Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

Yesterday’s Irish News

Colm Dore writes:

A perspective on the politics of AnaG in the north which might interest a southern audience

Troid!

Cadogan Enright?

Newton Emerson: There is a way to address concerns over Irish language jobs discrimination (Newton Emerson, Irish news, behind paywall)

Ah here.

Hopeless Surfer tweetz

Just about to cross the border into Northern Ireland and I can tell you that their hi-tech frictionless border trial actually works!

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derek

Sinn Fein’s party leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill celebrates last Friday  with party members Francie Molloy, left, and Ian Milne, right, after topping the poll in Mid Ulster; Derek Mooney

Northern politics needs to change.

Unionism is now the political force in crisis.

Derek Mooney writes:

Some thoughts on the quite amazing results in last Thursday’s NI Assembly election.

1. Brexit a huge motivating factor. It drove up turnout, esp among nationalists who didn’t vote at the May 2016 Assembly election, but who did vote remain at the Brexit Referendum.

2. Many of this new voting cohort voted SF, not because of any support for Michelle O’Neill or Gerry Adams, but because they saw voting SF as the best way of asserting their anti Brexit and anti Arlene Foster position. While the SDLP may closer mirror their actual anti Brexit position, it simply was neither strong nor viable enough an option to make their protest register.

3. This election was different in that the tradition (up to now) was for NI elections to be conducted in three individual silos:

Silo One – the biggest of the three silos is the unionist one with the DUP and UUP playing a zero sum game – when the UUP loses the DUP gains. This time both lost – with disgruntled DUP supporters staying at home, unhappy at Arlene’s financial irresponsibility on RHI, Nama, RedSky etc.

Some UUP voters felt unsure what Mike Nesbitt’s UUP stood for – some defected to the more secure DUP or went to the more clearly moderate Alliance. This decline in both unionist parties put seats in play that have not been up for grabs in years and the SDLP took at least two of them – on UUP transfers at that!

The instinctive Unionist response to this will be to regroup and perhaps even attempt to coalesce. Perhaps this will happen via a formal DUP/UUP merger or alliance – or perhaps the larger DUP will simply and slowly cannibalise its weaker rival.

This task could be made easier if the more moderate wing of the DUP (which now bizarrely seems to include Ian Paisley Jr) ends up in the ascendancy.

Silo Two
– the nationalist/republican one. Again, another zero sum game with SF picking up most (though not all) SDLP losses in the past. Last May the Nationalist silo reduced by a whopping 5% to drop to its lowest level. SF dropped just over 3% and the SDLP lost just under 2%. Some of the SF loss last May went to the PBP – SF took a chunk of that back this time around.

It also motivated voters in a way it had not in many years.

The SDLP had what on the surface looks like a reasonable day. It lost two seats – both to SF, via Richie McPhilips in Fermanagh and Sth Tyrone and Alex Attwood in Belfast West. These are two seats that an even moderately successful party should be losing.

The SDLP has the youngest, brightest and most politically astute leader it has ever had, but he cannot reverse decades of decline and directionlessness by himself.

The centrality of Brexit to the result and to the political future means any nationalist party needs to have a major all island focus and dimension. SF can claim this – though more in appearance than fact – the SDLP as it is currently configured does not. It needs to develop or transition into gaining it or it will continue to falter and gradually decline.

The SDLP won three seats on transfers. One was John Dallat who held on against the odds in East Derry, while the other two were new-ish seats: Dolores Kelly in Upper Bann – who won back the seat she narrowly lost last May and the really big winner on the day – Pat Catney in Lagan Valley who took a seat that no pundit saw as winnable and did it with a solid ground campaign of hard work and canvassing.

His campaign was the closest thing I have seen in NI to an old school Fianna Fáil election campaign. That said these three SDLP seats are vulnerable to either Unionist resurgence or to SF aggression.

Silo Three is the non aligned – the Alliance, Greens etc. They had a reasonable day, particularly Alliance. It did not have a great campaign, but it does have a charismatic and smart new leader in Naomi Long. She was forceful and commanding in her media appearances and could drive up Alliance gains in the future at the expense of a wounded and haemorrhaging UUP.

And finally:

4. Politics in Northern Ireland have not yet broken the mound – but the ground work for such a change has been laid and it has been laid by the voters not the politicians. They did this first at the Brexit referendum when they rejected the campaign to leave the EU and they repeated it again last Thursday.

Northern politics needs to change. Unionism is now the political force in crisis. Arlene Foster’s stubborn adherence to Brexit in the face of its popular rejection has undermined her own position and thrown Unionism into turmoil.

While she can comfort herself that most DUP voters were pro-brexit she cannot blithely ignore the concerns of 56% of the voters, if she wants to be taken seriously as a First Minister of all of Northern Ireland.

Her response to Brexit, her hands off approach to governance and her dismissive attitude to nationalism and republicanism over recent months has resulted in reawakening nationalism and republicanism – particularly in the middle classes – and making it more politically aware and motivated than it has been in decades.

This is something that was signposted last September, when Colum Eastwood said in a speech to the British/Irish Association:

“Northern nationalists are once more a restless people. The constitutional accommodation which we voted for by referendum in 1998 has been violated, not by a vote of the people of Northern Ireland, but rather by a vote of others in the UK 18 years later.

The blanket of that constitutional comfort has been abruptly removed. In particular, undermining our connection with the South achieved via common EU membership is not something which can be tolerated.

They (Brexiteers) told a story of decisions being dictated by far away people and politicians with no connection or rightful authority to the places over which they prescribed their power. They summed it up in a clever and cutting soundbite – Take back control.

To all those Brexiteers now at the heart of the British Government, Irish nationalism says this– we know how you feel. No one should therefore be surprised if in the wake of Brexit ‘Taking Back Control’ is precisely what we in the North now intend to do.”

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here usually every Monday. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Pic: Peter Morrison/Associated Press

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From top: the count centre in Ballymena this morning; Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill

With reports indicating turnout in yesterday’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections “may exceed 60%”- the highest in 10 years…

…the proportion of registered voters casting their ballots was even higher in the Mid Ulster stronghold of Michelle O’Neill, the new Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland, with 80% of the electorate going to polling stations.

The key electoral battle will be between Foster and O’Neill. The DUP won 38 seats in the Stormont parliament last year and was therefore able to elect Foster as first minister.

The main unionist party is expected to lose seats in an assembly cut from 108 members overall last May to 90 this time round. If Sinn Féin emerge as the largest political party, O’Neill could become the new first minister….

FIGHT!

Northern Ireland assembly poll turnout ‘highest in a decade’ (Henry McDonald, Guardian)

Pics: RTÉ, Rollingnews.

thestream

As voters in Northern Ireland ‘take to’ the poills…

Zhou Hang writes:

I am journalist with The Stream, a social media-based show [presented by Femi Oke, top) on Al Jazeera English. Yesterday, our show looked at the border concerns in Northern Ireland. Based on your previous posts, I think your readers may be interested in watching it…

FIGHT!

Northern Ireland on the cusp of change (Al Jazeera)

‘Voting steady’ in NI Assembly election (BBC)

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Tomás Russel writes:

The north in a nutshell. No more false equivalence from our southern family who should know better, please.

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Earlier today.

At the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Northern Down Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon (top) asks Michael Lux (above), an EU customs and international trade lawyer, about Northern Ireland’s future land border with the Republic of Ireland post Brexit.

During her questioning, Ms Hermon recalled the UK prime minister Theresa May’s visit to Dublin on Monday and her stating that both the UK and Irish governments want a “seamless, frictionless border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

She also asked Mr Lux if he had ever visited the south Armagh border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. He hadn’t.

Further to this…

Syliva Hermon: “I just understood, from your earlier evidence that you, in fact, referred to ‘officials at the Border, officials at the Border’. The difficulty is: we don’t have officials at the Border. And according to the prime minister [Theresa May], we are not going back to the borders of the past.”

Michael Lux: “Yes, but Ireland has to do so. What you do on your side, okay, that’s up to you. If you feel that you don’t need to control the goods which are entering Northern Ireland and have to recover VAT and customs duties and excise duties, you are, of course, free not to do that. But Ireland is obliged to do this.”

Hermon: “So, how could, how could the prime minister achieve a seamless, frictionless border? Is it achievable?”

Lux: “Well, it depends how you define the term seamless. If you define the term ‘seamless’, that there are no border controls, the answer is no. At least for the side of Ireland because Ireland is obliged to apply the [European] Union law.”

Hermon: “I think what I’m also asking is the fact are, will the UK be required to have checkpoints and checks on goods, commercial goods, people?”

Later

Lux:If Northern Ireland remains in the customs union, then all these issues don’t arise. If Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU customs union, then this is an official customs border of the EU and then Ireland is obliged to apply all these rules.”

Gulp.

Watch back in full here

Thanks Brian Sammon

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Kincora Boys’ Home, Belfast

A series of children’s homes run by church and charity in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents, the chair of the region’s historic abuse inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, has said.

In one case a sex offender was found to have been moved from one home to another school. He said in one instance there was “systemic abuse, humiliation and sexual abuse“.

At the notorious Kincora boys’ home, where there were numerous allegation made of abuse, Sir Anthony said if an adequate RUC investigation had been carried out “those sexually abused after 1976 would have been spared their experience.”

The inquiry investigated persistent claims that intelligence agencies covered up the crimes committed by a paedophile ring in the home in the 1970s in order to blackmail some alleged high-profile abusers from within the British Establishment.

HIA sex abuse inquiry: Proper RUC Kincora investigation would have spared victims from abuse (Belfast Telegraph)

A “bleak, harsh and cruel” atmosphere was described by alleged victims at two properties in Belfast run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

Children were shipped off to Australia as migrants like “baby convicts”, witnesses said, and their names were changed once they arrived.

There were tales of violence perpetrated by members of religious orders.

But some of the gravest allegations involved sex attacks.

Police said sex abuse at Rubane Boy’s home in Co Down was rife.

And the inquiry heard that notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth told a doctor he had sexually abused hundreds of children.

HIA inquiry evidence heard children treated like ‘baby convicts’ (Belfast Telegraph)

Previously: A Boys’ Home Story

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SPLUTTER!

Cool Hand Lucan writes:

Outside El Court Ingles in Madrid [Spain]. They appear to have already taken the St Patrick’s Cross out of the Union Jack before a Northern Ireland border poll is commissioned. A sign of things to come?

 

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This morning.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived by helicopter at the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim where they were met by Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster (third pic).

‘I’m still alive’: Queen jokes on Northern Ireland visit – video (The Guardian)

Pics: Rebecca Black and The Royal Family