Tag Archives | Northern Ireland

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…

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…

Cartoon – Spencer on Tuesday

Robinson, McGuinness cartoon, Brian John Spencer

In response to the Cameron-Kenny talks exit the Telegraph wrote, “It is astonishing how money can conquer ancient sectarian divides.” The divided became the united and money was the lubricant and the bridge. The only problem, Cameron wants the money back with interest. The divide now is between Cameron and the common money front of DUP-SF.

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…

Wuz Rory really robbed of glory?

Just like the politicians, outrage seems to be the default position  if we don’t get our way, this time over  sporting prizes,  judging from the Belfast Telegraph’s reaction to Rory McIroy, the bookie’s favourite,   pipped  by Lewis Hamilton for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Angry Northern Ireland sports fans last night slammed the shock more…

Is the arrival of Cameron and Kenny more than part of a tired old ritual?

 The credibility and effectiveness of the devolved institutions is on the line, writes  David Cameron. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy  warned if a deal isn’t done then the Northern Executive will “crash”. “The implications are that the Executive can’t continue to function. You go into a crash and you go back to an election and more…

Cartoon – Spencer on Tuesday

Sinn Fein cartoon, Brian John Spencer

George Osborne set corporation tax on the condition that talks be resolved and fiscal responsibility be shown. A ‘Peace Fund’ sweetener is on the table too. Sinn Fein has counter-conditioned with a “shopping list” of demands. Here’s this weeks cartoon offering in response to events. Thanks to the Firemen for photoshop work.

I wish I had food banks when I was homeless

The topic of food banks came up this morning on social media and on BBC Talkback, it’s an area I have particular interest in because when I was younger, I spent some years (fairly important formative ones at that…) homeless. It wasn’t that I was living rough per se. I did spend a good few more…

RIP Fred Catherwood

All of forty years ago I sought  the views of Sir Fred Catherwood who has died aged 85, about Northern Ireland – I can’t remember what aspect exactly. I interviewed him in his  a large and rather bleak East Anglian house – a house rather like his religion I thought at the time ( rather unfairly). more…

Alcohol Pricing…on the up and up

Jim Wells Face

Taken at face value, I completely agree with Jim Wells. Taken at face value, I completely agree with Jim Wells…sorry, I had to write that again to make sure it wasn’t an autocorrect. Minimum pricing for alcohol is a sensible idea, I have long agreed that the off-sales industry with specific reference to supermarkets are more…

Cartoon – Spencer on Monday

Gerry Adams cartoon, trojan horse, Brian John Spencer

Last week Rodney Edwards hit upon a scoop at a Sinn Fein meeting in Enniskillen. Their leader let it slip that equality was “the trojan horse” that would “break these bastards” [Sinn Fein’s partners in government]. Here’s this week’s cartoon with that in mind.

“…why else would MLA’s fail to protest when their office expenses are taken from them?”

As the Irish Times reports Former Minister of State, Ned O’Keeffe has been fined €3,500 and given a suspended seven month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to five counts of submitting false invoices to claim over €3,700 in mobile phone expenses. O’Keeffe of Ballylough, Mitchelstown, Co Cork was arrested by gardaí this morning and more…

Corporation Tax: Picking The Wrong Fight

You might notice from time to time that Foster, DETI, OFMDFM et al. have a penchant for announcing jobs…except they tend to announce a certain kind of job; big jobs, high paying jobs, important jobs, graduate jobs. It’s tough to picture the big wigs rolling down the hill to announce a greengrocers expansion or for more…

The trolling of Ann Travers

Ann 2

The first in a three part series exploring so-called ‘trolling’ and abuse on social media At the beginning of November 2014 it was widely reported that victims campaigner Ann Travers had closed down her Facebook and Twitter accounts following a barrage of online abuse. It’s worth reminding people of the fact that Ann’s sister, Mary, more…

New powers for Scotland threaten constitutional crisis for the UK

David Cameron’s claim that the Smith report will create “a stronger Union “ rings hollow when  set against  his insistence that the case for  English votes on English laws is “ unanswerable,”  If it means that English MPs should have a veto on any measure they don’t like that a future  Labour government proposes, it will more…

Adams and Campbell.. the essence of sectarian politics

Eamonn McCann’s analysis of the “war of words “ between Gerry Adams’ “Unionist bastards”  and Gregory “toilet paper” Campbell reminds me an insight about political behaviour from the former Irish Times journalist and ex Unionist politician Frank Millar, whose regular  acute observations are sorely missed. Gained by close observation in the hot house of the more…