Archive | March, 2013

Can the slow death of Irish Nationalism be averted?

Two weeks ago during a fleeting exchange with Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers I congratulated her on her government’s radical attempts to dismantle the UK’s bloated public sector and hard-earned welfare state before encouraging a bold expedition of the project where its need is greatest: Northern Ireland. On a personal and professional level Ms. Villiers came more…

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Behaviour and Attitudes: And then there were two..

Cedar Lounge have the figures for tomorrow’s Behaviours and Attitudes poll in the Sunday Times: Fine Gael 27 (+1); Fianna Fail 23 (-1); Lab 7 (-4); Sinn Fein 15 (-4); Ind 25 (+7) So much for the grand political photon then? These figures are more like the truth of the matter. FG holding a narrow more…

London using financial levers to remind Executive of its responsibility to address sectarian divides

East Belfast MP Naomi Long asked a long question [Q7] during Prime Minster’s Questions on Wednesday 13 March. She wanted to know what role he saw for the British and Irish governments “as joint custodians of the agreement” in progressing the outstanding issues of “reconciliation, unequivocal support for the rule of law, and to deal more…

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Meath East: We’ve seen it all before

Irish by-elections, by and large, are a bit of harmless fun. The outcome rarely influences the balance of forces in parliament, but it gives the voters a chance to give the incumbent party – whatever incumbent party – a good shoeing. Everyone feels better about themselves except whatever hapless candidate has been persuaded to stand more…

Why is the BBC ghettoising NI regional outputs?

I almost missed 14 Days, a documentary on one of several traumatic weeks in the history of the Troubles. Paul Canning, who’s based in Cambridge didn’t, and writes an impressively well researched blog asking (amongst several other things), why don’t the BBC mainstream more locally produced work? The ‘BBC NI only’ shows are (or were) all also more…

First Minister preaching integration whilst the road map burns?

Former UCU-NF candidate for East Londonderry Leslie McAuley, now with the Tories had some interesting remarks on Peter Robinson’s TEDx presentation yesterday.. “Integrated schools, which are actually out there providing shared education, are consistently being denied the funds and new buildings they need to satisfy demand from parents. The sector is not being given a more…

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Meath East: First tallies make FG early favourites…

For those of you who have never been to an Irish count, here’s the first boxes being opened… The atmosphere is not unlike a country Mart… It will get more crowded as the day goes on… So far, here’s the tallies for the first preference vote… Final joint tally: FF 33.43%; Ben Gilroy 6.55; Lab more…

TEDxStormont before it starts

Imagine … TEDx talks by Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and others … under the gaze of Lord Craigavon

The Great Hall (the entrance hall) of Parliament Buildings up on the hill is a commanding setting for today’s TEDxStormont event. Seventeen speakers, three musical artists, the statue of Lord Craigavon basking in orange red light, and the portrait of Lord Bannside looking down on the couple of hundred delegates sitting below (with a small more…

Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) orbit

Comet 2013 A1: Rendezvous with Mars…

Here’s something to think about whilst waiting to see if Comet ISON will fizzle, or sizzle.  The latest Science at Nasa video looks at the trajectory, and consequences for Mars missions, of Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring).  Discovered as recently as 3 January this year, this Oort cloud object will pass “extraordinarily close” to the planet Mars on more…

Parliamentary Written Answer of the Week…

They don’t have to be dull.  As demonstrated yesterday by the clearly well-read Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Conservative MP, Brandon Lewis.  Here’s the nominated written question and answer Tom Blenkinsop: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department has any plans to deregulate the more…

A LAST PLEA FROM SIR GEORGE QUIGLEY FOR MORE NORTH-SOUTH COOPERATION

Sir George Quigley died on 3 March after a long and full life of service to Northern Ireland and Ireland. He was as near as a small place like Northern Ireland gets to a Renaissance man: head of four government departments; chairman of Ulster Bank and Bombardier; the tireless chair of numerous public bodies in more…

Corporation Tax is not Northern Ireland’s elephant in the room…

So, Corporation Tax cut bites the dust, for another year at least. I doubt we can entirely blame disunity at OFMdFM for this particular dropped ball though. It was very much a project of the previous Secretary of State. The Chancellor (or rather the Treasury) was never keen, and David Cameron does not need to more…

Theresa Villiers: “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to answer the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s request for a military helicopter…”

Following a request yesterday from the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, to the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, for “urgent access to helicopter support“, an RAF Chinook flew from its Hampshire base today to airlift supplies in order “to get food on the ground for stranded animals“.  [It’s just “a transport helicopter“! – more…

“This gang thought they could exploit rules for genuine British filmmakers and thieve from the public purse for their own gain”

When the BBC report notes that the actress/producer sentenced to 5 years 5 months, reduced to 4 years 8 months, for her part in a £2.8million VAT and film tax credits scam, was “from London”, what they mean is that she was from Newry, with an address in London – as UTV correctly reported.  [I blame the more…