Aperture opens at Corrymeela

It is a rare occasion that a Slugger writer gets to report on Alan Meban. Corrymeela Executive Director Colin Craig chaired a discussion this afternoon which asked the question, “Are we done with the Good Friday Agreement?”, also featuring Alan McBride and Gerry Kelly. Our Alan linked the Good Friday Agreement with his then church’s annual youth fellowship Easter trip to Ballycastle and being inveigled to change station away from the discussions about it to Cool FM, although he didn’t … Read more

“Still, there are words for the sort of reception meted out, and the most polite are ‘low’ and ‘key’.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… or, rather, as far away from the ranch as you can reasonably get…  For the benefit of those concerned about accountability and the democratic process…  Liam Clarke has some points to make about Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, and the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness’ recent, separate, trips to the US. In that situation, how much priority would you give when tapped on the arm and told that the Northern Ireland … Read more

The Boal Car Parking Dispute with Belfast City Airport Sums up what is so wrong with the NI Economy

Belfast City Airport frontage

Only in Northern Ireland could a situation be allowed to arise where a private car park operator using a purpose built multi story car park, to run a car parking business is found to be in breach of planning law and is to be shut down because it is the ‘wrong type’ of car parking. Most ‘normal’ people in Northern Ireland think this decision is unfair, lacking in common sense, illogical, and goes against consumer interests. Northern Ireland is part … Read more

Traffic disaster as rush hour bus lanes to be implemented on an Urban Clearway

In the week of what could politely be described as a massive embarrassment over incorrectly configured bus lane cameras (something about which I’ve not bothered to comment as there’s absolutely no light I can shed on that particular mess) I saw a story in the Belfast Telegraph that is crying out for satirical comment… Local businesses on the Upper Newtownards Road have been concerned about the impact of new bus lanes on their trade between 7.30 and 8am and 3.30 … Read more

The resources to end austerity In Ireland

Economist, Michael Burke writes for us looking at the economics of austerity and how they compare in Northern and Southern Ireland The claim from supporters of austerity is there is no money left and that therefore TINA, there is no alternative policy. These assertions are false. Table 1 below shows the level of output in the Irish economy on both sides of the border, either GDP or GVA (Gross Value Added). The total compensation of employees is less than half … Read more

What Cecil says about us

The tragic death of Cecil the Lion has been making headlines around the world this week, writing for us, Zimbabwean born, Kate Nicholl argues that the event tells us a lot about how modern society reacts to tragedy  If social media has taught us anything in the past few days it’s that Trophy hunting is awful, paying $50,000 to shoot an animal is obscene and Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed a Zimbabwean lion called Cecil is the worst person … Read more

Irish ambassador’s latest move in the Republic’s role in the campaign to keep the UK in the EU

The FT (£,unfortunately) reports a strategically timed interview with the Irish ambassador to the UK , the Yeats-loving Dermot Mulhall. Remember when the Irish people reversed their “ wrong” answer in the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? It was the bold Dermot who fund the way through, apparently. Now he’s recommending that the UK follows a similar route to avoid the calamity – for both islands – of Brexit . But eventually the rest of the EU agreed to the … Read more

The Irish Times deserves to see off the Murdoch threat but needs to do better, especially on the North

The Irish Times reports that it is launching “ full proceedings” against the Times ( of London ) following its failure to win an injunction against the Murdoch- owned paper in its bid to use the title “The Times Irish edition” for a new digital edition of the paper linked to a subscription for Sunday Times version which already exists. This move will be very expensive and a sign that the Irish Times board believes much is at stake. For … Read more

In the gloom of Summer a debate about Irish unity has begun

Brian noted a piece written by Aaron McKenna on The Journal.ie about why Irish unity is a fundamentally bad idea. Responding to his piece, Sinn Fein’s Matt Carthy sets out his view about why unity is a good idea. Regardless of your views on either, I am personally half way between them on this issue, I think the debate is a really good one to have; here is where Matt attempts to set out some the nuts and bolts of … Read more

Reality checks of north-south comparisons should be welcomed

This piece by Aaron McKenna , businessman and columnist in the Journal.ie is not holy writ but it does make some interesting north-south comparisons. The UK government spends 24% more per head in Northern Ireland than it does in England, some £10,876 for every person in the province. If we got Northern Ireland tomorrow, that would translate to €15,464. In the Republic, we spend €11,120 per head. Of course, the Northerners could spend what they like if they earned it. … Read more

Sinn Fein suffering for the want of a visible plan (cunning, or otherwise)?

It’s still not clear who Martin was going to see in Washington, or why he had his picture taken on the wrong side of Pennsylvania Avenue opposite the White House. However at home Brian Feeney is not impressed: …Sinn Féin’s problem is more profound. They’ve lost direction. They’ve forgotten their raison d’etre in the north. Flying to Washington about welfare funding is piddling stuff. No one in the party is articulating how to advance their fundamental aim, Irish unity. Instead there … Read more

The continuing welfare impasse shows that peace will survive the suspension of the Assembly

On the surface at least, few outside the place are noticing. The public seem to be ignoring it, as if in a dream. Civil society stays generally schtum, like jobsworths in the old Soviet society. The parties are crying for attention. Gerry Adams has been polishing up his narrative of entitlement “By slashing hundreds of millions of pounds from the finances of the North’s Executive, the British government has attacked the ability of the political institutions to deliver for citizens.” … Read more

End of the line for Irish Water?

Radio Producer and Presenter John O’Donovan argues that its time to wind up Irish Water. Eurostat , the EU statistics agency has today decided that the Governments spend must remain on the states exchequer balance sheet. This means we will face into an additional €500 million added to the national debt, the assumption up to now by the Government was that it would pass the Eurostat assessment, even though they had factored the cost into its Spring Statement. In what … Read more

The feral nature of the UK’s long term housing policy

I keep waiting for someone in the Labour Leadership contest to pick up on housing as a key issue. That they haven’t is probably as much a reflection of the fact that its a classic wicked problem (with tenticles that reach far into economic policy). Angela McGowan of the Den Danske Bank nails the wickeness of the GB problem as well as anyone I’ve seen elsewhere, not least by contrasting it with Northern Ireland where the public sector is still … Read more

The Irish in Britain no longer need to think of themselves as emigrants

This acute essay by Niamh Mulvey is the first I’ve read to question directly the very idea – very politely – that young Irish who come over here to GB for a job should classify themselves as emigrants. I am an emigrant, I suppose, but often that feels far too grandiose a term for a white girl who works in a shiny office in central London and can afford to come home a couple of times a year. Yes I know the rich literature … Read more

Lord Steel: “Belligerence and stridency are now the order of the day in Edinburgh …”

The deterioration of Prime Minister’s Questions to a weekly exchange of insults isn’t the only negative aspect of UK political life that Lord Steel has noticed. Belligerence and stridency are now the order of the day in Edinburgh as well. [Ed – Slugger readers might recognise those traits in Stormont too?] Lord Steel of Aikwood delivered the opening address in this year’s John Hewitt Society International Summer School in Armagh, a week long celebration of literature, arts and culture. More … Read more

The West wants in: Why are roads so poor West of the Bann?

When I was completing my review of the News Letter during the 1960s and 70s, I remember reading countless complaints from politicians like Harry West about the poor state of the roads in the west of Northern Ireland. We did have the building of the M1 in the 1960s which promised a new era of connectivity for the west with the rest of the province. We know the problems about the motorway stopping at Dungannon in Co.Tyrone. However, the building … Read more

Do urban Gaeltachts produce a compromised Irish?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he creation of urban Gaeltachts in Belfast and other Irish cities should be regarded as one of the greatest language revitalisation projects ever undertaken. As a leading University of California linguistics professor puts it, ‘I know of no parallels to this achievement anywhere else in the world’. The urban Irish-language movement has largely coalesced around Irish-medium schools, known as Gaelscoileanna. That’s certainly the case in Northern Ireland, where 5,000 pupils attend one of 39 Irish-medium schools. There are plenty of … Read more

#SluggerSoapbox: “the ban on abortion does not stop abortions from happening…”

Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird is a local activist on the issue of reproductive rights The most famous act of solidarity is probably the proclamation of the famous words “I am Spartacus”, the scene in the eponymous movie in which the defeated slaves are asked to identify their leader, Spartacus, as a reward for doing so their lives will be spared. They respond by claiming that they are all Spartacus. In this case many of us are all the Belfast woman who … Read more