And back to the facts… a reply to Professor O’Leary

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Colin Coulter and Peter Shirlow respond to four key points raised by Professor Brendan O’Leary in his challenge to their original paper published here on Slugger last week, along with clarification of some of the language used in both pieces.  In his response to our recent opinion piece, much of what Professor O’Leary has to say focuses not on that essay but another publication that covers some, but not all, of the same ground. We felt it might be considered discourteous …

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Brendan O’Leary – How not to engage in public discourse as scholars…

body of water near buildings under cloudy sky during daytime

Brendan O’Leary is the Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania Professors Coulter and Shirlow are unnecessarily rude, and conspiratorial. The suggestion that I read from a “script” produced by the organizers among Ireland’s Future is false, and mildly insulting. No one suggested what I should say, and those who know me regard me as my own person. As far as I know no one at the conference was guided let alone instructed on what to say. …

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Is Naomi Long’s weakness, her ‘inability to admit an obvious mistake?’

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Obelisk is a Slugger reader from County Tyrone In launching her party’s manifesto, Alliance leader and East Belfast candidate Naomi Long emphasised that she felt the ‘honeymoon period’ for the return of Stormont has ended. People now want results, less excuses and more competence, which can be considered an awkward contrast given the controversy now dogging the Justice Minister over a recent botched piece of legislation. On June 1st the High Court in Belfast overturned the law in question which …

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Why facts (should) matter when it comes to discussing our political future…

a lighted star hanging from a chain in front of a sunset

Colin Coulter and Peter Shirlow interrogate the overall data to question confident predictions around the future constitutional destination of Northern Ireland and come up some challenging questions for a popular media narrative. On Saturday last, Ireland’s Future hosted the latest in a series of public events. In the Spring, the pressure group launched a document specifying 2030 as the ‘right time’ to hold a constitutional referendum. There is little discernible logic in the text as to why that might be the …

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Leo Varadkar says the next Irish government should start actively preparing for unification…

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin I’ve long thought conflating the unification issue with SF distorts it. A border poll, and the preparations that precede it will be dominated by a wider range of Irish political, state, and civic entities, of which SF will merely be a part. So when many people talk of unification in terms of SF, I think the question most worth asking isn’t about them, it’s – ‘When will the rest of Ireland decide …

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The (currently terrible) mood in renewables… is largely irrelevant

white electic windmill

Jérôme à Paris is a French investment banker specialising in large scale energy projects  and was a regular  contributor on energy topics in the early days of Daily Kos – the main US liberal political blog – and also founded the European Tribune to focus on European issues. Nowadays he focuses on financing renewable energy projects and writes occasional blogs to counteract widespread public misunderstandings of renewable energy often propagated by oil and nuclear industry interests. Key themes include the …

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First thoughts on Sinn Féin’s disastrous election

a person is casting a vote into a box

David Moane is retired, lives in Dublin and takes an active interest in Southern politics. Here he shares his thoughts on the lessons that need to be learned by Sinn Féin after their disappointing performance in the recent elections. The European and local elections in the RoI were a disaster for Sinn Féin and a vindication of the Government. This momentous outcome will have ramifications for both parts of the island. First, Sinn Féin. In the June 2019 European and …

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How will we solve the rise of right-wing populism?

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Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin Nigel Farage’s last-minute entry into the UK election is the latest manifestation of the rise of right-wing populism, but it’s happening in lots of other places too. All across Europe, and with Trump in America. Some people thought Ireland was immune, but it seems not. There are a huge number of such candidates for the upcoming euro & local election, though how they perform remains to be seen. One aspect of this …

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Tribeca, be damned…

Eamonn Duffin is a local writer, Tyrone native and long term resident of Belfast. A recent graduate of the QUB Creative Writing MA, his work is soon to be featured in Belfast’s newest literary adventure, The Belfast Review. The Irish News of May 21st reports that The Cathedral Quarter Trust (CQT) has “formally objected to Castlebrooke Investments’ bid to renew four applications for its stalled development, and urged others to do likewise,” saying it believes that Castlebrooke “has no intention …

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Launch of Future Politics report…

Anna Mercer is the Deputy Director of Strategem. You can follow her on Twitter… There has been a lot of chat about what the first 100 days has and hasn’t achieved since the restoration of the NI Executive and Assembly. While milestones are important, the irony is not lost on bemoaning the emphasis on the PR optics that came thick and fast from the First and deputy First Ministers office, whilst using the PR opportunity that a nice round figure …

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We’re inching closer to the possibility of a new pandemic that may be worse than Covid-19…

Ben M is a Slugger reader from Dublin… Bird Flu is so often mentioned in the news many people probably tune out. If you’re one of those you may have missed some recent developments. H5N1, the strain that’s been spreading among wild bird and mammal populations around the world for the past two years, has now spread to cows in North America. It’s now been found in cows in 34 US states. This is concerning because it increases the risk …

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Breathing New Life into Glenarm: A Council-Community Partnership Success Story…

Deb Biddleston is a Northern English native who moved to NI 20 years ago We often see lots of criticism of local councils in news items, none more so than Mid & East Antrim, whose recent history has been fraught with some difficulties, including having their offices raided by the PSNI. I think that often councils don’t blow their own trumpet enough, or maybe the press just chooses to ignore them, as we know bad news and scandal sells papers. …

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Cliftonville Football Club – 2024 Irish Cup Winners…

Belfast Glenariff is one of our regulars in the comment zone “WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING BUT WANTING TO WIN IS” is a quote attributed to the great American football coach Vince Lombardi. It could have been written for my fellow Cliftonville fans and me who have waited 45 years to see our team win the Irish Cup again. When Ronan Hale ran over half the length of the pitch in the 125th minute at Windsor Park to seal a 3 -1 win …

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The Yousaf Parable – lessons from the SNP in government for Stormont’s liberals…

David Morrow previously worked at Stormont and has a Masters in Public Policy. He is writing in a personal capacity. It’s been a busy 2024 for devolved governments, and it’s not just the return of Stormont. In Scotland, the SNP are about to embark on a second leadership contest in little more than a year following the resignation of Humza Yousaf as First Minister. Meanwhile in Wales, after 6 years in charge Mark Drakeford was replaced by Vaughan Gething as …

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Poll showing voters reject €20bn Unification Cost underscores accurate economic data’s importance in the reunification debate…

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Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin John Fitzgerald, an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Economics in TCD, recently published an analysis of unification that highlighted a “worst case” scenario for it economically. In this, he postulated NI might cost the rest of Ireland €20bn, almost twice what the current subvention costs Britain. It was a far-fetched figure, and he has questionable motivations. However, I think reunification supporters need to urgently learn two lessons from this episode. Number …

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We need urgent action to save the historic Belfast Assembly Rooms…

John Gray is Chair of Reclaim the Enlightenment and Convenor of the Assembly Rooms Alliance. Readers may have noticed a recent flurry of publicity with regard to Belfast’s historic Assembly Rooms. Now an online petition at https://chng.it/TQbMwYjdgj has been launched demanding that the powers that be ‘Safeguard and reclaim Belfast’s historic Assembly Rooms for public use.’ Why the fuss? Why should you sign? The Assembly Rooms are to Belfast what Leinster House and the Guildhall are to Dublin and London …

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Once a country girl, always a country girl…

Macha is from Co Armagh and is now living in Co Down. She says, “I am easily distracted by nature’s handiwork; I notice all of the loveliness that most people don’t see. Power walking pains me; I need time to pause and appreciate beauty as I find it.” Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. A.A. Milne. I grew up on a small farm, surrounded by hedgerows & down a long winding lane. I didn’t really understand …

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The Implications of Irish Unity for the Alliance Party…

Ben Collins is the author of Irish Unity: Time to Prepare  In recent times we have seen significant coverage devoted to whether Alliance voters would vote for or against Irish unity in a border poll. Jon Tonge who is publishing a book on Alliance this summer recently published on 3 March research in the Belfast Telegraph which shows that Alliance party members are increasingly in favour of Irish unity. The weather may be rubbish but it’s never too early to …

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Lough Neagh: A Glimmer of Hope Amid Environmental Challenges…

Philip O’Neill is a retired civil servant from Belfast… A while back, I wrote an op-ed discussing the concerning state of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom. Today, I have some more positive news to share. When I went to check on my boat yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find it covered in lough flies. You may be wondering, why would flies be considered good news? Well, it was previously thought that last year’s devastating …

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