Author Archive | Soapbox

DUP

I’m not angry, I’m furious with the DUP…

I’m furious.  Sinn Fein’s election slogan ‘Don’t get angry, get even’, doesn’t do it for me on two counts.  Being angry while voting is no bad thing and anyway I am beyond anger with Northern Ireland’s political system and one party in particular. I remember one of my editors talking to me in the mid more…

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John Hume’s 80th Birthday – The Martin Luther King Jnr of Ireland

Bono in his song ‘In The Name of Love’ sang about Martin Luther King Jnr about how “One Man Came In Love”. Today we celebrate the 80th birthday of the Martin Luther King of Ireland, one man who came in love and preached a message of peace, tolerance and accommodation. It is a sad irony more…

Bedroom Tax promises must be honoured

Of all the welfare changes introduced in Great Britain since 2010, it is the Bedroom Tax that has perhaps attracted the most attention. The patent unfairness and arbitrary nature of the policy, along with its arresting tabloid moniker (officially it is the ‘Social Sector Size Criteria’), has provoked much interest. Social tenants on housing benefit more…

Soapbox: Arlene Foster Was Never a Suitable First Minister

The exclusion motion on Arlene Foster focussed on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.  I would argue, however, that Mrs Foster has a track record beyond RHI that shows she was never suitable to be our First Minister. The potential £250m clean-up costs highlighted in 2013 by the Mills Report into illegal waste dumping in more…

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How should we deal with pharmacists who make mistakes?

  On 6th February 2014, Mrs Ethna Walsh, a 67-year-old grandmother, was prescribed Prednisolone Tablets 5mg by her doctor.  Having taken the first dose of 8 tablets she became ill, collapsed, was rushed to hospital and was dead within two hours.  She had been dispensed propranolol 40mg tablets by mistake. Martin White, her pharmacist, fully more…

Press Eye - SDLP  -  28th Jan 2016
Photograph By Declan RoughanSDLP's  leader Colm Eastwood.
SDLP Ð Prosperity not austerity
New SDLP team will deliver positive alternative for Northern IrelandSDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA unveiled his new team of party spokespeople today at an event in Belfast at Cultœrlann McAdam î Fiach.  The nine spokespeople will shadow the nine new NI Executive Departments which are set to be in place in the next Assembly mandate. The party is the first to do so and the team will include MLAs and councillors from across the North.
New appointees include South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna (Department of Finance), former Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon (Department for Communities), West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan (Department for Infrastructure). Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone MLA is spokesperson for the Department of the Economy and Fearghal McKinney (South Belfast) continues as spokesperson for the Department of Health. Larger portfolios will see new teams where spokespeople are supported by Assembly or Council colleagues.

Colum Eastwood: NI Executive need to come to a collective response on RHI

SOAPBOX Writing exclusively for Slugger, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood invokes the old political truism that if a story involving a political scandal runs into the second week then resignations always follow. Arlene Foster is now facing into her second week of the biggest political scandal to hit Stormont since devolution. This story isn’t go away more…

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How the big UK parties utilise technology for canvassing & voter management…

UK political parties and constituencies are going through a period of ‘change-and-upgrade’ in relation to their campaign practices and constituency management. Ever since social media became a must-have for politicians there has been a pressure to manage their public life through digital means. In most respects, the US still leads the way in this type more…

Mural depicting UVF uncertainty as to the direction of the peace process. Mount Vernon, North Belfast.

Building Peace – Twenty Years On

The recent visit by Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, to Belfast served to highlight the status that the Northern Ireland peace process has among those working to end conflicts around the world, while the narrow rejection of the Colombian peace agreement in the referendum on October 2 evidenced the difficulties in bringing a more…

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Re-member this Remembrance Sunday…

We’re coming to the time of year now when we hear a lot about the issue of remembering. 11th November just past was Armistice Day, the date in 1918 when the First World War came to an end. Many will have observed a minute of silence at 11 a.m. in honour of this anniversary. This, more…

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Real politics prefers a health service Status Quo…

The media hype on our latest could-do-better Health Service report Systems not Structures:  Changing Health and Social Care, was more positive than I expected.  BBC wheeled out the usual pundits.  John Compton welcomed the report saying it was good to say things over and over again until the public finally heard the message.   Dr more…

NI Festival of Social Science: From the Lecture Theatre to the Black Box

“I think the people of this country have had enough of experts.” It was perhaps one of the most memorable – and controversial – lines from recent political discourse. Agree or disagree with this particular view of the former Justice Secretary, one thing cannot be ignored: quite a few people agree with him. Perhaps the more…

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Foster: Onward to the summit

Today Arlene Foster will speak to the DUP conference for the first time as party leader. Writing for Slugger she outlines her vision and plan for the next mandate of government  Detail is important.  For someone from a legal background like myself this is a given. Within the DUP Conference programme, there are details that more…

20160206 Four Corners - 05 Derry Peace Bridge

EDUCATING ULSTER : Northern Ireland has a chronic shortage of students, whilst Belfast has too many and the west of the province has too few. The solution is obvious.

September marked the annual return of students to their term-time accommodation. And within two days residents of the Holylands had lodged over 150 complaints of anti-social behaviour with Belfast City Council. That university neighbourhood’s term-time population comprises over 90% of students/young people, amounting to an estimated 7,000 in just one square kilometre. It will probably more…