Irish Language issue still has (crocodile) teeth

Crocodile Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Arlene Foster originally made her "crocodile" quip while vowing there would be no Irish Language Act

If labelling Sinn Féin as "crocodiles" was the Arlene Foster phrase that stuck at the start of the spring assembly election campaign, then the DUP leader was determined not to make the same mistake again at the outset of the Westminster battle.

The ad lib "crocodile" comment emerged during answers to the press, so the DUP's Gavin Robinson was only half joking when he advised party activists that the longer they cheered the better, as it would cut down the time for those pesky enquiries from reporters.

Mrs Foster originally made her "crocodile" quip after vowing there would not be an Irish Language Act under her watch.

On Inside Politics last week, I questioned her several times about whether this remained her position - she did not repeat the formula, instead insisting that few people other than political activists had told her they wanted such an Act.

Questioned by the Newsletter's Sam McBride, the DUP leader clarified she had ruled out an Irish Language Act "in the context of nothing else happening in terms of culture and language".

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Stormont in limbo after "worst" talks - but what next?

Stormont
Image caption Sinn Féin and the DUP have pointed the finger at each other over the failed talks process

The Ulster Unionist chief negotiator said it was "simply the worst" talks process ever. And there's not a lot of people rushing to contradict him.

Blame will be thrown in different directions.

Read full article Stormont in limbo after "worst" talks - but what next?

Walking with Martin McGuinness and Buttons the dog

The panoramic view from Grianan of Aileach
Image caption The panoramic view from Grianan of Aileach - a special place for Martin McGuinness

Buffeted by a freezing wind on a chilly afternoon last April, I accompanied Martin McGuinness and his dog for a stroll around an ancient Irish hill fort just across the border on the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal.

Grianan of Aileach was a special place for the deputy first minister, perhaps because it reminded him of Ireland's ancient history, but also because it afforded panoramic views across the counties of Donegal, Derry and Tyrone.

Read full article Walking with Martin McGuinness and Buttons the dog

Irish border poll unlikely, but possible

Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon's has called for a second Independence Referendum

A bewildering list of developments has contributed to a sense that perhaps the political tectonic plates are on the move.

It includes:

Read full article Irish border poll unlikely, but possible

Can fake views influence real votes in the Stormont election?

Danny Kennedy Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The UUP's Danny Kennedy claims he was the victim of a fake election leaflet

The other day I was chatting to one of my editors who was dutifully framing a response to a letter of complaint from a viewer exercised about my colleague Mark Carruthers' handling of an interview with Arlene Foster on "The View".

I peered over her shoulder and was surprised to realise I'd read the letter already - in that morning's News Letter.

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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.

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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.

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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