Unionists should welcome Irish Language Act with open arms

As I read the latest contributions regarding the Irish language from UUP leader Robin Swann and its echo in the Newsletter’s Morning View, it seems to me that they have tied themselves in a knot about Acht na Gaeilge.   A Gordian knot is a phrase that occurs to me.  It seems impossible to loosen but is easily unravelled with the judicious use of logic and good sense. Unionists like Robin Swann, Jim Allister and the writer of the Belfast …

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The Ulster Unionists and the SDLP need to form a shadow Executive. Otherwise, they face oblivion

In the tradition of political comment for decades without a government, Alex Kane’s analysis of the state of opposition at Stormont  concentrates on political positioning rather than the politics of policy. He exaggerates somewhat  the achievements of the two- party Executive. Foster and McGuinness have played a blinder in terms of standing together on difficult issues (look at the bringing in of Claire Sugden to Justice, the joint letter to Theresa May, the DUP’s underplaying of the McKay-Bryson story, Sinn Fein …

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Nesbitt’s gamble: at last the Ulster Unionists (and the SDLP) will have to decide what they stand for or face oblivion in the next Assembly

Since the election and even before it, commentators have been  casting around  desperately for anything that suggests that the old muscle- bound duopoly is starting to crumble.  Even the DUP  “victory”  is being  hyped as a harbinger of change alongside the Sinn Fein “ defeat”.  Something, anything that  might mean fresh movement or greater stability.  So the zeitgeist has  moved  in the direction of a more  “normal “ democracy that an opposition  signifies, and yet an opposition  that  doesn’t  threaten …

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Time for Lord Laird to retire

Discretion and tact have never been John Laird’s close friends. Good judgment has been a positive stranger.  Some of his causes like Ulster Scots were accompanied by a fair amount of indulgence, as all the world knew.  John was not part of the temperance wing of Unionism. Reviewing his artlessly revealing autobiography I described him as Ulster Unionism’s jester, a word  less open to misunderstanding than clown or  fool.  I stand by that.  Jesters or clowns are exaggerated performers who …

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For the sake of the future, the Assembly needs reform

You could be forgiven for failing to notice that the Assembly’s  Assembly and Executive Review Committee has been holding a review on   “D’Hondt; Community Designation and Provisions for Opposition” over the past four months. As the committee is  due to report about now we’ve not got long to contain our excitement. The sweeping nature of the inquiry contrasts with its brevity and limited response (according to information on the website) and has been  held I suspect under Westminster pressure.  It therefore  augurs poorly for the …

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Blue Labour: Perhaps metropolitan liberal politics is not enough?

This is a ‘new’ school of thought in England, and is in some ways an interesting denial of New Labour’s recent neo Thatcherite past… On Conservative Home’s Left Watch blog, Matthew has written an interesting précis which breaks it down into ten primary features: It recognises that Labour developed a top-down style of governing, and stresses communitarianism, self-reliance and mutual societies. It is critical of the neo-liberal economic approach of both Labour and the Conservatives. Socially, it is, in many …

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