A plea to Our Politicians; please spend the emergency funding you have been allocated by the Chancellor as he intended and on the basis of need…

Following the publication of my recent article on Monday literally pleading for Stormont to reallocate money from its capital budgets to stop the collapse of the local economy, it is pleasing to hear Westminster announce targeted financial support for Northern Ireland. However, the pronouncements from our Politicians in recent days as to how they are going to spend these funds is however deeply worrying and their approach needs to be challenged and scrutinised to ensure these funds are not wasted …

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If Stormont wants save the social fabric of NI and save jobs, it is going to have to sacrifice the funds set aside for its pet projects and focus on what is needed for preserving our way of life…

As the Covid-19 Pandemic continues to spread and government measures to contain the virus are rolled out, it is becoming clear that many businesses in NI will not make it through this crisis in particular SME’s and businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors. The difficulties in trading in NI are well documented as business struggle with the highest levels of local taxation in the world through the ridiculous business rates system we have here and the literally endless red …

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Taxing times at Christmas…

Following the abrupt end to the holiday season, the kids have gone back to school and many of us have begrudgingly returned to work. The holidays seem but a distant memory. However, my time off got me thinking about many things and as I stood outside shivering for the non-existent taxi that would never arrive to take me home in the early hours after my single night out during the holidays whilst waiting with the hundreds of other revellers doing …

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Coworking and what it means for Northern Ireland…

This week we are over in Poland attending the Coworking Europe Conference 2019.  After the success of last year’s conference in Amsterdam, this year the conference is being held in Warsaw with over 600 delegates from Europe and other international countries from as far away as the US and India in attendance. The Irish delegation is made up of ourselves from Newry as well as representatives from Dublin, Cork and Wicklow. For those of you who are not familiar with …

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Methinks thou does not protest enough…

Last Tuesday as the MP’s voted overwhelmingly to reject Theresa Mays’s Brexit deal, I voiced my support of the People’s Vote by attending the protests in Parliament Square which was happening as the votes were cast in Westminster. As well as the large vocal crowd that had gathered, I listened to a number of speakers voice their Brexit anger with speakers ranging from the usual Politicians and Celebrities but also frontline NHS staff and factory workers. Two students from Belfast …

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Retailers in Northern Ireland could now pay more than twice as much in rates as English retailers…

When Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his budget earlier today, he announced significant financial assistance to help small and medium-sized high street retailers in England, lobbing 1/3 of business rates bills for properties with an NAV lower than £51,000. It is still unknown whether similar savings will be extended to the struggling retailers of Northern Ireland. Technically the revised Barnet Formula will allow for such savings to be included in future Northern Ireland Budgets, however due to the current Stormont impasse, …

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How the Northern Ireland Government is destroying its own cities and towns…

House of Fraser, with the announcement last week that it is to close 31 Stores across the UK, is just the latest in a long line of retailers which have either gone to the wall, or are scaling back their high street retail operations through store closures. Business rates are effectively a trading tax which businesses have to pay to have a high street presence, which in the era of online retail, puts bricks and sticks retailers at a tremendous …

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This Halloween spare a thought for the forgotten turnip…

As we approach Halloween, we should remind ourselves that as a people who have fought and continue to fight to preserve our rich cultural heritage protecting cultural traditions going back hundreds of years, it is with irony that one observes this week a cultural tradition that the Irish exported to the United States, now being exported back to us in a watered down ‘Americanised’ form which we now accept as our own culture without any of the rich cultural heritage …

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Time to reduce our highly restrictive an anticompetitive licensing laws…

alcohol drinks pub bar

I thought this was worth a mention for Tim Martin from JD Wetherspoon highlighting the crippling cost of drinks licences in the region. He said: “You have to pay an astronomical amount for a drinks licence here, whereas in Dublin and London they have removed most of the restrictions and you get a quicker response to changing trends in the industry. In London and Dublin at the moment there’s a lot of craft beer bars set up by small entrepreneurs, …

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The Reality of Owning an Electric Vehicle In Northern Ireland is shocking…

A recent report issued this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) highlighted a huge surge in the sale of Electric Vehicles (EV) with a 20% increase in EV registrations in the UK. Figures for New Car registrations in Northern Ireland are down 0.9% from January 2016 levels compared with increases in the rest of the UK and figures for the uptake of EV registrations specifically for Northern Ireland are not available so we do not know …

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The John Lewis Christmas Ad is cute. Pity NI can’t have the store…

Whilst the rest of the UK is enjoying viewing the latest Christmas advert from the UK up market department store chain, John Lewis we should spare a thought for the Northern Ireland shopper who unless they are ready to travel across the water to England, Scotland or Wales or Visit their concession at Arnott’s in Dublin, will not get to experience what all the fuss is about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr6lr_VRsEo A John Lewis department store was first mooted at the Sprucefield site …

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The Chancellor leaves the NI Assembly’s Business Growth Strategy in Tatters following Budget 2016…

Earlier today the Chancellor left the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Business Growth Strategy in Tatters following the release earlier today of Budget 2016. Many of us have argued on the Slugger Platform in recent years, that the current obsession by Stormont to put all of its economic eggs in the 12.5% Corporation Tax basket was misguided and their efforts would be better served to create the economic conditions to enable our indigenous businesses, large, medium and small to thrive. This could …

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The Northern Ireland Consumer deserves choice as to who provides their public services

As we settle into the new year, there has been plenty of posts written about how the political landscape is likely to change in 2016 both north and south, which parties are forecast to do well and which ones could potentially suffer at the ballot box as well as the rise and fall of various political personalities in 2016. Little however has been written about the policies required to transform Northern Ireland from the economic basket case it currently is …

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Alternative Ulster; Rebuilding Northern Ireland’s Economy. Feedback from Coworking Europe 2015, Milan, Italy

Many of you who know me will be well aware of the frustrations I have encountered on my return to Northern Ireland, observing the Assembly being constantly distracted by legacy issues and failing to deliver a business strategy that will help our economy grow and bring economic prosperity for future generations. The Northern Ireland Assembly has prioritised 12.5% Corporation Tax as its main fiscal lever to kick start (in three years time) private sector growth in the Northern Ireland economy. …

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Forget Corporation Tax. Our high business rates are putting local shops out of business and killing our town centres…

Many of you may remember this famous 1980 Queen Hit, a song about dying in a gunfight, but in 2015 could be equally interpreted as a commentary on the death of retail and commercial businesses located in all the Town and City Centres of Northern Ireland. Many commentators have given their opinions as to the demise of the traditional high street and suggested that it is due to changes in shopping habits, the growth of the internet, the growth of …

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The Boal Car Parking Dispute with Belfast City Airport Sums up what is so wrong with the NI Economy

Belfast City Airport frontage

Only in Northern Ireland could a situation be allowed to arise where a private car park operator using a purpose built multi story car park, to run a car parking business is found to be in breach of planning law and is to be shut down because it is the ‘wrong type’ of car parking. Most ‘normal’ people in Northern Ireland think this decision is unfair, lacking in common sense, illogical, and goes against consumer interests. Northern Ireland is part …

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The Great Corporation Tax Reform Dilusion

Budget 2015 presented yesterday by George Osborne included another cut to the UK Headline Corporation Tax from 20% to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020 which means that the UK is now has the lowest Corporation Tax rate of the G20 Nations. The difference between the headline Rate in the Republic of Ireland and the UK will now be just 5.5% by 2020 and this single Budget change leaves the Northern Ireland Assembly blinkered policy of securing a 12.5% …

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Time for a level playing field for sports funding in Northern Ireland…

In a country where sports / cultural funding is generally split along sectarian Lines, the 3,000 people who participated in the Gran Fondo yet again tells us loud and clear that sports participation in Northern Ireland bears no resemblance to the way our politicians allocate funding for sporting capital projects in Northern Ireland. Our politicians representing the various minority Nationalist / Unionists factions continue to fight each other for sports / cultural funding and make all the headlines with their …

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