As our MLAs refuse to compromise (and head for their holidays) our children are suffering

Parents from disadvantaged families depending on school uniform grants this year have been struck a major blow this week as the Education Authority (EA) are intending to slash the money available by over 61%. In 2016/17 £4.9m was given out to 98,000 pupils across the country.  This year that budget has been reduced by £3m to just a meagre £1.9m. The EA claim they were instructed by the Department of Education to implement the cuts, but with no Stormont Assembly … Read more

Who signed off the 0% and 1% rises for Northern Irish teachers?

Just spotted this protest against a pay offer of 0% for 2015/16 and 1% for 2016/17 for teachers. Sinn Fein are doing the needful and out on the protests, this time in Crossmaglen: .@mfearonsf MLA supporting colleague @barraomuiri & his fellow striking teachers in Crossmaglen today @into_ni #fairness — NewryArmagh SinnFéin (@newryarmaghsf) January 18, 2017 Two questions arise. Which Education Minister signed up to these cuts? And which Finance Minister signed them off? Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of … Read more

Cuts lead third level education down the path of the privileged

Eugene Tinnelly is a founder member of the Student Poverty Alliance Group. He writes for us about the cuts in higher education Education should be free. Whether it be primary level or third level, your access to education should not be determined by what’s in your wallet but instead, by what’s in your brain. People will say that’s an idealistic way of looking at it but tell that to the people of Denmark who receive universally free education. Unfortunately the … Read more

Death in Cobh and Attack in Cavan

A couple of days ago, Patricia McBride wrote on Slugger that “our political leaders north and south must become pro-woman” in light of the recent tribulations of Dawn Purvis, Director of Marie Stopes, as well as the judgement delivered by the High Court in Dublin last week regarding whether to continue life support for a pregnant woman described as clinically brain dead and, of course, the high profile case of Savita Halappanavar whose death was not prevented in an Irish … Read more

£421.82 For The Arts or is it 13p?

13p per person per week for the arts. £6.76 per person per year for the arts. £421.82 per person per lifetime (18-80.4) for the arts On the face of it, 13p For The Arts is a worthy and well run campaign, and of course those within the industry should campaign against cuts being imposed, I do however feel that the figures presented are far too simplistic. Naturally, the arts industry is one of creative thinkers, so when presented with £1.38m … Read more

Cartoon – Spencer on Tuesday

George Osborne set corporation tax on the condition that talks be resolved and fiscal responsibility be shown. A ‘Peace Fund’ sweetener is on the table too. Sinn Fein has counter-conditioned with a “shopping list” of demands. Here’s this weeks cartoon offering in response to events. Thanks to the Firemen for photoshop work. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Is it time to reduce our number of MLAs?

So our MLAs are currently still engaging in yet another talks process and according to the BBC earlier in November, the DUP circulated a paper which again highlighted their support for the deflation of Stormont departments and a reduction in the number of MLAs. While the DUP support a reduction in MLAs from the current number of 108 to something between 70 and 80, the Deputy First Minister wouldn’t cut back Stormont just as much as the DUP but does … Read more

Roisin McDonough: The Arts: Small size, big value

The debate over cuts to arts funding have been in the headlines in recent days, writing for Slugger, the Arts Council’s Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough argues against cutting arts funding Supporting the campaign for ‘No more cuts to the arts’, actor James Nesbitt observed wryly that “without the arts we’re just left with politics, and we don’t want that”. His tongue may have been planted firmly in his cheek, but that may be the path we’re heading down if the … Read more

Making stand against one set of cuts only for it to be replaced with something worse

  Nicely put by Newton Emerson in Saturday’s Irish News. If kids from Northern Ireland are leaving, it isn’t because of public sector austerity. Compared to other places Northern Ireland has been feather-bedded in this regard. In the Republic the Haddington Road agreement has overseen agreed cuts in public wages in an effort to save jobs, and a recruitment freeze has helped preserve the jobs of those already in public sector employment, whilst casting huge shadow over the employment prospects of … Read more

DUP: “Did Martin McGuinness just not listen to the Chief Medical Officer in April?”

Got this presser yesterday from the DUP under the byline of their Holywood based MLA Gordon Dunne. I think it’s interesting enough replicate the whole thing here without further comment… ‘Following the question being posed on a radio show this morning, the deputy First Minister rushed out a request for a meeting with the Chief Medical Officer. This follows details emerging of the impact that Sinn Fein cuts will have on the Department of Health as a result of their … Read more

Gerry Adams (and Sammy Wilson) putting on a Poor Mouth over £4 Billion of ‘elusive’ cuts?

“At a public meeting discussing disruption as a result of the G8, an official from the British Foreign & Commonwealth claimed that the summit would bring in up to £700 million into the local economy. “This is a figure that has been plucked from thin air, for no other reason but to deal with the growing resentment at the level of disruption in Fermanagh as a result of the G8.[emphasis added] That’s Phil Flanagan Sinn Fein MLA for Fermanagh South … Read more

Licence fee freeze leads BBC NI slashes top journalist jobs…

Grim reading this morning in the Belfast Telegraph (h/t Nevin)… Hearts and Minds, as long expected, is to finally go. The production teams for three programmes will be to some extent amalgamated, and run on a rolling basis…. And some key assets are being got rid of, including Julia Paul who’s film pieces for Hearts and Minds have been some of the corporation’s consistently highest quality output: Politics reporters Yvette Shapiro and Julia Paul as well as environment correspondent Mike … Read more

Is the BBC pushing Hearts and Minds onto the brink of extinction?

Last Thursday Eamonn noted on Twitter that he hoped BBCNI’s flagship current affairs programme Hearts and Minds would not fall foul of the cutters axe in the latest round of BBC cuts. Right across the UK, regions are being seriously hit, with savings being made by merging traditional regions, into larger less coherent entities. Slugger’s understanding is that Northern Ireland will not be taking as large a hit as elsewhere, but that nonetheless savings are almost certainly in the pipeline, … Read more

Rebels take Tripoli; Dale apologises…

I keep an eye on Twitter rather than live ‘there’. It can be a pretty febrile place, even when discussing less important matters than a bona fide Arab revolution. At one stage last night, one Syrian broadcast journalist had Gadaffi dead; shot near Rixos Hotel where many of the world’s journalists reporting from the government side of the Libyan conflict were stationed. It turned out to be mistaken identity. There was much discussion of how the Beeb had been caught … Read more

Shane Greer awakens a hornet’s nest over NI’s £7 billion annual ‘dig out’ from England

Just been listening to Shane Greer getting it in the neck on the Nolan Show… It was extraordinary, for the amount of raw abuse he took for, wait for it, his mid Atlantic accent… He had to go early to catch a business flight to DC… Here’s some quotes from callers: “Nolan is mad for having you on… You need to take lessons in speech.. All Americans are stupid anyway” “Your accent is not like any American accent I have … Read more

2 Ministers vote against budget, 1 missing…

Interesting for cross border pol watchers that Sinn Fein is backing a cuts budget in Northern Ireland, whilst criticising the new coalition in the Republic for implementing Fianna Fail’s austerity focused four year plan. [See important caveat by IrishActuary on Twitter]. Just as interesting though is the way the so-called Manditory Coalition seems to be bursting apart at the seams, with the UUP Minister voting against, and Alex Attwood apparently missing in action… Margaret Ritchie: “Devolution was supposed to be … Read more

London Letter: Arts face tough year in 2011

It’s hard to make an economic case for the arts at a time when all departments face cuts and shortages. However, many believe that the survival and continued nurturing of the arts needs to be fought for, as thousands of people are employed in the sector in Northern Ireland and it is such a huge part of the social structure. In recent years, it has become more popular for people to attend the theatre (particularly affordable community theatre) and it … Read more

Concerted Opposition from the Devolved Institutions

Betsan points us to a pretty significant joint declaration of the three devolved institutions. “That the three devolved administrations believe the impending cuts in public spending run the risk of delivering economic and social harm shouldn’t be news to you.That the leaders of the three devolved administrations have signed a joint declaration saying so, very bluntly, is, as one senior source in Cardiff Bay put it, “massive”.” And: “They say, “We believe that promoting economic growth is the best way to … Read more