The semi-detached polit-bureau are at it again. Whatever ‘it’ is… [Headline-grabbing? – Ed] Possibly… There’s certainly a lack of detail.
In the absence of a sitting Northern Ireland Assembly to question them, and with no NI Executive meeting for them to jointly chair until September, the NI First and deputy First Ministers issued a statement last night. [It’s a Queens’ Speech! – Ed] Indeed.
From the OFMDFM statement
Commenting, Ministers said: “We are pleased to be able to give some detail on a range of policy decisions that we have taken during the course of the last number of days. We have reached a series of wide ranging agreements that will be to the benefit of people across the community and will deliver further progress in the Autumn on the reform agenda we have set out as part of our Programme for Government commitments.” [added emphasis]
As advertised, they have agreed the appointment of a single Victims Commissioner. No name, yet.
And, again, as advertised, they have agreed the appointment and composition of a Chair and Board of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation. No names, yet.
As for the “Investment Strategy”, no details. But £4.88billion net capital investment was already planned for 2011-15. Plus whatever has been delayed up to now.
But the futuring on a Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy, and the announcing of a conclusion to discussions on Bills that have yet to be seen by the rest of the NI Executive, have brought a political reaction from the UUP.
UUP Deputy Leader John McCallister said: “The timing and manner of the announcement by the First and deputy first minister demonstrates clearly the contempt they hold for the political process. [added emphasis]
“They are not interested in inclusive politics, they have forgotten the hard lessons of the peace process and they have demonstrated that their approach to a shared future is disingenuous.
“There is no point in carrying on discussions in such an environment.
“Only if all parties are actively engaged can genuine agreement be reached.
“By announcing their statement in the middle of the holiday season they demonstrate clearly their disdain for the democratic process and the rather low value they place on the opinion of others.”
And his party colleague, Basil McCrea, has a theory on DEL
Basil McCrea also said in the statement he was “outraged” at the lack of urgency given to issues surrounding the Department for Employment and Learning, which is at risk of being scrapped.
The Lagan Valley MLA is chairman for the DEL Assembly committee.
“Their decision to wait a little suggests they are more concerned about internal party politics than tackling the real issues facing our economy,” he said.
“They cannot carve up the department to their satisfaction, so they do nothing. Meanwhile, youth unemployment is soaring, profitable long term industries are held back through lack of skills and those without education or skills are consigned to the dustbin.”
Mr McCrea said the ministers’ statement detailed decisions which “individually and collectively demonstrate breathtaking arrogance and complacency.”
[So much for “working in the spirit of co-operation…” – Ed] Indeed.