Nolan: A Public Service Broadcaster?

Yesterday, on Twitter, the trending hashtag was #BBCPay. Today it’s #BBCPaygap. The big story, yesterday, as far as I was concerned, was the squandering of licence-payer money. The paygap was a secondary story. Important, yes, but not the main story.  The BBC thought otherwise and drove the agenda in its chosen direction. The only Northern Irish broadcaster in the Top “Talent” pay-list published yesterday was Stephen Nolan. He earns over £400,000 a year for hosting his BBC Radio Ulster radio … Read more

Enter Direct Rule (by back door)

Unless an agreement is reached it looks like we’re back to quasi direct rule on Wednesday. As a Conservative I think this is no bad thing. The Conservative government controlled NIO will essentially run the departments, keep cash flowing and, hopefully, our local MLAs will eventually cease to draw a salary – thereby saving quite a bit of taxpayer money (may be tokenism but it’ll go some way to reducing Northern Ireland’s vast fiscal deficit). But this period of direct … Read more

Alliance: Go sell crazy some place else

Of all of Northern Ireland’s weeny political parties I find the Alliance Party quite the most sickeningly small-minded and Nornironesque. It’s a group of people that exists only to virtue-signal. Naomi Long is so determined not to have any association with political ideology that she couldn’t even bring herself to take a Lib-Dem whip when she was an MP. She’s not a LibDem, she’s Alliance, apparently. Not for her the opportunity for power. No, just virtue, plain and simple. Her party … Read more

Ireland’s Growth and the Blarney Stone

I have had more than my fair share of derision on this site for suggesting that there’s something a tad fishy about Ireland’s export numbers – and for suggesting that some people in Dublin are realising, at last, that Brexit might just be terrible for Ireland (and very good for Northern Ireland). I had hinted in this article that there’s an awful lot of pharma moving between Ireland and Antwerp and Ireland the USA. Most seems to be something to … Read more

Why Brexit is Northern Ireland’s Greatest Business Opportunity

It’s remarkable how many people – people who have never run a business – have suddenly become business or economic experts since the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. This is especially the case here in Northern Ireland. Few of our politicians (with some notable exceptions) have ever started or run a business. The local Director of the CBI has never run a business.  But the consensus view of these economic ‘experts’ – many of whom campaigned hard … Read more

The Death of Unionism

Yesterday the DUP was taught a life lesson. For decades it thought it was enough to appeal only to Protestant voters. In fact, largely because of DUP bigotry, “unionism” became a euphemism for “protestantism”.  Yesterday’s Assembly election results showed that if that is how unionism is defined, the electoral result will ultimately be disastrous. It’s clearly a disaster if Sinn Fein – one of the most cynically manipulative of tribal parties – has any electoral success. Like Ruth Dudley Edwards … Read more

Yanis Varoufakis: A Bizarre Champion for ‘Remain’

Yanis Varoufakis achieved very little during the short time he held public office. Therefore, it seems bizarre that he should come to Belfast to outline why Brexit will be bad for Northern Ireland or Ireland. Varoufakis’ attempts to negotiate more favourable terms for Greece’s monstrous debt, fell on deaf ears, in the few short months he was Greece’s Finance Minister.  He argued, and there was merit in his argument, that the Troika (the IMF, ECB and EU Commission), was heaping debt … Read more

Ireland and the UK joined the EEC together – should they leave the EU together too?

This article was first published on BrexitCentral. Brexit has spooked the Irish. In fact, well before the referendum took place back in June, the Irish were spooked at even the prospect of Brexit. In early March last year I attended a Brexit Breakfast addressed by arch-Europhile Ken Clarke, and organised by the AIB Bank. Over 300 business people packed the room at the Dublin Convention Centre. I was one of few Northern Irish in attendance. I think I was the … Read more

A Pointless £5m Election

Consider this. We have a coalition government that is incompetent and has fallen because it can’t govern. The leadership of both coalition parties (DUP and Sinn Fein) are calling for an Assembly election (that will cost around £5m) just a few months after the last election. The last election had a turnout of less than 55%.  In that election, the DUP secured a ‘mandate’ from just 16% of the electorate; Sinn Fein from just 13%. The alternative is a UUP/SDLP … Read more

Time to fix this broken shire

The RHI scandal showed the extent of the incompetence at the heart of the Northern Ireland Executive. The cock-up, moreover, was not just the DUP’s. Not one local MLA had the gumption to inspect and raise alarms about a botched and ridiculous scheme that, in the words of John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme, was just plain ‘daft’. The entire rag-bag collection of incompetents gave Northern Ireland this scheme with Arlene at its helm. To go to the polls … Read more

Ireland Post-Brexit: A Conference

Since the people of the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union there has been a lot of discussion about what the decision means for UK/Irish relations…and for Ireland itself.  I’ve asked some of Ireland’s most prominent Europhile and Eurosceptic speakers to discuss whether Ireland’s future should be inside or outside the EU. The debate happens on the morning of March 2, 2017 in Dublin. Since the UK’s EU Referendum result was announced on June 24, 2016, there has … Read more

Will this Drag Draghi Down?

Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank, was previously Governor of the Bank of Italy. He served in that role from December 2005 to October 2011. He assumed his role at the ECB in November 2011. During his tenure at the Italian Central Bank he will have been aware of some ‘issues’ at some Italian banks. Indeed the systemic rot that is at the core of Italian banking system now can be traced back to well before the … Read more

David Gordon, Nolan Show and Stormont

I first met David Gordon decades ago when he and I were involved in the Campaign for Equal Citizenship (CEC) – the organisation that campaigned for Northern Ireland’s sectarian-based politics to be replaced with the politics of Left and Right. All who were involved in the campaign at that time would have been Labour or Conservative activists if we had lived elsewhere in the UK. I always assumed David was more aligned with Boyd Black’s wing of the CEC – … Read more

CBI: Misery Merchants

The CBI is a business membership body that supposedly represents the interests of British (and Northern Irish) business. But you could be forgiven for missing this. During the entire EU Referendum campaign, the local branch of the CBI was unrelenting it its gloom-laden assessments of the outlook for the NI economy should the UK electorate choose to leave the EU. And, despite the fact that a majority of the UK electorate chose to ignore the advice of the CBI (and the … Read more

The Trouble with Nolan

In the audience warm-up at last night’s Stephen Nolan hosted EU Referendum “Debate,” May McFettridge (AKA John Linehan) asked the audience “who’s in and who’s out?”.  One section of the audience shouted, “Out”.  May’s response was, “Aye, Pradistants.” This programme had been trailed as Northern Ireland’s “big” EU Referendum TV debate. Trouble is it wasn’t a debate and the biggest thing about it – as usual – was Nolan.  The “biggest show in the country” hijacked an opportunity to have … Read more

EU: Corporatist, Anti-Democratic and Maintaining Cheap Labour

Last week I wrote a post suggesting that all Socialists here should vote for the UK leaving the EU. Needless to say, I’d hope that most fellow free-market, libertarian Conservatives will be doing likewise. I’ve just listened to Kate Hoey’s speech at last night’s Spectator debate in London. I implore you to listen if you have any doubts about which way to vote.  If you are of the left, I believe Kate does a great job outlining why the EU represents … Read more

Why Irish Socialists Should Vote to Leave the EU

This post is something of an appeal. If you’re reading this try to ignore everything I’ve ever written or said before about Socialism. That’s not the point of this article. This is all about the EU Referendum and I’d like the argument contained in this post to stand on its own two feet. In short, try to forget that I’m a free market Libertarian. Focus only on the argument, not the arguer. So here goes. My point is that if you … Read more

Just a day to go to the Big EU Debate from Belfast

Tomorrow evening we’ll be holding our EU Referendum debate featuring some of the leading pro-leave and pro-stay campaigners. We’ll be pitting Owen Paterson MP (a former Secretary of State) against Vernon Coaker MP (the current Shadow Secretary of State). We’ll have Kate Hoey MP against former Conservative MEP, John Stevens. The good news is that we’ll be streaming the debate live from 7pm and will have a 30 minute pre-debate programme hosted by Yvette Shapiro of the Belfast Telegraph (from … Read more

EU Referendum Business Debate: Live from Belfast

On April 4 we’re holding a business-focused ‘brexit’ debate and we’ll be broadcasting across the UK, Ireland and beyond. Slugger O’Toole will be our official blog partners. The event is kindly sponsored by Equiniti Group, the FSB and Danske Bank. We’ll have a panel of heavy-weight debaters on both sides of the argument including Owen Paterson MP (former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Kate Hoey (Labour MP for Vauxhall) on the ‘leave’ side. On the … Read more

Money and (Better) Public Services?

I was on the Nolan Show this morning, performing my usual role as defender of the idea of small state/low tax economy. The discussion was to have focused on whether it might be a good idea for us to collectively pay more tax to fund ‘better public services’. You can listen to the debate by playing the Audioboom recording above. However, I wanted to pick up on one strand of the discussion. It was an emerging ‘theme’ of the programme … Read more