American diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan , were invited to Belfast by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson to seek an agreement over the issues of parades, flags and the legacy of the past. After a month long marathon of talks and discussions and brinksmanship over the last few days of December  Haass produced a seventh version of the draft agreement for the five largest parties to sign up to. Both the Unionist Parties rejected the proposals, while the SDLP and Sinn Féin accepted them.  Since then the SF Ard Comhairle has voted to accept the proposals. The position of the Unionist parties and those of Sinn Féin and the SDLP reveal much about the underlying contradictions and divisions in the North.

Michael Noonan’s Budget 2014 will take a further €2.5bn out of the economy;  in other words a figure of around €600 for every man, woman and child in the state. It is evident also that as anticipated the losers are the old, the sick and the young unemployed.

A recent article by Gary Mulcahy in the July/August edition of The Socialist dealt with the emergence of residents’ groups in North Belfast. The article was in line with the narrative that the Socialist Party espouses. Here Gerry Ruddy looks at where such a narrative leads in the context of the sectarian divided in the North of Ireland.

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