Peter Robinson on Westminster and defending Ashers Bakery from the “Big Brigade” of the Equality Commission #DUP14

Peter Robinson dup14

As things wrapped up in the afternoon at the DUP Conference, I managed to get some time with the First Minister, Peter Robinson to discuss the conference, the upcoming election and the DUP’s support for Asher’s Bakery. I began by asking him how he felt the mood of his conference was this year? Not surprisingly, more…

Dail Eireann “system is too complex and contains rules that are not mutually compatible…”

The Council of Europe is a Strasbourg based international organisation concerned with the development of legal and judicial structures in member countries. It is not part of the EU, and its recommendations are advisory rather than mandatory. There’s a report out today from one of their programmes flagging up some concerns about corruption in Ireland the more…

Serial Podcast: What do you think?

serial party

Have you heard of Serial or are you happy over there, living under your rock? For those who fall in the latter camp, let me briefly summarise. Serial is a podcast, first released last month, which seeks to shed light on the real life case of a Baltimore teenage girl, Hae Min Lee, who was more…

#SOSVigil: Women’s refuges facing closure because they come at the end of a long funding chain?

So the Taoiseach finally met with the Louise O’Keeffe yesterday. Yesterday was also the occasion of Women’s Aid #SOSVigil campaign protesting the cutting of funding to its network of women’s refuges. There were protests both outside 10 Downing Street and Leinster House at cuts in women’s refuges on both sides  of the Irish Sea. Far from more…

Devo Max with corporate tax cut ” disastrous” for NI

This powerful case against the SNP’s Devo Max plans including a 3% cut in corporation tax is made in the academic  website The Conversation by  Arthur Midwinter Associate Professor, Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research at University of Edinburgh  and a former adviser to the former Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament  Johann Lamont. It more…

Northern Ireland Independent Network seeking support for an independent representatives’ umbrella group

sorting Belfast West assembly votes - May 2011

One of the interventions people frequently call for in Northern Ireland politics is the creation of new parties. It came up again last night as one of the first questions at Platform for Change’s event: “Why can’t the [middle ground] politicians sitting around the table unite and form a new party?” I’m not so convinced more…

Corporation tax powers huge test for Stormont

The word is out that the government will grant  Stormont control over corporation tax when the Chancellor makes his Autumn Statement on 3 December.  Peter Robinson is  talking with the confidence of a done deal.  David Cameron gave a broad hint this morning as he was  grilled by  all the select committees chairs in the more…

Photo of the day – Continental Market, Belfast City Hall

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Photo by Roger Bradley, Taken on November 18, 2014 The Continental Market is back at Belfast City Hall. Depending on your view either it’s an English company bringing outside traders in to hoover up the Christmas cash at the expense of local traders or a wonderful chance to experience a wide range of foreign delicacies and crafts. Either more…

Platform for Change panel of politicians fails to inspire about how to overcome political inertia

Platform for Change panel - empty chairs

Platform for Change’s latest – and perhaps last – panel event was hosted last night by Mark Carruthers in the Crescent Arts Centre. Around 40 people attended the session with its bizarrely worded title: Political Inertia to a Flourishing Society – How? The six panellists from centre-ground parties made four minute opening statements before the more…

#SpotlightNI: Dodgy deals and private societies which turn out not to be what they seem…

Here’s a conversation involving Peter Weir of the DUP and Francie Molloy both trying to find ways to defend the otherwise indefensive on Spotlight last night… listen to ‘DUP's Peter Weir & SF's Francie Malloy react to Spotlight expenses investigation’ on audioBoom Now, I’m not a fan of expenses stories, but listening Peter Weir you more…

“vices and follies of the powerful are much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.”

This is soooo good, I’m just going to post a big chunk of it below. It’s Chris Dillow nailing a key problem with the UK media’s obsession with bringing celebrity to the big politics table… He cites an experiment (pdf) by James Andreoni and Justin Rao involving a constructed roleplay scenario involving a ‘dictator': There more…

Are MLA’s £70k a year expenses just entrenching an already privileged incumbency?

BBCNI’s Spotlight programme tackles the issue of public money tonight. The focus will be on the money politicians get for renting and running their constituency offices. I have little knowledge of the content, although I may make a fleeting appearance on the programme – talking about a case I previously reported on. But aside from individual more…

Driven to the edge? An insider’s view of the Belfast Ambulance service

South Western Ambulance WA07RYP 612

Continuing our series on health, we hear from a paramedic about the challenges the service is facing. As a Paramedic working on an emergency ambulance it was encouraging to read George O’Neill’s article on Slugger last week that recognised the vital role of the ambulance service in managing the future delivery of unscheduled care in more…

Sinn Féin MP: “I think this is part of an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people…”

The DUP and Sinn Féin have united, again, to complain about the BBC’s use of subtitles during an interview with County Londonderry blacksmith, Barney Devlin, on its Sunday evening Countryfile programme.  Of the two parties, the DUP’s Peter Weir, MLA, was relatively restrained The DUP MLA, Peter Weir, told BBC 5Live that he also felt more…

Barnett formula bonus won’t last

The present and future  cuts may seem tough – and they are – but here I belatedly post the good news from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), s that they could be much worse, were it not for a” flaw “ in the Barnett formula for allocating the block grant.  The calculations presented in more…

Local press reflect on SDLP conference, support for McDonnell, abortion & other NI leaders

SDLP 2014 conf delegates - should McDonnell lead SDLP into 2016 Assembly election

The Belfast Telegraph published the results of their straw poll survey of 50 delegates at the SDLP party conference on Saturday. When walking through the exhibition space outside the main hall I declined the opportunity offered to answer the interviewer’s questions. 32% of surveyed delegates did not want Alasdair McDonnell to lead the SDLP into more…