Failed candidates, don’t give up on your Assembly dream…

northern ireland, stormont, parliament

Selecting an Assembly candidate can be a fraught and tense business for many local associations but what does it feel like to be an unsuccessful contender? On Tuesday last I had the pleasure of putting my name forward to be the next Alliance Party candidate for the forthcoming Assembly elections. It turned out to be a hugely rewarding experience even though the result did not necessarily go my way. More generally, I believe that we should explore how unsuccessful candidates …

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North Down MLA Alex Easton resigns from the DUP…

Jeffrey Donaldson is only into the job of DUP leader for a few hours and already his unruly colleagues are giving him trouble. Alex Easton said he will stand as an independent in the next election. He said: “I’ve given 21 years of my life to the DUP, sometimes to the detriment of my health & well-being. It has been extremely lonely at times for me, & few have cared how I have felt.” I have had to stand back …

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Stormont crisis averted. Until the next crisis…

So to no great surprise to anyone, Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed to fudge the issue of the Irish Language Act. They have run to colonial daddy to implement the legislation for them at Westminster. BBC News: NI ministerial nominations due as Stormont stand-off ends BBC News – NI ministerial nominations due as Stormont stand-off endshttps://t.co/ybxWhPftU5 A Secretary of State intervenes to save the Assembly at Sinn Fein's behest. Now we've seen it all. — Brian Walker (@bwalker347) …

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Stormont’s economic forecasts and the 2022 Assembly election provide the opportunity for a different approach.

By Philip Wilson Amid the furore of recent weeks, a recent Finance Committee slipped under the radar with some interesting facts about the future of Northern Ireland’s economy. Stormont’s financial settlement for this financial year is something of an aberration as overall expenditure has risen from last year’s £24 million to £28 million for this year. Much of this must be credited to the willingness of the Treasury and Bank of England to go above and beyond in their COVID-related …

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Border Poll: Take Stormont off the table

Strand one was the name given to the collective socio-legal structures of devolution and inter-community governance in Northern Ireland as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Unlike the North-South Ministerial Council (strand two) or the British-Irish council (strand three) it is the part of the agreement most relevant to and most recognised by the NI population. At its heart strand one is beyond the structural concerns of the Assembly and Executive, it is about the principle of subsidiarity so that …

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Assembly Commission amend 2016 determination with improvements for staff wages.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission has published a new determination which amends the determination taken in 2016. This is what governs how the staff costs for MLAs and other associated costs with running an office. The headline from the latest determination is that salaries of staff members working for MLAs are set to rise. This change brings staff employed by MLAs into line with other staff members in the Assembly. Grade one staff will see their starting salary rise from …

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Pounds, shillings and pence: Stormont’s Fiscal Council…

I have before written about the idea of a fiscal council for Northern Ireland which was first mooted in the Stormont House Agreement. When the new decade new approach agreement was published there contained a solid commitment to the establishment of this crucial mechanism. The post war Labour government who established the NHS were committed to ending the regional disparities in relief which had become stark in the nineteenth century. Across Britain and Ireland there was an old system of …

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The obligatory post about the latest Stormont crisis…

ANOTHER crisis at Stormont? I suppose it’s another sign that we are getting back to normality. Plus ça change… I can’t think of anything to say on the issue that you have not heard a million times before, so I will leave it up to you to give your take in the comments. In other news, I see Paddy Raff has gotten himself a new show with the BBC, well done to him. The first post-lockdown pint didn’t go quite …

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Interview: Jim Allister MLA talks about his Special Advisors bill…

Next Monday the Northern Ireland assembly order paper will contain a private members bill from one of the few non-government party MLAs in the chamber. That member is Jim Allister. His tenure in politics spans decades and he has been present over the course of many political changes including the function or dysfunction of local institutions, he issued a challenge to the Assembly members: “if people are serious about cleaning up this place then they should have nothing to fear …

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To build good relations in Northern Ireland, they must also exist inside the Executive. Is this even possible?

It’s been a slow start to Stormont. As you might expect there’s been some things that could be actioned quickly (like pay parity for the nurses) on matters which were bound up in the negotiations. On Monday the business of agreeing to unanimously to reject Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Bill was delayed by an hour after Jim Allister raised a point of order objecting to the fact that the motion being voted on could not be amended by Assembly and was …

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Last chance saloon…

On talkback this week there was a fair but cutting analysis of the many manoeuvrings of the 1990s to bring about the peace settlement and the near universal condemnation of how its inheritors in today’s politics have failed at the mission statement set out at this time. Brian Rowan quotes sources calling it a ‘last chance’ for Stormont to prove that it can actually work. For if an institution fails in its adoption of rules of change it becomes finite. …

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Arlene Foster and Leo Varadkar must do business together on Brexit after last night’s ice breaker

The most important thing that Arlene Foster has just done is to talk to Leo Varadkar for the first time in ages. This was a meeting that was apparently kept under wraps until it had happened.  Only a short time before, the Dublin government were saying they were hoping for a meeting “soon.” This brief encounter  opens up the possibility of genuine north-south cooperation to help hammer out an agreement on the border – and perhaps the Assembly – that …

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We are now 900 days without an Assembly…

Today we hit the milestone of 900 days without a a functioning locally assembly, only 3 months to go before we hit the magic 1000! I imagine the view of most people is a collective shrug of the shoulders. Life goes on, the sun comes up and the bins get emptied. In the interests of promoting recycling (and the fact its a Friday afternoon and I want to go and lie of the sofa), I shall repeat my words from …

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Restoring devolution and seeking reunification go hand in hand

It has been two years the Executive collapsed and as usual the debate has shifted to a border poll with the usual questions, when it should be held? Under what circumstances? etc. I have read with some a certain lack of surprise some Nationalists say “we are over Stormont” and that there is little point in trying to revive the institutions. However, I think the frustration that many had about the previous Executive has led to a certain misguided malaise. …

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Union vs United Ireland Declared a Draw! What Happens Next?

In these increasingly dramatic, uncertain and downright bizarre political times, one suitably off-the-wall scenario is good fun to imagine: what if London and Dublin stepped in and gave the dysfunctional Stormont 12 months to reach a permanent solution to the constitution and identity debate. Otherwise – sick of policing the NI naughty step – they’d step in with final rulings of their own. So, the parties would be warned that this post-deadline decision by the two governments would – intentionally …

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Women Won’t Wait: Campaigners for Women’s Rights and Equality Speak Out about the Impact of Stormont Stalemate

The results of a survey released today by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency reveal the impact of having no government at Stormont on women’s community organisations and campaign groups. 80% of those surveyed said they have continued to lobby decision makers in the 19 months since the collapse of the Executive, but the majority felt that it is now much harder to make progress on the issues that affect their organisations and communities. The 48 respondents to the survey …

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Why do we need a government anyway?

In 7 days we will overtake Belguim for the record of longest time without a government. Now putting aside the whole debate of do we have a government or regional assembly the big issue is no one seems to care. People are not exactly taking to the streets demanding the restoration of Stormont, so it is fair to conclude the general population could not give a monkies if it ever comes back. There is the wedeservebetter campaign but really what is …

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British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference to meet on 25th July

Pleased to confirm a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference has been agreed between both Governments for 25th July, London. This is an important Good Friday Agreement structure for dialog and consultation and will have an agenda dealing with East/West and NI issues @rtenews — Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) June 28, 2018 The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood welcomed the move; The Conference must agree on a package of legislation that will deliver on language issues and the reform of the Petition of Concern …

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500 days without a government – Do we really care?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_Buildings_Stormont.jpg

Today marks 500 days without a government in Northern Ireland. There is a handy website that tracks the days. We only have 89 days to go till we beat the Belgium record (we can do it!). I suspect I am not the only one who could not give a monkies. There are no massive public protests, more a collective shrug of the shoulders. Personally, I am enjoying the quiet. What is interesting is even without a government, life rumbles on …

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The Good Friday Agreement: A Milestone, not the Finish Line

Twenty years on since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and it is now being called into question, but not for the right reasons. The agreement’s fitness for purpose has been challenged in recent weeks as it is perceived as standing in the way of the hard Brexit that some desire. Rather than question the agreement because Northern Ireland is currently without an assembly or because even whilst there was an assembly in place its legislative record was pitiful, …

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