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.

Stormont's First Minister Arlene Foster has weathered the opposition's cries of U-turn and "reverse ferret", arguing she is merely listening to those concerned about Northern Ireland's special circumstances.

However, her joint letter with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness does place her Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), at the very least, on the flexible wing of the Brexit camp.

Border checks

Voters who opted to leave the European Union because they did not want foreigners 'taking our jobs' might feel perplexed about fellow Brexiteers championing employers' continued access to both unskilled and highly skilled labour.

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What are the implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland?

A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Stormont and Dublin ministers are discussing Brexit in their North South Council and an early meeting of the East West British Irish Council has been promised

Our politicians are embroiled in discussions about the implications of Brexit on both sides of the Irish Sea, but so far not a lot of concrete ideas have emerged.

Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein have suggested creating an all Ireland national forum to consider the implications of Brexit.

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Thoughts on the Brexit vote result in Northern Ireland

Image caption Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers backed the Leave campaign

As Nigel Farage and Theresa Villiers appeared to concede defeat late on Thursday night and sterling climbed on the assumption that Remain had it in the bag, Mark Carruthers, presenting BBC NI's "The View" invited me to call the referendum outcome.

Mindful that, behind me, the counters were still verifying the ballot papers and across the UK not a single area had declared, I declined his offer on the grounds that making a wild guess at such an early stage is a "mug's game"

Read full article Thoughts on the Brexit vote result in Northern Ireland

How long will the Stormont honeymoon last?

Parliament Buildings at Stormont Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Anyone thinking the new-look assembly will mimic Westminster practices is likely to be wrong

So, how long will the Northern Ireland Executive honeymoon last?

And what difference will the new Stormont opposition make in practice?

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Claire Sugden says risks of taking the justice role are 'life-changing'

Claire Sugden
Image caption Claire Sugden has been appointed as the new justice minister in Northern Ireland

Until the Assembly broke for the election campaign, Claire Sugden was an occupant of what used to be called the "naughty corner".

She inherited the East Londonderry seat from David McClarty after his untimely death from cancer, following in his footsteps as a liberal unionist working hard on the bread and butter concerns of her constituents.

Read full article Claire Sugden says risks of taking the justice role are 'life-changing'

Mike Nesbitt: UUP leader proves he still has an eye for a headline

Mike Nesbitt
Image caption Mike Nesbitt's rallying cry of 'let battle commence' ensures a change of the Stormont political game

As a former TV presenter, Mike Nesbitt has a penchant for grabbing a headline.

Last summer, he pulled out of the Stormont Executive when Peter Robinson was away, initially wrong footing the DUP as it tried to respond to allegations that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan.

Read full article Mike Nesbitt: UUP leader proves he still has an eye for a headline

Gerry Adams and the 'N-word'

Gerry Adams
Image caption Gerry Adams apologised for using the 'N-word' admitting it was "inappropriate" but stood by "the context and main point of my tweet which were the parallels between people in struggle"

The Northern Ireland Assembly election campaign had been looking dangerously anodyne, especially when contrasted with the high octane row about anti-Semitism within the British Labour Party. Then Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams decided to go to the movies.

The angry responses to Mr Adams' tweet about the film "Django Unchained" and his subsequent apology for his "ironic" use of the N-word have been well documented elsewhere.

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NI Assembly election: Hustings events remain key part of campaign

Jim Wells
Image caption In March the former DUP health minister Jim Wells told the BBC his party was going to avoid election hustings during this campaign

Back in March the former DUP health minister Jim Wells told the BBC his party was going to avoid election hustings during this campaign.

It is easy to understand why Mr Wells took that view, given the furore over the controversial comments he made during a discussion of same sex marriage at a hustings event before last year's Westminster election.

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NI Assembly election: Education emerges as key issue

Mike Nesbitt Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said if his party returns to the power sharing executive they want to take the education department

I sat down to write a blog about how education had become a theme during the second full week of the Stormont campaign.

But instead another E word kept coming into my head - Europe. Nothing to do with the June Brexit referendum, but one of those bizarre encounters you sometimes have on the election trail.

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NI assembly election: Tax and money pledges in early stages of campaign

Polling station Image copyright ace66
Image caption The assembly election campaign is well under way, with voters going to the polls on 5 May

The assembly election campaign began with the DUP promising those who reach their 100th birthday at the time of Northern Ireland's centenary in 2021 £1,000.

Eight days on, the SDLP was pledging to give newborn babies £250 in what looked like a regional version of Gordon Brown's now defunct Child Trust Fund.

Read full article NI assembly election: Tax and money pledges in early stages of campaign