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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Is devolution really working in Northern Ireland because I'm really struggling to see if it is...

Why aren't NI railways getting some much needed investment? The Enterprise alone needs approximately £500 million in new infrastructure and rolling stock upgrades to bring it up to European intercity standards. The Belfast to Derry line was, untill very recently under severe doubt because refurbishment work was delayed five years due to lack of funding. That would have meant Northern Irelands second city, Derry/Londonderry would have been without a railway connection. After alot of dithering by our politicians they finally found the money to upgrade the line ensuring visitors going to Derry for the 2013 UK City of Culture could actually get there.

Our international airport (Aldergrove) has a working and maintained railway line 500 metres from the airport terminal but yet nobody has the foresight to build a halt. Tourists and vistors to Northern Ireland are stunned when you tell them this fact and instead they have to sit on a rattlely, bumpy bus for 15 miles.

6-7 years ago Belfast was promised a Rapid Transit System (guided buses or trams). After years of dithering from our politicians AND hundreds of thousands paid to the useless Ciaran de Burca (ex Luas chief appointed to consult Belfast on rapid transit) all Belfast is getting is some upgraded bus lanes. Sickening really. Especially when cities such as Edinburgh are currently building a tram scheme. Manchester are upgrading their trams lines. Glasgow are overhauling their transport system with upgraded tube stations etc. Even the line between Glasgow and Edinburgh is being upgraded to allow for faster journey times between the two cities.

Our politicians seems more interested in building peace and reconciliation centres at the Maze, or securing golf tournaments or hosting music shows rather investing in massive infrastructure projects that will ensure this county keeps moving forward.

The boys down South, despite all the financial problems and mismanagement are still investing in infrastructure projects to ensure Ireland keeps moving. Up North our boys can't still agree on the colour of flags. Makes me sick.

£9bn railway investment announced by coalition

A £9.4bn package of investment in the railways in England and Wales, including £4.2bn of new schemes, has been unveiled by the government.

The plans include electrification of the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Sheffield.

Other rail improvements have been unveiled for the Manchester area, south Wales and East Coast Main Line.

Prime Minister David Cameron called it the "biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era".

He said: "In what is the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era, this investment will mean faster journeys, more seats, better access to stations, greater freight links and a truly world-class rail network."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is due to meet business leaders with the PM, said the plans would help "close the north south divide".

Building work on the rail projects will not start until at least 2014, as the announcement covers the period 2014 to 2019.

It includes £5.2bn for the completion of current schemes, such as Crossrail and Thameslink and £4.2bn for new projects.

These include:

  • A high-capacity "electric spine" running from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to south coast ports, boosting passenger and freight capacity
  • An £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line
  • Electrification extended from Cardiff to Swansea, costing £600m, plus electrification of the Welsh valley lines
  • The Northern Hub - a series of projects around Manchester worth £322m that improve northern rail capacity to get more and faster trains across the north of England
  • Upgrades to the East Coast Main Line from London to Leeds and Newcastle worth £240m to create faster journeys and increase capacity
  • Upgrades to stations and tracks creating capacity for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes around cities at peak times, including £350m for lengthening platforms at London's Waterloo station
  • A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow
  • The government said it would be funded "in part from fare rises already announced in 2010 and also from the substantial efficiency savings which projects like electrification will have on the long-term operating costs of the railways".

Read More - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18851907
 

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I agree with most of your complaints. I read an article on Slugger O'Toole today that, for me, crystallises our problems in a few short paragraphs:

http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/07/15/what-will-the-all-island-corporate-tax-rate-mean-for-loyalists/

Although the article mainly discusses corporation tax, the conclusion is vital reading for all of us in NI; the rest of the developed world (and increasingly the BRIC countries) is steaming ahead in the 21st century, while we squander our potential on trivia and minutiae.

For two weeks every summer at the height of the tourist season we close for business to allow a minority of knuckle-draggers (both unionist and nationalist) to whine about marching down a few roads. The political classes know that this is their main source of support, so they facilitate and encourage the madness.

The 'post-conflict' discourse is a vicious circle that distracts us from the real issues. The more we allow it to remain in our public discourse, the longer it remains a part of our vocabulary and our shared experience and the longer it burdens us.

The problem persists because people continually vote for the people who perpetuate it. Immeasurable amounts of time and money are wasted on this bullshit when talented minds could be put to find innovative solutions to REAL problems.

The thing that scares me most is that in our two universities, many students still think in the 'post-conflict' discourse. Many of our next generation of potential innovators are still stuck in the past. Our divided education system is the source of this problem.

I would urge all the NI users reading this thread to consider joining a political party that promises a future beyond the tribal politics we endure today. I don't want to sound like a political preacher, but there really are only two parties that are worth voting for here (with the exception of a few honourable individuals in the big four) - the Alliance and the Greens. The rest of them will never move beyond the mindset of the mid-1970s.

Plank, my only disagreement with is that we do need to host major events such as MTV and sports tournaments; they provide a great source of (relatively) cheap publicity. Changing perceptions is something that most European cities don't have to spend money on!
 

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The root of the problem is the political structure. NI isn't progressing because we lack an opposition and fit, proper government. Political progress has been directed toward making people sit in the same room and come to agreement and thus the dynamic for progressing reforms are sorely lacking.

We have elected parties that pander to their electorate and put the views of that electorate before what that which would benefit all of Northern Ireland. We have partied bickering about fucking nonsense such as academic selection, flags, emblems, marches, the Irish language and other shite. The lack of accountable opposition is primarily to blame for this.

The dominance of the DUP and Sinn Fein has delivered peace but nothing much else in the way of economic progress. We have a highly educated population with skills and those skills and talents are being wasted because of the insular and narrow minded mindset of a group of individuals lacking the intelligence and background to effectively govern. The majority of our politicians lack experience and are only sitting in the assembly thanks to being a member of a party in the right electoral ward. I have no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority of them wouldn't stand a chance were they to stand in Britain.

Until people start to recognise that supporting their 'traditional' and 'tribal' party is delivering little progress and switch to more progressive parties such as Alliance then nothing is going to change. We have peace it's time we starting demanding more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I completely agree with your post thevanishin.

I'm a firm supporter of the Alliance party because their policies on a shared society, were school kids aren’t separated because of religion and were politics and society are free from sectarianism and prejudice just make sense. It costs hundreds of millions each year to separate kids based on religion. Is this not an incentive to stop separating kids and start creating a more inclusive society?

I’m fed up with our current crop of politicians and whilst it’s great they can all sit around a table and discuss things rather than shoot each other I’m fed up with the lack of progress on the ground. The majority of our current politicians don’t have the brains to organise a piss up in a brewery never mind investing hundreds of millions in infrastructure projects. This is proven by the £500 million+ being wasted on the Aughnacloy dual carriageway and the Ballynure dual carriageway. It makes me sick.

How long did it take for them to build a Titanic Signature piece? Decades, they dithered over it for years. It should have been build 10 years ago in my opinion. Any other city that had the same Titanic heritage as us would have built an attraction decades ago.

How long did it take them to upgrade sections of A1 road to Dublin to dual carriageway? It took decades for them to upgrade it. It was only completed 2-3 years ago. It should have been completed as soon as the South started building the M1 to the border. It was always an embarrassment coming from home from Dublin and as soon as you reached the North you went onto nasty, dangerous single carriageway roads.

How long has it taken them to decide on the John Lewis Sprucefield developemt? Years... they still haven't made a bloody decision.

How long has it taken them to decide on a runway extension for Belfast City Airport? Years, even the city airport give up.

How long have they been dithering over a rapid transit system for Belfast? A decade now? It should have been under bloody construction now, even if it was only bendy buses!

Re. the World events, I don’t deny it’s great we can get major events in Northern Ireland and long may it continue however I hope our politicians don’t get stargazed because there are real issues that need to be tackled. Real issues such as sectarianism and anti-social behavior all of which showed their ugly face last week and will continue to show their face if we don't tackle them.

Belfast is a great city, I firmly believe it’s one of the best cities of it's size in the UK. The NI Tourism board do a phenomenal job in marketing Belfast and Northern Ireland. We punch above our weight, however there’s only so much the NI Tourist board can do. They can’t invest the much needed hundreds of millions in the cross border rail link ensuring tourists from Dublin can reach Belfast reliably and fast. They can't ensure tourists arriving at NI airports can transit to their destination quickly and reliably. They can’t invest millions ensuring Derrry/Londonderry has a train service for 2013. They can't tackle sectarianism and other social problems such as segregation in our education system etc.

I'm just fed up of politicians and people in this little country not thinking outside the box because someday we are going to get a reality check because we'll be so far behind everyone else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sorry to drag this board into a political discussion HOWEVER the reasons why construction, infrastructure and other projects in Belfast and Northern Ireland are stagnant is probably because of our useless politicians who are simply clueless....

Despite the economic crisis every other city, nation etc are either putting plans, master plans, strategies in place post recession/economic crisis. Just have a quick browse around SSC and see projects being planned. In Northern Ireland I don't think our politicians know what they are doing next week...

In England, despite austerity they are are investing 9 billion in the rail network. That is ontop of the tens of billions HS2 will cost and also ontop of the billions Crossrail is costing. Even in Scotland they are investing billions in infrastructure in the next couple of decades. Even in the Republic, which is arguably the worst country on these islands to be hit by the economic crisis, they are planning post recession with projects such as Metro North and Dart Underground.
 

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It's easy to get carried away by the big figures being invested but it is important to keep a sense of perspective on the level of spending. In per capita terms the figure you mentioned to bring the Enterprise up to standard works out as roughly double the investment announced for England and Wales today.

NI already receives more than it pays in to the UK purse and there is steadily growing resentment from our English neighbours towards the provinces on this particular score. It is something I have discussed with many people here and it is easy to see why they feel so strongly about the issue.

You talk about Belfast being top of the heap in the UK for a city of its size but then you dream of bigger and better things. This ambition is, of course, a good thing and I am by no means having a go at your comments - in fact, I wholeheartedly endorse your political viewpoint - however, I think sometimes we fail to compare like with like.

For instance, Liverpool airport does not have a dedicated rail halt, instead, users must board a bus to the south parkway station to use the train to other destinations. Yes, look at Manchester airport, but then that airport serves a metropolitan area 1 and a half times as populated as Northern Ireland as a whole. In fact, looking at Europe, I can think of many airports that I have used which lacked a railway line so Belfast is not unique in this regard.

That is not to say that our politicians shouldn't be looking at investment of this nature - of course they should - but realistically, given the points already set out in this thread, money is needed to both pander to, and appease, the 'knuckle draggers' so that tourists actually still want to visit. If this unfortunately sizeable section of the community was not carefully managed and paid for they would quickly ensure that tourism was a distant memory.

I don't think it is right but until radically change occurs I can only ever see small steps being made in terms of improvements. The current political set-up is unable to return the required results but surely there is a large enough section of the electorate who are ready and eager for something different to vote for. A party which does not accept that 'bottom feeders' need to simply be tolerated, a party who empower every individual to achieve something, one which does not reward bone-idleness any longer. No more unqualified hand-outs, no more tribalism, no more acceptance of 'this is just the way it is'
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My point is that I don't believe the money given to us by the UK tax payer is wisely spent because our politicians are pandering to their local electorate in order to get re-elected rather than make decisions that benefit the whole of NI. You look at recent decisions such as £844m million spend on the Aughnacloy dual carriageway which was approved by Connor Murphy (SF). Then you look at the £100 million Ballynure dual carriageway which was approved by Danny Kennedy (UUP) and things start to become alot clearer - political decisions to pander to the local electorate of those regions.

In terms of the rest of the UK, Belfast certainly isn't unique in terms of lack of rail connections at our airports however Southampton airport, which has considerably less traffic than either of the Belfast airports has a railway halt.
 
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