An Ireland where some are more equal than others…

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Tom Kelly is not impressed with some of Sinn Fein’s more flamboyant PR recently. Not least the idea of ‘putting manners on the civil service‘…

As pointed out before in this column the Sinn Féin leadership deserve considerable credit for the political journey they have travelled – however belatedly.

Yet that credit is lost when they attempt to crudely use intemperate language to attack ordinary workers, whether those workers are in the PSNI or any part of the public sector. Trampling on people’s rights is second nature to people who exiled others from their homes – or who refuse to provide vital information which could lead to the arrest of murderers or the location of the bodies of the disappeared but, if we genuinely are moving on, then the type of leadership we can expect needs to change too.

The forthcoming election should focus our attention on the type of society we want and more importantly the nature of leadership we expect. The delivery of our agenda should be the sole ambition of all the political parties but if the recent comments by Sinn Féin reflect the sum total of their agenda then we have a lot to be worried about. Purporting to believe in an Ireland of equals has to go beyond slogans.

Its litmus test is the way we treat each other and how we expect to be treated. Sinn Féin has obsessed about getting to the front of the bus but in doing so they have forgotten that the normal courteousness of getting up for those more in need still applies.

An Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin style, is still too much about them and too little about us.

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  • Crataegus

    The forthcoming election should focus our attention on the type of society we want and more importantly the nature of leadership we expect.

    An Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin style, is still too much about them and too little about us.

    I thought a fair article. If in government it is your job to run departments efficiently and internally deal with any problems. No good manager runs the work force down in public. Back biting has no place in managment.

    In recent weeks we have had some interesting insights into the soul of the DUP and SF and little of it is edifying.

  • brendan,belfast

    SF will come to regret that language – i have already had great fun with it at the doorstep. the poor foot soldier didn’t know what to say when i told him half my family were civil servants and didn’t appreciate being told by John O’Dowd that they needed manners put on them.

    as for Martin McGuinness announcing himself ‘The Boss’ – a bit too gangster like for comfort.

  • Nevin

    “leadership deserve considerable credit for the political journey they have travelled”

    Really. This is a fundamentally fascist organisation whose tentacles have spread further into the political domain at the expense of the SDLP, a constitutional nationalist party.

  • BP1078

    “as for Martin McGuinness announcing himself ‘The Boss’ – a bit too gangster like for comfort”

    I immediately thought of Bruce Springsteen actually when I heard that Brendan.
    Martin singing “Born (to run) the IRA”, frightening stuff.

  • brendan,belfast

    Born in the bogside,
    i was born, in the bogside…..

    you could go on all day!

  • Nevin

    “They said I was the hometown clown
    And so they put a rifle in my hands
    Sent me off to Portadown
    To go and kill the orange man”

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we at least try to play the ball guys!!!

  • middle-class taig

    And here we have the fundamental disconnect between the SDLP and Sinn Fein. SDLP have always wanted to work within the system – not to shake up the system but to make polite, gradual progress without ruffling any feathers. SF, having tried for too long to destroy the system from outside, now want to get inside the system to make it fundamentally more egalitarian, effective and accountable.

    SDLP want to cosy up to senior civil servants, stitch up public appointments in cahoots with them, get their names onto the honours lists (prepared by civil servants), load public bodies with their cronies, and generally preserve a system of privilege – just not an exclusively unionist privilege.

    SF want to make senior civil servants work for us, not pursue their own agenda.

    For crying out loud, when we finally have proof positive that the RUC were involved in the murder of innocent catholics, and when a High Court judge is calling for investigations into how senior civil servants dealt with a hugely sensitive public appointments, is it really inappropriate for the electoral representatives of Irish nationalism to state an ambition to put manners on both monoliths?

  • susan

    Actually, there was a Derry/Donegal band that used to do Springsteen covers Sunday afternoons in Gaelic Park in the Bronx. With the cheap amps and even worse acoustics it always sounded more like “Björn in the USA, I was Björn in the USA…”

    Sorry, Mick, couldn’t help myself.

  • Nevin

    Mick, isn’t Kelly linked to the SDLP? Isn’t he ‘putting the boot’ into SF? ;)

  • Crataegus

    Middle class

    SF want to make senior civil servants work for us, not pursue their own agenda.

    And pray tell me what party does not want do this?

    You don’t slag off people you may be responsible for in public. You can criticise the organisation or department generally and say it needs to be more efficient (outlining how) or more accountable but you don’t brand all civil servants as lacking manners etc and you don’t strut around bragging you are boss. That sort of approach gains little respect and gets you nowhere fast.

  • Plum Duff

    Let’s face it, there’s always a lot of loose talk at party conferences and during election time. It really was unfortunate, to say the least, that the term ‘put manners on’ was used for both police and civil servants but it should be realised that the SF leaders were talking to their faithful at the time. It still doesn’t excuse it, of course, but it helps to put these statements in perspective.

    Nonetheless, a few years ago I was told by a member of SF who was part of a delegation to meet the (British) Minister and senior NI civil servants about a matter of policy pertaining to their particular Department. After a lengthy discussion involving everyone, the Minister concurred with SF’s position and said he would implement it after due procedure. On the way out, one of the senior civil servants, and out of earshot of the Minister, turned to one of the Shinners to whisper in his ear,’You may have won that one, lads, but we’ll get you in the long grass’.

    Now, if you have an attitude like that from members of the Permanent Government, it’s not surprising that immoderate language bubbles to the surface on occasions. And on both sides, may I add. For example, a considerable amount of comment was generated after the Chief Constable’s retaliatory remark (after ‘teaching manners to the PSNI’) that the SF leadership had ‘gone on the run’. Did he really need to descend to gutter politics as well?

  • middle-class taig

    Crataegus

    SF will face opposition from civil servants no matter what. They might as well enjoy a couple of one liners to play to their base.

  • Crataegus

    Middle class

    SF will get nowhere with Civil Servants with that sort of approach.

    Senior Civil Servants have been in their departments for some time, are generally well educated, are intelligent and know their departments backwards. Ministers need good relations with them for it is the Minister that needs the Civil Servant rather than the other way around. Get on the wrong side of them and life could be more difficult than it needs to be. It is the same in any business you need to show people respect.

  • Harris

    “The forthcoming election should focus our attention on the type of society we want and more importantly the nature of leadership we expect.

    An Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin style, is still too much about them and too little about us.”

    This is more than a bit rich, and somewhat pompous, coming from those who have been perched in their so-called ascendancy for the past 30+ years.

    Sinn Fein need to continue on with their equality agenda, and if it rattles a few feathers, so be it. This isn’t the time to be walking or talking on egg shells.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    No doubt Tom Kelly, who gets a great deal of business from the civil servants most in need of manners being put upon them, the NIO, is pursuing his own vested interests. The attack by SF on civil servants is not upon teachers and nurses and the likes but on the managers and advisers who have ensured that nationalist areas have received less than their fair share of investment – the likes of Invest Northern Ireland, the NITB etc – in comparison to other areas.

    He’s being more than disingenous with his article which is a barefaced attack on SF and not a trenchant defence of the lowly ‘worker’ at all.

    Not to worry though, the cash still comes rolling in from the NIO and other assorted civil service branches.

  • carlosblancos

    Kelly’s last line hits the nail on the head: “An Ireland of Equals, Sinn Fein style, is still too much about them and too little about us.”

    Although I doubt they’re analystical soulmates, this fits perfectly with Anthony MnIntyre’s assertion (and I paraphrase here) that the process has been good for certain republicans but not good for republicanism.

    The SF agenda becomes too much about “those years in jail had to be for something lads”, resolving their own post-traumatic stress disorder and creating a smokescreen to hide the fact that they have no notion on how to deliver a United Ireland.

    Rabble rousing about putting manners on this or that keeps the grasroots happy, step forward anyone who thinks this brings us closer to any definition of a United Ireland

  • Crataegus

    Oilibhear Chromaill

    managers and advisers who have ensured that nationalist areas have received less than their fair share of investment

    And all the speeches were about Investment in West Belfast or investment generally? The manners bit was specifically directed to senior Civil Servants in a pronouncement about investment?

    Also I just don’t believe that West Belfast gets less than its fair share of investment. The local economy looks healthy enough to me.

    The sectors that really are under served are the elderly and the rural poor Orange & Green. And for a needy sector try investment in Primary Education in Working Class areas Green & Orange.

  • middle-class taig

    Crataegus

    SF will be unpopular with senior civil servants no matter what, as their interests are fundamentally different. If SF start relying on NIO mandarins too much, they’ll leave themselves very vulnerable indeed.

    Plum Duff

    A wise post, if I may say so. I too was a little concerned about the “gone on the run” comment.

    When Trimble talked of house-training SF and bringing them to heel, he was rightly criticised for referring to nationalists in terms normally reserved for dogs. The Chief Constable could be similarly criticised for talking of the SF leadership in terms normally reserved for criminals. Slip showing?

  • baldrick45

    If we’re on apocryphal tales of Civil Sevice ner -do-wells my favourite has always been the one from last time the boys were up the hill.

    A Minister – who shall be nameless – phoned his Permanent Secretary’s office and demanded to speak to the Perm Sec. The Perm Sec’s personal secretary (lady who fields his calls and types) says

    PS – “I’m sorry he’s unavailable but I can get him to call you in a few minutes”.

    Min – “Get Him now, I’m the Minister and I want to speak to him right now”

    PS – “Minister – How can I put it delicately, he’s in the lavatory”

    Min – “Get him out of it now, I want to speak to him immediately”

    PS sends the junior male staff member (an Admin Officer) into the loo’s and he calls to the occupied stall;

    AO – “Excuse me Sir, Minister on the line for you saying it’s urgent”.

    Perm Sec – “Tell him I’ll be with him in a minute”

    AO – “Sorry Sir but he’s demanding you come now”.

    Perm Sec – “*Sigh* – Tell him I’m on the toilet”

    AO – “We have Sir but he’s insisting you come now”

    Perm Sec – “Ah fer fu…. OK, Could you please inform the Minister I can only deal with one sh*t at a time and he’ll have to wait until I’m finished with this one”.

    Which I guess just show’s that “manners” must cut both ways…..

  • brendan,belfast

    OC = Martin McGuinness’ assertion to the RDS was specifically that he let the civil servants in the Dept of Education know “I am the Boss.” not Invest NI, not the securocrats, education workers.

    And John O’Dows didn’t single out managers or advisors (how do you know who they meant anyway?). O’Dowd said, “It is Sinn Féin’s intention to put manners on the entire civil service.” no ambiguity and no specifically mentioning advisors or managers.

  • TKmaxx

    Folks I made the point that intemperate language is used at political meetings but it does not excuse it.Plus John O’ Dowd extended the putting manners reference to the entire civil service on radio. Its all grist to the mill during elections -so expect it to be more irrational and bad tempered.

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    Indeed, Brendan, as the minister said, he put manners on them. And when he was out the door, they spent the next three years undoing the good work he had done wrt to relaxing the criteria for the recognition of Irish medium and integrated schools. Now they’ve made sure with their latest criteria adjustment, that no gaelscoil can be set up outside of the Belfast/Derry areas. Story as first covered in Lá Nua (afterwards claimed in an ‘exclusive’ by the Irish News

  • brendan,belfast

    But OC – you are not addressing the point. You stated “The attack by SF on civil servants is not upon teachers and nurses and the likes but on the managers and advisers”

    when O’Dowd said on radio “It is Sinn Féin’s intention to put manners on the entire civil service.”

    can you square that circle for me?

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Brendan, I suggest you talk to John O’Dowd but my interpretation is SF would get most support for aiming at the decision makers – rather than the workers – at the highest levels. They’re the ones who’re steering the good ship NI along the old familiar routes of exclusion and marginalisation.

    I don’t see SF gaining any political traction from ‘putting manners’ on teachers or nurses, do you? And do you really think they’re going to do that? Or are you just being wilfully thick?

  • http://elblogador.blogspot.com El Matador

    The provo cheerleaders on this thread are missing the fundamental point- the comments of O’Dowd were not aimed at the civil service mandarins, but at civil servants at large. We’re talking about decent, hard-working people who often get paid badly but do their work in a professional and efficient way- people like those who work in brews across the north and have to endure abusive lashings from disgruntled ‘customers’, or people who work for TV Licensing and face physical attacks if they happen to stray into the ‘wrong’ areas. Meanwhile these same people face redundancy thanks the the Sinn Féin-backed Review of Public Administration.

    The civil service may be too large, but that’s not the fault of Joe in the Jobcentre on the Lower Falls or Mervyn in the Rates Collection Agency in the city centre- it’s the fault of successive British (mal)administrations (not to mention the paramilitaries who stifled efforts to nurture the private sector for decades).

    Sinn Féin may claim to care for workers’ rights, and boast that its representatives are only paid an ‘industrial wage’, so it’s about time they actually started showing a bit of respect to those who have no choice but to receive an industrial wage thanks to the ridiculously low rates of pay for standard level civil servants. These are the people who work behind the scenes and get little credit and no healthy bonuses, but nevertheless keep society running.

    On a separate issue, the muted response from other parties and unions on this has been notable- civil servants should not have to put up with bullying, whether from managers, the public, or indeed policians like the aforementioned ‘spokesman for all matters when no-one else more senior is available’.

  • brendan,belfast

    OC – I didn’t say it, John O’Dowd and Martin McGuinness did. Now unless we are not supposed to take them at their word (surely that isn’t the case?)are your ignorant questions, “And do you really think they’re going to do that? Or are you just being wilfully thick?” not better aimed at SF?

    Why, now that I have asked the question do you suggest i talk to John O’Dowd? earlier on you were seemingly able to tell us what he meant when you said “The attack by SF on civil servants is not upon teachers and nurses and the likes but on the managers and advisers”, when explaining O’Dowd’s comments “It is Sinn Féin’s intention to put manners on the entire civil service.”

    These are SF’s words, not mine. their attack on “the entire civil service” not mine.

  • George

    Is there not a civil servant / public servant distinction north of the border like the one south of it?

    Teachers aren’t civil servants south of it. Neither are Gardaí, nurses, Arts Council etc.

  • lib2016

    The Equal Opportunities people have been pointing out for years now that the Civil Service is being taken over by Catholic women, that’s right the same young educated people who are Sinn Fein’s keenest supporters.

    Moreover after twenty years of promotions they are the people who are reaching the top at last. The last generation of dinosaurs will be sandwiched between the middle grades and the incoming ministers….might be a good time to think about early retirement. ;-)

  • Sean

    I for one thing civil servants the world over need manners put on them

    all the ones i have ever met (or nearly anyways) all act like you are disturbing their sleep by expecting them to do their jobs

    I do not know about rates of pay there but I know civil servants do not fear redundancies as they are nearly unheard of in the public sector and if they do come they come with more than healthy leaving packages

    add to that they usually take their leaving packages and go right back to work for the government in a different department what have they to fear

  • Ian

    “OC = Martin McGuinness’ assertion to the RDS was specifically that he let the civil servants in the Dept of Education know “I am the Boss.” not Invest NI, not the securocrats, education workers.”

    Funnily enough, the head of the Education Department at the time who reported to McGuinness was none other than Nigel Hamilton, now the head of the Civil Service and heavily implicated in the fixed appointment of the Interim Victims Commissioner and subsequent cover-up. His lack of “manners” are probably the least of his worries.

  • The Dubliner

    “When Trimble talked of house-training SF and bringing them to heel, he was rightly criticised for referring to nationalists in terms normally reserved for dogs. The Chief Constable could be similarly criticised for talking of the SF leadership in terms normally reserved for criminals. Slip showing?” – middle-class taig

    Comparatively, PSF metaphor of “putting manners on them” conjures imagery of misbehaving children. Trimble’s and Orde’s metaphor are sinister and malicious, referring to nationalist leaders as dogs and wanted criminals, respectively. Those two images play strongly on the second-class designation of nationalists by the no longer “supremacist” protestant state of Northern Ireland. Trimble’s image plays on the infamous signs on his beloved “mainland” that once read “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” and Orde’s image plays on the policy of criminalisation of the demonisation that was once the policy of the British state towards those to whom he is being deliberately derogative. They are both offensive and very nasty images which reveal an undercurrent of the supremacist mentality that so infuriates nationalists – an undercurrent that is now suppressed but obviously not forsaken. Reminders, if you like, that certain realities haven’t gone away, you know. So, if Tom Kelly wishes to hysterically demand that we draw damning conclusions about political purpose from such regrettable uses of language, then he should at least be consistent and damn all accordingly. The fact that he has chosen not to do that is salutary to the colder eye.

  • The Dubliner

    I’ll just add that if Tom Kelly were to follow his own ‘logic’ of extrapolating an instance of the use of language into a damning tirade against the user, then he would have to damn the PNSI in the same manner – thereby unwittingly nullifying his own spiel and validating PSF’s assertion that they do indeed need “manners put on them.”

  • TKmaxx

    Dubliner perhaps you should read the whole article – when it calls on all parties to watch the use of intemperate language = otherwise it will undermine the credit that they are given for grander and more important political gestures. The theme of the article is about respecting and treating people as one would expect to be treated- I would have thought that was a universal sentiment. Sinn Fein leaders talked about ‘putting manners on police – members of the Department of Education officals and then the whole Civil Service – please remember that two trade unions have condemned them for doing this – so dont shoot the messenger – but then thats what SF do!

  • brendan,belfast

    Interesting – no SF supporters yet able to offer a satisfactory reason or explanation for John O’Dowd’s attack on “the entire civil service.”

  • StarHound

    I think NIPSA have made a error of judgement here by wading into this.

    How many people here, by the way, are happy with the service provided by much of the civil service here? Start with the Child Support Agency, the Housing Executive, the auditing fun that is to had in the Social Security Agency for starters….it’s enough to send you on sick leave for six months if you ask me….

  • The Dubliner

    TKmaxx, perhaps you should follow your own advice before proffering it to others. In particular, pay attention to the last line of Tom Kelly’s partisan attack on PSF, offered as the conclusion to his hysterical tirade: “An Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin style, is still too much about them and too little about us.” Oh dear, his conclusion has nothing to do with his tentative subject, does it?

    This Kelly clown (phone the PC police for use of “intemperate language”) has extrapolated two instances of colourful language into the demented conclusion above, thereby showing that he has no more reasoning ability than the average lobotomised lab monkey. As I noted above: “if Tom Kelly were to follow his own ‘logic’ of extrapolating an instance of the use of language into a damning tirade against the user, then he would have to damn the PNSI in the same manner – thereby unwittingly nullifying his own spiel and validating PSF’s assertion that they do indeed need “manners put on them.”

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