With the opening of a new 575 space car park in Belfast City Centre can we remove 575 on street car parking spaces and replace them with bike lanes?

2020 has not been a good year for the McCausland family. Firstly they own Value Cabs, which has been hit hard by COVID, then they open up a new car park just as the city has record low levels of commuters. I am sure all of you working from home really miss having to pay £20 a day to park in Belfast. Still, they have been in business over 100 years so I imagine this too shall pass for them. …

Read more…With the opening of a new 575 space car park in Belfast City Centre can we remove 575 on street car parking spaces and replace them with bike lanes?

#TheReset – Belfast City Centre’s loss is the rest of Northern Ireland’s gain…

I have not been in the City Centre since February and to be honest, I have no desire to rush back anytime soon. Even before the pandemic, it was not a great experience – noisy, dirty, lots of traffic, a harsh natureless environment, a notable increase in beggars and addicts. It is a pity because having a wander around the city centre was an activity that many of us grew up on. But lately, it has lost its attraction. Of …

Read more…#TheReset – Belfast City Centre’s loss is the rest of Northern Ireland’s gain…

The schools are back, but for how long?

At last, the moment parents have been waiting for – the kids are back at school. There may be lots of new rules, visors and more alcohol than a party conference but the main thing is they are back. It has been a hard aul slog these past few months trying to keep the kids entertained at home. Homeschooling was a complete head wreck for both children and parents. Whatever teachers get paid it is not enough – give them …

Read more…The schools are back, but for how long?

The grim new world of the COVID-19 cinema experience…

I went to the cinema on Friday to see Tenet. It was the first time I had been in a cinema since February and I was curious to see what the new COVID-19 cinema experience is like. The film was at 2pm in my local Omniplex so I rocked up at ten to 2 and that’s when I ran into the first problem. When I asked the woman behind the counter for a ticket she informed me you can no …

Read more…The grim new world of the COVID-19 cinema experience…

#InConversation Podcast with Professor David Rooney from Queen’s about renewable energy and electric cars…

David Rooney is a Professor in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. In this podcast, we chat about improvements in battery technology and how this will affect the growth of electric cars. We also discuss Hydrogen as a fuel source for transport. Already nearly 50% of the electricity generated in Northern Ireland comes from renewable sources and this figure will continue to rise. We discuss new ways of generating electric such as anaerobic digestion and …

Read more…#InConversation Podcast with Professor David Rooney from Queen’s about renewable energy and electric cars…

Reasons to be cheerful – Africa declared free of wild polio after no cases in four years…

I am in a glum mood today. The inability of our government to do the most basic tasks like sort out a water system or put in some bike lanes depresses me. Thankfully emotions are like the weather, and in a while, this gloom shall make way for the bright rays of emotional sunshine. Something that did lift my mood was the news that polio has been eradicated in Africa. From the Irish Times: Water-borne infection at one point paralysed …

Read more…Reasons to be cheerful – Africa declared free of wild polio after no cases in four years…

In praise of a daily nap…

One thing that has kept me sane during lockdown is the resumption of my habit of taking a daily nap after lunch. I come from a long line of nappers. When I was young, you could walk into our living room and find us all snoozing away merrily after lunch. The napping habit died out a bit with the advent of daytime TV and the Internet, but I found lockdown to be so emotionally exhausting that I needed a break …

Read more…In praise of a daily nap…

#InConversation podcast with Tim Attwood on the life and legacy of John Hume…

Tim Attwood was an SDLP councillor and party worker who knew John Hume well. We discuss Hume’s early years, the setting up the Derry credit Union as well and John’s business ventures with a Donegal Fish Smoking House. We move on to the importance Hume placed on his Irish American connections and how he saw it as crucial to get investment into Northern Ireland. We also discuss what Hume was like at a personal level. His sweet tooth and love …

Read more…#InConversation podcast with Tim Attwood on the life and legacy of John Hume…

The TUV vision for the NI Centenary…

As linked to in Sarah’s post, I thought Jim Allister’s proposals to mark the anniversary deserved a wider audience. From the document: Since the centenary marks not just the creation of Northern Ireland but the U.K. as presently constituted, this must be a national celebration; A visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and royal address to the Northern Ireland Assembly and large scale Garden Party; The flying of the national flag on all public buildings on each key date; …

Read more…The TUV vision for the NI Centenary…

We need to stop producing any new books, films and TV shows until we all have had a chance to catch up…

One of the stresses of modern life is the tsunami of content out there. Aside from the bottomless pit of social media and online news there has never been such a volume of everything. On my TV I have the BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Britbox and NowTV. The issue is I only watch about 1 hour of TV a day so it is impossible to even touch the surface of all the new shows out there. …

Read more…We need to stop producing any new books, films and TV shows until we all have had a chance to catch up…

#InConversation podcast with Greg Keefe from Queen’s about rebuilding our cities and societies after Covid-19…

Greg is one of my favourite guests. He is a very imaginative thinker who really makes you see the world in a new light. He has a very down to earth casual manner that explains complex topics is an accessible way. You will be guaranteed to learn something interesting from our chat. Greg is Head of the School of Natural and Built Environment. He is an academic and urban designer with 25 years of experience. In this podcast we chat …

Read more…#InConversation podcast with Greg Keefe from Queen’s about rebuilding our cities and societies after Covid-19…

It is time to end the idiotic cap on the number of local students Northern Ireland’s universities can admit…

Many of us have a low opinion of Stormont at the best of times but along comes a story that highlights the utter head-bangingly stupid nature of some of their more crazy decisions. Writing in today’s Irish Times Newton Emerson highlights the issue of the cap on local students. From the article: This year’s undergraduate entry requirements show Northern Ireland’s universities operating a two-tier system: students from the North need significantly higher grades than applicants from Britain. For example, Northern …

Read more…It is time to end the idiotic cap on the number of local students Northern Ireland’s universities can admit…

#InConversation Podcast with Michael McCoy. From the Ormeau Road to Tokyo and other tales…

Michael is a regular in the comments, I thought to myself a chat with a Belfast guy who now lives in Japan would make a great podcast. Originally from the Ormeau Road in Belfast, Michael McCoy has lived in Japan for the past 30 years where he works as an executive coach. In this conversation, we discuss growing up in Belfast in the 1970s as well as getting his take on Brexit and what we need to do to stimulate …

Read more…#InConversation Podcast with Michael McCoy. From the Ormeau Road to Tokyo and other tales…

Introducing #TheReset – how we can react positively to the challenge of Covid-19? A new project from Slugger in partnership with the Ulster Bank…

We are living through historic times. Never has the Lenin quote ‘“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”  been more apt. We are witnessing considerable changes to our way of life – the way we work, the way we learn, the way we shop, the way we spend our free time. Some of this change will be negative, but some will also be positive. Slugger is launching a new project around how we can …

Read more…Introducing #TheReset – how we can react positively to the challenge of Covid-19? A new project from Slugger in partnership with the Ulster Bank…

In praise of slightly boring, family-friendly seaside towns…

Years ago we were on holiday in New Jersey. At the time I was a fan of the HBO show Boardwalk Empire. If you are not familiar with the show, it is set in the world of gangsters during prohibition in the 1920s. Most of the action takes place in Atlantic City, which is a traditional American seaside resort that was a popular destination for visitors from New York. I was looking forward to paying a visit to Atlantic City. …

Read more…In praise of slightly boring, family-friendly seaside towns…

The Strange World of Hygiene Theatre and Covid-19…

Good article by Derek Thompson over at The Atlantic on Hygiene Theatre. As you may remember Security Theatre is the name given to the practices at airport security that don’t actually do much to reduce terrorism but let the government pretend they are doing something. You know the taking your shoes off, no water bottles, frisking 80-year-old grannies from Cullybackey within an inch of their lives etc. Covid-19 has given rise to a similar phenomenon where people are cleaning their …

Read more…The Strange World of Hygiene Theatre and Covid-19…

#InConversation Podcast with Dr David Suitor – Dentistry and the challenges of Covid-19…

Open wide! this week I chat with Dr David Suitor who has been a dentist in Belfast for over 17 years. We chat about the general state of dentistry in Nothern Ireland as well as the specific challenges of Covid-19. Normally dentists can see 4 or 5 patients per hour but Covid-19 precautions have dramatically reduced the number of patients they can see. This has repercussions for the ability of patients to get treated as well as the financial viability …

Read more…#InConversation Podcast with Dr David Suitor – Dentistry and the challenges of Covid-19…

The Bridge to Scotland. A Unionist Umbilical Cord or A Link to a Celtic Union?

The proposed bridge from Northern Ireland is back in the news. Boris Bridge an utter waste of money when we should be investing in saving jobs & safeguarding public services rather than wasting time and money on this white elephant which is little more than a dead cat strategy attempt to distract from Brexit shambles https://t.co/TKhy9M9J57 — Andrew Muir MLA (@AndrewMuirNI) July 22, 2020 The idea is utterly bonkers. Very expensive, and a major engineering challenge. Not to mention the …

Read more…The Bridge to Scotland. A Unionist Umbilical Cord or A Link to a Celtic Union?

#InConversation Podcast with Dr John Moriarty from Queen’s about changes to work patterns during Covid-19…

John is a fellow in the Centre for evidence and social innovation and a sociology lecturer School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queens University Belfast In this podcast we chat about the changes to the workplace from Covid 19. As well as the obvious downsides, there have also been some positive to the lockdown. People are commuting less, meetings now take place on video saving time and money etc We also talk about the challenges of working …

Read more…#InConversation Podcast with Dr John Moriarty from Queen’s about changes to work patterns during Covid-19…

Will genuine reconciliation ever be possible?

Alex Kane is never short of opinions; after all, that is his job. One of his latest tweets has gotten people talking: I’ve spent many, many years, reflecting on the possibility of genuine reconciliation between unionism and republicanism (either in NI in UK, or in a united Ireland). My conclusion: it will never be possible. The chasms are now unbridgeable. — Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) July 6, 2020 Alex does get stick for being a pessimist, but I prefer to think of …

Read more…Will genuine reconciliation ever be possible?