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A Stormont worth saving?

Following the BBC Spotlight programme examining the way Stormont politicians use public money to rent their offices, what next for MLA expenses and public confidence? The DUP's Peter Weir reckons it is the fault of the system, rather...Show More Summary

Should Stormont be cut down to size?

The immediate emphasis in the Stormont talks has been on welfare reform and the budget, but the politicians are also discussing the not-entirely-unconnected question of cutting the size of the government. The DUP has circulated a paper reaffirming its support for fewer departments and fewer MLAs. Show More Summary

Stormont: On the road to nowhere?

After the first two weeks of Stormont talks, are we anywhere nearer to avoiding the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive? The much derided £100m loan from the Treasury has bought a bit of time for negotiationsShow More Summary

Stormont: When is a deal not a deal?

Given the ramifications for the public of the deadlock at the Northern Ireland Assembly over budgets and welfare reform, the failure to elect a new assembly speaker may seem exclusively of concern to those inside the Belmont "beltway"...Show More Summary

From Twitter reshuffle to power-play?

Twitter has played a significant role in Northern Ireland politics during this assembly term. When the Stormont parties picked their departments, the news was tweeted to the outside world. On Tuesday, DUP leader Peter Robinson tweeted...Show More Summary

Poll watching from across Irish sea

Whatever the Scottish people decide in the independence referendum, come Friday a few fundamentals will remain. On a clear day you'll still be able to glimpse Scotland in the distance from vantage points on the County Antrim coast. Celtic...Show More Summary

Paisley remembered

He was part of the fabric of Northern Ireland's Troubles - the bombs, the tit-for-tat sectarian murders, the nervous soldiers patrolling streets daubed with paramilitary murals. Those grim TV images were so often interspersed with the...Show More Summary

Stormont - the alternatives

If Stormont is "not fit for purpose", as Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson has claimed, what are the possible alternatives, should the Westminster government convene a fresh round of negotiations? 1. Abolishing the mandatory coalition system and the designation of MLAs as "unionist","nationalist" or "other". Show More Summary

Double-jobbing to continue for now

On the Nolan show on BBC Radio Ulster, Sammy Wilson confirmed he plans to stand again for the East Antrim Westminster seat at next year's election. Given that earlier this year the NIO passed an act banning MPs double-jobbing, that means...Show More Summary

Twenty years since the IRA ceasefire

Listening back to my breathless tones when I announced the 1994 IRA Ceasefire on BBC Radio 5 Live I can forgive one radio newspaper reviewer who accused me of getting over-excited. In fact it wasn't excitement which had taken my breath...Show More Summary

Monkey business at Stormont

The arrival of former Democratic senator Gary Hart in Belfast just as Northern Ireland is about to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire is a bit of a surprise. Senator Hart has long harboured an interest in Ireland. Back in...Show More Summary

Former minister Sam Foster dies

Quietly spoken but firm in his opinions, Sam Foster has been described as a man of courtesy and integrity by politicians from across the spectrum. In 1987, Mr Foster was on the scene of the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing and pulled...Show More Summary

Middle East views 'predictable'

The row in Newry over the Sinn Fein Mayor's letter proposing a boycott of Israeli goods is the latest in a sequence of incidents highlighting the tendency for many nationalists and unionists to take sides when it comes to the conflict...Show More Summary

On the runs deal: Sordid and shabby or legal and proper?

Anyone looking at Dame Heather Hallett's review into On The Runs for an assessment of the moral righteousness of the government's approach to the peace process will be disappointed. Judge Hallett describes the treatment of the On The...Show More Summary

Unionists call for parades inquiry

The sight of unionists queuing up to sign a pledge evoked memories of the 1912 Ulster Covenant against Home Rule, albeit on a rather less dramatic scale. If the joint unionist/Orange commitment to lawful protest helps ensure a peaceful...Show More Summary

Parades statement leaves much unsaid

Politicians like nothing more than to confound pundits. So, I detected a sense of satisfaction on the part of First Minister Peter Robinson as he told reporters that, far from being a shouting match like the executive's heated meeting...Show More Summary

Can the wheels keep on turning?

Before the latest round of Stormont talks began I wasn't the only one sceptical about their purpose and timing. Now it seems the main point served by the discussions was to provide unionist negotiators with something to boycott. Although...Show More Summary

No talks better than half-hearted try?

Few would argue against the maxim that it's "better to jaw-jaw than to war-war", but that does not mean every negotiating session is of equal value. Talks like those that led to the Good Friday and St Andrews agreements were undoubtedly...Show More Summary

Even-tempered Executive

After the shouting match that took place at last week's executive meeting, this week's discussions were rather more even-tempered. Ministers talked about the threat posed by "legal high" drugs, but with a public apology already made,...Show More Summary

Marathon Over

So three years after the last furore over delays to the Stormont Assembly poll and Northern Ireland bringing up the rear on the UK-wide AV referendum, we have all been subjected to another marathon count. Is it all down to our proportional...Show More Summary

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