From April, more than 20m working people will be paying £600 a year less than they were under Labour as the tax threshold rises to £9,440. Someone earning the minimum wage will have seen their Income Tax bill cut in half.
Robert Edgar was a great, great man, one of the first politicians for whom the teenage me worked. The fields to which he gave his huge talent and boundless concern are almost excessive to list: Open Government, Civil Rights, Citizens' Rights, the politico-religious dialogue (he was a Unitarian cleric as well as a politician), non-violence. He was a very committed friend of Northern Ireland, and brought many, many issues of relevance to the Troubles of the 1970s and 80s to the awareness of his constituents in Pennsylvania, and to the floor of the US House of Representatives – this before the Hunger Strike captured the imagination of the US media, and before a lot of much better-funded groups and better-subsidised Representatives and Senators weighed in on the matter a few years later.
A great man, a great public servant, a great Liberal. Bob was the kind of American politician that we here in Europe very seldom get to see – the antithesis of the Palins, Gingriches, Robertsons and Santorums. I'm proud to have done a small part in keeping him in Congress in the face of the Neo-Con surge of the early 1980s. May he rest in peace, and in the immortality of his witness and achievements.
Anyone who knows David Ford knows him to be a person of great depth, a fundamental seriousness, and immense commitment. Commitment to many important things that contribute so much to life here in Northern Ireland. To the Social Services. To the Ministry of Justice. To his constituents. To Alliance. To the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
To any observer, it seems disproportionate and unnecessary that, after a lifetime of service, he is, because of a disagreement over a single issue, being denied the chance to continue to fulfill that last commitment. To anyone who knows Mr. Ford, and knows how much Presbyterianism means to him, it seems disproportionate, unnecessary, reactionary, humiliating and very, very cruel.
It is not the province of this blog to instruct those who hold power in Mr. Ford’s church. Those who wish to function in a reasonably secular public space must grant a reasonable privacy in the religious space.
We would, however, offer, in a genuine absence of rancour, and in a genuine spirit of free and open exchange, the following quotation from a lecture delivered by the Dalai Lama at Harvard University in 1988:
“The very purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others. Rather, we must criticise ourselves. How much am I doing about my anger? About my attachment, about my hatred, about my pride, my jealousy? These are the things which we must check in daily life.”
The Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats have received expressions of concern from a number of stakeholder parties at uncertainties over the future of Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, currently under review by the Department of Health at Stormont as an aspect of the Transforming Your Care programme.
The difficulties at Causeway are acknowledged by all, and constitute a major impediment to the delivery of healthcare to North Antrim and the North Coast. These stem principally from an inability to recruit and retain senior Medical and Surgical professionals at Causeway, especially in the areas of Emergency Medicine and Maternity.
Causeway Hospital currently operates within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, and as such, it shares many services, including the services of many Consultants and an entire spectrum of less-visible activities such as nursing, supply, Biomedical Science services, etc with other institutions of the Northern HSC Trust including Antrim Hospital. One possible “solution” mooted for the senior staffing difficulties is the transfer of Causeway from the Northern HSC Trust to the Western HSC Trust. The principal motivation being suggested for such change is the potential for new multi-centre working arrangements between Causeway and Altnagelvin Hospitals.
We are seriously concerned that such a proposal does not adequately acknowledge the existing multicentre arrangements from which Causeway benefits in the Northern Trust. Many of these arrangements have been put in place at considerable cost in recent years following the merger of the former United Hospitals, Homefirst and Causeway Trusts.
It should be pointed out also that within the current
fourfive-Trust [thanks @Alanlaw] structure in Northern Ireland, community and acute services reside within the same Trusts. Thus, any transfer of Causeway would have to be accompanied by a transfer of community medical, mental health and social care provision in North Antrim and on the North Coast. We suggest that this depth of change to healthcare in the Causeway area is an unnecessarily disruptive answer to the difficulties at hand.
Again, we do not seek to deny the seriousness of the shortfalls at Causeway, or the difficulties faced by the Department of Health in trying to put them right. We acknowledge that provision here has been overly territorial and insufficiently collaborative as many within healthcare in Northern Ireland will admit. However, that surely points to a possible alternative pathway — The further development of Causeway Hospital need not be a zero-sum process. — Even at a time of comparative scarcity in the NHS, we feel that there is potential within both Trusts for the Department to find, even perhaps to pioneer, better networking arrangements which enable Causeway’s existing strengths and relationships to continue as new capabilities are created for the benefit of all in North Antrim and on the North Coast.
Sometimes words are not just enough, pictures and graphics assist us in telling you what Liberal Democrats believe.
with thanks to Mark Pack.
Orginally published at http://www.markpack.org.uk/libdem-beliefs/
It has been about a month since Stephen Glenn (of this parish) left our shores to head to Kirkwall (albeit via Eastleigh) but it has been a bit remiss of us not to wish our fellow Northern Irish Liberal Democrat all the very best in his new role as Parliamentary Assistant to Alistair Carmichael MP. We have benefited greatly from his expertise particularly in kickstarting this collective blog – but we also remember his wonderful knowledge for most of the most obscure quiz questions. I know that he his heading to Scottish Conference at the weekend, and I had a very enjoyable time with him at a previous one. The events of the journey travelling there seem somewhat appropriate for the eve of the great Abortion Debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly tomorrow. For those that don’t know, both Stephen and I blogged on LibDemsNI.org on the same topic, sat opposite each other on the Stena HSS to Stranraer. What we didn’t realise until we showed each other the posts, that we had used the same illustration for the post.
Stephen, you and I will remain firm friends, and I am sure this is the case for all of us here in the local party who have come to know you when you were here. We look forward to welcoming you home in May – I assume you’re still intent on running the Belfast Marathon!
In case some of our Northern Irish readers haven’t seen it, Eric Avebury has written an article published on LibDemVoice raising the issue of the nuclear legacy of the United Kingdom.
Having just mentioned that I don’t fully agree with what the Parliamentary Party of the Liberal Democrats is supporting in Westminster, readers may be interested in this website.
Of course, here in Northern Ireland, we Liberal Democrats don’t stand [currently] despite Nick’s telling us that we (LibDems) would be standing everywhere in the UK at the next general election at conference a couple of years ago. But we get his message from yesterday about what is being achieved by the Parliamentary Party in Westminster. [Not of all it is really liberal of course, but that’s another story.]
In the last days and weeks Northern Ireland has been hit by many bomb alerts and security alerts, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes. I doubt that many people living in the rest of the United Kingdom have any idea what this is like.
Imagine a family with young children, who are asleep at the time of the alert, being roused by a knock on the door from the Police. No, we don’t want to speak to anyone here – but there is a bomb alert at the bottom of your street. We need to evacuate you.
Where do you go?
Well fortunately, in many cases local Councils open up leisure centres, or community centres to assist you. But until that alert is over, you cannot go home.
This is happening across Northern Ireland more and more, and we don’t really hear about it from our friends across in England, Wales, or Scotland. Be glad that you have not had this curse on your communities. Hopefully, the criminals, for I will not dignify them with the word ‘terrorist’ will learn that we do not want to go back to the days of violence, of mob rule, and where everyone here cannot go about their daily lives without the risk of that being disrupted.
Recent incidents include: