Has Sturgeon thrown a spanner in the works over Corporation Tax?

There is increasing speculation that the Chancellor, George Osbourne is to announce that Corporation Tax powers will be devolved to Northern Ireland. All of the main parties here support the move, so you would think it would be relatively simple to do it. However, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Stugeon might have just thrown a spanner in the works for that plan as she told SKY News this morning .@NicolaSturgeon: if Northern Ireland gets power over Corporation Tax then these … Read more

The trolling of Ann Travers

The first in a three part series exploring so-called ‘trolling’ and abuse on social media At the beginning of November 2014 it was widely reported that victims campaigner Ann Travers had closed down her Facebook and Twitter accounts following a barrage of online abuse. It’s worth reminding people of the fact that Ann’s sister, Mary, was murdered by the IRA in Belfast in 1984. The target of the ambush was their father, Tom, a resident magistrate. He survived. In 2011 … Read more

Is it time to reduce our number of MLAs?

So our MLAs are currently still engaging in yet another talks process and according to the BBC earlier in November, the DUP circulated a paper which again highlighted their support for the deflation of Stormont departments and a reduction in the number of MLAs. While the DUP support a reduction in MLAs from the current number of 108 to something between 70 and 80, the Deputy First Minister wouldn’t cut back Stormont just as much as the DUP but does … Read more

Jack Kyle RIP ” Irish sport has revolved around a debate on the right way and wrong ways of conducting yourself”.

                A selection of  tributes to the late great Jack Kyle, fixed in the minds of my generation as the ideal sportsman. It was in a way fortunate that in the days of the amateur game, a man’s character could be  expressed in other fields. From the Irish Times  Out-half on the Grand Slam-winning Irish rugby team of 1948, the Belfast surgeon played 46 times for Ireland and another six with the British and … Read more

Christians on the Left host food poverty debate

The number of food banks is on the rise in Northern Ireland. According to Advice NI, the number of food banks in Northern Ireland has increased from two in 2011, to at least 14 in 2014, and Trussell Trust reports distributing more than 11,000 free food parcels this year. Churches have taken a lead in mobilising volunteers, distributing food parcels to those in need, and working with charity and statutory organisations to get people the support they need to improve their circumstances. … Read more

New powers for Scotland threaten constitutional crisis for the UK

David Cameron’s claim that the Smith report will create “a stronger Union “ rings hollow when  set against  his insistence that the case for  English votes on English laws is “ unanswerable,”  If it means that English MPs should have a veto on any measure they don’t like that a future  Labour government proposes, it will create a constitutional crisis . Equally hollow sounding  is Scottish Labour’s praise for a good deal from Smith on the   transfer of income tax powers … Read more

Here’s to you Mr Robinson for keeping Nationalism alive

It was back in 2010, I was working down in Cork on some research for my PhD, like everybody else I was gripped by the arrival of the IMF in Ireland and the ensuing collapse of the government as the Green Party announced that they wanted an election in early 2011. Well, there pushes Irish unity another few years down the road I thought, as with the country under the control of the IMF made the economic case for reunification … Read more

Corporation Tax and Northern Ireland’s (Economic) Walking Dead

Northern Ireland is a funny, self-obsessed place. And the arguments in favour or against the idea of a reduced corporation tax rate tend to be somewhat navel-gazing. Today people were picking fights with me on twitter because I’d suggested that reduced corporation tax here would make Northern Ireland more attractive for business. But, as some suggested to me on Twitter, a reduction would do nothing for the least privileged in society. Jeez. Alex Kane, the political journalist, suggested that lowered … Read more

Photo of the day – Manannan Mac Lir

  Photo by: Stephen Wallace Manannan Mac Lir is an Irish Sea God overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the slopes of Benevenagh Mountain, County Derry/Londonderry Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff. My day job is creating websites and software. My personal site is: Freshideas.ie http://freshideas.ie

Friday Thread: What makes for a reliable economic/political superpredictor?

To quote the blurb… You don’t have to be a mystic to tell the future. Or at least that’s what political scientists would have you believe. But actually they’re not very good at it, as Tim Harford, the FT’s undercover economist, explains. This is relevant how? Well, we know broadly that we cannot predict the future in any absolute terms. Some people did warn the Celtic Tiger was going to come to a nasty end, but most did not, or … Read more

Hamilton calls time on Speaking Clock at Stormont

If you don’t follow Sinn Fein’s Phil Flanagan on Twitter you should and for no other reason than he asks the most under the radar assembly questions you can think of. Today he got a response to a question he posed to the Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton a few weeks ago on the cost of Stormont’s talking clock. Yes, this is a clock that you ring up and it tells you the time. Courtesy of Phil, this is how much … Read more

Questions arising for Sinn Fein from Tuesday’s Spotlight programme..

I’m just pinning these videos from the Sinn Fein end of Mandy McAuley’s two part Spotlight,  with minimal comment in part because I haven’t worked out what to think on the matter, and because I want to hear what you guys think. It’s worth doing so just to isolate the scale of that end of the problem. Firstly, there’s a wholly owned private company Research Services Ireland (£700k): Secondly a party bill for secretarial work of £3.7m: Then there are … Read more

Assembly report clears Peter Robinson over Spotlight

Well after a number of attempts the report from the Assembly Standards Commissioner has finally released the report into the BBC Spotlight programme into Iris Robinson in January 2010. The report clears Peter Robinson of any wrong doing, whilst Iris Robinson has been found in “serious breach” of the Stormont code of conduct by failing to declare two payments. Speaking about the reports publication the DUP’s Alastair Ross said; The Committee takes allegations of breaches of the Assembly’s Code of … Read more

Gregory Campbell and the law of unintended consequences

Not that he cares but Gregory Campbell MP’s recent remarks about the Irish language and his contemptuous dismissal of the campaign for an Irish Language Act has had some unintended consequences from those he may have imagined. It’s very easy to see why Gregory Campbell, drifting as he was to the margins of his party having been left out of the Executive by his leader in successive reshuffles, would want to make some grand effort to get back in the … Read more

An expanded TUV seeking to shift up a gear at the weekend’s conference…

Richard Cairns is the vice chairman of TUV and an advisor to Jim Allister MLA. He is here to give us the low down on Saturday’s annual party conference:  As Saturday approaches colleagues and I have been putting the finishing touches on our annual Party Conference. It is safe to say that every party wishes to learn from and build on their previous year’s conference, and TUV is no different. A conference needs to have identifiable themes, a core message … Read more

Sinn Fein protest water meters in Dundalk, but have ensured they are installed in Newry?

So, Sinn Fein didn’t order the continuation of the installation of 35,000 water meters in new build houses in Northern Ireland at a cost of £13.3 million? Well, no. The minister’s department did refuse to allow NI Water off the hook of putting water meters as it was required to do by law. Brian Stanley put it thus… Sinn Féin can only do what it can do at any point in time being in the power-sharing executive, and that situation … Read more

Roisin McDonough: The Arts: Small size, big value

The debate over cuts to arts funding have been in the headlines in recent days, writing for Slugger, the Arts Council’s Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough argues against cutting arts funding Supporting the campaign for ‘No more cuts to the arts’, actor James Nesbitt observed wryly that “without the arts we’re just left with politics, and we don’t want that”. His tongue may have been planted firmly in his cheek, but that may be the path we’re heading down if the … Read more

Adams and Campbell.. the essence of sectarian politics

Eamonn McCann’s analysis of the “war of words “ between Gerry Adams’ “Unionist bastards”  and Gregory “toilet paper” Campbell reminds me an insight about political behaviour from the former Irish Times journalist and ex Unionist politician Frank Millar, whose regular  acute observations are sorely missed. Gained by close observation in the hot house of the GFA negotiations, Frank noted that people pay far more attention to the bad behaviour of their opponents than they do to anything their own side … Read more

For the foreseeable future, almost whatever comes, it’s Gerry’s party to build or destroy…

Malachi O’Doherty in the BelTel wonders if Gerry is losing his touch… He says “mea culpa”, accepting the failing, but it would help if we knew who the “b******s” are. Is Gregory Campbell one of them? That seems fairly likely. In the juvenile world he relishes he surely gets called worse. But is Peter Robinson a b*****d? Is the average unionist voter?  The ones he specifically absolves are those who don’t vote at all because they are “scundered” by the … Read more

Allister on Robinson, Paisley, TUV’s Future, Irish and Opposition

As the TUV annual conference approaches this weekend, I caught up with the party leader Jim Allister. We talked about his work on the Social Development Committee, the Irish language and his relationship with other parties in the Assembly. (Note I did this interview before Gregory Campbell’s conference speech) I began by asking him how he planned to expand his party and build on the gains they made at the 2014 election. Allister told me that the 2016 Assembly election … Read more