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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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After the election… The TUV…

I think it was David Brewster in the research for Slugger’s paper on the future of unionism in Northern Ireland who told us that what Unionists needed more than anything else was a win. It’s been a very long time coming, but if there is one clear victor in this election it was Unionism’s reversal of a long term drop in unionist turnout and possibly initiating the rolling back of a highly pervasive sense of defeatism. Jim Allister may have …

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Unelected EU Commissioner says 75% of our laws are made in Brussels

Further to my piece about the European Free Alliance (SNP / Plaid) claiming 70% of our daily lives are governed by rules from the EU a video on Vimeo has European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding claiming 75% of laws originate from the EU.   Elected MEPs cannot initiate legislation, propose legislation or even repeal legislation. All that is done by the unelected EU Commission. — Roger Da Costa (@rog_ukip) May 21, 2014   The choice is clear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAtAligq_Vc KilsallyIT Technical Manager …

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BBC Spotlight European Debate #SpotlightNI

So, tonight I wandered over to the BBC to watch the last European candidates’ debate. What became apparent within the first ten minutes is how much political coverage in Northern Ireland misses Noel Thompson-an effective chairman with a dry wit and real knowledge of the issues. On to the debate itself-the format was excellent with fewer candidates being given longer to debate. It was really was a night and day experience from UTV last night as Thompson was able to …

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Euro TV Debates: What each candidate needs to do #EP14

This evening and Tuesday night will be the last real opportunity for the European candidates to address voters and make their case for election to the European parliament. The debates are scheduled to take place on Monday 10:35pm, UTV with all ten candidates, followed by another on Tuesday evening on BBC One also at 10:35pm. I am not sure whether all the candidates have been invited to the Spotlight debate or whether it is just the five main parties. I …

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Slugger verdict: Ranking the Party Election Broadcasts

They have been commented upon for weeks and their impact is always in question. Yet, a good party political broadcast can capture attention and make people talk. So, in that spirit I thought I would assemble a panel of judges to help me go through all of the party election broadcasts and rank them in how effective they thought they were. The other judges were PR Consultant, Carl Devlin Whyte and the broadcaster, Jim Fitzpatrick. Each of us ranked the PEBs out …

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What makes a good local Councillor?

Over the coming weeks hundreds of people will be seeking a job with an interview panel of thousands asking questions about their ability to deal with local problems, create jobs and run local services. But, this year will be a little bit different as local councils take on a lot more powers. Speaking about the changes to local councils the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Derek McCallan, made the point that as a community we need …

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TUV European Selection Convention- Jim Allister is the candidate

So, I wandered over to the Park Ave Hotel in East Belfast tonight to see the TUV announce as their candidate for the European election. The party room meeting was comprised of around 170 people. The evening began with a speech by the party leader Jim Allister, followed by a Q&A were delegates got the chance to ask questions about the upcoming elections. I suppose the end result was never really in doubt but it was interesting to see how the …

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TUV, SDLP and UUP host victims commemoration at Stormont

Alan has a post on the Alternative Ms. Ulster event hosted by Steven Agnew at Stormont on Sunday complete with the inspiring / daring / indecent, speech/ behaviour by Ms. Park. In contrast yesterday the UUP, SDLP and TUV hosted the third annual day of remembrance for victims of terrorism. 120 people attended and three people spoke: Michelle Nixon who has been caring for her brother since he was seriously injured in 1979 by an IRA bomb in Rosslea; June …

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North-Southery? Build a wall or a bridge?

I remember reading through old government documents from the 60s being perplexed at seeing members of the Northern Ireland government referring to their southern counterparts as members of the ‘republican government’ who were on the other side of the ‘frontier’ (that’s the border to me and you). But what was more disturbing about that period were proposals like co-operation in tourism and trade which had benefits for Northern Ireland being turned down because of political concerns about the integrity of …

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Cartoon – The organ-grinder

In the 19th and 20th Century organ-grinders were often paid to keep silent, given the repetitious nature of the music. Not much chance of that in this instance. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Haass – Larkin unrepentant, Allister is on the attack, but where oh where is the DUP critique?

Now hold on, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.  Inevitably most early reaction to Haaas is about the overall political verdict without going  much into detail. And you know how we can’t be bothered  to go into detail if we can stick  it into them instead. But hush!  Jim Allister QC has spoken. People tend to overawed by Jim’s legal expertise. But lawyers are advocates – even when they’re not self -interested  politicians –  and so should be taken with …

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Jim Allister issues TUV’s Twenty-Two Theses critiquing the Haass/O’Sullivan draft agreement

Jim Allister has nailed the TUV’s 22 point analysis of the Haass/O’Sullivan draft agreement to the wall their website. In amongst the reiteration of TUV policy and ideology, Jim Allister does raise good points about: the exclusivity of political representation on the proposed quangos (restricted to parties remaining in the Executive); the difficulty some current politicians would have to commit to support every decision of the present Parades Commission; the potential for the replacement parading bodies and process to reduce …

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Update-Mr Allister-you don’t realise when you’ve got a good thing.

Dr Richard Haass was in Dublin this week briefing the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny about the progress he was making on talks here. Responding the TUV leader, Jim Allister questioned why the Irish government were even involved in these talks. He said How do people believe that discussions with a foreign government will help to ease Loyalist fears about their identity and sovereignty and why have the DUP and UUP agreed to such a process? I don’t actually dislike Jim Allister. …

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The Robinson Allister spat in the context of the Hass talks

Last week’s spat between Peter Robinson and Jim Allister has been analysed in some detail. One of the best contributions has been by Sam McBride pointing to how it demonstrates the difference that it makes allowing ministers to be questioned without knowing the questions in advance. Prior to that as McBride says: “For years, question time at Stormont has been a fairly turgid affair, with questions submitted weeks in advance so that civil servants could draft vast replies for ministers …

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NI Assembly Commissioner for Standards: “In these circumstances some might have concerns as to my impartiality to consider your complaint…”

I’m not entirely convinced by the reason given by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards, Douglas Bain, for his decision to recommend that the NI Assembly Committee on Standards and Privileges appoint an Acting Commissioner to consider the DUP and TUV complaints about Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly’s attendance and speech at the recent controversial Castlederg parade.  Here’s what the Commissioner told the TUV leader Jim Allister, MLA. Thank you for your letter of 12 August 2013 making a …

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