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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

Future Northern Ireland Assembly changes outlined by governments

Enda Kenny and David Cameron
The proposals were in a paper given to the parties by the two governments

Stormont would put arrangements in place for an opposition as early as March 2015, according to the government paper circulated to the parties at Stormont House last week.

The paper proposes that parties "which would be entitled to ministerial positions in the executive, but choose not to take them up" should be "recognised as an official opposition".

Parties who choose to go into opposition would receive financial and research assistance taken from within the existing assembly budget in order to keep the changes cost-neutral.

The new opposition would also get "designated speaking rights including the opportunity to ask questions and table business" in the assembly chamber.

The move towards an opposition is one of a number of institutional changes suggested in the Heads of Agreement paper circulated by the UK and Irish governments the night before prime ministers David Cameron and Enda Kenny left the Stormont House summit.

Read full article Future Northern Ireland Assembly changes outlined by governments

PM's extra cash offer comes out of Stormont's existing coffers

Peter Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson said if you are going to bribe someone then it's best not to bribe them with their own money

Its principal detractor, the TUV leader Jim Allister, described the prime minister and taoiseach's arrival at the Stormont talks as the "chequebook summit".

Logical, given the amount of chatter in the run-up to the negotiations about peace bonds or a peace investment fund worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Read full article PM's extra cash offer comes out of Stormont's existing coffers

Corporation tax: Carrot or stick?

George Osborne
The chancellor made the announcement in the House of Commons as part of his Autumn Statement

Anyone who thought the devolution of corporation tax was mainly a business issue, rather than an intensely political one, can think again.

By linking any move on corporation tax to achieving progress in the inter-party talks, George Osborne has given his cabinet colleague Theresa Villiers something Richard Haass never had when he was talks chair.

Read full article Corporation tax: Carrot or stick?

MLA expenses: A Stormont worth saving?

stormont
BBC's Spotlight programme examined the way MLAs use public money to rent their offices

Following the BBC Spotlight programme examining the way Stormont politicians use public money to rent their offices, what next for MLA expenses and public confidence?

The DUP's Peter Weir reckons it is the fault of the system, rather than the behaviour of individual MLAs.

Read full article MLA expenses: A Stormont worth saving?

Northern Ireland talks process: Cut Stormont down to size?

Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he would be in favour of a reduction in the number of assembly members

The immediate emphasis in the Stormont talks has been on welfare reform and the budget, but the politicians are also discussing the not-entirely-unconnected question of cutting the size of the government.

The DUP has circulated a paper reaffirming its support for fewer departments and fewer MLAs. Previously, the party has argued for an assembly of between 70 and 80 MLAs.

Read full article Northern Ireland talks process: Cut Stormont down to size?

Northern Ireland talks process: On the road to nowhere?

Senator Gary Hart
There are hopes Senator Gary Hart, who has been appointed the US envoy, will help to progress the talks

After the first two weeks of Stormont talks, are we anywhere nearer to avoiding the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive?

The much derided £100m loan from the Treasury has bought a bit of time for negotiations to get under way, but there is little sign of compromise.

Read full article Northern Ireland talks process: On the road to nowhere?

Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker row: When is a deal not a deal?

Peter Robinson in assembly chamber
MLAs failed to elect a new speaker to chair debates at the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday, despite a deal made seven years ago between the DUP and Sinn Féin

Given the ramifications for the public of the deadlock at the Northern Ireland Assembly over budgets and welfare reform, the failure to elect a new assembly speaker may seem exclusively of concern to those inside the Belmont "beltway" (to borrow a phrase from US politics).

However, there must be a danger that the Democratic Unionist Party's decision to hold back on their very public commitment to replace Willie Hay with a Sinn Féin speaker will further debase the shaky currency at future Stormont negotiations.

Read full article Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker row: When is a deal not a deal?

DUP debate: From Twitter reshuffle to power-play?

Tweets in support of DUP leader Peter Robinson

Twitter has played a significant role in Northern Ireland politics during this assembly term.

When the Stormont parties picked their departments, the news was tweeted to the outside world.

Read full article DUP debate: From Twitter reshuffle to power-play?

Northern Ireland people keep close eye on Scottish Independence poll

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.

Read full article Northern Ireland people keep close eye on Scottish Independence poll

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

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.

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

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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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