Thursday, June 29, 2006

Asset-stripping Belfast's port

Looks like the Port of Belfast may be sold off:
Pressure was mounting on the government today to spell out its future plans for Belfast Port.

Concern is rising that the Department for Regional Development intends to 'asset strip' the port and sell off key parts of the business - which, along with its associated land bank could be worth millions - to the private sector.

Fears of the potential break-up of the port were sparked by the publication of a Ports Policy review by the DRD last week.

The Port of Belfast has now called for an urgent meeting with Regional Development Minister David Cairns to discuss the content of the review and its implications for Northern Ireland.

The Port of Belfast's commercial director, Joe O'Neill, warned that the review will 'seriously undermine' the Port's £140m capital investment programme and impede its ability to compete with cross border ports.


Belfast Port handles almost two thirds of Northern Ireland's sea borne trade and is a vital gateway for raw materials, exports and consumer goods for the whole of Ireland.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat McCarthy, said he is very concerned about the Port's potential asset stripping.
Compare the fears and concerns mooted in that story with a post at the ASI blog yesterday on asset strippers:
Asset strippers may be demonized by Hollywood, but their role in promoting prosperity is significant. When companies underperform and become fat and lazy, asset strippers rearrange their assets so that they are used in a more efficient way. Trade unions, being inherently conservative, don't like it, but it the process of asset stripping in the 1980s was essential for getting Britain's economy back on track. Instead of being bad for jobs, asset stripping has created more and better jobs. No longer can companies sit around wasting away shareholders' assets.
It strikes me that selling off the Port to the private sector could increase the competitiveness of the port and, if correctly handled, would greatly benefit the local economy.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Loving Evelyn Waugh

I read a bit of Evelyn Waugh recently. Shortly to be 40 years dead, apparently. I'd recommend Scoop to anyone. The first half of A Handful of Dust is good but the second half goes sour. The Loved One struck me as fairly sour. It is praised for its perception of California. I suppose I got some of that. I haven't read my copy of the Sword of Honour trilogy yet. I am either too naive to love Waugh, or else not cynical enough. Great prose and all that though.

North Korean holiday snaps

Photos of North Korea that get as close to real life as any tourist could get (source).

A musical apology

A podcast about classical music provoked thought about my own listening habits. These days I like classical music, including a lot of opera, and not much else. But usually I play it while I'm doing something else. Lose five Barenboim Points. Also, occasionally I rebel against my own good taste and binge on something like this. Although my relationship with music is hardly out of the ordinary, nonetheless I feel there is something inexplicable about it. Probably because it's not possible for me to give music the time or attention which it deserves. I choose not to make more space for it than I currently give it, because I am not willing to sacrifice other things for it. Sorry, music.

The power that perceives the course of time

when something seen
or heard secures the soul in stringent grip,
time moves and yet we do not notice it.
The power that perceives the course of time
is not the power that captures all the mind;
the former has no force -- the latter binds.
Purgatorio Canto IV, lines 7 - 12, Mandelbaum's translation

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Sad to see that György Ligeti has died.