Category Archives: In The News

Foster pledges to ‘get Northern Ireland moving’ as Assembly sits again

Three years after its collapse the Northern Assembly was formally back in business at lunchtime on Saturday following Thursday night’s publication of the British-Irish agreement to restore Stormont. And as the wheels of the powersharing administration slowly cranked back into gear after 36 months of paralysis the incoming DUP First Minister Arlene Foster pledged to “get Northern Ireland moving forward again”. “We won’t solve every problem immediately but local Ministers will get on with key reforms in schools and hospitals,” she promised. The session of the Assembly began at 1 pm with the election of a speaker and deputy speakers, with DUP East Derry DUP Assembly member, George Robinsons initially chairing proceedings. Before moving to those elections he went though the list of members who had resigned or been replaced since the last full meeting of the Assembly three years ago. There were three nominations for the position of speaker, … Continue reading

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MoT crisis: Call for clarity as sanction threat hangs over Northern Ireland motorists

DUP MLA Jim Wells, who had the party whip removed in 2018, said it was “disappointing” that DfI has not been open or reacted quickly to clarify the matter. “This is what we used to blame faceless direct rule ministers and civil servants for… now it appears the Department for Infrastructure is behaving in exactly the same way,” he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show. “So many questions have been raised and I think the department needs to be out there and be flexible in answering legitimate questions almost immediately. “It’s only when you think through the whole MoT system that you realise there are so many various complexities, in a system that has been taken for granted, and it has broken down and the department needs to react much more quickly.” Four-year-old cars have never had an MoT test certificate, so there is no MoT to extend. Speaking on … Continue reading

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Over 90% of nurses vote to strike over pay and conditions

RCN boss Pat Cullen feels nurses have been pushed to breaking point By Lisa Smyth Twitter November 8 2019 7:00 AM More than nine out of 10 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have voted in favour of strike action in protest over patient safety. In an unprecedented development, 92% of RCN members in Northern Ireland have voted in favour of walk-outs and 96% of members have voted for industrial action. It is the first time in the 103-year history of the organisation that nurses have voted in favour of such drastic action in a bid to protect patients’ lives and increase wages for hard-pressed nurses. It is a devastating blow for officials and a row erupted last night after the Department of Health accused unions of “making demands they know the department cannot meet”. A spokeswoman said: “We fully accept that staff in health and social care feel deeply … Continue reading

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Alex Kane: Unless Robin Swann’s successor can slow the UUP’s decline, he’s just changing the name on the leader’s door

Those figures make life difficult for any leader who is serious about the UUP having a clear, unambiguous, stand-alone identity: the sort of identity which might attract some non-voting pro-Union support, as well as ending what has become a growing drift to Alliance from one-time UUP supporters. The other difficulty for the UUP is that it has tried one thing after another to end the spiral of decline. Reg Empey built an electoral policy/pact with David Cameron (the UCUNF project), but it failed to deliver any seats in the 2010 general election. His successor, Tom Elliott, lasted less than 18 months and, announcing his resignation, complained that some people had not given him a fair “opportunity at developing and progressing many initiatives”; adding that the hostility began immediately after he became leader. His successor, Mike Nesbitt, had a tendency to drift from one position to another. And, while his ‘Vote … Continue reading

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Proper plans weren’t made for Stormont return, says Sugden

Claire Sugden Independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden has hit out at the five Executive parties for not planning in advance for the return of devolution. The former justice minister said that with MLAs now having to consider 600 statutory rules, it was limiting how often the Assembly could sit. She said there was now only one plenary session a week which disadvantaged MLAs from the smaller parties and independents like herself. Ms Sugden said: “The suspension of devolution for three years has meant a huge build-up of statutory rules that have to be scrutinised by MLAs and respective committees. “Legally, these rules must be considered within 10 plenary days. “The only way to realistically do that is to reduce the number of plenary days. “So rather than the Assembly sitting twice a week, as it used to, it is now sitting once a week. “MLAs are losing our voice in … Continue reading

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