Once more around the fishbowl … or maybe not

SOAPBOX – Ali FitzGibbon responds to yesterday’s post agreeing that the price of administering public resources can be disproportionate to the budget but arguing that participative budgeting would prone to localism, dominant interests and fails to capture the boundary-smashing, crazy adventure, the surprise and imaginative leaps that are the essence of the arts.

Casement Park Development: Further allegations at Assembly Committee Hearing

The BBC reports that GAA official, and independent Northern Ireland Policing Board member, Ryan Feeney, has threatened “immediate [legal] action” following further allegations by the chairman of the safety technical group, Sport NI’s Paul Scott, of pressure being exerted to drop concerns about safety at the controversial proposed £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.  Mr Scott was appearing again in front of the NI Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure. From the BBC report Mr Feeney later issued … Read more

Do we need more funding for musical instruments for bands?

Lee Reynolds in transit at Belfast's Orange Parade, 12 July 2011

A motion was passed in the Assembly today on the need for funding musical instruments and I wanted to get the Sluggerverse’s perspective on it. The  motion was proposed by DUP MLA’s Nelson McCausland, Gordon Dunne, David Hilditch and William Humphrey. Here it is in full text That this Assembly notes the cultural, artistic and community importance of bands in Northern Ireland; recognises the importance of Musical Instruments for Bands funding programme; expresses its disappointment at the failure of the … Read more

Carál Ní Chuilín: “What is clear to me is that there has been an anti-GAA element throughout…”

Having had to apologise for “an error” in claiming that the “Electoral commission vetoed using last election figures” in defence of Sinn Féin’s sectarian leaflet campaign in North Belfast, the Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, might have been better advised to be more cautious in her public utterances in future… Despite having reportedly announced, last Thursday, a full review of the new Casement Park Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) ground redevelopment plan, on Tuesday, … Read more

Casement Park STG Chair: “we were being attempted to be coerced, pressurised into signing off something that we were singularly uncomfortable with…”

The BBC reports on the latest wrinkle in the on-going saga of the controversial £70million redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast – stalled in December last year when Belfast High Court quashed the decision to grant planning approval for the redevelopment. At the start of April this year, the BBC obtained the minutes of the last meeting of the Casement Park Development Safety Technical Group (STG), in November 2014, under a Freedom of Information request.   The STG is made up of representatives … Read more

@CaralNiChuilin on dealing with the past

Everyone is familiar with legacies of the development boom and bust, such as ghost estates or negative equity. A slightly less obvious legacy was raised in the Assembly yesterday when Carál Ní Chuilín answered a question on the preservation of archaeological collections recovered from sites being developed during the boom. Currently a working group is preparing a report on how to deal with this issue for the Environment Minister, Mark Durkan, who has the majority of responsibility in this area. … Read more

The North short-changed in Irish language shake up

So yesterday (Thursday) Pobal, the Irish language advocacy group for Northern Ireland, had its critique of the failures of the Stormont Assembly and Executives regarding the Irish language strategy endorsed by no less an organisation than the Council of Europe. But today the cross border body, Foras na Gaeilge, announces the new ‘lead organisations/ceann eagraiochtai’ for the promotion of Irish on an all Ireland basis and none of the NI based organisations, including POBAL, Iontaobhas ULTACH, Forbairt Feirste or Altram … Read more

Lough Neagh Working Group: “This report may never see the light of day.”

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, having set up a inter-departmental Working Group by September last year, “to explore and pursue actively the potential for a cross-departmental approach to bring Lough Neagh back into public ownership”, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has lost the group’s report down the back of the sofa told the DUP MLA Paul Frew that the report “is [still] going through due process”.  [It’s not for sale! – Ed]  “but if the assembly … Read more

Culture Minister faces down IFA over reappointment of Martin…

Well, I have to say our ministers don’t have a lot of power to act effectively on their own, but Carál Ní Chuilín was adamant yesterday in the Assembly that her department was not going to back down over her refusal to allow funding to the Irish Football Association for the redevelopment of Windsor Park. Why? This piece in the Belfast Telegraph explains: At the centre of the row is one man, David Martin, who was elected deputy president of … Read more

DARD also appointing more Catholics than Protestants (as well as DCAL and DRD)…

Well, without adding too many caveats to this one, I think Jim Allister is on to something with his posting of the latest employment figures at DARD… It’s a spectacular outcome when you consider “24 Protestants were appointed from 159 applicants and 20 RCs from just 74 applicants”. Now the caveats. We really ought to see what the picture is across all departments. And as one commenter on Slugger’s Facebook page noted: …with Catholics being majority at universities here, they … Read more

Are public libraries under-appreciated and under-used?

From the 1880s, Andrew Carnegie began to give money to build libraries – the most widely recognised feature of his philanthropy. From that date, he devoted himself to providing the capital for the building of public libraries and the development of library services. Between 1883 and 1929, 2,509 libraries were built, including 1,689 in the USA, 660 in the UK and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and South Africa. So it should come … Read more

“However, the Minister told us that she was too busy to see us.”

With potential European Commission fines still pending for the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to protect a special habitat in Strangford Lough, another area of contention, environmentally, has opened up – with further potential EC fines.  This time, it’s commercial salmon fishing.  And the Department responsible for licensing the nets used is the NI Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). On the 12 January the NI DCAL minister, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín, publicly called for a voluntary moratorium on the taking of salmon.  … Read more

Question master Jim Allister? And should David McClarty be more like him?

Jim Allister interview screen grab

The TUV’s sole MLA Jim Allister has been getting a reputation for running a one-man opposition/scrutiny function up at Stormont. Martina Purdy summed up well the exchange in the Assembly chamber on 13 September between TUV leader Jim Allister, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál Ní Chuilín, and Assembly Speaker William Hay: When Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin told the chamber, whimsically, that she and Mr Allister were “firm friends,” he accused her of misleading the house. Mr Allister … Read more

50:50 is back … for arts festivals

Nelson McCausland speaking about unionist culture the night before the main November 2010 DUP conference

Should arts festivals (that receive public funding) display a balance across their programming of musical tastes and political opinion? Nelson McCausland is in the news again. It’s a question that’s raised once more as the BBC lead their bulletins with the results of an FOI request to DCAL that has revealed the local minister’s directions to the Belfast Festival. This morning’s BBC report explains: The email is part of an exchange between the director of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, … Read more

Nelsons Swansong?

                        Last Monday saw the publication of a report/study on the Marching Bands of Northern Ireland. Commissioned by the Minister for Culture, Nelson McCauseland and DCAL, the report “aims to promote understanding and encourage development of the largest section of the community arts sector”. The report runs to 37 pages with 7 appendices. The detailed specification for the Project states that it must address various areas and undertake a … Read more

“If the Executive took a needs based approach rather than a politically expedient route…”

As BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport says of the announced Northern Ireland Executive approval of a “package of circa £138million [to] be used to upgrade regional stadiums at Windsor Park, Ravenhill and Casement Park, and take forward sub regional stadium developments for football.” …one aspect of the announcement which is questionable is its very symmetry. If the Executive took a needs based approach rather than a politically expedient route, would both the GAA and Soccer require exactly £61.4 million? I know … Read more

“It is pure frustration that for five years we have been led along with a bit of string.”

As Gonzo noted back in December IF this contrite statement is anything to go by, DUP Sports Minster Nelson McCausland must have hauled Sport NI chief executive Eamonn McCartan over the coals for listing off on TV reasons why we weren’t attracting Olympic interest. McCartan told the BBC that no Olympic teams had committed to train here for the 2012 Games due to our violent image, the threat from dissidents, geographical location, travel costs and access to Olympics venues. But … Read more