BEFORE the communist empire based in Moscow collapsed in ruins, there was a category of journalists and academics known as Sovietologists, who kept an eye on things for the enlightenment of people in the capitalist world.
I mentioned during a radio interview a few days ago that I thought that the present and final phase of the political process was coming to an end and that it was, “increasingly likely that the institutions, along with the Good Friday and St Andrews agreements, would come crashing to the ground.
AS the ozone layer over Belfast begins its long recovery before next July's Eleventh night bonfires, it would be churlish not to pick through the ashes and acknowledge that this week's Orangefest was the quietest yet.
Why has unionism picked this moment to show a little backbone, relatively speaking, against eleventh night bonfires? The timing is hardly propitious, with a political vacuum at Stormont around a ‘culture war’ deadlock over the Irish language.
Many people rash enough to venture out this morning without checking a list of Orange marches might find themselves re-routed or delayed but it’s all much reduced and predictable now compared to a generation ago.
A letter to my daughters: ``Who could have scripted it? You two starting great jobs a mile apart within a couple of weeks, in a city of nine million people that stretches the distance from Belfast to Maghera.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, aptly named Brokenshire, has been lampooned for his handling of the current round of talks and whilst he has hardly inspired public confidence with his low profile and even lower sense of authority the political impasse is not of his making.
Wasn't it a remarkable feat of linguistic ability that five political parties, a secretary of state and an Irish foreign minister could talk to each other for four months and apparently not say anything which any of them found remotely interesting?
Had Theresa May inherited a more comfortable majority from David Cameron last July, I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t have picked James Brokenshire to replace Theresa Villiers (remember her?) as secretary of state.