#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 …

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

“Build Back Better” – how do we turn soundbites into a successful reset and recovery?

Sinead McLaughlin is the SDLP’s economy spokesperson, deputy chair of the Assembly’s economy committee and a Foyle MLA. Covid-19 will continue to damage our collective health and our economy for a long time to come. Many businesses will fail and, even more sadly, many more people will die from coronavirus.  Yet it should not be too early to consider recovery. The SDLP has put together four principles for that recovery – a new deal for young people; a new localism; new connectivity; …

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So you’re complaining about delays and a forest of forms to clear Larne Harbour? Try the new border permits for Kent

From the Guardian Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove told MPs today that lorry drivers would need a “Kent Access Permit” to get into the county from 1 January with “police and ANPR cameras [automatic number plate recognition]” enforcing the system. If they failed, they faced queues of up to 700 trucks trying to reach Dover. Under government plans in a leaked document KAPs will only be issued to drivers who have completed all the paperwork necessary to board …

Read more…So you’re complaining about delays and a forest of forms to clear Larne Harbour? Try the new border permits for Kent

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 …

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

NI’s former Attorney General John Larkin disputes claims that serving or former soldiers are to enjoy immunity from prosecution for torture after five years

The idea that  the new Overseas Operations Bill  gives serving and former soldiers immunity against prosecution even for torture is in dispute. It’s claimed  that the proposed legislation would create a “triple lock” for troops and veterans, including a presumption against prosecution for alleged offences committed more than five years ago.The bill also proposes to introduce time limits on bringing civil claims in connection with overseas operations; and would place a duty on the government to consider derogating from the …

Read more…NI’s former Attorney General John Larkin disputes claims that serving or former soldiers are to enjoy immunity from prosecution for torture after five years

Welcome back Fortnight Magazine, we’ve missed you…

Welcome back Fortnight Magazine. The paper was founded in 1970 by Tom Hadden, and became a haven of sanity during the very years when large chunks of working-class Belfast were imploding in sectarian violence and immense social (and later economic) distress. I first started getting copies out of the old Gardiners newsagents and bookshop in Botanic Avenue in the late seventies when it was a vibrant confluence for thought from all sides, no least the McNee column which was, I …

Read more…Welcome back Fortnight Magazine, we’ve missed you…

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill make televised address over COVID-19

  The First and Deputy First Minister have made a televised address following Boris Johnson. There was nothing new announced from yesterday, it was a restatement of the message they have been giving for the past 24 hours. The new thing was how the form of communication. Looking back through the records (Slugger readers will correct me if I am wrong) this is the first time in nearly 52 years that this has happened. A leader(s) of a devolved administration …

Read more…Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill make televised address over COVID-19

What are Labour for?

They are a party who haven’t run official candidates in NI for nearly 60 years. Yet so much of the past century has been influenced by the once mighty Labour party. Sir Keir Starmer is proving more popular in technocratic opinion polls, but will his virtual party leader speech made today filter through into positive headlines for the beleaguered centre-left? Poly Toynbee has thrown down the gauntlet to her ideological partners, calling on Labour is re-capture a sense of patriotism …

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Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, Robin Swann writes for Rolling Stone…

“You can take all the tea in China Put in a big brown bag for me. Sail round the seven oceans, Drop it smack dab into the deep blue sea.” Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey Splat !!!! Following the announcement on Monday 21 September of new NI wide restrictions on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings, I was talking with a friend. A friend who was somewhere between despondent, cynical & despairing. Superficial positivity, however well-intentioned, really is not my thing. …

Read more…Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, Robin Swann writes for Rolling Stone…

Irish government’s Covid 19 framework represents an important shift of pace…

It’s interesting how the framing of the Covid crisis is beginning to subtly change. There seems to be a realisation that this is going to be long war, not a short campaign. The news of two new Covid deaths in Northern Ireland is carried by most major titles… Both victims were aged between 60-79. One of the deaths took place in the Newry, Mourne and Down council area, and the other was in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon. A further …

Read more…Irish government’s Covid 19 framework represents an important shift of pace…

While COVID-19 may have cut Executive and local government budgets, it has clarified their purpose – to improve the wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland…

Lauren Pennycook is a Senior Policy and Development Officer at the Carnegie UK Trust. You can follow her on Twitter. In the space of five short years, the landscape in Northern Ireland has transformed. New powers have been conferred to local government; the draft Programme for Government sought to deliver public services differently; and the Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed. New structures were formed and new sectors stepped up in an attempt to, in part, fill the political and policy vacuum …

Read more…While COVID-19 may have cut Executive and local government budgets, it has clarified their purpose – to improve the wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland…

Paula Bradshaw admits to dressing up as Mr T – I pity the fool (and other politicians)…

Years ago I was at a Halloween party in Dublin and there was a guy there in an amazing outfit. He was dressed in full Nazi Desert Warfare uniform complete with a decommissioned WW2 Luger pistol. I got chatting with him and asked him where he hired the outfit? He looked a bit sheepish then admitted it was his own. He was a history nerd and he had collected bits and pieces over the years on eBay. One of the …

Read more…Paula Bradshaw admits to dressing up as Mr T – I pity the fool (and other politicians)…

#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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Van the Man, or how expressive individualism is pulling us away from our obligations to each other

So Van Morrison has brought out some new tunes which include “criticism” of the government’s Covid policy. I’m as much a fan as the next Ulsterman, but it seemed a good moment to reflect on the way expressive individualism is pulling us away from our obligations to each other. Even Henry Ford understood the immense value that lies in others, “if there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of …

Read more…Van the Man, or how expressive individualism is pulling us away from our obligations to each other

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. …

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

#SluggerTV – The role of the Third Sector #TheReset

David McCann was joined by guests Gráinne Walsh (Stratagem) and Jacinta Linden (SPACE NI) to examine how the third sector sector was the bedrock of our response to the pandemic. Remember all of those charities who stepped up while revenues were falling and did extraordinary things to help the most vulnerable in our society? In this episode, we hear about the resilience of this sector, from making headlines for innovative ideas such as Kindness Kits and new ways of working. can help provide a reset for the local economy and our society in the years ahead and what is needed from local policy-makers to help make it all happen.

In the absence of real deterrents, you’ll catch more students with honey than with vinegar

It would be difficult to look at the scenes from the Holylands of Belfast in the last number of days and not be very concerned. Scores of students partying until the early hours of the morning caused understandable frustration and fury among residents and a media furore. Either the young people in question do not fully understand the risk to themselves and others around them, or, the public awareness campaign is not persuading them sufficiently, or, they both understand and …

Read more…In the absence of real deterrents, you’ll catch more students with honey than with vinegar

#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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The tension between Politics and the Law…

In modern society there is a tension between democracy and the law which has always existed throughout history. Democracy at its most absolute is tyrannical, brutish and often short lived because of the mass hysteria which can engulf otherwise rational people when they act as a group. Psychologists called this ‘groupthink’ in the 20th century, ever since we found this flaw we quickly discovered that it had actually given us our most valuable skill putting us at the top of …

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With the opening of a new 575 space car park in Belfast City Centre can we remove 575 on street car parking spaces and replace them with bike lanes?

2020 has not been a good year for the McCausland family. Firstly they own Value Cabs, which has been hit hard by COVID, then they open up a new car park just as the city has record low levels of commuters. I am sure all of you working from home really miss having to pay £20 a day to park in Belfast. Still, they have been in business over 100 years so I imagine this too shall pass for them. …

Read more…With the opening of a new 575 space car park in Belfast City Centre can we remove 575 on street car parking spaces and replace them with bike lanes?