The spending dilemma in the NI Health Service

Nick Garbutt over on Scope NI has an excellent article on health spending and the challenges facing us in the future First to the budget. Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s written statement commits to a 5.5% uplift on last year’s allocation. This sounds terrific. But it is important to remember that the increase is based on last year’s starting position. However last year an extra £140 million was found for Health through in-year allocations – redistributing unspent monies from other … Read more

Towards a Respectful Future report launched

The DUP, UUP and PUP groups on Belfast City Council launched the Towards a Respectful Future document this morning in Belfast City Hall. The Councillors present were Lee Reynolds, John Kyle, Billy Hutchinson, George Dorrian and Jim Rodgers. The full report is available here but some of the key findings were •The vast majority of bonfires and associated activities are well organised and managed. These include events which are part of and separate from the Belfast City Council Bonfire and … Read more

Join us for our live event ‘Reasons to be cheerful – 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement’…

Join the Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey of Northern Ireland, local motivational speaker Alex Kane and Irish News happiness correspondent Allison Morris for a night of positivity. We can’t promise firewalks or group hugs but we can promise you a great night of debate and entertainment as we find reasons to be cheerful 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement. Date: Tuesday the 10th of April 2018. Doors open 6:45pm, event starts: 7:15pm Venue: The Dark Horse Bar, Belfast. … Read more

Taking their seats at Westminster would be a high risk U-turn for Sinn Fein

Noel Whelan  in the Irish Times  today repeats  the case for Sinn Fein to take their seats at Westminster  – but only after a general election for which the end of abstention would be in their manifesto. This differs from the plea by the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee who recently wrote that ..the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, ventured to call on the party on Wednesday to take up their six – soon to be seven – Westminster seats “to make things better … Read more

DUP’s advantage through Boundary Commision is largely restorative…

Interesting response from Sinn Fein over the latest boundary changes. Francie Molloy in the Independent writes… Sinn Féin warned at the time that the DUP would attempt to insert this issue into their negotiations with the Tories so it came as little surprise to us that the new proposals were virtually indistinguishable from the DUP’s. The Boundary Commission deny there has been a deliberate gerrymander at the behest of the DUP and stress their independence from political interference. Nevertheless, they … Read more

Beneath the Harp and Crown: Philip Orr Speaks ahead of the Premiere of his new play about UDR Veteran

‘Beneath the Harp and Crown,’ a new play by Philip Orr, premieres next week in four venues. The play was developed in collaboration with Decorum NI, a charity based support group for veterans of the security forces and their families who served during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The play is billed as addressing the question, ‘Can a UDR veteran come to terms with his painful past?’ It is a one-man show performed by Brian Payne. There will be post-show … Read more

No threat to the Good Friday Agreement in sight, but bolder joint action is needed after St Patrick’s Day

Traditionally the St Patrick’s Day pilgrimages to America have been occasions for everybody involved in our politics to be on their best behaviour and bask in waves of Irish-American blarney. Not so much this year, as  Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald have been left off the White House invitees list for failing to clinch the deal to get Stormont going again. But Adams and Paisley jnr are lurking in the wings as  living reminders of past glories compared to … Read more

This cannot simply be a numbers game. Unity will only occur peacefully through dialogue and co-operation with both nationalists and unionists

Cathal Haughey is Dublin Organizer of Ógra Fianna Fáil and committee member of DCU4UNITY From the 7th-9th of March, Dublin City University students voted overwhelmingly in favor (76%) for their Students’ Union to support Irish reunification. The campaign was run by ‘DCU4Unity’ and had cross-party support from the DCU branches of Ógra Fhianna Fáil, Ógra Shinn Féin and Labour Youth. I was delighted to be appointed to the committee of the campaign as chair of the DCU Ógra Fhianna Fail. … Read more

20 years since the Good Friday Agreement – It’s time the value of women’s peace building work is recognised

In the latest part of our sHERed Future series, Kellie Turtle (Feminist Activist and WRDA’s Women’s Sector Lobbyist) writes about the role of women in peace building in Northern Ireland In any discussion of women’s participation in building peace in Northern Ireland it is important to say that women have always been politically active agents of change here; from the suffragettes who were the first hunger strikers in our prisons, to the trade unionists who fought child labour and exploitation … Read more

DUP Mayor Paul Hamill speaking Irish ahead of an event.

Amid all the political wrangling over the Irish language -DUP mayor Paul Hamill practises his Irish ahead of event in Newtownabbey @UTVNews — Judith Hill (@JudeHill_utv) March 14, 2018   Paul Hamill is the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and just in a contentious debate about the Irish language is refreshing to see this engagement. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

“A feature of the devolved administration here has been that the two main parties have been sensitive to criticism…”

The BBC reported a telling admission from the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, during the RHI Inquiry yesterday. Mr Sterling said the practice of taking minutes had “lapsed” after devolution when engagement between civil servants and local ministers became much more regular. But he said it was also an attempt to frustrate Freedom of Information requests. Mr Sterling said ministers liked to have a “safe space where they could think the unthinkable and not necessarily have … Read more

To check Sinn Fein winning the propaganda war, a general amnesty should replace prosecutions in exchange for official disclosure, say unionist legal experts, arguing for the scrapping of the government’s Legacy Bill

“Transitional justice has facilitated republicans turning what ought to have been a hostile environment (namely, the historical record of over 2,000 attributable deaths, almost 60 percent of the total murder count, in a sectarian campaign of assassination and bombings – not to mention the accompanying litany of bloodshed, unblinking cruelty and lives destroyed) into a fertile soil allowing them to sustain a campaign of commemoration on ‘an industrial scale.  (The approach has) saturated thinking about the past to such an … Read more

Lee Reynolds in a race to win beard of Ireland

Remember Lee Reynolds? He used to blog on this site before he went off to work for the DUP. He’s now the DUP Group Leader on Belfast City Council and Director of Policy for the party. On Slugger, we don’t give endorsements to any politicians but we thought since he is leading in the race to win the beard of Ireland that you should give him a vote. The idea of a DUPer winning an all island award is something … Read more

Direct Rule in action: “In the light of the ongoing absence of an Executive…”

Northern Ireland Assembly Legislative Consent Motions, required by the UK Parliament to legislate on devolved matters, may have been devalued by the absence of a protest by the then NI Assembly Speaker in March 2015, but the UK Government could at least pretend that one had been passed at that time.  Yesterday there was no such pretence by Steve Brine (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health).  Welcome to Direct Rule… My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O’Shaughnessy) … Read more

Why cutting MLAs pay may not be a route to salvation

From the BBC; The secretary of state has said she “is minded” to reduce MLA pay, in the wake of the collapse of the Stormont talks. Speaking in the House of Commons, Karen Bradley said the “time is right” to address “concern about MLA pay in the absence of a functioning assembly”. Last December, former assembly Chief Executive Trevor Reaney recommended a cut of 27.5%. Mrs Bradley said she wants to hear from Northern Ireland’s political parties before making a … Read more

Derry’s politicians should stop playing the victim and make more friends and influence people

Steve Bradley’s chastening post on  Derry part 1 is remarkable for its detailed analysis and the volume  of  comment in response -greater I think than for any of the usual subjects I’ve seen in a long time.   Certainly it touches a nerve with me. I left my Derry home to go to school in Coleraine and never lived there again after the fateful year of 1969 when the old order quite suddenly and easily fell apart, an arresting fact its … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would … Read more

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

Resurrection Man, one of Northern Ireland’s most controversial films, is 20 this year.

Just as the Good Friday Agreement celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year so too does one of the most important Troubles-related films. Spring 1998 saw the release of Resurrection Man, a film directed by Marc Evans, written by Eoin McNamee and based on his novel of the same name. The portrayal of loyalism and extreme violence caused Resurrection Man to receive a significant amount of criticism upon its release. The film provoked protest in Northern Ireland and caused some British … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern … Read more