Martina Anderson: The days of the British State granting impunity to its own are coming to an end

Following on from a conference organised by the University of Ulster on victims and dealing with the past, Sinn Fein’s MEP, Martina Anderson writes for Slugger arguing for a new focus on the British states involvement in the Troubles and how it deals with victims. On the 27th and 28th Feb 2014 I invited a delegation of victims of state violence to Brussels to discuss with MEPs the impact of state collusion under the heading ‘Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland’. The deep … Read more

McBride: “our clarion call is lucid and compelling: ‘Make It Work’!”

With the threat of Stormont collapsing gaining more headlines in our papers, a group called Make it Work has emerged to pressure civil society into engaging positively with the political process. Writing for Slugger, Peter McBride, Chair of ‘Make It Work’ argues for a positive approach towards our devolved administration. Why would we have to mount a campaign to make this place work? That sums up the challenge perfectly – it isn’t working. Our politicians have made enormous progress since … Read more

If we are going to have cuts, let’s start at the top…

We received this letter from a Senior Civil Servant, we are republishing it in full. There has been significant talk over these past few days on the budget cuts and the impact these will have on the public sector. However before we all jump to our usual stereotypical conclusions I would like to present my views on the issues we now, as a community or society, face as a consequence of the cuts. As a lifelong civil servant I recognise … Read more

Has the Equality Commission Gone ‘Baking Mad’?

Peter Lynas is Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland. He writes here protesting against what he sees as “a fundamental attack on political and religious freedom”, arguing that the Equality Commission has lost all sense of perspective on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion with regard to the Ashers case. The Equality Commission has decided to take Asher’s Baking Company to court because it refused to make what has become known as ‘the gay cake’. … Read more

A Solution to Our Emergency Department Crisis – Lock the Doors of A & E

Writing exclusively for Slugger, the respected medic Dr George O’Neill gives his proposal to tackle the crisis in A & E. Dr George O’Neill qualified in 1971 and is a General Practitioner in practice in North & West Belfast for 40h years.He was for 6 years Chair of the Belfast Local Commissioning Group and he also Chairs Addiction NI. The media are constantly carrying stories about overloaded emergency departments. Politicians are demanding action, patients are constantly complaining, managers are constantly interfering … Read more

Hamilton: “When faced with tough choices, we have made the right choices and chosen the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland”

Two days ago Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA presented his draft budget. Writing exclusively for Slugger, he argues that in this budget he has done what is right for Northern Ireland Constructing a Budget at any time is always a challenge. There is never enough money to spend on public services to meet all of the demands placed on government. Agreeing a Budget in the circumstances we find ourselves in Northern Ireland is even more difficult. Our Budget has not … Read more

McDonnell: Achieving a tough but fair Budget is not beyond us

Yesterday the Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton proposed his draft budget. Writing for Slugger the Leader of the SDLP, Alasdair McDonnell MP, argues that a tough budget need not be an unfair budget This draft budget is a bad budget – one that puts political expediency above the needs of the people that it is supposed to serve. The trouble began with the DUP’s unilateral negotiation and Sinn Féin’s unilateral acceptance of a 100m loan from the Treasury. The SDLP opposed … Read more

Jonathan Powell: The Lessons of Northern Ireland

Following the launch of his new book ‘Talking to Terrorists,” former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, writes exclusively for Slugger about the lessions he learned from his time working on the Northern Ireland peace process The Northern Ireland negotiations were the most difficult and frustrating challenge I faced in my life, but also, at least in retrospect, my most important and satisfying achievement. Since leaving government I have set up an NGO, Inter Mediate, to … Read more

Why cut funding for successful events? #lightsoutni

Writing exclusively for Slugger O’Toole, Culture Night Director Adam Turkington (@AdamTurks) talks about the impact of the NITB funding cuts… Friday afternoon was a bit of a weird one. We were just cracking open a beer with our departing interns and doing that thing where you go ‘God this time two weeks ago Culture Night was just getting started’ and then the phone rang… By the time I’d hung up everything had changed. The Tourism Events Fund has over the … Read more

Mickey Brady: Why Welfare cuts must be opposed

As the debate continues on over welfare reform, Sinn Fein MLA and Deputy Chairman of the DSD Committee, Mickey Brady, writes for Slugger about why proposed cuts should be opposed. The Tory-led coalition has sought to sell welfare cuts on the false premise of Strivers verses Skivers.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The cuts agenda will affect low-income working families, people with disabilities, those who cannot find employment because there are no jobs available, the young and the most … Read more

Murphy: Does continued Partition or Irish unity offer better future

In the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, Sinn Fein have renewed their push for a border poll here. The party’s MP for Newry and Armagh, Conor Muprhy writes for Slugger making the case for holding a poll and Irish unity. On the 18th of September the people of Scotland exercised their democratic voice on the future of the Scottish Nation.  Throughout the referendum the people of Scotland engaged in an informed and respectful debate and they have now made their … Read more

Villiers: “Northern Ireland’s political leaders need to act now to grip the situation”

In the aftermath of the Scottish referendum and the debate over welfare reform, the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers MP, writes exclusively for Slugger O’Toole about how we move forward There is much to celebrate about modern Northern Ireland. Twenty years ago this small place carried the burden of a global reputation built on images of bitter conflict and violence. Today, Northern Ireland deserves admiration for its burgeoning creative industries sector, advanced infrastructure and outstanding cultural attractions, as well as … Read more

Lisa McElherron: Why Northern Ireland needs a living wage

NICVA has recently published some important research into the benefits of introducing a minimum wage in Northern Ireland. Writing for Slugger O’Toole, NICVA’s Head of Public Affairs, Lisa McElherron makes the case for its introduction Fifteen years ago the New Labour government introduced the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Critics vehemently argued that it would impose excessive costs on employers, cause firms to fail, and create unemployment. Today it is accepted that businesses adapted and the dire consequences predicted failed to … Read more

.@BlairJenkinsYes : How would an independent Scotland succeed? #indyref

With the Scottish referendum just one week away, we now have a post from the Yes side of the argument. Writing exclusively for Slugger O’Toole, Yes Chief Executive, Blair Jenkins tells us why people should vote Yes next Thursday. In just a few days’ time, the people of Scotland have the opportunity to change their destiny. With just the tick of a box on September 18, we can provide ourselves and our children with a brighter, more positive and prosperous … Read more

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub: A Battle for the Future of Gaza

Writing exclusively for Slugger O’Toole the Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub writes about his views about the recent conflict in Gaza and the prospects for the future. As I write this article, after a fortnight of quiet, hopes are high that the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has brought two months of fighting to a close. We are now left to reflect on what has been achieved. For many international observers, the answer is very little. … Read more

Wilfred Mitchell: We need to expand Belfast City Airport

A RECENT snap poll conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses for Northern Ireland (FSB NI) has confirmed that the majority of local small businesses would like to see an increase in destination routes, as well as airline providers, from George Best Belfast City Airport, conveying evident support for expansion at the airport. Due to its relatively isolated position on the periphery of Europe, air connectivity is vital in connecting Northern Ireland to the rest the UK, Europe and beyond. … Read more

John McTernan: For Labour hope needs to beat fear

Next up in our 2015 general election series is former advisor John McTernan on what Labour needs to do to win next year.   There is no real secret to winning elections. Be united, have popular ideas and connect to the public. As Ronald Reagan used to say, ‘It’s not easy, but it is simple.’   Against the odds, Ed Miliband has achieved the first, and done it effortlessly. After a lengthy and divisive leadership campaign – which he won … Read more

Lord Ashcroft: The Tories need to show that it matters who wins.

As we approach the general election next May, Slugger will be hosting a series of articles looking at the chances of each of the main parties next year. Writing for us on the Conservatives is the former Deputy Chairman and pollster, Lord Ashcroft. Since I stepped down as the Conservatives’ Deputy Chairman in 2010 my role has been that of the pollster, not the strategist. I set out the lie of the land as objectively as I can; what the … Read more

Why does the arts still matter in this digital world…

From: Guy Barriscale, General Manager, Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival Mick asked me to write a piece on ‘Why the arts matter in this digital world?’ Nice easy one that, really simple: shouldn’t take more than a dozen words… So where to start? The Tate Gallery, London and the Turner collection. I took my kids there when they were younger; the wee fellah was only 5 or 6, but very much a child of the digital age. Him and … Read more

NI21 is here and here to stay, no matter what form it may take. Let no-one make any mistake about that.

Tommy Maguire who is a member of NI21 writes for Slugger about his belief that there is still a bright future for the party What I am going to write is my opinion alone, not NI21’s, and I certainly do not speak on behalf of any individual member other than myself. NI21 is not about the two leaders. Listen, does anyone join any political party because of who is leading them? Surely that in itself is a flawed logic, leadership … Read more