“this is significantly exacerbated by the political situation in Northern Ireland”

As well as those briefings by the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, both he and the NI First Minister have been dismissing political criticism of the draft NI Executive spending plans as ‘electioneering’.  No doubt that’s a consideration for some, but it’s not a charge that can be levelled at the Assembly’s Finance Committee. And as the Belfast Telegraph reports, PricewaterhouseCooper’s economic analysis of those draft plans is that “the [NI] Budget may not be deliverable in its current form”. [Esmond Birnie, Chief Economist at PwC … Read more

“I have heard it from very good authority…”

When is calling for a properly-funded opposition not a call for a properly-funded opposition? When it’s secret negotiations over compensation for lost ministerial funds… At least, that’s the line the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has been busily spinning to anyone who will listen. And it comes “from very good authority”… “within the NIO”. [Ah, “the securocrats” – Ed] They’re on ‘our’ side this time! [They always were… – Ed] Indeed. Pete Baker

“That long term approach is not confined to policing…”

Confirmation that the UK government is to provide an additional £200million to help the PSNI combat the continuing, and increasing, terrorist threat here – over four years with £57.1m in 2011-12, £53.3m in 2012-13, £62.4m in 2013-14 and £26.7m in the final year. And the BBC report carries these comments from the NI Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford. David Ford said he had worked closely with the Chief Constable “to ensure that the needs of Northern Ireland are recognised in … Read more

Why not have a virtual Dail Eireann?

Nice post from Dan Sullivan, who also blogs with Slugger, which identfies a kink in the in idea that shorter working days (or rather nights) are more friendly. Hmm, not for those TDs who live down country says Dan. Instead, he suggests: …a solution to this might be to question why we need the Dail chamber aspect of being a parliamentarian requires you to be in Dublin at all. Might we start to reconsider the assembly nature of Dail process … Read more

Political reform: Brief case for a constitutional convention 2.0

There are some batty ideas doing the rounds at the moment, not least with regard to political reform in the Republic. The best I’ve heard so far was from James on Twitter the other night, which suggested emigrants could get the vote, if they lived in a number of extra territorial uber-constituencies (ahem, Northern Ireland wasn’t one of them). For reference you can find my own thoughts on that matter here. Everyone’s now talking about reform, so much that the … Read more

“It’s all a bit hasty and half-cock…”

The Guardian‘s Michael White attempts to get to grips with the various parties’ sudden positioning on the need for political reform ahead of the Irish general election. Why are all the parties thrashing around for reform? You must have guessed. Because after 20 years of purring happily as the Celtic Tiger economy, the Republic of Ireland has suffered a double smash since the crash of 2007, its cronyist politics – obsessed with permanent pork-barrel electioneering – widely blamed for not challenging the … Read more

Getting beyond the likely ‘gridlock’ of future reforms…

There’s a canny piece from John Rogers, Labour’s former Attorney General from 1984-87 in the Irish Times today on the subject of political reform in the Republic. He starts by usefully restating the bleedin’ obvious on why the much researched and much debated Seanad reforms never happened: The truth probably is that none of the political parties wanted real reform of the Seanad because real reform inevitably would mean Seanad electoral reform. Of course there could not be such reform … Read more

Ireland’s colonial legacy: “A parliament collapsed into a government”

Re-Reading the history of Irish Republicanism through the prism of Martin Frampton’s latest book, Legion of the Rearguard I’m struck mostly by its pervasively inchoate character. That’s an impression substantiated not just by the strong historical tradition of dissent, but even by apparently random action of that most constitutionalist of Taoisigh, John A Costello who it appears (according to John Bowman) broke Ireland’s link with the Commonwealth on foot of a question from the Canadian press. Fintan O’Toole is not … Read more

Spending cuts prompt Peter’s move on political reform. Will it work?

So Peter is moving on this at last. What’s not clear is his next move other than into thin air.  Cutting the sizes of the overblown Assembly and Executive is an appropriate  aim with additional political motives. It follows on the  proposed reduction of Westminster seats and Stormont constituencies to 15 and the reduction by one of the MLAs in each constituency. Peter’s timing suggests he has given up on getting agreement with SF and the other parties  behind the scenes. Or … Read more