Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


The route to better government is clear. Why don’t the parties take it?

Sun 13 April 2014, 12:46pm

Tweet Nuff history  – Ed.  Thanks to Alan and Chris Donnelly for presenting significant data on how Northern Ireland is faring. The third CRC Peace Monitoring Report by Dr Paul Nolan reads  authoritatively, quite depressingly and utterly unsurprisingly. At around the same time, some polls have been published which broadly reflect the results but with […] more »

Belfast Politics as petulant childsplay (while Ballymurphy langours in deprivation) Redux…

Mon 31 March 2014, 8:02pm

Tweet Somethings only start to look truly absurd when you look at them in conjunction with some other things… Here’s one thing, a DUP councillor being barracked for temporarily donning a Linfield scarf whilst the council body was discussing a motion calling on the council to honour out-going Linfield manager David Jeffrey. And here’s another […] more »

The Scottish referendum. The British identity that dare not speak its name

Sun 30 March 2014, 7:42pm

Tweet   The best article I’ve seen about the dearth of a cultural identity debate in Scotland by Alex Linklater, son of the great Magnus. Could Scots learn a thing or two from the Irish? Or maybe not?  You’d have thought the Scottish cultural air would be thrumming with an accrued history of intellectual fighting […] more »

Aventas: “These scandalous attacks orchestrated by a small group of criminals and their equally criminal sponsors…”

Wed 12 February 2014, 3:15pm

Tweet As the BBC reports, Lagan Cement Group has suffered damage of more than 1m euros (£820,000) in three separate attacks. The attacks followed the announcement that Lagan was buying, subject to approval, Rooftiles in County Fermanagh from the Aventas Group. The arson attacks at Lisburn, County Antrim, Comber, County Down, and Carrigtwohill, County Cork, […] more »

Could raising the minimum wage hurt NI?

Tue 21 January 2014, 5:49pm

Tweet Last week the Tories did do a masterful job of combining their message of a growing economy with fairness by arguing that the minimum wage should rise from £6.31p to £7 per hour. As the IMF pointed out today prospects for the British economy are looking better but we have to remember that Britain […] more »

“How many times has a labour movement supported a liberation movement, only to find itself betrayed on the day of liberation?”

Sun 22 December 2013, 4:53pm

Tweet Speaking of dissent…  The death of Nelson Mandela appears to have opened the door to some potentially significant criticism of the current leadership of the ANC.  As the BBC reports, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the largest trade union in South Africa, has withdrawn its support for the ruling party of government.  From the […] more »

Lough Neagh Working Group: “This report may never see the light of day.”

Wed 20 November 2013, 5:11pm

Tweet As the Belfast Telegraph reports, having set up a inter-departmental Working Group by September last year, ”to explore and pursue actively the potential for a cross-departmental approach to bring Lough Neagh back into public ownership”, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has lost the group’s report down the back of […] more »

Local businesses as a way to a shared future?

Tue 12 November 2013, 12:17pm

Tweet Found this interesting piece in today’s Newsletter by the Chairman of the Antrim Road Traders Association, Paul Carlin who has been writing about his experiences as a businessman in Northern Ireland. Carlin makes some interesting points about how local businesses can play a direct role in improving within communities through creating jobs and getting […] more »

The population continues to rise but so does the brain drain

Thu 8 August 2013, 6:26pm

Tweet The UK is experiencing a baby boom as the number of births hits the highest level in 40 years, according to mid year figures just out.  Only a small fraction of the country’s higher population is now due to foreign immigration.  In Northern Ireland where the population has continued to increase, more people left […] more »

How Stands the Republic? Grim verdicts at the MacGill summer school

Tue 30 July 2013, 5:57pm

Tweet   During a visit to tropical Donegal a couple of weeks ago I picked up from Johnny Boyle in the Highlands Hotel this year’s programme for the Patrick MacGill summer school in Glenties, now just under way.  Instead of the usual summer school  diet of history, literature and nostalgia, for several years now,  in […] more »

Louth County Council Suspend Narrow Water Bridge Project

Tue 9 July 2013, 4:05pm

Tweet Looks like the Northern Ireland Finance Minister’s caution was justified.  As the BBC report Plans to build a cross-border-bridge between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have been put on hold. Louth County Council said tenders had been significantly above the figure expected for the Narrow Water bridge project, leading it to halt it. RTÉ has […] more »

Permanent revolution by facebook is replacing ideology

Sat 22 June 2013, 5:42pm

Tweet Why are demos and riots breaking out all over? It’s the economy stupid. But Newsnight’s Paul Mason has a contemporary twist, writing in the Independent to give a taster for his book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions’ Velocity of information matters as much as action itself. It is striking how […] more »

UK City of Culture is a success but what does “success” mean? Greater transparency is needed

Sat 22 June 2013, 2:18pm

Tweet What is UK City of Culture delivering for Londonderry and Derry for the rest of us?  My fitful browsing and searches in journalism and the written public record doesn’t tell us much. No doubt there’s a buzz about the place with the opening of Ebrington Square and the Peace Bridge. You only need the […] more »

Let’s praise David Cameron for creating a brilliant showcase

Wed 19 June 2013, 5:30pm

Tweet First of all there was the simple pleasure at Lough Erne looking wonderful, an English friend saying  “didn’t Enniskillen look beautiful” and even the rain staying off, mostly.  I admit I was chuffed to see Jon Snow presenting lakeside “fresh in from Iran.. on a beautiful Fermanagh evening.” And never mind Obama. Unfashionable as […] more »

Giant’s Causeway dispute heightens

Fri 24 May 2013, 6:40pm

Tweet The plot thickens over the controversial plan to build a golf course and hotel complex  at Runkerry just outside the perimeter of the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage site. Now UNESCO which awards this designation  is weighing in behind the National Trust to try to stop it. From memory this is land the behind the […] more »

“the current system is inefficient and we need to examine the case for reform of teacher education provision”

Tue 21 May 2013, 6:41pm

Tweet The BBC reports on the latest attempt by the Northern Ireland Employment and Learning Minister, the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry, to reform the teacher training system here.    It follows the publication of a report on the first stage of the Study of the Teacher Education Infrastructure in Northern Ireland.  From the ministerial press release “The […] more »

OFMdFM: “as open and transparent as possible”

Sat 18 May 2013, 7:40pm

Tweet After much foot-dragging, the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers have released the cost [to date - Ed] of their 12-day March junket trip to Brazil and the USA to “Develop and promote political, investment, trade, university and tourism links” – an eye-watering £155,509.  As Mark Devenport tweeted So were FM and DFM’s recent […] more »

“during the Derry visit, Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were nowhere to be seen, surely mindful of their upcoming trade mission to China.”

Wed 8 May 2013, 6:27pm

Tweet According to an Irish News report today …OFMDFM has refuted any suggestion that the Stormont leaders snubbed the Dalai Lama when he visited Derry last month. A spokesperson for OFMDFM said the ministers were unable to attend “due to prior diary commitments”. Which is fine…  After all, “diary pressures” was the same excuse Tony Blair […] more »

“They’ve had the time, they’ve had the money, they’ve had the opportunity…”

Fri 19 April 2013, 6:09pm

Tweet Refreshing to hear someone call it as it is.. and John Cunningham of the Camlin Group certainly laid it on the line last night on The View... “It’s like watching children argue, arguing at school. What relevance does it have? Why don’t they put it all behind and really look and address the problems […] more »

“it is important that other schemes that may be in a position to be progressed ahead of the A5 are given full consideration by the Executive”

Mon 15 April 2013, 5:35pm

Tweet As the BBC report, the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, the UUP’s Danny Kennedy, has announced that his department will not be appealing the Belfast High Court ruling quashing the decision to go ahead with the controversial A5 £330m dual carriageway project.  A “costly mistake [not appealing] but will not be the end of this project“, according to […] more »

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