Slugger O’Toole…Absentee?

I was a bit surprised to see Conor Murphy MP referred to on Slugger O’Toole as an “absentee”. Although strictly correct, Mr Murphy does not take his seat at Westminster, it always strikes me that “absentee” is a tad judgemental, conjuring up images of “absentee landlord”.
I hve no idea whether the author meant it literally or judgementally but surely Slugger O’Toole is a message board, primarily but not exclusively dealing with Norn Iron.
And perhaps only fair that I point out that the editor of Slugger O’Toole is resident in Dorset, England.

Does this mean the editor of Slugger O’Toole is an “absentee editor”. And if so …is it relevant?
Clearly the author of the Slugger piece noting Conor Murphy is an absentee thought this was a relevant point to make.

Is the author of the piece related to the editor of Slugger O’Toole?
Are they perhaps the same person?

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46 Responses to Slugger O’Toole…Absentee?

  1. mick says:

    I can assure the honourable gentleman that my absence is not from Slugger…

    • Me? Honourable?
      I can assure you that you are absent from Norn Iron.
      Mr Mick Pot or Mr Mick Kettle?

      • factual says:


        Conor Murphy is I imagine pretty hard working locally as a constituency MP. I know that some SF activists in his local constituency held him in high regard and they even thought he might one day be party leader. Hardly something one would say about an absentee MP. SF MPs also go to Westminster and use their offices there, and talk to people in London on MP business; they do not take up their seats on a point of moral principle but in the time not sitting in the chamber they are working for their constituents.

      • Factual,
        You can quote me on this. Conor Murphy will never be Party Leader. Thats why he is in Westminster (or rather not there).
        You should know Slugger O’Toole well enough by now to know that no mention of Sinn Fein in particular or republicanism/nationalism in general is complete without a nasty little aside.

      • factual says:

        I agree that Conor is not likely to be leader. (That was just what some activists in his constituency said.) Mary Lou I think would be in with a good chance, and certainly someone in the Dail.

      • tenniselbow says:

        Well, its all about opinions, but Basil to my ear was a 50 year old man who sounded young and enthusiastic and full of ideas with plenty new ways of looking at things. Mary Lou was just trotting out usual republican rhetoric, who when she was struggling with a reasoned argument just fell back on a party line (smash NI I like that).
        But therein lies a difference between NI21 and Sinn Fein. NI21’s are now the young revolutionaries while Sinn Fein are the old farts like the DUP trying to conserve their postion.

      • Thats a good point.
        Politics is in part generational.
        The new Chair of SDLP Ormeau Branch is 22. The Vice Chair is 26.

    • tenniselbow says:

      I think Marylou from SF sounded very wooded to say the least when up against Basil MccCrea recently in a debate at a SF get together. Basil was much more charismatic and convincing. And pleasant. I’m not sure why so many SF supporters are so hopeful about Mary Lou

      • factual says:

        Not sure I would agree with you there about Mary Lou v Basil. I watched it on my computer and I thought Mary Lou had the upper hand.

      • Now somehow that doesnt surprise me.

      • factual says:

        Moreover I thought Basil McCrea was a bit arrogant and patrooising in his criticism/attack on SF: his party has garnered exactly 0 votes.

  2. pippakin says:

    Since its an internet site its location is irrelevant. The location of the editor is of interest if the site is losing its northern identity and/or if the editor is missing important events I have to say I don’t think either is the case.

    • Perhaps thats true. Indeed I am inclined to think that you are absolutely right.
      But why then would Mick think that Conor Murphys location is important.
      Its not as if we should be surprised that Conor Murphy is not at Westminster.
      Mick defended hs colleague…the Norn Iron based Sheldon against people complaining about Sheldons over-use of the Baron Northstead thing each and every time Gerry Adams was mentioned on the basis that it was “true”.

      Plainly Conor Murphys absenteeism (from Westminster) is true but surely just a bit childish of Mick to mention it.
      And lkewise Micks absence from Norn Iron is……true.
      And clearly Mick cant (but he did) cry foul.

  3. Patsy Baker says:

    Most threads on Slugger have been hijacked by a UVF-worshipping troll, who Fealty is unwilling to act against.Accordingly, every discussion descends into absolute chaos as we here about the exploits of “Soldier” Billy Wright, and how the Shankill Butcher were merely legitimately countering “Sinn Fein violence”.

    • kalista63 says:

      I see the troll has gone super blatant in a totally off topic comment on a thread about the Red Sky craic. Oddly, not even a yellow card.

      I thought Mick couldn’t do threads when e’s away or is just obits or is it just obits for nationalist journalists?

      • Pete McGlone says:

        The individual in question was inciting violent attacks on the Short Strand on a recent thread. Not even a yellow from the usually card-happy Fawlty.

  4. Patsy Baker says:


    • Oh I rarely have a point.
      I just like to point out Sluggers foibles.
      Making any progress on the James Kelly obituary? Or are you agonising about the news values? Or did you get your brochures from the travel agents?

    • Mick ….as an absentee editor, did you get to watch “Spotlight”?
      Actually I see Slugger is offline at the moment.

  5. hoboroad says:

    BBC Spotlight Special tonight at 10.35 about abuse of power and corruption at the Housing Executive.

  6. ceannaire says:

    Mick – since you are asking about points: your point about absentee was?

    • mick says:

      He’s absent from the legislative chamber so he has no means to pursue the information he says Sammy should. Its a clear and substantive point.

      Conor is elected, and he is very hard working, but he’s a parliamentarian with no parliamentary standing… That’s a relevant fact. For more detail, read my comments on Slugger?

      See Alan in Belfast’s thread on Red Sky (which Ill be following up with detail when I get it)

  7. factual says:


    Mary Lou


  8. sammymcnally says:


    As someone who likes to hide behind a ‘funny name’ and studioulsy keeps reference to my ‘real life’ out of my comments – that decision is reinforced by the exchange above.

    As my own comments on another thread here recently indicated I have my differences with the boul Mick but I think personalising the debate is unnecessary.

    …there is clealry little comparison between an MP as who is expected and indeed paid to attend parliament and editing a blog.

    It is not in the least ‘childish’, though arguably mildly pejorative, to use the term ‘absentee’ when absentionism is the political term used to describe SF policy.

    .. and another ‘complaint’ – a question I have raised with you a number of times – how Irish Nats (and indeed Stot Nats) can reconcile Jobobitism with Irish Republicanism/Nationalsim – given that it was the British crown that was being fought over – any chance of a blog on that bit of political gymnastcis? Or am I missing something?

    • I will address the Jacobite hing in another post.
      I have been out of the house all day.
      I dont think I am personalising things with Mick. Quite the opposite in fact.
      You say his statement about Conor Murphy was “perjorative”. I would say it was “snide”.
      And as Mick is clearly an absentee in terms of location, then it was a clear case that he lobbed a few pebbles in the direction of Conor Murphy but forgot that he was living in a glass house in south-west England.
      I think it was entirely reasonable that I have pointed out this discrepancy out.

      Tinternet is a strange thing. In my profile, I point out that there is no real point to Blogging. far from being “citizen journalists” those of us who spend far too much time blogging forget that we are totally unimportant. And lever no power whatsoever.
      Rather like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz discovered that the powerful man behind the screen was a rather pathetic elederly man. Those readers…Mick included…who have actually met “Fitzjames Horse” will be the first to confirm that he is indeed a rather pathetic elderly gent.
      Alas Slugger O’Toole is different.
      It is a “player” in Norn Iron and deserving of scrutiny, not least taking a good look at those close to it. They seem quite influential but dont really get a lot of scrutiny from Slugger.
      I think I am entitled to draw attention to that…robustly.

      Is it unfair?
      I have asked myself the same question.
      I am not entirely anonymous. Those readers of the Czar ..with whom I have exchanged emails (and this includes Mick) have USUALLY received replies signed in my extremely real name.
      It does not bother me that people know my name.
      Indeed I have thought recently that I should add my real name in my profile. Its no big deal.
      In part, this is because the Blog has really taken off in the past few months.
      Going to a seminar or whatever and being introduced as “Fitzjames Horse” is a bit counter-productive.

    • sammymcnally says:


      very honest of you to suggest that Mick should be treated failry because he is not one of themmuns.


      Looking forward to the( pro-British crown) blog

      re. “Is it unfair?”

      Yes, I think it is. Turning up to parliament is an integral part of the job of an MP (one which I think SF are righ to ignore and hopefully the SDLP will do likewise) – being ‘resident’ in Northern Ireland is not a requirment or part of the job of editing a blog – it is a false comparison.

      How do you justify passing it off as a ‘letsgetalongerist’ site when the views and blogs of those on there are so divergent both – allegedly UVF – and pro SF – that accusation simply doesnt stack up? Whatever Slugger’s ‘faults’ I think you are misrepresenting the extent it is driven by some secret agenda deisgned to enhance the ‘middle ground’?

      I take it you would agree – that it does an excellent job in providing a forum for ussuns and themmuns to exchange views?

      • Let me emphasise that I have no problem with Slugger O’Toole at its best. For whatever reason Drumlins Rock, Turgon and Mark N
        McGregor no longer post there. It is weaker as a result. Fair play to Chris Donnelly.
        And obviously “Alan” who is superb.He even gets the word “letsgetalongerism” into his posts. And fair play o Mick, whose contribution to blogging and understanding ofNorn Iron should be recognised.
        But the site is let own…in my humble opinion by Sheldon and Dimbleby and a check list of ” letsgetalongerist” issues such as bringing down barricades, integrated education, pro liberal unionist, anti-republican, anti-Ireland…Norn Iron Foundation, Platform for Change etc.the impression being that these views have a greater degree of being normal.
        No harm in that of course. After all I seek to advance nationalism, republicanism and socialism. But i make no pretence at not having an agenda.

        I would however make one point. This blog is almost two years old. It was started primarily as a joke. But the success of this blog in recent months has caused me to re-visit that.

  9. bangordub says:

    “Jobobitism” You’ve got me there mate

  10. factual says:

    FJH wondering whether you’re planning a blog on McCausland/Spotlight controversy?

    • I didnt see it last night and I was in Dungannon all day.
      Like Mick, I have been an absentee.

      • factual says:

        FJH you can study it by watching it on the BBC’s Iplayer. Moreover you can watch The View tonight which also touches on this, and study Alan in Belfast’s reports on Slugger O’Toole. It seems an important issue.

  11. Rory Carr says:

    Best argument I have ever seen put forward to explain one’s lack of awareness of the latest political scandal at Stormont – “I was in Dungannon all day..”

    Dungannon, surely the original home of the Three Wise Monkeys ?

    I have to ask – why were you in Dungannon “all day”, FJH ? Were you being kettled ?

  12. hoboroad says:

    Spotlight – 03/07/2013 – BBC iPlayer – View – 04/07/2013 – BBC iPlayer –

  13. I might suggest that NIHE and the story of the minister, his SPAD and his party’s councillor is an absentee issue from your blog!

    • You COULD suggest that.
      Alas, I am under-resourced and do not have a staff of several hundred like Slugger. I have applied to Rowntree for funding. But I really need someone to act as an advocate. Cant think of anyone at all.
      The problem is that the NIHE story is both predictable in that Dog Bites Man way and yet evolving.
      I did not really plan on anything before Monday….although I could probably draft it now and just publish it on Monday.
      Have you noticed that President Mosri of Egypt and Nelson McCausland look alike.
      Not sure if it is a fundamentalist “thing”.
      Maybe they just buy their beards in the same place.

      • factual says:

        Alan I have also pointed out that this blog is not covering the NIHE story, which seems a major gap in coverage.

        FJH previously stated that he was in Dungannon, so could not cover it.

      • I am not sure the NIHE story suffers thru me not covering it….because of a combination of picking up my MBE from Camilla Parker Bowles (divorced) at a surprisingly low key event at Buckingham Palace, being in Dungannon for a few hours on Thursday, going to Tescos yesterday afternoon, baby sitting my granddaughter last night, creating a new blogging site unrelated to politics, going to Dublin this morning, general procrastination on my part and a story about people I cant like.

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