As her Ministers start to quit over Brexit, is this the end of Theresa May?

About 8am this morning Shailesh Vara a NI Junior Minister quit over the Brexit deal (I never heard of him either). At 9am this morning the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab quit. At 10am, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey also quit. It seems the Ministers unhappy with the Brexit deal are spacing out their resignations for maximin impact. Who will go at 11am? Get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show. You can follow the BBC live feed to keep up to date… Brian … Read more

Let’s play shuffle the Granny! The absurdity of our health service waiting lists…

Good report by Seanín Graham in today’s Irish News on the surreal situation of patients going abroad for surgery. Essentially a patient can pay to get treated in another European country and the health service will reimburse them the cost when they come home. With waiting lists up to 4 or 5 years for operations like hip replacements many patients are taking this approach, and who could blame them. From the article: A SPIKE in the number of patients travelling across Europe for … Read more

Get your tickets for the Slugger End of Year Review 2018 – Wed 19th Dec 2018…

Now firmly established as a Christmas Tradition, join us as we look back on the year in politics with the Cinderella and widow Twankey of local commentators Allison Morris and Alex Kane. Our good friend, comedian Tim McGarry will get everyone into the mood – when it comes to our politics if you don’t laugh you will cry. Your host for the evening will be the best thing to come out of Lisburn since Coca-Cola, Alan Meban. The event is sponsored by MCE … Read more

What can we do personally to improve life in Northern Ireland?

I don’t know about you, but I am getting fed up with negativity. The news the past while is just a constant diet of despair. I know the news has never exactly been a cheery affair, but it’s getting even harder to escape the unrelenting doom that permeates everything. But the thing for most people life is not that bad. Globally people have never lived longer, or been richer. Despite what the news tells us the world has never been … Read more

Phoenix from the flames. How should we redevelop Belfast City Centre? Free event: Tue 30th October 2018…

The recent fire at Primark has caused a reported 30% fall in shoppers in Belfast City Centre. Many people are asking how do we revitalise our city centre? Where is the place for smaller retailers? How do you encourage people to live in the city centre? What about services like schools, doctors, parks etc? How do you make a city centre that is livable and attractive to visit? To discuss these and other questions we will have a panel of … Read more

The Deloitte State of the State 2018-2019 Northern Ireland Report. Grim reading but at least the photos are pretty…

Yesterday Deloitte launched their State of the State 2018-2019 Northern Ireland Report. Sir Malcolm McKibbin, former head of the civil service who has found a new home in the warm embrace of the private sector was on hand at the event to answer awkward questions from the assorted hacks and bloggers. The key buzzwords at the launch were Strong leadership and innovation, digital transformation and impending cliff edges in public sector services. From the Press release: Northern Ireland must rethink how … Read more

With 80% of police recruits now coming from the Unionist community, is this another example of how Northern Ireland is regressing?

The Irish Times is reporting that the number of Nationalists joining the PSNI is continuing to decline, and they may need to reinstate the 50/50 recruitment policy. Four out of five recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are from the Protestant community compared to just one from the Catholic community, the PSNI has disclosed. If this trend continues then politicians will have to consider reinstituting the 50:50 Catholic:Protestant system of recruitment, the PSNI deputy chief constable Stephen Martin indicated on Monday. Under … Read more

Why even bother running against the incredibly popular Michael D?

There are six candidates contesting the Irish Presidential Election, which by my reckoning is about five too many. Michael D is expected to get about 2/3 of the votes which leaves the rest of them fighting a pointless race of irrelevance. To run for President takes several hundred thousand euro and despite it being a ceremonial role it tends to be a very vicious campaign. As the old joke goes, it is vicious because the stakes are so low. Now some … Read more

Brexit Secretary tells NI businesses to ‘speak to Dublin’ if no deal…

The Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said Northern Ireland businesses trading across the Irish border should contact the Irish government for advice in the event of a ‘no-deal‘. My translation – ‘We have enough problems of our own, you Paddies sort yourselves out.’ Is it reading too much into it that the Government would happily throw NI under the bus if needed? So much for the DUP/Conservative bromance. That’s in the context of the Ashcroft Poll from June which revealed that ‘Six out … Read more

Lets all take over the UUP for the craic…

Interesting idea from Newton Emerson in today’s Irish News. The UUP is extraordinary ripe for an entryist takeover. The UUP has perhaps as few as 600 active members, every one of whom has an equal vote in leadership contests. A well-organised rugby club could swamp our 3rd largest political party in time for its next annual conference. It is an interesting idea that political parties could be so easily taken over. I assume it would be a similar case for the … Read more

Why do we need a government anyway?

In 7 days we will overtake Belguim for the record of longest time without a government. Now putting aside the whole debate of do we have a government or regional assembly the big issue is no one seems to care. People are not exactly taking to the streets demanding the restoration of Stormont, so it is fair to conclude the general population could not give a monkies if it ever comes back. There is the wedeservebetter campaign but really what is … Read more

Half of NI firms postponed or cancelled investment plans due to Brexit…

A survey by AIB bank shows that half of NI firms postponed or cancelled investment plans due to Brexit. As a business person myself I know in uncertain times you keep your money in your pocket to see how the future will pan out. You put off taking on new staff, you hold off on opening new premises, you don’t buy new equipment etc. But really caution does not just apply to business people but to any sensible consumer which is why we … Read more

Bernadette McAliskey guest speaker at The Mccluskey Civil Rights Summer School this saturday….

The theme of this years summer school is “50 Years On – The Civil Rights Challenges in Ireland Today – Tackling Poverty, Sectarianism, Racism and Inequality”. Here is the agenda 10am Welcome by Chair Professor Paul Arthur 10.30am Tribute to Dr Conn and Patricia McCluskey by civil rights activist Michael McLoughlin Reflections on civil rights and honouring the role of Con and Patricia McCluskey and the Campaign for Social justice 11am Keynote address by Les Allamby Chair of Human Rights … Read more

Is a new Ireland achievable or even desirable? – Free event this Wednesday night in Castlewellan…

After the success of our sold-out event in Belfast, we have been invited to run our New Ireland? event again in Castlewellan as part of The Soma Festival. The event is at 7pm this Wednesday the 18th in Maginns Bar, Castlewellan. Best of all, it is a free event 🙂 Is a New Ireland achievable or even desirable? Since 2016 there has been renewed interest in the debate about Northern Ireland’s constitutional future. As a community is our future better within … Read more

Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary – The Brexit implosion continues….

Boris is the latest to jump due to the burning platform that is Brexit. Who will be next? Will there be a leadership contest? Popcorn at the ready… Johnson quits amid Brexit row https://t.co/STjaliDISs — BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 9, 2018   Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff. My day job is creating websites and software. My personal site is: Freshideas.ie http://freshideas.ie

Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy…

As America continues its depressing slow drift into Fascism this quote caught my eye: “In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.” Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist … Read more

Professor Rafael Bengoa – too many health services are based around buildings rather than being centred on what people and communities need…

Professor Rafael Bengoa the health reform specialist and the author of the Bengoa Report is back in town today to deliver a lecture at Queens. To mark his visit he has written the following article. I’m delighted to be back in Northern Ireland today, catching up with old friends and finding out at first-hand about the latest developments in health and social care. It is always an inspiration to see for myself the commitment and expertise of staff – and the … Read more

Should Queen’s University break its link with The Presbyterian Union Theological College?

There has been a public backlash against the perceived anti-LGBTQ policies of the Presbyterian Church. Many people have left the church over it, and many more are considering their position. The writer Tony Macaulay and his wife Leslie have left the church after more than 50 years of membership, and decades of inspiring service. Tony was a youth worker for the Presbyterian Church on a violent interface during some of the most dangerous years of the Troubles. Their daughter is … Read more

Join us for a live event – Is a New Ireland achievable or even desirable? Tuesday the 26th of June 2018…

Since 2016 there has been renewed interest in the debate about Northern Ireland’s constitutional future.  As a community is our future better within the United Kingdom or charting a new course in a United Ireland?  Two very different paths sit in front of us and our panel of political experts and politicians aims to tease out the key issues that are central to this debate. Hosted by Slugger O’Toole in partnership with Evolve CPA Panellists;  Alex Kane – political commentator Allison … Read more

Jenny’s mother was still in touch with the Daughters of Charity, and one day a nun came to take her away…

An essential read from Deirdre Falvey over at the Irish Times – The last of the Magdalenes: ‘The nuns took my childhood’. When you hear about Magdalene laundries I am probably not the only one to have visions of 1950’s Ireland, so I was shocked to read the harrowing tale of a lady inmate of a similar age to me. The last laundry only closed in 1996. It’s a strange thought that while I was knocking down pints in the Queens … Read more