Big changes could follow Northern Ireland Assembly election

Stormont
Image caption The breakdown of the Stormont assembly was not pre-determined.

Although the assembly has wound down with almost clockwork-like inevitability, it should not be forgotten that the breakdown of Stormont wasn't pre-determined.

Despite their differences over Brexit and the legacy of the Troubles, the DUP and Sinn Féin maintained remarkable discipline after first the UUP, then the SDLP decided to leave the executive.

Until mid-December, the two parties' joint approach also extended to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

When a BBC Spotlight investigation into the RHI affair stirred widespread public concern, both parties appeared to be making progress behind the scenes in arranging some kind of an investigation. This would have supplemented the Public Accounts Committee which had been taking evidence on the scandal since September.

But after former DUP minister Jonathan Bell broke ranks on a Nolan TV special on 15 December those attempts to manage the crisis within the walls of Stormont Castle broke down.

Read full article Big changes could follow Northern Ireland Assembly election

We've all been burned by heating scandal

Arlene Foster and Jonathan Bell
Image caption Arlene Foster and Jonathan Bell's accounts are contradictory

Politics red in tooth and claw, that's what was on display in Thursday's remarkable interviews with Jonathan Bell and Arlene Foster.

Two politicians with their reputations on the line, speaking under the shadow of the axe which will fall on whoever the public eventually deem is to blame for the RHI debacle.

Read full article We've all been burned by heating scandal

Comments come back to embarrass politicians

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster argued that she had not used the terms poachers

In politics, as in life, it's easy to be abrasive about someone far away, but rather more difficult to be rude to someone sitting right beside you.

So if you are planning to launch a broadside, it's often convenient to pick a distant target.

Read full article Comments come back to embarrass politicians

The Fresh Start Agreement one year on

Fresh Start agreement paper Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption The 'Fresh Start' deal was agreed in 2015 after 10 weeks of negotiations

One year on, how does the Fresh Start Agreement stand the test of time.

On the upside, it put to an end the era of fantasy budgets and Stormont teetering on a budgetary precipice.

Read full article The Fresh Start Agreement one year on

NI ministers may benefit from Brexit restraint

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright AP
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon pronounced herself frustrated by what she sees as the lack of a UK government strategy for the forthcoming negotiations with the EU

Nicola Sturgeon was the centre of attention at this week's Downing Street Brexit meeting.

The Scottish First Minister pronounced herself frustrated by what she sees as the lack of a UK government strategy for the forthcoming negotiations with the EU.

Read full article NI ministers may benefit from Brexit restraint

Prime minster's Brexit letter raises eyebrows and questions

Theresa May
Image caption The emergence of Theresa May's letter to the first and deputy first ministers was a talking point at Stormont

The way Theresa May's letter on Brexit to Stormont Castle emerged raised a few eyebrows around the assembly.

A couple of weeks after using the Royal Prerogative to appoint a new press secretary, was it really the executive's considered media strategy to reveal important correspondence from Downing Street live on Radio Ulster's Nolan Show?

Read full article Prime minster's Brexit letter raises eyebrows and questions

Prime Minister says no UK region can opt out of Brexit

Theresa May
Image caption Theresa May has said no UK region can 'opt out' when Britain leaves the EU in 2019

Theresa May might have had the Scottish National Party first and foremost in her thoughts when she told Conservative activists there would be "no opt out" of Brexit for any region of the UK.

But the message applied equally to those Remain voters in Northern Ireland who have been thinking fondly about the idea of retaining some kind of special status within the EU.

Read full article Prime Minister says no UK region can opt out of Brexit

Did state agents nudge the IRA towards peace?

BBC Spotlight spoke to an informer who said he believed Gerry Adams sanctioned Denis Donaldson's murder
Image caption BBC Spotlight spoke to an informer who said he believed Gerry Adams sanctioned Denis Donaldson's murder

Gerry Adams has denied any involvement in sanctioning Denis Donaldson's murder.

Martin McGuinness says the claims made by an alleged agent inside the IRA on this week's Spotlight programme were "about as credible as Walter Mitty".

Read full article Did state agents nudge the IRA towards peace?

BBC Border poll survey: Brexit impact on opinions

EU and Union Jack flags Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The BBC border poll survey suggested 8/10 voters opinions were unchanged by Brexit

Having spent the last few days trawling through the numbers in the View's latest survey, I feel safe in assuming that having covered the Good Friday Agreement referendum, the EU referendum and the AV referendum (remember that) I am unlikely, in my tenure as BBC NI Political Editor, to find myself covering a border poll.

(Note to editor - I am not ruling returning from retirement for a bit of punditry, I might need the cash!)

Image caption There was a rise in those who would vote to join the Republic of Ireland since 2013

Fluctuating support

Read full article BBC Border poll survey: Brexit impact on opinions

Brexit: The 'reverse ferret' claims and Stormont's 'joint approach'

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster identified their five key priorities in the Brexit talks in a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May this week

"Brexit means Brexit" might have proved a catchy sound bite for Prime Minister Theresa May.

However this week's letter from Stormont Castle to Downing Street points to the huge ambiguity about what the UK might be entering into after it exits.

Read full article Brexit: The 'reverse ferret' claims and Stormont's 'joint approach'