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How will the SDLP fill McDevitt void?

When I arrived at Conall McDevitt's front door on Wednesday night, his young son came bounding down the stairs. The outgoing South Belfast MLA introduced me, and, as we made our way through the house towards the back garden, his sonShow More Summary

Unbuilt Northern Ireland

Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4's PM programme last night, I threw in a line pointing out that Daniel Libeskind's angular peace building centre is not the only major project which looks set to be stillborn at the Maze. HOK Sport architects...Show More Summary

DUP caught up in Maze

When the last prisoners left the Maze in 2000, it marked the end of a troubled era which had seen death and suffering both inside and outside the jail walls. But few can have predicted the twists and turns of the stalled attempts toShow More Summary

Robinson stalls on Maze peace centre

There's no doubt about it, it's a massive shift in policy by the DUP on the Maze. There have been political rumblings - both outside the DUP - from the TUV, the Ulster Unionists, IRA victims and the Orange Order but also crucially inside...Show More Summary

Banning parades - why semicolons matter

Predictably, unionists and republicans have responded in completely different ways to Theresa Villiers' appeal for this weekend's planned parade in Castlederg commemorating dead IRA members to be called off. The DUP's Arlene Foster welcomed...Show More Summary

'Jostling' repeated past behaviour

"It was very ugly and, truth to tell, frightening. Sometimes the veneer of human civilisation can be remarkably thin. "Without my protectors I would have ended up in intensive care or worse. To their shame not many TV viewers seemedShow More Summary

Challenges await new NI ministers

Buckingham Palace isn't the only place where they are changing the guard. The fresh faces at Stormont may not be quite as wrinkle-free as the baby prince, but how they cope with the challenges ahead should liven up the autumn when MLAs...Show More Summary

Tough talking

So can former US envoy Richard Haass succeed where Paddy Ashdown and others have failed? Replacing the Parades Commission with another quango with a different name is entirely achievable. As previously noted on this blog, a blueprint...Show More Summary

Best laid plans

So the marathon Stormont planning debate is over. But will the bill become law? Predictably, the DUP and Sinn Fein voted through the inclusion of two far-reaching amendments, only published last week. One enabled the first and deputy first ministers to create special economic zones in which planning may be unconditional. Show More Summary

Farewell to Fermanagh

So, time to pack up after the G8 summit. The camera crews stow away their unused riot kits. I put my unused umbrella back into the car boot. Outside on the Erne a flotilla of swans has taken up station where the police rigid inflatable...Show More Summary

G8 gives everyone what they want

Strolling around the G8 press centre you make your way past a gaggle of Russian journalists watching footage of Vladimir Putin stepping off his plane. Then the Tannoy goes off and reporters interested in covering a Canadian-JapaneseShow More Summary

No party for president's supporters

The red carpet will be rolled out for Barack Obama when he visits Belfast and Fermanagh next week, but one of the president's ex-pat supporters thinks his US Democratic party is missing a trick. Sean Hillen hosted an event for the Irish...Show More Summary

Short-term pain for long-term gain?

So David Cameron has been banging the gong for Northern Ireland. That's great so far as it goes, but the jury remains out on how much long-term economic benefit the G8 will provide to make up for all the short-term disruption. GivenShow More Summary

NI21: A Bridge Too Far?

So NI21 isn't a night club or a trunk road, but Northern Ireland's newest party. It's named for the future and the century we live in, rather than the past and the year of Northern Ireland's creation. Basil McCrea and John McCallister...Show More Summary

Does NI need lustration?

I hadn't heard of the word "lustration" before today. Then it came along twice in quick succession - first in an article by Maire Brannif and Cillian McGrattan in the Belfast Telegraph, then in a letter from Relatives For Justice. For...Show More Summary

Mr Gove... On education then and now

"The hollowing out of Northern Ireland's Britishness is a progressive process, whereby the British state divests itself of responsibilities and strips the province of evidence of its British character". Not my words, but those of the...Show More Summary

Stormont's plans for a shared future

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers have been promising us ambitious plans on a shared future in recent weeks, but providing nothing in the way of detail. On Thursday, we were summoned to Stormont Castle and presented...Show More Summary

Bit by bit?

Theresa Villiers' speech earlier on Monday is the latest in a series of comments from the secretary of state about an economic package under negotiation with the Stormont Executive. London ministers hope this deal will be agreed within...Show More Summary

Pressing concern for Stormont?

Anyone who watched the question and answer session between reporters and the Northern Ireland first and deputy first ministers at the Titanic centre in Belfast earlier this week won't need me to tell them that relations between the top...Show More Summary

Will schools report follow in the wake of Eames Bradley?

Might some aspects of the Eames Bradley report on the past have been implemented by now if it hadn't been for the team's most controversial suggestion? That's a thought which flashed through my mind for two reasons. First, I attended...Show More Summary

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