Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Comment Archives for davenewman

Green Party prospective candidate for the Pottinger Ward in Belfast City Council. Worked for 15 years on e-democracy and e-participation (e.g. Formerly a Lecturer in Information Systems at Queen's University Belfast, and ran the Appropriate Technology Centre at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. MA (Materials Science), Ph.D. (Appropriate Technology), M.Sc. (Artificial Intelligence).
  1. Comment on Friday thread: “In this country we need to be extremely vigilant about the stories we choose to tell ourselves”
    on 23 March 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Do too many people let the stories take over all political decision-making? Do they live in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, where million-to-one chances come up 9 times out of 10 to fit the story, rather than our roundworld where scientific evidence and uncertainty play havoc with simplistic narratives? Would bookmakers rather than novelists make better politicians, as they are better at judging uncertainty?

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  2. Comment on David Cameron and love bombing the Scots
    on 9 February 2014 at 1:16 am

    The Yes campaign is not a single force, as claimed. It includes the Scottish Green Party and others, as well as the SNP. Several Greens I know are going to spend the summer campaigning north of the border.

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  3. Comment on Young people and the upcoming elections
    on 3 February 2014 at 11:34 pm

    We had an 18-year old candidate in the Oxfordshire County Council elections last year.

    As for Pete Seeger, not all look the same. Peggy Seeger now lives in Oxford, where at 77 she wrote and performed a song to save a local swimming pool (, and joined the Green Party. (Labour are closing it down to build a new one in a Labour-voting ward.)

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  4. Comment on Mandela legacy for NI: A real, hard fought and never-ending quest to improve society for all
    on 7 December 2013 at 9:09 pm

    A correction to the the claim by tmich that the South African government’s advance into Angola hindered the ANC. It was the defeat of the SA Army by Cubans that started the process that led to the National Party giving up hope of surviving alone. Very quickly Namibia became independent, ruled by SWAPO.

    At the same time (1980), the Soviet Union sent a destroyer from Vladivostok to Maputo to counter a threat to Mozambique. The SA Army had been coming over the border to attack ANC houses in Matola, a few miles SW of where I was living in Bairo do Jardim, Maputo.

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  5. Comment on Tough messages for the SDLP: Open up policy gaps and start speaking human again.
    on 30 November 2013 at 12:01 am

    The SDLP is not the only pro-European party. Given the success of the Green MEPs in the EU Parliament (e.g. the Common Fisheries Policy) most Green parties in Europe are pro-European.

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  6. Comment on “The lack of a truth recovery process means that tribal myths will continue to trump actual memory”
    on 4 November 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Aren’t commissioners part-time jobs, with a full-time director under the figurehead?

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  7. Comment on DUP-are they really the voice of Unionism?
    on 27 October 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Since this discusssion has widened to include non-unionist parties, what about the other successful opposition party, the NI Green Party.

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  8. Comment on “This is just the latest example of the (First) Minister(s) failing to spend monies…”
    on 22 October 2013 at 5:11 pm

    In the old days, this money would have been handed over to a community and voluntary sector organisation, and they would have asked groups to apply for it. It might have gone via NICVA, the Community Foundation, or the EU office.

    That was not always perfect, but they had an incentive to distribute the loot quickly and do something with it.

    The point is to quickly get the money out of the hands of politicians and civil servants, as both have incentives to delay.

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  9. Comment on How to win a Scottish Referendum – ten iron laws…
    on 5 October 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Close relations across water divides?

    Tanzania (Tanganika + Zanzibar) works OK, with some political differences.

    Cape Verde islands and Guinea Bissau split up after trying to be one country after independence from Portugal.

    Equatorial Guinea has an island and a mainland bit, one of which is more harshly treated by their dictator, but everyone suffers.

    Canada and Newfoundland get along (although there is the joke of the man who moved from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland raising the average IQ of both places).

    Alaska and Hawaii are divided from the continental USA. This produces some odd politics. Maybe the USA should sell Alaska back to Russia, with a discount if they take Sarah Palin.

    Then there are archipelagos: Indonesia, Philipines, Seychelles, Maldives.

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  10. Comment on The decline of traditional patriotism in Britain and Ireland
    on 22 September 2013 at 10:06 am

    Oscar Wilde said all that needs to be said about patriotism.

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  11. Comment on So we dislike our politicians-but what are we going to do about it?
    on 17 September 2013 at 7:48 pm

    But there is an opposition. All the parties not in the executive. People can vote Green or TUV.

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  12. Comment on Stormont’s odd debate on free school dinners. “Whatever you do, don’t mention child poverty.”
    on 17 September 2013 at 6:50 pm

    No, it’s thank you Nick Clegg. The Conservatives got an equal amount to spend on vouchers, to announce at their conference.

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  13. Comment on #givepootstheboot: Minister spends £100k opposing #LGBT blood donation and adoption
    on 17 September 2013 at 5:35 pm

    It would be interesting to get Edwin Poots to give scientific evidence tor every one of his actions, from his attempts to promote creationism in museums onwards.

    The assembly should require all Ministers to pass a science examination to qualify them for the job of Minister in the 21st century.

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  14. Comment on Zero Sum and Differential Gain in Northern Ireland
    on 16 September 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Why do some people here still keep insulting the museum professionals of Northern Ireland by talking about a shrine? The Maze centre was never going to be a statue of Mary crying tears, but a small-scale version of the Titanic exhibition.

    First sit some history examinations, to the same levels that the professional historians and archivists have reached.

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  15. Comment on SDLP yet to choose its candidate, but the clock is ticking…
    on 16 September 2013 at 8:53 pm

    “Euro are difficult for parties. The subject matter of Europe is important but dry and bureaucratic. The constituency is massive, and impossible to get around the people who care most about it in the space of just six weeks.”

    Several mistakes there.

    1. To assume the campaign will only last 6 weeks. Given the size, you need at least 6 months.

    2. You don’t need to get everywhere. 1/3 of your votes will come from your target areas where you already have strong MLAs/councillors/candidates. 2/3 will be a little from every area elsewhere. So a Euro candidate does not have to spend so much time away from their patch.

    3. European issues are not always bureaucratic. Just look at the campaign to set up a sensible Common Fisheries Policies, combining protests from outside lead by the like of Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall, with steady committee work by the Greens/EFA group, until all the other political groupings supported it.

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  16. Comment on Northern Ireland greatest challenge is the loss of the best of our next generation…
    on 1 September 2013 at 2:49 pm

    On the point of the difference between stay-at-homes and those who have travelled, visit places like Applecross in the West Highlands. Half the people there have never left, the others went to sea in the merchant navy, and came back to retire, as did my father’s former shipmate, Alan McKinness.

    At the community council meeting, the Wee Free Minister was arguing against letting an Englishman who set up an outward bound training centre there to mary a Catholic in the old Church of Scotalnd church. So they went outside for a punch up. The couple married in the old church.

    Such incidents show the Quiet Man was somewhat realistic.

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  17. Comment on Time for another Church/Hall watch thread?
    on 29 August 2013 at 12:01 pm

    If anyone wants to do this as a project, set up a site on That is the hosted incident reporting site that used to be based on the Ushahidi software developed in Kenya to report incidents after the 2007 elections.

    Or Slugger O’Toole could incorporate the Ushahidi software into this site.

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  18. Comment on Robinson U turn shows the urgent need for mediation
    on 18 August 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Why cannot NI politicians leave the professionals to get on with designing exhibitions? The Maze centre was never going to be a shrine built by Sinn Feiners, but an exhibition like the ones in the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum or the Titanic Centre, where professional historians and exhibition specialists put together displays that make a bit of history a little bit clearer to visitors. The Ulster Museum does a great job of trying to help new visitors make sense of the political, economic and social history of Ulster. I went round their old exhibition in my first week in Belfast, 20 years ago.

    Can’t the politicians stop poking their fingers in things they are not qualified to touch? Neither Peter Robinson nor Martin McGuiness would pass an examination on the history of Northern Ireland, where they have to give facts and rational explanations backed by evidence, not propaganda or myths.

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