Constitutional report provides hope for Northern Ireland…

silhouette of lighthouse on hill near body of water during daytime

A new report published by the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy sheds light on the current democratic deficit and provides hope for a solution to Stormont’s collapse. The paper is titled, ‘Constitutional change in Northern Ireland’, and is packed to the rafters with ideas and proposals from many of the UK’s foremost constitutional experts. However, in its conclusions, its lead author, Lisa Claire Whitten, cautions that the paper offers no ‘panacea’ for the Northern Ireland …

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The Isle of Man is reinventing Irish Sea travel…

The Isle of Man government has invested up to £70m in a brand-new ferry terminal in Liverpool which puts our own terminal in Belfast to shame. Despite being delayed, the Liverpudlian ferry terminal is due to open next March and the route will operate a new £78m Diesel-electric hybrid ferry, called the MANXMAN, which will come into service this week. This new flagship of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is getting its final outfit in Southampton having travelled …

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Belfast Investment Conference can break all records…

cityscape photography during daytime

It all kicked off this week when Doug Beattie wrote to PM Rishi Sunak to ask him to postpone the Belfast investment conference because he said it shouldn’t be held when Stormont is down. A suggestion that this landmark event would be a damp squib and should be delayed until October enraged a group of our local business leaders. For instance, Roger Pollen, Head of the Federation of Small Businesses (NI), immediately hit back by saying, ‘It would be folly …

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Has Political Unionism Abandoned the ‘Economy’?

The latest polling undertaken by Liverpool University’s Institute of Irish Studies shows a significant disconnection between the numbers voting for a Unionist party and those who would vote to remain in the UK in a future Border poll. Just over 50 percent (51.9%) of those who would vote to remain in the Union voted for a Unionist party, such as the DUP, UUP or TUV. But a much higher proportion (69.9%) of those who would vote for Irish unity tomorrow …

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Should Stormont be replaced by a new Assembly building in Derry/Londonderry?

Stormont, or more precisely, the Parliament Buildings, has stood for ninety-one years but it is now time to replace it with a new Assembly building in Derry/Londonderry. Why? Because we desperately need, not just reform of the Good Friday Agreement, but a new place of government that will inspire all future generations. And, before you ask, no I’m not suggesting this because Sinn Fein happened to call for it back in the 1990s. I accept that there may well be …

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The Alliance Party should lead the economic debate by ending its Brexit Reversal Policy…

a crowd of people holding signs and flags

The UK governments’ formal accession to the CPTPP trade area this weekend should be the catalyst for the Alliance Party to review its Brexit reversal policy. On Sunday, the Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenock signed a treaty which gives the UK access to the £12 trillion Indo Pacific trade bloc and a chance for the UK to expand beyond the confines of the European Union. Admittedly this is one of the very few trade-deal successes that we have witnessed …

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Ireland’s bailout conditions is Northern Ireland’s best chance of economic recovery…

a boat in a body of water near a city

The Republic of Ireland is ranked No.1 in the world for economic performance according to last week’s IMD World Competitiveness Ranking for 2023 and was only narrowly beaten by Denmark for the overall competitiveness award. However, this is a truly remarkable reversal of fortune, as it was only back in 2010 that Ireland was forced to accept an €85 billion bailout following the global economic downturn and banking crisis. There is no doubt that Ireland’s historic low corporation tax rate of 12.5% has been …

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Biden. It’s the Free Trade Agreement, Baby!

aerial photo of pile of enclose trailer

The famous 1970’s American actor, Tele Savalas, used to say, ‘Who loves ya, baby?’ As we reflect on President Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland, we might recall the splash of America glitz and affection that cheered our damp and cloudy Easter break. Or we might have gotten a little carried away with the Americanisms of the ‘land of the free’ or our distant relatives on the ‘other side of the pond.’ He might not have said these exact words – …

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This reflective view from the Taoiseach and the Irish Government will be welcomed…

In an interview with the BBC the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that he regrets the protocol being imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of unionists and nationalists. This intervention, which is probably a more reflective approach from the Irish Government, will be welcomed by many people in Northern Ireland given that the protocol talks between the UK Government and the EU are at a critical stage. The intense pressures on the health service, on hospital waiting …

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Bypass Stormont and empower Councils to help those most in need…

https://breakyourboundaries.tv/seeking-human-kindness-print - Prints Available - 25 % proceeds goes to supporting homelessness - I met Michael in a Boston subway station. I told him I liked his sign. “What matters is what it means to you,” he told me.I asked what it meant to him. “Doing a deed or expressing kindness to another person without expecting anything in return,” Michael said.I love approaching strangers wherever I go. Listening and talking to them teaches you about people and how similar we all are to one another. Just like Michael, we’re all seeking human kindness.

Despite Liz Truss’s announcement that the UK government will introduce a new bill to change the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland, there is absolutely no certainty about how long the current disruption and chaos at Stormont will last. As our devolved government lurches from one crisis to the next there is a necessity to reform the Assembly but there is also a need to keep the wheels on the track and deliver for those most in need. On Monday …

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Are the DUP the new abstentionists of Northern Irish politics?

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s announcement this week that the DUP will not go back into government in Northern Ireland until the NI Protocol is removed will not come as a shock, but it will come as a hammer blow to many ordinary people who rely on the support from Stormont. Throughout the Assembly elections Sir Jeffrey, and his colleagues in the DUP, made it crystal-clear that unless the British Government took decisive action on the protocol there would be dire consequences …

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Fears of Societal Split over the NI Protocol have been Overblown according to New Survey…

pixel cells, observation, internship

There is inter-community consensus for the NI Protocol mitigations proposed by the EU and UK government according to a new survey undertaken by the University of Liverpool. Indeed, the survey completed in mid to late October 2021 and comprising over 1000 participants across all council areas, not only showed wide-ranging agreement for pragmatic solutions, it indicated that the Protocol is simply not a top priority for most people in Northern Ireland. This will be sobering reading for those who have …

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Would radical reform of Council’s powers restore political stability?

argory, armagh, irish

The novelist Edward G. Bulwer Lytton once said, ‘A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power.’ The continuing instability at Stormont, the extremely long hospital waiting lists and despair at the state of our local infrastructure should challenge us to decide who is best placed to deliver our public services. Like a performance in a Greek tragedy, we have witnessed Stormont’s collapse, threats to bring down the structures, and constant stalemates. The protagonists include …

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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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Who Should Run Belfast?

Jim Allister, Simon Hamilton and I all attended the same school in Newtownards, but it’s Simon’s report on Belfast that really caught my eye this week. ‘Empowering Belfast’ is Belfast Chamber’s answer to dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic and a sense that Belfast is falling behind similarly-sized cities. Behind the glossy cover and upbeat aspirations, there is an impression that the city may have been let down by successive Northern Irish Executives. Rather than focus on the …

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Confidence, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the NI Protocol…

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has threatened to pull down Stormont and said the NI Protocol is undermining confidence in devolution, but how can we define this confidence? Confidence, in general, is a mysterious commodity. One minute we seem to have it in abundance and the next – just when we need it the most – seems to melt away like a Mr Whippy on a scorching hot day. If we want to increase our self-confidence we might want to obtain some …

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