The voice of sanity over the Protocol is drowned in Tory leadership Brexit frenzy

  Although by instinct I prefer to hunt for the substance behind political attitudes however perverse they seem, I’m reduced to calling the latest on the Protocol –   bonkers, plain and not so simple. The Tory leadership fight has tipped it into the surreal. First in a dash to complete his legacy, Johnson rushed to complete the Protocol Bill’s early Commons stages on the last full day on Thursday. Then it’s over to Lords in September and a new government. …

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Slugger TV looks at the political year ahead

Slugger TV 01/07/22 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. This months guest as Alan Meban and Allison Morris David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

There are great dangers in Northern Ireland’s entanglement in the Tory Brexit mess. They must extricate themselves fast

From his analysis of the Protocol bill, I want to pull out Rafael Behr’s comments on how little Northern Ireland registers  in the wider media as itself, on merit . You can almost hear the groans from TV viewers,” Not Northern Ireland again”  in a situation even more incomprehensible to them than  the Troubles It isn’t every day that former prime ministers set old party enmities aside to deliver a unified message on a matter of national urgency. When John …

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Johnson sends an ultimatum to the DUP : return to the Assembly or we won’t proceed with the Protocol bill. Is the threat credible?

Political gaming  has intensified as the Times and the FT report that the UK government will not proceed with the Protocol Bill unless the DUP promises to return to the Assembly. As the bill will at best take a year to pass Parliament are the DUP being invited to buy a pig in a poke? Can this ultimatum over ride the DUP’s demands for “action not words?.  Is the briefing to the papers credible anyway except as short term pressure …

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How wise is it to play Protocol poker with a weak hand everybody can see?

What do you suppose Boris Johnson is up to with his on the face of it, kamikaze tactics over the Protocol Bill?  By pursuing the most aggressive line he seems determined to court a confrontation with the EU.  Can he be serious, even as a survival strategy? As Peston points out, where Johnson is on shaky ground is that within the Protocol there is explicit provision to suspend it, where there are ‘societal difficulties… liable to persist’ via its Article …

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Update: Tory civil war breaks out over the Protocol as reports say Johnson is backing an even harder line defying the EU

Larne Harbour 

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Slugger TV looks at the main parties after #AE22

Slugger TV is five years old! This month Anna Mercer from Stratagem and Chris Donnelly look at the state of the parties following the Assembly Election. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

The UK government must do better than this wretched legacy bill. But an amnesty is still inevitable

Last week the Bishop of Derry dedicated a garden to the memory of a 15 year old Derry boy Manus Deery, shot dead by the British Army in the Bogside on the 50th anniversary of his death. As the Derry Now website reported: Manus had just started working after leaving St Joseph’s Secondary School and was eating a bag of chips and carrying a comic in his back pocket which he had bought with his first wage packet… At the …

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It’s still worth taking a punt on Boris. This time it’s in his own interest to compromise with the EU

In my last post, I was a lonely outlier when I argued that we had nothing to lose by giving Boris Johnson a chance to see what he can deliver.  I did so in full knowledge of his record and reputation.  I am unrepentant. At least equally irritating as Boris is the solipsism that assumes Northern Ireland is centre of world attention and reduces outsiders like the prime minister to bit players  in what Churchill called “the fearful integrity” of …

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Day light robbery of our democracy: the trap of the Anti-Protocol rhetoric…

Stairs going down.

Has there ever been a more ironically named political party across the UK and Ireland than the Democratic Unionist Party? The party, enabled by our broken political infrastructure, has graduated from padlocking swings in Ballymena on Sundays to effectively padlocking the doors to our democracy. It is currently holding the existence of democracy in Northern Ireland hostage, at the behest of an issue which they themselves have no idea what the issue being resolved looks like. Not only that: its …

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Choyaa: Unionism continues to decline and decay…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

On February 28th, 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was dominating the news and any segments left on the schedules were being devoted to the cost-of-living crisis that was gripping the world. At this time in Northern Ireland, the main item on Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show was a 60 minutes interview with UUP leader Doug Beattie about a failed attempt to get Jeffery Donaldson to re-join the party in May of 2021. The initial story broke on February 23rd when …

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Give Boris Johnson a fresh chance to prove his sincerity and commitment. We have nothing to lose and much to gain

Ahead of his day in Northern Ireland, much media comment is focusing on Boris Johnson’s announcement of draft legislation later this week to unilaterally amend parts of the Protocol. This is both inevitable and regrettable.  Northern Ireland’s welfare is far more important than the abstruse game of higher politics. Boris Johnson’s article in the Belfast Telegraph deserves to be cautiously welcomed. It suggests a new level of engagement in all level of NI affairs even encroaching on  Stormont’s competences. Much …

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Are the DUP the new abstentionists of Northern Irish politics?

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s announcement this week that the DUP will not go back into government in Northern Ireland until the NI Protocol is removed will not come as a shock, but it will come as a hammer blow to many ordinary people who rely on the support from Stormont. Throughout the Assembly elections Sir Jeffrey, and his colleagues in the DUP, made it crystal-clear that unless the British Government took decisive action on the protocol there would be dire consequences …

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The election results are more about DUP failure than Sinn Fein success…

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. With the dust starting to settle on the [*checks notes*] “seismic” Assembly election, and with Connolly House no doubt in a jubilant mood, it’s worth taking a breath and analyzing just how it came to be that Sinn Fein finds itself with the most seats at the (formerly) unionist bastion of Parliament Buildings. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route …

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UTV Leaders Debate-Low key campaigns don’t drop their guards

The leaders of the five main parties gathered in South Belfast today for the UTV Leaders Debate, which is the first of two of these debates in the 2022 Assembly Election campaign. Marc Mallett as usual was the moderator and there were two new faces with Doug Beattie and Jeffrey Donaldson taking part for the first time. The experienced debaters returning from 2017 were Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long and Michelle O’Neill. The debate was divided into three main themes, Executive …

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And the winner is … ranking the PEBs: Slugger’s verdict on the party broadcasts of #AE22

It’s back! The Slugger review of the Party Election Broadcasts. Starting all the way back in 2014, we are returning to award the best party election broadcast of the 2022 Assembly campaign. This year we are assembling the same judges as in 2019 to help us decide who won the battle on TV. We have our own Alan Meban, the Belfast Telegraph Crime Correspondent, Allison Morris and Director of Brown O’Connor Communications, Chris Brown. How does it work? Each of …

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Jim Wells endorses TUV candidate…

Jim Wells is giving the DUP another headache by endorsing Harold McKee of the TUV against his own party’s candidate. In a dramatic intervention in the Assembly election in South Down, outgoing DUP MLA, Jim Wells, has declared his support for the TUV candidate, Harold McKee.https://t.co/lIIMf1RJIo — Love Ballymena (@LoveBallymena) April 12, 2022 The move is likely to result in him being expelled from the DUP but it looks like he will find a new home in the TUV. [Edit: …

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Unionism and a Leap of Faith…

achieve, woman, girl

For this article to work we all need to suspend disbelief and all work on the assumption that in real terms Stormont is ineffective, worthless and has no real positive day to day impact on our lives. That whoever is First Minister has no significance other than symbolism and bragging rights, and that we can all get through the intense period of gloating and recrimination if Sinn Fein emerge the biggest party in May. Do you think we can do …

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SDLP meet for the first time in four years with opportunities and battles ahead.

The SDLP met in Bellaghy for their first conference since 2018. The small crowd of around one hundred delegates gathered at the Seamus Heaney homeplace. This is the first time since 2018 that delegates have gathered together in person. Last time the conference was something akin to a wake as they reeled from a disastrous General Election in 2017. This time they meet with two MPs and a minister in government, but the party has challenges going into this election. …

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Slugger TV looks at what it’s like to be an MLA

In this episode, we are two former MLAs and Junior Ministers, Megan Fearon and Emma Little Pengelly who talk to us about what it is like to be an MLA and run an election campaign. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs