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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

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".

However, she says it is for "others to judge whether or not the political imperative justified the introduction of this extraordinary... scheme for extraordinary circumstances".

She also declines to judge whether the confidentiality attached to the scheme was justified by concerns that publicity might have had a negative impact on the peace process.

Lady Justice Hallett notes that some regard the deal on paramilitary fugitives as sordid and shabby, whilst others maintain it is legal and proper.

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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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Parading: Two-line executive statement leaves much unsaid

Peter Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson said the ministers' discussion of parading had been calm and measured

Politicians like nothing more than to confound pundits.

So, I detected a sense of satisfaction on the part of First Minister Peter Robinson as he told reporters that, far from being a shouting match like the executive's heated meeting in May, the ministers' discussion of Ardoyne and other recent parades decisions had been calm and measured.

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Pressure points and unintended consequences

Before the latest round of Stormont talks began I wasn't the only one sceptical about their purpose and timing.

Now it seems the main point served by the discussions was to provide unionist negotiators with something to boycott.

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Flags, parading and the past: No talks better than half-hearted try?

Haass talks
Talks chaired by Meghan O'Sullivan (left) and Richard Haass (right) ended without agreement

Few would argue against the maxim that it's "better to jaw-jaw than to war-war", but that does not mean every negotiating session is of equal value.

Talks like those that led to the Good Friday and St Andrews agreements were undoubtedly historic.

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A period of relative calm at the Stormont Executive

After the shouting match that took place at last week's executive meeting, this week's discussions were rather more even-tempered.

Ministers talked about the threat posed by "legal high" drugs, but with a public apology already made, no-one re-visited the controversy over Islam.

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NI European election result decided after marathon count

Final European election results being announced
The final European election result was declared after a long counting process

So three years after the last furore over delays to the Stormont Assembly poll and Northern Ireland bringing up the rear on the UK-wide AV referendum, we have all been subjected to another marathon count.

Is it all down to our proportional representation system which causes similar delays south of the border?

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NI council election results completed and focus now on European results

Mike Nesbitt and party councillors
This was the Ulster Unionist leader's first test at the ballot box and he passed it with credit

With the council election results finished, and the European election count still to come, Mike Nesbitt can afford to relax and enjoy his Sunday.

This was the Ulster Unionist leader's first test at the ballot box and he's passed it with credit.

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Vote 2014: Who's up and who's down after day one?

Counting continued at Belfast City Hall until the early hours of Saturday morning

No local party has experienced a Nigel Farage-style surge, but the leaders with most to smile about seem to be the Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt and the TUV's Jim Allister.

Their candidates have polled well and there's the promise of more to come, for example from the UUP's Sonia Copeland in East Belfast.

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NI21 candidates 'engage in pre-poll civil war'

Basil McCrea and John McCallister
When Basil McCrea and John McCallister created NI21 they kept their unionist designation at Stormont because both were avowedly pro-union

Most new parties fighting elections crave publicity, as the broadcasters' guidelines based on previous electoral performance makes it hard for them to cut through.

However. the kind of publicity currently enveloping NI21 one day before the polls open cannot be categorised as anything other than a self-inflicted wound.

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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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