Surely it’s long past time that we binned this unspoken “Honorary MLA” status?

Last week, following the resignation of West Tyrone MLA Catherine Kelly following the office cash controversy, Sinn Fein chose to replace her with party colleague Nicola Brogan. I’m not singling out this MLA or her party as five parties have done similar since the last Assembly election. But the word “appointed” is such an inappropriate one in any democratic process and it needs to be addressed. An MLA goes for whatever reason, but the electorate has no say in who …

Read more…Surely it’s long past time that we binned this unspoken “Honorary MLA” status?

Alliance: Now (or never) is the time to move beyond sound bite success to real world delivery…

In earlier articles I’ve written that as someone still fundamentally pro-union. To recap, I’ve felt electorally disenfranchised for quite a long time by two unionist parties that have refused to reflect my general social outlook. Apart from a vote for David Ervine in East Belfast in 1997, I voted UUP. They lost me post-Trimble. So, I’m politically homeless. Like many on either side of the community. The Alliance Party should fill that void. But it doesn’t. Not because it is …

Read more…Alliance: Now (or never) is the time to move beyond sound bite success to real world delivery…

How does our press emerge from lockdown? Part Four: Has the paywall dice got any spots?

I hadn’t planned even to write the third installment of this series but now, here is the fourth! Events of the past few weeks have been playing on my mind and I think it’s worth sharing. Recently, those of us who follow the Belfast Telegraph on social media will have noticed that it was actively promoting the fact that its “premium articles” would soon only be available to paying subscribers. Hugo wrote an article in anticipation of it happening a …

Read more…How does our press emerge from lockdown? Part Four: Has the paywall dice got any spots?

Patronising the “liberal unionist”

I’ve often noticed a strange but predictable phenomenon, and last week I experienced it directly here on Slugger. It was on Jay’s thread about the merits or otherwise of the established unionist parties. When I bookended criticism of the two main unionist parties with similar criticism of the priorities of Sinn Fein, I had a number of responses deriding me as a poor representative of “liberal unionism” or as a member of the “liberal wing” of unionism. That got me …

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No news is… no problem for Radio Ulster

I was in the house the other day (as we all were) and I turned on the radio. Talkback was on with two regular contributors who were presumably disagreeing vigorously about something. I turned it straight off and four or five days later I still haven’t a clue what they were debating. That doesn’t matter because I’m pretty certain I know the positions they were taking on it (whatever it was) and the tone of how the “debate” progressed.  What …

Read more…No news is… no problem for Radio Ulster

How does our press emerge from lockdown? Part three: Regional Sunday Newspapers

I hadn’t planned a third instalment of this series as frankly I have little to no interest in the local Sunday newspaper market these days. Certainly my days of buying five or six Sundays that would see me through to midweek are long gone and, apart from a quick browse of the football sections (usually when I’m in Costa or Nero for an afternoon coffee) there’s not a lot on the front pages of our local Sundays to entice me …

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Good time to bring merit in government back into electoral politics?

As we watch how our various ministers deal with the first genuine crisis of their careers, it seems like a good time to see if the management and emergence from Covid-19 gives us any ideas on how we can improve our overall governance in Northern Ireland. Paul Gosling uploaded an interesting article earlier this week in which he raised certain ways in which our system of devolved government could be reformed in the general interest. Paul’s focus was largely on …

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SDLP suggestion for saving the press welcome, but publishers must dig deep too

Earlier this month I uploaded two articles here asking how our local press might emerge from lockdown and sharing my concerns about the ability of some of them to do so. Since then the future of regional and local newspapers all over the UK has become a pretty hot topic, with staff being furloughed at most papers and others even indefinitely suspending publication. Local journalists – including quite a few very good ones of my acquaintance – have been tweeting …

Read more…SDLP suggestion for saving the press welcome, but publishers must dig deep too

How does our press emerge from lockdown? Part two: Regional Daily Newspapers

Last week wrote of our local weekly newspaper sector and of the need to save them. I also said that I thought a lot of them COULD be saved if the will is there. But what of our three dailies? There may be less scope there for a happy ending in a sector that across the British Isles has been in freefall for over a decade. Up until the end of the troubles, the picture here was a simple one. …

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How does our press emerge from lockdown? Part one: Local Weekly Newspapers

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard a lot from the concerned voices representing various of our local industry sectors, all of them understandably concerned about how Covid-19 will impact their sector and how they will emerge from it. All legitimate concerns that we should share. But as yet we’ve heard little from the sector, I believe could be the biggest casualty of all, and one we would never be able to replace – the local newspaper industry. News outlets …

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Do we really want pro union voices?

As a 24-year old I had a boss who was a great mentor to me. I was a young East Belfast Protestant and he was a 40-year old veteran of the Civil Rights movement and a staunch republican from Andersonstown. We agreed about very little politically and frequently had heated arguments on the issues of the day (it was 1986/87) and on the constitutional issue. Yet I revered him as both advisor and friend and he treated me as a …

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Who speaks for us now ‘the other side’ barely exists for me and my kids?

My wife and I left Belfast for England in October 1997 – exactly six months before the Good Friday Agreement. We left with our first toddler son and were happy enough to take him away from a society that in his first six months had given us the ending of the first ceasefire and the renewed street violence surrounding the 1996 Drumcree. We returned in February 2011 on his fifteenth birthday and with his eleven-year-old brother also in our number. …

Read more…Who speaks for us now ‘the other side’ barely exists for me and my kids?