#TheReset: Sheer fluidity of technological change means our cultural industries should be more central than ever

It’s hard to think of a working sector in society that delivers quite so much social, cultural, and economic benefits to society at large but where the living for those talented individuals who often devote their lives to it is quite so precarious than in the Arts and Cultural industries. In today’s Cargo of Bricks, I speak to Ali FitzGibbon and discover how the long slow and steady bottom-up development of Northern Ireland’s cultural industries over the last thirty years …

Read more…#TheReset: Sheer fluidity of technological change means our cultural industries should be more central than ever

#TheReset: Renewed focus on Apprenticeships can help young people deal

Richard Kirk is CEO of Belfast-based Workplus, which was set up to help businesses explore apprenticeships as a way of finding new talent or up-skilling existing employees. Here he argues that apprenticeships can help young people to “earn, learn and be part of the solution” to the oncoming economic crisis…  At the end of August, some Southern states in America braced itself for Hurricane Laura – the region’s most powerful hurricane in over a century and the joint fastest in …

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Pause a moment. Could Johnson just pull it off?

The Protocol is a pawn on a bigger game;  to remove any trace of involvement by the European Court of Justice in ruling on applications for state aid for ailing or new industries . While that would remain the rule for Northern Ireland firms, it leeches into GB firms who invest or have branches in the North. And that breaches a cardinal Leave principle, of no involvement by the Court in GB affairs. There is surely another a Leave issue …

Read more…Pause a moment. Could Johnson just pull it off?

From Boris Johnson, the honeyed words of a blackmailer or a genuine cry for help?

The alarm has been raised. And while it would be a great mistake to declare it false, it has  been followed by calls for calm.  The Withdrawal agreement is not about to be torn up and the GFA (according to some interpretations) with it. Rather it’s all about creating smooth passage across the Irish Sea.  We’re back at the centre of attention. Really? Surely by signing into national and international law the Withdrawal Agreement with its Ireland/NI Protocol the UK …

Read more…From Boris Johnson, the honeyed words of a blackmailer or a genuine cry for help?

Nichola Mallon: Tough infrastructure decisions in the short term, will need a strong long term vision

Our Reset project continues in parallel with normal politics. To track real politics you need to be across the detail that’s frustratingly hard to get to hand. Today, Tom Kelly has spotted a worrying detail and a sign that the ruling duopoly haven’t learned from past mistakes… Last week Nichola Mallon, Minister for Infrastructure, vented some of her frustrations by tweeting live to Good Morning Ulster “Very frustrating to once again learn of the Executive’s Agenda via GMU!” This was …

Read more…Nichola Mallon: Tough infrastructure decisions in the short term, will need a strong long term vision

#TheReset-A safe, secure, and affordable place to call home can never be overstated, not least during a public health crisis

Heather Wilson is the Policy and Engagement Manager for Chartered Institute of Housing in Northern Ireland. Today she writes about the future of housing.  The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown brought about challenges never before faced by the housing sector in Northern Ireland. The almost instantaneous inter-agency cooperation that emerged during the early days of lockdown to make Northern Ireland the first and only jurisdiction across these islands to place all rough sleepers into accommodation sent a strong signal of …

Read more…#TheReset-A safe, secure, and affordable place to call home can never be overstated, not least during a public health crisis

Bees, Breath and Back To School…

The day is dull, it can’t decide whether to rain, or not. The air is autumn cool, the blooms of summer have faded, there’s a ‘last orders’ feeling before winter. I’m hunkered down, underneath the big fir tree on the edge of our wet lawn half a metre from my first hive entrance. I’ve just left my youngest off at school for the first time in five months. He turned nine in July and takes his extra year into the …

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If we are serious about better economic outcomes, Ministers and political parties have to take on the NIMBYs…

Newton Emerson has a nice piece in the Irish Times in which he demonstrates the tight hold NIMBY lobbies have on either side of the border, even on parties who’s main policy plank are in favour as something as seemingly important as the all island electricity market… He starts with the question: Would Electric Ireland be putting prices in the Republic up by 3.4 per cent if the new cross-Border interconnector was in place? The answer, he says, is that… …

Read more…If we are serious about better economic outcomes, Ministers and political parties have to take on the NIMBYs…

#TheReset – Belfast City Centre’s loss is the rest of Northern Ireland’s gain…

I have not been in the City Centre since February and to be honest, I have no desire to rush back anytime soon. Even before the pandemic, it was not a great experience – noisy, dirty, lots of traffic, a harsh natureless environment, a notable increase in beggars and addicts. It is a pity because having a wander around the city centre was an activity that many of us grew up on. But lately, it has lost its attraction. Of …

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The Reset: Profound change on the island is likely to be slow and multigenerational, but it has to start now…

The Reset In partnership with the Ulster Bank

I’m grateful to Brian Feeney in the Irish News for drawing my attention to a bravura performance in the Feile by my old friend David McWilliams. In my defence it happened on my birthday and so I was enjoying the fresh air on the edge of Brecon Beacons National Park. So I missed it. There’s some tough challenging lines in there for northern unionism (and northern nationalism besides), some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t and …

Read more…The Reset: Profound change on the island is likely to be slow and multigenerational, but it has to start now…

Sunlight, Vitamin D, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter…

The data is clear: people in ethnic groups living in the UK are more likely to die if they contract the SARS-Co-2 virus. Public Health England – currently being scraped and scape-goated to protect the government in its handling of the pandemic – concluded (Link 1) that BAME communities are more susceptible due to social deprivation. This certainly fits the current political narrative well but may not explain that poor clinical outcomes could simply be down to a lack of …

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Can COVID 19 influence a quieter twelfth moving forward?

The sectarian summer returned this year like the bane of our society that is the annual reopening of old wounds. Every summer Northern Ireland becomes a battlefield of sectarianism, discrimination and in some cases violence. From parades to flags there are many of those from across the divide who use this time as an opportunity to maintain the “us or them” culture that has plagued our society for many decades. However this year Covid 19 seemed to reduce the embarrassing …

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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…

The schools are back, but for how long?

At last, the moment parents have been waiting for – the kids are back at school. There may be lots of new rules, visors and more alcohol than a party conference but the main thing is they are back. It has been a hard aul slog these past few months trying to keep the kids entertained at home. Homeschooling was a complete head wreck for both children and parents. Whatever teachers get paid it is not enough – give them …

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The grim new world of the COVID-19 cinema experience…

I went to the cinema on Friday to see Tenet. It was the first time I had been in a cinema since February and I was curious to see what the new COVID-19 cinema experience is like. The film was at 2pm in my local Omniplex so I rocked up at ten to 2 and that’s when I ran into the first problem. When I asked the woman behind the counter for a ticket she informed me you can no …

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Speech Wars: Trump v Biden…

Both speeches of the two US presidential candidates at their respective party’s national convention accepting their party’s nomination are very different, only sharing a few similarities. Both Trump and Biden believe the upcoming US presidential election will be the most important of all – though don’t all candidates say that? They say this for different reasons, though: For Trump, “this election will decide if we save the American dream or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished …

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United pressure on Sinn Féin may be needed to break the legacy payments deadlock. Their own will benefit

dFM Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin Has Martina Anderson’s outburst distracted attention away from the substantive issue of the legacy payments deadlock, or given a boost to resolving it, following the court case requiring Michelle O’Neill in effect to remove her veto or exercise her option to resign? The scheme covers violence related to the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1966 and 2010, including incidents in Great Britain and Europe.. . People will get between £2,000 and £10,000 a year for the …

Read more…United pressure on Sinn Féin may be needed to break the legacy payments deadlock. Their own will benefit

#InConversation Podcast with Professor David Rooney from Queen’s about renewable energy and electric cars…

David Rooney is a Professor in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. In this podcast, we chat about improvements in battery technology and how this will affect the growth of electric cars. We also discuss Hydrogen as a fuel source for transport. Already nearly 50% of the electricity generated in Northern Ireland comes from renewable sources and this figure will continue to rise. We discuss new ways of generating electric such as anaerobic digestion and …

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RIP Sir Ken Robinson: may your creative spirit inspire us to change…

This week I was challenged by a comment on this platform which claimed that studies over the last 35 years have shown that intelligence is largely ‘innate.’ In simpler terms it is implied that intelligence is the sum of genetic characteristics which give some individuals natural advantage (or “talent”) over others no matter what environmental factors are applied – i.e. education, health or nutrition. I struggled greatly with this, as in our age of fake news and ‘feeling’ politics I …

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Assembly Commission amend 2016 determination with improvements for staff wages.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission has published a new determination which amends the determination taken in 2016. This is what governs how the staff costs for MLAs and other associated costs with running an office. The headline from the latest determination is that salaries of staff members working for MLAs are set to rise. This change brings staff employed by MLAs into line with other staff members in the Assembly. Grade one staff will see their starting salary rise from …

Read more…Assembly Commission amend 2016 determination with improvements for staff wages.