DUP only damaging itself through desire to shift the goalposts on Irish unity

Ian Paisley’s fantasy legislation only continues party’s trend of weakening the Union as perception grows that reunification is looking more likely

Belfast artist Brian John Spencer’s take on DUP MP Ian Paisley’s suggestion of a border poll supermajority bill

The most compelling reason to believe that Irish unity might happen is not that nationalists are likely to win a border poll, but that a hapless unionism might lose it.

Ian Paisley Jr is not a stupid man, but this week he set out a monumentally stupid idea.


(1) Ian Paisley Jr is not a stupid man, but this week he set out a monumentally stupid idea. In attempting to strengthen the Union, he weakened it – just as the DUP has been doing for years. The episode confirms Jamie Bryson’s role in directing DUP policy.

(2) Cartoon of Ian Paisley’s hapless attempt to move the goalposts on Irish unity drawn yesterday at very short notice by the outstandingly talented @brianjohnspencr.

‘Historical shift for Northern Ireland’: what a Sinn Féin win would mean | Northern Ireland | The Guardian


Driver doused in petrol during Derry hijacking as city suffers third night of violence

Police come under attack in Derry in a third day of violence in the city
A driver was doused in petrol by a group of men who hijacked his recovery lorry before setting it alight in Derry last night as the city suffered a third night of violence. 

In another incident a masked gang of up to 20 people, some armed with metal bars, tried unsuccessfully to hijack a man’s car.

There were further hijackings and attempted hijackings in the city last night, after similar incidents in recent days.

The fifth anniversary of the introduction of internment on 9th August 1971 was marked with disturbances and the hijacking and burning of vehicles. This picture was taken on the Falls Road, Belfast, N Ireland. 197608090356b
Copyright Image from Victor Patterson, 54 Dorchester Park, Belfast, United Kingdom, UK.
For my Terms and Conditions of Use go to http://www.victorpatterson.com/Victor_Patterson/Terms_%26_Conditions.html

Youths threw petrol bombs, paint bombs and other missiles at police in two separate locations as officers responded to a hoax security alert on Skeoge Road and later to the hijacking of the recovery lorry near Galliagh roundabout. Police said around 150 young people had gathered close to the roundabout and officers were attacked.

Two to three men stopped the recovery vehicle and one of them poured fuel inside the lorry “covering the driver”.


“Both males managed to escape from the vehicle in what was a terrifying ordeal for them and get to safety before the truck was set alight.

“NIFRS and police attended the scene where a crowd of around 150 people had gathered. Some of those who had gathered threw missiles, including stones and bottles, at officers. A petrol bomb was also thrown but failed to ignite.

“As this was taking place, police received a report of an attempted hijacking in Galliagh Park where a woman was stopped by a young masked male who tried to take her vehicle – a black Kia – using a wheelbrace. The woman managed to flee to safety. Damage was caused to the car door, and the woman was understandably left shaken.”

Police said the third incident took place at around 12:40am today when a van was hijacked and set alight in Fergleen Park.

Another attempted hijacking was reported just after 2am when up to 20 masked people, some armed with metal bars, tried unsuccessfully to hijack a man’s car on Fairview Road

A number of vehicles were also hijacked in the city on Tuesday August 4.

Derry and Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Emma Bond said the violence was “not representative of this city” and was taking place against the backdrop of the death and funeral of former SDLP and civil rights leader John Hume.

She said police had gathered evidence with a view to making arrests and asked community and elected representatives to continue using their influence.

“This has been the third night of disorder in our city at the hands of cowards determined to cause disruption in our communities.  It is unacceptable and I am very disappointed people made a deliberate decision to go out onto the streets and cause trouble,” CS Bond said.

“Yesterday, the world’s media was focused on the city as John Hume was laid to rest. The scenes in our communities last night are not representative of this city.

“I want to stress the disorder we have seen on our streets over the past few nights has been caused by a minority of people who have absolutely no regard for our communities being impacted, and the people who live here.”

CS Bond had a message for onlookers.

“I would also urge anyone, including those who gathered to watch this disorder last night to understand this is not entertainment. This is dangerous, reckless activity, which has a significant impact on not only the people whose vehicles were targeted, but also on the local communities.”

She thanked community and elected representatives who had been on the ground last night and asked them to continue to use their influence “to help us maintain control of the situation so we don’t have another night of disorder and our communities don’t come under attack again”.

“We have gathered evidence in relation to these incidents and are working to identify those responsible and those involved and we can assure the public we will be working towards making arrests,” she added.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Maeve Connolly for the original story 

‘No good reason’ not to reveal contentents of files on plastic bullet deaths

A SUGGESTION that the families of two young teenagers murdered by plastic bullets in 1981 (the year the 10 men died on hunger-strike) including Bobby Sands. 

Irish children murdered by British Crown Forces in the occupied six Counties of the North of Ireland

Should use the Freedom of Information (FoI) request to access files on their deaths has been dismissed as “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood raised the cases of Paul Whitters (15) and Julie Livingstone (14) with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons yesterday. Paul Whitters was murdered in Derry in April 1981 while Julie Livingstone, was murdered in Belfast the following month. 

Collusion is not an illusion!!!

Government files relating to their killings have been reclassified and closed until 2059 and 2064 respectively despite appeals by their families for access. The family of Julie Livingstone said the decision that no-one who knew the teenager personally would be alive when the file was opened. At Secretary of State’s questions yesterday, Mr Eastwood told Mr Lewis there was “no good reason” to keep the files closed and asked: “Will he now act to allow the parents of those children to see the files?” Mr Lewis said he had “enormous” sympathy for families of those who died during the Troubles, especially children. He said the next step for the families should be to submit a Freedom of Information request to the National Archive. However, Sarah Duddy of the Pat Finucane Centre said Mr Lewis’s suggestion had been dismissed by the families in the past.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story 


Disgraceful scenes as Sinn Féin and the SDLP backs latest PSNI/RUC recruitment drive

Absolutely disgraceful as politicians and representatives of so-called  civic society including Shame Féin, SDLP and the GAA attended the launch event Image copyrightPACEMAKER


The chief constable said the attendance of deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the launch of the PSNI recruitment campaign got it off to “the best possible start”.

Simon Byrne launched the campaign on Tuesday.

It comes amid continued concerns over the PSNI’s ability to increase numbers of Catholic officers.

Ms O’Neill is deputy leader of Sinn Féin – its support is seen as important in encouraging more Catholic recruits.

She was one of a number of politicians at the event – including First Minister Arlene Foster – as well as representatives of churches and sporting bodies, such as the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Mr Byrne said: “We don’t underestimate the significant step forward Sinn Féin has taken in endorsing this campaign merely by being here and beginning a conversation about how we can work differently to improve policing right across the country.

“I am very pleased.”

Sinn Féin has historically been critical of the role of the police in Northern Ireland, both the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which replaced it in 2001.

In 2007 the party gave its support to the PSNI, but its representatives have not attended passing out parades for new recruits.

‘Reflective of community’
In the lead-up to the new campaign, the first since October 2018, there has been debate about whether a return to 50-50 recruitment is required.

A a50-50 recruitment policy ran for the first 10 years of the PSNI until 2011.

This meant that 50% of all recruits had to be from a Catholic background, and 50% from a Protestant or other background.

The policy saw numbers of Catholic police officers rise from 8% to 32%, but things have stalled years after it ended.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Former chief constable Sir George Hamilton warned last year that numbers were “going to start to dip if nothing changes”.

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and senior Catholic clergymen favour its reintroduction, which would be a political decision, but unionists oppose it.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said her attendance at the recruitment campaign launch “speaks volumes”.

“We need a PSNI that is reflective in terms of the community in which it serves,” she said.

First Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the recruitment drive, describing it as “significant”.

“It is important because there’s been a lot of conversations about the fact we need to have a police service that reflects Northern Ireland’s society,” she said.

50-50 campaign
Applications are open for about three weeks, with the first part of the process handled by professional services firm Deloitte.

Later stages of selection, conducted by the PSNI, involve criminal background checks and physical tests.

The PSNI is also aiming to attract more women and people of ethnic backgrounds.

Michelle O’Neill attending the launch of the new recruitment drive felt like a big step.

One long-serving PSNI commander even wondered if it was the policing equivalent of the Queen visiting Dublin.

Sinn Féin endorsing Northern Ireland policing in 2007 was of course more notable.

So, arguably, was the late Martin McGuinness’s very strong condemnation of dissident murders of PSNI officers.

Mrs O’Neill stopped short of urging young Catholics to join in her comments to the media.

Cynics also point out there is an election in the Republic of Ireland.

But for a party that has not attended passing out parades for new recruits, this was a significant moment in the party’s relationship with the PSNI.

It is not the only challenge facing the PSNI, as it strives to better reflect the composition of Northern Ireland society.

Image copyrightPACEMAKER
Image caption
Former Chief Constable George Hamilton issued a warning over 50-50 recruitment

It has 6,900 officers and publishes data on their backgrounds.

Sixty-seven percent are “perceived” as being Protestant, 32% Catholic and 1% are from an ethnic minority.

Seven in every 10 officers are male.

The PSNI is also conscious of needing to improve interest from working class Protestants and members of the LGBT community.

With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI and Julian O’Neill Home Affairs Correspondent for the original story 

Related Topics
Police Service of Northern Ireland

The Battle for Belfast: How Remainers are pulling together to oust the DUP

In three key seats, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance are hoping the Remain vote will help them remove senior DUP figures from their seats

(L – R) The Alliance Party’s Naomi Long, the SDLP’s Claire Hannah and Sinn Féin’s John Finucane (PA)

As the North of  Ireland heads to the polls on Thursday, the DUP are in a curious position.

In 2017, they propped up the Conservative government, proclaiming the great influence their 10 MPs would have at Westminster, and how they could shape the course of their desired Brexit – despite 56 per cent of people in Northern Ireland voting to Remain. After rejecting Theresa May’s deal (too soft), then Boris Johnson’s deal (hard, but with an unacceptable Irish Sea border), they returned to Belfast, with their tails between their legs.

In this election, again they’re asking voters to give them a mandate to go and influence the Westminster government – without so much as a hint of irony. The truth is they won’t be hugely punished.

Politics in the North of Ireland  remains deeply tribal, and many unionists will still back their biggest party for fear of splitting the vote and handing a victory to what they see as the other side. The DUP are also attempting to distance themselves from Boris Johnson’s “betrayal” over the unpopular Brexit deal.

So while Sinn Fein will take a fistful of seats along the border, the DUP will still romp home in many of its safe constituencies.

But in some seats, Remainers are giving them a run for their money. As many as 60 per cent of voters in Belfast wanted to remain in the EU, yet aside from Sinn Fein in West Belfast, the other three seats in the city are held by the DUP. This week, the pro-Remain parties of Northern Ireland hope to change that.

For 20 years, North Belfast has been the seat of Nigel Dodds, DUP grandee and their leader at Westminster. He is being challenged here by Sinn Fein’s John Finucane – the current Lord Mayor of Belfast and the son of solicitor Pat, who was murdered by loyalist gunmen in his family home in 1989.

“I grew up in North Belfast and it was pretty much as safe a unionist seat as you could get,” he tells The Independent. “But I think that’s different now because society has moved on, and there’s a regressive brand of politics that they want to leave behind. People want to remove those very loud Brexiteer voices who are not representative.”

Sinn Féin’s North Belfast candidate John Finucane

Mr Dodds has a majority of 2,081, but with the SDLP and Greens not running against Sinn Fein, this seat is in a virtual dead heat. Mr Finucane is working hard to win over people who wouldn’t normally vote for his party. As Irish republicans, Sinn Fein abstain from taking their seats in the House of Commons (seven at the last election), but he believes this position has never been easier to justify, given the chaos that has played out at Westminster.

“The Brexit project is very much an English nationalist project, and they’re entitled to have that,” he explains. “There is a momentum that will be forcing this through no matter how much damage it will cause here in Belfast or across Northern Ireland.

“For those who backed Remain, or have come around to backing Remain since 2016, protection for them has come from Dublin, Brussels, Washington DC, and protection is never going to come from the green benches of Westminster.”

Mr Finucane describes Mr Dodds as the “arch-Brexiteer” of The North of Ireland, having been part of the Vote Leave campaign. “People see this as a real opportunity to send a powerful message beyond Belfast that we rejected, and continue to reject, Brexit.”

In South Belfast, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly (with a majority of 1,996) is under threat from a nationalist who would take up her seat in Westminster. The SDLP’s Claire Hanna says people are feeling “disenfranchised and unheard” in the Brexit debate, and she wants to change that.

“There are some crazy things being said in Westminster about Ireland and Brexit, and there’s nobody there to correct them,” she says. “There are many people who may have voted Sinn Fein in the past, but who now see a situation where we have votes coming down to a handful of MPs, and that protecting Ireland’s interests should come ahead of party ideology.”

Indeed both Sinn Fein and the Greens have stood aside in this seat to aide Ms Hanna’s fight against the DUP, who she says have left the North of Ireland in an “unequivocally worse position” than when they entered the confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives in 2017.

“They had an incredible amount of power and influence, and they had the opportunity to use it to positive effect for people in the North of Ireland and they chose not to.”

The DUP have dug themselves into a Brexit-shaped hole, first by backing it in spite of the ever-increasing Remain consensus in the North of Ireland, then by rejecting Theresa May’s deal in favour of a harder one, then by rejecting Boris Johnson’s harder deal once they saw it would be damaging to the union.

“They have yet to articulate a form of Brexit that matches both their red lines and the red lines of the people who live here and don’t want a hard border,” says Ms Hanna. “Perhaps it’s dawning on them that you can have a hard Brexit or you can have the union but you can’t have both.”

Claire Hannah, the SDLP candidate for South Belfast (PA)

Arguably the SDLP’s strongest asset, Ms Hanna – a Stormont MLA who has even been endorsed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – looks poised to take this seat and ensure her party’s return to Westminster. Nevertheless, she is well aware that the North of Ireland MPs cannot reroute Brexit alone.

“We’ve got to roll with the punches in terms of what is on the table after the election,” she admits. “If there happens to be a majority of parties other than the Conservatives, then a People’s Vote is our preferred next step.”

But it’s not just nationalists like Sinn Fein and the SDLP who are lining up to take on the DUP – this extends to all the pro-Remain parties, including the Alliance Party. Neither nationalist nor unionist, Alliance is a centre-ground party, increasingly representative of the other constituency in the North of Ireland, who are not committed either way on the constitutional question.

The slow but steady growth of Alliance was evident in local council elections earlier this year, as well as the election of party leader Naomi Long as one of the region’s three MEPs. She is taking on the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in East Belfast (with a majority of 8,474), a seat which she previously held from 2010 to 2015, because she says the unionist party is pursuing an agenda which is not supported in the constituency.

“What we’ve had from the DUP is a very extreme Brexit stance,” says Ms Long, pointing out that the party has lurched to the right as the process has gone on. “Even some of those in East Belfast who would have voted Leave feel they’re not being listened to at Westminster.”

While nationalists and “Others” in the North of Ireland have largely backed Remain, a Lucid Talk poll released in recent days showed that only 38 per cent of unionists now back Leave, with 41 per cent in favour of Remain. Support for Boris Johnson’s deal is in single digits across all communities. And it seems the DUP have already got the message. Brexit doesn’t feature at all in the party’s election broadcast, campaign literature, or their official website. Ms Long says this “speaks volumes about how wrong they have got this, and how little they want to be held to account for their decision.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long (PA)

Alliance must draw cross-party support to take East Belfast, but the party is not in favour of pacts. So while Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Greens have stood aside to give Ms Long a clear run here, Alliance have not exactly returned the favour. In fact, they are the only party running in all 18 of Northern Ireland’s constituencies – and with a 50-50 gender quota at that.

“We are standing to be MPs for five years, and our manifesto is broader than just Brexit,” says Ms Long. “So I think it’s important that we stand and give people that choice.”

Like the SDLP, Alliance are in favour of a second referendum – with Remain on the ballot. While this stance has been criticised as one which ignores the wishes of Leave voters, Ms Long argues that’s not the case.

“I’ve never patronised people who voted Leave,” she says, “but what they were promised in 2016 was a kind of unicorn Brexit which would be all things to all people, and what we’re now getting is a lame donkey Brexit under Boris Johnson, and I think given that choice, some people may decide that they would prefer to keep things as they are.

“They should have the opportunity to change their mind just as the prime minister himself has done on numerous occasions on this issue.”

As election day approaches, it seems likely that the SDLP will take South Belfast, although it will be a harder fight for Alliance in East Belfast. But if there’s only one Northern Ireland seat to keep your eye on, it’s Dodds v Finucane in North Belfast. A win for Sinn Fein here would be a major victory, and its loss would be devastating for the DUP.

As with so many seats across the UK, the success of pro-Remain candidates in Northern Ireland will lie entirely in people’s willingness to vote tactically; to send a message to the DUP, and elect more voices who will reflect the pro-EU majority.

With many thanks to: The Independent and Ben Kelly for the original story@BenKellyTweets

The incumbent Stormont parties should commit to not draw MLA salaries or expenses if the Assembly remains shut – Tóibín


CIRA Continuity IRA claims responsibility for attempt to murder police

ABOVE: The weapon recovered in Dunmurry before Christmas last year

THE Continuity IRA has claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to kill police near Belfast last year. In a statement, the republican group said it was behind a planned attack on officers in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of West Belfast, in December. Fresh details of two other attempted attacks in Co Fermanagh and Co Armagh in recent months have also emerged. Using a recognised codeword, the group also denied any involvement in the abduction and brutal attack on Co Fermanagh businessman Kevin Lunney, below right, last month.

Mr Kevin Lunney

Mr Lunney was abducted from his home in Derrylin by four masked men and subjected to a savage beating before being dumped across the border in Co Cavan. The organisation said it “had no involvement in relation to any goings on in Fermanagh concerning Kevin Lunney and the Quinn Group”. “None of the local volunteers are involved… it’s not any action that would be sanctioned by the ‘Army Council’.

Continuity IRA on Dutch Television releasing a statement on the attacks

“As far as we see it it’s none of our business – what’s going on between the Quinn Group and others. We want no part in it.” The attack on the businessman came just weeks after the Continuity IRA attempted to kill RUC/PSNI members in the Wattle Bridge area of Fermanagh. The group had previously claimed responsibility for that and another failed attempt to kill police in Craigavon in July. Fresh details of both incidents have now emerged.

Wattle Bridge area of Fermanagh

It is understood that prior to the Fermanagh incident the group had set-up fake alerts in Wattle Bridge to observe how police reacted. A source said the hoax device included a command wire had been set up on hay bales “and that was designed to draw them [police] in”. The source added that a bomb had also been placed in the area and a warning call was then made to a newsroom. The CIRA claims that a command wire leading to the hoax device was spotted by a member of the public who then contacted police. The source claims that police arrived at the scene before a warning had been made to the newsroom and that the bomb detonated within the police cordon “When it was intended” to.

The Continuity IRA

It has been claimed that damage caused to a nearby concrete gate post resulted from a shrapnel strike. It has also been confirmed that that “propellant” was used in a dummy mortar tube during an attempted attack in Craigavon in July. It is understood the tube was set-up to look like a horizontal mortar and the “propellant” was intended to create the sound of an explosion intended to draw police into the area. The actual bomb had been placed inside a concrete slab on which the tube was resting and would have detonated once moved.

DEADLY: An image released by the RUC/PSNI of the device deployed by the CIRA in Craigavon in July

However, it was detected before it exploded. The group also claimed responsibility for an attempt to kill police in Dunmurry on the outskirts of West Belfast days before Christmas last year. According to the group the horizontal-style device was intended to fire a single .5o (pictured on top of page) calibre round at a passing police patrol.

“These are only the attacks we know about – we don’t know about attacks stopped because of the intervention of police” Dolores Kelly, SDLP

The weapon was discovered in the Upper Dunmurry Lane area on December 11th following a four-day security  operation. The improvised device had been set up on a small trestle and had been engaged but failed to go off. SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly last night condemned the attacks. “These are only the attacks we know about – we don’t know about attacks stopped because of the intervention of police.” She added that it is “in everybody’s interests” that paramilitary groups are stopped.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story 

Aontú: Their impact on Sinn Féin and the SDLP – Slugger O’Toole


Follow these links to find out more: https://aontu.ie/

No special help for terminally ill PIP applicants because of Stormont standoff

Nichola Mallon wants the process to be fairer and more compassionate for people with the ‘least time to spare’

SDLP MLA Nichols Mallon

People facing terminal illness will have no special help to make urgent PIP applications because of the continued limbo at Stormont.

SDLP MLA Nichoal Mallon is trying to help hundreds of people navigate the new PIP rules.

And she had given special attention to those with terminal illnesses and life limiting conditions.

She has repeated called for a review of the definition of the term ‘terminal illness”.

There has been no working government in the North of Ireland since January 2017

But her plea urging action from the Department of Communities has responded with a resounding ‘no’ blaming the Stormont impasse.

Officials urged to explain how they will protect sick and disabled people from “appalling PIP experiences”
Mrs Mallon said: “I’d written to the Department for Communities to see if, in light of the Secretary of State’s Guidance on Civil Service Decision Making, work might be able to begin on making the PIP application process fairer and more compassionate for those with a terminal illness.

Stormont protest calls for politicians to “get back to work”
“The answer in short – no.

“So those with the least time to spare, the terminally ill applying for PIP are left to wait until whenever the Stormont standoff and stalemate might end.”

Record £37.1million paid in additional Northern Ireland benefits to people who made a call

The letter sent to Nichola Mallon

The letter from the Department of Communities stated: “The statutory framework introducing PIP – including a definition of terminal illness used for the special rules – in Northern Ireland was put in place by the Westminster Government following the approach agreed by the Executive to introduce welfare Reform here and the subsequent legislative consent motion endorsed by the Assembly.

Proposal for Universal Credit claimants to get half price public transport can’t go further because there is no Minister
“In the absence of Ministers the Department is constrained in the actions it can undertake: civil servants do not have the authority to commence work on a major policy review or take legislative decisions to break parity that go beyond the current arrnagemtns as previously agreed by the Executive and Assembly.”

Universal Credit cake sparks outrage

With many thanks to: Belfast Live for the original story.

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