Could this be Gerry Adams' last year as SF president?

Gerry Adams, Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Féin colleagues Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption There is considerable speculation that this could be Gerry Adams' last year in the job

After months of stalemate at Stormont, November and December could provide some radical change.

This weekend, Sinn Féin activists meet for their annual ard fhéis (annual conference).

Gerry Adams has indicated that he will use his speech to spell out more details of the plan for change in the leadership of the party he previously agreed with the late Martin McGuinness.

We have already seen one stage in this plan, with the appointment of Michelle O'Neill as Sinn Féin's leader north of the border.

Having served as Sinn Féin president since 1983, Mr Adams has made it clear he will stay on for another year.

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Varadkar faces heat over constitution comments

Leo Varadkar Image copyright PA
Image caption Leo Varadkar said the Good Friday Agreement got "very strong cross border support"

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's view, expressed to the BBC Spotlight programme, that he "wouldn't like us to get to the point whereby we are changing the constitutional position here in Northern Ireland on a 50% plus one basis" has caused a backlash from northern nationalists.

Sinn Fein's senior negotiator Conor Murphy has insisted that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is "absolutely clear" that "if a simple majority vote in favour of reunification, both governments are then obliged to legislate for it".

Read full article Varadkar faces heat over constitution comments

Conservative conference: Being mistaken for the prime minister

Theresa May sitting at desk singing papers Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May will address the Conservative conference on Wednesday

I'm used to being mistaken for someone else.

One of the by products of being an occasional face on people's TV screens is that sometimes, when you are at the supermarket, another shopper will assume you must be a neighbour or an old acquaintance.

Read full article Conservative conference: Being mistaken for the prime minister

Is Stormont stalemate coming to an end?

Count staff empty a ballot box Image copyright PA
Image caption 2017 - a seemingly unending sequence of talks and elections

It's been more than eight months since the late Martin McGuinness tendered his resignation as deputy first minister.

Since then, Northern Ireland has been stuck in an apparently never-ending sequence of talks and elections, with so many "crucial weeks" and missed deadlines that political anoraks, let alone the general public, could be forgiven for losing interest.

Read full article Is Stormont stalemate coming to an end?

DUP-Tory deal: 'Not a penny' without NI devolution

The deal was signed in Downing St by DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Tory Chief Whip Gavin Williamson Image copyright Reuters
Image caption DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Tory Chief Whip Gavin Williamson signed the deal in front of their party leaders in June

"Not a penny" of the £1bn negotiated as part of the DUP-Tory deal will be released unless Stormont is restored, a Civil Service source has told the BBC.

The £1bn in extra public spending for Northern Ireland was agreed in June, in exchange for the DUP's support for the minority Conservative government.

Read full article DUP-Tory deal: 'Not a penny' without NI devolution

Is Gerry Adams setting out his retirement plans?

Gerry Adams Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gerry Adams has said he will seek re-election as party leader in November before outlining his 'future intentions'

Gerry Adams became president of Sinn Féin in 1983 - it's extraordinary that 34 years later we are still waiting to hear when the 68-year-old politician might step down.

Having survived a number of attempts on his life during the Troubles, Mr Adams has proved equally adroit as a political survivor.

Read full article Is Gerry Adams setting out his retirement plans?

Brexit paper: No Irish border tariffs for small firms

An Irish soldier guards a customs post on the southern side of the border at Swanlinbar, County Cavan, in the mid 1970s Image copyright PA Images
Image caption An Irish soldier guards a customs post on the southern side of the border at Swanlinbar, County Cavan, in the mid-1970s

If the vote for Brexit represented UK voters symbolically pulling up the drawbridge to Europe, then the 310-mile land border which divides Ireland always represented a headache.

It has hundreds of crossing points and the removal of the fortified border checkpoints which used to monitor north south traffic is seen as one of the lasting achievements of the peace process.

Read full article Brexit paper: No Irish border tariffs for small firms

Stormont's Catch 22 and eBikes with no batteries

Stephen Nolan
Image caption Stephen Nolan - thankfully not "half broadcaster, half bicycle"

The saga of BBC presenter Stephen Nolan and the eBikes has undeniable comic potential.

As my esteemed colleague considered whether he should get a battery-assisted cycle, the thoughts of Sgt Pluck from Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman came into my head.

Read full article Stormont's Catch 22 and eBikes with no batteries

Border friction as UK/Irish joint approach unravels?

The Irish border Image copyright PA
Image caption The operation of the Irish border is one of the most sensitive Brexit issues

For months, it's been the joint mantra from both Dublin and London - that after Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be as "seamless and frictionless as possible".

That phrase hinted both at an ideal flexible arrangement in the future and an ideal shared approach from both the UK and Irish governments, together stressing to the EU the paramount importance of doing nothing that might constitute any kind of risk to the political progress made over recent decades.

Read full article Border friction as UK/Irish joint approach unravels?

What caused the Stormont stalemate?

Sinn Fein delegation are pictured giving a press conference inside Stormont and a DUP delegation outside the building. Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption It was announced on Monday that talks had failed to restore a power-sharing executive

So a pause in the talks and no progress likely before September.

Was that a consequence of the DUP Conservative deal, as Sinn Féin argued?

Read full article What caused the Stormont stalemate?