UUP leadership interviews – leadership pitches and the Tory link-up

UUP banner logo - slightly cropped

For the second post in this short series based on interviews with UUP leadership candidates Tom Elliott and Basil McCrea I take a look at their leadership pitches and their opinions on the UCUNF link-up. Asked for his 60 second leadership pitch, Basil launched into an analysis of past failure and the need for change, describing the type of party be wanted to lead. [McCrea] The party needs change, needs rapid change. We’ve had a number of pretty disappointing electoral … Read more

UUP leadership interviews – Tom’s U-turn on engagement

UUP banner logo - slightly cropped

There’ll be a series of posts over the next day or so reflecting on Basil McCrea and Tom Elliott as they bid for the leadership of the UUP. Both candidates agreed to be interviewed on camera (videos now available) over the last few days and answered a fairly consistent set of questions to see how that would tease out their different personalities, policies and ideas for taking the UUP forwards. They talked about their leadership pitches, the Tory link-up, changes … Read more

Will you know who you’re voting for in May 2011?

Looks like there could be an(other) opportunity for parties to play candidate/co-option games in the Assembly and local government elections in May 2011. With at least two elections being held on the same day (never mind the strong chance of a voting reform referendum) some politicians may be fighting to retain several different jobs. Now double-jobbing has really only been addressed at an MP/MLA and MP/Council level, but a surprising number of MLAs have so far seemed happy to retain … Read more

Belfast City Airport waves goodbye to Ryanair … for now?

Belfast City Airport frontage

Belfast City Airport will be hoping for better luck in September. Having run a couple of Community Information Days last week that were advertised to 21,000 local homes but only ended up attracting 42 people into the airport terminal to learn more about the airport’s activities and plans for the runway extension, Ryanair broke bad news this morning. Ryanair don’t do subtle gestures, and in the case of the city airport they’re pulling their aircraft off the local tarmac from … Read more

Can’t keep water from leaking into the news – this time it’s a late pool

Artist's impression of interior of Bangor's planned Olympic-sized swimming pool

At long last, construction is due to start on the beleaguered plan to build an Olympic sized swimming pool in Bangor, providing a training facility the right length for talented and ambitious local swimmers. News outlets this morning were awash with details that Farrans had won the £38m contract, which includes £15m from the water-themed Executive. The BBC report that “construction on the new facility is due to begin before the end of August. It is expected to open by … Read more

NI – soon to be the towing and clamping capital of the UK

Car being lifted and towed away in front of Belfat Hilton Hotel in 2008

Belfast is the libel capital of the world – Britney Spears took action through Belfast courts a few years ago – and now Northern Ireland is to remain the towing and clamping capital of the UK. Car clamping on private land was banned in Scotland back in 1991. Now as part of the Freedom Bill, legislation will be introduced in Parliament in November to outlaw “cowboy” clamping and towing on private land in England and Wales. (Landowners will be encouraged … Read more

Will you take a sausage roll First Minister?

Radio Scotland drama by David Ireland, also pictured actors Gary Lewis, Veronica Leer and Robert Jack

That’s a line from radio drama Trouble and Shame written by David Ireland, produced by BBC Scotland and broadcast on Radio Ulster/Foyle last Monday night. Andy Hunter is a slightly unhinged Glaswegian. He comes over and kidnaps the First and deputy First Minsters, holding them hostage in his car. Not for financial gain, or terrorist spectacular, but to force unionist Paul and republican Patsy to talk to each other and sort out the differences of their communities once and for … Read more

Gender quotas

Over on the Anti-Room group blog, Amanda posts about female political representation and gender quotas. She notes: Now we hear news that Irish female politicians as a group (all be it a very small one in comparison to their male counterparts) are not in favour of introducing quotas to ensure a greater number of women get into power. A very thorough article in today’s Irish Times by political correspondent Mary Minihan, found that of the 23 female TDs currently in … Read more

Fantasy D’Hondt

Northern Ireland Executive logo

Time to play an early game of Fantasy NI Executive, or maybe more properly, Fantasy D’Hondt. The order in which parties select ministries is determined by the size of the parties. When the full D’Hondt process was last run on 8 May 2007, there were still only ten ministries. The DUP was the largest party with 36 elected MLAs, followed by SF (28), UUP (18) and then SDLP (16). The parties selected ministries in the following order. DUP – Finance … Read more

What has The Third Man got to say about Northern Ireland?

cover of Peter Mandelson's book - The Third Man

Short answer: very little, other than he enjoyed the environs of Hillsborough Castle, enjoyed working with the local politicians, and has Gerry Adams to thank for Bobby his dog. Peter Mandelson’s book The Third Man has captured media headlines in recent weeks as the Times serialised the most juicy bits. But what did he have to say about his time as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland? In the book, Mandelson seems much softer than his normal Prince of Darkness … Read more

Giving advice to the government … the Commission for Victims and Survivors

Logo of Commission for Victims and Survivors

As Pete pointed out last night, the NIO published its summary of organisation and individual responses to the Eames Bradley report the Recommendations of the Consultative Group on the Past, which also referenced the submission from the Commissioners for Victims and Survivors (CVS) that deliberately missed the NIO’s consultation deadline but was instead submitted at the end of June. [Updated – The CVS report got a mention on Slugger on its publication at the end of June.] In many ways, … Read more

A legendary victory – City of Culture 2013 – Derry~Londonderry

Derry~Londonderry City of Culture 2013 logo

As the voxpops in the bid video say: I am Derry. I am Londonderry. I am legendary. Hundreds and thousands of words will be written in posts and comments about the winning City of Culture 2013. For me it’s a remarkable win. The most westerly city in the UK won a national competition. It’s not just out of London, or outside the M25, or over the Pennines … it’s over the water too. The whole bid process seems to have … Read more

Vote often, vote often?

Just how many ticks and crosses might you be asked to make in May 2011? Council elections (for 26 councils) NI Assembly elections Electoral reform (Alternative Vote) referendum All of these opportunities to exercise your democratic right are pencilled in for Thursday 5 May next year. The Welsh Assembly elections were also expected to be held on 5 May. There is all party support in Wales for those to be delayed for a week to prevent voter confusion. No doubt the … Read more

Peer review? They work for you …

House of Lords - crowned portcullis image

On average, local peers voted in the Lords less than a quarter of the time over the last two years, while claiming on average just over £100,000 in expenses over the last four years. The most vocal third of local peers spoke an average 68 times over four years, while the quietest two-thirds only spoke an average of 11 times in four years. This morning’s Irish News (no link – article on newsstand or behind paywall) leads with Diana Rusk’s … Read more

Another local Nobel Peace Prize winner heads towards the Middle East …

Steve Punter's profile photo of David Trimble

Having rejected the UN’s call for an international inquiry into the storming of the flotilla of aid vessels heading for Gaza, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now announced his country’s own inquiry. A panel of three will be led by retired Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel, and observed by two international experts. Whereas 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan was heading towards Gaza aboard the MV Rachel Corrie, 1998 winner Lord Trimble will be joining retired judge advocate … Read more

NI Assembly – bak 2 skul in the form of a comic

Snippet from NI Assembly comic

The NI Assembly’s education service has produced a comic aimed at educating school children about the local democratic institutions. As well as covering the daily/weekly life of a MLA, departments and ministers, it even gets as far as working out an example of the transferrable vote system in action! So far, none of the cartoon characters seem to resemble real elected representatives …

Want a parade? When do you want it? Now! What about in just 3 days time?

There still seems to be a bit of misunderstanding about the consultation paper issued by OFMDFM on Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests in Northern Ireland. It’s even been covered on Slugger … though Brian did point to the small relevant print. Talk about parades and all you’ll hear a lot of talk about 37 days. Section 13 explains that notice should normally be given to OPAPP (Office of Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests) during working hours on a working day … Read more

UTV declare that Martin McGuinness is First Minister!

Niall Ó Donnghaile pointed out earlier tonight that UTV have got a bit ahead of themselves and started to address Martin McGuinness as “First Minister”. In an online news article about the Irish President’s visit to the Balmoral Show, they explained The President of Ireland addressed an audience which included First Minister Martin McGuinness and Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew. With Sinn Fein’s strong polling at the Westminster election – coming out as the local party with the greatest number of … Read more

Why the big fuss over fixed term parliaments?

House of COmmons logo

About a month before the election Radio 4 broadcast a fascinating programme narrated by the BBC’s Scottish political editor Brian Taylor. Over half an hour he explained how the Scottish Parliament differs from its Westminster counterpart. It’s fixed term. Every piece of legislation is a new act of coalition. While some parties will support each other to get one piece of legislation passed, they’ll not agree to cooperate over the next. The SNP dominate, but while they win some debates, … Read more

All in a day’s work for post room staff …

This news flash came through earlier today on London Borough of Westminster’s public alert feed via CommunitySafe. Please could Postal Room staff be made aware of the following : earlier on this afternoon a Parcel containing a doll and organic matter was handed into a Government building Post room. The person handing in the item was described as a Male, approx 60-70 years of age, with White hair and wearing a green coat. The item was declared suspicious and Police … Read more