“Those with the least capacity to suffer cuts should not be made to suffer more.”

We want to respectfully challenge those who hold authority in civil society to act with justice and to show compassion to those most in need. Those with the least capacity to suffer cuts should not be made to suffer more. Those were the words of Cardinal Brady at an event tonight looking at welfare reform in Northern Ireland involving the main church leaders along with the Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland. The evening was … Read more

“I am delighted to hear that the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom”

Some good news!  [Peter Robinson will be pleased – Ed]  Possibly…  According to the Office of National Statistics’ analysis of experimental subjective well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, April to September 2011, the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom.  In fact the, admittedly subjective, data reveals that the people of Northern Ireland had higher average ratings than the rest of the UK on the ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happy yesterday’ questions (7.6, 7.8 and 7.5 out of … Read more

Dev’s grandson steps down as deputy leader of Fianna Fail…

Hmmmm…. Eamon O’Cuiv the Eurosceptic wind of the Fianna Fail party in Eurosceptic west has now gone from his position as Deputy Leader and Communications spokesman, but not from the party, yet. So. No creative ambiguity under Mr Martin?? But, here’s the intriguing thing: Fergal Keane on RTE Drivetime speculating that he is close Sinn Fein. Update: Martin telling Mary Wilson that O’Cuiv is not backing down and is looking at losing the whip. Update 2 O’Cuiv denies on Newstalk … Read more

“Fianna Fáil does not believe in a two speed Europe”

Statement from Fianna Fail’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Seán Ó Fearghaíl this afternoon in the Dail: Go raibh maith agat a Ceann Comhairle.     At 3 o’clock yesterday the eyes of Europe once more turned towards Ireland. Supported by the enduring strengths of our constitution, the Irish people, despite desperate government efforts to avoid it, have finally been given the opportunity to give their opinion on the future direction of the EU. It is a chance for the people of … Read more

Ireland’s first genuinely ‘free’ referendum on foreign policy for some time…

Well, it’s all go! Despite some considerable irritation in Brussels that all its efforts to avoid a referendum on the Fiscal Compact turned out to be for nothing, as the Irish Times points out: Because the treaty does not require all participating states to ratify it before coming into operation, an Irish No would leave this State behind as the rest of the euro zone moved ahead with closer integration. Ireland might remain formally a euro member, but, critically, outside … Read more

A Tribute to Eugene McCabe

Does being a border writer mean that, by definition, you are going to be marginalised?  That would certainly seem to have been the case with Eugene McCabe, the Clones-based writer of at least one great play, one masterpiece of a novel and some of the most powerful short stories to have come out of Ireland in the past half-century. He deserves to be ranked up there with William Trevor and Frank O’Connor in the canon of great 20th century Irish … Read more

Owen Paterson on welfare reform at Queen’s

Owen Paterson used his visit to QUB last night to articulate the government’s position on the Welfare Reform Bill, with much talk of ‘rebalancing the economy’ and injecting ‘dynamism’ by tackling our ‘broken’ welfare system. In a week when the Work Programme and A4E scandals in GB have raised public anger about the exploitation of the unemployed, the Secretary of State insistently painted the coalition’s economic position as ‘progressive, kind, moral’ and ‘fair’. His secondary message was that Northern Ireland … Read more

Poverty, deprivation, identity and voting, a desire for integration, and who funds peace building?

As posted earlier, the Community Relations Council’s first Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report was published today. It includes a handy reminder of the main moments since 1974 when ‘the hand of history’ has been on the peace process as well as an overview of the demography of Northern Ireland and a profile of its workforce. Amongst population figures, communal identity breakdown charts and graphs of productivity and living standards, one table explains that compared to the UK as a whole, … Read more

Romney,,,,yet another comeback.

It hasn’t been an entirely convincing process but Mitt Romney’s wins in home state Michigan and in Arizona have certainly dented the momentum of the the latest upstart, Rick Santorum. The New York Times has the numbers and observes: His victory over Mr. Santorum here in Michigan was far from commanding, but it was most likely sufficient to dampen the rising clamor from across the Republican Party about his ability to win over conservatives and connect with voters. The tussle … Read more

Painting a picture of the peace process by numbers – CRC’s NI Peace Monitoring Report

Almost £100m a year has been granted for peace-building in Northern Ireland and the six border counties of the Republic since 1987. The number of incidents of paramilitary violence decreased between 2010 and 2011. The PSNI clearance rate for crimes such as paramilitary assaults/punishment beatings in 2011 was only 4%. Northern Ireland has the highest percentage of adults of working age in the UK with no educational qualifications: 20%, compared with 10% of the UK as a whole. The overwhelming … Read more

Scotland – Ascherson still not decided on independence…

Always liked the bloke – but at 79 years old I thought he might have made his mind up….. From the New York Times. Even larger questions would loom. Would there still be a place called “Britain”? Would Scottish independence finally force the English to rediscover their own national voice, instead of hiding their problems under the cloak of “Britishness”? Would a reduced “England” still rate a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council? It may not happen. The … Read more

English Eurosceptics get excited about Ireland’s referendum…

British Eurosceptics are getting very excited about Ireland’s referendum. Seldom, in peacetime, has an announcement in Dail Eireann had such an immediate effect on the business of the Commons: Gov business tomorrow has now been cancelled to accommodate Bills motion. — Nadine Dorries MP (@NadineDorriesMP) February 28, 2012 Of course Bill Cash’s real point of focus is not Ireland at all but Cameron, and his failure as many on the Tory right would have it, to hold the Eurozone institutions … Read more

Quote of the day….

Someone in Fianna Fail is traveling much more in hope than expectation, with this motion for the party’s Ard Fheis at the weekend: That those seeking nomination to run for FF sign a pledge that they will not run as an Independent or for any other party if they do not get on the ticket. [Aye, right! – Ed] Well it worked for Peter Robinson and those letters of resignation the DUP MLAs a few years back. Mick FealtyMick is … Read more

All set for (another) Irish referendum

The southern Justice Minister Alan Shatter is getting the third degree from Mary Wilson on RTE’s Drivetime programme… Apparently the Attorney General has said it’s complex and the fiscal compact treaty should be put the people (and made part of the constitution of Ireland). There’s an awful lot of spin about what it means. The compact would mean that any country signing up to it would have to keep debt under under agreed controls. And it seems that Ireland is … Read more

#CATJRF: Taking over the local pool? Get your business plan sorted before taking the plunge!

There’s no doubt taking on the ownership and running of a community asset is a daunting task. If you don’t think it is then you haven’t thought it through properly! On the flip side it can be hugely rewarding and if you plan it right it will be well worth the effort. There’s no set process for taking on a community asset but one thing that you should definitely do is put together a business plan. Sounds tedious I know … Read more

#CATJRF: Scoil an Droichid and the downside of asset transfer?

In case anyone was under the impression that community asset transfer is being pushed here as a panacea for all ills and all occasions then what Scoil an Droichid are currently going through should serve as a dire warning of some of the risks involved. It’s not that the school is not in general terms viable. But that the original transfer of the asset (back in 2001) according to Simon Doyle writing on the front page of todays Irish News, … Read more

“a good test of how Irish culture is changing…”

In the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole considers a recent discussion document from the GAA’s director general, Páraic Duffy – on “GAA amateur status and payment to team managers” [pdf file].  From the Irish Times article The GAA is arguably closer than any other body to being, for both good and ill, the archetypal Irish organisation. It’s no great stretch to suggest that what’s happening there is a good test of how Irish culture is changing. Or, as the case may … Read more

Printergate: “How many printers has he gone through to print 3 million pages?”

Well on one level it’s pretty small beer (compared to the Quinn story). On another almost risible. And much as I cannot stand expenses scandals for the sheer beside-the-pointless of, it’s worth mentioning the Aengus O’Snodaigh’s prodigious use of free printer toner from the Oireachtas revealed in an FOI. Some wit has already been at Aengus’ wikipedia page, adding: It was at UCD that Ó Snodaigh fell victim to an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with respect to collecting printer ink cartridges. … Read more

Thoughts on The New Routemaster and Green Transport

The new Routemaster buses by Wrightbus have finally begun to appear in London. These buses have been championed by Boris Johnston to replace the bendy buses brought in by Ken Livingstone when he was mayor. The buses seem to have proved reasonably popular with the public though a protest bus followed the first new Routemaster to complain about the rise in fares. Several London politicians also joined in the attacks (from the BBC): In an open letter to the mayor, … Read more

Sinn Fein’s human rights agenda for the Republic’s constitutional convention…

The Taoiseach is tonight to brief other party and group leaders in the Dail on the long promised constitutional convention; a review of the Republic’s ropey governance system. In fact not everything that needs fixing need bother the Supreme Court. Sinn Fein have been relatively quick out of the blocks to share their agenda, although it is remarkably short on taking a position on any of the matters the government has already set out. According to their presser, the convention … Read more