The death of a great liberal Democrat (small “l”, capital “D”)

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bobedgar

http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/204366021.html

 

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.

Concern about the future of Causeway Hospital

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Causeway Hospital - geograph.org.uk - 1154840
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.

Nick Clegg’s letter from the Leader: ‘Keep winning’

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The latest in Nick’s Letter from the Leader pinged into our emails yesterday just as his speech finished in Brighton. [Well done LibDem HQ!]libdem-ltr-from-nick-clegg

I’ve just had a wonderful three days with Liberal Democrat members at Conference in Brighton.

Until today, I have spent nearly three years asking you to hold firm. Three years urging you to remain steady under fire. And you have.

But in my speech today, I gave you a different message: Win.

Get back out there. Tell our side of the story. And we will win again – on the doorstep, in town halls, in Government. Keep fighting for what we believe in. Keep winning. Building a stronger economy, a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

Do you know someone who would like to get Nick’s weekly email? Forward this message and they can sign up here:
http://www.libdememails.co.uk/nick

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.]

 

There’s a knock at the door, it’s the Police… what next?

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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:

 

A response to the events of the evening of 8th March

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I utterly and without hesitation condemn the orchestrated mob violence in Glengormley on the evening of Fri 8th March, which culminated in injury to several PSNI officers and an attack on the premises of the office of David Ford MLA, which resulted in damage to a neighbouring, unassociated business.

This is the latest in a four-month series of attacks on, and threats to, elected Alliance representatives. It is worthy to note that this attack comes a day after Alliance raised its vote in Mid-Ulster by 23%. Further demonstration, if any were needed, of the dichotomy between the democratic process and the politics of the street, and between those who respectively practice them.

We in the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats are, as always, proud to stand alongside our sister party.

 

Is St Patrick to be expunged from the Union Flag?

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Seems that St Patrick is to be expunged from the Union Flag…

Seems that St Patrick is to be expunged from the Union Flag…

Now any observer of flags in Northern Ireland will tell you that there are many variations in the flags that are seen around the Province. But this one, first seen by me on a Facebook page, is a new one even for me.

It is placed on a page somewhat dedicated to so-called Loyalism that appears to have sprung up following the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag from City Hall on the designated Flag-flying Days. Most of these pages want to see the Union Flag replaced, that is hoisted once more on City Hall, not replaced by a new design such as the one above.

It now appears that anything Irish is not wanted in the Union Flag – so St Patrick’s Cross has been removed, and the Six-Pointed Star and Red Right Hand of Northern Ireland, ensigned by a Royal Crown placed in the centre. Whilst I agree that it does seem an anomaly that when most of the Kingdom of Ireland left the United Kingdom, St Patrick’s cross remained wholly in the Union Flag, I am not convinced that this Flag will bring any more loyalty to the UK as left.

What does anyone think?

Originally published on Gyronny Herald.