“It seems to me there is an arguable case..”

The BBC reports that Mr Justice Weatherup has granted leave for a judicial review of the withdrawal of funding from the UPRG-negotiated CTI project following a legal challenge by an employee of Farset. Granting leave for a judicial review, Mr Justice Weatherup referred to the challenge to the minister’s authority to make the decision on her own. He said: “It seems to me there is an arguable case she made the decision herself without referring it to the executive.” Which … Read more

“It just comes down to what glasses you are wearing”…

THE flat young earthers are back, as creationist Stephen Moore explains why he’d like any new Causeway centre to include ‘information’ on its ‘biblical’ origins. He’d also like his theories to be included in the Ulster Museum, to explain how dinosaurs walked the earth with humans. However, last night God came to me in a dream and told me that the Giant’s Causeway was in fact created by a legendary Irish hunter-warrior called Finn MacCool, and I am disappointed that … Read more

“the image..”

As noted here previously, Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers are off to the US this weekend. But before they get to shake the hand of President Bush, for all his help in The Process™, they have an image to project to Times Square, as this BBC report notes. [Leslie Morrison of Invest NI] says that while there’s still some “residual nervousness” about investing in Northern Ireland, the image of executive ministers working well together and interacting in a … Read more

“And you believe it?”

Jeremy Paxman’s interview with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, wasn’t part of the clips put online from the Newsnight report but, as with the Prime Time report, it’s worth noting. Pete Baker

Equality Commission: anti men and anti Protestant?

This is a strange one (subs needed). Yesterday’s Irish News carries a story about the make up of the Equality Commission. According to the raw figures in the Commission’s own report: Staff Religious and Gender composition 1 January 07 Gender – Male 48 (34.5%) Female 91 (65.5%) Religion – Protestant 49 (35.3%) Roman Catholic 88 (63.3%) Cannot determine 2 (1.4%) Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and … Read more

Fear of the mob?

In Alan Clarke’s stimulating history of the Conservative party he argued one of the driving forces behind it and its supporters was “fear of the mob”. Newtown Emerson questions the wisdom of using the social housing requirement on private developers as a means to addressing the growing housing needs in Northern Ireland. While accepting the success of such mixed developments elsewhere, he argues that many new private developments have no community identification (regardless of a community mix or not) and … Read more

“He’s covering up for them.. he knows them..”

As well as the report on the aftermath of the killing of Paul Quinn on BBC’s Newsnight last night, journalists at RTÉ are also paying attention – despite the apparent blindness elsewhere. As the Prime Time webpage notes – “major technical difficulties” prevented the full programme going to air, but the clips which should have gone to air are now available online – although the second clip still seems to be truncated. Intro report by Claire Murphy here.. and an … Read more

“proposal to ballot classroom assistants does not mean we have changed our view..”

Interesting development in the classroom assistants’ dispute ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the employers and the unions representing the classroom assistants, and following a series of meetings today [pdf file] of the NIPSA representatives, a BBC report notes that NIPSA have stated that they will be balloting their members again on the offered terms and conditions. Although [NIPSA] said it was balloting members because employers had claimed there was overwhelming support for their offer… “The proposal to ballot classroom assistants … Read more

Government inside the Government…

Reg Empey on the inner workings of the Executive, posited more evidence of the ‘ruling cabal’ inside the Executive: “Not always, but more often than not, the DUP and Sinn Fein go into Ian Paisley’s office before Executive meetings to discuss their agreed approach to the agenda and leave myself, Michael (McGimpsey) and Margaret (Ritchie) sitting waiting. On one occasion it was as long as half-an-hour. Any other coalition in the world would break down in such circumstances.” He wants … Read more

Bring back Cavan Cola..!

I NEVER got the chance to taste the Ulster beverage that was Cavan Cola, but apparently it was a cult classic Irish product, like Tayto crisps (north or south), before being withdrawn. Now, fans of the drink are running a grassroots online campaign to get the cola back on the shelves. Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

The public have spoken.. apparently..

Well the public had the choice of either the Dancing Tree, Phoenix Rising, or Spirit of Belfast.. and, according to the Social Development minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, the voting was as follows – “The Spirit of Belfast design received 46.6% of the public vote while Dancing Tree received 28.8% and Phoenix Rising 24.6%.” So Spirit of Belfast it is for Arthur Square. You’ve only yourselves to blame.. Adds That’s 3000 members of the public have spoken.. apparently.. From the … Read more

“I have spoken to the IRA in his area..”

On Newsnight tonight, BBC2 10.30pm, Liz McKean will have a report on political tensions following the killing of Paul Quinn. From the Newsnight blog Liz MacKean has a report on increasing paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland. The story centres on the murder last month of Paul Quinn in South Armagh. Both his family and the Independent Monitoring Commission point the finger at members of the IRA but politicians on all sides reject the claims. We’ll also be speaking to Northern … Read more

Who is anti agreement now?

Mark Devenport has been pointing out the inconsistencies emerging between the DUP’s previous stated positions and their current pronouncements which, some might say, reveal their terror at the idea of the UUP and SDLP pulling out of government. On the same theme, Derek Hussey has tonight sought to ask questions of the DUP’s position. His statement reads: I read with interest Jeffery’s response to [Jim] Allister in Tuesday’s Newsletter. “Northern Ireland is a much better place today than it was … Read more

Big boys punch back…

Featuring Alex Maskey and Sammy Wilson. Maskey reckons this is all a ‘sham fight’ and that somehow the budget cuts involved in housing provision were Ritchie’s own fault. Leaving aside the lack of detail on that, it’s probably true that this small party skirmishing has a highly limited life expectancy that will need to end in a tangible outcome for the smaller parties. The lesson from the States, for instance, is that parties which force long term budget delays with … Read more

“To generalise is to be an Idiot”

On the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake – Tate Britain has an ongoing exhibition of his work and there’s more at the Blake online archive – Terry Eagleton [previously noted on Beckett] has some fun contrasting Blake’s “vision thing” with current writers and politicians.. although not as much fun as Ian Sinclair and Michael Horowitz had on Radio 4’s Today programme – listen to the last 6 mins or so here.. and then the reaction to the … Read more

Time for Sweeney bye-bye..?

FOLLOWING the Enterprise Minister’s welcome for plans by the National Trust and Moyle Council for a new Causeway tourist centre, the Environment Minister – who was one “of a mind” to grant planning permission to a rival private developer – has also weighed in. Arlene Foster said: “I welcome applications from any parties who are seriously interested in providing a world-class visitor’s centre at the Giant’s Causeway.” It’s a non-commital, civil-servant-speak statement, but Foster cannot ignore this development. So long … Read more

Unionist commemoration group learns about IRA leader…

UNIONISTS from the Friends of the Somme‘s mid-Ulster branch are to get history lessons on iconic IRA leader Michael Collins thanks to the Republic’s reconciliation fund. Anyone else taking one small step to learning about understand the ‘other’ tradition? Belfast Gonzohttp://sluggerotoole.com

Collusion claims ‘were not properly investigated’…

FAMILIES of some of eight men murdered by the notorious Glenanne Gang of loyalist terrorists, soldiers and police officers in the South Armagh area in the 1970s are expected to respond later today to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that alleged security force collusion in loyalist murders was not properly investigated. The cases were taken after claims made by ex-RUC officer John Weir (pictured) claimed to the BBC a group comprising UVF terrorists, UDR soldiers, RUC … Read more

Asymetrical warfare at Stormont…

One guy has already gone home, because Michael McGimpsey has put Health Service restructuring on ice pending an outcome to the current wrangling over the draft budget. The reason? He takes the view that Sinn Fein and the DUP are acting in concert to force pre-determined spending plans on the three ministers of the two minority parties, regardless of those ministers’ analysis of need. Effectively, the traditional horse trading between spending ministers and Finance is now taking place in open … Read more

“There were several layers of irony in this..”

The BBC’s Mark Devenport points to the “layers of irony” in the “thinly veiled threats” from the NI Executive’s Finance Minister, DUP’s Peter Robinson’s statement in the Assembly last night. And there was an interesting joint appearance on Stormont Live, video below, of the leaders of what the NI Executive’s Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, is now calling the “problem parties” – the footage of that statement is worth watching for in today’s UTV Live news programme. Pete … Read more