Thursday, 26 November 2009

John Zogby coming to Belfast

Looking forward to hearing from US Pollmaster John Zogby next week at the University of Ulster. It should be interesting

Monday, 23 November 2009

Abusing people in Belfast and Facebook

I was made aware today about a facebook site that celebrates the abuse of Romanian flower sellers in Belfast. This is a revolting site. The comments range from sexual references to some disgusting treatment of the flower sellers.

It is worrying that almost 400 people have become fans of this site.

I would request that people take one or more of the following actions

1. Report the page to Facebook and demand that it be removed
2. Report the Facebook site to the Police Service Northern Ireland
3. Write to the schools, universities and workplaces of these people making the comments and ask them if these are the students/employees they really wish to have (thanks Nick)
4. Write or call your local MP, MLA or councillor and get them on the case to have it removed.

Lets get this site down by the end of the day and the creators reported.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Bills in Queen's Speech: Northern Ireland

The foillowing is a list of Bills from the Queen's Speech that apply all or in part to Northern Ireland. (Edited from BBC)

Here is an at-a-glance list of the bills outlined in the 2009 Queen's Speech programme:

Bribery Bill
Makes it illegal to bribe a foreign official to obtain or retain business. Makes it an offence if businesses fail to prevent a bribe being paid by their employees or by other firms on their behalf. Extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Child Poverty Bill
Puts into law the government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020. Ensures the government must make annual reports to Parliament on the success of its strategies to end child poverty. Duty on all local authorities to deal with the problem. Whole bill applies to England. Some parts also apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Children, Schools and Families Bill
Offers pupil and parent guarantees for standards of education. Schools to be given "report cards". Promises "greater flexibility" for primary schools to set their own curriculums. Also ensures that all young people receive at least one year of sex and relationships education. Home educators will have to be registered and inspected. A review of the publication of family proceedings in court. Whole bill applies to England. Other parts cover Wales and extends in part to Northern Ireland.

Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill
Makes it an offence to use, produce, develop, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer cluster munitions. Applies to whole UK.

Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill
Creates basis in law for Parliament to scrutinise treaties. Ends the by-election of hereditary peers to sit in House of Lords. Provides for disqualification of peers convicted of serious offences or subject to a bankruptcy order. Allows peers to resign peerages. Repeals legislation limiting protests around Parliament. Generally extends to whole UK.

Digital Economy Bill
Gives media regulator Ofcom the duty to assess the UK's communications infrastructure every two years. Updates regulations to make the digital radio switchover possible by 2015. Makes age ratings compulsory on all video games designed for children aged 12 and above. Promises to tackle infringement of copyright more effectively. Updates regulations for Channel 4, so it has to put public service content on its websites. Extends to whole UK.

Financial Services Bill
Establishes a Council for Financial Stability, chaired by the chancellor, and comprising Treasury, Bank of England and Financial Services Authority (FSA). Strengthens the FSA to take "action" on pay of those in financial services, following the recent outcry over bonuses. Promises action, in UK and internationally, on bankers' pay. Makes banks and other financial firms set up "living will" to make them easier to wind down in the event of a crisis. Bans unsolicited credit card cheques and enables the setting up of national money guidance service. Allows groups of consumers to bring court actions against financial institutions. Applies to whole UK.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill
Provides a "firm and binding statutory basis" for the government's promise to halve its budget deficit within four years. Gives Parliament power to approve medium-term fiscal plans. Promises that businesses and investors will have "certainty" about the government's fiscal plans. Applies to whole UK.

House of Lords Reform Bill

Promises that the Lords will be between 80% and 100% elected. States the government should not hold a majority in the second chamber and its members must be independent. Applies to whole UK.

International Development Spending Bill
Requires that 0.7% of gross national income is spent on development from 2013. Applies to whole UK.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Obesity costing £500m

The Health Committee Report on Obesity was presented to the Northern Ireland Assembly by Health Chair Jim Wells MLA. The estimated cost to our health services is £500m per year but fears were expressed that the issue could overwhelm the service in future years.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Water Water Everywhere!

Listening to the news this week I have become abit frustrated at hearing about the response to recent flooding whether it be in Belfast or the North West or wherever.

On this issue passing the buck has become a fine art! Rivers Agency, Road Service, PSNI, Water Service, NIEA, SIB, DRD.......(and whoever else). The situation is an embarassment.

There should be one Agency dealing with flooding with a budget drawn from all the present agencies who allegedly deal with the issue. Flooding is not a new thing here so in the immortal words of Monty Python 'GET ON WITH IT!!'

I look forward (but wont be holding my breath)to the day when politicians responsible for the ineffectual workings of their agencies are held to account at the polls.