Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would … Read more

Evaluating the Peace

Seán Brennan, from QUB, evaluates the state of our current peace… As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (GFA) approaches, much talk will focus on celebrating or condemning – in other words evaluating – our ‘peace process’. When evaluating Northern Ireland’s experience of peace, it may surprise some to learn that our experiences are not universally viewed as a success. In fact, it would be fair to say the ‘liberal peace’ – which is what we have … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern … Read more

Equality has arrived but the DUP and Sinn Fein have yet to face up to what it means

“Equality” has always been a Sinn Fein buzzword. As the recanted ex- IRA man Shane Paul O’Doherty lethally today quoted Gerry Adams speaking in 2014: “The point is to actually break these bastards – that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality … That’s what we need to keep the focus on – that’s the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.” Other views are  un-cynical … Read more

London and Dublin must clear their lines for close cooperation on direct rule

Clarity rather than coyness is now needed over moves toward direct rule. Working on its  scope and duration is one more compelling reason for London and Dublin  to stick together.  On Monday at the otherwise disastrous Stormont meeting, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar pledged “to work together on a new plan on how to achieve a frictionless Irish border.” Good luck to them with that. On the continuing local stand-off, two elements are essential. Enough action must be taken to … Read more

On the border, a cabinet split emerges and UK-Irish tensions are renewed, as negative impact assessments of Brexit options are published in full

Northern Ireland comes out third  worst in the full version of regional assessments by HM Treasury of the impact of Brexit region by region. These were leaked to Buzzfeed last week then issued confidentially  to MPs and now published by  the BBC. The assessments, discounted by Brexiteers as failing properly  to model their preferred option of a free trade deal, emerged in full as tensions rose once again over the implications for the   border both within the British cabinet and … Read more

“Monolithic” NHS should back Northern Ireland Randox’s pioneering blood testing techniques

Randox  the global medical diagnostics company with principal research and manufacturing facilities in Crumlin Co Antrim, Dungloe Co Donegal, Bangalore, India and Washington DC has just been singled out for favourable mention by the Times science columnist Matt Ridley. He writes that its leading edge blood diagnostic techniques for cancer are not being adopted quickly enough by “a sclerotic NHS”. Randox was established in 1982 by its Managing Director, Dr Peter FitzGerald in Crumlin, and has since expanded globally. (see Wikipedia) … Read more

“The fact that all of the other parties in the Dáil rallied around to wave the green flag on Tuesday demonstrates not that the Government got it right but that it successfully pandered to populist sentiment”

In the Irish Times, Stephen Collins on the risks involved in the Irish Government’s public positioning over the ongoing Brexit negotiations.  From the Irish Times article The British government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are the ones primarily responsible for Monday’s debacle, but the Irish Government didn’t exactly cover itself in glory. The way Tánaiste Simon Coveney jumped the gun with a premature radio interview on Monday morning and the subsequent mood music suggesting that the Irish side had … Read more

“ambiguity… appears to have led Dublin and Brussels to interpret it as a maximalist position, while the DUP believed or were led to believe that it would or could be minimalist.”

The parlous state of the Brexit negotiations has been generating more than the usual level of idle speculation, and arrant nonsense. [Including on Slugger? – Ed] No names, no pack drill… But there are some intelligent points being made, in some places, which are worth keeping in mind – if you are actually thinking about these things. Like other, usually reliable, observers, The News Letter’s Sam McBride, whilst initially a little puzzled by Monday’s developments, offered a coherent scenario yesterday. … Read more

Robert Peston’s radical solutions for Brexit and for halting the decline of Britain

In the Guardian, do turn up  the trenchant and sweary encounter  between ace newspaper interviewer Decca Aitkenhead and Robert Peston, economics guru- cum- eccentric political interviewer, on  Brexit and the future of the nation. Peston is an acquired taste, a formerly buttoned -up guy who literally as we can see, has let his hair down since he went on TV late in life and longs to come across as spontaneously ordinary but can’t find quite the right notes. (that cringing-making … Read more

Brexit: So what will happen to the economy when the foreign workers go home?

Over on Channel 4 there is a new darkly funny fly on the wall documentary series “British Workers Wanted“. It shows a recruitment company in England coping with life during Brexit. 98% of the company’s recruitment staff are foreign, but what do you do when after Brexit the foreign workers start to leave? The show follows the company’s efforts to recruit British workers to do the jobs that the foreign workers used to do, but with predictably dire results. This 1-minute … Read more

Brexit and embracing our new found status as the Poland of the British Isles…

I got a query this morning from a reader in Dublin who plans to come up for our End of Year Review event. They wanted to know what time the event ended so they could book the bus back home. I suggested a better idea, stay over and make a night of it. The new Premier Inn Hotel is less than a one minute walk to the venue and is only a bonkersly cheap £35 a night! Since Brexit the … Read more

#StateofState “The billion pound deal negotiated by the DUP to support the Conservative Government was well designed”

This is the time of year Deloitte release their State of the State report which reviews the performance of the UK government and the devolved administrations. The report in its entirety can be read here. What I will focus in here is the findings from Northern Ireland. Austerity The report points out the general public tiredness with austerity by noting the following; After the June 2017 general election, Chancellor Philip Hammond reflected that voters had become “weary of the long … Read more

SOAPBOX: Can the economy be Irish? #ESRCfestival

SOAPBOX – The OU’s Dr Leslie Budd recalls economist George Shackle’s observation that to be an economist one has to be an anthropologist, political scientist, mathematician, philosopher, and sociologist with an interest in economics. It is these characteristics that are vital in creating a narrative and conversation about Brexit. Irish storytelling could help address the challenge facing us.

A cautious welcome for Bombardier’s apparent rescue

While  the news about Bombardier is very welcome, a note of caution is also due. Boeing is not taking it lying down. Again, though Bombardier are saying that  a new C-series production line in Alabama means  expansion of   C-series production as a whole,  there are bound to be fears  that  Bombardier/Airbus  may eventually switch some  production  to Alabama  at the expense of  Belfast if sales forecasts don’t materialise. However the Chinese are said to be interested in the project. And … Read more

Message to the EU: Ireland’s economic interests are as important as the peace process

Irish Times Brussels correspondent Patrick Smyth demolishes the option of a border down the Irish Sea – not just because the UK government and the unionists won’t have it – but because it is against the economic interests of the Republic.  This assessment follows the leaking of a report by the Office of the Irish Revenue Commissioners saying that an invisible border on the island is “impossible”. “It is probably somewhat naive to believe that a new and entirely unique … Read more

Are we seeing spin to reduce the scale of the RHI scandal?

It seems moves are afoot to massage  down the estimate of the RHI overspend and thus presumably the damage to Arlene Foster and her official and party advisers. The “ new” information reported by Jonny Bell in the Bel Tel dates from January and  is therefore not new but newly exposed, we’re told. (Stand by for a chorus telling us they knew it all along).  The scaling down rests on the presented fact that the costs of  installing “combined heating … Read more

Active north-south cooperation would be the intelligent unionist response to Sinn Fein’s vision of unity out of Brexit

There has been a delayed reaction of critical comment on the Oireacthas report on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in the light of Brexit. The report called for special status for Northern Ireland within the EU but coupled it with a drive to work for unionist consent to a united Ireland. This would include a new New Ireland Forum of the type held in the early 1980s which recognised unionist Britishness but was repudiated by Fianna Fail and … Read more

A reply on Brexit to Nicholas Whyte

I don’t think I did leave out “the important dimension” of the Irish border, one of three issues identified by the EU before trade talks can begin. On this I agreed with the Brexit Secretary David Davis who asked how the border issue could  possibly be settled in advance.  A settlement on the Irish border has surely to be compatible with a wider deal and the EU I suspect will not allow an Irish tail to wag the EU dog. … Read more

Sharper words from Varadakar but no change in substance. But here’s a new idea.

It’s hardly a surprise that the Dublin government’s latest expressions of concern about Brexit are focused  on Ireland.  But why should the Irish expect  greater clarity and urgency from London on the border when London has been so  vague about everything else?  By itself, lack of clarity needn’t  be taken as a  sign of indifference. Leo Varadkar’s comments may be a mite sharper than Enda Kenny’s, but in substance there is not an iota of difference between them. Mr Varadkar, … Read more