Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


“the electoral prospects of individuals are not strictly a relevant factor when weighing the public interest in the disclosure of information…”

Wed 2 April 2014, 3:29pm

Tweet Another week, another ruling by the Information Commissioner that the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers acted against the public interest in refusing to disclose information in response to a FoI request.  The request, from the News Letter, was for disclosure of OFMDFM’s corporate risk register – a list of the issues “causing […] more »

Did you hear the one about the politicians who didn’t want their photos taken? Local Government Bill (updated)

Tue 18 March 2014, 11:13pm
Beyond Transparency cover

Tweet MLAs have been starting to debate the Local Government Bill and six groups of amendments – totalling 115 – at today’s plenary session of the Assembly. A lot of worrying about photographs being taken of councillors with their eyes closed and being misconstrued as being asleep. Is this the first time in history that […] more »

“must at the very least include a mechanism that makes the broadcasting companies accountable and answerable to this Assembly…”

Tue 26 November 2013, 4:12pm

Tweet Speaking of making the media accountable…  The Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín, has declared that she is “considering options such as appointing a panel of experts to review broadcasting in the North and devolution of responsibility locally with a view to bringing proposals forward for cross-party support”.  Here’s a […] more »

Will the draft Local Government Bill expand NI council accountability and transparency?

Thu 21 November 2013, 9:00am
Local Government Bill tagcloud

Tweet Following on from last week’s post about council accountability and transparency, let’s take a look at the draft Local Government Bill which is current at the committee stage in the NI Assembly. (I’ll also reference NILGA’s response to the draft bill, though it should be noted that the membership of the NI Local Government […] more »

Could new councils be more transparent from the start? Pickles, Castlereagh & a journalist ejected for tweeting

Thu 14 November 2013, 12:16pm

Tweet In England … Local government secretary Eric Pickles issued a guide in June to remind English local authorities that under The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 they must allow the public to film and record meetings. He said: Every decision a council takes has a major impact […] more »

Interview with Matt Baggott: his view on PSNI transformation, confidence in policing, over-regulation, vocation & faith

Mon 22 April 2013, 9:00am
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott

Tweet We usually hear public figures speaking in sound bites. At most ten minute interviews about some topic of the day. We rarely get to listen in as they explain what motivates them to do their job and reflect on their rationale or approach. The PSNI Chief Constable has been given advice on what he […] more »

Hiding your Publication Scheme defeats the purpose of having one … and raises your costs through needless FOIs

Thu 21 March 2013, 10:43pm
ICO logo

Tweet Publication Schemes are supposed to publicise what information a public body holds and regularly makes available. The Information Commissioners Office have a Model Publication Scheme for District Councils in Northern Ireland, listing the type of information that they must make available. You should publicise the fact that information is available to the public under […] more »

Can you see your tax dollars at work? Boosting accountability, efficiency and transparency the Louisville KY way

Fri 8 March 2013, 11:00am

Tweet How accountable and how transparent should public bodies be? Whether council departments within local government, Executive departments or their arms length bodies, do you wish you could see how your money – your taxes and rates – were being spent? These organisations all produce annual reports and high level financial figures. Relatively few councils […] more »

To whom is a unity candidate accountable?

Fri 22 February 2013, 12:01pm

Tweet To whom is a unionist unity candidate (or any other brand of unity candidate) accountable? Obviously to the voters, though the opportunity to pull the big red handle and eject them from office only comes around once every four years. In-between elections, what party structure will hold them to their manifesto or campaign commitments? […] more »

What exactly has OFMdFM done in the last six months (warning, it’s not impressive)?

Mon 21 January 2013, 11:15am

Tweet The Irish News today goes back to a strange little communication from OFMdFM last July 18, which laid out ten achievements. As it notes in its editorial: The statement was sent out one evening during the holiday period via email without any form of briefing. Further details were said to be unavailable and interviews […] more »

Haiti: ‘Baby Doc’ escapes justice for past abuses

Tue 31 January 2012, 12:53pm

Tweet Given the Slugger community’s interest in Haiti, I thought it worthwhile to note the regrettable decision by a Haitian court not to charge the country’s former dictator,  Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, over allegations of torture and murder. Duvalier returned to Haiti this time last year after 25 years in exile in France. Since then, he […] more »

Why intelligent criticism is good for government (and politicians)

Thu 29 July 2010, 2:10pm

Tweet I was uncharacteristically lost for words when I discovered, through Mark Devenport’s latest post, that a senior and highly capable Sinn Fein MLA was using material gleaned from a UK based right wing ginger group (funded so far as we can tell, by non taxpaying British expats) with a known record of rolling together […] more »

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