Author Archive | Brendan Heading

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The postwar ID requirement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Reading through some old Wikipedia articles pointed me to an interesting exchange in the House of Commons, back in 1948. Ulster Unionist MPs Conolly Gage and Major Samuel Gillmor Haughton rose during an adjournment debate to complain about the requirement for a permit or passport to be presented for travel between Northern Ireland and the more…

UUP17 Robin Swann at podium

On Voluntary Coalition

I note, during coverage of today’s UUP conference, that once again that Robin Swann is advocating voluntary coalition. He’s not the only advocate of voluntary coalition, and he’s certainly not the first. In fact it has been an ideal for both the  UUP and DUP, since the old Stormont parliament was prorogued in 1972, to more…

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Sir Jeffrey’s cunning border plan

The other day, the Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP suggested on twitter : A country that uses electronic toll tag systems on 11 of its main roads can’t claim there isn’t a technological solution to a Brexit border Sir Jeffrey’s observation appears to be an attempt to suggest that the problems presented by a more…

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What if #AE17b happens ?

It’s been a tumultuous week, to say the least, at the end of what had been a very boring election, with a number of historic and fascinating political developments going on. There’s been plenty of analysis of the wider political configuration on Slugger for the past while, so I thought I’d have a look at more…

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Why a Unionist pact is almost certain

The new Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann, will have had rather less time than he would have liked to shape his party’s attitude to the idea of pacts and co-operation with the DUP, not least while the UUP are still licking their wounds following the disappointing assembly result of six weeks ago. Both parties face more…

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Is a 60-minute Belfast-Dublin train journey time realistic ?

In the Independent today, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan floats the idea of a 60-minute Belfast-Dublin railway journey as a possible outcome of a brexit deal. This is an interesting, and indeed exciting, idea but I wonder if the Minister is aware of the size and scale of the project he is proposing. The current more…

The Solution

After the uprising of the 2nd of March The DUP member for Lagan Valley Had leaflets distributed in Paisley Park Stating that the people Had forfeited the confidence of the the Union And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier In that case for the Party To dissolve the people And more…

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Direct rule is not a solution – or even an option

At the end of last night’s Slugger Punt event (which could have easily gone on for another hour, thanks to an engaging, well-informed panel and Alan’s role as compere!) there was a brief discussion on the talks process after the election and how long it would take. There was no broad consensus for a timescale, other more…

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A border poll can be held at any time

There’s widespread misunderstanding of the legal provision around holding a border poll which seems to rear its head not only on social media, but sometimes within the print media and even among the ranks of senior politicians. It’s an innocent enough situation, but it could become important in the period ahead as we start coming to terms with brexit and more…

Charging in Bangor - BMW i3, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf. Courtesy @plugincarguy

Electric cars in Northern Ireland – another perspective

On Friday just past, Slugger contributor Patrick Murdoch had an interesting article about his experiment with electric vehicle ownership. Patrick’s principal observation – that the electric car charging network in Northern Ireland is not the greatest – is not entirely inaccurate, but I disagree with his implication that this makes owning an EV practically impossible. As more…

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Fixed-Term Parliaments Act – on the chopping block ?

One or two eagle-eyed observers on social media noted a development in the House of Lords which has apparently escaped the notice of the media – a new bill which, if enacted, would abolish the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. It’s worth a quick recap on the background. Until 2011, the power to dissolve Parliament was by the Queen’s prerogative, exercised more…

Tread lightly as you pass St Patrick’s

It’s a long time since I was a practicing Catholic, and almost as long since I defined myself as a believer of any kind. I haven’t properly attended Mass, outside of baptisms, weddings or funerals, since my mid-teens. If I was ever going back to religion, I think I’d be a Quaker. Or at the very more…

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The British government must seek a mandate to negotiate brexit

As the shock of the brexit result continues to reverberate (and will for quite some time) there has been quite a bit of chat, in the mainstream and online media, and among friends, about how this decision could potentially be reversed. At the outset it should be clear that there can be no political prospect more…

Where now for the Department of Justice ?

As I write, the Alliance Party’s council, the representative body which appoints and holds to account the party Executive (among other functions), is meeting to discuss the party’s decision not to field a candidate for the role of the Minister of Justice. I have to confess that, having written by my earlier article on this matter more…

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Why Alliance must pass on the Department of Justice

The election is over, the results are in, and the signal being sent by the electorate in Northern Ireland is clear and unambiguous. The DUP’s position as the dominant party within a socially and economically conservative administration has been comprehensively re-endorsed, alongside their coalition partner, Sinn Féin. There has, fundamentally, been no change at all in more…

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Corporation Tax : a day late and a dollar short

Not for the first time, the vexed issue of the plan to reduce corporation tax in Northern Ireland is  in the news again in the midst of ongoing controversy about how much it will cost to implement the tax cut, and to what extent it will benefit the economy here. Corporation tax is a rare example more…

Paying Teachers 33million Not To Teach – O’Dowd’s Teacher Scrappage Scheme

Recently the Minister of Education announced a proposal, which apparently has Executive approval, to spend £33m on a scheme to allow senior schoolteachers to retire five years early, allowing 500 newly trained teachers to take up posts. This is equivalent to £13,200 per teacher, per additional year of retirement. The Department indicates that 2,350 teachers more…