DUP Councillor refuses to engage with Pro-Choice Group

Emma Gallen is an activist for Alliance for Choice. Alliance for Choice had planned to be at several different International Women’s Day events last week. But the snow meant that many were postponed. As a result, a well meaning campaign, asking councillors at Belfast City Council to support Kate Nicholl’s motion to support the decriminalisation of abortion, gained more traction than expected. The debate at City Council was due to be on Thursday March 1st, but was also postponed due … Read more

Belfast City Council passes a 1.89% rate increase.

belfast city council logo

The district rate will see a 1.89% increase for 2018/19. The council says this will mean rate payers will pay on average less than £1 more per month or less than £10 per year. For businesses it will be an average increase of £12 per month or £144 per year. The impact varies by property, a Terraced House will see an increase of around £5.48 per year, were as a 4 Bed Detached House will see an increase of £18.63. … Read more

Lord Mayor of Belfast: “I would not stand for an assembly that is not functioning”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nuala McAllister visited an A level Politics class last week to ask students how they viewed Belfast and, in line with her theme for her year as Lord Mayor of ‘Global Belfast’, how the city could be more welcoming. The Alliance Party politician expressed her dismay at the rise of hate crime in Belfast and explained to the students that she believed that sectarian attitudes were still prevalent in Northern Ireland. She drew a contrast between … Read more

The Holylands: a manifesto for urban renewal

Emmet McDonough-Brown is an Alliance Party Councillor for Botanic. Since my election in 2014, I’ve devoted a fair bit of time and effort to the challenges faced by the Holylands and its community of settled residents. I won’t rehearse the full and inglorious history of how we arrived here but the experiences that residents have endured are just awful. I consider myself an optimist though (which is why I joined Alliance!) and it has always been my view that the … Read more

Editing the Past

David Capener is a writer based in Belfast, an Editorial contributor at Archinet and a reporter for World Architecure Community. He blogs at www.futurecrowds.com All history is biography. It is the story we tell ourselves to make sense of the world; our place in it, and, those we share it with. Stories shape our world and the storyteller shapes the story. One of the ways our stories find expression is through the manifestation of symbols — flags, images, colours, statues. By … Read more

Belfast City Council to discuss bonfire motion

Belfast City Council will hold a special meeting tonight at 6:30pm to discuss a motion on bonfires brought by Sinn Fein. The text of the motion is as follows; “This Council is opposed to rogue bonfires where they present a threat to life, to property, to the environment, where they cause damage to public amenities and where they facilitate hate crime activities. “On the basis of these concerns this Council gives permission to our Council officers to remove bonfire materials or … Read more

3 SDLP Councillors quit the party

In this mornings Belfast Telegraph, Suzanne Breen reports trouble in the SDLP’s ranks as three of their councillors on Belfast City Council have quit the party. Cllrs, Pat Convery, Declan Boyle and Kate Mullan were suspended after they abstained on a motion dealing with harassment outside reproductive health facilities. Breen reports; The three who abstained told the Belfast Telegraph that they were quitting the party with “profoundly heavy hearts”. They said they would not resign their seats but would continue … Read more

SDLP suspend three councillors on Belfast City Council

From the BBC On Monday night, the three Belfast City Council members abstained on a vote condemning harassment and intimidation of people outside the facilities. It is understood Pat Convery, Kate Mullan and Declan Boyle have been suspended for an indefinite period. The SDLP had seven members on Belfast City Council but now it has only four. Mr Convery, a former lord mayor of Belfast, will be replaced as SDLP group leader, and Kate Mullan will be replaced as deputy … Read more

Belfast City Council sexism row/anti-street harassment

This week is anti-street harassment week, a week of action by activists worldwide to draw attention to the problem of street harassment (1). Notice I don’t use the word ”cat-calling”. Too cutesy and toothless, it is seen as mildly naughty but basically harmless, a bit of a laugh. A bit like a Councillor commenting on the pleasure he derives from the sight of the Council’s CEO cycling about the city she basically manages. All in good fun, right? Certainly that … Read more

A partnership between Credit Unions and Belfast City Council could make £100 million available for social investment…

John Hume once said the Credit Union movement that of “all the things I’ve been doing, it’s the thing I’m proudest of because no movement has done more good for the people of Ireland, north and south, than the credit union movement.” This is some acknowledgement from a Nobel Peace Laureate but then again he was a founder member of Derry Credit Union and at the age of 27 he became the youngest ever President of the Irish League of Credit … Read more

What’s That Thing? “a clumsy, aggressive, cheap-looking new sculpture overlooking Belfast”

As the BBC reports, Belfast has won another award!  In association with the Architecture Foundation, the Spectator magazine has bestowed its What’s That Thing? award for bad public art on Origin – part of the Farset Project, one of “seven big, bold and ambitious cultural projects” that Belfast City Council have developed alongside the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with an overall cost of £900,000. An 11-metre high public art piece located at Squire’s Hill at the entrance to Cavehill Country Park, with £100,000 … Read more

Soapbox: “…row in behind public opinion or protect their partners in Government”

With every day that passes, the path for those seeking to block a full public inquiry into the diabolical RHI scheme is getting narrower. Many parties have suggested various forms of investigations and inquiries , but what is becoming abundantly clear is that only one form of inquiry can get to the truth, and that is a full public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. That is why the motion constructed by Cllr Ruth Patterson, which comes before Belfast City … Read more

“It is not just Stormont that has a Social Investment Fund.”

Newton Emerson in yesterday’s Irish News with some details on the other, less talked about, ‘social investment’ funds out there.  From the Irish News IT is not just Stormont that has a Social Investment Fund. Belfast City Council runs the Belfast Investment Fund and associated Local Investment Fund, with a combined pot of £31 million over three years for ‘community projects’. Alliance has claimed the council funds “aren’t advertised properly in any meaningful way”, leaving “those in the know in prime position to … Read more

Belfast City Council debate on inviting the ROI & NI football teams to City Hall

belfast city council logo

Tonight  Belfast City Council rejected two amendments by the DUP and UUP that would have changed the original decision by the council in December to invite the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland football teams for a reception in Belfast City Hall. Here are some live tweets from myself and Rebecca Black from the Belfast Telegraph from the debate .@BrianKingston says Cllrs declaring that they dont support NI is “sending out the wrong message. “ — David McCann (@dmcbfs) January 5, … Read more

Belfast City Council vote to record Planning Committee meetings.

OPEN GOVERNMENT? This issue has been a hotly debated topic since the new Belfast super council was elected in May 2014 and has come before council no less than three times.

However, last night the council voted by the slimmest of margins 28 for to 27 against to allow planning committee meetings to be recorded and made available to the public. The proposal was brought by the Alliance party.

Belfast Bikes: gearing up for a spoketacular revolution?

It’s been 25 years or more since I last rode a bicycle when I was a teenager. Cycling proficiency is a dim memory of riding along a road painted onto the tarmac playground with an arm stuck out to indicate I was about to turn. It doesn’t take long to walk across Belfast. Yet the ten minutes from the Waterfront Hall to the Cathedral Quarter could be halved if who wheels took the strain. And in dry weather, biking across … Read more

How transparent will the new councils be? The story of Belfast and Lisburn & Castlereagh …

The eleven new councils move from shadow status to the real thing on 1 April. The long-debated Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 sets up the framework on which the new councils work. A new era of openness and transparency has been promised … well, a new era that is more open and more transparent has been promised, although it would be difficult to characterise the new councils as being councils designed for modernity In this post I’m using Belfast … Read more

Hanna: International Women’s Day is an anniversary to mark the contribution, struggles and victories of women…let’s not lose site of it as a political event or of the road left to travel.

Continuing our series of articles, SDLP Councillor for Balmoral, Claire Hanna writes for us about her experiences and the barriers facing women in society today International Women’s Day brings annual soul searching about the lack of women in politics, which is both a symptom and cause of our dysfunctional politics. Evidence presented by the Economist newspaper shows that where legislatures have more women, they spend more on public services, bring forward more progressive legislation and have more balanced participation in … Read more

A history lesson from Ruth Patterson

During this week’s Belfast City Council debate on the placing of the Union Flag on driving licences (something that the council has absolutely no control over), firebrand DUP Councillor Ruth Patterson decided to enlighten all those present with her interpretation of history and how it relates to the vexed subject of ‘flegs’. Scholars may be somewhat alarmed by Councillor Patterson’s interpretation of history as indeed may some of her creationist colleagues in the DUP who subscribe to the view that … Read more

GLL Belfast Leisure Centre Takeover

So Belfast City Council’s “outsourcing” (I love the Orwellian newspeak of this phrase) of its leisure facilities has been in the pipeline for quite a while, but the official hand over of our leisure centres to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (a ..err… “charitable social enterprise for all the community”) happens on 1st January. BBC today is running a story on sixty staff losing their jobs* and from what our local leisure staff have been telling me over the last few months, prices … Read more