Lord Steel: “Belligerence and stridency are now the order of the day in Edinburgh …”

Lord Steel of Aikwood

The deterioration of Prime Minister’s Questions to a weekly exchange of insults isn’t the only negative aspect of UK political life that Lord Steel has noticed. Belligerence and stridency are now the order of the day in Edinburgh as well. [Ed – Slugger readers might recognise those traits in Stormont too?] Lord Steel of Aikwood more…

The West wants in: Why are roads so poor West of the Bann?

West of the Bann

When I was completing my review of the News Letter during the 1960s and 70s, I remember reading countless complaints from politicians like Harry West about the poor state of the roads in the west of Northern Ireland. We did have the building of the M1 in the 1960s which promised a new era of more…

Do urban Gaeltachts produce a compromised Irish?

Ag amharc síos ar an loch i mbaile fearainn Chnoc a' Stolaire i nGaoth Dobhair.
Looking towards the lake in the townland of Cnoc a' Stolaire in Gaoth Dobhair, county Donegal.

The creation of urban Gaeltachts in Belfast and other Irish cities should be regarded as one of the greatest language revitalisation projects ever undertaken. As a leading University of California linguistics professor puts it, ‘I know of no parallels to this achievement anywhere else in the world’. The urban Irish-language movement has largely coalesced around more…

Raking up “London”again is dead against modern Derry’s practical interests

Sinn Fein recently produced a round- up of Uncomfortable Conversations intended by promote reconciliation. With that in mind, is dropping the “London” prefix from the official name of the traditional city within the boundaries of the newly expanded local government district, really one we need to have again? Particularly as it’s doomed to failure. In a more…

Abortion law is pawn in a Tory-SNP power game

The Herald reports that the Conservatives are thinking about devolving abortion law to Scotland where a strong Catholic lobby is opposed to the 1967 Act. What the point of doing it unless the aim is to repeal it? Not necessarily apparently. It’s really about the power game between Westminster and Holyrood, not about little matters more…

Ideological Purity: Electoral Irrelevance?

Jeremy Corbyn

This week, both Helen Lewis of The New Statesman, and Rafael Behr of the Guardian, have written very insightful pieces about the current debate raging within the Labour party about the ideological stance and policy positions of each of the candidates in the leadership contest, and the future direction of the party more generally. Essentially more…

We need a national conversation

A deep and wide process of engagement with citizens to co-create a future vision for N(n)orthern Ireland could help jolt our peace process and our politicians out of the stalemate we find ourselves in.   I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in a few far-flung places, including Pakistan, DRC and Rwanda – each more…

Féile an Phobail – Jeremy Corbyn, Mairia Cahill … and the 1916 Proclamation for Prods

Feile logo square

Left-wing Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn joins the West Belfast Talks Back panel for the annual political knockabout in St Louise’s Comprehensive College. Noel Thompson will keep the peace and chair the panel that includes Sinn Féin South Dublin councillor Eoin Ó Broin, PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston and DUP MP Gavin Robinson. Wednesday 5 more…

NI Public Appointments Commissioner: “Despite all the supportive talk in principle I don’t see any change in the public appointment process.”

When the previous Commissioner for Public Appointments in Northern Ireland, Felicity Huston, stepped down from the role in 2011 she, pointedly, wished whoever her successor would be “the best of luck”, noting that She said there were difficulties asserting her role as a regulator at Stormont. “People recruit people who look like them, sound like more…

It’s authenticity, not left or right wing, that’s scoring with oppositions

Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn although poles apart, have nevertheless more in common than Corbyn would like to admit (Trump wouldn’t take Corbyn under his notice). Not as political ideologues but as icons of “authenticity,” that holy grail of reality politics which itself is ironically becoming a marketing category. Authenticity works for Labour’s Alan Johnson more…

First hints of September timetable changes

Translink have announced the following key facts about the September timetable change: Service frequencies will be reduced on some routes – they “have been able to protect the geographic coverage of the network albeit with some reduced frequency on some services,” which doesn’t entirely rule out service amalgamations. Headcount will be reduced via natural wastage, more…

Has Labour lost the art of creating governing coalitions?

Logo_Labour_Party

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn has spooked many in Labour of a return to the 1980’s where the party was divided and forced to watch from the side-lines as Thatcher dominated the country. In Labour folklore, one of the bright spots of Labour’s shambolic 1983 campaign which nearly saw the decimation of the party, with more…

“future banknote designs, starting with the new polymer £5 note, will explicitly represent all four nations of the UK.”

As mentioned in this BBC report focused on the first Bank of England polymer banknote – a £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill which will be issued in 2016. Banknotes will feature images from all four nations of the UK starting with the new £5 note entering circulation in 2016. [Timing, eh? – Ed]  Eh?  more…