Local Environmental & Planning Governance Under Scrutiny (Somewhat)

On the heels of another damning report on failures relating to compliance with environmental and planning rules, Northern Ireland will be subject to international scrutiny December under the aegis of the authoritative United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Convention. The Convention – named after the Danish city where it was adopted in 1998 – grants citizens rights and imposes on Parties (including the UK) and public authorities obligations regarding access to information and public participation and access to environmental … Read more

Environmental Governance Failure in Northern Ireland: High Time to Turn Over a New Leaf

By Ciara Brennan, Ray Purdy and Peter Hjerp Recent scandals including the RHI debacle and the discovery of illegal dumping on a massive scale (most notably at the Mobuoy Road ‘super-dump’) have catapulted Northern Ireland’s environmental governance failures into the public eye. The divergence from what can be considered ‘good’ environmental governance is clear and the environmental, economic and socio-political consequences of these failures cannot be overestimated. Protecting the environment is not a one-way cost and there has been very little … Read more

Is British Democracy Becoming A Competition of Incompetence?

If we all stand back and take a ruthless, non-tribal, unheroic look at the standards on offer in the general election, this is a competition of incompetence. It is only because the Labour Party has so lost its way that the Conservatives appear in any way competent. In practice, the Conservative’s current majority and ‘liberation’ from the moderating power of the LibDems, has seen them binging on their ideology: cut public services in the name of austerity economics, harsh on … Read more

And what will follow this ‘whatever you’re having yourself’ #AE17 election?

Allowing for Summer and Christmas holiday’s, this election campaign will run for one fifth of the time the last Executive lasted. Not a world record (I’m sure Italy has done better), but evidence perhaps that some prefer running elections to actually running Northern Ireland. Post hoc rationalisers blame Mrs Foster for being the ‘wrong sort of DUP leader’: somehow convincing themselves Peter Robinson was better.But his efforts ran to bizarre extreme sports to keep the DUP inside after the PSNI alleged the Provisionals were involved in a high profile … Read more

Top of @UKLabour’s new Deputy ‘to do’ list is to sort out the party’s governance system

‘Don’t mistake a mass meeting for a mass movement’ -Mick McGahey, former VP of the NUM It’s probably too harsh to invoke the ancient proverb that runs “a fish rots from the head down” when it comes to the Labour party. But it is probably true that the difficulties in their leadership race is based on an attempt to handle the disruption of the new connective technologies that allow voters to talk through them and past them. The key problem for everyone (ie, not just … Read more

“…no evidence that any other person was involved, so I am sceptical of this political allegation”

Jamie Delargy on UTV last night gave as sharp and precise a precis of where we are with the Nama story thus far. Two points worth highlighting: There is no evidence that that money was then destined for any other person. It was under the control of Ian Coulter, it may have been the case that Mr Coulter intended keeping that money, it may have been the case that he was going to pay other people, but we have no … Read more

Scotland, “England” and the post colonial struggle for warmth and freedom between porcupines…

Melanie McDonagh writing in London based Evening Standard thinks Michael D “…isn’t so much a foreign dignitary; more like a friendlier version of Alex Salmond”. Aha, now it would be tempting to go with the ‘well if Scotland was independent…’ line, but it’s probably better to point out that as President Michael D is supposed to stay clear of politics. In fact, London is probably the least advantageous point to understand the nature and perhaps even the merits of the … 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

Rangers: Where has all the money gone?

Good piece in the Glasgow Herald this morning asking some searching questions about where all the money can have gone by the second week in February: By all accounts, HMRC officials were on their way to serve papers to the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Monday, but Whyte beat them to it. Speculation had been mounting this course of action from the taxman was linked to other unpaid bills and yesterday it was confirmed HMRC is investigating non-payment of … Read more

Decent government will sort the Constitutional question…

I’ve a piece in Saturday’s News Letter, as part of that paper’s focus on Unionism in 2021. At its core, I argue that Unionists, and Nationalists for that matter, in Northern Ireland have been living vicariously off the virtues of their own ideas of their mother state for years, but that: Increasingly, our politics will be about being good in government, and making strong coherent choices that enhance rather than blight the future. As 2021 dawns, our choices should be … Read more

NI Water: “No, I do not believe that there was a conflict of interest.”

Slugger understands that there is growing unease amongst members of Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee with Peter Dixon’s unprecedented attack on the Committee’s line of inquiry, and the apparent silence on the matter from their own chair, Paul Maskey.  This passage from Hansard is illustrative of the line which drew fire from the Phoenix Gas CEO: Ms Purvis: On the back of that, Chairperson, I raised the point with the regulator last week that Peter Dixon was to head up the independent review team. … Read more