All posts by Philip Watson

Change for Northern Ireland Assembly

Assembly

With the elections only days away, people may be wondering how the Northern Ireland assembly will change after last year’s announcement to reduce MLA’s and Stormont departments, and how it will affect the party they’re voting for.

However, for this year’s elections, it won’t affect any individual party. Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, announced in March 2015 that Stormont will be reducing the number of government departments from 12 to nine.

The change, known as the Departments Bill, was introduced on 30th November 2015, proposing the changes to the Northern Ireland assembly. The parties agreed to name the departments as follows;

 Department for Communities
 Department for the Economy
 Department of Education
 Department of Health
 Department for Infrastructure
 Department of Justice
 Department of Finance
 Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Finally, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First minister would now be known as The Executive Office.

These departmental reductions are said to be brought in to result in more “efficient administration” resulting in better value for money, as well as some “consequential cost savings” according to the NI assembly.

Mr Robinson said no functions would be rid of and “no policies terminated.”

He went on to say, “Staff will follow functions, and there may be a certain amount of early disruption,” he added.

“But once the changes have been effected, there will undoubtedly be greater efficiency.”

He said the executive had also agreed the drafting of a Departments Bill and a Transfer of Functions Order to provide a legislative basis for the changes.

“We aim to introduce the Departments Bill to the assembly after the Easter Recess,” he added.

“A more detailed Transfer of Functions Order will be available for assembly scrutiny later this year.

“There will be extensive opportunity for the assembly to consider and debate these changes.”

It was also announced that the assembly will reduce the number of MLAs by 2021. The deadline was set by the Stormont House Agreement which states the number of MLAs will be reduced from 108 to 90, meaning five MLAs will be elected for each constituency rather than the six that currently are.

These changes will be implemented in time for the 2021 elections, increasing the pressure on the parties that currently represent each constituency.

The Green Party’s Stephen Agnew, who is one of the MLAs elected for North Down, said, “It will make the election that bit more competitive of course. It’s a slight concern for every party in the constituencies throughout Northern Ireland, not just us.

“I have full confidence we will get voted back in, though, in the 2021 elections. Our voters will get behind us and we’re predicting we will get our highest number of votes in this election. So we remain positive.”

He added, “It is quite a long way away, but of course we need to start preparing for the change as the election will be that bit more competitive (in 2021).”

So any confusion caused by our ever-complicated government, don’t fret. This was your summary of what is going on in Stormont just in time for the elections on May 6th.

Dawson derails Tottenham’s title charge.

 

Football Soccer - Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion - Barclays Premier League - White Hart Lane - 25/4/16 Tottenham's Harry Kane applauds the fans after the gafme Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane applauds the fans after the game

Craig Dawson scores at both ends to earn West Brom a point at White Hart Lane to all but diminish Tottenham Hotspur’s hope of winning a first ever Premier League title.

Spurs were full of confidence going in to the game from their scintillating form of late, and unsurprisingly started off the much brighter of the two teams, confining the Baggies to their own half for the opening 15 minutes of the game.

It wasn’t long before the deadlock was almost broke, Harry Kane’s shot from close range in the seventh minute was tipped on to the post, after Deli Alli neatly played him through in a flowing Tottenham move.

Christian Eriksen was next to rattle the woodwork with a 25 yard free kick that skimmed the top of the crossbar. Tottenham were cruising it seemed, but without a goal. Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier were dictating the play as usual.

Chances continued to fall for Tottenham, Kane trying his luck from the edge of the box, before Boaz Myhill, making his first appearance since January for the injured Ben Foster, tipped another Eriksen free kick wide.

West Brom offered very little in the opening 30 minutes, but signs of pressure began to slightly show in the Tottenham midfield. Claudio Yacob, West Brom’s anchor man, had a coming together with Alli mid way through the first half after persistently fouling the PFA Young Player of the Year.

But nobody could begrudge Spurs their fortuitous goal in the 33rd minute to open the scoring. A dangerous Eriksen free kick delivered in to the six yard box to a diving Jan Vertonhen, and defending Craig Dawson, the latter bundling it into his own net.

After a presumably rallying half time team talk from Tony Pullis, West Brom came out a different opposition. Tottenham continued to create chances, Lamela hitting the post 15 minutes in to the second half, but it was the visitors who struck next.

In the 73rd minute Craig Dawson made amends for his first half own goal, heading in a Craig Gardner corner from six yards after some poor Tottenham marking.

West Brom continued to frustrate their opponents, highlighted by 20 year-old Alli, who appeared to punch Yacob during a tussle in the away side’s box.

Spurs were out of ideas after the equaliser and left to rue missed first half opportunities. The 1-1 draw has left Tottenham 7 points behind Leicester, who now know that a win at Old Trafford will seal the Premier League for Claudio Ranieri’s men.

 

Links: http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/matchcentre/tottenham-hotspur-vs-west-bromwich-albion-25042016/

http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb/matchday/league-table.html?season=2015-2016&timelineView=played&matchNo=35&tableView=CURRENT_STANDINGS

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/sport/football/match-reports/tottenham-1-west-brom-1-11237190

 

Special Correspondents – nothing special

Special Correspondents
Special Correspondents

Special Correspondents is Gervais’ adaptation of a 2009 French comedy about two journalists who were sent to Ecuador to cover a story on the war, but missed their flight resulting in some pretty ‘hilarious’ consequences. Okay, I’ve made this sound like a Harold and Kumar movie, which is doing the film a slight injustice, but only slight.

The Netflix comedy-satire is Ricky Gervais’ latest attempt to write, direct and star in a film, with some pretty familiar, underwhelming results. Like in his hit comedy series, Extras, Gervais uses personal aggravation to mock and highlight his issues with life in the modern day, but it doesn’t seem to have us laughing as much on the big screen.

This time it was journalism and fame at the heart of his message, poking fun at the digital era journalism finds itself in through dull gags. The premise of the story is big shot, local radio broadcaster, Frank (Eric Bana), idolised by sound man and side kick, Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais) miss their flight to Ecuador and find themselves hiding in the attic of a restaurant in New York, rather than confessing to their boss what has happened.

The jokes are often created around the stupidity and dim witted nature of the restaurant owners, while Gervais tries his best to play the geeky, timid right hand man to Bana’s larger than life character.

The pair are frequently asked to do live broadcasts, which are assumed to be from Ecuador, but it becomes too much for the duo to keep faking, so they fake a kidnapping instead. Gervais’ wife, who incidentally slept with Bana’s character the week before the ‘kidnapping’, sees this as an opportunity to gain money and fame by releasing a charity single to raise money for their ransom.

The actual story has promise, it just wasn’t well executed. Gervais doesn’t do the underdog nerd well, he thrives on obvious and awkward situations. Bana’s character isn’t the bad guy he’s supposed to be, but most disappointingly Gervais’ typical situational humour isn’t in this movie at all really.

He toyed with it early in the film, when Gervais brings his high maintenance wife (Vera Farmiga) to a work party over an hour early. His wife complains bitterly while Gervais awkwardly makes small talk with the man on the door to try and play down the situation.

But these moments were few and far between. Gervais and Bana seem to have struck a genuine friendship off screen, but that chemistry didn’t translate on it. The film, like all of Gervais’ other movies, promises so much, but ultimately lacks the humour that made him a star in the first place.

 

Links: https://www.netflix.com/gb/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4181052/

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/gervais-special-correspondents-news-worthy-article-1.2613677