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Mark Devenport, Political editor, Northern Ireland

Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

This is where you can come for my take on the big Stormont stories and the politicians making the news

Northern Ireland people keep close eye on Scottish Independence poll

17 September 2014
Map of Scotland

Whatever the Scottish people decide in the independence referendum, come Friday a few fundamentals will remain.

On a clear day you'll still be able to glimpse Scotland in the distance from vantage points on the County Antrim coast.

Celtic and Rangers fans across Northern Ireland will still follow their teams with fervour.

Ulster Scots folk will still feel a special bond with their kith and kin across the water.

Many of us will still board ferries in Belfast and Larne on the way to visit our family and friends in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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Ian Paisley: A part of the fabric of Northern Ireland's Troubles

12 September 2014
Ian Paisley
Up close he could be intimidating

He was part of the fabric of Northern Ireland's Troubles - the bombs, the tit-for-tat sectarian murders, the nervous soldiers patrolling streets daubed with paramilitary murals.

Those grim TV images were so often interspersed with the angry words of a preacher turned politician.

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Stormont - the alternatives to mandatory coalition

10 September 2014
The debating chamber at Stormont

If Stormont is "not fit for purpose", as Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson has claimed, what are the possible alternatives, should the Westminster government convene a fresh round of negotiations?

1. Abolishing the mandatory coalition system and the designation of MLAs as "unionist" ,"nationalist" or "other". Ending the controversial cross-community vetoes, known as petitions of concern and forming devolved governments that take decisions on the basis of simple majority votes.

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Northern Ireland double-jobbing to continue for now

4 September 2014
Sammy Wilson

On the Nolan show on BBC Radio Ulster, Sammy Wilson confirmed he plans to stand again for the East Antrim Westminster seat at next year's election.

Given that earlier this year the NIO passed an act banning MPs double-jobbing, that means he'll have to leave Stormont, doesn't it?

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Remembering the IRA ceasefire 20 years on

29 August 2014
The statement as it appeared on BBC NI's Newsline

Listening back to my breathless tones when I announced the 1994 IRA Ceasefire on BBC Radio 5 Live I can forgive one radio newspaper reviewer who accused me of getting over-excited.

In fact it wasn't excitement which had taken my breath away, but a brisk 100-yard dash between the phone where my colleagues Brian Rowan and Shane Harrison were ringing in their ceasefire statements and the radio studio where Diana Madill was awaiting my on-air interruption.

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Monkey business at Stormont

27 August 2014
Gary Hart
It is understood Mr Hart will use his visit to assess how the United States can assist the parties in Northern Ireland to advance the peace process

The arrival of former Democratic senator Gary Hart in Belfast just as Northern Ireland is about to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire is a bit of a surprise.

Senator Hart has long harboured an interest in Ireland.

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Mark added analysis to:

Ex-environment minister Sam Foster, Ulster Unionist, dies aged 82

19 August 2014

Quietly spoken but firm in his opinions, Sam Foster has been described as a man of courtesy and integrity by politicians from across the spectrum.

In 1987, Mr Foster was on the scene of the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing and pulled survivors from the rubble immediately after the IRA attack.

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Stormont politicians' Middle East views 'predictable'

18 August 2014
Newry mayor Dáire Hughes wrote to traders in the area asking them to consider not stocking Israeli goods
Newry mayor Dáire Hughes wrote to traders in the area asking them to consider not stocking Israeli goods

The row in Newry over the Sinn Fein Mayor's letter proposing a boycott of Israeli goods is the latest in a sequence of incidents highlighting the tendency for many nationalists and unionists to take sides when it comes to the conflict in the Middle East.

It follows the controversy over George Galloway's appearance at Belfast's Ulster Hall and the decision to remove the blue plaque from the wall of the birthplace of former Israeli president, Chaim Herzog, in the north of the city.

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On the runs deal: Sordid and shabby or legal and proper?

Lady Justice Hallett
Lady Justice Hallett was appointed to look at the scheme dealing with On the Run paramilitary suspects

Anyone looking at Dame Heather Hallett's review into On The Runs for an assessment of the moral righteousness of the government's approach to the peace process will be disappointed.

Judge Hallett describes the treatment of the On The Runs as "unprecedented".

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Mark added analysis to:

North Belfast: Unionists call for inquiry into 'parades impasse'

The sight of unionists queuing up to sign a pledge evoked memories of the 1912 Ulster Covenant against Home Rule, albeit on a rather less dramatic scale.

If the joint unionist/Orange commitment to lawful protest helps ensure a peaceful 12 July, then it won't be just the PSNI Chief Constable who breathes a sigh of relief.

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About Mark

BBC journalist since 1980s. Reporter for Spotlight, Ireland Correspondent covering IRA ceasefire and Good Friday Agreement, United Nations Correspondent in New York, Stormont Political Editor since 2001.

Covered stories in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Israel.

Author of Flash Frames -12 Years Reporting Belfast and co -author of Man of War, Man of Peace: a biography of Gerry Adams

Once worked as a trainee reporter for Indian newspaper "The Hindu".

Educated in Oxford before going to university in Cambridge to study history

Liverpool and Oxford United supporter.

Mark has an inherited condition which means he can't eat sweets

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