Photograph of the Day- Guess where?

I first saw this a year or so ago off the Sandy Row. I was surprised to see that this has been left up for so long. Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been … Read more

NI Water: Why open government is more than a slogan for the chattering classes

There’s a very sharply observed piece by Denis Bradley in today’s Irish News, which aside from lauding the work of John Dallat and others on the PAC, an intelligent whistle-blower and some fine words about Slugger, he also let’s slip a few fundamental truths about where the blame lies. And it is not with the politicians: “…it has caught the two governing parties on the hop. They didn’t see it coming. But anyone who has spent a few nights in the … Read more

General Election 2010 – UCUNF

Where to start?
The four stage progression I suppose, thus:
1) The bright new non-sectarian dawn.
2) Look at us we have Catholic candidates.
3) Sorry no we haven’t.
4) Oh and we’ll change our mind on standing in every seat…
Totally. Absolutely. Astonishing.
I always thought that the money was important but was it the only thing?
How did they do anyway?

Read moreGeneral Election 2010 – UCUNF

Welsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

Show us the money (and its donors)…

Hugo Swire announced the NIO consultation on the exceptional confidentiality provision that only applies to donations to the northern political parties. The current arrangement has had it’s expiry date shoved out from 31st October 2010 to 1st March 2011 by the Control of Donations and Regulations of Loans Etc. (Extension of the Prescribed Period) (Northern Ireland) Order 2010. In brief, parties must provide financial information to the Electoral Commission – it just isn’t published. While the consultation only began on … Read more

DCAL cuts “widespread and unpalatable”?

The BBC reports on the evidence provided to a Northern Ireland Assembly Committee today by two Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure senior civil servants.  From the BBC report Overall, the department’s current budget of £109m is projected to fall to less than £92m by 2014/15. Speaking at a Stormont committee meeting on Thursday, [DCAL director of finance Deborah Brown] said the figures represented a cumulative cut of £46m over the budget period. She said the department would [cut] its operating budget by 14% … Read more

Stormont must provide answers to severe social problems…

The Centre for Social Justice, Iain Duncan Smith’s smart new social policy think tank, have an impressive report (Breakthrough NI CSJ) out today… They are pouring it into something of a policy vacuum since the push you, pull me OFMdFM have still to decide on a common anti poverty policy.  CSJ may be seeking to fill a major policy gap: The News Letter have bullet pointed some of its main findings: Key findings the CSJ claimed highlighted the extent of … Read more

TORs under which Priestly is to be investigated

I have no comment to make, other than to note the very narrowness of the Terms of Reference and quote the glorious Yes Minister, wh0se insights pepper this whole story from start to finish: “We dare not allow politicians to establish the principle that senior civil servants can be removed for incompetence. We could lose dozens of our chaps. Hundreds maybe. Even thousands.” TERMS OF REFERENCE Following allegations of irregularities around the awarding of procurement contracts in Northern Ireland Water … Read more

NI Water: Minister failed to pick up Board’s early questions about Dixon?

Okay, another bullish performance from Minister Murphy here on the UTV report, though it is rare to see such a normally competent performer stuck for words in front of a camera. What’s complicated things for him was the robust nature of the questioning from Conall McDevitt, on the amount of work the Minister did to come to his conclusion that the Independent Review Team was indeed independent. He reasonably asserts that he cannot be across all the correspondence coming in … Read more

NI Water: “Recent revelations left us questioning whether we had been misled”

That quotation is from a rather more bullish statement from the NI Consumer Council CEO Antoinette McKeown than we have been accustomed to hearing as of late. The whole statement is posted below (courtesy of Nevin who chased them up on this), but several other things stand out. They pick out the Stakeholder Unit for special attention.  This was the lynchpin for the relationship between the Department and NI Water, but given the immense degree to which people at Board … Read more

Belfast’s ‘Magic Jug’ dropped

BBC NI Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra has reported that the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development have confirmed that the ‘Magic Jug’ public art sculpture, destined for Fountain Street, Belfast, has been cancelled. [added link to BBC report] Nothing to do with the campaign, apparently.  The £100,000 cost has been cited as the main factor in the decision.  They have, reportedly, already spent £20,000 on the commissioning process. Adds  In the comments zone Moochin points to this 27 Aug letter from the … Read more

Political Innovation no1: Towards Interactive Government

This is a guest cross-post by Tim Davies – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here: The communication revolution that we’ve undergone in recent years has two big impacts: It changes what’s possible. It makes creating networks between people across organisations easier; it opens new ways for communication between citizens and state; it gives everyone who wants it a platform for global communication; and it makes it possible to discover local online dialogue. It changes citizen expectations of government. … Read more

Former Welsh Permanent Secretary to investigate suspended NI Permanent Secretary

Former Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Government, Sir Jon Shortridge, is to lead the investigation into suspended NI Permanent Secretary, Paul Priestly, and his role in the NI Water saga. An iol report notes the terms of reference for the investigation Mr Robinson outlined Mr Shortridge’s terms of reference: “The report will include your comment on whether you believe there may have been any misconduct, including breaches of relevant standards of conduct, terms and conditions of appointment, and in Mr … Read more

Photograph of the Day – Disappearing Orange

On Sunday i spent the day  covering  the charity cycle ‘Lap the Lough’ (86 miles clockwise around Lough Neagh). I didn’t make a note of where i took this  unfortunately. Anyways another of my bug bears is the flags issue. I think there should be more respect shown and that the flying of these fluttering rags of allegiance should be limited to ensure that this sort of disrespect isn’t the norm which unfortunately  it seems to be. Discuss……. Moochin PhotomanPhotographer … Read more

Tony Blair: “I took horrendous chances in what I was telling each the other had agreed to…”

From Mick’s linked chapter on Northern Ireland in Tony Blair’s memoirs [pdf file] Such tactical manoeuvres were the warp and woof of the Northern Ireland peace process. Again at the last minute, after the negotiation over the St Andrews declaration of October 2006, up popped the issue of what oath would be sworn by those taking office in the reconstructed Assembly and Executive. All manner of permutations were gone through to find a mutually acceptable formula. Naturally the DUP wanted … Read more

Tony Blair on Northern Ireland…

Tony Blair’s book has a site where you can download the text from the net… The section on Northern Ireland is here (thanks to Kate for the heads up)… He outlines ten principles he used in developing his policy in Northern Ireland (hint: the process was the policy)… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across … Read more

Total Politics: Top 20 NI Blogs…

Fair play to Iain, he managed to get over 2,200 people voting in his poll for the top Northern Irish blogs this year… We (just, I imagine) retained our top spot, with Splintered coming straight in at number 2, no doubt his pet subject du jour will have garnered him a lot of fans… I’ve given him a bit of mention in my review of the Irish blogosphere for 2010, which for now you’ll have to buy the book to … Read more

Minister approves ‘chicken litter’ generator without consultation…

One of the legacies of having no local democracy with any power is that our politicians have little skill at handling or managing trade-offs… Probably the most obvious example of that is the proposed legislation on parades… Which effectively takes an extreme measure which has been adopted for managing Orange parades through nationalist areas, and scaling it up… The truth is government local and Stormont will have a great deal more mundane issues to deal with once the smog of war has … Read more

NI Water: “How did PwC get it so wrong?”

On Friday, Diana Rusk had an interesting take on the NI Water issue. She highlights a memo from last April in which the Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, responds to a request for an explanation for why Price-Waterhouse Coopers awarded Northern Ireland Water exemplar status on its procurement practice, when the same organisation has just sacked its Board for the same issue. The questions sharpen somewhat when you take into account that PwC have a number of those £28 million worth … Read more