Farming – On Life Support

Farming – on life support  (The Gosling Report) Introduction The financial crisis in farming has persisted for many years. This has a severe negative impact on rural life, which is increasingly becoming marginalised despite the slow improvement in Northern Ireland’s wider economy. It is essential that Northern Ireland does more to support its rural life […]

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Improving Adult Social Care

Isolation and loneliness can be emotionally devastating for older adults. They are also a trigger for high levels of demand on health services, including on GPs and A&E. Reducing loneliness can cut costs for the NHS, as well as improve the quality of life for the people involved.   Loneliness has a negative health impact

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Improving productivity

It is great to have government again, and many of the ministerial statements made so far have been very positive. One example is new Economy Minister Conor Murphy recognising how central comprehensive childcare provision is to female participation in the workforce, raising productivity and reducing economic inactivity. Similar comments were made by the incoming First

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Reforming Northern Ireland

Many years ago I interviewed the late Frank Dobson, then health secretary for England, about his plans for reforming the NHS. ‘It’s like turning round a giant super-tanker’, he said, using an analogy that applies in practice to pretty well all public service reform. Tony Blair, in his initial years as Prime Minister, believed he

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The End of a Series

The latest series of Holywell Conversations podcasts began with reflections on the Good Friday Agreement, amidst fears that Northern Ireland’s devolution was over, and that series has now completed at a time when government has actually resumed. Over the series’ 18 episodes two themes have been examined – the challenges holding back reconciliation within our

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Derry’s University Grievance

Derry has been campaigning for a full sized university campus for the last 60 years. The city still holds a grievance over the Lockwood report from 1965, which chose Coleraine for the location of the new university, rather than Derry’s existing Magee College, then a Presbyterian theological college. I once interviewed Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, the

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The Legacy Act is Here

The widely opposed Legacy Bill is now enacted as the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, 2023. But it remains widely hated and the Irish government has launched inter-state proceedings against the UK administration. This is a clear and strong sign of how bad relations are between the two governments that are co-guarantors of

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The Domestic Violence Crisis

Women in Northern Ireland are twice as likely to be murdered as a result of domestic violence than in the other UK nations. In some years, almost half of Northern Ireland murders are connected to domestic violence. In the 2022/23 year, of 17 homicides there were 8 that resulted from domestic violence against women. Northern

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Learning to Listen

There is immense frustration across Northern Ireland’s community sector that the Civic Forum collapsed in 2002 and was not replaced. Demands are increasing for citizens’ assemblies, or similar, to provide an alternative voice to that of politicians, especially in the absence of the Assembly and Executive. Avila Kilmurray was a founder of the Women’s Coalition

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Farming in Transition

Agriculture is worth around £1.7bn to the Northern Ireland economy, 4% of total economic activity, according to figures published by the Department for the Economy. This compares to farming comprising just 1% of the UK economy – so farming is worth four times more to our economy, proportionately, than to the rest of the UK.

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