Results suggest Sinn Féin’s ‘inflection point’ (and a UI) remain some way off

a full moon shines in the sky over the ocean

Regardless of how you cut it, one of the big stories of the southern locals was Sinn Féin’s failure to break through, again. In order to understand why more than 2o0 SF candidates failed to gain a council seat it’s worth noting the poll ratings at the start: 🚨 IREUKmedia EXIT POLL for the #LE2024: 🟢 Sinn Fein: 199 (+118)🔵 Fine Gael: 180 (-75)🟩 Fianna Fail: 142 (-137)🌱 Green Party: 28 (-21)🔴 Labour: 47 (-10)⚫️ Independents/Other: 246 (+61)🟣 Social Democrats: …

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AFP announce that a UK General Election to be held on July 4th…

Elizabeth Tower, London

AFP have just reported there will be an election on July 4th. Mainstream media are waiting for an official announcement for what will be a six week campaign. This will be the first electoral contest for all major party leaders. And there will be not a little interest here in Northern Ireland. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest …

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After Donaldson the question remains: how do we feed future generations of those who live in Northern Ireland?

aerial view of boat on water

As a Manchester City fan of many years standing (myself and just two others in Primary went blue when everyone else was going red) I know a rapid change in managers is not a sign of good health. After many years of stability at the top the DUP is experiencing that sort of bewilderment you get when nothing you try quite sticks. It’s been a rough ride since Peter Robinson stepped down. In spite of the drastic reasons for the …

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Jeffrey Donaldson deletes all his social media accounts…

This looks ominous…. For now, comments will remain closed, but this is likely to be the beginning of something big. Very big. Curious, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson seems to have deleted his entire social media presence across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn… 🧐 pic.twitter.com/Evzs02B4qE — Vincent McAviney (@VinnyMcAv) March 29, 2024 Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and …

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Two very different leaders call for a dumping of old ways to bring a more inclusive Northern Ireland into being…

maps lying on the floor

I don’t usually post at weekends, but the chatter about Jeffrey Donaldson’s interview on TalkBack in which he talked about “unionism shaping political change going forward”, combined with Micheál Martin’s remarks to the Alliance Party there is definitely something interesting afoot. The Donaldson piece is not a fade or tactical manoeuvre, although Kevin Meagher made a good point yesterday on Nolan when we were both on together, that Donaldson’s rhetoric repeated a note of reconciliation from Robinson in 2011 (and …

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“a striking manifestation of the confidence and optimism of the shared island initiative…”

bridge, autumn, nature

As recently as November Irish News columnist Brian Feeney wrote a column under the heading to the effect that “The Irish government and Fianna Fáil have no policy at all on the north”. [Ahem – Ed] Well, the secret of politics is in the timing. In a year that will see elections on both island’s Micheál Martin’s brainchild the Shared Island Initiative has finally made people sit up and take notice. The initiative was launched in 202o and by the …

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After a big day for Irish nationalism it’s time to make the institutions they now lead actually work

a couple of tools that are sitting on a table

Saturday was a big day for Nationalism, and few summed it up as well as the new Nationalist leader of the opposition, Matthew O’Toole: As we walked down the stairs into the Great Hall, we passed the figure of James Craig, Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister — the man who built this Building and this state in his image. Whatever one’s view of him, Craig was a far-sighted strategist, but even he was unlikely to have foreseen today’s events. The …

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As Sir Jeffrey emerges with an unexpected answer to Northern Ireland’s dilemmas, so must others…

grayscale photo of duck on water

Brian has it in one. There are no excuses, now the DUP’s great misadventure with an aspirational Brexit they (nor any of their loyalist critics) would never be able to shape or control is at an end. Their eyes were bigger than their belly, which allowed them to be distracted from their main purpose as an NI Unionist party, which as Jeffrey Donaldson has noted, is to make Northern Ireland work. I appreciate Frank’s concern about some of the wording …

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Our tired and failing democracy needs a new set of eyes

close-up photography of girl

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for she was born in another time.” — Rabindranath Tagore Good to see the Belfast Summit launched (Carlos Moreno is internationally influential and is a bit of a coup for them) just after the news of the likely restoration of Stormont. I hope we do get back to work. On Good Morning Scotland (36.19) this morning I provided context for this breakdown and then agreement to anyone listening at such an early …

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On the face of it Donaldson’s deal will keep the whole UK aligned with the EU

Rather than farce, the DUP executive’s decision last night is a crossing of the rubicon. Sir Jeffrey’s problem in selling it is likely to relate to the expectations of other unionist voices and leaders. The BBC reports his take as follows: Sir Jeffrey said the legislation agreed with Westminster would “remove checks on goods moving within the UK and remaining in NI, and end NI blindly following EU laws”. He added: “There will be legislation protecting the Acts of Union, …

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The DUP’s actual problem is everybody’s actual problem?

To answer my own rhetorical question, it is simply because they cannot bear to be in government (because it loses them votes, rather than grows them). For most of their fifty plus years they were oppositionist. The elder Paisley he made a good fist of at least looking like they enjoyed the trappings of power. But according to insiders at the time, although the atmosphere was good, nothing was getting done. Back in 2008, I gave a presentation in NICVA …

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[Long Read] Next Irish Election will test whether what a government does makes a difference

In 2024 four billion people go to the polls: about half the population of the planet. In the US, poll watchers predict a Trump win in a campaign where he may spend more time in court than on the stump. In the early 1930s, Will Rogers, a lifelong Democrat joked that the reason Republicans nearly always won the Whitehouse back then was that they had a habit of having three bad years followed by one good one. The good year …

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In praise of… Moderation

These two random gentlemen randomly beseeched me to take this random photograph. I randomly obliged.

I know I promised I’d shut up for the rest of the year, but after I finished yesterday’s round up I realised I’d forgotten to thank probably the most important members of Slugger online, ie the moderators. Thanks to Brian the team has expanded considerably over the last year which has spread the burden of keeping the conversations here both convivial and (largely) on topic. They’re an amazing bunch. The job they do cannot be underestimated. Almost every online conversation …

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A brief coffee time review of 2023, before the return of real politics in 2024?

red kerosene lantern

In a year in which we seem to have gone from Storm Ciarán to Storm Pia in the blink of an eye, the changeable weather elsewhere barely seems to have touched the deadlock of NI politics. In a February edition of The Irish News there’s an editorial that reads, Moment of truth nearing or Donaldson, just ahead of the announcement of the Windsor Framework [Was that this year? – Ed]. By any measure that moment of truth is still to …

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As another “deadline” goes whooshing past, NI continues to choke on its indigestible form of consociationalism

beach, sea, sunset

I’m not sure where the northern press pack got its briefing that the DUP might come out and back the deal it has long been negotiating with the UK administration, but it looks like that call is wrong yet again. Few, it seems, have understood the motivations of the DUP in regard to what it will take to persuade them to re-shoulder their local responsibilities and enable all parties go back into office. The UK government has already met some …

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“Head up, shoulders back and unclench your fists. Look out and look up.”*

flame, lighter, light

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams “Well, if the vote is for Brexit things will be more interesting.” “Facts don’t matter”. “When I offered them my contact book, none were interested. Young journalists these days are only interested in a 9-5 job job which involves taking no risks.” These are all off record quotes from local working journalists …

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Horrific assault and the riots that followed indicate huge problems Irish politics cannot continue to ignore

waterfall, victoria falls, spray

Some additional thoughts to Brian’s round up last night on the first widespread rioting in Dublin since the reaction to the Love Ulster Parade that took place roughly the same quarter back in 2005. In a hastily written oped in The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole rightly identifies this as a “testing moment” for the Republic, but he risks erring towards disowning the problem when he simply argues that the Irish people are “better than this”. Whilst I agree with the …

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As another door closes on some people’s hopes for justice, should we consider putting welfare and reconciliation first?

railway, forest, trees

One of the most cynical debates around the legacy of the Troubles lies in how we investigate the past. Although the details of the negotiations between Sinn Féin and Tony Blair are shady, it’s clear Adams successfully lodged a public interest defence. The letters of comfort  story broke after an IRA volunteer who had had one assuring him that the PSNI were not looking for him found himself arrested when he touched down in London (because the Met still were). …

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The continuance of lost power at Stormont is not cost free for the DUP

iceberg, melts, climate

Away from the horse race politics of the latest survey published in the Irish News this morning is some fascinating [Excruciating? – Ed] detail for the DUP. Pete Shirlow is quoted in the FT… What comes out very clearly in our survey — and this is the first time I’ve seen this — is that people who are pro-union are stating that they will think about Irish unity if the assembly doesn’t come back. Unionist behaviour has driven away sectors …

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