The Yousaf Parable – lessons from the SNP in government for Stormont’s liberals…

David Morrow previously worked at Stormont and has a Masters in Public Policy. He is writing in a personal capacity. It’s been a busy 2024 for devolved governments, and it’s not just the return of Stormont. In Scotland, the SNP are about to embark on a second leadership contest in little more than a year following the resignation of Humza Yousaf as First Minister. Meanwhile in Wales, after 6 years in charge Mark Drakeford was replaced by Vaughan Gething as …

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Poll showing voters reject €20bn Unification Cost underscores accurate economic data’s importance in the reunification debate…

a river running through a city next to tall buildings

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin John Fitzgerald, an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Economics in TCD, recently published an analysis of unification that highlighted a “worst case” scenario for it economically. In this, he postulated NI might cost the rest of Ireland €20bn, almost twice what the current subvention costs Britain. It was a far-fetched figure, and he has questionable motivations. However, I think reunification supporters need to urgently learn two lessons from this episode. Number …

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We need urgent action to save the historic Belfast Assembly Rooms…

John Gray is Chair of Reclaim the Enlightenment and Convenor of the Assembly Rooms Alliance. Readers may have noticed a recent flurry of publicity with regard to Belfast’s historic Assembly Rooms. Now an online petition at https://chng.it/TQbMwYjdgj has been launched demanding that the powers that be ‘Safeguard and reclaim Belfast’s historic Assembly Rooms for public use.’ Why the fuss? Why should you sign? The Assembly Rooms are to Belfast what Leinster House and the Guildhall are to Dublin and London …

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Once a country girl, always a country girl…

Macha is from Co Armagh and is now living in Co Down. She says, “I am easily distracted by nature’s handiwork; I notice all of the loveliness that most people don’t see. Power walking pains me; I need time to pause and appreciate beauty as I find it.” Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. A.A. Milne. I grew up on a small farm, surrounded by hedgerows & down a long winding lane. I didn’t really understand …

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The Implications of Irish Unity for the Alliance Party…

Ben Collins is the author of Irish Unity: Time to Prepare  In recent times we have seen significant coverage devoted to whether Alliance voters would vote for or against Irish unity in a border poll. Jon Tonge who is publishing a book on Alliance this summer recently published on 3 March research in the Belfast Telegraph which shows that Alliance party members are increasingly in favour of Irish unity. The weather may be rubbish but it’s never too early to …

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Lough Neagh: A Glimmer of Hope Amid Environmental Challenges…

Philip O’Neill is a retired civil servant from Belfast… A while back, I wrote an op-ed discussing the concerning state of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom. Today, I have some more positive news to share. When I went to check on my boat yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find it covered in lough flies. You may be wondering, why would flies be considered good news? Well, it was previously thought that last year’s devastating …

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Assisted dying – Your Choice?

brown wooden accessory close-up photography

David Jamison is writing about those items that catch his attention now looking through an older person’s eyes.  He lives in Belfast and since retiring recently he is trying to make sense of a fast-changing world and trying his best to keep up! Continuing my occasional series looking at issues that I am revisiting now that I have stopped working I come to the debate around assisted dying.  This was triggered again on hearing yesterday that a parliamentary committee is …

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Memories of Belfast Department Stores…

Mayo Walters is originally from Belfast but now lives in England   I have just been listening to Radio 4 and a girl describing the department store which has just closed in her hometown of Hull. It all sounded so familiar to me, and then I realised that I had lived through the 50’s and 60’s in Belfast, and even saw the final closure of Anderson and McAuley Ltd in the 1980’s, which was the end of an era of …

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New Ireland’s Future’s report outlines the steps that could be taken towards a border poll vote…

Gerry Carlile is the CEO of Ireland’s Future Ireland’s Future is launching our latest contribution to the growing debate about constitutional change: Ireland 2030. We believe a border poll is likely before the end of this decade. Ireland must therefore be prepared and ready. As is well known, we have organised major public events, conducted inclusive civic and political dialogues across the island, and we have produced substantive policy papers to help shape the public discussions. The conversation about constitutional …

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TITLE: Northern Ireland is hurtling towards an A.I. future that few are prepared for…

photo of girl laying left hand on white digital robot

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin Most people will have seen recent headlines that Artificial Intelligence is rapidly accelerating in development, but fewer people seem fully aware of many of the implications. Two developments in recent weeks seem very pertinent to Northern Ireland. Firstly, one of the leading AI developers, OpenAI, debuted a tool for AI to make photorealistic video, without the need for human involvement. Secondly, a Swedish company called Klarna got rid of 700 support centre …

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The Devenish controversy: Consent, Shame, and Society’s Expectations of Women…

Deb Biddleston is a native of Manchester, now living in NI for 18 years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. You would need to have been off grid in the last few days not to be aware of stories and “the video” of the UK Pleasure Boys show at the Devenish in Finaghy. I will admit to being slightly aghast, not at the video, but at some of the comments from politicians, the media and others. Talk about double …

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Northern nationalism’s biggest barrier to achieving unification is other Irish people…

multicolored lighted park wall at night

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin Mary Lou McDonald recently said she thought a United Ireland was “within touching distance”. The remark received little positive response, even in the south, where reactions ranged from pointing out that it was unhelpful to say it on the day Stormont returned or that it was unrealistic. The latest LucidTalk polling for the Belfast Telegraph on the topic might give her some succour. However, it might also provide a counter-intuitive message. That …

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Belfast One BID: Championing a Dynamic and Unique Belfast City Centre Experience…

people walking beside buildings under cloudy sky with contrail

The Belfast Summit 2024 takes place tomorrow in The Ulster University. It will look at where Belfast is, and what we need to do to make it a leading city to work, live, socialise and visit. The keynote speaker will be Prof Carlos Moreno, pioneer of the 15 minute city. Belfast One Business Improvement District is one of the Partners of the Belfast Summit, and their Chief Executive, Alan Crowe, sets out what the BID is doing to foster growth …

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A Data Analyst Approach to the First Week of NI Assembly Written Questions…

white markee light

Kieran Mulholland was an elected representative for Sinn Féin on the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council from 2014-2019. He works in data analysis and data science in the private sector. As the MLAs embark on their new positions in the Assembly, you’ll have noticed the great announcements on social media of their Written Questions to Ministers. Indeed, Justin McNulty’s first tweet post-helicopter (and whip removal) was an ode to his Written Question to the Minister for Communities regarding the …

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Unionist and nationalist interviewees among Last Voices of the Irish Revolution..

Tom Hurley is an author and radio documentary-maker from West Cork. The Irish Civil War ended in 1923. Eighty years on, I wondered if there were many civilians and combatants left from across Ireland who had experienced the years 1919 to 1923, their prelude and their aftermath. What memories had they, what were their stories and how did they reflect on those turbulent times? In early 2003, I recorded the experiences of 18 people, conducting two further interviews in the …

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Transforming Belfast’s Linen Quarter: Challenges and Opportunities…

Chris McCracken, Managing Director, Linen Quarter BID Linen Quarter BID are delighted to sponsor the Belfast Summit, taking place at Ulster University on 15 February, and to warmly welcome keynote speaker Carlos Moreno to Belfast for the first time. Carlos, who is ranked as one of the top 100 urbanists worldwide, is best known for creating the 15-minute city concept. This has been rolled out to widespread acclaim in Paris and numerous other cities across the globe. Key components of …

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A Deposit Return Scheme is coming and we should not fear it.

Dr Ian Humphreys is the Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful An ambitious new initiative has come into force in the Republic of Ireland on February 1st that should be welcomed by all who work to change behaviours that can improve our environment for the better. The Deposit Return Scheme will see a 15 cent levy added to every aluminium can and plastic bottle sold in the Republic of Ireland. Customers can keep their empty cans and bottles for …

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Why are Sinn Féin and the SDLP so poor at furthering the unification issue in the south of Ireland?

man in black jacket standing on black ladder

Ben M is a slugger reader from Dublin Support for unification has advanced, at best, modestly in 21st-century Northern Ireland. The percentage of people who want it straight away rarely seems to deviate from the 30-40% range that it was in the late 20th century. What has changed is a growing middle ground of people who might consider saying yes to it in the right circumstances. The growth of this middle ground shows in other ways. For example, they are …

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Why I moved my family away from Northern Ireland…

black and brown ship on body of water during daytime

Originally from Belfast, John Connolly now lives in Dublin and is retired… I greatly enjoyed Barton Creeth’s recent lovely piece about moving to Belfast. My wife and I did something similar in the late 1960s. I’m a native of the city who had moved to England in 1964. There I’d met the beautiful young woman from County Mayo who became my (so far!) lifetime partner. We married in London in 1968 and decided in 1969 that we’d move to Belfast. …

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