Posted by: Mick Fealty | June 2, 2016

Gay blood ban to be shifted in line with the UK…

Here’s one of the first political benefits of shifting serious ministerial offices, Michelle O’Neill announces that Northern Ireland will move towards the one year deferral system common across the UK… 

Ms O’Neill said on Thursday that she would lift the ban in favour of a ‘”one-year deferral system” as is the case in the rest of the UK.

This means that gay and bisexual men can give blood one year after their last sexual contact with another man.

Michelle O’Neill said: “The safety of donated blood depends on two things: donor selection and the testing of blood.

“Every blood donation is tested for HIV and a number of other organisms.

“Not even the most advanced tests are 100% reliable, so it is vitally important for every donor to comply with any deferral rules that apply to them.

The right thing is done by Sinn Fein, barely costing the DUP a penny in political capital. More of that sort of thing please?

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Posted by: Mick Fealty | November 9, 2009

Politician of the Year

This comprises all categories of politician in Northern Ireland, including Westminster MPs and MEPs. But it also includes locally born parliamentarians sitting in both the UK and Irish upper houses, who increasingly are being called upon to play significant roles inside and outside government.

Who represents us well? Who articulate expresses their a strand of opinion, whether or not you agree with it? Who do you admire? Or, who simply does their job better than anyone else in this category? Who’s unsung story of untold hours put in on obscure committee deserves a wider audience?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate has brought to the job.
  2. What s/he has achieved in the last 12 months.
  3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by an MP/MEP/Peer/Senator.

You can make your nominations either here or on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | November 3, 2009

Interview: The Slugger Awards

The 2009 Awards take place in Belfast on the 24th November. Details to follow shortly. In the meantime, here’s an interview I gave to Blogtalk NI introducing the awards.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | November 2, 2009

Campaign of the Year

Right, here’s a variation on last year’s theme. This time, although we’re asking you for nominations, it will be the politicians themselves who vote for the winner of this category. It’s the best campaign of the year. Now, for this, it can be an ad campaign, a website, good use of Facebook or Twitter or Pledgebank…

And it only has to be focused on some aspect of politics or public affairs in general. It can be pretty public facing like the countmeout.ie campaign, a fairly raw response to those who feel strongly enough to leave the Catholic church after various scandals… Or it could be more directed at specific lobby issues…

But in this case it is the politicians, often the intended targets for such campaigns, who are the electorate rather than the other way around… You can leave your nominations over at the main Slugger site

Posted by: Mick Fealty | November 2, 2009

Political Journalist

This is open to all journalists who have contributed to the political health of Northern Ireland, whether writing for any of the local newspapers, nationals, or working as a freelancer. The last year has been a tough for purveyors of political news: not least since for over 150 days the Executive did not actually sit.

It’s been a frugal year for politics, when journalists have had to be resourceful and begin to find ways to educate their audiences about what representative democracy entails. Not just here but also at Westminster, and perhaps most notably in the year of European elections.

So who has helped throw light onto an increasing complex and at times arcane political set up? Asking tough questions is part of it, yes. But who was it who brought clear and accurate stories and/or analysis?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. His or her best qualities as a journalist?
  2. What you think they have achieved in the last 12 months?
  3. Why they came ahead of the rest of the field?

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

You can c

Posted by: Mick Fealty | October 26, 2009

MLA of the Year…

There are 108 of them. Some of them household names across Northern Ireland, some better known in the local corner of their own constituencies. Some have made (or tried to) their mark as party leaders, others as ministers, or as one of the team working out of the Speakers Office, who have tried in some challenging moments to keep the lid on proceedings in the chamber.

So who was it caught your eye this year, either in the chamber, or on television? Who kept their nerve whilst others around them were falling apart? Which maverick made the parliamentary tedium of some of the last year still worth tuning in? Who was the star player in your favourite set piece?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate has brought to the job.
  2. The reasons s/he and their committee have achieved in the last 12 months.
  3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by a committee chair.

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | October 19, 2009

Committee Chair of the year

In a year when the Executive has spent a significant amount of time not actually working, and where the Assembly’s plenaries have struggled to gain and then sustain the Northern Ireland public’s attention, the committees have been probably been responsible for some of the most useful work done. Albeit most of it unacknowledged and therefore unseen.

There is a clear role to be fulfilled by a committee chair – to ensure the smooth running of committees; facilitating engagement with interested outside parties in an open and constructive manner; holding both the relevant minister and officials to account as well as providing a forum for the development of policy and legislation.

So tell us who you think has performed their role better than any other?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate has brought to the job.
  2. The reasons s/he and their committee have achieved in the last 12 months.
  3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by a committee chair.

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | October 13, 2009

Council of the Year

For years, despite their limited powers, councils were the only democratic representatives you could be reasonably would retain their jobs from one election to the next. In two years 26 councils will be slimmed down to 11, and with it will come considerable responsibilities . The new responsibilities will require a new calibre of local politician.

So which of the local councils you know best have been taking on their responsibilities with imagination? Who listens to the local populace, and is seen to be effective in carrying forward their decisions effectively> And which have sought to involve the general public in policy consultations? And pay heed to them?

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. Do they outreach to the public and ask them to participate in, and respond to council policymaking.?
  2. What do councils do to make the role of local councillor an attractive one?
  3. Tell us some of its biggest achievements/stories in the last 12 months?

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | October 5, 2009

Participation/Involvement

That this award only had one nomination last year tells its own story about public participation in Northern Ireland. All too often public bodies undertake consultation exercises simply because they’re demanded by law rather than because of the value it may bring those institutions or the communities they seek to serve.

As a result such public dialogue as there is are often conducted in an atmosphere of cynical tokenism or are seen from the outside as bland exercises in public relations.

And yet we persist, because we believe more and more it is critical that politicians and others find meaningful ways to connect with the people whose interests they seek to represent.

So what forms of public consultation do you know that worked, however modest? It might have been cheap and cheerful, or complex and expensive. So long as it was effective and a real example of institutions reaching out.

With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. What was the subject of the consultation?
  2. What format/structure did they use?
  3. Why would say it worked?

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

Posted by: Mick Fealty | September 28, 2009

Councillor of the Year

Given there are 582 councillors in 26 councils in Northern Ireland, our problem here should be an embarrassment of riches. Local councillors are often the workhorses of democracy, often undertaking work with the minimum of resources. The majority of them working hard far beyond the metropolitan attention of the Belfast bubble.

And yet it is not yet clear what makes a good councillor. Under the current dispensation where councillors have only an advisory role with regard to planning, the practical fixer is clearly a popular role. But what else adds up to the best councillor YOU know? A thinker? A doer? A conciliator? A starter of fires? An independent curmudgeon who refuses to give any cosy consensus an easy ride?

Let us know below. Be as expansive as you like, with specific examples of the kind of thing you consider to be best practice. With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate brings to her/his council duties.
  2. The kinds of things  s/he has achieved in the last 12 months.
  3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by a local councillor.

You can make your nominations on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

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