Conservative leadership contest: NI Tories' fear of betrayal

lEADERSHIP CONTEST
Image caption Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson faced NI Conservatives in the north Down's Culloden Hotel on Tuesday

Fear of betrayal is a common theme in the history of Northern Ireland politics.

Traditionally it is associated with unionists concerned that Westminster might be about to sell them out in order to do a deal with Dublin.

But the Northern Ireland Conservative hustings provided another angle to that old "suspicious lover" narrative.

With about only 500 members and no elected representatives, the local Tories aren't exactly big players in the regional political scene.

In the last European and council elections they garnered just 662 and 1,364 votes.

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Northern Ireland's historic Euro election

Women at the count Image copyright PA
Image caption Out for the count. Northern Ireland used a different voting system from the rest of the UK

Given the arguments over the Brexit backstop revolve around treating Northern Ireland in exactly the same way as the rest of the UK, it's worth pointing out that we just elected our three MEPs using a completely different system from England, Scotland and Wales.

Voters in Great Britain marked their chosen party with an X, whilst in Northern Ireland you indicated your preferences with a "1, 2, 3" - and so on.

Read full article Northern Ireland's historic Euro election

Brush with May signposted Brexit maze

Theresa May has announced she will resign on 7 June Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May has announced she will resign on 7 June

In June 2016, I was despatched to a hairbrush factory in Bangor, County Down, to interview a VIP who had just flown across from London to back the Remain campaign.

It turned out to be the then Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Read full article Brush with May signposted Brexit maze

European Election 2019: Brexit dominates NI TV debate

Spotlight election debate

Six candidates in this week's European parliamentary election in Northern Ireland have clashed over Brexit, the Irish border backstop and whether there should be another referendum.

They were appearing on a special BBC Spotlight debate on Tuesday night.

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Success of the 'Others' remains election talking point

Aine Groogan Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The Green Party's Aine Groogan topped the poll in Botanic DEA

With the Northern Ireland council results done and dusted, the rise of the "others" remains the big talking point.

At the Stormont Assembly, the "others" are the parties who decline to sign in as either unionists or nationalists, writing in another description of their choice.

Read full article Success of the 'Others' remains election talking point

Alliance surge in NI council elections a striking development

Alliance's Ross McMullan (centre) celebrates his election Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Alliance's Ross McMullan (centre) got almost 1,000 votes over the quota when he was elected to Belfast City Council

PR elections in Northern Ireland are always more of a marathon than a sprint, so it's wise not to overanalyse the results at the halfway mark.

The protracted drama of single transferable voting means that both candidates and parties who looked like hares early on turn into tortoises as the white tape approaches.

Read full article Alliance surge in NI council elections a striking development

As fife and drum beat for Brexit, what happens next?

Two Scottish bands marched around Westminster in support of Brexit
Image caption Two Scottish bands marched around Westminster in support of Brexit

For a moment it looked and sounded like a mini-twelfth.

Two marching bands banged out some tunes on their flutes and drums, an Ulster flag flew overhead.

Read full article As fife and drum beat for Brexit, what happens next?

Is Karen Bradley running out of road?

Karen Bradley arrives for a cabinet meeting Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Downing Street may hope the storm over Ms Bradley's comments blows over

Karen Bradley is not the first and probably will not be the last Northern Ireland Secretary to slip spectacularly on a political banana skin.

There was Peter Brooke persuaded on an RTE TV chat show to give a rendition of "Oh My Darling, Clementine" on a day when seven Protestant workmen had been killed in an IRA bombing.

Read full article Is Karen Bradley running out of road?

Brexit vote: A way out, or just a dead end?

Theresa May Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Can Theresa May find a way out of the current Brexit impasse?

So after Theresa May's dramatic parliamentary u-turn, is Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry right to claim the Brexit bandwagon is now heading down a dead end?

According to the so-called Malthouse compromise, named after the Conservative Housing Minister Kit Malthouse, the "alternative arrangements" which UK diplomats are now tasked to explore for the border will be based on the Brexiteer blueprint "A Better Deal" published in December.

Read full article Brexit vote: A way out, or just a dead end?

Can the SDLP and Fianna Fáil avoid the curse of history?

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Media captionColum Eastwood accepts that the SDLP's pairing with Fianna Fáil could be "uncomfortable for some"

"Don't underplay this," an SDLP insider implored me as I arrived for the launch of the party's new arrangement with Fianna Fáil. "It's an unprecedented partnership between two parties on this island."

"Are you sure?" I countered. "What about the time the Ulster Unionists got together with the Conservatives?"

Read full article Can the SDLP and Fianna Fáil avoid the curse of history?