Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


NI Peace Monitoring Report – continuing gaps in educational achievement, life expectancy & the cost of NI’s stuttering peace process

Thu 3 April 2014, 12:16pm
NI Peace Monitoring Report 2014 cover

Tweet The third annual Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report was released this morning. Part statistical almanac, part annual report card, it has been compiled for the last three years by Dr Paul Nolan. At times the report acts like a common man’s conscience, calling out where the naked emperors are hiding under the policy carpet […] more »

Green Party conference: Euro candidate Ross Brown sets out his stall and his journey #GPNI #GPNI14

Sun 30 March 2014, 9:31pm
steven agnew podium

Tweet The Green Party has come a long way. Over the years I’ve been popping into its annual conference, the number of delegates attending has steadily risen, their dress code has smartened and the professionalism of the organization has grown. Yet there is still an informality and an ability to crack a joke in the […] more »

Russia, China, Crimea, Xinjiang and Putin’s Risky Gambit

Thu 27 March 2014, 11:14pm
Photo credit – under Creative Commons licence.

Tweet My train of thought started with with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard article in the Telegraph on the possible impact of Putin’s Crimea gambit on Sino-Russian relations entitled Putin’s Russia caught in US and Chinese double-pincer. Pritchard has his own prejudices, of course, and the headline is terrible – there is no Sino-American diplomatic co-ordination to effect […] more »

The Belfast Urban Motorway (Wesley Johnston): economic, engineering, political and social drivers that created Belfast’s road network

Mon 3 March 2014, 9:00am
The Belfast Urban Motorway Wesley Johnston bookcover

Tweet Imagine an elevated three-lane motorway encircling Belfast city centre. A mini-M25 taking through-traffic off the inner-city streets, serving all parts of the city equally? Imagine the noise and pollution from an above ground ring-road, jammed full beyond its intended capacity, severing communities with its concrete and tarmac. A monument to the victory of private […] more »

Whatever you do, don’t stand out from the crowd.

Fri 14 February 2014, 9:24pm

Tweet In an interview with Barton Creeth, the SDLP council candidate for Balmoral, Justin Cartwright made the following statement which caused a bit of a brew ha ha when he said this about whether he was campaigning for Irish unity No I’m not. I’m an economic unionist. Increasing numbers of nationalist voters are moving away from this idea of […] more »

Believe it or not, the economic recession has been worse in the north than the south…

Fri 14 February 2014, 10:30am

Tweet The economist Michael Burke has made some interesting comparisons between northern and southern economic outputs using a measure called GVA which strips out the influence of tax and subsidies: The effect of comparing the data may be surprising. These show that recessions occurred both sides of the border at the same time but that […] more »

OFMdFM and the two US fund deals they failed to deliver on…

Thu 13 February 2014, 3:04pm

Tweet As below the border, so above, and lack of candour seems to be the order of the day. Sam McBride has a story that could do with a more detailed answer than the one given him by OFMdFM. Two funds set up in New York to invest in Northern Ireland have thus far failed […] 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 »

Bonnie Greer: We have to get young people as creators of the solutions #cgeni

Sun 2 February 2014, 9:00am
triptych of Gen Y NICVA CEE conference

Tweet NICVA’s Centre for Economic Empowerment ran the first of three half day conferences on Friday under the banner of Creating the Good Economy For Life with a focus on Generation Y (people born after 1979). Generation X and the Baby Boomers will get their turn later in the year. NICVA CEE wanted the conference […] more »

Surviving the job hunt part 2

Mon 27 January 2014, 10:34pm

Tweet A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how to survive the job hunt. Luckily for me things in that area have turned around and I am now faced with an exciting new challenge that I cannot wait to get stuck into. I am writing this piece as I think it’s always good […] more »

What about some ‘hothouse political talks’ around NI’s social and economic future?

Wed 22 January 2014, 1:23pm

Tweet Brendan Mulgrew makes a point worth repeating: When has there been a hothouse political talks process around, for example, the economy, or education or health? Aren’t parents whose 11-year-old children are forced to sit four consecutive Saturdays of transfer exams entitled to have that core issue put under a similar political spotlight? Shouldn’t the […] 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 »

Another two local newspapers fold: The Carrickfergus Advertiser and The Ballyclare Gazette

Wed 15 January 2014, 3:25pm
ballyclare gazette carrick advertiser

Tweet The Carrickfergus Advertiser and Ballyclare Gazette, published by the Lord Kilclooney-owned Alpha Newspaper Group, have announced their closure with eight job losses (including six journalists/photographers), though “the company has said it hopes some of the workers will be redeployed to other papers in the group”. The Carrickfergus Advertiser was established back in 1883, closed […] more »

Surviving the job hunt-It’s a jungle out there!

Mon 16 December 2013, 9:50pm

Tweet I recently applied for a job (wasn’t successful) and found out that nearly 300 people applied for the position. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard about it but when you consider the floods of applications to bodies such as the PSNI for positions you really understand how it really is an […] more »

Kenny addresses the nation as Ireland exits its bailout.

Sun 15 December 2013, 10:42pm

Tweet Only five times in Irish history has a Taoiseach taken to the airwaves to address the nation and Kenny went for his second go tonight as Ireland exits its bailout programme. Full text of the speech is available here Overall I found it a bit of a dull speech without any real coherent message […] more »

McCann meets….Simon Hamilton MLA #dup13

Mon 25 November 2013, 10:12pm

Tweet In the second part of my series of interviews with DUP ministers I bring you Simon Hamilton MLA. The youngest of all the DUP ministers he has impressed a number of people with his solid performance in the Department of Finance. On a personal level I found him very impressive and well briefed on […] 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 »

Planning Bill: Or how OFMdFM dropped the ball on their end of the Downing Street economic pact?

Wed 23 October 2013, 1:40pm

Tweet So let’s join the dots a little on yesterday’s crash landing of the planning bill. [Focus people, focus - Ed]. This was the bill intended to fix set up the Enterprise Zones that were so critical to the Downing Street package of cash agreed just before the G8 with David Cameron. That was on […] more »

‘That’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Got Us Into’: Sinn Féin, the DUP and the Planning Bill

Sun 20 October 2013, 8:29pm

Tweet We now have a new contender to add to the collection of misjudged, irrational and counter-productive legislative initiatives; the 2013 Planning Bill. This began as a relatively well-intentioned attempt to tweak the current planning system in advance of handing over most planning powers to the new local authorities in 2015. However this has evolved […] more »

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