Tag Archives | NI Executive

At last our leaders are starting to take a realistic line to cope with cuts

Credit where credit’s due, while commending Bystander’s vigilance. Simon Hamilton cuts a competent figure as minister of finance, blowing the trumpet for the financial aspects of the Stormont House Agreement. This is what a finance minister is for, rather than sniping at colleagues. Meanwhile  the Agreement has attracted the rare attention of the Economist which more…

It’s the economy, stupid. Not a federal Ireland

In the Irish Times Paul Gillespie floats the idea that the North might benefit by a federal deal with the south. He invokes the useful hand played by the Republic in the recent Stormont House agreement. Certainly Charlie Flanagan waxed more eloquently than Theresa Villiers but that isn’t saying much. I discern a much bigger more…

“The brinkmanship that seems inescapable on such occasions has become self-indulgent and self-important too”

The Guardian’s editorial on the Stormont House Agreement has some pertinent things to note about Northern Ireland’s latest deal.  Although, if, as they claim, “the glass is half-full” it is also, by definition, half-empty.  From the Guardian editorial The talks came very close, after 11 weeks of discussion, to falling apart, as earlier efforts under the more…

The star of wonder shines through the Christmas Agreement

In Northern Ireland God seems to work in mysterious ways  his wonders  to perform  at peak moments in the Christian calendar. Sixteen years after the Good Friday ( or Belfast ) Agreement, we have the Christmas ( or Stormont House) Agreement. Behind the details the main features are: Apparently genuine efforts by the parties to end deadlock by more…

On Welfare and the Budget, reality for Stormont is acceptable

Only the rashest observer would claim that s/he has a complete understanding of the complexities of welfare payments and reform and the  other details of the negotiations that are said to be reaching a climax. My feeling is that they are less about negotiations and more about accepting realities they can live with. On welfare more…

Outsourcing solutions may be the secret of dealing with more than the past

Well, perhaps amid the encircling gloom the political parties have seen some light at last. The details of the agreement on welfare reform are awaited but it looks as if any new money will come from Westminster mainly to deal with the past which is surely fair. Adds: United Executive request for a total of £2.1 billion over 10 more…

Time for other parties to break Executive ranks as Sinn Fein sacrifices northern interests for southern ambitions

Following on from Mick, let’s  begin by making the best possible case for Sinn Fein, the party which seems the most intransigent in the inter- party talks. The Conservatives’ strategy for the next five years to a produce budget surplus of £23 billion by 2019-20 is probably unsustainable, unless the rate of growth picks up more…

What Stormont must do to convince Cameron to up his offer

Are the political parties still hoping that David Cameron will turn into a White Knight and Save Ulster from Austerity?  What does Stormont have to do to persuade him to answer  their pleas to up his offer? Among the elements are: devising a proper three year  plan for the first time so as the world more…

Assembly reform without real change in political outlook means little

The reform ideas for  the beleaguered  Stormont Assembly  disclosed by the BBC are well intentioned.  but they’re the wrong treatment on the wrong diagnosis, as the disease is the failure of our politicians to  work together effectively.  Note that they’re being put forward by the British government five months ahead of the deadline of May more…

There Is No Alternative! (to Casement Park development plan) – Redux

Belfast High Court has ruled that the decision to grant planning permission for the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast was “fundamentally flawed”.  However, Mr Justice Horner did not quash the decision, and will take further submissions from lawyers for the Department of the Environment, the GAA and the residents group who mounted the more…

“that’s the trojan horse of the entire republican strategy…”

From his reported comments, it would appear that Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, has, at best, a flawed “understanding” of his party president’s comments last night – and, hence, a flawed “understanding” of his party’s entire strategy.  From the UTV report Mr O’Dowd added that his understanding of Mr Adam’s ‘Trojan more…

Gerry Adams: “There is a clear need for more innovative and forward-looking politics…”

By which, the passive-aggressive Sinn Féin president actually means, the SDLP must join Sinn Féin in a sectarian electoral pact in “the next Westminster and Assembly elections”, and the year after that, and the year after that… because… themmuns! To paraphrase, if Sinn Féin can get away with treating all future Northern Ireland elections as a glorified pissing contest more…

Devo Max with corporate tax cut ” disastrous” for NI

This powerful case against the SNP’s Devo Max plans including a 3% cut in corporation tax is made in the academic  website The Conversation by  Arthur Midwinter Associate Professor, Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research at University of Edinburgh  and a former adviser to the former Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament  Johann Lamont. It more…

Corporation tax powers huge test for Stormont

The word is out that the government will grant  Stormont control over corporation tax when the Chancellor makes his Autumn Statement on 3 December.  Peter Robinson is  talking with the confidence of a done deal.  David Cameron gave a broad hint this morning as he was  grilled by  all the select committees chairs in the more…

Barnett formula bonus won’t last

The present and future  cuts may seem tough – and they are – but here I belatedly post the good news from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), s that they could be much worse, were it not for a” flaw “ in the Barnett formula for allocating the block grant.  The calculations presented in more…

Assembly reform needed but to enable rather than to block

Rick Wilford the recently retired professor of Politics at Queens, provides  an analysis in the Belfast Telegraph  of the deadlock in power sharing that is as bleak as it is authoritative. “That there is a case for reforming the Assembly and the Executive is irrefutable”… This was recognised by all parties at St Andrews, where more…

The phoney crisis over the Budget is an indictment of our politics

The brinkmanship over the budget is over. The emptiness of a threat to return to Direct Rule has been exposed. Martin McGuinness’s attempts to create a late Hallowe’en scare over the prospects of what Direct Rule might mean in reality amounted to the agenda for future Executive action that still awaits – including water charges and perhaps some more…

Saving the Ulster Orchestra is by any standards, a priority

Music Makes The World A Better Place

The modern trend in Orwellian-sounding government cultural policy is to head for the grass roots to look for new mainsprings of creativity. It has a variety of motives and aims. In GB,  the policies of the  DCMS and in Northern Ireland DCal and the priorities of various cash-strapped Arts Councils are also about investing in arts jobs and more…