It is intolerable that Stormont is handing back hundreds of millions of pounds to London when urgent cancer cases are being denied treatment

The news that 275 people in Northern Ireland with “red-flag” cancer have had their surgery cancelled in the past week has been followed by the tragic irony  that the  Health Service  has been forced  to hand back £90 million unspent this year to the Treasury in Whitehall . The dismal information reminds me of Irish farm produce being exported from Ireland during the Famine of the 1840s while more than a  million starved.  The theory behind it is even more …

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UK breakup. The vacuum where the Union case should be stands exposed

 Will the drum roll start for a border poll and  wreck the prospects for even slim collaboration for dealing with the massive and more immediate  challenges of Covid and Brexit –  and just governing ?   Or will it promote a virtuous competition  between the DUP and Sinn Fein over which of them will be the better collaborator in government, with the hope of  wooing the uncommitted to their existential cause? Will the minor parties get squeezed or flourish amid growing …

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Perhaps London will wake up at last- and also let us in on how the Northern Ireland Secretary would exercise his discretion on calling a border poll

From the Times. Not a lot of extra comment is needed.   By these measurements the narrowing margins should concentrate minds. Most concentration is inevitably focused on Scotland where Westminster has the constitutional veto absent in relation to Northern Ireland , where the  Northern Ireland Secretary has the discretion to call a referendum which the Republic is  obliged to follow  concurrently. Here the interim report by academics in London, Belfast and Dublin on  preparing for twin Irish referendums is well worth …

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The real question for American militants on both sides, but mainly White : do you want to fight or not?

  The more urgent question is not what has made America become so polarised but why it hasn’t broken out into continuous ethnic violence. The sight of “America’s burning” in police and race riots and all those weird white guys armed to the teeth add up to a potent threat, if episodes like Charlottesville and the Capitol storming  are joined up into continuous action.   The  US’ s  rhetoric of law and order so stoutly  professed by Republicans  in particular will …

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Big Albert shines his light/ casts his shadow across the pond

I knew nothing of Under the Albert Clock  until I spotted a review of the  podcast in the New York Times no less.  Creativity and performance defies the lockdown. American sponsorship and other interest is very welcome. Any reaction? The New York-based Origin Theater Company commissioned the series, asking five female playwrights in Northern Ireland to use as inspiration Belfast’s landmark Albert Memorial Clock (a monument to Queen Victoria’s husband, and thus a symbol of Britishness), and to place their …

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A sad farewell to my old loyal friend, David Brewster..

I heard with some shock of the sudden death of the Limavady solicitor David Brewster. I hesitate to call him a friend, since most of our contact over the years from the very earliest of Slugger days was by phone, but with me he was always warm, erudite, scrupulously honest and uncommonly thoughtful. And as much a friend as it is possible to be with one so distant. He had been a supporter of David Trimble in his early days …

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“We need a long-term financial settlement for health and social care….”

There’s probably not a lot the Finance Minster can do directly in response to the Health Minister’s call for a new long term settlement for the NHS in Northern Ireland, but all substantial kinds of reform need investment and something on this scale needs to come from Westminster (and possibly even Dublin to make the best of all island synergies)… 📹WATCH AGAIN Health Minister comments on draft budget. 'We need a long-term financial settlement for health and social care.' pic.twitter.com/MTFKzH3ivG — Department …

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For the DUP “staving off reunification means not forcing a choice” on the NI electorate

Here is an acute reading of the actual situation in Northern Ireland, which I presume was prompted by George Osborne’s blustering forecast at the ejection in the FT by Robert Shrimsley… While ruling out an early push for reunification, the Irish Republic is playing a long game. The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has created a Shared Island initiative, with €500m for cross-border projects. Dublin also took on the cost of keeping Northern Irish students in the EU’s Erasmus university exchange scheme, …

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Brexit blues and the future of the UK

Brian O’Neill beat me to it.  George Osborne the thwarted crown prince of Tory politics called Theresa May  “ a   dead woman walking “ long before  she lost the third meaningful vote. He was right there and he may turn to be right now.  Amazing how defeated politicians  turn into prophets. If you think you can see the right route at the fork in the road you have a 50% chance of being right in advance and 100% if you …

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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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