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  1. Comment on “Two European countries, Ireland and Norway, have already banned all eel fisheries.” – redux
    on 12 September 2013 at 10:10 am

    Not half, Nevin. That’s effectively what happened over the Strangford Lough infraction, when DARD denied there was a problem of damage to the mussels.

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  2. Comment on “Two European countries, Ireland and Norway, have already banned all eel fisheries.” – redux
    on 12 September 2013 at 7:05 am

    Worth having a look at the Assembly briefing note at http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/researchandlibrary/2010/13610.pdf which states;
    Eel Fishing Regulations 2010
    DCAL, under the powers of the Fisheries Act (NI) 1996, plans to introduce a Statutory Rule which will bring the terms of the European Eel Regulation (EC) No1100/2007 into force in Northern Ireland.
    The EU regulation requires member states to introduce Eel Management Plans (EMP) for each eel river basin within their region. Northern Ireland is home to three such basins – North West, Neagh Bann and North East. The EMP to be introduced will have the following impact:
    >The Lough Neagh Bann catchment, Europe’s largest wild eel fishery, will continue to operate at current levels, which have been judged sustainable. The fishery will be subject to close regulation and monitoring.
    >The Lough Erne fishery, part of the North West catchment area, has been judged unsustainable. As such commercial fishing in the area will cease. The 17 commercial fishermen who hold a license to fish for eels in Lough Erne will have an opportunity to tender for contracts to catch and transport eels for conservation.
    >The North East basin contains no eel fisheries and will not be affected.

    In short, the regulations will lead to the cessation of eel fishing (excluding fishing for conservation) in all areas other than Lough Neagh and named weirs of the lower River Bann.

    As to fishing, it is prohibited to kill coarse fish (including eels) in the Foyle and Carlingford area waters (with the exception of pike which have special regulations). All such coarse fish and eels caught must be carefully handled and returned alive and unharmed to the water. However, DCAL, which administers the remaining NI fishing waters, makes no mention re eels in their regulations.

    In this case, there is as yet no over-arching EU requirement that NI could be infracted against, but this will change if a Regulation were to come forward next March, but even then Member States will be given time to implement any requirements. The real issue is whether the L Neagh fishery is “sustainable” by importing glass eels from elsewhere.

    More generally, NI has too many government departments, each vulnerable to single issue pressures from small groups of individuals. They find it almost impossible to produce solutions that are truly sustainable; i.e. that balance social, environmental and economic pressures.

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  3. Comment on #RuthPatterson: “Forgive me for restating what I’ve said so many times before…”
    on 3 August 2013 at 7:24 am

    Got to know Ruth Patterson a bit in 2004 when she was High Sheriff of Belfast (seems strange now!) and her views have certainly become more extreme and strident. Makes me wonder about the point made in another thread about her mental health.

    Of course “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer” (Robert Owen), but the question of her mental state might be a way out of the mess for the DUP. Just sayin’….

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  4. Comment on What happens next? Where will the Spotlight now shine?
    on 5 July 2013 at 12:16 pm

    “There is a very serious problem with the way government deals with the private sector.”
    I think a lot of this stems from the desire of MLAs to micro- manage government. They like wielding power and impressing their constituents

    Spot on Delphin and Mick. Why else the issues around the Planning Bill, too?

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  5. Comment on A5 ruling: “They should not be left in any doubt about what may or may not occur…”
    on 10 April 2013 at 9:32 am

    The justification for this road scheme was based on a safety case, where the lives saved made the investment worthwhile. However, it was always a political flagship for those wishing to demonstrate that they could deliver for their electorate. As noted by Justice Stevens, a Strategic Environmental Assessment wasn’t conducted to look at the alternatives. Had this taken place, it might have considered how many lives would have been saved by spending half the original £860m on a dualling scheme and half on cross-border medical services!

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  6. Comment on “I want to know if the Minister is going to put pressure on these factories.” ..”
    on 12 February 2013 at 5:53 pm

    On 25 Jan, O’Neill was at Loughry when Simon Coveney arrived to tell the assembled farmers/producers about CAP reform. He’d arrived over an hour late. The reason? He’d stopped off at Silverhill Foods to be briefed about the horsemeat issue, so she can hardly claim lack of awareness about the issue.

    The comparison between the 2 Ministers was stark; she gabbled through a prepared script and and nothing of import to say, whilst he was relaxed, convivial and completely on top of his brief.

    I know we don’t have a wealth of talent in our politicians here, but she is pretty low down the ranking of a pretty mediocre bunch. To use the well worn phrase, we definitely get the politicians we deserve.

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  7. Comment on Paisley Junior: SF ‘content’ for paedophiles and gangsters to run writ across NI…
    on 31 January 2013 at 8:50 pm

    As variously noted above, strange goings on in the senior echelons of the DUP. I would add the case of Peter’s comments about Attwood over the John Lewis decision;
    “The issue of retail policy is a matter for the whole of the executive to take a decision on, and not just for one minister,” Mr Robinson said.
    “Therefore the intention that was indicated by Alex Attwood in relation to its impact on the John Lewis store is something that the executive will decide on rather than the minister himself.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21200390

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  8. Comment on Strabane District Council consider restricting public and press from committee meetings
    on 20 January 2013 at 8:29 am

    Let’s say that that RPA requires the new councils to post video coverage of their meetings online (as above), then the first question that will be asked is who’s going to pay for this. Despite the small financial cost and huge benefits for democracy, it is unlikely to be funded.

    Too many of our MLAs have the breadth of vision of a gnat, fostered by their experiences from councils. How likely are we to get effective MLAs, and indeed effective new councillors, when all that seems to matter is that they deliver for their own tribe and not for NI society as a whole?

    Am I alone in finding this all thoroughly depressing? I think not, when we consider at the turnout at elections.

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  9. Comment on “the looming legal row, which is due to commence on 9 January, could become a defining event for Northern Ireland…”
    on 31 December 2012 at 8:32 am

    The NI PPS1 states; “The town and country planning system exists to regulate the development and use of land in the public interest. The public interest requires that all development is carried out in a way that would not cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance.”
    Necessarily, this is a complex task and compromises must be made. In the eyes of many, the public interest of the Runkerry development distils down to the economic benefits of new jobs, but this is simplistic and ignores the intention stated in the Northern Area Plan to protect the landscape around the Giants Causeway. This is at the heart of the NT’s case and why they were given leave to proceed with the Judicial Review.

    Dragging this back on topic, it is seems to me unlikely that the JR will be a “defining event” for NI politics, but the importance certainly should not be understated. The real question is whether the JR will throw any light into the darker corners of the planning system and the extent that politicians attempt to manipulate the planners.

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  10. Comment on Reflections on the SDLP conference and Alasdair McDonnell’s speech
    on 11 November 2012 at 7:00 am

    Dull, dull, dull leader with almost zero public profile and seemingly zero contribution to the party’s policy development. Why would anyone support this party except that it is the least worst alternative?

    Given that much of the party’s profile is due to Alex Attwood having been a reasonably effective Minister of the Environment, is McDonnell going to change him and, if so, whither Attwood? Thoughts of pissing and tents occur…

    Perhaps those nearer the party could shed some light on this?

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