Yes to infrastructure, but foundations first before grand schemes…
In recent days the News Letter has picked up on a small piece of legislation being rushed through the Northern Ireland Assembly. The bit that has peaked interest is what seems a modest change that will have the effect of placing more power in the hands of Ministers to take action unilaterally, without reference to the Executive.
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World Technology Background.
In recent years I’ve been involved in business discussions around the technology and infrastructure of optical fibre – the foundation of broadband connection to homes and businesses across the country.
Too much of investment in fibre upgrade is piecemeal; an approach wholly inadequate towards making a step change that would transform the potential of a region such as Northern Ireland.
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The Government’s approach to legacy as outlined by Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. Brandon Lewis on 18th March was a positive step in addressing legacy issues in Northern Ireland. The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has posed a number of questions on the Government’s most recent proposals and has held a series of sessions to gather evidence, as well as accepting a number of written submissions.
The original Stormont House Agreement proposals on ‘legacy’ excluded any review of decades of terrorist destruction and consequent trauma, removing context and trying to write past conduct as if present reality.
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Time will tell whether Micheal Martin is a new approach to relationships with the UK generally and Unionism in particular. He’d struggle to be worse than the Leo & Simon show.
There is a long on detail short on substance Programme for Government that has been agreed between the three Coalition Partners in Dublin, but time will tell if that is the basis of stability or a huge fallout in due course. The Greens are the newbies, with it often forgotten that there has been a relationship between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail for the past few years with Fianna Fail providing Confidence & Supply to Leo’s Government.
We explore what the new Government might mean for relationships North/South and East/West, but posturing on the EU/UK negotiations on Brexit is over. Ireland is just one of 27 and it has most to lose.
Of course the three Party coalition means that Sinn Fein become the Official Opposition in Dublin. Perhaps ‘opposition’ is what it does best as it is making a total mess of its role a principal (mandatory) coalition partner in Belfast, particularly with its performance in Belfast this past week around the funeral of dead terrorist Bobby Storey.
It is not as if there aren’t big issues to address within Government. Stories this past week on the Charity Commission and LandWeb have echoes of RHI, and raises issues of whether the public sector is capable of reform or just not fit for purpose. Given the state of the relationships within the Parties at Stormont at this point in time, is there any interest or imagination to bring in the scale of reform that is clearly required.
This week MLAs voted to take charge of their own expense regime. What could possibly go wrong?
Discussing all of this with @3000Versts