IN 1845 the Belfast ‘Banner of Ulster’ described Smithfield as “All that wild wilderness of lanes, alleys, blind courts, and ‘rows’, lying between Hercules Street and East Smithfield and bounded, on the other side, by Berry Street and North Street, forms one of the most extensive and gangrenous of these social ulcers. There, in foul and fetid huts, unglazed-ragged, drunken-looking ranges of buildings that seem like tipsy wretches arming one another along – swarms of hideous women and children who are virtually orphans under their parents’ roof find refuge but not shelter. Here, amid pools reeking with malaria and heaps of putrefying offal, the refuge of slaughter houses, typhus in its most malignant forms, cholera, angels of death ever hover...”
SOME of Ireland’s most well-known talent dropped news and new music as the yearly release cycle begins to heat up, and new labels look to celebrate the past and capture the future in this week’s article. The most pressing matter comes from the Fontaines D.C. camp, where news of a new album was released. ‘Skinty Fia’ was formally announced alongside a live performance on American talk show The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the debut of their newest single ‘Jackie Down The Line’. The Dublin-born and now London-based quintet’s third album in three years, and time will tell if the cup of ideas still runneth over. With an American tour to back them up, one can only assume we’ll get an answer sooner rather than later.
THE founder of a local charity aimed at tackling period poverty has given short shrift to an award from the British Prime Minister, describing Boris Johnson as the "leader of a heartless and incompetent party".
THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits across Belfast in December stood at 11,885 according to statistics released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). This represents a fall of 435 claimants on November and a fall of 3,735 on December 2020. West Belfast saw the most dramatic decrease across the city with the claimant count sitting at 3,215 which is a fall of 160 on the previous month and 1,105 on the previous year. North Belfast maintains the highest number of claimants at 3,895, this has fallen from 4,005 in November and 4,855 in December 2020. There were 2,575 claimants in South Belfast which saw a decrease of 65 claimants on the previous month and 870 on December 2020. Meanwhile, there were 2,200 claimants in East Belfast which represented a fall of 100 on November and 800 on December 2020. Across the North, we saw claimant numbers decrease for the tenth consecutive months with 41,185 people claiming unemployment benefits which represents a fall of 1,655 on November and 15,940 on December 2020. Over the 2021 calendar-year, 1,940 redundancies were proposed which is 82 per cent less than in the previous 12 months. NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 200 redundancies occurred in December 2021. At 2,840, the annual total was 44 per cent less than in the previous year (5,030). The number of proposed and confirmed redundancies remained low in recent months. The total number of proposed collective redundancies (1,940) during 2021 is the lowest rolling twelve-month total since November 2011, while there was a 44 per cent decrease in confirmed redundancies in 2021 when compared to the previous year. The Labour Force Survey shows statistically significant quarterly changes in both the unemployment and economic inactivity rates to September-November 2021, where the unemployment rate decreased (-1.0pps) to 3.1 per cent and the economic inactivity rate increased (+1.8pps) to 27.6 per cent. Compared to the pre-pandemic levels in December-February 2020, the total number of hours worked in September-November 2021 was 1.5 per cent below, whilst the employment rate was 2.4pps below. Both the unemployment and economic inactivity rates remain above the pre-pandemic position (0.6pps and 2.0pps above, respectively).
Someone asked me recently what’s the point of going to art exhibitions. Part of it for me is the headspace of allowing new thoughts to form in a world that seems on many occasions not to want us to think at all.
I love hearing all these buzzwords that appear out of nowhere and the next thing you find is that everyone is speaking the speak. At the moment the buzzword appears to be 'robust'. Everything has to be robust; robust this and robust that.