Foster’s giant leap, and the community that accepted it for what it was.

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, a little piece of history was made. Not the burial of Martin McGuinness, although that was undoubtedly an historic moment in these isles if not beyond, but in Arlene Foster’s attendance at the funeral of McGuinness. There in the church alongside the assembled mourners, was former US President, Bill Clinton. It’s with that in mind that I’d like you to indulge me whilst I quote President Clinton. We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more. – Bill Clinton A simple act, going to the funeral of a co-worker; an act which for most of us might be considered relatively normal. For Arlene Foster however, this was surely not such a simple prospect. There are those who will criticise her from each and every angle of this decision; but in their cynicism, they might be missing the other picture – the big picture of the person.  If I may quote one of Clinton’s predecessors. Never question another man’s motive. His wisdom, yes, but not his motives. – Dwight Eisenhower Was this a former (and possible future) First Minister attending the funeral? Or was it the person? Can it be both? Need it be both? Can’t it just be a daughter, a mother, a sister? I don’t want to go into her thought process too much, we know enough already – arguably too much. We shouldn’t know about the shooting of her father, an attempt to kill him; we shouldn’t know because it shouldn’t have happened. We shouldn’t know about the bomb which exploded on her school bus; we...

The Transfer Oddities of AE17a

I’m always interested in weird things – it’s a bit of an obsession. Ripley’s Believe it or not is kinda my jam. So after Assembly elections… after the counting is done and the candidates are returned (or crying at home), I like to look and see what bizarre things happened. The unlikely… the inexplicable… So, thanks to Bob Harper and Elections NI, I went through the counts, and, where possible (some stages aren’t calculable due to simultaneous events) noted down the kind of transfers that make you scratch your head and say, “seriously?” I considered it myself… In South Belfast, prior to going into the ballot box, my preferred order was: Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance) Clare Bailey (Green) But I played with actually going with George Jabbour (NI Conservatives) Lily Kerr (Worker’s Party) John Hiddleston (TUV) Paula Bradshaw Emmet McDonough-Brown Clare Bailey Not because I wanted them to be elected, but because I knew they wouldn’t be… I wanted to give some fun to the counters, I wanted the following conversation to happen: “Who the hell went from the Tories to the Worker’s Party?? Who the HELL went from the Worker’s Party to the TUV?? WHO THE FUCK WENT FROM THE TUV TO ALLIANCE??” In the end though, I bottled it and felt the weight of democracy upon my shoulders, so I went with what was right, for me. Can the same be said for these other transfers from this recent election? North Belfast Julie-Ann Corr-Johnston (Progressive Unionist Party) – 14 transfers went from Corr-Johnston to Sinn Féin. 49 went from J-AC-J to the SDLP. Fiona Ferguson,...

Unionist Unity would be a disservice to us all

Many within the DUP have begun plan B, following the Unionist tanking at the 2017 Assembly Election. All members of society, from all political persuasions, should discourage this – we, the electorate, deserve better. The purpose of opposition, insofar as it exists in an infantile form within Northern Irish politics, is there to oppose. So says Winston Churchill. Churchill was on to something. Dissent, leads to growth, the critical friend should be cherished on par, or above, the sycophantic fanatic. The UUP have experienced an identity crisis (again), but why? Is the party at a weak point? 2017 saw the UUP lose 6 seats, but notionally, according to Nicholas Whyte, if 2016 were run with the new 5 seat constituencies, they would have 5 less to begin with. My own calculations off 2016 results showed a return of 12 UUP seats, so is it a huge loss? In comparison to the DUP’s, who lost 5 more than their notional seats 2016 on 2017, again, according to Whyte. So a notional loss for DUP of 5 seats v a UUP loss of 1….. not disastrous. It must also be remembered that the vote came out. The UUP had it’s highest ever voting figure since the Assembly actually sat: 2007 – 103,145 2011 – 87,531 2016 – 87,302 2017 – 103,314 Yes, voting turnout was up, but the UUP increased its vote in real terms by 18%, whereas the DUP increased by just 11%. (Compared to nationalist vote increases in real terms of 34% for Sinn Féin, and 15% for the SDLP). Further comparison to the other minor Unionist parties, TUV (14% drop), PUP (6%...

From severance, to returning – the SDLP payouts.

Following the 2016 Assembly Election, SDLP members John Dallat (who stood down), and Dolores Kelly (who lost her seat), received severance packages from the NI Assembly – public money – as is normal in such circumstances. It has been reported that the following sums were paid out following their no-longer being MLAs: John Dallat £50,784 Dolores Kelly £65,792 Quite a sum for being out of Stormont for just 302 days. For John Dallat, that works out at the equivalent of nearly £1200 per week, for Ms. Kelly, it’s over £1500 a week. The candidates may well seek to give the money back, if such a mechanism is permitted… I believe that both representatives have been critical in the past when RUC officers were able to retire, and receive a payoff, only to reapply, and join, the PSNI. One trusts that the newly (re)elected MLAs will act in accordance with their principles in accordance with this issue. Or perhaps John and Dolores can just make the payments directly to Alex Attwood and Richie McPhillips, and save the NI Assembly having to make a second wave of payouts to outgoing SDLP MLAs in the same year....
AE17 and two bookies – what do the odds say? Overall result

AE17 and two bookies – what do the odds say? Overall result

So, after the last few days of looking at the odds offered by Paddy Power in the NI Assembly Election-a (for there will likely be a ‘b’), today, ahead of tomorrow’s voting, I’m going to tote up the final scores. Not just of Paddy Power, but combining in A McCleans Bookmakers too. The method for this, if anyone is interesting, is quite simply ranking the top 5 candidates in each constituency based on profit made from a £1 bet. Here’s the full run down prediction. Note: This is based purely off betting profit averages from the above bookmakers. DUP  (34) Sinn Féin (27) UUP (8) SDLP (8) Alliance (8) Green (2) People Before Profit (1) TUV (1) Independent (1) So, starter pistol at the ready… Aaaaand we’re off. Belfast East Naomi Long (Alliance) Joanne Bunting (DUP) Chris Lyttle (Alliance) David Douglas (DUP) Andy Allen (UUP) So the big loser here, factoring in both bookies, is current (at least until tomorrow, anyway) Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Newton. 5/6 with Paddy Power and evens with A McCleans, he’s certainly not to be discounted, but it’s looking unlikely on these odds compared with the others in the field. Belfast North Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin) Paula Bradley (DUP) William Humphrey (DUP) Nelson McCausland (DUP) Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin) Paddy Power had Nichola Mallon of the SDLP at same odds as Ní Chuilîn of Sinn Féin in this race, McCleans, however, drop Mallon into 6th place with a still-odds-on of 4/6. Belfast South Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Féin) Claire Hanna (SDLP) Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP) Clare Bailey (Green) Both bookies...