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Mark Devenport, Political editor, Northern Ireland

Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

This is where you can come for my take on the big Stormont stories and the politicians making the news

Peace: The prize and the price

9 April 2014
Windsor Castle
The two neighbouring states set aside ancient quarrels with a state visit which included a banquet at Windsor Castle

A jarring juxtaposition on our screens - news bulletins providing striking images of the glittering prize after so many years struggling for peace - the union flag and the Irish tricolour fluttering side by side and two neighbouring states setting aside ancient quarrels to concentrate on a hopefully productive and harmonious future.

Then the excellent Spotlight investigation by Mandy McAuley providing us with an insider's account of IRA gun running in the 1990s when Sinn Féin was - on the surface - talking peace.

If the avowed gun-runner Mike Logan's testimony about being told to ignore two ceasefires and a peace agreement is to be believed, it is a case of perfidious Irish republicanism.

But there also seems to be plenty of evidence of perfidious Albion and perfidious Washington on display.

Sean "Spike" Murray told Spotlight the allegations about him were "without foundation".

Read full article

Northern Ireland politicians shroud waving over welfare reform?

2 April 2014
Simon Hamilton
Simon Hamilton has said there will be a £68m cut in the health budget if welfare reforms are not agreed

You don't have to take sides in the tug of war between the DUP and Sinn Féin to acknowledge there's plenty of politics being played over the stalled introduction of welfare reform.

Edwin Poots has told the Nolan Show that, given the existing financial strains on the health service budget, the £68m cut predicted by his colleague, Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, is "simply untenable, as this will directly manifest itself in a reduced level of services provided to patients and clients and would mean that the population of Northern Ireland will not be able to access the same level of health and social care compared to the rest of the UK".

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Is any publicity good publicity ahead of election?

20 March 2014
The Alliance Party has selected Anna Lo to be its candidate in the European election
The Alliance Party has selected Anna Lo to be its candidate in the European election

If you are a candidate heading into an election is all publicity good publicity?

That's the question that ran through my mind when I first saw John Manley's revealing Irish News interview with Anna Lo.

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Puzzle of European law and On the Runs

10 March 2014

Last week Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers made a speech declaring that the controversial administrative scheme for On the Runs is, so far as the government is concerned, over.

My guest on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics was Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

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Bill Clinton soaks up political limelight in Londonderry

5 March 2014
Former US President Bill Clinton walks with former Social Democratic Labour Party leader John Hume and Hume"s wife Pat across the Peace Bridge, in Londonderry
Bill Clinton walked across Derry's Peace Bridge with John Hume, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)

Much excitement in Londonderry as Bill Clinton takes a stroll across the Peace Bridge and heads to the Guildhall Square to address the public.

But if the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who is also visiting Ireland, walked the same walk, you can't imagine it generating anything like the same buzz.

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On the Runs: Secret deal hidden in plain sight

28 February 2014
John Downey
The collapse of the trial of John Downey, who was accused of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, has focussed attention on one particular element of a long and convoluted peace process

The Police Service of Northern Ireland codenamed their processing of republican On The Runs "Operation Rapid".

The same nickname could have been applied to this week's fast moving political crisis.

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'Good cops' in Sinn Féin and DUP outnumbered by 'bad cops'

10 February 2014
Stormont
"Good cops" in Sinn Féin and DUP outnumbered by "bad cops"

Nothing new in the DUP and Sinn Féin trading insults or claiming each other is pandering to extremes.

But there seems to be an extra level of sophistication in the latest mirror image machinations between the two incumbents at Stormont Castle.

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Scottish and EU referendums: The effect on Northern Ireland

6 February 2014
Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny said there would be "very serious consequences for Northern Ireland" if the UK left the EU

While Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness aims a few fresh barbs at First Minister Peter Robinson on the eve of another Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual party conference), others have been surveying the wider scene.

The Irish prime minister, Tony Blair's former chief of staff and the DUP MP for North Antrim have all been ruminating on what changes in Scotland or Europe might mean for Northern Ireland.

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Stormont opposition no closer

4 February 2014
Stormont
The Ulster Unionists have suggested changes to the Stormont system

Should Stormont have an opposition? That was a talking point back in 2012 when the Ulster Unionists were choosing a new leader.

John McCallister advocated taking the party out of the Northern Ireland Executive unilaterally. Mike Nesbitt argued there should be a referendum on changing the Stormont rules.

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Ian Paisley and DUP: Politics 'red in tooth and claw'

20 January 2014
Ian Paisley
There are no shortage of daggers on display in the Mallie documentary - not just those that the Paisleys claim were wielded against them

So do you believe him then or do you believe him now?

Part two of Eamonn Mallie's documentary, From Genesis to Revelation, contains an extract from my interview with Ian Paisley when he announced his decision to stand down as first minister in March 2008.

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About Mark

BBC journalist since 1980s. Reporter for Spotlight, Ireland Correspondent covering IRA ceasefire and Good Friday Agreement, United Nations Correspondent in New York, Stormont Political Editor since 2001.

Covered stories in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Israel.

Author of Flash Frames -12 Years Reporting Belfast and co -author of Man of War, Man of Peace: a biography of Gerry Adams

Once worked as a trainee reporter for Indian newspaper "The Hindu".

Educated in Oxford before going to university in Cambridge to study history

Liverpool and Oxford United supporter.

Mark has an inherited condition which means he can't eat sweets

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