The Welfare Mission

When George Osborne became Shadow Chancellor he made Welfare Reform one of his primary issues to focus on when in Government. Along with Iain Duncan-Smith, they worked on what would become Universal Credit which has had a difficult birth as a Government policy. The past week, more so than ever, with Osborne pointing towards the horrendous Mick Philpott as an example of the ‘monsters’ that are created in the welfare system. This, coupled with embarrassing photos of Osborne’s chauffeur driven … Read more

Obama Reflects on Northern Ireland at a Crossroads

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement we’re engaging in what has become an annual tradition: a reflection on how far Northern Ireland has come. This comes with the usual back patting. Then there’s a bit of critical analysis – people talking about how we must do better – from the commentariat outside of Stormont. However, this anniversary has prompted one of the most critical reflections; from one of the major power brokers who made the agreement … Read more

Budget 2013: A missed opportunity

George Osborne for the first time appeared nervous. No Chancellor in recent memory, apart from perhaps Gordon Brown, in the early years of New Labour appeared so cocksure. For three years Osborne has had to dress up bad news as good news. He cherry picked the statistics that suited him best, of course all Chancellors do this but this was something that Osborne attacked his predecessors for. Yes, the Coalition came into tough times economically but they are now three … Read more

Cameron’s Dunkirk?

So at last David Cameron delivered his long awaited speech on Europe. Arguably the most important speech, by a British Prime Minister, since Tony Blair’s speech proposing the case for war in Iraq. British politics, it seems, has entered the era of the referendum arguably started with the referendum on the voting system in 2011 with a vote on the Scottish Independence and an In/Out vote on the EU. Here in Northern Ireland, we have Sinn Fein calling for a … Read more

The end of the High Street as we know it…

Since the financial crisis of 2008 many firms have closed down or have turned into one of the many so called zombie companies occupying the high street. However, the high street as we know it has been changing since the start of Internet shopping and its popular growth over the last ten years. The rise of Amazon and eBay has radically changed the way we shop. However, the closure of brands such Woolworths and more recently HMV causes psychological damage … Read more

A troubling relationship

The ever fractious relationship between the UK and European Union seems to be at breaking point, or so it seems if you listened to the Eurosceptic’s of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party has come a long way from the days of Sir Winston Churchill, who is held up in Europe as one of the fathers of the present European Union, to more recent times were the party has ripped itself apart on the issue of Europe. Recently the leader … Read more

Fiscal Cliff Averted

So the fiscal cliff saga between the Republicans and President Obama had all the drama of the West Wing and even ended with resolution like an actual West Wing episode. The only fear is that this drama is set to re-appear in the future with both sides already highlighting the need for more debate around taxes and spending. So this cliff hanger was left with the famous words… To be continued. The last minute discussions around this issue highlights a … Read more

An English Guinness?

This time of year is always interesting for the release of state papers under the thirty year rule. The release of these papers bring fresh light on a period of our past and often reveal tensions we thought were there as well as unearthing stories we didn’t even expect.The one story that struck me and made the front page of the Newsletter was the fact that the Guinness family considered moving the brand from Dublin to their English base. The … Read more

Review of the Year: Top 5 stories

  President Obama’s Re-Election This has to be one of the major stories of this year, President Obama was under immense pressure from all quarters and pulled off a great victory. He now faces the long road of securing his legacy as a President, which, could be decided over the issue of the economy. He has already faced major challenges with his CIA Director resigning over an affair and his first choice for replacing Hilary Clinton pulling out. However, he … Read more

Aaron & Brian’s Sunday View: the Census

  The Irish Times led with, ‘There are just 54,000 more people from a Protestant background than from a Catholic one in Northern Ireland’. The headline figure, that most papers and the media noticed, was that the gap between Protestants and Catholics had narrowed to 3 per cent in the recent statistics released from the 2011 census. Bringing together the information on Religion and Religion Brought up in, 45 per cent of the population were either Catholic or brought up … Read more

Aaron and Brian’s Sunday View: Flags and a Visit of an old friend

This week the news was dominated by two events, the vote on reducing the number of days that the union flag is to be flown at Belfast City Hall, which has been flown at City Hall since it opened on 1906 and the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The vote brought an angry call from the unionist community which led to people protesting on the streets which consequently turned violent. This has caused damage across various parts … Read more

The Leveson Report: The End of The Free Press??

  “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” This week’s news was dominated by one issue: the publication of the Leveson Report. The report, which is 1988 pages long – I must admit that I have only made my way through the executive summary so far – is the seventh report in less than 70 years commissioned to deal with concerns about the press. The quote above is taken from the Leveson Report, … Read more