Belfast Chamber launches a report on the future of Belfast

Yesterday, Belfast Chamber launched a report on the future of the city of Belfast. As many of you know a pet idea of mine is a dramatic overhaul of how the city and it’s wider suburbs are governed. City Mayors have been found in many jurisdictions to be wide net positives for growth and securing investment. The Chamber have examined a number of case studies about powers for the city and what could be achieved from more devolution to local …

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Taking control of our finances is the natural next step for Northern Ireland…

Devolution is a process, not an event. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t actually Donald Dewar, the first First Minister of Scotland, who said that. It was the lesser-known former Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies. It was just another soundbite, but it does contain an important political point about the purpose and character of devolution. At the time, there were two dominant and opposing trains of thought. One was that devolution would satisfy the appetite of the majority of the voting …

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Differences over Covid management within the UK shouldn’t be exaggerated but they are provoking a rethink of how the UK is governed

Schadenfreude at the state of the United Kingdom is a familiar default sentiment among republicans who comment in Slugger.  They believe that  mishandling of Brexit and now Covid  is evidence of terminal decline. The notion is not limited to those predisposed against the UK . It crosses the community. What encourages the republican- minded depresses unionist Cassandras like Alex Kane. The most eloquent is the Guardian columnist Martin Kettle. To the surprise of many of those watching, and perhaps even …

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Slugger TV looks at the new Executive

Slugger TV: Episode 34 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. This months show we look at the new Executive with Allison Morris and Sarah Creighton The Youtube version below has subtitles if you need them: You can also listen to it as a podcast, just search for Slugger O’Toole in your favourite podcast app. Or click play below for audio: Powered by RedCircle David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him …

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Every day we spend in our trenches, refusing to cooperate and meet the needs of people and communities across this island promotes the politics of division further.

Colum Eastwood is the Leader of the SDLP Twenty one years ago, this month, the Nobel Committee announced that John Hume and David Trimble would be awarded the Peace Prize for their work to bring an end to conflict on this island and to forge institutions which compelled people from different backgrounds and with different beliefs to work together in our substantial common interests. The speech that John gave in Oslo when he accepted the prize is a manifesto for …

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Can we set a date yet? Same Sex Marriage in NI

There’s been a lot of analysis of the Westminster vote – but not quite enough understanding of its true implications. Around this time last year I provided an update on the campaign for same sex marriage  so I’ll try and do the same again. Given that NI is still in limbo with no direct rule, but no devolved assembly the Secretary of State is constantly relying on senior civil servants or emergency legislation to keep the lights on in NI. …

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There is a clear ministerial and Parliamentary majority for supporting these changes for Northern Ireland we simply need the opportunity for MPs to act

Emma Campbell is Co-Chair of Alliance for Choice As one of the Co-Chairs of Alliance for Choice I am encouraged by the possibility of movement on both abortion rights and equal marriage in Westminster today. Yet another Executive Functions Bill is simply a delaying tactic by the UK Government who don’t want to rock their own Brexit boat and who are completely cowed by the DUP. No devolution, no direct rule, no governance ad nauseum. But that doesn’t mean we …

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Abortion is a sensitive and complex issue which is why decisions around it are devolved.

Carla Lockhart is a Lurgan based DUP MLA for Upper Bann. Here she challenges the attempt by some Westminster MPs to include a number of changes to Northern Irish law within a piece of legislation designed to push back the current deadline. Over the course of the next few days the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill will be passing through the House of Commons. This Bill is designed to amend the date by which the Secretary of State must call …

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Is the LGBT community about to be thrown under the bus again?

If any of you are like me and are a massive political nerd, then the current round of talks aimed at restoring the Northern Ireland Executive have probably been as exciting and enthralling as washing the dishes. I’m not for a moment insinuating that the talks process isn’t important. But much like washing the dishes, it’s now become routine, benign and banal. Karen Bradley continues to underwhelm and underperform at the most basic level, as both the Alliance Party and …

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Restoring devolution and seeking reunification go hand in hand

It has been two years the Executive collapsed and as usual the debate has shifted to a border poll with the usual questions, when it should be held? Under what circumstances? etc. I have read with some a certain lack of surprise some Nationalists say “we are over Stormont” and that there is little point in trying to revive the institutions. However, I think the frustration that many had about the previous Executive has led to a certain misguided malaise. …

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Northern Ireland must rethink how public services are delivered to overcome the challenges ahead

The annual State of the State report has been released by Deloitte with some fascinating observations about the challenges facing a potential future Executive in Northern Ireland. On the lack of an Executive; The lack of an Assembly and Executive means that decisions have not been made on reform and transformation of public services, on economic and social policies or on major planning decisions since early 2017. In that time, ambitious health reforms have slowed, the economic gap between Northern …

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Future Ireland / Northern Ireland and the Humpty Dumpty World of Schrödinger’s Cats

Apparently you follow the rabbit down a hole and you emerge in a wonderland …. Ken Clarke – House of Commons “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Lewis Carrol – Alice in Wonderland The …

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So when can we get married? An update on the campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

We are coming to the end of another packed and exciting Pride week in Belfast. I’ve been struck by how many rainbow flags are billowing in the wind across Belfast city centre. From small newsagents to bars to coffee shops – it seems to me there are many more than previous years. I’m taking it as a sign of progress. I love Pride week, because it is the time of year when we hear the voices of people we don’t …

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British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference to meet on 25th July

Pleased to confirm a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference has been agreed between both Governments for 25th July, London. This is an important Good Friday Agreement structure for dialog and consultation and will have an agenda dealing with East/West and NI issues @rtenews — Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) June 28, 2018 The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood welcomed the move; The Conference must agree on a package of legislation that will deliver on language issues and the reform of the Petition of Concern …

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Make no mistake about it, this was an important judgement for human rights in Northern Ireland

On the 7th June 2018 the Supreme Court finally delivered its judgement on Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. Activists and lawyers have been waiting for the ruling with baited breath. The decision comes a few weeks after the referendum in the Republic of Ireland to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It’s fair to say the judgement wasn’t quite what people expected. The case was, as Lady Hale said, ‘an unusually difficult case to resolve.’ In a sprawling 144 page judgement four of …

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Young People Not Immune to Political Deadlock

Paul McCusker is the SDLP Councillor for Oldpark Twenty years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the ceasefire generation – for the most part – live a peaceful and prosperous life, free from the violence and the heartache of the past. There is however a forgotten generation; a generation who still feel the weight of living in areas controlled by paramilitaries, whose parents and grandparents lost their lives in the conflict, who live in communities barricaded by “peace” walls, who …

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Naomi Long: Alliance still believes a positive vision, bold ideas and strong leadership is the only way to move forward and respect the spirit of the GFA

Naomi Long is the Leader of the Alliance Party, ahead of her party conference she writes for Slugger about ways to break the current deadlock at Stormont Twenty years ago, nearly three out of four people in Northern Ireland stepped forward to support the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Despite the huge challenges and deep divisions within society, and acknowledging the GFA was not perfect, it was recognised then the next steps forward could be positive for our community. People were …

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The spending dilemma in the NI Health Service

Nick Garbutt over on Scope NI has an excellent article on health spending and the challenges facing us in the future First to the budget. Secretary of State Karen Bradley’s written statement commits to a 5.5% uplift on last year’s allocation. This sounds terrific. But it is important to remember that the increase is based on last year’s starting position. However last year an extra £140 million was found for Health through in-year allocations – redistributing unspent monies from other …

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Paula Bradshaw: We need to talk about domestic violence

Alliance Party MLA, Paula Bradshaw writes for Slugger for the issue of domestic violence We need to talk about domestic violence. Specifically, we need to recognise that the failure to restore the Executive and Assembly is holding up efforts to protect women (and men) from domestic abuse, stalking, and coercive control. Judith Gillespie’s timely contribution to the debate reminds us that – regardless of the esteem in which our devolved institutions are held – they remain the forum to deliver …

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