A new borrowing arrangement for local Councils is key to funding a Just Transition

Sean Fearon is a Just Transition Researcher. He is writing in a personal capacity.  It will be no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 public health emergency has reshaped the economic and public finance environment in Ireland, as around the world. Once upon a time the British and Irish governments, in lock-step with the European Commission, championed deficit-reduction and savage austerity programmes as a most noble and urgent economic crusade. As of May 2020, these same actors now run historic …

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We need to reopen the park car parks. Keeping them closed is dangerous and discriminatory…

After two months, I was getting a bit fed up walking around my small local park, so yesterday I decided to bring junior up to Lady Dixon Park for a change of scene. As you may know, they decided at the start of the lockdown to keep parks open but close their car parks. The idea was to discourage people from driving to parks. This was not based on any science, but tabloid mock hysteria about people having the audacity …

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RTE Investigates – Facing up to corruption

STAND UP: Politicians can and must grasp this nettle. For too long they have feared repercussions. No more can that be accepted. We need a range of censures. One might possibly overlook a declaration of something very small on a form and be reprimanded in a small way, but a conflict of interest should carry a severe penalty.

“What has changed is that it is a clear message to the people of Northern Ireland that NI21 is a cross-community party…”

According to a BBC report, the NI21 party executive has announced a policy change on the eve of the party’s first foray into an actual election.  From the BBC report NI21 has announced it will change its designation at the Northern Ireland Assembly from unionist to ‘other’. The party’s executive took the decision ahead of Thursday’s European and local government elections. NI21 was set up by MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister, after they quit the Ulster Unionist Party in …

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Council preparations for zombie attack

Leicester city council has admitted to one of the most shocking lapses any council could. It appears that they have no emergency plan to deal with a zombie outbreak. The following letter has prompted this shocking revelation: Dear Leicester City Council, Can you please let us know what provisions you have in place in the event of a zombie invasion? Having watched several films it is clear that preparation for such an event is poor and one that councils throughout …

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All politics is local: links and open thread

With a broad slate and geographically dispersed contests, it might be a great help if people highlight local battles worth watching in the council elections. I’ve linked all the councils and local electoral areas at the end of this post for ease of reference (it will be useful if people name the one they are putting a flag over in comments, obviously). Some of you might remember eleven in 11? Under the Review of Public Administration (RPA) there would now have been only eleven councils, so it is worth bearing in mind …

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Éirígí Candidates to Stand in Northern Ireland Local Government Elections

The Irish Times reports that the “republican socialist political grouping” éirígí has announced that they will contest the forthcoming local government elections in Northern Ireland.  From the Irish Times report About 140 members from across Ireland attended the conference in the Culturlann centre on Falls Road, where delegates voted in favour of running candidates in the council elections. Éirígí, which was formed in April 2006, has yet to decide in how many of the North’s 26 local government areas it …

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Dual mandate (council/MLA) bill passes Consideration Stage – but what are party plans for next spring?

Dawn Purvis’ private member’s bill got through its Consideration Stage this evening and now moves on to the next stage of its arduous journey into the statute books. Update – you can now read the Hansard transcript or watch the proceedings through BBC Democracy Live. In short the NIA Bill 7/09 Local Government (Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill removes the possibility of people holding a dual mandate to serve as an MLA at Stormont and also sit on their local council. It …

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11th bonfires – what the Councils pay

Yesterday I examined increasing expenditure over the last five years for the Fire Service in dealing with 11th July bonfires (circa £4 million in total) Today I will provide some figures showing the increase in Council funding for events linked to these bonfires over the same period. Unfortunately only half responded within the time limits set under Freedom of Information. I will follow up with the slackers for the grand total at the end of series. The figures for 2010 …

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NI Minister of State confirms 2011 local elections for 26 councils

The BBC notes confirmation from the NI Minister of State, Hugo Swire, MP, that local elections will be held in 2011 for the existing 26 councils.  The decision follows the dysfunctional NI Executive’s semi-detached polit-bureau’s failure to agree on the proposed local government reform.  From the report Mr Swire said he had written to the first and deputy first ministers confirming local elections in 2011 will be held to the existing 26 councils. The Minister said: “Like many, I am disappointed …

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Council reform founders on semi-detached polit-bureau rocks

The BBC reports that, after a weekend of private talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin, the Northern Ireland Executive semi-detached polit-bureau have failed to agree on the proposed reform of local government.  From the BBC report Next year council elections will be based on the original model of 26. SDLP, Sinn Fein and Alliance ministers all voted for the 11 council model but the three DUP ministers voted against. The UUP ministers did not vote. Michael McGimspey, Sir Reg Empey and …

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Semi-detached polit-bureau at loggerheads over Council reform

The BBC has the latest on the dysfunctional Northern Ireland Executive’s semi-detached polit-bureau’s failure to agree on local government reform Executive ministers have adjourned five-hour long meeting aimed at resolving the impasse over the future of local government. Ministers are due to meet again on Monday after further discussions over the weekend about a plan to reduce the 26 councils to 11. Pete Baker

“It is the Executive’s responsibility to make the decision on the future of the reform programme for local government”

A “qualified yes” is how the BBC characterised NILGA’s response to the Northern Ireland Environment Minister’s question on funding the reform of local government – or, as NILGA President, Cllr John Mathews, put it, Poots’ “exit strategy”. But, having seen a copy of the letter containing NILGA’s response to the NI Environment Minister, it’s worth noting that they have made a number of pointed remarks about the NI Executive’s role. From the letter from NILGA President John Mathews As I have reiterated …

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But what about the boundaries, Minister?

In the two weeks grace the Northern Ireland Executive has given itself to decide the issue of local government reform, the NI Environment Minister is apparently seeking agreement from the existing 26 councils to fund the cost of that reform.  That’s an estimated £138million, according to the BBC report. But even if those councils did all agree, by Friday, to foot the bill, what’s happened to the issue that has actually been the sticking point within the NI Executive dysfunctional semi-detached polit-bureau – local government …

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