#AE17 draws to a close; what’s your punt for count day?

Tonight we have Slugger’s Big Election Punt (in partnership with MW Advocate) where our panel will have to make some key predictions about the upcoming election. In that spirit we thought we would ask you about what you think will happen tomorrow in terms of the parties. For what it’s worth here is my punt (Some variation as a few seats such as South Belfast & Upper Bann are just too close to call). DUP; 30-31 Sinn Fein; 23-24 UUP; … Read more

Candidates running in #ae17 Part 2

In my first installment I focused on the parties running across Northern Ireland, here are some of the other parties running in a few constituencies. People Before Profit (6 candidates) West Belfast- Gerry Carroll, Michael Collins North Belfast- Fiona Ferguson Foyle-Eamonn McCann South Belfast- Pádraigín Mervyn South Antrim- Ivanka Antova Workers Party (4 candidates) North Belfast-Gemma Weir South Belfast- Lily Kerr West Belfast- Conor Campbell Mid Ulster-Hugh Scullion Traditional Unionist Voice (13 candidates) North Antrim-Jim Allister, Timothy Gaston Lagan Valley-Sammy … Read more

SDLP Motion to Exclude Foster reaches 30 signatures

An SDLP motion to exclude Arlene Foster as First Minister for a period of 6 months has now reached 30 signatures and will be debated on Monday. The motion is backed by the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance Party, Green Party, People Before Profit and Traditional Unionist Voice. If all MLAs attend, that gives the motion 41 votes in favour, that is a majority over the 36 DUP MLAs.  The Speaker Robin Newton cannot vote and Bell is shaky at the moment. Some … Read more

TUV Conference lifts the DUP/Sinn Féin carpet to see what’s been swept underneath

The TUV’s election results in May were disappointing, but the party took great cheer from the EU Referendum result (and the recent US Presidential election result). Taking credit for long-time lobbying for the creation of an Opposition, Jim Allister encouraged the two opposition parties to make it sustainable and help lobby for a permanent change to voluntary rather than mandatory coalition.

Arlene’s triumph: time for others to reconsider their pitches and where that horse is

So the results are all in. The result: nothing has changed and a bit has changed. The fall in the nationalist / republican vote and levels of seats has been analysed and will bear further analysis. The changes or lack of them on the unionist side are, however, just as interesting. Ben Lowry and Sam McBride in the News Letter have their analyses and I would demur little from either of them. Arlene Foster and the DUP’s triumph is marked. … Read more

Slugger Verdict: Ranking the PEBs of #ae16

It is now an annual election tradition on Slugger that we get a panel together to rank the party election broadcasts of all the political parties. Our panel of broadcaster, Jim Fitzpatrick and MCE Public Relations Director, Chris Brown got together to rate each broadcast out of ten. And the winner is….. SDLP we thought was incredibly well put together, with great shots of the party leader and profiles of the candidates. There was also a consistent theme throughout and … Read more

Candidates from the parties in #ae16

A few people have gotten in touch with us to ask if it is possible to get a list of candidates running in this years Assembly election. In the spirit of being a public service, I thought I would compile a list of candidates running for each party in the Assembly. If I have missed anybody let me know and I will add them. NOTE- Constituencies left blank means that the party has just not nominated a candidate yet DUP … Read more

#Brexit Northern Ireland

The debate on EU membership in Northern Ireland has recently kicked off.  On Saturday Northern Ireland born Labour MP Kate Hoey laid out the Vote Leave & Labour Leave case from leaving the EU at the TUV conference at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick (UKIP`s Paul Nuttall addressed their conference in 2012 on the same issue). Irish Foreign Minister @CharlieFlanagan recently addressed Queens University Belfast on implications for Northern Ireland of Brexit.  Both Labours Kate Hoey MP & UKIP`s David McNarry … Read more

TUV lay out vision of “voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition as path to durable devolution” #TUV2015

DURABLE DEVOLUTION through voluntary coalition and vibrant opposition was the promise of the TUV’s leader Jim Allister at his party’s annual conference in Templepatrick. 300 delegates lapped up the sharp criticism of other parties and welcomed Henry Reilly to the fold. But is the party’s hard edge and tone of voice holding back their support at the ballot box?

Cllr Henry Reilly joins the TUV

Cllr Henry Reilly (formerly of UKIP) announced today that he was joining the TUV. Speaking about his decision to join Reilly said; In joining TUV I know I am doing the right thing, because this is the only unionist party still standing unapologetically for the traditional unionist principles in which I believe. It is also a party wholly committed to re-establishing the national sovereignty of the UK by taking the essential step of leaving the EU. Thus, it is my … Read more

DUP and Sinn Fein vote down Jim Allister’s SPAD bill

Jim Allister is back with a SPAD bill (not that one) this piece of legislation would have placed a cap on pay and the number of SPADs that can be employed. Northern Ireland currently spends over £2 million per year on SPADs which is double the cost of Scotland and three times that of Wales. A few months ago Jim Allister wrote for Slugger setting out his case for reform of the system. Alas it appears that business as usual … Read more

Allister on why we need further reform of SpAds at Stormont

The leader of the TUV, Jim Allister MLA is proposing a private members bills to reduce the number of SpAds at Stormont. Writing for Slugger, he sets out his case for reform of the current system After successfully piloted a Special Advisers Bill through the Assembly to remove convicts as SpAds, I have now drafted a further Bill to do three things – (i) reduce the number of SpAds, (ii) cut their salaries and (iii) ensure they are subject to … Read more

LGBT issues: Northern Ireland party views – UPDATED

(Updated to include responses from the Ulster Unionist Party and People Before Profit) Research conducted by Ruth McCarthy highlights some stark differences between the parties contesting this years Westminster elections in Northern Ireland on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. A series of questions were asked: 1a Does your party visibly support LGBTQ equality issues in your party manifesto, on your website and in election campaigning materials? If YES, please give examples. If NO, please state why. 1b Please give … Read more

TUV fail Ofcom’s ‘major party’ test for automatic PEBs; are PEBs actually useful or necessary?

Ofcom have ruled that there is not sufficient evidence to designate TUV as a ‘major party’ in Northern Ireland and hence Jim Allister’s party are not automatically eligible to two Party Election Broadcasts on UTV in the run up to May’s General Election. Back in January I blogged about the consultation which asked whether UKIP, Green Party and TUV should be rebadged as ‘major parties’. Today’s statement from Ofcom [in detail] comes to the common sense conclusion: After carefully accessing … Read more

Launching your election campaign with a bang.

Well we have just three months to go until Election Day. Candidates and parties will be launching their campaigns for the Westminster election and will be attempting to set the tone for the campaign to come. Yet, despite this being a golden opportunity for you to set out your stall amongst the party faithful many parties either don’t invest in these types of events or just do them badly. Being the public service that we are here on Slugger I … Read more

The trolling of Ann Travers

The first in a three part series exploring so-called ‘trolling’ and abuse on social media At the beginning of November 2014 it was widely reported that victims campaigner Ann Travers had closed down her Facebook and Twitter accounts following a barrage of online abuse. It’s worth reminding people of the fact that Ann’s sister, Mary, was murdered by the IRA in Belfast in 1984. The target of the ambush was their father, Tom, a resident magistrate. He survived. In 2011 … Read more

An expanded TUV seeking to shift up a gear at the weekend’s conference…

Richard Cairns is the vice chairman of TUV and an advisor to Jim Allister MLA. He is here to give us the low down on Saturday’s annual party conference:  As Saturday approaches colleagues and I have been putting the finishing touches on our annual Party Conference. It is safe to say that every party wishes to learn from and build on their previous year’s conference, and TUV is no different. A conference needs to have identifiable themes, a core message … Read more

Allister on Robinson, Paisley, TUV’s Future, Irish and Opposition

As the TUV annual conference approaches this weekend, I caught up with the party leader Jim Allister. We talked about his work on the Social Development Committee, the Irish language and his relationship with other parties in the Assembly. (Note I did this interview before Gregory Campbell’s conference speech) I began by asking him how he planned to expand his party and build on the gains they made at the 2014 election. Allister told me that the 2016 Assembly election … Read more

Men Only: Stormont ‘all party’ Pro Life group revealed

Social media was ablaze last night with the news of an ‘all party’ ALL MALE ‘Pro-Life’ group at Stormont. Chaired by the SDLP’s Pat Ramsey, the group also includes Jim Wells (DUP), Jonathan Craig (DUP), Alban Maginness (SDLP), Mervyn Storey (DUP), Jim Allister (TUV), Mark H Durkan (SDLP), David McIlveen (DUP), Kieran McCarthy (Alliance) and Danny Kennedy (UUP). Despite having no female representation the group give their main point of contact as Bernie Smyth, currently involved in a court case … Read more

Election results 2014: Unionism’s natural internal level

The dust is beginning to settle on the election. In actual fact the dust settled fairly quickly as there was not much created. On the nationalist / republican side there seemed remarkably little though I will leave discussion of that to those better qualified. On the unionist side there was slightly more but only slightly and if the results were compared say to the mainland GB elections one would say business as usual. Diane Dodds gained a small percentage at … Read more