal, the outline of which is even now barely visible. Today, it became a little more clear. Mrs May wants access to the Single Market via a bespoke deal yet to be negotiated. Looks like a very big reset within the unifying frame of the UK state. She made references to a report she’s already had from the Scottish Government, and is expecting … Read more

US Consulate: “We anticipate that a US trade and investment delegation will visit Northern Ireland in the first half of 2017”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has, in effect, called ‘bullshit’ on Martin McGuinness‘ claim that a proposed US investment delegation to Northern Ireland has been postponed “directly as a result of the vote” in the UK-wide EU membership referendum. Unlike the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, echoed by his party colleague, Conor Murphy, the Secretary of State named the source of her information …Theresa Villiers said that the US Special Envoy Gary Hart had blamed the decision of … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we repeal the 1972 European Communities Act or whether we don’t.”

Andy’s valiant attempt at providing clarity on the role of the devolved institutions in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU doesn’t appear to have worked for some of our local representatives. The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, couldn’t have been clearer. “In the weeks and months ahead we will be working with both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on all these matters,” [Theresa Villiers] told BBC’s Sunday Politics show. “But ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we … Read more

Taoiseach on Border Poll: “There are much more serious issues to deal with in the immediate terms and that is where our focus is.”

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was, rightly, quick to dismiss Sinn Féin’s attempted distraction predictably opportunistic call for a border poll following the EU referendum result.  Here’s what she told Radio Ulster listeners “The Good Friday Agreement sets out the conditions under which I am required to call for a border poll – those are when I believe that there’s a reasonable likelihood that there would be a majority for a united Ireland,” [Theresa Villiers] said. “There’s nothing to … Read more

Is The Local Cynicism of ‘Question Time’ Fair?

On Thursday night David Dimbleby and the Question Time Carnival rolled into Titanic Belfast… and it seems the natives expected the worst and received it. To begin with, I’m a big fan of Question Time – I think it’s a great format to engage people nationwide in issues that many people are already talking about, and with the political machinery that exists within *most* parties, they give us, the voters, a good indication of party lines without having to go into … Read more

Does Theresa want ‘Out’?

Recently I noted on these pages that the impending EU in/out referendum was still shrouded in ‘unknowns’, both on what Brussels will offer David Cameron and what the political landscape will look like, both in Stormont, Westminster and beyond. Today some things may have gotten more interesting as David Cameron today Conservative Government ministers are to be allowed to campaign for either side in the referendum, likely to happen later this year. Given Theresa Villiers’ history of euroscepticism, both during … Read more

[Cartoon] #BackToTheExecutiveDay

October 21 2015 was ‘Back To The Future Day‘, the date in ‘Back To The Future II’ that Marty McFly travelled forward to in order to save his children. That date was also the day when Peter Robinson travelled back to Stormont to save the power sharing executive. A nice historical coincidence. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Cartoon – Don’t mention the…

Whitehall has a clear policy on China. It knows there are human rights abuses, you just don’t talk about them. With the sophistication of technology and leven of government surveillance it’s hard to say that the report into paramilitary groups revealed anything new, it just said what people knew.   Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

“Provisional IRA members believe the Provisional Army Council oversees both PIRA and Sinn Féin with an overarching strategy.”

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has published the  assessment of “the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary groups focusing on those which declared ceasefires in order to support and facilitate the political process”.  Theresa Villiers’ statement to Parliament is here. The letter to the Secretary of State [pdf file] from the independent reviewers confirming the completion of their assessment is also available. We are satisfied that: i) MI5 and PSNI have engaged fully with us, consistent with their duties and constraints: … Read more

“Still, there are words for the sort of reception meted out, and the most polite are ‘low’ and ‘key’.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… or, rather, as far away from the ranch as you can reasonably get…  For the benefit of those concerned about accountability and the democratic process…  Liam Clarke has some points to make about Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, and the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness’ recent, separate, trips to the US. In that situation, how much priority would you give when tapped on the arm and told that the Northern Ireland … Read more

Theresa Villiers is a semi-detached secretary of state. She needs to focus up, or go.

Mick’s post brings out the striking  ontrast between this debate in the Dail and how Westminster is currently dealing with Northern Ireland.  There is a powerful irony that Dublin is far more interested in our affairs than London, even though London as the paymasters has the overwhelming responsibility. In NI questions on the same day,Theresa Villiers limited herself to a fatalistic statement of the position  on deadlock. Although she has met the parties there have been no serious attempts at … Read more

Cartoon – Martin Varoufakis

Yesterday Theresa Villiers hosted the Stormont House Agreement Implementation Review meeting with the 5 Executive parties and Irish Government. Word has it Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness fired a verbal volley at Secretary of State. Very Varoufakis. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Now Westminster is settled, here’s all the other unsettling business NI politicians need to get back to

It’s back to work on Monday for our local politicians. There’ll be no commission on the union (though David Cameron should now outright reject the idea), no extra £1 billion of cash, and no immediate possibility of bargaining for the 45 ideas in the DUP’s plan. Though over the next parliamentary term there are sure to be plenty of tight votes in which The Northern Ireland Plan can come out of Nigel Dodds’ back pocket and be used as bargaining … Read more

Lord Carlile: “Peace is in no small way the result of these efforts by PSNI and MI5 personnel.”

On 20th March the Order in Council extending the operations of the UK National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland came into power – despite the challenge that presents to the Speaker of the NI Assembly – bringing us into line with the rest of the UK in the process. On the same date the NI Secretary of State of State, Theresa Villiers, made a written statement to the House of Commons on the report by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of national security … Read more

North Belfast Parading – could the DUP/UUP find a positive way out of their current rabbit hole?

As always in Northern Ireland, a row of dominoes have found themselves in a row and are now wobbling. 1. Getting a wide range of people to agree to be appointed to make a credible panel on North Belfast parading and related protests was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Secretary of State. Given the announcement in October with no names, and not a single name – not even a chair – being publicly mooted since them … Read more

7 NI political hot potatoes for early 2015

1. Expect Mitchel McLaughlin to be finally elected as Speaker of the NI Assembly. If the Welfare Reform Bill passes its Consideration Stage by the end of February (as the financial package requires), will the DUP withdraw their objection and allow Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin to be elected as Speaker? They’ll surely not wait until the Bill receives Royal Assent? Mitchel’s elevation will create a vacancy for a Deputy Speaker. Who will the DUP nominate from within their ranks? Realistically … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “It is in the interests of everyone affected… that a way forward is found towards a local resolution.”

As the BBC’s Mark Devenport reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has proposed that a panel of “experts” be appointed with the objective of mediating “an agreed accommodation between local people in respect of Loyal Order parades in the Twaddell and Ardoyne areas of north Belfast”. The official NIO statement includes the terms of reference, key principles, and the proposed structure of the panel and its timescale. Terms of reference In order to mediate an agreed accommodation between local … Read more

Theresa in the Wonderland of the Hallett review

The plainly rushed Hallett Review and the British government response to it raise as many questions as answers. They expose not a carefully planned discreet operation but a terribly improvised muddle in which the  left hand ( the  PSNI)  did not know the full de facto amnesty effect of what the right hand ( the NIO)  was doing, and with nobody really  holding onto  the wriggling baby. The longer term inquiry by the Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee may go on … Read more

#Villiers, re-hashing Larkin and victim typologies

If nothing else, Theresa Villiers statement on power-sharing contains some odd language (see the first quote Mick has cited here).  The nuances in “…there are inherent weaknesses in a system in which it is very difficult to remove one’s rulers by voting and to choose a viable alternative…” actually jar with the mother-and-apple-pie follow-up about about consistency with power-sharing and inclusivity.  A central tenet of democracy is that voting in elections removes ‘rulers’ and replaces them with whoever gets elected … Read more

Villiers: What Stormont needs is the revitalising influence of an opposition…

Another day in Northern Ireland, another Groundhog.. Theresa Villiers is make a speech today saying it is time to make progress on the past and on a future that could bring NI political life back to the cryogenically sealed democracy unit currently operating at Stormont.. “Political institutions the world over adapt and change. As the founding father of modern Conservatism… the Irishman Edmund Burke… once put it: ‘A State without the means of change is without means of preservation’. And … Read more