What would replace Stormont petition of concern?

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster has said she would like to see the petition of concern scrapped at Stormont

Arlene Foster's indication that she would like to see the Stormont petition of concern scrapped has focused attention on issues like same-sex marriage.

Its introduction has so far been blocked by the veto power despite attracting the support of a narrow majority of MLAs.

However, no-one should leap to the assumption that the Stormont parties will drop the controversial petition system in isolation, without revisiting all of the rest of the Good Friday Agreement's "ugly scaffolding".

Back in 2014, a Stormont committee reviewed the petition of concern system and concluded that there was no consensus for reform.

The committee considered whether the use of such petitions should be restricted to certain key areas.

Read full article What would replace Stormont petition of concern?

Traditional Northern Ireland voting habits die hard

Mike Nesbitt
Image caption Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has said he will select the SDLP as his second preference after the UUP on his ballot paper in March's election.

If a week can be a long time in politics, then two years is an eternity.

In March 2015 the Ulster Unionists proudly unveiled a pact with the DUP covering four constituencies.

Read full article Traditional Northern Ireland voting habits die hard

Sinn Féin challenged over links to US travel ban supporters

New York Congressman Peter King and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peter King (left) said Rudy Giuliani (right) was mistaken when he claimed he was on a commission that designed the ban, but did confirm he supported the measure

The Irish opposition party Fianna Fáil has challenged Sinn Féin to spell out its contacts with US supporters of President Trump's immigration ban.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has condemned the temporary ban on migrants from seven Muslim majority countries.

Read full article Sinn Féin challenged over links to US travel ban supporters

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.

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