SDLP leader’s register of interest lapse ‘due to an administrative error…’

So after some ribbing on Twitter for not covering this story (try Googling it guys?), John Manley reports this morning that Alasdair McDonnell is in a bit of bother again, this time over not reporting income from a rental property he bought in London in 2005 when he was first elected: The South Belfast MP and MLA blamed “an administrative error” for the failure to declare his London apartment on the House of Commons register of interests. Dr McDonnell has … Read more

Churches bringing warmth to the public square & Attorney General John Larkin taking exception to Supreme Court judgement against Christian B&B owners

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland organised a conference yesterday looking at the Church in the Public Square. [Ed – not a new idea.] Two to three hundred people attended: ministers (both clerical and political), laity, as well as representatives from many organisations and faiths. Audio of the three keynote speakers is now available on the PCI website, and I’ll follow-up with a post over on Alan in Belfast in a day or two. In the meantime some snippets that might … Read more

NI Justice Minister: “I trust that the executive will recognise that it is the right decision, and that I was right to make it”

In the aftermath of the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers/Executive/Assembly/Policing Board members semi-detached polit-bureau’s kerfuffle over the NI Justice Minister’s proposed changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, Liam Clarke reveals some significant correspondence on the matter.  Firstly, the Chief Executive of the NI Policing Board, Sam Pollock, tries his hand at herding cats to put some manners on members of the Board. In his letter to Policing Board members, Mr Pollock wrote: “I am disappointed in the … Read more

[Updated] Queens academic taught a hard lesson at the hands of ‘that lot in the DUP’

This is odd. Well intentioned or not, a Queens academic has managed to get himself on the poor end of the argument over Maurice Morrow’s private members bill which contains a maximalist clause that would criminalise prostitution. Rather ill-advisedly Dr Graham Ellison decided to lobby a Swedish witness, Gunilla Ekberg, an ex-special adviser with the Swedish Government, who had previously given evidence in favour of Lord Morrow’s bill. The trouble is the email contained rather a lot of man playing … Read more

Friday Thread: For ‘trial and error’ you have to first try something (then not be afraid to fail)

There’s a part of the conventional stage which the dramaturg Stephen Joseph used to frame as the ‘God Wall’. That’s the bit at the back which in perspective terms is the origin of the actors complete authority over his audience. In the TED talk above, Tim Harford takes a similar idea and transposes it into conventional design, planning and politics. He calls it the God Complex. Here’s the very core of his argument: …the complexity of the world that surrounds … Read more

Robinson on the Irish Govt “relations have never been better”.

Gregory Campbell just fell off a chair somewhere as Peter Robinson heaped praise on the improving relationship with the Irish government today. He told his audience By focusing on outcomes we have found a way to work together in all of our interests. He continued arguing that what were once controversial issues were now normal (skirting over the fact that his predecessor was one of the people who made those issues controverisal) In many ways, it is remarkable that what … Read more

The Waterfront Hall: Now you see it…

So here it is. This is what the ‘new’ Waterfront Hall will look like after the £29.5m conference centre is built. The Council is providing £11m, DETI’s European Regional Development Fund is pitching in £14.5m along with £4m from the tourist board.   Here’s the architect’s plan with a view from the river:   Hmmm… so the Waterside Hall is not going to be so beside the water as it is currently. Although interestingly that’s not where the original idea … Read more

Pat Magee & Jo Berry: Listening to Your Enemies Means Asking Hard Questions

“The Christian gospel allows people to change.” With those words, spoken this morning on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback, Rev Gary Mason, pastor at East Belfast Mission (EBM), expressed the hope that has kept him ministering throughout the years of the Troubles. Mason was on air today because EBM’s Skainos centre had been daubed with sectarian graffiti, described on the BBC website as “anti-republican.” The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime, was linked to tonight’s 4 Corners Festival … Read more

Conflict arises from the leadership of ‘excessively optimistic and impatient men…’

Just a thought… …societies have historically been “persuaded to fight because most of their leaders were excessively optimistic and impatient men, and persuaded to cease fighting because those leaders, having failed, had been replaced by more cautious men.”   Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Public Meeting on the slashing of cross border funding for NI based language groups

Foras na Gaeilge: centralising resources in Dublin, ending funding for POBAL, Iontaobhas Ultach, Altram and Forbairt Feirste Thursday 30th January 2014 at 7 pm Room RS062, St Mary’s University College, Falls Road POBAL is organising this public meeting to give the Irish speaking community and those who support the language to look at the implications of decisions Foras na Gaeilge announced on 17.1.14. On that day, Foras announced that it had appointed 6 organisations to do work across 6 work areas. … Read more

The Scottish referendum campaign: personal relations are affected as the arguments become keener

Both sides of the independence referendum campaign are busy spinning Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s warning to Alex Salmond  that “some ceding of national  sovereignty” would be necessary as the price of independent Scotland’s desire  to keep the pound. The Nats are treating it with all  the appearance of calm acceptance;  the No campaign, championed  here by former Scotsman editor Iain Martin, that Carney has spiked Salmond’s guns. The Nats’ case has rested forever on the allegation that the Westminster parliament … Read more

Irish Water: Just throwing money and comms at it won’t fix the problem.

[Wicked problems are] social problems which are ill formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision-makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing. – C. West Churchman You hardly need a crystal ball to see things are not going well for Irish Water. Its much smaller and less complex counterpart Northern Ireland Water has had four CEOs since 2007. A situation that’s been vacant now for four months, … Read more

Secrets From Belfast: a definitive guide to the Troubles (troubled?) oral history project

Beth McMurtrie has published an extensive and well-researched article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. It examines how the Belfast Project oral history project at Boston College was established and how it has fallen apart in recent years following the PSNI’s request for access to the archive (two months after the British government had “given the college highly sensitive papers related to the disarmament process, to be kept locked away for 30 years”). What sets Beth’s article apart from much … Read more

NI Justice Minister: “It is important to note that, in setting some minimum standards, I am not prohibiting the Board from adding to these minimum criteria…”

Whilst Brian may regard them as “surely sensible” changes to the criteria for the next Chief Constable, and they may well be, as I mentioned in updates to a previous post, no sooner had the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, announced those changes than the NI First and deputy First Ministers promptly agreed to exercise their prerogative to call his decision into the dysfunctional NI Executive semi-detached polit-bureau  [Where it will be put to the sword… – … Read more

No, the PSNI Chief Constable hasn’t “the toughest policing job in the world”

Here we are, still sold on the idea of how exceptional we are. Comment on Mick’s post on the appointment of a chief constable failed to notice that there’s  a wider world out there. It’s no longer the case that the PSNI have “the toughest policing job in in the world” and other superlatives. Try the Met which has gone through three commissioners in five years. Race issues,  jihadist extremism and flash rioting in today’s human rights culture make it very tough for … Read more

After losing its Shakespearean plot Newtownabbey returns to the 21st Century…

So, a good result for the Reduced Shakespeare Company in Newtownabbey. Excellent nationwide publicity right at the start of a tour, and the gig back to boot! Along with the backing of the DUP Deputy Mayor. Anyone who’s ever worked in the arts knows just how jumpy and fickle the local arts administration can get in their dealing with political parties, and the reputation of the DUP’s Biblers is second to none. For all the fulminating over the weekend, it’s still … Read more

Surviving the job hunt part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how to survive the job hunt. Luckily for me things in that area have turned around and I am now faced with an exciting new challenge that I cannot wait to get stuck into. I am writing this piece as I think it’s always good to illustrate when looking for jobs that in the employment market a month is literally an eternity. I was thinking today about a friend of mine … Read more

Paisley’s religious legacy

Watching the two hours of the BBC’s documentary on Dr. Paisley brought to mind my blog from six years ago of Paisley and Prospero where at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero turns to the audience and says “Now my charms are all o’erthrown And what strength I have’s mine own.” At times it felt a bit like Mallie was interviewing a slightly more quick witted version of Leonid Brezhnev in his latter years. I had intended doing a … Read more

“Residents also protested outside the local Sinn Féin offices…”

As the BBC reports, local residents have continued their protest against the planned £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  From the UTV report Around 100 residents took part in a demonstration on Saturday afternoon. They say they are now considering taking legal action. One woman said: “The main thing is the height of it, it’s going to be about 129ft and right around the whole outskirts of the houses.” A man said: “It’s an absolute monstrosity. The residents … Read more

Friday Thread: “If we take man as he really is, we make him worse.”

Here Viktor Frankl cites a survey [h/t Ciaran] which comes to the following conclusions about American students: 60% said that they wanted to make a lot of money; and 78% said that finding a meaning and purpose in the world was important to them. He then goes on to illustrate a great insight from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if are seen to be idealists and overestimating, overrating … Read more