Friday, 3 September 2010

McCausland’s revenge

MINISTER for Culture, Arts and Leisure had a beef a while back about the Ulster Museum dealing in facts about the origin of Planet Earth, the universe and mankind rather than the bibical scribblings of the ancient Israelites.

Readers may chose to disagree with that viewpoint, but we’re backing the biologists, physicists, geologists, chemists, astronomers, astro-physicists, and even that bloke Dawkins on this one.

Now, it could be that Minister McCausland could have the last laugh. No, the award-winning, best in the UK Ulster Museum is not about to ditch credibility, but rather could, like many museums and libraries in Northern Ireland suffer slashed budgets, reduced staffing and in some cases job losses.

So said a DCAL official this week at an Assembly committee...

Thus institutions of learning, buildings, where that precious commodity of knowledge is kept, and treasured could close or be diminished. And those citadels of the free printed word and reference books, our libraries could also be closed.

But fear not, Minister McCausland has decreed that the Ulster Scots Agency should face no cuts...

Credit to DUP flickr for photo

Step away from the duvet

MINISTER for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster, this week warned that some people are “hiding under the duvet” about the public sector cuts that are on the way.

Commenting on a NICVA report that the cuts will be worse than expected, otherwise known as the ‘we’re all doomed’ theory’, Ms Foster was quite clear that the cuts to the public sector would create “very serious issues”.

It is worth remembering that the public sector funds quite a lot of voluntary and community groups, so, yes, it will be a very serious issue - even more serious than putting public sector workers on the dole.

Perhaps a way to alleviate a tiny amount of the cuts coming down the line next month will be to look at the Invest NI edifice that dominates Belfast’s Bedford Street; this architectural masterpiece surely must have some spare offices that could be rented out. Or even some of the car parking spaces it commands could be offered up for renting to all the private sector entrepreneurs, because we’re culling the public sector, aren’t we? And maybe that may include some of those in Invest NI who benefit from those car parking spaces?

Another option Ms Foster may chose to look at is boosting tourism. Especially the tourists who save on fares to make sure they can spend in Northern Ireland. You know the sort of tourist that might use Ryanair...

She may instead, decide that we should all hide under the duvet, with the nice cardboard box round it and the newspapers stuffed down the jumper as it gets so cold when sleeping rough.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Solar Power

WONDERS, as they say, will never cease. In an astounding leap forward Larne Borough Council has installed solar powered bins.

These ingenious devices use the power of the life-giving star we all orbit to compact waste and send text messages and emails to council staff when the bin is full to the brim and attracting a higher than average amount of wasps.

Which led us to thinking that solar power really could be a benefit to the Assembly! No, not huge panels around Parliament Buildings, but rather make our MLAs solar powered. There are quite a few that, shall we say, with a slaphead lack of hair who qualify for panels atop their heads. Fit these bald spots with miniature solar panels and they can generate enough power for them to text and email their latest pronouncements to the press. And for the ladies and those gents with a few strands still left they can be fitted with a natty range of hats (with the Assembly logo, of course) which can help recharge hard-pressed Blackberrys and iPhones, as well as power their jaws when they become tired.

But, in reality this scheme from Larne actually highlights the paucity of thinking in local Government. This seemingly innocuous proposal will make emptying litter bins more efficient. And that saves money.

Larne are to be commended for this, but had the reduction of our local councils went ahead such innovative practices could have spread more widely…alas such lack of wonder at the Assembly’s lack of decisive action will never cease.