Tag Archives | UK

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…

Lessons from Chilcott apply to dealing with the past

Why is it when the search is on for instructive examples, that Ireland is seldom looked at by British movers and shakers?  Over  the behaviour of militantly anti-austerity parties when the focus is on Greece, an alternatively financed  health service, the behaviour of coalition governments, what a constitutional convention might achieve, Ireland  has a wealth of 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…

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…

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…

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…

“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…

Sinn Féin MP: “I think this is part of an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people…”

The DUP and Sinn Féin have united, again, to complain about the BBC’s use of subtitles during an interview with County Londonderry blacksmith, Barney Devlin, on its Sunday evening Countryfile programme.  Of the two parties, the DUP’s Peter Weir, MLA, was relatively restrained The DUP MLA, Peter Weir, told BBC 5Live that he also felt more…

Could the UK quitting the EU undermine the Good Friday Agreement?

In  an Irish Times  piece subtitled  “If the UK leaves the EU, the North’s status will change, perhaps disastrously” veteran commentator  Dennis Kennedy  gets  bogged down in in his own “fantasy.” He’s right in one respect, that any bid by a Conservative- led  government  to quit the EU  by referendum would undoubtedly shake a union more…