Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe at the unveiling of the Public Services Card last year. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

UK-Irish identification likely alternative to policing already overwhelmed borders

A car on fire in the North Queen Street area of Belfast, close to the site of a contentious bonfire. A refusal to tackle dangerous loyalist bonfires has undermined faith in the rule of law. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PSNI longer offers itself up as target for rioters but must clarify its strategy

‘After a year of exploring technological Border solutions, the Government has suddenly lost faith in this approach.’ Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

There is a significant risk that paramilitary funding will evade new customs measures

Sinn Féin national chair Declan Kearney pitched his proposal in the North’s main unionist newspaper. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Newton Emerson: Sinn Féin chairman’s call for Bill in ‘Belfast Telegraph’ worth considering

Simon Coveney  is entitled to express frustration with the UK’s appalling ill-preparedness for Brexit. Once again the real problem with his remarks was their futile, ill-timed stirring of the pot

Minister blundering in with doom-laden pronouncements on Brexit was unhelpful

DUP leader Arlene Foster. The DUP routes all candidate donations via the party, as does Sinn Féin. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Results from any further transparency likely to disappoint conspiracy theorists

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. File photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Stormont stand-off is based on a misrepresentation of the party’s position

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. “There is an extent to which Adams is always still voiced by an actor.” Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Lurid headlines in London about DUP-Tory deal contrast with realism in North

London visit: Theresa May looked at Leo Varadkar like he was the star of her own personal rom-com. Photograph:  Philip Toscano/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Opinion: Belfast Agreement requires the British government to act with impartiality

 Arlene Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, arrive at 10 Downing Street for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Unionist violence will no longer be compartmentalised following a DUP-Tory deal

Protesters  march against the Conservative  alliance with the DUP over the weekend. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The deal would have implications for Brexit, Stormont and Northern Irish society

 Leo Varadkar: he has gone through the motions of advocating a united Ireland, yet says Sinn Féin is “the greatest threat to our democracy” and restoring devolution to Stormont is his immediate priority.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Leo Varadkar’s centre-right economic views essential to securing a united Ireland

Rathfriland, Co Down: in a unionist town, nobody is particularly welcome.

Simply beating Sinn Féin may expose lack of policy to expand unionist appeal

 UK Labour Party  leader: Anti-imperialist, anti-racist analysis is the bedrock of the British far-left’s worldview. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty

Notion of NI as former British colony was laid to rest with the Belfast Agreement

Hong Kong: the city  is rated one of the least corrupt places on earth, with a lower risk of commercial bribery than Norway. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency serves as a model for Minister’s campaign centrepiece

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. ‘Sinn Féin is so focused on getting into office in Dublin that the party may even retire its leader at Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s behest.’ Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Press Eye

Sinn Féin’s desire to enter a coalition in the South gives FF and FG leverage over the party

The Irish flag flies atop the GPO in Dublin to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. File photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

EU stance erases the question of whether Irish unity would mean an entirely new state

 The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Since the late 1990s there have been five official reports  in the North that have advised cutting the number of acute hospitals from 15 to four

Nuns and DUP ministers may be the last people on the island who concur with each other

British prime minister Theresa May. Photograph: Getty Images

Theresa May’s move may throw a spanner into talks on forming a devolved government

Belfast, 1989: “High unemployment was hardly unique to Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s but it combined with the Troubles to create a grim sense of inevitability – it felt like there would always be few jobs and even fewer prospects.” File photograph: Getty Images

British government wants to use Brexit to substitute migrant workers with the unemployed

 Brexit has raised new questions and the collapse of Stormont  means no answers. Photograph: Getty Images

‘If there were fewer powers and fewer people wielding them, would there be less arguing?’

Unlike  Martin McGuinness, the vast bulk of the population got through the Troubles by simply ignoring them. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Extent to which most got through Northern conflict by ignoring it is bizarre to recall

If the majority evaporates, the Border becomes unsustainable. Nationalists will want it gone and unionists will see no point to it. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Challenge would be how to treat demands of British minority once motion passed

Sinn Féin leader  Gerry Adams: what a transformation has already occurred in his personal fortunes. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Unionism has provoked nationalism into a thrilling tribal slap-down

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said joint authority  was “the only acceptable position for the nationalist community if, post-election, an Executive cannot be formed”.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

This codology is powerful enough delusion to undermine support for Stormont

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams speaks to media outside the Sinn Fein offices on Falls Road in Belfast on Friday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Arlene Foster’s success at raising the republican vote has changed the landscape

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill with Gerry Adams. The DUP likes to portray Adams as a bogeyman pulling O’Neill’s strings – an electoral scare-tactic that works because it is obviously true. Photograph: Getty Images

How will Sinn Féin keep ‘disrespect’ row alive with no Executive to be disrespected in?

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster: Both women have had strikingly similar executive careers, marked by unusually long and mediocre tenures in a single, safe department. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sinn Féin’s demand that Arlene Foster leave compels DUP to consider ‘dual leadership’

 Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt. Photograph: Alan Betson

UUP’s eccentric leadership no match for cynical rule changes given to SF and DUP

Generational change: Sinn Féin’s    Michelle O’Neill and   Gerry Adams. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty

Stormont’s veto system has worked so far, but the next generation will expect more

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Northern leader Michelle O’Neill were impressively vague this week about Sinn Féin’s campaign for EU special status. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Pragmatism from party is connected to its prospects south of the Border

Sinn Féin’s new Northern leader Michelle O’Neill with the party’s president Gerry Adams: Last Saturday, Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin conference that Brexit is a “hostile action” that would “destroy the Good Friday Agreement”. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Taking North out of EU does not breach Belfast Agreement and it is highly irresponsible to claim otherwise

Closed for business: The sun sets over Stormont. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Gerry Adams may relish playing crisis politics, but he did not escalate ‘cash for ash’ row

 Paul Givan (right, with  Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir):  The DUP minister was denounced as an “ignoramus” by Gerry Adams after cutting an Irish-language bursary.   Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

‘Unionism is British nationalism, and two nationalisms cannot have equal standing’

Less than equal partners? Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Unionists about to be taught lesson they never learn: deal with nationalism now

The annual loss from RHI, at just under £25 million (€29m), is mundane by Stormont standards. Photograph: Paul Faith.

Administrative incompetence a bigger threat to union than bomb everyone seems to be braced for

For decades if not centuries before 2011, Northern Ireland’s marching bands – its “largest community arts sector”, to use Givan’s heroic description – managed without any public money.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Both sides have been cheaply bought by those who march them around in circles,

The SNP’s implied acceptance of federalism goes beyond Brexit, creating a general survival mechanism for the UK

The Scottish National Party has bought into the idea of federalism saving the union

Arlene Foster ruled out stepping aside because she had done nothing wrong, although Robinson had the wit to say he was stepping aside precisely to prove he had done nothing wrong. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Foster’s character leaves her unable to be responsible or civil or recognise limits

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: When Brian Stack’s sons approached Sinn Féin for help they were effectively put through the Stormont House mechanism.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Adams’s handling of the Stack case is in line with past – and imperfect – agreements

Last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten at handover ceremony in 1997. Photograph:  Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Similarity between Belfast Agreement and Hong Kong handover is great unmentionable

Rev Ian Paisley: how strange that so many people were so recently led by a man of such antique obsessions.

Protestants must reassess Paisleyism and his bizarre anti-papist rhetoric

 Máirtín Ó Muilleoir: says Ireland can no longer afford the cost of partition. Photograph:  Mark Marlow/Pacemaker

Party’s campaign video seeks to convince voters that North is an economic miracle

Arlene Foster could lead unionism broadly and generously. She cannot do this with petulance and bad grace. Photograph: PA

Brusque DUP First Minister needs to tone down the tantrums

David Ervine at Stormont in 2006: the former PUP leader  spun a story of working-class roots straight out of a Ken Loach movie. Photograph: Reuters

Violence of UDA and UVF still being traced to North’s drawing rooms

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness  at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit: “Sinn Féin has directly linked Brexit and Irish unity by calling for a Border poll.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

It is self-defeating for nationalists to be scaremongering about effects of UK vote

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair after the signing of the Belfast Agreement on April 10th, 1998. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/Reuters

Human rights are sewn into the Belfast Agreement, which the UK will not breach

Perhaps the Taoiseach is ignoring all this because his forum is just a gimmick or a distraction for political rivals – in which case, everyone should boycott it. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Cross-Border discussions already possible and real talks will be between Dublin and London

A  customs stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin. “So we are left to picture a vaguely 1950s netherworld of peak-capped inspectors in wooden huts, completely alien to the technology and practice of modern trade and travel.” Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

Hysteria about a post-Brexit Border from the 1950s is in danger of tipping over into farce

 Coverage in the “Sun” of the  Hillsborough  disaster: Independent councillor Paul Gallagher has asked local newsagents to stop selling the paper

The attempted suppression of a paper by political parties is clearly an act of oppression

Neil Kinnock, former leader of the British Labour Party, used his 1985 conference speech to challenge the militants head on. Photograph: Alan Betson

Unlike Sinn Féin, unionists have yet to confront the cranks in their ranks

Jamie Bryson leaving Parliament Buildings in Belfast where he gave evidence to Stormont’s Finance Committee on the controversial sale of Nama’s NI assets to a US investor. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

He testified against the DUP over Nama, then exposed SF for trying to coach him

The parties at Stormont have a “one of ours and one of yours” culture regarding public appointments – fair nepotism, if you like. Photograph: PA

Practice is intrinsic and inevitable in such a very small place but we choose to ignore it

The Troubles generation was marked by an almost total collapse in the unionist sense of Irishness, which is usually explained as a reaction to republican violence. TREVOR MCBRIDE PICTURE©

For people my age Northern Ireland really was as British as Finchley

Titanic Belfast: The attraction, implausibly named this week as the best in Europe, sits in a semi-abandoned shipyard, which in turn sits within the huge Harbour Estate. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Despite Titanic Belfast the former industrial wasteland is still well worth a visit

A painted lady butterfly near the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Photograph: Cepa Giblin

Over 2,500 marches have taken place with less bloodshed than at Notting Hill Carnival

Daithí McKay. Photograph: Pacemaker

Newton Emerson: It looks like this attempt to move the party upmarket is becoming increasingly ad hoc as it fails to produce any s(...)

“The UUP could be as readily seized as Labour because it has the same one-member one-vote rule that brought in Jeremy Corbyn (above).” Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Labour membership in Northern Ireland up tenfold as a consequence of Jeremy Corbyn

“On the day of his death, John Boreland’s own name was in print. He was almost certainly aware of this.” Photograph: AFP/PSNI

Festering loyalist feud and the criminality behind it have been as public as a parade

Stormont in Northern Ireland.

Unionist minority would need some assurance of real influence in all-Ireland Dáil

When DUP leader Arlene Foster shot down Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s proposal for a forum three weeks ago, her concerns were presumed to be the normal unionist contempt for anything all-Ireland, plus paradoxical indignation at Kenny forgetting to run the idea past her first. Liam McBurney/PA

Foremost unionist party objects to inclusion of Ulster Unionists in forum

In the past month, the euro has varied against the pound by 13.2 per cent. The exchange rate is the real hard border. Photograph:  Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

As in Scotland, nationalists can win that vote if they persuade a relatively small chunk of the electorate that their money is saf(...)

The huge bonfire in the Shankill Road in Belfast is lit on the “Eleventh night” to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Middle class unionism has drifted away from 12th bonfires making them someone elses problem

The EU is cited nine times in the Belfast Agreement but only in passing. Brussels has no formal role in any of the agreement’s institutions. Even the all-Ireland EU funding body is not specified in the agreement’s text – and EU funding can continue by treating Northern Ireland as a border region. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Very little will change in UK leaves the EU unless Scotland becomes independent

There has not been widespread public disorder over a specifically constitutional development in Northern Ireland since the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement - and that was far from spontaneous. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The two great concerns - redundancies and rioting - are overplayed

David Cameron has been front and centre for the Remain campaign but a Brexit vote will mean another Scottish independence bid, probably within two years. Photograph: Getty Images

‘Far from having a deep state, the UK looks like a uniquely shallow state – not even summoning up the most routine of dark arts in(...)

Loyalists returned to violence five years ago, having finally accepted their political project was dead. They replaced it with street disorder, turned on and off to extract cash, concessions and official kudos. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Nationalist suspicions that loyalism remains in business are underscored every day

A speech by Matt Carthy over the weekend is seen as breaking fresh ground. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Party moves towards centre ground by calling for more devolution to Belfast

The 2012 flag dispute in Belfast City Council, which paralysed Stormont for years, shows how drips of poison on the ground in Northern Ireland can seep suddenly, disastrously upwards. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

History provides a warning as to why the Stormont truce needs to be more widely applied

Jeremy Corbyn: Unionists are blinded  to how deeply Corbyn and McDonnell’s lifelong worldview is tied up with breaking the union. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Conservative Party looks set for civil war clearing a path to Downing Street for the Labour leader

Nesbitt had been forced by disappointing poll results to take a last desperate gamble, with no better plan than disrupting the environment and hoping for more favourable conditions.  Photographer Matt Mackey - Presseye.com

Mike Nesbitt’s decision to take the UUP into official opposition has put pressure on the SDLP and Alliance to follow

 Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: he comes to the fore only during major political crises, which he is always largely responsible for causing. This increasingly makes him look like a one-trick troublemaker. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

In light of latest tweet gaffe, what sort of deputy first minister would Adams be?

President Barack Obama fielded a question on Northern Ireland during a town hall meeting with young Britons at the Royal Horticulture Halls in London. Photograph: Stephen Crowley/New York Times

Obama praises progress in London - but Sinn Féin and DUP support segregation

Now Martin has dramatically re-engaged northwards, using his Arbour Hill address last week to demand “direct engagement by both the Irish and British governments”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

An election will now be held in which the people of Northern Ireland can only blame themselves for the outcome

The Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood  during the party’s manifesto launch. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

SDLP leaders comments demonstrate hostility that is simply not acceptable towards any other political group

Stormont Parliament buildings: The problem goes beyond everyone knowing everyone else, or of our ‘elites’ being more of a brass ring than a golden circle.  File photograph: Paul Faith/PA

Project Eagle scandal shines spotlight on the nexus between business and politics

Arlene Foster: The life story she presents to the electorate is of a grammar school girl and RUC man’s daughter struggling to lead a normal life through the Troubles. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Purity of First Minister’s victimhood gives her confidence and authority to work with Sinn Féin

A huge wave of public goodwill towards new DUP leader Arlene Foster  has helped the optimistic mood in Northern Ireland this Christmas. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Despite its name, the new deal is about as fresh as twice-reheated turkey

A satirical website’s boldly cheeky attitude to Irish life and culture is now a very funny book

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