Chief Constable seeks support for deployment of private security firms

According to BBC NI Home Affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney, at Thursday’s meeting of the NI Policing Board the Chief Constable Matt Baggot will seek endorsement of a plan to use private security firms to replace the estimated 400 PSNI officers currently providing protection for politicians, judges and other potential terrorist targets, and guarding police stations. From the BBC report That backing is essential because the move would require new legislation, and that will only happen if there’s cross-party support within the … Read more

“And then there was Arthur Morgan…”

An RTÉ report notes that a couple of TDs have been disciplined by their parties following yesterday’s vote in the Dáil which resulted in a ban on stag hunting, but not stalking.  And Harry McGee makes a sharp observation at his Irish Times blog And then there was Arthur Morgan. Like the Labour Party, Sinn Fein has done a complete U-turn on stag hunting. A motion was passed at the 2009 Ard Fheis calling for a ban on all blood sports. Then the … Read more

I wonder what they’ll spend the money on……

It’s just been announced that the Ulster Museum has won the Art Fund prize of £100,000. Congratulations are in order but it does beg the question  can the Museum and trustees spend the prize as they wish or does the Minister for Culture & Arts  Nelson McCausland have the final say so? Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, … Read more

High Court rejects Arthurs’ challenge to non-jury trial ruling

I noted in May the start of “prominent Co Tyrone republican” Brian Arthurs’ legal challenge to the ruling that he should stand trial in a non-jury court, on charges of converting criminal property and obtaining a money transfer by deception.  The original case against Arthurs collapsed in August 2008 when the judge ruled that the Public Prosecution Service had failed to provide any evidence to the court.  The BBC reports today that the High Court has rejected Brian Arthurs’ legal challenge The … Read more

Two convicted in Real IRA arms plot trial

As reported here.  35 security service agents applied for anonymity before the start of the trial.  Previously, the judge ruled that a third defendant had been entrapped by MI5.  From the BBC report The judge described the Security Services’ operation as an “elaborate and successful” hoax. The trial was the first for 20 years in which MI5 agents gave evidence in a Belfast court. McCaugherty showed no emotion and occasionally yawned as Mr Justice Hart, sitting in a Diplock, no-jury court, … Read more

“it is important to restore the public’s confidence in NIW…”

The NI Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee declined the offer to question directly the former chairman of Northern Ireland Water – who, along with the non-executive directors, disputes the circumstances of their dismissal in March.  Meanwhile, as the BBC notes, the NI Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, has appointed 4 new non-executive directors to the Board of NI Water by “an emergency process”. The new directors are: Mairtin O’Muilleoir, a Belfast businessman and former Sinn Fein councillor; Peter Bunting, … Read more

Possible sanction against Ruane over schools?

The saga of Catriona Ruane’s decisions or non decisions on the Capital Building Scheme for schools has been covered by Pete below. The DUP have a typically robust statement on their website from Mervyn Storey which calls for the minister to go. “Having waited a week following on from her non-attendance at last week’s Assembly the education minister today failed to inform the house of those projects which are ready to move forward to construction stage. Last week she simply … Read more

Let’s keep the debate on cuts open and honest

When the true impact of cuts is being analysed, gloomy spinning isn’t  any better than the Panglossian kind. The Guardian’s exclusive that the “hidden” costs of the budget will be the loss of 1.3 million jobs, according to a leaked Treasury will bring satisfaction only to the coalition’s most relentless critics. …500,000 and 600,000 jobs to go in the public sector and between 600,000 and 700,000 to disappear in the private sector by 2015. From Economics editor Larry Elliot’s analysis: ..there … Read more

Photograph of the Day – Krek

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the … Read more

The power of incumbency

OK – post election depression done with – here’s some analysis.
Prior to the expenses scandal it was conventional to think that the combination of new technology and the £10k p.a. MP’s communication allowance would increase the power of incumbency. So let’s see if the incumbency effect exists. Here’s the percentage drop in Labour votes for every (pre election) Labour held seat in Wales in 2010 along with incumbency status:

Read moreThe power of incumbency

Welsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

Guantanamo torture inquiry may have implications for Northern Ireland

The imminent announcement of a judge led inquiry into allegations of torture involving MI5 complicity is being welcomed by civil liberties groups in Britain. The inquiry is expected to offer compensation in cases, where necessary, and is likely to be held in private. A judge-led inquiry or commission may have the advantage of bringing together the 13 separate compensation cases currently going through the courts. Those cases are leading to complex demands for the disclosure of documents that the intelligence … Read more

Da Queen: “Oh, I’d love to come to Ireland. How do you think I would be received?”

Well, given the day that’s in it, I thought I finish a fine evening with something both conversational and (hopefully) enlightening… So here’s a little interlude with ‘Her Madge’, as she’s never quite been reported before, by the one time London Editor of the Irish Press, Des Fisher: About number seven came “Desmond Fisher of the Irish Press, Dublin, Ma’am.” “Oh, an Irishman.” “Yes, Ma’am. And when are you going to come over to Ireland?” It wasn’t deliberate. Without thinking, … Read more

Two Arrests as Police Officers Injured During Customs Raid

Two police officers have been injured, one critically, during a cross border customs operation near Meigh, south Armagh.  Two men have been arrested.  From the RTÉ report Over the weekend a cargo of smuggled cigarettes arrived from China in Dublin Port. Watched by customs officers, the cargo was then brought to Dundalk. Earlier today the container was then taken just across the border to warehouses near Meigh in South Armagh. A number of armed PSNI officers and revenue officials raided the warehouse as … Read more

TUV candidate’s website faces closure over ‘hate speech’

David Vance, defeated TUV candidate in East Belfast, faces having his long running blog, A Tangled Web, closed by his host over numerous instances of ‘hate speech’ in violation of Terms of Service. To Mr. David Vance, We have received several complaints regarding hate speech on your website. Per our terms, “Content with the sole purpose of causing harm or inciting hate, or content that could be reasonably considered as slanderous or libelous.” is not permitted. ADDS ATW complies and … Read more

“we are over committed to over spend and these projects will be delayed”

Unlike last week, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, was on time today to make a statement to the Assembly on the review of her department’s programme of capital building schemes.  But, as the BBC reports, the statement was somewhat lacking in detail The minister told the assembly that she has made decisions on which of the 69 schools are to get the go ahead for new buildings. She said most have been approved, some have been … Read more

Towards a new politics, or just more groping around in the dark?

Looking ahead to the twin delights of the Stormont recess and the climax of the marching season, thoughts are turning to the prospects for ” a new politics. ”  Well c’mon, it’s a slogan they’ve heard somewhere recently – was it from Westminster? David Gordon has kicked off a series of articles in the Belfast Telegraph, asking fundamental questions about the shape and direction of local politics. And not before time. For far  too long the paper has lived off … Read more

Community Relations Rally at Stormont Today

Youth workers, community workers and activists will gather at the Newtownards gate of Stormont today at 12pm and walk up to the parliament building in support of community relations work and in protest at the cut in vital funding. In a perhaps unwitting testament to how important this work is, the BBC this morning ran a story about the rising tensions at the interface on the lower Oldpark road. There is also believed to be a sectarian motive for a … Read more

Battleground Ireland : The proxy war

US neo-Keynesians and the ‘Austerians‘ are slugging it out over the Irish approach to managing the crisis. At stake, the future of US and perhaps global economic policy. First up the Keynesian New York Times :- In Ireland, a Picture of the High Cost of Austerity Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish … Read more

A solid statement that North-South cooperation is here to stay

Armagh is now on the Irish diplomatic circuit.  Next month the highly regarded Southern Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC), Tom Hanney, leaves to become Irish ambassador to Belgium. His successor, Anne Barrington, is finishing her days as ambassador to Tanzania. The man who will fill in over the summer, the current Southern Deputy Joint Secretary, Bill Nolan, used to be ambassador in Zambia and Lesotho. His predecessor, Niall Honohan, is now ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A … Read more

Unionism needs to learn the magic of ‘vote management’

It’s more than thirty years since PR STV was introduced to local elections and although it is a complex instrument you would have thought most parties would have cottoned on by now as to how balance their tickets. Danny Kennedy sees unionism’s underperformance in South Antrim as a reason to seek greater co-operation with the DUP: “Here in South Antrim the combined unionist vote was equal to more than five assmebly quotas, yet presently the area only has three unionist … Read more