Belfast Rapid Transit (Glider) Phase 2 announced

This week, Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon launched the public consultation for Phase 2 of the Belfast Rapid Transit (Glider) system.  I think this is a welcome development and will improve connectivity, access to and uptake of public transport in the city.  I remember when Glider was first launched on the east/west route a few years ago. Before it got off the ground, it was fashionable to dump on it (a common pattern for public transport projects on this island). …

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Why Conor Murphy’s Budget is failing our people

Sinéad McLaughlin is an SDLP MLA for Foyle and is the SDLP spokesperson for the economy For the last 14 years, Northern Ireland has been led by joint first ministers from Sinn Fein and the DUP. This leadership was supposed to deliver prosperity after the peace that was delivered by the leadership of John Hume and the SDLP. But instead of prosperity, the North continues to have some of the worst economic outcomes anywhere in Western Europe. My city of Derry …

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It is intolerable that Stormont is handing back hundreds of millions of pounds to London when urgent cancer cases are being denied treatment

The news that 275 people in Northern Ireland with “red-flag” cancer have had their surgery cancelled in the past week has been followed by the tragic irony  that the  Health Service  has been forced  to hand back £90 million unspent this year to the Treasury in Whitehall . The dismal information reminds me of Irish farm produce being exported from Ireland during the Famine of the 1840s while more than a  million starved.  The theory behind it is even more …

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New Decade, Same Nonsense

With the four-week circuit breaker due to expire on Friday, people across Northern Ireland are looking for certainty. Businesses need to know if they can re-open at the weekend. Workers want to know if they’ll get an income over the next few weeks. All the while, six of Northern Ireland’s hospitals are at full capacity. As of this morning, the Executive still hasn’t agreed a way forward.  Robin Swann proposed a two-week extension of the circuit breaker but this was …

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The Future of Retail – #TheReset…

Aodhán Connolly, Director, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium There was an unsettling sense of déjà vu when the latest restrictions on households meeting were announced. After a summer when it, slowly, felt as if Northern Ireland was reopening it was an unpleasant reminder coronavirus is still present and not yet beaten. The feeling of the world closing down a little bit is something we are all adjusting to again. However, things are not the same as March. We have all learnt …

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“Build Back Better” – how do we turn soundbites into a successful reset and recovery?

Sinead McLaughlin is the SDLP’s economy spokesperson, deputy chair of the Assembly’s economy committee and a Foyle MLA. Covid-19 will continue to damage our collective health and our economy for a long time to come. Many businesses will fail and, even more sadly, many more people will die from coronavirus.  Yet it should not be too early to consider recovery. The SDLP has put together four principles for that recovery – a new deal for young people; a new localism; new connectivity; …

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Is a Universal Basic Income from the magic money tree the antidote to recession?

1930s jobless queue. ” Buddy can you spare a dime”? With the mother of all recessions about to hit us we’re told, who can be blamed if we search frantically for magic bullets as furlough payments taper off?   A universal basic income is one of them. Go for it says veteran commentator Simon Jenkins, usually one to save public money from big public spending schemes. Rishi Sunak must think radically. There is no point in saddling individuals, companies or future …

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Next with Covid 19. Is it the economy, stupid?

Newspaper subs are calling it “Manic Monday.” Are they right? How is it with you? Flash in the pan or setting a trend?  This week marks the landmark of a return to shopping, the essential activity for economic revival while Covid is still active. It throws into relief the stark choice everybody hopes to finesse – health or wealth? The need for a strategy for revival is as vital as one for easing out of  lockdown.  In the UK neither …

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Theresa Villiers U- turn! Arch Brexiteer opposes free trade deal with US as ” threat to the Union”

An intriguing little Brexit story.  At a post- referendum conference in 2016 I watched flinching as Ireland’s most eminent public servant Peter Sutherland, former Attorney General, former EU commissioner, first head of the World Trade Organisation, chairman of BP etc.etc ( now sadly dead), tore into the UK’s decision to leave the EU as insane, disastrous etc., giving chapter and verse.  As he finished he admitted with a grin he’d been ranting. Batting for Britain was former NI secretary Theresa …

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The Governor of the Bank of England and Tory back benchers join Boris Johnson to reject the A-word – Austerity

Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England  Because of Covid 19,“ the UK is facing a mega recession” warns the Institute of Fiscal  Studies. It’s hardly a surprise to learn more every day about the dire state of yet another part of the economy. GDP is forecast to slump by 25-30 per cent this quarter, and millions of jobs could be destroyed – with no guarantees about the recovery.   Official figures yesterday showed a 5.8 per cent fall in …

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There is more than one vision of a new Ireland

I’ve yet to read Paul Gosling’s book with the vaultingly ambitious yet carefully ambiguous title “A New Ireland: a new Union, a New Society.”   Judging from the discussion and its antecedents from the Holywell Trust, it makes an important contribution to enriching the debate on the future of the island.  But the logic of ideas seldom reproduces easily in politics. Political will is something else entirely. Broadly there are two contrasting approaches to the future: to follow the logic of …

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How are we really doing compared to the south and GB? The public health and economic positions of coronavirus for Northern Ireland need more searching inquiry

North -south differences of approach to Covid 19 are hampering the chances of saving lives, according to an epidemiologist Prof Gabriel Scally.  He brings apparent authority to differences which have been aired politically but not as far as I’ve seen among other  experts. These differences should surely be resolved at a north-south ministerial meeting today. Scally writes in the Irish News.. The advice to someone in Lifford with symptoms of the disease is to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 …

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A plea to Our Politicians; please spend the emergency funding you have been allocated by the Chancellor as he intended and on the basis of need…

Following the publication of my recent article on Monday literally pleading for Stormont to reallocate money from its capital budgets to stop the collapse of the local economy, it is pleasing to hear Westminster announce targeted financial support for Northern Ireland. However, the pronouncements from our Politicians in recent days as to how they are going to spend these funds is however deeply worrying and their approach needs to be challenged and scrutinised to ensure these funds are not wasted …

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A way can be found between the EU rock and the GB hard place. But will Boris Johnson let us take it?

Katy Hayward We are literally at sea over what Northern Ireland’s special status with the EU will mean  in practice.   Our Brexit guru – or should I now say, our Guru on Trading Relations with GB and the EU Katy Hayward  writing in the Belfast Telegraph explains neatly why Northern Ireland is between a rock and a hard place    In  the past  Katy was keen to repeat assurances that  NI’s  different economic  relationship with the EU from GB  had …

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Medical school plan for Derry Campus now “oven ready” if only an Executive minister signs it off, says NIO minister. Will it happen?

Andrew Adonis, the former Labour cabinet minister and senior adviser to Tony Blair is that rare creature, a British politician who having been introduced to Northern Ireland doesn’t turn away wearily after a short while. He has  decided  to champion our interests. He’s been mocked recently as a fanatical anti-Brexiteer who has had to face defeat. Undaunted, he has  turned to  other causes.  His speech during a debate in the Lords about the Stormont standoff yesterday  triggered an important statement …

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With the best will in the world, you can’t know what you’re voting for today

Let’s begin at (your) home. After all the mystery and muttering about tactics after the election, do you know which main party the DUP would support in government? I don’t. But Nigel Dodds sounds as if he’s nuzzling up to the Tories again with or without an overall majority     There is no doubt that if we reach a tariff-free trade deal with the European Union, that will eliminate the need for most if not all customs checks..I sincerely hope …

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While you’re waiting for election results, why not take a look at the state of Brexit from the Irish point of view?

Fairly dramatic conclusions about the future of the Union and stability in Northern Ireland have been produced in the third Brexit Status Report of the Dublin based Institute of European and International Affairs.    Rather disappointingly the Report avoids discussing post Brexit  strategies for restoring  Stormont or if they fail, options such as direct rule, joint authority or an accountability mechanism for the Northern Ireland people on the future of the “frontstop,” assuming it is ratified by Parliament. A border …

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“Potential lifeline” for Harland and Wolff amid the backstop blues

  The FT reports on a potential lifeline to build Royal Navy frigates for Harland and Wolff.   A consortium led by defence group Babcock International has won the competition to build new frigates for the Royal Navy, securing hundreds of jobs at British shipyards, including in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Under the original proposal, the plan was to assemble the vessels at Rosyth using “blocks” built by H&W and Ferguson. It remained unclear if the role of H&W and …

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Concern deepens in both parts of Ireland over the state of paralysis in Brexit negotiations

Evidence mounts of the economic damage of No Deal to the economies north and south and the implications for the border which are disputed between the British and Irish governments. A no-deal Brexit would mean Northern Ireland’s economy would be at least 3% smaller compared to if the UK stayed in the EU, a new analysis highlighted by the BBC NI Economics correspondent John Campbell suggests. That is a much less severe impact than a UK government analysis which suggested a …

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The true costs of No Deal – the most complete independent assessment yet

Britain in a changing Europe is as near as we’ve got to an objective think on the subject of Brexit. Today as the Commons votes  to forestall a No Deal outcome, they publish their independent assessment on what No Deal actually means for the UK (not the Republic).     This is the Executive summary No deal will mean a prolonged period of uncertainty. Not only do we not know with any certainty when and how no deal impacts will …

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