Owen Paterson: “in facing the challenges and exploiting every opportunity offered we function best when we are a team”

While the Irish Government struggles to cope with the game of geo-political hardball they are engaged in, the BBC reports that our own special little pleaders – the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers – have issued a statement following a meeting of the UK Joint Ministerial Committee. In case you didn’t know The Joint Ministerial Committee is established by the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Its purpose … Read more

CT seems safe – and don’t forget the North and GB

Nerves will be stretched until the exact terms of the deal are known. Meanwhile government spin continues to minimise the extent of the damage. The bond markets at least seem satisfied for the moment but what about the Irish people, still much in the dark?. A huge sigh of relief will go up at the one bit of good news for Ireland. At least for the first year, the EU terms will be no worse than the Croke Park agreement. … Read more

#picamp – FOI and Data

There was a good discussion this morning at PI Camp around the conjoined issues of FOI and open data. The room had practitioners from both sides of the FOI fence – civil servants, journalists and bloggers. The idea for the session came out of my belief that FOI is often a crude tool that can produce more heat than light, and tends to encourage institutional obfuscation rather than a spirit of openness and sharing. So how best to use FOI … Read more

Sir Reg to become a peer

Not entirely a surprise to hear that the former leader of the UUP, Sir Reg Empey, is to become a peer.  Or that he was nominated by the Prime Minister, and Conservative Party leader, David Cameron. The BBC has the full list of new working peers announced today. Pete Baker

Banish the sovereignty blues. You’ve got old friends

Hey, Irish, cheer up. There’s no necessary correlation between wellbeing and financial crisis. Yous’ns is not the only ones to have been visited upon by the IMF. Remember UK 1976?  How can I ever forget it?  And that was over “only” a $4 billion loan ( at 1976 prices ) and was never actually drawn upon. Years later they made a remarkable discovery. An index of economic, social and environmental progress yesterday declared 1976 to be the best on record for quality … Read more

DETI seeking disqualification of 6 PMS directors

The News Letter reports that the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry has written to six directors of the [in adminstration] Presbyterian Mutual Society [PMS] to inform them that the department has decided “that it is in the public interest to seek disqualification orders” against them.  From the News Letter report The DETI letter said the intention to disqualify the accused was based on conduct which “makes you unfit to be concerned in the management of a limited company”. … Read more

Now the question arises of the fate of lower corporation tax – north as well as south

Now that the Irish government has come clean albeit through gritted teeth , anxiety mounts over the terms of the bailout, in particular the fate of 12.5% corporation tax. Given the total stand- off between the parties, this seems like a issue of confidence for the survival of  the Fianna Fail-led coalition. Internally  in the short term at least, they should come through. This is no time for a general election or a handover to a different coalition, particularly one without an … Read more

Paterson holds out hopes of lower corporation tax, challenges Executive over double jobbing and local budget

 Secretary of State Owen Paterson has weighed in with a meaty lecture in memory of the late Lord Steinberg of Belfast giving a timescale for various initiatives ( text courtesy, Jeff Dudgeon).  The paper on “ rebalancing the economy” making the whole province an enterprise zone will come in a few weeks’ time and includes an examination of a differential rate of corporation tax, also noted by Conservative Home .  This will look at possible ways of turning Northern Ireland into … Read more

Royal Wedding

God almighty I hate Royal blasted weddings….. DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

Guardian poll supports British help for Ireland

 Is this genuine, generous solidarity, the like of which would not be extended to any other country or a cunning Irish write-in? Ireland bailout: should Britain foot the bill? 59.2% Yes 40.8% No Bearing in mind…  Ireland bailout: UK taxpayers could face £7bn bill But the Wall St Journal plays down the threat to sterling… Debt stresses in nearby Ireland therefore are unlikely to derail the pound’s outlook for now at least. In fact, they are “something of a small positive … Read more

Irish showdown likely in Brussels tonight

“The creditors say please take the money, and the debtor says ‘we don’t want it’. It’s very odd..” says one observer of the Irish financial crisis. Dublin is resisting an ECB-inspired bailout because it fears the likely terms will damage their holy grail, the prospects for future growth, by imposing virtually insupportable terms like ending 12.5% company tax. On the other hand, you might think it’s just as peculiar for the ECB to insist on Ireland taking the money when … Read more

“I do think it would be seen as a failure of the assembly…”

The BBC reports the concerns of Northern Ireland Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, about the potential need for an emergency budget if the NI Executive fails to agree a draft budget.  From the BBC report Mr Wilson said some ministers had been co-operating with his department. “It would be wrong to blame everybody and I hope everyone doesn’t get tarred with the one brush,” he said. “I do think it would be seen as a failure of the assembly … Read more

Adams to apply to the Crown for ‘job’ in the Chilterns?

Kudos to David at Politics.ie, for spotting a deliciously cruel (not to mention trivial) technicality for the abstentionist MP for West Belfast. Michael Crick (who likes his politicians served up on toast), tricks out the Republican dilemma: The traditional route is a procedural device whereby the resigning MP applies either to be Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds of Buckinghamshire, or of the Manor of Northstead. Both are deemed to be “offices of profit under the Crown” and holding either post … Read more

Latest- Pressure coming from ECB.. EU about to make an offer Ireland can’t refuse?

3 pm . While RTE reports only the Commission saying ” it isn’t us” The Irish Times reports that the pressure for a bailout is coming from the European Central Bank in order to ease pressure on Irish banks rather than the State directly.. European Central Bank vice president Vitor Constancio said Ireland could use the European Financial Stability Facility to help prop up its banking system to restore investor confidence. “The problems of the Irish banking sector are not … Read more

A profound shock to unionism – a necessary step along the road to final agreement

The Anglo-Irish Agreement whose 25th anniversary falls today immediately exposed the limitations of a unionist veto on all political progress. But its equally significant and unintended result over time was to demonstrate the impossibility of reaching full agreement without participation by all sides, Sinn Fein as well as unionists. Understandably perhaps, retired mandarins of Iveagh House like Sean Donlon stress the check to unionism. Essentially the elements of the 1985 Agreement remain the default position should the GFA and St … Read more

Margaret Ritchie is offering real leadership

   While one nationalist leader may be fading out from the northern scene, another is exhibiting real poise and growing self confidence. This image and this underrated leader’s speech deserve an imaginative, constructive and magnanimous response.  SDLP Progressive nationalism is more confident, more optimistic, and more ready to engage wholeheartedly across the divide. We are not afraid to say ‘Northern Ireland’ or to encounter a member of the British Royal family at a function. How ridiculous was it for Martin … Read more

The new comments system is here

We’ve just added our new comments system to the site. Have a look? The thinking behind it can be seen on this post from a few months ago. It will help us do the following things: Help readers find the best comments quickly. We often have 100+ comments on a thread. You will now be able to highlight the points that you agree with and that you think are original or well-made points. See who you regularly agree / disagree … Read more

Offshore tax evasion crackdown expected to raise £10bn…

Yesterday’s Guardian reports on Osbourne’s negotiations with Liechtenstein, Switzerland and a further 3 unidentified tax havens. The Treasury appear confident of raising £10bn over the next 5 years: The Treasury had only budgeted to raise £1bn across the parliament, mainly from an agreement with Liechtenstein. But George Osborne, the chancellor, is now expecting to raise £2bn to £3bn from secret bank accounts in the mini-state alone. Officials said a further £3bn was expected to be raised from Swiss bank accounts … Read more

Edinburgh Picamp Live blog/Twitter feed…

Right, it is lunchtime here in Edinburgh. Picamp is going well. We have a panel debate coming up at 1.30 discussing whether Scotland can harness the power of its blogosphere. If you want to follow it, here’s a live blog, which is more of a Twitter catcher below. If you want to follow the tweets yourself put #picamp in the search box on your Twitter client (and join the conversation!!): Edinburgh Picamp Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He … Read more

“Sleepwalking to a surveillance society.” Anyone awake?

Big Daddy or Big Brother? Where does the balance lie between protecting society and oppressive snooping? The one thing we can be sure of is that technology keeps moving the goal posts and the authorities race to keep up. “We are sleep walking into a surveillance society” said Chris Graham when he took over as Information Commissioner last year. Since then he’s given a new edge to the job, the latest example being a new report into continuing  “ function … Read more