One from every month

A mosaic of photographs to sign off this year. I’ve chosen them for a variety of reasons primarily because i like them and in the case of bottom left to remember a friend lost this year. By and large i have enjoyed my blogging here on slugger though the tedious whataboutery and shooting the messenger is…..well…… tedious. Thanks to Mick and Paul for having faith in me and giving me slugger as a platform to perhaps educate, entertain and illustrate … Read more

Conor Murphy: “I do have confidence [in Laurence MacKenzie].”

Following the intervention of the First and deputy First Ministers in the Northern Ireland water crisis, a NI Executive statement was issued stating that “There was considerable anger across the Ministerial spectrum about the shambolic response of NI Water which had let down the whole community.” OFMDFM appear to be still singing from the same hymn sheet.  “There has to be accountability” they both have said. Mr McGuinness said: “There has to be accountability and we are not going to under … Read more

Catholics vs. Convicts: The Old El Paso throwback

 One for the Diaspora…..Tonight in El Paso, Texas, Brian Kelly’s University of Notre Dame side renew their once bitter rivalry with the Hurricanes of the University of Miami,Fla. in the much anticipated Sun Bowl. It’s a season finale which Fighting Irish fans could not have dared for just seven weeks ago, when successive defeats to Navy and Tulsa had left the South Bend team requiring victory against a ranked Utah side, Army and, of course, the aul’ enemy, University of … Read more

Beware hollow talk of a shared future in 2011

It’s progress of a kind that the Assembly leadership has survived the kind of sex and money scandals unimaginable a generation ago. Peter Robinson even looks stronger with one of his parliamentary legs cut off and Gerry Adams has departed with an air of confidence for fresh green pastures. Liam Clarke, never slow to offer constructive advice to government, offers cautious praise rare from a  journalist. The Assembly is still more important for what it is than for what it does. … Read more

Northern Ireland Water to hand £20 Million back to the department

Confirmed by Liam Mullholland on Nolan just now… John Simpson on the same show doesn’t think it is relevant to the current problems. Rather he suggests,  “they are showing they can do what they need to do with less money”… That begs a question better answered when we find out just why the NI Water system appears to have collapsed… Courtesy of outter edge of the union, here’s the view of the Institute of Civil Engineers on the matter: “NIW … Read more

NI Water: Uncancelled leave and serious management problems…

Sam McBride has an interesting snippet on staff holidays at Northern Ireland Water: When asked if NI Water holidays had been cancelled over the New Year, a spokeswoman said: “No. Staff have been asked to come in and cover so each line manager is sorting that out with their staff to see what cover we’ve got and who is available, but staff have given up their holidays already.” Mr Cobain said: “You can’t have people going on leave in this … Read more

The fool, the fools….by his friends you know him

Bertie Ahern has retired from public life, like many of his colleagues will shortly do against their will, in front of the people that brought him into political life – the O’Donovan Rossa Cumann, he joined 40 years ago He made a long speech to friends, make of it what you will: Today it is hard, and for some it seems impossible, to keep faith with Ireland’s tomorrow. I know and I understand that now we are in the eye … Read more

Absence of a united clear line on the first hunger strike prefigured disaster in the second, the 1980 archives reveal

The Irish Times’ reading of the British National Archives for 1980 reveals that Pope John Paul II came to  favour the Church putting  pressure on the Maze prisoners as well as on the British government to end the first hunger strike – an approach apparently greeted with lack of enthusiasm at first by Cardinal O Fiaich whose leadership was viewed as being ” not particularly helpful.”  Clerical exceptions were seen as Frs Faul and Alec Reid who is reported in one despatch … Read more

NI Water: Senior executives failed to act on early signs of crisis…

One of the things that’s important to note is just how little experience in running a water utility remains at board level in Northern Ireland Water. When Minister Murphy sacked the last Board he cashiered a group of people who had some sixty years experience between them of working in the water industry. The new board has virtually none. Mr MacKenzie, who himself had no experience of water before his appointment, having rid himself of that experience then proceeded to issue … Read more

The Arts must remain independent of politics in 2011 and beyond

Two pieces from Fortnight extracted by Newshound over the holiday period are examples of the tense and difficult relationship between politics and culture in our slowly changing society. I hope a real debate will start on this in 2011, unfettered by moral or political  blackmail.    In How to Make Derry a Better City of Culture,  Robbie McVeigh tilts at a familiar windmill. When Derry was awarded the title of ‘UK City of Culture’ the cultural antinomies were immediately obvious – what benefit in … Read more

Your experiences of the water crisis?

In terms of burst water pipes, the focus just now is on NI Water, just as earlier in the middle of the freeze it was on the NI Housing Executive, who now seem roughly to have gotten things back in hand. But the scale of the problems facing the two organisations are vastly different. Unlike the Republic where it is the responsibility of 88 separate local authorities, NI Water  is solely responsible for the supply of water to homes and industry; … Read more

OFMDFM: “NI Water’s response was clearly inadequate…”

Which “officials” were “summoned” to Stormont this morning by Martin McGuinness, and in what capacity the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister was acting, isn’t entirely clear – as we only have a Sinn Féin press release to go on.  But the “stocktake meeting in the morning at NI Water” mentioned here by the relevant Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, seems to have been pushed back into the afternoon as a result. What we do have is a joint OFMDFM statment today In … Read more

Stoicism where are you? (the fear of a unflushed poo)

We’ve experienced one of the longest and deepest cold spells for decades. Mooch has been tracking the effects for those in the big city and Kilsally has done a parrrellel blog on how awful things are for country people. On twitter Martin McAuley has been heading up the blame NI Water campaign. Though going back to basics it was just extreme cold, burst pipes, water drained from the system and websites finding it difficult to cope with exceptional demand. When … Read more

Euro crisis: “For good or ill, she is perceived to set policy, pace and tone at every turn.”

In the Irish Times Arthur Beesley’s assessment of the “mammoth task” European leaders face in the year ahead is well worth a read.  From the Irish Times article Strain and anxiety were everywhere in 2010. Merkel held the line against easy bailouts but her dogged intransigence on core principles led to accusations that she was making matters worse, not least in Ireland. From the summit room came whispered reports of shouting matches between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ECB chief … Read more

Not just Belfast without water

Seems to be a lot of news on the lack of water in the City but very little mention of rural problems.  Personally here in the backwaters outside Coagh in rural Tyrone (near  Cookstown), we have been without running water for over a week.  The problem seemingly being frozen underground pipes outside the property running through the garden. We have managed to get by – filling containers from our neighbours water supply (they had their own problems with frozen pipes … Read more

The reservoirs are empty!

So despite having quite alot of precipitation it seems the system cannot cope and the statement released by NI Water confirms that large parts of Belfast are without water as the reservoirs are nearly empty. Having tried and failed to get unto the NI Water website i’m still non the wiser as to if and when the water will be back on. From what i can gather on facebook BT5 – BT12 is without water but looking at the statement … Read more

Destiny’s child

I’d hazard a guess the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie impact on the southern electorate’s consciousness is somewhere just above that of Tom Elliott and a fair way below Peter Robinson’s. Despite that and declaring “she had no wish to interfere” in the forthcoming election there she has done exactly that with an attempt to damage Sinn Féin’s vote (no mention of Fianna Fail and their destruction of the economy?): We in the SDLP want good relations with the three main parties, … Read more

‘look we tried it and it did not work and it’s not going work this time either’

The Guardian report of comments by the de facto leader of the ‘good’ UDA, Jackie McDonald, contains a significant line.  From the report The UDA leader also expressed some sympathy for mainstream republicans in Sinn Féin in terms of facing up to the dissident threat. He pledged that the UDA would continue to work with Sinn Féin on sectarian flashpoints to defuse communal tensions in the 2011 loyalist marching season. “I know that it’s a Catch 22 for republicans. It’s hard … Read more

Obituary: Professor Kevin Boyle

Many in Northern Ireland and much further afield will be deeply saddened to hear news of the the death of Professor Kevin Boyle, who passed away yesterday. Prof. Boyle was one of the UK and Ireland’s leading human rights academics, as founding director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway and later director of the Human Rights Centre in the University of Essex. Originally from Newry, Kevin Boyle became a civil rights leader while at Queen’s University … Read more

“Good news was hard to come by in the Northern Ireland education world of 2010…”

Much like most recent years, you could say…  In a review of the year for the Northern Ireland education system, the BBC’s education correspondent Maggie Taggart notes an interesting fact February saw the delivery of the first results from unregulated transfer tests which had taken the place of the eleven-plus, scrapped by the Department of Education in an attempt to end academic selection. Widespread legal action was expected from dissatisfied parents, but time passed and only two court cases were … Read more