Save with Ireland

The BBC’s personal finance department says: “The emergency decision by the Irish government to guarantee the safety of all deposits in six of its main savings institutions for two years may give UK savers a great opportunity. If you want somewhere secure to put your cash during the current financial crisis, then opening an account with any of the six looks like a very good idea.” So far the gamble looks like paying off in the short term. What I … Read more

“Substantial amounts of money on consultants..”

BBC NI’s Martina Purdy has been examining the detailed list of MLAs’ Office Costs Alllowances for last year. And she’s noted that a significant number of Sinn Féin MLAs have claimed over £20,000 for, presumably, external “advice and consultancy fees”. The highest use of consultants appears to be by SF MLA Cathal Boylan.. with a bill for £35,245.. It’s all apparently within the scope of the office costs allowance.. but Martina Purdy does pose some interesting questions to be answered. … Read more

“it has never been about a merger..”

At the Our Kingdom blog, Tom Griffin rounds-up the sceptical voices on the proposed UUP/Conservative Party link-up – much as fair deal did. Meanwhile, UUP leader Reg Empey was on Stormont Live today from the Conservative Party Conference and, whilst he was keen to emphasise a positive meeting with David Cameron, he was also stressing that any link-up would not be a merger and that the process was at a very early stage.. He’s also warning of a potential “spike” … Read more

Welcome to the Slugger Awards 2008…

We had a great readers’ panel meeting on Saturday night, which significantly over ran the allotted and was very productive. Yesterday we were working with WIMPS up at Stormont grabbing video voxpops from politicians, lobbyists and political insiders. Winners’ night is next Tuesday in the Atrium of W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast, and is free and open to all comers. We’ll gather there from 6pm onwards. It will be the biggest fattest blog meet up, with free drinks and … Read more

Gurkhas win test case

Gurkhas have won their test case against the government. They challenged immigration rules which blocked many of them from settling in the UK. Lee Reynolds

Two classes of Irish in deposit guarantee gamble

Commentators have woken up to the scale of what the Irish government is doing – already noted by shrewd Sugger contributors – of more than doubling its GDP to offer up to 400 billion euros to all bank deposits, liabilities including retail, commercial and interbank deposits in Irish-owned banks, to take effect immediately and expiring in September 2010. My hero Peston says: “This has huge ramifications for us. Potentially it puts British banks at a massive competitive disadvantage – especially … Read more

“to reap what are currently unquantifiable, long-term benefits..”

Sir George Bain’s report on the review of policy on location of public sector jobs has been received by the Finance Minister. Brief BBC report here and you can get the full report here. 27 recommendations in total. But there is a caution included in the report’s conclusion. 9.6 We also need to manage expectations. What we are recommending is, in our view, relatively small-scale. We nevertheless believe relocation has the potential to make a positive contribution to the Executive’s … Read more

Irish government throws pebble into the stream

It’s beyond general comment so I won’t even try. But can anybody tell me why in this turmoil the US Congress has to rise for the two days of the Jewish New Year? Irish government guarantees for deposits seems to have lifted stocks in Dublin for the moment but it can only be a pebble in the stream. Nor are all Irish Banks Irish as the Irish Times reminds us. “The measure does not extend to deposits or debts in … Read more

“You don’t have to agree with the other person’s point of view..”

Apparently, the deadlock in the Northern Ireland Executive is “very serious”. Whether that’s serious enough for Sinn Féin to take the ball away walk out of the administration isn’t clear. But a quick note to whoever is responsible for this BBC report. Sinn Fein say the St Andrews Agreement set May this year as a target date for the devolution of policing powers to the Assembly, although the DUP has said it is not bound by any timetable. Sinn Féin … Read more

Unionist Councillors Veto ‘Freedom’ Move for ‘Goodwill’ Reverend

Unionist councillors in Limavady have vetoed a move to give the Freedom of Limavady Borough to a Protestant clergyman hounded from the town 20 years ago following his decision to shake hands with a Catholic priest and attend the re-opening of a catholic church which had been bombed by loyalists. Rev. David Armstrong subsequently received death threats from loyalists and faced a backlash within his presbyterian church, leading to his decision to leave the town. He is now an Anglican … Read more

“as in cirrus clouds on Earth..”

Just as the Jules Verne burns up in our atmosphere there are more wondrous images from the NASA Mars Phoenix lander. Beginning with sunrise on the lander’s 101st day on Mars – where the snow may well be general too.. They’ve also photographed some clouds on Sept. 18, 2008, during early afternoon hours of the 113th Martian day of the mission – “The particles in the clouds are water-ice, as in cirrus clouds on Earth.” [image below the fold] So, … Read more

Devil in the detail?

David Cameron has admitted that there are some difficulties in established the future UUP/Tory relationship. Devenport seems to focus upon where Sylvia Hermon stands. Lord Trimble’s intervention seems to have contributed to some electoral and relationship concerns. The subtext seems to be the Conservatives looking for a full merger with Ulster Unionists happier with what has been described as the CSU/CDU model. Chekov argues the jitters are natural and Mark Devenport suggests a large financial carrot for the UUP, up … Read more

“Destroying our immune system..”

DUP MLA, Iris Robinson, who chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee, appeared on Stormont Live today only to talk about the Health Minister’s announcement on prescription charges. But the notable part of the interview was her interesting, if un-scientific, view of the problems caused by the over-proscribing of antibiotics [1min 40secs in] “We’re not handing out antibiotics the way we used to, and I’m glad of that, because we’re destroying our immune system[‘s ability] to face up to other difficult bugs … Read more

Ex prisoner on ‘Breakout’…

For a programme with very little political content the Breakout programme has generated a fair amount of controversy. Fair Deal’s dealt with Ann Marie Hourihane’s piece in today’s Irish Times. But Grassy Noel points in that thread to an excellent piece from ex Republican prisoner Anthony McIntyre who provides some ‘insider’ context on the main characters. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and … Read more

“We don’t go in for political knee-cappings..”

SDLP MLA, and European candidate, Alban Magennis, with a valiant defence of the comments after the Fermanagh by-election by his party colleague, and political assistant, Cllr Niall Kelly aka blogger The Belfast Stoop. Of course, the party faces other problems. There’s also an interesting, if brief, point made about blogging and political discussion [approx 3mins in]. Pete Baker

“…violence as a cheery caper”

Ann Marie Hourihane reviews the Breakout programme. She concludes that: “But viewers of Breakout were left asking if there is no spectacle the Protestant people of Northern Ireland will not have to endure to make republicans feel better about themselves. Is there no victory dance, be it ever so puerile, that they are not going to be forced to witness? There’s a real danger that the IRA is going to bore the rest of us to death. But even Free … Read more

Northern Ireland sitting on its public sector cushion, isn’t immune unfortunately…

The financial crisis has exposed a big area of weakness in Northern Ireland’s post-Troubles’ resources-strapped journalism (except for the BBC)– economic coverage, unless it’s about business handouts or purely about the impact on people’s pockets. This mean fears and anxieties can be inflated and people can be caught unprepared. Less scrappy reporting and more consistent context and background are badly needed but I see little prospect of it happening. Somebody on the Irish Times business newsdesk obviously felt the need … Read more

UUP to abolish prescription charges

Michael McGimpsey has moved to implement a manifesto commitment (PDF, pg 8) to scrap prescription charges. Michael ShillidayI used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t. Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday