Budget 2016 – An opportunity to ease the burden on squeezed classes

In the second of our pre-budget series Longford based Independent Barbara Smyth outlines the measures she would like to see implemented to improve the lot of families and those struggling to cope. Continuous austerity budgets have seen the most vulnerable people in our society having to accept being the ones who suffered the most. Working families who have always paid their taxes, mortgages, bills and contributed most to our economy have seen their disposable income vanish. Child poverty increased while …

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“Local houses for local people”? Hey, isn’t that the Executive’s preferred housing policy?

Interesting story on BBCNI just now, of what appears to a racialist protest in Garnerville in East Belfast outside the house of Michael Abiona who according to the Beeb “serves in key roles in the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities”. Interesting too that just yesterday the NICEM published a report which noted that “8.3% of reported cases were successfully prosecuted between this January and April”. Abiona told the BBC… “A woman told me the place should be meant for locals, she said there are …

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

A long time ago on the 20th June 1968 Austin Currie began a sit in protest because Dungannon Rural District Council had allocated a council house to Emily Beattie a 19 year old woman who was the secretary of a local unionist politician. Miss Beattie was given the house ahead of others in greater need. Today a High Court judgement found that St. Matthew’s Housing Association acted unlawfully over the allocation of housing in Short Strand. Mr Justice Horner said: …

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25% increase in homelessness as a result of intimidation (just one OFMdFM’s real problems)

Courtesy of Mark Devenport tweeted directly from Stormont… Jennifer Hawthorne told Social Development Committee figure stood at around 580 cases, 387 of which were due to paramilitary intimidation — Mark Devenport (@markdevenport) May 16, 2013 Some things won’t just go away by chiding the media for being too pessimistic… This is one of the hidden costs in collapsing into a separate but equal approach to the future… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the …

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McCausland to downsize the Housing Executive to a small strategic body?

Okay, so thanks to Barry McCaffrey of The Detail for the detailed commentary on the announcement of the reform of the Housing Executive of Northern Ireland. According to the notes to editors that comes with the publication of the Minister’s written statement, this measure was agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive on 13 December 2012. We don’t have any detail of the discussion that followed, but you might say that it’s long reign as the only provider of public sector …

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Girdwood and the problem of shared spaces in contested areas…

So that evening, the party walked from the CSI committee: At Tuesday’s meeting Alliance brought things to a head by presenting a list of eight essential items which they believe should be on any document to promote a shared society. It includes a review of segregated housing, a framework for dealing with illegal flags and emblems and a test of all public spending to ensure it prioritises sharing over separation. That same night that Spotlight programme put a lighted flame …

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Masterplan for Girdwood: “back to the sectarian drawing board…”

The Northern Ireland First and deputy First Minsters recently announced the second round of funding, £1.5million, available from the Executive and Atlantic Philanthropies’ ‘Contested Spaces’ Programme, although I’m still not entirely clear where the other £2.5million went… The announcement, in the absence of a “Cohesion, Sharing and Integration” strategy, rebranded, and “watered down” to the “lowest commmon denominator“, or otherwise, coincides with the reveal of a new contested space the masterplan for the regeneration of the Girdwood Park former military base.  [And the Crumlin …

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DSD’s using sticking plaster when a comprehensive housing review is what’s needed?

From a systemic point of view, the most worrying aspect of the Northern Ireland Water story (in all its often obscure complexity) was the unfit-for-purpose nature of internal (and external) reporting around government processes. In yesterday’s subscription only Irish News Newton Emerson offers a fascinating and important insight into ‘how things are done’ in Northern Ireland politics government yesterday. The picture he gets reading from the back of the Inquiry report on Helm housing’s disastrous venture into property speculation is very different from that given …

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Occupy Belfast – a (small) protest about housing

Gerry Lynch mentioned Occupy Belfast in a post yesterday. I called past the front of Belfast City Hall just before 1pm today to see the latest in their series of Saturday afternoon protests. I started asking people who were sitting or standing around the railings if they knew there was going to be a protest, or had heard about Occupy Belfast and what they stood for. There was a mixed reaction, with quite a few people aware of the tents …

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Allister fears Maze will become a new Poleglass…

I remember the building of Poleglass, mostly because I was working at NIE at the time the first residents were moving in and the plans for the new developments passed through the offices I was working in. The plans for it were subject to a huge political push back, particularly from Unionist politicians in Lisburn who feared (rightly as it happened) that its proximity to West Belfast would bring in a huge influx of nationalists into the then Borough. So …

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