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Partygate - what's really at stake

4 Feb 2022 Nick GarbuttPolitics

Many politicians appear to be oblivious as to what is really at stake in the crisis gripping the Prime Minister.

Northern Ireland’s education system lets deaf children fall behind

3 Feb 2022 Ryan MillerEducation, SEN, Mental Health, Social Policy, Disability, Deafness

A newborn baby hearing test (photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)

Deaf children should perform just as well as their peers. Right now, this isn’t happening. Better support would allow children to thrive.

Why our social security system is not fit for purpose

28 Jan 2022 Nick GarbuttUnemployment

Our economy faces a period of unprecedented change over the next decade as we grapple with the implications of the Covid-19 epidemic, Brexit, decarbonisation and rapid technological transformation.  

Not all inflation is bad. Current inflation is terrible.

26 Jan 2022 Ryan MillerPoverty, Inflation, Social Policy, Health, Mental Health

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

Inflation is complicated and its effect on people is dependent on several other factors. UK inflation has risen to 5.4% but it’s the specific price rises behind this figure that are extremely concerning.

Why early education is an investment, not a cost

21 Jan 2022 Nick GarbuttEducation

When the Fair Start report into educational disadvantage was published last year it was widely praised. The then education minister Peter Weir described it as: "One of the most important reports I have overseen in my time".

We all have a part to play in reducing violence against women

18 Jan 2022 Ryan MillerJustice, Relationships, Education, Social Policy

Ashling Murphy

Northern Ireland is the most dangerous place in Europe to be a woman. That has to change. Everyone – including all men – has a role in creating a safer society.

Portugal, Scotland and the case for decriminalising drug use

13 Jan 2022 Ryan MillerHealth, Mental Health, Drugs, Justice

Photo by Colin Davis on Unsplash

Would substance abuse be less of a problem if the police were less involved? This is a complicated question but evidence suggests that Northern Ireland could do better.

If you want a resolution for 2022, try something green

7 Jan 2022 Ryan MillerEnvironment, Climate Change, Mental Health, Wellbeing

Photo by Preston Browning on Unsplash

Climate change and ecological breakdown require collective solutions but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t help - and, in doing so, help themselves too.

Homelessness is many different problems

6 Jan 2022 Ryan MillerHomelessness, Social Policy, Housing, Mental Health, Poverty, Sector Issues

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Housing stress in Northern Ireland is on the rise. This will lead to more and more people being homeless. There is no single fix – easing this problem requires several different approaches.

What would happen if we abandoned academic selection?

16 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Social Policy, Inequality

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

A new UU report looks at education north and south of the border. In any such comparison, it’s hard not to focus on the transfer tests.

Welfare mitigations need a significant impact despite tight finances

15 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerWelfare Reform, Universal Credit, Social Policy, Poverty, Sector Issues

Welfare mitigations panel chair Les Allamby

The Communities Minister has commissioned an independent review of welfare mitigations. Writing for Scope, review Chair Les Allamby says the challenge for the panel’s is to come up with proposals that are both realistic and meaningful.

Human rights in NI have stalled – while their foundation is under question

9 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerHuman Rights, Covid-19, Social Policy

New NI Human Rights Commissioner Alyson Kilpatrick

The latest Annual Statement from the NI Human Rights Commission identifies more concerns than successes. Meanwhile, on top of a series of blockages, Northern Ireland’s effective framework for human rights is itself feeling pressure.

Stormont opts out of collating schools’ records of bullying

8 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Mental Health, Bullying, Anti-Bullying

Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

Data is crucial to policy, but NI’s government has chosen not to collect and compare information on bullying recorded by schools. This might be for the best.

Stormont has more power than you think

2 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerSocial Policy, Assembly, Executive, Stormont

The NI Fiscal Council released its first reports last week, one of which is a primer on local public finances. It’s useful simply as a guide to how Northern Ireland works. And, if you look closely, you see how important Stormont is.

Schools should look forwards, not back

1 Dec 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Integrated Education, Shared Education, Segregation, Dealing with the past, Legacy Issues, Social Policy

Lagan College at 40: (l-r) Principal Amanda McNamee, head boy Jude Hinds, head girl Rosa Day, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, former pupils Richard Sherry and Clare Bailey MLA

These days, Northern Ireland’s schools system is arguably more segregated than the society it serves. This has to change.

It’s not to late to fix childcare in Northern Ireland

24 Nov 2021 Ryan MillerChildcare, Education, Equality, Sector Issues, Economy

Employers for Childcare's Aoife Hamilton with the findings from this year's NI Childcare Survey

The local childcare system fails both parents and providers, with financial pressures approaching breaking point. These failures also hurt the economy. However, there is still time to build something better.

Northern Ireland’s jobs market makes ex-offenders an afterthought

23 Nov 2021 Ryan MillerJustice, Equality, Crime, Rehabilitation, Social Policy

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Recent justice reforms made rehabilitation a crucial part of reducing crime. New research says that local businesses are cautious about hiring people with convictions – but are open to change, if they get more support.

Blessed are the peacemakers ...

19 Nov 2021 Nick GarbuttFaith, Peace Process

Catholic social teaching holds the key to sustaining the peace process and empowering marginalised communities in Northern Ireland, according to peace-building expert Dr Maria Power.  

Stormont could cut child poverty by a third

17 Nov 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Health, Mental Health, Poverty, Child Poverty

Children should have food, warmth and good clothes - and this should be uncontroversial (Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash)

A new report about the direction of child poverty in Northern Ireland shows the difference that can be made by a robust social security system.

Climate change: what it means for Northern Ireland

12 Nov 2021 Nick GarbuttEnvironment, Climate Change

The enormity of climate change and its potential repercussions must not blind us to two simple questions. How will the need to combat climate change affect policy in Northern Ireland, and how will the necessary changes impact our day-to-day lives?


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