Slugger event at John Hewitt Summer School: What’s good for the economy, good for the environment and good for people?

Slugger O’Toole returns to the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh next Wednesday evening (28 July at 7pm) with a panel discussion looking at the triangle between economy, environment and people. Is Northern Ireland keeping those three aspects in balance? Are we destroying people and the planet in the name of prosperity? Can we ensure that wellbeing, sustainability and justice benefit everyone? I’ll be joined by Steven Agnew, Dawn Purvis and Joanne Stuart to mull over what’s good for …

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Lord Patten: “… the problem at heart is not the sausages you get from Sainsbury’s but the porkies that we all get … from Downing Street”

Chris Patten delivering inaugural Seamus Mallon Lecture for Hume Foundation over Zoom

Lord Patten delivered the inaugural Seamus Mallon Lecture this evening, organised by the The John & Pat Hume Foundation. His talk looked back at his time as a direct rule minister: “An appointment to the Northern Ireland Office was often compared with being sent by a Communist Party general secretary in the Soviet Union to manage a power station in Siberia.” He recalled some of his encounters with Seamus Mallon, wishing that there were: “more political leaders in Northern Ireland …

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Reimagining Unionism

Mike Nesbitt’s contributions to a Reimagining Unionism event I filmed at this summer’s Féile an Phobail – along with remarks by fellow panellists Dawn Purvis, Senator Ian Marshall and Sophie Long – are worth considering in light of the decisions around UUP strategy that need to be taken in the changing political battlefield.

Bernadette Smyth: conviction and restraining order quashed

Anti abortion campaigner Bernadette Smyth was cleared on appeal yesterday. She had initially been convicted of harassing Dawn Purvis at the end of last year. At the original trail the judge Chris Holmes made a number of interesting comments. He stated: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not feel it’s appropriate for anyone to be stopped outside this clinic in any form, shape or fashion and questioned either to their identity, why they are going in …

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Briefing about NI Barriers to Accessing Abortion Services launched by Amnesty #MyBodyMyRights

The law governing abortion in Northern Ireland is one of the most restrictive in Europe both in law and in practice … It also carries the harshest criminal penalty in abortion regulation in Europe – life imprisonment for the women undergoing the abortion and for anyone assisting her. A snippet from the executive summary of an Amnesty briefing report launched this morning that looks at Northern Ireland Barriers To Accessing Abortion Services. (Belfast Bar Man mentioned the launch in his …

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NI Universities show strong religious imbalance in student numbers

The Minister for Employment and Learning, Stephen Farry, was asked yesterday by MLAs Jim Allister and Gregory Campbell how many Protestants attended universities in Northern Ireland. The answer – only one third of students. Firstly let’s be clear – it doesn’t matter when students achieve a university place what religion they are. What I am more interested are the reasons behind the figures. Pupil numbers in terms of Secondary and Grammar schools in Northern Ireland can be found on the …

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Healing Through Remembering (new chair Dawn Purvis) refused PEACE III Funding

When Dawn Purvis was defeated at the Stormont elections, a number of commentators on slugger including myself predicted that she would end up with a job in the quango / do-gooder industry. Indeed I suggested that far from helping those whom she claimed to represent (working class unionists in East Belfast) her time especially since she left the PUP had been more directed towards increasing her profile amongst what are sometimes known as the liberal dissidents. Many members of the …

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The defeat of the PUP and Dawn Purvis

Throughout most of the election campaign there was a large billboard on the lower Newtownards Road with a picture of a young woman and the following quote “One year on still no one has delivered for working class unionism; that’s why I’m voting PUP.” As it turned out of course relatively few working class unionists seem to have decided to vote PUP and few unionists of whatever class voted for the PUP’s prodigal former leader Dawn Purvis. The fundamental conceit …

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Catching up with Dawn Purvis

Often it feel like Slugger has a love/hate relationship with Dawn Purvis. The annual judging process is quick to give her awards, while critical commenters are even faster to cast doubt on her political credibility, particularly over the timing of her departure from the PUP last year to become an independent MLA. If you ask me, deep down Dawn Purvis is a political anorak who could carve out a career as a party strategist or advisor. While conveniently fitting her …

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DUP ‘Petition of Concern’ to block double-jobbing bill?

According to Dawn Purvis, the DUP are shaping up to use a ‘Petition of Concern’ to sink her bill that is designed to prevent double-jobbing (where one individual holds the post of a Councillor and an MLA at the same time). The Local Government (Disqualification) Bill has, it seems, passed all-but-one of the assembly’s legislative proces stages. As Purvis says: “The Petition of Concern is a special provision designed to ensure that motions and legislation passed by the Assembly do …

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Tory candidate wants left wing politics: Trevor Ringland’s volte face

Trevor Ringland was one of the shiny new non sectarian, politically right of centre, civic unionist, UCUNF members who was going to take the Tory whip when elected to Westminster. Then unfortunately the story went a bit wrong. Instead he was humiliatingly defeated, managing to take the UUP from second to third, loosing them over 2,000 votes and 10% of the electorate in the process. After his humiliation Ringland memorably demanded the new UUP leader Tom Elliott make a political …

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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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Purvis resignation: The Hobbesian view…

Sorry for the three posts on the same subject in a couple of hours, but I think Mark Devenport’s blog piece flags up an interesting Hobbsian aspect of the Purvis resignation: Having condemned the murder of Bobby Moffett and the subsequent intimidation of people in the Shankill area, Dawn Purvis today went an extra mile by parting company altogether with the UVF’s political wing, the PUP. Cynics may note that this puts her Stormont allowances beyond the grasp of any …

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Dawn Purvis moves on…

Dawn Purvis speaking at 2009 PUP party conference

Dawn Purvis emerged from a school of political thinking in Loyalism fostered by Gusty Spence and promoted by the late PUP leader David Ervine. Miss Purvis, just like her mentors is a rare commodity in Unionism in the sense that she doesn’t patronise working class protestants. And she has a sharp  instinct for what is correct for her community. She has been exceptional in holding out against the status quo thinking on education in the broad Unionist leadership. She recognises, unlike most Unionist …

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Dawn Purvis resigns from the PUP…

Dawn Purvis speaking at 2009 PUP party conference

I had a feeling something like this might happen. Dawn Purvis has resigned from the PUP in the wake of the UVF killing of last week. The historic link with the UVF had always been a limiting factor for the party, and its attempt to garner support for Councillor Dr John Kyle foundered on that particular rock. Barney Rowan reports in today’s Belfast Telegraph: Ms Purvis has resigned both her membership and leadership of the PUP, and will continue in …

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