“Spending serious southern money in the North is a signpost few will miss.”

It’s worth sharing some of the detail from this excellent piece from Newton Emerson in the Irish Times on why (and how) the Shared Island Fund is a muscular declaration of tangible politics, rather than more the ‘painless waffle’ of promises that never get delivered… The Shared Island initiative has been allocated €500 million over five years, an apparently trivial sum compared to Stormont’s £13.8 billion annual budget. However, the funding is mainly for capital projects and is equivalent to …

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#TheReset Podcast: “Why can’t government do things (anymore)”?

Ed Straw has been in and around government and state led projects for a large part of his later working life. He has also been involved with the UK Labour Party using his trained engineer’s eye to look at how things work. His new book throws new light on the problem of poor “government agency”. Powered by RedCircle In it we cover: Governments are hooked on a systematic approach which assumes society remains as simple as it once was. This results …

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#TheReset: NI’s opportunity lies in attracting new people as well as new jobs

Today I spoke with my old friend and Lagan College alumnus Shane Greer, who now owns and publishes Campaigns and Elections Magazine and lives and works in Washington DC about whether in order for Northern Ireland to get a good reset we need to think more globally, not to mention bigly. The main impetus for the start of the discussion was his recent Reset essay on what he sees as a live opportunity to exploit the new home working arrangements …

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North/South Cooperation now has a budget…

This week the Irish government unveiled their budget with an emphasis on housing and all of the social issues with flow from that most basic social need. What peeked my own interest was a commitment to providing €500 million to cross-border projects. The ‘Shared Island Initiative’ is a much publicised personal project of the Taoiseach Michael Martin. RTE are reporting that the new unit within his department will be overseeing this expenditure. In terms of the overall Irish budget this …

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Time to reset our approach to energy efficiency of homes to support a green, climate-resilient recovery…

By Dr Patrice Cairns, Policy Manager, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). You can follow her on Twitter. This year, for many, their home has become not only their shelter but a place of work, of homeschooling, of social space and respite. It can be assumed that there is undoubtfully now a greater appreciation of the intrinsic link between wellbeing and improved indoor health. However, if we spend more time at home, we will typically use more energy. The built …

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#TheReset: Incredible opportunity to bring well-heeled consumers into the Northern Ireland economy

As more companies move to downsize their office space and shift workers permanently to work-from-home status, an opportunity exists for Northern Ireland to take the lead in the post-COVID economy. In mid-April this year, my business partner and I took the decision to close our offices in Washington DC. Permanently. Only a handful of weeks after issuing a mandatory work-from-home order for all staff it became clear that remote work had not undermined productivity at all. If anything, productivity was …

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Change here for Ballinderry, Glenavy, Crumlin and… Aldergrove?

Wesley Johnston very kindly gave me some old NIR, UTA, GNR and even NIRTB timetables owned by his father, and it got me thinking. I’ve long been an advocate of reopening Lisburn-Antrim for commuter services, but what would a train service look like? The 1977 NIR timetable is the benchmark, rather than the much slower timetable which applied by the mid-1990s.  10 minutes Antrim-Crumlin, 5 minutes Crumlin-Glenavy, 6 minutes Glenavy-Ballinderry, 9 minutes Ballinderry-Lisburn including a stop at Knockmore. Trains call …

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#TheReset Podcast – Steve Bradley on the future of Derry…

Steve Bradley is a regeneration consultant, you can follow him on Twitter. Steve is a very popular writer on Slugger with some of his posts getting over 40k readers, you can view an archive of his posts here. In this podcast, we discuss the future of Derry and the Northwest. In particular, we discuss: The future of Ulster University in Derry or lack thereof The potential for an independent University How Covid-19 will affect Derry, in particular, fewer people having …

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Mallon’s decision on the interconnector ought to be the thin edge of a positive #Reset wedge

Interesting development earlier this week as Nichola Mallon approved the new North-South interconnector from Tyrone to Meath, not least because of the cacophony of noise arising not just from rivals but even from within her own party. The BBC reports… The approval is for the building of a single circuit 400kV electricity line consisting of 102 towers over 34.1kms in length from Moy in County Tyrone to Crossreagh in County Armagh. The first application was lodged on 15th December 2009. …

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#TheReset: Taking to the skies once more

Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive, George Best Belfast City Airport Covid-19’s first shock delivered to the UK aviation industry, and indeed Northern Ireland, came in the form of Flybe’s collapse in early March. Whilst this was the first impact on home soil, it was a stark realisation that Northern Ireland would not emerge unscathed from this pandemic. Lives would sadly be lost, ‘normal’ would become a thing of the past and our economy would bear the brunt of the tremors. As …

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#TheReset: Time to wake up to Covid’s economic challenges and get beyond our long sleepy capture by the Status Quo…

And after a brief break after the first series of the Cargo Of Bricks, we start the second series in partnership with Ulster Bank with a brief introduction from Richard Ramsey to the Reset Project, an overview of where Northern Ireland finds itself regarding Covid and how to get involved in #TheReset. Powered by RedCircle In it he covers… How politicians need to take heart from their ability to work under the pressure of the crisis and change things that …

Read more…#TheReset: Time to wake up to Covid’s economic challenges and get beyond our long sleepy capture by the Status Quo…

#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 …

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The challenge of Infrastructure…

In 1948, just 3 years after the end of World War 2, the NHS was born. At a time of deep financial uncertainty. In 2020, another time of deep uncertainty, the NHS has led the way. Just like in 1948 a dramatic change in direction is possible post Covid19. Health service reforms need to happen, education as well, but suddenly the pressing need is our economy and infrastructure to support future growth. At the end of May our Alliance council …

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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 …

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#CargoOfBricks: Cooperation, looking outwards and maximising Northern Ireland’s advantage…

Episode Seven of #CargoOfBricks, is with Willie McCarter a man who brought Fruit of the Loom in from the US to expand his family business at a time when the Troubles were at their height and brought skilled jobs to both sides of the border: In it Willie tells us: In the early 80s, with high-interest rates as governments tried to get inflation under control, the business was getting crushed on cost and prices. With IDA support, they looked for …

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#Angrynomics: Governments can use idle stock markets to close the gap between rich and poor, and save the planet

Episode Six of #CargoOfBricks, and I speak to Eric Lonergan who along with Mark Blyth has critiqued in #Angrynomics how populism has filled the vacuum between democratic politics and unregulated markets, and between markets and real economies: At the crux of the book, anger is one of the most powerful agencies within politics just now. It takes two forms: moral anger as in the witness of injustice and an improving agent within society and the second which acts as a tribal …

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‘There is something seriously and fundamentally wrong’ – Northern Ireland’s housing crisis

Although the shortage of housing was a major issue in the recent Irish general election, it is also a major challenge in Northern Ireland. For some reason, there is much less focus on this north of the border. PPR – the Participation and Practice of Rights – is keen to correct this, as its housing activist Marissa McMahon explained in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast. It is important to consider the statistics when placing the housing crisis in …

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Northern Ireland is about to learn the cost of lies

“What is the cost of lies?” This is the question posed by Valery Legasov in the HBO mini-series Chernobyl, about the lies of the Soviet authorities in the lead up and aftermath of the 1986 disaster in what was then the Ukrainian SSR. The British government has stated that it will not be seeking an extension to the transition period with the EU following the UK’s exit from the union in January. It therefore appears likely that Northern Ireland will …

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Sewage monitoring could be one of the most effective weapons in the battle against the coronavirus

A recent paper from Yale University has raised hopes that monitoring of sewage could provide a key early warning indicator of a community outbreak of the coronavirus. Researchers compared the amount of virus RNA found per mL in primary sludge collected from a wastewater treatment facility in New Haven, Connecticut in the United States, with the number of positive new cases in the community from mid-March until the end of April. The chart below shows the amount of virus RNA …

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What can we change to help consume less of the earth’s precious resources – and in doing so, improve our lives?

Joan McCoy is President of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects and writes in support of #OurChangedPlaceNI – a campaign which asks people what they’d change about the built environment During lockdown, I have been entertained by receiving and sending memes commenting on the current situation – some funny, some less so. One has stuck in my mind though – it was a cartoon of the earth, battered and bruised and coved in bandages – beside an almost equally large …

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