Financial (and other) chickens coming home to roost

An Ulster Unionist MLA once described Green Party leader Steven Agnew to me as a younger Jim Allister with longer hair and less talent. That has often looked harsh but maybe true. However Sam McBride in the News Letter has an excellent piece quoting Agnew on the more fundamental causes of the current financial crisis more…

Mount Stewart Festival of Light

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I loved the Enchanted Evening events they used to run in Botanic Gardens as part of the Belfast Festival. They were, for us, easy to get to, compact, beautiful, mysterious and fun. It has been a sore point for me that they have been absent from the Festival programme for the last couple of years, more…

Smoked eggs and Currie

Smoked Eggs and Currie

On October 22nd 2014 Health Minister Jim Wells spoke at a meeting of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and was there, as stated by Chairperson Maeve McLaughlin in her introduction, to “to give evidence on the terms of reference for the Committee’s review of the departmental approach to the Budget”. All more…

I prefer good art and archaeology to bad politics

Taken from Andy Pollak’s monthly blog… Sometimes the sheer badness of politics in Northern Ireland takes my breath away (badness=bad faith, lying, incompetence, being mired in the past). Take the third week of October, for example. Peter Robinson boycotted the opening meeting of the British government initiated all-party talks he had himself called for to more…

SNP surge dominates Scottish Labour

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As the race for the Scottish leadership gets underway two new polls indicate that the SNP could take 20 plus from Labour at next years Westminster election basically imploding Miliband’s 35% strategy. (This is to basically win off the back of disaffected Lib Dems). The latest polls put the SNP in a commanding lead over more…

The Most Popular Drink in Stormont’s Members Bar?

As the son of a Donegal born bar manager who spent most of his working life in Belfast, I like to sit up and listen when Belfast Barman(ager) has something to say. He’s been looking at some facts and figures about what they drink in the members bar in Stormont (yep, they’ve got one)… What more…

Stormont lives: DUP and Sinn Fein agree a budget

Well, our government still stands tonight as the DUP and Sinn Fein have agreed a draft budget with the SDLP voting against and the UUP and Alliance parties abstaining on the vote. Both Sinn Fein and the DUP have the numbers to get the budget throught the Assembly. It took a while to get here, more…

Photo of the day – Deli Dealer, St Georges Market

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Photo by Davymac, Taken on October 25, 2014 St Georges Market Belfast is going from strength to strength and was recently named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities, beating off stiff competition from internationally renowned markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Borough. A common complaint with tourists is that more…

Small but significant steps in overcoming old hatreds

Toufic Allouch from Tripoli, Lebanon, Dario Terzic from Mostar, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Ardiana Osmani of Mitrovica, Kosovo, and Imam Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa, Kaduna, Nigeria at victims’ group Healing Through Remembering. Photo credit Kevin Cooper Photoline NUJ

Progressive Unionist Party city counsellor John Kyle was at an event Monday night to welcome a delegation of visitors from cities living through or coming out of violence and conflict. Iraqis, Palestinians, Jews, Lebanese, Bosnians and Nigerians, as well as Northern Irish Protestants and Catholics came to Belfast under the aegis of Forum for Cities more…

Are political commentators part of the problem?

You go out put your name on the ballot, get elected and then you are faced with constant critcism from people who in most cases have never done the same thing themselves. This is something that this blog is guilty of too, aside  from a few of us, none of us have had the cajones more…

The reality of welfare reform: “it’s a horror show”

Graffiti on a Belfast Dole Office

  At the NICVA offices along the Duncairn Gardens on Wednesday, an important conference was held to open up debate about the future of welfare reform in Northern Ireland. It was one of those crisp autumn days which one likes to think of as typical of the atmosphere of cool, reasoned thinking. After heated debate more…

The Complexities of Parading – Mervyn Gibson & Sean Murray – a challenging but polite seminar

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A seminar on The Complexities of Parading was held on Wednesday evening by the Journey Towards Healing project of NIAMH Wellbeing (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health). Gary Mason hosted the conversation, with remarks from Mervyn Gibson (minister of Westbourne Presbyterian Community Church and assistant grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland) and more…

Open Government in Practice – Open Budgets

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Paul Braithwaite has been leading the Building Change Trust’s work exploring the issue of open government over the past year, focusing on the international Open Government Partnership initiative and its potential in Northern Ireland. Here he explores what open government can mean in practice through focusing in on one approach that has been gaining serious more…

#SluggerTalks on the future potential of Northern Ireland

So today, we bring back the #digitallunch video format only this time we are calling it #SluggerTalks. Tomorrow’s will be the first in a series of two handers between myself and Shane Greer discussing some of the points raised in response to his post last week on what we might do to unlock Northern Ireland’s Tremendous more…

Sinn Fein’s social media evolution has eroded its old mystique of ‘Leadership’

Exceptionally good piece by Fionnuala O’Connor in the Irish News yesterday. To summarise, she thinks despite it’s obvious successes with social media (Gerry Adams is the most influential politician in Ireland for example), that he and the party have been over communicating: Sinn Fein is resilient, for good reason. Handling the fallout from atrocities over decades more…