Topic Archives: Economy

Austerity and Health

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For the last 30-plus years, the dominant politico-economic theory in the West has been ‘neo-liberalisation’. Roughly, this believes in the pre-eminence of the market, that the market is always right, that government should be small and not provide services. The response of neo-liberalism to bad times is austerity. A retrenchment of state services, and an more…

Jean-Claude Juncker: “[Tsipras] must explain that some of the promises upon which he was elected will not be honoured…”

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As Mick has noted, at the weekend the under-pressure new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took undiplomatic aim at the governments of Spain and Portugal [But not Ireland! – Ed] in an attempt to explain the outcome of European negotiations to his Syriza party coalition. The European Commission has been quick to step in to act as a “mediator” more…

2015 is looking bleak on the jobs front…

Education Minister John O’Dowd has said schools will likely see 500 job losses for teachers and 1,000 for non-teaching staff due to £28m cuts to his budget. Meanwhile we keep churning out student teachers with no work for them. Also today 200 jobs are to go at a call centre in West Belfast. Translink is more…

Poor handling of Bytel whistleblower came with a €4 million price tag

Procurement remains a bit of nightmare for the permanent government the Civil Service, especially when it comes to judging what constitutes value for money. John Campbell at the BBC has the core of the story. As the Auditor General notes, “two years later, a whistleblower went directly to the NIAO and it was only then that more…

Shale of the century – the future for fracking in Ireland

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Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it has become universally known, is a technique for extracting reserves of oil and gas that would be otherwise impossible or uneconomic to extract. The technique, which involves injecting rock with a mixture of water, chemicals and sand, has become one of most contentious issues in British and Irish politics. more…

West Belfast Business Breakfast: Making small changes day by day.

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This morning I ventured over to a business breakfast in West Belfast hosted by local entrepreneur, Gerry Carlile.The event which had nearly 100 people in attendance was kicked off by the local MP, Paul Maskey who preached the need for more investment in West Belfast and cited success stories like the Kennedy Centre which operates more…

Job Cuts and the Civil Service

I just don’t know. Bumper Graham and I appear often on the Nolan Show together and, well, we rarely hit it off. But, this morning, I actually got him to agree with me. Perhaps a voluntary redundancy scheme for civil servants mightn’t be such a good idea. Anyway, what’s your view? listen to ‘ Job more…

“…the platform on which Syriza won the recent general election has been significantly reconstructed.”

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What now for “the Syriza experiment“?  The Irish Times reports that the Eurogroup of finance ministers have deemed the Greek government’s list of proposed reforms to be “sufficiently comprehensive” for a four-month extension of the Greek bailout programme which was due to expire on Saturday. In an official statement released after today’s conference call between more…

“By standing firm against the London-Dublin Tory axis, Sinn Féin achieved a welfare system better than the one in Britain…”

According to Sinn Féin national chairperson Declan Kearney, [Don’t mention the Dark Side! – Ed] …Sinn Féin from 2011 onwards opposed the proposed welfare cuts and insisted welfare protection was absolutely fundamental for all citizens. “That is why Sinn Féin politically campaigned against welfare cuts alongside trade unions and grassroots communities. “This principle guided our more…

Counting the cost of Welfare Reform

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One of the most significant outcomes of the Stormont House Agreement was an agreement to extend to Northern Ireland the reforms to the welfare system that have been introduced in Great Britain. These reforms were persistently blocked by Sinn Féin, who did not want to endorse what they termed “Tory cuts”. The Treasury has fined more…

Confronting the challenge of poverty and inequality…

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We often think that poverty is inevitable, and many people (think that they) know by itself that poverty is a cause of illness and social problems. The poor are always with us, they say, rather misreading Deuteronomy and St Matthew. Attitudes today are rather different from Victorian times, when the poor were seen as either more…

“…complex issues cannot always be addressed via online petitions.”

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Sinn Féin, and others, agitating on behalf of “the Syriza experiment” following the recent elections in Greece, has more to do with positioning to blame the current Irish Government for the likely outcome [added link] than any professed desire for a resolution in Ireland’s favour. But there are a few things to note about the rise more…

Philip Orr on Belfast’s Resistance to the Slave Trade – ‘No Blood Drops on the Sugar’

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Today ‘Belfast’s Generosity to the 4 Corners of the World’ was celebrated at City Hall, with a reception where the Lord Mayor presented the first-ever ‘Unsung Heroes’ Awards. (Click here to learn about the unsung heroes and their work.) The event was incorporated into the 4 Corners Festival and featured an address by historian Philip more…

From King Billy to the Glasgow Trams. A brief history of government debt…

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Governments often need more money than they can extract from their citizens or subjects. Centuries ago, the sovereign relied on loans at interest. This was called ‘usury’, but usury at that time carried no implication of extortionate rates of interest. It wasn’t until Jean Calvin decided that lending money at interest wasn’t a sin that more…

“Sunday’s election could be a significant day for Europe…”

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The campaign may have resembled a “political circus”, but Sunday’s general election in Greece could see the leftist Syriza, led by former communist Alexis Tsipras, emerge as the leading party – but in search of a partner-in-government [We’ve been there before! – Ed].  Indeed.  Although, they could still achieve a majority… In the meantime, the Irish Times highlights a more…

Ed Miliband in Belfast – no gaffs, little charisma, but a definite listening ear at the Heenan-Anderson Commission

Ed-Miliband at Heenan-Anderson Commission at Ulster University

When it comes to visiting English political party leaders, the people of Northern Ireland are unexcited. The hand of history is wobbling over the shoulder of Labour’s Ed Miliband and few really expect the DUP to hold the balance of power after the May 2015 election. However, it has been many years since Ed Miliband more…

The casino budget – a triumph of hope over experience

Draft Budget Cuts

Well, it’s finally here. After what seemed like an interminable period of consultations, talks, talks about talks, and talks about curried yoghurt, we finally have some numbers. The fact that the Budget is not quite as gruesome as might originally been feared is being spun as some sort of victory. It is still deeply grim more…

Corr-Johnston: What we need is Robin Hood when all we have is Prince John.

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Corporation Tax dominated the headlines in 2014, writing for Slugger the PUP Cllr for Oldpark, Julie Ann Corr-Johnston argues for a rethink of the entire debate Corporation tax will probably go over the heads of many in our community, but it has the potential of bringing 50-60,000 jobs into Northern Ireland over the coming years-Peter more…