Another few words of sense about dealing with the past that the politicians refuse to face.

Chris Ryder, veteran reporter and specialist on police matters, is given space in the Irish Times to repeat the case for halting all pre- Troubles  cases and leaving them to historians. Although he is known as a critical friend of the police,  he makes a fair and balanced  case which should be considered entirely  on its merits. This was an approach I ran with to support Arkiv, a group of historians who wanted to take it on, initially encouraged by the … Read more

“rather than trying to pretend that essentially, testing does not exist”

As the BBC notes, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, the DUP’s Peter Weir, has reversed the department’s previous position prohibiting the use of academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils transfer to.  That position was set out in 2008 by then NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, and upheld by the subsequent Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd.  From the BBC report A circular sent to school principals on Wednesday removes any prohibition on using academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils … Read more

Can we finally wind up the paramilitaries by consent? The panel report has been delivered

Striking a balance between recognising where local power lies and the aim of bringing paramilitarism to an end is the fiendishly tricky approach of the report to the two governments and the Executive of the three- person panel headed by John Alderdice. In the jargon the strategy is about Demilitarisation, Disbandment and Integration (DDR). The panel set up under Fresh Start was asked  to produce a one-off report. It wasn’t  a standing body like the International Monitoring Commission (IMC), of which … Read more

Is a two party stitch up the nearest thing to powersharing we’re likely to get?

HNIW45 from The Detail on Vimeo. Right, so. Great analysis here from both Newton Emerson (and whoever who does his graphics). Under Fresh Start there is now a negotiation period for the new Programme for Government of two weeks, but Arlene Foster admitted in February she’s started working on it already (ie before the election). A two party stitch up. Well, I never? The big fault with all of the Programme for Government negotiations is that they are done in … Read more

Evason’s timebound benefit tapering means losses kick in after the Assembly election …

Nothing demonstrates the zero gravity of NI politics more than the nationalist reaction to the Evason report. The SDLP who fought a rearguard action on welfare cuts welcomed it even though it contains for the first time, time bound benefits. They reason that she has implemented some of the measures they proposed but were blocked by joint Sinn Fein and DUP action. Sinn Fein on the other hand have said nothing, except to put out this presser (under the bylines of … Read more

Much of the ‘new’ #FreshStart money is now no longer required…

So, no need for that new money to offset the cuts in Universal Tax Credit. George Osborne left it to the last minute and then deemed that the offset cash was not necessary because he wasn’t going to make the cuts anyway (with it goes the illusion of a better Stormont deal)… The Chancellor has said that his previously announced cuts to tax credits will not go ahead. The changes would have meant 121,000 Northern Ireland households losing an average … Read more

Is it time to reduce the number of our MLAs?

CUTTING THE MLAS: Tomorrow the Assembly will debate this motion brought forward by the Alliance party. The party claims that if this measure is introduced by the next election that it could see a saving of £11 million over the course of the next assembly term.

A Fresh Start: How does it add up?

MONEY GAME: Most of the new money is dedicated to issues that are Northern Ireland specific.
A total of £188m will be made available for security-related spending. The PSNI will get an unconditional £160m over the next five years to tackle dissident republicans and other paramilitaries.