Is ‘Working From Home’ Impacting Belfast ? Transport Gives an Indication…

black and silver laptop on brown wooden rack

History has taught us that major pandemics create lasting behavioural change, and often in unexpected ways. One of the most significant impacts of Covid 19 has been the rise of ‘Working From Home’ (WFH) and ‘hybrid-working’ (employee time divided between the office and home). Doing a full day of desk-based work from the comfort of one’s home was usually a rare treat before the pandemic, with office blocks in towns and cities populated by people and businesses who assumed that …

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New Campaign Calls for Reopening of ‘North West Rail Corridor’ – Giving West of NI a Direct Route to Belfast/Dublin…

A campaign has been launched calling for the reopening of a key railway line that served the West of Northern Ireland up until the 1960s. Lobby group ‘Into The West’ campaigns for the improvement and expansion of rail across counties Derry/Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal. The organisation was founded in 2004 when they successfully defeated a proposal by civil servants to shut the Derry-Belfast rail line west of Ballymena. Since then they have also secured a major track upgrade of …

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New Book Lifts Lid on NI Elections During Troubles…

The Derryman who ran the elections in Northern Ireland during The Troubles – before going on to work as an electoral advisor for the UN and EU around the world – has written a book about his experiences. ‘Ballots, Bombs and Bullets’ is the memoir of former NI Chief Electoral Officer Pat Bradley. The book is the story of how someone with no background and very little training in electoral law and process found himself in charge of Northern Ireland’s …

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Plug the gap in NI’s rail network – Seven requests for the West…

When Northern Ireland was founded a century ago, an intricate network of railway lines knitted every town and city together across the jurisdiction. It was an important economic and social inheritance from the Victorian era, at a time when all transport was ‘public transport’. Within less than 50 years, however, all that had changed. In 1949 the multitude of private companies that ran individual railway lines across NI was nationalised under the Stormont-controlled ‘Ulster Transport Authority’ (UTA). The UTA was …

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Will Latest Revelations Tarnish Halo of Most Popular NI Secretary in Recent Years ?

Editor’s Note: this is an amended version of the original text. Apologies to those who’s comments were lost in the change.  October’s publication of a parliamentary investigation into lobbying by former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Patterson has embroiled Boris Johnson and the Government in the biggest crisis of his premiership so far. In the wake of the scandal over MPs’ second jobs, the Guardian newspaper published a report on 30 MPs who could be affected by the …

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Will Latest Revelations Tarnish Halo of Most Popular NI Secretary in Recent Years ?

October’s publication of a parliamentary investigation into lobbying by former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Patterson has embroiled Boris Johnson and the Government in the biggest crisis of his premiership so far. In the wake of the scandal over MPs’ second jobs, the Guardian newspaper published a report on 30 MPs who could be affected by the proposed ban on paid consultancy work. One of those is Julian Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon. Smith served …

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Does Northern Ireland Need Another City?

cars, road, street

An unspecified number of towns across the UK are due to have city status bestowed upon them next year as part of the Queen’s Platinum (70 years) Jubilee, which means that the wait is on to see if Northern Ireland will gain its sixth (and possibly even its seventh ?) city. Under UK law cities can only be created if they are chartered by the monarch – or more accurately in modern times, via an Act of Parliament. Local authorities …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 3…

In Part 1 & 2, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles and the Unionist movement since the Home Rule crisis. In this part he concludes by looking at the lessons loyalism and republicanism have learned from their previous campaigns of violence. What is very telling on the issue of violence is the vastly different routes that republican and loyalist groupings …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 2…

In Part 1, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles. In this part he looks at a much broader history of unionism to further argue that political violence doesn’t work. Unionism and loyalism doesn’t need to look to anyone else to justify using violence. It has its very own long history of threatening force to advance its political objectives. Prior to …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 1…

Earlier this month a few hundred people gathered in Newtonards for a public protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol. Despite the presence of a strong cast of speakers – including former-MP Kate Hoey and former-MEP Ben Habib – it wasn’t the podium soundbites that caught my eye and inspired this article. Instead, it was a very telling vox-pop that Sky News captured with one of the protestors at the event. A lady who’s grey hair, pashmina-type shawl and well-spoken North …

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Ten Ways Irish Unity Could Benefit the Republic of Ireland…

The topic of Irish unity has been propelled into the mainstream of political debate to an extent that would have been inconceivable even five years ago. And it’s not just the usual Republican voices engaged either. Most of Nationalism’s moderate mainstream, plus some elements within Unionism, are also pondering the question of what form Northern Ireland’s future could or should take in a world where Brexit has happened and demography is shifting. It still remains very early days in that …

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Tackling Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Apartheid – Part 2, The Solution…

Read part one here… It is clear that Northern Ireland has a stark east-west divide in transport infrastructure. One which fails to fully reflect its population distribution, and raises questions of sectarian policymaking and a Belfast-centric nature to governance here. It is also clear that the era of car dominance in urban areas is slowly drawing to a close worldwide, which Northern Ireland will inevitably catch up with. Climate change and a desire for more liveable towns and cities will …

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Tackling Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Apartheid – Part 1 – The Problem…

Infrastructure has become a hot topic in NI since the London government established a ‘Union Connectivity Review’ (UCR) to recommend projects to strengthen links between the UK’s constituent parts. Since then the media has been consumed by the possibility of a physical connection between NI and Scotland – first in the form of a bridge and more recently an undersea tunnel, christened the ‘Boris Bridge’ and ‘Boris Burrow’ (though I would suggest a more appropriate title should incorporate the name …

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Will the City Deal provide a “fresh start” for Derry?

The current global pandemic has put Northern Ireland’s long-standing problems firmly into context – with Coronavirus claiming more lives across the UK in a few days last month than thirty years of the Troubles did. Fortunately post-conflict NI is a very different place these days, with change perhaps nowhere more prevalent than in our economy. Current pandemic woes aside, NI entered the current decade in a much better economic condition than it has any other decade since at least the …

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Why Derry? How a City that’s continually held back became a Dissident Stronghold…

Just two hours before this year’s Good Friday – a time of year which holds clear associations with peace and progress in this part of the world – a talented young journalist was murdered on the streets of Northern Ireland by Dissident Republicans. The murder has been widely condemned, and has sent shock waves through a British and global media that had mistakenly believed this part of the world had completed its transition towards peace. Amid the intense media coverage …

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To add to Belfast International Airport’s woes, what is going on with Easyjet?

2018 has been a difficult year for Belfast International Airport. First, the facility faced criticism over its sponsorship of the DUP’s annual North Antrim dinner in February – a Brexit-themed event with Eurosceptic Tory MP Priti Patel as guest speaker (three months after she’d been forced to resign from the UK government for breaching the Ministerial Code). Curiously, Belfast International is based in Antrim South constituency, and not in Ian Paisley Jnr’s North Antrim fiefdom. Then in May came the …

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Why is Derry So Poor? Part III – The Solutions

It is clear that there are economic and social challenges facing Northern Ireland’s second city, and that little is being done to address them. So what type of solutions could be pursued to enable Derry to fulfil its potential as a key economic generator for the north west of the island ? Here are some suggestions : 1. Acknowledge the Problem The first step in dealing with any problem is to acknowledge its existence. Yet there has been no official …

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Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would …

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Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern …

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Anger Over City Deal Snub, As Derry Grows Restless for Change

Fifty years ago this June, a caravan was used to block the Lecky Road in Derry’s Bogside in protest at Londonderry Corporation’s housing policy. The Unionist-run council retained control over the majority nationalist city at that time by discriminating against Catholics in housing and votes. The caravan protest represented a marked escalation in tactics by the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC), who shortly afterwards contacted the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and persuaded them to hold a demonstration in the …

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