Friday, 11 January 2013

Eye on the Hill

New riot college announced
THE Police Service and Fire and Rescue Service are to have one big college, as planning permission to have it built on a massive site somewhere well away from Belfast has now been given.

We got to thinking (too much caffeine!) that this could solve all our problems.

No doubt there will be riot training for officers, with mock streets. After all, police and fire service personnel need to ensure that they are up-to-speed on how to deal with civil disorder.

And, just today a leading East Belfast cleric told the Belfast Telegraph that “kids” enjoy rioting.

So, why not a couple of times a year bring the “kids” to the new police college and they can throw bricks, bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs at police who can then charge them, arrest them, deploy water cannon etc.
Some officers and rioters might get hurt but outside the walls of the college we can all go along with our normal business, go to work, generate employment and revenue, and partake in democracy.

Now all we need to figure out is when the flag on the new college is to fly…

Breadth of the broad
ULSTER Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt came up with a rather unique turn of phrase when commenting after the Unionist Forum’s inaugural meeting at Parliament Buildings.

He said he welcomed: “The breadth of the representation of the broad unionist family”.
So, something that was really broad had breadth…a point emphasised by Peter Robinson as he claimed it to be the “most representative group in the unionist community to meet in half a century”.

Half a century ago: that would be 1963. That was the year that Viscount Brookeborough stepped down after 20 years in political office after failing to halt economic decline. His place was taken by Terence O’Neill, who met the then Toaiseach, Sean Lemass. Two years after taking office the first embers or turmoil stirred and the Troubles followed quickly after.

We wonder about that reference by the unionist leaders. The protests that followed the meetings with Lemass saw street agitation from the Rev Dr Ian Paisley, the predecessor of Mr Robinson. It’s a curious sort of parallel to make….

Cold house for the Housing Executive
BEFORE the awkwardness of a confrontation on the floor of the Assembly, Social Development Nelson McCausland has announced the axe is to fall on the Housing Executive with as much as haste as possible when he has figured out the detail…

Generally everyone agrees that there is a need for social housing. How is this is delivered is where Mr McCausland has identified a potential for change.

In a nutshell, policy is to be delivered by a strategic oversight public body and the Housing Executive’s landlord function will transfer out of the public sector.
This is supposed to be completed by 2015…

Young people get hammered again
AS children, the older folk among us used to enjoy nothing more than putting a shilling into a one armed bandit slot machine and pulling the big handle down to see if we won a half crown.

Later as young people we had the new slot machines aligned with space invaders games where we could throw the new-fangled decimal coins into to see if we won a pound.

Now those spoil sports at social development are stopping young people gambling on gaming machines! Bah, humbug indeed!

It’s part of a general reform of gambling laws, and while we fear that the coming generations will never get the thrill of losing tuppence on a gaming machine, it is generally a long overdue and welcome piece of tidying up, with issues such as making a ‘bet’ at a bookmaker a legally binding contract.