Slugger O'Toole

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Union baulks at SF promise to ‘put manners’ on civil service…

Fri 2 February 2007, 8:00pm

John O’Dowd’s remark that his party would ‘put manners’ on public servants has brought a sharp rebuke from NIPSA:

General secretary John Corey, said all civil and public servants were “bound by strict codes of conduct requiring integrity, impartiality and honesty” and added that there was a complaints procedure for anyone who was dissatisfied with their conduct.

“All civil and public servants are bound by strict codes of conduct requiring integrity, impartiality and honesty. Civil servants are accountable to ministers of the day or to the elected authorities and not to individual political parties,” he added.

During a radio interview yesterday (Wednesday) Mr O’Dowd described Chief Constable Hugh Orde and the police as public servants.

“The public elects politicians to ensure public servants are answerable, ” the Upper Bann assembly member added.

“It is the role of every political party to put manners on public servants. It is Sinn Féin’s intention to put manners on the entire civil service, to anyone who is there working for the community and the people… they need to be ensuring they understand one thing, they are there working for the people.”

Does this sounds like a party ready to impose Prime Minister Brown’s cuts?

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Comments (26)

  1. overhere says:

    Shame John Corey did not explain this to the Mount Vernon SB.

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  2. Token Dissent says:

    It has to be remembered that during the lifetime of the last executive Sinn Fein ministers had no problem promoting and carrying out privatisation and cuts in services.

    Suggesting that they will “put manners” into public servants is a shameless but unsurprising act of graceless arrogance.

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  3. Sammy Morse says:

    A lot of people in Northern Ireland are civil servants; I think a majority of civil servants are now Catholic; a lot of them vote SF; attacking the civil service can cost you votes – the only time I can ever remember a ‘real’ policy being mentioned on the doorsteps was when Alderdice had scrapping the education boards in our 1998 manifesto.

    John O’Dowd is not a very clever politician.

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  4. shamo says:

    Agreed Sammy,
    It seems as if O’Dowd has little of the savvy of his leaders. Gushing about “putting manners” on any group of workers is quite alright if your electorate are to the right of Margaret Thatcher or Michael McDowell, but perhaps this act typifies a great problem for SF.
    Socialists put manners on industrialists, not the workers who supply them with surplus value. This would have always been the SF standpoint, but the problem with Gerry A’s constructive ambiguity is that he’s trying to please everyone sometimes, and might end up pleasing none.

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  5. lib2016 says:

    The Equality Commission has issued a series of worried comments about the fact that the Civil Service is increasingly staffed by Catholic women.

    It’s the same process seen in primary schools where men, and in this particular case also Protestants are badly under-represented. There is a good case for some kind of positive discrimination in these cases but as usual idealogy wins over mere commonsense.

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  6. darth rumsfeld says:

    and what is the good case lib? If I don’t want to mop up after mewling and puking weans but want a real career in, say, building, why waste time trying to get the Prod numbers up? RCs have long been a majority in law and the licenced trade-fair play to them if that’s what they want to do. So long as the overall statistics stack up who cares if there are more Presbyterian accountants and RC bookies?

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  7. lib2016 says:

    In the primary schools at least there is a good case to be made that there should be a reasonable number of male teachers functioning along with their ordinary duties as male role models in a society where many modern families simply don’t contain such a thing.

    The Civil Service should, of course, be seen to be representative of the whole community in the same way as justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done.

    Sometimes perception matters just as much as reality. This is a divided society and we should be looking for ways to reduce our divisions.

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  8. dj says:

    John O’Dowd is just demonstrating the arrogance that is prevalent in SF and I know a lot of people in the Nationalist community don’t like it.

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  9. Sean says:

    simple servants the unsung zeroes of the economic world

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  10. Lubby says:

    “Putting manners on” seems to be the SF stock phrase of the moment. Arrogance is a good word for O’Dowd’s attitude – but if ‘peace’ reigns there may be a lot less respect for SF. It never was respect of course, fear would be a better word.

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  11. WindsorRocker says:

    O’Dowd dug himself a hole on this one. Sinn Fein must have been slightly taken aback by the reaction to the original “put manners” on the PSNI comment. One of their number then attempted to deflect this criticism by putting the PSNI in the same boat as other public service bodies in an attempt to back track on the initial comments and also to emphasise the fact that they had signed up for the “civic” bit of policing as opposed to all of it. Ooops…. he’s annoyed a trade unionist and a whole swathe of the ranks fo the employed!….. hole dug deeper!!

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  12. El Matador says:

    Who the hell is O’Dowd to put manners on anyone? Sinn Fein: the party of the workers- yeah right!

    At a time when civil servants are faced with ever-diminishing real incomes and the spectre of chronic job uncertainty, it is interesting that SF has happily approved of the British Government’s hatchet-job Review of Public Administration, some lesser known effects of which I listed here a while back.

    I suppose it should come as no surprise that O’Dowd displays such contempt for ordinary working people trying to do a job and often not getting paid very well for it. Interesting to note that SF used to have a bar on public servants joining their party- it seems the prejudice against such people still exists.

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  13. El Matador says:

    Here’s that link again- didn’t seem to work in my last post :s

    http://elblogador.blogspot.com/2006/12/el-blogador-report-real-rpa.html

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  14. Rory says:

    Poor John O’Dowd. He has indeed a lot to learn.

    Political parties, Ministers of State, governments, indeed whole systems of governments – with revolution and war, come and go. But the civil service remains and it is a fool who would disparage its integrity since its integrity must only be to serve the government of the day just as today’s waiter would best serve his own integrity (and potential for a tip) by truly advising the new diner of the quality of the soup de jour.

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  15. Bob McGowan says:

    It seems the posterts here have not quite grasped a very simple fact of life, i.e. that it is the job of each and every elected official to hold government employees accountable for performing their duties properly. And, that includes treating the citizens they deal with with courtesy and respect.

    Mr. O’Dowd, perhaps, expressed this simple fact of publlic, i.e. governmental, life somewhat vehemently. In reading the comments, however, I tend to believe that he has not overstated the case by much, if at all. And his comments seem particularly appropriate with respect to the employees of the NIO, if recent news stories be reasonably accurate.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, folks!

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  16. Badger says:

    Mr O’Dowd should be more courteous himself. The Assembly staff are public servants too, and I doubt that he has had any reason to think that he needs to “put manners” on any of them.

    I think that everyone will agree that there is no point at all in offending the staff. Would that a certain Ulster Unionist Member would get that message too.

    Badger.

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  17. brendan,belfast says:

    Martin McGuinness often describes how at the start of his tenure as Minister for Education, he went out of his way to make his civil servants feel relaxed, at ease. The chapter in Martina Purdy’s book on him is even titled “Call me Martin…” and he is gushing in how accomdating they were and how friendly he was to them. No mention of ‘putting manners’ on anyone.

    A marked contrast mind you to his version of his first day he gave the troops at the RDS last Sunday when he said that on the first day “I told them who was Boss.”

    so which was it Martin? Boss, or buddy?

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  18. Gerry & the peacemakers says:

    NIPSA are the worst union imaginable and their members are the wishy washiest people you will ever meet.

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  19. realist says:

    Fimble,

    Of course Civil Servants are lazy bastards – thats because they no longer care about the job as they are paid shit wages on average £3000 – £4000 less than the people in England or Wales for doing the same job, so there is not the incentive to knock yourself out.

    The 12% pay rise mentioned in the papers is also lies as that only applies to the people that end up every October time having to have their wages increased otherwise they would be getting paid less than the minimum wage. The rest of the staff will be getting around £170 eatra year on year for each of the 3 years the agreement covers.Not much when you consider the rate of inflation is on the increase and the introduction of water charges will be at least twice the first years wage rise, and 4 times the third years rise.

    As for putting manners on the civil servants, well I guess they will all be afraid of lossing the well paid jobs which they have NIPSA to thank for – No other union could have negotiated the gap in earnings which now exists between GB and NI staff, and a gap which is increasing every year. So when NIPSA talks they should be listen to and treated with the respect they deserve. Or maybe have manners put on them?

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  20. Fimble says:

    The sickness absence records of the Civil Service in comparison to the private sector would tend to confirm that Civil Servants are either unluckily susceptible to random illness or alternatively that they are indeed lazy bastards

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  21. Reader says:

    Well, if it’s Sinn Fein’s plan to crack down on sick leave, why can’t they say so? There’s an election coming up, and it may (or may not) be a vote winner.

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  22. BeardyBoy says:

    Are ministers civil servants ?

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  23. Slugger O'Toole Admin (profile) says:

    It’s worth noting that the NICS is the third single largest source of our online readership. Now you might say they should be doing other things. But I’d argue, at the least, it demonstrates a good nose for news and good instinct for decent political analysis.

    It’s probably worth remembering that most of our 108 elected representatives will be relying rather heavily on public servants to learn how do the job when they finally get in to do them.

    And it is likely that some of that investment will take a (very) long time before we see a decent return on it.

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  24. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    BB,

    This might be useful:

    http://www.civilservant.org.uk/constitution.shtml

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  25. Nevin says:

    The Civil Servant’s Prayer (1945)

    O Thou who seest all things below,
    Grant that Thy servants may go slow,
    That we may study to comply
    With regulations ’til we die.

    Teach us, O Lord, to reverence
    Committees more than common sense.
    Impress our minds to make no plan,
    But pass the baby when we can.

    And when the tempter seeks to give
    Us feelings of initiative,
    Or when alone we go too far,
    Chastise us with a Circular.

    Mid war and tumult, fire and storms,
    Strengthen us, we pray, with Forms.
    Thus will Thy servants ever be
    A flock of perfect sheep for thee.

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  26. Shamrock says:

    Who is going to put manners in the Politicians then?

    It certainly appears that alot of them need some!

    This is childish talk!

    Grow up!

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