Dr Gráinne Watson spoke to Slugger about ‘smart cities’ ahead of her session at Thursday’s Big Data Belfast conference. The concept has burgeoned as local and national governments try to address the impact of climate change, recycling targets, urban regeneration, transport congestion and economic investment.
GREEN PARTY NI hired a larger room this year in the Clayton Hotel for their annual party conference. As well as hearing from Clare Bailey who was stepping down as deputy leader, party leader Steven Agnew spoke about his thankfulness for volunteer commitment and stable finances that had sustained the party through unexpected elections and a desire to see the professionalism of their ground campaign continue to grow. The morose political mood across society was less evident than I expected.
Maybe a dose of distance and diplomacy is what the NI political talks need? Country estates like Mount Stewart offered hospitality and privacy to decision makers. It was an age of slow diplomacy. Something that the National Trust are celebrating in their second year of hosting the Mount Stewart Conversations at their lough shore property.
What’s the truth behind the fuss made last week about the new Belfast city branding that was ‘leaked’ to the press. Glenn Stewart from the agency that designed the new dynamic ‘starburst’ mark and branding explains how he hopes the ‘energising’ imagery will be adopted by public, private and community sectors and ‘owned’ by the people of Belfast.
A nasty disease is spreading across Belfast. The Assembly Rooms – which nestle at the intersection of Donegall Street, North Street and Waring Street – have recently been the victim of the ugly pox which can is identifiable by its black triangular stickers bearing three letters and a tag which refers to an Instagram account, a hashtag and a website.
NATIONAL TRUST’S Mount Stewart Conversations are back on 14 and 15 October with a range of speakers, music, performers and activities on the lough shore site. Figures like Ian Hislop, Rosie Boycott, Rachel Johnson and Fintan O’Toole will be talking about historic and contemporary issues. Standing alongside the world-renowned gardens, the country house was the scene of many political and diplomatic talks in past ages.
THE CAMPBEDS were brought out of the Stormont store in preparation for any disruption marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. In a post-nuclear situation, civil servants without “abnormal domestic ties” would have helped run NI. And phone systems and scramblers occupied the NI Emergency Committee according to papers from the late 1980s released under the 30/20 Year Rule.
Back in 1989 the Department of Economic Development realised that Northern Ireland was struggling to attract conferences (partly due to a lack of accommodation) while the Republic of Ireland had invested in a Convention Bureau and was racing ahead with its ambassadors to attract ever more economically lucrative conferences and events.
DECLASSIFIED PAPERS from the Department of Economic Development in 1990 show that women accounted for just 1 in 6 of its public appointments. DETI figures for 2015 show that the proportion of female appointees had nearly doubled, and overall OFMdFM figures for 2015 show female appointments at 38%. There is a commitment for gender equality of in-year appointments by 2018, and of all appointees in post by 2021.
SIR RICHARD NEEDHAM reflects on the city of Belfast which he says “is hobbling along a long way behind” comparable cities like Bristol. “Belfast is in real danger of being left behind.” Direct Rule isn’t the solution. Brexit is an utter disaster. By playing party politics, NI politicians are not helping Belfast grow.
INTERVIEW WITH Sir Richard Needham about the Tall Ships which first visited Belfast back in July 1991. It was the first large-scale event expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each day. Recently released government papers show that extra car parking spaces were needed, and there was a suggestion that the M2 could be used for parking.
DECLASSIFED FILES released under the 30/20 Year Rule show that in 1991, Emergency Planning envisaged panic if the IRA placed a small nuclear device in Belfast or threatened to release anthrax germs. At the time the NI food stockpile was sufficient to bake 250 million scones (assuming there was a source of heat).
DESCLASSIFIED PAPERS record the NI emergency planning in 1988 when a Russian satellite was expected to fall to Earth and had the potential to scatter radioactive debris if its reactor core came down with it. While the risk was low, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd felt that the government should recommend that people stayed indoors if the satellite’s safety system failed and its final orbit passed over the UK.